No one has the same vision for the perfect vacation. Some may picture peace, quiet, and seclusion while others may picture plenty of activities close by. Regardless of what your ideal vacation looks like, there is an Outer Banks town perfect for everyone.
Updated for 2021. It is not always sunshine and rainbows here at the Outer Banks, like everywhere else, we experience rain from time to time, now while we hope it does not happen when you’re on vacation here are 13 things you can do to pass the time or embrace the rain on those OBX days even when it rains.
It would be an understatement to say that the past few months have been rather rocky for everyone with the current pandemic. Here at Outer Banks Blue we want to ensure that you have a safe and wonderful vacation that you can remember for many years to come! Here are a few tips to help you enjoy your vacation while following the proper precautions.
The Island Farm
Located on Roanoke Island, The Island Farm is a living-history museum that takes visitors back to 1847. A farmhouse built by Adam Etheridge in 1757 anchors the museum, and it’s fun to see youngsters’ eyes get wide when they hear that the house is over 261 years old.
Outside on the grounds you’ll find an outhouse, smokehouse, woodshed, dairy, animal barns, chicken coops, a slave cabin, and a corncrib. You’ll even get to walk through the family graveyard.
Adults and young people love interacting with the free-roaming chickens, sheep, cow, Banker ponies, and the farm’s stately ox. Costumed interpreters are also out and about to help put history in context for everyone.
Introduce yourself to a real blacksmith, farmer, or cook, and then look on as you discover how laundry used to be done without any electricity or washing machine. Kids can ask questions while the interpreters work, and maybe also lend a hand.
Far more than just a fun outing, the Island Farm shows young people what life was like before modern technologies such as motorized vehicles, appliances, phones, and computers. (Imagining those days can be fun for adults, too.)
Check the schedule of hands-on activities including woodworking, 19th-century games, farming, and ox-drawn wagon rides.
This innovative park is located in Powells Point, just three miles from the Wright Memorial Bridge. Designed to embrace the culture of the Outer Banks, the grounds are full of pirate, boat, and airplane references and motifs. The park caters to all ages with thrill rides for adults and older kids, and toddler-friendly play structures, soft obstacles, and swim zones.
Fifty private cabanas offer shade, complimentary bottled water, fruit, brownies, and Rice Crispies treats. Depending on size, cabanas accommodate 8 to 12 people; the whole family can take a nap after a day of play.
The park is handicap accessible and is open from the end of May through the first weekend in September.
Don’t forget that when you stay with Outer Banks Blue you can get discounted tickets to the waterpark!
Junior Ranger Program at the Wright Brothers National Memorial
Becoming a Junior Ranger is a tradition and a point of pride for kids visiting the Outer Banks. In fact, children love the program so much that the park now swears in over 6,000 Junior Rangers every year. Open to children ages 5 to 13, the Junior Ranger program helps young people learn about the National Parks and how they can help protect them. To get their badge, candidates must attend two Ranger programs (different programs take place each day), and complete the booklet for their age group.
Wright Brothers National Memorial
Wilbur and Orville Wright, self-taught mechanics from Dayton, Ohio, came to Kitty Hawk and changed the world when they invented the first successful airplane in 1903. At the museum and memorial in Kitty Hawk, visitors can walk up the steep hill to see where the brothers made history with their first flight. In fact, the First Flight Centennial Pavilion has a fascinating review of aviation technology that you won’t want to miss.
Roanoke Island Festival Park
Roanoke Island Festival Park serves as a Wayback Machine for the Outer Banks. The first English settlers arrived on the islands as early as 1500, during the reign of Elizabeth Tudor. The park is an indoor and outdoor interactive complex of exhibits and activities that explain what life was like on the barrier islands during its days as a British colony.
Chicamacomico Lifesaving Station
Don’t overlook this museum with the funny name. Chicamacomico Lifesaving Station and Museum is one of the most popular and beloved museums in the Outer Banks. The Lifesaving Station honors the men who worked the lifesaving stations along the seashore. These men rescued hundreds of shipwrecked sailors over the years. Their journals, uniforms, gear, and primary residence are on display.
Ocracoke Preservation Society
The Ocracoke Preservation Society is housed in a historic home known as the David Williams House Museum. Built in the late 1800s, the home was restored by the Ocracoke Preservation Society so that visitors could see what life was like for Bankers in the 19th century. There’s even a documentary about the “Ocracoke Brogue,” an accent particular to those born and raised on Ocracoke.
One of the real delights of the museum is the summer Porch Talks. Wander up to the porch, take a seat on the steps, and listen to local experts recount the legends, mysteries, and exciting tales of the Outer Banks.
Outer Banks History Center
On the grounds of Roanoke Island Festival Park, you’ll find the wonderfully academic Outer Banks History Center. If you are a history buff, a science nerd, a weather bug, or if you trace your roots to the Bankers, you will enjoy getting lost in this facility. The center is home to more than 300,000 documents, photos, maps, and books about the Outer Banks, some dating back to the 1500s.
Corolla Wild Horse Museum
These pictures are just for us to enjoy today as Kathy shares with us several shots from an obviously great Perkins’ vacay.
As we start this beautiful day on the OBX it seems fitting that we would share a great series of pictures of an Outer Banks sunrise.
You have to have some keen eyes, but if you look closely at the photo with the sun rising on the left you may be able to see that there is an early morning dolphin breaking the waves just to the right of the sun shining on the water. Pretty cool!
Kathy and her family obviously spent a lot of time on the beach (she says she got a new camera for her birthday – nice work!), but they also took in the Wright Brother’s National Memorial in Kill Devil Hills. We don’t get enough photos of this great park where visitors can experience the place where Wilber and Orville Wright made the first manned powered flights in December of 1903. Pretty heady stuff.
At any rate we appreciate that Kathy sent us her family vacation photos and are happy to post them here on Memory Monday. Thanks Kathy!
All the best from the beach!
When you think of vacationing in the Outer Banks the first thing that comes to mind is probably beach related activities. What you may not realize is the Outer Banks is consistently ranked one of the best family destinations and offers some super-cool kid activities not found elsewhere.
For just a taste of local aviation, take an air-conditioned helicopter tour over the majestic beaches, and historical monuments of the Outer Banks. The more adventurous can take in the views from a modern biplane — complete with aerobatics if you choose. If you’ve always wanted to fly your own plane, take an introductory flight lesson with OBX Airplanes. You’ll fly a Cessna 150 yourself, and help with takeoff and landing while an instructor fills you in on what it takes to become a licensed pilot.
Ready to soar? Here are some creative ways to see the Outer Banks from a whole new perspective:
Up to three passengers can share a helicopter ride over the beautiful Outer Banks beaches and historical sites. Coastal Helicopters offers Outer Banks helicopter tours aboard their Robinson R-44, a craft known for safety, reliability, smooth rides and large viewing windows. If you’re not sure flying is for you, try the 10-minute Discovery Tour. You’ll fly over Pirate’s Cove Marina to the ocean, where you’ll circle Jennette’s Pier before heading home.
Once you realize how much fun flying can be, you can come back for a 20-, 30-, 60- or 90-minute tour. Depending on the length of the flight, you’ll get a bird’s eye view of villages, monuments and lighthouses — plus wild horse territory and unspoiled beaches. Tours range from $125 to $825 depending on length and are priced per trip instead of per person, making this an especially affordable adventure when you split it with friends.
Kill Devil Hills is the birthplace of modern flight, and the biplane was the first airplane to take to the sky. A biplane is an open-cockpit airplane with two sets of fixed wings stacked on top of each other. On December 17, 1903, the Wright Brothers flew their biplane for the first time near Kitty Hawk, beginning the pioneer era of aviation.
For history and aviation buffs, nothing compares to a ride in a biplane. OBX Biplanes offer rides in their 1990 WACO YMF-5 biplane, a modern version of the “barnstormer.” In this plane, two passengers can sit up front on a bench seat, side by side, while the pilot sits in the rear cockpit. Don’t worry — this isn’t an antique airplane; it’s a new and improved version of a vintage plane.
During the summer, OBX Biplanes offers 10-minute Discovery Tours over Shallowbag Bay, Pirate’s Cove, and Jennette’s Pier. Longer flights of 20 or 30 minutes will take you over the Wright Brothers Monument, Jockey’s Ridge, Oregon Inlet, Bodie Island Lighthouse, and over the ocean, where you can spot turtles, dolphins, schools of fish, and shipwrecks.
The truly adventurous can add aerobatics to their tour and enjoy thrilling “wingovers” (flat side turns after a steep climb) and loops. Biplane tours range from $118 to $298, with aerobatic add-ons starting at $79.
What could be more exciting than learning to fly where the Wright Brothers learned? If you’ve always been curious about flying your own airplane, the Outer Banks is the perfect place to explore your dream. Start by taking an introductory flight with an OBX Airplanes instructor, who will explain the cost and commitment required to become a pilot during your flight. You’ll even get to take the controls and log your time toward the hours needed to get your license.
OBX Airplanes flies out of Dare County Airport in Manteo. The introductory lesson is only $149, so whether you decide to continue flight lessons or not, you can check “fly a plane” off your bucket list.
Wright Brothers National Memorial
Wilber and Orville Wright experimented with plane designs for years before they finally succeeded. Neither had engineering experience, so their memorial is a monument to inventors and dreamers everywhere. For aviation aficionados, the Wright Brothers National Memorial in Manteo is a must-see pilgrimage.
There’s so much to see and do at the memorial that the whole family will enjoy the visit. You’ll get to see replicas of their early gliders, reproductions of their camp buildings, and stand where the brothers stood right before they took their first flight.
Seeing the Outer Banks coastline, wildlife, and monuments from the air is an experience you’ll never forget. Whether you choose an air-conditioned helicopter tour, an exciting aerobatic biplane ride, or an introductory flight lesson, soaring high above the rugged coastline is the perfect complement to a peaceful, memorable Outer Banks vacation.
This is a fun activity for all ages. When I was a young child we would go crabbing in the sound all the time. There are a few things you will need for this activity. First you will need a bucket, a net, some raw chicken, and some string (strong enough to hold the chicken.) Once you have this you will want to cut the chicken into chunks and tie the string around it. After that you are ready to go. Once you get to the sound dump your chicken into the water while holding onto the string. Soon enough you will have a crab gran onto the chicken. Scoop the crab out of the water with the net and place it in the bucket with water. Once you have had all the fun you can handle you can release the crabs you have caught. You are able to keep them as long as they meet requirements. I would check with a local bait and tackle shop to see what the requirements are as they may change.
Visit a Lighthouse
Making a trip to the lighthouse can be both fun and educational. There are three different lighthouses to choose from here in the Outer banks. First you have the Currituck Lighthouse in Corolla, then you have Bodie Island located in South Nags Head, and last you have Cape Hatteras which is located in Buxton. The kids will enjoy climbing to the top and seeing the view.
Visit the North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island
This would be a fun rain day activity. Many places you visit will have an aquarium close by but the kids always seem to enjoy going. At the aquarium kids will be able to see alligators, otters, and the largest collection of sharks in the state. They will love the touching tank full of stingrays and the hand on sea turtle rescue exhibit. If you go when it is not raining make sure to check out the nature trail and the sound side pier.
The Island Farm in Manteo
After visiting the Aquarium make sure to stop by The Island Farm for a fun and educational experience for the whole family. Here you will be able to experience island life as it was more than 150 years ago. Children will get the chance to dress up, play with toys and games from the 19th century, and play and feed the farm animals. Be sure to check their event page online before going. They offer special programs such as ox-drawn wagons rides and wash day on the farm only certain days of the week.
Visit Jockey’s Ridge
What could be more fun than climbing a large sand dune?! Nothing! That is why visiting Jockey’s Ridge is on our list! Kids will love running up the large sand dunes and then rolling down. Be careful though! In the summer the sand can get hot.
Visit the Wright Brothers National Memorial
A Girl Time Escape to the Outer Banks
Whether it’s you and your daughters, multiple generations, or multiple families sharing a vacation property for the week, the Outer Banks is the perfect spot for the girls to relax and create memories together. Here are a few ideas to help you plan your special “girls-only” time.=&0=&=&1=&