Posted by Susie Isbister

The Best Outer Banks Town for You - Updated

outer banks town

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.

Which Outer Banks town is best for you?

Although the Outer Banks is huge and includes Hatteras Island and Ocracoke Island, we'll be focusing on the northern part of the Outer Banks. This area is home to the entirety of our vacation rental inventory and roughly 80% of visitors vacation here. With 6 different towns stretching from Corolla to South Nags Head, you are sure to find the Outer Banks Town that suits your family the best. And if you're planning your Outer Banks getaway, finding the perfect Outer Banks vacation rental is essential for a memorable stay.


From off-road beaches with wild horses to a few shops and restaurants scattered over 15 miles, Corolla is the perfect location if you like a mixture of seclusion with a few things to do within a short drive. Rent a Jeep with 4 wheel drive or bring your own to explore what is known as the "4x4 beach"; The place where the sidewalk ends. For multiple miles on the North end of town, the only road is the actual beach. Moreover, some of the pedestrians are wild horses (remember to only take photos of them from a safe distance - without touching or feeding them)!

Some other things to do in the area include a miniature golf course, the adventure Park, wild horse tours, the historic Corolla Village, and the Currituck Beach Light House and Whalehead Club. The Whalehead Club is a great place to take the family if you are looking to learn the history behind Corolla together with the Outer Banks. The area encompasses Whalehead, the lighthouse, and the historic village. You can park in one place and explore it all!

The town is also home to two tranquil shopping centers (Tim Buck II and the Corolla Light town center). Here you can find the perfect gifts to bring home to your friends and family. You can also find plenty of restaurants and even a small movie theater here. There are many communities in Corolla. You can find out more about each community and decide which one has the best amenities for you! Depending on the community you choose to stay in you will more than likely have access to a clubhouse, community pool, and other activities such as tennis courts and basketball courts.


With slightly larger beaches and less public parking, the beach may seem less busy in Duck. Don't let that fool you! Duck is the perfect location if your family enjoys shops and restaurants within walking distance. Duck is home to many shops, restaurants, coffee shops, and a bookstore. Start your mornings by visiting the original Duck Donuts location (named after the town of Duck).

You can spend your evenings in town grabbing a bite to eat at one of the awesome local joints. Or, take a stroll on the Duck boardwalk and watch the sunset over the Currituck Sound. If you love watersports, Duck is the place to be. There are jet ski and sailboat rentals, and there is a local surf shop, Duck Village Outfitters (DVO). They offer bike rentals along with surfboard and paddleboard rentals. If you enjoy being out on the water and fishing, you can book a charter trip for the whole family! These are available at a few of the bait and tackle shops in the area.

Southern Shores

Southern Shores is located between Duck and Kitty Hawk and is a very short drive to both. It is the epitome of seclusion without having to go as far as South Nags Head. The major benefit to staying in Southern Shores is that there are no public beach accesses. As a result, the only people you will be sharing the beach with are other vacationers in the area. There is a beautiful bike and walking path that stretches from the South end of Southern Shores through Duck. This allows the area to feel connected, yet not cramped.

You can also enjoy the beautifully manicured greens and 18 holes of Duck Woods Country Club if you find yourself wanting to get in a round of golf. The only restaurants and shops in Southern Shores are right at the South end, close to the Wright Memorial Bridge. The convenience of grabbing groceries and food is close by but separate from all of the vacation rentals. So if your family enjoys seclusion and relaxation this is the town for you!

Kitty Hawk

Kitty Hawk is the first town you will come to that will not offer much seclusion. Meanwhile, it has many shops and restaurants scattered throughout the area. Depending on where your vacation rental is located you may be able to walk to a few places, but for the most part, everything will be a 5-minute drive or less. You can enjoy the sunrise from the 2,200 sq. ft. Kitty Hawk Pier, then head down the Beach Road for a warm and delicious breakfast. Kitty Hawk has the convenience of some favorite chain stores and restaurants. You can rest assured you are taken care of in case you forgot anything at home.

If you seek some adventure, check out Kitty Hawk Woods Reserve, a 1,890-acre forest anyone can explore! There are lots of local flora and fauna, including a plethora of birds, trees, flowers, and turtles, for example. Many of these species can only be spotted on the lush trails of the forest. For more information on how to get there and exploration tips, read this feature on Kitty Hawk Woods. This hidden gem is located right in central Kitty Hawk, about a 5-minute drive from most Kitty Hawk rentals.

For a shorter adventure, check out the nearby Sandy Run Park for a quick half-mile loop around the marsh. And, make sure to bring the dog with you, because both parks welcome pets! In addition to these, Kitty Hawk is also home to a designated dog park with lots of space for your dog to get out and run around. If you are traveling with a big group, Kitty Hawk is your one-stop for everyone.

There are plenty of restaurants, shops, beach accesses and more. Kitty hawk will offer your family plenty of activities from watersports to quiet nature trails in Kitty Hawk Woods if you find yourself craving a little bit of seclusion.

Kill Devil Hills

Centrally located on the Outer Banks and filled with shops, restaurants, and activities for the whole family Kill Devil Hills is the town for you if you love staying busy and taking in as much of the local area as possible. For this reason, Kill Devil Hills is perfect for people who want a little more energy in their vacation. Subsequently, many establishments in this area tend to stay open later. Take a walk down the beach road and check out the many shops and restaurants that are right across the street from the ocean. In KDH, you will find local favorite restaurants and bars, multiple mini-golf courses, go-karting, laser tag, surf shops (with rentals!), and even a national monument.

Home to the Wright Brothers National Memorial, you can take a step back in time and see the actual site of the first flight. Near the memorial, there is even a disc golf course. Disc Golf is great for those wanting to try their hand at a unique sport. Make sure to bring your own disc or purchase one at a local shop! If these activities are not enough, be sure to check out the 6,000 square foot Aviation skate park, or the tennis courts and soccer field in the nearby parks & rec complex (all free for public use!).  If you need variety and love having plenty of things to do at all hours of the day, take a look at one of our many KDH vacation rentals in this Outer Banks Town.

Nags Head

Nags Head is similar to Kill Devil Hills in the number of things there are to do. In case you aren't familiar with the area, we at Outer Banks Blue composed a list of some of our favorite parts of Nags Head. Be sure to check out our blog post on how to have the perfect day in Nags Head.

Typically, everything will be within a 15-minute drive depending on where your vacation rental is located. There are several shops and restaurants along with some unique activities to do. Nags Head is also home to miniature golf courses, laser tag, and go-karts. Some of the more unique activities in this area include exploring Jockey's Ridge, hang gliding, hiking in Nags Head Woods, Nags Head Adventure Park, jet ski rentals, charter boat trips, and an aquarium inside of the Jennette's Pier. If you enjoy a vacation packed with adventure, unique activities, and relaxation at the beach then Nags Head may be the town for you.

As soon as you reach milepost 17 you will reach a part of Nags Head that is much different from the rest, South Nags Head. South Nags Head is very secluded compared to Nags Head. South Nags Head is located along South Old Oregon Inlet Road. Aside from renters and a few workers, you should not see many other people in this area. Consequently, there are no shops and only 1 restaurant (Fish Heads Bar & Grill). There are public beach accesses, but the beach is wider and less crowded.

Perhaps one of the greatest perks of South Nags Head is its vicinity to areas such as Manteo and Bodie Island. Spend the day exploring the wonderful historic town on Roanoke Island, and delve into the history of the lost colony or take a trip to the aquarium (featuring a sea turtle hospital!). Additionally, drive a little farther south, and you can find yourself climbing the lighthouse at Bodie Island Lifesaving Station. If you enjoy a secluded vacation and do not mind a 15-minute drive to the store/restaurants, then South Nags Head may be perfect for your family!

Any Outer Banks Town

To sum up, the rich history, culture, adventure, and culinary scene of the Outer Banks are just a few of the many reasons why both locals and visitors love to be here. With a town for every type of vacationer, it's no wonder why just about everyone loves vacationing on the Outer Banks. Outer Banks Blue has something for everyone, in every town! If you need more information on a specific town or need assistance finding the perfect property to fit your perfect location, we would love to help! Let us know what your favorite town is and why you love it...

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