Known for its rich history, the Outer Banks is a famous vacation destination
Outer Banks history is rich: At Kill Devil Hills, Wright Brothers took their famous first flight, while Blackbeard fought his last battle at Ocracoke and the Lost Colony vanished somewhere near Roanoke Island.
- More than 100 miles of beaches
- National Seashore of Cape Hatteras
- The Lost Colony
- Water Sports & Kiteboarding
- Four Lighthouses on the Coastal Highway
- Wild Spanish Mustangs
The Outer Banks are famous for their sand dunes
If you decide to stay in one of the outer bank’s towns, take a leisurely drive along NC Highway 12 and explore the shops, as well as the scenery, which alternates from the rough Atlantic waves along Cape Hatteras National Seashore to the quiet Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge.
The Outer Banks have a rich maritime history. Visit the Chicamacomico Lifesaving Station Historic Site and The Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum to learn about the contributions of seafarers to the region before tourists ever arrived.
You can pick up a map of the coast at the Outer Banks Welcome Center on Roanoke Island, which is helpful for reference in your car. Find out what is on our list of the top attractions and things to do on North Carolina’s Outer Banks.
Lighthouses of historical significance
National Seashore at Cape Hatteras
Cape Hatteras National Seashore offers some of the best beach scenery on the Outer Banks. It was established in 1953. Along its 70-mile stretch, it is home to over 300 beaches. Highway 12 has many beach access pull-offs along the roadside.
Several access points have restrooms, changing facilities, and scenic lookouts with information for visitors and swimmers posted. At Coquina Beach, public amenities are easy to find, paved parking lots are available, and well-trained lifeguards are stationed in the summer.
During the day, kite-surfers and swimmers enjoy the beach and shell-searching in the morning. There’s nothing more picturesque than the towering sand dunes at Cape Hatteras National Seashore. Let your inner child loose and slide down a wispy sand dune, or go shell-hunting along the coast.
Corolla Wild Horses
A few Other Attractions
- Boat Tours of the Outer Banks
- Eco Tours
North Carolina Aquarium
Chicamacomico Life-Saving Station Historic Site
Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum
Jockey’s Ridge State Park
Wright Brothers National Memorial
Duck Town Boardwalk
Best Time of Year to Visit the Outer Banks
March to May or September to November are ideal times to visit the Outer Banks, when rates are lower and crowds dissipate. In the summer months, locals and tourists flock to the city when the temperatures are warmest.
The temperatures in the Southeast remain warm and humid during the summer months – with average highs in the upper 80s – until the winter when the weather dips into the 40s and 50s. It’s important to remember that some attractions, as well as restaurants and shops, may close or have shortened hours during the off-season.
Foods to eat in the Outer Banks
A lot of vacationers who rent homes shop at the local grocery stores and seafood markets and cook most of their meals at home (the Dockside N’ Duck is a good place to start). In addition to fresh seafood, you can find southern-inspired dishes on the Outer Banks. In Nags Head, for example, you’ll find a place called Blue Moon Beach Grill and in Kitty Hawk, a place called I Got Your Crabs Seafood Market & Steam Bar.
The barrier islands also have casual and quick service restaurants, such as Bros Sandwich Shack in Avon on Hatteras Island and Eduardo’s Taco Stand in Ocracoke. The Blue Point in Duck might be a good option if you are looking for something a little more upscale.
The Duck Donut Company, which has stores in several Outer Banks communities, is a popular company for sweet treats. The chain originated in OBX and now has locations up and down the mid-Atlantic coast. It’s not uncommon to find a larger selection of restaurants in tourist-oriented communities like Nags Head and Kitty Hawk, but keep in mind that some establishments close off during the off-peak summer season.