A Day Trip To North Carolina’s Outer Banks
Located a little over an hour south of Virginia Beach lies North Carolina’s Outer Banks. Made up of several small townships including Nags Head, Manteo, Corolla, Duck, Carova, Hatteras Island, and Ocracoke Island, the Outer Banks is a chain of islands that run from the Virginia/North Carolina border south 200 miles to Hatteras Island. To the East lies the Atlantic Ocean; to the West, the Currituck Sound. The area has activities for outdoor lovers of all ages, so why not take a trip South for a day?
As you travel to the Outer Banks from Virginia Beach, you will soon discover a distinct local flair, with numerous farmers’ markets that are overflowing with fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, pies, and other homemade delicacies. Pick up some makings for a picnic and keep moving. Must see stops along the way include Sanctuary Vineyards, The Weeping Radish Farm Brewery, and The Cotton Gin and Lammars Glass Gifts & Antiques for some unique shopping! Once you reach the sound, you’ll encounter the Wright Memorial Bridge. The bridge provides a view of the sound, which is quite magnificent at either sunrise or sunset.
At the Outer Banks, the activities your family can partake in are endless. Swimming, kite flying, sea-shell hunting, body boarding, kayaking, fishing, sand castle building, and the area’s biggest water sport, surfing, are all at your fingertips. Stop by one of the area’s many surf shops, grab your gear, and head out to one of the many great spots, including Duck Pier, Avalon Pier, Kitty Hawk, First Street, and Rodanthe to name a few. If you don’t know how to surf, that’s ok! Many of the surf shops offer group and individual lessons so you can go with your whole family.
To the north, you’ll encounter a 4-wheel drive beach where you can ride your 4×4 vehicle right on the beach. This area also serves as a wildlife refuge for herds of wild horses that have inhabited the Outer Banks since the Spanish explorers brought them to the region 500 years ago. If you don’t have a four-wheel drive vehicle you can sign up for an expedition with one of the safari outfits that specialize in wild horse tours.
For a more serene experience, head south to the Pea Island Natural Wildlife Preserve for a day of exploring the rolling dunes and wide expanses of beaches. Just south of the Oregon Inlet, the Pea Island Preserve is nearly 6,000 acres of land for you and your family to explore. Perfect for a picnic, bird watching, photography, and fishing, the Preserve is a great place to close your eyes and relax.
Kitty Hawk is known as the birthplace of flight, and lies just a few miles South of Nags Head. On the dunes of Kill Devil Hills, The Wright Brothers of Ohio successfully flew the first powered aircraft. For history and aviation buffs out there, the Wright Brothers National Memorial is a great place to learn more about this historic flight.
The lighthouses on the coast are one of the area’s most striking locales, with breathtaking views from the top. Currituck is home to five different lighthouses, which are beautifully painted and maintained. Some even offer tours to the top, with an expansive view of the Atlantic and the Currituck Sound, provide a glimpse into the navigational methods before GPS. They are a definite must-see!
Located nearby in Historic Corolla Park and surrounded by the Currituck Sound is the Currituck Maritime Museum. Family-friendly exhibits explore how the rich cultural heritage of Currituck Country was influenced by historic maritime vessels. Restored boats, breathtaking videos, stunning photography, and hands-on experiences will engage visitors of all ages!
As you can see, North Carolina’s Outer Banks provide plenty of activities for you and your family. Make the trip an annual event and you’ll have plenty to see and do for years to come!
Martin Walsh is an owner of The Vacation Channel, and filmmaker with over a decade of experience making engaging travel content. He’s on a mission to make sure your family has fun this year with a trip to Coastal Virginia. If you would like a local’s opinion, you can always send him a question via email. Now get outside and go have an adventure!