The Outer Banks is one of the most popular destinations for a summer beach retreat, thanks to its variety of beaches and unique attractions like the Lost Colony. You can experience a diverse array of attractions, from lounging on pristine beaches to taking nature walks in maritime forests and exploring historic lighthouses that have been guiding ships safely for centuries. Whether you want a fun-filled family trip, a romantic beach trip, or a sightseeing excursion on your own, take a look at the 10 best things to do in Outer Banks.

    1

    Outer Banks beaches

    Relax on the wild beaches

    • Adventure

    The Outer Banks beaches are one of the jewels of the area and are amongst the best in North Carolina. The beaches have miles of unspoiled coastline, dramatic, windswept dunes, and herds of wild horses that roam on the sand. The best Outer Banks beaches include Kitty Hawk, Nags Head, and Kill Devil Hills, all of which offer exciting watersports like surfing, skimboarding, sea kayaking, and fishing. Some beaches offer even more fun with maritime forest areas near the beaches, dog-friendly areas, and other activities.

    2

    Jockey's Ridge State Park

    Enjoy an afternoon in nature

    • Couples
    • Families

    Jockey’s Ridge State Park is a fun-filled park that’s also the tallest living sand dune on the Atlantic coast. Bordering Roanoke Sound, Jockey’s Ridge State Park offers numerous outdoor activities such as hang gliding and dune riding. The beach is perfect for sunbathing and swimming, especially with young children, and there’s a nature trail in the wetlands that takes you through fascinating maritime thickets teeming with wildlife. To learn more about the park, stop by the visitor centre and take a look at the exhibits on the dune’s ecology and history.

    Location: 330 W. Soundside Road, Nags Head, NC 27959, USA

    Open: Hours vary by season

    Phone: +1 252-441-7132

    Map
    3

    Jennette's Pier

    Catch a trophy fish at the pier

    • Adventure

    Jennette's Pier is a fun-filled attraction that’s one of the best fishing spots in the Outer Banks. One of the oldest attractions in the area, Jennette's Pier has numerous fishing spots, benches, and tackle shops for all your needs. Best of all, the entire pier has a blanket fishing licence, so everyone can fish on holiday without the need for an individual licence. Another highlight of Jennette's Pier is the educational centre, which features the Ocean Classroom and the “Giants of the Sea” exhibit that displays mounted trophy fish.

    Location: 7223 S Virginia Dare Trail, Nags Head, NC 27959, USA

    Open: Daily from 7 am to 9 pm

    Phone: +1 252-255-1501

    Map
    4

    Currituck Beach Lighthouse

    Explore a historic landmark

    • History

    The Currituck Beach Lighthouse is a historic landmark lighthouse that’s one of the largest in the country. Located in the heart of Corolla, the Currituck Beach Lighthouse is a functional lighthouse that stands 162 feet tall and is visible to passing ships for 18 nautical miles. The lighthouse is unique in its design with a red brick exterior. You can tour the interior of the lighthouse seasonally, but you can visit the lighthouse grounds all year long to see the landmark and its surrounding buildings.

    Location: 1101 Corolla Village Rd, Corolla, NC 27927, USA

    Open: 24/7

    Phone: +1 252-453-4939

    Map
    5

    Bodie Island Lighthouse

    Take in the views of the coast

    • History

    The Bodie Island Lighthouse is an iconic lighthouse on Bodie Island on Roanoke Sound. Built in 1872, the Bodie Island Lighthouse is a historic landmark that’s part of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. When you visit the lighthouse, you can climb the steps inside to take in the views of the Atlantic Ocean and Pamlico Sound from the top. The grounds also feature the original lighthouse keeper’s home that’s now a ranger station and information centre. During your visit, you can explore the marshlands and maritime forests on the island to see local wildlife.

    Location: 8210 Bodie Island Lighthouse, Nags Head, NC 27959, USA

    Open: Hours vary by season

    Phone: +1 252-441-5711

    Map
    6

    Roanoke Island Festival Park

    Learn about early English settlers

    • History

    Roanoke Island Festival Park is a vast historic park that re-creates what life was like for English settlers in 1585. The park features the Settlement Site and the Elizabeth II ship with costumed interpreters to tell the stories of the original settlers. You can also visit American Indian Town and the Adventure Museum, which have interactive exhibits to learn about history. Concerts and other events are also held at Roanoke Island Festival Park at the indoor theatre and outdoor pavilion on the waterfront.

    Location: 1 Festival Park, Manteo, NC 27954, USA

    Open: Tuesday–Saturday from 9 am to 5 pm (closed Sunday–Monday)

    Phone: +1 252-475-1500

    Map
    7

    Elizabethan Gardens

    Relax in a tranquil garden space

    • Couples
    • Families

    The Elizabethan Gardens are an elaborate garden space that’s designed in the style of the enchanting gardens of the Elizabethan era in England. Created as a memorial to the lost colonists who inhabited the Outer Banks centuries ago, the Elizabethan Gardens feature walled gardens with gazebos, native plants, perennials, and ornamental grasses. You’ll also see gorgeous Renaissance statues and a unique sunken knot garden. Throughout the year, the Elizabethan Gardens host seasonal festivals and events, such as the Harvest Hayday and WinterLights.

    Location: 1411 National Park Dr, Manteo, NC 27954, USA

    Open: Hours vary by season

    Phone: +1 252-473-3234

    Map
    8

    Outer Banks golf courses

    Play a few rounds on the oceanfront

    • Adventure

    Outer Banks golf courses are a big draw for travellers and offer exciting play on the waterfront. You have your choice of different golf experiences, from the traditional Scottish Nags Head Golf Links with Bermuda fairways and upscale club amenities to the scenic Sea Scape Golf Links on the edge of the Kitty Hawk Maritime Forest. Another fun experience is the Duck Woods Country Club course that features bent-grass greens, woodlands, canals, and wetlands for a unique and challenging experience.

    9

    North Carolina Aquariums

    See the wonders of marine life

    • Couples
    • Families

    The North Carolina Aquariums are a group of aquariums in Pine Knoll Shores, Roanoke Island, and Kure Beach. While each aquarium offers a unique experience, they all share collections of exotic and native species, interactive feeding experiences, dive shows, and live animal encounters. The Fort Fisher aquarium in Pine Knoll Shores offers exhibits on Cape Fear, coastal waters, and open oceans to see a wide variety of fish and other species, including an albino alligator and native venomous snakes. The Roanoke Island aquarium has a unique exhibit called the "Graveyard of the Atlantic" that houses sharks, game fish, and a replica of the USS Monitor Civil War wreck.

    10

    The Lost Colony

    Unravel the mysteries of lost settlers

    • History

    The Lost Colony is a performing arts theatre in the outdoors that offers an exciting glimpse into the mystery of the Lost Colony of Roanoke Island. In 1587, a group of English men, women, and children came to the shores of Roanoke Island to establish an English settlement. When the ships returned to bring supplies, the island was deserted and the settlers had disappeared, leaving only the word “Croatoan” carved into a structure. The performance at The Lost Colony recounts the history and mystery of the settlers with lively historic reenactments, costumes, and music.

    Location: 1409 National Park Dr, Manteo, NC 27954, USA

    Open: Hours vary

    Phone: +1 252-441-7132

    Map

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