Top 10 Things To Do on Your Outer Banks Vacation
The Outer Banks of North Carolina (sometimes stylized as “OBX”) is known worldwide as the #1 kiteboarding destination in the USA. Additionally, the Outer Banks (and Cape Hatteras especially) boasts some of the best and most consistent waves for surfing on America’s East Coast.
But what about other things to do besides water sports? Whether you are traveling alone, as a couple or in a family group with young children, the Outer Banks offers a wide variety of activities to keep everyone entertained and having fun all vacation long. Want to press the “easy button” on planning your Outer Banks activities? Check out our local-approved list of the Top 10 Things To Do on your Outer Banks Vacation:
#1- Pristine, Uncrowded Beaches
With over 100 miles of beautiful beaches on the Outer Banks, spending some time in the sand is a must. If you’re looking for solitude or just want to avoid any crowds, the beaches of Cape Hatteras (south of the Oregon Inlet Bridge) are where you want to be. There are miles and miles of empty beaches in Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge (in between Oregon Inlet and the village of Rodanthe) where you can sunbathe on secluded sands or walk for hours without seeing another person. The beaches fronting the small towns on Cape Hatteras are also uncrowded, and are a great place to enjoy a beach bonfire in the evenings (beach fire permits are FREE and can be obtained at the National Park Service website).
#2 – Live Outdoor Music
The Outer Banks has a vibrant music scene with many of the local bars and restaurants doubling as live music venues. While you can frequently find larger national music acts making a stop on the Outer Banks, there is also a large number of local artists turning heads each night with their musical talent and easy-going beach vibes. Be sure to check out the Sky Blue Summer Concert Series, with 115 nights of live waterfront performances rocking all summer long.
#3 – Cape Hatteras Lighthouse
The iconic Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, with its instantly recognizable black and white spiral pattern, is a “must-see” during your time on the Outer Banks. Built in 1868, Cape Hatteras Light stands 210 feet tall, one of the largest brick lighthouses in the world. Visitors who want the full experience can go inside Cape Hatteras Light and climb the 257 steps to the top for one of the best views on the Outer Banks. View Cape Hatteras Light climbing hours and details at the National Park Service Website.
#4 – Skateboarding & Skateparks
Originally created as a hobby for surfers who wanted to surf the streets on flat wave days, skateboarding has grown into one of the largest boardsport activities worldwide. It’s hard to find a young person today who has not spent some time on a skateboard, and for energetic skaters looking for something to do after hitting the beach, there’s no better option than one of the Outer Banks many FREE skate parks. Each park has its own personality and skateboarders can easily experience a variety of obstacles and skill levels by driving to the different park locations:
•Kitty Hawk Skatepark – FREE Admission: Located on Kitty Hawk Road in the town of Kitty Hawk, this park features an open street-style area with a mini-bowl in one corner.
•Aviation Skatepark – FREE Admission: Located at milepost 7.5 just south of the Wright Brothers National Memorial, the Aviation Skate Park features a concrete “flow” design with bowls and hips, as well as several street elements and rails.
•Manteo Skatepark – FREE Admission: Located in the town of Manteo on Roanoke Island, The Manteo Skatepark has a simple linear-flow setup with quarterpipes at each end and several street elements in between.
•Buxton Skate Park – FREE Admission: Located on Cape Hatteras in the town of Buxton, the Buxton Skate Park at Dare County’s Fessenden Center offers a full wooden bowl and several wooden street style ramps and rails.
#5 – Wright Brothers National Memorial
In 1903 the Outer Banks was the location of the first successful airplane flight thanks to the courage and determination of the Wright brothers Wilbur and Orville. The Wright Brothers Memorial (located at Milepost 7.5 on the west side of Highway 158) has exhibits about the original flight experiments, replicas of the original gliders and more. Check out the massive Wright Brother’s Monument and stand in the very spots where the Wright Brothers took off and landed during their historic 1903 flight. Visit the Wright Brothers National Memorial Website for more information.
#6 – First Flight Adventure Park
The First Flight Adventure Park is a one-of-a-kind Aerial Adventure Park where children and adults can climb, balance, swing and zip-line their way through 48 different obstacles of varying skill levels. Located at Milepost 16 waterfront on the Pamlico Sound, the park provides incredible views of Nags Head and the Pamlico Sound with obstacles and viewing platforms beginning at 12 feet off the ground and finishing at an impressive 50 feet high. Participants young and old can challenge themselves knowing they are safely harnessed into the overhead safety lines- watching friends and family stumble and fall on challenges is certainly one of the most fun parts (remember, they’re laughing WITH you…) and your group is sure to spend the rest of the day discussing and reliving the adventure. Do you have what it takes to make it all the way to the top challenge? For hours and additional info, visit the First Flight Adventure Park Website.
#7 – Oregon Inlet Fishing Center
Home of the largest and most modern charter boat fishing fleet on the eastern seaboard, Oregon Inlet Fishing Center is the perfect place to book a fishing charter or simply hang out on the docks and watch the massive charter boats unloading the daily catch. Because the Outer Banks stick so far out away from the mainland, charters leaving from Oregon Inlet Fishing Center only have to travel a short distance to hunt big fish in deep water or access the abundance of quality fishing in the Gulf Stream. Contact the REAL Pros for more information about booking an Oregon Inlet Fishing Charter during your stay on the Outer Banks.
#8 – The Lost Colony
An Outer Banks institution since 1937, The Lost Colony is the nation’s premier and longest-running outdoor symphonic drama. This compelling outdoor play celebrates the very first English colony of 117 men, women, and children, who settled on Roanoke Island in 1587 before vanishing without a trace in 1590. See epic battles, indian dances, heartbreak and celebration at this legendary outdoor production hosted in Manteo’s Waterside Theatre. For showtimes and ticket information, visit The Lost Colony Website.
#9 – Chicamacomico Lifesaving Station Museum
Located in the Village of Rodanthe on Cape Hatteras, at the easternmost point in North Carolina, the Chicamacomico Lifesaving Station was originally built in 1874 and is one of the most overlooked historic sites on the Outer Banks. Originally serving as a station for the United States Life-Saving Service from 1874, Chicamacomico became one of the original United States Coast Guard stations when the USCG was formed in 1915. Visitors can enjoy touring the site, as well as check out exhibits and view daily programs about North Carolina’s first US Life-Saving Service Station. Chicamacomico Lifesaving Station & Museum are open Monday through Friday 10am – 5pm.
#10 – Epic Sunrises and Sunsets
With incredible open-water views to the East and the West, you can watch nature’s greatest light show two times every day on the Outer Banks. For the early risers, head over to the east-facing beaches to watch the sun rise over the Atlantic Ocean. In the evenings, cruise west to one of the countless waterfront vantage points to watch the sun set into the Pamlico Sound. Sunsets are especially beautiful on the Outer Banks as amazing colors of red, orange, blue and purple take over the sky, playing off the clouds and reflecting off the water. Watermen’s Bar & Grill is one of the best places on the Outer Banks to watch the sunset, with live kiteboarding action, a full bar, live music, and full dinner menu, all with a perfect view from the covered outdoor deck.
Want even more tips on where to go on the Outer Banks? This short list is only a sample of our favorite Outer Banks activities. Our REAL Pros are standing by with all the local knowledge you need to make a great vacation. For more information or help planning your Outer Banks vacation, contact the REAL Pros at realwatersports.com/contact or give us a call at 252-987-6000.