17 Cheap & Free Things to Do in Nags Head NC

An Outer Banks vacation can be expensive.

With the cost of lodging, groceries, dining out, gas, and sunscreen, things start to add up quickly! But, if your wallet is hurting or you’re trying to be thrifty, this list will help you enjoy your stay without spending a fortune.

So, without further ado, here is our list of 17 free and cheap things to do while vacationing in or near the coastal town of Nags Head, NC.

Oceanfront Houses Nags Head NC Outer Banks OBX

1. Climb the dunes at Jockey’s Ridge State Park. Enjoy a complimentary cardio workout on the tallest natural dune system in the Eastern United States. If you haven’t climbed the dunes here, you’re missing out!

2. Enjoy a sound-side sunset. The Outer Banks Event Site at milepost 16 has plenty of parking and viewing.

3. Check out the small aquarium within Jennette’s Pier. Viewing the half a dozen tanks within the pier house is entirely free.

4. Stroll along the pier boardwalk at Jennette’s Pier. It will cost you only a couple of bucks per person to walk along the pier, and it’s worth it.

5. Go body surfing in the break. Your body will save you some dough on a surfboard rental. Plus, it's excellent exercise.

6. Catch the sunrise. It’s hard to get out of bed, but it’s worth it once you’re on the beach and the sun rises over the horizon.

7. Visit Bodie Island Lighthouse. It costs a few dollars to climb to the top. Visiting the grounds and taking a bunch of pictures from the base of this lighthouse in Nags Head is free, though.

8. Journey across the Bonner Bridge. Seriously the view of the sandbars, ocean, and sound is breathtaking. Let someone else do the driving; you just enjoy the view.

9. Watch the boats unload their catch. Then, arrive at Oregon Inlet Fishing Center around 4 or 5 to check out what everyone caught for the day. Captains and crew will usually toss their catch-up on the deck for everyone to see.

10. Walk along the beach. Quite possibly the way to end any day. Start walking just before dark and let the stars guide you back to where you started.

11. Visit the shops at Jockey’s Ridge Crossing. It doesn’t cost anything at the window shop! And you can score some free samples from the fudge store if you’re lucky.

12. Check out the artwork at Seagreen Gallery. Full of really unique art pieces, the owner of this small establishment is seriously talented.

13. Journey through Nags Head Woods Ecological Preserve. Giant pine trees and enchanting trails await you in this not-so-well-known portion of Nags Head. A great spot to visit during your Nags Head vacation, and completely free!

14. Feed the seagulls on the beach. The only cost for this activity is the price of a loaf of bread. Good idea to do this either in the early morning or late afternoon to avoid disturbing everyone else on the beach.

15. Build a sandcastle. This one is a no-brainer; building an impressive fortress on the beach won’t cost a dime, and it's a fun activity for everyone in the family.

16. Visit the new Dowdy’s Park. What used to be a small amusement park is now a regular park owned and operated by the Town of Nags Head. There’s a playground for the little ones and a few other surprises.

17. Indulge in a treat from Duck Donuts. Stop by their location at the Outer Banks Mall in Nags Head for one or a dozen donuts made in front of your offerings. During the summer, Duck Donuts is open past the afternoon. Donuts are only about $1, so dig in!

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