16 Reasons Why The Outer Banks is Special
The Outer Banks is a place unlike any other. Once you cross over the Wright Memorial Bridge that connects Kitty Hawk to mainland North Carolina, it's an immediate mood booster, despite how far you had to drive to get here.
You could describe the area as a thriving chain of ever-shifting barrier islands with the wind and waves. Hundreds of thousands of visitors from the Midwest and Northeast flock to the islands each summer to enjoy a week of relaxation and excitement.
From our perspective, here are 16 reasons why Outer Banks is so extraordinary. And yes, this list could be longer!
1.) Plentiful fresh seafood in the area grocery stores and restaurants. You can buy shrimp, crabs, oysters, and fish just caught earlier in the day.
2.) Award-winning beaches await you and your group of family and friends. The central beaches of Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills, and Nags Head have numerous public beach accesses, each with ample parking. In addition, all 200 miles of coastline are free game as there are no private beaches.
3.) Home to some of the best surfing spots on the East Coast! Thanks to the many sandbars, along with the fact that the islands jut out into the Atlantic Ocean, many days out of the calendar year are ideal for surfing.
4.) Jockey's Ridge State Park in Nags Head is the tallest natural dune system in the eastern United States. It's 100% free to climb the dunes, stop at the visitor center and peruse the on-site museum. Be sure to bring a kite!
5.) The tallest all-brick lighthouse in the United States towers 208 feet from the bottom of the foundation, Cape Hatteras Lighthouse Buxton, NC. To reach the top, you'll have to hike 268 steps. Is the trek worth it?
6.) Speaking of lighthouses, the Outer Banks has five that you can visit and a few of which the public can climb to the top. View our map of each Outer Banks lighthouse and formulate a plan on how you can visit as many as possible during your coastal getaway.
7.) Spanish mustang horses can be spotted roaming the beaches and subdivisions of Corolla, NC. Take as many pictures as you’d like; just don’t attempt to pet these wild animals, as it’s illegal!
8.) Do you recall learning about the "Lost Colony" in history class in grade school? That happened here on Roanoke Island. An ongoing outdoor drama depicting the story and characters sells out on many nights during the summer.
9.) The Outer Banks Brewing Station located in Nags Head is the world's first wind-powered brewery. The restaurant is open daily, and the craft beer is delicious!
10.) There are about 200 miles of pristine beaches to enjoy. Isn't that reason enough to visit the Outer Banks?
11.) Along the coast, there are many lodging options for your entire crew of close family and friends. Anything from a 20-bedroom oceanfront estate to a two-bedroom condo on the soundfront, there's something for every family.
12.) The Outer Banks is an angler's paradise, from oceanfront piers to offshore charters. Chartered fishing tours are available at Pirate's Cove Marina and Oregon Inlet Fishing Center.
13.) There are about a handful of piers along the coast - Jennette's Pier in Nags Head and Avalon Fishing Pier in Kill Devil Hills are two of the more popular ones. Soft shell crabs are caught locally and are an absolute delicacy. You're missing out if you've never had one between two pieces of bread with a little tartar sauce and some tomato and lettuce!
14.) In 1902, the Wright brothers put Kitty Hawk, NC, in the history books forever when they successfully built and flew the world's first motor-operated airplane from a dune on the Outer Banks. You can visit where it all took place year-round at the Wright Brothers National Memorial.
15.) Want to see a black bear? First, travel inland a few miles to Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge, home to a sizable population of bears. Then, head to the Refuge just before dark and drive in your car with a good pair of binoculars nearby. If you're lucky, you'll see a couple of bears scurrying across the gravel road in front of you in search of something to eat before bed.
16.) Many winding waterways on the sound side to paddle board or kayak along. If you don't have a watercraft of your own, there are many places to rent one by the hour, day, or week. Be sure to wear a life jacket.