Corolla NC Town Vacation Information and History

corolla nc soundside outer banks nc


Situated at the northern-most portion of the Outer Banks, Corolla, North Carolina is a vacationer favorite for many reasons: beautiful beachfront cottages, charming local shops and restaurants, plenty of area attractions (like Currituck Beach Light), and of course, the wild mustang horses found roaming the beaches near the North Carolina and Virginia border.

Touted as one of the most secluded and upscale towns of all on the OBX, many visitors travel to Corolla for a week-long vacation and never end up leaving the town until departure.

If you’re a vacationer looking to get away from it all while still enjoying some of the very best accommodations, water sports, dining and shopping attractions that the Outer Banks has to offer, consider staying in Corolla, North Carolina.

Like every other town on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, Corolla is a narrow barrier island that’s bordered by the Currituck Sound to the west and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. There are only approximately 500 residents that live in the town year-round.

There are quite a few subdivision developments – some of which are listed below – that are filled with mostly vacation rental homes ranging in size from cozy three bedroom cottages to large mansions that have more than ten bedrooms and an excess of 10,000 square feet.

Many Corolla vacation rental homes have luxurious amenities such as private heated pools, spacious outdoor hot tubs, direct beach access, recreation rooms, and even theater rooms.

Vacationers will enjoy the town’s clusters of shopping complexes such as the TimBuck II, Monterey Plaza, Corolla Light Town Center, and The Shoppes at the Currituck Club to name a few. Shops found in these developments vary from delightful mom and pop shops to chain retail stores you’ll find elsewhere in the country. Vacationers can stock up on grocery necessities at one of the town’s Harris Teeter or Food Lion supermarkets.

Vacationers who’d prefer to have someone else do the cooking and cleaning will have no trouble finding an appropriate Corolla restaurant. Whether you’re looking for breakfast, lunch or dinner, casual or intimate dining, you’ll be able to easily find the perfect place for a meal in Corolla.


corolla nc wild horses outer banks nc

Wild Horses of Corolla, North Carolina

One of the town’s claim to fame (besides the red-brick lighthouse) is the over 100 feral horses spotted roaming the beaches, roads, and backyards in the area. Highly guarded and protected by several local organizations including the Corolla Wild Horse Fund, visitors are often informed by area natives and local law enforcement that being within 100 feet of the horses is illegal.

Although a bustling vacation town, Corolla is also served as a permanent sanctuary for the horses that are considered as a “cultural treasure” by the State of North Carolina.

Many Outer Banks visitors consider seeing the wild horses found in Corolla on their “bucket list” of things to do while on vacation. There is no shortage of local businesses that specialize in giving “wild horse tours” on a regular basis during the summer months.

Vacationers can choose between guided and self-guided tours that last about 20 miles round trip with a majority of the distance spent driving on the 4×4 only beaches of Carova – the northern-most portion of Corolla that’s only accessible by four-wheel drive.


Currituck Beach Lighthouse in Corolla, North Carolina

Major Attractions in Corolla, North Carolina

The former residence of Edward Collings Kinight Jr. and his wife Marine Louise LeBel in the 1920s, the Whalehead Club is one of the largest homes on the Outer Banks.

Boasting over 21,000 square feet of living space for the former residents, the structure cost a staggering $385,000 (a huge sum of money at the time) and took a total of three years to build. Visitors can now tour the residence and take a walk back in time to see how the ultra-rich lived over 100 years ago.

Easily the tallest structure on the Outer Banks north of Bodie Island Lighthouse, thousands of Corolla visitors stop by the 162-foot-tall, all red-brick Currituck Beach Lighthouse during their vacation each year.

The structure first opened in December of 1875 and its bright lens is responsible for saving countless sailors lives over the years. Vacationers can climb the over 200 stairs to the top during the summertime and enjoy panoramic views of the Currituck Sound and the Atlantic Ocean that are unparalleled from any other vantage point on the Outer Banks.

The Outer Banks Center for Wildlife Education is located right on the Currituck Sound, this Corolla attraction has an array of interesting wildlife displays and exhibits and is a highly kid-friendly place to check out.

Visitors can tour the building, feed the fish, and view the rotating short films free of any charge. A perfect stop between visiting the neighboring red-brick lighthouse or on a rainy day.

Other Attractions Found in Corolla, NC

Although the 200-mile stretch of barrier islands known as the Outer Banks have numerous attractions and on-going events, the beach is the biggest draw for most people who choose the area for a family vacation. And like most towns on the coast north of Cape Hatteras National Seashore, many people travel to Corolla to enjoy the area’s pristine, unspoiled beaches.

There are far fewer public beach accesses located in Corolla that make their wide-open patches of sand typically less crowded than nearby towns of Kitty Hawk and Kill Devil Hills.

In fact, vacationers frequently boast about how easy it is to find a spot away from other beach goers set up their beach umbrella and relax in the sand a good distance away from the nearest person. This seclusion along with the town’s abnormally wide beaches (compared to other OBX towns) is one of the biggest draws that keep vacationers continuing to choose Corolla time and time again.

Although there are fewer beach accesses than other OBX towns, entrance to the shoreline and the Atlantic Ocean is highly accessible to visitors staying in Corolla vacation rental homes. Area visitors can rest assured that instructions on how and where the nearest beach access that’s specifically accessible to them is located at – most of the time it’s well within walking distance.

Visitors looking for more excitement beyond relaxing on the beach or swimming in the Atlantic Ocean should look into the town’s various water sport rental options available at locally-owned companies like Kitty Hawk Kites and Ocean Atlantic Rentals. You can rent anything from stand up paddleboards, kayaks, and surfboards, to sailboats and jet skis. There are also guided kayak tours offered at a number of local businesses that take participants through the backwaters of the Currituck Sound.

For activities that don’t involve a bathing suit, visitors can check out the 18-hole Currituck Club golf course that is considered one of the best in the area. Outdoor lovers should consider visiting the Estuarine Nature Walk found near the 4×4 beaches of Carova.

Don’t want to spend a lot of dough but still want to have a lot of fun during your vacation? Check out our list of 8 free and cheap things to do in Corolla, NC.

Where to Eat

Urban Kitchen
A small, intimate farm-to-table eatery with culinary experts that truly care about the quality of what leaves their kitchen and ends up on your plate. Featuring a seasonal menu that’s ever changing with an always delectable offering of seafood and American entrees. Unlike really any other restaurant on the Outer Banks. They do not accept reservations, so be sure to arrive accordingly to avoid a long wait that’s always worth it.

603B Currituck Clubhouse Drive
Corolla, NC 27927
(252) 453-4453

La Dolce Vita
An authentic Italian restaurant located on a barrier island – come enjoy hand-tossed pizzas, homemade sauces, carb-heavy breads and tantalizing offering of desserts. Patron favorites include mussels, crab and shrimp penne vodka, seafood diablo, bone-in veal Parmesan and house made lasagna. Dining room has many tables that overlook the Currituck Sound with picturesque sunsets nightly. Open for lunch and dinner. Full-service bar featuring an extensive wine list as well as craft beers and specialty cocktails.

798 C Sunset Blvd.
TimBuck II Shopping Village
Corolla, NC 27927
(252) 453-0069

Lighthouse Bagels
No frills breakfast and lunch joint specializing in homemade bagels and donuts along with deli sandwiches and salads. Their apple fritters and French toast are legit delicious as well. Just about the best breakfast restaurant in Corolla, and that’s how this locally-owned establishment has had so much success for nearly two decades. Come enjoy artisan New York/New Jersey bagels delivered by a friendly employee with a smile.

807 Ocean Trail
Corolla, NC 27927
(252) 453-9998

There are more restaurants than just the ones listed above in Corolla, these are just a few of our favorites!

Corolla History Facts

  • Native Americans that lived on the mainland hunted and fished on what is now known as Corolla.
  • It is believed that European settlers resided in the area by the late 1600s and early 1700s.
  • Prior to early 1800, the area was separated from Virginia and the neighboring town of Duck by inlets, and so accessible only by boat.
  • Several communities appeared on the northern Outer Banks by the mid-1800s with early inhabitants hunting, fishing, raising livestock, serving as guides for visiting sportsmen, tending gardens and salvaging shipwrecks to make a living.
  • The U.S. Lifesaving Service established what would later become the Currituck Beach Life Saving Station in 1874.
  • Construction on Currituck Beach Lighthouse, one of the seven North Carolina coastal lighthouses, was completed in 1875.
  • According to legend, Corolla was named in 1895 when the community’s newly established post office was seeking a name. One of the submissions was “Corolla,” the inner part of a flower.
  • During WWII, residents were forced to darken windows and prohibited from using headlights to avoid detection by German u-boats that came close to shore.