Duck NC Town Vacation Information and History

Beach in Duck, North Carolina


The town of Duck with its waterfront dining and pristine beaches – some of the best for shell collecting – is without a doubt a top-notch vacation spot.

The origin of the town name, like so many Outer Banks villages, can be traced back through history.

Some, like Kill Devil Hills, originate in pirate lore. Duck, as you might imagine has more to do with the abundant waterfowl than the crossed bones or swords of the Jolly Roger. Hunters have been flocking to the area since the 1800's to bag their limit. Hence, Duck.

Incorporated in 2002, it is also the Outer Banks newest town, though hunters and gamesmen have been flocking to the area since the 1800's in pursuit of the abundant waterfowl that gives Duck its namesake. Today, that same rich ecology sets the tone for numerous water sports and outdoor adventures, fine dining, and eclectic shopping that thousands enjoy each year. A very popular walking/cycling trail runs parallel to Highway 12. Every morning and late afternoon, this is the place to be when staying in Duck, as hundreds use this paved path daily during the summer. Of course, the beaches of this savvy resort town are fantastic.

Some of the most gorgeous and extravagant cottages on the Outer Banks can be found in Duck, and dining opportunities are just as rich in atmosphere and development of fair. Duck has enjoyed phenomenal growth in the past few years, yet only 500 residents live here year round. Bounded by the Currituck Sound to the west, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east, the area offers ample opportunities to kayak, jet ski, and wind surf. Some local restaurants offer open air dining or walks along the veranda. The beach affords great shell collecting opportunities, especially in the off season when the pickings are yours.

Accessible by NC Highway 12, Duck was barely more than a few homes for local fishermen/hunting guides and a small grocery store until the mid-1970's when development of the northern Outer Banks began. In a former life, Duck was home to a thriving commercial fowl industry, and the U.S. Navy even used its remote expanse as a practice bombing range. Those that lived here often worked as game or fishing guides to supplement their incomes. Duck, like all of the other communities on the Outer Banks, originally developed as a sound side community --to seek protection from the ocean during storms.

At the north end of the town, the Army Research Pier is a fascinating attraction worth an afternoon tour. The facility was created to study the dynamic processes of a barrier islands. Over the years, a wealth of data gathered during hurricanes and nor'easters have helped planners and builders better understand the impact of wind, water, and waves on coastal construction.

This charming little resort town, with only 500 year-round residents sports several beaches that are listed as some of the best in the nation. Water sports and outdoor adventure, a nationally recognized jazz festival, world-class dining, and eclectic shopping put Duck on the bucket list for many travelers and vacationers.

With Currituck Sound to the west, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east, kayaking, jet skiing, fishing, surfing, shell collecting and much more await visitors to Duck. Shell collecting, especially in the off-season is some of the best on the eastern seaboard. The area is great for beachcombers and bird enthusiasts. More than 400 species of birds have been sighted in the area.

Many local restaurants offer al fresco dining and most of the town’s shops and restaurants are connected by the Duck Trail, a walking path that runs the length of the town parallel to Highway 12. One can also stroll along the sound-side boardwalk which offers amazing sunset views of the Currituck Sound.

Duck may be a charming little resort town, but tucked in among the pines and dunes are some of the Outer Banks’ most gorgeous and extravagant vacation homes.

Quaint boutiques, fine dining, and eclectic shops help give the area its charm. Other vacationer favorites include open-air dining spots and restaurants where visitors can walk along verandas.

Let us show you where they are hidden for your next vacation in Duck, NC!

Water Sports Activities

Thanks to the town of Duck’s proximity to the Atlantic Ocean and Currituck Sound, water sports are a huge area attraction.

Duck has a similar landscape to neighboring Currituck County towns of Carova and Corolla; however, a larger portion of Duck’s local economy is based on water sports like jet skiing, kayaking, and surfing.

Although many people who stay in the town have never been sailing on the open water or been on a stand-up paddleboard, hundreds if not thousands of people partake in activities based on the water.

Over half a dozen locally-owned businesses specialize in providing all of the equipment you need for fun on the water in Duck.

Vacationers should consider partaking in guided kayak tours or sailing excursions, or rent the proper equipment and create your own tour; departing from any water access readily available.

Regardless of if you spend your summer days lounging on the town’s unspoiled beaches, eating your way around Duck, or partaking in a high-intensity water sport on either the Currituck Sound or the Atlantic Ocean, you’re sure to have a memorable vacation at one of the Outer Banks’ highly regarded towns.

Where to Shop

Vacationers choose to stay in Duck instead of another Outer Banks town for many reasons, one of which is the town’s fantastic options for shopping. A far cry from your typical chain retail establishments find elsewhere around the nation, locals compare Duck’s shopping scene as the Outer Banks’ “Rodeo Drive.” However unlike Beverly Hills, visitors can enjoy an array of quirky art galleries, specialty clothing stores, and mom and pop restaurants abound while touring the town on foot.

Most every shop in Duck is locally-owned by a longtime Outer Banks local and you’ll feel good about helping to support the local economy (while getting your fix of retail therapy).

The shops in Duck are clustered into a half-mile strip and once you find a place to park, you and your group can enjoy hours of unique shopping and dining options. There is a paved path alongside N.C. 12 that keeps travel by foot safe for pedestrians. If your vacation rental home is close enough to downtown Duck, a bicycle is a preferred method (if of course, it’s not raining).

There are a plethora of spots to park your eco-friendly form of transportation and you’ll be able to get a bit of a workout and eliminate the worry of finding a parking spot. If you didn’t strap your family’s group of bikes to the back of your car, you can always rent a bicycle from Atlantic Rentals or several other local businesses.

No matter your age, personal style, or whatnot, you’re sure to enjoy the terrific shopping options available in the quaint town of Duck.

Tip: Rainy days, as well as summer weekends, are typically the most crowded days for shopping in Duck.

Notable Restaurants

Blue Point Restaurant Located in Duck, NC

The Blue Point

Fine dining at its best on the Outer Banks! Unrivaled waterfront views of the Pamlico Sound with a menu covered in tantalizing southern coastal cuisine and fine wine. Expect to receive service from a tentative waitstaff that’s well versed in all of the offerings and daily specials. Their culinary team in the kitchen knows just how to prepare a seared pork chop or broiled fish entree.

The Blue Point in Duck is open year-round for lunch and dinner. You will not be disappointed with a trip to this locally-owned favorite that first opened its doors to business back in 1989. Reservations are not required, but are highly recommended!

1240 Duck Road
Duck, NC 27949
(252) 261-8090


Duck Donuts Located in Duck, NC Outer Banks

Duck Donuts

Where it all started! Custom donuts individually made-to-order with your specific specifications and requirements. Duck Donuts has stores in many states outside of North Carolina now, and it all started right here in Duck not so many years ago.

Order by the individual donut or choose a variety pack of a dozen to go to share with friends and family. Duck Donuts is open year-round and not just for breakfast! Why have ice cream for dessert when you can have a soft, warm donut following your seafood feast?

1190 Duck Road
Duck, NC 27949
(252) 480-3304


Paper Canoe Restaurant in Duck, NC

The Paper Canoe

Creative culinary options in a warm and inviting waterfront restaurant atmosphere. This bistro offers a menu filled with wood-fired pizzas, seafood, steaks & cocktails. Daily specials are tempting and creative, and the waitstaff is both friendly and helpful.

Great selection of desserts and the seafood trio is must-try for anyone who enjoys food caught out of the Atlantic. Shrimp and grits, as well as the oysters Rockefeller, are solid choices as well.

1564 Duck Road
Duck, NC 27949
(252) 715-2220


Roadside Bar and Grill Located in Duck, NC

Roadside Bar & Grill

Opened in 1995 and headquartered in literally the oldest house in Duck, the Roadside is a classic and infinitely cool destination for locals and visitors alike. The Roadside’s menu consists of many seafood favorites you’ve come to enjoy.

Dog-friendly outdoor seating with a backyard bar with seating and a stage set up for live music/entertainment during the summer months.

1193 Duck Road
Duck, NC 27949
(252) 261-5729