The Ultimate Cheat Sheet For an Awesome Outer Banks Vacation
How to have a family friendly vacation in Outer Banks, North Carolina.
I am so excited to be going to Outer Banks for a quiet, peaceful family getaway! I like to plan. I thought I would share some of the adventures I discovered with those of you planning a family friendly vacation in Outer Banks.
First, Outer Banks is a collection of Barrier Islands that offer some of the most beautiful views and darkest skies you can find! For history lovers like us, this location is ripe with opportunities. Roanoke Island and the Lost Colony is a mystery that has intrigued me ever since fourth grade. I also loved the tales of Blackbeard the pirate and his hidden treasure. The Wright Brothers and their first flight took off from here. 12 seconds that changed the world as we know it. And so much more. I simply can not wait to be standing on these shores.
The Outer Banks is a 200-mile (320-km) long string of narrow peninsulas and barrier islands off the coast of North Carolina and a small portion of Virginia, beginning in the southeastern corner of Virginia Beach on the east coast of the United States.
Shell Collecting: Word has it that one of the best places in the world to collect sea shells is in Outer Banks! We intend to make this part of our vacation by visiting Hatteras Island and then taking the ferry over to Ocracoke. I have been advised to go just after the high tide has withdrawn for the best variety!
The sound of ocean waves, the starry night sky, or the calm of the salt marshes, you can experience it all. Shaped by the forces of water, wind, and storms these islands are ever changing. The plants, wildlife, and people who live here adapt continually.
Destination Ocracoke! The official Ocracoke Civic & Business Tourism Site. Ocracoke – a charming village with 16 miles of undeveloped ocean beaches.
Explore the History: The Outer Banks is absolutely overflowing with history. Big History! Think, The Lost Colony, Black Beard’s famous Teach’s Hole, and the place of the Wright Brothers first flight! I have wanted to visit Roanoke Island ever since I was a little girl so I can not wait for that one. My son loves pirates and the lure of Blackbeard calls to him. We all want to visit the Wright Memorial. Learn more about these historic places and much more below.
A history of making history. The rules are different out here. Shaped by nature just like the Outer Banks were swept from the Atlantic Ocean. The first colonists to settle the Americas only to mysteriously disappear. The first flight launched by two brothers, forever changing the trajectory of the human race.
Outer Banks culture at its best.Roanoke Island and its waterfront town of Manteo are located between the North Carolina mainland and the barrier island beach towns. Manteo and sister community, Wanchese, have a flair all their own, and an historic legacy that carries through your experience.
Fly a Kite: Would you believe Mr. Wonderful has never flown a kite? I couldn’t! As a girl who grew up with the Maine coast as her playground, this is an activity I want to share with both him and T. Maybe I am being nostalgic but I find it an irresistible opportunity. Everyone seems to be in agreement that the best place to score a kite is Kitty Hawk Kites. That said, most people recommend Jockey’s Ridge State Park as the best place in Outer Banks to let it soar. Envision sand dunes that are so vast that when you find yourself in their center you almost believe you are in a desert. Sand as far as the eyes can see. But continue on and suddenly some of the most stunning views of Lady Atlantic emerge.
Jockey’s Ridge is the largest natural sand dune on the east coast. Wildlife, ecology, recreation, park info and the Friends of Jockey’s Ridge.
Hunt Ghost Crabs: This is something I first heard about while vacationing in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. It was a beautiful night and while the sun had long since set we decided to stay riding our boogie boards in the moonlight. That night there was a Supermoon and it set a magical atmosphere. To this day, T says this was his favorite vacation moment ever! That says a lot! Anyway, as we played we heard a group approaching. They were carrying flashlights and would suddenly launch in one direction or another. We had no idea what they were up to until my sister, a local, informed us they were hunting tiny crabs. None would be hurt she assured me and they were too tiny to eat. It was all about the chase. As the family drew closer I watched them and realized that while the kids were having a ball, their parents were just as into it! All five were smiling and laughing as they cast the flashlight beams this way and that. I want to play too!
Interested in the local Outer Banks nightlife? Head to the beach. One of the most popular after-dark activities on the OBX beaches is ghost crab hunting, and all a prospective OBX Hunter needs to participate is a flashlight and a love of the great outdoors.
Visit Duck Town Boardwalk: We chose a rental home in Duck because almost everyone we asked said it was the best place for a peaceful stay. Home of the famous Duck Donuts and a boardwalk with views that take your breath away plus a variety of restaurants and shops to enjoy, it sounds amazing!
Watch the Stars: Since T was just a baby, I have taken him outside with blankets on warm summer nights and we have laid under the stars together getting lost in the beauty of creation. We still do this every summer. I hope we always will. It turns out the Outer Banks is known to have some of the darkest skies with the brightest stars. Bring on the Milky Way in all its glory, undiluted by lights or smog. I can hardly wait to take these in!
My fascination with dark skies began in central Australia. The allure only grew with my first visit to the Grand Canyon. There, staring into the vast darkness I saw more stars than I had ever seen. In the mountains of North Carolina I was spoiled by the absence of light.
The attractions are vast. If you want to see lighthouses take your pick. There are five to choose from. Get a closer look at the Lighthouses here.
If you want to dive shipwrecks, the Outer Banks is a hot spot! Check out this list of the Top Ten Wreck Dives of North Carolina.
While natural wildlife surrounds you, kids may still be interested in learning more by visiting the North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island.
Outer Banks is also home to the Elizabethan Gardens. 13 acres of garden and history coexist. A free audio tour is available.
Once again, I am so excited to visit Outer Banks. I will follow-up with a post after I get home and have had a chance to experience things for myself. I will also share whatever I discover from the locals, the ultimate source for a great vacation.
Have you been to Outer Banks? If so please share your favorite places in the comments below. Your opinion matters to us.
Thanks for visiting our little blog. Be blessed!