The Outer Banks offers relaxation and adventure for visitors and includes an abundance of attractions and activities. Naturally, the sprawling beaches are the focal point for most travelers and vacationers, but there is so much more to explore.
In addition to five lighthouses in the region, there is also Jockey’s Ridge State Park, several museums, the Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kill Devil Hills, and six professional golf courses. Fishing, hang gliding, horseback riding and, of course, plenty of watersports can be enjoyed as well. All considered, the list of interesting things to do seems endless, but we’ve managed to pinpoint our Favorite 5.
The Outer Banks beaches stretch 100+ miles along the barrier islands of the eastern coast of North Carolina. They are widely known for their cleanliness and beauty, with deep sand dunes and clusters of sea oats.
Each beach offers something different to travelers. For example, the northern shores of Kitty Hawk and Kill Devil Hills are superior for surfing, whereas the shores of Hatteras Island are better suited to fishing and sailing. Visitors will also find great campgrounds in this region and access to 4X4 driving along the beach.
No matter where you choose, remember that tides and currents can be intense and are to be respected. For more information on beaches, visit the Outer Banks tourism authority website.
Cape Hatteras National Seashore
One of the most popular stretches of beach in the Outer Banks is the 70 miles that make up the picturesque Cape Hatteras National Seashore. It is in this region that visitors will find the famed Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, which is the tallest lighthouse in the US and can be climbed for beautiful panoramic views of the area. All lighthouses in the Outer Banks are open to the public from the third Friday in April to Columbus Day, and Hatteras is no different. The fee to climb is $8 for adults and $4 for children younger than 12.
More than 360 species of birds make their home in the Outer Banks and the Cape Hatteras Seashore is a good place to see them, along with sea turtles which can be found on the shores.
For more information, visit the National Park Service’s website.
North Carolina Aquarium
If you are interested in discovering what types of sea creatures inhabit the waters of the Outer Banks, consider spending some time at the North Carolina Aquarium in Roanoke. This facility is home to a wide variety of marine life, including sharks, stingrays, and giant turtles. Also on display are some mammals that can be found on the Outer Banks shores, such as river otters, frogs, and alligators. An interactive experience awaits at the Sea Turtle Rescue exhibit.
The aquarium also houses a cafe and gift shop, plus educational talks and animal feedings.
The aquarium is small but worth a visit with ticket prices of $12.95 for adults. Reduced rates apply to children under 12, seniors, and military personnel. Behind-the-scenes experiences, day camps, and shark dives can be arranged at an extra cost. For additional information, visit the aquarium website.
Wright Brothers National Memorial
If you have ever wondered where North Carolina’s ‘First in Flight’ motto came from, the answer is the Outer Banks — Kill Devil Hills specifically, near Kitty Hawk. Although the Wright Brothers of Wilbur and Orville originally did not live in North Carolina, they pursued their aviation goals in the region and chose Kitty Hawk for their first flight, mainly due to the landscape and strong winds. Today, tourists can pay homage to these pioneers of flight by exploring the Wright Brothers Visitor Center, their restored hanger, and a 60-foot monument in the shape of an airplane tail. Guided tours are available.
The memorial is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., 364 days a year (Christmas Day is the only exception). Tickets run $10 for adults, ages 15 and under are free. For additional information, click on the National Park Service’s website.
Wild Horses of Corolla
The Wild Colonial Spanish Mustangs of the Outer Banks provide a thrill for visitors. Located mostly in Corolla, in Currituck County (the northernmost region of the Outer Banks and accessible via Highway 12) these feral beauties are among the oldest residents of the region and can be seen running along the beaches and frolicking in the dunes.
It is said that the horses date back almost 500 years when they were left behind by Spanish explorer Lucas Vázquez de Ayllón circa 1521.
Visitors can explore the region on their own with the hope of seeing the wild horses in their natural surroundings, or opt for a ‘seasonal’ tour via the Corolla Wild Horse Fund. Since Wild Horse Adventure Tours is familiar with the horses’ favorite turf, they can increase the chance at a sighting.
Lead (Jeanette’s Pier) — Wallpaper Safari
Beaches — Wallpaper Dog
Cape Hatteras Seashore — HD Wallpapers
North Carolina Aquarium — North Carolina Aquarium Public Facebook Profile
Wright Brothers Monument — Hip Wallpaper
Wild Horse of Corolla — Wallpaperflare.com