7 of the Best Things to Do in Corolla (A Lighthouse, Wild Horses, and More!)

Last Updated on January 7, 2022

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On the northern end of the Outer Banks of North Carolina, is a wonderful village full of history, wild horses, beautiful scenery, and plenty of other attractions to experience. While it’s not as commercialized as other OBX towns, we’ve discovered plenty of fun things to do in Corolla, for every type of traveler!

Surrounded by the Currituck Sound on one side and the Atlantic Ocean on the other, you’ll pristine beaches and places to swim, but what else is there to do? Where are the best places to go?

That’s what we plan to cover in this guide to Corolla and how you can enjoy it as we have.

Of course, we want to prepare you for the trip, too, so we’ve included details about Corolla’s location and tips before you go. Here’s how we’ve organized the guide:

  • Where is Corolla?
  • What is There to Do in Corolla? (+ Who Should Visit?)
  • The Best Things to Do in Corolla (Historic Corolla Village and Beyond)
  • Places to Eat
  • Things to Do Nearby
  • More Things to Do in the Outer Banks (Related Posts)

If you already know how to prepare for an Outer Banks trip, you can skip ahead to those things to do in Corolla. Otherwise, keep reading for our tips and how to find Corolla.

Read More: The Best Things to Do in The Outer Banks (Food, Where to Stay, and More!)

Where is Corolla?

Map of North Carolina highlighting Currituck County.svg

Corolla is in Currituck County and classified as part of the Outer Banks. The county is separated by Currituck Sound, with Corolla on the barrier island side.

There are multiple other islands in the county, including Knotts Island. You can ferry to Knotts Island from Currituck or drive there on NC-615 from the Virginia border.

On the mainland, you’ll find county seat Currituck and multiple other towns along or near NC-168 and US-158, the latter connecting travelers to the barrier islands via Wright Memorial Bridge.

Across the sound is Corolla and a variety of protected lands, including Mackay Island National Wildlife Refuge (mostly on Knotts Island) and Currituck National Wildlife Refuge.

We think Corolla is the perfect base to set up and relax, or explore its surroundings in Currituck County and the Outer Banks.

Read More: The North Carolina Travel Map (with 500+ Great Places Included!)

What is There to Do in Corolla? (+ Who Should Visit?)

Things to Do in Corolla

Corolla is known for its quiet and unspoiled nature. It is a popular vacation spot for those who enjoy outdoor sports such as fishing, kayaking, and surfing.

However, Corolla is also a wonderful retreat for families looking to relax in quiet. 

Our most important tip for visiting Corolla is to expect traffic on Saturdays. Saturdays are check-in/check-out day for vacationers, and it is not uncommon for the road to be backed up past Southern Shores and the Wright Memorial Bridge.

Read More: Weekend Getaways in North Carolina

Things to Do in Corolla (Historic Corolla Village)

If you think you fit the bill, here are the best things to do in Corolla, starting with history and beautiful scenery.

Things to do in Corolla bookstore

Many people think of wild horses when “things to do in Corolla” come to mind, but we think you should start in the village.

The village itself is free to enter and includes 39 acres of lush, beautiful space. It is an excellent place to walk, bike, or attend an event while vacationing in Corolla. 

Historic Corolla Village is also packed with attractions that everyone will appreciate:

  • Corolla Wild Horse Museum
  • Currituck Beach Lighthouse
  • Outer Banks Center for Wildlife Education
  • Whalehead
Things to do in Corolla Restaurants

Not only can you see these Corolla attractions, but many retail shops reside inside the village’s restored historic buildings.

Whalehead

Things to do in Corolla Whalehead

Whalehead is a historic house museum that’s beautiful from a distance and even better up-close. With 21,000 square feet of luxurious interior and exterior looking out on the Currituck Sound, the Art Nouveau-style home is strikingly yellow and surrounded by large oaks. 

Used as a winter home and hunting retreat for Edward Collings Knight and his wife Marie-Louise LeBel Knight, the house has been restored to its original 1920s luxury.

Tours of the house are currently on hold until February 14, 2022. Stay tuned along with us for tours to reopen!

Read More: Biltmore Estate in Asheville (Everything You Need To Know To Visit!)

Currituck Beach Lighthouse

Things to do in Corolla lighthouse

If you don’t have much time for all these things to do in Corolla, we think you should at least climb Currituck Beach Lighthouse! This is the northernmost lighthouse in North Carolina.

Completed in 1875, it is marked by an unpainted brick finish and spiral staircase inside. Climb the 220 stairs to the top and enjoy a magical view of Whalehead and the rest of the Outer Banks. 

Admission to climb is $10 and the lighthouse is open from mid-March to December 1. 

Read More: Old Baldy Lighthouse (How to Climb Its 108 Stairs!)

Corolla Wild Horse Museum 

Things to do in Corolla Wild Horse Museum

If you find yourself in the Outer Banks on a rainy day or you want some respite from the heat, head to the Corolla Wild Horse Museum. The museum details the history of the Colonial Spanish Mustangs inhabiting the islands for nearly 500 years. 

Donations fund the museum, and all of the proceeds go to the Corolla Wild Horse Fund. This fund helps to care for the horses in the event of medical intervention and so much more! 

Note that the Corolla Wild Horse Fund is the only official and non-profit designated to protect the wild horses of the Outer Banks. If you want to support the wild horses, feel free to donate or inquire for more educational material on their website.

The Corolla Wild Horse Fund also offers special programming during the summer. One example is “Meet a Mustang,” where visitors can interact with a tamed mustang.

These programs are a special way to commemorate your time in the Outer Banks and among our favorite things to do in Corolla! 

Read More: 40 of the Most Amazing Museums in North Carolina (for ALL Ages!)

Outer Banks Center for Wildlife Education

The Outer Banks Center for Wildlife Education recognizes the area’s wildlife and its relationship with duck hunting, which was a popular activity at Whalehead for many years. They have a collection of 200-plus antique waterfowl decoys on display.

There is also a duck blind display that is set up in a simulated salt marsh. This will take you back to an era when Whalehead was one of the most exclusive hunting clubs.

Things to Do in Corolla Beyond the Historic Village

Beyond the wonderful village park, there are some amazing outdoor things to do in Corolla beyond the historic village!

Hit the Beach!

Things to Do in Corolla NC Beach OBX

Time at the beach is why most people come to the Outer Banks and Corolla is home to some of the best patches of sand.

There are some private beach accesses in Corolla but also, 15 public beach accesses. Six of the following public accesses have lifeguards:

  • Corolla Village Road (Also a shower and bathhouse, along with parking)
  • Shad Street (Only parking)
  • Sturgeon Walkway (Only parking)
  • Bonito Street (Only parking)
  • Sailfish Walkway (Only parking)
  • Yaupon Lane (A shower, bathhouse, and parking)

Even if there is no lifeguard on duty, please obey flags and do not swim when a red flag is flying.

You can also visit the beaches (Swan Beach and Carova Beach) that are north of the paved road. However, you’ll need to prepare the following before doing so:

  • A 4WD vehicle with tires aired down.
  • A permit for parking. A permit isn’t necessary for driving the 4WD Beach.

Read More: The Best Beaches in North Carolina (Our Personal Picks!)

See the Wild Horses 

Things to do in Corolla wild horse tour

You’ll also have the opportunity to see wild horses in Corolla, especially north of the paved road. Shipwrecked from the Spanish in the 1500s, these Spanish Mustangs have shorter legs and stockier bodies than domesticated horses.

They roam wherever they like, which sometimes means in your backyard!

Things to do in Corolla wild horses

We saw wild horses with Bob’s Wild Horse Tours and enjoyed our morning with them. Note that this was not a sponsored trip!

Here are some more companies that will take you to see Outer Banks wild horses:

NOTE: Do not approach the horses and always leave 50 feet between you and them. This is imperative not only for your safety but also to protect the herd.

The wild horses of the Outer Banks are extremely territorial, and any contact with humans could be deadly. It is also vital not to feed the horses or leave any trash. In 2020 a yearling tragically choked and died on an apple, and another was killed by a car in 2021.

Also, please do not venture onto private property when viewing the horses. Locals and those staying in the area will appreciate your cooperation.

Read More: The Rachel Carson Reserve in Beaufort (Come for Wild Horses, Stay for More)

Corolla Adventure Park 

Things to do in Corolla Adventure Park

Before we talk about how to fill your belly, there’s one last fun activity in Corolla to discuss.

Fly high during your Corolla vacation at Corolla Adventure Park! With climbing activities for all skill levels and ages, you are bound to have an exciting time! 

The park features 66 different instances and 8 zip lines. Chose one of 11 different circuits for your 2-hour climb and save some energy for ax throwing! 

Where to Eat in Corolla

Outer Banks Restaurants Corolla Cantina

Like most of our favorite Outer Banks restaurants, Corolla has some incredible places to eat.

Ready for these Fun Things to Do in Corolla?

With more than 100 miles of coastline, North Carolina’s Outer Banks are among the nation’s most popular beach vacation spots. We think these things to do in Corolla cements the Currituck County village’s place near the top of our favorite OBX spots.

If you’re familiar with Corolla, we’d love to know what you think about it. Let us know in the comments below or by email.

For anyone who plans to visit for the first time, please feel free to chime in, too. Don’t forget to join our Facebook Group and share your experiences and photos from the trip!

Things to Do Nearby (Currituck County and the Outer Banks)

If you’d like to space out these things to do in Corolla and branch out a bit, there are plenty of places to go nearby.

Duck is the next town to the south, about 20 minutes by car. It is home to a wonderful sound side boardwalk, which is one of the best places to catch the sunset while in the Outer Banks!

You’ll also find some fun places to go across the Currituck Sound. Our favorite is Weeping Radish in Grandy, which is NC’s first (and oldest!) microbrewery.

Here’s a breakdown of places and things to do in each within an hour of Corolla:

Travel times can vary when traveling during busy days and peak vacation seasons.

Read More: 15 Outer Banks Towns to Make Your Perfect Beach Vacation

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