Last Updated on April 13, 2021
Last Updated on April 13, 2021
An interesting history, fun things to do, tons of places to explore, and beautiful scenery all around are just a part of the fun here. And before we get you too carried away, there are more than 20 things to do in The Outer Banks that we’ll share with you here.
If you’re like everyone else and there for a week, you can knock these out during less-busy times.
Things to Do in The Outer Banks EVERY Week
Here’s why we think the Outer Banks is among the best winter getaways in North Carolina.
Some places may not be open and temperatures may be cooler than during the rest of the year, but the scenery won’t change too much and there are fewer people vying for those awesome views.
Give it a thought and if you’ve ever visited the Outer Banks during winter, we’d love to know what you think.
We created an off season guide to The Outer Banks to convince you even further that any time of year is great for a trip there. Also, we included a couple of spots in the Outer Banks in our guide to winter things to do in North Carolina!
Stay Close to the Water
I do think your week there would be best enjoyed while staying somewhere like Wright Cottage Court in Kill Devil Hills. The Outer Banks Visitors Bureau hosted us there and we loved every minute of our stay!
Their oceanfront cottages are cozy and full of everything you need, in case you want to spend your entire time there. That’s why we included this as one of our favorite hotels in North Carolina.
Hang Out at the Beach
There are so many Outer Banks beaches to explore. One thing to remember is that public parking can be limited in some places, especially on weekends.
That’s because many spots are reserved for Outer Banks residents or those who are staying nearby.
Nags Head is one of the busiest beaches, and you’ll see why. Its gorgeous wide spaces are the first indicator. Personal favorites also include the beaches of Kill Devil Hills, Kitty Hawk, and Duck.
People come from all over to go surfing in the Outer Banks. That’s largely thanks to some of the best waves you’ll find on the East Coast.
The Eastern Surfing Association likes the waves here, too, and hosts its Mid-Atlantic Regionals each year in Nags Head.
Got a not-too-secret spot to share for surfing in the Outer Banks? Let us know about it!
Find All the Lighthouses
There are five lighthouses in the Outer Banks, and each is unique.
Bodie Island Lighthouse and Cape Hatteras Lighthouse are the two you might recognize from travel guides and postcards. Both, along with Ocracoke Island, are managed by Cape Hatteras National Seashore.
These lighthouses form an important piece of maritime history in The Outer Banks, North Carolina, and the United States.
Not only can you stare at the water and enjoy the beaches here, but the Outer Banks is also a great spot for fishermen and -women.
You can fish from piers, go fly fishing, charter a boat, and enjoy many more angling opportunities.
The ever-photogenic Jennette’s Pier is a popular spot for fishing, but also one of our favorite spots to take a stroll. There’s a small aquarium (affiliated with NC Aquariums) inside, along with shops for gear and souvenirs.
You can hang out here for hours staring out at the water or along the beach. Just make sure you get down to the beach and grab some photos of it, too.
Search for Wild Horses
Important Note: If you do get to see them, please don’t approach the horses and try to touch them.
Eat at Fun Outer Banks Restaurants
Some pretty awesome places to eat in The Outer Banks remain open throughout the year, no matter when you’re visiting. Grab a pencil and mark up your order at Duck Donuts.
And be sure to pick a colorful variety for the photos you’ll take before eating. Barrier Island Bagels is another awesome place to grab breakfast in The Outer Banks.
Healthy options include some amazing açaí bowls. But even if you’re trying to eat light, split one of their freshly made bagels with someone you love.
OBX Trio in Kitty Hawk serves up really delicious food to go along with an almost countless variety of beer, wine, and cheese.
You can enjoy a wide variety of Outer Banks Restaurants during Taste the Beach in March. We included it in our Spring Things to Do in North Carolina! If you’re looking for eats in a specific area, check out this guide to can’t-miss Outer Banks restaurants we’ve created.
Don’t Forget the Breweries
The Outer Banks also has a few breweries worth any day of the week or weekend. Lost Colony Brewery and Cafe in Manteo has awesome food to go along with a nice selection of British and Irish-style beers.
Weeping Radish is North Carolina’s oldest microbrewery, and its current location in Grandy offers a pub, butchery, and brewery that’s open to tours. Owner Uli Bennewitz shared his story with us on NC Travel Chat, from its beginnings to today.
And then there’s Outer Banks Brewing Station in Kill Devil Hills. This is the first wind-powered brewery in the US and home to a huge tap list, food throughout the day and evening, and a jam-packed events calendar.
We included Lost Colony among our favorite breweries in North Carolina. What’s yours in The Outer Banks?
Tour and Taste at Outer Banks Distilling
Learn about the rum’s history in the area at Outer Banks Distilling in Manteo during any week spent in the Outer Banks. The owners are truly great guys, too.
And hopefully, you’ll come away inspired to the tune of looking into following your own passions as they did. Pick up a bottle of rum (aka Kill Devil. Hence the name “Kill Devil Hills”) and some candied pecans.
Spend More Time in Manteo
And speaking of Manteo, this town is a nice change of pace from the rest of The Outer Banks, even though things aren’t too chaotic elsewhere.
We like coming here for the Waterfront, but the Roanoke Island Museum and the other places we’ve already mentioned make this a must-visit when staying in The Outer Banks.
NC Aquarium on Roanoke Island
Occasionally, you might run into bad weather during your visit, but don’t worry! There are some great indoor places to go and things to do.
The NC Aquarium on Roanoke Island is where you should start, full of fun for families and anyone interested in learning about North Carolina’s aquatic wildlife and habitats.
Not only is NC Aquarium on RI one of the awesome things to do in The Outer Banks, but it’s also one of our favorite North Carolina museums. It’s also up there on our list of favorite winter things to do in North Carolina!
The Lost Colony of Roanoke
Spending time at the Lost Colony of Roanoke at Fort Raleigh National Historic Site is one thing you really must do when in Manteo.
Jockey’s Ridge State Park
The dunes and wind will take you away to another planet. However, seeing a beautiful sunset there will remind you that it’s still earth. You can also fly kites or go hang gliding here and more info about those two activities is available here.
Jockey’s Ridge is the first of a few Outer Banks hiking trails that we love!
The Wright Brothers National Memorial
If you ever wondered why North Carolina license plates read “First in Flight,” the Wright Brothers National Memorial will show you why. You can walk around outside and see the spot where the “first flight” occurred.
There’s a reconstructed camp to show where and how the Wright Brothers lived, and a monument to commemorate this historic site.
The visitor’s center is pretty nice, too, with tributes to the Wright Brothers, their creations, and many other pioneers and trailblazers in the sky.
Jockey’s Ridge State Park and the Wright Brothers National Memorial are not only a couple of fun things to do in The Outer Banks, but they both featured in our roundup of Unique Things to Do in North Carolina.
Fly an Airplane!
After the Wright Brothers National Memorial inspires you, why not take it a step further and book and fly high with OBX Airplanes? They offer $15 rides all day long and you can find more info about them on their website.
Nags Head Woods
Nags Head Woods is one of our favorite things to do in the Outer Banks and also one of our favorite hiking trails in North Carolina.
The most popular one is Sweetgum Swamp Tail (3.4 miles round trip) but the Discovery Trail to Roanoke Trail Loop is also fun.
The’s preserve’s ADA Trail (.5 miles round trip) is completely accessible, too!
Explore Cape Hatteras National Seashore
Seeing the water on both sides of the road is a really cool thing. There are some fun places to stop along the way, too.
Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge
After Bodie, Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge is one of the first things you’ll see and it’s worth exploring, with tons of bird-viewing opportunities. Other awesome spots you can reach include Rodanthe, Buxton, and Ocracoke.
Visit the Chicamacomico Life-Saving Station
While driving through Rodanthe on the Outer Banks Scenic Byway, you’ll come upon the Chicamacomico Life-Saving Station. This was the first life-saving station along North Carolina’s coast, commissioned in late 1874.
Here, you can learn about America’s only life-saving station crewed by African-Americans. It’s one of many important places to visit and learn about Black history in North Carolina.
One notable feat of heroism came in 1896 when the surfmen rescued all nine passengers of the ES Newman while battling a hurricane.
Ferry to Ocracoke
And if you’re around in October, definitely check out Blackbeard’s Pirate Jamboree!
Check here for ferry schedules to and from Ocracoke.
Learn at the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum
Before hopping on the Hatteras-Ocracoke Ferry, spend some time at the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum. Exhibits inside honor the area’s maritime history and culture.
Wars, piracy, and ghost ships are just a few of the topics covered at one of our favorite museums in North Carolina.
Keep Coming Back!
So we’re pretty hooked on this part of our state and can’t wait to get back there. Among these fun things to do in the Outer Banks, which ones are your favorites?
Is it the beach, the fun things to do beyond the water, or something else? We’d love to know what you think of this special place. Also, we look forward to reading your thoughts in the comments section!