Many people forget about The Outer Banks when planning a vacation or think that the drive is way too far. Here's a little secret: We think that people may be highlighting the long drive to prevent overcrowding. Just a theory!
When should I go?
Here's another well-kept secret. We learned that the two weeks after Memorial Day in late May are less crowded as peak tourist season starts mid-June. This was a great time to go as the weather was warm and we had the beach pretty much to ourselves in the mornings.
How do I get there and how long does it take?
From Winston-Salem, North Carolina, the drive to Duck (the town where we stayed) was five hours with no stops. If coming from out of state, you can easily fly into Raleigh, rent a car, and be there in a few hours. The drive is actually beautiful. You drive through marshes and over several large bridges. We saw a decent amount of wildlife too.
Where should I stay?
There are so many great spots on The Outer Banks, and we think it really depends on your preferences. We wanted a charming, small beach town feel that was pet-friendly. Duck was absolutely perfect for this. We found a cottage near the beach on Airbnb and our yellow lab had the time of her life. It was one of the most pet-friendly spots we have ever been to. If you have kids and want more activities like shopping and mini golf, Nags Head is a good option. Corolla is also beautiful and famous for its wild horses. There aren't a ton of hotel options, so your best bet is to rent a house.
Here are a few pictures of our cottage in Duck. It was three bedrooms, two bathrooms and had a large open-plan living and dining space. We went with some of our best friends and it was perfect for this. It would also be ideal for families.
What is there to do?
Besides relaxing on the beach, The Outer Banks is known for hang gliding, paddle boarding, kite boarding, and fishing. There are so many activities that we think it would be hard to get bored. We did the Sanctuary Vineyard Voyage through Kitty Hawk Kites that took us to a winery on a pre-historic sand dune. It was really interesting to learn more about the area and we always love a good wine tasting. We also rode our bikes to explore the town. If you aren't driving, there are many places that offer bike rentals. This was a great way to explore Duck. One day, we rented a paddle board and our dog especially loved it.
Are there good restaurants/bars?
We ate delicious seafood the entire time we were in Duck. The Blue Point was one of our favorites (ask about the specials that are freshly caught). We also got pizza one night with friends at Wave Pizza and it had a beautiful view of the water and sunset. One night, we did our own version of a shrimp boil after picking up ingredients from Dockside N Duck Seafood Market.
The Outer Banks is probably not the best choice if you are aiming to go out on the town. Most everything seemed to close around 9pm. We did find a really cool bar called Back Bar in Duck that had beautiful views of the sunset.
We highly recommend visiting The Outer Banks in the spring, summer or fall for a relaxing vacation with tons of activity options. It's a great spot for a romantic getaway, a fun trip with friends or a family vacation.
For more travel inspiration, visit sanaratravels.com/blog.