North Carolina’s Outer Banks
Kill Devil Hills, Manteo, Nags Head, and other areas along/around NC-12
Facts & Figures
Areas: Kill Devil Hills, Manteo, Nags Head, Roanoke Island, Hatteras Island
- Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge
- Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge
- North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island
- The Lost Colony
- Jennette’s Pier
- Jockey’s Ridge State Park
- Wright Brothers National Memorial
- Bodie Island Lighthouse
- Oregon Inlet
- Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge
- Cape Hatteras National Seashore
North Carolina’s Outer Banks (OBX) are barrier islands off the coast of North Carolina, separating the mainland from the Atlantic Ocean. They are a popular tourist and travel destination offering a wide variety of attractions, including an aquarium, beaches, state parks, national wildlife refuges, and more. Roanoke Island, known for “The Lost Colony,” was the site of England’s first settlement in the New World, an expedition by Sir Walter Raleigh. The area is also known for pirate history, including the famous “Blackbeard.”
Our family has enjoyed visiting the Outer Banks since my wife and I were engaged in 2005. We would make the 11+ hour drive from Northeast Ohio to Avon on Hatteras Island for a weeklong beach vacation for several summers before eventually relocating to North Carolina in 2013. We would usually rent a beach house in Avon through VRBO. Summer is the peak beach season for tourists and vacationers, so it is typically crowded from May through August. Hurricane season from late summer through October tends not to be as crowded.
Most people wouldn’t think about visiting the Outer Banks in the middle of winter, but three years ago our family took an impromptu trip to the Outer Banks in conjunction with a business trip for me, which ended up being a fun and memorable weekend for our family without the crowds. I had a Saturday work commitment, so we drove the 4-hour trip from Raleigh to Manteo on Thursday afternoon, arriving in time for dinner. We rented a 2-bedroom condo in Manteo which overlooked an inlet with boat docks.
On Friday morning, we explored the North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island, one of four aquariums owned and operated by the state of North Carolina. We saw sharks, sea turtles, and even a live underwater show with some scuba divers.
From there, we headed to the Wright Brothers National Memorial, the spot of the first sustained flight. This provided fun and education as our oldest two children ran the field where the first flight took place. Several stone markers highlight where each of the Wright Brothers’ flights landed. There are also several bronze statues of the plane and Wright Brothers’ team who were a part of the historic flight.
After that, we made the quick drive to Jockey’s Ridge State Park, which includes the tallest sand dunes in the Eastern United States. We hiked up the dunes for a spectacular view of the island down below. During the summer months, Jockey’s Ridge is known for hand gliding. On our hike during the last week in January, we were some the few people hiking the dunes.