Perfect Day in the Outer Banks of North Carolina
Written By: Cara Parker former innkeeper of Sandbar in Nags Head
The Outer Banks is the Eastern most point of the United States, making the islands the first in the country to be kissed by the sun’s rays. A perfect day begins early, with a morning walk on the beach watching the sun rise gently over the ocean horizon, followed by breakfast at the Nags Head Fishing Pier, with a view of the crashing waves – a favorite among locals and visitors alike. Bring your fishing pole and drop your line in the water, or simply take a stroll to the end of the pier after breakfast.
If the sun is shining, hit the beach with a packed picnic lunch from Island Deli. You won’t be disappointed with their creative food! If the clouds look dreary, you might visit the Wright Brothers’ Memorial in Kill Devil Hills or take the kids to the NC Aquarium in Manteo on Roanoke Island. The Elizabethan Gardens and Festival Park there are enjoyable by all ages. Or, get some homemade ice cream while antiquing through the morning. This quaint little town is brimming with history and features a beautiful walk by the water.
Break for lunch at the Kill Devil Grill at MP 9 ¾ on the Beach Road or Mama Kwans at MP 9 on the highway. Both spots feature unique, delicious, child-friendly menus. Then spend the afternoon soaking up the rays! On rainy days, shop ‘til you drop at Something Fishy, the Cotton Gin and the Tanger Outlet Mall. Or, take a drive through Cape Hatteras National Seashore to climb the lighthouse. There are five lighthouses on the Outer Banks. Visiting them all is a neat day trip.
Enjoying water sports like surfing, kite boarding, and parasailing is an option any time of day. And if you truly enjoy adventure, try hang gliding, take a guided kayak tour or even an aerotour for a bird’s eye view of the Outer Banks. Kitty Hawk Kites has several locations. They’re your one stop shop for outdoor adventure.
If cocktails are on your perfect day agenda, stop by Rundown Café in Kitty Hawk for people and beach watching from their third floor deck. Or enjoy a little raw bar with brews at the Red Drum or Tortugas Lie – don’t worry, the other food on the menu is awesome too!
No nap yet! There’s still more to do as evening approaches. For spectacular views of both sides of the island – and gorgeous photo ops too – climb Jockey’s Ridge State Park around sunset, grab a bottle of local North Carolina wine at the Native Vine from the shops across the road, then head to MP 13 to eat dinner at the Blue Moon Grill. In fact, if you do nothing else while you’re here, eat lunch or dinner at the Blue Moon Grill. Yes, it’s that good! For history and theatre buffs, skip the sand dunes to catch a show at The Lost Colony Theatre on Roanoke Island, finished with fine world-class dining at 1587 in Manteo.
For night life, you can usually find live music, perfect martinis and creative micro-brews at the Brewing Station and karaoke seven nights a week at The Jolly Roger. Finally, our beaches are public so moonlight strolls and midnight picnics provide an opportunity to end the perfect Outer Banks day with the perfect night.
P.S. Don’t forget to grab some Eastern Carolina BBQ at High Cotton in Kitty Hawk while you’re in town. This state takes its barbecue seriously and it’s not to be missed!