With miles and miles of sandy shores and pristine waters, the Outer Banks of North Carolina continues to attract locals and travelers who want to kick back and enjoy the simple things in life. Maybe that’s why the Outer Banks cities are home to a number of historical sites and firsts that helped to shape modern-day life in the area and throughout the country. It’s no secret that the 100-mile stretch of communities separated from the mainland by the Intercoastal Waterway is unique and beautiful. Whether you want a historically-focused vacation, beachside getaway or quaint small town excursion, there’s something for you along the Outer Banks.

Top Attractions



Fort Raleigh: Listed as a National Historic Site, Fort Raleigh was created to memorialize the first attempt the English made to colonize America between 1585 and 1587. Spanning 513 acres on the northern end of Roanoke Island, Fort Raleigh boasts stunning Elizabethan Gardens, a historic trail, on-site museum as well as a live performance of The Lost Colony.

Wanchese Seafood Industrial Park: You can probably imagine that the fishing and maritime industry is one of the most bountiful in the Outer Banks. The Wanchese Seafood Industrial Park welcomes fisherman who bring in their daily catches from the waters off the Atlantic Coast. Although it might smell a bit fishy, this locale is a great for the kids who will love to get a behind-the-scenes view of the life of seafarers.

Outer Banks History Center: Want to learn the depths of the history of the Outer Banks in one convenient location? Take the entire family to the Outer Banks History Center that displays thousands of photographs, postcards, maps, personal belongings and more.

Things to Do



Fishing: Just off the Atlantic Coast, the Outer Banks is an angler’s haven. Popular fishing includes Brackish, fly, offshore, inshore, surf and pier, and sound and headboat fishing. Depending on the time of year you’re traveling, your ideal catch and experience level, you’ll find a suitable form of fishing for your needs. The Outer Banks is considered the Billfish Capital of the World, as hundreds of blue marlin are caught and released between late spring and early fall.

Water sports: The Outer Banks is the Kite Boarding and Wind Surfing Capital of the East Coast due to the shallow waters, consistent waves and mild temperatures. Because of these conditions, the Outer Banks beaches are suitable for both novices and experienced riders. In fact, this is the site of one of the most prestigious free-ride kiteboarding events. The warm waters are also great for windsurfing, and local experts are available for instruction.

Cycling: It should come as no surprise that the Outer Banks is incredibly bike friendly, as there are more than 100 miles of pristine landscape to traverse on two wheels. Most of the land is flat here so beginners and children will have no problem cruising along the paved bike paths and wide shoulders here. Multi-use paths abound in most of the towns on the island, so you can avoid vehicle traffic and take in every sip of the scenery.

Top Restaurants and Shopping



Dining: You may be on a small island, but that doesn’t mean you’re short of world-class cuisine. Check out Manteo’s 1587 Restaurant in the Tranquil House Inn. Here you can munch on freshly caught Atlantic seafood spiced to perfection with garden-fresh herbs. Other great eateries to check out include Agave Roja, American Pie, Adrianna’s Restaurant and Art’s Place. Want to whip up your own concoction? There are several farmers markets, including Coastal Provisions and Green Acres, where you can pick up fresh meat, cheese, bread and produce.

Shopping: No matter what you’re in the market for, you’ll find it here. Pick up antiques at B&B Antiques in Kitty Hawk or at Dazzles in Duck. Both these spots sell vibrant, unique and one-of-a-kind items. If you’re looking to bring something home for family or friends, shops like 158 Surf & Skate, Alice’s Craft Gallery and Amity are great to drop some dough.

The Outer Banks are separated from the mainland by water, and there is no public transportation on or to the island. However, you can take advantage of the North Carolina Ferry System, which runs about every hour between 5 a.m. and 10 p.m. This free service includes a car ferry if you took a road trip here or plan on getting a rental car. There are several ferries that go to the Outer Banks, some of which require a reservation, such as the ones between Ocracoke and Cedar Island. Plan ahead to ensure you have transportation.

Learn more about Outer Banks



Need more OBX info? Check out our Outer Banks Travel Ideas.

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