Outer Banks Day Trips: Explore Coastal North Carolina

The Outer Banks offers over 200 miles of golden sand and the Atlantic Ocean. Though it may seem like a small chain of barrier islands, don’t be fooled. You can make a whole day trip from visiting one of the four different islands apart from the OBX. From Corolla, Duck, Nags Head, Kitty Hawk, Hatteras Island, and Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina offers a variety of activities to do and places to visit. So if you are planning a vacation to the Outerbanks, consider taking a day trip to explore the history and culture of the island. Here are a few of our favorite places to visit.


Located at the northern tip of the island, Corolla is a unique area where you won’t find superstores or theme parks. You will likely experience a slow-paced vacation destination with beautiful, isolated stretches of beach. After driving up to Corolla, it is essential to visit the Currituck Beach Lighthouse, Whalehead in Historic Corolla, and even go on a wild horse tour. There is plenty to see and do around the island so make sure to stop in town on your way to or from your destination.


Photo Credit: vineyardvoyage via Instagram

Duck is a town in Dare County in North Carolina. While the annual population is quite low, during peak season, the area becomes a temporary home for more than 20,000 visitors. When stopping in to spend a day at Duck, make sure to check out the Growlers to go Craft beer, with so many beers on draft to choose from, you will not be disappointed. If you are not a beer drinker and prefer wine, check out their Vineyard Voyage and wine tour/ tasting. There are also many chances to see the wildlife in its natural habitat whether it’s on the beach or while you’re strolling down the boardwalk, you will love every minute of it.

Kitty Hawk

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Kitty Hawk is often remembered for its rich history and natural beauty. You can find fine art, exquisite dining, and history in every corner, as well as the beautiful beaches. There are many spectacular water hideaways that are perfect for exploring, kayaking, or seeing wildlife. These hideaways are often wildlife refuges. Paddle down the streams in a kayak and catch a glimpse of the wildlife in their natural habitat. If you are more for the land rather than the water, head over to the Kitty Hawk Woods Reserve to view the wildlife. Check out their country club if you are feeling like a relaxing game of golf or try your hand on the ghost crab quest. Kitty Hawk is the perfect place to get in touch with nature and maybe even find your green thumb. You may even want to head over to Kitty Hawk Kites and give kiteboarding or hang gliding a try.

Kill Devil Hills

The Wright Brothers National Memorial 2019 Visitors Guide
Photo Credit: Ken Lund via Flickr CC2.0

The Kill Devil Hills area is well known for the ability to indulge in any water activity you could imagine. From fishing and crabbing to kayaking, surfing, or parasailing, the enjoyment doesn’t stop just on the beach. The area is home to about 7,000 year-round locals, but oftentimes see around 30,000 visitors per year. Play a round of golf on one of the many golf courses, or check out the Elizabethan Gardens. Kill Devil Hills is famous for the first flight taking place here so make sure to check out the Wright Brothers National Memorial. Watch the breathtaking sunset while lounging on the sand dunes or star gaze to tune to the ocean. There is plenty to do in this town and a ton of history to explore.

Nags Head

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Just south of Kitty Hawk, Nags Head offers visitors and locals any shoreline sport they could imagine. Enjoy sailing, kayaking, snorkeling past shipwrecks, or even hang-glider over the sand dunes of Jockey’s Ridge State Park. If you aren’t interested in what activities the beach has to offer, no worries, there is plenty to do elsewhere around the town. Check out the Bodie Island Lighthouse or the full throttle speedway. The island is rich in history and culture so make sure to stop by the Seaside art gallery for all of the history lovers. Try your hand in fishing either on the surf or on the Nags Head Fishing Pier.


While Manteo isn’t directly on the same island as all of the other areas, Manteo is located on Roanoke Island. The area has less than two thousand full time residents, but experiences high traffic throughout the year. The town is most known for the Elizabethan Gardens and The Lost Colony. They also have the North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island located in this town. They are also home to many parks to visit like the Roanoke Island Festival Park, Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge, and Fort Raleigh National Historic Site. Take a ferry ride over and enjoy the beautiful Roanoke sound.


Photo Credit: ourstatemag via Instagram

The Chicamacomico area is bordered to the north by Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge and to the south by Cape Hatteras National Seashore, a situation which limits potential growth. The town is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the east and Pamlico Sound to the west. This town is perfect to visit if you are looking for a quiet, water filled experience. You can experience all of the normal watersports as well as wreck diving.


Located at the southern tip of the island, Hatteras is the perfect place to visit to get away from all of the hustle and bustle. Many avid surfers travel here throughout the year to catch a few waves and escape from the real world. Some of the visitors favorite things to do is visit the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse or or explore the maritime forest, or Graveyard of the Atlantic mesum.

No matter what you decide to do on your vacation to the Outer Banks of North Carolina, you will not be bored. We highly recommend taking a day to road trip to other parts of the island to experience everything it has to offer. From the best North Carolina Aquariums to watersports, the OBX is a hidden gem on the east coast. To find your perfect vacation rental click here, and we hope to see you on the island soon.

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