24 Best Things to Do in Outer Banks

The Outer Banks of North Carolina are a string of barrier islands that are almost as rich in history as they are in natural beauty.

The first thing on your to-do list when planning your OBX getaway? Be sure to book your stay with First Flight Rentals so you can enjoy amenities like private hot tubs, game rooms, swimming pools, and ocean views.

After you’ve got your accommodations set, it’s time to plan your OBX bucket list. From tales of first flight and shipwrecks to some of the most pristine beaches in the US, the OBX has much to offer. Whether traveling with the family, flying solo, or with a group of friends, here are the most amazing things to do in the Outer Banks.

1. Explore the Piers

Photo credit: Northern Tony via Flickr (CC)

One of the best things to do in the Outer Banks is to explore the beautiful fishing piers in the area. The main fishing piers in Outer Banks are the Kitty Hawk Pier, Nags Head Pier, Avalon Pier, and Jennette’s Pier. 

The piers are great for fishing, sightseeing, and watching the sunrise.

2. Visit the Wright Brothers National Memorial

Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, was the very first place the Wright Brothers took flight in the US, and the history of the Wright Brothers is very dear to the Outer Banks. 

At the Wright Brothers National Memorial historic site, you can explore the runway, explore artifacts and exhibits from their work, and even see complete replicas of their gliders.

3. Hit the Waves and Go Surfing

In addition to fishing and enjoying the lovely beaches of the Outer Banks, surfing is one of the favorite local pastimes in the Outer Banks, and there are plenty of dedicated surf shops to get you wave ready!

The top surf spots in Outer Banks include the Avalon Pier beach and jetty surf break, Jennette’s Pier in Nags Head, Coquina Beach, and Irene’s Inlet. The best time of year for surfing in the Outer Banks is fall and winter for more experienced surfers. For beginners, the smaller waves in the summer months are ideal. 

4. Explore Jockey’s Ridge State Park

Photo Credit: refrina

Jockey’s Ridge State Park is located in Nags Head and is home to the tallest living sand dune on the East Coast of America! Offering fun activities like flying kites, sunbathing, watching the sunrise/sunset, and hang gliding, exploring Jockey’s Ridge State Park is one of the best things to do in the Outer Banks.

In addition to the epic sand dunes themselves, Jockey’s Ridge State Park also features an ecological museum, picnic areas, and a large boardwalk with exhibits noting the history of the dunes.

5. Enjoy the Beautiful Beaches

The main allure of the Outer Banks is undeniably its string of gorgeous beaches. Nag’s Head is one of the most popular beaches in the Outer Banks. It is great for sunbathing and also has plenty of places to rent surfboards, jet skis, and boats.

If you’re looking for a beach adjacent to many restaurants, Kitty Hawk is perfect, and it also has great opportunities for fishing, hiking, paddle boarding, and biking.

Further north, you’ll find Corolla Beach, an excellent family-friendly beach in the Outer Banks. Corolla Beach is a great beach to visit if you want the best shot at seeing the Corolla’s wild Spanish Mustangs! Many outfitters offer wild horse tours in the area as well.

If you’re looking for a beach a little more off the beaten path, Coquina is typically much less crowded than other OBX beaches- and you can even have beach bonfires at night here!

6. Head into the Woods

The Outer Banks aren’t just known for their beautiful beaches scattered along the Atlantic Ocean- this area also has some dense, beautiful woods. If you want to explore this little slice of the OBX, your best bet is to head to either the Nags Head Woods Preserve or the Kitty Hawk Woods Reserve.

The Nags Head Woods Preserve has ample opportunities for saltwater and freshwater fishing, exploring hiking trails, and spotting many different birds, reptiles, and amphibians. The Preserve is dog-friendly and even has an ADA trail.

The Kitty Hawk Woods Reserve has over 1,800 acres of land, including swamp forests, wetlands, and maritime forests. The reserve has hiking trails, great places for kayaking, and is fantastic for birding.

7. OBX Escape Room

Photo Credit: obxscaperooms

Are you ready to put your family and friends’ teamwork abilities to the test? Not all Outer Banks attractions involve the beach! One of the most fun things to do in the Outer Banks is an OBX Escape Room! Different escape room themes include Cell Block 4, Rapture Revenge, and Mutiny on the Lark. This is also the perfect activity for a rainy day on the Outer Banks.

8. Visit the North Carolina Aquarium

Another fun thing to do in the Outer Banks (especially on a rainy day) is to visit the North Carolina Aquarium in Manteo on Roanoke Island. The aquarium has amazing rotating exhibits and also contributes to sea turtle rescue and rehabilitation.

9. Explore the Bodie Island Lighthouse.

The 156 foot Bodie Islands Lighthouse was built in 1837 to protect ships from the Outer Banks. Today, the American National Park Service has taken over the lighthouse, and visitors can explore the interior of the lighthouse, see the original light keeper’s home, and explore the beautiful surrounding saltwater ponds, maritime forests, and marshlands.

10. Explore the Elizabethan Gardens

Photo Credit: Jason Schronce

The Elizabethan Gardens consist of 10 acres of pristine, beautiful gardens dedicated in 1954 to honor the legacy of the Lost Colony of Roanoke. There are over 500 different plant species in the gardens. 

Stand-out exhibits include the Queen’s Rose Garden, with over 2000 roses, and the Butterfly House, where you can see beautiful butterflies seasonally.

11. Go Golfing

Along with surfing, fishing, and beachcombing, golfing is another local favorite pastime on the Outer Banks. There are several amazing golf courses in the OBX. Seascape Golf Links, The Carolina Club, and The Pointe Golf Club are just three of many great places to tee up in the Outer Banks.

12. Take a Swing at Mini Golf

The mini golfing selections in Outer Banks are just as plentiful as traditional golfing- if not more so!

Some of the top places for mini golfing in the Outer Banks include Destination FunZone in Kill Devil Hills, and Jurassic Putt, and  Lost Treasure Golf – both in Nags Head. Whether it’s date night or you’re looking for some family-friendly activities in the Outer Banks, mini golfing is by far one of the most fun things to do in the Outer Banks.

13. Try Surf Fishing

Photo Credit: BHamms

Outer Banks is home to some of the best fishing on the entire East Coast. Common fish to look out for around the Outer Banks include red drum, bluefish, speckled trout, flounder, tuna, and marlin. There are also options in the Outer Banks to fish out at sea with a fishing charter.

Fall is the best time for surf fishing in the Outer Banks, although you can fish all year long here.

14. Take a Ghost Tour

Looking for something unusual to do in the Outer Banks? How about a ghost tour? Over the course of history, there have been several shipwrecks off the coastlines of the Outer Banks. The area’s unique geography is quite treacherous for ships, and the Outer Banks have even earned the sinister nickname “The Graveyard of the Atlantic.”

There are even whispers of ghosts and ghouls in these parts. To hear more spooky stories about the Outer Banks, you can embark on an OBX Ghost Tour

15. Get Some Retail Therapy

From surf shops to lovely boutiques and art galleries, the Outer Banks have some pretty solid shopping. Some of our favorite places for shopping in the Outer Banks include Something Old, Something New for neat vintage pieces, and Starr Boutique for some of the most fashionable finds in the Outer Banks.

16. Grab Some Local Cuisine

Photo Credit: allamericanfoodiee via Instagram

With unfettered access to incredible fresh-caught seafood, it’s no surprise that the Outer Banks have some incredible seafood restaurants

Outer Banks Boil Company is a can’t miss seafood restaurant; of course, you also can’t go wrong with OBX Tortilleria & Taqueria Official for amazing Mexican food.

17. Breweries

The OBX has an excellent local brew scene. Outer Banks Brewing Station has a fun nautical theme, live music, and amazing craft beers. Northern OBX Brewing is another fantastic choice if you’re looking for a brewery dedicated to the craft. 

18. Adrenaline Sports:

Looking for a rush of adrenaline on your next trip to the Outer Banks? You’re in luck! The area is ripe with opportunities to get your heart pounding, whether you prefer exciting watersports or something in the air. You can race jet skis in the ocean, go hang gliding over the sand dunes, and even go skydiving!

19. Have a Friendly Go Kart Competition

Photo Credit: Full Throttle Speedway 

The quintessential OBX family fun activity? Go karts! One of the most popular places is Full Throttle Speedway in Nags Head, where they offer gas-powered Indy-style Go Karts. They have two tracks and can accommodate up to 20 karts at a time, making it a great option for family outings.

20. Go Out Dolphin Watching

The incredible ecosystems of the Outer Banks consist of estuaries, wetlands, marshes, and the ocean, and each ecosystem is teeming with wildlife. 

If dolphins are on your must see list, the OBX has plenty of dolphin viewing day excursions that will take you to them! From full-day trips to sunset cruises, there are plenty of dolphin-watching boats to suit your group. 

21. Sightsee with Barrier Island Aviation

Undeniably, one of the best ways to see the Outer Banks is from above. You can do this on a sightseeing tour with Barrier Island Aviation. In a 1942 open cockpit biplane or a Cessna 172, you’ll soar above the Outer Banks and spy shipwrecks, wildlife, and the beaches with a whole new perspective. 

22. Explore First Flight Adventure Park

Photo Credit: First Flight Adventure Park

One of the most fun and adventurous things to do in Outer Banks is to try out your climbing skills at First Flight Adventure Park. The park features 14 different zip lines and over 50 obstacles. 

This fun aerial adventure park is perfect for families and anyone who loves to put their climbing skills to the test. Plus, the adventure park is surrounded by the beautiful marshy wetlands of the Outer Banks.

23. Go Horseback Riding on the Beach

One of the most magical ways to enjoy the beach in the Outer Banks is to go horseback riding on the beach. As you walk, trot, or canter, you’ll experience the lovely beaches in a whole new way and might even spot some wildlife from horseback! You might even spot the wild horses while you’re at it.

24. Take the Family Bowling

Looking for some more rainy day fun activities in the Outer Banks? OBX Bowling in Nags Head not only features bowling but also an arcade and cafe, and they also do fun events like late night rock n’ roll bowling and league tournaments.

Enjoy Your Outer Banks Vacation

From fishing and surfing to mini golfing and ziplining; there are so many fun things to do in Outer Banks. To combine comfort and luxury with fun, be sure to book one of our seaside vacation rentals for your OBX getaway. See you in the Outer Banks!