29 Essential Things To Do In OBX (Outer Banks)

As Australians who grew up by the beach and who now live in Raleigh, we are so grateful we have awesome coastal places to escape to. And when it comes to deciding which beach in North Carolina to visit, we know there are always plenty of things to do in the Outer Banks (OBX).

Family of four horse riding on the beach on the Outer Banks
Horse riding in Cape Hatteras

We once watched the Outer Banks series on Netflix with our kids, and even though we already had an Outer Banks vacation high on our North Carolina bucket list, that show gave us the extra push to go there!

Things to do in OBX, North Carolina
Kill Devil Hills Beach, Outer Banks

In this guide below, we are sharing some of our favorite things to do in OBX so you can make the most of your visit and have a memorable family vacation.

What is the Outer Banks known for?

Body boarding fun with our kids
Body boarding fun with our kids

In case you don’t know, the Outer Banks (OBX) is a 100-mile stretch of barrier islands separating the Atlantic Ocean from the mainland. And then there is the Southern part, otherwise known as the Crystal Coast.

These islands are dotted with some of the best beaches in North Carolina for your beach vacation, plus quaint towns, historic lighthouses, state parks, amazing sand dunes, delicious Outer Banks restaurants, fun watersports, and unique wildlife experiences!

beach with a pier
Jennette’s Pier, Nags Head

This destination just speaks to us as a family who love nature and the great outdoors (and seafood). And being just a 3.5 hour drive, I know it’s going to be one of our top weekend getaways from Raleigh – in all seasons!

Things To Do in the Outer Banks

From our four-day visit, we came to realize that there is no shortage of fun things to do in Outer Banks. Whilst we didn’t have time for everything, we think we did a good job of maximizing our time!

Down below we list our top suggestions for your own OBX trip. Whether you’re looking for relaxing beach days or adventure, casual dining or a little romance, stunning sunrises or sunsets, the OBX has you covered. 

1. Play on the Outer Banks Beaches

Things to do in OBX with kids
Kill Devil Hills Beach

Most people visit the Outer Banks in the summer months for some beach time, and as Aussies we can definitely get on board with that! With 100-miles of wide-open shoreline, take your pick from one of the many beautiful Outer Banks beaches.

The sand is clean, the water is a perfect temperature through summer, they’re family-friendly, and they’re not too crowded – win, win. As we were staying right on Kill Devil Hills Beach, we spent most of our time on this beach (see sunrise tips down below).

Kill Devil Hills Beach, Outer Banks
Kill Devil Hills Beach

But our favorite for our kids to go body-boarding would probably be Corolla Beach for the gentle waves and it seems like you can walk out forever (see stand up paddle boarding section down below). Also Nags Head Beach near the pier was great for waves too!

Kitty Hawk is also ideal for water sports, and Duck is known as one of the most pet-friendly beaches in the US. And, Lifeguard Beach on Ocracoke Island was recognized as America’s Best Beach, as ranked by Dr Beach in 2022.

People sitting and walking along a beach.
Lifeguarded Beach, Ocracoke

It took top position mostly due to the three most important criteria: clean sand, clean water, and beach safety. But keep in mind beach and wave conditions change daily, depending on where you are on the islands. 

Lifeguards are on duty on all beaches between Memorial Day and Labor Day – be mindful of the tides and currents!

If you want calmer waters, consider one of the numerous sound front water accesses on the western side of the islands.

2. Visit Jockey’s Ridge State Park

Jockey’s Ridge State Park
Overlooking the sand dunes from the boardwalk

An Outer Banks vacation is mostly about nature and coastal experiences, but not all are water based!

We love visiting unique state parks, and Jockey’s Ridge State Park is home to the tallest sand dune system in the eastern United States and is one of the most popular things to do in OBX.

The dunes here are constantly changing shape due to wind and reach up to 100 feet high from where you get spectacular views of the Carolina coastline on one side, and Roanoke Sound on the other.

Start at the visitor center and museum to learn about the ecology, then head out to explore the massive dune system by following the 360-foot boardwalk. 

sand dunes
Kite flyers

Popular activities here include hang gliding, sand-boarding and kite flying (bring your own), nature trails, sunset viewing, and learning to hang-glide (see down below about our experience).

Ranger-led programs throughout the year are mostly free, but some require pre-registration. 

And during the warmer months it is highly suggested to bring your own shoes, sun protection and plenty of water – sand dunes get HOT. There are no entrance fees to enjoy the park. But keep in mind, this is a day-use only park with no campgrounds!

Hot Locals Tip: Go past the sand dunes to West Soundside Rd, it goes to a nice beach on the sound where you can walk in the water forever. 

3. Learn How to Hang Glide (safely) at Jockey’s Ridge

Hang gliding at Jockey's Ridge State Park, OBX

Looking for fun things to do in Outer Banks? This is one of the coolest family-activities we have done in a long time. 

You’re in the area where the Wright Brothers first flew a plane, so why not learn how to fly too! And don’t worry, it’s very safe and easy. If our 8 year old Savannah can do it, you can too!

Kitty Hawk Kites have been operating hang gliding lessons since 1974 with beginner, intermediate and advanced lessons from qualified instructors – who are awesome by the way!

Hang gliding in the Outer Banks

We had so much fun learning how to launch, fly, and land on the soft sands of Jockey’s Ridge with our instructor holding a rope all the way giving you a sense of safety!

Starting from $99, standard beginner lessons last 3 hours, including 1 hour of ground school.

Definitely put this on your list of OBX things to do and one of our favorite Outer Banks activities with kids. Read our full review of Kitty Hawk hang gliding and then Book your tickets here

4. Check Out Jennette’s Pier

 Jennette's Pier, OBX
Jennette’s Pier

Located in Nags Head, Jennette’s Pier stretches 1,000 feet into the Atlantic ocean and is one of the must-visit Outer Banks piers during your visit. 

What’s particularly cool about this pier is that it is powered by wind (evidenced by the windmills on it) and it has an educational center and small aquarium attached. I visited for some beautiful sunrise photos, and we also went swimming here in the afternoon. 

people swimming in the ocean
Swimming near Jennette’s Pier

This is one of the top things to do in Nags Head, and is popular for fishing, or for just taking a stroll out for great views back over the coastline. All day walk-on fees: Adults $2, Children $1.

5. Explore all the Outer Banks Piers

Avon Pier, Outer Banks
Avon Pier

You Americans love your piers, and in the Outer Banks the piers are one of the most striking features of this coastal area – there are seven in total.

Five of the piers are located in the central Outer Banks area; three in Nags Head, one in Kitty Hawk, and one in Kill Devil Hills.

The other two OBX piers are on Hatteras Island; one in Rodanthe and the other in Avon – the 600-foot long Avon Fishing Pier was the first pier on Hatteras Island. 

people walking on a pier at the beach
Outer Banks Fishing Pier

Our favorite is the The Outer Banks Fishing Pier in Nags Head –  we don’t fish, but we love Fish Heads Bar & Grille at the end of the pier (see more about that down below). 

Besides fishing off the piers, beach fishing is also popular in the OBX. So if you love piers too, this is one of the best things to do in Outer Banks.

6. See the OBX Lighthouses

Bodie Island Lighthouse at sunset in the Outer Banks
Bodie Island Lighthouse at sunset

Another of the popular things to do in Outer Banks is see the iconic lighthouses. When I think of the OBX, one of the first things that comes to mind is the lighthouses.

They have guarded the coastline here for over 200 years and have played an important role in maritime history – this area is known as the Graveyard of the Atlantic for ships for its treacherous waters. There are five lighthouses in total and each one unique:

The easily recognizable Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, with its spiraling black and white stripes, protects one of the most hazardous sections of the Atlantic Coast and was officially completed way back in 1870.

Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, Outer Banks
Cape Hatteras Lighthouse

One of the most popular OBX activities is to climb to the top of the historic Hatteras lighthouse to get stunning views from the tallest brick lighthouse in North America.

Unfortunately it was closed to climbing when we visited (August 2020 due to Rona) but you can still visit the grounds and visitors center. 

7. Cape Hatteras National Seashore

Cape Hatteras National Seashore

This 70-mile stretch of the Outer Banks from Bodie Island to Ocracoke Island is the country’s first national seashore.

This area is home to unique beach communities, historic lighthouses, and endless activities such as beach fishing, kiteboarding, surfing, swimming, windsurfing, crabbing, shell-collecting, kayaking and paddle boarding, camping, and beach driving.

You can explore by vehicle, bicycle, foot, or by boat. 

We didn’t spend much time down here, concentrating most of our time on the northern islands, but stopped in at above mentioned Cape Hatteras Lighthouse and a few beaches along the drive. For more tips on things to do in Hatteras, go here.

person walking on the beach

The north entrance to Cape Hatteras is located in Nags Head at the intersection of U.S. Highway 64 and NC Highway 12, and there are many roadside public pull-offs along Highway 12 with beach access. 

Hatteras Village is home to some nice locally owned and operated restaurants. 

8. Go Stand Up Paddle Boarding

Stand up paddle boarding, Outer Banks, North Carolina
Corolla Beach

If you’ve been following our travels for a while, you’ll know that stand-up paddle boarding is one of our favorite family-activities.

We bought two inflatable BodyGlove paddle boards, and couldn’t wait to use them in the OBX.

One suggested spot from the locals was Corolla Beach due to it’s gentle waves and shallow water, and it proved to be a great spot, although my balance needs work as I kept falling off – ocean paddling is different to lake or river supping!

Stand up paddle boarding, Outer Banks, North Carolina
Corolla Beach

Another popular place for paddle boarding/kayaking is the Historic Corolla Park at the Whalehead Club – there’s a public launch spot for small boats/kayaks/SUPs and there are shallow canals to paddle in. 

In Nags Head, we got recommended West Soundside Road as another good soundside location – it’s close to Jockey’s Ridge. If you don’t own your own SUP boards, consider a tour. 

9. Drink and Eat at Fish Heads Bar and Grill

Fish Heads Bar and Grill

Listen up Santa Monica Pier. THIS is how you do a pier! 

Back in our home country of Australia, we don’t have piers at our beaches (well, very few) and Aussies are most familiar with Santa Monica Pier. But we think that pier in LA is super tacky, crowded, and just a flat-out tourist trap!

We’ve also been to many other piers on our travels across the USA and we think we have found our favorite pier right here in North Carolina – the Outer Banks Fishing Pier. And it’s mostly to do with Fish Heads Bar and Grill at the end of this pier.

When we first arrived at the beach here, there was a long line waiting (social distancing) to get onto the pier and we thought, “what’s going on here?” 

Turns out, it was happy hour shrimp at Fish Heads which means 15 CENT SHRIMP between 4pm – 6pm. We put our names down immediately!

A close up of food and drinks on the beach

Not only that, but Fish Heads offers a great beer selection (40 beers in total), killer ocean views, chilled local vibe and music, and serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. 

Don’t miss it. This is a super cool local spot, and one of our best memories from our Outer Banks vacation! And if you love tiki bars, don’t miss the Ocean Grill & Tiki Bar when you are in Carolina Beach.

10. Visit Wright Brothers National Memorial


You’re in the place that had the first successful Wright Brothers flight, and if you value airplane travel like us, why not go and honor the birthplace of flying at the Wright Brothers National Memorial

In case you don’t know, the Wright Brothers (Orville and Wilbur Wright) piloted four successful flights with their powered, heavier-than-air flying machine in Kitty Hawk, and you can visit the historic site to see a monument.

A 60 ft. granite monument sits high on the sand dune where the brothers did most of their gliding experiments (now covered in grass).

The memorial overlooks the field where they piloted the four successful first flights in their heavier-than-air flying machine (not to mention the stunning panoramic view of the barrier island!)

people walking towards a hill

Start your visit at the excellent museum on-site which brilliantly tells the inspirational story from dreaming the impossible to making it possible through the phases of skill and character traits needed to do it, rather than a numerical timeline.

person looking at museum exhibit

And once outside, you can walk (or run like our kids did) along the actual marked flight paths pretending to fly, you’ll believe that you can do anything too.

girl running down a dirt path

Check out the official memorial website for all the up-to-date information and current costs and opening times!

11. Watch a Sunrise by the Ocean

Sunrise at Kill Devil Hills Beach
Sunrise at Kill Devil Hills Beach

Sunrise in the Outer Banks is definitely worth getting up for! We know, when you’re on vacation rolling out of bed early can be tough.

But we’re always grateful when we make the effort, especially when rewarded with a stunning sunrise like this at Kill Devil Hills Beach.

Sunrise is actually one of our favorite times of day. It’s peaceful, our kids are usually still asleep, and it just gives us so much more time in the day to do things. 

HOT TIP: when staying in the OBX do your best to stay on the ocean so you can just roll out of bed and walk onto the beach, or even sit on your deck and watch the magic happen!

12. Sunset Drinks at Miller’s Waterfront Restaurant

Miller's Waterfront Restaurant, OBX

Looking for one of those famous OBX sunsets? You can’t go wrong here. Miller’s is actually a highly recommended place to eat with a lot of positive reviews, but we felt our food fell a little flat.

We dined downstairs in the restaurant, but next time we’d like to try upstairs at the Sunset Bar & Grill.

However, the sunset stole the show and at the very least come here for sunset drinks, sit outside on the grass area and watch the magic happen over the sound – it seems to be an Outer Banks tradition.

13. Go Surfing

Surfers waiting for a set at Nags Head
Surfers waiting for a set at Nags Head

Looking to carve up some waves? The Outer Banks are known for having the largest waves on the East Coast of the US and is well known by surfers around the world.

Because the OBX coastline is uniquely situated, it receives swells from multiple directions with wintertime providing excellent conditions along the east facing beaches, whilst summertime swells sweep into the south side beaches.

Kitty Hawk Beach and Kill Devil Hills Beach are known for good wave surfing (and skimboarding), and typically have the biggest waves of the Northern Beaches.

We saw a few surfers enjoying the waves near Nags Head Pier, and a frequent visitor told us that Cape Hatteras has the best surfing when it’s on. Want to learn how to surf? Consider a surfing lesson in OBX.

14. Breakfast at Art’s Place

There are no shortage of great Outer Banks restaurants for lunch and dinner, but we found the breakfast options not so great, except for Art’s Place Bar & Grille.

This local’s favorite breakfast spot came highly recommended by several people in our Instagram community, especially for their pancakes which our kids loved, but the country ham breakfast and French toast also hit the spot nicely!

Located in Kitty Hawk, this long-running burger joint has ocean views from it’s rooftop and features live music and classic American bites. It’s a place where they call the tourists just out of town locals!

We visited during winter and sat downstairs in their cozy indoors, but would love to go back in the warmer months for a burger and beer and some live music! Oh, and they’ve also been voted best burger on the beach!

15. Visit Ocracoke Island

Aerial view of a town by a harbor
Ocracoke Village

Our new favorite place in the Outer Banks is Ocracoke Island. For a small island that’s only 16-miles long you will find there are plenty of cool things to do on Ocracoke Island, but with that slow living pace you are craving! 

It takes a bit more effort to get to this island in the Southern part of OBX via a car ferry, but it’s totally worth it for the outdoor adventure, natural beauty and local food and drink experiences.

Caroline Makepeace paddle boarding on a lake in Ocracoke, North Carolina
Paddling on Silver Lake

And probably our favorite part about Ocracoke, is parking our car and leaving it then exploring the island by golf cart, bicycle, or on two feet – this is island life at its finest!

Don’t miss Lifeguard Beach, SmacNally’s on the waterfront for seafood, 1718 Brewing for great craft beers (and food), Springers Point, paddle boarding on Silver Lake, Zillie’s wine bar, Dajio restaurant, oysters at Ocracoke oyster company, Howards Pub, and the incredible breakfast burrito at Eduardo’s!

Read our complete guide with tips on how to get to this island and 18 fun things to do on Ocracoke Island.

16. Explore Manteo

A group of people sitting on a dock next to a body of water

Manteo was our first stop when we arrived in the Outer Banks driving in from Raleigh, and it’s definitely worth a look. We found it to be much quieter than other places in OBX with a few interesting points of interest.

There’s a nice waterfront area to walk along – the town wraps around Shallowbag Bay on the eastern side of Roanoke Island.

Manteo, Outer Banks

Way back in 1587, 117 English men, women and children came ashore on Roanoke Island to establish the first English settlement.

But, In 1590, when English ships returned, they found the island deserted, hence the name the Lost Colony. 

The Lost Colony Drama performs on the site and the small main street has a few shops and the Lost Colony Brewery (we had lunch here – the burgers are good). 

Lost Colony Brewery

Other highly suggested Outer Bank attractions here is the Roanoke Island Maritime Museum and the Elizabethan Gardens

Read More: 15 things to do in Manteo and Roanoke Island, Outer Banks

17. Take A Historic Walking Tour with the Former Police Chief

man leading a history tour
With Francis on his walking tour

If you don’t want to explore Manteo by yourself, one of the best things to do in Manteo is a historical walking tour of the historic downtown with retired police chief turned tour guide, Francis D’Ambra.

Francis is super passionate about history and his town, and on the 90-minute tour we learned all about the fascinating history of not only Manteo, but the greater Outer Banks area.

Did you know that this region is home to all these firsts: first English Colony, first English born child in the New World, first hang gliding school in the USA, First in Flight, and First National Seashore.

Historical walking tour of Manteo, Outer Banks
Overlooking the sound

Downtown Manteo (pronounced Man-ee-o) is made up of just a few streets surrounding the historic courthouse, which Andy Griffith, in his fictional town of Mayberry will tell you, that’s the way a community should be. 

Mayberry, and its characters, were mostly inspired by the life and people of Manteo, where native North Carolinian, Andy Griffith, moved in 1947 to take a job as a soldier in “The Lost Colony”.

Manteo quickly became the home of his heart and his final resting place in a grave on his waterfront property – Francis was a personal friend of Andy’s, and can share many stories for devout fans of the show and actor.

Historical walking tour of Manteo, Outer Banks
Charming downtown Manteo

Tours are limited to 25 and are catered to mostly adults, but our 10 year old Savannah was so taken with the stories on the tour, she asked me mid-way through the tour if she could write a blog post on it.

18. Visit Outer Banks Brewing Station

Outer Banks Brewing Station

We are always up for a good brewery, especially a family-friendly one, and the Outer Banks Brewing Station in Kill Devil Hills is a must-visit. 

This brewery is the first wind-powered brewery in America – how cool is that – and there’s a great beer garden area out the back with plenty of room for the kids to run around.

The draft beer selection selection is top notch (I suggest the LemonGrass Wheat Ale or Hugh Hefeweizen), plus there’s wine and specialty cocktails.

Outer Banks Brewing Station

The food is well above average, and they have live music – what’s not to love. In “normal times” there’s a jam-packed events calendar. Check their website for current events.

19. Walk the Duck Boardwalk

A bridge over a body of water

This was one of the top recommended things to do in Duck NC, but I think we did this at the wrong time, just after lunch on a HOT day and I’m guessing this would be best to do either early morning or early evening at sunset.

Regardless, it’s a pretty walk and easy for kids and stretches 0.6 miles. with plenty of places to stop and eat near the water (eat at NC Coast Grill & Bar by the way), their poutine and fish tacos are incredible.

The boardwalk begins at the southern end of the Village near Christopher Drive and continues to end at the Waterfront Shops. Best accessed from Town Park and other locations throughout the Town’s Village Commercial District.

20. Eat Donutz on a Stick

Donutz on a Stick, Outer Banks, North Carolina
There are 2 donuts under there somewhere!

Ok guys. When most donut lovers visit the Outer Banks, they go to the original Duck Donuts in the town of Duck. Admittedly, we promised our kids a visit too (even though we can walk to a Duck Donuts near our house in Cary).

But when I typed in the address in Google maps, it said the store closed at 1pm (it closes at 1pm each day) which I thought was crazy!

Luckily, one of our very good local followers on Instagram who had been providing excellent tips during our stay, suggested we go to Donutz on a Stick.

He said it’s family-owned, not super busy, and better! And it turned out to be a great suggestion, trust us, our kids will tell you!

They serve up made to order donuts AND incredible donut sundaes which our kids had (two donuts topped with ice cream and whipped cream). Plus sandwiches, gluten-free and vegan offerings, coffee, espresso, gifts and souvenirs.

We even got severed by David, the owner, and he is a super nice guy. Tell him we sent you, and be sure to put this on your list of things to do in the Outer Banks with kids!

21. Horse riding on the beach in Hatteras

Family of four horse riding on the beach in the Outer Banks of North Carolina

A unique and super cool adventure in the Outer Banks is horseback riding on the beaches of Hatteras Island, the place to go in OBX to escape the crowds. 

This entire island is protected as the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, USA’s first coastal preservation area. The focus on this island is old-style, simple living in tune with nature. 

Three people horse riding on the beach in the Outer Banks
Amazing experience!

An early morning guided horseback ride in Frisco is the perfect way to start your Hatteras Island adventures. To ride, kids must be at least 10 years old and 4’8″ tall.

We joined Equine Adventures for a three-hour ride through the maritime forest of the Buxton Woods Coastal Reserve onto the beach. Our uninterrupted views of the ocean as we rode out of the forest and over the sand dunes was stunning. See more OBX activities here.

22. Kite Flying at Jockey’s Ridge

Man holdinga kite while talking to three ladies in the sand dunes - Outer Banks

Ben from Kitty Hawk Kites took our family out on the sand dunes at Jockey’s Ridge for a kite flying lesson on how to fly a 2-line stunt kite. Stunt kites, also known as sport kites, are known for their ability to perform impressive maneuvers in the air. 

Most stunt kites have dual-line controls, which make it easier to control the kite and perform tricks. The triangular delta kite is the most popular stunt kite and the one we learned how to fly. 

Savannah Makepeace flying a kite over sand dunes in Jockey's Ridge, Outer Banks
Savannah picked it up quickly!

He taught us how to launch, steer and fly the kite as well as a few advanced moves to make the kite dive and loop. And this location with the wind and views is the perfect spot. You can purchase kites from the Kitty Hawk store at the dunes and they also offer kite flying lessons.

23. Breakfast at Fresh Fit Cafe

Fresh Fit Cafe, OBX

Come for the healthy food, stay for the awesome water views! Here’s another breakfast spot we enjoyed.

Typically we’re pretty health conscious with our diet, but do let ourselves go a bit on vacation, but for the most part we like to start off our day with a healthy breakfast and we’re glad we found this place during our research.

Freshfit Cafe is located on the Nags Head-Manteo Causeway and is a health-oriented cafe and juice bar.

They serve breakfast and lunch daily with an awesome waterfront setting, and we thoroughly enjoyed our hearty omelettes – one of the best we’ve had actually!

Also on the menu is organic coffee, espresso, a full juice bar, detox drinks and smoothies, and they accommodate vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free diets.

24. Dine at Mulligan’s Grille in Historic Cottage Row

people eating food at a restaurant

This place is cool, and as soon as we walked in we had the feeling, “yeah, this could be our local”. 

Mulligan’s offers several dining and drinking areas, but we ate in the casual and chilled Tiki Bar upstairs (we love Tiki bars). 

With distant views of the beach, fresh coastal breezes, and a fun vibe, it was hard to leave and could have sat there for hours.

The burgers are great, they have good local seafood, there’s a nice selection of beers, a downstairs bar, and indoor and outdoor seating with views of Jockey’s Ridge (Note: Mulligan’s is operating under current Covid restrictions).

25. Go Beach Driving

Outer Banks, North Carolina

If you want to go beach driving, it’s another of the popular OBX things to do and offers a fun and different perspective for exploring the ocean beaches.

Beach driving is allowed year round on Hatteras Island, and October 1-April 30 in Nags Head and Kill Devil Hills. For current Cape Hatteras Off Road Vehicle (ORV) use, click here. For Nags Head here, and Kill Devil Hills here

26. Bird Watching in the Alligator River

Bird watching in the Outer Banks.

We are definitely not strangers to wildlife viewing, but bird watching is not something that ever came to mind when thinking about things to do in the Outer Banks.

But on a winter trip to OBX, that’s exactly what we did.

And if you’re looking for a slower paced activity that takes in unique natural habitats, keep it in mind as we were pleasantly surprised at how much we enjoyed it.

Due to its geography and position in the eastern migratory flyway, the Outer Banks is a popular place for birdwatching and people flock to it from all over the eastern seaboard. 

Bird watching in the Outer Banks.
Alligator River Wildlife Refuge

We joined Jonathan Cooley from Native Birding Tours for a four-hour birdwatching tour of the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge.

This protected area consists mostly of wetland, marshes, agricultural fields and a phenomenal amount of wildlife, especially birds.

We were thrilled to experience the Tundra swans and a few rare encounters such as a bald-headed eagle’s attempt to catch a duck, two rough-legged hawks flying together, and a sandhill crane lost on his way from Texas. 

Bird watching in the Outer Banks.
Tundra Swans

Fun fact: the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge has the highest concentration of black bears on the eastern seaboard AND the last remaining red wolves in the wild. We’ll be back to see the bears next time!

Whether you are new to birding or experienced, Jonathan has a tour for you.

27. Visit Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge

Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge

Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge is home to a diverse range of migratory birds.

Located 10 miles south of Nags Head, this island is an area of outstanding natural beauty, and has many scenic trails that offer the perfect viewpoint for birdwatching and wildlife photography.

The pristine and natural beauty of the area makes it a perfect destination for anyone looking to escape the city and reconnect with nature.

Named after the wild pea vine that grows on the island, Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge is one of the best places to visit for nature lovers.

28. Check Out Roanoke Island Festival Park

Roanoke Island Festival Park offers the chance to step back in time and experience life as it was in the late 16th century.

You can explore the Fort Raleigh National Historic Site on the island, which is an open air museum about the first settlers on Roanoke Island, who were British colonialist who sailed to the New World in 1585.

You can learn about the lives of the sailors who made the journey and also about the indigenous people who lived here before them.

There are also interactive exhibits set up like an American Indian town that showcases the history and culture of the Native Americans who lived in the area before European settlers arrived.

There is also an aquarium which is part of North Carolina Aquariums, where you can see sea turtles, sharks and more!

29. Wander the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum

Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum

The Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum is a unique free museum that tells the story of the many shipwrecks that have occurred off the coast of North Carolina over the past 500 years, including the famous sinking of the USS Monitor during the Civil War.

You can see artifacts recovered from these wrecks, including weapons, clothing, and navigational instruments. This is a one-of-a-kind experience that you won’t find anywhere else.

Note that the museum is being refurbished until the Fall 2023, but we will let you know once it reopens.

More Things to Do in OBX

As mentioned, we only had four days for our Outer Banks vacation, so missed many things. 

Below are highly suggested OBX activities and places to eat in Outer Banks from locals in the know, and the tourism board, that we plan to tick off on a return visit:

If you didn’t previously know what to do in Outer Banks, I hope this post helps you with your own planning to visit Outer Banks. 

We’ll definitely be back many times, so why not join our email community (form below with free NC Bucket List) and follow us on Instagram to see what we get up to on future visits, and all our other North Carolina adventures!

NC Bucket List
45 Unique things to do in NC + 4 destinations not to miss + insider travel tips. 
Featured Image

Book your Outer Banks Accommodation

Use the map below to find your perfect vacation rental in the Outer Banks.

Final Thoughts on Things to Do in Outer Banks

By now you should have discovered why we think Outer Banks is one of the best places to visit in North Carolina, and what you should add to your itinerary!

Outer Banks is your gateway to a breathtaking chain of islands that offer pristine beaches, water sports, and historical sites.

With its unique history, natural beauty, and endless activities, Outer Banks is the perfect destination for families, couples, and solo travelers alike.

And don’t miss checking out our list of 25 cool Airbnb Outer Banks vacation rentals.

Pin Below To Save To Pinterest:

NC Bucket List
45 Unique things to do in NC + 4 destinations not to miss + insider travel tips. 
Featured Image

About The Author

10 thoughts on “29 Essential Things To Do In OBX (Outer Banks)”

  1. Wonderful article. So helpful and informative. Thank you! We live near Cincinnati, OH. We are traveling to OBX for the first time in April. Have been to several places in NC, and really have liked all of the places we have been. Looking forward to our next adventure!

  2. This was great! Prepping for a trip there in a couple of weeks & this was right on the money for types of things/ info looking for. And great pics! Helps to visualize

    1. Hi Tabitha, happy to help. You need a car to get to the Outer Banks and would be the best way to get around. It’s quite a large area. And I have no idea if Uber or Lyft is present. I would definitely take your own car!

  3. What a roundup, you guys! Thanks for inspiring some beach vacation planning for us. It’s long been a dream of mine to spend a few weeks on OBX one summer … or winter. I just love the tall grasses and dunes, plus horses and dolphins.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to Top