Family Fun Activities in the Outer Banks
While the pristine beaches remain the biggest draw to the Outer Banks, it’s the dozens of exciting destinations that sets them apart from other coastal resort areas. Let’s take a look at 10 spectacular sights that will make your vacation unforgettable.
Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge
Measuring more than 150,000 acres of wetland, Alligator River is the perfect destination to witness wildlife, observe platforms, fish, kayak and much more. With five diverse trails to adventure through, this refuge is filled with habitats that are home to some of the most rare animals on the East Coast, from wood ducks and alligators to red wolves and black bears.
Bodie Island Lighthouse and Marshes
Pronounced “Body” Lighthouse, this attraction located just south of Nags Head has been catching the eye of those who drive by for hundreds of years. This black and white horizontal structure is more than just a lighthouse—it is a symbol of history. Starting in 1837, the Bodie Island Lighthouse was constructed three different times before it was stable and functional enough to provide a beacon to passing ships. Today, the attraction is beautiful pit stop surrounded by a mixture of maritime forests and marshlands.
Buxton Woods Coastal Reserve
As the largest maritime forest remaining in North Carolina, this 2,500-acre forest boasts more than just hiking trails and marshes. Well-preserved dunes and a dozen rare animal species and plants are scattered throughout the area making it one of the most unique natural communities on the East Coast.
Cape Hatteras Lighthouse
Being one of the most famous symbols in the nation, the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse serves as a visitors’ center and museum highlighting the island’s maritime history. As the tallest brick lighthouse in the country, people from all over come to climb the 257 steps it takes to get to the top of this well-known landmark where they will witness breath-taking views. The beacon at the top of the lighthouse can be seen from 20-miles out to sea and has been a guide for ships for over 100 years.
The Elizabeth Gardens
Discover what is beyond the beach at this 10-acre garden of wonder. Enjoy the presence of flowering shrubs, herbs, flowers, Renaissance statues, native plants and more as you stroll through this elegant and enchanting attraction located on National Park Drive. Representing the Elizabethan explorers that settled here, this garden is full of both history and breath-taking beauty.
The Lost Colony
As America’s first and longest Outdoor Drama, The Lost Colony is an exciting reenactment story written by Pulitzer-Prize winner Paul Green and performed under the stars at the beautiful Waterside Theater. Presented nightly June through August (except Sundays), this show is a wonderful way to bring the family together on a night out in Roanoke Island.
Jennette’s Pier at Nags Head
Known for the best place to fish in the Outer Banks, this 1,000-foot long ocean pier has become so popular over the years that it’s now home to large fish tanks, educational displays, a tackle, gift and snack shop and a bath house. Both beginners and experts come here from all over to get hooked on some of the best catch in North Carolina. With special events happening all year long, Jennette’s Pier is a great place for fishing, family and fun!
Jockey’s Ridge State Park
Home to the tallest sand dune system on the East Coast, Jockey’s Ridge is a pleasurable park for both a quiet and adventurous beach day. This park is most famous for its flawless dunes, but also for its three wildlife trails and perfect conditions for hang-gliding.
Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge
A 5,834-acre refugee home to more than 265 species of birds, this island is available to explore year-round. Canoe tours offer an up-close look at all the wildlife that roams the area as well as trails surrounded by lovely ponds and marshes full of nature. Observe “turtle pond” from above on the boardwalk or paddle through the Atlantic Ocean to the Pamlico Sound to witness jaw-dropping views.
Wright Brothers National Memorial
Once you have spotted the 60-foot granite monument, you have found what leads to a National Park with a full-scale reproduction of the original plane, information services, the history of the Wright Brothers and much more. Aviation enthusiast, history lovers and just about any Kill Devil Hills visitor flock to this memorial destination for a one-of-a-kind opportunity to experience history.