Head down to the main strip where you can take in the sights of Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills,and Nags Head. Start by stopping off at the world famous, Wright Brothers’ Memorial in Kill Devil Hills. Pop into the visitor center to see exhibits on the Wright Brother’s work over the years and replicas of the 1903 flyer. Next take a stroll down the path with markers from the Wright Brothers’ first flight or up to the top of the monument with exquisite 360 degree views.
The next stop just five miles from Wright Memorial is Jockey’s Ridge. This 426-acre park has the tallest natural sand dune system on the east coast and one of the most beautiful natural wonders in the Outer Banks. It is “ever changing, always beautiful” as the park likes to say. Whether you stop in for kite flying, hang gliding lessons with Kitty Hawk Kites, or watching a breathtaking sunset over the sound, Jockey’s Ridge is worth the stop.
The Bodie Island Lighthouse is one of the five famous lighthouses on the Outer Banks. Owned and operated by the National Park Service, Bodie Island Lighthouse is still in operation and open to the public for tours beginning every half hour between 9am and 4:30pm from the first Friday in April to Columbus Day.
Photo by Matt Lusk Photography
Just a few miles down the road, take a drive down to Oregon Inlet to see what people have reeled in for the day. Charter boats make the trek out every day to take vacationers into the Gulf Stream for sport fishing for tuna, marlin, and dolphin (known on your plate as Mahi-Mahi). The famous show Wicked Tuna: Outer Banks, on the Discovery Channel, features a range of boats from Oregon Inlet in a race against boats from off the New England Coast.
Get ready, because it’s about to be a long, eventful day! Make your way south towards Hatteras Island for a day of history and spectacular views.
Start the day off at Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge. This wildlife refuge covers 13 miles of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. Take a stop to stretch your legs and walk along some of the serene nature trails to watch some of the 400 species of migrating birds and other wildlife throughout the refuge.
Next stop, Rodanthe. Does the name ring a bell? If so, it’s because of the famous movie based on the book, “Nights in Rodanthe”, by Nicholas Sparks. The “Inn at Rodanthe”, as the house was named in the movie/book, is a old-fashioned home on the water with electric blue shutters, making it easy to spot. Just a quick stop for picture or two with the house if you’re a fan.
While you’re still in Rodanthe, pop into the Chicamacomico Lifesaving Station, the largest and only US lifesaving station open as a museum. The lifesaving station is rich with history, through stories, artifacts, and buildings dating back to the 1874 station. (Did you know our Lifesaving Station restaurant was the Coast Guard’s original #5 lifesaving station?)
To see a view like no other, the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse is the place to go. Beach erosion became a problem in the early 1990s, so after years of careful planning, in 1999, the lighthouse became the tallest brick structure ever to be moved. Ticket purchases are available between 9am and 4:30pm from the first Friday in April to Columbus Day. Make sure you stop for views from the tallest brick lighthouse in North America.
Frisco Pier, although dilapidated, is a beautiful sight, and a prime spot for the local surfers. While you’re there, you may see some Outer Banks famous surfers. Maybe catch a wave or two yourself while there.
Photo by Daniel Pullen Photography
To learn a bit more about why Cape Hatteras Lighthouse was built, take a look at the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum. It is the last stop before you reach the end of the island. Learn about the Diamond Shoals off the coast, and ghost stories of abandoned ships.
After a long day, enjoy a day off relaxing on-property and in the Town of Duck. Take a load off your feet and relax on the beach or poolside. The Spa at Sanderling offers many types of treatments, as well as salon services, and even yoga!
Feeling adventurous? Kitty Hawk Kites offers many activities on-property such as surf lessons, paddleboarding lessons and kayak tours. If that’s not enough, rent a bike and take a 5-mile ride into the Town of Duck and explore around the Waterfront Shops and Scarborough Faire.
The Audubon trail, whose entrance is located close to our Spa, is another great way to get outdoors! Take a hike through the 2.5 mile one-way trail and see an abundance of birds and other wildlife roaming through their natural habitat.
Downtown Manteo is a great place to begin the morning. The waterfront portion of downtown Manteo on Queen Elizabeth Avenue and Fernando Street offers everything from water sports companies, to gift shops, and even some local galleries. There are also many local tour companies that offer views of downtown from the water. Walk down the boardwalk that connects to the marina, and stop in at the the only in-shore lighthouse on the Outer Banks, the Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse.
Photo courtesy of visitnc.com
Outer Banks Distilling is home to “Kill Devil Rum” and is the first legal distillery on the Outer Banks. A tasting and tour are in order while you are in town, Tuesday-Saturday at 1 and 3pm on Budleigh Street.
The N.C. Aquarium, just a few minutes from downtown Manteo, is a magnificent place for all ages to learn about the habitats and marine life of the Outer Banks. There are special exhibits and programs offered throughout the year, so take a look at their calendar to see what may be going on while you’re there. There’s even a touch tank where you are able to touch stingrays, horseshoe crabs, and more.
Fort Raleigh National Historic Site is home to the Elizabethan Gardens, as well as The Lost Colony Outdoor Drama. Plan your evening around the “Lost Colony”, the longest-running outdoor symphonic drama in America, running from May 26th-August 20th. This two-hour drama has been performed every summer since 1937, on the same site as the actual events occurred – a must-see while on the Outer Banks.
Photo courtesy of thelostcolony.org
Drive 10 miles north towards Corolla for the last day of the trip. The Whalehead Club is a wonderful stop for a picnic lunch. The 39-acre property has been home to many different things from a hunt club, to a private school for boys, and even a rocket-fuel testing base. Also on property is the Center for Wildlife Education. For young and old alike, it is a great place to learn about the history and vast diversity of wildlife in North Carolina.
Last stop for lighthouses is the 140 year old Currituck Lighthouse. Trek up 214 steps to see an unforgettable view to see as far as the eye can see! With a 360 degree view, you can see everything from the sound to the ocean!
Corolla is known for it’s wild horses roaming along the beaches into Carova. Book your off-road tour with Corolla Outdoor Adventures and you are sure to see some of these beauties. Guides lead an adventurous two and a half hour tour in open-sided trucks to offer unobstructed views of the horses grazing and running in their natural habit.
Photo by Brooke Mayo Photography
After all the adventures, retreat back to Sanderling for one last hoorah at Kimball’s Kitchen for a sunset at dinner you won’t forget. Nothing better to leave a wonderful mark on your action-packed, fun-filled week in the Outer Banks.