- 1 Carova
- 2 Corolla, pronounced to rhyme with "holla". It does not sound like the name of the Toyota automobile.
- 1Norfolk International Airport (ORF IATA) (8m), 2200 Norview Avenue, Norfolk, Virginia, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Norfolk International Airport is the closest airport to the Outer Banks; approximately an hour and a half drive to Kitty Hawk.
- 2Coastal Carolina Regional Airport (EWN IATA) (5m), ☏ . Coastal Carolina Regional Airport is another close commercial airport to the Outer Banks with nonstop regional service to Atlanta, Charlotte, and Philadelphia. It will be around a 3 hour drive from the airport to the Outer Banks.
- 3Raleigh–Durham International Airport (RDU IATA), ☏ . The Raleigh-Durham International Airport is a 4-hour drive to the Outer Banks. It is the closest major airport with service to most major airline hubs such as Atlanta, New York, and Los Angeles.
Dare and Hyde County Airports
Pilots of private planes can land directly in the Outer Banks at one of several Dare County Airports:
- 4Dare County Regional Airport (MEO IATA) (4.3m), 410 Airport Road, Manteo, North Carolina, ☏ , email@example.com.
- 5 First Flight Airport (FFA IATA) (4m), Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina.
- 6Billy Mitchell Airport (HNC IATA) (5m), Frisco, North Carolina.
- 7 Ocracoke Island Airport (2m), Ocracoke, North Carolina.
From the north, take I-64 in Virginia to exit 291B (SR 168-Battlefield Blvd). Merge left onto SR 168 and continue until road becomes US 158 (beyond the NC border). US 158 will take you all the way to the beaches, and is the main highway up and down the Outer Banks.
Driving from the west use US 64 and US 264 through Columbia and Manteo, NC. US 264 becomes US 158 once you've reached the Outer Banks beaches. Ferries connect Ocracoke to Cedar Island and Swan Quarter; there is free ferry access across Hatteras Inlet from Ocracoke Island.
The best tip for navigating the Outer Banks is to learn their main roads and milepost system.
There are two main drags on the beaches. State Highway 12 is known as Virginia Dare Trail, or more commonly "the Beach Road". US 158 is known as Croatan Highway, but the locals refer to it as "the Bypass" or "the Big Road". Most advertisements you find will refer to them that way.
The Mileposts are similar to what you find on the interstates. Green signs on the right hand side of the road, marked every half mile. Milepost "0" is at the Wright Memorial Bridge on the north end in Kitty Hawk. Head south on the Bypass or Beach Road and the Mileposts get higher with Milepost (MP) 16 at Whalebone Junction being the end of the 'main drag'.
Ferries from the North Carolina Department of Transportation are available to some Outer Banks destinations.
- 1 Cape Hatteras National Seashore. Cape Hatteras National Seashore is a United States national seashore which preserves the portion of the Outer Banks of North Carolina from Bodie Island to Ocracoke Island, stretching over 70 mi (110 km), and is managed by the National Park Service. Included within this section of barrier islands along N.C. 12, but outside the national seashore boundaries, are Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge and several communities, such as Rodanthe, Buxton, and Ocracoke. Cape Hatteras is a combination of natural and cultural resources, and provides a wide variety of recreational opportunities.
- 2 Wright Brothers National Memorial, 1000 North Croatan Highway, Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina. 9AM-5PM. Wright Brothers National Memorial commemorates the first successful, sustained, powered flights in a heavier-than-air machine. From 1900 to 1903, Wilbur and Orville Wright came here from Dayton, Ohio, based on information from the U.S. Weather Bureau about the area's steady winds. They also valued the privacy provided by this location, which in the early 20th century was remote from major population centers. Adults $10.
- 3 Chicamacomico Life-Saving Station, 23645 NC Highway 12, Rodanthe, North Carolina, ☏ . M-F 10AM-5PM. With its two stations and five outbuildings, Chicamacomico Life-Saving Station is the most complete site of all remaining life-saving stations in North Carolina and one of the most complete sites in the nation. This site and museum is on Hatteras Island, in the village of Rodanthe.
- 4 The Lost Colony, 1409 National Park Dr, Manteo, North Carolina, ☏ . The Lost Colony offers a refreshed production of Paul Green's original symphonic drama. Set on the soundfront on Roanoke Island, enjoy this 85 year-old musical under the stars. Become immersed in the story of the discovery of a new world with newly enhanced musical and theatrical direction and choreography. Witness the pageantry of Queen Elizabeth I and her court and celebrate the birth of Virginia Dare, the first English child born in America all while preserving the historical importance of America's oldest mystery. $25-40.
- 5 Currituck Beach Lighthouse (the entrance is 20 miles north of Highway 158 and Route 12 junction; take the third or fourth left after Corolla’s 11-mile marker, just beyond the Historic Corolla Park sign; it is just north of the Historic Corolla Park and Historic Whalehead), ☏ . March-November 9AM-5PM. Since 1875, this lighthouse has kept mariners from danger, night and day. The Keepers’ Dwelling has housed more than two dozen families, as their duties of “Lighthouse Keeper” were carried out. $12.
- 6 Bodie Island Lighthouse, 8210 Bodie Island Lighthouse Road, Nags Head, North Carolina (just south of Nags Head, a few miles before Oregon Inlet). The current Bodie Island Lighthouse (pronounced “body island”) is the third that has stood in this vicinity of Bodie Island on the Outer Banks and was built in 1872. It stands 156 ft (48 m) tall on the Roanoke Sound side of a portion of a peninsula that is the first part of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. Adults: $10, Children & Seniors: $5.
- 7 Cape Hatteras Light, 46379 Lighthouse Road, Buxton, North Carolina (when traveling south along N.C. Highway 12 coming into Buxton, turn left onto Lighthouse Road; the second road on the left will take you to a parking lot and paths to the visitor's center, lighthouse, and other associated buildings). Cape Hatteras Light is a lighthouse on Hatteras Island in the town of Buxton, North Carolina and is part of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. The lighthouse’s semi-unique pattern makes it easy to recognize and famous. It is often ranked high on lists of most beautiful, and famous lighthouses in the U.S.
- 8 Ocracoke Light, Lighthouse Road, Ocracoke, North Carolina. Ocracoke Light was built on Ocracoke Island in 1823 by Massachusetts builder Noah Porter. The lighthouse stands 75 ft (23 m) tall and its diameter narrows from 25 feet (7.6 m) at the base to 12 feet (3.7 m) at its peak. The lighthouse was built to help guide ships through Ocracoke Inlet into Pamlico Sound.
- 9 Cape Lookout Lighthouse (getting to the Cape Lookout Lighthouse requires a boat; several ferry services are available to bring you over to the island). The Cape Lookout Lighthouse is a 163-foot-high lighthouse on the southern Outer Banks of North Carolina. It flashes every 15 seconds and is visible at least 12 mi (19 km) out to sea and up to 19 mi (31 km). It is one of the very few lighthouses that operate during the day. It became fully automated in 1950. The Cape Lookout Lighthouse is the only such structure in the United States to bear the checkered daymark, intended not only for differentiation between similar light towers, but also to show direction. The center of the black diamonds points in a north-south direction, while the center of the white diamonds points east-west.
- Surfing - The Outer Banks offers some of the best surfing on the East Coast. Plenty of surf shops rent equipment and/or offer lessons.
- Most other watersports - Kayaking, Windsurfing, Kiteboarding, Parasailing, Jet Skiing, you name it.
- Hang gliding in Nags Head, just south of where the Wright Brothers first managed to fly.
- Climb up and run down the big dune at Jockey's Ridge State Park at milepost 12 in Nags Head. They also have hang gliding classes at the park during the day.
- Shopping, shopping and more shopping! Tons of great places to find unique items. Many Art Galleries are located up and down the beaches.
- Historical tours-the Outer Banks is rich with history and you'll find many different areas to explore the unique background. One must-see is The Lost Colony and Roanoke Island Festival Park, both on Roanoake Island. The very beginnings of the country and its people can be seen and explored there.
- 4 wheel drive beaches where you can drive on the beach and look for wild horses
- For kids there are many miniature golf courses and go cart racing tracks that are also near shops and places to eat or get ice cream
- While the big waves make the beaches a fun place to hang out all day, there are very few lifeguards, and none in the off season.
If you're out with children, be warned that the large souvenir shops (Wings, Reef, etc.) are R-rated. If you don't mind exposing your children to jokey portrayals of heavy drinking, semi-nudity, stylized gore, and death's heads, then by all means bring them inside to pick out some colorful beach toys. But be ready for questions about the purpose of the smoking paraphernalia that may be on display beside the cash register. If you want pirate kitsch or Rebel flag merchandise, this is the place to be. Each of the giant shops has numerous locations up and down Croatan Highway (the "Bypass" or "Big Road").
Many places, including "Wings", make t-shirts, sweatshirts, and long sleeve shirts with a logo or picture you can choose from that are posted all over the walls
The Outer Banks is chock full of great places to eat. In season, most restaurants are open and the choices are virtually unlimited. Off season, many of the local eateries close down or limit their hours. If you are traveling in the off/shoulder season, expect the restaurant and shopping choices to be a bit more limited than during peak season.
A few great places to try:
For breakfast, burgers and hometown lunch specials, try Art's Place, open 6AM to 6PM at MP (Mile Post) 2.5 on the Beach Road. Lunch specials daily, kids' menu and full ABC license. Nice front porch and upper deck where you can enjoy a drink or chow down on their huge all-beef burgers. Their ad says: "Art's Place -- Food so good you'll think we stole your mom!" They aren't kidding.
For dinner and a view, try The Black Pelican at MP 4.5 on the Beach Road. Stone oven pizzas, fresh seafood, steaks, nightly specials and drinks. The building is an old lifesaving station said to be haunted. Large dining room means you never have to wait hours for a seat.
If straight-out oysters and seafood is what you're after, Awful Arthur's Raw Bar on the Beach Road at MP 6 is your best bet. The only authentic raw bar on the beach, the food is great, the atmosphere is Outer Banks casual and when you're done stuffing your face full of oysters, you can skip right across the street to the Avalon Pier to see what they're catching.
Of course, there are many nice restaurants to sit and have a great dinner. Others to consider for their food, atmosphere, locations and overall popularity include: Jolly Roger (MP 7 Beach Road), serving Outer Banks Italian; JK's (MP 9 Bypass), serving seafood/steaks and more; Mako Mike's (MP 7 Bypass), serving steak/seafood. Check out the live shark tank; kids love it!
Take advantage of the local bars and restaurants on the island that not only offer good food but a great experience. While you eat you can hear about storms that ripped through the coast and learn other fun facts about the island from friendly waiters and waitresses.
If your group is tempted to go out for breakfast, note that Stack 'Em High on Croatan Highway has a peculiar method of having guests queue up to order, causing the line to extend out the door and creating the false impression of a long wait. You will get your food in a hurry, but make sure your whole group arrives at the same time; otherwise the latecomers will be told to push through to join the earlier arrivals, which may not make the other guests entirely happy. You pay at the end of the queue, take your loaded tray to a table, eat, and exit through the back door, which expels you onto a narrow walkway beside the building's buried septic tanks. (Despite all this, the place has many regulars who claim to love it.) The servers are friendly and helpful, especially considering the cattle-herding ambience of the place; they refill your coffee and such, and tips are appreciated. Another Croatan Highway joint, Bob's Café, lives by the motto "Eat and Get the Hell Out!" What more is there to say?
Howard's Pub on Ocracoke Island offers an extensive exotic beer list with an even more impressive of draft beer selection. The food isn't bad either. If you're on Ocracoke looking for a good affordable meal, try Jason's, across from Howard's Pub. The alfredo and cheddar tomato soup are to die for.
- Most places close pretty early in the evening in the Outer Banks so if you like to get out it is a good idea to do it during the day because the nights are quiet