Between its beautiful oceanfront location and endless opportunities for outdoor fun, the Outer Banks remains a timeless family vacation destination. Here are more than a few ideas for making the most of your time in this special summer spot.

Cape Hatteras National Seashore

Cape Hatteras, North Carolina

Just one of the many beaches you can choose from on the Outer Banks is Cape Hatteras. It is one of the top choices for many visitors to the area. Not only can you sunbathe, swim, walk the beach, fly a kite, and sit around a fire. There are also four campgrounds throughout the park if you want to live off the land.

Wright Brothers National Memorial

Wright Brothers National Memorial

This memorial pays tribute to the forefathers of air travel with a monument, a reconstruction of the camp where the two lived, and a sculpture dedicated to December 17, 1903, the day of their first powered flight.

North Carolina Aquarium

For a double dose of ocean life, head to one of the state’s three aquariums, in Manteo on Roanoke Island. You’ll find exhibits focused on sea turtle conservation, shipwrecks, stingrays, sharks, and the history of the local waters and its inhabitants. In addition, if you’re a certified diver, you can even go swimming with sharks in the Graveyard of the Atlantic exhibit!


Bodie Island Lighthouse

Forget about a pub crawl; try a lighthouse crawl! All five of them — Bodie Island, Cape Hatteras, Ocracoke, Currituck Beach, and Roanoke Marshes — are equally Instagram-worthy, though Ocracoke holds the distinction of being the second-oldest in the country.

Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge

Gators aren’t the only creatures you’ll find in this wildlife sanctuary. It’s also home to white-tailed deer, black bears, marsh birds, red wolves, and more. Head to the refuge’s visitors center to get started with a guided tour or map to explore on your own.

The Lost Colony Play

Since 1937, talented local actors have performed this outdoor play at the Waterside Theater in Manteo from May through September, and it remains a unique way to spend a summer evening that’s fun for the whole gang.

Elizabethan Gardens

Elizabethan Gardens, North Carolina

Established in 1960 is the gorgeous Elizabethan Garden. It has a variety of flowers in bloom throughout the year, depending on the season/ July is a prime time for Crepe Myrtles and Lilies. Also, you can find Hydrangeas, Begonias and Black-eyed Susans here. Make a day of it and bring a picnic lunch to enjoy on the Great Lawn after you’re done admiring.

Quick Guide to Outer Banks