20 of the Best Free Outer Banks Activities

When you think of the Outer Banks in North Carolina, what comes to mind? At Shoreline OBX, we think of the stunning coastlines, windswept sand dunes, the delightful weather, and the endless natural beauty.

Our chain of islands has so many incredible sights to see and things to do. Are you looking for ways to immerse yourself in our laid back lifestyle? These free Outer Banks activities are an excellent place to start!

If you’re having trouble deciding which free Outer Banks activities to enjoy, request a copy of our complimentary Vacation Guide to discover the best places to explore, eat, and stay!

The Best Free Outer Banks Activities

With an array of free Outer Banks activities to delight in, you’re sure to find the best ways to make the most of your vacation. From guided tours to outdoor experiences to entertaining events, there are so many fun-filled things to do! Here are our suggestions to help you maximize your time on the beautiful North Carolina Coast.

Nature Preserves

view of corolla beachNothing brings you closer to the culture of the Outer Banks quite like the spending your time outdoors. From miles of coastline to stunning reserves and state parks, there’s no shortage of places to explore on the trails.

1. Enjoy a day walking the unpaved paths and birdwatching in the Nags Head Woods, one of the best free things to do in Kill Devil Hills. It’s a beautiful place that is fun for the whole family!

2., 3., & 4. Other destinations include the Currituck Banks National Estuarine Reserve as well as Tracks in the Sand and the beach at Jockey’s Ridge State Park, which features the tallest natural sand dune system in the Eastern United States. Bring your camera and sense of adventure for a great day outdoors!

5. Visit the Duck Town Park & Boardwalk and enjoy 11 acres of natural beauty, including trails through the maritime forest and willow swamp, open green space, and soundside views.

6. The Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge is a popular destination for learning about local wildlife, and it is a paradise for birds and birders alike!

Other Outdoor Activities

cape hatteras lighthouseIn addition to the nature preserves, you’ll find an array of other free things to do and see outdoors in the Outer Banks.

7. As you relax on the beach, you can observe the Corolla Wild Horses in their natural habitat. These Spanish Mustangs roam the stunning sand dunes and the shoreline. See them up-close with Corolla Wild Horse Tours!

8. Another delightful family activity is going crabbing. We recommend trying your hand at “The Little Bridge,” officially known as the Melvin R. Daniels Bridge. Grab a few crab nets or some string, locate a spot, add bait, and wait. Kids will love reeling in their own crabs!

However, there are several places in the Outer Banks excellent for crabbing. If you want to enjoy this coastal pastime, be sure to check the laws and have a fishing license if needed. The optimal time to enjoy this activity is at high tide, so check the schedule before you go. After the sun sets, grab your flashlight and hunt for ghost crabs on the beach!

9. To view an iconic landmark of the Outer Banks, head over to the Cape Hatteras National Seashore! It’s free to visit, and as you stroll, you can marvel at the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. There’s a small fee to climb to the top, but there’s no cost to observe it from the outside. This is also a great place to view the night sky, as Cape Hatteras National Seashore has some of the darkest skies east of the Mississippi River.

Family-Friendly Festivals

people with sparklers at beachThroughout the year, the Outer Banks offers an assortment of seasonal celebrations. Each of these festivals is fun for the family and showcases a unique facet of the Outer Banks towns.

10. Spend your vacation enjoying the rhythms of live music at the Duck Summer Music Concert Series on the Duck Town Green! This summer-long musical showcase features local talent and casual tunes. We highly recommend bringing a beach chair to lounge and listen to the sounds! Other fun (and free!) events include:

11. First Friday at the Manteo Waterfront

12. Kitty Hawk Kites Kids Day in Corolla & Nags Head

13. Movies on the Sound in Nags Head, Duck & Manteo

14. Faire Days Festival in Duck

15. Town of Duck Family Magic Show

16. Dare Day Festival at the Manteo Waterfront

Art & Culture

books on a bookshelfIf you consider yourself to be a history scholar or a nature enthusiast, you’ll find a collection of wonderful museums to explore. Not only will you experience the rich history of the Outer Banks, but you’ll also uncover how each community still maintains its close ties to the earth. While many local museums do charge a small admission fee, there are many that do not!

17. One of the most beloved local establishments is the Wild Horse Museum. It’s located in the same complex as the Historic Corolla Village Shops and boasts many exhibits that teach you about the majestic wild mustangs. You’ll see a wall-sized area map, video displays about the horses, and there are even live mustang visits.

18. & 19. If you simply can’t get enough of the outdoors, head to the Outer Banks Center for Wildlife Education in Corolla or the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum in Hatteras for a great time!

Island Adventures

view of ocracoke lighthouseFeel the refreshing breezes of the Atlantic sweep across your face as you enjoy some of the many on-the-water activities that the Outer Banks provide.

20. One of the best ways to delight in the summertime in the Outer Banks is taking the Hatteras/ Ocracoke Ferry. This high-speed boat takes you to nearby Ocracoke for a day of fun activities.

Once on the island, you can explore the village by bike or golf cart. Shop locally owned stores, visit the Ocracoke Lighthouse, or go fishing or crabbing. During the season there are live music events, family-friendly activities, wine tastings, and much more. You don’t want to miss your chance to experience this beloved island!

Return to Your Shoreline OBX Rental

After you’ve made the most of your time with these free Outer Banks activities, head back to your beautiful rental to relax.

As you browse the homes of Shoreline OBX, you’ll find a wide variety of properties that are perfect for relaxation and spending time with family. We invite you to explore our many homes and reserve the one that is just right for your next vacation!

When you book direct, you’ll receive the best rate and rental with an easy reservation process. Life is simple in the Outer Banks. Experience it this year with Shoreline OBX!