Things to do in Outer Banks, NC

Vacation Guide Graphic LinkRomantic boardwalk strolls, unique wildlife adventures, relaxing beach days, and exciting nightlife are all included in your next Outer Banks getaway. Rain or shine, there is never a shortage of things to do in Outer Banks, NC! Read below to discover all of the area’s top attractions and take one step closer to the vacation of your dreams. Before your visit, don’t forget to access our complimentary Vacation Guide! In it, you’ll find the best Outer Banks restaurants, attractions, and seasonal events!

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Free Things to Do in the Outer Banks!

The Outer Banks of North Carolina is filled with plenty of fun, family-friendly activities. However, beyond the beach, finding a cost-effective way to keep the entire family entertained can often prove to be a struggle. Not any more! Before you start planning your trip, take a look at our recommendations for activities that won’t cost you a single dime.  Fill your days with all of the incredibly fun and incredibly free things to do in the Outer Banks!

1. OBX Lighthouses

cape hatteras lighthouse

The lighthouses that grace the shores of the Outer Banks are some of the most iconic and historic lighthouses in the United States. Used to help guide ships through the treacherous and dangerous waters of the Atlantic Ocean, these lighthouses dot the shoreline. There is never a bad time to visit the Outer Banks lighthouses!

2. The Wild Horses of the Outer Banks

The wild horses of the Outer Banks are a wonderful sight and an amazing thing to experience when visiting our area. The Outer Banks is one of the few places in the United States where wild mustangs roaming free. Enjoy the scenery and admire these majestic horses as they wander the sand dunes.

3. The Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge

Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge is a wonderful wildlife preserve in the Outer Banks that sprawls over 152,000 acres. The refuge is home to many different animals, including many different bird species, fish, alligators, and deer. Spend the day maneuvering through the refuge on a kayak or go for go for a scenic bike ride on one of the refuge’s excellent land trails.

4. The Lost Colony Play

Don’t miss the Lost Colony play in Manteo, North Carolina this summer! The Lost Colony is the second-longest running historical outdoor drama as it has been performed since 1937. The play runs May through August at Waterside Theater at 1409 National Park Drive in Manteo.

5. The Elizabethan Gardens

The Elizabethan Gardens offer one of the most unique and wonderful experiences in the Outer Banks. Located on Roanoke Island, the site of where English settlers first landed over 400 years ago, the Elizabethan Gardens honors those settlers who first came to America and pay homage to the gardens that were made for Queen Elizabeth I during her reign.

6. Duck Boardwalk

While in the beautiful Outer Banks, make sure you visit the Duck Boardwalk. From beautiful sights to fun shops, you’ll enjoy your day spent at this fantastic Outer Banks boardwalk. A visit to the Duck Boardwalk is definitely one of the best things to do in Duck, North Carolina!

Hatteras Island sunset

7. Outer Banks Beaches

Embrace the warm, ocean breeze on your next trip to the Outer Banks. There are an amazing number of beautiful beaches to choose from on your next visit!  OBX is made up of 100 miles of narrow barrier islands.  Each town has a unique feel with miles of sandy beaches.  The area is rich in history, has plentiful shopping and dining, and activities for the whole family. From great places to surf to pet-friendly beaches, you are guaranteed to find the right beach for you!

8. Fishing in Nags Head NC

Some of the best fishing in the Outer Banks is in Nags Head. Enjoy the endless horizon of the Atlantic Ocean and listen to the crashing waves as you take your best shot at catching one of the Outer Banks' many fish species. For the best action, some great places to go include the Nags Head Pier, Jennette's Pier, or any of the Outer Banks Fishing Piers.

How to Spend a Day in the Outer Banks

Take a break from the beach, and try one of these amazing options for an exciting change of pace. From stunning golf courses to guided tours, your Outer Banks adventure awaits!

9. Take an OBX Fishing Charter

The Outer Banks is known for great fishing and a big variety of species, and OBX fishing charters are the perfect way to ensure you get the most out of your fishing trip. Whole or half day excursions are available. 

10. Kilmarlic Golf Club

Thousands of golf courses call North Carolina home, but Kilmarlic Golf Club, according to Golf Style Magazine, is one of the absolute best. That’s saying a lot for a state that is known for its golf courses. The course was chosen as the site for the North Carolina Open in both 2004 and 2009 and is consistently kept in top condition!

11. Visit Bodie Island

While most visitors tend to just pass through this area, Outer Banks' Bodie Island has a lot to offer its guests. Between the Bodie Island Lighthouse and the beautiful beaches on the island, you'll want to make sure this stop is on your Outer Banks itinerary.

12. Outer Banks Adventure

The Outer Banks is an ideal spot for visitors to relax and enjoy the miles of white, sandy beaches, but if you find yourself in search of an Outer Banks adventure, you won’t have to look far! Whether you’re in the mood for hang gliding, adventure tours, or water sports, the options are truly limitless.

13. Enjoy Some of the Best Outer Banks Spas

When you’re on vacation, adventuring across the Outer Banks can be tiring! Fortunately, there are plenty of opportunities to escape into deep relaxation. It’s time to explore the many great Outer Banks spas.

14. Outer Banks Dolphin CruisesSunset over the beach in North Carolina

There is no better place to see dolphins than in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. With a selection of Outer Banks Dolphin Cruises, you can view these majestic creatures in their natural habitat. For your convenience, here is a list of some of the best Outer Banks Dolphin cruises.

15. Hatteras Horseback Riding

What better way to enjoy Cape Hatteras than on horseback! Create memories that will last a lifetime while admiring the jaw-dropping scenery. Discover the beauty of Outer Banks with one of these Hatteras horseback adventures.

16. The Wright Brothers National Memorial

The Wright Brothers National Memorial is a can’t miss Outer Banks attraction. Located in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, the memorial commemorates the first flights of Wilbur and Orville Wright who spent three years in the area and finally launched their first power flight in 1903. Stop by and enjoy a piece of American history!

Outer Banks Dining

From elegant, gourmet eateries to delicious grab-and-go options, the Outer Banks has it all. No matter what you’re in the mood for, you can guarantee you’ll find it here!

17. Kitty Hawk, NC Restaurants

If you're looking for a place to eat in the Outer Banks, Kitty Hawk is known for offering a wide variety of dining choices. From casual cafes and fantastic pizza to fresh seafood and authentic southern barbecue, there is something for everyone!

18. Corolla Restaurants

There are many great dining options in the Outer Banks, and some of the best are located right in Corolla. Corolla restaurants present a variety of styles that are sure to satisfy any palate.

19. Outer Banks Restaurants

With over 170 locally owned restaurants on the Outer Banks, it can sometimes be difficult to decide where to eat while on vacation. Explore our list of restaurants in the Outer Banks to find one that is right for you!

Other Outer Banks Attractions

20. The North Carolina Maritime Museum

Featuring both natural beauty and a rich historic, the Outer Banks of North Carolina are anchored in the area’s maritime traditions, where shipwrecks, sailing, and pirates have played major roles in local history! The North Carolina Maritime Museum is dedicated to preserving the coast’s maritime past and providing visitors with an incredible amount of accurate information. Consisting of three museums in Hatteras, Beaufort and Southport, the North Carolina Maritime Museum is all but a required stop for history enthusiasts and casual fans alike.

21. Outer Banks Shopping

It comes as no surprise that such an attractive vacation spot also features fantastic shopping. The Outer Banks is home to local boutiques as well as all of your favorite brand name stores. Browse our guide to the best Outer Banks shopping, and start planning your next trip!

22. Cape Hatteras National Seashore

Visitors to Cape Hatteras and Ocracoke Island will simultaneously have a wonderful chance to admire the gorgeous Cape Hatteras National Seashore. This 70-mile shoreline encompasses seven villages on Hatteras Island and provides visitors with undisturbed, scenic beaches. A day spent driving down the coast or sprawled out on the beach should definitely be on your to-do list!

23. Kitty Hawk Beach

Kitty Hawk Beach is located on the Outer Banks of North Carolina and offers residents and visitors a unique and relaxing vacation atmosphere with plenty of things to do. The town of Kitty Hawk consists of a traditional village, a beach community, and Kitty Hawk Woods, a 461-acre maritime forest reserve. Experience its history and natural beauty or walk around town and explore fine art, great beaches, and awesome food.

Still Curious About Things to Do in the Outer Banks?

oom at the edge exterior view

If you still have questions about where to stay or how to make the most out of your Outer Banks getaway, feel free to reach out to our friendly staff at Shoreline OBX. We can be reached online or in our office at (251) 261-5300.

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