It’s no surprise I love the Outer Banks. I grew up vacationing there and even lived there for a summer after college. I’m excited to share some of my favorite things to do in the Outer Banks and help you plan your next trip to my favorite beach town!
I’ve received so many requests for my Outer Banks guide and there’s so much to eat, see and do in the Outer Banks.
WHERE TO STAY
There are 7 towns that run up and down the Outer Banks: Nagshead, Kill Devil Hills, Kitty Hawk, Southern Shores, Duck, Corolla and Carova. (Check out a map to see what I mean!) There are only a few hotels and motels on the Outer Banks but what I would really recommend is renting a house to get the full Outer Banks experience. You can use local realtor sites (like, Southern Shores Realty and Twiddy) to book one. Most are weekly rentals but now there are more short-term rentals on sites like Airbnb as well. And the Sanderling Resort is also a great ocean-front option for couples and a more resort-like experience.
To give you some reference points, I used to vacation in Nagshead with my family, then Wes & I lived in Kitty Hawk, and now we go to my in-laws home in Southern Shores. They’re all great, and super close to one another, it just depends on personal preference on where exactly you decide to stay. Duck is more of a quaint town, where Nagshead, Kill Devil Hills and Kitty Hawk are on “the main drag.” Corolla is further out and a quieter part on the beach. And you need four-wheel drive to get to Carova.
Important to note: The Outer Banks is super dog-friendly but different beaches have different rules and hours where dogs are allowed, so this might influence where you decide to stay as well. Duck and Nags Head allow dogs during the day where Southern Shores dogs are only allowed in the early morning and evenings.
EAT & DRINK
Treehouse Coffee – Coffee and breakfast, make sure to get a biscuit!
Duck Donuts – A Duck staple! Try the Maple Bacon doughnut.
Coastal Cantina – Fish tacos and queso, or acai bowls in the mornings, ‘al fresco’ by the bay.
The Blue Point – The perfect place for a cocktail and watching the sunset over the bay.
Rhodeside Bar & Grill – The backyard bar has the best “beach bar” vibes, but make sure to go in and eat here too because the food is amazing!
Red Sky Cafe – A more formal dining experience and the food is amazing.
Duck Deli – Wes’s favorite casual lunch spot.
Village Table & Tavern – A new favorite of mine on the water!
Cravings – Eat lunch or dinner here and (at night) head out back to the outdoor bar (called Tapshack) for drinks, games and live music.
In Kitty Hawk and NagsHead:
Tortugas Lie – Delicious food and an OBX classic (As seen on DDD).
Pigman’s BBQ – The best North Carolina BBQ on the beach
John’s – Amazing milkshakes on beach road, but don’t show up on a Wednesday when they’re closed.
Goombay’s – A childhood favorite! Seafood and a beachy ambiance for dinner, super kid-friendly.
Mama Kwan’s – Fish tacos and fun drinks.
Blue Water Grill and Blue Moon – Sister restaurants, both have amazing food for dinner.
Front Porch Cafe – All the coffee!
Stack ’em High – My mom’s favorite, for a “down home” breakfast.
Art’s Place – Burgers & fries and they just opened up a new patio.
Awful Arthur’s Oyster Bar – Raw bar.
Ocean Boulevard – A martini Bar with a patio facing beach road.
Sam & Omie’s – Local’s favorite for breakfast and lunch.
Jack Brown’s – Dive bar with amazing, mouth-watering cheeseburgers.
THINGS TO DO
Ocracoke Island – Take a ferry to explore the vast beaches on this beautiful island off the coast of the Outer Banks. We also love to camp here!
Jockey’s Ridge – I always love climbing the dunes at sunset.
Carova Beach – Drive your car on the sand and keep an eye out for wild horses.
Lighthouses – Lighthouses are scattered throughout the Outer Banks, be sure to enjoy the views from the top!
Avalon Pier – Great spot for fishing or just a walk to the end of the dock.
Something Old, Something New – Sift through one of the most amazing selections of vintage clothing and accessories.
Islands by Amity – Spot some familiar favorites like Free People at my favorite boutique on the bay.
Waterfront Shops – Beach boutiques and shopping with a view.
Many of these have live music on some nights, so call in advance to check!
Bonzer Shack – Bar on beach road with outdoor games with (sometimes) a younger crowd.
Brewing Station – Craft beers and late night DJ’s on the weekends.
Jolly Roger – Grungy beach bar if you’re in the mood for that, and some karaoke!
Backside Bar at Rhodeside – A lively yet relaxed outdoor bar. Our favorite (In Duck).
Tap Shack – Ride your bike right up to this backyard bar, live music and games (In Duck).
Let me know if you have any other questions, happy to help!