July 17, 2017

My Outer Banks Bucket List

We’re headed somewhere I’ve never been to this summer: The Outer Banks of North Carolina. I’ve never been to that part of the country, so I’ve been excitedly making a wish list.

Let’s be honest: Being land-locked in Nebraska, it’s tempting to just write “BEACH” and be done with it. However, I’ve found a lot of fun things to do in OBX. If time and money were no concern, here’s a bucket list of everything we’d do there:

Hang Glide

We’ll probably head to the largest sand dunes on the east coast: Jockey’s Ridge State Park in Nags Head. Maybe I’ll be brave enough to try hang gliding (or if I chicken out, we could just fly kites).

Crabbing

What is more coastal than that? There are charters where families can go crabbing and/or shrimping, literally catching their dinner and having a totally and hands-on experience. This is definitely something new to us Midwesterners.

 

Climb a lighthouse

Check out the view from the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. Photo courtesy Outer Banks Visitors Bureau

Cape Hatteras Lighthouse and the Bodie Island Lighthouse are open in the summer for self-guided climbs.

See wildlife

There are a lot of options in North Carolina to view wildlife. If we’re feeling like getting a workout, we could head to Pea Island Refuge and take a guided Interpretive Canoe Tour or try a  paddle tour into the heart of Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge. I’m pretty sure we’ll visit Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge anyway, since my kids are excited to do the red wolf howling on the trail.

And, you probably heard of them, but there are also wild horse in the area. I’m hoping we catch a glimpse of some.

Pirate Site-Seeing

My son is obsessed with pirates right now. There’s a very good chance we’ll do quite a few things on this four-day Blackbeard itinerary. For sure, we’ll head to Ocracoke, site of Blackbeard’s last stand, where we’ll find a pirate-y shop and Blackbeard museum called Teach’s Hole. I hear that island is quite lovely to explore, so we’ll check out the village and beaches, too. The Ocracoke Lifeguarded Beach was named “Best Beach in America” by Dr. Beach in 2007. Beaufort looks like another pirate-y place we’d love, especially the NC Maritime Museum and Port City Tour’s The Legend of Blackbeard walking tour. A little more kid-oriented is Pirate Adventures of the Outer Banks, and my kids are determined to go on their pirate ship.

Beach time

I’m looking forward to visiting a few beaches in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. This is a shot of Coquina Beach at the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. Photo courtesy Outer Banks Visitors Bureau

There are outfitters to rent body boards, surf boards, SUP boards, kayaks and who knows what else to add some more activity to our beach days. We’re staying an a vacation rental that provides beach gear like that.

Watermelon Festival

I love seeing what special events coincide with vacation. In the case of our great road trip, will be in the Outer Banks during the Watermelon Festival. Sounds like good summertime fun!

 

H2OBX Water Park

There’s a new water park in the Outer Banks called H2OBX. After the fun the kids had at their first visit to a water park, they’ve become fans of water slides and wave pools. This place looks exciting!

Horse ride on a beach

I think a horse ride anywhere is a great addition to trips, but imagine the view and the peaceful feeling of a leisure ride along a beach. Of course, this would have to wait until the kids are old enough.

Cruise with a dune buggy

This sounds like so much fun. I tried scooting around town on a golf cart once while on a vacation, and the looks of the Outer Banks buggies make me think this is a lot faster.

 

Wright Brothers National Memorial

The Wright Brothers National Memorial is in Kitty Hawk, NC. Photo courtesy Outer Banks Visitors Bureau

How could we go to the Outer Banks and not visit Kill Devil Hills to see the Wright Brothers National Memorial, commemorating where the first controlled heavier-than-air flight took place? The memorial allows visitors to walk to the First Flight Boulder and Flight Line, which mark the location where the Wrights first flew. The memorial is undergoing quite a bit of construction, but it sounds like by Fall 2018, there will some new interactive exhibits worth checking out.

Free fun

Many towns in the Outer Banks have weekly events in the summer, like Duck, where they have interactive performances for children on Tuesday mornings, a family-friendly film that night, a free magic show on Wednesday mornings, and live music on Thursday nights.

Elizabethan Gardens

An aerial view of Elizabethan Gardens in the Outer Banks. Photo courtesy Outer Banks Visitors Bureau

I don’t know what it is about gardens, but my kids love visiting them on vacations. This one looks particularly beautiful, and on some weekday summer mornings, there’s a themed kids activity included with admission.

First Flight Adventure Park

This one may or may not appeal to my kids, but I have an adventurous spirit, and the ropes course looks like fun. Challenging, yes, but way fun.

Satisfy the sweet tooth

More than a few people have mentioned Duck Donuts once they heard I was going to the Outer Banks. Photo courtesy Outer Banks Visitors Bureau

What’s summer without ice cream and treats? I’m thinking we’ll stop by Forbes Candies, for sure. And, I’ve heard lot of good things about Duck Donuts.

Roanoke Island Festival Park

Knowing my kids, they’d love visiting Roanoke Island Festival Park for one major reason: Touring a 16th-century sailing ship. Ok, not a real ship from that long ago, but a representation. The park and cultural center shows visitors what 16th century settlements were like, with costumed characters to greet you and answer questions. The ship, Elizabeth II, is only one area in the park with re-enactments and hands-on activities for kids; there’s also Settlement Site and American Indian Town. We’d have to stop at the Adventure Museum while there, as well.

Your turn!

What should be included on this bucket list for the Outer Banks? Share your favorite restaurants, beaches, attractions, etc. I’d love all the tips you can give!

 

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I love a good bucket list to inspire travel! Check out some of of the other destination bucket lists here.