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Ultimate Guide to Vacationing on the Outer Banks

When to Go

Seeking a Deal on that Outer Banks Vacation Rental?
Dreaming of calling that “perfect” Outer Banks vacation rental “home” but can’t make the numbers meet? The prime time of year to get the best deal on that OBX vacation home is during shoulder-season. September to early May rates dip making that special property obtainable. For the deepest discount, look at winter for your Outer Banks escape.


When is the Best Time to Visit the Outer Banks?

The Outer Banks can be enjoyed year-round. It all depends on what kind of vacation you are seeking.

Winter on the Outer Banks

WINTER
Months: Mid-December to Mid-March
Temps: Mid 30’s to Mid 40’s

Vacationing in Winter on the Outer Banks is a very peaceful time of year. The pace slows as well as the tourist traffic. Not many shops and restaurants are open, but you will still find a few local dining establishments and major grocery and home improvement stores open. This is the perfect time of year to enjoy an afternoon walk on the secluded beach, sip a mug of something warm, watch the sunset from your vacation property or partake in an annual event (holiday lights are beautiful).

Spring on the Outer Banks

SPRING
Months: Mid-March to Mid-June
Temps: Mid 40’s to Low 80’s

Life begins to come back to the barrier islands this time of year. With the warmer weather comes flowers in bloom and migratory birds' arrival. Taking walks in area parks such as Wright Brothers Memorial, Nags Head Woods, Jockey’s Ridge Park and the Elizabethan Gardens are beautiful. Shops and restaurants begin to open for the season. This is a great time to try new dining options before the crowds arrive.

Summer on the Outer Banks

SUMMER
Months: Mid-June to Mid-September
Temps: Low 70’s to Mid-80’s

The traditional visit to the Outer Banks typically is during the summer months. This is the time of year that many wait all year for. Nothing beats spending lazy days on the beach with family and friends. The temperatures are warm as well in the Atlantic Ocean ranging from 74-80. All of the attractions, dining venues, and shops are in full swing.

FALL
Months: Mid-September to Mid-December
Temps: Low 50’s to High 70’s

The fall season is one of the best times to visit the Outer Banks. Many families with children are back to school reducing the crowds. The beaches are less full but still warm and welcoming. Many of the local establishments are still open as well. Fall is also festival season! Annual festivals include surfing contests, seafood festivals, and jazz and bluegrass music festivals.


Best months to visit the OBX

The best time to explore the Outer Bank is between March and May or September and November when accommodation rates decrease and crowds disappear. Most North Carolina settlers and visitors come during the summer when humidity is high and the average temperature consistently hits higher than 80 degrees. The winter temperatures fall to the 40s and 50s. Please bear with us that during the off-season certain attractions, restaurants, and retail outlets might be closed or operated at shorter hours but the weather, rates, and lack of crowds make it worthwhile.


What Does Your Perfect Outer Banks Vacation Look Like?

Depending on your OBX vacation vision you may look to stay in an area that suits those desires.

Most Relaxing Outer Banks Beach
If your ideal Outer Banks escape involves long walks on the beach and enjoying peaceful nature - head South. Once you get past Nags Head onto Hatteras Island the hustle and bustle of shops, restaurants, and rows of houses disappear. This area is full of untamed natural beauty and charm. There are seven villages that comprise Hatteras Island - Rodanthe, Waves, Salvo, Avon, Buxton, Frisco, and Hatteras Village. Many visitors come to this island to fish, visit the lighthouses, drive 4x4 on the beach, bird watch and just slow down and reconnect.


Best OBX Beach for Kids
Looking for that family-fun-friendly Outer Banks vacation? Your best bet is to head to Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills, and Nags Head. With a plethora of beach accesses and seasonal lifeguards, the beaches are convenient and family-friendly. There are many attractions besides the beach to enjoy as well! With adventure parks, miniature golf, escape rooms, laser tag, video arcades, bowling, and movie theaters there is plenty to occupy the whole lot. Need a break from cooking or a sweet treat? There are oodles of options for dining and ice cream shops just a few minutes from any area vacation rental.


Luxury OBX Areas
Seeking a peaceful setting with refined taste? Look no further than Duck and Corolla. Upscale vacation homes, amenity-loaded golf communities, luxurious day spas, and fine dining options are in store for you here. A picturesque place to take an evening stroll? The quaint town of Duck provides residents and visitors access to the Duck Boardwalk which beings at the southern end of the Village and runs .62 miles to the Waterfront Shops. The Waterfront Shops are a great place for unique finds, eateries, and entertainment.


Best OBX Historical Towns
Interested in immersing yourself in Outer Banks history? While there are historic landmarks scattered throughout the islands of the Outer Banks, the oldest establishment and mystery took place on the shores of Hatteras Island and Roanoke Island.

Hatteras Island has been occupied for more than 1,500 years, and as a result, is filled with historical sites. Historians estimate that the island’s earliest residents date back around 500 AD. They were sheltered from invaders, harsh winters, and shortages of food supplies due to being miles offshore. Hatteras Island was one of the first regions “discovered” by English explorers before heading north to Roanoke Island. Since then there have been many notable eras and events that occurred here.

On Roanoke Island in 1587, 117 English men, women, and children came ashore with the commission from Queen Elizabeth I to establish a permanent English settlement in the New World. They vanished three years later. Located on the Island of Roanoke is the charming town of Manteo, established in 1899, named for an American Indian who was one of the members of the Croatans tribe. He and another Indian, Wanchese were "civilized" by the English during a trip to London in 1584 where they learned to become the liaisons between the Roanoke Colony settlers and the Indians.

Off the shores of Hatteras Island, accessed by ferry, is the island of Ocracoke famed for being frequented by Edward Teach, aka Blackbeard and also the place of his beheading in 1718. Today you can visit many of the scenic and historical sites to follow in the footsteps of the legendary pirates.


Best OBX Town for Water Sports
If fun on the water is your idea of the perfect Outer Banks vacation, we've compiled a few locations that may be of interest for your OBX vacation rental property. Heading north to the towns of Corolla and Duck, there are quite a few options to explore both the Sound and the Atlantic Ocean. Located in Corolla, you can book a kayak tour of the Sound through Coastal Explorations. They also offer SUP tours, on-site rentals, and weekly rentals.

Heading a bit south to the town of Duck, you will find options for both excitement and relaxation. Corolla & Duck Parasail offers a parasailing experience you're sure to remember. Nor' Banks Sailing and Watersport offers sailing and catamaran cruises as well as waterski, wakeboard, kneeboard, and tubing trips. If you prefer to spend time on your own on the water, they also offer sailboat, SUP, jet ski, pontoon boat, and kayak rentals.

Looking to cast a line? Head down to Wanchese located on Roanoke Island and book a fishing charter with Outcast Fishing Charters. There are options for both sound and ocean fishing and can range from 2 hours to a full 8-hour day!

Into kiteboarding? Waves is the perfect Outer Banks destination! Located on Hatteras Island, home to the Triple S Invitational - the annual foremost free ride kiteboarding event in the world - you will find the perfect conditions at the Pamlico Sound. If you need to rent purchase equipment or would like to learn the art of kiteboarding while enjoying your Outer Banks vacation be sure to check out REAL Watersport. They offer lessons and camps, kiteboard, SUP, and surfboard rentals.


Where to Stay on the Outer Banks

Traditionally a vacation on the Outer Banks consists of 7-day stays with check-in/out being Saturday or Sunday. The 7-day OBX vacation allows for amazing relaxation time with friends and family and the ability to really soak in all that the chain of barrier islands has to offer. Most vacation rental properties on the Outer Banks operate in this manner, but there is another option! KEES FlexStay™ gives you to choice of how long your Outer Banks vacation is and when you want to check-in and out. This is very helpful when you want to avoid the traffic onto the island from the mainland, hosting a special event, looking for an extended stay, or simply do not have the luxury of staying for 7 days.


Outer Banks Day Trip Ideas

Cape Hatteras National Seashore

  1. Tour Pea Island National Refuge -- Birding year-round, excellent photos, endless beaches, and tons of scenery
  2. Visit the Haulover area for a sunset
  3. Visit The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse
  4. Drive out on the beach at Billy Mitchell Airport
  5. Take the ferry to Ocracoke
  6. Stay at The Villas of Hatteras Landing just a 5-minute walk to the Hatteras Ferry Terminal

4x4 Beach Driving and Wild Horse Tour

  1. See the wild horses of the northern Outer Banks and spend the day on the 4x4 beach
  2. Go out yourself or take a tour
  3. We recommend taking a tour with Wild Horse Adventure Tours or with the Corolla Wild Horse Fund
  4. If driving yourself, make sure to air down your tires and follow all the signs
  5. Do not feed the horses! A law has been passed to protect the Wild Horses of Corolla and prohibits the feeding, approaching, or coming within 50 feet of any wild horse. Maximum fines of up to $500 can and will be imposed upon violators.
  6. Bring plenty of water, food, and drink for a picnic out on the beach, approx 13.5 miles of coastline and plenty of beach area within that

Wright Brothers National Memorial

  1. Take a self-guided walking tour up the monument hill
  2. If staying nearby, take your bikes around the grounds and explore
  3. Museum has been recently upgraded and is available for visitors
  4. Fun to take photos with the statues

Jockeys Ridge State Park

  1. East coast’s largest active sand dune
  2. Stunning sunsets
  3. Great place for kiting. Kite competitions and kite shows from Kitty Hawk Kites throughout the year.
  4. Experience sandboarding! Think of it like sledding on the sand. Rentals are available at the Hang Gliding School at Jockey’s Ridge State Park.
  5. Get a taste of hang gliding and book a lesson - for kids and adults!
  6. We recommend going early or later since the middle of the day can be hot

Sample Daily Outer Banks Agendas

1

DAY 1

  • Drive-in (bring cooler for perishables if you aren’t near check-in time)
  • Go to the grocery store
  • Check-in
  • Walk the beach and unwind
  • Grill dinner at the house
  • Watch the sunset

2

DAY 2

  • Enjoy coffee watching the sunrise over the Atlantic
  • Grab breakfast at Stack Em’ High
  • Gather family/friends and belongings and head to the beach
  • Relax under the private cabana and chairs that you rented
  • Private surf lessons at your location
  • Arrange for a catered picnic beachside
  • Lounge by the pool and prepare a traditional seafood boil
  • Experience a Ghost Crab Quest

3

DAY 3

  • Sunrise yoga session
  • Corolla Wild Horse Adventures
  • Walk Historic Corolla Park and visit The Whalehead museum
  • Lunch and shopping at Timbuck II
  • Relax by the pool at your vacation property
  • Dinner at Goombays
  • Movie/game night back home

4

DAY 4

  • Duck donuts for breakfast
  • Rent electric bikes for a morning ride
  • Visit Jockey’s Ridge to fly kites or learn to hang glide
  • Lunch at Mama Kwans
  • Climb the Wright Brothers' Monument and visit the museum
  • Dinner at the Colington Cafe
  • Take in the sunset on the soundside

5

DAY 5

  • Early breakfast and coffee at your vacation home
  • Board your charter fishing boat on Hatteras Island
  • Return to vacation home and grill your fresh catch
  • Soak in the hot tub or pool

6

DAY 6

  • Breakfast at Freshfit Cafe
  • Board ferry to Ocracoke Island
  • Visit the Ocracoke Lighthouse
  • Explore the village via golf cart
  • Shopping
  • Lunch at SmacNally’s Waterfront Bar & Grill
  • Visit Springer’s Point Nature Preserve
  • Grab ice cream at Ocracoke Fudge and Ice Cream
  • Walk the beach and look for shells
  • Dinner at Dajio
  • Ghost Tour

7

DAY 7

  • Say farewell to the beach with a long morning coffee walk
  • Pack and check-out
  • Lunch at Masala Bay Grill overlooking the water
  • Visit Diggers’ Dungeon on the mainland
  • Head home




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Recommended Things To Do

GOLF

LIGHTHOUSES

  • Cape Hatteras Lighthouse
  • Bodie Island Lighthouse
  • Ocracoke Island Lighthouse
  • Currituck Beach Lighthouse
  • Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse

WATERSPORTS

  • Paddleboarding
  • Kayaking
  • Surfing
  • Bodyboarding
  • Jet skis
  • Sailing charters

NATURE

  • Parks/Trails
  • Corolla Wild Horses
  • Historic Corolla Park
  • Duck Boardwalk
  • Kitty Hawk Woods Coastal Reserve
  • Nags Head Woods
  • Jockey’s Ridge State Park
  • Elizabethan Gardens
  • Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge
  • Springer’s Point Preserve
  • Sandy Run Park
  • North Carolina Roanoke Island Aquarium

SHOPPING

  • The Waterfront Shops
  • Timbuck II
  • Tanger Outlets
  • Outer Banks Mall
  • Loads of surf and gift shops

HISTORY

  • Chicamacomico Life-Saving Station
  • The Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum
  • The Lost Colony
  • Wright Brothers Memorial and Museum
  • The Whalehead
  • Ocracoke Preservation Society and Museum
  • British Cemetery
  • Currituck Maritime Museum
  • Frisco Native America Museum & Natural History Center
  • Island Farm

FISHING

  • Charters
  • Avalon Fishing Pier
  • Jennette’s Pier
  • Avon Fishing Pier
  • Outer Banks Fishing Pier
  • Rodanthe Pier




Food Recommendations

  • First Light Lounge
  • Uncle Ike’s Sandbar & Grill
  • La Dolce Vita
  • Paper Canoe
  • Aqua Restaurant
  • Steamers
  • Southern Shores Pizza & Deli
  • High Cotton Barbecue
  • Rundown Cafe
  • Hurricane Mo’s Beachside Bar & Grill
  • Black Pelican
  • I Got Your Crabs
  • Stack Em’ High
  • John’s Drive In
  • Henry’s Restaurants
  • Chili Peppers
  • Awful Arthurs
  • Front Porch Cafe
  • The Jolly Roger Restaurant
  • Goombays Grille and Raw Bar
  • Mako’s Beach Grille & Bar
  • Colington’s Cafe
  • Colington Pizza
  • Outer Banks Brewing Station
  • Fuji Japanese Steakhouse
  • JK’s Steaks & Seafood
  • Bob’s Grill
  • Miller’s Seafood & Steakhouse
  • America Pie Pizza & Ice Cream
  • Pigmans’ Bar-b-que
  • Kill Devil Grill
  • Dirty Dick’s Crab House
  • Tortuga’s Lie
  • Mulligan’s Grille in Historic Cottage Row
  • Freshfit Cafe
  • Nags Head Pizza Company
  • Basnight’s Lone Cedar Cafe
  • Garden Deli & Pizzeria
  • Blue Water Grill & Raw Bar
  • Lisa’s Pizzeria
  • Good Winds Restaurant
  • The Dancing Turtle Coffee Shop
  • Hatteras Sol Waterside Grill
  • Simply Southern Kitchen
  • Digger’s Diner
  • Weeping Radish

Plan Your Outer Banks Vacation Now