North America USA

10 Best Things to Do in Outer Banks, NC

By Neha Kulshrestha  

With 200 miles long chain of breathtaking islands off the east coast of US in the state of North Carolina, the Outer Banks is one of the most loved beach destinations in the USA. The region showcases charming little towns and numerous water sports activities beseeming the families traveling with kids. Having said that, there’s no dearth of things to do in Outer Banks, NC!

Sounds like just any other island with beaches to enjoy? You got to visit to feel the magic it spells on you that you want to visit it again.

How is it different than any other beach destination? Outer Banks offers more than just regular sand, surf, and sun. There are many activities off the sand too. You can ride the wind and bike the land. Outer Banks State Parks viz. Jockey’s Ridge State Park, Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum, Elizabeth Gardens, Roanoke Island Festival Park and others celebrate the evolution and existence of Outer Banks.

Nags Head or Southern Shores have public beaches brimming with energy while Hatteras Island offers beaches with relaxed and quiet vibes. The little villages and towns on Hatteras Island connect you with ever lovely and warm locals to make friends with.

When I think of America’s National Park Service (NPS), I think of National Parks like Grand Canyon National Park or Great Smoky Mountains National Park that encompass forests, mountains and lakes. I never thought of any beach to be a national park. It was surprising to know that Cape Hatteras Island on the Outer Banks is a National Park managed by NPS!

Did you know that Cape Hatteras on the Outer Banks of North Carolina is America’s First National Seashore?

With countless things to do, it might get confusing to choose what to do and what not to. Check out our list of 10 best things to do in Outer Banks, NC.


* The pristine beaches, where we just sat the whole day doing nothing but everything. Albeit, it may appear as if doing nothing is too much indulgence, however, every now and then it proves to be the re-invigoration one needs.  Yes! We spent quality time together enjoying the endless water surface, reading a book, making castles of our dreams, going for leisure walks along the sandy beaches, letting the waves kiss our feet, and collecting sea shells as our lovely souvenirs.

Things to do in Outer Banks NC Outer Banks Beach

Outer Banks Beach

Thrill and adventure of driving on the beaches. There are many beaches in Outer Banks where you can drive your AWD vehicle, some require a permit though. Beware, the adrenaline rush of driving here thrusts you to be more adventurous and you might get stuck in the sand. We were lucky to have a shovel to our rescue.

Things to do in Outer Banks in NC Outer Banks

Driving on the Corolla beach.

* Chasing to spot some wild horses.

 America’s tallest brick lighthouse at Cape Hatteras

* Climbing up the spiral stairs of black & white lighthouses.

Wright Brothers National Memorial

* Catching the first flight of Wright Brothers.

Jockey’s Ridge State Park

Flying a kite on the sand dunes in Jockey ridge state park.

* Enjoying the majestic sun as it paints the magical colors on the sky.

Things to do in Outer Banks NC Outer Banks Beach Sunrise

Sunrise at Outer Banks

* Getting super excited by taking the car on the ferry to Ocracoke Island.

* Or simply driving across the scenic byway to enjoy the beauty and nature of this picturesque place.

Things to do in Outer Banks NC Beautiful Outer Banks Beach

Picturesque Outer Banks

Savor locally harvested food

There are only a few entry points to Outer Banks –

From North via US 158

From West via US 64 through Roanoke Island and

From South using the ferry either from Swan Quarter or Cedar Island (Both are toll ferries and you can take your cars in them) to Ocracoke island.

Read more about our experience of Ocracoke Island.

We entered from North via US 158 and even drove the Scenic Byway to Ocracoke Island which took us about 2 hours 30 mins which were worth every moment. The journey included taking the free state ferry (can take cars in ferry) to Ocracoke island. From Ocracoke Island, we took the 2 ½ hour toll ferry to Swan Quarter (made online reservations in advance) to end our magical Outer Banks vacation with the promise to come back soon.


* During the high season, the vacation rentals and hotels are booked therefore plan and make reservations well in advance.

*  Plan to arrive early since there is a long waiting queue for the ferry to and from Hatteras. The ferry terminals and ferries have restroom facilities though.

* The ferries have vending machine/ small cafe.

Feel free to share your experience with us.

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  • Reply
    RK Chopra
    July 28, 2017 at 1:58 am

    Grtt experience Neha u all had.

    • Reply
      Neha Kulshrestha
      July 28, 2017 at 7:30 pm

      Yes Uncle, you must visit it the next time you are here.

  • Reply
    Ketki R S - Dotted Globe
    August 17, 2017 at 8:20 pm

    That’s cool.. Outer banks sounds like a great destination, love that you can do the ATV on becah

    • Reply
      Neha Kulshrestha
      August 21, 2017 at 6:10 pm

      Indeed Outer banks is a wonderful destination. Yes it was fun to drive on the beach, you can drive your own 4*4 vehicle also, but have to be cautious and prepared.

  • Reply
    August 17, 2017 at 9:04 pm

    I like this sfarnama post a lost. make me remind of my old friends as use to plan so many trips.

    • Reply
      Neha Kulshrestha
      August 18, 2017 at 1:22 pm

      Thanks a lot..glad you liked it and reminded you of your old friends..This is so fulfilling experience.:-)

  • Reply
    August 18, 2017 at 4:54 am

    That looks so good for a road trip. I haven’t done the east coast of the US yet, I’ll add this to my plan whenever I’m able to visit. 🙂

    • Reply
      Neha Kulshrestha
      August 18, 2017 at 1:19 pm

      Yes a must do road trip..You should plan it and let me know if u need any help planning.

  • Reply
    August 18, 2017 at 11:18 pm

    My sister and her family just got back from a vacation in the Outer Banks and she has nothing but praises for the beaches. She said it was like paradise to sit on the sand and watch the sunrise and sunset for 4 days. I have to plan a trip there too, maybe next summer would be great!

    • Reply
      Neha Kulshrestha
      August 19, 2017 at 1:55 am

      Yes , Outer Banks is so enchanting that it hovers in your minds all the times. I am glad that your sister loved it.
      Surely do plan a trip soon, spring and fall is also a good time if you want to avoid crowd. I am sure your sister will have lots of tips for you, but do let me know if you need any help planning.

  • Reply
    Via Bella
    August 20, 2017 at 3:45 am

    Omg, maybe I have been missing the best beaches but not travelling south! I am going to check it out for sure!
    xo Via Bella blog

    • Reply
      Neha Kulshrestha
      August 21, 2017 at 6:11 pm

      Missing for sure….You must definitely plan to visit this amazing place.

  • Reply
    Ana De-Jesus
    August 20, 2017 at 12:40 pm

    Wow imagine being able to see wild horses when you are at the beach and those photos are beautiful. I love the beach so much x

    • Reply
      Neha Kulshrestha
      August 21, 2017 at 6:05 pm

      It was quiet an adventure to spot that single wild horse. Our AWD got stuck in sand also just to spot one. 😉
      Thanks for appreciating. These are beautiful beaches…must visit..

  • Reply
    August 21, 2017 at 12:56 pm

    Wow!! it looks so amazing, I can add it on my list for next outing. Thank you dear to share your lovely experience with us.

    • Reply
      Neha Kulshrestha
      August 21, 2017 at 3:00 pm

      Thanks…Its always good to share your experience that can inspire others.
      Yes you should add it to your bucket list and plan to visit.

  • Reply
    Picturesque Ocracoke Island - Outer Banks, North Carolina
    January 11, 2018 at 1:32 pm

    […] we started planning our trip to Outer Banks, North Carolina we thought of sticking out to North as most of our friends suggested. Then we […]

  • Reply
    September 16, 2018 at 1:17 am

    I love sunrise or sunset at the beach and you have captured the beautiful photo of sunrise beside Outer banks. Outer banks looks like hidden gem and thanks for guiding us.

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