Like a Local
Quirky, under-the-radar highlights on the Outer Banks of North Carolina and a stone’s throw away from Sanderling Resort only a local could recommend.
“Old pier/tiny waves/tell a tale, ‘they were here,”’ wrote poet Faiza Wani, whose words ring especially true in the historic Outer Banks. At Avalon Pier, strollers and fishermen share the 1958 structure, which provides prime access to pompano and blue fish while Jennette’s Pier offers an interactive aquarium. Savvy pier hoppers know to park it at Nags Head Pier just in time to grab a cold beverage and fresh fish tacos.
First Friday Manteo
The historic waterfront of Manteo becomes even more marvelous on the first Friday of every month, when boutiques and galleries stay open late, local artisans display their wares, and North Carolina’s best brewers and vintners offer free beer and wine tastings to the sound of the state’s star musicians. Past artists at the event, which runs from April through November, have included Jonny Waters, Mojo Collins, and Rachel Dickerson. For more live music, along with some of the freshest seafood on the Atlantic Coast, include a dinner at Tale of the Whale (open seasonally).
Sandy Run Park
Turtle-lovers need look no farther than this 16-acre preserve in Kitty Hawk. A half-mile raised trail provides a prime view of the many yellow-bellied sliders that call this park home, not to mention the untouched beauty of the Outer Banks woods. Birds, butterflies and dragonflies zip in and out of the trees; for a different perspective, rent a kayak for one of the two launches here.
The tallest active sand dune system is found at Jockey Ridge State Park, which offers some of the best (and least known) access to the miles of soundside beaches. Waves and currents are calm – ideal for swimming at Nags Head – and plenty of parking means you can spend more time on the beach and less time circling the lot like sharks (which avoid this area, too).
How to maximize 48 hours in the Outer Banks, with Sanderling Resort as your base camp.
3 p.m. | Off to a Flying Start
Discover where the dream of flight finally came true at the Wright Brothers National Memorial, where Wilbur and Orville Wright made history on December 17, 1903. (Yes, the museum sits on the actual sand dune they used to launch their plane.) The park also includes plenty of outdoor space for kicking while contemplating the skies the Wright brothers flew, and a life-size reproduction of their famous Flyer.
8 p.m. | Dinner at the Black Pelican
The Black Pelican was once Lifesaving Station No. 6, where the Wright Brothers sent the first telegram to let the world know they had a successful flight. Today, you can try a successful “flight” of such seafood specialties as scallops St. Jacques and house-made crab cakes.
8 a.m. | Rise with the Wild Mustangs
For centuries, mustang horses have been stranded on the Outer Banks, thriving on the beaches north of Carova. Get as close as you can during a two-hour tour with Corolla Outback Adventure, whose guides share the Spanish Colonial history of these wild, mystic mares. Afterward, pick up a picnic at the OBX Deli to explore even more of this captivating coastal home.
12 p.m. | Witness More Wildlife
Located in Historic Corolla Park, the Outer Banks Center for Wildlife Education is an impressive 22,000-square-foot interpretive center packed with a vast diversity of North Carolina wildlife. The two signature exhibits: an 8,000-gallon aquarium in the center of the museum – flush with scores of fish species found in the sound – and a “tree” of antique boat motors.
5 p.m. | Dinner at Blue Water Grill & Raw Bar
Overlooking the docks at Pirate’s Cove Marina in Manteo, this airy seasonal eatery in cozy wood-lined digs and a small outdoor tiki bar is known for fresh seafood dishes, from mahi mahi tacos to fried shrimp. But the favorite item might just be the variety of raw oysters that run a buck a shuck during happy hours.
8 p.m. | Bring History to Life
More than three times larger than most Broadway stages, The Lost Colony is also the longest-running outdoor symphonic drama in the country, and one of the best ways to spend an evening in the Outer Banks. Discover what really happened on Roanoke Island as a team of 120-plus people present the plights of the Indians and colonists.
10 a.m. | Let There Be Light
Hop in the car for a self-guided 90-mile lighthouse tour, which includes Currituck, Roanoke Marsh, Bodie, and Cape Hatteras – the tallest lighthouse on the East Coast. You’ll also be cruising through the National Seashore and to the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum, located at the end of Cape Hatteras. Cap it off with a brunch big at Uncle Ike’s, enough to fuel a lighthouse keeper.
3 p.m. | Fly with the Birds
Say farewell to the Outer Banks with a visit to Pea Island National Park. The tiny island is chockfull of birds, who stop here during migration seasons, and to wetlands for more wild Outer Banks memories.
The best food artisans, farms, and local markets in the Outer Banks.
O’Neal’s Sea Harvest
It doesn’t get any fresher than this homey porch and retail store in Wanchese, where O’Neals cuts out the middleman by selling seafood straight from the source. Boats dock up daily and take their catch straight to the fish house, creating a 100% authentic maritime experience. Bring your cooler to take home everything from soft shell crabs and sea bass to shrimp, scallops, and yellowfin tuna.
Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives Tour
Be like Guy Fieri and bring your appetite, and a curious attitude, to a tour of the locally owned restaurants the famous TV personality visited during his trip to the Outer Banks. The Weeping Radish is a brewery, butchery and pub with German roots. Don’t miss the shrimp and chorizo alfredo at Ortega’z, and we’ll bet you’ll have a craving for steamers after tasting the pots-to-go at Cravings. Cap it off with a swing by the Outer Banks Brewing Station and a bar-stool session at Tortugas’ Lie Shellfish Bar & Grill, and you’ll experience your own reality of North Carolina’s most authentic dining scene.
Outer Banks Olive Oil Co.
Boasting three locations from Duck to Nags Head, these tasting rooms and retail spaces house the region’s largest selection of premium olive oils, specialty oils and balsamic vinegars – at least 60 varieties of North Carolina-crafted, globally inspired artisan oils. Olive oil not your thing? Their Kill Devil Hills location offers a “Great Wall of Beer,” stocked with more than 600 craft beers and surrounded by more than 2,000 wines.
What started as just a single donut shop founded in 2006 right in Duck, has since expanded to 99 locations in 27 states. So what’s all the fuss about? All the donuts are made-to-order. That means, you don’t just get to customize your creation with your choice of icing (chocolate, lemon, maple, and more) and toppings, but you get to watch them cut and cook your unique donut from the start.
When simply “seeing” the destination of The Outer Banks, North Carolina, just won’t do.
Kiteboard Cape Hatteras
The mecca of East Coast kiteboarding, Cape Hatteras lures some of the best athletes from around the world to its ideal proving ground of wind, water, and waves. Plan to watch some of the top men and women fly at the epic spot known as “The Canadian Hole” and book a three-hour lesson with REAL Watersports to learn custom-tailored, adrenaline-filled tips.
Land a Grand Slam
…of fish that is, by chartering a fishing boat to the myriad species that gather where the Labrador current and Gulf Stream glide together just off the Outer Banks. Bluefish, striped bass and croakers prosper here; find them by booking a half- or full-day trip on one of the Rock Solid fleet of fishing boats, which include all the gear and guides you need for a real fish tale.
Drive a Dune Buggy
You just can’t help smiling when you see a dune buggy, and when you start cruising around the Outer Banks beaches in one of these puppies that you rent from Good Vibrations Beach Rides, you’ll be grinning from ear to ear. Hop in one of the hippest vintage VW vehicles this side of the 1970s and experience a smooth sightseeing ride of Carova Beach and beyond (The special suspension makes it feel like you’re floating over the sand.)
Test the Ropes
Imagine a giant jungle gym in the sky, where climbers of all ages and levels can test their skills on seemingly endless combinations of ropes, swings, platforms, and more. That’s Corolla Adventure Park, which has 11 courses including 66 obstacles and 6 zip lines – plus an axe-throwing site – on the edge of the Currituck Banks Reserve. Or venture to Nags Head for Flight Adventure Park; where you can swing on the monkey rings or any of the other 50 obstacles and 14 zip lines while looking at the Atlantic Ocean.
- Like a LocalQuirky, below-the-radar highlights only a local could recommendRead More
- The WeekenderHow to spend 36 hours here, with the resort as your basecamp.Read More
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Sanderling Resort, 1461 Duck Road, Duck, NC 27949 P: (855) 412-7866 Toll Free Reservations: (855) 412-7866