11 Best Family-Friendly Activities in the Outer Banks

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I’ve been to the Outer Banks in North Carolina three times, both with my family and my husband’s family. So I’ll be sharing the reasons you should visit the, things to do in the Outer Banks, and when to visit.

Reasons to Visit the Outer Banks

  • There are miles of beaches to explore. 
  • It’s a super relaxing vacation destination.
  • There Something for everyone.
  • The area is not as touristy as other beach destinations.
  • This area is really affordable especially if traveling in large groups.

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When to Visit the Outer Banks

The peak season for the Outer Banks is from late May to early September. I personally think the best time to visit is during late April to late May. This shoulder season sees less crowds and you may find accommodation prices more reasonable. 

You may also find reasonable prices during the fall, but you’ll risk visiting during the hurricane season. 

Read More: Travel Season Recap: Our Top Picks of the Year

Should You Fly into or Drive to the Outer Banks?

I’ve flown into Norfolk, Virginia and rented a car, and I’ve driven from Maine to the Outer Banks. 

Both options have their pros and cons. 

Either way you’re going to want to have a car with you. There is too much to explore in the area to not have your own vehicle. 

Read More: How to Travel More Even with a Full Time Job

Things to do in Outer Banks, North Carolina

Stay in a Beach House

There are tons of accommodation options for your stay, but I highly recommend renting a beach house with Airbnb or VRBO. 

To me, this is the quintessential beach vacation. And if you are traveling with a large group this is the best way to make your trip not only more enjoyable but also affordable. 

Say your beach house rental was $1000 a night but you had 4 couples or families with you. That would only be a $250 night stay per family. That’s not bad! 

Of course, the closer you are to the beach, the more expensive your nightly rate. 

But luckily you’ll only be minutes from the beach no matter where you stay along the seashore. Because the area is one long island, you’ll be within a short bike ride or walk to the beach in most cases. 

And don’t worry too much about which town you stay in when visiting. Everything is relatively close. I’ve stayed in the towns of Rodanthe, Kill Devils Hills, and Nag’s Head and they all have the same atmosphere. 

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Walking the beach in the Outer Banks

Visit Jockey’s Ridge State Park

Located in Nag’s Head, Outer Banks, Jockey’s Ridge State Park is an awesome place to explore and the best part is it’s free!

This state park is the perfect place to watch the sunrise or try hang gliding

There are two trails in the state park. The Southside Nature Trail is .75 miles long and should take about an hour while the Tracks in the Sand Trail will take you about 1.5 hours and

See Wild Horses in the Outer Banks

There are at least a 100 wild horses in the area and you could get a chance to see them for yourself. 

Check out this tour by Viator to see wild horses. The horses are believed to be from a Spanish ship wreck hundreds of years ago. 

Don’t Forget Good ‘Ol Mini-Golfing

Who doesn’t like a game of mini golf?! It’s the perfect activity for all ages. 

You find numerous mini golf courses along the main route.

We really enjoyed our time at Professor Hacker’s Lost Treasure Golf.

Mini golfing in the Outer Banks with my mom and brother!

Visit Wright Brothers National Memorial

If you’re a history buff, you’ll really enjoy your time at the Wright Brother’s National Memorial. Each time I visit this museum I learn a new aspect of this time in history and gain even more respect for what the Wright Brothers accomplished. 

The National Memorial includes a massive monument you can walk around, a bookstore, and an impressive interactive education center. 

Give yourself a few hours to explore the displays and walk to the monument. 

Try Local Eats at the Outer Banks Seafood Festival

If you’re planning to visit in October, don’t miss the Outer Banks Seafood Festival. This was a real treat on a recent trip I took with my mom. 

There are so many food vendors, local artists, live music, and more.  

Delicious fried shrimp at the Outer Banks seafood festival

Visit One of the Numerous Lighthouses

You’ll have plenty of beautiful lighthouses to choose from including Bodie Island Lighthouse, the Ocracoke Lighthouse, the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, or the Currituck Beach Lighthouse

Get Your Souvenirs

You’ll be shocked at how many souvenir shops are lining the streets of the main road.

You can find everything from your classic sweatshirts and hats to shot glasses and bathing suits. And even though I tend to shy away from souvenir shops like this, it doesn’t hurt to get a little something to remember your time.

Walk the Beach

The Outer Banks has 70 miles of beach known as the Cape Hatteras National Seashore

You can walk for miles and miles looking for seashells, feeling the sun on your face, and dipping your toes into the Atlantic Ocean. 

Because the beach is so long in this area, it never feels that crowded. 

Go for a Bike Ride

Some rental properties will have bikes available. And if you need to rent a bike you can do so at Ocean Atlantic Rentals in Point Harbor, NC. 

Visit the North Carolina Aquarium Roanoke Island

Visiting the aquarium is a great rainy day activity. This is a perfect activity for all ages. 

After you’ve explored the aquarium, check out the Southside Pier and Nature Trail on the property. 

Catch the Sunrise

I highly recommend waking up for the sunrise. You can always take a nap later! 

Either walk to the beach to catch the sunrise or take a ride to Jockey’s Ridge State Park mentioned earlier. 

Catching the sunrise with my mom in the Outer Banks, North Carolina
Jockey’s Ridge State Park – an awesome spot for sunrise!

Final Thoughts

Whether you are looking to lounge on the beach for hours or explore, there are countless reasons to visit the Outer Banks. 

There is a special calm to this region I haven’t experienced in other beach destinations. When you ride your bike along the beach houses or comb the beach for shells, you find yourself breathing slower and deeper, being quiet with your thoughts, and feeling immense gratitude for your life. 

If you’re looking to reconnect with nature and explore a relaxing destination, you’re going to have a blast. 

I can’t wait to go back to the Outer Banks and hope to see you then!