Outer Banks, NC  - Vacation Travel Guide

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Outer Banks Area Features

Mainland Currituck & Dare Counties, NC

Being on the islands of the Outer Banks doesn’t mean you can’t journey across to the mainland to explore more that North Carolina has to offer. In fact, some of the local towns just across the bridges or a short ferry ride from the barrier islands are just as interesting as the towns of the Outer Banks. Whether you opt to visit mainland destinations on your way to or from the islands or take a day trip, it’s recommended that time is allotted to do so.

Tee Up on a Golf Course

Fore! If there are golfers in your group, you may want to book a tee time and play a round or hit a few balls on a driving range. For many, no vacation is complete without being able to swing the clubs. In Powells Point, The Pointe Golf Club is open to the public but is challenging enough for a pro. The bent-grass greens are open year-round and the highly rated course is a par 71. The Pointe prides itself in having one of the best driving ranges on the Outer Banks. Its sister club in Jarvisburg, The Carolina Club, is also a favorite among locals. This 72-par course also offers bent-grass greens on which the public can play a challenging 18 holes. Both courses are nestled in gorgeous natural settings with difficult golf hazards to overcome. They are great places to swing a club.

Find Fresh Regional Foods and Beverages

The rich farmland on the peninsula creates produce of exceptional quality and freshness. Stop by one of the many farmstands on the way to the OBX to stock your beach-house fridge with flavorful fruits and vegetables. In-season berries are wonderful, healthy snacks to have while while lying on a beach blanket. Plus, they won’t add extra inches to your bathing suit-ready physique!

Adults may like tasting the products offered at the oldest craft brewery in North Carolina—the Weeping Radish Brewery—or the wines from Sanctuary Vineyards. Both businesses are popular attractions on the peninsula and carry award-winning beverages. And if your stomach happens to be rumbling, try some of the sausages at Weeping Radish. They are made on-site and are exceptionally delicious. As an added bonus, both the winery and the brewery offer entertaining events on select days. On Thursdays in the summer, join locals to “wine”-down the week while listening to some great performers! The Acoustic Sunset Concert Series is hosted by Sanctuary Vineyards’ neighbor, The Cotton Gin. Enjoy a nice evening on the lawn with a glass of wine and a fabulous melody!

Visit Cool Attractions

One of the newest hotspots is actually quite cool! The H2OBX Waterpark opened in 2017 and features an array of refreshing rides. Some, such as “The Plank” and “Paradise Plunge” are geared to thrill-seekers, while others like “Teach’s Tides Adventure River” cater to those looking to relax while floating lazily along.

Fans of the Grave Digger monster truck won’t want to miss a chance to see it in person at another cool attraction. In 1982, the first Grave Digger monster truck was built by Dennis Anderson in his garage in Kill Devil Hills. Since then, Grave Digger trucks (now owned by Feld Entertainment Motor Sports) have evolved and improved to win numerous Monster Jam® championship events. You too can see the legendary trucks up close at the Grave Digger Racing Shop in Poplar Branch, just north of Grandy. This free gallery explores the evolution of Grave Digger throughout the years and even offers rides on a dirt track (in another truck, Riptide) for a small fee. Afterwards, visit the Digger Diner for a snack and browse for souvenirs of the truck at the gift shop, aptly called Digger’s Dungeon.

Amazing Shops and Stores

For those who frequent the Outer Banks, particularly from the north, a welcome sight that signals the approaching vacation destination are the shops that lead to the barrier islands. Shopaholics will most certainly want to stop at The Cotton Gin for a look around. At the very least, you’ll get a good idea of what merchandise can be found in the region. You may come away with a gift for yourself that will certainly remind you of your travels for years to come!

Journey Down Wildlife Drive

Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge hosts many visitors to the mainland in Dare County—and many of them aren’t human. Over 200 birds migrate to the area on their annual trek south for the winter, and many other species make this area their full-time residence. Bird watchers can witness many different types of birds in their native habitat and photograph some of their brilliant plumage. The refuge offers guided tours and allows activities including hiking, kayaking, fishing and even hunting (at specific times and in specific areas) that appeal to residents and visitors. Within its more than 150,000 acres, you’re likely to see native animals that make this park their home including black bears, and the endangered red wolf. The park’s namesake reptile, the alligator, can also sometimes be seen in the depths of the reserve. It’s wild out there, so tread with care and bring a lot of mosquito repellent!

Did You Know?

Buffalo City on the Dare County Mainland was once a bootlegging capital of the United States. In 1908, North Carolina outlawed alcohol production and sales prior to Prohibition. Around the same time, manufacturing jobs began to dry up, and citizens of Buffalo City looked to illicit alcohol smuggling operations to provide an income. The town made and distributed its “East Lake” moonshine until Prohibition ended. Now the area is nothing more than a hardly noticeable ghost town—with untold stories disappearing with the passing of time.

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