The Outer Banks of North Carolina offers up a welcome relief from crowded vacation spots. In fact, there aren’t any cities on the Outer Banks, only over 100 miles of wide-open shoreline, seaside villages, and a mix of towns filled with personality and fascinating history. And there is plenty of history. Aviators Orville and Wilbur Wright took their famous first flight at Kill Devil Hills, the pirate Blackbeard fought his last battle at Ocracoke and the mysterious Lost Colony disappeared (exactly where is anyone’s guess, but last seen on Roanoke Island near Manteo). Continue reading our Outer Banks Travel Guide to learn more.
But this chain of barrier islands off the coast of North Carolina isn’t just for history buffs. Fishing, windsurfing and wildlife watching attract visitors, and there are roughly 3,000 shipwrecks you can explore by snorkel and scuba diving.
The Outer Banks is great for those looking to skip overly developed touristy towns and head straight for the unspoiled beaches. You won’t find big nightlife, but you will find an abundance of natural beauty. Beaches are more populated during the summer months, but with so many destinations spread out along the barrier islands, you likely won’t experience big crowds. Our Outer Banks Travel Guide provides you with everything to start planning your vacation!
Outer Banks Weather – When to Visit
The best time to visit the Outer Banks (or OBX) is from March to May or from September to November, when rates are lower with less crowds. Most visitors arrive during the summer months when the temperatures are the warmest. The temperatures stay relatively warm and humid, with average highs in the upper 80s in the summer, and dipping into the 40s and 50s during the winter months. During the off season some attractions, as well as restaurants and shops, may close or operate under more limited hours.
Beaches of the Outer Banks
The Southern Shores OBX Beaches
The town of Southern Shores has all the secluded charm of the neighboring Northern Outer Banks villages of Duck and Corolla, but with easy access to the busy central Outer Banks’ treasure trove of restaurants, shops and attractions. A combination of rich maritime forests, quiet residential beaches, and a handful of restaurants and shops, Southern Shores is an ideal vacation locale for families who want to be away from it all, but still remain close to the big Outer Banks attractions.
The Northern OBX Beaches
The area that’s just north of US Highway 158, which is only accessible by the two-lane NC Highway 12, is known as the “Northern Beaches.” Consisting of the towns of Corolla, Duck, the 4WD area of the Currituck Banks, and generally Southern Shores, this area is known for its isolation and upscale accommodations with a host of shops, restaurants, and other amenities.
The Central OBX Beaches
The central OBX beach towns of Kill Devil Hills, Kitty Hawk, and Nags Head are the most popular areas of the Outer Banks, and are also the easiest to reach. Found in the heart of the Outer Banks, you will find plenty of public beach accesses in this area, as well as plenty of public parking areas, which are all situated along the “Beach Road” that hugs the ocean shoreline.
Hatteras Island has of the most pristine shorelines along the North Carolina coastline – the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. The National Seashore extends from the edge of Bodie Island all the way to the tip of Ocracoke Island, and encompasses every stretch of beach along the skinny barrier islands. Measuring roughly 50 miles from Bodie Island to Hatteras Inlet, you will find plenty of beaches to go around thru the communities and along the side of NC Highway 12 – the only road that extends through the island.
If you crave remote beaches, then you will love Ocracoke Island – the southernmost portion of the Outer Banks. It is hard to reach, but has 15 miles of isolated shoreline. It’s only accessible by a public ferry, and is home to a small 4-square mile community – Ocracoke Village. You’ll find miles of beaches, and refreshingly, not much else.
Best Outer Banks Restaurants
Awful Arthur’s Oyster Bar $11 – 30
Delight in watching hot oysters come hissing right out of the steamers. Order them steamed, fried, or slurp them down raw…no matter how you like your oysters, Awful Arthur’s has it covered. Telephone: 252-441-5955 Web: Awful Arthur’s Oyster Bar
Jolly Roger $11 – 30
The Jolly Roger is open year-round for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and they offer something for everyone. Breakfast favorites include the Eggs Benedict, pancakes and home fries, all made in-house from fresh ingredients. Great lunch selections include burgers, NY diner sandwiches and even meatloaf. For dinner the restaurant offers a wide variety, from Italian, fresh seafood, steaks & prime rib. Telephone: 252-441-6530 Web: Jolly Roger
CookShak Fried Chicken $11 – 30
There’s an art to doing a home-style chicken dinner right in the South. You need a chicken fried to golden, crispy perfection obviously. Then you need the appropriate fixings, like mac and cheese and coleslaw. Finally, you need that familial setting of passing the plates, helping yourself and fighting for the very last piece. And they have this art down at The Cookshak Fried Chicken – in fact, it’s their specialty. Telephone: 252-261-1156 Web: Cookshak Fried Chicken
Max’s Italian Restaurant $11 – 30
Most of the menu items are crafted right in the restaurant, including mouth-watering meatballs, lasagna, manicotti and house-roasted Italian sausage, homemade mozzarella sticks. fresh-pressed paninis and a variety of oven-baked subs. as well as homemade soup, fresh salads and scrumptious desserts. Telephone: 252-261-3113 Web: Max’s Italian Restaurant
Black Pelican $11 – 30
They serve delicious lunch and dinner specials. Fresh seafood, steaks, vegetarian dishes, sandwiches and wood oven pizzas are some of the items offered on our menu. The Black Pelican also has a menu designed just for kids. Telephone: 252-261-3171 Web: Black Pelican
Best Outer Banks Tours & Activities
Best Outer Banks Nightlife
The Brewing Station
This Kill Devil Hills brewery relies on wind power to fuel the craft beer operation. Featuring a great selection of unique brews that will appeal to every kind of beer drinker, the Brewing Station in OBX is a favorite of locals and visitors alike! Telephone: 252-449-2739 Web: The Brewing Station
Turner’s High Moon Bar
They are a Live Music Centered Bar & Restaurant with The Largest Tap Beer & Fine Spirits Selection on Hatteras Island. Offering yummy food, snacks, cocktails and locally brewed beer for Dine in or Take out. Telephone: 252-995-6666 Web: Turner’s High Moon Bar
The bright and welcoming family environment is filled with vintage travel posters and tropical decorations, giving diners the sensation of being on a tropical island. Colorful walls and unique light fixtures create the perfect ambience for a tasty meal and a tropical cocktail. Telephone: 252-261-1008 Web: Barefoot Bernie’s
Mike Dianna’s Grill Room
Welcome to Mike Dianna’s Grill Room, home to the finest seafood, USDA prime beef, amazing live entertainment and more! Head over for brunch or dinner with them in Corolla on the beautiful Outer Banks. Telephone: 252-453-4336 Web: Mike Dianna’s Grill Room
Thank you for the refreshing article. Like it was just refreshing to read about this. I guess your article is helpful as we dream and anticipate freedom to travel in the near future. Beach travels is a need and a must have now after long periods of lockdowns. Thank you for sharing your knowledge about the beaches of the outer banks, this will make planning and decision making easy.
You are most welcome! Thank you for visiting beach travel destinations.
Hi Leah, Not heard much about this destination before. I’m all the way over in the UK and never really left Europe. Just Morroco outside but a lot of places I’d like to visit around the World. California I would love to come to and I don’t just mean LAX airport on the way to Mexico (one of my ideas I thought about). Anyway, this looks like a beautiful place hopefully one day when I have money I will have to come here and check it out.
The east coast has beautiful beaches. So does California, but the water is a bit cold there for me LOL. Be careful if you drive on down to Baja Mexico. It has become a bit dangerous. Thanks for taking the time to leave me comments.
This sounds like a fabulous place to visit.
I love that it has 100 miles of coastline to explore and that it is in a rural setting.
The thought of 3,000 shop wrecks to explore is incredible. I would love to go diving on one or two of those! I also love the idea of trying hang gliding. That would be an incredible first for me.
Cook Shak and Jolly Roger is certainly two places that I will be checking out.
Definately a great place to visit.
I tell you it is a fabulous place to visit. I was planning on a week trip there from Florida, but all the good accommodations had been booked, so I have booked for 2022. So be aware, they do book fast. It is beautiful and serene and relaxing. And as you say, so much to see and do. So plan your visit in advance 🙂
What a lovely and relaxing place to visit, I have had the opportunity to stay in the Sanderling resort located on the outer banks. I was pleasantly surprised and the service was fantastic. I would love to visit again in the future, this time I would surprise my wife with a little getaway.
The Sanderling Resort is the best place to stay in my opinion. I am glad to see you agree 🙂 The Outer Banks is a must visit beach destination with so much more. Thanks for visiting beach travel destinations.
I was constantly hearing about Netflix’s “Outer Banks”. Up to a point that at first, I didn’t believe the OBX was real. But now I know that these are a group of islands located in North Carolina and are a pretty popular destination for surfing.
Did you know that John B’s house pier is located in the Secessionville Historic District in James Island?
That is right! It is on James Island 🙂 The Outer Banks is beautiful and well worth vacationing to for sure! Definitely real 🙂
What a beautiful, practical article. My wife and I have camped all over the west coast. We are hoping to get “back east” this summer and visit the Carolinas. I am bookmarking this article. Although you haven’t mentioned RV parks, we can find them as we search for the locations that you have shown. I really appreciate the restaurant guide. We have friends that have moved from California to North Carolina and rave about the place. I hope we will see.
Oh there are plenty of RV stops in the Outer Banks, you can visit this link and take a look 🙂 Please let me know if you need any additional information.
Nice and calm, a very beautiful destination!
The place will really suit people trying to get that peaceful and awesome vacation – the true sense of relaxation and vacation.
I like your way of reviewing a place, all the amenities. Visitors can just choose, packages are provided, they can easily book and travel conveniently and enjoyably.
A really nice choice of destination! Good point in sharing it.
You are spot on! It is nice and calm, beautiful and a vacation for relaxation. That is the Outer Banks! Thanks for visiting Beach Travel Destinations.
I really enjoyed this post about the Outer Banks. I work part time in the airline industry, and see a lot of people traveling there in the warmer months. I enjoyed how you gave us a lot of information about the area and made it concise to be enjoyable to read. I will definitely bookmark this post, and come back, when I have a chance to plan a trip there. Thanks for the great post.
Great! I am glad you enjoyed 🙂
This is a great resource to find relevant and important information that if you don’t know ahead of time could ruin your trip. I’ve missed out on so many things because I wasn’t prepared enough and simply didn’t have the right information ahead of time. It wasn’t until it was too late that I figured it out. Thanks for posting.
You are very welcome! Thanks for visiting my Outer Banks Travel Guide.
Wow! You really did your homework here.
This sounds like a wonderful place to visit.
I love how you described each area in detail and also covered the available tours and activities and restaurants available.
You covered accommodation and nightlife for those interested.
Are there any nearby RV parks if one was touring by RV?
We are Canadian and once travel is restored may be seeking places to visit to escape our brutal winters and travelling by RV sounds perfect for us.
There are plenty of RV parks. You can head to the Outer Banks Campgrounds and RV Parks for more information. Heading to the Outer Banks in the RV sounds like a great idea!
Hi Leahrae, thanks for the awesome Outer Banks travel guide. Personally, I’m a big fan of beaches with big cities next to them. But on second thought, beaches with small towns next to them could be very nice as well. I think it would be amazing to purchase a vacation property on the Outer Banks and head down to the Outer Banks during the offseasons. My only concern is the seaside climate. How often do natural disasters happen on the Outer Banks?
There can be hurricanes here. That is the biggest threat. I live in hurricane country and I have had to evacuate once, returning to a completely intact home. I wouldn’t trade this location for anything. It would be a great place to own though, I agree!
That looks so beautiful! I love to go on holiday in the spring and autumn when is much quieter and relaxed. I like that Outer banks are the spot for more chilled holidays, without noisy nightlife. There are different beaches to choose from and great adventures to try. Also, quite a few restaurants to choose from. Thanks for sharing with us this amazing holiday spot!
You are welcome. The Outer Banks are wonderful with so much coastline and so many options. Glad you enjoyed my Outer Banks Travel Guide.
Okay, I think I am sold on going here due to the amazing video and the pictures and information about the beaches. The music and scenery in the video really transport you and give you a general idea of the area instead of relying on a few pictures. This really helps to get a general lay of the land.
My wife and I like to travel with our dog are any of these beaches dog-friendly?
Sounds like your bags are packed! The video is a great selling point, I agree 🙂
Thank you for sharing about the outer banks, North Carolina with us! The summer is right around the corner and I am ready to go to the beach again, thankfully this is not so far away from me. I have to visit The Central OBX Beaches. I love to Try the Paddleboard Adventure on the Outer Banks. Awful Arthur’s Oyster Bar Sounds like a great place to dine. Thanks for sharing the itinerary.
You are very welcome. I love oysters, so when I visit, that is my hangout! LOL
Thank you for a great post. Even looking on these beautiful pictures is relaxing, especially now when traveling is much more complicated. I never been on Outer Banks, but it seems as a perfect quiet place to visit with family. Im tired with commercial, crowded tourist towns, and I would love to enjoy nature in this charming place. Adding it to my ’have to visit’ list.
Great, it is charming and beautiful and less crowded. Glad you enjoyed my Outer Banks Travel Guide.