Are you thinking about visiting the Outer Banks this year? Here are some of the most beautiful places to visit in the Outer Banks. Prepare to be mesmerized by these captivating sights and destinations.
The Outer Banks: A tapestry of windswept dunes, shimmering waterways, and a history as deep as the Atlantic it borders. This slender chain of barrier islands off the coast of North Carolina is a haven for adventurers, romantics, and anyone yearning to be touched by nature’s unspoiled beauty. As a travel blogger who’s traversed countless landscapes, I would recommend visiting the Outer Banks. It’s one of the few places that have whispered to my soul.
From the wild horses of Carova to the historic lighthouses that have stood sentinel for centuries, every corner of this coastal paradise tells a story. It’s where the Wright Brothers first defied gravity, where pirates once roamed, and where sunrises feel like private shows put on just for you.
For those with a heart full of wanderlust, the Outer Banks is irresistible. It’s a place where you can trace the footsteps of ancient mariners on windswept beaches, lose yourself in the haunting beauty of its marshlands, or simply sit and let the rhythm of the waves dictate the pace of your day. So if you’re vacationing in North Carolina, this is the place to be.
Join me as we embark on a journey to discover the most beautiful places in the Outer Banks. Places that will capture your heart, ignite your imagination, and make you fall in love with travel all over again. Let’s set sail!
Ready to explore the most picturesque locations in the Outer Banks? As highlighted, this coastal gem of the Southeast has something to offer every traveler. Dive deeper to uncover the stunning landscapes that define the Outer Banks.
Seeking scenic coastal views and rich cultural attractions? Or perhaps you’re yearning for a serene retreat amidst nature? No matter your preference, the Outer Banks is ready to meet your desires. Here are the top spots in the Outer Banks that you shouldn’t miss:
1. Bodie Island Lighthouse
One of the Outer Banks destinations that captures the essence of coastal North Carolina is the Bodie Island Lighthouse. Standing tall with its distinctive black and white horizontal stripes, this beacon has been a guiding light for mariners navigating the treacherous waters for over a century. Its majestic presence against the backdrop of the vast sky is a sight to behold.
The journey to the top is a rewarding one. As you ascend the spiral staircase, every step reveals a new perspective of the most beautiful places in the Outer Banks. Once at the summit, a breathtaking panorama unfolds, showcasing the intertwining waterways, lush marshlands, and distant horizons. It’s a view that resonates with the soul, reminding visitors of the vastness and beauty of nature.
Beyond its architectural grandeur, the Bodie Island Lighthouse is steeped in tales of heroism and adventure. The adjacent visitor center offers intriguing insights into the lives of the lighthouse keepers, the challenges they faced, and the shipwrecks that dot the coastline. As one of the must-see in the Outer Banks, this lighthouse serves as evidence to the region’s rich maritime heritage and the enduring spirit of its people.
2. Canadian Hole
A favorite among windsurfers and kiteboarders, Canadian Hole is one of the most scenic places in the Outer Banks. Located between Buxton and Avon, this spot is renowned for its consistent winds and expansive, shallow waters. This makes it a paradise for water sports enthusiasts.
The beauty of Canadian Hole isn’t limited to its waters. The shoreline, with its soft sands and gentle waves, invites visitors to relax and soak in the sun. As you lay on the beach, the distant sails dancing with the wind paint a vibrant picture against the blue canvas of the sky. It’s a spectacle that captures the essence of the Outer Banks’ beauty.
Families and picnickers often find solace in the grassy areas adjacent to the parking lot. With facilities like picnic tables and grills, it’s an ideal spot for a leisurely afternoon. And if you’re keen on capturing the Outer Banks scenery, the sunsets here are nothing short of magical. As the sun dips below the horizon, it casts a golden hue over the waters, creating memories that last a lifetime.
3. Cape Point
Cape Point, with its ever-shifting sands and dynamic landscapes, is one of the prettiest places in the Outer Banks. This iconic spot, located in Buxton, is where the Atlantic Ocean and Pamlico Sound converge, creating a mesmerizing dance of waves and currents.
The raw beauty of Cape Point is evident in its dunes, which rise and fall with the whims of nature. These sandy mounds, shaped by winds and tides, offer a unique vantage point. From atop, one can witness the vast expanse of the ocean meeting the sky, a sight that has inspired countless poets and artists. It’s a place where time seems to stand still, and the only sounds are the rhythmic crashing of waves and the distant calls of seabirds.
Anglers flock to Cape Point for its abundant fish, making it a popular spot for surf fishing. The currents bring in a rich variety of marine life, promising a rewarding catch. And for those simply looking to unwind, the pristine beaches provide the perfect backdrop. As you stroll along the shoreline, collecting shells and feeling the cool breeze on your face, you’ll understand why Cape Point is often hailed as one of the best places to visit in the Outer Banks.
4. Duck Town Park
Nestled in the heart of the charming village of Duck, Duck Town Park is a gem among the Outer Banks’ beautiful places. Spanning 11 acres, this park is a harmonious blend of natural beauty and thoughtful amenities. This makes it a favorite for both locals and visitors.
The park boasts a boardwalk that meanders through maritime forests and willow swamps, offering a tranquil setting for leisurely strolls. As you walk, the gentle rustling of leaves and the chirping of birds create a soothing soundtrack. Every step reveals a new facet of the park’s diverse ecosystem, from serene soundside views to vibrant flora that bursts into color with each changing season.
Water enthusiasts can take advantage of the park’s canoe and kayak launch, providing easy access to the Currituck Sound. Paddling through these calm waters, with the sun glistening on the surface, is a rejuvenating experience. For travelers who prefer to stay on land, the park’s open lawn areas are perfect for picnics, games, or simply lying back and cloud-gazing.
In a region renowned for its natural splendors, Duck Town Park stands out as a place where nature and community come together. It’s an affirmation of the Outer Banks destinations that provide equal measures of rest and recreation.
5. Elizabethan Gardens
Amidst the coastal beauty of the Outer Banks lies a haven of tranquility and splendor: the Elizabethan Gardens. This enchanting space, located in Manteo, is a tribute to the first English colonists and offers a serene escape from the bustling world outside.
As you step into the gardens, you’re greeted by a symphony of colors and fragrances. Each pathway leads to a new discovery, from meticulously manicured flower beds to statues that whisper tales of bygone eras. The gardens are a living canvas, changing with the seasons, ensuring that every visit offers a fresh perspective. It’s one of the places to see in the Outer Banks where nature and artistry intertwine seamlessly.
The gardens also house a collection of rare and exotic plants. This makes it one of the most beautiful places in Outer Banks. This lush haven is proof of the area’s abundant biodiversity. The identified species and educational plaques offer a lot of information to individuals with a great interest in horticulture. Even if you’re just seeking a peaceful retreat, the gentle hum of nature and the soft play of sunlight through the trees create a meditative ambiance.
In a place known for its vast landscapes and accommodations with oceanic vistas, the Elizabethan Gardens stand as a reminder of the delicate beauty that can be found in every corner of the Outer Banks. It’s a must-visit for anyone seeking solace and inspiration in nature’s embrace.
6. Hatteras Inlet
Hatteras Inlet, where the mighty Atlantic Ocean meets the serene Pamlico Sound, is a spectacle of nature’s grandeur. This dynamic waterway, located at the southernmost tip of Hatteras Island, is a gateway to endless adventures and one of the most beautiful places to visit in the Outer Banks.
The ever-changing tides and currents of the inlet create a vibrant marine ecosystem. Dolphins playfully leap from the waters, while a myriad of fish species dart beneath the surface. This makes it a popular spot for anglers. The thrill of casting a line and feeling the tug of a potential catch is an experience that resonates with both novice and seasoned fishermen.
The inlet’s sandy sands offer the ideal vantage position for those who would rather just take it all in. The horizon, where the deep blues of the ocean blend with the sky, paints a picture of tranquility. It’s a place where one can sit for hours, lost in thought, lulled by the rhythmic sound of waves.
Hatteras Inlet stands out as a monument to the unadulterated beauty and majesty of the sea in the Outer Banks, where examples of nature’s miracles abound. It’s a reminder of the delicate balance between land and water, and the magic that unfolds when the two converge.
7. Historic Corolla Park
In the heart of Corolla lies a treasure trove of history and beauty: the Historic Corolla Park. This sprawling estate is home to some of the most beautiful places in the Outer Banks, each telling a tale of the region’s rich past and vibrant culture.
The crown jewel of the park is the Whalehead in Historic Corolla. With its magnificent yellow facade and Art Nouveau construction, this stately estate serves as a reminder of the grandeur of the early 20th century. Inside, visitors are transported to a bygone era, with meticulously preserved rooms showcasing the elegance and luxury of the Roaring Twenties.
Adjacent to the mansion is the Currituck Beach Lighthouse. Its red-brick exterior contrasts beautifully with the lush green surroundings. Climbing its spiral staircase rewards visitors with panoramic views of the park and the surrounding waters. It’s a sight that captures the essence of the Outer Banks beauty.
But the park isn’t just about history. The Outer Banks Center for Wildlife Education offers interactive exhibits and programs, providing insights into the region’s diverse flora and fauna. From serene waterfront spots perfect for picnics to educational tours that ignite curiosity, Historic Corolla Park is a blend of the past and the present, making it a must-see in the Outer Banks.
8. Jockey’s Ridge State Park
Jockey’s Ridge State Park is a marvel of nature, boasting the tallest natural sand dune system on the East Coast. As one of the stunning locations in the Outer Banks, it offers visitors a unique blend of adventure and serenity, with its vast sandy landscapes and breathtaking views.
The ever-shifting dunes, shaped by the whims of wind and time, provide a playground for adventure seekers. Sandboarding down the slopes, flying kites in the steady breeze, or simply hiking to the summit are just a few of the activities that draw visitors from near and far. From the top, the panoramic vistas of Roanoke Sound and the Atlantic Ocean are a sight to behold, especially during the golden hours of sunrise and sunset.
But Jockey’s Ridge isn’t just about the dunes. The park also features diverse ecosystems, from maritime forests to freshwater ponds, each teeming with wildlife. Birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts will find plenty to marvel at, with various species making their home in this unique habitat.
Jockey’s Ridge State Park should be visited by everyone visiting Outer Banks. It’s a place where the wonders of nature come alive, offering endless opportunities for exploration and reflection. A true evidence of the diverse beauty that the Outer Banks has to offer. Is this park among the most beautiful places in Outer Banks to visit? You bet!
9. Kill Devil Hills Beach
Kill Devil Hills Beach, a coastal gem in the heart of the Outer Banks, is a destination that seamlessly blends natural beauty with a rich historical backdrop. It’s not just the golden sands and the rhythmic dance of the waves that captivate visitors; it’s the stories that the shores whisper, making it one of the best spots in Outer Banks you should know about.
The beach is more than just a sunbather’s paradise. It’s a haven for water sports enthusiasts, offering opportunities for surfing, kiteboarding, and paddleboarding. The early mornings see joggers tracing the shoreline, while evenings are reserved for bonfires and stargazing. Every moment spent here is a testament to the beach’s allure.
Adjacent to the beach is the famous Big Kill Devil Hill, where the Wright Brothers took their historic flight. This proximity to a landmark of such significance adds another layer to the beach’s charm. It’s a place where the past and present coalesce, offering a unique experience to its visitors.
Kill Devil Hills Beach is the place to go if you’re looking for a mix of leisure, excitement, and history. It’s not just another beach; it’s a chapter in the grand narrative of the Outer Banks’ beautiful places.
10. Ocracoke Island Lighthouse
Ocracoke Island Lighthouse stands as a beacon of history and charm amidst the natural beauty of the Outer Banks. As the oldest operating lighthouse in North Carolina, it’s one of the most scenic places in the Outer Banks, drawing visitors with its understated elegance and rich past.
The lighthouse, with its distinctive white facade, has been guiding mariners since 1823. Its soft glow, which can be seen for miles, has become synonymous with the island’s tranquil nights. While the lighthouse itself is not open for climbing, its grounds offer a picturesque setting for leisurely walks and photo opportunities.
Surrounding the lighthouse is the quaint village of Ocracoke. Strolling through its streets feels like stepping back in time. Historic homes, charming boutiques, and cozy cafes line the pathways, each telling a story of the island’s vibrant culture and heritage. The village is a hub of activity, with local artisans showcasing their crafts and musicians playing soulful tunes.
A visit to Ocracoke Island Lighthouse is not just about the structure itself but the entire experience it offers. It’s a place where history, community, and natural beauty converge, making it one of the Outer Banks destinations that captures the essence of the region.
11. Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse
Situated on the Manteo waterfront, the Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse is a gem that often goes unnoticed amidst the grandeur of its taller counterparts. However, its charm lies not in its height, but in its intricate design and the stories it holds. It’s one of those pretty places in the Outer Banks that offers a blend of history and scenic beauty.
The current structure, with its wooden foundation and hexagonal lantern room, is a replica of the original 1877 lighthouse. While it may be smaller in stature, its significance to the maritime history of the region is immense. Over the years, it played a pivotal role in guiding vessels through the treacherous Roanoke Sound.
Adjacent to the lighthouse is a boardwalk that offers panoramic views of the sound. As the sun sets, the lighthouse casts a gentle glow over the waters, creating a mesmerizing tableau. It’s a sight that photographers and nature lovers cherish, capturing the essence of the Outer Banks scenery.
Visiting the Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse is like taking a journey back in time. The exhibits inside provide a glimpse into the life of a lighthouse keeper and the challenges they faced. It’s a testament to the resilience and spirit of the people who called this region home.
12. Wright Brothers National Memorial
In the town of Kill Devil Hills stands a monument to human ingenuity and determination: the Wright Brothers National Memorial. This iconic landmark celebrates the achievements of Orville and Wilbur Wright, who forever changed the course of history with their pioneering flight in 1903. It’s undeniably one of the best places to visit in the Outer Banks for those intrigued by aviation and innovation.
The centerpiece of the memorial, and undoubtedly one of the most beautiful places in Outer Banks, is a towering granite monument perched atop Big Kill Devil Hill. It’s a symbol of the soaring aspirations of the Wright brothers and their indomitable spirit. From the base of the hill, a series of markers trace the distances of their historic flights, allowing visitors to walk the path of these aviation pioneers.
Adjacent to the hill is a replica of the brothers’ camp, complete with hangars and living quarters. Here, interactive exhibits and artifacts offer a deep dive into their experiments, challenges, and eventual triumphs. It’s a place where the story of the Outer Banks’ beautiful places intertwines with the tale of human achievement.
Visiting the Wright Brothers National Memorial is not just about the past; it’s about the future. It serves as a reminder of what’s possible when passion meets perseverance, and dreams take flight.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Visiting the Beautiful Places in Outer Banks
Curious about the most stunning locations in Outer Banks? These are the questions I get asked the most about its standout attractions.
What is the most beautiful part of the Outer Banks?
The beauty of the Outer Banks is diverse and ever-changing, making it hard to pinpoint just one “most beautiful” part. From the serene beaches of Ocracoke Island to the historic charm of Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse and the awe-inspiring Wright Brothers National Memorial, each location offers its own unique allure. It truly depends on what you’re seeking – whether it’s natural beauty, historical significance, or a mix of both.
What is Outer Banks best known for?
The Outer Banks is renowned for its rich history, pristine beaches, and unique maritime culture. It’s the birthplace of aviation, thanks to the Wright Brothers, and home to numerous historic sites and lighthouses. The region is also famous for its diverse ecosystems, from maritime forests to vast sand dunes, attracting nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers alike.
Why is Outer Banks so famous?
The Outer Banks (OBX) of North Carolina is famous for several reasons, ranging from its natural beauty and unique geographical features to its rich history and cultural significance. Here are some of the primary reasons why the Outer Banks is so renowned:
1. Natural Beauty:
- Barrier Islands: The Outer Banks is a chain of barrier islands that stretch over 200 miles, offering pristine beaches, dunes, and marshlands.
- Wildlife: The region is home to diverse wildlife, including wild horses in Corolla and various bird species.
2. Historical Significance:
- First Flight: Kill Devil Hills in the Outer Banks is where the Wright Brothers made their historic first flight in 1903. The Wright Brothers National Memorial commemorates this groundbreaking event.
- Roanoke Island: Known for the “Lost Colony,” where English settlers mysteriously disappeared in the late 16th century. The story is retold in the outdoor drama “The Lost Colony.”
- The Outer Banks is home to several iconic lighthouses, including the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse (the tallest brick lighthouse in North America) and the Currituck Beach Lighthouse.
4. Recreation and Activities:
- Water Sports: The region is a hotspot for water sports, including surfing, kiteboarding, kayaking, and fishing.
- Beach Activities: With miles of sandy beaches, the Outer Banks is perfect for sunbathing, beachcombing, and beach driving.
5. Cultural Events and Festivals:
- Events like the Outer Banks Seafood Festival, Duck Jazz Festival, and Pirate Festival celebrate the region’s heritage and culture.
6. Unique Geography:
- The Outer Banks is uniquely situated where the cold waters of the Atlantic Ocean meet the warm Gulf Stream, creating a rich marine ecosystem and making it a prime location for fishing.
- Often referred to as the “Graveyard of the Atlantic,” the waters off the Outer Banks have been the site of numerous shipwrecks over the centuries, attracting divers and history enthusiasts.
Where are the Outer Banks’ beautiful places for photography?
Photographers are spoilt for choice in the Outer Banks. Jockey’s Ridge State Park offers stunning sand dune landscapes, while the various lighthouses. This includes Bodie Island and Ocracoke Island Lighthouses, provide iconic backdrops. The sunsets over Roanoke Sound are particularly breathtaking.
Are there any hidden gems or lesser-known spots in the Outer Banks?
Absolutely! While the main attractions draw the crowds, places like Canadian Hole and Duck Town Park offer a quieter, yet equally captivating experience. Exploring the local villages and interacting with residents can also lead to discovering some off-the-beaten-path treasures.
How can I best experience the Outer Banks beauty during my visit?
To truly immerse yourself in the Outer Banks beauty, consider taking scenic drives, participating in local tours, or simply taking leisurely walks on the beaches. Engaging with local artisans, sampling regional cuisine, and attending local events can also enrich your experience.
What are the must-see destinations for first-time visitors to the Outer Banks?
First-time visitors should definitely explore the iconic lighthouses, visit the Wright Brothers National Memorial, and spend time lounging on the renowned beaches. Additionally, taking a ferry to Ocracoke Island and exploring the Elizabethan Gardens are also highly recommended.
What town has the most to do in the Outer Banks?
The Outer Banks (OBX) of North Carolina is a chain of barrier islands with several towns, each offering its own unique attractions and activities. Here’s a breakdown of some of the most notable towns in the Outer Banks and what they offer:
1. Nags Head:
- Activities: Nags Head is one of the most popular and developed towns in the Outer Banks. It offers a wide range of activities including fishing, beachcombing, and water sports.
- Attractions: Jockey’s Ridge State Park (home to the East Coast’s largest sand dune), Nags Head Woods Preserve, and Jennette’s Pier.
- Amenities: Numerous restaurants, shops, and accommodations.
2. Kill Devil Hills:
- Activities: Beach activities, surfing, and kiteboarding.
- Attractions: Wright Brothers National Memorial (where the first flight took place).
- Amenities: A variety of dining options, shopping centers, and entertainment venues.
3. Kitty Hawk:
- Activities: Kayaking, paddleboarding, and birdwatching.
- Attractions: Kitty Hawk Woods Coastal Reserve.
- Amenities: Restaurants, cafes, and local shops.
- Activities: Boating, fishing, and exploring the historic downtown.
- Attractions: Roanoke Island Festival Park, Elizabethan Gardens, and the North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island.
- Amenities: Boutique shops, art galleries, and waterfront dining.
- Activities: Water sports, jogging, and cycling along the town’s boardwalk.
- Attractions: Duck Town Park and Boardwalk.
- Amenities: Upscale dining, shopping, and spa services.
Final Thoughts on Visiting Beautiful Places in Outer Banks
The Outer Banks, with its rich tapestry of history, natural beauty, and vibrant culture, is a destination that beckons travelers from all walks of life. From the towering lighthouses that have stood the test of time to the pristine beaches that offer solace and rejuvenation, every corner of this region tells a story. It’s not just about the places you visit, but the memories you create and the experiences you gather.
As you traverse the sandy shores, delve into the tales of pioneers, and bask in the glow of sunsets over the horizon, you’ll discover that the Outer Banks is more than just a travel destination. It’s a feeling, an emotion, and a journey of discovery. Whether you’re a history buff, a nature enthusiast, or someone seeking a tranquil escape, the Outer Banks has something to offer.
In the words of many who have treaded its paths, the Outer Banks isn’t just a place on the map; it’s a state of mind. And once you’ve experienced its charm, it’s a place that stays with you, beckoning you to return, time and time again.