Hit the Road: Driving Directions to the Outer Banks

Running along the stunning northern coastline of North Carolina, is the famous Outer Banks. Known for its charming blend of history, natural beauty, and vibrant coastal culture, it is obvious why it is a desired vacation destination for many who live throughout the east coast. To make it a little easier for you to plan your next trip, we are giving you the lowdown on which highways to take. Keep reading for your Outer Banks driving directions.

If you ready to start planning your vacation ASAP, then download our FREE OBX destination guide for expert planning tips!


Whether you’re planning a weekend getaway or a longer vacation, driving to the OBX from major cities in the surrounding region allows you to enjoy the scenic landscapes and embark on a memorable journey. In this blog post, we provide detailed driving directions from Charlotte, Raleigh, and Wilmington, NC. We are also including directions from five other major U.S. cities to include: Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Baltimore, New York City, and Washington, DC.

Getting On and Off the Outer Banks of NC

There are three ways to access the Outer Banks of North Carolina. The northern most opportunity onto the Outer Banks is via Highway 158 at Point Harbor. You will cross the Currituck Sound via bridge until you reach Highway 12. You will have to turn north or south onto Highway 12 depending on which OBX community you are traveling to. A little further south, you can access the Outer Banks via Highway 64 at Manns Harbor/Roanoke Island. This will drop you onto Highway 12 just south of Nags Heads. Either of the above options are the best for reaching Corolla, Duck, Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills, Nags Head, Rodanthe, Buxton, Avon, or Hatteras.

If you would like an amazing scenic journey from the south, you can travel by ferry via NC Highway 70 to Highway 12 at Cedar Island. The Cedar Island to Ocracoke ferry cost $15 for a standard passenger vehicle and is an approximate 2.25-hour crossing. Reservations are recommended. From Ocracoke Island, you will travel north on NC Highway 12 to the Hatteras Ferry. This is a free crossing that runs approximately every hour during peak season and is a 60-minute crossing. From Hatteras Island, you can continue north on Highway 12 to access each OBX village.

Local Tip: If you want to see as many of the OBX lighthouse on your trip to or from your vacation, opt for the Cedar Island-Ocracoke ferry!

Below are driving direction from major NC and east coast cities. However, we are also include a Google map for your getting exact direction from your location.


Driving Directions: Outer Banks from Major North Carolina Cities

Raleigh, NC (approx. 4-hr. drive):

  • From I-440 E and take exit 14 for US-64 E/New Bern Ave toward Knightdale.
  • Merge onto US-64 E/New Bern Ave and continue to follow US-64 E.
  • Keep left at the fork to continue on US-264 E, follow signs for Wilson/Greenville.
  • Take exit 429B to merge onto I-495/US-64 E/US-264 E toward Rocky Mount/Wilson.
  • Continue on US-64 E and take exit 557 for US-13 N toward Goldsboro/Snow Hill.
  • Merge onto US-13 N and continue to follow it.
  • Turn right onto US-158 E/W Grantham St and continue to follow US-158 E.
  • Continue straight onto NC-344 E/Four County Rd.
  • Turn left onto US-158 E and continue to follow US-158 E.
  • Continue straight onto US-158 BYP E.
  • Continue onto US-158 E.
  • At the roundabout, take the second exit to stay on US-158 E.
  • Continue onto NC-12

Our friend from Raleigh/Durham traveling to the Outer Banks area are welcome any time!!

Charlotte, NC (approx. 6.5-hr. drive):

  • From I-277 N. Take I-77 N and I-85 N to US-158 E in Mocksville.
  • Take exit 170 from I-40 E.
  • Continue on US-158 E. Drive to NC-12 N in Currituck County.
  • Merge onto US-158 E.
  • Continue straight onto US-158 BYP E.
  • Continue onto US-158 E.
  • At the roundabout, take the second exit to stay on US-158 E.
  • Continue onto NC-12

Ready to hit the road from Charlotte to the Outer Banks? We can’t wait to see you!

Wilmington, NC (approx. 5-hr. drive)

  • Merge onto US-17 N/US-74 E.
  • Continue to follow US-17 N.
  • Take the US-158 E exit toward Elizabeth City/Outer Banks.
  • Merge onto US-158 E.
  • Continue straight onto US-158 BYP E.
  • Continue onto US-158 E.
  • At the roundabout, take the second exit to stay on US-158 E.
  • Continue onto NC-12

family of four traveling in the car, outer banks driving directions

Driving Directions: Outer Banks from Major East Coast Cities

From New York, NY (approx. 9-hr. drive):

  • Take I-95 S to US-64 E in Rocky Mount, North Carolina. Take exit 138 from I-95 S.
  • Merge onto US-64 E.
  • Continue straight onto US-64 BYP E.
  • Turn right onto US-13 S.
  • Turn left onto US-158 E.
  • Continue onto NC-12Bottom of Form

Get amazing vacation planning tips for your getaway from New York to the OBX.

From Pittsburgh, PA (approx. 8.5-hr. drive):

  • Take I-376 E. Merge onto I-79 S.
  • Take exit 21 for I-70 E toward New Stanton.
  • Continue onto I-70 E.
  • Take exit 175 for I-68 E toward Cumberland.
  • Merge onto I-68 E.
  • Take exit 82B to merge onto I-70 E toward Hagerstown.
  • Take exit 32A-32B to merge onto I-81 S toward Roanoke.
  • Merge onto I-77 S.
  • Take exit 14 for US-58 E toward Hillsville.
  • Merge onto US-58 E.
  • Turn left onto US-258 S.
  • Turn right onto US-13 S.
  • Turn left onto US-158 E.
  • Continue onto NC-12

We are so excited to help you plan the perfect getaway from Pittsburg to the Outer Banks?

From Philadelphia, PA (approx. 6.5-8 hr. drive):

  • From I-95 S. take exit 7 for US-202 S toward US-322 W/W Chester.
  • Use the right lane to merge onto US-202 S/S Conchester Hwy.
  • Continue straight to stay on US-202 S.
  • Use the left lane to take the Interstate 95 S ramp to Delaware.
  • Merge onto I-95 S.
  • Keep right at the fork to continue on Delaware Turnpike S, follow signs for Interstate 95 S/Delaware Memorial Bridge.
  • Continue onto I-295 S.
  • Use the right 2 lanes to merge onto I-495 S toward Port of Wilmington/Baltimore.
  • Continue onto US-13 S.
  • Continue onto US-158 E.
  • Continue onto NC-12

For a full article about vacationing on the OBX from Philadelphia, click here.

From Baltimore, MD (approx. 6-hr. drive):

  • From I-895 S. continue onto I-95 S.
  • Take exit 89 to merge onto I-295 S toward Washington/National Harbor.
  • Keep right at the fork to continue on Capital Beltway Inner Loop/I-495 S, follow signs for Richmond/Alexandria.
  • Merge onto I-495 S.
  • Use the right 2 lanes to take exit 27 for Interstate 95 S toward Richmond.
  • Merge onto I-95 S.
  • Continue onto I-295 S.
  • Keep left to stay on I-295 S.
  • Take exit 11A-11B for US-301 S toward Richmond/Colonial Heights.
  • Keep right at the fork, follow signs for US-301 S/VA-207 E/Bowling Green.
  • Merge onto US-301 S.
  • Continue straight onto US-158 E.
  • Continue onto NC-12

let the fin begin, outer banks vacation rental with pool

Arrive on the Outer Banks

Congratulation! You made it to the Outer Banks! Once you arrive at Highway 12, which links the peninsulas and islands of the northern part of the Outer Banks, then make your way towards your Paramount Destinations vacation rental. You will head north or south on Highway 12 depending on the village you are headed to.

We hope these driving directions to the Outer Banks give you great information for your vacation planning. You are in for a smooth and scenic drive to the stunning OBX. Get ready to soak up the sun, explore our charming beach towns, and create unforgettable memories on this incredible beach getaway.