The Outer Banks in North Carolina features 100 miles of gorgeous beaches and has activities for everyone. With so many things to do, it can be hard to squeeze it all into one vacation. We compiled some of the top Outer Banks day trips to make your planning a little bit easier. Before we let you in on all the best coastal adventures, make sure you consult our complimentary Vacation Guide. It lists fantastic restaurants, attractions, and outdoor recreation in Corolla, Duck, Nags Head, and Southern Shores.
5 of the Best Outer Banks Day Trips to Include in Your Vacation Itinerary
The Outer Banks is a coastal paradise made up of 10 small towns. To put that into perspective, it can take around four hours to drive the entire strip. Many visitors have a hard time narrowing down which parts of OBX to explore and figuring out how to fit everything into one vacation. It’s best to take your vacation day by day. Explore the area by going on these OBX day trips.
1. Visit Nags Head
Take a day trip to Nags Head for the ultimate adventure. Jockey’s Ridge State Park is the tallest living sand dune on the Atlantic Coast. This makes it the perfect spot for flying kites, sandboarding, and, for the daredevils, hang gliding! That’s right. You can soar through the air off of this magnificent sand dune. Make sure you register with the park office before taking the leap. You can also take lessons with Kitty Hawk Kites near the visitor center if needed.
Then, visit the Bodie Island Lighthouse, which is about 20 minutes away from Jockey’s Ridge State Park. Climb the lighthouse for the perfect view of the Atlantic Ocean and marshland.
2. Explore Roanoke Island
One day, you should drive over the oldest Outer Banks bridge (the William B. Umstead Bridge) to Roanoke Island, which has a long list of appealing attractions. Bring the kids to the North Carolina Aquarium and experience the great wonders of the ocean. Another great attraction for kids and history buffs is The Lost Colony. Watch a show and learn about the 117 English colonists who established a settlement in the New World, then mysteriously disappeared a couple of years later. The show takes place on the very same site that the actual events occurred in the 1500s!
For more history, you can take a stroll through the Elizabethan Gardens. The gardens are abundant with a diverse variety of flowers originally meant to entertain Queen Elizabeth I. You’ll feel like royalty when you tour these lush grounds!
3. Make a Trip to Ocracoke Island
Beautiful beaches, charming shops, and an impressive lighthouse make Ocracoke Island the perfect destination for a day trip. In fact, the journey to the island is an adventure all by itself. Unless you have access to a private boat, you will have to take the public ferry to reach the island. Sit back and let the wind sweep your hair as you take in the breathtaking scenery.
Once you arrive, make plans to shop in the local village, visit the Ocracoke Lighthouse, or pedal your way along trails around the island. You might also consider renting a golf cart to get around the island.
4. Drive State 12 Cape Hatteras National Seashore
Road trips are a quintessentially American tradition. Spend a day driving up and down the State 12 Cape Hatteras National Seashore. Known for being one of the top scenic drives in the United States, you can expect to witness dramatic scenes of roaring waves, peaceful sound waters, and diverse ecosystems along the way.
You can expect to encounter some notable landmarks during your drive, including the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge, Cedar Island National Wildlife Refuge, Oregon Inlet, Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, Harkers Island, and more.
5. Embark on a Deep-Sea Fishing Trip
Venture out onto the deep blue sea for the fishing trip of a lifetime! The Outer Banks are home to some of the best fishing charters in the Southeast. An experienced crew will take you to the most fantastic fishing spots where you are guaranteed to reel in an impressive catch. Additionally, most charters will provide everything you need, such as saltwater fishing bait and tackle.
Stay with Paramount Destinations on the Outer Banks
After a memorable day trip to Nags Head or Roanoke Island, make your way back to your luxury Paramount Destinations vacation rental. Choose from upscale beach homes in Corolla, Duck, and Southern Shores for the ultimate family getaway.
Make the winning move when you book our CheckMate vacation rental in Southern Shores for your vacation this year. This six-bedroom home accommodates 13 people, and you can play against them all in the game area. The kids will fall in love with the private playground and pool, and you’ll fall in love with the gorgeous ocean view. Check our availability and book your OBX dream vacation today!