When it comes to beach destinations, there is no place on earth quite like North Carolina’s Outer Banks. Uniquely spread across 100 miles of beautiful barrier islands, this destination feels a world away from home & yet is still easy to reach. Known for its charming beach towns, historic lighthouses and unspoiled beaches – there is so much to experience during an Outer Banks getaway. Whether you stay for a week or just for the weekend, you are sure to find a unique adventure awaiting you – I know I certainly did!
Getting to the Outer Banks:
Whether you’re coming from North or South, traveling by car is the most convenient option when traveling to the Outer Banks. From Washington, D.C., it’s only about a 5 hour drive. Alternatively, you can also fly into Norfolk International Airport, which is about 90 miles away from the northernmost part of the OBX. Either way, for convenience you will definitely want to have a car to get around during your stay so be sure to book a rental car if you plan on flying in!
Where to stay on the Outer Banks:
Part of what makes the Outer Banks so special is that you won’t find any high rise hotels or resorts on its shores. Instead, the islands are known for charming beach houses in addition to a few smaller more intimate resorts and inns. The Sanderling Resort is truly a perfect marriage of those things as it is offers luxury resort amenities, while its accommodations maintain an intimate beach house feel with incredible oceanfront views.
Amenities at the Sanderling include private beach access, two beautiful outdoor pools ( one of which is adults only ), an indoor pool + fitness center, onsite dining options and a variety of activity offerings. Guest rooms range in size and there are plenty of options to choose from depending on the size of your group. You can also choose to stay in one of the resort’s private vacation homes or cottages for an elevated experience during your stay!
One experience I urge you not to miss during your stay, is dining at the Sanderling’s onsite restaurant the Lifesaving Station. Housed in a beautifully restored 1899 life-saving station, the restaurant features floor-to-ceiling windows allowing for an unparalleled view of the Currituck Sound and an overall unmatched atmosphere. The menu offers a variety of southern coastal inspired dishes, all of which that I tried were delicious ( the crab hush puppies are a MUST).
Things to see and do in the Outer Banks:
Visit The Elizabethan Gardens:
Located in Manteo, the Elizabethan Gardens are spread across 10 lush acres and were first created in 1951 to honor the first English colonists who arrived in America and the reigning monarch, Queen Elizabeth I. Strolling through the gardens, you will find a breathtaking collection of plants, flowers, and sculptures. Some of the must-see attractions within the gardens include the Italian Renaissance Garden, the Great Lawn, the Queen’s Rose Garden, and the Sunken Garden.
Visit Bodie Lighthouse:
Bodie Island Lighthouse is located in South Nags Head and is open for tours during the summer months. This lighthouse stands at 156 feet tall and offers stunning views of the surrounding area from the top. As you climb the winding staircase to the top, you’ll learn about the history of the lighthouse and the brave keepers who tended to it over the years. Once you arrive up top you’ll be rewarded with incredible panoramic views making for a perfect photo opp!
Take a Hang Gliding Lesson at Jockey Ridge State Park:
If you’re looking for an exhilarating and unique experience during your visit taking a dune hang gliding lesson is the perfect itinerary add! The Outer Banks is known for its wide sandy beaches and natural sand dunes that are perfect for hang gliding. One of the best places to take a lesson is at Jockey’s Ridge State Park in Nags Head, where you can experience soaring above the tallest natural sand dune on the East Coast.
During my visit I booked a hang gliding lesson with Kitty Hawk Kites, a local adventure company that offers a variety of hang gliding lessons for all levels of experience. My beginner level lesson lasted about 3 hours and I learned all basics of hang gliding and then got to put my knowledge to action with a few exhilarating test flights! The instructors at Kitty Hawk Kites are highly trained and experienced and made the experience a truly fun and memorable one!
If you’re interested in taking a dune hang gliding lesson, be sure to make a reservation in advance as spots tend to fill up quickly.
Take a Kayaking Tour in Kitty Hawk:
There are plenty of options when it comes to kayaking tours to choose from in the Outer Banks! During my visit I decided to opt for something a little more on the easy going side and found the perfect match with the Kitty Hawk Maritime Forest Kayak Tour.
This unique experience takes you through the peaceful Kitty Hawk Woods Maritime Forest, where you can explore the diverse ecosystem of the marshland and observe some of the incredible wildlife that calls this place home. As we paddled through the narrow channels, we were surrounded by tall trees, birds chirping, and absolutely zero tide to paddle against – making for an especially relaxing experience. Our guide provided interesting facts about the area’s wildlife and vegetation and helped us spot wildlife along the way. During my tour we saw a variety of birds, turtles and even a few cute and curious little otters. Overall this was a wonderfully unique and relaxing way to appreciate the natural beauty of the Outer Banks and was definitely worth booking!
Explore Local Shops and Eateries in Duck, NC:
As a lover of unique and locally-owned shops, downtown Duck quickly became one of my favorite spots during my getaway as it is located just a few minutes away from the Sanderling Resort! The quaint, pedestrian-friendly area offers a variety of shops and eateries to explore. From funky boutiques to charming gift shops, you’re sure to find something that catches your eye.
One of my favorite spots I discovered was Duck’s Cottage, a cozy bookstore and coffee shop combo located at the Waterfront Shop village along the Currituck Sound (the homemade fudge here is a must try)! There are also over a dozen other shops here you can explore perfect for find the perfect souvenir or gift to bring back home! When you need a break from shopping, there are also plenty of options for food and drink, including the iconic Duck Donuts shop and the Aqua Restaurant.
This blog post was part of a hosted visit and paid partnership with The Outer Banks Visitors Bureau. Recommendations and reviews remain genuine, these opinions are my own.