The Outer Banks of North Carolina, usually referred to as OBX, has been a destination bucket list item of mine for years. Last week, I finally got to experience this amazing place for myself. Since this important strip of land covers roughly 100 miles of shoreline, several towns, and a dozen or so small villages. Let's start with Kill Devil Hills
, since that was our headquarters for the days we were in the area. What a name for a town!
Legend has it that a fisherman named Dan grew weary of working hard and staying poor, so he decided to make a deal with the devil. The devil promised to give Dan a bag of gold that would never be empty in exchange for his soul when he died. The two agreed to a meeting place on a hill where Dan would receive his bag of gold, but Dan devised a plan to trick the devil. Dan climbed the hill and began to dig a deep hole. When he reached quicksand, he covered the top of the hole with leaves and branches and returned to his house. The next night Dan returned to the hill to wait for the devil. When he heard him approach, he called out for the devil to toss him the bag and then come shake his hand to seal the deal. When the devil stepped forward, he fell into the hole and couldn't escape because of the quicksand. Dan covered the hole and cried out, "I have killed the devil!" The townspeople heard the tale and named the place Kill Devil Hills.
It seems pretty farfetched, but when you consider the Outer Banks' history with pirates, shipwrecks, and war battles, it becomes more reasonable — I suppose.
1.) Wright Brothers National Memorial
Our first stop, even before checking into our hotel, was the Wright Brothers National Memorial,
which is often linked with the town of Kitty Hawk but is in fact in Kill Devil Hills.
The Visitors Center has wonderful displays outlining the work of Orville and Wilbur Wright, a replica of the plane that made the historic flight, and a nice gift shop. Right outside the windows from the plane replica, you can see marker stones representing the four flights made on December 17, 1903. The first three were very short, but the last and most historic one lasted for 59 seconds and covered 852 feet, becoming the first manned flight in a heavier-than-air machine that left the ground on its own power. Orville was on the plane. Wilbur was cheering and running beside it. A bronze replica of the event is on the backside of the park, so be sure to follow the road around the tall monument and get out for a closer look.
2.) Sunrise & Comfortable Beds at Shutters on the Banks
There are hundreds of beach houses lining both sides of the highway snaking through the Outer Banks, but you won't find highrise condos. Shutters on the Banks
is a hotel that is about as close as you can get to the Atlantic Ocean, considering the fact that giant sand dunes are present between the buildings and the water.
Our room was very comfortable with WiFi, cable TV, plenty of hot water in the shower, and a great vantage point for gorgeous sunrises.
3.) Awful Arthur's Oyster Bar
We were at the beach. It was a month with an "r" in it." For Steve and me, that means OYSTERS! And raw oysters, specifically. Awful Arthur's Oyster Bar
was only a mile or so from our hotel, and we reasoned that it would have what we were craving. Win-win. We were right! Not only did the menu list oysters, it listed them by the dozen, the 1/2 peck, and the peck. I'd never seen such a thing. We ordered 1/2 peck of raw oysters and settled in to devour 40 of them. YUM!
4.) Kill Devil Hills Co-op Art Gallery and Studios
I am fond of finding works by local artists when we travel, and this place was perfect. I was looking especially for sea glass jewelry created by Pem Bryant, since I had a chance to interview him (more about that in a future post), but 50 artists are listed on the Kill Devil Hills Co-op website
as having artworks on display at the gallery. I could only take photos of Pem's works, but let me assure you that the items created by all the artists are very special. Yes, several of Pem's items did come home with me, as well as one or two that really caught my eye.