Aside from relaxing on the beach — which may be all you want to do during your trip to the Outer Banks — these barrier islands have a lot to offer. From four-wheeling alongside the wild horses in Corolla to visiting the numerous lighthouses, this North Carolina destination is fun for everyone. Read on for Forbes Travel Guide’s picks for the best things to see and do in the Outer Banks.
1. Hit the beach. As some of the best beaches on the East Coast, it’d be a shame to miss basking in the sun. Along NC 12 (the highway), you’ll find plenty of public beaches. And if you’ve rented a home, or are staying at one of the few hotels, you’ll have easy access to the beach.
2. Climb the dunes. Head to Nags Head to climb the giant dunes. It’s fun to simply climb up and slide down the sand dunes, but thrill-seekers can try hang gliding off the gigantic piles of sand. You can also sand-board during the winter (similar to snowboarding, but on sand).
3. Visit the Wright Brothers National Memorial. Flying in 747s makes it hard to believe that the first powered flight was just 12 seconds long in 1903. See where it all began at the Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kill Devil Hills. It features a visitor’s center with full-scale replicas of the powered Wright 1903 Flyer, and there’s a granite memorial to the brothers atop the 90-foot dune just outside.
4. Cast your reel. What better place to fish than a set of barrier islands? Whether you cast your reel from the beach or head out to sea to catch the big ones, you’re in for a delight. You’ll be fishing for everything from marlin and wahoo to trout and striped bass. You can post up on one of the many piers or charter a boat with a captain.
5. Explore the lighthouses. Considering its relationship with the ocean, the Outer Banks has its fair share of lighthouses. Guarding the barrier islands, these beacons have navigated sailors for more than two centuries. From the Bodie Island Lighthouse just south of Nags Head to the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, which is the tallest brick beacon in the country, these lighthouses are both historic and beautiful.