Ever thought of an Outer Banks Vacation for your family? Here are 20 great things to do with your kids! We've also included info on where to stay, the best beaches, and just about everything you'll need to plan your trip to the Outer Banks! There is so much to do with your kids in the Outer Banks. This trip belongs in the top spot on your family's bucket list!
When we first visited the Outer Banks with our kids, I had some flight vouchers I needed to use and decided I wanted to go as far away from SLC as I could (within the U.S.). I don't know if I technically accomplished it, but I think I got about close on distance! We shared a beach house with Stephanie and her family and explored the Outer Banks. We loved every minute of it. Here's why:
20 Things to Do With Kids in the Outer Banks
Our Favorite Activities:
We've visited the Outer Banks with our family 4 TIMES since we originally posted this article. We pack a lot into 7 days and can still find more things to do EVERY TIME!
Be sure to click through the slide show above where I run through the quick and dirty details about all that we did. Below is a list of the places we went with links.
- Stand Up Paddle Boarding on the Sound Side (rent your boards from Kitty Hawk surf shop!)
- Kayaking (We recommend Kitty Hawk Woods Maritime Forest and Pea Island Bird Refuge)
- Flying Kites on the Beach
- Killer Sandcastles
- Ghost Crab Hunting: You can get shovels, buckets, and flashlights from any of the dollar stores for a great deal! The best time to hunt is after the sun goes down!
- Jockey's Ridge State Park: Play on the sand dunes, throw a frisbee, fly kits, jump around, and stay for the amazing sunsets!
- Wright Brother's Memorial
- Roanoke Island Festival Park
- Elizabethan Gardens
- Bodie Island Lighthouse
- Currituck Lighthouse
- Cape Hatteras Lighthouse
- Ocracoke Lighthouse
- Jennette's Pier: Rent poles and take the kids fishing or simply walk the beautiful pier!
- Paddle Boarding on the Soundside Beach: We rented our boards from Kitty Hawk Surf Company
- The Beach (of course)
- Adventure Obstacle Courses: First Flight Adventure Obstacle Course and Adventure Tower are favorites!
- "Put Put": Otherwise commonly called Miniature Golf. Someone told me there is a difference between the two, but I can't figure out what it is. There were several really cool places right along the main highway.
- Go to the Spa: Not featured in the slide show: I had an amazing massage at Hairoics and I went back twice and considered moving there so I could make my massage therapist my massage therapist for life. That's commitment.
For Our Next Trip
We truly wished we had 2 weeks here, well I'd actually take a full MONTH. Here are some of the things we didn't fit in but want to do next time:
- Wild Horses in Coralla
- North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island
- Deep-Sea Fishing: From what I understand the Outer Banks are the ultimate destination for deep-sea fishing.
- The Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum
- The Civil War Trail
- The Lost Colony
Where are the Best Beaches in the Outer Banks?
I asked a local friend this very same question. I also wanted to know if Outer Banks Beaches are crowded in the peak season. His answer made things easy: Because the Outer Banks is so spread out with limited parking, the beaches don't tend to get overcrowded. The quality of the sand is great just about wherever you go. You can't go wrong!
If you are looking to move around a bit, we've enjoyed a few different beaches for various reasons:
- The Closest Beach to You: If you are staying beachfront, chances are the beach that's right outside your doors is the very best!
- The Beach at Jennette's Pier: The beach around the pier is great! There's easy parking at Jennette's Pier. There's great sand, lots of shells under the pier, access to bathrooms, and of course the Pier. Jennette's Pier is also home to some great surfing (or surf watching).
- Old Lighthouse Beach: Located near the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, this beach is a big favorite of surfers from all over the world. The beach is gorgeous with the backdrop of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse in the background. Great parking, and a little pond behind the main parking area where we spotted lots of turtles with the kids.
- Whalehead Beach: This stretch of beach is in Coralla. We took a day trip up this way to see the Currituck Lighthouse and made a pitstop in the area. There's not a specific parking lot, it's just the stretch of beach in the area.
- Rodanthe Beaches: The beaches in Rodanthe are also known for great surf (or boogie boarding). We spent a day on the beach near the Avon Pier (where you can of course fish as well). There's a surf shop right across the street where you can rent your boards for the day!
Planning a Trip to the Outer Banks?
Check out OuterBanks.org. I think this is one of the best travel websites I've used with so much helpful information. I've combed this site not only for this trip, but also for an event that we are planning later in the year and it's been SO helpful.
Where should you eat in the Outer Banks?
Check out our 5 favorite places to eat with kids in the Outer Banks!
Where to Stay in the Outer Banks
Which Outer Banks Town is the Best?
"Centrally located, the towns of Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills, Nags Head are more populated, especially in the summer, with plenty of locally owned restaurants, bars and beach shops. And then to the south, on Hatteras Island, a bevy of quaint, neatly isolated towns sit nestled right along the ocean. Rodanthe, Waves, Salvo, Avon, Buxton, Frisco, Hatteras: one road leads to them all."
We've stayed in Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills, and Nags Head. We love how centrally located they are. It's so easy to drive an hour or two in either direction and run into something amazing. In terms of the more isolated towns, Rodanthe is on the top of our list for our next stay.
You can't go wrong ANYWHERE in the Outer Banks!
We worked with Carolina Designs on our first trip and stayed in THE BEST location! We were on the beach next to Jennette's Pier and centrally located for just about anything we wanted to do. We had 2 families (7 kids + 4 adults) in one house and I swear we could have fit 2 more families easily. Our house was right on the beach complete with pool, hot tub and HUGE windows that looked out over the ocean. We can't say enough about how much we loved this house!
Here's the listing for Summer Oasis!
It's the perfect rental to split up with several families!
Condos in the Outer Banks
Looking for something smaller? We've stayed at the Croatan Surf Club twice and it's also been perfect! It's right on the beach, has a great pool and hot tub, and plenty of room for 1-2 families.
Tip: Read your contract carefully! Each unit may come equipped with different items (towels, bedding, etc.). You'll want to make sure you request enough towels and blankets for everyone in your family when booking here. We also recommend packing your own beach towels.
Frequently Asked Questions About the Outer Banks
What is the Outer Banks?
The Outer Banks are barrier islands off the coast of the U.S. state of North Carolina, separating the Atlantic Ocean from the mainland.
What airport should I fly through to get to the Outer Banks?
1. Norfolk VA - 82 Miles Away
We fly through Norfolk Virginia and rent a car. Plan for about a 90-minute drive plus or minus 30 minutes depending on where you are staying. The drive is scenic and beautiful. Last time we were there we pulled over and bought an apple pie from a pie stand! Does that sound like the movies to you? Because it was totally like the movies and the pie was amazing!
We typically fly with Southwest Airlines and find great deals on flights through Norfolk.
2. Raleigh Durham International Airport - 192 Miles Away
This is a little further away. Still a beautiful drive.
3. If you are in the mood to hop on some smaller plans some of these airports in the Outer Banks might work for you!
When is it hurricane season in the Outer Banks?
The Atlantic Hurricane season technically runs from July 1st until the end of December, but on the Outer Banks, the majority of hurricanes or tropical storms that have affected the coast have historically arrived in August or September.
We've been to the Outer Banks three times now. Twice in May and once in October. In October we encountered a decent-sized NorEaster storm that took up a couple of days of our trip. I knew I was rolling the dice going in the Fall. The weather the week before we got there and the week after we left was PERFECT.
What's the best time of year to visit the Outer Banks?
The pictures you see featured in this post were taken during the month of May. The weather was amazing - a little bit cool at times but consistently nice. Prices on rentals spike after Memorial Day (and so does the humidity) so if you can stick close to the shoulders of the summer season we think that's prime time. Our top picks? The month of May through mid-June and late August through September (even though hurricane season might get in the way).
Been to the Outer Banks? Share your family travel tips in the comments!
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