The Outer Banks is considered one of the best family vacation destinations on the East Coast, and the wide-open natural setting of sand, surf and sun lends itself easily to fun activities for "kids" of all ages. While rival vacation destinations may have more diversions, bars, and beach boardwalks, it's easy for vacationing families to stay simply entertained on the Outer Banks, particularly the younger ones in the group.

In fact, many vacationers find that all they need to keep the little ones happy is a beach blanket, a bathing suit, and a large stretch of ocean and sand to play on. However, there are a number of attractions and activities on the Outer Banks both on and off the sand that are geared towards kids, and families can enjoy a variety of activities to keep the youngest members of their family smiling and enchanted with an Outer Banks vacation.

On The Beach

Many Outer Banks vacationers find that they don't have to wander too far to find plenty of activities to keep kids entertained. The spacious, uncrowded beaches of the Outer Banks offer miles of entertainment for kids of all ages, from splashing in the waves to digging for coquinas and sand crabs. On the beach, there are plenty of diversions to keep children entertained while adults can spread out a beach blanket, relax, and enjoy the sun and sand as well.

Building a Sandcastle:

With all that sand to dig and shape and form, building a sandcastle is almost a prerequisite to any Outer Banks vacation. A number of local souvenir shops offer pail and sculpting kits to get you started, although in a pinch, a bucket and a shovel will do just fine. Kids can even borrow a kitchen utensil or two, like a spoon or a butter knife, to create castles with intricate doorways and windows, or take advantage of the local pieces of shells and sea glass that regularly wash up for decor.

While in the construction process, be sure and take plenty of photos: sand castles along the high tide line don't usually last too long.

For children with a true sandcastle building talent, there are several Outer Banks annual sandcastle contest events, at Jockey's Ridge State Park in Nags Head and on Ocracoke Island, generally held on the 4th of July. Even if your brood is not avid sand castle builders, these annual competitions and displays are ideal places to get inspired, with sand sculptures ranging from mammoth sea creatures to mermaids, and First Flight commemoratives to local lighthouses.

Fly a Kite

There's a very good reason why Orville and Wilbur Wright came to the Outer Banks to test out their 1902airplane- the wind conditions on the Outer Banks are second to none for flying machines. Bring your kite along or purchase one at your local souvenir shop for an afternoon of high flying. Several big name retailers, like Kitty Hawk Kites, also offer stunt kites for more intricate and challenging action on the sand. Have a blast while the wind is high, but just make sure it's not too high - kites can have trouble in 20-25 mph breezes, but on sunny days with a light wind, kite flying is literally a breeze.

 

Take to the Waves

Kids don't have to be a surfing expert with lots of expensive equipment to enjoy the Atlantic Ocean. Many local surf shops and souvenir stores offer body boards, skim board, and rafts, ideal for catching rides close to the beach. Body and boogie boarding is accessible for everyone, and even your youngest family members can enjoy a small but fun ride from the white breaking water onto the sand.

Before you start riding, keep an eye out for beaches with a gentle sandbar. These beaches have a gradual sloping beach, so that young riders can walk out into the ocean, and not have to traverse a steep drop-off. As a result, the waves break further offshore, and don't necessarily have a hard crash onto the sand, making ocean rides on a boogie or body board gentler and more easy-going.

When in doubt, take the youngest ones to the sound, where gently lapping waves still allow young riders to enjoy a boogie or body board ride, but with ankle deep water and little-to-no waves, keeps them protected from the larger Atlantic waters.

Hunt for Sand and Ghost Crabs

What's the best way to get introduced to the Outer Banks' vast wildlife? Start digging. In the shallow surf and along the low tide line, there is literally an ocean of critters to discover, from small but fascination sand crabs, or sand daggers, to the remarkably colorful coquina clams that routinely dig and submerge in the ocean wash, there are plenty of critters to discover just under the sand's surface. Bring a pail and shovel along for quick collecting and study, but be sure and leave all of your marine life at the shore at the end of the day. The critters that call the Outer Banks home are dependent on a rare combination that comprises their natural habitat, and they are not easily transferred to a home aquarium.

At night, hit the beach with a flashlight in hand and discover one of the Outer Banks' most elusive residents, the Ghost Crab. These nocturnal critters come out in abundant at night, and a moonlight walk will expose these crabs by the dozens, if not hundreds, as they scurry across the sand.

Outer Banks Watersports

The Outer Banks is the ideal locale for your outdoor-loving youngsters to try out a new sport or recreational activity on the water. The adventurous types will love the thrill of surfing, kiteboarding, and skimboarding, which combines balance and coordination with the ocean or sound waters for amazing rides. For an activity that's slightly easier and a little less adventurous, try windsurfing or Stand Up Paddle boarding. Both sports are relatively easy to pick up, and stick to the more calm waters of the sound, allowing kids to have fun on the water, but avoid the waves.

A number of locally owned businesses and larger regional franchises, like Kitty Hawk Kites or Real Watersports, offer hourly lessons and even "camps" to allow your children to get a small taste of their newfound sport, or immerse themselves completely to radically increase their skill level. Surfing, kiteboarding, windsurfing and stand up paddle boarding lessons are all available for all age levels, and are can be booked well in advance or while you're on your Outer Banks vacation.

Young nature lovers in search of an excursion on the water can also sign up for kayak tours and cruises. These water excursions allow paddlers of all ages to explore the canals and open waters of the Pamlico, Currituck, Roanoke and Albemarle Sounds with an experienced guide who can both help younger riders get the hang of paddling, and point out the sites along the way. Perfect as a family outing, kayaking is a good way for young and old Outer Banks lovers to get their feet wet in the local watersport scene.

Outer Banks Mini Golf

There's no shortage of mini-golf courses on the Outer Banks, and every community on the coast seems to have at least one course for kids to explore. From the Golf Links in Corolla to the more elaborate courses of Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills and Nags Head featuring Blackbeard, lost treasures, and out-of-this-world galaxies, the northern Outer Banks has a healthy handful of mini golf-courses that are open seasonally to summer vacationers. On Hatteras Island, vacationers can play putt-putt pier side at the Avon Pier course, enjoy a frozen custard with their 19 holes in Buxton, or play golf under natural Live Oaks and Cedars in Frisco.

During the summer months, most mini-golf courses stay open until 8:00 p.m. or 9:00 p.m. for day or evening putting, and the majority of Outer Banks mini-golf courses offer concessions on site, including ice cream, drinks, snacks, and even game rooms.

It should be noted that summer mini-golfers should bring bug spray and plenty of sunscreen - the sun off the Atlantic Ocean and sound waters can cause a painful sunburn if not properly protected.

Outer Banks Go-karts and Speedways

If your family has the need for speed, then check out the local speedways and go-kart tracks that are scattered throughout the Outer Banks. In the northern villages of Duck and Corolla, vacationers can put the pedal to the metal at the Corolla Raceway at the Timbuck II Shopping Center. Visitors to the central Outer Banks will find three different tracks in Kill Devil Hills and Nags Head, including the Colington Speedway which boasts three separate tracks as well as kiddie karts for the youngest riders. On Hatteras Island, speed lovers can head to Frisco Mini Golf and Go-karts, which features a scenic 18 hole mini-golf course adjacent to the speedy Go-kart track.

Most Go-kart tracks and speedways are open daily seasonally, from spring until the fall. Rates very, and many request that young riders are accompanied by a parent or guardian at all times.

 

Outer Banks Skate Parks

With the allure of surfing a decades old draw for young locals and visitors, it's no surprise that skating became popular on the Outer Banks as an alternative for days without waves. In fact, even in the 1960s and 1970s, when visitors were still relatively scarce, the Outer Banks still had a strong local skating scene and a skate park for locals and visitors alike to catch a thrill off the ocean.

Today, there are four skate parks scattered along the Outer Banks for skateboarders of all ages to check out. In Corolla, vacationers can head to the Island Revolution Skate Park at the Corolla Light Town Center, and all-concrete 5,000 square foot skate park with a street course, half pipes and dual bowls. In Nags Head, the Outer Banks' newest skate park is at the YMCA, a 15,000 square foot facility with a 10ft deep concrete bowl and an expansive street course. Finally, on Hatteras Island, vacationers can head to the little-known Frisco half-pipe, which is tucked behind a small brick plaza in the heart of Frisco Village.

For skateboarders who want to stick to the roads, most villages offer bike and pedestrian paths that are safely off the highway, including Duck and Southern Shores in the Northern Outer Banks, and Buxton along the Buxton back road on Hatteras Island. No matter where you roll, encourage the young family members to bring their boards along, as the Outer Banks is clearly skater friendly.

Outer Banks Hang-outs

One of the most popular hang-outs is clearly the beach, as on most areas the Outer Banks shoreline bonfires are legal and vacationers of all ages can enjoy an evening on the beach, talking, listening to music, chasing ghost crabs, and catching up with the family. If you choose to have a family beach bonfire, be mindful of local noise ordinances, make sure you fire is below the high tide line and is completely extinguished when you leave, and leave the fireworks at home, as they are illegal in North Carolina.

Off the beach, there are a handful of local Outer Banks establishments that are designed with teens in mind, so that the older kids in your group can go out and explore the Outer Banks scene.

One of the most popular teen destinations is The Pit, a combination surf shop, restaurant and club in Kill Devil Hills hosts a weekly Teen Night designated for patrons who are 18 years and younger. On teen night, a strict no alcohol policy is enforced, and teens are invited to hang out and dance the night away to local DJs and bands. There is a small cover charge, and non-alcoholic drinks and food is available.

There are also a number of combination pizza places and game rooms throughout the Outer Banks that are ideal for the teens in your group to enjoy a night out. On Hatteras Island, Angelo's Pizza in Buxton has an extensive arcade and game room with air hockey, pool tables and Foosball that's adjacent to their pizza parlor and Burger Burger for good grub and a little fun.

Budding stars in your group might enjoy showing their stuff at Karaoke, and a number of local restaurants feature evening Karaoke, generally during dinner hours, with young singers in mind. For example, the Froggy Dog in Avon allows Karaoke singers of all ages before 10 p.m. when it becomes adults only. For teens and youngsters, there are plenty of places on the Outer Banks to hang out and make new friends, both on and off the beach.

Outer Banks Playgrounds

If your little ones need an afternoon off the beach, there are a number of playgrounds on the Outer Banks for a full afternoon of play.

Northern Outer Banks

Corolla has a small playground on Schoolhouse Lane, just a short walk from the Currituck Beach Lighthouse. On the mainland, vacationers can head about 4 miles north over the bridge to the Currituck Sound Park, which features a playground, baseball field, soccer field, and tennis courts, as well as walking and bike paths. This expansive park also features grilling and picnic areas, as well as a boat ramp and pier for boating access.

Central Outer Banks

Kitty Hawk has two shady playgrounds and parks to explore: the David Paul Pruitt, Jr. Playground and the Sandy Run Park. The David Paul Pruitt, Jr. Playground is perfect for the youngest family members with a swing set, slide, merry-go-round and jungle gyms. The Sandy Run Park is a collection of wooden and natural walkways for scenic nature walks, as well as picnic areas, skate areas, and a full playground with benches and picnic areas.

In Kill Devil Hills, visitors have a number of playgrounds to choose from, including Hayman Street Park, Meekins Park, and Rec Park. All of the parks in Kill Devil Hills feature picnic and sitting areas, full playgrounds, and fields for baseball, soccer, and just general running around.

In Nags Head, the Nags Head Town Park features a nice playground as well as a picnic area and nature trail that leads to a quiet soundside beach, ideal for little ones. In Manteo, the Waterfront Park in historic downtown allows visitors to stroll the harbor's edge while watching the boats, wildlife, kites, and all the scenic daily activity that Historic Manteo has to offer.

Southern Outer Banks

Hatteras Island's newest playground is located in Avon, across the street from the Avon Fire House. A community project and endeavor, the small playground features slides, swings, a jungle gym, and picnic tables and benches.

In Avon, visitors can also visit the Oceanfront Club Koru for a kids' pool and spacious play area, or The Club Hatteras at Hatteras Realty for a playground, small putt-putt area, and Hatteras Island's largest pool.

The Cape Hatteras Elementary School's playground in Buxton, (home of the "Tropical Storms"), is also open to visitors, and just south in Hatteras Village, the Hatteras Landing complex at the Hatteras - Ocracoke ferry docks also features a playground for the young ones, adjacent to a number of shops and restaurants.

Children at Play Museum

One of the Outer Banks' newest attractions with kids in mind is the Children at Play Museum. Founded in 2007 as a series of different locations where children could play and learn, the official museum opened its doors in 2010 and moved to its new location at Buccaneer's Walk Center in Kill Devil Hills in January 2013.

The museum offers a number of kid-friendly exhibits that not only honor the Outer Banks' culture but also give kids an opportunity to learn while they're playing. Kids can explore the Gone Fishing exhibit, where they can cast for local species and get an up-close look at boat building, or make a mini-visit to one of the region's many renowned lighthouses at the Lighthouse Exhibit, which encourages kids to learn about the long history of lifesaving stations and the modern US Coast guard that currently protects the Outer Banks.

In addition, children can also explore the OBX Wellness Center, AKA, the Teddy Bear hospital, the Wonder Wall, the Tree Fort, and the Open Air Market, a spacious area for kids to interact and role-lay as a shop keeper, chef, or visitor.

The Children At Play Museum is open year round to visitors and locals and annual membership is also available and provides extras like birthday party discounts and free newsletter subscriptions. For more information, visit the Children at Play Museum's website.

North Carolina Aquarium

The North Carolina Aquarium in Manteo on Roanoke Island is one of the Outer Banks' most treasured kid-friendly attractions. From toddlers to teens, children of all ages love exploring the tanks of alligators, sharks, sea turtles, sea otters, and countless other maritime species that are represented in abundance at the aquarium.

Little ones, (and older ones too), will love the touch tank exhibits that allow aquarium visitors to touch and feel a number of local Outer Banks inhabitants including hermit crabs, giant horseshoe crabs, and even gliding Manta Rays. In an adjacent exhibit, young marine biologists can get a taste of the business by "caring" for replicas of injured wildlife and eventually sending them back into their natural habitat. Real life marine hospitals also show the care and procedures involved in helping marine species get back on their flippers again.

Children's programs, from daily talks and activities to seasonal events, like the Trick or Treat Under the Sea Event on Halloween, are also regularly available to the aquarium's young guests, and visitors and locals alike are welcome to attend.

The aquarium is open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., all year long, and offers special rates for children. There is also a gift shop so kids can bring home a reminder of their North Carolina Aquarium discoveries.

As one of the nation's highest ranked family friendly beaches, it's clear that there's no shortage of kids' activities to enjoy on and off the sand. Whether kids are digging and playing in the sand to exploring the Outer Banks' newest Kid-friendly museums and attractions, there's plenty to do for kids of all ages - even the long time Outer Banks lovers who never grew up.

Joe Lamb, Jr. & Associates

Joe Lamb, Jr. & Associates

Since 1968, our family owned and operated company has offered families just like yours a wide selection of Outer Banks vacation rentals in beach communities and towns of Duck, Southern Shores, Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills, Nags Head and South Nags Head. We invite you to view our brilliant photos, detailed property descriptions complete with amenity lists and maps. Make the selection that best suits your needs, and you will see why our guests consider us a part of their family.

 

Currituck Banks Coastal Estuarine Reserve

Currituck Banks Coastal Estuarine Reserve

Vacationers adore the Outer Banks for its unspoiled stretches of undeveloped shoreline, and some may not initially realize that this sporadic lack of development is completely intentional, and is the result of decades of careful environmental planning. While tourism flourished on the beaches, for generations, locals and visitors alike made inquiries and partnerships with government branches to ensure that certain areas of the Outer Banks would always remain pristine, unspoiled, and open to everyone.

Jolly Roger

Jolly Roger

When you first catch sight of The Jolly Roger, you might be unsure exactly what to think of it. Since its conversion from a gas station/grocery store to a restaurant in 1972, The Jolly Roger has been anything but your ordinary Outer Banks restaurant. “We’re eclectic, it’s crazy. You’ll not find another Jolly Roger; there’s no rhyme or reason to this place—and that’s what people love about it,” says owner Carol
Ann Angelos.

Ocracoke Island

Ocracoke Island

When it comes to gorgeous beaches and laid-back charm, Ocracoke Island is often considered the gem of the Outer Banks. Accessible only by boat, this small island has been separated from the rest of the world for centuries, and as a result, has one of the most unique beach atmospheres found anywhere along the coastline.

Scarborough Lane Shoppes

Scarborough Lane Shoppes

Scarborough Lane Shoppes entered the Duck NC shopping scene in the summer of 1995. Duck was already becoming known as the Rodeo Drive, so to speak, of Outer Banks shopping experiences by then, and we think our design, built around a garden in a grove of shady trees, was – and still is — the pinnacle. Our building was designed to resemble an old life-saving station because we value the history and heritage that make the Outer Banks of North Carolina such a special place and wanted to blend into that style. But that’s where the blending ended! From the beginning, we hand-picked our shops to entice and excite you.

Ocracoke Island Lighthouse

Ocracoke Island Lighthouse

The Ocracoke Island Lighthouse may not be the most imposing of the Outer Banks lighthouses, but as North Carolina's oldest lighthouse in operation, (and the second oldest in the United States), it is certainly one of the most beloved. At just 65' ft. tall, it is by far the smallest lighthouse on the Outer Banks, but it still towers over the 4 square miles of Ocracoke Village, and its beacon can be spotted up to 14 miles into the Pamlico Sound and the Atlantic Ocean.

The Blue Point

The Blue Point

For more than 20 years, The Blue Point staff has been offering coastal cuisine and southern hospitality in a warm and comfortable setting. Guests can enjoy spectacular views of the Currituck Sound while enjoying lunch and dinner menu items that are prepared with the region’s rich bounty of seafood and vegetables.

Carova, NC

Carova, NC

Carova is the northernmost Outer Banks community, and is only accessible by the unpaved beach. Although we call Carova a "town", a better description is that it is a few neighborhoods North of NC 12 in Corolla, accessable only by 4x4 vehicles.

Rundown Cafe

Rundown Cafe

Offering full lunch and dinner menus with American and seafood fare and cocktails. Voted best deck dining on the beach. Relaxed and family friendly atmosphere. The spectacular view from Rundown Café’s newly renovated upstairs Hula bar deck is unrivaled on the beach. The restaurant offers seating on the deck, as well as more intimate seating inside either the upstairs bar or more family oriented downstairs dining room.  

Cape Hatteras Lighthouse

Cape Hatteras Lighthouse

The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, with its black and white candy-cane stripes, is one of the most famous and recognizable lighthouses in the world. Protecting one of the most treacherous stretches of the Outer Banks, with a beam of light that spans 20 miles into the ocean, the lighthouse is also the world's tallest brick lighthouse at a staggering 208' ft. tall.

Resort Realty

Resort Realty

Since 1987, Resort Realty has been offering premier Outer Banks vacation rentals from Corolla to Nags Head. New for 2014, Resort Realty is now on Hatteras Island! As a leading Outer Banks property manager, our goal is to deliver the best possible customer service to all of our vacation rental guests and vacation homeowners. Our new website makes booking an OBX family vacation online easy and enjoyable. You can search by Outer Banks town, number of bedrooms, location to the beach, amenities and more. We invite you to return to our OBX vacation website after you are booked and discover local Outer Banks events, view OBX restaurants and begin planning your much anticipated Outer Banks family vacation.

(More Locations)
Wright Brothers National Memorial

Wright Brothers National Memorial

The Wright Brothers National Memorial is a "Must See" attraction for any Outer Banks aviation enthusiast, history lover, and virtually any Kill Devil Hills vacationer who wants an up-close look at the towering granite structure that towers over the town's landscape.

Outer Banks Inn

Outer Banks Inn

Nestled in Kill Devil Hills at milepost 9, Outer Banks Inn offers a welcoming and unique vacation opportunity for everyone. Our centrally located & privately owned 40-room hotel is small enough to offer extraordinary customer service…and it’s just a short walk to some of the finest dining and shopping in the area.

Waves, NC

Waves, NC

While driving along NC Highway, it may be difficult to identify the little town of Waves. The village is sandwiched in between Salvo and Rodanthe, and the area in its entirety is known to locals as the "Tri-Villages," with no undeveloped gaps or markers to distinguish one small vacation town from the other.