Kill Devil Hills Guide Sections:
- Where to Stay
- Beach Guidelines
- Origin of "Kill Devil Hills"
- Kill Devil Hills Today
Kill Devil Hills Listings
Kill Devil Hills is the oldest official town on the Outer Banks, and arguably, one of its most popular destinations. Located in the middle of the central Outer Banks and bordered by miles of attractions, activities, shops, and restaurants, (and not to mention miles of ocean,) Kill Devil Hills offers vacationers a world of things to do and see.
At the top of the "Hills," the Wright Brothers National Memorial overlooks the town, and at night, the soft flood lights surrounding the base of the memorial can be spotted in the distance from most any point within the town's limits. During the day, Kill Devil Hills really heats up with lots of fun both on and off the ocean, and plenty of entertainment for beach visitors. Essentially, for a packed-Outer Banks vacation that has plenty of amenities and action, Kill Devil Hills is a perfect vacation destination.
When it comes to accommodations, Kill Devil Hills vacationers have a world of options. The area is home to a number of both nationally known hotel chains and privately owned hotels and motels, vacation rental homes, and small condo complexes. These are scattered throughout the area, from the oceanfront to the soundside, giving visitors even more options to choose from for their ideal place to stay.
Vacation rental homes are the most popular way to stay in the Outer Banks. Rental homes are available in Kill Devil Hills from:
Wright Brothers National Memorial - The Wright Brothers Memorial is a tremendously popular attraction for Outer Banks vacationers of all areas, and is open year round, generally from 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. depending on the season. Visitors can explore the reconstructed 1903 camp buildings where the Wright Brothers tinkered with their machinery, a visitors' center and original museum with a life-sized replica of the historic first airplane, and the Centennial pavilion which pays homage to achievements in flight since the Wright brothers first flew along the Outer Banks. Operated by the National Park Service, a small fee is required to access the Memorial grounds, but aviation lovers consider it an absolute "Must See" on their travels to the Outer Banks.
Avalon Fishing Pier - For a small fee, visitors can fish this 700 ft. long pier. The pier house features a snack bar, tackle & bait, and beer.
The Beach - The beach is still Kill Devil Hills #1 attraction. Like all central Outer Banks towns, kill Devils Hills has its own set of local beach rules and regulations, including no dogs on the beach from Memorial Day to Labor Day, 9:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. In addition, glass and bonfires are not allowed on the beaches, and driving on the beach is only allowed during the off-season months of October through March. Bear in mind, however, that these rules are in place to ensure everyone can enjoy the miles of oceanfront, and there's plenty of fun to be had both on and off the sand. There's no major beach boardwalk in Kill Devil Hills, but a quick hop over the dunes, and visitors can be right on the beach road to refresh with a soda or an ice cream from one of the area's many beachside shops. Here's what you need to know when visiting the beach:
- Dogs are not permitted on the beach between May 15 and September 15, from 9am to 6pm unless they are a service animal. Dogs are otherwise permitted on the beach, controlled by a handler with a leash.
- Fireworks and beach bonfires are not permitted in Kill Devil Hills.
- Beer is allowed on the beach. Wine and liquor are not officially permitted. Please drink responsibly.
- Metal detecting is allowed.
- Red flags = no swimming. When you see red flags flying, dangerous conditions are present and swimming is prohibited.
- It is illegal to walk on the dunes, and it is also illegal to pick live sea oats growing on the beaches.
- Fill in any holes you dig. Holes in the sand can be a hazard.
- Be mindful of Noise. Most communities consider a violation of the noise ordinance to be any sound that can be heard from inside a nearby residence, and any load noise after approximately 11:00 p.m.
- No glass on the beach. Be mindful of glass bottles. Alcohol is allowed on all beaches, but if at all possible, stick to cans and plastic to save future beach-goers from any bare foot injuries.
- Surf fishing is allowed. A fishing license is required in North Carolina and can be obtained before your vacation via the NC Marine Fisheries and Wildlife website, or a fishing license can be purchased at most any tackle shop on the Outer Banks.
- 4x4 Driving on the Beach - Driving on the beach is permitted October 1 - April 30 through designated access points. Vehicles must have current safety inspection, registration, insurance and license plate. Obtain a beach driving permit either from the Town of Kill Devil Hills or the Town of Nags Head. Through a reciprocal program, each town recognizes the beach driving permit issued by the other.
Dining and shopping options are in no short supply either, and hungry visitors will find they have their choice between fast food and fine dining, small locally owned shops and national chains, quick bites and four course meals. These shops and restaurants are located throughout the town, either along the beach road in decades-old buildings or historic original coast guard stations, or on the bypass in beachy shopping centers and modern plazas. With many amenities within walking distance, Kill Devil Hills vacationers will find they don't have to travel too far to enjoy the highlights of the Outer Banks; shopping and dining scene.
Flying Pirate Half Marathon - Mid April each year, thousands of people come to Kill Devil Hills to run from the Wright Brothers National Memorial, through the Nags Head Woods Maritime Forrest and South to Nags Head.
Wright Brothers First Flight Celebration - Visit the Wright Brothers National Memorial on December 17th each year to commemorate the Wright Brothers' historic first flight.
The origin of the ominous town name has been the subject of local legends and theories for well over two hundred years, from the first recorded town reference in 1809.
Some locals swear that the town was named after a rum that was so strong it would "Kill the Devil," while others subscribe to the basics of the rum background story, but say that it was stemmed from the actual brand name: "Kill Devil Rum." Others attest that lone lamp lights from travelers on the top of the hill would distract and disorient passing sailors, who would wind up shipwrecked along the treacherous inshore shoals, hence the area earning the moniker of "Kill Devil Hills." Regardless of the roots of the name, it certainly stuck and became the name of the 1873 Lifesaving Station that watched over the local beaches. Decades later, in 1953, Kill Devil Hills would eventually wind up the official town name as well during its official incorporation.
Relatively undiscovered for over a hundred years except for lifesaving employees and a handful of salty locals, Kill Devil Hills would eventually land on the national radar thanks to the help of the Wright brothers. In 1900, the two brothers who owned a bicycle shop in Dayton, Ohio headed to Kitty Hawk to start testing their gliding mechanisms in the area's superb wind conditions. After three years and several failed launches, they took their engine powered glider to the top of Kill Devil's "hill" to give it a try. The result was the first engine powered flight, and the beginning of modern aviation for all mankind.
The site of their successful launch is now home to the Wright Brothers Memorial, which was commissioned in 1927 and completed in 1932. On the expansive memorial grounds, visitors can tour the towering granite monument, which signifies the historic launching point, as well as four smaller and simple granite markers which mark the 4 successful landing spots of the Wright Brother's experiments from 1903-1910.
In addition to its instrumental role in history and its subsequent and popular Wright Brothers Memorial attraction, Kill Devil Hills is filled with entertainment, food, and fun for OBX visitors. The beach road that runs parallel to the main, 4-lane Highway 158 bypass is filled with gift shops, ice cream stores, restaurants, and local nightlife hang-outs, and the "main drag" bypass features a collection of mini-golf courses, shopping centers, and even a paint-ball center. For beer lovers, Kill Devil Hills is also home to the Outer Bank's only on-the-beach local brewery, and brew lovers are welcome to swing by for a beer sampler, a little grub, and an evening of live music and dancing.
It might seem like Kill Devil Hills is a hot spot of activity, and in some respects it is, but ocean-goers will be pleased to find miles of relatively quiet and unpopulated beaches, even in the peak of the summer season. There are dozens of public beach access areas in Kill Devil Hills, many of which include public parking areas, or handicapped accessible ramps. A number of the beaches also have both lifeguards stationed on site, or are under the watch of a roving patrol that keeps an eye on swimmers from late May until early September.
On the soundside, visitors will find a slightly quieter area with miles of sound views and quiet, primarily residential neighborhoods. Kill Devil Hills also borders the soundfront community of Colington, which is primarily consisted of local, year-round residences with phenomenal canalfront access, boat docks, small personal harbors, and spectacular sound sunsets. This area is virtually hidden from the main drag, but is worth exploring for its collection of locally run restaurants, small golf courses, and unique Outer Banks neighborhoods. The soundfront along Kill Devil Hills also has several small public boat ramps and soundside access areas for mariners, kiteboarders, and nature lovers to enjoy.
Vacationers who want to be in the center of the action should travel to Kill Devil Hills, the veritable center of the Outer Banks. This small town features a world of possibilities, ranging from quiet residential neighborhoods to hopping close-to-the-ocean beach restaurants and night spots. Known throughout the world as the birthplace of aviation, Kill Devil Hills is also known to seasoned Outer Banks vacationers as the place to go to have a great, and very busy time. For visitors who want to be in the heart of activity, Kill Devil Hills is certainly the place to be.