Many beachgoers enjoy the simplicity of soaking up the sun, sipping a beverage or reading a book. Sometimes we prefer a little friendly competition or just some play time in the surf. And of course, kids are always in motion on the sand. Here are some of the games and toys we love.

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Bocce Ball

Tidal Ball

Do you like cornhole but hate lugging the boards? Tidalball is for you. Tidalball can be played anywhere on hard-packed sand. Scoop a hole and U-shaped trench 10 paces apart with the included scoop.  Pick teams and start playing just like cornhole. A ball tossed/rolled into the hole is worth 3 points, and a ball tossed/rolled into the trench is worth 1. Scoring is subtractive, just like cornhole. If you score 3 points and your opponent scores 1, you get a total of 2 points for the round. Keep going until one team hits 21. The Tidallball set is compact, affordable and highly rated. It includes a mesh carry bag, six colored balls, a sand scoop, and 4 koozies to help keep your gaming beverages cool. Easy to carry, easy to play. What’s not to love?


Classic Beach Tennis

We’ve played beach tennis since we were kids. Simple wooden paddles and bouncy PVC balls make for a fun, relaxing game of skill on the beach. How long can you keep the ball aloft? Want to make it a competition without lugging a net? Mark out a rectangular court with a half-court line. One paddler on each half of the court tries to keep the ball from hitting the sand on their side. Balls must be hit upward, and make it higher than the tallest player to count. Make your own variation to keep the fun going. We also enjoy hitting the ball back and forth in shallow surf while we cool down.

Beach Bocce set

Bocce Ball

Another classic most people are familiar with is Boccce. Up to four competitors. Throw the “jack” (small white ball) 15’ – 20’ away. Teams take turns throwing their balls, trying to land/roll their ball closest to the jack. Knocking competing balls away is allowed. When all balls are tossed, score one point for each ball of the winning team that is closer than the closest ball of the other team. The next team throws the jack to a new location, and more rounds are played until 12 points are scored. Bocce is another relaxing beach game for most kids and all adults. We think a quality Bocce set with nicely weighted balls is important for enjoyment of the game, which is why we like the highly-rated Park & Sun Sports bocce set.



Every beach bum loves an occasional game of beer pong. Bucketball takes this party classic to the pool, the lawn and the beach and makes it family friendly. Think of this as a giant beer pong set you can place right on the lawn or sand. Or, use the optional floating rack and take the game to the pool, sound or any calm water. The whole set is simple, packable, lightweight and easily transportable. Family members of all ages will enjoy Bucketball.

Gosports ladder golf


Ladderball is quickly gaining in popularity on the beaches of North and South Carolina. This is a game which is packable, quickly assembled, easy to learn and open to all ages. Ladders are placed about 15 feet apart. Each player takes turns tossing bolas (two rubber balls connected by a string). Landing the bola on the top rung is worth three points. The middle rung is worth 2 points, and the bottom rung is worth 1 point. The first player to reach 21 points exactly wins. If a player goes over 21, their points from that round don’t count and another round is played. Ladderball is simple to learn but challenging to master. This game plays well on the beach, in the back yard or on the driveway. You’ll be surprised how much you improve in just a week!

Beach bean bag toss

Beach Cornhole

One of the most popular games since 2000, you’ll see several cornhole sets on a short drive down the beach in Corolla. This is the classic game of angled boards with holes at the top, and tossed bean bags. One member of each team stands behind the boards at each end, and take turns tossing the bags. One point is awarded for a bag that lands on the board and putting a bag through the hole is worth three points. Knocking opponents’ bags off the board is allowed and encouraged. Scoring is subtractive.  If you score 5 points in a round and your opponent scores 2, you get 3 total points for the round. Keep playing rounds until one team reaches 21. Rules vary, but we like to play to exactly 21. A team that goes over 21 during a round is knocked back down to 11 and must work their way back up. This makes the game very interesting! We’ve linked a cornhole set from GoSports, which includes lightweight PVC/fabric “boards” that break down to a convenient carry case. Traditionalists will want to find a wooden board set, and several local beach stores carry them. There’s nothing wrong with either approach.

Nerf football

Nerf Howler

Our favorite beach football is the Nerf Howler. This is smaller and softer than a regulation football, with a finned tail to make nearly any throw fly far and straight. We find this especially helpful on windy beach days. In addition, the Howler contains a built-in whistle that notifies players (and other beachgoers) of an incoming football. We like to find some open beach, space ourselves as far apart as possible, and go for distance records. Or, get the gang together, mark some end zones and play a game of two-hand touch. Simple games of catch are fun and rewarding with the smaller size and added stability.  This is a simple, no moving parts fun game of catch on the beach.

Waboba surf balls

Waboba Surf

We discovered the Waboba series a few years ago. It instantly became our favorite surf activity. Waboba balls are satisfyingly wrighted, soft, squishy floating balls with a water-skimming cover. Fling a Waboba ball and it’ll skim across the water for long distances. You’ll be surprised how slick these are, and how far they bounce in the surf. They really do bounce on water, and the action is especially fun on choppy days. We love that we can play a game of catch while cooling off in the ocean on a hot day. Wabobas are practically indestructible, small, easy to carry and fun to toss. This one is great for all ages. Give them a try and see how much fun it is to bounce a ball across the water.

Jimmy's Seafood Buffet

Jimmy's Seafood Buffet

Home of the Crab Leg & Lobster Buffet! Jimmy’s Seafood Buffet is a great stop for an all you can eat affordable dinner extravaganza. The buffet offers over 100 different items. It even serves Jumbo Alaskan crab legs and Jumbo steamed shrimp, something you will not find on any other buffet in the OBX. The buffet offers a variety of seafood and non seafood options. Try some of Jimmy’s seafood options and load your plate with blackened tuna, Louisiana crawfish, steamed scallops and mussels, fried oysters and deviled crabs. Not in the mood for seafood? Fill your plate with steak, pineapple glazed ham, fried chicken, BBQ ribs, and fettuccini Alfredo to name a few. The buffet also offers a kid section. Let your kids load their plates with chicken tenders, mac and cheese, and corn dog nuggets. Don’t forget dessert! The buffet also offers soft serve ice cream and a plethora of baked goods. 


It’s been 22 years since Jimmy’s Seafood Buffet opened its doors for the first time. Since that inaugural summer, the goal has remained the same: provide customers with a tasty, fresh array of seafood full of Caribbean flavor.


Elizabeth Dowless and her husband Jerry had always worked in restaurants in the Outer Banks, so when the opportunity to open Jimmy’s Seafood Buffet with a couple of friends arose, it was an easy yes. The Dowlesses bought out the business in 2003, excited to turn Jimmy’s into an Outer Banks staple. When Jerry passed away later that year, Dowless knew she wanted to continue pursuing their dream on her own.


Dowless went all in on the concept of a fresh, flavorful seafood buffet and her hard work paid off. Jimmy’s Seafood Buffet is a beloved fixture of Outer Banks dining, with customers returning year after year for the fresh fare.


“Customers keep in contact with me throughout the winter. I get people every day asking me when we’re opening for the season, and customers book their vacations around our opening,” Dowless says. “I absolutely love getting to see familiar faces come back to see us each year. I love seeing them lose their minds over the buffet! Their excitement is what I love most about my job.”

The Cotton Gin

The Cotton Gin

Jarvisburg location is temporally closed. For those traveling to the Outer Banks, The Cotton Gin is a beloved landmark with its large windmill and picturesque gardens. The Cotton Gin has stood in the same location since 1929, starting as a working cotton gin and growing to a gift store with 4 locations. Visitors are treated to a unique shopping experience in our main store in Jarvisburg, as well as our beach stores in Corolla, Duck, and Nags Head. Explore room after room filled with décor for your home and coastal fashions for both men and women. Discover the brands you really want, like, Vera Bradley, Vineyard Vines, La Mer Luex, Simply Southern, Lindsay Phillips, Scout, Pandora, Kameleon, Brighton, Spartina, Tommy Bahama, Southern Tide and Salt Life and Old Guys Rule - all under one roof!


Don’t forget the gourmet market, or shop our beautiful linens for your bedroom and bath. We also feature coastal books and fine art, or just a whimsical fun gift to bring home to family and friends. Stop by soon and don’t forget to try our estate grown wines in our stores or visit our vineyard and winery, Sanctuary Vineyards, located adjacent to the original Cotton Gin in Jarvisburg.


Most know The Cotton Gin as a must-stop shop for fine gifts, beachwear, souvenirs and so much more, but this retailer has a long-standing history within the Outer Banks. A local landmark that holds almost a century of memories, The Cotton Gin started from humble beginnings and continues to adapt to the times and tourists. Tommy Wright’s family has been in the Outer Banks for nearly 200 years. His great-great grandfather, Jacob Francis Wright, shipwrecked in Duck back in the early 1800s. Calling these barrier islands his new home, Wright and his family acclimated to their new environment.


Adaptation is a common theme for the Wright family. Tommy and his wife Candace, who continue to steer The Cotton Gin, have seen not only their business change with the times, but the Outer Banks as a vacation destination as well. A farm market in Jarvisburg eventually transformed and flourished into several retail locations dotting the Outer Banks.


“As the area changed and tourism took off in the 1960s, the family saw people coming for vacations, so they began to grow vegetables and things developed from there,” says Tommy Wright. The Wright family expanded upon the farm market and began to remodel a working cotton gin, later transforming the gin into The Cotton Gin general store in the late 1960s. While the additions to the farm store drew visitors, it was their encounters with the Wright family that kept people coming back year after year, which is something that remains true today.

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