We love to highlight some of the best and most interesting Outer Banks restaurants, shops, attractions and activities. Read on to discover some of our favorites!
Welcome to the home of the happy oyster where for over 35 years the oyster has been our world. The Outer Banks only authentic oyster bar is the place to enjoy sensational fare from the sea washed down with your favorite brew or cocktail. We serve by the peck, pound, and dozen, raw or steamed to perfection. Kicked back casual, down to earth friendly staff, and reasonable prices make Awful Arthur’s Oyster Bar the all-time favorite of locals and travelers alike.
The idea wasn’t to set out and establish a new concept restaurant on the Outer Banks, but that’s exactly what Awful Arthur’s owner Jo Whitehead and her late husband, Jay, accomplished more than 35 years ago when they opened the area’s first authentic oyster bar.
Awful Arthur’s opened in May 1984 on the Outer Banks. “We embraced the concept of an authentic copper top bar with the idea of it being a major drawing card and it still is,” explains Whitehead. “I get oysters wherever they are local. We follow the warm waters.”
Just across from the ocean, in Kill Devil Hills, oyster season is year-round at Awful Arthur’s. Diners can take a seat at the copper-topped bar to observe the staff shucking oysters, served raw or steamed, along with shrimp, crab legs and clams all steamed to perfection.
It’s not just the raw bar that’s earned Awful Arthur’s both local and national recognition, including being named one of America’s greatest oyster bars by Coastal Living magazine. The restaurant is a seafood-lover’s paradise, offering the freshest catches available.… Read More
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.… Read More
Kitty Hawk Kites has been Teaching the World to Fly since 1974 and is home to the world’s largest hang gliding school. As the Outer Banks leader in quality outdoor recreation and adventure, Kitty Hawk Kites offers more than 30 activities to choose from, so get out that pen and start crossing things off your OBX bucket list today! Visit KittyHawk.com or call 1.877.FLY.THIS to book your Kitty Hawk Kites adventure today.… Read More
Serving our customers on the Outer Banks since 1994, Big Buck's ice Cream is dedicated serving you “The Best.” We offer a full line of super-premium ice cream products, smoothies, chocolates, and custom-made ice cream cakes! 2 locations are open all year: Duck and Manteo, at The Waterfront Shops.
We offer a full line of Espresso Drinks from Hot Vanilla Cappuccinos and Hot Chocolate to Iced Caramel Lattes & Frozen Mochas, all made to order. Big Buck’s fresh fruit smoothies are lactose-free and made to order. Also offering lactose-free sorbets made from the best fruits available. Old time favorites are sure to please! Choose from a delicious collection of milkshakes, sundaes and banana splits.
Savor the moment with our Homemade Chocolate! Chocolates are made daily in each location. We offer a large selection from Dark to Milk to White. Milk Chocolate Oreos & Almond Toffee, Dark Chocolate Berries and Cherries Clusters & Hand-dipped Peppermint Patties with a Drizzle of White Chocolate, Extra-Dark Sea Salt Caramels & our famous homemade caramel chocolate pretzels oh & don’t forget the ever-popular caramel pecan turtle, just to name a few treats!
Belinda Pleva grew up serving ice cream out of her parent’s shop. She loved being part of what she calls “a happy business.” “I love it when people come into the shop and you hand them something, and it makes them smile,” Pleva says. “That moment when you hand an ice cream cone over to a little kid and their eyes just light up. That’s what I love about the ice cream business.”
In 1994, Pleva opened up her own ice cream and chocolate shop, Big Buck’s Ice Cream, in the brand-new Timbuk II Shopping Center in Corolla. Business was good, but something was missing.
“I was never satisfied with the ingredients in the ice creams and chocolates you could purchase back then. I wanted to serve my customers delicious flavors with ingredients they could actually pronounce,” Pleva says.
Pleva took a trip to Italy to study the gelaterias. She fell in love with the incredible flavors, and when she returned home to the Outer Banks, she began working tirelessly to perfect the flavors in her own ice cream.
Big Buck’s homemade ice cream combined the flavors of the Italian gelaterias and the richness of American ice cream. It quickly became a tourist favorite. After having the same unsatisfactory experience with the readymade chocolates she was selling, she also took a trip to Brussels to learn more about making handmade chocolates. Pleva brought the chocolate-making experience right back with her, and the result was the finest quality of chocolates on the Outer Banks.
After her huge success in the Corolla shop, Pleva was able to open up three more shops—one in Kitty Hawk, one in Manteo and one in Duck.… Read More
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. It’s been 37 years since Angelos took ownership of Jolly, and over the years she has experienced many changes, including three expansions and a renovation after Hurricane Isabel in 2003. Although the restaurant has gone through several changes over the years, Carol Ann’s style is unaltered. The restaurant decor is an eclectic blend of Christmas, pirate paraphernalia, aquatic murals, handmade boutique-style gifts and old-time movie posters.
Almost as diverse as the restaurant itself is the food selection, The Jolly Roger is open year-round for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and they offer something for everyone. Breakfast favorites include the Eggs Benedict, pancakes and home fries—all made in-house from fresh ingredients. For lunch and dinner, the restaurant offers a wide selection of options, from steaks and seafood to pastas and salads. All of the restaurant’s sauces are house-made from scratch, and everything is taste-tested to ensure the absolute best quality food is being served.… Read More
Gray’s Outer Banks Lifestyle Clothing Company offers the absolute best in Outer Banks T-shirts and Sweatshirts including Champion, Under Armour with "Outer Banks” and Gear! We carry quality fashions and accessories for the whole family by all your favorite brands including Tommy Bahama, Tribal, ESCAPE, Billabong, Quiksilver, Jack O’Neill, RVCA, Olukai, Cobian, Spartina, Scout, Brighton.
Whether you’re shopping for apparel, shoes & accessories, gifts & toys or OBX and Big Duck souvenirs, Gray’s offers the best brands and quality for a beach lifestyle at any of our 4 locations! From sportswear to beachwear and everything in between, Gray’s will outfit your entire family. You can also find great beach accessories at Gray’s, such as Costa sunglasses, Olukai sandals and Sun Bum sunscreen and hair products. Be sure to shop Gray’s signature Big Duck found on t-shirts, sweatshirts and gift items!
Established in 1948 by Walter and Stelle Gray, Gray’s began as a single store on the beach road in Nags Head, a land mark that has been beautifully transformed into Seagreen Art Gallery. Visitors to the original Gray’s may remember that the family home was located above the store and that Walter Gray had a passion for Big Band music that was often playing on the store speakers, giving shoppers a little swing in their step.
Modern-day Gray’s is still family owned and operated by their children Ronnie and Julie Gray, who carry on a legacy of superior customer service and traditional values. Ronnie’s wife Susan is also an important part of the business. “It really was always a family operating as a business rather than a business being run by a family,” explains Ronnie Gray. “When our visitors come in, they are greeted by a warm hello and a ‘Welcome to Gray’s.’ We try to welcome them as if they’re entering our own home”… Read More
No trip to the Outer Banks is complete without cruising through Brew Thru, the Outer Banks’ original drive thru convenience store. Whether you’re looking for a refreshing cold beverage of Coke, Pepsi and other soft drinks on the go, stocking up your cooler with refreshments to enjoy at the beach or piling up on beer and wine for a party, Brew Thru is a fun and unique experience all vacationers need to see for themselves.
Drive-Through Beer & Gear
Brew Thru is Your One-Stop Shop at the Beach
The year was 1977, and Dana and Becky Lawrentz were chatting with friends over brews in their hometown of Akron, Ohio. They got to talking about a gas station convenience store in the area that had built a makeshift drive-through. Everyone agreed it would be pretty great if you could actually drive through a convenience store and pick up everything you needed without getting out of the car. But what would you call a place like that?
Well, you’d call it a Brew Thru.
It was an idea they couldn’t shake, so the Lawrentzes moved to the Outer Banks and built the first Brew Thru with the help of a partner. The idea was that people could come buy everything they would need for their trip to the beach—beer, wine, soft drinks, snacks, ice—without getting out of the car. That same year, a t-shirt salesman visiting the store and talked them into adding t-shirts to their product line—and 44 years later there are now more than five million Brew Thru t-shirts out in the wild.
The Lawrentzes’ daughter Brandy and her husband Philip Foreman purchased the business from them in 2002, and they now operate five locations across the Outer Banks.
“We love being the one-stop shop for folks on the way to their beach house,” Foreman says. “Our car tenders are the friendliest people at the beach. We’re here to greet you, get you everything you need for your trip, load it up in the trunk for you, and have you leaving with a smile on your face.”
The store is quite expansive, featuring more than 100 brands of beer, dozens of wines and even a vast selection of cigars—not to mention all the snacks, t-shirts and other gear. To make ordering a little easier, customers in line get a menu—fondly known as the Summer-y—that outlines everything available at the store. These Summer-ies are also available in many of the beach rentals, which allows vacationers to decide what they want before driving through.
For customers who would like to get out and stretch their legs, there’s the Brew Thru Shop in Kill Devil Hills, where you can find their world famous t-shirts and other gifts. New t-shirt designs are created each year, making a yearly Brew Thru t-shirt a favorite of locals and annual visitors to the Outer Banks.
The Foremans both grew up in the Outer Banks, and they love that Brandy’s parents’ vision for a friendly and convenient place for people to grab their brews and other beach stay essentials is continuing to flourish.
“Our family has been welcoming people to the Outer Banks since 1977,” Foreman says. “We love this beautiful place, and we want everybody to get to enjoy it.”… Read More
Discover the best homemade ice cream and authentic made-from-scratch New York Style pizza the Outer Banks has to offer at American Pie in Kill Devil Hills. An Outer Banks favorite for lunch, dinner or a delicious scoop of scrumptious ice cream after a day at the beach.
It was 1978 when Eddie and Lou Miller first opened Miller’s Seafood and Steakhouse. As a teenager, their son Brian spent his summers working in the restaurant, getting familiar with the family business. After college, Brian and his wife Beth came back to Kill Devil Hills and began working together at Miller’s. Brian and Beth officially purchased the restaurant from Eddie and Lou in 2007. A few years later they opened American Pie together, and both restaurants now carry on the Miller family tradition of quality, excellence and hospitality.
“I learned everything about the restaurant business from my parents,” Miller says. “They ran the business together for all those years, and now my wife and I are doing the same. “Throughout the summer, we’re feeding around 2,000 people a day in our two restaurants. It’s a challenge we embrace every season, and we get a lot of fulfillment from making it all work.”
The Millers focus on two main specialties: high quality foods and unparalleled service. Seafood at Miller’s is fresh and locally caught, and they serve high-quality Angus beef, fresh pastas and homemade desserts. At American Pie, guests enjoy hand-tossed pizzas and homemade ice cream.
“We put a lot of time and effort into ensuring the products we bring in are top-notch,” Miller says. “Our customers know that when they visit our restaurants, they’ll be getting the quality and consistency they’ve come to know and love.”… Read More
Henry's Restaurant offers down home, simple food done Outer Banks style. Henry's Restaurant has been serving the Outer Banks of North Carolina since the summer of 1989. They are pleased to be considered one of the most popular restaurants in Dare County. Owners Henry and Linda Ezzell, along with daughter Kim Ezzell Parker offer honest American Style food that appeal to people of all ages. With so many fine dining establishments in the area they felt there was a need for a down-to-earth, no-frills experience for those that wanted good food, a pleasant and accommodating staff, and an affordable menu. As their customers will attest, they feel confident they have achieved this goal.
The kid-friendly and casual restaurant has been serving hearty portions to locals and visitors since 1989. Breakfast is what Henry's does best, although it's a wonderful restaurant for lunch and dinner as well. Start your day with incredible hotcakes, omelets, biscuits, french toast, eggs benedict, breakfast sandwiches, and even fried trout, served 7:00am to 1:00pm daily.… Read More
Home of the Crab Leg & Lobster Buffet for over 24 years! 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.”… Read More
Stop by Nags Head's Ben Franklin at Mile Post 10 on the Bypass where you will find everything you need for the beach! From Clothing, T-shirts and Swimwear to Boards, Chairs, Umbrellas and Tackle. You'll find it all…and of course, we have the best selection of Souvenirs anywhere on the Outer Banks. Enjoy your vacation! Independently owned by a member of one of the Outer Banks’ oldest families, the Ben Franklin store is stocked with just about everything a visitor would need to go to the beach.
Ben Franklin stores were once part of a five-and-dime retail empire, with about 2,500 locations across the country in its heyday. As decades passed and the times and customers began to change, many closed their doors, leading to fewer than 150 of these nostalgic shops. Nags Head Ben Franklin, however, has withstood the test of time and adapted to the needs of its customers to provide a memorable shopping experience on the Outer Banks.
Debbie Terry Tolson, manager of the Ben Franklin location in Nags Head, recalls working with former owner Tommie Daniels. Daniels’ father, Moncie Daniels, started the business in downtown Manteo in the early 1900s. The Daniels family has been a longstanding fixture in the Outer Banks business community—Moncie even sold gas to the Wright brothers in 1903.
Tommie, with an excellent business mind, saw the opportunity the new Bypass presented and, in 1977, he opened the Nags Head location of Ben Franklin. He was one of the first businesses on the Bypass,” Tolson says.
In addition to a new location, the Ben Franklin store saw a new group of customers.
“People would come from all around because Tommie had a little bit of everything—it was more like a five and 10 then,” Tolson explains. “As he went to the beach, he began to get more tourists, so he started catering more and more to visitors.”
Today, the 21,000-square-foot souvenir shop quickly catches the attention of anyone driving by thanks to the ocean-themed mural that decorates the façade of the building, painted by local artist Rob Snyder. This Ben Franklin location has become the must-stop shop for both first-time visitors to the area and generations of families who escape to the Outer Banks annually.
Tolson credits the great prices and friendly customer service to the success of the location, which keeps families returning.
“People come in all the time and tell me, ‘my grandmother or my grandfather used to bring me here and now I’m bringing my children,’” she shares. “One of my favorite parts about working here is seeing the people come back year after year.”
Miller’s Seafood & Steakhouse has been a favorite among locals and visitors for more forty years. Offering delicious southern cuisine for both breakfast and dinner in a casual family atmosphere infused with coastal flair, it’s no wonder this Kill Devil Hills restaurant is a family tradition for so many. You’ll love waking up to favorites like biscuits and gravy, farm fresh eggs and buttermilk pancakes. Dinner options are just as tempting with menu items that include the freshest Outer Banks Catch seafood, she crab soup, Angus beef and fried green tomatoes just to name a few. Not only does Miller’s Seafood & Steakhouse offer great breakfast and dinner options, Miller’s newest menu item – Hawaiian/American Fusion Sushi – is sure to please the sushi lover in you. From the Miller’s Roll that combines tempura fried crispy lobster tail with tantalizing ingredients to the High Tide and OBX Roller, guests will love choosing from a delicious variety of sushi options developed and prepared by Miller’s expert Sushi chef.
Along with its scrumptious cuisine, Miller’s Seafood & Steakhouse offers a warm friendly atmosphere coupled with genuine Outer Banks hospitality. You’ll discover that not only is Miller’s a tradition for so many, it’s also a Miller family tradition. Two generations of Millers have worked side by side to make the Kill Devil Hills restaurant a favorite for all who pass through its doors. Owners Brian and Beth Miller want guests to feel at home and can often be found making rounds to check on customers and mingle with them as they dine.
Here at Miller’s, everyone is treated like family as they experience an unforgettable dining experience. Large parties are also welcome, making it perfect for extended families to enjoy dining together on their Outer Banks vacation. Come on in and see for yourself why Miller’s Seafood & Steakhouse is more than just a great restaurant. It’s a tradition.
It was 1978 when Eddie and Lou Miller first opened Miller’s Seafood and Steakhouse. As a teenager, their son Brian spent his summers working in the restaurant, getting familiar with the family business. After college, Brian and his wife Beth came back to Kill Devil Hills and began working together at Miller’s. Brian and Beth officially purchased the restaurant from Eddie and Lou in 2007. A few years later they opened American Pie together, and both restaurants now carry on the Miller family tradition of quality, excellence and hospitality.… Read More
Stay, Play and Eat- Donuts, Ice Cream & Coffee Treats! Located on the Duck Boardwalk, behind Dockside Seafood, this breakfast & Dessert-Shop features treats you've never tasted before! Try the hot, made to order, donutz on a stick with more than 35 toppings! They'll melt in your mouth! Or try the Gluten-Free Donuts; limited quantities, daily. Plus, try any or all of the 9 flavors of homemade tastefully twisted soft serve. Frozen yogurt, sorbets, sherbet, hand dipped and homemade ice cream flavors.
Unique coffees, sodas and espresso that will satisfy the whole family. Mix-and-match nostalgic candies and much more. Bring the carnival to your mouth and eat it like nobody’s watchin’! Donutz-On-A-Stick- where visual stimulation meets taste bud overload!
Carnival Treats at the Beach—With Flavorful Creations and Allergy-Friendly Options, Donutz on a Stick Serves Up Sweet Treats for Everyone
David and Stephanie were not always in the business of carnival confections. In fact, Stephanie was a fitness instructor and David worked in the computer field. But he loved donuts and she loved ice cream, and when they saw an opportunity to bring their favorite treats to beachgoers, they jumped on it.
In 2014, the couple opened their first Donutz on a Stick—a family-run, family-friendly dessert shop on the boardwalk. They quickly realized that in order to serve everyone, they would need to get creative. “We had a family who would come in, and one of the little boys would have to wait by the door because of his gluten allergy,” David says. “That didn’t sit well with us. We wanted everyone to come under the same roof no matter what kind of allergies they had. And we continue to work towards that goal.”
The Williams’ daughter Desireé spent six weeks experimenting until she created a gluten-free donut that was totally safe and delicious. Gluten-free donuts are now a huge part of the business, with more than 1,000 being served each day, just out of the Duck location. But you will want to call or stop by to reserve them in advance.
The Williams’ other three children, David, Justin and Christian, have all invented menu items as well, such as Christian’s donut milkshake, which features hot and fresh cooked donuts blended into a milkshake with another donut on top making it picture perfect.
While all the Williams have created menu items, the most popular pick—the donut sundae—was actually a happy accident.
“We were being featured in a local magazine and we could only have one photo for the article,” David says. Since both ice cream and donuts were equally popular, “we built the donut sundae for the photo and we discovered after the photoshoot that it tasted amazing. It was completely serendipitous.”
The Williams family is constantly creating and improving upon their recipes. At the heart of it all is a desire to see everyone come in and enjoy an experience together. They want to bring the carnival to your mouth.
“No matter how busy we are—even if there’s a line down the boardwalk—every customer gets that engagement and service from us,” they say.
The family has since opened a second location in the Hampton Roads, Virginia area.… Read More
Nor'Banks Sailing & Watersports beautiful location and top-of-the-line equipment, together with a friendly and professional staff make it one of the premier water sports centers on the Outer Banks. Nor'Banks' sound front location has a huge grassy lawn, restrooms, showers, a 200 foot pier and plenty of room for you to spend the day.
Since 1979 Nor'Banks has been one of the finest sailing operations on the East Coast offering Flying Scots, Hobie Cats and quality private sailing instruction for all ages. Their custom private lessons are excellent for sailors looking to brush up on their skills, those new to the sport and for families that want to share time on the water together.
Nor’ Banks has continued to expand over the years and now offers one of the most complete water sports centers on the Outer Banks. This is truly one-stop shopping for water sports! Nor'Banks boasts new equipment every year and a strong commitment to your fun and safety.
You can rent the latest WaveRunners from Yamaha or explore a giant labyrinth of marsh islands and cruise the secluded shores of Dew's Island in search of wild Spanish mustangs on an epic WaveRunner Tour.
Captain James and crew are back aboard Icarus II, Nor'Banks' big yellow parasail boat, and Captains Ken and Sean are guaranteed to put a smile on the faces of participants and spectators alike on their private wake boarding, waterskiing and tubing charters.
Stand-up paddle boarding (SUP) has become one of the most popular and fastest growing water sports in the country and Nor'Banks is a great place to paddle. With shallow, warm water and a sandy bottom, their location is an ideal spot to learn. Nor'Banks offers SUP rentals and clinics, as well as double and single kayaks rentals as well as the new Hobie Mirage Eclipse SUP and Mirage Drive kayaks. New for 2017, Nor'Banks even has high-end fiberglass and epoxy surfboard rentals.… Read More