For a quick list of local businesses that offer great rainy day activities, check our Rainy Day Listings.

Most Outer Banks vacations revolve around the great outdoors, with miles of undeveloped beaches to explore, dozens of watersports, and plenty of activities that thrive under the sun. But even a sunny vacation destination like the Outer Banks experiences a rainy day every now and then, so when the weather drives you off the beach, spend a day exploring these indoor and rainy-day friendly Outer Banks activities.

North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island

North Carolina Aquarium

The North Carolina Aquarium in Manteo is a perfect kid-friendly destination for rainy afternoons. Tucked along the soundside on Roanoke Island, the 68,000 square foot aquarium greets visitors with a Croatan Sound overlook and fossil pile that's open for digging. Indoors, visitors will be delighted by a series of colossal and exhibit-filled rooms showcasing North Carolina's bountiful marine life. From sea otters to alligators, turtles to Trigger fish, the aquarium is well stocked with both local and tropical species.

The aquarium offers a variety of interactive activities, including a marine lab where kids and adults can learn how to care for threatened species, and a touch tank, where visitors can get hands-on with manta rays and prehistoric horseshoe crabs. A "Hurricane Room" covers the Outer Banks extensive and tumultuous relationship with hurricanes and Nor'easters over the centuries, and an exhibit on inland marine life features turtle, reptiles, and boisterous sea otters at play.

Perhaps the biggest attraction at the aquarium is the giant 285,000 gallon ocean tank, the largest aquarium tank in North Carolina. In the dimly lit room where the 14 ft. tall tank is held, visitors can watch large species, including sea turtles, drum, and even sharks, quietly maneuver in a watery replica of their home just a few miles offshore. Feedings take place regularly, so visitors can watch the trained divers brush up against the sharks, and special educational sessions take place in the spacious exhibit room throughout the day. The North Carolina Aquarium also features a gift shop with plenty of aquatic toys, games, books, stuffed animals, shirt, and souvenirs. The aquarium is open daily all year long, from 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum in Hatteras, NC

Outer Banks Museums

There are a number of museums for all tastes on the Outer Banks, from the Wild Horse Museum to the eerily fascinating Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum in Hatteras Village. The museums on the Outer Banks focus on a range of local culture, wildlife and history, and many offer special programs for kids and adults throughout the year. Come watch a documentary about the legendary Blackbeard at the Blackbeard Pirate's Exhibit in Ocracoke, or learn how to fly a 1903 glider at the Wright Brother's Memorial. Whichever museum your family decides to explore, you'll get an in-depth perspective on what makes the Outer Banks such a unique vacation destination.

Many museums on the Outer Banks can be accessed for a small fee, or are free to the public with a small suggested donation, and are open daily year round.

Outer Banks Movie Theaters

Rainy Days are ideal for taking in a summer blockbuster, and the Outer Banks has a number of movie theaters scattered throughout the area.

An R/C Movie Theater in Kill Devil Hills features 10 screens, concessions, and a game room area, ideal for rainy afternoons.

One of the most unique theaters on the Outer Banks, however, is the Pioneer Theater in downtown Manteo. This theater tucked along Budleigh Street and identified only by its unique Tudor exterior and a small hanging sign, is the oldest theater that has been run by the same family in the United States. The theater originally opened in 1908 a block away from its current location. In 1934, the theater moved to Budleigh Street and has remained in operation ever since.

The interior of the Pioneer Theater has been carefully preserved and remains in its 1934 pristine condition, allowing theater goers a chance to go back in time while they watch the latest blockbuster. With only one screen and no reclining seats or cup holders, the theater may seem small compared to Mega Multiplex standards, but the Pioneer Theater is definitely worth a visit for its historic claim to fame and old school ambiance.

Outer Banks Shopping

The Outer Banks is truly a shopper's paradise. From those sought after souvenirs to take back home to beach-worthy bikinis and sun dresses, there is no shortage of decadent boutiques, sprawling gift stores, and charming shops to check out on a rainy afternoon.

Every town has its own unique collection of stores, distinctive to that community's character. Finding enticing stores to visit is an easy task, although there are several shopping centers and concentrations of stores on the Outer Banks for easy door-to-door browsing.

In Corolla, shoppers flock to the TimBuck II Shopping Village in the heart of the town, overlooking the Currituck Sound. This waterfront complex offers over 60 stores and restaurants, ranging from upscale boutiques to quirky game and puzzle stores, and is sure to fill a day of entertainment for any shopper.

In Duck, the Scarborough Faire Shopping Village and Scarborough Faire Shops feature a combined total of nearly 40 stores and restaurants to explore in a quaint, boutique setting. Located under a canopy of Live Oaks and extending to the soundfront, these shopping centers incite a laid-back attitude for leisurely browsing in a tranquil, natural setting.

The central Outer Banks towns of Nags head, Kill Devil Hills, and Southern Shores offer a variety of shopping center to choose from. Visitors have the option to visit small, beachfront plazas like the Surfside Plaza in Kill Devil Hills, for T-shirts and taffy, or they can up the ante at larger centers, such as the Tanger Outlets in Nags Head, which feature household name outlet stores such as Nautica, Coach, Polo, Gap, and more.

In the central Outer Banks, the majority of larger shopping centers are located along the Highway 158 bypass, but don't discount the less-traveled beach road - this unpopulated stretch of highway has a selection of quaint souvenir and beach shops for seaside treasures to take home.

On Hatteras Island, locally owned gift shops and boutiques are scattered throughout the island, with a handful of small plazas in every village. The southern end of the island is home to one of the area's largest shopping centers, the Hatteras Landing Shopping Center. Adjacent to the Hatteras Ferry Docks and Hatteras' cluster of marinas and boat docks, Hatteras Landing features a number of locally known stores, such as Birthday Suits and Kitty Hawk Kites, as well as seasonally open food stands and restaurants, and a harbor deli. While waiting in line at the ferry docks, or shopping away a rainy day, the Hatteras Landing shopping center is definitely worth a stop.

Outer Banks Art Galleries

It's no surprise that the picturesque scenery of the Outer Banks has inspired hundreds of local artists, and there are a number of local galleries that showcase their work. For a quiet rainy day excursion, pop into a local gallery or two and take in the beauty of the Outer Banks as filtered through the eyes of some of the area's best artists.

There are several areas throughout the Outer Banks that are known for their collections of locally owned galleries. Historic downtown Manteo has a number of both galleries and antique stores ideal for exploring on a rainy day, and throughout the town visitors will spot a number of local art galleries sprinkled along US 64, the main road that runs through Manteo.

In the central Outer Banks, art lovers can stop by "Gallery Row" in Nags Head, a small street that intersects the bypass and the beach road and is lined with locally owned art galleries. Parking is available at the individual galleries and along the side of the street as well for easy gallery browsing.

For a longer excursion, take a day trip to Ocracoke Island. This community is renowned for its local artists, and a number of quirky shops and galleries can be found throughout the 4 square mile village. Take a stroll along Ocracoke Harbor or down historic Howard Street, one of the oldest residential areas in Ocracoke Village, and enjoy a collection of galleries featuring local painters, sculptors, jewelry designers, and potters, all from the coastal North Carolina area.

Outer Banks Crafts and Activities

Feeling crafty? There are a number of creative outlets on the Outer Banks to keep your family entertained on a rainy day. While driving along the Outer Banks, you may notice that a number of local coffee shops also feature large "Bead" signs, displayed prominently in their windows. These shops offer a wide variety of beads and beading materials, from seed beads to sea glass to silver pendants, allowing patrons to grab a chair and a cup of coffee and create their own unique Outer Banks jewelry. Bring the teenagers along, as this crafty afternoon is ideal for older kids.

There are also several Paint Your Own Pottery shops, including one in Duck, one in Kill Devil Hills, (which is also a bead shop), and one in Avon on Hatteras Island. These shops allow patrons to relax for an afternoon or a day and create their own pottery souvenirs to take home. Pottery pieces are fired and glazed on the premises, and can be picked up later in the week or shipped back home after your vacation. Several shops also feature evening painting lessons or special programs on unique crafting projects, such as ceramic tile mosaics. Bring everyone in the family along - even the little ones can enjoy grabbing a brush and making their own piece of Outer Banks art.

A number of local galleries and businesses also offer watercolor or painting classes. Special programs are featured seasonally and are available by reservation on a variety of different techniques, from painting seascapes to capturing local plants and flowers.

As an example, the Elizabethan Gardens on Roanoke Island offers a number of painting classes, from afternoon sessions to two day workshops, and visitors and Elizabethan Garden Members are both welcome to attend. On Hatter Island, Hatteras Realty offers weekly watercolor classes in the evenings from Memorial Day to Labor Day for vacation rental guests as well as Hatteras Island visitors.

Check out your local Outer Banks galleries for guidance on where and when classes are available, and remember to try to book your class in advance, if possible. A rainy day of crafting or painting can be very popular on the Outer Banks.

No vacationer wants a rainy day during their Outer Banks retreat, and thankfully with the temperate climate that coastal North Carolina enjoys, those washed-out beach days are generally few and far between.

But just in case a little dose of bad weather puts a damper on your beach plans, there are plenty of activities and attractions to keep your family entertained all along the Outer Banks, from the quaint shops of Corolla to the art galleries of Ocracoke. Even where the weather is perfect, all of these rainy day options can create a fun-filled afternoon on the Outer Banks.

For a quick list of local businesses that offer great rainy day activities, check our Rainy Day Listings.

Donutz on a Stick

Donutz on a Stick

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!

Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge

Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge

Explore Hatteras Island at its natural best with a visit to the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge. Covering 13 miles of Cape Hatteras National Seashore land, this attraction is hard to miss, although there aren't many giant signs, hotels or businesses to point the way. Instead, visitors will find a completely undeveloped parcel of land, that's well-stocked with gorgeous views and serene nature trails that are ideal for off-the-beaten path excursions.

Coastal Kayak Touring Company

Coastal Kayak Touring Company

If you are looking for adventure, stop by or call Coastal Kayak Touring Company and book your reservation. The company has been offering kayak and paddle boarding tours on the Outer Banks since 1999 and is located at the Waterfront Shops in Duck. Whether you choose to tour the Pine Island Audubon Sanctuary, Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge, the Kitty Hawk Woods Coastal Reserve or Alligator River, you are bound to have a wilderness experience like none other. Kayak tours are perfect for all ages and experience levels.

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.

Lost Colony Brewery

Lost Colony Brewery

Streetscape Dining at the Coolest Brew Pub on the OBX!

Situated in the quaint, waterfront town of Manteo, this café  offers gastro-pub dining with great OBX eats in a casual, street-scape setting.  The menu is varied and eclectic with fresh Outer Banks seafood, Angus steaks, great burgers, Baked Brie, homemade Quiche, outstanding soups, flavor-packed sandwiches, Low country Shrimp and Grits, Fish and Chips (the best on the beach),  many vegetarian selections and a kids menu. Great Brew! Great Chew!

Windsurfing the Outer Banks

Windsurfing the Outer Banks

While several of the Outer Banks' most popular sports seemingly flew onto the scene in the past decade or two, like kiteboarding or stand up paddle boarding (SUP), windsurfing has been drawing water sports lovers to the North Carolina coast for nearly fifty years. In essence, windsurfing can pride itself as being the Outer Bank's oldest, and one of its most beloved sound-based sports, and everyone from seasoned riders to windsurfing newcomers can catch an exceptional ride.

Surf or Sound Realty

Surf or Sound Realty

What is your kind of vacation? Perhaps it is a relaxing day spent sprawled out on the beach under a shady umbrella with the sound of the waves, a good book and drinks in the cooler. Or maybe it is a day spent serenely paddling your kayak on the warm waters of the sound followed by a soothing soak in the hot tub. How about circling the deck chairs under starry skies with best friends after vibrant mealtime conversation over fresh seafood prepared in a gourmet kitchen?

Whether you envision vacationing in an extravagant oceanfront estate, a quiet soundside retreat, or somewhere in between, Surf or Sound Realty has the perfect home to accommodate your kind of vacation.

Surf or Sound Realty is located on Hatteras Island, part of the pristine Cape Hatteras National Seashore just south of Nags Head on The Outer Banks of North Carolina. Regularly found on Top Ten lists for the Best Beaches in America, Hatteras Island’s beaches and villages are quiet, family friendly and picturesque. Since 1978, we have offered weekly premier Hatteras Island vacation rentals from single family beach cottages to expansive oceanfront estates with a wide range of luxury amenities. We make it easy to fit an Outer Banks vacation into your budget with several interest-free;flexible payment plans and multiple payment methods. We make vacationing effortless with options like keyless entry and early check-in.

Serving thousands of happy Outer Banks vacationers every year, we look forward to seeing you at the beach this year! Contact us for more information about our beautiful Hatteras Island Vacation Rentals on the finest beaches of the Outer Banks, NC today!

Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse

Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse

The Roanoke Marshes lighthouse is often one of the most overlooked of the Outer Banks lighthouses, simply because of its small stature, limited visibility and remote location tucked away at the quiet east end of the Manteo waterfront.

Southern Shores Realty

Southern Shores Realty

Southern Shores Realty offers over 700 Outer Banks rentals from Corolla to S. Nags Head.  We've been an Outer Banks tradition since 1947, providing families just like yours with memories that last a lifetime.  Take a moment to search through our extensive selection of Outer Banks rentals, choose your favorite, and book online today!