1. Climb Currituck Beach Lighthouse

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The distinctive red brick Currituck Beach Lighthouse towers over the Corolla landscape and is a must-see for any visitor with a distinct love of history, Outer Banks icons, and all-around unparalleled views. The lighthouse grounds, which are well-landscaped with native foliage and feature an on-site gift shop in the former keeper's quarters, are open for explorers year round, while the lighthouse can be climbed seasonally for adventurous vacationers without a fear of heights. It's a steady and intimidating 220 step climb to the top of the historic 1876 structure, but reaching the small circular deck and First Order Fresnel light comes with a heck of a reward - namely, the view. Spanning all the way from the Virginia state line to the central Outer Banks, shutterbugs will want to take plenty of pictures of the sky-high vistas that can only be found at the top of the Currituck Beach Lighthouse, a full 162' feet above sea level.

2. See Corolla's Wild Horses

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The most famous local residents in the Northern Outer Banks are notoriously shy and may be hard to spot, but are nevertheless an incredible and unforgettable sight for visitors who are lucky enough to cross their paths. The Wild Colonial Spanish Mustangs(Corolla's Wild Horses) are thought to date back more than 500 years as the descendants of shipwrecked Spanish mustangs, and today freely roam the beaches north of Corolla's paved town borders. Carova and 4WD beach explorers have the best chance of catching a glimpse of these beauties, which are slightly smaller in stature than modern horses, and visitors who are staying in the 4WD area may even encounter a view of the wild horses grazing in their own vacation rental home's backyard. Carova visitors will want to have a camera handy at all time in case these locals make an appearance, and despite their docile appearance, beach-goers will want to keep their distance, as these Outer Banks horses are unmistakably and ultimately completely wild. Visitors who want to learn their story can also make a stop at the Corolla Wild Horse Museum or sign up for a Corolla Wild Horse Tour for an in-depth look at these amazing OBX locals.

3. Watch The Sun Set at The Whalehead in Historic Corolla

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The distinctive mustard yellow Whalehead in Historic Corolla has been an icon on the Outer Banks scene since it was first built in the 1920s as an opulent, private retreat, and has easily become one of the region's favorite attractions since it was opened to the public in 2002. A unique combination of attractions that includes a well-tended park, the historic "club" itself, and plenty of water access to enjoy an adventure on the Currituck Sound, visitors will soon discover that it's easy to spend an entire day at the Whalehead in Historic Corolla and never run out of things to do. Take a tour of the grand club's interior, which has been meticulously returned to its original glory years when it was first built by the wealthy Knight family, bring the kayaks along for a Currituck Sound paddle, or spread out a picnic blanket under one of the dozens of evergreen Live Oaks. An incredible site which cements Corolla's longstanding reputation as an elite yet rustic destination for the wealthy, the Whalehead in Historic Corolla is sure to impress Outer Banks visitors of all interests.

4. Go Boutique Shopping

Avid shoppers are thrilled when an occasional rainy or cloudy day hits the northern Outer Banks, as this is a prime excuse to take advantage of the multitude of shops that can be found throughout the towns of Duck and Corolla. In Duck, visitors will enjoy plenty of centralized parking and easy walking-distance access to a number of quaint and coastal plazas, like the Waterfront Shops, the Osprey Landing Shops, and the town's famed Scarborough Faire. Not to be undone, there are plenty of plazas to be found in neighboring Corolla too, including the Timbuck II Shopping Village and the Corolla Monteray Plaza Shopping Center. Browsers will find that all of the shopping centers in both towns feature coastal art galleries, summer clothing boutiques and surf shops, gift shops and jewelry stores, coffee shops and book stores, and a wealth of other locally owned establishments with one-of-a-kind and distinctive treasures. Off season and shoulder season visitors have the best chance of scoring the best bargains, especially on "Black Friday" and the fall months, when end-of-season sales give visitors the perfect opportunity to load up on deeply discounted, seaside themed gifts and holiday presents.

5.Stroll Through Duck Town Park and Boardwalk

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At just 11 acres in size, the Duck Town Park packs a lot of outdoor entertainment and incredible natural landscapes within a small, soundside locale. The park is an engaging destination for nature lovers of all varieties, including bird watchers, water lovers, walkers and joggers, and anyone just looking for a cool, breezy destination off the beach, and features picnic shelters, shaded gazebos, and plenty of hiking trails that lead through the maritime forest. Best of all, the Duck Town Park serves as the launching point for the expansive waterfront boardwalk which meanders along, and even hovers over, the miles-wide Currituck Sound, providing incredible sunset views and some of the best bird watching opportunities in the northern Outer Banks. Take a leisurely stroll around dusk to soak up Duck's romantic side, and enjoy incredible waterfront scenes at the very edge of this barrier island.

6. Explore Carova in a 4x4 Vehicle

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Check out our article about driving on the beach.

There are few beaches along the East Coast that are as rustic, desolate and isolated as the 11 miles of shoreline that lies just north of Corolla, and longtime northern Outer Banks fans wouldn't have it any other way. The Carova area, also known informally as the "4WD Beaches," can only be accessed by a 4WD vehicle, as the name would suggest, from a sand ramp located at the very edge of Corolla's town borders. Though there are ample rental homes in the region, ranging from soundside cottages with fantastic Currituck Sound access to 18+ bedroom oceanfront mansions, there are no commercial businesses, no restaurants, no major amenities, and virtually no distractions apart from the miles of undeveloped seashores. This region is known for its exceptional solitude, great shelling, solid surf fishing, and occasional visits by the local wild horses, and visitors will find no shortage of open space to spread out a beach towel. Vacationers who didn't bring a 4WD vehicle along to explore the shore can even rent a Jeep for the day, or embark on a guided tour of the area which covers the sand from the town line to the Virginia state line, located miles away.

7. Enjoy Waterfront Fine Dining

The restaurant selection in Duck and Corolla is varied and decadent, with plenty of fantastic options for couples to enjoy a romantic dinner experience that will top the list of Outer Banks memories. For a more casual outing, vacationers will find plenty of waterfront bars that offer quick lunches and cool afternoon cocktails after a hard day at the beach, but the region really shines when it comes to decadent fine dining dinners that specialize in fresh local seafood. For an upscale evening out, check out local waterfront favorites like Aqua Restaurant, Kimball's Kitchen, or The Blue Point Bar and Grill. Many establishments are open late in the summertime, with seasonal live music, and couples will most certainly want to book a table around dusk to ensure the best chance to catch a waterfront sunset that compliments the overall spellbinding experience. Reservations are often encouraged or even required in the height of summer, so be sure and book early to ensure a spot at a scenic, waterfront table.

8. Try Currituck Sound Watersports

It's hard to beat the Atlantic-facing beaches in Duck and Corolla, but visitors would be remiss to miss the exceptional waterfront adventures that can be found in abundance in the Currituck Sound. This expansive and generally gentle body of water offers miles of outdoor fun for water enthusiasts of all varieties, and a trip on the sound is a perfect opportunity to dive into a favorite sport, or discover an entirely new way to enjoy the wide open waters. Stand up paddle barding and kayaking are two easy waterfront sports that are both readily available, and can be launched from virtually any locale along the Duck and Corolla soundside. Rentals are available by the hour or the day, while specialized sunset or eco-tours are perfect for newcomers who don't want to miss out on the fantastic views and abundant bird watching that this region is known for. Seafood lovers will want to try their hand at kayak fishing, crabbing or even clamming, which are all favorite soundside angling activities, while high-adrenaline adventurers can rent a jet ski for the afternoon, or sign up for a parasailing or banana boat tour that covers miles of this open water terrain. Regardless of how a visitor breezes through the water, the gorgeous sunsets, exceptional wildlife watching, and serene waterfront landscapes will surely make anyone a new and devoted Currituck Sound fan.

9. Listen to Live Music

Upcoming concerts are listed on our events page.

If a cool drink and a little outdoor entertainment is a vacationer's idea of heaven, then Duck and Corolla will truly be a coastal paradise. The small town community has a surprisingly vibrant music scene, with plenty of outdoor venues that are unimposing and wide open to the public. Both The Whalehead in Historic Corolla in Corolla and the Duck Town Park feature weekly summer afternoon and evening live performances, while a large number of local restaurants and bars feature bands and performers on any given summer night for a little dining with a musical ambiance. The summer Outer Banks music season arguably cumulates on Columbus Day Weekend in Duck with the renowned annual Duck Jazz Festival. This celebration of all things jazz features two whole days of incredible music, attracts more than 7,000 musicians and jazz lovers every year, and is an ideal way to dive into the local music scene. The Mustang Music Festival on Columbus Day weekend brings live music to Corolla each year for the benefit of Corolla's Wild Horses. Regardless of how you soak up the local sounds, music lovers will find plenty of ways to unwind, kick back, and enjoy the local OBX music scene in these otherwise small and subdued coastal communities.

10. Relax On The Beach

On the Outer Banks, the beach is always the star attraction, and the northern section of shoreline that stretches from Duck all the way to the Virginia border in 4WD accessible Carova is among the Banks' best. With few crowds in any given part of the communities, wide sandy beaches, and plenty of waves for surfing and body boarding, the beaches in Corolla and Duck are essentially hard to beat. Visitors won't find hopping boardwalks, busy public accesses and parking lots, or concession stands on these shorelines, but they will find miles of room to roam, exceptional fishing, good shelling, (especially after a storm), plenty of bird watching, and an altogether serene atmosphere that will melt anyone into a vacation state of mind.

 

Corolla Wild Horse Fund

Corolla Wild Horse Fund

We are the nonprofit charity that is responsible for the care and protection of the wild horses. Do you want to see and learn about the horses and help them at the same time? When you go to see the horses with the Corolla Wild Horse Fund, you automatically become a member and will experience a two hour Trip of a Lifetime with one of our Sanctuary Patrol Officers. Also check our website for our fun children’s activities, Meet a Mustang, and Ride a Rescued Mustang at our two locations in Corolla and Duck; shop at our Museum Stores; learn about the history and future of the horses. Like us on Facebook. All proceeds go back to the care and protection of the wild horses.

Canadian Hole

Canadian Hole

Canadian Hole may be an unfamiliar term to the typical, laid-back Hatteras Islander vacationer, but to windsurfers around the world, the phrase invokes thoughts of an exact, postcard-perfect locale on the Outer Banks, where windsurfing and water sports conditions are truly at their global best, and any given day is a fantastic day to enjoy the ride.

The Lost Colony

The Lost Colony

In July of 1587, 117 English men, women, and children came ashore on Roanoke Island with a commission from Elizabeth I to establish a permanent English settlement in the New World. Just three years later in 1590, when English ships returned to bring supplies to the settlement, they found the island deserted with no sign of the colonists except the single word, “CROATOAN,” carved into the surface of an abandoned structure and the letters, “CRO,” scratched into the bark of a tree. After nearly 450 years, the mystery of what happened to the colonists remains unsolved.

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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.

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.  

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.

Ocracoke Wild Horses

Ocracoke Wild Horses

Seasoned visitors to Ocracoke Island love to soak in its rich heritage and culture which dates back to the 1500s, and features some legendary and longstanding residents. Some of the most popular Ocracoke locals are the Wild Ponies, which are protected in a secluded 180 acre area enclosure on the soundside of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, but can still be enjoyed by anyone passing through the island on NC Highway 12.

Paradise Fun Park

Paradise Fun Park

Off the beach, one of the best activities for groups to enjoy in the Outer Banks is mini golf, bumper cars or Go-Karts. Thankfully, Paradise Fun Park offers all three activities! Paradise Fun Park offers exciting outdoor activities that kids and adults of all ages can enjoy together. Families flock to Paradise Fun Park for a fun-filled day of putting competition. Grab a scorecard, select a ball and putter and get to the green! Paradise Fun Park offers a challenging variety of putting greens for hours of entertainment. Be sure to keep score and crown your group champion. 

Outer Banks Ferry System

Outer Banks Ferry System

Decades ago, one of the only ways to access some of the most secluded areas of the Outer Banks was via a ferry, and this tradition carries on today for thousands if not millions of visitors who want to travel to some of coastal North Carolina's most famous and off-the-map locales.

Nags Head Dolphin Watch

Nags Head Dolphin Watch

Scientists run these dolphin tours as part of their research on these beloved aquatic animals, so you know this will be an interesting trip. Passengers will be able to see how researchers with the Outer Banks Center for Dolphin Research, a nonprofit organization,  conduct their research and hear about some of the discoveries from more than a decade of studies and monitoring. Some of the hundreds of Atlantic bottlenose dolphins in the area show up so frequently they’ve even been given names, like “Rake,” “Scarlet,” and “Onion.”  

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