The Ultimate Weekly Itinerary for OBX
Updated: Sep 18
If you only have a week in the Outer Banks, it may not feel like enough time. With a little 'OBX insider' guidance, you will be able to make the most of your time. With this sample itinerary you'll experience the full spectrum that the Outer Banks has to offer.
Day 1 - Kitty Hawk Beach Day
If you are anything like the typical visitor to the Outer Banks, the travel to your destination can be draining. You have to take the time to recharge and transition into vacation mode by kicking your feet up and enjoying the sound of the waves crashing on the beach. Whether you wind down by playing in the ocean, building sandcastles, or taking a stroll down the beach, it’s the perfect way to start your trip. Rent a pop-up cabana or umbrella and some beach chairs or loungers, grab a book, or play your favorite tunes and transport yourself to another level of relaxation. If you’re staying at Stress Less we have many premium items at a discount, to see our add on packages click here. Having just arrived, you haven't had time to go food shopping and aren't ready to wait for a table at dinner, plan ahead by ordering a seafood boil. You can order ready-to-go pots or have a chef bring all the local fare and prepare your meal. All you have to do is enjoy all the flavors the ocean has to offer.
Day 2 - Enjoy the day in Corolla
Is there a better way to unwind than getting in touch with nature? I'm not talking about your average trip with your Scout Master. One thing that makes OBX unique are the Wild Spanish Horses of Corolla. Book a Safari Tour or, if you are feeling adventurous, rent a Jeep and explore the 11 miles of 4x4 Beaches into Corova. If you venture into the 4x4 Beaches, be sure to pack your beach gear and a cooler. You can avoid the crowds and carve out your own slice of paradise when you're not observing the Wild Horses. If you've never driven on a beach or gone off-roading, the sensation is exhilarating. On your way back to reality and paved roads, be sure to stop at the Currituck Beach Lighthouse & Historic Corolla Park. If you have the energy, you can climb the lighthouse and enjoy the best views Corolla has to offer! The Park’s most prominent attraction is Whalehead, a 1920s era architectural masterpiece and museum. There is also the Outer Banks Center for Wildlife Education, the Currituck Maritime Museum, and a gift store to get you in touch with the historic side of OBX. This area has an abundance of local shops, mini golf and the Rees Jones designed championship Currituck Club golf course. You can find something to appeal to everyone. Once you have had your fill of the beach, finish the day by grabbing dinner at Mike Dianna's Grill in the Tim Buck II Shopping Center. It features outstanding desserts and gourmet dishes. This live music and bar are a great way to finish the day.
Day 3 - Spend a day on Roanoke Island
Roanoke Island is one of the most scenic and historic areas throughout the Outer Banks. A great way to experience all the area has to offer is to make your way to the North Carolina Aquarium which opens at 9:00 am (reservations required through their website). It will take about two hours to explore the aquatic exhibits. Don't forget to wander through the Nature Trail and take a minute to relax in the rocking chairs on the private Soundside Pier. The Manteo Waterfront is your next stop; just a few short miles away as you head back towards Nags Head. This area has lovely coffee shops, history, boats in the marina and local boutiques to visit. For the history buff, you won't want to miss visiting the Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse and exhibits located at the end of the pier on the Waterfront. As you walk back to dry land, look up and you'll see the Manteo Weather Tower. It is one of only 5 active weather towers used today and a part of the Roanoke Island Maritime Museum. Also, directly across the marina is the Roanoke Island Festival Park. Here you can see the Roanoke Island Maritime Museum, Festival Park and the Elizabeth II. Before you leave the area, stop on Budleigh Street at the Outer Banks Distilling Co. If you have about an hour, you can enjoy a tour of the distillery (check their website for availability) where they explain how their rum is made. No tour is complete without a tasting along with the opportunity to purchase your favorite.
With all there is to see, don't forget to grab a bite to each. The Lost Colony Brewery and Café is the perfect lunch spot right in the heart of the downtown Manteo Waterfront. Two of my other favorite restaurants in the area are the Avenue Waterfront Grille and the Blue Water Grill & Raw Bar. If you time it right, you can watch the boats bring in their catches for the day as you grab dinner and sip cocktails at Mimi’s Tiki Hut.
If you are visiting OBX in the summer season, The Lost Colony is a must-see experience about the original settlers and our nation's oldest unsolved mystery of their disappearance! The show is 3 hours and starts at 8:30 PM. It is our nation's longest running outdoor theater production written by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Paul Green. It has entertained millions including President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in its inaugural year, 1937. You sit in an outdoor theater along the Roanoke Sound. The stage is 3x the size of a Broadway theater, envelopes you with action from 3 sides, and cast members sail in by ship to the stage. I promise it is unlike any other theater going experience. Just remember to apply bug spray before you go.
Day 4 - Day trip to Ocracoke Island
Ocracoke is a long trip that will require a whole day but is totally worthwhile. Easily the calmest waters and typically a bit warmer with the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Pamlico Sound on the other. The only way to reach Ocracoke is via ferry, boat, or private plane. I would recommend taking the one-hour scenic ride on the Ocracoke express for 5 dollars each way and renting a golf cart or bikes to explore the island. This provides a fun way to make it around town and experience the local sites. You will also avoid potential wait times for the ferry on busy days and you won't have to deal with transporting your car to the island. The Ocracoke express drops you directly in the center of town where you can spend the day or utilize the free shuttles.
If arts and culture get your wheels turning, The Village of Ocracoke is just your speed. The top local sites include coffee shops, quaint shops and eateries throughout the Village. Make sure you visit the oldest operating lighthouse in North Carolina and the second oldest in the United States, the Ocracoke Lighthouse. As you'll be spending the day, bring some towels and a change of clothes to make sure you enjoy the local beaches. Often referred to as "the pearl of the Outer Banks," the Ocracoke Beaches are perennially ranked among the top 10 in the US. In 2007 and 2022, Dr. Beach ranked the Lifeguarded Ocracoke Beach the top beach in America. It doesn't get any more laid back than this!
If you're looking for places to eat, I would recommend Dajio and Howard's pub. Dajio is located in the center of the Village of Ocracoke and doesn't disappoint. It is more of a formal dinner, which they describe as elevated southern fusion. For the true relaxed Southern pub-like atmosphere, Howard's Pub is a local favorite with a great rooftop observation deck.
Day 5 - Experience Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills, & Nags Head
These towns are in the heart of the Outer Banks. There is so much to do it can be overwhelming. Exploring the unique historical attractions throughout the Outer Banks is a great way to truly appreciate the area. Make sure you climb the dunes of Jockey's Ridge in Kill Devil Hills. I always like to bring a football or frisbee to see how far it will go from the top of the dune. This is arguably the best place to enjoy the sunset in all of the Outer Banks. If you're feeling adventurous, rent a sandboard and take the express route down the dune. Enjoy a leisurely walk to the end of Jennette's Pier, a 1,000 ft concrete pier in Nags Head. See what everyone is catching and look back at the Outer Banks from 1,000 ft into the Atlantic Ocean. Visit the Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kitty Hawk. It is the site of the first flight, contains a museum with a full-scale replica of the Wright's plane, extremely knowledgeable Park Rangers, and plenty of statues for photo ops. Some of my favorite restaurants throughout the main strip are Owens, Tale of the Whale, and Trio to name a few. Watching an Outer Banks sunset is quite possibly the most memorable and picturesque thing you will do on your entire trip. Photographers don't call it the golden hour" for nothing. One of the best places to view the sun going down over the sound is the Wright Brothers Multi-Use Path. If you're staying at Stress Less, you can watch it over the water on our private pier, rent kayaks or stand-up paddle board and watch it from the water, or crack open some drinks and watch it from the screened in deck. As long as you're enjoying the sunset, there is no wrong way to do it.
Coquina Beach is a hidden gem in the wildlife preserve. If you're looking for a quiet beach with lifeguards, changing rooms, showers, and bathrooms, this is a spot to get away without a long drive. Beach bonfires are permitted in Nags Head with approval from Nags Head Fire Rescue. Permits are issued and valid for that day after 5:30 PM conditions permitting.
Day 6 - Visit Hatteras Island
By this point, you've driven through Hatteras Island to make it to Ocracoke, so you can see the area is more relaxed and not as built up as the Nags Head and Corolla areas. That is what makes Hatteras Island a mecca for watersports. Like Ocracoke, Buxton beaches always rank among the top in the country. If you want to go horseback riding on the beach, Buxton is the place you can do it! The most iconic exhibit of Hatteras Island is also in Buxton, the eponymous Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. As the tallest brick lighthouse in the country, climbing to the top is no small feat, but the views are worth every step. If you want to windsurf the Canadian Hole, you'll virtually have a private playground. REAL Watersports has made Waves THE kiteboarding destination! While at REAL Watersports, you can listen to live music and grab a bite at Waterman's Bar and Grill while watching the kiteboarders in the sound. There are countless places to rent kayaks, paddle boards, or jet skis. There is parking for the beaches along the whole coastline. You can grab your surfboard and take on the toughest surf the Outer Banks has to offer. If you head back north during daylight, stop by Bonner Bridge Pier to catch some amazing photos. This happens to be a great place to go fishing too! You can walk around the Oregon Inlet Path next to the Oregon Inlet Life Saving Station. Depending on the time, you can stop at the Oregon Inlet Fishing Center on the north side of the Marc Basnight Bridge to see what the charter boats caught. After crossing the Basnight Bridge, but before making it back to Nags Head, don't forget about Bodie Island Lighthouse. There is a gorgeous pier that carves through the marshes providing incredible 360-degree views.
If you are on Hatteras Island at dusk, consider stopping in a convenience store or supermarket to grab firewood and stuff to make s'mores. Beach bonfires are permitted on Hatteras Island. Permits are free and available to download right off the National Park Service website.
Day 7 - Take a walk on the Mile-Long Duck Boardwalk
Pop into the Town of Duck for a day of shopping along the Boardwalk. No trip to Duck is complete without a stop into Duck Donuts. This is the original store that started the craze. The local donut shop serves up the most delicious made-to-order donuts. Just be sure to go early as they close by 1:00 PM. Along with the shops and restaurants, The Duck Town Park Boardwalk is a bird watcher's paradise. NC Coast Bar & Grill has an incredible lunch. Like many local spots, they are all about fresh local produce & seafood. Be sure to try the Carolina crab dip and the mother earth fish & chips. While you're at it, try the oysters as well. The Sunset Grille & Raw Bar or AQUA Restaurant &Spa are premiere locations to catch sunset while filling your belly.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. You'll just have to come back for more on your next OBX vacation!
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