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Liah McPherson | 03.16.2018

North Carolina's windswept barrier islands have captivated people since early English colonists set foot on their shores. With stunning natural phenomena and over 100 miles of beautiful coastline, there's no mistaking why people from all over are drawn to the Outer Banks. Over the years, a sense of local culture has kept the islands safe from the mass development seen in many coastal areas. The preservation of both natural and historical landmarks is top notch. From stunning landscapes to rich history, North Carolina's Outer Banks have something for everyone.

For the Adventurer:

  • Jockey's Ridge State Park: Explore the tallest sand dunes on the East Coast, learn to hang glide, or watch the sun set from one of the best viewpoints in North Carolina.
  • Corolla's Wild Horses: Take your four-wheel drive vehicle onto the beach and meet the local population of wild horses that live among the dunes of Corolla.  
  • Cape Hatteras National Seashore: Drive down miles of untouched coastline, stopping at tucked away beaches and wetland hiking trails in this famous national seashore.

For the History Buff:

  • The Wright Brothers National Memorial: Walk the flight path of the first airplane and learn about the Wright Brothers' historic achievements in manned flight.
  • Cape Hatteras Lighthouse: Climb the tallest lighthouse in the United States and learn about efforts made over the years to preserve this national icon.
  • Bodie Island Lighthouse:  Stop by another one of the Outer Banks' famous lighthouses just south of the town of Nags Head and near some of the island's prettiest beaches.
  • Fort Raleigh: Explore the site of an early English settlement and learn about colonial life and the mystery of the Lost Colony.

For the Camper:

  • Oregon Inlet Campground: Stay close to the towns of Nags Head and Kill Devil Hills at this campground nestled in the dunes of gorgeous, undeveloped beach. 
  • Frisco Beach Campground: Camp in the woods by the ocean at this campground; you won't find more secluded sites on the island.
  • Cape Point Campground: Pitch your tent right on Cape Point only a few minutes away from the famous lighthouse and some of the best surfing and fishing beaches on the East Coast.
  • Ocracoke Campground: Take the ferry to the sleepy island of Ocracoke and camp by the beach if you really want to get away from it all.

For the Beachgoer:

No Outer Banks trip is complete without some quality beach time.  Whether you want to surf, fish, or just catch some rays, you won't be disappointed by the pristine coastline of these islands.  You can find a beach access almost anywhere along Highway 12, which is simply called "The Beach Road" by locals. For some specific recommendations, check out the 7 Best Beaches of North Carolina's Outer Banks.


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