Outer Banks Town Highlights

During your next Outer Banks vacation, why not schedule an adventure that includes exploring a few unique town highlights? This is a great way to learn more about Outer Banks’ towns and communities, while enjoying time spent with family and friends. Some selections are well known, while others are hidden gems, but all allow visitors to explore extraordinary features of the Outer Banks.

COROLLA: Outer Banks Center for Wildlife Education
Located in Currituck Heritage Park, the Outer Banks Center for Wildlife Education shares the grounds with the Whalehead Club and Currituck Beach Lighthouse, two sites that seem to receive all the press. The museum, though, is every bit as fascinating as its famous neighbors. This remarkable museum guides visitors through the history of Currituck Sound and its ecosystem and is filled with family friendly exhibits and hands-on demos.

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Coastal Studies Institute

Coastal Studies Institute obxOn the road to Wanchese, there’s a large modern building that appears to rise from the marsh. The Coastal Studies Institute (CSI) building is 90,000 square feet and a wonder of engineering. Locally, it has become an important part of Outer Banks life with schools and nonprofits taking advantage of its facilities. Beyond Dare County, it has developed a reputation in scientific circles for the cutting edge research of the resident scientists, and much of their research focuses on what’s happening along our coastlines.

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Outer Banks Wind Energy

With a February 2015 announcement that a large section of the ocean off the Kitty Hawk shoreline would be available for commercial wind energy development, North Carolina moves towards the top of the list of potential energy production from a renewable resource. The Kitty Hawk site is one of three sites off the North Carolina coast identified by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM). The site, located 26 nautical miles offshore, will be barely visible from the beach.

Any application of commercial wind energy is a number of years away, the permitting process is complicated and time consuming, and any project of this size is extremely expensive.

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5 Outer Banks Winter Activities

The first flight of the Wright brothers in Kitty Hawk, NC.

The cooler Outer Banks winter months bring a slowdown in activities but that doesn’t mean the fun ceases to exist. It’s true that some restaurants and businesses close after the holiday season and don’t reopen until March, and others reduce hours and services, but there remain some very good reasons to visit the Outer Banks. Here are just a few:

1. Wright Brothers National Monument: The Wright Brothers Monument in Kill Devil Hills is one of the most visited National Park sites. In summer months, there are lots of people walking through the exhibits, listening to the historic interpreters and enjoying the monument and outlying view. The memorial is also open and available to guests during the winter months. Offseason visitors can still enjoy the historic monument and elevated views, but fewer people allows for a more relaxed experience to absorb interpreter information and freely ask questions about this historic moment in human history.

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Outer Banks Schools

First Flight High SchoolEvery community has unique features that bring great pride and the Outer Banks is no different. Living here, it doesn’t take long to realize there are many notable attributes within our diverse communities, but for parents there is one defining aspect that brings great pride and that is our extraordinary schools and teachers.

The majority of the Outer Banks is a part of Dare County, and the school system has been rated amongst the top North Carolina schools for several years. As a matter of fact, recent national polls placed both First Flight High School and Manteo High School in the top 10% of schools across the nation. Just up the road, Currituck County schools aren’t far behind.

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Hatteras and Ocracoke Island Day Trips

ocracoke, nc silver lakeExisting as it does on the edge of a continent, more than an hour’s drive from any major airport, the Outer Banks has a well-deserved reputation for being just a little bit isolated and refreshingly remote. Depending on where our visitors live, the Outer Banks may be a day trip on its own, but once here there are some really neat day trips that can be taken on the Outer Banks. The first of our day trip series focuses on the pristine beauty and activities that draw guests to our southern beaches.

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Outer Banks Community Parks

OBX_ParksIt’s easy to talk about the variety of recreation available on the Outer Banks. The list of obvious activities include the beach, our ocean and sounds, hiking, shopping … it’s a list that seems endless, and a good reason why we love living here and vacationers return year after year.

Aside from the obvious, there are also special little things that make this such a special place. So, I thought it would be interesting to write a blog series highlighting some of these little things that greatly add to Outer Banks enjoyment, the first being about our wonderful community parks.

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Outer Banks Oyster Bar Hopping

OBX Oyster BarsAbout 20 years ago, someone had the bright idea that the best way to harvest Outer Banks oysters was to float a dredge or two out in the sound, scoop as much mud off the bottom as possible and sift everything out but the oysters. That worked spectacularly well for that year, but then we experienced a loss of oysters for several years until state agencies and a number of local volunteers moved forward to rebuild the stripped Outer Banks oyster reefs.

Finally, oysters are back in Outer Banks waters, and the obvious result is a sudden resurgence of local oyster bars. We started getting noticeable harvest levels two to three years ago and now they are once again on local menus and featured in area raw bars.

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Best Outer Banks Coffee Shops

Coffee in Duck, NCAutumn is here, temperatures are dropping, the wind is picking up, which makes it the perfect time to write about Outer Banks coffee shops. I’m talking about the real thing here, those places filled with the sound of compressed steam escaping from an espresso machine that fills the air with the wonderful rich aroma of freshly brewed coffee.

There are a surprising number of coffee shops on the Outer Banks, and almost all of them are locally owned. Since Starbucks arrived at The Marketplace in Southern Shores, a lot of attention was naturally drawn to them. They certainly deserve a special mention, since they serve great coffee and create a good place to meet on that end of the Beach. Yet, the locally owned shops are turning out some really great product, and I have no problem recommending any of those I visited. In order to keep these shops organized, I’ll start north, in Corolla, and head south.

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Secrets of a Sandbar

cape hatteras pointHere are some facts that may not be well known about these sandbars, and the word “sandbar” is used purposely because although our notorious bumper stickers say, “I’m on Island Time,” the Outer Banks are actually not islands. The northern Outer Banks, north of Oregon Inlet, are in fact a continuous spit of land extending all the way to Virginia Beach. As a matter of fact, at one time there was a dirt road connecting Carova with Sandbridge, Virginia.

Even Hatteras Island, although surrounded by water, is not considered a true island because there is nothing actually anchoring it to the seabed. It is, as are all barrier islands, a sandbar that happens to be higher than the current level of the ocean.

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