What’s New on the Outer Banks?

Josephines restaurant outer banksThere’s a saying, “What’s old is new.” And that’s certainly true with Outer Banks restaurants. What’s old news for locals, is often surprisingly new to those arriving at their Outer Banks vacation rental. While I can’t note everything that’s new or different, I want to reference a few notable changes for visitors. Restaurants seem to change names, shift ownership and move around more than other types of businesses, and this past year was no exception.

There were many small changes to note. Baldie’s Burgers moved from the Wee Winks Plaza in Duck to its new location in The Marketplace in Southern Shores. Still serving burgers the way they’re supposed to be, fries and milkshakes. The Wee Winks Plaza was raised and expanded, a noticeable change as you travel north. Another new burger place in Kill Devil Hills (almost to the Nags Head town line) is Beach Bum Burgers. They opened in the building that used to house Arby’s. The burger and fries are tasty and worth a try.

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Outer Banks Musicians

Outer Banks MusiciansIn the summer, many venues on the Outer Banks offer live music and chances are really good it’s going to be quality music. The problem is trying to isolate a favorite musician, or two, or three, or four, or five–so here goes–my list of “don’t miss” Outer Banks musicians.

Ruth Wyand, has a powerful folksy voice, plays a killer guitar and is comfortable in just about any form of music from rock to folk to jazz. Laura Martier, a great local jazz singer, will sit in with her from time to time and these two create a sound that rivals any professional musicians anywhere.

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Roanoke Island Festival Park Information

Roanoke Island Festival Park

Located in Manteo, this 25-acre interactive historic site is convenient to all of our vacation rentals in the Outer Banks. Only 5 miles from Nags Head and 30 minutes from both Hatteras Island and Kitty Hawk, this park is a must-see for all visitors and guests to the Outer Banks. With tons of Outer Banks history, nature, recreation and family activities this is the ideal choice for a day outing with the entire family.

The Elizabeth II 16th Century Representative Ship
At the park you can board and explore the Elizabeth II from every angle. Built in the early 1980’s, as part of the America’s 400th Anniversary Celebration, this vessel was modeled after the ship Elizabeth that sailed from England in 1585.  Launched in November of 1983, the Elizabeth II is 69 feet long, 17 feet wide and draws 8 feet of water.  While on deck, assist the “16th century sailors” to set the sails, plot a course with an astrolabe or swab the decks while enjoying sound views from the quarterdeck. Raise the ships anchor, play checkers with a sailor or search for surprises in barrels and boxes. All while learning about historic Roanoke voyages from the friendly staff of sailors. 

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The Quiet Side of the Outer Banks

kayak_9One issue with living in a beach community–especially a resort area like the Outer Banks–is the sand and the surf are so wonderful that visitors may miss a whole range of experiences on the other side of the sandbar. The sounds that form the western border of the Outer Banks are beautiful ecological wonders just waiting to be explored. Shallow and generally fairly calm, they are ideal bodies of water to be explored in a kayak.

For people who have not been kayaking, the basics are fairly easy to learn and the kayaks used on the flat waters of the sounds are stable–so stable that you actually have to work to tip one over. There are so many options for exploring the Outer Banks by kayak, that it’s not possible to list all the choices, so I’ll just reference a couple of personal favorites.

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The Best Local OBX Seafood (And Where To Get It!)

Based on our location, it’s no surprise that the Outer Banks boasts some of the best seafood restaurants and markets on the coast. Whether searching for a local restaurant with a talented chef, or fresh seafood to prepare at your Outer Banks rental, this area has year round access to seasonal local seafood that is fresh, delicious and plentiful.

Where are some of the best local seafood restaurants?

Nags Head: Owen’s Restaurant – After 67 years, this is the only Outer Banks restaurant that is still owned and operated by the founding family. Their menu has items fresh off the boat including seafood, shellfish, Whole Maine lobster and more. After dinner, you can enjoy their collection of museum quality artifacts that highlight the maritime history of the OBX.

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Pet-Friendly Vacation Tips

pet laws outer banks

If you’re bringing your four legged best friend on this family vacation, we recommend you do a bit of planning beforehand to ensure a fun and safe experience for everyone. The beach is a fantastic place to bring your dog, and we provide over 100 pet-friendly Outer Banks rentals so you can cohabitate in luxury! Before you arrive, make sure you are aware of each town’s leash laws (below) and any other safety concerns.

When hanging out on the beach with your furry friend, bring fresh water for them so that they don’t resort to drinking saltwater. Your dog might try to drink the saltwater regardless, so keep an eye on them. Drinking too much saltwater can cause vomiting and diarrhea. Also, make sure that you bring plenty of plastic baggies to clean up after your pet. Carolina Designs Realty provides a leash clip-on baggie dispenser at check in. (Clean beaches are our pride and joy here on the Outer Banks and we appreciate all efforts of our guests and residents to keep it that way!)

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Where Can I Buy Fresh Produce on the Outer Banks?

ProduceOver 50 years ago, farmers just north of the Outer Banks in Currituck County had a light bulb moment.  Although the Outer Banks was still a bit of a backwater, it was clear to them that the economic engine was shifting south, and as people drove there, they would need fresh produce; tomatoes, cucumbers, strawberries, blueberries and anything else they could grow.  At that time, most every farming family along Caratoke Highway had their own produce stand, although most of the smaller ones have not survived.  However, several of these direct descendants are still around and have grown larger and are very professionally run.

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Where Can I Hike on the Outer Banks?

Nags Head WoodsAt one time almost the entire western shore of the Outer Banks was heavily forested. Protected by a series of massive sand dunes from the effects of the salt winds of the ocean, a number of species of pine trees and live oak, hickory and other hardwood trees thrived. There are two amazing examples of the forested shores of the Outer Banks left: Nags Head Woods and Kitty Hawk Woods.

Nags Head Woods, which seems to be equally in Kill Devil Hills and Nags Head, is 1100 acres of steep hills, wetlands and dense forest. The hills are actually sand dunes that have become covered in a more dense soil–a soil that is fertile enough to allow hardwood trees to grow.  A hike along the trails has a distinctly upland or mountain-feel to it. The elevation gain is abrupt, the trails run along ridges that drop into deep ravines, and hardwood trees are the dominant forestation along the ridge lines.

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Where Do Locals Eat on the Outer Banks?

Art's Place Kitty HawkGuy Fieri of “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” fame came blasting through the Outer Banks last summer and the places he visited — Ortega’z, Brine and Bottle, Tortuga’s, Outer Banks Brewing Station, Black Pelican, Weeping Radish and Coastal Cantina — are all very worthy. Great places . . . although it’s a little difficult to see how they qualify for the 3-D criteria.

The list of places he missed is longer than an elephant’s memory. Now, I can’t mention them all, so this is a short selection of places Guy didn’t get to but hopefully will remember the next time he’s on the Outer Banks.

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Bodie Island Lighthouse Renovations

bodie island lighthouseThe striking black and white striped Bodie Island lighthouse provides one of the most distinctive and picturesque sceneries on the Outer Banks. Planning a visit to one of our OBX vacation rentals? Why not schedule a visit to the newly renovated Bodie Island Lighthouse? Re-opening this month, the tower is located on Bodie Island, just south of Nags Head. The 165 foot lighthouse that is standing today is actually the third attempt to illuminate the stretch of coastline between Currituck Beach and Cape Hatteras.

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