As cities go, the Village of Duck isn’t one. But one thing the village has going for it that will remind a lot of folks of city life is how easy it is to walk from one music venue to the next. There are five of them, actually six, although a car would be the best way to get to Village Tavern north of the central business district of the village.
And the best part of it all, is they’re all outdoor venues.
Going north to south there’s Tap Shack behind Cravings, Red Sky Cafe, the Backside Bar behind Roadside in Duck, NC Coast Grill and Bar, and Aqua. Everything is contained within less than a half-mile—in fact, Google Maps recommends walking the route from the Tap Shack to Aqua—a nine-minute walk.
Here’s a thumbnail sketch of music venues in Duck.
Tap Shack, located behind Coastal Cravings, is probably the best outdoor venue in case the weather turns. Covered by a large, sturdy tent, seating is available, although it is somewhat limited. When things get really busy, there can be a wait to get a table.
All that being said, Tap Shack has a lot going for it. The stage is big enough for a full-sized band, the sound system is excellent and food and bar service are good. When it gets really busy, parking can be a bit of a problem. The best bet is to park at the public sites at the Village Green or Boardwalk and walk. The parking is maybe 100’-200’ south of Cravings.
Red Sky Cafe
Wes Stepp’s Red Sky Cafe has been one of the go-to places in Duck for casual but fine dining for years. Realizing that during COVID he couldn’t seat people inside, Wes put in a small outdoor seating area with a tent covering.
This is the smallest of the outdoor venues, and music doesn’t happen every night, but as a nice, perhaps a little more intimate place, it’s quite nice.
The Backside Bar
The Roadside Bar and Grill is a funky, kind of informal spot to get some great food. The Backside Bar, behind the Roadside, carries that same funky feeling to live music.
There’s a nice stage area, with seating scattered around the edge of what would be the dance floor if there was a floor. It’s open to the elements, so if the weather isn’t cooperating, there probably won’t be a show. But on a summer evening with a slight breeze, it’s magnificent.
Bar service is not bad. Hand held foods can take a while when it’s busy.
NC Coast Grill and Bar
Welcome to the Duck Boardwalk and the beautiful views of Currituck Sound.
NC Coast Grill and Bar is Duck’s most recent addition to the restaurant scene. Inside there is a nice dining area with a wonderful bar. In the summer, it’s a sure bet there’s going to be a wait to be seated, so relax, head out back to the covered seating area and take in some music. The views across Currituck Sound are spectacular, the music is on the mellow side, usually acoustic or jazz, so relax, have a beer or a mixed drink, and enjoy life.
Parking is very limited for NC Coast. The best bet is to find some public parking and walk.
On the south end of the Duck Boardwalk, Aqua has garnered a well-deserved reputation for spectacular regional dishes featuring local ingredients.
The way the seating area is configured, the restaurant, for good reason, is known for its legendary sunset vistas.
The music, which is almost always acoustic, is perfect for the setting. It’s all outside, so if it rains, there’s no music, but when the weather is right, Aqua may be the most spectacular setting on the Outer banks to hear live music.
Honorable Mention—Village Table and Tavern
Village Table and Tavern is north of the Field Research Facility—Duck Pier—so walking there is not an option. However, we would be remiss if we didn’t include it in a list of places to enjoy live music in a beautiful setting.
The food is very good, the bar exceptionally well stocked with some wonderful wines and the view across Currituck Sound is marvelous.