There are so many amazing experiences to be had on the Outer Banks that it’s difficult to see everything during a one week vacation. There’s the beach, water sports, shopping, lighthouses… and the list stretches on and on, which is one reason so many of our guests come back year after year.
There are some great guidebooks to provide direction on Outer Banks activities, and they are helpful tools. However, many of our guests like to wander off the beaten path and enjoy the unexpected. For these adventurers, we present the following suggestions:
Take a hike… literally.
There are four nature preserves on the Outer Banks: the Currituck Banks Reserve in Corolla, Kitty Hawk Woods in Kitty Hawk, Nags Head Woods straddling Nags Head and Kill Devil Hills and Buxton Woods just south of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse in Buxton.
All four preserves have a number of well marked trails running through them and offer different and unique experiences. Summertime visitors: bug repellant is highly recommended.
Nags Head Woods in particular is surprisingly rugged with steep elevation gains. Buxton Woods, at the coming together of temperate and subtropical climates, is considered one of the most unique maritime forests in the world. Kitty Hawk Woods, somewhat similar to Nags Head Woods, allows bikes on its paths. Anyone with moderate mountain biking skills would have a lot of fun riding the trails.
Take a wine tour
Located at the Cotton Gin in the town of Jarvisburg, NC, Sanctuary Vineyards is in their 12th year of production and the wines they are turning out are getting better and better. Their fruit wines have won a number of awards and their classic European varietals are also garnering attention. It’s a small operation, so check on tour availability by calling (252) 491-2387.
Take a brewery tour
Since you’re already on the mainland, less than 5 minutes north in the town of Grandy, NC is the Weeping Radish Farm Brewery, the oldest microbrewery in North Carolina. Founded in 1986 by Uli Bennewitz, the brewery has been turning out some delicious Bavarian style brews for almost 30 years.
Some people will remember Weeping Radish from its original location in the town of Manteo, but as Uli’s beers became more popular, he found he did not have the space to grow that he needed.
While at the Weeping Radish, see if you can get a quick tour of the sausage making facility, also on site. Then head to the pub and treat yourself to a bratwurst and beer.
See the Purple Martins return to their roost.
The largest member of the swallow family, Purple Martins are completely dependent on manmade structures to survive east of the Mississippi, and they seem to have found the perfect structure in the William B. Umstead Bridge-the old Manns Harbor Bridge connecting Manteo with the mainland.
Every evening as the sun sets, hundreds of thousands of purple martins return to their roosts under the bridge. The flight of the birds can be seen from either end of the bridge, but the best view, although difficult to arrange, is probably on the water.
It is quite literally a cloud of birds returning home-an absolutely remarkable sight and well worth the effort to see in person.
Take one for the kids… and kids at heart.
Jockey’s Ridge is the highest sand dune on the East Coast. It’s steep, there are no obstructions, and it is perfect for sand boarding.
There are people that take this sport to extremes, searching for the perfect board to ski down the dunes. Our advice is to have some fun, avoid spending too much money, and enjoy the time with your family. A good sturdy piece of cardboard, or better yet an old skimboard or slick bottom body board, will work just fine.