Why Is the Outer Banks Rated Top Ten Family Beach Vacation?

The Outer Banks has been a favorite family beach vacation for tourists in the know for years. In 2017, this former pirate hideaway has grabbed the national spotlight once again with its sixth-place ranking in U.S. News and World Report’s 2017 Best Vacations Guide. What makes the Outer Banks rated top family beach vacation among perennial favorites such as Ocean City, Maui, Hilton Head, and Honolulu?

Family running on the beach in Hatteras, NC Outer Banks

On the Outer Banks, Adventure Still Calls

Why is the Outer Banks so well-loved by families? Perhaps it is because this place still has that sense of adventure that calls to all of us come vacation time. Perhaps it’s because it’s where humankind officially first took flight. Perhaps it’s because of the legendary pirates who once called it home. It’s all that—and a line of windswept beaches that haven’t fallen prey to the cheap carnival barkers and the freak shows that line most other Eastern beach towns. It’s still Nature—in the raw.

Relive History

Explore where humans first took flight: Your family will be thrilled to see the spot where the Wright Brothers first took flight in the windy dunes of Kill Devil Hills. Afterwards, head to Jockey’s Ridge State Park to experience the power of the wind for yourself at the East Coast’s highest sand dune. Hike to the top (bring your shoes in the summer—the sand gets hot) or take the shortcut on the site’s boardwalk. Experience hang gliding, just like the Wright Brothers, fly a kite, or go sandboarding—there are fun activities for every member of the family. Nature oddity lovers can hit the surrounding trails in search of fulgurites, tubes of glass that form when lightning strikes sand.

Visit where pirates once roamed: Take a ferry over to Ocracoke Island and see where the renegade pirate Blackbeard took his final stand. While parents sip white wine and munch down on shrimp right off the boat at one of the island’s dockside cafés, kids can gaze out over the water and imagine life as a pirate holed up on this oceanside paradise.

Investigate a long-unsolved mystery: On Roanoke Island, your family can relive what it must have been like for the country’s first colonists as you watch the reenactment of the Lost Colony—a mass disappearance that the world’s best sleuths have never solved.

Indulge your own pirate fantasies: Kids and grownups alike will thrill to the excitement of reliving the life of a pirate at the Pirate Adventures of the Outer Banks. Get the kids suited up in pirate gear and watch as the merry band of pirates welcome you aboard a real ship. Find hidden treasure; experience the heart-pounding thrill of firing a cannon (no worries—it’s a water cannon), and much more.

Create Your Own Outer Banks Adventure

Explore the beaches: Long-ago escapades aren’t the only adventures your family will enjoy. Windsurf, swim, fish, or hike miles of beaches to your hearts’ content. Family favorites from one corner of the island to the other. Each town has it’s own unique and attractions. Avon, beloved by surfers for their huge waves, Duck—where you can bring Fido along to splash in the water, and Hatteras—with its breathtaking scenery and uncrowded beaches.

Expand your appreciation of nature: Spend some time reconnecting with nature at the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. Delight at the blue crabs that scamper along the beach. If you’re lucky, you may even see a sea turtle or two. Wonder at the abundance of bird and plant life in the salt marshes. Climb up into the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse to see the ocean from a whole new perspective.

For a True Taste of the Outer Banks, Dine Like the Locals

Ditch your chain restaurant habit and embrace the local fare. The Outer Banks is a veritable paradise for seafood lovers. From the long-time local favorites, like the pirate-themed Jolly Roger in Kill Devil Hills to the Southern comfort of the Blue Moon Beach Grill in Nags Head, there’s something for every palate. Freshly caught shrimp and soft-shell crabs in season are usually standard fare at most Outer Banks eateries. If you prefer to cook your own and are lucky enough to have a rental with a full kitchen, check out the I Got Your Crabs Seafood Market and Steam Bar for the daily selection. For a quick bite before you head to the beach, grab a to-go from one of the many sandwich shops or taco stands along your route. Don’t forget to indulge yourself at the iconic local sweet spot, Duck Donuts—with several locations throughout the island chain.

Have Fun, But Stay Safe

Beach safety: For families with children or inexperienced swimmers, be sure to make sure a lifeguard is on duty before you hit the waves. Wear life jackets for extra protection. Tell your children to stay out of the path of surfers to avoid accidents. Even adults should stay out of the water if you see a red flag flying. Red flags warn of high surf, strong currents, or other water hazards. In most communities, it’s illegal—as well as unsafe—to enter the water during those times. On the Outer Banks, you’ll sometimes share the water with jellyfish. Although they are lovely to look at, don’t touch them. Some of them can deliver a sting. Vinegar, meat tenderizer, or a special gel you can buy at most beach shops will relieve the pain.

Dune safety: Before you tackle hang gliding, take a lesson or two before you fly solo. Never fly a kite if you hear thunder, no matter how distant it sounds.

Storm safety: Weather storms inside. With few high buildings to attract lightning, the possibility of getting struck is high. Don’t chance it. Stay inside and enjoy watching the power of nature from your room.

Before You Leave, Reserve a Spot to Stay

Because the Outer Banks is such a popular vacation spot, hotel rooms and vacation home rental reservations fill up early, especially during peak times. Here’s how to nab the best spot to call home during your family’s Outer Banks vacation:

Consider the length of your stay: For overnight stays, a hotel may do. If you’re spending more than a couple of days, however, it may be a better bet to rent a vacation home. More privacy, the option to cook your own meals, and more space to spread out can make a long stay more enjoyable.

Consider your family situation: When you travel with children or teens, vacation homes are usually the best choice. Not only does it provide more value for the price, but the kids can let loose and be as noisy as they like.

For more information on finding the perfect rental home for your family’s Outer Banks vacation, contact the local home experts at Shore Details today.