Our Travel Guide To The Towns of The Outer Banks in North Carolina

The Towns of The Outer Banks in North Carolina
Photo by Ethan Howard on Unsplash.com

From north to south, stem to stern, the Outer Banks located in North Carolina provide a perfect blend of the past and the present. For over 400 years, the Outer Banks towns have managed to maintain an unmatched balance of solitude and activity ideal for people of all ages.

The OBX towns serve as the ideal complement to the coastal lighthouses, white sandy beaches, and other iconic attractions dotting the North Carolina landscape. So, as part of our North Carolina Travel tips section, we’ll delve this time into the towns of the Outer Banks. If traveling to the area for a vacation, the following are towns to consider visiting during your trip.

1. Corolla

Top on this list of OBX towns is Corolla, a quaint town sitting between the sounds and the ocean. Tourists love it as there are so many things to do here. An example of this is viewing the wild Colonial Spanish Mustangs that have lived on this island for around 500 years.

Besides seeing the Mustangs, visitors to the town can also take part in varying outdoor activities such as kayaking, surfing, and water skiing. If time allows, scheduling a visit to the Center for Wildlife Education can prove beneficial, as it’s an opportunity to learn about Corolla’s wildlife.

Before packing up and moving on to the next town, it may be worthwhile to try and scale to the summit of the Currituck Beach Lighthouse. This is a stunning tourist attraction located in the Historic Corolla Park.

Watch this video to get a glimpse:

2. Avon

Years ago, this town used to be called “Kinnakeet,” which, when translated, means “that which is mixed.” The name came about as a reference to the intermingling that happened when the Natives began living side by side with the English settlers.

For many years, this town was renowned for its abundance of evergreens, such as cedars and live oaks. At the time, the two were the primary raw materials for building ships — the main source of employment for the town.

Today, this town rests around 15 miles south of Salvo, and tourists can access it via NC Highway 12. Although its quiet water wonderland hosts several noteworthy attractions, a tour of the town shouldn’t end without a visit to the Avon Fishing Pier.

Watch this video to get a glimpse of Avon:

3. Kill Devil Hills

While its name automatically evokes images of a menacing place, Kill Devil Hills has proven to be a true summer paradise. It’s home to stunning vacation rentals that are situated close to popular public beaches.

Guests in this town can look forward to taking part in exciting beachfront activities such as paddling, swimming, and surfing. Apart from beach-related activities, another popular local attraction is the Wright Brothers National Memorial. This memorial is home to a 60-foot-tall historical structure as well as a Visitor Center where you can learn the story of the Wright Brothers and the history of flight.

Watch this video to get learn more:

4. Duck

The town of Duck is a popular destination on the Outer Banks for its selection of local shops, galleries, cafes, and restaurants. Many of these shops and restaurants are connected by a lovely soundside boardwalk that wraps along the west side of the town offering visitors a beautiful view of the sound and stunning sunsets.

Like many other Outer Banks towns, Duck offers visitors many activities to choose from like paddle boarding, kayaking, cycling, and more! Duck is a laid-back town ideal for couples and young families on vacation.

Watch this to get a glimpse of Duck:

5. Southern Shores

The Southern Shores are among the smallest of the OBX towns. The town is smaller than Duck making it ideal for vacationers looking for a peaceful place to relax. 

Vacationers have come to love this town for its natural beauty, characterized by boutique stores, uncrowded beaches, sports courts, and beautiful landscapes. What’s more, there are a variety of restaurants located within a short biking/driving distance.

The Southern Shores experience is peaceful and quiet. This is an ideal location for people who like to be a bit away from the hustle and bustle but also want to enjoy easy access to all amenities. Its unique location means visitors can enjoy a quiet stay at their rental and head out to a nearby town for some entertainment.

Watch this:

6. Manteo

Manteo is a North Carolina stunner sitting on an island between Croatan Sound and Roanoke Sound. This is a waterfront paradise that visitors will enjoy vacationing in during the summer.

Its waterfront vibes and stunning scenery have made it a favorite with many repeat visitors. First-time vacationers should consider exploring its numerous attractions, such as the Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse, the Elizabethan Gardens, and taking in the Tony Award-winning play, The Lost Colony.

Watch this video to get a glimpse:

7. Salvo

Salvo has an undeniable charm that makes it a must-visit for anyone looking to visit multiple OBX towns. For starters, it’s considered one of the Tri-villages, alongside Waves and Rodanthe. Secondly, its beaches are secluded and uncrowded, providing a unique vacation experience.

The Salvo Day Use Area is a hot spot for visitors to the town, even for youngsters. It serves as a kiteboarding, kayaking, paddle boarding, and swimming haven. Visitors can expect to find useful facilities such as changing rooms, restrooms, picnic tables, and even charcoal grills.

Other notable attractions in Salvo include Salvo Beach and Pea Island Art Gallery.

Watch this to get a glimpse of Salvo:

8. Nags Head

Nags Head sits south of Kitty Hawk and East of Bodie Island. Its name is a reference to how shipwreckers used to tie bright lanterns to pony necks (nags). These ponies would then be marched by the shipwreckers onto the rolling dunes in order to confuse sea captains.

Nags Head has become a vacation epicenter that often attracts visitors from far and wide in search of pristine sandy beaches. Its towering sand dunes, found in Jockey’s Ridge State Park, are home to the tallest known living dune system along the Atlantic Coast. These dunes are a major attraction in the area and are a popular spot to visit to watch the stunning sunsets each night.

Check out this video to find out why people love Nags Head so much:

9. Kitty Hawk

Situated between Southern Shores to the north and Kill Devil Hills to the south, Kitty Hawk offers visitors to the Outer Banks a great location close to all the excitement and adventure they could want to partake in. 

A popular attraction for visitors to Kitty Hawk is Kitty Hawk Woods Reserve which is an almost 2,000-acre maritime forest. Here you will be able to enjoy the Outer Banks in all its natural glory and view local wildlife that inhabits the park. 

Golfers love this town due to its popular golf course called Seascape Golf Links. This course showcases the beautiful location it sits on taking golfers through woodlands to dunes! Whether you are looking for a walk in nature, a walk along the beach, or a round of golf, Kitty Hawk is a great location to stay on the Outer Banks.

Watch this video to get a glimpse:

10. Frisco

Frisco is among the smallest of the Outer Banks towns and is perfect for tourists who want to partake in a laid-back Outer Banks vacation.

Whether you like to read a good book on the beach or enjoy beachcombing looking for seashells and other treasures, Frisco won’t disappoint. Another popular activity in the area is a visit to the Frisco Native American Museum.

The museum has a detailed collection of photos, artifacts, and exhibits that can help take the visitors back in time and better understand the local history of the Native American people. The museum also offers seasonal activities and programs that visitors can participate in if they are interested.

Watch this beautiful aerial shot to get a glimpse of Frisco:

11. Buxton

Last on this list of OBX towns is Buxton, home to the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. This is the largest lighthouse in the country and attracts thousands of visitors to this town each year. And next to the lighthouse is one of the finest beaches in North Carolina! A few meters from the Hatteras Lighthouse sits the Buxton Woods. It’s regarded as the oldest and largest maritime forest in this area. 

Buxton is a location high on the list for those who enjoy history and nature. Bring your hiking shoes and enjoy exploring the natural beauty of the OBX!

Watch this:

To Conclude…

Exploring the towns of the Outer Banks in North Carolina unveils a rich tapestry of history, natural beauty, and coastal charm. From the wild mustangs of Corolla to the tranquil shores of Southern Shores, each town offers a unique blend of experiences for visitors seeking solace or adventure along this picturesque coastline. Whether you’re scaling lighthouses, strolling along soundside boardwalks, or immersing yourself in local culture, the towns of the Outer Banks promise unforgettable moments and timeless memories for all who wander their sandy shores.


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“The Jaded Traveler”. Ron Rossi was born and raised in New York. A globalist at heart, Ron is a marketing director by trade, and has lived and worked around the world including Asia, Europe, Africa, and South America. Food is one of the best ways to learn about a country, a people and a culture. So, Ron is always looking for the best in mid-range to budget and street food. He is always on the hunt for a good meal anyone can afford. It is the food of the average citizen that excites him. And with having visited close to 100 countries on 6 continents so far, there have been some pretty good meals.