The Outer Banks is full of fun things to do for couples and families!  This North Carolina beach destination is a great place to visit summer with its endless beaches and endless list of activities.

outer banks things to do

Here’s a list of some of the best things to do in the Outer Banks!

Visit a Lighthouse

The Outer Banks is home to 5 lighthouses so no matter where you are staying, you will probably be within a 30 minute drive of a lighthouse.  Here are my 3 favorite ones to visit.

Bodie Lighthouse

Just 15 minutes south of Nags Head, Bodie Lighthouse is probably the most popular and the one you’ve seen in pictures most often.  It’s one of the most picturesque things to do in the Outer Banks.

There is a lovely board walk over to the sound side from Bodie where you can snap a glorious photo with the light house as a backdrop!  Definitely enjoy a sunset or two here.

Bodie Lighthouse has plenty of onsite parking and you can climb the 214 steps to the top for a fee.

Currituck Lighthouse

If you happen to be staying in Northern Outerbanks, in the Corolla area, then the Currituck Lighthouse is worth a visit.  The Currituck Beach Lighthouse is open daily for climbing from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. from mid-March until the end of November for a fee.

Cape Hatteras Lighthouse

Like Bodie Lighthouse, Cape Hatteras Lighthouse is one of the most photographed lighthouses in the Outer Banks.  Climbing to the top of this lighthouse is a must do activity in the Outer Banks because you will have a panoramic view of just about all of Hatteras.  

Cape Hatteras is in the southern portion of the Outer Banks, so if you are staying in Avon, Hatters, or Rodonth this is the Lighthouse to visit!

Drive on the Beach in the Outer Banks

Did you know you could drive on the beach in the Outer Banks?  Just north of Corolla, you enter the Currituck Outer Banks Preserve. 

You can take your 4 wheel drive vehicle right onto the beach here!  The rules are you cannot stop and park anywhere you have to keep driving.  Or you can get a parking permit to actually park your vehicle on the beach, more information here.  https://co.currituck.nc.us/beach-parking/

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If you are in the Hatteras area you can also drive on the beach South Nags HeadHatteras/Ocracoke Islands, more information and permits here:  https://www.nps.gov/caha/planyourvisit/permitsandreservations.htm#ORV

Look for Wild Horses in the Outer Banks

Did you know wild horses roam free in the Outer Banks?  Kind of like Assateague Island, the Currituck area in the Northern Outer Banks is home to wild horses.  You can take your 4×4 and drive on the beach to try and spot them, or take a guided tour to find them.

Eat all the Oysters and Shrimp 

One of my favorite things to do in the Outer Banks is eating all the fresh local seafood, especially the raw oysters, steamed clams and shrimp!

The shrimp and oysters in the Outer Banks really stand out in terms of freshness.  Go to any seafood market and order a steamer pot to go, or eat it cooked there.

My favorite seafood market is I’ve Got Your Crabs in Kitty Hawk!  

Go Fishing on a Boat

If you enjoy fishing then definitely book a fishing tour in the Outer Banks.  We left super early in the morning for this activity in the Outer Banks and though I didn’t catch any fish, we had a great time out on the water.

I didn’t catch any fish, but I did end up catching a baby shark that I tossed back!

Fly Kites

Most beaches in the Outer Banks allow kites after 5 p.m. 

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We did this several times with our daughter and it was so much fun and it was such a fun kid friendly activity in the Outer Banks!  

It does get quite windy on the beach, so getting a kite up is no problem.  You’ll want to attach a weight to the end though because we almost lost our kite a few times!

Take a Surf Lesson

Surfing in the Outer Banks is not a well known activity, but it’s so much fun!

If you have never surfed, definitely take a surf lesson.  There’s plenty of shops offering classes that are very reasonably priced.

I’ve never surfed before, and after my lesson I was able to ride a wave once or twice!  I highly recommend trying this activity in the Outer Banks!

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This year when we go back, we are definitely renting surf boards for our whole stay!

Enjoy Sunset at Haulover

Haulover, also known as the Canadian Hole, is on the soundside of OBX in Avon.  This little beach is great for windsurfing and kitesurfing.

It’s also the perfect beach for families because of the shallow waters.  The sunset here is simply stunning.

There’s plenty of free parking and there are bathrooms as well.  

Visit Jocky’s Ridge State Park

Jocky’s Ridge State Park should definitely be on your activity list for the Outer Banks!  It is the biggest sand dune on the East Coast.

outer banks north carolina

I’ve never seen anything like it in this area!  If you want to pretend you are in a desert then this is the place!

Sunsets here are absolutely EPIC.

There’s plenty of parking and it’s free to enter.  Definitely bring lots of water for your visit though because you will get super thirsty.

I’ve been here during the middle of the day and during sunset.  If you come here during the middle of the day, it is very very hot.  The sand will burn your feet kind of hot.  

So wear shoes.  At sunset however the sand has lost its heat and it’s definitely more pleasant.

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Jockey’s Ridge is great for families, all the kids loved it here.  We brought kites along to fly as well!

Go Hang Gliding

If you are up for adventure definitely go hang gliding at the largest sand dune on the east coast, Jocky’s Ridge. We totally saw people doing this and wanted to hang glide too, but we did not have time!

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