Come one, you know what I mean. You see those oval stickers on the backs of all the cool minivans and SUV’s. Did you ever wonder about the OBX sticker? OBX is Outer Banks – a 300 mile long group of barrier islands off of the North Carolina coast. The Outer Banks have been a destination vacation for generations of families and for good reason. If you are looking for a family-friendly, laid-back experience for your entire family, few places fit the bill as well.
No matter what the age range of your group happens to be, there is a portion of the Outer Banks to make you all happy. From north to south you can choose from: Carova, Monterey Shores, Corolla, Whalehead, Duck, Southern Shores, Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills, Nags Head, Rodanthe, Waves, Salvo, Avon, Buxton, Frisco, Cape Hatteras and Ocracoke Island. Each town has its own charms, history and beautiful beaches. Each town has a distinct personality. It’s up to you to determine what best suits your family.
- Carova – If you are seeking to get away from it all, Carova is your destination. The northermost town of the Outer Banks, you really want to bring your 4×4 vehicle. There are vacation rentals, rugged beaches and wild mustangs.
- Monterey Shores – Located within the town of Corolla, Monterey Shores offers the best of the sound and the shore. Vacationers have access to boat launches as well as the beach. Enjoy laid back time fishing, crabbing, shell-seeking and simply enjoying life in real time.
- Corolla – Once known only for its history of shipwrecks and the locals skill at duck hunting, Corolla has become a boom town in the Outer Banks. If you want the best of the salt life but crave a little luxury, this is a good place to start. Upscale shopping and dining are big highlights in Corolla.
- Whalehead – With only three miles of beachfront, Whalehead Beach is a small portion of the Outer Banks. You’ll find a calm, upscale town with some great family beach rentals. For dining and shopping, plan on heading to nearby towns.
- Duck – If you want a quirky town atmosphere with little commercialization, Duck is your destination! There are no campgrounds, only one inn and a select choice of vacation rentals, Duck is an excellent base camp for a family vacation. You’ll have access to water sports on the sound and on the ocean as well as pristine beaches.
- Southern Shores – Located between Duck and Kitty Hawk, Southern Shores offers private home rentals for those looking to escape the vacation hustle-bustle. Each house has its own private beach access. There are not a lot of shops, restaurants, condos or hotels driving traffic through Southern Shores. If you want excitement, it’s only a short car ride away.
- Kitty Hawk & Kill Devil Hills – As you head south into Kitty Hawk, you’ll notice the sense of history is preserved in a manageable way. Home of the Wright Brothers’ first flight, Kitty Hawk is a fun destination with a well-maintained balance of rental homes, condos and hotels. The beaches are spectacular and there is plenty to do in a short distance. Talk to an adult who vacationed in the Outer Banks as a child and they’ll tell you about Kill Devil Hills. The 70-80′ tall sand dunes (where the Wright Brothers’ plane was launched) is great fun for running down at full speed only to crash in the soft sand. Alternatively, pick up hoodies for the kids and let them roll down the dunes.
- Nags Head – Probably the most commercial of the Outer Banks’ towns, Nags Head is a landmark town. For the nostalgic, it still boasts a few of the old hotels/motels. For the hungry, Nags Head offers the largest variety of restaurants on the Outer Banks. If this is your first visit, Nags Head’s central location gives you access to all of the Outer Banks within a reasonable drive time.
- Rodanthe/Waves/Salvo – Yes, that Rodanthe! Visit scenes from the movie Nights in Rodanthe and enjoy the romance and beauty of the beach and the local nature preserve, Pea Island. This area of the Outer Banks offers an astounding number of rentals – from cottages to mansions. The location allows for easy access to all the Outer Banks has to offer. Or, just stay put and build sand castles.
- Avon/Buxton/Frisco/Hatteras – In these southern towns you will find yourself immersed in history, world-class surfing, deep sea fishing and astounding beaches. Kids will have a blast learning about Black Beard and other pirates. If you’re smart, you’ll bring a treasure to bury before you leave. The kids will remember it forever.
- Ocracoke Island – No matter where you stay on the Outer Banks, it’s worth a day to go to Ocracoke Island. The ferry trip is fun. The island itself is full of history, food, nature and excellent pirate and/or sailing tours. If you opt to stay on Ocracoke, there are hotels, condos, camping and a select number of home rentals. Ocracoke does not have the beaches the other parts of the Outer Banks offer but, it does have charm, history and plenty to keep you all busy.
The Outer Banks are a great choice if you are looking for a reasonably priced, memorable beach vacation. Consider sharing your vacation with a friend or with family members. The combined budget might allow you to rent an HGTV-worthy house with a pool located just steps from the beach! With a little planning, you can situate yourself in the location best suited to the ages and interests of everyone.