Outer Banks NC Attractions

Outer Banks NC Attractions: Nature and HistoryOuter Banks Wild Horses

Nature envelops every aspect of an Outer Banks visit, and many of the Outer Banks NC attractions that locals and visitors most visit are associated with the natural world and the extraordinary history that has happened on these islands.

Each town has its own offerings. Corolla, despite the fact that it's the newest developed vacation area here, is resplendent with history -- the stately Currituck Beach Lighthouse, an historic mansion built in the 1920s, a restored life-saving station and a village center made up of original buildings that have been repurposed as shops, a school, a spa/salon and more. Of course, other Corolla Attractions focus on nature: a wildlife center, town garden, nature trails and the beloved Corolla wild horses. Farther south, a monument to the first powered flight rises toward the sky the Wright brothers longed to take to (see Nags Head Attractions), while a giant sand dune and lush maritime forest provide places to explore.

Roanoke Island is Home to Many Outer Banks NC Attractions

Outer Banks Hatteras Lighthouse

Some of the most popular Outer Banks NC attractions are found in Manteo. Outdoor theater performances of The Lost Colony enchant patrons with the story of the first attempt of colonization in the New World, and the Elizabethan Gardens pay tribute to these colonists. Other Roanoke Island attractions give you a glimpse of life on a mid-1800s farm (Island Farm), of screw-pile lighthouses, of Native Americans who lived here long before the attempts of English colonization and of a Freedman's Colony that was formed toward the end of the Civil War. The NC Aquarium brings the sea and her creatures up close, and the Roanoke Island Festival Park helps you get up close to Outer Banks history with an interactive museum, the representative ship Elizabeth II, period actors who display the behavior and everyday actions of colonists from the 1500s as they interact with visitors, a Native American village and an outdoor pavilion that hosts musical events. 

Hatteras and Ocracoke Attractions Show a Wild Side

Ponies (look at Ocracoke Attractions), bears, wolves and alligators bring a wild side to Outer Banks attractions. And birding in the Pea Island Wildlife Refuge draws visitors from across the country -- see Hatteras Attractions. Then, add to this the fact that you're on islands surrounded by sounds full of dolphin and fish and miles of undeveloped seashore bordering Mother Ocean, and you have a vast bounty of Outer Banks attractions to enliven your experience here.

You’re likely to need more than one visit to take in all that the extraordinary Outer Banks attractions have to offer. Enjoy!

Outer Banks NC Attractions by Area

Corolla | Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills & Nags Head
Roanoke Island & Manteo | Hatteras Island | Ocracoke Island

Outer Banks Attractions by Category

Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge

Milltail Road, off U.S. Highway 64, Manteo
(252) 473-1131

Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge is a 154,000-acre refuge on the mainland portion of Dare and Hyde counties. It was established in 1984 to preserve and protect a unique wetland habitat type, the pocosin, and its associated wildlife species. Pocosin is a Native American word meaning ‘‘swamp-on-a-hill’’ and is characterized by poorly drained soils high in organic material. The Refuge's diversity of habitat types includes... read more


South of the Tri-Villages of Rodanthe, Waves and Salvo, past a sizable stretch of undeveloped Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Avon is considered the largest and busiest of the Hatteras Island towns (but remember that’s relative to Hatteras Island, not where you come from). Avon has the only two stoplights on the island and the only chain grocery store. It also has a wealth of accommodations,... read more

Back Beach Wild Horse Tours

1159-H Austin Street, Corolla
(252) 453-6141

Back Beach Wild Horse Tours' highly trained staff has a great reputation for being entertaining and informative. Their tours last two hours and incorporate quite a bit of local history to complement the sightseeing while showering you with interesting lore. In the four-wheel-drive area you’ll see the Corolla wild horses grazing in their natural habitat and the occasional deer and surfing dolphins. Back Beach tours are given in safari-style,... read more

Back Country Wild Horse Safari

Meet at Corolla Light Town Center, 1109 Ocean Trail, Corolla
(252) 453-0877

Scott Trabue’s Wild Horse Safari is an off-road eco-adventure that will deliver you and your family directly to the wild Spanish mustangs that have thrived on the northern Outer Banks for nearly 500 years. Your naturalist guide will carry you in custom open-air Safari Cruisers through 30 miles of beaches, dune and backcountry sand lanes to discover the Outer Banks’ unique wildlife. Shore life including... read more

Bob’s Wild Horse Tours

817-B Ocean Trail, Highway 12, Corolla
(252) 453-8602

Bob White is a legend in the horse tour business! He and his highly trained staff have been offering tours since 1996 with a great reputation for being both entertaining and informative. Bob’s tours last two hours and incorporate quite a bit of local history and interesting lore to complement the sightseeing. In the four-wheel-drive area you’ll see the horses grazing in their natural habitat, often along with... read more

Buxton and Frisco

Buxton and Frisco are two distinct villages but they border one another (without any parklands in between) so they kind of blend together. Both of these villages are set among the Buxton Woods Maritime Forest, lending a different feel from the villages to the north, and Buxton is situated at the island’s widest point.

Buxton is the home of the world-famous Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, which... read more

Chicamacomico Life-Saving Station

23645 N.C. Highway 12, Rodanthe
(252) 987-1552

Chicamacomico Life-Saving Station is the nation’s largest and most complete existing example of the U.S. Life-Saving Service stations that were built along the Atlantic coast in the late 19th century to attend to shipwrecks and rescue survivors. The 1874 Station was the first operational station built in North Carolina, serving until 1954. Chicamacomico has been partially restored, thanks to numerous volunteers who formed a nonprofit... read more

Corolla Wild Horse Museum

1129 Corolla Village Road, Corolla
(252) 453-8002

Housed within a historic home in Corolla Village, the free Corolla Wild Horse Fund museum shares the wonderful history and legacy of the Colonial Spanish Mustangs. Descendants of Spanish Mustangs brought to our island nearly 500 years ago, they are a hardy and majestic breed that is teetering on the brink of extinction. At the museum the whole family can learn more from their knowledgeable... read more

Corolla Wild Horse Tours

1210 Ocean Trail, Corolla
(252) 207-0511

Corolla Wild Horse Tours has been guiding tours to Corolla’s horse country — the four-wheel-drive-only beaches north of Corolla — since 1996. With these experienced and knowledgeable guides, you can sit back and enjoy a comfortable, family-oriented tour. This company uses 15-passenger, open-air safari-style trucks that are safe for any age, including kids in car seats. Along the trip, your guide will tell you about... read more

Currituck Beach Lighthouse

1101 Corolla Village Road, Corolla
(252) 453-4939

The red-brick Currituck Beach Lighthouse towers above the landscape in the Historic Corolla village. Visitors to this Outer Banks attraction can climb the winding staircase, 220 steps in all, to the top of the lighthouse for a panoramic view of Currituck Sound, the Atlantic Ocean and the Currituck Outer Banks. Inside the lighthouse, at the base and on the first two landings, there are museum-quality... read more

Currituck Outer Banks Visitors Center

500 Hunt Club Drive, Corolla
(252) 453-9612

The Currituck Outer Banks Visitors Center offers restrooms plus all the visitor information and assistance you'll need for a trip to Corolla and its surrounding areas. You'll find it on the west side of N.C. Highway 12 on the south end of the Currituck Club; if heading north, start looking for it on the left after you pass the Hampton Inn.

Currituck County also operates... read more

Elizabethan Gardens

1411 National Park Drive (off U.S. Highway 64) next to Fort Raleigh National Historic Site, Manteo
(252) 473-3234

Designed by two of America’s foremost landscape architects to pay tribute to America’s first English colonists, The Elizabethan Gardens is a rare treasure and a beloved Outer Banks attraction. It’s a haven of verdant, flourishing growth and natural prosperity. The gardens are in bloom year round with azaleas, dogwoods, roses, camellias, daphne, a variety of annuals and herbs and much more. Adding exquisite touches are... read more