Outer Banks Attractions

Outer Banks NC Attractions: Nature and History

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

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

First Fridays in Manteo

Outer Banks Attraction
Downtown Manteo, Manteo

First Friday is a family-oriented festival held in downtown Manteo on the first Friday of every month from April through December. From 6 to 8 p.m. downtown Manteo’s sidewalks come alive with a wide variety of musical performances and festive activities for all ages. Individual shops and restaurants frequently do their own celebratory activity such as live music, special sales, refreshments and hors d’oeuvres. Dare County... read more

First Friday is a family-oriented festival held in downtown Manteo on the first Friday of... read more

Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum

Outer Banks Attraction
59200 Museum Drive, Hatteras Village
(252) 986-2995

At the end of N.C. Highway 12 just past the ferry docks, Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum attracts a lot of attention with its ship-like building, porthole windows and curved timbers. One of three North Carolina Maritime Museums operated by the North Carolina Division of Cultural Resources, the museum focuses on the maritime history and shipwrecks of North Carolina’s Outer Banks, often called the Graveyard... read more

At the end of N.C. Highway 12 just past the ferry docks, Graveyard of the... read more

Hatteras Village

Outer Banks Attraction

On the southern end of Hatteras Island, Hatteras, or as the locals call it, Hatteras Village, is known for its ties to offshore fishing. The village borders Hatteras Inlet, giving recreational and commercial fishing boats an easy route to the Gulf Stream and the inshore fishing grounds. Hatteras has several marinas where commercial and recreational boats dock, making this a great place from which to... read more

On the southern end of Hatteras Island, Hatteras, or as the locals call it, Hatteras... read more

Island Farm

Outer Banks Attraction
1140 N. US Highway 64, Manteo
(252) 473-6500

A living history site, Island Farm interprets daily life on Roanoke Island in the mid-1800s. Visitors feel as if they’ve stepped back more than 150 years as they explore the farm and see interpreters dressed in period attire carrying out the daily activities of the time — tending animals, blacksmithing, hoeing corn, doing laundry, making corn cakes. Hands-on activities and demonstrations may include woodworking, textile... read more

A living history site, Island Farm interprets daily life on Roanoke Island in the mid-1800s.... read more

Jennette's Pier

Outer Banks Attraction
7223 S. Virginia Dare Trail, The Beach Road, MP 16.5, Nags Head
(252) 255-1501

Jennette’s Pier is a state-of-the-art educational center and fishing pier complete with a pier shop, classroom and banquet hall, and it's the newest Outer Banks attraction, drawing thousands of visitors each year. The pier features wide, clean public beaches, free parking and a bath house with outdoor showers. With its mantra of Fishing, Family and Fun, Jennette’s offers something for everyone. There’s world-class fishing, unique... read more

Jennette’s Pier is a state-of-the-art educational center and fishing pier complete with a pier shop,... read more

Kill Devil Hills

Outer Banks Attraction
Town Hall
(252) 449-5300

At the geographic center of the Outer Banks, Kill Devil Hills (KDH as it’s known) is perfectly situated for those who want to see both the northern and southern ends of the Banks in one vacation. Kill Devil Hills is the largest town on the Outer Banks in terms of year-round population, and it offers a wealth of services, fast-food restaurants and necessity businesses. But... read more

At the geographic center of the Outer Banks, Kill Devil Hills (KDH as it’s known)... read more

Kitty Hawk

Outer Banks Attraction
Town Hall
(252) 261-3552

Kitty Hawk is known the world over for its association with the Wright brothers and flight. The Wright brothers didn’t actually fly their airplane here, but they did arrive and depart the Outer Banks at Kitty Hawk, and they found accommodations in the rural soundside community for some of their visits in the early 1900s. More than a century later, Kitty Hawk has shifted its focus... read more

Kitty Hawk is known the world over for its association with the Wright brothers and... read more

Lost Colony

Outer Banks Attraction
1409 National Park Drive (off U.S. Highway 64), Waterside Theatre, Manteo
(252) 473-2127

More than 400 years ago, 117 men, women and children sailed from Plymouth, England, in an attempt to settle on Roanoke Island. They vanished just two years later. The only clue left behind was the word “CROATOAN” carved in a tree. The Lost Colony is their story. This outdoor drama is the longest-standing Outer Banks attraction, celebrating its 80th season in 2017!

Written by Pulitzer... read more

More than 400 years ago, 117 men, women and children sailed from Plymouth, England, in... read more

Manteo

Outer Banks Attraction
(252) 473-2133

Manteo, the only incorporated town on Roanoke Island and the Dare County seat, is a small island town complete with a picturesque waterfront, a safe harbor, welcoming docks and a charming downtown historic area. 

Manteo’s waterfront downtown is an attraction in itself, with shops, art galleries, eateries, a lighthouse, a maritime museum, a waterfront boardwalk, a park and children's playground and boats sitting in the... read more

Manteo, the only incorporated town on Roanoke Island and the Dare County seat, is a... read more

Manteo Preservation Trust's Holiday Tour of Homes

Outer Banks Attraction

Manteo Preservation Trust is a group dedicated to bringing awareness to the public of the cultural, architectural and historic heritage of Roanoke Island. Every year, its central fundraiser is the Holiday Tour of Homes, during which homes and other structures on the island are beautifully decorated and open to tour. The tour route is usually easily walkable, and a local bike shops also donates bikes... read more

Manteo Preservation Trust is a group dedicated to bringing awareness to the public of the... read more

Nags Head

Outer Banks Attraction
Town Hall
(252) 441-5508

The first resort area on the Outer Banks beaches, Nags Head is still drawing vacationers more than 150 years later. Nags Head is one of the largest towns on the Outer Banks, and it’s filled with everything anyone needs to enjoy a great vacation by the sea. Nags Head offers a mix of vacation accommodations, from small cottages to luxurious homes, from mom-and-pop cottage court efficiencies... read more

The first resort area on the Outer Banks beaches, Nags Head is still drawing vacationers... read more

North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island

Outer Banks Attraction
374 Airport Road, Manteo
(252) 475-2300
(800) 832-3474 x4

The North Carolina Aquarium is one of the most popular attractions on the Outer Banks, and it got a fantastic renovation that was completed in the summer of 2016. Yes, it's perfect for a rainy day, but you will also appreciate the cool, quiet environment when you've had enough of the sun. Just stepping into the aquarium’s lobby is like diving into the ocean’s depths.... read more

The North Carolina Aquarium is one of the most popular attractions on the Outer Banks,... read more