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What to Do in the Outer Banks First you have to travel here. You could just drive over a bridge to reach the barrier islands of the Outer Banks, but the alternative is much more fun—car ferries run from Cedar Island and Swan Quarter to Ocracoke and also provide the only connection between Hatteras and Ocracoke islands.

Climb to the top of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse near Buxton or the Currituck Beach Lighthouse at Corolla, and you'll be rewarded with things to see and an appreciation for the role these guardians played in safeguarding seafaring vessels.

Take a leisurely drive along undeveloped stretches of SR 12 through Cape Hatteras National Seashore , enjoying the destination's solitude, the sound of the surf and the sea oats swaying in the ocean breeze.

Things to see in the Outer Banks

Remember the determined souls who sailed from England to an unknown land in 1585 to establish an outpost for their mother country. Fort Raleigh National Historic Site , Elizabethan Gardens , the play “The Lost Colony” and Roanoke Island Festival Park, Home of Elizabeth II —all on the island in Roanoke Sound where the expedition came ashore—recall these settlers' efforts to colonize the New World.

Marvel at the advances in aviation since Orville and Wilbur Wright's Flyer left the ground for 12 seconds and a distance of 120 feet on that blustery December day in 1903. Things to see include the Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kill Devil Hills, which traces the brothers' attempts to conquer the mysteries of powered flight.

Stay for a while. For a true Outer Banks experience, rent an oceanfront “cottage” for a week or longer; choices range from modest but cozy bungalows to palatial 10-bedroom mansions. (Hotels may be a better choice for last-minute travel.)

Scramble up the shifting sands of the tallest dunes on the East Coast at Jockey's Ridge State Park in Nags Head for unparalleled views of both Roanoke Sound and the Atlantic Ocean—coming back down is much easier.

Eating out in the Outer Banks

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Sample the tasty bounty from local waters—freshly caught tuna, flounder, crab, grouper, trout, oysters, rockfish and shrimp—served in simple, nautical-themed surroundings or elegant fine dining restaurants. Regardless, the dress code is comfortable and casual.

Adventure travel in the Outer Banks

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Go barefoot—all the better to sift soft, warm sand between your toes, soak up some sun, frolic in the foamy waves and build imaginative sand castles on windswept, dune-rimmed expanses of beach. Or, try your hand at a new sport: you might find your passion in surfing, parasailing, windsurfing, sea kayaking or kiteboarding.

Shopping in the Outer Banks

Join the crowds and buy an OBX souvenir. It seems this acronym for the Outer Banks appears just about everywhere and on everything. You'll find OBX—presented as three bold black letters inside a banded oval—on car bumpers and back windows, on T-shirts, hats, sweatshirts and other typical forms of vacation mementos. You can even write #OBX (with a hashtag) on social media to let friends know where to go in the Outer Banks.

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Outer Banks, NC

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107 S Virginia Dare Tr. Kill Devil Hills, NC 27948

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Hilton Garden Inn Outer Banks/Kitty Hawk

5353 N Virginia Dare Tr. Kitty Hawk, NC 27949

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2028 S Virginia Dare Tr. Kill Devil Hills, NC 27948

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Sea Ranch Resort

1731 N Virginia Dare Tr. Kill Devil Hills, NC 27948

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