Things to Do on the Outer Banks

Millions of visitors travel to North Carolina’s Outer Banks to enjoy miles of sand and surf, but if you’re looking for another reason to get away, the area boasts some of the best food, music and sporting events, all of which are gaining national and international popularity.

1. Outer Banks Seafood Festival

Outer Banks Seafood Festival
Outer Banks Visitors Bureau
Designed to bring fishermen closer to the people they feed, the Outer Banks Seafood Festival is a family-friendly event that allows visitors to step into the local fishing culture for a day of food education.

Sample local seafood, explore the history of the fishing industry and learn the different types of fish and seafood preparation popular in the area. Then cheer on the locals in the Fish House Olympics, where competitions include the mullet toss, fish packing and cast net throwing. Friday night is the festival’s opening party, Dock and Dine, where you can sample local fare such as fried and steamed seafood, sushi, and shrimp and grits, all while listening to local artists perform.

2. Outer Banks Taste of the Beach

Outer Banks Taste of the Beach
Outer Banks Restaurant Association
The Outer Banks Taste of the Beach gives gastronomes 4 days to celebrate the independent restaurant culture of the Outer Banks, from the town of Corolla to Roanoke Island. Deciding what to see (and sample) at The Taste requires some planning; there are more than 70 events over the St. Patrick’s Day weekend.

Customize your itinerary with beer tastings, wine classes, restaurant tours, cooking classes and BBQ showdowns. Popular events include the tapas crawls in the towns of Duck and Manteo, in which participants walk to restaurants to sample local cuisine paired with wine and beer, and the chowder cook-off in North Carolina’s Southern Shores at Coastal Provisions Market. Tickets for the 2014 Taste go on sale in December.

3. Outer Banks Bluegrass Festival

Outer Banks Bluegrass Festival
Outer Banks Bluegrass Festival
The distinct sounds of fiddles and banjos come to the Outer Banks the first weekend in October for the Outer Banks Bluegrass Festival in Manteo. This festival brings together bluegrass stars with regional favorites for 3 days and 4 nights of performances, jam sessions and the “Boomgrass,” a fireworks show set to music.

Singer-songwriter Rhonda Vincent, dubbed the “New Queen of Bluegrass” by The Wall Street Journal, and the bluegrass band Russell Moore and IIIrd Tyme Out headline this year’s festival.

4. Duck Jazz Festival

Duck Jazz Festival
Town of Duck
Regular visitors to Duck, NC, know that the town has a growing music scene, with its weekly songwriter series and evening concerts in the park. Its largest musical celebration is the Duck Jazz Festival, held Columbus Day weekend each year. Bring a lawn chair or blanket to the Duck Town Green for an afternoon of jazz performances by regional and national artists, plus cuisine from Duck’s best restaurants.

Now in its seventh year, this free festival has hosted contemporary jazz groups like the Rippingtons and guitarist Joyce Cooling. This year’s festival features trombonist Delfeayo Marsalis.

5. Triple S Invitational

Triple S Invitational
REAL Watersports
The Triple S Invitational – which stands for Surf, Slicks and Sliders – started in 2006 in Cape Hatteras. This event draws world-class kiteboarders from over a dozen countries to compete in 10 events during the first week in June as more than 10,000 people watch.

Make sure to check out the competitions on the world’s largest slider park for kiteboarding (imagine a skateboard park in the water).

6. Wings Over Water Wildlife Festival

Wings Over Water Wildlife Festival
Jackie Orsulak
The Wings Over Water Wildlife Festival connects visitors with the numerous outdoors adventures available in the Outer Banks and nearby areas. Bird watchers will be impressed with the more than 300 species of birds, and there is a variety of other wildlife and indigenous vegetation to enjoy while taking stand-up paddleboard, kayak or canoe tours, nature photography lessons or hiking trips.

There are over 70 tours and classes over 6 days so be sure to make reservations ahead of time and schedule no more than 2 trips a day.

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