10 Things to Add to Your Outer Banks Bucket List

Leave the beach house and check off these bucket list items to take your vacation in North Carolina’s Outer Banks to the next level.

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Photo By: Outer Banks Visitors Bureau

Photo By: Erin Gifford

Photo By: Erin Gifford

Photo By: Erin Gifford

Photo By: Outer Banks Visitors Bureau

Photo By: Erin Gifford

Photo By: Outer Banks Visitors Bureau

Photo By: Erin Gifford

Photo By: Outer Banks Visitors Bureau

Photo By: Outer Banks Visitors Bureau

Watch the Catch of the Day Come In

Head to Oregon Inlet Fishing Center in Nags Head in the late-afternoon. At 4 p.m. each day, the fishing boats come in with their daily catches, like sea bass, trout, sea mullet and flounder. It’s fun to watch, but you can also book a fishing charter at the Oregon Inlet Fishing Center to get in on the action first-hand. You can book full- and half-day fishing adventures, which are available for all levels of angling experience.

Hang Glide at Jockey's Ridge State Park

In Nags Head, you’ll find the largest natural sand dunes on the east coast at Jockey’s Ridge State Park. Sign up for a three-hour hang gliding lesson with Kitty Hawk Kites. Sit for 45 minutes of classroom instruction, then head out along a scenic walkway to the dunes for up to five solo flights. Kids as young as four can learn to hang glide, and best of all, instructors carry and reset the glider for each flight on the dunes.

Climb to the Top of a Lighthouse

There are five lighthouses scattered across the Outer Banks, including Bodie Island Lighthouse and Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. Each one is different and worthy of a climb to the top for panoramic views. At Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, join the daily "Light Station Talk" with a ranger, if only to learn just how they moved this 193-foot lighthouse inland 2,900 feet all in one piece. It’s an incredible story. You’ll also find a Junior Ranger program for kids eager to earn a badge.

Explore the Lives of the Wright Brothers

The Wright Brothers National Memorial has been located in Manteo for many years, but the visitors center has been closed since 2016. In early-fall, look for the grand re-opening with new interactive exhibits on aviation history and the return of the Wright Flyer reproduction. Until then, go early to explore the grounds, including the monument that sits atop a steep hill, boasting scenic, 360-degree views. On the ground level, look for a climbable sculpture illustrating the significant events that led to that first flight in 1903.

Go Crabbing with a Real-Life Crabber

Spend the morning or afternoon with a real-life crabber on a two- or four-hour adventure with OBX Crabbing. You’ll start by boating out 20 minutes or so, then it’s time for fun when you reach the offshore crab pots. Everyone will have a chance to reel in a crab pot and shake the crabs out of the trap. Toss the right-sized crabs into a bucket and pitch the smaller ones back out into the water (to be caught another day). OBX Crabbing offers both crabbing and shrimping charters.

See the Wild Horses in Corolla

Corolla’s famous wild horses have been roaming the beaches since the 1500s when they arrived on shore with Spanish explorers. At one time, thousands of wild horses made this coastal area their home, but today the number hovers around 100. There are no paved roads in Corolla, so an off-road vehicle is a must to avoid getting stuck in the sand. Wild Horse Adventure Tours offers multiple tours each day in open-air off-road vehicles in search of wild horses around Corolla.

Indulge in Cape Hatteras Oysters

A new oyster breeding farm called Cape Hatteras Oyster Company has opened up to produce high-end oysters for restaurants across the country and throughout the Outer Banks. Try Hatteras Salts Oysters, deliciously flavorful large oysters similar to Atlantic Oysters. Eat them raw on the half-shell at Coastal Provisions in Southern Shores or indulge in a tasty basket of fried oysters. In the fall, look for Oystoberfest, an annual celebration of oysters featuring craft beers and oyster delights from multiple restaurants that come raw, steamed and cooked into culinary delights.

Hunt for Ghost Crabs on the Beach

An absolute must-do in the Outer Banks, particularly with kids, is hunt for ghost crabs on the beach after dark. Ghost Crab Quest offers nightly walks along the beach in search of these scurrying crustaceans. They provide everything you need, including buckets, nets and flashlights. Hunts start at dusk, but the real fun begins when the stars come out. That’s when the ghost crabs are most active. Collect a few dozen in your bucket, then carefully release them before you leave the beach.

Walk to the End of Jennette's Pier

Take an after-dinner stroll along Jennette’s Pier in Nags Head. At 1,000-feet long, it’s the longest public pier in North Carolina. Rent a fishing pole and pick up some bait at the pier house, then try your luck at hooking the big one. As part of the North Carolina Aquariums system, the pier also offers activities, like guided beach tours and daily fishing lessons. Jennette’s Pier is popular for surfers (and surfer watching) and is home to the annual east coast surfing championships.

Get in Line Early for Duck Donuts

There’s nothing quite as delicious as a warm, made-to-order doughnut from Duck Donuts early in the morning. This doughnut chain now boasts more than 200 locations, but it got its start in Duck, North Carolina. The doughnuts are so popular, in fact, that lines are frequently out the door, even before 7 a.m. Try a classic, like a maple iced doughnut topped with bacon, or create your own. Choose a sugary-sweet coating, a topping and a drizzle, like hot fudge or salted caramel. Delicious.

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