Travel: The Outer Banks

Escape to the seaside sans the Shore crowds

OBX bumper stickers are ubiquitous for a reason: The Outer Banks, with its laid-back vibe and miles of beaches unblemished by overdevelopment, is hard not to fall for. Thick vegetation that lines roads and beaches holds myriad birds and other critters, and occasional breaks in the flora yield glimpses of colorful houses perched high on stilts. Jersey Shore-goers will delight in the free beach access. June is the region’s sweet spot—the temperatures and ocean are summer-warm, but sticky humidity and big-time crowds have yet to arrive. Plus, on the 14th, the town of Nags Head celebrates its 50th anniversary with a charity golf tourney and gala.

Stay: The area’s only inclusive resort, the Sanderling Resort and Spa feels like a cozy inn. All 88 rooms face either sea or sound, and offer furnished balconies and access to the hotel’s spa and beach. Rooms from $350 per night in season.

Visit: Jockey’s Ridge State Park, with its breathtaking 90-plus-foot sand dunes, and the Wright Brothers National Memorial, celebrating the adventuresome duo’s forays into flight. Take in the unspoiled coastline with a drive along the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, stopping in Buxton to visit the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse—the nation’s tallest. On Roanoke Island, check out the exquisite Elizabethan Gardens, modeled after a 16th-century English garden and home to the “Old Oak,” a tree dating to 1585. You’ll also want to consider extracting yourself from your beach chair for biking, hang-gliding, fishing, kite-surfing, kayaking—and a trip to the Sanderling’s tranquil spa (opt for the Soothing Sea Stone Massage).

Eat: At the Sanderling, the nautically festooned Lifesaving Station is great for local seafood like Carolina sunburst trout, while the pricier Left Bank features upscale, new American fare with a local and sustainable bent. Off-property, JK’s is superb for wood-grilled steaks. If you make the drive down to Buxton, don’t miss the Captain’s Table (252-995-3117) for golden-crisp hush puppies and smoky, tangy Carolina pulled pork.

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  • Seaside

    Great post. Thanks for sharing those tips.

    The Outer Banks is the perfect beach vacation…a great combination of peaceful relaxation and fun local activities/attractions; gorgeous beaches, a wide variety of water sports, world-class fishing and surfing, great local art and shopping, delicious local food, history, nature, etc.

    The OBX offers great vacation rental homes for all types of travelers; small beach bungalows to large beach front estates.

    Please let us know if we can help you plan your next trip to the Outer Banks.

    Seaside Vacations

    4820 N. Croatan Hwy
    Kitty Hawk, NC 27949
    (866) 884-0267

  • Cynthia

    Those considering the North Carolina outer banks, may want to consider
    the Virginia outer banks. This is a continuation of the outer banks
    barrier island in Virginia. The 5 mile beach area is known as
    Sandbridge Beach. It is only about 5 hours from Philadelphia. It
    is less crowded and two hours closer than the North Carolina.
    Sandbridge beach is a narrow strip of land with two roads going down its
    length, the ocean to the east, the back bay to the west, and to the
    south ending up at the Little Island City Park and Back Bay National
    Wild Life Refuge. Biking, walking or canoeing through the wild life
    refuge you will reach False Cape State Park, which boarders on North
    Carolina. There are no hotels on this beach, but there are many houses
    and condos for rent. The main activities are going to the beach,
    biking, hiking, canoeing on the back bay or ocean, fresh and salt water
    fishing (the city park has a pier), bird watching, and seeing gorgeous
    sunrises and sunsets. It is not uncommon to spot dolphins from the
    beach. The city park portion of the beach has life guards from Memorial
    Day to Labor Day. Those looking to take the kids to amusement park
    adventures can go to the Virginia Beach board walk area, a 30 minute
    drive away. I believe that this is one of the best kept secrets. Below
    is the wikipedia page, Sandbridge information and community web pages
    and one of the rental companies’ page.,_Virginia_Beach,_Virginia

    My family discovered Sandbridge beach over three years ago and have been making it our ocean get-a-way location since then.