Arguably the Outer Banks’ most famous town, Nags Head has drawn visitors to its shores since the early 19th century. The town is renowned for its miles of shoreline, convenient location, and “get-away” feel. Nags Head offers a variety of activities from the ocean to the soundside. Water sports like kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, and kite boarding are all popular in Nags Head. The area also boasts several shopping centers and many restaurants. Conveniently located on the central Outer Banks, Nags Head is a perfect spot for your Outer Banks vacation. Kill Devil Hills restaurants and shopping are just the next town over and the Outer Banks’ open southern beaches are a short drive away.
Nags Head’s most recognizable attraction is Jockey’s Ridge, the tallest natural sand dune system on the east coast. Visitors are welcome to hike the trails, which weave through maritime forests to the sand dunes or walk the 360 foot boardwalk and nature trail. During the summer, hang gliding lessons are offered on the dunes and many visitors bring kites to take advantage of the strong winds. Climb to the top of the tallest dunes and visitors will be rewarded with breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean and Albemarle Sound. The park also has areas for kayaking and swimming in the sound. Dogs are also welcome in the park.
Nags Head Woods Ecological Preserve is a National Natural Landmark and boasts over five miles of trails, including an ADA compliant trail. The trails each offer unique views of the preserve’s variety of habitats. Nags Head Woods offers some of the most stunning views of the Outer Banks’ habitats and one of the best ways to explore it is through guided kayaking tours. The trails are exclusively open to foot traffic and the shaded woods is a perfect spot to for a change of scenery that will almost feel like you aren’t on the Outer Banks at all.
Nags Head is home to two piers, one of which is the Nags Head Fishing Pier. The pier was built in 1947 and is the second oldest Outer Banks pier. Nags Head Fishing pier reaches out 1,000 feet into the Atlantic Ocean and offers beautiful views as well as an advantageous spot for fishing. The pier restaurant is a great spot to grab a bite to eat when you need a break from fishing for your next big catch. The pier is a fun spot for dedicated fishermen and family sightseeing alike.
The Outer Banks’ newest pier is Jennette’s Pier, a 1,000 foot long concrete pier that extends into the Atlantic Ocean. The pier is more than just a spot to cast your line, it also offers several nautical exhibits including various aquariums. The pier also hosts several events throughout the year such as fishing tourneys and is open year round. The iconic pier is hard to miss in South Nags Head and is an Outer Banks must-see!
Nags Head’s Gallery Row Arts District is a unique area of the town and the district showcases art galleries, boutiques, and historical sites. Gallery Row offers many shops to find a special piece to remind you of the Outer Banks or a gift to share your love for the area with friends and family. The area also has several dining options including favorites like Red Drum Grille & Taphouse and Waveriders Coffee, Deli, & Pub.
Nestled amongst the marshes of Cape Hatteras National Seashore on the southern end of Nags Head is Bodie Island Lighthouse (pronounced “Body”). The black and white striped tower is hard to miss, rising 156 feet into the air. The lighthouse is still functional and emits a beam that is visible from 19 miles offshore. Bodie Lighthouse was completed in 1872 and taken under the care of the National Park Service in 1953. The lighthouse is open for climbing during the summer for a small fee.
Besides shopping in Gallery Row, Nags Head has several other shopping centers. Visitors can shop for well-known brands in the Tanger Outlet Center or explore one of the many specialty shops like Foxy Flamingo Boutique. Shopping in Kill Devil Hills and Manteo is just a short ride away.
Nags Head offers many different dining options for you and your family. Favorite Nags Head restaurants include Mulligan’s Grille in Historic Cottage Row for seafood, New York Pizza for laid-back dining and live music, and famous Tortugas Lie. Finding a bite to eat between trips to the beach and other Nags Head attractions is easy with a large variety of restaurants in the area.
Dogs are allowed on the beach in Nags Head year round as long as they are on a leash.
Four-wheel drive vehicles are permitted on the beach during the off-season, between October and March. Be sure to purchase a beach driving permit from either the Town of Kill Devil Hills or the Town of Nags Head.