Eating Local On The Outer Banks

Tomato Shack, Downtown Duck, NC

Experiencing the food of a region is a big part of any travel experience. While there are many restaurants to enjoy the local fare and seafood, the local, fresh-grown produce found at many roadside farm stands are a must-taste experience on the Outer Banks. Fruits and vegetables and country-made jams, jellies and bakery items bring a comforting and delicious down-home experience to your table.

Driving into town from the north on US-158 on your way to the Wright Memorial Bridge, you will find many local farm stand stops in Currituck before you make it to the Outer Banks. Stock up there if you just can’t wait, but there are many markets on the island that you should visit once you are enjoying your beach time. Driving up and down the bypass you will see many locations to buy fresh summertime fruits, veggies and goods.

Keep an eye out for the locally-grown items for the freshest experience. Some of the local summer fruits include strawberries, blackberries, peaches, cantaloupe, watermelon and muscadine grapes (Yes, you need to try them! No, you don’t eat the skins!). For local vegetables, you will generally find a variety of lettuce, tomatoes, squash, sweet potatoes, sweet corn, eggplant and peppers among other items. Honey, jams and jellies and bakery goods round out the selection at many farm stands. It’s a good idea to check out a few stands, just to enjoy a variety of bountiful options.

Roadside stands are easy to spot, but here is a short list of where you can find delicious locally grown fare (open seasonally):

Seaside Farm Market, Corolla NC – Located at the corner of the TimBuck II Shopping Center.

Tomato Shack, Duck – Located between Red Sky Cafe and the Roadside Grill on the east side of N.C. Highway 12.

Tarheel Too, Kill Devil Hills – Located in the Seagate North Shopping Center. Milepost 5.5 on the 158 Bypass.

The Vegetable Bin, Nags Head – Located next to Austin Fish Company (a good stop to buy seafood as well!), 3711 S. Croatan Highway, on the Bypass at milepost 12.5.

Beaching those Dog Day Afternoons Away with Your Furry Friends

Whether it’s their paws in the sand, a little doggie paddle or just quality time with the family, dogs love vacationing on the OBX as much as people do. We certainly understand that pets are a part of the family, which is why Southern Shores Realty offers options for treating your dog to a little R&R, with over 100 dog-friendly properties.

If you are bringing Spot, Fido, Max (or perhaps a more uniquely named pup!) on vacation, you’ll need to know the various leash laws of Dare County. Each town allows dogs on the beach year-round, with varying regulations:

Town of Corolla: Dogs are allowed on the beach year round as long as they are leashed.

Town of Duck: Dogs can play unleashed on the town’s beach under the watchful eye of a guardian.

Southern Shores: Leashed dogs are permitted on the beach year round. From May 15 to September 15, dogs are allowed only between 6:00 p.m. and 9:00 a.m.

Kitty Hawk:  During much of the year, dogs must be restrained on a leash retractable to 12 feet.  Dogs may be taken off the leash only if they will not disturb others, can be controlled by the handler who must remain within 30 feet of the dog at all times.  The owner/handler must have a leash available at all times. From the Friday before Memorial Day until the day after Labor Day between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. dogs must be on a leash not exceeding 6 feet.

Kill Devil Hills: During much of the year, dogs restrained on a leash are permitted on the beach. Between Memorial Day and Labor Day of each year, no dogs are permitted on the beach between 9:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m., with the exception of a service animal.

Nags Head: Dogs are allowed on the beach year round as long as they are leashed.

All beaches require you to pick up after your dog. Handlers should use a bag and dispose of waste properly. Do not bury pet waste in the sand or throw it into the ocean. Also, be sure to check the signs posted at the beaches for the most up-to-date regulations.

Other things to keep in mind: It can get awfully hot out there! Avoid taking your dog to the beach during the high heat of the day to prevent heat stroke and burned paws from the hot sand.  Be sure to keep your dog hydrated and happy. Also, make sure your dog’s ID is up-to-date, as many dogs get lost while traveling to new and unfamiliar territories.

Enjoy living it up with your pup on these beautiful Outer Banks beaches!

When Beach Treasures Become Fashionable Keepsakes

Just walking along the beach on the Outer Banks can feel like opening a treasure trove. There are so many beautiful shells and rocks, and if you look carefully, you’ll find sea glass in many colors. Collecting these treasures while walking the beach is a wonderful and relaxing way to spend your time. But you can also enjoy these natural treasures through local artisan jewelry!

Many stores and boutiques in the Outer Banks sell locally made shell and sea glass necklaces, earrings and more. Mother of pearl, sea glass and wampum shells make beautiful fashion pieces for any occasion, and you will enjoy wearing your own very special connection to the Outer Banks!

Mother of Pearl
Mother of Pearl is the smooth, shiny, iridescent material inside of shells, particularly the shell lining of mollusks, oysters and abalones.  Also called nacre, this inner lining of shells is created much in the same way pearls are formed.

Sea Glass
Sea glass is formed naturally when broken bottles and glass find their way into the ocean. The broken glass pieces are tumbled in the ocean for years, breaking down into soft worn edges and a frosted finish. Some of this glass comes from the shipwrecks off the coast of the Outer Banks! Wire wrapped sea glass is a very trendy fashion on the Outer Banks, each piece being unique and special.

Wampum shells
Wampum beads have an important history on the east coast. These polished shells once were used by Native Americans and colonists as gifts, decoration and currency. The shells come from whelk (sea snails) and clams and are white and vibrant purple in color.

Jewelry made from these treasures of the Atlantic offer a precious nostalgic keepsake while also supporting many local artists who create them. You will find plenty of options popping into the local shops!

Where To Find The Perfect Swimwear on the OBX

When you’re visiting the Outer Banks in summer, chances are most of your time will be spent in swimwear, enjoying the beautiful beaches or a refreshing poolside. You might be surprised just how many more swimwear options are out there beyond what you find at your local malls and retailers. There’s no need to stress out and shop for the perfect suit before you make your way across the Wright Memorial bridge. You can find swimwear for the whole family in stores up and down the beach. Leave it to the experts, the managers and owners of these swimwear retailers to help you find just what you are looking for.

For men, find boardshorts and swim trunks suitable for all of your favorite activities, including surfing, fishing or just kicking back on the beach. For kids, you can find the perfect suits to let your little ones enjoy the beach and bring back home all the sand.

For women, it’s a little trickier. We know it’s hard trying to figure out what suit fits best with each body type. And the options are plentiful: one-pieces, two-pieces, string bikinis, tankinis, brazilians and itty bitty bottoms, high-waisted retro and pinup styles, athletic styles, full support, more coverage, less coverage. Let’s face it, the options are as exhaustive as they can be exhausting to try on. Let the swimwear experts help you make the right choice and find you a suit that you are comfortable with and love!

Here are some top places to shop for stylish swimwear and beach attire on the Outer Banks:

Birthday Suits (locations in Corolla, Duck and Nags Head)
Birthday Suits has been voted “Best Place To Buy A Swimsuit” for over 30 years, offering swim and beach attire for the entire family. For women, Birthday Suits offers the largest selection of swim separates on the Outer Banks, including bra sizes B through G.

Gray’s Outer Banks Lifestyle and Clothing Company (2 locations in Corolla, 2 locations in Duck and 1 location in Kitty Hawk)
Gray’s offers fashions and beach accessories for the entire family by top brands you’ll recognize as well as a selection of Outer Banks hats and t-shirts. Gray’s has five locations in the Outer Banks, with its flagship store in Kitty Hawk.

Shore-Fit Sunwear (Kill Devil Hills)
Shore-Fit Sunwear is a specialty boutique offering fashions for women sizes 8 to 32 and offers customer service to help you find the right size and fit. The store offers options for women with special swimwear needs as well, including cup-size, maternity and post-mastectomy swimsuits.

Trust your swimwear needs to the shops on the Outer Banks. Enjoy a day shopping while on vacation and you’ll find unique offerings for the whole family and everything you need to enjoy island life.

2017 Outer Banks Taste of the Beach

Explore the Outer Banks through Food and Drink with “Taste of the Beach”

If you are a foodie, a wannabe foodie, or you just enjoy a good meal, there’s no better time to be on the beach than March 23-26 for Taste of the Beach 2017, presented by the Outer Banks Restaurant Association. Restaurants all over the Outer Banks prepare their most exquisite cuisine — your chance to enjoy fresh, local ingredients and seafood and the best the food and drink Outer Banks chefs have to offer.

With 60 events over the four days, there’s something for everyone to enjoy at Taste of the Beach, such as cooking lessons, cook-offs, brewery tours, wine tastings, multi-course meals and more. Whatever your taste or interest, Taste of the Beach is about having fun and exploring the Outer Banks through food. Try a little bit of everything and nurture your inner foodie, from casual BBQ and wings, fancy wine and meal pairings, to champagne cocktails and delectable desserts.

Awards are presented each year, including Best-In-Show and the People’s Choice, where you get to vote and show your appreciation for your favorite experience.

Taste of the Beach offers a fun way to get acquainted with the best restaurants on the Outer Banks and indulge in carefully prepared, unique offerings. Plan early, this is not an event to miss, and it’s going to be hard to choose which events to attend with such a broad range of variety offered. Whatever you choose, you are sure to enjoy this exceptional time to be in the Outer Banks.

Taste of the Beach Rental Specials!

Southern Shores Realty offers a special discount during your stay for Taste of the Beach. Rent three nights during Taste of the Beach and get one night free! Click here to view our participating homes.




The Best Places for Coffee on the Outer Banks


Vacation is a time to step away from the routine of everyday life and enjoy a more relaxed pace. But there’s no need to take a vacation from your morning coffee habit. The Outer Banks offers many locally-owned coffee shops so you can enjoy that coffee goodness each morning with a unique OBX style!


Front Porch Cafe

With locations in Kill Devil Hills at Milepost 6, Nags Head at Milepost 10.5 and in Manteo, Front Porch Cafe offers a full coffee menu, bagels, and pastries. The Nags Head and Manteo locations are perfect for productivity, offering high-speed wifi and plug-in stations. There also are cozy couches and tables to meet and catch up with friends. The Kill Devil Hills location is shared with Glazin’ GoNuts paint-your-own pottery studio and Garden of Beadn’ retail bead store. Front Porch Cafe specializes in artisan “micro” small-batch roasting, which can be seen during roasting hours in the Nags Head location. Order a cup in-house or buy a half or full pound of coffee to brew in your rental cottage or home.




Morning View Coffee House and Roastery

Just blocks from the beach in Nags Head, Morning View offers an eclectic and cozy indoor and outdoor garden setting to enjoy relaxing with coffee or tea or spending time online with free wifi. The coffee shop is dog friendly, and offers a limited selection of snacks and fresh-baked pastries. You will often see and smell the coffee beans roasting as you enter the shop. In addition to ordering espresso drinks and fresh brew, you can purchase a variety of fair-trade, sustainable, farm-to-cup coffee bean varieties to brew back at your rental cottage or home.



Outer Bean Juice and Java

Outer Bean in Kitty Hawk offers fresh coffee along with a full breakfast menu, and juice and smoothie bar. This is where the health conscious start their day. You can enjoy a creative variety of espresso drinks all day long, as well as healthy lunch and dinner options as the day progresses. The Outer Bean offers fair-trade and organic coffee as well as a large selection of vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free menu options and beer and wine.



Waveriders Coffee, Deli and Pub

Waveriders in Nags Head offers coffee and espresso drinks with just about any syrup flavor you can think of, fresh bakery items and a breakfast and lunch/dinner panini menu. The deli prides itself on offering a healthier alternative to fast food, featuring Boar’s Head meats and cheeses. Waveriders also sells beer and wine, and you’re likely to find live music entertainment at this casual hangout in the evenings.

Each of these coffee shops showcases local art and offers a unique OBX community experience! Dine-in for a full coffee house experience, or take that coffee to go and sip it at the beach watching the sun come up and the waves roll in. Either way, coffee is a delicious way to start your day on the OBX!

Local Eats: Rich and Creamy Crab Bisque

There’s no shortage of fresh, local seafood on the Outer Banks. And one of the best culinary experiences on the beach is a smooth and creamy bowl of crab bisque. Crab bisque is made with lump crab meat, cream and seasonings, with sherry being a key ingredient. Luckily, crabs are easy to come by in the Outer Banks, available just about anywhere throughout the year. So a delightful cup or bowl of crab bisque is easy to enjoy in many local restaurants.

The crabs caught here in North Carolina are Atlantic blue crabs that crawl along the soft sandy bottom of the ocean and Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds. In fact, according to the NC Wildlife Resources Commission, North Carolina harvests about 30 million pounds of blue crab annually! The blue crab shells change to a bright red color when cooked, and their meat is sweet and succulent.

Commercially, fisherman head out of Wanchese to the sound waters to round up bushels and supply restaurants and seafood markets. But visitors can do their own recreational crabbing either by joining a crabbing charter or by using crab pots or handlining along the soundfront. Crabbing is a family friendly activity that kids really enjoy. If you are interested in crabbing, consider renting a soundfront or canalfront home with a private dock or bulkhead. There are also many public areas throughout the Outer Banks where families can go crabbing. Recreational crabbers do not need a NC Fishing License, though you can check with North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission on regulations.

If you’re not crabbing while on the Outer Banks, you can still enjoy delicious crab bisque at many area restaurants. The options are endless, but here are a few standouts:


Basnight’s Lone Cedar Cafe, Nags Head – Voted “Best of the Beach Seafood Restaurant” in 2016, Lone Cedar specializes in local seafood. They are located at the Nags Head/Manteo Causeway.




I Got Your Crabs Shellfish Market and Oyster Bar, Kitty Hawk – Enjoy the crab bisque on the menu, or buy their crabs at the Border Station on your drive down to the Outer Banks. They are located at milepost 4.25 on the beachside of the bypass.




Henry’s Restaurant, Kill Devil Hills – This no frills restaurant focuses on all-American style food and friendly service. They are located at milepost 4.5 on the soundside of the bypass.




The Sugar Creek Seafood Restaurant, Nags Head-Manteo Causeway – Enjoy crab bisque on the menu and buy fresh seafood to prepare in your rental cottage. They are located at milepost 16.5 just beyond the curve on your right.




Mulligans Raw Bar & Grille, Nags Head – Experience the crab bisque and other southern coastal cuisine while enjoying live music on the outdoor deck. They are located at milepost 13 on the beachside of the bypass.




With so many local seafood options on the Outer Banks, you’re sure to satisfy your craving for rich and creamy crab bisque while in town.

7 Reasons to Visit the Outer Banks in Winter

This week on the Outer Banks, all focus was on the tubes. But not the gnarly waves as you would think, the water pipes! More precisely, how to keep them from freezing as temperatures dipped into the 20s and snowfall cast a frozen sheen on the beaches. Locals know all too well how to make the most of the Outer Banks any time of year. Even at its frostiest, the Outer Banks offers a peaceful getaway for tourists.

The wintertime offers visitors an opportunity to explore the quieter side of the Outer Banks. If you are considering a winter escape, here are a few benefits you can enjoy:

1. Saving money. Most rentals and restaurants offer lower off season prices. This means you could rent a much larger oceanfront home (with a hot tub!) than you ever expected. $1 slices of pizza? Half-price wine? Yes, please! The off season pricing also extends to local restaurants as well as spas and other activities.

2. No waits. There’s no patience needed in the wintertime! With no traffic on the highway, you pretty much have the road to yourself. And you can walk into just about any restaurant and be seated for your meal right away! You’ll enjoy a quieter, calmer atmosphere as well.

3. Sea shells. The best seashore treasures, including large unbroken conch shells and colorful seaglass, are found on the beaches during the off season.

4. Fishing. Charter a boat off shore and look for tuna, stay inshore for rockfish, fish from the piers for rockfish, bluefish or striper, and try the surf in milder temperatures for puppy drum, speckled trout and sea mullet, to name a few options. Remember to check with North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission on licensing and regulations.

5. Unobstructed views. Enjoy the beach all to yourself! Take sunrise and beach photos without anyone photobombing!

6. Freedom. The beach rules are more relaxed in the wintertime. Most towns allow driving on the beach from October 1 to April 30 with a permit. Dogs also enjoy more freedom on the beach during these months! Be sure to check the web sites for each town for updated regulations.

7. Calm. Bring a project you are working on – writing, art, music, a business plan – with you to the Outer Banks and work in a beautiful location without distraction.

While undoubtedly the summertime makes the Outer Banks the hot spot place to be, the wintertime offers a uniquely different experience still to be enjoyed. Leave your flip flops behind, and show your boots a sandy good time!

6 OBX Vacation Homes with INSANELY AWESOME Features

Check out these homes!  If you’re looking for some Outer Banks inspiration, look no further.  All of these SWEET vacation homes are available to rent with Southern Shores Realty.



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QUIZ: Where to Stay on an Outer Banks Vacation?

Southern Shores Realty offers hundreds of vacation rental home options all along the Outer Banks, spanning Corolla to South Nags Head. Take this fun quiz to determine the best location for your needs!



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