Outer Banks Top 10 Tours | Things To Do

Exploring and savoring ALL of the Outer Banks can be quite a daunting task, and quite frankly impossible.  There are dozens of guided and non-guided Outer Banks tours you can partake in to experience some of the best things on the Outer Banks.  From the air to on the water, on your feet or in a boat, the tours on the beach here are quite extensive and you would be happy you went on many down here.  I have gone ahead and done you the favor of sifting out some of the best ones to try for a nice, well rounded take on the area.  If you are familiar with the Outer Banks TOP 10 series, you know that these are in no particular order or paid to be here, just me looking out for you and your vacation!  🙂

Bioluminescent Outer Banks Kayak Tour

Did you know, that some of what’s down below, has a tendency to glow?  All rhyming aside – you need to check this out!  Our friends at Kitty Hawk Kites offer a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience with their bioluminescent kayak tour!  This isn’t your typical paddling trip!  There are tiny micro-organisms that live in the ocean, and intercoastal waterways around the Outer Banks, that when agitated by movement, emit a brilliant light that’s visible at night.  The tour sets sail not far from Southern Shores Realty, and will be one to talk about and remember for years to come!

Alligator River Red Wolf Howling Tour

This one is for those looking to take a walk on the wild side!  Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge is home to hundreds of species of wildlife; including the endangered Red Wolf.  An Outer Banks tour that has to be experienced once in your life is the Red Wolf Howlings held here.  The Red Wolf recovery program, in an effort to educate the public, has been offering these tours for years.  Not only do you get a great evening walk through the refuge, you get the chance to actually “howl” with the Red Wolves that live in the refuge.  While wild Red Wolves still remain, the recovery program is continually attempting to save and protect the species and some remain in captivity.  For more information on the howling tour, click here.

Outer Banks Restaurant Tour

Photo taken by Terry Moore for Southern Shores Realty.Water and wildlife tours are fantastic, but let’s not forget about our stomachs!  Some of the best experiences on the Outer Banks include discovering new and fantastic places to eat.  With so many great restaurants on the Outer Banks this may seem like a intimidating task.  Rest assured, there’s a tour designed with you in mind!  There are several different Outer Banks restaurant tours available, including those in our Guest Rewards Outer Banks discounts program!  If food is your fancy, you will be delighted with your experience on these excursions.  You get 1-on-1 meetings with local owners and chefs, the inside scoop on how they work, and of course a generous sampling of fantastic local fare!

Outback Adventures Corolla Wild Horse Tour

corolla-wild-horses-outer-banks-horse-seeing-tourYou’ve heard by now.  Corolla is world famous for it’s population of wild Spanish Mustangs – descendants of those brought over by sailing expeditions.  This wild horse tour is your chance to hit the sand where the beach road ends, and take in some of the natural beauty of the Outer Banks!  Our friends at Corolla Outback Adventures have been in business since 1962; when there was no paved road to Duck and phone numbers had only 4 digits!  Judging by this experience, you know you will be experiencing the best there is.  You and your family will not soon forget the entire experience on a 4×4 tour seeing the horses in Corolla!

Bodie Island Lighthouse Tour


The Outer Banks is rich in maritime history, and one of the best ways to enjoy it is to take a tour of a lighthouse.  On April 18, 2013 Bodie Island Lighthouse officially opened for public touring!  We have an exclusive first look photo and video collection from the very first tour on opening day!  You and your family need to go and experience this firsthand.  Seeing photographs and driving by these magnificent and historical structures are not enough to really experience them!  Take advantage of the grand opening of Bodie Island Lighthouse and experience first hand the awesome history that exists there (plus get an amazing view from the top)!

Outer Banks Ghost Tour & Graveyard of the Atlantic Tour

outer-banks-ghosts-tour-haunted-halloweenBy far the most popular ghost tour on the Outer Banks, take a 90 minute Wednesday night walking tour of downtown Manteo while hearing the folklore and chilling stories of  local spirits.  From sea captains to ghostly dancers, there is more to Manteo than meets the eye!  Ghost Tours of the OBX also offers a Graveyard of the Atlantic tour on Tuesdays that highlights the many Outer Banks shipwrecks, pirates, and more!  Both tours are sure to make an awesome evening and reservations are highly recommended as summer weeks fill very fast!  This isn’t your average tourist tour – these are tours for those of you interested in learning more than meets the eye when it comes to the history of the Outer Banks!

Outer Banks Dolphin Tour / Outer Banks Sunset Cruise

outer-banks-dolphin-cruise-tour-sunset-captain-johnnysThere’s something special about getting out onto the sound and cruising about in the evenings.  An Outer Banks Dolphin tour / Outer Banks Sunset cruise is one of the most relaxing tours available on your vacation.  Both dolphin tours and sunset cruises last around 2 hours, and are an inexpensive way to get the family out on a boat together!  Pirate’s Cove Marina is the port of call for the Crystal Dawn Headboat; offering both fishing excursions and evening cruises.  The evening cruise here includes commentary on the Outer Banks while cruising the Roanoke Sound.  Sights include the Elizabeth II, Jockeys Ridge, Wright Brother’s National Memorial, the home of Andy Griffith, the Lost Colony, shorebirds and wildlife.  The Manteo Waterfront is also home to several tour guides to take you and your family on a great tour!  Captain Johnny’s Outer Banks Dolphin Tours is a great choice from June – October to spot Dolphin with your group.  In 2012 alone, they managed to see dolphins on 230 out of 235 tours!  Go ahead and check out all your options, you can’t go wrong with any of these tours and you’ll be glad you tried them out!

Outer Banks Helicopter Tour

outer-banks-air-tours-helicopter-tours-plane-toursIf you think the view of the Outer Banks is gorgeous from the ground, wait until you witness it from the air!  An Outer Banks Helicopter tour is an amazing way to get out and witness the geography, sea life, scenery, and beauty on your Outer Banks Vacation. Coastal Helicopters is one of the premier providers of Outer Banks air tours.  Owner Larry Ihle has been an FAA-certified pilot since 1981, and has lived on the OBX since 1982.  Touring with someone who loves the Outer Banks and it’s beauty so much is a sure bet for a fantastic time!  Try a helicopter tour this year and don’t forget your camera! P.S. Southern Shores Realty Guests are eligible for EXCLUSIVE pricing on Helicopter Tours with Coastal Helicopters, LLC!

Outer Banks Pirates Cruise Tour

outer-banks-pirate-cruise-tour-kids-children-yarg_0If the idea of setting sail on a replica Pirate ship doesn’t get you excited, I don’t know what will!  Shiver me timbers, an Outer Banks Pirate Cruise is a guided tour to remember all your life.  Pirate Adventures of the Outer Banks and the “Sea Gypsy” set sail from Manteo on Roanoke Island.  This adventure is perfect for kids of all ages!  Arrive about 30 minutes early to take advantage of extra activities like full dress up before stepping aboard!  Once on the ship, your little pirates will learn about life at sea and they are given a real treasure map to find the hidden treasure each trip.  More excitement is in store, but no more secrets from me!  The Pirate Cruises start Memorial Day Weekend each year, and are a great way to spend the afternoon with the family.

Outer Banks Driving Tour

drive-outer-banksSomebody once said “You make your own best tour guide.”  Maybe I just made that up, but I think it’s true!  One of the unique geographical features of the Outer Banks is that it’s basically a curved stretch of sand, with one big (subject to opinion) road going down the middle!  One of the coolest and most liberating tours is a driving tour of the Outer Banks with you and your family as the guide!  Roads connect Corolla to Hatteras and a ferry can shuttle you and your vehicle the rest of the way to Ocracoke Island.  You could try our day trip to Ocracoke & Hatteras Islands, or be the captain of your own trip and meander the highway yourself; enjoying all the scenery, stores, and attractions along the way!  Either way you can’t go wrong.  You can rest assured, people are friendly should you get lost, but hitting the road all on your own is an amazing feeling and you’d be glad you set sail to explore on your terms!

Outer Banks November Events

November is an awesome time to be on the Outer Banks!  Here’s Why:


OCT 26, 2012 – NOV 03, 2012

Carrying over from October, the Outer Banks Restaurant Week each Fall and Spring brings an exciting opportunity to enjoy local fare.  Outer Banks Restaurant Week was created for you because we know you love The Outer Banks and you love to eat!  This week gives local food enthusiasts and visitors an opportunity to enjoy 3-course, price fixed lunch and/or dinner menus at several participating restaurants throughout the Outer Banks at a fixed price of either $20 or $35. (Sales tax and gratuity are not included).  ***The Official Chili Cookoff will now be held on Saturday November 3, 2012 (due to Hurricane Sandy) at the Coastal Provisions market in Southern Shores. This is a fantastic way to get out and enjoy the Fall air and flavors!
Visit the Restaurant Week Website for more info!


NOV 6, 2012 – NOV 11, 2012

This six day event celebrates the natural wonders around us and offers visitors hundreds of opportunities to get out and discover the many environments that wildlife thrives here in Coastal Carolina.  The 16th Annual Wings Over Water Wildlife Festival is taking place November 6-11, 2012 and is a wide-spread celebration from the Outer Banks to inland counties.  Programs include (but not limited to) birding, wildlife photography lessons, historic landmark visitations, watercraft excursions, wading tours, family friendly, and a personal favorite: howling with wolves!  The Wings Over Water Website is your ultimate guide to planning your wildlife-enjoyment excursion!  They have full trips sorted by day, theme, area, etc.
Click HERE for more information on the festival!


NOV 9, 2012 – NOV 11, 2012

The 7th Annual Gateway Bank Outer Banks Marathon Weekend is scheduled for Veteran’s Day weekend: November 9-11, 2012.  This is an amazing weekend experience!  Some of the best weather all year will be here as well as several fantastic sporting events.  Southern Shores Realty is a proud sponsor of the marathon and you will see us cheering you on at Mile Marker #1 on The Woods Road!  Check out some of our available marathon accommodations.  The Outer Banks Marathon Weekend also includes a Half Marathon, 8K, 5K, and Fun Run which is a one mile family run!  There is a full page for activities for kids that can be found here.  For the Full Outer Banks Marathon, Half, 8K, 5K, and Fun Run, Registration closes 11/5/12.
Prices and registration details can be found here.


NOV 9, 2012 – NOV 10, 2012

6677 Hwy. 64/264, Manns Harbor – MAP
Phone: 252-619-7487

This 4th annual event is sure to please!  Join in on the fun from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. There will be many craft vendors, holiday home decor, nautical decor, handmade soaps, candles, embroidery, vinyl, recycled grass art, sea glass jewelry, crocheting, knitting, home canned veggies and jams, t-shirt scarves, painting, beauty control and so much more!  It’s that time of year again, celebrate in style!



NOV 17, 2012

1411 National Park Drive, Manteo – MAP
Phone: 252-473-3234

Head out to the Elizabethan Gardens to learn to create popular confections from scratch in this hands-on workshop creating homemade candies!  Who doesn’t like the sounds of that?  Make the most out of your holidays and learn to create those tasty, sugary delights!


NOV 17, 2012

Dare County Family Recreation Park, Kill Devil Hills – MAP
Phone: 252-473-5558

Looking for activities on the Outer Banks for kids?  The Artrageous Art Extravaganza is a daytime event for children and will be held Saturday, November 17 at the Dare County Family Recreation Park in Kill Devil Hills from 10am-3pm.  Artrageous is an annual community celebration of the arts that features live art demos, creative hands-on booths, activities for kids, youth art, live music, food and more.


NOV 22, 2012

Scarborough Lane in Duck – MAP

A great warm up for your Thanksgiving Feast! Starting on Scarborough Lane in Duck with a finish line full of post race festivities. Runners and walkers of all abilities and ages are welcome.
Visit the Advice 5K Website for more details!


NOV 22, 2012

105 West Seachase Drive, Nags Head – MAP

Head out to the 4th Annual Outer Banks Gobbler 5K and Little Giblet Fun Run!  Run, Walk, Trot, Stroll the out and back course through the picturesque Village at Nags Head and enjoy views of the Roanoke sound.  There’s going to be plenty of pre and post-run activities!
Visit their website for more information.


NOV 23, 2012 – NOV 24, 2012

1140 US Highway 64, Manteo – MAP
Phone: 252-473-6500

Looking for Family Thanksgiving activities?  Come to the Island Farm as we interpret fall food traditions and share how Roanoke Island families prepared for winter during the 1850s.  Some activities include: hearth cooking, food preservation, candle making and ox-drawn wagon rides from 10am – noon, corn shucking and shelling in the afternoon.  Bring a nonperishable food item and receive $1 off  standard admission.  Food goods will be donated to the Roanoke Island Food Pantry.  This is a great thing to do for families and supports a great cause!
Visit the Island Farm Website for more details.


NOV 23, 2012 – NOV 24, 2012

3933 N S. Croatan Hwy, Nags Head – MAP
Phone: 877-359-8477

On the Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving, come out to our store to see Santa himself!  Santa visits us each year in hopes of getting to fly a hang glider on Jockey’s Ridge!  Santa always makes sure to see each and every child before he leaves for the day.  If it’s good weather, he’ll be outside, and if it’s cold he’ll move inside the store so the kids can stay warm.  On Friday, Santa will be at the store from 10am-2pm and on Saturday from 1pm-6pm.
If you have any questions please contact our event coordinator at events@kittyhawk.com, or visit Kitty Hawk Kite’s events page.


NOV 24, 2012

3933 N S. Croatan Hwy, Nags Head – MAP
Phone: 877-359-8477

Come out and witness the beauty that is Kites with Lights!  Kites will be put up right around 4pm, and as the sun goes down watch the sky light up with Kites with Lights! As soon as the sun starts to set, come up to Jockey’s Ridge and see huge 19′ delta kites soar above the dunes. When it starts to get dark, the lights really begin to show up!  If you get cold, it’s no problem, there will be hot cidar and tons of cookies inside our store, free of charge for all spectators.  If you want to be out on the dunes under the kites remember to bring a flashlight!


NOV 25, 2012

Jennette’s Pier, Nags Head – MAP
Phone: 252-255-1501

Head on out to Jennette’s Pier in Nags Head for the 2nd annual Redfish Saturday tournament on Nov. 25 from 8 a.m. -12 p.m.  The event has something to offer for everyone!  Trophies will be awarded that day for the longest fish of these types: red drum, black drum, bluefish, speckled trout, gray trout, striped bass, croaker, flounder and others.  The pier’s educational staff will offer fee-based programs for children during the tournament.  Enjoy some of the best Fall fishing on the Outer Banks and watch big catches being brought in!
For more details visit Jennette’s pier’s website.


NOV 29, 2012 – DEC 1, 2012

Jennette’s Pier, Nags Head – MAP
Phone: 252-255-1501

Festival of Trees brings together visitors and residents alike to celebrate the holiday season with a holiday bazaar, twinkling lights, festive musical performances, punch and homemade cookies, craft activities for children, a visit with Santa and shopping for one of a kind gifts. The culmination of the festival is an auction of donated, decorated Christmas trees and holiday objects at a catered Gala Holiday Social. Festival of Trees is an annual fundraiser to benefit crisis intervention programs of the Outer Banks Hotline for victims of domestic and sexual abuse.
For more information on this Holiday Celebration visit the Festival of Trees website.


NOV 30, 2012 – DEC 1, 2012

1200 Duck Rd, Duck – MAP

The Town of Duck, in cooperation with our local business community, announces the 2nd Annual “Duck Yuletide Celebration”.   Join us Friday and Saturday, November 30, and December 1, 2012 for a Town-wide celebration of Yuletide Cheer.  On Friday, Duck merchants will keep their doors open late for shoppers.  To complement your shopping experience, Duck eateries will host one of their famous Duck Tapas Crawls from 5:00 – 8:00 p.m.(YUM)  Participating restaurants will serve tapas and Holiday cheer for one special price that is sure to be pleasing to every palate.  On Saturday,the Town of Duck will hold itsYuletide Celebration on the Duck Town Green, 1200 Duck Road, beginning at 3:00 p.m., with Santa arriving on a fire truck. Enjoy the sounds of live music and sing along with your holiday favorites.  The event will feature the announcement of the winners of the Town-wide “Business Decorating Contest” and will culminate in the lighting of the Town’s Crab Pot Tree.


NOV 30, 2012

Queen Elizabeth Street, Manteo – MAP

A favorite childhood memory of mine, set in front of the historic old courthouse on Queen Elizabeth Street is the 2012 Manteo Tree Lighting.  Scheduled for 6pm,  this is a musical dramatic celebration of that indefinable spirit of selfless joy that, for over 400 years, has touched the lives of Roanoke Island residents at Christmas and caused them to persevere against all odds in pursuance of their dreams.  This is the official kickoff to the Outer Banks’ Christmas season and you would most certainly be missing out if you missed this!  Christmas parade to follow on Saturday at 11 a.m.
For more information, please visit theTown of Manteo website.

Outer Banks Stunt Kite Festival 2012 – Photos

The 26th Annual Outer Banks Stunt Kite Competition is going on this weekend, Saturday & Sunday, October 13-14, 2012.  Sponsored by Kitty Hawk Kites, the event is a great thing to do for families! The competition is held at the Wright Brothers National Memorial and will include flying to music, larger than life kites, as well as free kite flying lessons.  Below are some photographs from earlier Saturday afternoon,  Enjoy!

Outer Banks Pirate Festival….YAARRRG!

Courtesy of Kitty Hawk Kites
Courtesy of Kitty Hawk Kites

Ahoy Maties!  It be time for ye to step aboard the ship and discover everything PIRATES!

It be takin place from Thursday, September 13 – Saturday, September 15.  You’ll find it across from Jockey’s Ridge and harbored outside Kitty Hawk Kites.  Ye be told many Pirate tales, watch live reenactments, see buccaneers fire off the cannons, get yer photograph taken with a Pirate, and much more!  Shiver me timbers!  For more information sail on over to www.outerbankspiratefestival.com.

More details will walk the plank as soon as we make sight of em!

(Thanks for reading in Pirate voice!)

Outer Banks Watermelon Festival | OBX Events

watermelon-festival-225x300_1The 6th Annual Watermelon Festival is on Thursday, August 9, at the Kitty Hawk Kites store in Nags Head (milepost 12.5) between 10am and 5pm.  The event is hosted by  Kitty Hawk Kites and the Wright Flight Foundation. Kitty Hawk Kites describes it as “a big outdoor summer bash with a homegrown backyard feel”.

There will be tons of fun activities for kids and parents like the dunk tank, moon bounce, inflatable obstacle course, watermelon seed spitting contests, pie eating contests, t-shirt tie-dying, face painting, and of course, tons of watermelon! There will also be instructional time for kids on how to use juggling sticks, balance boards, and letting them try out all of Kitty Hawk Kites top selling toys.

There’s going to be great music and food vendors. There’s even going to be raffles with over $2000 worth of prizes.

Proceeds from the Watermelon Festival go directly to the Wright Flight Foundation–a local non-profit that rewards 5th graders, who achieve their academic goals, with flight! The foundation has helped improve performance in local school districts and has given children the opportunities to do things like hang gliding, tandem hang gliding, and plane rides, that they may not have been able to do before. Students are also educated about the history and basic principles of flight.

For more information on the 5th Annual Watermelon Festival, or other events held by Kitty Hawk Kites, please contact our Events Coordinator at events@kittyhawk.com or call (252) 441-1719, ext. 206.


Outer Banks Sandsculpture Festival is Here! | OBX Events

Andy Gertler and the crew of Sandsculpt USA will be on hand at this year’s Outer Banks Sandsculpture Festival; held from June 27-30th.  As seen on the Travel Channel’s “Sand Masters” television series, Sandsculpt USA has crafted hundreds of massive sand masterpieces that are a sure sight for the whole family!

The benefit event is being sponsored by Kitty Hawk Kites, Kitty Hawk Surf Co., and The Outer Banks Hospital in an effort to gain awareness and prevention of skin cancer.  The fun kicks off on Wednesday and at 2pm each day the team at Sandsculpt USA will be demonstrating their expert techniques during a sand clinic.

Sandsculptor at Work - Courtesy of Kitty Hawk Kites
Sand sculptor at Work – Courtesy of Kitty Hawk Kites

Doctors from the Outer Banks Hospital will be on site giving free skin cancer screenings during the event (time TBA). All proceeds will go to the Outer Banks Hospital so COME ON OUT and support a great cause and enjoy the sand and sun!

Sand Creations Highlight The Day! - Courtesy of Kitty Hawk Kites
Sand Creations Highlight The Day! – Courtesy of Kitty Hawk Kites

Family Vacation Itinerary for the Outer Banks

Image via Wikipedia

Are you visiting the Outer Banks as a family? Little beach bums enjoy the simple things in life like going to beach to dig holes in the sand, splash in the water, and to meet other little beach bums to build sand castles with. Well, I just wanted to point out that coming to the beach alone can fascinate a child, and they will easily turn into fun ‘beach bums’ without trying too hard. But can we really pass up adventuring the Outer Banks with our families? Enjoy the laziness of the beach, but there are multiple fascinating historical sites that you can introduce your new beach bum.

Not only can you educate the entire family in an engaging and exciting way (not going to lie, it pulls adults in too), but you can also head out to enjoy a 4×4 tour to Corova, climb one of the brilliant lighthouses, or test out some of the unique water sports on the gorgeous sound side of the Outer Banks.   I have put together a seven-day agenda complete with different attractions that will pull your little beach bums, as well as the rest of family, into the land of their vacation destination. It’s pretty amazing to hear stories from our guests who have visited since the time they were young, remembering their first time exploring this unique area. Create that opportunity for your loved little ones.

Day 1

You may be exhausted, but nothing beats the excitement of driving over the Wright Memorial Bridge. YOU’RE HERE! The entire family is sitting straight up in their seats, taking in the gorgeous view so you might as well start exploring once you are checked into your Outer Banks rental. Southern Shores Realty recommends bringing everyone out on the beach for some exciting photos while you have everyone together (title your album later: “The start to a wonderful vacation!”) Grab a sand bucket, and go on a shell search! You can find many different sea shells on our outstanding beaches. Later on, in the week you can make your own souvenirs to take back home with you out of the shells.

Day 2

Hatteras Island may be a little far of a drive to take while you are on vacation, but it is most definitely a sight to see. You have gorgeous views on your way down there, pristine beaches to get your toes in, and did I mention Hatteras is home to the tallest lighthouse in the nation? Yes, that’s right! The Cape Hatteras lighthouse has a total of 257 steps to the top of it. It cost $7 for adults, and $3.50 for seniors/children under 12 to climb, not bad. You can also take the time to visit the gift shop and visitor’s center. The beach is right there so pack the towels!

Day 3

Exploring the Wright Brothers’ National Memorial can be very exhilarating for your family. Educate everyone with the facts on how Wilbur and Orville Wright succeeded with flight. Walk up to the actual spot where the legends conducted their flight experiments, view movies and extra educational exhibits in the Centennial Pavilion, climb the Big Kill Devil Hill for sensational views from the sea to the sound, and participate in programs such as “fun in flight.” There is always something exciting going on at the Wright Brothers’ National Memorial!

Day 4

Visit the North Carolina Roanoke Island Aquarium. Kids love this! Learn everything about what and who lurks within our waters on the East Coast. The aquarium is not only educational but extremely fun! Many programs take place throughout the day here so check their website for scheduled information (some are free others require a fee.)

Day 5

On the fifth day, you can head on out to Jockey’s Ridge Crossing to become familiar with the experience of Kitty Hawk Kites, and the “Living Dune”, which is the largest sand dune on the East Coast. Yes, it moves- you will have to adventure here to find out how and why this happens. The dune is across the street from the crossing shopping center (complete with fun kids stores.) They have a miniature museum to explore, and you can take a hang gliding lesson from Kitty Hawk Kites on this fascinating dune.

Day 6

Another fun thing to do on the Outer Banks with your family is to try one of many water sports offered in the area. You can’t test these challenging yet inspiring sports out anywhere. The sound side of the Outer Banks does complete justice for kiteboarding, parasailing, stand-up paddle boarding, kayaking, or jet skiing. Everyone will get a kick out of this! Find a service near your Outer Banks vacation rental for an easy bike ride, walk, or short ride.

Day 7

Have you to saved the best for last right? Well, here it is- out on our 4×4 beaches in Corolla, NC wild horses roam freely. There is an exhibit next to the Currituck Lighthouse where you can discover the history of these amazing animals. Although, the best part is that you can take a jeep tour out to visit them!   This is just an example of how wonderful the Outer Banks is. Even with exploring the many attractions in the area (there are much more) you still have time to enjoy some sun rays on the beach and relax. You should also stay up-to-date with our calendar of events for unique programs that are held throughout the different seasons. Hope this helps, guests!