This last summer, my husband and I made the decision that we would make the trip to head down to Kitty Hawk, on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, because his cousin and his wife had recently relocated down to North Carolina for professional purposes.
To be honest, I didn’t know much about the Outer Banks, but I was sure I’d heard of Kitty Hawk before. Turns out, Kitty Hawk was the home of the Wright Brothers– you know, the guys who made airplanes happen? They didn’t actually take off “in” Kitty Hawk, but in nearby Kill Devil Hills; still, Kitty Hawk has become a recognizable name with some cultural significance. Part of this is because the Wright Brothers sent out the telegraph which announced their success with flight from an office in Kitty Hawk. So, it wasn’t exactly “where” it happened, but was just as significant of a location in the story, and “Kitty Hawk” has a better ring to it than “Kill Devil Hills,” I guess.
Turns out, Kitty Hawk is an amazing little town, and the Outer Banks is an area that is totally, completely, and absolutely underrated as far as North American travel destinations go.
The Outer Banks are located just off of the coast of North Carolina. They’re a group of small islands. What I didn’t realize about North Carolina, too, was that it is actually right on the cusp of the “deep south” of the United States… It is not quite as “deep” as a few other states, like Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Georgia, but it borders on, or is very close to, several of those iconically Southern states. On the mainland, before heading to Kitty Hawk, I was stunned by the beautiful Gothic architecture found in the residential areas of a few of the towns we stopped in, like New Bern.
In Kitty Hawk, there are still hints of southern architecture, but a lot of the houses are basically on stilts because of the fact that the area gets some pretty intense water-related weather incidents, if you know what I mean. In general, that idea of “the south” is implemented and blended and juxtaposed in such an interested way with the idea of “island paradise.” One thing is for sure, South + Island Paradise = Abundance of Seafood. Personally, I had no complaints. I love seafood, and the seafood was incredible. Mr. B (my husband) was compelled to take us out to one of the most expensive restaurants in town, and it was absolutely amazing. We also had a lot more reasonably priced food, like an all-you-can-eat seafood buffet (which was fantastic), but Mr. B’s idea to suggest that we treat ourselves to the finest of fine dining definitely did not go unappreciated by any of us! The bill was high, but the food was incredibly delicious, and the wine was top of the line.
Kitty Hawk is also home to an absolutely incredible beach. Though it was very busy and active during our visit, that certainly was not a bad thing. There was such a pulse there, and it was one of the best beaches that I have ever had the chance to spend time at. A lot of you might not know this about me, but I actually really love peaceful time in nature, so our time at Kitty Hawk Woods Coastal Reserve was definitely a highlight for me, as well.
Although we based most of our trip out of Kitty Hawk, where Mr. B’s family members were staying, we actually stayed in Duck, which is about 8 miles away from Kitty Hawk. Doing the drive was not exactly a chore, though the traffic is definitely abundant during the summer… We wonder what it would be like in the autumn, winter, and spring, when the traffic would presumably be obsolete. Still, the traffic was much less significant than what we are accustomed to in the city, and we really had no complaints.
Duck was a pretty great little town, too. Especially for boutique shopping! At one point, the men went out for burritos and beers, while us ladies took in Duck’s quaint boutique shops. We spent some time at Scarborough Lane shops, which were quite upscale, and a lot of what was offered was a bit out of our price range (a lot out of our price range), but we considered it to be a great use of time, regardless! The Duck Waterfront shops were our favorite place to shop on the entire trip. Maybe we are just suckers for cute, idyllic little Waterfront displays, but the shops themselves were very crafty and fun.
Our vacation rental in Duck was a pretty amazing place. We became pretty enamored with many of the options, some of which fit comfortably within our price range! We were very glad to have our own place to stay, Mr. B’s cousin can get to be a little much sometimes (sorry, if you’re reading this– we love you), and we’re sure that he and his wife also appreciated having some space from us. The rental in Duck was a beautiful place, and we had a wonderful time starting and finishing our days there.
We spent most of our time in the “Northern Beaches” as they were the most alive, pulsating places, and we were told we were the most fun. But, on one of our last days, we made our way to Roanoke Island and it made me wonder if we had missed out on the rest of the Outer Banks. Roanoke was a beautiful island with two very cool little towns, Manteo and Wanchese. In general, I appreciated the chilled, laid back, heritage-based feeling of this area. I think we got enough time there, but I regretted not making our way further, to Hatteras Island, for example, or to Ocracoke Island. We all had lots of ideas for what we would do different next time we visited, but did not regret spending so much of our time in the bustling areas like Duck, Southern Shores, Kill Devil Hills, Nags Head, and, of course, Kitty Hawk.
So, final verdict…
Would I go back to the Outer Banks again? Absolutely.
What would I do differently? I would visit some of the smaller, more remote towns, villages, and areas.
What would I do the same? I’d still rent an amazing rental home, eat a lot of great seafood, relax on the beaches, and keep the same company!
Mr. B’s cousin and his wife plan to be in the area for a few more years.
Thank you Outer Banks, we can’t wait to come back!