Spring Break in the Outer Banks

It already seems forever ago but late March we found ourselves in the Outer Banks, North Carolina. We choose this coastal destination mainly because it was off season there.. so less crowds. It was approximately a 7 hour drive.. we set of Saturday morning and we reached Kill Devil Hills late afternoon. We rented this AirBnb. It was a condo, a walk away from the beach and tons of restaurants. And so beautifully decorated.

We walked over to place a take out order at Bonzer Shack and walked on the beach till our food was ready. 

Day1. We had breakfast at Stack em High

and then off to Jockey Ridge State Park. It is a free state park and home to the tallest active sand dunes in the eastern United States. When we walked up the first little dune and entered the main park area it was a wow moment.  

They ran around and flew kites. On the other side of the dunes was the Roanoke Sound. They had a small visitor center which was worthy of perusal.

Our next stop was the beach near Jennettes Pier.. while a little windy, it was a sunny day but the water was frigid. 

Afterwards we grabbed lunch at Food Dudes and just chilled out at the apartment. And picked up take out from Khan Mongolian Grill for dinner. 

This trip we also decided to give each child some spending money. They were allowed to spend it at their discretion though we guided them towards making better decisions. In the end they both came home with a couple of dollars left over. 

Day 2. We stood in line to grab some of the famous Duck Donuts and drove down to another beach near Avon Pier to enjoy a little breakfast at the beach.  The Outer Banks have a total of seven piers.

These were incredible. Piping hot. Turns out there is a Duck donuts 20 min from our place as well.. 

Pigeon prints!

Afterwards we headed to the Wright Brothers Memorial. 

There was a small indoor museum and large outdoor grounds. There are large stone markers placed for each of their early flights. Their story is quite the lesson in perseverance.

We stopped for lunch at Goombay's Grill. We noticed that most restaurants in the OBX did a lot of fancy drinks for kids.. and they all came with toys. So my boys were extremely excited. We are a no soda, no sugary juices family when at home but we let them indulge a bit when we go on vacation. Below is a video of H's drink.

As for restaurants in the time of Covid. We got take out for all of our dinners and some of our lunches. But we did venture inside some restaurants for breakfast and a couple of lunches. 

We went for a short walk at Sandy Run Park.. and saw so many turtles. We found a green snake and a couple of osprey.

There were many many mini golf places dotting the Outer Banks and they kids had been asking to go since they spotted the first one.. So we played mini golf. Bought some very strong coffee from the Front Porch Cafe and bought a painted tile made by a local artist, Stephanie Kiker. And then off to the Duck Boardwalk. The boardwalk is about a mile long and the perfect way to see the Currituck Sound. The boardwalk is dotted with shops and eateries. We picked up a pizza from Dare Devil's Pizza on our way back to the apartment.

Day 3. We had breakfast at Miller's Seafood and Steakhouse and then journeyed south to Bodie's Lighthouse. The current Bodie Island Lighthouse is the third that has stood in this vicinity of Bodie Island on the Outer Banks in North Carolina and was built in 1872. It stands 156 feet tall and is located on the Roanoke Sound side of the first island that is part of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. 

Our next stop was at the Pea National Wildlife Reserve. It was a short and easy walk around the reserve. A dream for bird watchers. There were many types of what we assumed were ducks and quite a few pelicans as well. 

We saw an extraordinary amount of duck or geese flying.. migrating. Not sure but it was quite a sight. 

We stopped to have lunch at Watermen's Bar and Grille. side noted - the houses in the area looked amazing.. I like looking at houses.. I can spend hours on Zillow.. some of the houses especially in the southern part of Outer Banks as well as near Duck were just exceptional. 

Our final stop was at Cape Hattera's Lighthouse. There were parts under construction. There was no giant map to point you in the direction of any other hikes in the area nor a proper visitors center and it was honestly a bit of a let down. So with a little Google magic we hopped back into our car and headed for the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum. There was no entry fee and we arrived 30 minutes before closing so we made the most of our time and took no pictures. Did you know that there have been over 3000 ship wrecks off the coast of the Outer Banks? This is mainly do to shoaling. From what I understood the sea bed in the Outer Banks region is constantly changing creating and dissolving sandbars with such speed that they could not record all the changes fast enough to be able to make a functioning map for seamen to follow. The five lighthouses present on the banks' primary purpose was to warn ships to not enter the area. 

There was a beach entrance across the street from the museum and we decided on a quick stroll. The beach was a see rock collectors dream. I am not one to bring home sea shells and rocks.. that's more of H's thing but they were all just so pretty! We brought home some but it took an immense amount of restraint to not bring back a bag full. Below are just a few. Are you a rock/shell collector? what do you do with them? Put them in a bowl? 

Day 4. We caved and bought Duck Donuts again! We had booked a 10 am kayaking trip with Outer Banks Kayak Adventures The weather was perfect and we had such a wonderful two hours on the water. H and I shared a kayak and D kayaked all by himself. We were very impressed. We had to maneuver through narrow canals and dodge low hanging branches. We saw many many turtles and even a baby alligator.

We had lunch at Mama Kwans and then went back to the apartment.. It's one of the things we like most about staying at an AirBnb or Vrbo, its easy to just go back and hang out, plenty of space for everyone. Not so enjoyable when you are in a cramped hotel room. Later that evening we went to Roanoke Island, the home of the mysterious 'lost colony'. Many things were closed due to Covid, others were closed due to it being off season. Not much fun. We grabbed dinner at Ortegaz. 

Day 5. We were having breakfast at Bob's Grill when we got a call from two tours that we had booked for  that day, both would be cancelled due to high winds and rain. So we called it a day and headed back to the apartment. Played board games, read and watched a movie. 

Day 6. I called around and managed to get another slot to go see the wild horses of Corolla. It was still a cold day. We had breakfast at Millers again and went on a  hike through Nags Head Woods.

Then we headed to Corolla for our wild horses tour. The belief is that long ago a few Spanish ship's wrecked and the horse on the ships swam to the Outer Banks and have lived there ever since. The tour operator advised to bring blanket as it might be a little chilly. I have to tell you.. it was not just chilly. It was arctic cold to be driving around a beach in an open truck! 

The kids ducked underneath their blankets and didn't come out until the tour was over. We saw one distant horse. The tour guide said the horses don't like the wind so we many not see any today.. um.. excuse me?! Then why are we on this tour? I understand not being able to control the horses and us not being able to see any.. happens on whale watching tours as well. Matter of luck. But if you know for a fact with your decades of experience in the business than you should let people know even on the day of the tour that the weather is bad and you can come but our advice would be to skip it.. because the chances of seeing a horse are going to be low to not existent. We were able to suck it up but I felt bad for the kids.. we were afraid they'd get sick.. I don't think an elderly person could have handled it either.. we were just counting down the minutes until this wretched tour would end.. we didn't even care about the horses anymore.  

Day 7. Packed up. Had our last breakfast at Stack em High. Said goodbye to the Outer Banks and headed home.
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Jennifer said...

Looks like you had a fun time!

Curated By Jennifer

karen said...

we have been there three different times for family vacations with our little family and with extended family. I have tons of good memories there! Loved seeing the place once again :)

R's Rue said...

I love the Outer Banks and those donuts.

Martha said...

Other than the very end it sounds like you and your family had a wonderful trip. The kids look so happy in all the photos. I've never been there but sure looks like a great place to visit.

Janie Junebug said...

Other than the tour, it looks as if a good time was had by all. That's a place I've never visited.


Kelly said...

It looks like y'all had a really good time! (those donuts look wonderful) I've never been to the Outer Banks. The horse tour makes me think of the book, Misty of Chincoteague. I agree they should have warned you when you booked that it wasn't a good time for seeing the horses.

Heather{Our Life In a Click} said...

This looked like such a fun, memorable trip! Your Airbnb looked so nice too! I loved reading about your adventures and eats!

Sparkles and Lattes said...

Ever since I saw the show Outer Banks, I have always wanted to go there. This makes me want to go more. Looks like a great trip. And those donuts look heavenly.

Polyester Princess said...

Outer Banks looks like an amazing place for a holiday, and how wonderful that you were able to visit it during a quiet, out of season time. And doesn't all that food look absolutely delicious. I can never resist bringing shells home either. I have put some of the more unusual ones in one of those box frames! xxx

Jeanie said...

This sounds terrific, Hena. I've a friend in the Outer Banks on Roanoke (Manteo) and have never visited. Apart from seeing him, I have all the more reason to come, thanks to your fabulous photos. And you eat well there, too! I don't even like donuts and I wanted to reach into the screen to grab one, they looked so good!

bread&salt said...

You had really fun time! Duck donuts look delicious! Pictures are amazing. Thanks for information

Elephant's Child said...

That looked like a truly wonderful outing - for you all. I am really sorry about the wild horse too - and loved your masks.

Liz A. said...

Looks like you had a lovely time. The beach is fun, although that pier looked way rickety. Your breakfasts are making me hungry.

LL Cool Joe said...

That breakfast and the donuts look so good! Shame I'm on a diet. I've put on a few pounds during lockdown and now need to lose them before I face the world again.

Looks like you are a very happy family. :)

Jodie's Touch of Style said...

It looks like you totally had the beach to yourselves!! How wonderful is that. And having the turtle sunning like that? So cute.

As for the tour...they should have totally told you that at the beginning. Ugh,

Carrie @ Curly Crafty Mom said...

Oh, do I miss the beach! Beautiful photos. Those Duck donuts look SO DELICIOUS!


Debra She Who Seeks said...

Lots of fun outdoor activities! All of that would have worn me out, LOL!

Lovely said...

This sounds like a wonderful getaway! The food looks yum, especially the donuts!

Emmylou said...

Oh wow...you guys did so much! Great pics, and the Duck Donuts looked soooo yummy:)

Suzanne @ The Bookish Libra said...

What a lovely getaway! The only outing we have had since the start of the pandemic was a trip to the Outer Banks and we visited a lot of the same attractions. Duck Donuts were a favorite with us and my son really liked the Wright Brothers museum and ended up doing a report for school on them. I agree about Hatteras being kind of a let down. I was expecting to learn and see a lot more than I did.

Kathrine Eldridge said...

What a terrific break! Love all these photos. Those donuts look so good. Thanks for sharing Hena!


Nancy Chan said...

Looks like a great family outing. Beautiful beach. Pretty shells and rocks collected from the beach.

» Joha said...

Great post! Thanks for sharing. x

Rowena @ rolala loves said...

Looks like such a nice getaway! I look forward to traveling again in the future when it's more safe.

awhite said...

I've been wanting to visit the Outer Banks for years now- it's such a beautiful place! Glad you guys got to get away!

Le Stylo Rouge

Mica said...

Looks like a fun holiday although it's a shame you didn't enjoy that last tour, you definitely had a good time on the other days! they are lovely shells too! We like to collect shells when we are at the beach but we don't get to take them home as there are often signs up about how important it is to leave them there - sometimes there are little critters inside, haha!

Hope that you are having a lovely week :)

Away From The Blue

Penghuni 60 said...

Very enjoyable tour

Debbie said...

we have never vacationed at the OB, but i have friends and family who go once or twice a year!! i'm glad you shared your itinerary, i would like to go and it looks like you hit some great spots. the donuts are amazing and i love that you shared the names of the restaurants that you visited!!

the horses are hit or miss, too bad you did not see them!!

Pam said...

WOW...looks like a fun time by all! I would love to put my feet in the sand right now. That and the water. Nice pics.

Stefanie said...

It makes me smile to see the boys running free. I can hear their laughter from here. Ooh, yummy...French Toast and donuts! I'm craving FT right now. We have been satisfying the donut cravings with Krispy Kreme since last Saturday.

Pilar said...

It looks like you had a wonderful time!

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