OVERVIEW OF DUCK AND THE OUTER BANKS
Duck North Carolina is one of the smaller, more quiet areas of the Outer Banks North Carolina region. However, it has really built up over the years so we’ve put together this guide to planning a vacation in Duck so you can make the most of your beach trip! There are over 100 shops and over 30 cafes, restaurants, and bars.
The Outer Banks, commonly abbreviated as simply ‘OBX’, is a coastal tourist destination for people around the world. Full of peninsulas and small islands off the coast of North Carolina and resting against the Atlantic sea, it makes for a lot of beaches to enjoy.
There are tons of Outer Banks house rentals to choose from for every budget and group size. My husband’s family has rented the same house in Duck NC for decades.
OBX Marks the Spot from Outer Banks Visitors Bureau on Vimeo.
OUTER BANKS COVID-19 INFORMATION
The Outer Banks is open and ready for business! The situation is ever-evolving, so be sure to check out the Human Health Services website for the latest North Carolina coronavirus facts and figures about this area and other safety updates before you head out on your Outer Banks summer vacation. Also, confirm your reservation and arrival plans for the Outer Banks rental properties. Social distancing and mask rules and decisions may vary by business.
Below is our Beginner’s Vacation Guide to Duck, which highlights 10 reasons to choose this beach town for your next family vacation.
FREE FAMILY ACTIVITIES
The town of Duck has a lot of great family-friendly activities happening throughout the year. They’re not only free, but they are also open to the public. All of these events, with the exception of the parades, are held in the Duck Town Park.
Free Fitness Classes
Every Tuesday at 7:30 am from June 15 through the first week of September, Village Yoga classes are offered for all ages and skill levels. The 2021 season will kick off virtually and return to the Duck Town Green once it is deemed safe to do so.
Dynamic Flow Fitness
Wednesday mornings at 7:30 am starting June 16th, you can catch the Dynamic Flow Fitness classes. The workout is a natural, practical and playful calisthenics workout for amateurs and athletes. This will also kick off virtually and return to the Town Green once COVID restrictions are lifted.
Other Fitness Classes
Village Yoga also offers several types of yoga, barre, and pilates classes in their studios located at The Waterfront Shops. In addition, check out their schedule for relaxing Beach Yoga and SUP Yoga (stand up paddle boarding) too!
BIKING IN DUCK
Biking in Duck is a huge plus for families. There is a safe path that extends through the majority of the town. See the Getting Around section below for more details.
You can bring your own or rent bikes at several locations throughout town. They deliver too! Some Outer Banks rental properties may even have bikes on-site for you to use during your stay.
Duck is loaded with recreational activities for all ages! Most of them are situated along the 11 acres of the sound front property.
- There is a large playground structure near the Town Hall building that is popular with little ones. It is best to go early or late in the day because it is not well shaded.
- Duck Village Outfitters rents kayaks, surfboards, jogging strollers, and more. There is a kayak launch located on the boardwalk.
- If you like to fish or crab, head to Bob’s Bait and Tackle for supplies and even half and full day boat charters.
- The Town Green has several picnic tables and shaded picnic shelters.
After all that exercise, you need a little pampering! Luckily, there are a few convenient options for a spa day in Duck!
- Aqua Spa offers a wide range of treatments including a hot stone massage and a peppermint body scrub.
- Sanderling Resort Spa has yoga, couples experiences and gentlemen’s care as well as several other nice amenities.
- Barefoot Massage is a group of therapists that offer a range of massage services including Swedish massage and reflexology that will come to your location.
Most rental homes have a top deck that allows you to watch the sunset over the bay. If you don’t have a deck, go to the Duck Boardwalk for an unobstructed view of the bay. Another fun option is to head to neighboring Corolla for Whalehead Wednesday to enjoy wine tasting and live music as the sun sets over the Currituck Sound.
There are three main areas for shopping in Duck:
The Waterfront Shops
Situated on the boardwalk, The Waterfront Shops is a unique little collection of over 27 boutiques, eateries restaurants and more.
Scarborough Faire Shopping Village
With nature providing shading trees over the pathways, you can expect a nice shopping experience at Scarborough Faire Shopping Village during any season of the year. This village contains specialty stores, fine eateries, and family gathering places that can help you make precious memories.
Scarborough Lane Shoppes
You can find almost anything that you’re looking for at the Scarborough Lane Shoppes with this interesting collection of boutiques and specialty stores. With places such as cool clothing boutiques, pet grooming, and fun food stores, you can easily spend an entire afternoon checking out these places.
Even though Duck is a small town, there are over 40 restaurants to choose from that range from casual to upscale waterfront dining. Several ice cream and sweet treat shops are also sprinkled among the shopping centers. We love to go to Donutz on a Stick to watch the donuts being made!
Duck is not known for its nightlife, but you can find fun at a few places that stay open late for those that like to party when the sun goes down. Check their website for hours. Some establishments close as early as 9 pm.
Sunset Grille has karaoke a few nights a week. Check their billboard or call for the latest schedule.
The Roadside Bar & Grill features local music a few nights a week. They also have a bunch of fun events.
Fishbones Raw Bar & Restaurant has karaoke on Monday nights and occasional live music.
The Blue Point has an outdoor “backside” bar overlooking the bay. They host occasional musical acts during happy hour and weekend daytime slots.
Scarborough Faire Shopping Village features live music or a DJ one night a week. Check their schedule for dates and times.
If you take a walk on the Duck Boardwalk, you are bound to see turtles and various birds and ducks. There are osprey nesting platforms around town. You can even feed the birds on the bay. From your balcony, you can spot deer and foxes roaming at dusk.
- Text “Join OBXBEACHCONDITIONS” to 30890 for the latest alerts.
- If you see a red flag flying, it means that you CANNOT swim in the ocean. Even if the weather looks beautiful, the water can be dangerous.
- Rip currents are notorious around the Outer Banks beaches.
- Be familiar with the safety rules.
- Changes in the color of the water, choppy water, and irregular wave patterns are indicators of a rip current.
- NEVER leave children unattended. Always stay near them in the water. Even adults can get pulled under in a rip current.
- Do not swim in the ocean after dark.
- Avoid swimming near schools of fish and stay alert. Sharks have been spotted on occasion.
- Do not allow children to dig holes
- If you go for a walk or a run, take note of where you entered the beach. It is easy to get disoriented – especially when you are hot and dehydrated. Not that it has ever happened to me 😉
- The Town of Duck website has a fantastic downloadable map of the area that highlights the location of the trails, shops, and other key points.
- The speed limit around many parts of the Outer Banks is only 35 miles per hour, so plan travel accordingly.
- There are two small grocery stores in Duck, Tommy’s Market and WeeWinks Market. Both offer a limited selection of products at a premium price.
- The nearest grocery centers, Harris Teeter and Walmart are at least a 15-minute drive into Kitty Hawk.
- There is a six-mile multi-lane path known as Duck Trail. It connects to over 100 miles of bike paths across the Outer Banks and Duck Boardwalk.
- Golf carts are allowed in the town, but you cannot drive them on Duck Road or Duck Trail.
- When there are evens going on, be sure to arrive early because parking near the Amphitheater fills up quickly.
- Restrooms are located in the Town Hall Building. There are also water fountains in the building.
The Outer Banks area is known as the ‘Graveyard of the Atlantic’ for its vast number of shipwrecks around the islands. It is estimated that there are nearly 3,000 shipwrecks in total! Kill Devil Hills is one of the closest places to go for diving. Roanoke Island Outfitters offers charters and beach dives. They also rent scuba equipment.
Need a break from the beach? Visit the number one family attraction in the OBX – H2OBX Waterpark. Some rental companies offer free passes to the water park, so be sure to ask when you book!
The Pointe Golf Club is a top-rated course that offers 9- and 18-hole options on its par-71 championship course. Rates are affordable but do go up during peak summer season.
If you are looking for a larger park that you can play in, drive over to Sandy Run Park. It is only a 15-minute drive out from Duck. This park is set on 1,600 acres of marshland. It includes a boardwalk, picnic facilities, a putting green, a basketball half-court, fishing and boating areas, and plenty of areas to spot wildlife.
December 17, 2003, marked the 100th year anniversary of the first sustained flight by Orville and Wilbur Wright on North Carolina’s Outer Banks. The Monument to a Century of Flight is a commemorative recognition to the accomplishment and a celebration for aviation enthusiasts.
Having descended from Spanish Mustangs, the Corolla Wild Horses have roamed in Corolla for approximately 400 years. While you can normally catch them in the four-wheel-drive areas of the beach, it is illegal to intentionally come within 50 feet of them.
It is best to schedule an OBX wild horse tour where you can learn all about the historical significance that they bring to the area. Our favorite wild horse tour in Corolla is Bob’s Wild Horse Tour.
There are so many different tourist options in Corolla. Jockey’s Ridge State Park is one of the most popular Corolla attractions. It is the largest living sand dune on the Atlantic coast. There is plenty of sightseeing and a gorgeous view of the ocean. There is also a museum, boardwalk, and hang gliding available.
Historic Corolla Park is a great place for a day trip from Duck. Historic Whalehead is a restored mansion situated in the park that is available for public museum tours. The beautiful grounds offer wonderful views of wild birds and overlook the Currituck Sound. There is also a free indoor Wildlife Center with displays about the area’s history and geography.
Whalehead hosts several weekly and special events throughout the summer. Check the Facebook events page as the schedule may vary and is weather dependent.
- Whalehead Wednesday is a ticketed wine and beer tasting event. It includes food and craft vendors and live music.
- Yoga at Whalehead is a free class offered every Thursday at 7:30 am. Bring a mat, sunblock, and water.
- Kids Day in the Park is a free event held on Thursdays from 10 am to 3 pm. Activities include lawn games, kite making, photo ops, and food vendors.
- Joan’s Way Tour is a special children’s tour of the Whalehead residence.
- Corolla Lighthouse Summer 5k Race Series is a weekly Wednesday running series open to all ages. The entry fee includes an event t-shirt, finisher medal, and post-race continental breakfast.
If you’ve ever wondered what life was like for the first English settlers in 1585, this is the place to go for a first-hand look. With historical costumes, interpreters, and a hands-on history lesson you can enjoy yourselves as you learn something. The park also caters to venues for concerts and other events.
The North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island is host to the largest group of sharks in the state. They also have river otters, stingrays, and alligators as well as scuba divers that let you interact with them. The aquarium also works hard on its conservation efforts in helping the animals with rehabilitation.
The Lost Colony also tops the list of Roanoke Island attractions. In fact, it is the number one attraction in the Outer Banks! With it being based on a true story and so full of rich history, it’s easy to see why!
In 1587, 117 English men, women, and children came to the New World to start a settlement and within 3 years they completely vanished without a trace. It’s an intriguing tale every visitor to the area must witness.
If you are looking to spend some time away from the beach, check out the Elizabethan Gardens. These historic gardens were kept to entertain Queen Elizabeth 1 during her reign.
It is still a well-kept area with beautiful grounds and colorful plants to keep you entertained. It also serves as a living memorial to the lost colony from over 400 years ago.
VISIT DUCK NORTH CAROLINA
There are plenty of great reasons to plan a trip to Duck North Carolina. The long list of recreational activities and location within the Outer Banks offers lots of options for day trips. The Outer Banks of North Carolina website is a great place to start with your vacation planning!
**Read 10 Things to Know Before You Go to the Outer Banks from our friends at ThreeKidsAndACar.com!**
The Blue Point is one of my favorites as well! Unbeatable sunsets during the summer and one of the best, most tender pork chops you’ll ever try.
Wow, I’ve never heard of this place but now that I have it looks amazing. I love small communities like these especially near beaches. Thanks for sharing this gem. And what a beautiful video ❤️.
This sounds like such a fun place! I love all of the activity options & family friendly things to do.
Good blog you have got here.. It’s difficult to find high-quality writing like yours nowadays.
I seriously appreciate individuals like you!
I was curious if the Outerbanks were going to become even more popular now because of the show! My family has been trying to organize a trip there for years and never pulled the trigger on it. Sounds like a great place to visit!
Seems like such a cute little town! Recently heard about Outerbanks through the show and also reading “Where the Crawdads Sing” and would love to visit one day 🙂
The towns in North Carolina certainly have some interesting names! Sounds like a cute little place to spend a little bit of time. I’ve never heard of it before so I’m glad you let me know about it.
Wow, I remember the lost colony was East Coast but I had forgot it was in North Carolina. We are PNW and would love to do a big summer trip through the East coast. Thanks for all the local information!
Wow! What a cool place to visit! Love that you included great free fitness activities and info about the Nature. I’ll travel anywhere for beautiful birds and nature!
Thank you! It is really neat to see the different types of birds depending on where we visit along the Northeast coast.
I’ve been only to South Carolina so far and it seems that there is much to explore in the north…
Your family trip looks so relaxed – like the epitome of a summer vacation.
Yeah it is definitely a laid back place. I am from New Jersey and it is certainly a different scene than the Jersey shore (and yes, the television depiction is not too far off)!
As a new mother I am constantly looking for guides on places to travel within the United States. I’m really looking forward to taking my son here some day soon as this would make a perfect retreat for our family! I love that you put all the best places to catch the sunset – that’s really unique and outside of what a lot of guides offer. I feel like sunsets in the outer banks are iconic!
It is a great place to take kids! They are really nice sunsets…I’d say a close second to Key West.
If I’m on vacation, I’ll leave the workouts to you and head straight to Donutz on a Stick. (<— this is also why you're going to look 100x better in a swimsuit on a beach than I will!) All kidding aside, I'd love to spend more time in the Outer Banks!
Not gonna lie…most people bike or jog just to get to Donutz on a Stick and Duck Donuts. Ha! Ha! 🙂
This sounds like a fun place! Perfect for family outings 🙂
You guys did a great job of describing Duck. We haves owned a rental property there for many years and it’s absolutely the best town on the Outer Banks. It’s even better off Seay and in winter!
Thank you! Funny you mention that because someone recently told me that it does not get as cold there because of the position on the water. Is that true? I know Ocean City beach area of Maryland is absolutely freezing in winter so I was really surprised.
We stay at Corolla every summer but for some reason never make it to a Duck (it’s because this is our super lazy beach vacation actually!), but we aim to. Every year. Hopefully this year we’ll get there and check all this out!
We did Bob’s Wild Horse Tour in Corolla this year. It was really fun! I totally get it though. With the speed limit and pedestrians, it takes so long to drive from town to town!
I live in NC but have not spent much time at the outer banks. Great information and beautiful photos! I would love to see the lighthouses too! Thanks for the info!
Well, you have no excuse then! 🙂 You’ll have to go and check it out. It is really beautiful there!
Thanks for all this information. We have been talking about going to the outer banks and thinking about going next summer. I also like to go where its less crowded ao I will keep this article.
Glad it was helpful! Thanks!