Outer Banks Vacation Guide

Ready to plan your next vacation? Looking for a family friendly spot? The Outer Banks is a wonderful family vacation destination!

I wanted to share with you one of the great towns to stay in: Duck! There are also a few other Northern Beach options to stay in: Nags Head,  Southern Shores, Kitty Hawk, and Kill Devil Hills.

Now let’s get onto the details. On paper, the OBX is a 10 hour drive from Columbus. As you get started with your planning, you may decide that you want to split up the drive into two parts, especially if you have little ones. We drive a bulk of the way on Friday, to either Norfolk, Virginia or Newport News, Virginia. This gets you within two hours of the OBX for your drive on Saturday.

Now onto Saturday. I recommend getting up early on Saturday and getting on the road. The first time we went to the Outer Banks, we were warned about the traffic. We thought to ourselves, “It can’t be that bad.” Well if I’m being honest, it is pretty bad. It is by far the worst part of the trip. What should take 2 hours, takes at least 4 because of the traffic. Not to be a downer, but just wanted to give a fair warning! Once you get through it and see the ocean, it will be all worth it! 

Duck, North Carolina 

Where to Stay in the Outer Banks

There are a number of towns to stay in at the Outer Banks, all within 15-30 minutes of each other. As I mentioned earlier, we have always stayed in Duck and we are very happy with the family friendliness of the town. Many of the homes to rent have pools on the property and are within walking distance to the beach. We LOVED staying in the Four Seasons Community this year as it had a spacious house to accommodate our large family. It was a beautiful community with a private pool, a neighborhood pool, a playground, a trolley, tennis courts, shuffleboard, and yoga on the beach. You can book through Carolina Designs, Resort Realty, or Twiddy (and a number of other companies!) to find the perfect house.  

               A playground within the community!

Where to Eat


Duck Donuts: Have you been to the location in Columbus? Well, head to the original Duck Donuts to enjoy warm, made to order delicious donuts! Maple bacon, anyone? 

Donutz on a Stick: If you are looking for a new way to enjoy your donuts, try them on a stick! This local joint has over 35 toppings and is located right on the boardwalk. They also serve ice cream for an after dinner treat. Your taste buds will have a blast! 

Treehouse Coffee: Enjoy your morning cup here! 


Fishbones Raw Bar: A great spot to hit up as you pull into town. We were served quickly, the food was tasty and hit the spot! 


Aqua: We had a delicious meal here that has regional cuisine and elegant water front dining. This was our special dinner out and even with 5 kids under the age of 6, they were accommodating and understanding. A spa is also located on the property and overlooks the peaceful waters! 

Red Sky Cafe: Local foods and casual atmosphere! You won’t be disappointed! 

Snacks/Ice Cream 

Outer Banks Popcorn Shoppe: Need a quick snack as you pull into town? Stop at the first board walk for popcorn and then head to lunch at any of the places along the boardwalk. We had a great experience!

Sunset Ice Cream: This ice cream spot has a beautiful view of the boardwalk and our favorite tasting ice cream as well! 

Outer Banks

Ice Cream on the Boardwalk!


What to Do in Downtown Duck 

Faire Days: Every Wednesday from 1-5, enjoy live music, face painting, glitter tattoos, painting a duck, and more! 

Family Magic Show: We had a great time at this magic show that really incorporated the audience. It is in a nice shaded amphitheater too.

Yoga: Each Tuesday morning, there is Yoga on the Village Green at 7:30 a.m. Start your day off right! 

Story Time on the Green: Each Friday is story time on the green!  

Family Fun on the Green!

Movies on the Sound: On Tuesday nights, enjoy a movie on The Sound. 

Concerts on the Green: Each Thursday night, enjoy an outdoor concert where you can bring dinner and drinks and enjoy a picnic too! 

Other Places to visit: 

Cape Hatteras Lighthouse: The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, with its black and white candy-cane stripes, is one of the most famous and recognizable lighthouses in the world. It protects one of the most treacherous stretches of the Outer Banks. You can climb the 248 spiral steps and see amazing views from the top! A fun day trip for the family! 

Wild Horses: See the Wild Colonial Spanish Mustangs in this laid back beach atmosphere! You can book a horse tour and rent a 4 X 4 Jeep. You can also take your own car onto the beach, but trucks are recommended! 

Outer Banks Water Park H20 ObxThis is a brand new water park and we had an awesome time here! It was so clean and super family friendly. There was a great area for little ones and the big kids had fun too with the jaw dropping slides! You cannot bring food inside, so pack a cooler for the parking lot or plan to each lunch there. Highly recommend this spot! 

A Few Tips 

  • Again, I stress leaving early on Saturday morning or arriving later on Saturday. Some rentals are Sunday to Sunday as well. 
  • Book your reservations early for the next summer! Or go in September if you can. Rates are low and the beach is less crowded. 
  • When you get to your house, instead of heading back to the grocery store, try the local store.  I would get a few essentials at Wee Winks, a grocery store in the town of Duck. This will help with not getting back into the traffic, the moment you get into your house. Go later Saturday or early Sunday to the grocery for your big list!

After years of visiting Hilton Head and Sunset Beach, OBX was a great place to experience. We made so many special family memories at the beach and can’t wait to go back! Let us know your favorite beaches and spots in The Outer Banks too! 

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