Can you make a family trip to Outer Banks, NC happen anytime other than summer or spring break? Would you want to? We just got back from our off-season vacation there, and the answer to both is yes.
We’ve been to Outer Banks over the summer – we went last year, actually. This year my family gifted us a trip as a Christmas present, for some peaceful time together. We didn’t go with an intent to dive into the sea, obviously, but no time is a bad time to be at the beach.
Here’s what we discovered for our trip:
Where to Stay
One huge reason to go in the off-season? It’s less expensive to stay. Working through AirBNB and Vacation Rental By Owner (VRBO) is a great way to negotiate with a homeowner for a price that works for both of you. We had a great house right on the sound in Corolla with an engaging owner (happy to recommend it – send me a message if you’re looking for a place).
We enjoy Corolla because it’s quiet and there’s plenty to do. You can drive on the beach, and Currituck Lighthouse is right there. Duck is also a favorite. The North Beach side of OBX is a little quieter and has more of a community feel. But there are definitely a lot of things to do on the south side as well. If you’re looking to make a lot of trips South (the movie theatre, outlets, and national parks are there), I would recommend staying in Duck or Southern Shores for less of a drive back and forth.
Where to Eat
There are plenty of options for restaurants available even in the off-season. However, you may want to call ahead of time to make sure it’s open, and what the hours are. Here are our favorites:
Steamers – It’s an upper scale restaurant right at the turn you take to go towards Southern Shores, Duck, and Corolla. They have a great variety of seafood, and a beautiful view of the beach. You can even sit on the deck to take it all in. The wait staff is so attentive, and the kids meal options were great for our littles. We found out this trip that they also have a pick-up option to get steamer pots (with shellfish and more). We definitely want to try that next trip. I really enjoyed my seafood pasta, and got to try a little of my brother’s crab mac n’ cheese, which was delicious.
Cosmo’s Pizza – They have two locations, one just before the turn to the north side of the beach, and one in Corolla. I loved the pizza – we had the veggie – and the service was friendly. We picked it up on the way home from the outlets, but they actually had toys available in the restaurant to keep the kids occupied if we had dined in. Definitely a great option.
Duck Donuts – You can’t not. They are vanilla cake donuts made-to-order with toppings you can choose yourself, or their favorites like the maple bacon donut. The only one open when we were there was in Kill Devil Hills, but I had to make the trip at least once. So, so good.
OBX Frozen Yogurt – Just a great, locally-owned frozen yogurt shop, in the same shopping center as Steamers.
Also, where we stayed in Corolla, Food Lion and Harris Teeter were open (with shorter hours), so we ate in often, too.
If you’re looking for more variety, a lot of the restaurants and shops open back up for the season in March. I think next year if we go back, we’ll consider going early in March before spring breaks start.
What to Do
Even in the off season, there are still so many things to do in OBX!
The Beach – even though we didn’t quite have typical beach days, it was still fun to go fly kites, build sand castles, and find seashells
Dunes at Jockey’s Ridge State Park
Wright Brothers National Memorial ($7 per person; currently under renovations)
Currituck Lighthouse (Closed until spring, so you can’t climb it, but it’s still pretty to visit. Many of the shops nearby are still open, like Island Bookstore.)
Timbuck II in Corolla (shopping – again, check hours, but we found a few shops to be open)
Beach driving in Corolla
Playgrounds – there are so many! We found playground called Dowdy Park in Nag’s Head, which our two little guys loved, plus it’s special needs accessible and not far from the beach, the outlets, and Bodie Island Lighthouse.
The Waterfront Shops in Duck (shopping, plus a dock, a yoga studio and a great little coffee shop)
Outer Banks Children @ Play Museum – we didn’t end up going in, but it looks like a great spot for a rainy day.
Kill Devil Hills Movies 10
Have you been to Outer Banks? What are some of your favorite things there?