The Outer Banks has a wide array of diverse and completely fascinating attractions for visitors to explore, stemming from a long history filled with pirates, shipwrecks, and heroic rescues.
The area is home to nationally renowned historic sites, wild refuges and nature preserves, and an established collection of marinas and fishing piers, providing visitors with ample attractions to explore in all regions of these barrier islands. On your next vacation, satisfy the budding historians, botanists, biologists and all around fun-lovers in your group with a trip to one of the Outer Banks' top attractions.Historic Sites
The Outer Banks is a paradise for amateur historians of all genres, and has more than its fair share of national claims to fame, from the arrival of the first English settlers in the late 1500s to the launch of the first powered airplane in 1903.
Start your tour with a visit to the Fort Raleigh National Historic site for an in-depth exploration of the stomping grounds of the original 1587 English colonists, or head to Kill Devil Hills to visit the exact site where aviation was born. Many visitors are surprised to learn that the Outer Banks played an instrumental role in so many events that helped build a nation, and a visit to any of these historical sites will surely shed light on why the Outer Banks has been on the map for centuries.Lifesaving Service and Stations
The lifesaving stations along the Outer Banks were a launching point for the creation and management of the US Coast Guard, and their history has been painstakingly preserved to honor the brave servicemen who rescued hundreds of sailors stranded offshore.
The best example of these late 19th century stations, the Chicamacomico Lifesaving Station, is one of the last intact stations in the country that is open for visitors. Additional renovations are in the works to save and reopen two neighboring stations, the Oregon Inlet station and the Little Kinnakeet Station in Avon, while stories of heroism can be found everywhere along the Outer Banks from the local museums to the visitors' centers.
For true tales of heroism that are almost too incredible to believe, and a seaworthy perspective of the role of lifesaving stations in Outer Banks' culture, pay a visit to the local lifesaving stations for an up-close-and-personal look at North Carolina's stormy maritime roots.Marinas and Piers
Anglers have been heading to the Outer Banks for generations to take advantage of the exceptional surf, pier and offshore fishing that has made the area one of the best-known fishing destinations on the East Coast.
Located close to both the Intercoastal Waterway and the Gulf Stream, the marinas provide anglers ample opportunities to cast their lines for big game in the open Gulf Stream waters. Bring a boat along and rent a slip, or simply commission one of the region's many established charter fishing boats for a full or half day expedition. With dozens of marinas spanning from the Currituck Mainland to Ocracoke Island, offshore anglers will find they have no shortage of options.
The Outer Banks also features a good half dozen piers, intermittently located from Kitty Hawk to Avon. Virtually every beach town community is just a few minutes away from a local pier, and with exceptional views of the shoreline and the Atlantic, the pier will be a pleasant trip for fishermen and sightseers alike.
Take advantage of all aspects of the world-famous Outer Banks fishing conditions, and plan a trip to the local piers or marinas during your next OBX fishing expedition.Museums, Aquariums & Planetariums
Some people may have a preconceived idea of the typical stodgy and quiet museum scene, but on the Outer Banks, you can throw this stereotype to the wind. The museums on the Outer Banks are hands-on, interactive explorations of the local history, environment and culture, and are designed to be entertaining, with a bit of education on the side.
Get your hands wet in the North Carolina aquarium's touch tank, where manta rays and saltwater fish glide around freely in open tanks, or explore a fully-functioning 16th century sailing vessel at the Roanoke Island Festival Park's Elizabeth II, with costumed interpreters happy to show visitors the ropes of sailing to the New World.
While all subjects of local study are certainly covered, from marine biology to early American History, visitors certainly won't feel like they're on an educational field trip. Come see just how fun a little local education can be with a family field trip to one of the Outer Banks' Museums and Aquariums.Preserves, Refuges & Conservancies
The barrier islands of the Outer Banks are one of the most unique habitats on the Eastern Seaboard, and as a result, miles of this shoreline have been sectioned off as federal or state preserves, refuges and conservancies. These undeveloped and pristine parcels of land are a slice of the wild Outer Banks landscape, featuring acres of marshlands, tidal flats, maritime forests and sound and ocean facing beaches.
Freely open to the public, visitors are encouraged to explore their wild environments with a self-guided tour along the many nature trails, observation platforms, or roadside parking areas. With Visitors' Centers or preserve or refuge management staff on the premise to answer question or guide newcomers in the right direction for incredible views, the preserves, refuges and conservancies will surely appeal to every natural explorer in your vacationing crew.