Situated about half way down the Outer Banks, Kill Devil Hills is the largest town in Dare County with a year-round population of about 6,800 people. The town's biggest claim to fame is that it is home to the site of the first heavier-than-air powered flight. A 12 second, 120-foot flight launched the Age of Aviation on Thursday, December 17, 1903, right here in Kill Devil Hills. The Wright Brothers National Memorial stands on the spot today and is a very popular tourist attraction.The Wright brothers monument in Kill Devil Hills, NC.
Much of the Outer Banks used to be dominated by a chain of giant sand dunes, much like Jockey’s Ridge State Park in Nags Head to the south. The dune where the Wright Brothers made history was once one of these slowly migrating giants until the federal government acted to memorialize Orville and Wilbur’s achievement here with a national park and grassed it over.
Things To Do in Kill Devil Hills, NC
There are many places to eat, surf, fish and stay in Kill Devil Hills. There also are many public beach accesses along Highway 12. Kill Devil Hills offers a public bathhouse/lifeguard station with public restrooms located at the intersection of Virginia Dare Trail (Highway 12) and Ocean Bay Drive. If you fancy a vacation where the Wright Brothers first flew, or a stay on the beach where pelicans fly in formation at wave-top height, ask about the many fine Kill Devil Hills, NC vacation rentals we have available.
With so many great places to explore and so many fun activities to do, you may be wondering, “What should our family try next?” Kill Devil Hills features miles of sun-soaked beaches with shoreline on both the ocean AND the sound so your water activity possibilities are limitless! Consider crabbing along the canals in Colington, kayaking in the sound, taking a surfing lesson, fishing along the shore, flying a kite on the beach, and trying SUP (stand-up paddle boarding)! If you’re looking for a unique OBX experience in or out of the water, we’ve compiled a list of ideas to get you started.
Wright Brothers Memorial
Step into history at the Wright Brothers National Memorial – Honoring the first successful powered flight on December 17, 1903 by the Wright Brothers, the Wright Brothers National Memorial is a 428-acre national park featuring a visitor center, museum, replicas of the original flyers and the large, famous monument – a structure built from 2,000 tons of gravel, 800 tons of sand and 1,200 tons of granite. Learn more about experiencing your Outer Banks Moment at the Wright Brothers Memorial.
Dune Buggy Rental
Cruise the beach with Buggin Out OBX Dune Buggy Rentals* – Renting from Buggin Out OBX Dune Buggy Rentals means you’ll be cruising the beach in no time! Whether you want to want to feel the wind in your hair as you voyage along the beach road or you want to experience driving in the sand on Carova Beach, your family will love the ride. With a wide selection of dune buggies, 4x4 Jeeps, and vintage car models available, you can rent by the hour or by the day.
Reel in the big one at Avalon Fishing Pier – The Outer Banks is known as one of the best fishing locations on the East Coast so try your luck at the pier! Built in 1958, Avalon Fishing Pier is located at MP 6 and is open year-round. Reaching a length of about 700 feet, the pier jets out into the Atlantic Ocean and provides both novice and expert fisherman alike the chance to reel in everything from bluefish, spot, sea trout, mullet, and flounder to pompano, Spanish mackerel, drum and cobia.
OBX Art Studio
Design your own pottery at OBX Art Studio* – You’ve probably seen a variety of beach-themed pottery in the local shops but have you ever wanted a piece of OBX art that you created yourself? OBX Art Studio lets visitors pick their own ceramic piece, choose their favorite colors and then get to work on their own design! When the pottery is complete, it’s fired in the kiln and is ready to take home. With a variety of functional pieces and projects to choose from, both kids and adults will love designing their own art.
Lost Treasure Golf
Play a round of mini-golf at Lost Treasure Golf – A trip to the Outer Banks isn’t complete without playing a round of mini-golf with the whole family! Featuring two 18-hole miniature golf courses, Lost Treasure Golf sends players on a golfing adventure to locate lost gold and diamonds hidden by Blackbeard. A mining train will even take golfers to the first holes.
Rent a Boat
Float on the waves with Big Wave Boat Rentals* - If you love taking a boat out on the water but don’t own a boat of your own, rent one from Big Wave Boat Rentals! Offering single or multi-day boat rentals, they will even deliver the boat right to your dock or marina slip! Fully equipped with life-vests and real-time GPS Trackers, Big Wave Boat Rentals has everything you need for a leisurely ride or a full day of fishing the open water.
Nags Head Woods
Experience nature at the Nags Head Woods Ecological Preserve – Like a hidden gem on an already beautiful island, the Nags Head Woods Ecological Preserve is made up of miles of sand dunes, ponds, marshes and wetlands. Whether you’re an avid hiker, looking for a nice place to go for a jog, or hoping to spot a rare glimpse of wildlife in its natural habitat, the preserve features over 100 species of birds, 15 species of amphibians, 28 species of reptiles, 50 species of butterfly, and over 550 plant species so you never know what you might see along one of the many trails.
Hang 12 Art
Practice your painting skills at Hang 12 Art - Whether you want to book a private event for a party or you’re just looking for an activity for you and your family, a wine and paint event at Hang 12 Art is sure to be a great experience! Taught by instructor, Brad Price, enjoy learning different painting techniques – no matter your experience level – and create your very own masterpiece. You get to keep the painting when you’re done!
Learn to Surf
Learn how to surf with a lesson from Farmdog Surf School - Did you know that Kill Devil Hills was recently voted one of the Best Surf Towns in America by Surfer magazine? The unique position and location of our barrier island allows swells to make it all the way to shore instead of breaking further out in the ocean. A surf or stand-up paddleboard (SUP) lesson from Farmdog Surf School is a must when vacationing in Kill Devil Hills.
*As a guest in one of our Outer Banks Vacation Rentals, you qualify for a Club Seaside discount on this activity!
How Did Kill Devil Hills Get Its Name?
Kill Devil Hills received its municipal charter in 1953. The town name is rooted in the pirate and buccaneering days when rum was so strong (or bad, depending on the version) that it would “kill the Devil." Another story claims that Kill Devil Hills took its name from a brand of rum that washed ashore from an unknown shipwreck, one of the 1,000+ wrecks that dot the coastline here.