19 Sep 2023
The Outer Banks is a beautiful and welcoming community nestled along North Carolina's coastline. This region is home to a diverse group of locals and visitors, making it a warm and inviting place for all travelers, including the LGBTQ+ community. Whether you're looking for somewhere to get away for a week and enjoy the warmth of the sunshine or you want a holiday retreat that lets you enjoy the perfect combination of sandy beaches and cooler weather, the Outer Banks has a little bit of something for everyone. To get an idea of how to make the most of your next Outer Banks vacation, check out our LGBTQ+ guide to visiting the Outer Banks where we'll explore the area's LGBTQ+ history and some of the best LGBTQ+ places to dine, relax, and shop. So grab those flip flops and get ready for your next unforgettable Outer Banks adventure with a rainbow twist.
Is the Outer Banks LGBTQ+ Friendly?
The Outer Banks is truly a melting people of people who've come from all over the world to visit, live, and work on these beautiful islands. Despite it's location in "the South," the Outer Banks is just remote enough that it remains relatively liberal when compared to other more rural areas of the state. There is a thriving elder LGBTQ+ community that has existed on the Outer Banks for decades, with many LGBTQ+ folks acting as staples of the art, music, and culinary communities. The Outer Banks is a unique area with a very laid-back atmosphere, making it a great place for LGBTQ+ folks to visit. Especially during June and September, you do start seeing more Pride flags out and about and people tend to be welcoming and inclusive.
Thankfully, this isn't new. Dare County has a reputation for being a little more liberal when it comes to LGBTQ+ issues. Most recently, when North Carolina passed the 2016 HB2 "Bathroom Bill" that also included a ban on local non-discrimination ordinances, towns such as Duck and Nags Head publically opposed the bill (which has since been thrown out). In 2020, the Outer Banks Hotline also began an LGBTQ+ initiative that includes a resource library, LGBTQ+ Diversity Training, and a trans closet program, encouraging LGBTQ+ members of the community to reach out when in need.
LGBTQ+ Friendly Spots on the Outer Banks
Without sounding flippant, most businesses on the Outer Banks are LGBTQ+ friendly. You'll even see stickers acknowledging hiring equality outside of grocery stores like Food Lion. If you're looking to support LGBTQ+ businesses, there are several spots that are at least partially owned by members of the LGBTQ+ community.
The Blue Point
1240 Duck Rd., Duck, NC 27949
The Blue Point is a well-known upscale restaurant with creative dishes and locally-source seafood. They also have a backbar if you're looking for something a little more low-key over the sound.
1190 Duck Rd., Duck, NC 27949
Eventide is a quiet, out of the way spot that's perfect for enjoying charcuterie boards and wine while you relax on the waterfront.
Basnight's Lone Cedar Cafe
7623 S. Virginia Dare Trail, Nags Head, NC 27959
You can't beat Basnight's if you're looking for amazingly fresh local seafood, great company, and a relaxing atmosphere with a waterfront setting and plenty of beer & wine offerings.
Other places on the beach sponsor OBX Pridefest and are known for hosting events during the celebrations, but they're also wonderful to check out the rest of the year!
Outer Banks Brewing Station
600 S. Croatan Hwy., Kill Devil Hills, NC 27948
Outer Banks Brewing Station is the perfect spot for live music, delicious food, and a great atmosphere any time of the year. The first wind-powered brewery in America, they're also known for their amazing tapas menus and wide selection of great brews.
Longboard's Island Grill
3833 N. Croatan Hwy., Kitty Hawk, NC 27949
Classic beach bar with daily lunch and dinner specials as well as late night snacks and drinks for a good time with regular live music.
Old Tom's Beer, Wine & Provisions
107 Budleigh St., Manteo, NC 27954
Spacious, brick-walled bar with hundreds of drink selections with local flair.
Duck's Cottage & Downtown Books
1240 Duck Rd., Duck, NC 27949
103 Sir Walter Raleigh St., Manteo, NC 27954
With two locations, one in Duck and one in Manteo, these sister bookstores are ideal for picking up your favorite beach read and relaxing with a cup of coffee. You can also order online and support these awesome shops year round!
LGBTQ+ Events on the Outer Banks
OBX Pridefest is a weekend-long celebration of the LGBTQ+ community that takes place every year in September. Annual events include a Booze Cruise, Drag Shows, Dance Parties, Drag Brunch, a Beach Party, a Bar Crawl, and the Free Saturday Festival at Roanoke Island Festival Park. The Saturday festival features bands, drag performances, entertainers, local restaurants, vendors, and more for an ultimate celebration of the LGBTQ+ community on the Outer Banks! This all-inclusive festival is always a good time for LGBTQ+ folks as well as supporters, friends, family, and allies.
Dare Arts Pride Month
While the Outer Banks Pridefest celebration actually takes place in September, if you're during June (National LGBTQ+ Pride Month), be sure to check out the Dare Arts Pride Project. This month-long celebration of queer artists debuted in 2023 in collaboration with OBX Pridefest and Out on the OBX. The Outside Straight Lines - A Visual Arts Exhibition Featuring Queer Artists opened on Friday, June 2, 2023 and was open to viwing for the entire month of June. Other events that were a part of the celebration included free concerts and an open mic night at Hi-Vibe Holistics. Consider visiting the Outer Banks in June to see what other celebrations the LGBTQ+ community will think up each year!
While the Outer Banks does not have any LGBTQ+ bars or nightclubs, what we do have is the beach! What began as a tradition in the 1970s where actors from The Lost Colony would gather together at Coquina Beach as evolved into OBX Gay Daze, a weekly meetup during the summer where queer folks gather together at various beaches near Nags Head and Roanoke Island to enjoy each other's company and soak up the sun. For updates on meetup times and locations, check out their Facebook group OBX Gay Daze and follow Out on the Outer Banks on Instagram.
Be True, Be You on the Outer Banks!
The Outer Banks is the perfect getaway destination where you can be yourself and enjoy the laid-back, beachy atmosphere of this beautiful strip of land. If you're looking for offerings that are specifically for the LGBTQ+ community, you'll see that we have those throughouot the year. And if you're simply looking for a safe place that's fun, relaxing, and filled with a beautiful diversity that everyone enjoys, we've got that, too.
Give our wonderful Guest Services Team a call today at (866) 884-0267 or take a look at our available rentals to get started planning your next historic adventure to the Outer Banks. And don't forget about our layaway plan, which makes booking your dream vacation easier than ever. So don't wait. We're booking Outer Banks vacation rentals year round and we're excited to help you create memories to last a lifetime. We're here to help make your OBX vacation fun, exciting, and hassle-free. Give us a call today! Be sure to provide accurate information and make any necessary payments.
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We’ll see you at the beach.
About the Author: Lauren is an Outer Banks local, mom, trained historian, and travel enthusiast. When she isn’t writing for the Seaside Vacations Travel Blog, Lauren can usually be found with her nose in a book or cuddling with her cats.