History Buff Outer Banks Trip Planner

The Outer Banks have a rich history that includes the first colonists to settle the Americans, the first successful flight by two brothers from Ohio and the first national seashore of its kind. Home to rolling sand dunes and plenty of unique wildlife, these historically abundant barrier islands have enough important historic locations to keep a history buff busy for weeks.

Below are some of the best spots for a history buff to visit all crammed into one busy very busy week.


What better way for a history buff to start his or her Outer Banks vacation than at the sight of the world’s first successful flight? Learn about the twobrothers from Ohio who changed the world forever.

The park includes a full-scale reproduction of the 1902 glider and 1903 flying machine, an engine block from the original 1903 Flyer, a reproduction of the Wright's first wind tunnel and "Big Kill Devil Hill", the 60ft tall site where the first flight took place. 

Wright Brothers National Memorial
1000 N Croatan Hwy.
Kill Devil Hills, NC 27948
(252) 473-211


The Elizabethan Gardens on Roanoke Island are a living memorial to the time when Sir Walter Raleigh’s lost colonists live in the area over 400 years ago.Inside the Gardens brick-walled gate, you will find a collection of Renaissance statues, a sound-front Elizabethan-gazebo, a sunken Elizabethan knot garden– and an ever-changing array of native and exotic plants.

The Elizabethan Gardens
1411 National Park Drive
Manteo, NC 27954
(252) 473-3234

While you’re on Roanoke Island, head over to England's first home in the New World. Fort Raleigh National Historic Site protects and preserves known portions of England's first New World settlements from 1584 to 1590. This site also preserves the cultural heritage of the Native Americans, European Americans and African Americans who have lived on Roanoke Island. 

Fort Raleigh National Historic Site
1401 National Park Dr.
Manteo, NC 27954
(252) 473-2111


Chicamacomico was an active US Coast Guard facility from 1915 until 1954 and after it’s decommissioning, the facility was transformed into a museum. TheCLSS is most well-known for the 1918 rescue of the British tanker Mirlo and the ships forty-two crew members.

Chicamacomico Life-Saving Station
23645 N.C. Hwy 12
Rodanthe, NC 27968
(252) 987-1552


The tallest lighthouse in the United States, Cape Hatteras lighthouse stands 208 feet tall and its light can be seen 20 miles away. Being one of the most iconic structures on the Outer Banks, Cape Hatteras Lighthouse is a “must visit” for out-of-state visitors. You can climb the spiral staircase April through Columbus Day but the Visitor's Center Museum and grounds are open year-round. 

Cape Hatteras Lighthouse
46368 Old Lighthouse Rd.
Buxton, NC 27920
(252) 995-4474

Located in in the Village of Hatteras, The Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum is dedicated to the preservation, advancement and presentation of maritimehistory of shipwrecks along the coast of the Outer Banks. There have been more than 1,500 known ships wrecks off the coast of North Carolina and the museumhouses artifacts dating back to 1524. Some of the museum’s notable relics include the “lost lens” from Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, a portion of the Enigmamachine from the German U-85 and artifacts from the ghost ship Carroll A. Deering.

Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum
59200 Museum Drive
Hatteras, NC 27943
(252) 986-2995


Northern Industrialist Edward Collings Knight, Jr and his bride Marie Louise LeBel took up winter residency in their newly acquired Lighthouse Club and began construction of a 21,000 sq.ft. private residence. Its location on Currituck Sound and the Atlantic Flyway was perfect to satisfy the Knight's passion for waterfowl hunting. Three years and $385,000 later Edward and Marie Louise moved into their "cottage" on the sound. It was unlike any structure that local folks had ever seen or even imagined. 

Today, the Whalehead Club is an intricate part of Currituck Heritage Park. Situated on 39 acres of sound front property, the public is invited to tour this newly restored "jewel by the sea." 

Club Seasidemembers can tour this magnificant home for FREE. Tours are on Wednesdays from 3pm to 4pm (May – September).

Whalehead Club
1100 Club Road
Corolla, NC 27927
(252) 453-9040


An interactive family attraction that celebrates the first English settlement in America. The centerpiece of the 25-acre island park adjacent to Manteo,is,Elizabeth II, a representation of one of the seven English ships from the Roanoke Voyage of 1585. Costumed Elizabethan sailors greet visitors and help them experience sixteenth century seafaring life. Also visit the Settlement site, Roanoke Adventure Museum and see "The Legend of Two-Path" film.  

Make sure to visit American Indian Town and Cultural Education Center that offers a wide vareity of activities, including building a dug-out canoe, workinga fish trap, planting and harvesting crops and more. The on-site art gallery, fossil pit, museum store, and marsh-side boardwalks are free and open to all.

Roanoke Island Festival Park
1 Festival Park
Manteo, NC 27954
(252) 475-1500


There are several visible shipwrecks located along 70 miles of the Outer Bank’s coast. The list below locates some remains that are easy to find andusually visible. Day-to-day changes may occur to cover or uncover various wrecks.

Laura A. Barnes (1921):3.3 miles north of Oregon Inlet campground. Turn into Coquina Beach parking area. Walk over to the beach.

Oriental (1862): Seven miles south of Oregon Inlet campground. Park at turnout for Pea Island Comfort Station. Board walk leads to wooden remains are sometimes exposed onthe beach nearby. A wooden bow lies on the beach against the dune one mile north.

Margaret A. Spencer (?): Located fourteen miles south of Oregon Inlet Campground and 25-miles north of Buxton. Park on abandoned road strip one mile north of Rodanthe, walk 1.8miles north on the beach. The wooden wreck is exposed, bottom up, at the surf line.

LST at Rodanthe (1948): Drive to the Rodanthe Fishing Pier, 15 miles south of Oregon Inlet campground, or 25 miles north of Buxton. Look north from Ramp 10 near the pier for thesteel wreck in the water.

George A. Kohler (1933):Park at the turn out for Ramp 14 and walk directly to the beach. The wooden remains are almost buried near the surf. Other parts of the same vessel (?) areexposed 0.3 miles north on the beach.

Altoona (1878):Drive to the parking lot near Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. From the parking lot drive to the first stop sign and straight across the intersection. Follow theroad 1.7 miles to its end in the gravel parking lot. Walk over the ramp to the beach, then south along the beach 1/2 miles and west 1/4 mile to the bow ofthe Altoona. Wrecked in 1878, it was uncovered in 1963. Broken by the surf in November of that year, it washed to its present location.

Ocracoke Island:Unidentified wooden remains near the first parking turnout. For other remains, inquire at the National Park Service Visitor Center on the Ocracokewaterfront on the Harbor at Silver Lake.

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