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Known for its natural pristine beaches, adventurous spirit and rich history, the Outer Banks of North Carolina has become a well-known family vacation destination. However, we've discovered a few hidden secrets that the Outer Banks holds.

Here is just a small sampling of the what makes the Outer Banks so interesting for visitors of all ages.

1. A "Tucked Away" Outer Banks Park

If you’ve been to the Outer Banks, you’ve probably seen (or heard of) most of theparks and recreational areas. Currituck Heritage Park, Duck Town Park,Roanoke Island Festival Park and the list goes on. But there’s a little known park on the Outer Banks you’ve probably never seen. It’s in the 4-wheel drive area past Corolla, close to the Virginia line.

Best parts of the Outer Banks four wheel drive park:

  • Real bathrooms (not port-a-potties)
  • Grassy area for kids and pets to run around
  • Park grills
  • Trash cans
  • Boat dock
  • So, if you have a 4-wheel drive vehicle, pack a picnic lunch and enjoy one of the Outer Banks' lesser known parks.

2. The Martians Have Landed

If you're ever In the town of Hatteras, you may notice a quite unusual sight. If you look closely, you will see a "Martian space craft" sitting quietly along side highway 12. It's complete with little green men and some spooky creatures peering out from the porthole windows.

3. Winged Horses

The beautiful horses you see around the Outer Banks are from the Winged Horse Extravaganza - a celebration of the 2003 Centennial of Flight. They can be found all along the Outer Banks - not only at places of business, but also in front of rental properties.

4. She Sells Seashells by the Seashore

If you have the opportunity (and time), make sure you head south to check out Ocracoke Island. Once you get off the ferry, you will be driving down a quiet section of highway 12. After approximately 1 or 2 miles, pull off the road and walk over the dunes on the oceanside (on your left as you drive). Most of the beach in this area is desolate and filled with incredible sea shells at low tide.

5. Big Blue

According to the International Gamefish Association, the Outer Banks and the Virgin Islands are the most likely places to catch Atlantic Blue Marlin weighing more than 1,000 pounds.

6. Bird is the Word

More than 400 species of birds have been identified at the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge, located on the north end of Hatteras Island.

7. The Civil War

The War Between the States brought several battles to the Outer Banks. At Hatteras Inlet (August 1861), at Chicamacomico (October 1861) and on Roanoke Island (February 1862), the Federals won their first victories of the war and established control over the Outer Banks. The inhabitants were not strongly attached to the Southern cause, and many took the oath of allegiance to the United States.

8. Pillage and Plunder

Edward Teach, also known as Blackbeard the Pirate, lived, pirated, and died on the Outer Banks. Blackbeard was a very successful and flamboyant pirate. He was a tall, intimidating man decorated with cutlasses and pistols. During combat, his beard was braided with ribbons and he wore lit cannon fuses in his hair. He was killed in hand-to-hand combat with members of the Royal Navy at Ocracoke Inlet on November 22, 1718.

9. A House by the Sea

The first cottage built on the Outer Banks was in the 1830's. In those days, planters from inland counties longed to escape the long, hot and humid summer, which they believed fostered malaria and other diseases. In the 1830s, the first of these plantation owners came to Nags Head and purchased 200 acres of land where he built the very first beach cottage.

10. On Hallowed Ground

The cemetery on Ocracoke island is officially located on British soil. It contains the graves of British sailors washed ashore after the wreck of the HMS Bedfordshire during WW2.