Vacation Like an OBX Local


by Jessie S.

If you like visiting the Outer Banks, the thought, “I’d love to live there someday,” has probably crossed your mind once or twice. We totally get it – the Outer Banks is an awesome place and there is always something fun to do no matter what interests you. It might surprise you that even though we live here, locals love to do some of the same activities that visitors do when they are on vacation. From enjoying our favorite summer treats to visiting popular landmarks, locals enjoy immersing themselves in every unique Outer Banks experience they can. If you’d like to vacation like an OBX local, here are a week’s worth of activities you can try:

Day 1 – Sip Coffee at a Local Coffee Shop

vacation like an obx local - front porch cafe
Even though we live at one of the most beautiful, relaxing places on earth, locals still need our caffeine fix and when you want a cup of hot coffee done right, be sure to stop by Front Porch Café. Front Porch acquires their beans from organic, fair trade and sustainable growers all over the world and roasts the beans right on site at the Nags Head location with a a micro-roasting process to guarantee the freshest tasting blends end up in your cup. Along with Zen bowls, granola and fresh bakery treats like muffins, scones and filled croissants, visitors can enjoy a wide variety of drinks and even try a specialty coffee. The “West Third” is a local favorite made with ingredients like espresso, steamed milk, mocha, caramel, hazelnut and whipped cream! As a bonus, coffee can be ordered online by the pound so you never have to be without your favorite blend, even when your vacation is over!

Day 2 – Beachcombing for Sea Glass After a Storm

vacation like an obx local - beachcombing for sea glass

Visitors aren’t the only ones who are looking for that special treasure when they take a stroll on the beach. Locals enjoy beachcombing and everyone has their own favorite spot! Since there are no houses along Coquina Beach, it’s the perfect stretch of sand to explore after a storm to search for a beautiful piece of sea glass. Part of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Coquina Beach in Nags Head is roughly a mile South from the closest beach house and there’s a good chance that if a storm just passed through, the surf kicked up more treasures than usual. Just be sure to get out there early in the day or right around low tide because if there is any sea glass to be found, another beachcomber (or the ocean itself) will get to it before you do!

Day 3 – Stop by Mom’s Sweet Shop

vacation like an obx local - mom's sweet shop
Mom’s Sweet Shop
in Kill Devil Hills was opened in 2011 by a local couple and pays homage to an ice-cream parlor with the same name that has long been closed. Today, locals love stopping by to satisfy their craving for everything vintage with a sweet treat on the side. Serving everything from fresh acai bowls and smoothies to classic milkshakes and root beer floats, grabbing a cold treat on a hot afternoon is the perfect way to relax. Mom’s also offers a collection of vintage items ranging from candy and vinyl records to clothing and accessories.

Day 4 – Tour the Sound on a SUP

vacation like an obx local - tour sound on a SUP
While we certainly enjoy all types of watersports and other exciting OBX adventures, stand up paddleboarding, or “SUPing,” is a great way to explore the sound, engage with nature, and ultimately unwind in a slower-pace vessel that you can steer wherever you want to go. A sport that’s easy enough to learn (beginner’s lessons are a fun family-activity), the miles and miles of sound waters along the Outer Banks coast mean that there are plenty of places to launch your SUP. As an added bonus, if you’re staying in a soundfront rental home, you can launch right out of your own back yard!

Day 5 – Grab a Burger at Art’s Place

vacation like a local - arts place burgers
Don’t get us wrong – we love fresh seafood but sometimes we just want a juicy burger. Art’s Place in Kitty Hawk is known for being both a local favorite and the best burger joint on the Outer Banks. Serving up specialty burgers and hand-cut seasoned fries, Art’s is the perfect spot for a casual evening dinner. Once featured in Our State Magazine, Art’s also has a full-service bar, hosts events like Jazz night and Open Mic night, and has a full menu of tasty choices for anyone who prefers something other than a burger.

Day 6 – Check Out the Waterfront Shops in Duck

vacation like an obx local - waterfront shops in duck
Everyone loves a little shopping excursion! Head to the Waterfront Shops in Duck for a truly unique shopping experience by the water. From clothing boutiques and beach gear to art galleries and local eateries, there is a shop everyone will enjoy. Best of all, the entire village is waterfront so it’s scenic and connects to the Duck Boardwalk! Home to turtles, herons, and egrets just to name a few, these shops give you the chance to stroll along, make a few purchases, and enjoy the local wildlife. You can even pull up to the shopping center by boat if you prefer not to drive!

Day 7 – Watch the Sunset from Your Favorite Spot

vacation like an obx local - watch the sunset
Probably one of the most relaxing ways to spend your vacation is watching the sunset. Thanks to the unique geography of island life, you can watch the sunrise over the water in the morning and then watch the sunset over a different body of water in the evening… and it never disappoints! The Outer Banks gifts us with gorgeous sunsets nightly and each one is so different that you could easily do this activity more than one day! There are dozens of public soundfront accesses along the coast throughout each town so pick your favorite, grab your camera, and head to your favorite spot. One of our favorites is the Little Bridge Access at MP 16.5 between Nags Head and Roanoke Island. Surrounded by the sound on both sides, you’re completely immersed in a gorgeous sky! Other great spots include the West Hayman Street sound access off of Bay Drive in Kill Devil Hills and the Duck Town Park sound access in Duck! If you’re on Hatteras Island, be sure to swing by Canadian Hole between Avon and Buxton.

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Jessie has been coming to the Outer Banks since she was just 5 years old. She loved it here so much that she finally relocated in 2018. Now her mission is to show the world that the Outer Banks is an incredible place that everyone should experience. When she isn't working, you can find Jessie hanging out with her friends, chilling at home with her awesome cat, Yoji, or discovering a new Outer Banks adventure. 

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