Last Minute Outer Banks, NC Trip Planning
May 25, 2007 7:27 AM   Subscribe

Outer Banks, NC: Heading down there for the week (yes, last minute travel-planning). Any suggestions on what to do while we're down there? Places to stop at on the way down there from DC? (Aside from the fact we'll be stopped on 95 the whole way down...)

We're staying in a house in South Nags Head. Meals are pretty much taken care of, so I'm not looking for restaurants or bars or anything like that. More for a few things to check out for the days we don't hang at the beach. We're interested in science/nature stuff (national parks, the sand dunes, etc.), and we think we want to try hang gliding. Any specific place we should try to do that? Any other suggestions, or can't-miss type places?

posted by inigo2 to Travel & Transportation around North Carolina (13 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: In South Nags Head, you'll be a stone's throw away from the Bodie Island Lighthouse. I believe that the land around it is a nature preserve with hiking trails. We generally stay in South Nags Head when we visit, and you'll find it to be a quiet, family centered area. You'll also find that people claim their spots on the beach early in the day, so be prepared.

Over on Manteo, check out the aquarium. Also (not science related) but the last time we were in Manteo, I spent a half day learning to weave at Endless Possibilities. It was relaxing, therapeutic and for a good cause. The next time we go, I'm going to spend an entire day there.

It's a day trip, but we really enjoyed the drive down to Ocracoke (taking the ferry over) to see the "wild" horses. You'll drive the length of the islands, and will pass through more than one nature preserve on your way down. We did it on our last trip, stopping at all of the southern lighthouses along the way.

I believe that the bulk of hang gliding at the dunes come from the plaza across the street - Kitty Hawk Kites.
posted by librarianamy at 7:44 AM on May 25, 2007

Sounds like you already know about Jockey's Ridge, one of my favorite places in the whole world, and very close to where you're staying. It's a popular place for hang gliding.

On Roanoke Island in Manteo, there's an aquarium and nature preserve. Bring your insect repellent.

Most of the north of Hatteras Island is national parkland.
posted by infinitewindow at 7:51 AM on May 25, 2007

Best answer: Go kayaking! Alligator River was particularly amazing (yes, we saw alligators) and absolutely suitable for folks who have never been in a kayak before.
posted by desuetude at 8:44 AM on May 25, 2007

Kangaroo burgers in a joint called Down Under in Rodanthe, way down Hattaras Island. Take a drive in that direction, anyway, and get away from the overdeveloped areas.
posted by beagle at 9:05 AM on May 25, 2007

Aside from the fact we'll be stopped on 95 the whole way down...

Shouldn't you get on 64 at Richmond and take that through the Tidewater area, and then surface roads to Nag's Head? Then you could stop at Williamsburg if that floats your boat.

Or you could get off of 95 at US 17 in Fredericksburg. I've not taken that route anywhere, but the surrounding area is okay but not spectacular.

If you really want to avoid being stopped at 95, take 301 down through Maryland, which eventually hits US 17 at Fort AP Hill. I've used 301 to avoid the Beltway a few times and it was a nice enough ride in the mid-90s. I imagine it's more suburbanized now.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:12 AM on May 25, 2007

Best answer: Do yourself a favor and hop over to route 13 running along the coast. Looks like there's crossing out of DC near Annapolis (i97 ?) to head east.

Pay attention to the speed limits. Even at the slower speeds and with traffic lights, it's still much much faster getting into Norfolk than 95 (assuming you're crossing at the Wright Memorial).

I make the trip from NYC to Kitty Hawk every weekend. I can't stress enough the time, gas and aggravation saved going via 13 instead of 95.
posted by jma at 9:21 AM on May 25, 2007 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Seconding that Rt. 13 is a much nicer way to go. It's a little out of your way to get there, but it's worth it. More scenery, less aggravation (and yum, plenty of roadside produce stands.)
posted by desuetude at 10:16 AM on May 25, 2007

Windsurfing! Take lessons!

Cheaper than hang-gliding, and more likely to be something you'll do back home, or in other parts of the world.
posted by Artful Codger at 10:21 AM on May 25, 2007

I recommend getting 5 boogie boards and riding the waves. I say 5 because I broke three last time I went. Got kinda hurt, too. So much fun, I'd do it again in a second.
posted by Area Control at 12:54 PM on May 25, 2007

If you've got a thing about planes, while you're at Kill Devil Hills you can also visit the Wright Brothers Memorial.
posted by Martin E. at 1:07 PM on May 25, 2007

seconding howard's pub in ocracoke. take your beer and food up to the top deck for an awesome view of the beach.
posted by kerning at 1:39 PM on May 25, 2007

Response by poster: Everyone's tips are awesome! AskMe is like having one really, really smart friend, but they're not an ahole about being that smart, they're just really, really helpful.

As for driving down route 13, my only issue with that is getting over there. I can take the Bay Bridge, but that's going to be a madhouse as well... I'll have to think this through.

Thanks everyone! I'll post back later (and add "best answers") tonight!
posted by inigo2 at 3:00 PM on May 25, 2007

Response by poster: Quick recap: drove down 95, leaving around 10:00 Saturday morning. Bad, but honestly not as bad as I expected. Took about 6 1/2 hours (roughly) including a somewhat long stop for lunch. Unfortunately we didn't get to do a day trip to Ocracoke at all. Some quick thoughts on what we did while there, in case anyone reads this in the future:

The Good
Pea Island -- saw turtles, and a ton of different birds
Kayaking -- via the link desuetude provided. Great time. Wish I had done an 8am or night-time tour, though, instead of the 10am. We didn't see alligators :( probably for that reason.
Beach -- the beach is fun. And not too crowded this early in the season.
Bodie Island lighthouse -- short drive from where we were staying, looked neat.
The Dunes @ Jockey Ridge -- walked in and walked out; no hang gliding, unfortunately. Very cool to be up there, though.

The Not As Good
Cape Hatteras Lighthouse -- We spent much much longer driving there and back, than we did climbing up. Not worth it (IMO) if you're more than 30 minutes away, and even then it's iffy b/c of the admission cost to climb.
Aquarium -- some friends of mine went (I didn't make it) and were disappointed; said they were through the whole thing in about 20 minutes tops. Not worth the admission.

The No Real Comment
Ft Raleigh -- didn't stay there long enough to develop any real opinions.
posted by inigo2 at 12:29 PM on June 8, 2007

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