Beaches. Forests. Food. What more could you want? Oh yeah. That quaint hometown vibe with a very minimal touristy feel. That last one is a biggie for us. The Outer Banks is a place where as soon as we’re gone, we want to go back.
Apologies for some of these photos! I triple checked my camera every time we went outside to shoot because the humidity kept fogging my lens, but some of the fog got by me. Oops! And yes, those cat eye sunglasses were my absolute favorite on this trip. 🙂
Where We Stay
Duck. Duck. Goose? No, just Duck. Seriously, the best area on the Outer Banks. It’s south of Corolla and north of Kitty Hawk and it’s a drive to get to the best restaurants and things to do but worth it to be out of the way. The best thing about Duck (and Southern Shores) is that there is absolutely no public beach access – the entire area is all private beach for owners and their renters. And yes, the beach is within walking distance no matter where you stay. From previous experience staying in Nags Head and Kill Devil Hills, I will absolutely stay in Duck or Southern Shores from now on.
Food is a huge part of our lives – on vacation, it’s no different. Although it’s not feasible for everyone, we make a point to eat out every night because it’s a huge part of the experience for us. We’d much rather eat fantastic local food than hit up the expensive touristy attractions.
Blue Moon Beach Grill in Nags Head
We had a 45 minute wait, there were people waiting for an hour and a half and about 50 people turned up and decided not to wait. It was literally that popular. It currently holds the top restaurant spot in Nags Head on Tripadvisor and it definitely lives up to that honor. Every single thing that came out of the kitchen looked and smelled incredible. I ordered the Truckstop (pork tenderloin over skillet potatoes smothered in sage gravy) and my husband ordered the Shrimp & Grits and both dishes were perfect! Mine was literally one of the best things I’ve ever eaten and although I do not personally like grits my husbands’ shrimps were huge and cooked perfectly and the flavor combo of the grits was out of this world.
Kill Devil Grill in Kill Devil Hills
This small diner themed restaurant scores huge all across the board. The staff is super friendly and attentive, the food is incredible and the retro feel is so fun! We loved this restaurant so much the last time we were in OBX that it was immediately on our list to return to. I got the same thing that I did years ago (the Big Kahuna Burger) and it was just as awesome as I remember. My husband ordered the highly recommended special (swordfish with cheese grits and pineapple tomatillo salsa – I had a bite!) and it was just incredible – the plating was beautiful and the swordfish was like butter. Well worth the trip back.
Donutz on a Stick in Duck
I’ll be honest, I had no intention of going here – doughnuts on a stick sounded incredibly boring to me. Boy, was I wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong! If I can remember correctly they have about 30 flavors of doughtnuts and 20ish flavors of ice cream (hand scooped and soft serve) plus a few toppings and coffee drinks. Naturally I ordered the most calorific sounding item on the menu – a doughnut sundae. Best. Day. Ever. They literally make the doughnuts fresh as you order so they’re still warm when they scoop the ice cream on top. The combo I chose was chocolate doughnuts with salted caramel truffle ice cream and they top it with hot fudge, whipped cream, nuts and a cherry. Talk about the most amazing sundae I have ever had. Period. No shame in admitting I drank the melted ice cream bit left over at the end. Yes, literally drank it. I’m also not ashamed to admit we got ice cream here three times during the week we were in OBX.
Eduardo’s Taco Stand in Ocracoke
Yes, I know – most people don’t go down that far. And I don’t blame them, unless you’re staying in Ocracoke, it’s really not worth the trip; not much to see, the houses and shops and restaurants are so close to each other it feels like the island is going to pop and frankly it’s a hassle to get back and forth from the island to the mainland. However. This mexican food truck serves the most incredible mexican food my husband and I have ever had. I ordered a ground beef burrito and he got a spicy carnita burrito – both were out of this world! There was a line from the time we came onto the island to when we headed back to the ferry. It’s the most consistently busy food truck I have ever seen. Would I go back to Ocracoke for the stuff to do? Not likely, unless I was staying the entire week on the island. Would I go back for Eduardo’s? Hell yes.
Food Dudes in Kill Devil Hills
Unfortunately, we did not get to eat here this time around – we ended up going to Sanya and although it was really good, our hometown sushi place is just as tasty and I ended up wishing we’d gone to Food Dudes instead. Last time I ordered a pulled pork taco and my husband ordered a southwestern steak wrap – both were to die for and those waffle fries, oh my! If you’re going to eat out only once my recommendation is for either Blue Moon Beach Grill or this place! Seriously, one of my all time favorite restaurants anywhere.
Miller’s Waterfront in Nags Head
As beautiful as it would have been had we eaten here at sunset, we opted for lunch instead. I ordered a shrimp po’boy and my husband ordered the crab dipped burger. Seriously, the best fried shrimp I have ever had – the sandwich was overflowing with it! – and the house made tartar sauce was just incredible. My husband thoroughly enjoyed his sandwich – he’s giving it a solid 9 out of 10 – and then he enjoyed the rest of my sandwich that I was unable to finish (curse my small tummy!). And although it wasn’t sunset, the view was still amazing.
I typically don’t do cake doughnuts, but these are my exception. Usually, we both pick six flavors each and eat on them for a few days but this time we showed some restraint and only got one each. I got just a powdered doughnut – I had been sick the night before and the morning of – and he got a chocolate and peanut butter drizzle. They have lots of coatings, drizzle and topping options and you can mix and match to make some really unique flavors – some customer favorites include lemon coating with coconut, Oreo with vanilla and chocolate drizzle and maple coating with bacon crumbles!
Things To Do
Because Outer Banks isn’t a massive tourist trap, there’s not a whole lot to do if you’re into the super touristy stuff. Luckily, we’re not and we still had plenty to do.
Destination Fun in Kill Devil Hills
Maybe not for everyone, but totally worth it if you’re into arcade games and laser tag. I’ll be honest, I was not looking super forward to playing laser tag – I had never played before and really wasn’t sure what to expect – but my little brother was looking forward to it all week, so we went. I had a blast! I was literally running all over the laser tag room and crawling on the floor (it pays to have a pair of sandals in your purse when you wore heels to dinner!). Our team consisted of me, my husband, my sister and her husband, my other sister and my brother and everyone walked out of that room sweaty and smiling. Side note: we beat the other two teams (a team of 7 and a team of 5) by 10,000 points. Sorry, not sorry.
Nags Head Woods in Nags Head
Until two or three years ago, we had no idea that this place existed. We figured you go to Outer Banks to go to the beach, so no hiking trails. Wrong! There are actually quite a few places to hike in the Outer Banks, but this one is our favorite. There are seven trails, all of which are nothing alike; some take you just through forest, some go through marshy areas and at least one leads you out to a really cool beachy area that I believe is along the bay. It’s a nice break from the beach if you need it, or on not so beach friendly days. Bring your bug spray!
Duck Town Boardwalk in Duck
And we’re back to Donutz on a Stick. Not really, but it is located on the bay side boardwalk along with a bunch of quirky and fun shops, cafes and the like. The sun sets right over the bay, so it’s a nice spot to meander along at the end of the day, ice cream in hand, waiting for the sunset.
Lost Colony Show in Manteo
This is also something I did not know existed until this year. Tripadvisor, folks, Tripadvisor. The theater itself is where the events of the play are supposed to have taken place, which really creates a supernatural feeling. Not a creepy, unpleasant sort but more of a feeling of oneness with those who came before. Tickets are from $20 – $35 depending on how close you want to sit – we sat in $20 seats and it was perfectly fine. The show itself is amazing – from costumes to acting, everything was spot on. Unfortunately, I ended up feeling really sick through the first act, and then being sick during the second – but all was good after that. I’d definitely see it again, sick or not. Bring your bug spray!
Ghost Tours of the OBX
This is the one you want, not OBX Ghost Tours. This tour is the original ghost tour of the Outer Banks and it shows. Our tour guide was dressed in a very Jack the Ripper-esque outfit, carried a real lantern and the way he told stories had a very “dark and stormy night in an old Irish pub” feel to it – it was fantastic! On the other hand, the second tour, OBX Ghost Tours, was a woman in jeans and a tshirt carrying a battery powered lamp leading about 60-70 people around. (Our tour had only 37 people and let’s be honest, ghost tours are not ghost tours with that many people – takes the spook out of it.) If it’s not Jack the Ripper and it’s not a real lantern, it’s not the real deal.
Been to the Outer Banks? Live there? If I missed anything you’d recommend, I’d love to hear it!
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