The Outer Banks is the land of beginnings. We are the site of the first English settlement. In 1901 the first wireless telegraph transmission took place on Hatteras Island and in 1903, the Wright Brothers made their first successful flight here. We are home to five distinct lighthouses, the historic Whalehead Hunting Club, America's Oldest Outdoor drama "The Lost Colony", the tallest sand dunes on the East Coast and much more. History awaits you on every corner.
Some of the area's most well-known sites include:
Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge:Established in 1984 and located on the mainland of eastern North Carolina, Alligator River contains over 152,000 acres. Many species of wildlife call Alligator River home. The refuge bird list suggest at least 200 species spend a portion of their year here. Endangered and threatened species found on the refuge include the American alligator, peregrine falcon, American bald eagle and the red-cockaded woodpecker. The refuge is also home to one of the largest remaining concentrations of black bear along the mid-atlantic coast. (252) 473-1131.
Bodie Island Lighthouse: Built in 1872 and still operated by the Coast Guard, the facility includes a Visitor Center and displays. (252) 441-5711.
Cape Hatteras Lighthouse: Built in 1869, it was abandoned by the Coast Guard in 1935 due to beach erosion. The erosion was controlled and the lighthouse was reactivated in 1950. The National Park Service is in the process of relocating the lighthouse 1/2 mile from its historical location to protect it from erosion. (252) 995-4474.
Chicamacomico Lifesaving Station: Guarded the sea along northern Hatteras Island for 78 years and was abandoned by the Coast Guard in 1954. Enjoy Legends and Lore of the Outer Banks, 2:00 pm Fridays; Tales of Shipwrecks and Rescues, 2:00 pm Thursdays; Knot Just For Kids, 2:00 pm Wednesdays, and "Beach Apparatus Drill", Thursdays throughout the summer. (252) 987-1552.
Coquina Beach: A large public swimming and picnic area in Cape Hatteras National Seashore. Home of the Laura A. Barnes shipwreck.
Currituck Beach Lighthouse: A historical, unpainted brick lighthouse located in Corolla, North Carolina. Operational since December 1, 1875, the beacon atop the 158 ft. high structure flashes every 20 seconds to alert ships that they are nearing North Carolina's Outer Banks.
Elizabeth II: A sixty-nine foot, square rigged sailing ship. Elizabeth II is typical of those which transported Sir Walter Raleigh's colonists to the new world between 1584 and 1587.(252) 475-1500.
Elizabethan Gardens: The Gardens, created by the Garden Club of North Carolina, is a unique American garden on the site of the first English Colony in the New World. (252) 473-3234.
Fort Raleigh National Historic Site: Location of the settlement sites of 1585 and 1587 and also of The Lost Colony's Waterside Theatre. (252) 473-5772.
Frisco Native American Museum and Natural History Center: Located on Hatteras Island, this museum and history center is a non-profit educational foundation founded for the purpose of preserving natural artifacts, crafts, art and culture. Over the years, in addition to traditional museum exhibits, tours, etc., the museum's activities have expanded to include various Native American workshops, dinner/campfires, scout badge work, school science projects and Native American studies, Senior Citizen seminars and special events such as the annual Inter-Tribal Pow-Wow in May. (252) 995-4440.
Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum: Located on Hatteras Island, the shape of the 19,000 square-foot museum will incorporate large wooden beams and graceful curved lines reminiscent of the 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th centuray ships that rest off the Carolina coast. (252)986-2995.
The Island Farm: Explore island life as it was more then 150 years ago. Join interpreters dressed in period attire as they carry out the daily activities of a Roanoke Island farm in the 1850s. Stroll along the pasture fences and visit with the farm animals, listen to the ringing of the blacksmith’s hammer, help a farmer hoe his corn or carry water to the garden. In the cookhouse, hear the sizzle of salted ham in the skillet or help the cook make corn cakes.
Jennette's Pier: Historical landmark constructed in 1939 now owned and operated by the North Carolina Aquariums Society. Includes programs, pier cam, tide charts.
Jockey's Ridge: The tallest natural sand dune system in the Eastern United States. Its height varies from 80 to 100 feet depending on weather conditions. (252) 441-7132.
Laura A. Barnes Shipwreck: A schooner built in 1918 and forced aground by a nor'easter in 1921.
National Wildlife Visitors Center: Follow the blue Roanoke Island attraction wayfinding signs on US 64 (Business) to find your way to the north end the island. There you'll find National Wildlife Refuges Visitor Center. The Center is free and open to the public seven days a week, year round (Monday-Saturday 9 am-4 pm and Sunday Noon-4 pm). The Visitor Center was a long-time dream for the US Fish and Wildlife Service and many refuge and wildlife supporters on the Outer Banks and in eastern North Carolina. It represents eleven national wildlife refuges and one national fish hatchery, offering an invitation to visit them all. Through interactive exhibits, audiovisual programs, and even a virtual airplane ride, visitors may experience a virtual field trip to each of these special places with hopes to entice them to visit the real thing. See how the Outer Banks will change as the sea level rises. Sit for a spell in the old Dare Forest Supply Store and experience life through a short multi-sensory film, when Buffalo City was a bustling logging and moonshining town! In this small theater you will also have an opportunity to watch 2 other nature and area-related films. Try to find all 37 of the critters hiding in the pocosin diorama. Peek into a red wolf den. Have a picture taken of yourself as a genuine wildland firefighter! Currently, a short interpreted trail wanders through the woods behind the center. The building is LEED-certified and energy-efficient, with features including solar panels, low-volume toilets, and a highly energy-efficient heating and cooling system. The center is staffed by volunteers. Our non-profit friends group, the Coastal Wildlife Refuge Society, operates “Wild Things”, a gift shop that offers innovative wildlife-related gift items such as nature identification guide books, children's toys and books, jewelry, apparel and other items to make your visit both enjoyable and memorable. All proceeds benefit refuge programs.
Ocracoke Village A quaint fishing village surrounding the Silver Lake Harbor. Once home to Blackbeard the Pirate who was slain here in 1718. (252) 928-6711.
Ocracoke Lighthouse The southernmost of the four famous Outer Banks lighthouses is also the oldest and the shortest. Built in 1823, this lighthouse is a pretty, white mortar, hand-spread over brick. It's still flashing today -from one half hour before sunset to a half hour after sunrise daily.
Pea Island Wildlife Refuge: Founded in 1937, it is a haven for wintering Canada and Snow Geese and over 265 species of birds.
Outer Banks History Center: Located at Roanoke Island Festival Park, the center features an outstanding collection of material relating to North Carolina history and culture, especially the Outer Banks and coastal plain regionl. Library and reading room are open to the public year round. (252) 473-2655.
Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge: Founded in 1937, Pea Island is a haven for wintering Canada and Snow Geese and over 265 species of birds. (252) 987-1118.
Roanoke Island Festival Park: Home of the Elizabeth II (replica of the first ship to bring the colonists to the new world) with hands-on museum, living history, a theatre showing historical films, the Outer Banks History Center, art displays, gift shop, and more. (252) 475-1500.
The Lost Colony Outdoor Drama: America's oldest outdoor drama plays nightly June through August in Manteo.(252) 473-3414.
Wanchese Fishing Village: Visit the quaint village of Wanchese (on the south end of Roanoke Island) and watch fresh fish and seafood being packed and shipped around the world.
Wanchese Seafood Industrial Park: The only Federal, State and County-financed project devoted entirely to the seafood processing and fishing industries. Where large sport fishing boats and trawlers are built and repaired. (252) 473-5867.
Whalehead in Corolla: building in the mid-1920s, Corolla Island, as it was originally named, continues to stand as one of the most spectacular landmarks on the Currituck Outer Banks. Owners, Edward Collings and Marie Louise Knight traveled to Corolla from points north and used Corolla Island as their winter residence from 1925-34. Boating beax-arts and art nouveau architectural styling and accented with Tiffany lamps, cork-tiled floors, brass duck head and water lily hardware, this magnificent structure stood isolated for years on these remote barrier islands. Open for tours throughout the summer. (252) 457-0128.
Wright Brothers National Memorial: Reconstruction honoring the men who made flight possible. Museum, camp, markers of First Flight, and monument. (252) 441-7430.
Check out special community events happening along the Outer banks... Hatteras Island and Ocracoke Island residents, submit your events for our new Southern Outer Banks Calendar.