Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Dare County, NC

  • Published 2022/09/13

Dare County, North Carolina, provides a welcome respite from crowded tourist areas and congested cities.

It is home to over 100 miles of open coastline, quaint seaside communities, and a variety of towns with intriguing historical connections to the country’s history.

Dare County is the result of combining Currituck, Tyrrell, and Hyde Counties in northeastern North Carolina along the Atlantic coastline.

The region honors Virginia Dare, the first child of English parents born in the Americas, by naming the county after her.

Tourism is a significant driver of economic growth in this little county, employing one-third of Dare County’s population.

Regarding tourist spending, Dare County ranks fourth among North Carolina’s 100 counties.

The Wright Brothers Memorial, a well-loved tourist destination, represents the county’s tradition of invention.

Discover this popular vacation haven with this list of the best things to do in Dare County, North Carolina.

Remember the Pioneers of Aviation at Wright Brothers National Memorial

Daytime view of the Wright Brothers National Memorial

wayfarerlife /

Established in 1927, the Wright Brothers National Memorial honors the memory of American aviation pioneers Orville and Wilbur Wright.

While looking for anything outside the typical tourist traps in Kill Devil Hills, this memorial should be at the top of your list.

Aircraft on the grounds of Wright Brothers National Memorial

Zack Frank /

This monument, located atop a hilltop, is 60 feet tall and is a National Historic Landmark.

The museum also offers displays and exhibits relating to the groundbreaking work of the renowned brothers.

The Wright Brothers National Memorial is worth an hour or two of your time with friends.

Photographer statue on the grounds of Wright Brothers National Memorial

Jay Yuan /

Visit each landmark and snap as many shots of this one-of-a-kind destination as possible.

Check out the museum to see reproductions of the Wright brothers’ early gliders and some of the original machinery and instruments used in their experiments.

Fabric flyer wings displayed in Wright Brothers National Memorial

Teresa Otto /

Have a Blast at Destination Fun

Destination Fun offers fun activities for the whole family, including laser tag, arcade games, mini golf, a bounce house, and even parties.

Whatever the weather, you and your family can have a great time at Destination Fun, Kill Devil Hills’ go-to location for thrilling indoor activities.

Thanks to its many attractions, everyone of all ages can have a good time here.

It’s the ideal destination for events like birthdays and corporate team building activities.

Every age group, from the youngest to the oldest, can have a great time and make memorable experiences playing the games.

Explore Jockey’s Ridge State Park

Amazing sunset over Jockey's Ridge State Park

Chansak Joe /

Around 427 acres of land make up Jockey’s Ridge State Park, which opened in 1975.

It is well-known as the site of the eastern United States’ highest system of actively shifting dunes.

Having fun at this renowned state park is a great way to kick off your fantastic vacation in Nags Head.

Coin-operated binoculars at Jockey's Ridge State Park boardwalk

Jay Yuan /

The area is home to towering dunes, a boardwalk that stretches for about 360 feet, and a maritime forest.

The park features a museum detailing the park’s environment, natural history, and fauna.

Hang-gliding at Jockey's Ridge State Park

Jill Lang /

This state park in Nags Head is a stunning place to spend quality time with your family.

Kite flying, ranger-led tours, hang gliding courses, picnics, and countless other activities await you, your friends, and your family.

As the sun sets over the horizon, grab your loved one and enjoy a moment of intimacy amid the breathtaking auburn environment.

Children flying kites at Jockey's Ridge State Park

Sharkshock /

Join a Fun Production at OBX Mystery Dinner

Are you looking for a fun evening escape in Kill Devil Hills?

Join the cast of OBX Mystery Dinner and try to figure out the solution to a hilarious mystery.

It serves a four-course meal between shows.

Dine on stage with actors and “bribe” them with more information as they feed you.

In the end, they will tally responses.

There will be prizes for those who get the questions right.

The OBX Mystery Dinner is ideal for any celebration, whether a birthday, an anniversary, graduation, a date night, a school group, or anything else!

If you don’t die laughing, you didn’t get it!

Climb the Bodie Island Lighthouse

Scenic view of Bodie Island Lighthouse

Jon Bilous /

The 156- to 170-foot-tall Bodie Island Lighthouse began operating in 1872.

Its brick tower makes it one of the country’s rare surviving examples of this type of lighthouse.

While exploring this coastal town this weekend, stop by the historic lighthouse, just one of many unique attractions.

Located in Roanoke Sound, it is Bodie Island’s third lighthouse.

The base of Bodie Island Lighthouse

Jason Schronce /

Officials have maintained the lighthouse, charging a modest fee to the public to enjoy it each summer.

You may take advantage of the complete moon packages, guided excursions, and the 214-step spiral staircase.

The Bodie Island Lighthouse makes for a great backdrop, so grab your camera and get ready to have a great day.

Put on sturdy footwear since you’ll climb over 200 stairs to see the breathtaking vistas from many high stories.

The top part of Bodie Island Lighthouse

digidreamgrafix /

Feel the Rush at First Flight Adventure Park

In addition to many other attractions, First Flight Adventure Park is an outdoor recreation area in Nags Head with 50 different challenges and 14 different zip lines.

This popular amusement park is only one of several excellent options for an exciting, heart-pounding time in Nags Head.

There are a variety of activities, such as long zip lines, climbing towers, and hundreds of aerial and ground obstacles.

Take your loved ones or buddies on an adventurous vacation at First Flight Adventure Park.

You may try to scale its towering spires, go ziplining, or navigate treacherous courses suspended a few feet in the air.

Take in the Sun at Cape Hatteras National Seashore

Welcome sign of Cape Hatteras National Seashore

Jay Yuan /

Cape Hatteras National Seashore lies along a 70-mile coastline in Nags Head.

This national seashore is known for its pristine and breathtaking beaches, but it also offers much more.

The park’s diversity of flora, fauna, and historical sites draw a wide range of visitors.

You can also do outdoor activities like kayaking in this area.

Sunset reflecting on the waters of Cape Hatteras National Seashore

MarkVanDykePhotography /

Climb the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse for a one-of-a-kind view of the Outer Banks and an unforgettable experience.

Moreover, go to the beach at low tide for a peaceful stroll.

Spend the day at Cape Hatteras National Seashore!

Daytime view of Cape Hatteras National Seashore

Cvandyke /

Play a Friendly Game at OBX Bowling Center

This bowling center is the place to go when it’s too hot, too rainy, or too chilly to go outside and do anything active.

OBX Bowling Center is the only bowling alley in the Outer Banks.

You can find this place at Milepost 10 off the bypass, on the boundary between Nags Head and Kill Devil Hills.

This facility constantly bustles with activity thanks to its many amenities.

It features 24 lanes of automated bumpers.

Indulge yourselves in its snack bar/café, pool hall, bar, and vast gaming area.

The arcade hosts parties and other gatherings, but you and your group may walk in, play games, and get a pizza at the OBX Bowling Center.

Go Fishing at Kitty Hawk Pier

Aerial view of Kitty Hawk Pier

tristondunn /

Kitty Hawk Pier, which opened in 1953, quickly became well-known for its excellent restaurant, serving delicious, authentic regional cuisine.

Hurricane Isabel destroyed Kitty Hawk Pier and its pier house in 2003.

In 2006, the adjacent Hilton Garden Inn acquired the pier.

The Hilton meticulously renovated the pier and its 2,200 square feet pier house.

View from within Kitty Hawk Pier

tristondunn /

Today, anglers can access the pier.

In the Outer Banks, fishing piers such as the Kitty Hawk Pier have their blanket fishing license.

It means anglers don’t require a license to fish from the pier.

The pier house now serves as a stunning event space that can accommodate up to 175 guests for weddings, parties, and business gatherings.

People on Kitty Hawk Pier

Ant DM /

Swing Your Club at Sea Scape Golf Links

There are several excellent golf courses in the Outer Banks area of North Carolina.

However, Sea Scape Golf Links in Kitty Hawk are among the best of these courses.

The course uses the Outer Banks’ natural scenery, including the windswept dunes and marine vegetation.

Because of the course’s dramatic elevation changes, many holes provide breathtaking seaside vistas.

The coastline setting is unlike anything else, making this course a must-play for golf purists.

Year-round, visitors may take advantage of Sea Scape’s club rentals and well-stocked pro store.

The Sandtrap Tavern is an excellent onsite restaurant that serves breakfast and lunch and features a fully stocked bar licensed by the ABC.

Bring your friends to Sea Scape Golf Links!

Enjoy Various Activities at Duck Boardwalk

Daytime view of the Duck Boardwalk

Cvandyke /

Are you visiting Duck with the kids?

Duck Boardwalk should be at the top of your to-do list.

The mile-long boardwalk in the heart of town is a great place for a meal, some retail therapy, some exercise, some fun in the sun, and a lot of family bonding.

Duck Boardwalk, often known as the Soundside Boardwalk, is close to a mile long and a terrific place for people of all ages to experience the Outer Banks together.

Night scene at the Duck Boardwalk

Cvandyke /

Likewise, Duck Town Park, covering 11 acres, sits next to the Duck Boardwalk and is a sight to behold.

The question then becomes, “Why wait?”

Put on some sunscreen and get ready for a fantastic day at the beach.

People dining at the Duck Boardwalk

Joe Benning /

Sail the Seas with Nor’Banks Sailing & Watersports

Since its founding in 1979, Nor’Banks Sailing & Watersports in Duck has grown into one of the East Coast’s premier sailing centers.

It provides clients of all ages with Flying Scots, Hobie Cats, and top-notch personalized sailing lessons.

If you’re a sailor wishing to hone your abilities or someone curious about trying the sport, take lessons from its expert instructors.

You may rent a WaveRunner and explore a maze of marsh islands or along the quiet coast of Dew’s Island in search of wild Spanish mustangs.

Its site is excellent for school since the water is shallow and warm, and the bottom is sandy.

You may rent stand-up paddleboards (SUPs), double and single kayaks, and the latest Hobie paddleboard and kayak models.

Explore the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum

Exterior of the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum

Stephen B. Goodwin /

Hatteras Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum earned its name because so many ships have gone down there.

The Outer Banks is rich in nautical history, so it was only fitting that they establish a museum dedicated to their rich maritime heritage.

The museum is open all year and has relics, displays, and exhibitions that depict the area’s rich maritime culture, including war, piracy, ghost ships, and more.

Visitors of all ages may join the museum’s kid- and family-friendly scavenger hunts, which have them hunting for things all across the museum in exchange for a prize at the end.

Welcome sign of the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum

Cvandyke /

Every year, there is a brand-new show at the museum.

You can also take self-guided tours of the museum, and a helpful introduction film plays in the museum’s Film Room.

Admission is free, but donations are always welcome.

Why not support the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum?

Information board at Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum

Ken Lund from Reno, Nevada, USA, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Sample the Spirits of Outer Banks Distilling

Outer Banks Distilling was the first distillery in the area when it launched in 2015.

It produces and sells small-batch white, gold, and spiced rums.

Since 1946, this distillery has operated inside an ancient brick structure.

Visit the distillery and try several variants of its spirit.

It also offers guided tours.

Silver, Gold, and Pecan Honey, which have won prestigious awards, are the company’s flagship products.

Kill Devil Angel’s Share Series, Kill Devil Solstice, and Kill Devil Shipwreck are some of its most prominent offerings.

Tour Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge

Boardwalk at Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge

vagabond54 /

Manteo’s Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge protects over 154,000 acres of wetland habitat, some of the most distinctive scenery along the “Inner” Banks, and a diverse population of animals from alligators to black bears to wood ducks to red wolves.

Wildflowers, bushes, and the Atlantic bald cypress are some of the plant life that thrives there.

The waters of Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge

Brandon B /

There are miles of trails for visitors to explore, including paved and unpaved paths, boardwalks, and lookout platforms.

A turtle at the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge

Dennis W Donohue /

The Edenton National Fish Hatchery and ten other national wildlife refuges are all within “day-trip” distance from the Outer Banks.

The Visitor Center of the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge features fascinating displays to start your journey.

Bears at the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge

Hal Brindley /

Final Thoughts

Dare County, North Carolina, is full of exciting and rewarding experiences.

It offers many attractions, from quiet seaside towns to exciting metropolises.

Make lasting memories with this list of the best things to do in Dare County, NC; experience its Old South allure to its jaw-dropping mountains and gorgeous beaches.

Discover More of Dare County

Best Things to Do in Kitty Hawk, NC

Best Things to Do in Nags Head, NC

Best Things to Do in Manteo, NC

Best Things to Do in Buxton, NC

Best Things to Do in Duck, NC

Best Things to Do in Avon, NC

Best Things to Do in Hatteras, NC

Best Things to Do in Rodanthe, NC

Best Things to Do in Salvo, NC

Best Things to Do in Waves, NC

Best Things to Do in Kill Devil Hills, NC

© All rights reserved.