Blake Walsh

25 Best Things to Do in Duck, NC

  • Published 2022/12/14

Situated in Dare County, North Carolina, Duck is a small town with big thrills to offer.

The town is brimming with activity during the tourist season.

You can attend concerts, enjoy water sports, visit art galleries, indulge in shopping, and experience fine dining as a visitor.

Duck is also a pedestrian-friendly town.

That means you can easily walk or cycle to your destination.

For a holiday or vacation, you will find tons of fun activities to do here.

Here are the 25 best things to do in Duck, NC:

Stroll Around the Boardwalk and Town Park

Boardwalk in Duck

TC Studios /

The mile-long Boardwalk (also known as Sound-side Boardwalk) is perfect for enjoying quality time with friends and family.

While you enjoy the Outer Banks, look beside the Boardwalk to witness 11 acres of Town Park’s natural loveliness.

The Town Park comprises trails that go through forests, willow swamps, and open green spaces.

When you want a break from sightseeing, there are a number of fine eateries and retail establishments along the Boardwalk to help you freshen up and relax.

Get a Duck Donuts Treat

A box of delicious-looking Duck Donuts

EWY Media /

The American Donut Company Duck Donuts opened its first shop ever in Duck, North Carolina.

One can say that Duck is the hometown of Duck Donuts.

Known for selling some of the best made-to-order donuts in the country, you can find several Duck Donuts outlets in Outer Banks.

One of the great things about Duck Donuts is its seasonal and monthly specials.

Some evergreen popular flavors of the brand to try are Maple Bacon, Beach Ball, and Chocolate Explosion.

Donuts make for an excellent “on-the-go” breakfast.

So visit Duck Donuts early in the morning and chew on the tasty treats while strolling on the boardwalk.

Visit the Duck Waterfront Shops

View of Duck Waterfront Shops

Cvandyke /

The Duck Waterfront Shops are an intimate marketplace with over 27 restaurants, eateries, boutiques, and much more.

There is something for everyone here.

The restaurants offer a variety of delicacies to suit any taste.

The boutiques and retail shops have an eclectic mix of items to purchase, from surf-wear to upscale fashion clothes.

Family strolling along Duck Waterfront Shops

Sharkshock /

This shopping village is lined along the shores of the Currituck Sound.

It is also connected to the new Town Boardwalk.

You can catch a boat from the Town Boardwalk pier to visit here.

Al fresco dining at Duck Waterfront Shops

Joe Benning /

Go Cycling

Cycling is one of the best ways to appreciate the natural beauty of the Outer Banks.

The mixed landscapes and historical attractions in Duck are delightful when you can stop at will to look around and explore.

Since Duck is a pedestrian-friendly town, you can easily access the market, restaurants, or the beach on your bicycle.

For more serious bikers, a 10 miles long path is paved, especially for biking, connecting Duck to the Southern Shores.

The path is surrounded by lovely oak and cedar trees and is safe thanks to a big grass-buffer that separates it from the NC highway.

Relax at the Duck Beach

Beach chairs and umbrellas at Duck Beach

Joe Benning /

If there is one thing that Duck is most famous for, it would be its beautiful beach.

This 7 miles (11.27 km) long stretch of sand is ideal for a picnic or spending time with your loved ones.

It is a quiet beach because to access it you need to travel on foot.

There is no designated public parking space near the beach.

People walking along Duck Beach

Joe Benning /

Fun things to do at the beach include – swimming, sunbathing, looking for seashells, and flying kites.

If you visit the beach early in the morning, you may spot some dolphins near the shore.

At night the beach is popular for hunting ghost crabs.

View of the sunrise from Duck Beach

Madeline P /

Experience Boat and Sunset Cruise

There is something very meditative and romantic about sunsets.

You can take a boat from the dock to witness the incomparable Outer Banks sunset.

There are some options available to you.

You can either cruise down Currituck Sound to appreciate sunsets on the East coast.

Or, you can choose a non-motorized vehicle like a kayak or a canoe and depart from the Duck Town Park to view the sunset.

Many local businesses give out boats (motorized and non-motorized) on rent.

But you can also bring in your private watercraft, provided you adhere to Duck’s rules and guidelines.

Enjoy Kayak Adventures

Kayaking is one of those laid-back adventures where you can enjoy life at your own pace.

You can take a kayak to the Maritime Forests or the marshes of the Outer Banks for a day out in nature.

There is an Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge only a few hours away from Duck for more adventurous people.

That’s correct.

Kayak your way through rivers with alligators in them.

You will often see them in the water or relaxing on the shore.

In case you desire a more aesthetic experience, visit the Nags Head.

This Kayaking destination is only 17 miles (27.36 km) away from Duck.

It is famous for bioluminescent sea creatures that light up the waters in the dark for a surreal experience.

Make a Trip to NC Aquarium

Jelly fish in NC Aquarium

Kyndall Dobson /

Located 45 minutes away from Duck on Roanoke Island, the NC Aquarium in Outer Banks is a great break from all the outdoor activities.

Small kids will especially enjoy visiting here.

The NC Aquarium is home to various sea creatures, including many freshwater and wetland species, sharks, stingrays, jellyfish, and many more.

One of the best areas to visit here is the N.E.S.T sea turtle rehabilitation center.

This center houses many rescued turtles.

It even teaches the visitors how to save the turtles through interactive displays.

Other attractions in the NC Aquarium include nature trails, a water maze, and the Sound-side Pier.

A fish at NC Aquarium

Andrea stallings /

Go On a Sanctuary Vineyard Voyage

Leave the Outer Banks and sail through the Currituck Sound to reach the beautiful Sanctuary Vineyard.

It is located on the historic Wright Brothers Farms, famous for its waterfowl population and traditional farming at least 2 centuries old.

The Sanctuary Vineyard spans 33 acres of land.

Upon arrival, you will take a tour to see how the wine is made.

This also includes meeting the winemaking experts.

Then you will partake in a private wine tasting event to satisfy your palettes.

The Sanctuary Vineyard has won over 100 accolades for its wines.

Clearly, this is a popular destination, so make early reservations before they completely sell out.

Enjoy Other Water Sports

Apart from kayaking and paddleboarding, Duck has many more water sports to offer.

Parasailing and jet skiing are very popular in the Outer Banks.

Witness the beautiful town of Duck and the Currituck Sound from a bird’s eye view while parasailing.

If you are in the mood for speed, then go jet-skiing.

For a more relaxing experience, you can rent out a pontoon boat.

Pontoon boats are great for group activities where you simply want to spend some quality time together while admiring the sights and wildlife surrounding you.

Then, there is classic surfing.

Nothing says vacation is better than riding the sea waves.

Visit the Jockey Ridge State Park

Dunes at Jockey Ridge State Park

anthony heflin /

Among the best places to visit near Duck is the Jockey Ridge State Park.

It is situated in Nags Head and possesses some of the tallest sand dunes in America.

Some great activities to pursue in the park are flying kites and watching the sunset.

The good amount of wind in the area makes it ideal for flying kites.

Hang-gliding at Jockey Ridge State Park

Sharkshock /

The sand dune landscape is beautiful to watch as the sun is setting.

Simply park your vehicle at Jockey’s Ridge, take off your shoes, and walk barefoot to the sand dunes.

There is a facility to book all-terrain vehicles for those not interested in a beach trek to drive you to the destination.

Hang glide in Jockey Ridge State Park

Jill Lang /

Thrill at Paradise Fun Park

Paradise Fun Park is Outer Banks’ own version of an amusement park.

Located in Kill Devil Hills, this outdoorsy park caters to everybody, adults and children alike.

Famous for fun group activities, Paradise Fun Park has Mini Golf, Bumper Cars, and Go-kart to enjoy.

Mini Golf encourages healthy competition between players.

Simply get a scorecard, choose a ball and putter and get golfing.

For Go-karting, there is a long race track to test your driving skills and break the speed barrier (in a safe manner).

In case you are looking for pure wacky fun, then hop into a bumper car and bump into everyone in sight.

Enjoy Delicious Seafood Boils

Duck offers some delicious, fresh seafood.

The town is known for its at-home seafood boils.

A seafood boil is like a social event that involves many people eating around a tasty buffet of seafood dishes.

Depending on the number of people in your group or the amount of work you want to put into the boil, there are options to choose from.

You can pick up pre-boiled seafood to arrange your own seafood boil.

Or, you can have one of the eateries or restaurants cater it fully.

If you want to eat out, Duck has many seafood restaurants to explore.

NC Grill & Bar, The Village Table, and The Blue Point serve some of the best seafood in town.

Pay Tribute to Wright Brothers National Memorial

Daytime view of Wright Brothers National Memorial

Alex Schrank, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

On December 17, 1903, Wilbur and Orville Wright achieved the world’s first airplane flight in Kill Devil Hills.

The Wright Brothers National Memorial was erected to commemorate this historic feat that revolutionized traveling.

The memorial has many attractions to enjoy.

Aircraft sculpture at Wright Brothers National Memorial

Zack Frank /

A museum in the Visitor Center exhibits plane models and tools that the Wright brothers used during their flight experiments.

You can visit the 60 feet (18.29 m) granite monument made in honor of the Wright brothers that sits atop the Kill Devil Hills.

You can also revisit the routes that the Wright brothers flew over in their airplane, the Wright Flyer.

Bronze statue at Wright Brothers National Memorial

Grindstone Media Group /

Go Paddleboarding

A stand-up paddleboard (or “SUP”) is a simpler way to enjoy surfing in the waters.

Not only is it a good way to exercise, but it also makes for a fun outing.

You can paddle-board in groups of 2 or even bring your pet on board.

The town of Duck provides many SUP-guided tours and rentals.

You can take SUP classes to learn the sport.

The method is easy to pick up and highly rewarding.

There are many venues for paddleboarding in the Outer Banks, waiting for you to explore them on your paddleboards.

Witness the Corolla Beach Wild Horses

View of Corolla Beach Wild Horses

Glenn Woodell /

The Corolla Beach in Outer Banks is home to the unique Wild Spanish Mustangs, also known as the Corolla Wild Horses.

Originally brought to Corolla in the 1500s on Spanish ships, you will not find these horses anywhere else in the world.

These horses are a treat to watch with short legs, a stocky body, and fluffy fur.

You can see these wild animals wandering the beach freely and nibbling on the grass.

Corolla Beach Wild Horses enjoying the beach

zimmytws /

An important point to note is that humans should stay at least 50 feet (15.24 m) away from the wild horses.

These animals are rare and delicate.

Direct human contact can be detrimental to them.

Corolla Beach Wild Horses at the beach

aceshot1 /

Relax in Elizabethan Gardens

Water fountain at Elizabethan Gardens

Jason Schronce /

Known as the “Outer Banks Crown Jewel,” Elizabethan Gardens offers a visual treat with an array of seasonal flowers, shrubs, and trees.

This fancy garden was designed to please Queen Elizabeth I during her rule.

Now it is a venue for horticulture enthusiasts.

Many seasonal events take place in the garden, like the Butterfly Festival and the WinterLights.

Trail lined with plants at Elizabethan Gardens

Zack Frank /

Butterfly Festival lasts the entire month of April and includes fun activities for children of all ages to enjoy.

The WinterLights transforms the Elizabethan Gardens into a spectacle of lights.

The entire event is festive in decor and mood.

You can even shop for gifts and winter plants.

Butterfly on a flower at Elizabethan Gardens

Zack Frank /

Have Fun at Dowdy Park

Situated at the corner of South Croatan Highway and Bonnet Street, Dowdy Park is popular.

This park is 5 acres big and offers recreational opportunities to people of all ages.

The attractions include an amphitheater, a fitness trail, and a playground.

Between June and October, the park holds a farmer’s market.

It is a great event to buy local produce, homemade baked goods, and craftwork.

The farmer’s market also involves local musical performances for a good time.

Shop, Eat and Relax at Scarborough Lane Shoppes

Shopping aficionados will have a wonderful time at Scarborough Lane Shoppes on Duck Road.

This shopping stop features more than twenty stores and restaurants for your family to enjoy.

Find fashionable clothing lines from October Jae Boutique, get home essentials at Cariloha, and check out some art pieces at Ocean Treasures Art Gallery.

Likewise, little tots can find fun toys and kid’s stuff at Toy-riffic.

Dine in with the family at Duck Pizza Company and get your sweet cravings satisfied at The Fudgery.

Enjoy shopping and dining at Scarborough Lane Shoppes.

Get a Big Catch with Bob’s Bait and Tackle

Fishing is another water activity you can enjoy at Duck, and Bob’s Bait and Tackle is sure to lead you to a great catch.

The business has been around since 1982 and provides services to Kitty Hawk, Southern Shores, Corolla, and the Outer Banks area.

They have a huge selection of fishing supplies like rods, lures, reels, and live frozen or fresh baits to get you ready.

Climb aboard the modern fleets and enjoy a whole-day or half-day fishing charter; you can also book a make-up charter if you like.

You’ll experience personalized service and get instructions on how and where you can fish and crab.

Have a great fishing experience with Bob’s Bait and Tackle.

Enjoy Sumptuous Meals at The Village Table & Tavern

The Village Table & Tavern on Duck Road serves lunch and dinner marked with excellent southern hospitality.

The restaurant welcomes you to a comfortable and inviting ambiance with the lovely Currituck Sound shores in the background.

Get servings of delicious creative dishes made with fresh local and regional ingredients, along with wines, coffee, and tea selections.

Start with delectable Tavern Fries, Pickled Chips, or Local Peel and Eat Shrimp for lunch, then try some soups and salads like Seafood Chowder and Village Greens.

You can choose tasty handhelds like Fish Sandwich, Tavern Burger, and Crimson Lentil Falafel, and follow through with filling entrees like Southern Fish Fry and Wild Boar Meatloaf.

For dinner, menu starters include Fried Virginia Oysters, St Louis Ribs, and Grilled Beef Skewers.

Get fresh servings of Pear and Goat Cheese or Niçoise Salad; you can also try their Fried Chicken Sandwich and tasty dinner entrees like Crab Cake Dinner or Steak Frites.

Likewise, you can order Kiddos Meals for your little ones.

For desserts, you’ll enjoy The Village Table & Tavern’s gluten-free and rich Dark Chocolate Tart and tangy Margarita Key Lime.

Groove to the Beat at the Duck Jazz Festival

Get all jazzy and enjoy the annual Duck Jazz Festival celebrated every Columbus Day weekend.

This two-night event features live music performances by various jazz artists and ensembles to keep your toes tapping to the beat.

Join locals and visitors at Duck Town Park for free; you can also bring chairs, blankets food, and drinks to the event.

If you want to try some local specialties and favorites, there are plenty of food vendors at the park.

You’ll also find jazz-themed events and promotions happening all around local businesses and restaurants.

More than a music event, the Duck Jazz Festival also commits to promoting environmental stewardship.

Enjoy Books and Coffee at Duck’s Cottage & Downtown Books

A good book and a hot cup of coffee are a perfect match for a relaxing time alone.

And that is what Duck’s Cottage & Downtown Books offers its guests – hot or cold beverages while sitting on a lovely white porch.

Enjoy specialty coffee on the menu like Nutty Duck, Swan, Mucky Duck, House beverages, hot drip coffee, and cold brew.

They also have a variety of tea flavors and assorted muffins and grab-and-go snacks if you’re looking for quick bites.

Otherwise, you can ask for milk alternatives and flavored syrups to add to your drinks.

Check out book choices from fiction to non-fiction genres, paperbacks, and best-sellers; likewise, if you’re looking for something more specific, they can order books for you.

Read any of their books in stock or purchase them for your collections.

Duck’s Cottage & Downtown Books also sells fresh-roasted whole bean or ground coffee you can enjoy at home.

Final Thoughts

The Town of Duck has plenty of scenic spots and attractions that offer great opportunities for your family to enjoy.

Whether you’re looking for a place to shop, unique restaurants, or into water sports, the town has much to offer.

Get to experience the warm hospitality and lively vibe of this town.

You’ll surely enjoy the best things to do in Duck, North Carolina.

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