North Carolina’s Outer Banks: A Destination Any Time of Year

Thank you for the recent feature, Sara Kendall, of the Epicurean! “Spanning over 200 miles in a string of narrow barrier islands, the Outer Banks is an ocean haven anytime of the year. The locals refer to them as OBX, and millions of people make these islands their vacation destination. Looking to book a winter retreat or plan next summer’s getaway? The Outer Banks is a fabulous choice no matter the time of year you decide to venture to the ocean breezes.” http://www.epicureancharlotte.com/travel/

This Article from the Charlotte Epicurean on just a few of the reasons why the OBX is so special hit the nail on the head! We have so much to do here and a ton of great dining options! What are you going to choose to do today?

Your OBX Off-Season Guide

Jennette's Pier in Nags Head, North CarolinaOnce considered to be only a summer vacation destination, the Outer Banks has transformed into more of a year-round place for sightseers and tourists to explore. Weather during the spring and fall months on the Outer Banks is superb, and winters are typically more temperate than what many visitors may be accustomed to in the Midwest and Northeast.

Not long ago, there were few activities that were available during the offseason and most restaurants would close for the season after Labor Day. However, this is not the case any more and there are certainly no shortage of things to do or places to dine at year-round on the OBX.

Check out our list of things to do on the Outer Banks during the offseason below and let us know if we left anything out in the comments section at the end of this post.

Uncover Hidden & Forgotten Treasure

The Atlantic Ocean is typically more active during the offseason as compared to the summer, which means beachcombers will likely find more shells and other treasures during the spring, fall and winter months. Discover a fully intact conch shell, a colorful piece of sea glass, or uncover hidden treasure from an ancient sunken ship. Beachcombing is a free, offseason activity that will get you up out of bed early in the morning and on the beach with your toes in the sand and wind in your hair.

Enjoy The Wonderful Events

The Outer Banks is a hot bed for events in the fall. The scenery combined with the perfect weather draws in crowds from all over. Some of our personal favorites are any that include live music and of course…. craft beer. Check the out for yourself this fall. OBX Brewtag is coming up on October 22nd, and we can’t wait for their combination of amazing beers, live music and FLYING KEGS! Stop by and check it out for yourself.

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Eat Like A Local

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With fewer lines and plenty of fresh, locally-caught seafood to fill your palate, there are plenty of reasons to love dining out on the Outer Banks during the offseason. Chow down on a hearty crab cake, savor every last bite of a yellowfin tuna sandwich, or relish the flavor of a raw oyster. And unlike years past, many of the area’s finest restaurants remain open during the spring, fall and even winter months.

Stop By Our Beautiful Lighthouses

You may not be able to climb the various lighthouses of the Outer Banks year-round, but you can still visit them! Take as many family photos as you like in front of Currituck Beach Lighthouse, Bodie Island Lighthouse, Roanoke Marshes Light, Cape Hatteras Lighthouse or Ocracoke Light Station during the offseason.

Spread Your Wings

Scene from 2015 Hang Gliding Spectacular.

Not many people know this, but dune hang gliding with Kitty Hawk Kites is offered year-round! In fact, December is actually a really busy time of year for the hang gliding school since many thrill seekers have time off and are looking for some excitement during the holiday season. Join the ranks of the over 300,000 people that have graduated from the hang gliding school at Jockey’s Ridge State Park! More info on dune hang gliding with Kitty Hawk Kites can be found on our website.

Discover The Best Aquarium in North Carolina

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Boasting a massive 285,000 gallon exhibit filled with nurse, sand tiger and sandbar sharks and offering many other indoor and outdoor exhibits, the North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island is one of the best spots on the Outer Banks to be on a rainy day. The aquarium is open everyday, year-round from 9 AM to 5 PM.

Shop Till You Drop

Do you like to shop? There are plenty of great, locally-owned shops you’ll what to check out on the Outer Banks during the offseason. Most stores stay open year-round, and offer hours that are convenient for anyone who enjoys shopping in between late morning and early evening.

One note: Be sure to call ahead! Not all area businesses update their hours online so be sure to check before you go.

Explore With A Paddle

KHKkayakNo question about it, the Outer Banks is a haven for kayak enthusiasts of all skill levels and ages. Is there a better way to explore the OBX than in a kayak? We think not!

During the offseason, Kitty Hawk Kites offers four different kayaking adventures including tours at: Alligator River, Roanoke Island, Kitty Hawk and Pea Island.

Reel in a Big Catch

http://www.kittyhawk.com/adventures/hobie-kayak-charter-fishing-tour/Surf, kayak, and pier fishing, brackish, fly and sound fishing, inshore and offshore charter fishing – you’ll find an unparalleled array of catch on the Outer Banks. Often called “The Billfish Capital of the World,” the International Game Fish Association lists 92 world records for fish caught on the OBX. Anglers say there’s no better way to relax than fishing.

Drop a line during the offseason and discover what many fishing enthusiasts consider to be the best time of year to land the big one.

Enjoy The View From Above

biplane_viewDotted with cozy beach cottages and oceanfront estates, enjoy breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean and area landmarks from an entirely new perspective. Aerial tours with Kitty Hawk Kites are available year-round and are an experience you won’t soon forget. With many different price points depending on your budget, this offseasonOuter Banks adventure is certainly a memorable way to spend a morning or afternoon on vacation.

Visit the Wright Brother’s National Memorial

wright-brothers-national-memorialFrom 1900 to 1903, Wilbur and Orville Wright traveled from Dayton, OH to Kill Devil Hills, NC (Kitty Hawk at the time) to test their soon-to-be famous flying contraptions. The Wright Brothers National Memorial, located atop Kill Devil Hill, commemorates the first ever successful, sustained, powered flights in a heavier-than-air machine.

We implore you to scale to the top of the hill and get a closer look of the monument while enjoying a breathtaking view of the barrier island. The National Park Service operates and maintains the park, which is open daily, year-round from 9 AM to 5 PM.

If you visit on December 17th, the date of the famed “First Flight,” you’ll be in for a treat as there are numerous flyovers and some type of special celebration to commemorate two brothers from Ohio who changed the world forever by dreaming big and taking numerous calculated risks.

Cross Kiteboarding off your Bucket List

img_5039Steady winds are nearly a constant on the Outer Banks during the offseason months, which makes for ideal kiteboarding conditions. One of the most exhilarating sports in the world, kiteboarding lessons with Kitty Hawk Kites cover everything you need to know to get started including: setup, launching, landing, flying techniques, and most important of all, safety.

When you feel the incredible sensation of the kite pulling you in the water, you’ll find yourself daydreaming about kiteboarding on a daily basis, longing for your next escapade on the sound or ocean waters.

 

Fly Into Fun at the Outer Banks Stunt Kite Competition

16_stunt_kite_fbOBSKC is a regional kite competition bringing some of the nation’s best kite fliers right here to our back yard. This gives people the chance to be introduced to a sport that is consistently gaining in popularity because of the skill and artistry that is involved. This is a great opportunity to bring your kids out and let them explore the world of wind driven flight, all while you enjoy the talent at hand as well.

On Saturday the 22nd, Kitty Hawk Kites and the Eastern League Stunt Kite Association will host demos and a competition on the field and a FREE family fun fly day. Enjoy massive display kites flying high, and participate in stunt and power kite lessons given by pros. Following OBSKC, on Saturday, October 22, and the 2nd annual OBX Brewtag, a celebration of flight and beer benefitting The Rogallo Foundation.

Sunday, come watch some of the nation’s most talented kite fliers put on world-class displays of elegance and skill with kite flying set to music, synchronized performances, and more.

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A day in the life: Kitty Hawk Kites Kids Day

Written by: Emma Turnbull, Marketing Intern

One of my biggest jobs as an events crew member is helping run Kids Days each week at our various locations. This aspect of the job is particularly fun for a couple reasons. First, I have some degree of freedom to shape these events into what I want them to be. Also, once the grunt work of set-up is done, I get to spend the day playing with toys, making crafts, and talking to children about everything from their vacations to their families, their pets, superheroes, and other childhood randomness. Basically I get to be a kid again for a few hours. While there’s honestly no “typical” day on the job, here’s a taste of what a Kids Day could look like.

Wednesday is the middle of the week, hump day, and most importantly Nags Head Kids Day! Kids Day at our flagship store in Jockey’s Ridge Crossing is typically the most crowded, highest energy event of the week, and in my humble opinion, a big bundle of fun. It’s an early day, but totally worth it to bring joy of a Kitty Hawk Kites Experience to so many kiddos.

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Toy Demos with Chip

I’ll usually start my day at the office, finishing up some last second preparations. Depending on the day and the week, this could mean anything from printing flyers for upcoming events, restocking crafts that have been used up, or loading the van with any and all toys and games to entertain the masses.

Next comes set-up. Not surprisingly, this is the least exciting aspect of the day, but that’s not to say it isn’t completely essential to the success of Kids Day. First, the tent canopies and tables go up, followed by the smaller objects like pamphlets, flyers, crafting materials, and toys. The final step is making our set up look spiffy. We go for a “family friendly and lots of fun” feel. It features display kites hanging up, numerous games spread across the lawn, stations for face painting by the members of The Lost Colony cast and tie dying by Life on a Sandbar, and a table filled with enough toys and bubbles to entertain a bus full of rowdy school children.

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Scaling the Rock Wall in Kitty Hawk Kites

After set-up, it’s not long until the real fun begins. By 10:00am on the dot (sometimes even earlier), our tables are surrounded by families eagerly anticipating whatever fun in the sun (or shade) we can offer them. One of the coolest and most unique things about the Kids Days is that I’ve found they really do appeal to kids of all ages. The littlest ones get endless delight from having their faces painted, chasing around edible bubbles (yes, you read that correctly… candy bubbles do exist… and we sell them!), and coloring and assembling their very own kites. The slightly older crowd enjoy trying their hand at the skill toys and games like Kan Jam, and every adventurous teenager finds it hard to resist the chance to ride the mechanical shark. Plus, the appeal of tie dying, wax hands, an indoor rock wall, and a splash blaster (think of a reverse dunk tank, where the water sprays up at you) transcends age.

As an outdoor event, Kids Days are heavily dependent on weather. Rain or shine, the show will go on, but even in the few short weeks I’ve been here, I’ve seen how the weather refuses to be ignored. Kite flying in particular can be challenging in anything besides a perfect breeze. That being said, no matter what the conditions, barring a hurricane-level squall, we will find a way to have fun for Kids Day; it just becomes a question of what type of fun the weather will allow. If it’s overcast, sprinkling rain, and 70 degrees, the Splash Blaster probably looks a lot less appealing. But learning how to use juggling sticks under the shelter of a canopy, or designing and coloring your very own kite to take out on the next nice day are just as fun as ever.

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Wax Hands have been a Kids Day favorite this year!

Just like all the other new experiences Kitty Hawk Kites has provided, Kids Days have brought a combination of fun and learning. And while there can be some stressful moments when a rush of 15 children and their families all show up at the same time wanting to try 10 different activities, I have just as much fun with Kids Days as the kids do. How could you not have a great time with a job that involves 4 hours of crafts, demoing toys, and playing games with a bunch of happy, excited vacationers?

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Stanley the bucking Shark in Kitty Hawk Surf Company is always a huge laugh

After a few hours of socializing, entertaining, and teaching, we wrap up Kids Day. Everything gets broken down and packed back up into the van, and I return to the office for a few more hours of work before the day officially ends. Tiredness from a day out in the heat sets in, as does pride about a successful event, and excitement to do it all again next week. Kitty Hawk Kites Kids Days are offered weekly at select locations along the beach.

You can come play with us on Tuesdays at the Kitty Hawk Kites in Avon from 10am – 12pm, Waves Village Watersports Resort from 3pm – 5pm, and Kitty Hawk Kites in Monteray Plaza in Corolla from 2pm – 4pm and on Wednesdays at Jockey’s Ridge Crossing from 10am – 2pm, and Kitty Hawk Kites in Hatteras Landing from 2pm – 4pm. Information on all of our events including kids day can be found at kittyhawk.com/events.

A day in the life: The 34th Annual Rogallo Kite Festival

Written by: Emma Turnbull- 2016 Marketing Intern

It was a beautiful weekend for the 34th Annual Rogallo Kite Festival! Typical with any kite festival, the wind was not completely cooperative (too light on Friday and too strong on Saturday and Sunday), but it was good enough to get the kites up and give everybody an awesome scene to admire atop Jockey’s Ridge.

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Rogallo Fest ran on Dunkin’


This was my first kite festival as a Kitty Hawk Kites marketing intern, and I’ll admit I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect when the weekend began. I obviously knew we’d be flying some kites, but I didn’t realize just how massive and impressive they’d be. For instance, our octopus, affectionately dubbed Squiggs, is 100 feet long! As you can imagine, trying to launch and take down Squiggs in strong wind was a bit of a challenge. There were even a couple times it took 5 people to wrangle him. Once he got under control though, he was quite a sight to see, with his huge yellow body and his tentacles flapping around in the clear blue sky. A couple other personal favorites of mine were our giant purple eel and the rainbow koi fish, which both slithered around in the air to the point where they looked like they were swimming against the blue sky. It’s amazing how much of a show can be put on by a bit of cloth, so strong line, and a few poles.

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Squiggs, the 100ft Octopus- a personal favorite.


Now, I’m by no means an expert yet, but this weekend taught me a lot and gave me a sneak peek into the world of kite flying. There’s a lot that goes into flying such huge kites. You don’t just need the kite and a line; you need the kite, bridle, line set, carabiner, and sand anchor, and a bit of expert know-how. I learned about the safety when flying large kites, how to tie a larks head, and daisy chain just to name a few of my new skills. Basically, there’s a lot more that goes into flying show kites than I could have ever imagined.

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Not a bad view


As an event crew member, my weekend consisted of a combination of physical labor, interacting with children, and teaching people about kites. To be fair, I didn’t shoulder a huge portion of the physical labor given my small size and utter lack of muscles, but that’s not to say I didn’t pitch in whenever and however I could. One of the highlights for me was set up Saturday morning, when I was helping John Harris, owner and founder of Kitty Hawk Kites, prepare and launch numerous large kites. It was surreal to be able to learn so much from a man who is such an expert in the field.

RevSpinIn addition to the eye catching show kites, visible from across the sound in Manteo, the Rogallo Kite Festival included free stunt kite lessons, and a Revolution Kite Competition. I spent much of my time tending to the larger kites and unfortunately didn’t get to take a lesson, but I did get to talk to many stunt kite flyers, from visitors trying it out for the first time to experienced flyers who travel the country showing of their skills. Watching the performances from afar, the twirls, spins, dives, and other tricks executed but the Revolutions and other stunt kites were every bit as impressive and transfixing as Squiggs’ tentacles in their own way. I look forward to trying it out for myself at the next festival in July!

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Revolution Invitation Winners with Rev Rep, Lolly Hadziki, and John Harris


Between digging holes for anchors, talking to curious vacationers on Jockey’s Ridge, and relaunching kites that the wind took down, the days actually sped by. There’s no denying it was hard work, and being out in the sun for 3 full days certainly took its toll. (I have the awkward suntan/burn lines to prove it). There were moments I just wanted to stop what I was doing, lie down, and fall asleep on the spot. But for every funk, there was also a moment equally as funny or inspiring or beautiful to break me out of it. Like the moment a huge kite would get launched and I would just watch it float upward so peacefully into the bright blue sky. Or seeing a kid’s face light up as they watched the koi fish “swimming” through the air. Or honestly just taking a step back and taking in the whole panorama: a beautiful sunny day on the sand dunes with a bunch of colorful kites floating overhead and the ocean in the distance. I now understand peoples’ fascination with kites a whole lot better.

If you missed the Rogallo Festival, don’t fret… The Wright Kite Festival hosted at The Wright Brothers’ National Memorial July 16-17 will feature many of the same show kites (possibly even a few more), free stunt kite lessons, and kite making workshops for the kids. You may also check out this awesome Rogallo Festival recap video below: