Once 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.
Eat Like A Local
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 A Lighthouse… Or Two
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
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 Marine Life Without Ever Getting Wet
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.
Tour The Queen’s Gardens
Enjoy hundreds of different species of native plants and wildlife in this 10 acre sound front attraction on Roanoke Island. If you’ve visited The Elizabethan Gardens during the summer and enjoyed your stroll through the magnificently maintained gardens, you’ll certainly enjoy visiting the Gardens during the offseason as what’s in bloom will be very different.
Open daily, year-round, be sure to add The Elizabethan Gardens to your OBX offseason vacation itinerary. Also, if you are vacationing in December, check out WinterLights at night. Tens of thousands of festive lights twinkle and glow during this month-long celebration of the holiday season.
Explore With A Paddle
No 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!
This offseason, explore the Buxton Woods Coastal Reserve and the Cape Hatteras National Seashore on Hatteras Island by horseback! Experience the natural beauty of Hatteras Island from a completely different perspective. Kitty Hawk Kites’ horseback riding adventure is offered year-round and during most days of the week.
Drop A Line
Surf 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
Dotted 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 offseason Outer Banks adventure is certainly a memorable way to spend a morning or afternoon on vacation.
First In Flight
From 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.
An Adrenaline Rush Like None Other
Steady 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.