March 17, 2022

Free Things To Do On the Outer Banks

The Outer Banks is full of fun things to do. As a popular tourist destination (thanks, Netflix!), most local businesses rely on tourists during the summers, ourselves included. But that doesn’t mean a trip to the Outer Banks has to break the bank. There is a lot to love here. And while you can pay for a one-of-a-kind experience, like hang gliding, you can also discover the beauty of the Outer Banks on your own. Here are our top 10 favorite FREE things to do on the Outer Banks.

1. Jockeys Ridge State Park

jockeys ridge state park

Jockeys Ridge is one of the most magical places on the Outer Banks. It is absolutely a must-do for everyone on vacation as well as a local favorite! Jockeys ridge is perfect on a spring day for a picnic, the best sunset spot on the beach all year round, and a wonderful place to hike around and explore! It is always changing. So even if you have seen it once you have not seen it enough!

2. Nags Head Woods

Nags Head Woods, off Ocean Acres Blvd., is a wonderful daytime activity for folks of all ages. Bike trails, hiking trails, and sound side beaches will transport you from your typical beach environment to scenic marshlands fit for your whole crew. Nags Head Woods is very dog friendly so don’t forget your four-legged friend!

3. Bay Drive

Whether you are going for a scenic drive, walk, skate or bike ride Bay drive is your spot! The tucked away sound side road is home to some sunset spots, amazing homes, and lots of locals getting their steps in after a day at work. There are multiple small parks along the sound side you can pull off and enjoy the view, as well as the boat dock, a popular sunset spot. Bring your camera, your dog, and skateboard!

4. Skate Park

There are a few skate parks here on the outer banks! Our two favorites are the Rodanthe Skate Park and Aviation Skate Park, both easily found on maps. Rodanthe Skate Park, locally dubbed Graveyard Run features some sweet art on the walls, a covered pavilion, and a playground nearby for spectators and families. Aviation Skate Park similarly features a playground and covered pavilion area, a dog park, and a walking trail around a scenic pond.

5. The Beach

No explanation necessary! Grab your Sun Bum and hit the water. Just make sure you re-apply!

6. Sound Side Beaches

Sometimes the great big ocean can be daunting. Especially if you have little ones! One great alternative is the Jockeys Ridge sound side beach, off Sound side Rd. In Nags Head. A beautiful view and calm water is just the spot to relax all day. There are no lifeguards at this beach so swim at your own risk!

7. Butterfly Garden and Teaching Garden

A butterfly garden and outdoor teaching garden, just steps away from Aviation Skate Park, are the perfect spots for a meditative break from the hustle and bustle of the busy season. Well-kept and flourishing, these areas will immediately transport you to peace and quiet! A wonderful place to attend class online if you have a hotspot, do some journaling, art, or even just sit and relax.

8. Lighthouse Sightseeing

Boardwalk at Bodie Island Lighthouse

Although climbing these historic lighthouses does come at a small fee, there is no lack of free history surrounding these amazing sights! With plenty of informative signs and photo opportunities, a lighthouse tour is a must add to your vacation bucket list!

9. Sandy Run Park

In the heart of the Kitty Hawk Woods Coastal Preserve is Sandy Run Park. This park is made popular by the scenic boardwalk that circles 1,600 acres of marshlands, maritime forest, and waterways. Fishing off the boardwalk is allowed year-round, just be careful of turtles snapping your line! The park is picturesque and should be maintained, so take your trash and take pictures!

10. Take the Ferry to Ocracoke

While you travel along your lighthouse tour, you will find yourself needing to hop a body of water to get to your final destination in Historic Ocracoke. Don’t worry. The ferry ride over there is FREE! Yes, free! Whether you are on your way to see the lighthouse or just taking a trip to see the island, Ocracoke is an Outer Banks staple and should be at the top of your list. Although she is constantly taking a hit from Mother Nature, Ocracoke is still standing proud. Locals and volunteers work hard to maintain the small island so be kind to everyone you meet and leave no trace! Some of our favorite spots to recommend are Howards Pub, Magic Bean Coffee, and of course our Kitty Hawk Kites store.

What are your favorite things to do on the Outer Banks?

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