10 Things Parents Will Love To Do With Their Kids on the Outer Banks

Fly a hang glider – Soar over the birthplace of flight on the largest sand dune on the East Coast. Try out dune hang gliding, take a tandem flight and get a one-of-a-kind view of the Outer Banks, or take a few lessons in a week to get your pilot’s license and fly a glider on your own!

Surf on the beach – Learn to shred with the locals. Group lessons are available for the whole family, and there are summer camps for the kids.

Ride on a SUP board or kayak – We’ve got tours of private reserves in the Outer Banks only accessible with our guides! If you’re looking for your own adventure for the day or week – rentals are available, too. If you want to try something new, we’ve got nighttime light-up SUP (stand-up paddleboard) rentals available at our Waves Village location.

Sandboard down Jockey’s Ridge – Like sledding on sand, this activity is perfect on a dry day, and unique to the landscape of the Outer Banks.

Try a new hobby – When you leave Jockey’s Ridge, head across the street to Jockey’s Ridge Crossing. Lots of local shops have plenty of activities for the family, including toy demonstrations at Kitty Hawk Kites, Life on a Sandbar, ice cream at Scoops, Tiki Toss at Kitty Hawk Surf Company & more. There are Kids Days on weekdays and Sunset Festival activities on the lawn in the summertime. Check out our events page for more activities at Jockey’s Ridge Crossing to see what’s happening during your visit.

Mix up your regular dining spots – You should dine out at new spots each time you visit. As a destination location, we have lots of amazing cuisine constantly coming into the area. Chefs cycle between restaurants, and you might find your favorite dish is made best by a restaurant you would least expect… so be sure to ask the locals for a recommendation.

Swim with the sharks – … or at least watch. The NC Aquarium on Roanoke Island offers a unique view of the ecosystem. You can touch the stingrays, see an alligator, river otters, and sea turtle conservation efforts at the Sea Turtle Assistance and Rehabilitation (STAR) Center. Manteo also offers Jumpmasters for the kids & a quaint downtown with a boardwalk, park, shopping & events, including First Fridays at the beginning of each month.

Ride or fly a shark – If you didn’t get close enough to the sharks, you can ride Stanley the mechanical shark at Nags Head’s Kitty Hawk Surf Company, or fly a shark kite from Kitty Hawk Kites.

Dowdy Park – Near Jockey’s Ridge and the YMCA, this new park built on the land where Dowdy’s Amusement park used to be (long-time visitors of the Outer Banks will remember this spot…) is now a popular children’s park many people frequent, with a monthly local farmer’s market + more.

Whalebone Park – Conveniently located between Jennette’s Pier and the Tanger Outlets, this new park is popular too.

Find a local craft/craftsperson – We’ve got lots of talented local artisans on the beach. Support local business & ask a local business owner how to connect with local artists. OBX Art Studio (which used to be called Glazin’ Go Nuts) has pottery painting for kids at Front Porch Cafe at Milepost 6 & Deja New in the Dunes Shops at Milepost 4 has art workshops for adults and kids, to name a couple.

In summary, ask a local! The Outer Banks has lots of unique experiences to offer.

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OBX Parasailing – Beautiful View of Outer Banks

Laughter and joy lifting into the air for a parasail adventure over Roanoke Sound.

Laughter and joy lifting into the air for a parasail adventure over Roanoke Sound.

There are a lot of ways to see the Outer Banks from the air. A tandem hang gliding tow to 2000’ or a mile is wonderful. The Kitty Hawk Kites Aero Tour creates multiple ways to see the area.

But for sheer exhilaration and fun, nothing beats floating beneath a parasail above Roanoke or Currituck Sound.

A great family activity, parasail boats can put up one, two and even three people at a time and there is plenty of room for passengers so mom and dad can be there with the kids.

There is an extraordinary sense of floating above the world, the wind blowing across the parasail, the harness gently swaying as the boat traverses the sound.

The view is marvelous. Looking east the narrow ribbon of sand that is the Outer Banks is bordered by the white froth of breaking waves. Soaring above the Currituck Sound the small islands that dot the waters stand out like pastures of green against the blue of the waters. Lifted above the waters of Roanoke Sound the towns of Manteo, Nags Head and Kill Devil Hills seem almost like the fishing villages they once were.

Kitty Hawk Kites OBX parasailing captains are Coast Guard licensed and the crew is trained in CPR.

Kitty Hawk Kites offers parasail adventures from the docks in Manteo and the dock beside their Duck location. No shuttle driving needed—just park at the stores.


Hang Gliding Memories

"I Flew Jockey's Ridge" for more than 20 years one of the most popular designs.

“I Flew Jockey’s Ridge” for more than 20 years one of the most popular designs.

John Harris, the President and founder of Kitty Hawk Kites, started teaching people to fly from Jockey’s Ridge in 1974 and it didn’t take him long to figure out that a hang gliding dune lesson and T-shirt went together as naturally as ice cream and a hot day.

For about as long as there has been a Kitty Hawk Kites, T-shirts have been a great way for people to remember their visit to the stores and the Outer Banks. We create our own designs—they are not available anywhere else—and we make sure they’re built to last. In fact, they hold up so well, they’ve traveled the world, and people have sent us photos from distant places and lands wearing our T-shirts.


Every year some designs really stick out, but one of the oldest designs we have is still one of the most popular. “I Flew Jockey’s Ridge” has been around so long no one can quite remember when it was introduced but after talking to some of former employees about the shirt, we know it’s been here for at least 20 years.

KHKtropicalWe try to keep things fun and sometimes funny with our designs—after all, flying a hang glider is fun! And we also know it’s a great way to remember a wonderful memory.

For anyone who is traveling to parts unknown and would like to send us a picture of a Kitty Hawk Kites T-Shirt, take the pic and reply to this blog.


Hang Gliding Spectacular-It’s Just Fun

Kitty Hawk Kites President and founder, John Harris, launching from Jockey's Ridge on Saturday.

Kitty Hawk Kites President and founder, John Harris, launching from Jockey’s Ridge on Saturday.

You can never tell who is going to show up at the Kitty Hawk Kites Hang Gliding Spectacular. Or perhaps better said—who’s going to fly.

The winds Saturday were strong, from the south and a little gusty. Over the past few years the best flying conditions have moved to the south face of Jockey’s Ridge, and there were a number of hang gliding pilots having some fun with what were good if challenging conditions.

And at the top of the ridge, there was company President and founder, John Harris, prepping gliders, holding the nose down as pilots strapped themselves in and talking wind conditions as pilots got ready to launch.

About the time pilots started leaving, was about the time John decided it was his turn—after all, he may have been the first person to fly a hang glider off the Nags Head dunes.  Forty-one years after he founded the company, John showed he still knows hang gliders. It was a beautiful flight . . . smooth, good distance and he stuck the landing.

“It’s just fun to get lifted off the ground and to be able to control the glider,” he said. “It brings back a lot of fond memories of flying.”

The Kitty Hawk Kites hang gliding school is the oldest and largest in the world, teaching from ages 4-92 how to fly. Really, that’s the ages they have taught to fly. It’s a great family memory and wonderful way to spend a day.

Adventure Excitement for Mother’s Day

Mom and daughters getting ready for a kiteboarding lesson at Kitty Hawk Kites Waves Village.

Mom and daughters getting ready for a kiteboarding lesson at Kitty Hawk Kites Waves Village.

With Mother’s Day coming up this Sunday the question many of us are asking is, “What does Mother want for Mother’s Day?”

Kitty Hawk Kites certainly has all the traditional jewelry, clothes and shoes that get put in a box, wrapped beautifully and opened to “oohs” and “ahhs”.
But Kitty Hawk Kites has a gift that almost no one else has—the gift of excitement.

Just because she’s your mother doesn’t mean she doesn’t want to soar above the dunes or skim across the water on a kiteboard.

Kiteboarding especially is a sport that is appealing to more and more mothers as gear becomes more specialized and better designed for the size and strength of  women. “The new kites that are out there are very depowerable, “ Nick Piacenza, Manager of the Kitty Hawk Kites kiteboarding school. What he means by that is the kites can be adjusted to the size of the user, so a smaller person is not overwhelmed by the power of the wind.

As more women try their hand at kiteboarding, the design of the equipment has become better suited for women. “When we give a lesson, we have gear for each individual,” Nick says.

Giving lessons from the the company’s Waves Village Watersports Resort in Waves, the conditions found on the Pamlico Sound are some of the best in the world for learning the sport. “We have steady southwest winds in the summer and shallow water in the sound,” Nick says. “It’s one of the few places in the world that are like that.”