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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Hang gliding student “Lives the Dream” and shares her experiences on film

We got an email this week from Sara Close. She’s the star/student in a new film called “Live the Dream,” which “follows the course of on girl’s dream to learn to fly.” Sara, it just so happens, is that girl.

She and the filmaker, Seth Warren, have launched a fundraising campaign on Kickstarter.com to raise the funds to finish and premier the film. The film trailer’s beautiful, and if it’s any indication of the quality of the finished product, we’re excited about what’s to come.

If you’d like to donate to the cause, click here.

Hope and Hang Gliding: The ChemoBabe Takes Flight

Lani Horn has three kids, a PhD from Berkeley, and a tenured teaching post at Vanderbilt University. And stage-three breast cancer.

The diagnosis came back in 2009, just four months after Lani and her husband, Adam, moved their family to Nashville, TN. Lani says her first reaction to the news was: “How is this supposed to work?” No one puts cancer in their five-year plan, after all.

Lani’s doctors began aggressive treatment — the “full battery,” she calls it — including those terrible twins: radiation and chemotherapy. Lani doesn’t bother sugarcoating the experience. “I was really, really sick. Some women are heroic and strong during treatment; I wasn’t.” Fatigue and impairment became familiar companions.

It wasn’t long before the bills confirmed what they had already expected: fighting for your life is expensive. In one year alone, they paid nearly $20,000 in out-of-pocket medical expenses — “and that’s with great insurance!” Lani adds emphatically. Strapped financially, Lani and Adam had to say “no to so many things” their kids asked to do. There’s a tinge of sadness in her voice when she talks about this — one that’s noticeably absent when she talks about her own struggles.

So, when an invitation came to spend a week on the Outer Banks completely free of charge, it was nice for Lani and Adam to be able, at long last, to reply with– in Lani’s words — a “big ole’ yes!”

That invitation came from Jeanine Patten-Coble, founder of the Little Pink Houses of Hope, a Raleigh, NC-based nonprofit whose mission is to provide breast cancer survivors with opportunities to reconnect with their families during and after their cancer battles, which, Jeanine points out, is a battle that impacts the whole family, not just the patient. By the way, Jeanine knows a thing or two about breast cancer: she’s a survivor, too.

The idea for the Little Pink Houses of Hope project was born during Jeanine’s own battle with breast cancer and her desire to “do something amazing” with her diagnosis. And amazing things have happened. This year, the organization will host six different retreats up and down the coasts of North and South Carolina — and no survivor or family member ever pays a cent. The cottages, the meals, the entertainment, the activities are all donated by local businesses and private homeowners. When Jeanine contacted us about donating a hang gliding experience, we were excited to be able to provide a diversion for these much-deserving survivors. So excited, in fact, that we said why stop with hang gliding? and donated a kayak tour, too.

Lani says it’s impossible to adequately describe what the Outer Banks retreat meant to her family. “When you have cancer, it’s a challenge to give your kids your best, and your world becomes really small,” Lani says. The retreat, though, provided a chance for the Horns to remove themselves from the day-to-day struggles of survival.

Lani’s four-year-old particularly enjoyed hang gliding at Jockey’s Ridge State Park. “He thought he was Buzz Lightyear, running up and down those dunes.” She and her oldest had some valuable one-on-one time while sharing a kayak on the Kitty Hawk Kites Safari River Tour, and she says Adam, who paddled with their middle daughter, was so happy he couldn’t stop singing.

“The people of [the Outer Banks] were so generous, and we were moved by the outpouring of support from the community,” Lani says. She says the experience has given them a newfound affection for the Outer Banks.

Lani says the trip was “restorative,” and we think that’s a pretty high compliment to the businesses who make the Outer Banks a great place to play and a great place to live. And while the battle hasn’t been won yet, doctors tell Lani that her outlook is good. You can learn more about Lani’s journey with cancer on her blog: www.chemobabe.com.