This string of barrier islands off the coast of North Carolina (and part of Virginia) was first settled by the English. Some of their descendants remain, as do their speech patterns. Namely, the “Banks brogue,” a British.esque accent that visitors will hear when they talk to locals. The Outer Banks is made up of historic towns with craggy shorelines, dramatic dunes, some of the oldest lighthouses in the United States, and herds of wild horses. Sportsmen, surfers, historians, or simply those seeking solace will find it ideal for a weekend getaway.
THE WRIGHT STUFF
The Wright Brothers National Memorial, scene of the first flight, displays full.scale reproductions of the duo’s 1902 glider and 1903 flying machine in the visitor center. While you’re there, try scaling Big Kill Devil Hill, a 90-foot dune adjacent to the memorial. At the top, a 60-foot granite monument memorializes the Wrights’ early glider experiments.
SEE THE LIGHT
Cape Hatteras marks the easternmost point of the Outer Banks. Perched at its tip is the iconic black-and-white-striped Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, built in 1803. Visitors can climb the 248 stairs to the top from the third Friday in April through Columbus Day. Nearby, you can hike around the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge, a favorite of bird-watchers.
One of the longest.running shows in America (besides Cats and Phantom of the Opera) is The Lost Colony, a retelling of the history of Roanoke Island that includes “epic battles and Native American dances.” It has been performed at an outdoor waterside theater every year since 1937 and claims to be the precursor of the modern musical. Visitors are in the middle of the action, thanks to a stage area that allows actors to perform on three sides of the audience and sometimes in the aisles.
There’s no shortage of seafood restaurants on the Outer Banks. Tortugas’ Lie is still a favorite after almost 25 years. It’s a casual spot, decorated like a surf shack; the huge menu includes steamers, spiced shrimp, snow.crab legs, and, on Wednesday night, sushi galore. Down on Hatteras, sort of hidden in the Kitty Hawk Kites Kiteboarding Resort, is Good Winds restaurant and wine bar. Its waterside location draws a sundowner crowd, but the seafood.centric menu keeps ’em coming at all hours of the day. Everybody raves about the mahimahi fish tacos with “special sauce,” the fried.seafood baskets (from scallops to popcorn shrimp) and the Friday fish fry, when live music is performed.
If seafood isn’t your thing, the Outer Banks is also home to country’s first wind.powered brewery, the Outer Banks Brewing Station. Seven hand.crafted options are on tap, including an IPA and a stout.
Wright Brothers National Memorial: U.S. Hwy. 158, Kill Devil Hills; 1.252.441.7430; nps.gov/wrbr
Cape Hatteras Lighthouse: 46368 Old Lighthouse Rd., Buxton; 1.252.473.2111; nps.gov/caha/historyculture/cape.hatteras.light.station.htm
Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge: Manteo; 1.252.987.2394; fws.gov/peaisland
The Lost Colony: 1409 National Park Dr., Manteo; 1.252.473.6000; thelostcolony.org
Tortugas’ Lie: 3014 S. Virginia Dare Trail, Nags Head; 1.252.441.7299; tortugaslie.com
Good Winds: 24502 Hwy. 12, Rodanthe; 1.252.987.1100; goodwindsrestaurant.com
Outer Banks Brewing Station: 600 S. Croatan Hwy., Kill Devil Hills; 1.252.499.2739; obbrewing.com