The Outer Banks in North Carolina, or OBX, as it’s also called, is a great family beach destination for multi generation vacations! While there are many small towns in that area, our family loves Nags Head specifically! The houses are affordable, the beaches are spacious and beautiful and the atmosphere is very family friendly. Follow this family travel guide based on our last few years vacationing here!
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Last August we enjoyed our 3rd annual Outer Banks vacation before school started and we are on our way to booking this year’s trip! Granted last year was different than others with the many restrictions in place due to covid but we didn’t feel restricted in this mostly beach environment! This post is a Nags Head family travel guide from things we’ve enjoyed over the last 3 years, with and without socially distant restrictions.
Where to Stay
Rental Homes – OBX is known for large, multi level rental homes or all bedroom and bathroom amounts. We have gone on vacation three years in a row with my little family of four and my parents and we typically settle in a three level home in Nags Head. The layout we prefer has the kitchen and living room on the top level with a master suite and a mid-level with three bedrooms for our family (the girls still don’t share a room). They have all included a third bedroom and game room on the lowest level but we haven’t used those yet! We’ve rented from Joe Lamb and Resort Realtors the past few years and have been happy with all three homes chosen! Tip: Check the map on the host listings to make sure you near a beach access if you prefer not to drive, like us!
What to eat
We book houses with a full size kitchen and tend to hit the grocery store twice during our week long trip. We have been known to make tacos, meatballs and pasta and Grilled chicken three dinners of the week and fill in the rest with local restaurants in Nags Head and Kill Devil Hills.
Miller’s Waterfront Restaurant – Two years ago we discovered this gem of a restaurant which overlooks the Roanoke Sound in Nags heads. There’s an indoor portion for families and a bar style high top setup in an upper level for that afternoon type feel. In good weather, there is also an outdoor space where you can have a drink on Adirondack chairs while listening to the lap of the waves and some live music playing. You can walk out on a pier afterwards and watch the kite boarders and windsurfers that are out on the water. It’s great as a family friendly meal, but also as a date night as we’ve done both!
I Got Your Crabs – Our family loves blue claw crabs so we’ve ordered ahead and picked up these perfectly steamed and seasoned crabs the last few years. Order ahead and arrange for pickup!
Billy’s Seafood – This is more of a fish market than a take out joint, but their steamed crabs and shrimp were MEGA sized and perfectly cooked whenever we got them!
Mulligan’s Grille – If you can’t tell, we prefer to get seafood when down in Nags Head and this local family friendly restaurant is yummy all hours of the day!
Snowbird OBX – One of our first rental homes was only a few doors down from this burger and ice cream joint. It had a constant flow of visitors for lunch, dinner and after dinner hours so we had to try it for ourselves! We’ve enjoyed both a juicy burger and cold ice cream here and would love to return again!
Sooey’s BBQ – We’ve been known to order pulled pork and other BBQ delights from this local joint at least once during our vacations each year!
Things to do
North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island – If you’re looking to do something with the kids other than enjoying the beach, make a trip over to Roanoke Island and visit this cute aquarium. We spent a cloudy morning there one afternoon and the girls were entertained with their large tanks and exhibits.
Their interactive Sea Turtle Rescue exhibit was very unique as each child got to don a white lab coat, choose a fake turtle toy and bring it over to all sorts of mock equipment to learn how to care for sick turtles and how they nurse them back to health. You’re able to see some live turtles who were being cared for there after you learned more in this please-touch-me style exhibit.
Ghost Crab hunting – Ghost crabs roam all over the beaches in this area and while they do pop their heads out on the sand during the daytime, they run amok at night! Bring some glow sticks, flashlights and a bucket and have fun roaming the beach after dark finding these little critters.
Fly kites at Jockey Ridge State park – Some rental homes have kites, including the one we stayed at last year. Tip: Park at Kitty Hawk Kites and walk across the street for an easy entrance to this huge sand dune!
Hit the beach – Personally we tend to look for beach houses that are “on the beach road” and have mostly stayed in houses on Virginia Dare Trail so we have a short walk to our daily beach destination.
Crabbing and Fishing – We’ve found a spot we liked under a bridge where we caught a fair share of crabs two days in a row! Bring your equipment (and your sunscreen) for a fun morning catching lunch.