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Free Things To Do in Outer Banks

If you have extra time, Cape Hatteras National Seashore is worthwhile.

#1

#1 in Outer Banks

Free
The beaches in the Outer Banks stretch for more than 100 miles along barrier islands that frame the eastern coast of North Carolina. These sands are known for their cleanliness and their family friendliness. Each beach has something different to offer travelers, but take note that lifeguards are on duty on all beaches – except Duck – between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
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Beaches Type
Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend
Outer Banks Beaches
The beaches in the Outer Banks stretch for more than 100 miles along barrier islands that frame the eastern coast of North Carolina. These sands are known for their cleanliness and their family friendliness. Each beach has something different to offer travelers, but take note that lifeguards are on duty on all beaches – except Duck – between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
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#2

#2 in Outer Banks

Free
The most popular part of Nags Head (aside from the oceanfront) is Jockey's Ridge State Park, home to the tallest sand dune on the east coast. You can reach the top two ways: either a 1½-mile long sand-covered trail (do this in shoes as the sand can get unbearably hot) or use the 360-foot boardwalk to walk to the top. Once at the peak, you can tap into your adventurous side by sandboarding (which requires a free permit from the park office), take hang gliding lessons from Kitty Hawk Kites or relive your childhood and simply fly a kite. Just remember to bring your own kite or sandboard along with you. For nature enthusiasts, the park also has several other trails you can wander and spot fulgurites (glass tubes formed when lightning hits the sand) – but removal of them is not allowed. Recent visitors said it's a great experience for the whole family, and the top of the dunes provide stunning panoramic views. 
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Parks and Gardens Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Jockey's Ridge State Park
The most popular part of Nags Head (aside from the oceanfront) is Jockey's Ridge State Park, home to the tallest sand dune on the east coast. You can reach the top two ways: either a 1½-mile long sand-covered trail (do this in shoes as the sand can get unbearably hot) or use the 360-foot boardwalk to walk to the top. Once at the peak, you can tap into your adventurous side by sandboarding (which requires a free permit from the park office), take hang gliding lessons from Kitty Hawk Kites or relive your childhood and simply fly a kite. Just remember to bring your own kite or sandboard along with you. For nature enthusiasts, the park also has several other trails you can wander and spot fulgurites (glass tubes formed when lightning hits the sand) – but removal of them is not allowed. Recent visitors said it's a great experience for the whole family, and the top of the dunes provide stunning panoramic views. 
... more

#3

#3 in Outer Banks

Free
The Cape Hatteras National Seashore stretches for miles and tempts visitors with its well-kept sands and rolling waves. While many visitors come to soak up the sun along the Atlantic's sands, you should devote some time to the seashore's other attractions, most notably the lighthouse.
... more
Beaches Type
Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend
Cape Hatteras National Seashore
The Cape Hatteras National Seashore stretches for miles and tempts visitors with its well-kept sands and rolling waves. While many visitors come to soak up the sun along the Atlantic's sands, you should devote some time to the seashore's other attractions, most notably the lighthouse.
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#5

#5 in Outer Banks

Free
Before 1875, ships sailing by the North Carolina coast faced an 80-mile "blind spot" between Bodie Island and Virginia's Cape Henry. Then the Currituck Beach Lighthouse in Corolla was created. To this day, the lighthouse still functions and orients incoming boats. If you have visited other lighthouses, you may notice something a bit different about this one – the exterior was never painted and still maintains its original exposed brick (approximately a million of them!). Today, you can get your heart pumping and climb the 220 steps for gorgeous views of the area from the top. Afterward, pick up nautical-themed souvenirs at the gift shop (located in a small house that was probably part of the keeper's residence).
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Sightseeing Type
Less than 1 hour Time to Spend
Currituck Beach Lighthouse
Before 1875, ships sailing by the North Carolina coast faced an 80-mile "blind spot" between Bodie Island and Virginia's Cape Henry. Then the Currituck Beach Lighthouse in Corolla was created. To this day, the lighthouse still functions and orients incoming boats. If you have visited other lighthouses, you may notice something a bit different about this one – the exterior was never painted and still maintains its original exposed brick (approximately a million of them!). Today, you can get your heart pumping and climb the 220 steps for gorgeous views of the area from the top. Afterward, pick up nautical-themed souvenirs at the gift shop (located in a small house that was probably part of the keeper's residence).
... more
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