North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island#10 in Best Things To Do in Outer Banks
If you want to see what animals you're sharing the water with when you're splashing around on the Outer Banks beaches, head to Roanoke to the North Carolina Aquarium. Its main feature is the Graveyard of the Atlantic exhibit. Models of remains of the USS Monitor make up the home for giant turtles and sharks in the 285,000-gallon tank found in the Ironclad Sanctuary exhibit. Throughout the rest of the aquarium, you'll find a variety of other marine critters, including alligators, otters, frogs and plenty of fish. If the kids are itching for a hands-on experience, head to the Sea Turtle Rescue exhibit, where they can touch turtles while learning about efforts to protect these creatures.
Some recent visitors said the aquarium is rather small, but still say it's worth a visit with interesting exhibits and animals to see. Keep in mind that the aquarium sees the most crowds on rainy days and during the summer.
To get to the North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island, travelers will need to take a car or taxi due to the lack of public transportation to and from the area. The aquarium is open daily (except Thanksgiving and Christmas) from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets cost $12.95 for adults, while seniors, military personnel and children between 3 and 12 receive reduced rates. Kids ages 2 and younger or travelers who visit on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day or Veterans Day get in for free. Once inside, visitors have access to all of the aquarium's exhibits, a gift shop, a cafe and restrooms, plus interactive experiences like animal feedings, animal encounters and educational talks with the property's divers. Shark dives, behind-the-scenes experiences and day camps are also available for an additional fee. For more information about the aquarium, visit the attraction's website.
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#1 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 between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
The shores at Hatteras Island are known for their fishing and sailing (the lighthouse at Cape Hatteras is the tallest in the United States) as well as their campgrounds and 4x4 beach driving. The northern shores (specifically Kitty Hawk and Kill Devils Hills) are ideal for water sports like surfing and skimboarding, as they see more waves than the southern beaches. Nags Head also completed a 12-mile beach nourishment program that widened the sands so visitors have more room to spread out. Travelers should be mindful that the public parking is limited in Southern Shores. Those bringing their four-legged friend can head to Duck where dogs are allowed to be off their leash as long as they're under control.
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