Nags Head

Nags Head is a great place to spend time on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Visitors come for vacation and locals stay year-round to experience paradise on earth. Filled with beach houses, seaside motels, and boutique shops, there is something for everyone to enjoy while taking in breathtaking views and extraordinary nature. See for yourself why people are flocking to Nags Head, Outer Banks.

Nags Head

The name ‘Nags Head’ is said to come from the stretch of coast named Graveyard of the Atlantic in the Outer Banks where shipwrecks were common back in the day. The hidden shoals and offshore sandbars are perfect for creating shipwrecks. Someone is said to have tied lanterns around old farm horses and led the ‘nags’ along dune ridges. The swaying, rocking lights look like lanterns hung from ships and when the lights were seen, ships at sea could head closer to safe waters. Mistakenly heading for these lights, the pirates would lure the ships to wreck and still their bounty. Thus the name ‘Nags Head’ was born. 

Nags Head serves up great restaurants for dining in a beautiful location. From casual eateries to high-class eateries, there is a cuisine for every palate. Fishing piers offer space to make a fresh catch, parks are open for exploring, and the water is warm and inviting.  Bordered by Oregon Inlet on the south and Cape Hatteras National Seashore along with Roanoke Sound to the west followed by Kill Devil Hills to the North, Nags Head is at a wide point in the Outer Banks with lots of room to enjoy surf and sand.

Nags Head

Nags Head on the Outer Banks can be accessed by U.S. Highway 158 (the Bypass or Croatan Highway), which stretches from Kill Devil Hills to the Oregon Inlet Bridge. The town itself is 36 miles long and includes Pond, Horse, and Cedar Islands. Nags Head is located between mileposts 10 and 25, and green signs are used on the island to mark addresses. It is one of the bigger towns on the island, south of Kill Devil Hills.

What to Do

Lots of activities are available for visitors to Nags Heads. Kill Devil Hills and Kitty Hawk aren’t too far. The island is accessible to everyone on the highway so why not start with the best options?

Nags Head Beach

hit the shore, spend time in the dunes, or watch dolphins play in the water. Relax in the sun and walk the beach in Nags Head. Many public beach access points exist to enjoy. Nags Head Ocean Rescue provides stationary and mobile lifeguard units from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Memorial Day through Labor Day.

Nags Head Activities

Hang glide, skateboard, hit the adventure parks, and do lots of fishing. Kill Devil Hills offers a comedy club, hiking in Jockey’s Ridge Soundside Nature Trail, tennis courts, and a movie theater. Spend time hitting the links at golf courses or spend time at a local spa and salon.  Rent a bike to go exploring. The towns offer lots of pedestrian and pedal-friendly spaces to get around. Check out several rental shops in the area including e-bikes and child seats or carriers if needed. Browse through kayaks, paddleboards, boogie boards, and more while you browse bike rentals. Stop by Jockey Ridge State Park, a popular attraction with a visitor’s center, museum, and wooden boardwalk. This park is also home to the tallest living dune on the East Coast. Give sandboarding a try or watch the sunset off the trails. Kids might love the Full Throttle Speedway with a go-kart track for racing which includes concessions like nibbles and ice cream. Take a visit to Bodie Island, a pretty island escape with a lighthouse and boardwalk with views of the saltwater marshes. Stop by Nags Head Woods Preserve to explore the reserve’s quiet natural beauty. Finally, visit Jennette’s Pier with views of the coast and world-class fishing. The Pier also features fish and aquariums along with science exhibits.

Nags Head Dining & Shopping

Get a bite to eat at some great restaurants in Nags Head. Start at Blue Moon Beach Grill with southern comfort food at a budget-friendly level. The menu has delicious Caribbean Jerk tuna bites, crab-stuffed Flounder, mussels, fried green tomatoes, and more. Try the Outer Banks Fishing Pier for a taste of fresh seafood at Fish Heads Bar and Grill. Enjoy the view as you eat at a bar or table with warm sunshine on your back. Taste some sweet treats from Booty Treats Ice Cream after a hot day. Just across from Admiral Street Public Beach Access. Sam and Omi’s is across from Jennette’s Pier. Opened in the mid-50s, they offer a charming seaside far in a little shack reminiscent of old towns in the Outer Banks. Owen’s Restaurant is the oldest same-family-owned restaurant for over 75 years. Try many other places to get fresh food for the family or little upscale joints. There is a place for everyone’s palate to feel delighted in Nags Head.

Nags Head Accommodations

Stay in one of the many rental houses, hotels, motels, or bed and breakfast accommodations on the island. Every place will have its charm and comfort. When you travel, consider what you like when you go. From resorts to small cottages or family-owned houses for rent, there are many places for everyone to enjoy. All of them will offer close access to beaches because the Outer Banks is small and sand and surf are never far away!