Outer Banks Scenic Drives and Coastal Road Trips

Outer Banks Scenic Drives

Outer Banks Scenic Drives and Coastal Road Trips

The Outer Banks (OBX) offers some of the most picturesque scenic drives and coastal road trips in the country. This guide highlights the best routes to explore, providing stunning views and opportunities to discover charming towns and natural landmarks.

Scenic Routes in the Outer Banks

NC Highway 12

NC Highway 12 is perhaps the most iconic scenic drive in the Outer Banks, stretching from Corolla to Ocracoke Island. This route offers breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Pamlico Sound on the other. Along the way, drivers can explore historic lighthouses, wildlife refuges, and pristine beaches.

This highway traverses the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, providing ample opportunities to stop and enjoy the natural beauty of the area. Key highlights include the Bodie Island Lighthouse, the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge, and the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse.

Roanoke Island

A drive around Roanoke Island offers a mix of history and scenic beauty. Start in the town of Manteo, where you can visit the Roanoke Island Festival Park and the Elizabethan Gardens. The drive around the island features charming coastal views and lush landscapes.

Don’t miss the Fort Raleigh National Historic Site, which commemorates the first English settlement in the New World. The island’s picturesque downtown area offers quaint shops, local eateries, and waterfront views that are perfect for a leisurely afternoon.

Croatan Highway

The Croatan Highway (US 158) is another scenic route that runs through the heart of the Outer Banks. This highway provides access to several popular beach towns, including Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills, and Nags Head. The drive offers a mix of ocean views and local attractions.

Highlights along this route include the Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kill Devil Hills and Jockey’s Ridge State Park in Nags Head, home to the tallest natural sand dune system in the eastern United States.

Coastal Road Trips

Duck to Corolla

A road trip from Duck to Corolla is a must for anyone visiting the Outer Banks. This stretch of road, part of NC Highway 12, offers stunning coastal views and a chance to explore some of the most picturesque towns in the OBX. In Duck, enjoy waterfront dining and unique boutiques before heading north.

In Corolla, visit the historic Whalehead Club and the Currituck Beach Lighthouse. Don’t forget to take a wild horse tour to see the famous Corolla wild horses, descendants of Spanish Mustangs.

Hatteras Island to Ocracoke Island

A road trip from Hatteras Island to Ocracoke Island combines scenic beauty with a sense of adventure. Start your journey by driving along NC Highway 12 through the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, stopping at landmarks like the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse.

Take the ferry from Hatteras Village to Ocracoke Island, a 60-minute ride that offers stunning views of the Pamlico Sound. On Ocracoke, explore the island’s charming village, visit the Ocracoke Lighthouse, and relax on its secluded beaches.

Tips for a Memorable Drive

Plan Your Stops

Make the most of your scenic drive by planning your stops ahead of time. Research points of interest along your route, including lighthouses, parks, and historical sites. This ensures you don’t miss any must-see attractions.

Pack Essentials

Pack essentials like water, snacks, sunscreen, and a camera. Having these items on hand makes your trip more comfortable and allows you to capture the beautiful landscapes along the way.

Check Ferry Schedules

If your route includes ferry rides, like the one from Hatteras to Ocracoke, check the schedules in advance. Arrive early to ensure you get a spot on the ferry, especially during peak travel times.

Respect the Environment

The Outer Banks is home to delicate ecosystems and protected areas. Respect the environment by staying on designated paths, not disturbing wildlife, and disposing of trash properly.

The Outer Banks offers some of the most scenic drives and coastal road trips, perfect for exploring the natural beauty and charming towns of the region. Whether you’re driving along NC Highway 12, exploring Roanoke Island, or taking a ferry to Ocracoke, there’s no shortage of stunning views and memorable experiences. Plan your trip today and discover the scenic routes of the Outer Banks.

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