The beautiful Outer Banks town of Corolla.

7 Most Charming Cities In The Outer Banks

Home to the most picturesque beaches and tallest dunes in the eastern United States, the Outer Banks is a string of peninsula and barrier islands stretching over 100 miles of Atlantic seashore off the coast of North Carolina. Visit the location of the Wright brothers' first flight, Ocracoke, where the pirate Blackbeard fought his last battle and the hundreds of seaside excursions worth taking advantage of. With over 300 shipwrecks to explore, the islands are one of the nation's most spectacular and unique vacation destinations. Check out some of the most charming cities in the Outer Banks, known for their popularity as the best getaways on the East Coast. 

Ocracoke Island

Aerial View of the Harbor and buildings surrounding Silver Lake on Ocracoke Island in North Carolina
Aerial view of the harbor and buildings surrounding Silver Lake on Ocracoke Island in North Carolina.

Ocracoke is a single island located in the southernmost part of the Outer Banks that can only be accessed by ferry, offering a unique experience right from the start. The secluded space is home to the second oldest working lighthouse in the United States and architectural buildings that date back past the 1700s. This quaint and cozy small town is one of the top destinations when visiting the Outer Banks for its history as the location of pirate Blackbeard's last battle. All of the great seashore experiences are matched with epic access to wildlife and natural wonders. Walk up to a wild pony or spend some time birdwatching beside one of the world's most historic lighthouses. The Ocracoke Islands offer one of the most natural and historic environments in North Carolina. 

Nags Head

The beach at Nags Head.
The beach at Nags Head.

Located in the central region of the Outer Banks, Nags Head is a popular destination for its proximity to attractions, bustling community, and vibrant culture. Home to Jockey's Ridge State Park, the Northern Beaches has cool sand dunes with sandy shores by the water that are popular for their hidden sandbars. Known as The Graveyard of the Atlantic because of all the shipwrecks that occurred in the area and home to Jennette's Pier, Nags Head holds the iconic imagery of the Outer Banks in its soil. Experience the culture of the Outer Banks fishing off the pier and enjoying some seafood on the beach while watching the sunset.

Roanoke Island

Antique ship Elizabeth II in Roanoke Island Festival Park, Roanoke Island, Outer banks
Antique ship Elizabeth II in Roanoke Island Festival Park, Roanoke Island, Outer Banks.

Roanoke Island, also called Manteo, is home to some of the most important American history and culture in the Outer Banks. This small town sits next to the Northern Beaches and boasts a town life that feels like taking a trip back in time. Home to a vintage movie theater and Fort Raleigh National Historic Site, visitors can immerse themselves in the culture of North Carolina and step inside the charm of old America. Walk through the luxurious Elizabethan Gardens and breathe in the smell of flora and fauna unique to the area. Roanoke Island gives off a small-town feel with a big impact. Centuries-old shops and unique culinary experiences make Roanoke one of the greatest places to experience in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. 

Kitty Hawk

The first flight of the Wright Brothers happened near Kitty Hawk.

One of the most iconic of all the beach towns in the Outer Banks is Kitty Hawk. Associated with the Wright Brothers for its proximity to Kill Devil Hills, where they took their first flight, Kitty Hawk offers visitors a mix of history and sunshine. Kitty Hawk is the home to the most charming beach homes that line up along the seashore, offering visitors a unique experience to immerse themselves in the natural life of North Carolina. Check out Kitty Hawk Woods Coastal Reserve to observe the surreal maritime forests, or visit the Wright Brothers Memorial to gain some insight into the science of takeoff. Explore swampy forests, blissful marshes, and unique ecosystems of the Outer Banks. Kitty Hawk brings together Latino culture, seaside dining, and beach relaxation to provide one of the greatest vacations in the Outer Banks. 


Wild ponies in Corolla beach.
Wild horses at Corolla beach.

The second most northern town in all of the Outer Banks, Corolla is known for its luxury appeal. A resort town, Corolla is home to luxury spas, boutique shopping experiences, and five-star restaurants. Visiting this high-end Outer Banks area provides a relaxing experience and unprecedented access to wild horses, the Wild Colonial Spanish Mustangs. Somewhat secluded, Corolla keeps its old town charm with ranch-style architecture, serene landscapes, and fantastic views of the sun setting over the smooth, glassy water. 


Homes on stilts in Buxton, North Carolina.
Homes on stilts in Buxton, North Carolina.

The village of Buxton is located on Hatteras Island in the Outer Banks and is home to the Buxton Woods, a very rare and dense maritime forest. This charming location is home to the iconic black-and-white striped lighthouse, which overlooks a rural area of the island. The village sits within the woods under the canopy of trees, with schoolhouses, general stores, and other small-town shops displaced amidst the woods. Visit the Buxton Woods Coastal Preserve, where many homes are not connected to the roads but are located within the lush landscape like remote camps. The rural village environment makes Buxton one of the most unique locations in the Outer Banks and a must-see for anyone visiting North Carolina. 


The town of Duck in the Outer Banks.
The town of Duck in the Outer Banks.

The little town of Duck is one of the Outer Banks' most frequented waterfront destinations. An 11-acre park with a maritime forest, amphitheater, shelters, willow swamp, and boardwalk is the main attraction in Duck. A short walk away from restaurants, boutiques, and cultural landmarks, Duck has everything a visitor could want, all in one quaint location. This exclusive town offers beachside home rentals and no private access to the grounds for visitors allowing those who vacation there to feel comfortable and relax in a quiet and slow-paced culture. Duck evolved from a history of hunting waterfowl, and hundreds flocked to the area for the specialty experience. Duck is one of the prime locations in the Outer Banks for its exclusive experiences, serene surroundings, and private access. 

Aquatic wonders, wild horses, shipwrecks, and lighthouses describe the charming towns located in the Outer Banks off the coast of North Carolina. The region offers some of the greatest experiences that North Carolina has to offer and holds the most unique ecological environments on the eastern coast of the Atlantic Ocean. The most charming towns in the Outer Banks offer opportunities for accessing luxury, wildlife, and outdoor experiences that are unlike any other in all of the United States.

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