A Bit of History
Let’s see, some of the more popular data about the Outer Banks is that the first English child, Virginia Dare, was born on Roanoke Island in 1587, years before the pilgrims landed at Plymouth. Eventually little Virginia and the entire colony became known as “The Lost Colony” and their disappearance is still a mystery.
In the 1900s the Wright Brothers made the Outer Banks popular when they pulled off the first successful flight in a motor-driven machine. Remember Kitty Hawk – their first flight was south of that now famous area at a place called Kill Devil Hill.
A lesser-known fact is that the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, part of the Outer Banks, includes 28,000 acres and was the first seashore established by the government.
It’s easy to get around on the Outer Banks and the place holds some surprises as you travel around the area.
Road to Roanoke
Roanoke Island Park
Enjoy Elizabethan Gardens where there are plants that bloom year round. A tranquil place to visit, the gardens were designed by landscape architects, M. Umberto Innocenti and Richard Webel.
The Lost Colony play is performed at the Waterside Theatre on Roanoke Island from early June to late August each night except Sunday at 8:30 p.m. The theatre is actually built in the same spot where America’s first English settlers lived over 400 years ago.
Take a trip to the Roanoke Adventure Museum. It’s an interactive museum detailing the history of the island including Elizabethan costumes, ships ready to set sail and a reminder that pirates also inhabited the area.
One of the most popular sightseeing trips while visiting the Outer Banks is the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. It’s tall, standing 208 feet high. In fact, it’s the tallest brick lighthouse in the United States. The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse has probably saved many a ship in the waters off the coast of the Outer Banks, known as “The Graveyard of the Atlantic” because of the unpredictable currents and storms that have shipwrecked many a ship.
In 1999 The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse was moved or it would have ended up in the graveyard itself because of the erosion and waves from the ocean.
Other lighthouses you should visit during your trip to the Outer Banks are The Bodie Island Lighthouse built in 1847 and located near the entrance to the Cape Hatteras National Seashore; The Oracoke Lighthouse on Oracoke Island and the Currituck Beach Lighthouse, which began its career in 1875.
Outdoor Activities and More
Kitty Hawk Kites is the largest gliding school in the world. Lessons are required, but worth it as you soar through the air just like the Wright Brothers did so many years ago.
The best place to hang glide in the area is Jockey’s Ridge State Park, the largest sand dune on the East Coast.
North Carolina Aquarium offers a glimpse at the ocean life living around the area. One of the best features of the place is the 285,000-gallon ocean tank with the remains of the recreated USS Monitor shipwreck. There are from 50 to 250 species living at the Aquarium and from 500 to 2,000 specimens.
There are many places to stay on the Outer Banks, but pick an Inn and get the best experience. Or, if you’re interested in a more relaxed visit rent a house on the beach and just be a bum during your vacation.
Inn by the water, North Carolina
Best place to Stay
Tranquil House Inn
Queen Elizabeth Street
Manteo, North Carolina 27954
Right on the water, the rooms are clean, large and worth a stay.
For a place on the beach:
Lighthouse View Motel-Cottages
As for eating, well of course there’s seafood, but don’t forget to try that great southern specialty at least once, grits.
Best place to Eat:
Expensive: Elizabeth’s Café and Winery– Awarded a Millennium Ward as one of America’s top 100 restaurants over a 10 year period from the International Restaurant and Hospitality Rating Bureau.
1177 Duck Road, Suite 11
Scarborough Faire Shops
Duck, North Carolina 27949
Inexpensive: Weeping Radish
Manteo, North Carolina
Rita Cook lives in Los Angeles and is the editor of Premier Bride magazine. She also has a romance novel coming out this winter called “Angel’s Destiny”.
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