September 1, 2013
In the Outer Banks, off the coast of North Carolina, September does not signal the end of playful summer days, but rather the promise of perfect temperatures and fewer crowds. With average highs in the upper seventies and mild weather continuing through December, locals often name fall as the Outer Banks’ best season. It is truly a Mecca for outdoor activities, from beach bumming to fishing to parasailing, and the cooler temperatures provide the ideal climate for hours spent outdoors. Should the air conditioning call your name, restaurants, shops, and spas are both plentiful and top-notch.
The Outer Banks can be divided into four areas: the northern beaches, Roanoke Island, Dare Mainland, and Hatteras Island. Each offers something unique, whether you prefer the stretches of public beach space and charming shops of the north, or the history-laden Roanoke Island, the site of the first English colony in early America. Access between the four areas is fairly easy; you can explore all the Outer Banks has to offer no matter where you decide to stay.
Many vacationers choose to rent homes, so there are many resources available for finding the perfect rental, such as Cove Realty and Sun Realty. However, if the amenities of a hotel are preferred, check out the Sanderling Resort or the Surfside Hotel. Located in the town of Duck, the Sanderling Resort offers the comforts of a spa, pool, and golf course; provides lessons in various water sports; and offers boats and equipment for rent. Extensive amenities come at a hefty cost, however, and rates at the Sanderling start at $299 per night. A more economical option, the Surfside Hotel in Nags Head, sits oceanfront and offers the distinctive sights and sounds that only the beach can provide. Starting at $134 per night, the Surfside is great for those who prefer the outdoors, and simply want a comfortable bed at the end of the day.
Your trip to the Outer Banks should include samplings of the area’s finest seafood and local, coastal cuisine. The Brine & Bottle in Nags Head is a highly rated restaurant featuring local, seasonal ingredients with a variety of small plates and a handful of seafood-heavy entrees. You can wet your palate with unique starters like their famous bacon jam and saltines, or a watermelon brulée with whipped cow’s milk cheese. Entrées like the Hatteras tuna loin and seared black bass give you a taste of the island life. Dinner portions at the Brine & Bottle average about $27 and small plates range from $7 to $14. For something a bit more casual—but with stunning ocean views—try The Black Pelican in Kitty Hawk, which serves globally inspired dishes like southern fried flounder and shrimp or wood-fired pizza. The Black Pelican is a great family restaurant with an unbeatable beach setting.
The Outer Banks attracts many visitors to its beautiful beaches, and there is certainly nothing wrong with passing an entire day in the sand and surf. However, if you are looking to satisfy your adventurous side, or perhaps revel in the natural wonders of the islands, there is plenty for you to do. The Kitty Hawk Kites Kiteboarding Resort has been called the best North American resort destination for watersports, and offers lessons or rentals in kiteboarding, surfing, and kayaking. Whether you are a first-timer or a pro, the experienced staff at Kitty Hawk is willing to teach you the ropes and ensure a safe adventure. If you are more intrigued by a land-based escapade, visit the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge in Manns Harbor, and explore its 150,000 acres of wetland habitats and vast collection of wildlife. The refuge offers hiking trails, observation platforms, and areas for fishing and kayaking.
The Outer Banks is also full of history (Roanoke Island was America’s first colony), so take time to explore the museums, civil war trail, and historical sites scattered over the islands. Lighthouses are also an important part of the Outer Banks’ history, serving as guards for the coast and signals for sea-travelers. Go to Outerbanks.com for a map of the lighthouses, as well as the historical background of each lighthouse.
While it may seem by September that summer has slipped by, beach time is far from over. Fall is the ideal time to take a trip to the Outer Banks, and you are sure to come back relaxed and rejuvenated.
Photos courtesy of Outerbanks.org.