The Kid-Approved Parent Guide to the OBX
Hey parents, this one's for you! We've rounded up some of the best family-friendly attractions and things to do during your Outer Banks vacation. Beach time reigns supreme, but here are some other ideas for quality time together during your stay on the OBX. They are all kid-tested and kid-approved!
Also at the end of this post, check out the wonderful local resource that's free to you and helps keep you up-to-date on all of the kid-centric activities that happen on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. It's a great go-to reference for families whether you live or vacation here.
It should also come as no surprise that the Outer Banks was recently named Best Family Beach Destination in America. There is so much to do on the beach and off, it just makes sense that it's a vacation destination that pleases those of all ages and interests. Not to mention the stunning natural beauty found on the North Carolina coastline. It's the whole package.
So, let's get back to the kid-approved favorites every parent should know. Here are our top picks!
Kid-Friendly OBX AttractionsYou really can't go wrong with any of the attractions on the Outer Banks as they all offer so many opportunities for fun and learning. But, we've chosen a few of our extra special OBX attractions that cater to the young and young-at-heart. Put them on your beach vacation itinerary. You'll be glad you did!
Located three miles north of Manteo, the NC Aquarium on Roanoke Island offers a world of wonder and is a family favorite for all ages on the Outer Banks. The waters of the Outer Banks are waiting to be discovered. Marvel at the largest collection of sharks in the state. Interact with SCUBA divers. See an alligator. Touch the stingrays. Wonder at the playful river otters. Witness the conservation efforts in the Sea Turtle Assistance and Rehabilitation (STAR) Center. And that's just the beginning of your aquarium experience. Enjoy their kid-friendly special events, behind-the-scenes tours and outdoor programs, too.
Located at Buccaneer's Walk Center in Kill Devil Hills, the Outer Banks Children At Play Museum is a small but dynamic family interactive museum designed to encourage families to learn and grow together through play. Immerse yourself in real Outer Banks life as your child plays in and around the 25-foot charter fishing boat, takes his catch to the market, then cooks it all up in the Children At Play Cafe. Kids can take care of sick bears in the Outer Banks Teddy Bear Hospital or leave a beautiful picture in the giant Lite Brite. We especially love the special classes available throughout the year that are already covered by the price of admission. It's well worth the trip.
Outer Banks Center for Wildlife Education
Located in Corolla next to the Currituck Lighthouse and Whalehead Club, the Outer Banks Center for Wildlife Education focuses on the natural beauty of the OBX. Life by Water’s Rhythms is the theme of this educational facility dedicated to exploring coastal North Carolina’s wildlife, natural history and heritage. Part of the NC Wildlife Resources Commission, the center is located in Corolla at Currituck Heritage Park. There are both indoor and outdoor attractions for visitors to enjoy including beautiful grounds, kid-friendly exhibits, interactive talks, video clips and a friendly, knowledgable staff.
Geared for ages 5-13, the Junior Ranger Program at Cape Hatteras National Seashore is a highlight for the young and adventurous ones among you. The Junior Ranger Program is a fun way to learn more about the park and how you can help protect it - just like the park rangers! If you're visiting during the summer season from mid-June through Labor Day, you can become Junior Ranger by attending two ranger programs at the park and completing the Junior Ranger booklet for your age group. If you are visiting the park during any other time period, you can complete the booklet to attain Junior Ranger status. Junior Ranger booklets are available in the Visitor Center.
Kid-Friendly OBX Activities
The beach is the prime family-friendly activity during your stay, of course. But when you want to find some off-the-beach adventures for the kids on the OBX, you'll find many options available to you. Here are some of our favorite kid-friendly things to do on the Outer Banks of North Carolina.
The OBX Bowling Center is conveniently located in Nags Head at Milepost 10, located at 200 West Satterfield Landing Road. It's the only bowling facility in the Outer Banks, but you won't need any other. From late night rock n' bowl, to league tournaments, and even parties for the little ones, there is a lot going on every night of the week there. Make time for the arcade and the cafe stocked with everyone's favorite...pizza!
OBX Mini Golf
It wouldn't be a beach vacation without taking the family for a little putt-putt adventure. Whether you choose to golf with pirates, test your skills across streams and near waterfalls, or golf in a Jurassic-Period-setting with T-Rex looking over your shoulder, the scene will be set for a great family day out. Most OBX mini golf courses offer concessions and extended evening hours during the summer season. Peruse our Outer Banks mini golf courses right here.
OBX Go-Karts & Speedways
If you and the kids feel the need for speed, then check out the local go-kart tracks and speedways found throughout the Outer Banks. Put the pedal to the metal and take a few laps around the track or let the littler ones enjoy the bumper cars. There's something for kids and kids-at-heart at each location, so get ready to strap yourself in for some fast and furious fun. Check out these Outer Banks Go-Karts and Speedway adventures.
OBX Skate Parks
Surfing isn't the only boarding you'll find on the Outer Banks. Did you know that there are quite a few skateboarding parks in the OBX? There are! In Corolla, skaters can head to the Island Revolution Skate Park at the Corolla Light Town Center, which offers an all-concrete 5,000 square foot skate park with a street course, half pipes and dual bowls. In Nags Head, the skate park at the YMCA features a 15,000-square-foot facility with a 10ft-deep concrete bowl and an expansive street course. Kitty Hawk Skate Park is a great little park nestled in the woods right off Kitty Hawk Road and has an open, street-type area with an adjoining mini-bowl in one corner. Aviation Skate Park is located a stone’s throw from the Wright Brothers National Memorial and has a lot packed into a small area with an elongated flow-bowl design with some hips, extensions and a few street elements. The Skate Park in Manteo offers a smooth concrete skatepark with a small, narrow profile with a street-type setup, but it has quarter pipes across each end and some other surprises. At the Fessendon Center Skate Park in Buxton on Hatteras Island, there are also some small, prefabricated quarter pipes and banks. It's actually a skateboarder's paradise. Who knew?
The biggest and best playground of all on the Outer Banks is the beach, obviously. But if you're looking to head off of the beach for a while, make your way to these fun-filled OBX playgrounds that guarantee to bring big smiles to those little faces. No matter which town you're vacationing in on the Outer Banks, there's sure to be a park and playground nearby from Carova to Hatteras and everything in between. Check out these OBX playgrounds, parks and amenities to find the perfect spot for you and your family.
Outer Banks Child Magazine & Events Calendar
We promised you a great family-friendly resource to refer to during your Outer Banks vacation. Outer Banks Child is a free quarterly magazine that puts a spotlight on local kid-friendly events all year long. It's a handy reference for both residents and visitors alike offering a wealth of information at your fingertips. Pick up the latest issue at kid-friendly destinations all along the Outer Banks.
Outer Banks Child has a wonderful family-friendly online calendar of events you'll definitely want to bookmark for your reference. That way, you won't miss out on any of the OBX family fun. We highly recommend it!
We hope this Parent Guide to the OBX gives you the insight you need for your next family vacation on the Outer Banks. Have fun!
What's your favorite kid-friendly spot on the OBX? Let us know in our comment section. We'd love to hear from you!