Free and Cheap Things To Do on the Outer Banks

Free and Cheap Things To Do on the Outer Banks 

A budget-friendly Outer Banks vacation is easier than you might think! The first step to savings is choosing an Outer Banks vacation rental which gives you more bang for your buck than a hotel or motel stay, plus all of the amazing amenities that matter most to you. The next step is taking full advantage of all the free and cheap things to do on the OBX. Check out this incredible list of money-saving ways to enjoy your beach vacation without breaking the bank.

Start your day watching an Outer Banks sunrise over the Atlantic.Sunrise


The colors are stunning and it's a different artistic display brought to you by nature every single day. You'll probably want to bring your camera for this.

Go to the beach.


The sun, sand and surf are free—all day, every day. Get your beach fix as often as you like. It won't cost you a thing.

Channel your inner child.


There are plenty of beach activities for the kids and kids-at-heart to do, and all of them are free. When's the last time you built a sandcastle? Tossed a frisbee? Played football or volleyball on the beach? Enjoyed a game of horseshoes? Read a good book? Frolicked with the dolphins? Chased the seagulls? Body surfed? Swam in the Atlantic? Played in a tidal pool? The list goes on and on. Spend some quality family time with your children or just act like a kid again. 

Climb the sand dunes at Jockey's Ridge State Park.



Admission to Jockey's Ridge State Park is totally free and you get to experience the tallest natural sand dunes in the Eastern United States. From the top, take in the jaw-dropping views of the sound on one side and the ocean on the other. It's a wonderful spot to watch the sunset or to fly a kite. You can even hang glide, if you dare (sorry, that's not free). 

Visit the Wright Brothers National Memorial.


Admission is $7 per person and children 15 and under get in free. Even better, the Wright Brothers Memorial admission fee gives you access to the park for seven consecutive days from the date of purchase. Visit the Wright Brothers museum, walk the flight path, and climb up the hill to the memorial. Then come back and do it all over again!


Take a day trip to Cape Hatteras National Seashore.

Explore the wide open beaches and natural coastal beauty of Cape Hatteras National Seashore. Listen to the crash of the ocean waves. Explore the soundside waters. Visit the picturesque Cape Hatteras Lighthouse and climb it if you dare (tickets are $8 for adults). It's the tallest lighthouse in America, so put that on your Outer Banks bucket list.


Stroll the Boardwalk in the Town of Duck.

Enjoy the Town of Duck Boardwalk as you walk your way around the Outer Banks quaint shops and eateries. The coastal scenery can't be beat and you'll want to stay into the evening to catch a spectacular sunset over the sound. Window shopping is free, but you may want to bring a few spending dollars just in case something in one of the local shops catches your eye. Stop for a bite to eat while you're here, too. 


Wild Horses


Watch the wild horses in Corolla & Carova.


Take some time to visit Carova and Corolla to observe some of the most famed Outer Banks inhabitants—the wild mustangs that roam the beaches and coastline and have done so for centuries. If you have a four-wheel drive vehicle you can drive right on the beach. Otherwise, just park and walk. Remember to keep a safe distance. Oh by the way, have you met William the Wild Horse yet?


Embark on an Outer Banks Lighthouse adventure.


There are five Outer Banks Lighthouses for you to explore. How many have you visited? The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse that is the tallest in America and arguably the most recognized lighthouse in the world. You have Ocracoke lighthouse which is the nation’s second oldest and still in operation, completed in 1823. And then you have the twins. Bodie Island Lighthouse and Currituck Beach Lighthouse are essentially built of the same design plans, but painted differently. They’ve been here longer than any of us alive today, and they’re still keeping watch. The OBX’s newest lighthouse can be found on the Manteo downtown waterfront, the Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse. It’s a replica of an historic screwpile lighthouse that marked a safe channel for sailing and steaming the so-named shallow wetlands that once lay between Roanoke Island and the mainland.


Visit the Outer Banks Center for Wildlife Education in Corolla.

‘Life by Water’s Rhythm’s’ is the theme of this educational facility dedicated to exploring coastal North Carolina’s wildlife, natural history and heritage. Part of the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, the Outer Banks Center for Wildlife Education is located in Corolla, at Currituck Heritage Park. The Center offers both indoor and outdoor attractions for visitors to enjoy. Admission is totally free, but donations are always appreciated.


Take the free ferry ride to Ocracoke Island.


Make the drive to the south end of Hatteras Island and take a day trip to Ocracoke Island. The Ocracoke Ferry is free, but it's a popular favorite during the summer months so be sure to check the ferry schedule and arrive well ahead of time. The line gets pretty long, pretty quickly. The ferry ride to Ocracoke takes about 45 minutes and you can drive your car right on. Once on the island there's plenty to explore before you head back to catch the ferry ride home. 


End your day with an Outer Banks sunset.



What better way to wrap up your day than with a stunning Outer Banks sunset? Watch the color show light up the sky and be prepared to be in awe of nature's artistry.

There are plenty of places to watch the sunset: from your Outer Banks rental, on top of the dunes at Jockey's Ridge, or on the boardwalk in Duck, or from your favorite Outer Banks waterfront restaurant.

No matter where you choose, be sure to take a few minutes to bask in the beautiful brilliance of the sun sinking into the horizon. 

We have barely scratched the surface of free and cheap things to do on the Outer Banks, but as you can see, this list is already quite long. Stay tuned for a continuation of this post in the near future. In the meantime, be sure to drop us a comment and let us know what your favorite free thing to do is on the Outer Banks. We really want to know!



Isn't it time you started planning your next Outer Banks beach vacation? Get started by perusing our vacation rentals and finding the perfect one for you and your guests. Let us know if we can help!

What's your favorite free thing to do on the Outer Banks of North Carolina?

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