Family Vacations: Outer Banks

Outer Banks is famous as the scene of the first airplane flight. The Wright Brothers Memorial on Kill Devil Hill pays tribute to the event.

Today a particularly serene stretch of sea and sand, North Carolina's Outer Banks belie their treacherous past. It was here that the people of Roanoke Island settled and then mysteriously disappeared in the 1580s.

Among the pirates and buccaneers who hid their booty around these islands in the18th century was the infamous Blackbeard. He materialized in the area with a price on his head and was quickly captured and executed.


The waters off the Outer Banks are so hazardous that they have earned the name "Graveyard of the Atlantic" due to the thousands of ships that ran aground on the shoals and were destroyed by storms. Historic lighthouses once used to warn sailors of danger still dot the coastline.

Today, beach lovers visit these legendary islands to enjoy the seemingly endless stretches of ocean and soft sand. Bird-watchers tour the wildlife refuges that host millions of migratory birds along the shores and inland marshes. Families who can tear themselves away from the beach should visit lively Roanoke Island Festival Park, which has a hands-on museum, free concerts and plays, and a replica of the ship that brought over the colonists who disappeared.


Outer Banks Information

Address: Barrier Islands accessible by Highways 168 and 158

Telephone: 252/473-2138 or 877/OBX-4FUN


To learn more about family vacation destinations, see:

  • Family Vacations: Learn about hundreds of family vacations in destinations all over North America.
  • North Carolina State Guide: Learn about Mobil Travel Guide-rated hotels and restaurants in North Carolina, as well as other recreational activities.
  • Scenic Drives: For those who think that getting there is half the fun, we have compiled more than 100 of the most scenic drives throughout the country.



Laura Sutherland is a widely acknowledged authority on family travel and has published several books on the topic, including Best Family Ski Vacations In North America and Tropical Family Vacations.