Are you excited about your Dolphin Inn vacation? Here's a few of our favorite things to do. Need more ideas? Give us a call.
Let us know if you have ideas to make this list better. We recommend contacting businesses directly for reservations and up-to-date information.
We never miss this laid back beach joint. Stop in to get your name on the table list, then cross the street to enjoy the late afternoon beach. Inside and patio/top-deck seating. Full menu with seafood, reasonable prices, kid’s menu (with crayons). Make Moe's an OBX tradition.
Happy hour: 3-5 (Seasonal hours. Call to confirm).
Moe’s Insider tip: Call ahead for happy hour and wait times. We usually put our name in in-person and then walk 1/4 block to the beach to pass the time.
Located in Duck, just a few miles north of the Dolphin Inn, this cozy place is much more than a deli. Once may not be enough to enjoy the traditional deli fare, upscale New American cuisine (Mahi Mahi tacos) or southern barbecue. It’s beach affordable with a surprisingly good wine selection. Seasonal live music. Last time we checked, it's been owned by the same folks for over 20 years.
Duck Deli Insider Tip: Grab and go. Call ahead to skip the wait for carry out. Pick up your food and head across the street to the Waterfront Shops of Duck. Find a bench and enjoy a casual picnic on Duck’s “boardwalk on the bay.”
This place isn’t flashy, but this kind of authentic joint doesn’t need to be. It’s one of the only pizzerias that's good enough to stay open all year. In the Food Lion shopping center, Kitty Hawk (across from the Walmart).
Cosmo’s Insider Tip: Give this local gem a call early in the week to find out if they're running any specials. They often have lunch specials and weeknight deals available in the shoulder season/off season.
Multiple locations, including the original Duck Donuts in Kitty Hawk, across the street from the Hilton, or the bayside location in Duck, just a few miles north of our house. Enjoy the shops and galleries nearby.
Duck Donuts Insider Tips: Go early in the week. Then go back again. Take orders before you leave the house. Flavor suggestions (frosting/topping): Vanilla Oreo, Lemon Coconut, Maple Bacon, Maple Peanut, Chocolate Rainbow Sprinkle, Cinnamon Sugar/Vanilla drizzle, Strawberry/Chocolate Sprinkle, Chocolate/Peanut.
Casual, authentic Mexican food with a relaxed family atmosphere and space for a crowd. Fans of traditional Mexican mole sauce made from chiles and rich chocolate won’t want to miss La Fogata. Family owned and operated.
Kitty Hawk: 3924 N Croatan Highway, MP 4 (252) 441-4179 .
Nags Head: 4933 N Croatan Highway (252) 441-4179
Insider Tip: Check their website or a Sunny Days magazine for money saving offers.
Kill Devil Grill. A classic Outer Banks establishment, this diner is one of six on the national registry of historic buildings. Don’t expect greasy spoon diner fare or $1.99 blue plate specials. To enjoy Kill Devil Grill’s upscale comfort food, call ahead. It’s a popular place.
MP 9 3/4 on the Beach Road.
2008 S Virginia Dare Trail, Kill Devil Hills; (252) 449-8181
Insider tip: Well worth the wait. You might pay the same price for mediocre food at many other beach restaurants. Try the cheesesteak egg rolls and beer can shrimp.
Five Guys Burgers & Fries. With over 250,000 possible ways to order a burger at Five Guys, you just can’t go wrong. Grilled cheese and hot dogs too. Counter service, hand cut fries, hand spun milkshakes, and award-winning nationally recognized burgers. Enough said.
MP 9, 1203 S. Croatan Highway, Kill Devil Hills, (252) 255-0006
Allergy Alert: Peanut allergy? Five Guys isn’t your place. Peanut oil is used for their amazing fries. Peanuts are offered in the shell to hungry diners. Instead, try Mama Kwans in Kill Devil Hills www.mamakwans.com
Insider Tip: The burgers come in two sizes: single (“Little Hamburger”) and double (“Hamburger”). Those “LIttle Hamburgers” are not so little. French fry servings are generous. We order a large and they often fill the bag.
Ocracoke Island. On a sunny day, escape the beach bustle with a trip south to Ocracoke, a charming fishing village with 16 miles of undeveloped ocean beaches. Life slows down on this enchanted island. Visit a working waterfront, explore a historic maritime village, glimpse wild ponies and enjoy fresh local seafood. Wander shops and galleries in this quaint town. On Ocracoke, Howard's Pub on the way in to the town proper serves up a good meal.
Getting there: Allow about 1.5 hours or more to drive to the free car ferry. After taking the 40 minute ferry, the drive to town is 45 minutes. Check ferry schedule in advance (http://www.ncdot.org/transit/ferry/). Don’t forget to check for the last return ferry of the evening.
Directions: At the intersection of Route 12 (Duck Road) and N Croatan Hwy/US-158 E, turn left in the direction of Nags Head. Continue 14.8 mile. Bear left onto Cape Hatteras National Park Rd. The main road bears to the right (after you pass the outlets (around Mile Post (MP) 15). Don't succumb to the sirens' song of the outlets or you won't have enough time for your trip to Ocracoke! Continue heading south on Rt 12 for another 70 miles or so through beautiful national seashore parks, following signs to Hatteras-Ocracoke Ferry. On Ocracoke, Howard's Pub on the way in to Ocracoke serves up a good meal.
Hatteras Lighthouse: If you’ve left early enough for Ocracoke, consider a visit to the historic Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. All climbers must be at least 42” tall. Children and babies may be carried up the 257 steps. No pets inside the lighthouse. $8 adult/$4 seniors and kids.
More on Ocracoke:
Getting there: http://ocracokeguide.com/getting-here
Ferry: Travel delays from occasional road work and maintenance. Check online updates for current conditions and ferry schedule. Advance reservations secured by credit card available online. http://www.ncdot.org/transit/ferry/
Insider tips: Arrive to terminal before 10 AM or after 3 PM. Port Captain recommends planning your trip on Monday or Friday to avoid long waits (up to 2 hours). More tips and techniques for making the most of your day available at https://apps.ncdot.gov/newsreleases/details.aspx?r=9869.
Wright Brothers' National Memorial. Another excursion, closer to the Dolphin Inn, is the sight of the Wright Brother’s first flight in Kitty Hawk.
Schedule your visit to catch a ranger talk or sign up the kids for the "junior ranger" program at the main visitor's building (re-opening fall 2018) where you can see the $1.5M replica of the 1903 Wright Flyer. A visit to the memorial continues outside on a self-guided path that leads by the replica of their "workshed" and markers indicating the length of their first successful flights. There's also a large memorial up on a hill. This location was chosen for the blustery wind! Bring a few layers.
Wright Brother’s National Park; Memorial. 1000 N Croatan Hwy, Kill Devil Hills, NC 27948
Entry fee: Charge is per car. National Park senior discounts available. http://www.nps.gov/wrbr/index.htm.
While visiting the Wright Brothers' Memorial, consider driving a few miles further south to Jockey’s Ridge www.jockeysridgestatepark.com, the east coast's largest sand dune. Pack a hat and bring a few extra layers/blanket for windy conditions as you'll likely want to enjoy the panoramic view of the bay and ocean. Bring a sled or tube to go dune sledding.
Kitty Hawk Kites http://www.kittyhawk.com: Adventurers may enjoy hang gliding at Jockey's Ridge State Park through Kitty Hawk Kites. Just a few miles South of Jockey's Ridge, enjoy Kitty Hawk Kites where you’ll find toys for kids of all ages. For the more adventurous, try hang gliding lessons, kite boarding, kayaking, jet boating, etc. via Kitty Hawk Kites.
Currituck National Wildlife Refuge. Consider a ride up to Corolla/Corova. Requires a four wheel drive vehicle. Excursions are also available through tour companies like Wild Horse Adventure Tours. After driving 20 miles north from the house, the road runs out in an area past Corolla called "Carova". For the next 20 miles, the only 'road' is the beach. Visitors often glimpse the wild Banker horses. Please do not approach or feed the horses as it puts them at risk (and is illegal). Also, to avoid an unplanned overnight with the wild horses, get yourself up to speed on the tide table. Ask a local or check online to figure out when you can get in and out using the beach road. Seasonal changes and weather patterns can make the beach impassable during high tide.
Mini golf and go-karting are always fun for the young, and the young-at-heart. Everyone has their favorite picks, but we like Professor Hackers. http://losttreasuregolf.com/miniature-golf-locations/kill-devil-hills-nc 1600 N Croatan Hwy, Kill Devil Hills, NC 27948. (252) 480-0142. Call ahead for opening hours for fall, spring and winter.
We've hit every go-kart track within 20 miles of the house and have awarded two thumbs' up to Full Throttle Speedway in Nags Head (6504 S Croatan Hwy, MP 15.5 on Hwy 158, 252-441-4499. We like the Figure 8 track, but they also have a 'slick' track. Just FYI...the outlets are close by if you have any non-racers in your group.
Keep an eye out for one of the tourist booklets, available at the entrance of places like the Wings beach super store or other location. They often have discounts for mini golf and go-karting.