Duck, North Carolina is in Dare County in the northern part of the Outer Banks. It is nationally recognized as one of the “15 Best Family Beaches in America”. It takes its name from the abundant waterfowl found in the marshes and maritime forests of the region. Duck’s beautiful beaches are wide and stretch for 7 miles along the Atlantic Ocean. The charming town is a favorite destination as the Currituck Sound also borders the west side. Shallow water offers plenty of ways to play during the day and great sunsets at night.
The Duck Walk stretches over a mile on the Sound. The elevated wooden walkway is a jogger’s favorite for exercise and connects walkers with eclectic shops and restaurants. Everyone appreciates the crabbing docks and kayak launches that provide easy entry into the strait. The beach is peaceful and there is the activity of a town center within walking distance – plenty to do for all age groups. Duck fritters was established here in 2006, and the flagship store is still on the unique promenade.
Here are some fantastic things to experience during your time in Duck, in any order you can enjoy them. You can drive to Duck from the east coast in your own car or fly to Norfolk International Airport, rent a car and drive 82 miles south to downtown. Accommodation ranges from rental houses To The Sanderling Resort located directly on the beach. September and October are great times to visit Duck. The water is still hot and the crowd is gone.
I was a guest of the Outer Banks Visitors Bureau in Duck, but all opinions are mine.
1. Learn more about the Wrights’ first flight
The Wright Brothers National Memorial is a fascinating indoor / outdoor historic site managed by the National Park Service. This is where Wilbur and Orville Wright first took off and landed (and a few other attempts), making history on December 17, 1903. There is so much to explore there. Expert guided tours of the Park Rangers and self-guided exhibits inside provide more detailed information, including a replica of the glider. The site is large, so your ticket is reusable for an entire week. Located in Kill Devil Hills, this is the first stop on your way to Duck.
2. Stand Up Paddle Board on Currituck Sound
Stand Up Paddle or SUP is a fast growing sport that is a great form of exercise. It is easy to learn and was a pioneer in surfing. In fact, the board looks a lot like an oversized surfboard with a paddle. You can paddle the Sound, which offers calm water, or the rough ocean, with waves. Either way, you can rent whatever you need from Kitty Hawk Kites which offers rentals or rentals as well as lessons at their three locations. I tried it at the Sanderling Inn, and it was so much fun. The water was clear and I could see fish swimming below me.
Pro tip: Wear sunscreen, a hat, a swimsuit, and a light shirt to prevent sunburn.
3. Kayaking in a maritime forest
Kitty Hawk Sea Forest Tour is a peaceful way to explore the Kitty Hawk Woods Coastal Preserve. Paddle with a small group as you learn about the maritime forest, the different biomes, and enjoy the living oaks and red maples that shade part of the paddle. All skill levels are welcome on this leisurely excursion in calm water. The guide will share the history of the area and discuss the various birds you might spot as you glide along. The tour will take two hours to come and go to the Kitty Hawk Kayaks dock.
Pro tips: Hats, sunglasses, shorts and T-shirts or swimsuits topped with a light shirt that provides sun protection are recommended for hot, sunny days. Bottled water is also a good idea. Cameras and other loose items that cannot be secured should be placed in a waterproof bag if you have one (Ziplocs bags are great). There is always the risk of losing valuables if the kayak tips over. Leave items that you cannot secure in your car to be sure they will stay safe and dry.
4. Sip award-winning wines at Sanctuary Vineyards
Vineyards of the sanctuary is part of the Wright family farm. They owned the land in Currituck County as a farm first and later as a vineyard for seven generations. Ten acres of grapes produce award-winning, world-class wines such as Syrah, Tempranillo, Viognier, Norton and Muscadine. Muscadine originally grew on the property. They make 7,000 cases on a seasonal basis. You can visit the winery while driving to the vineyard or enjoy the Vineyard Sanctuary Travel. This boat tour departs from the dock at Duck Drive. It includes a boat ride through the strait, a land tour by safari truck, a vineyard and vineyard tour, and a tasting. You will learn about the process from grape to glass and meet the winegrowers. It is an exciting tour which is perfect for couples or groups of friends.
5. Shop along the Duck Promenade
The Waterfront Shops in Duck have over 27 different shops, restaurants, eateries and galleries. It’s unique because you can still enjoy nature by walking in and out of stores. After all, it winds around the Sound. There are ice cream and candy stores, a yoga studio, clothing for the whole family, and places to eat. The boardwalk connects to the town boardwalk, allowing walkers and joggers to exercise in nature, kayakers and SUPs to launch and descend from designated docks. It is a showcase of the city which allows the commercial but global experience of the region. It is also a wharf where many activities like Parasailing and Jet skis are rented, and the Vineyard of the sanctuary excursion boat is located. It’s a great shopping experience.
6. Catch a crab on the dock
Bob’s Bait and Tackle is your one stop shop for crab or fishing supplies. Bob’s rents equipment for crabbing, fishing and also sells bait so you can crab or fish at designated spots on the boardwalk or beach. You can also hire a fishing charter for half-day or full-day offshore fishing trips. With the best prices in the Outer Banks, you can buy your own gear, hats, shirts or any other indoor fishing neede oldest building standing in Duck.
7. Hang Ten at Sanderling Resort
Have you ever wanted to learn how to surf? If you have it, you can book a small group or an individual lesson on the beautiful beaches in front of the Sanderling Inn. Duck is the perfect place to learn to surf as the waves are active but not so huge that beginners would be overwhelmed. Classes start with stretching, beach classes, and then an hour in the water. Everything you need is provided except the sunscreen.
8. Sip a cocktail at sunset before dinner
The restaurant scene is fantastic in Duck and features local seafood caught from the Strait and the Atlantic Ocean. There are casual and upscale dining choices on both sides. If you want to sip cocktails at sunset, make a reservation at a Soundside (West) restaurant for dinner. In season, reservations are required. Your seat time may be later than sunset, so enjoy a cocktail while you wait. If you just want to have a drink, several restaurants have outdoor outposts where you can order refreshments and take in the views. Aquatic restaurant has Adirondack chairs, live music, and games while you wait to be seated. You can watch the glorious orange ball plunge into the water directly from the lawn. The Blue Point has a rear bar on the sound, and the Sunset grid has a Tiki bar with a long dock behind its restaurant; no reservations are required. Find out more about duck restaurants here.
9. Collect seashells on duck beach at sunrise
The duck regularly appears on national lists of “best beaches” and is a well-known mecca for collecting seashells. Not only is the sunrise over Duck magical, it’s also a great time to go bombing. Low tide and a deserted beach are the best times to find whelks, calico scallops, starfish, and pieces of colored sea glass. The ocean moves the seashell beds all night long and in the morning offers a new opportunity to collect perfect specimens. Get up before the sun and bring a bag to hold your unique finds. You will also benefit from a little exercise and a warm welcome at the start of your vacation.
10. Fly a kite or glider at Jockey’s Ridge State Park
The jockeys crest is located at Nags Head and a 25 minute drive from Duck. This is a must visit in the Outer Banks, as it is the tallest natural sand dune in existence on the Atlantic coast. In this free park you can learn to fly a Kite, How? ‘Or’ What hang gliding, photograph the dune or admire one of the most beautiful sunsets on the Outer Banks. From the top of the dune, you can see the ocean all the way to Roanoke Strait. Visitors with reduced mobility can request a ride (see website). At the Soundside you can sunbathe, paddle and walk along a nature trail.
The Outer Banks of North Carolina are the mecca for vacationers looking for this unique destination that offers everything from water sports to historic attractions: