Home Blog Top 8 Pit-Stops For Your Drive to Hatteras


Hans Christian Andersen famously said “to travel is to live”. While this inspiring little quote is the perfect mantra, we all know that life is not always peaches and cream and so, with the travelling good comes the travelling bad.

Technology has come such a long way that the 4, 8, 15 hour drive up/down the coast to the breathtaking Outer Banks is no longer subject to the mundane tedium of the group singing “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” where you aspire to sound like the Barden Bella’s, but really sound more like an unfortunate pack of howling dogs (oh wait, was that just my experience?). With DVD players and bucket seats, tablets, iPods and smartphones, those grueling hours are not what they used to be 15-20 years ago.

However, that’s not to say that by the time you make it to Heaven on Earth (aka Hatteras Island), every nerve ending is like a crazed live wire dancing at attention and your right eye is going to pop out of socket from a near-nervous breakdown due to the 6 screaming angels in the backseat, the 7 near side-swipes on the freeway and the simple fact that you haven’t slept in…how old is Janie again…ah, yes, 16 years!

All you want is to get into your Hatteras rental and get this vacation rolling: relaxing by the sea, the warm summer breeze lacing through your hair, the angels entertaining themselves with a noodle fight in the ocean—far enough away from earshot so that you can doze off in pure bliss, of course! Then you snap back to reality and realize you have an hour and a half left and you have hit turnover.day.traffic. Enter travelling bad on stage left.

It’s the story as old as time. There is something to be said for that glorious 2 lane road also known as Highway 12 that takes us all to Hatteras. It’s one of the most scenic routes in the United States. You are literally encompassed by nature at every turn and the miles of untouched refuge and beaches seem as foreign and delicate as a painting hung in the Louvre. Everyone wants to see it and everyone wants to take a moment to admire it (which you should, it’s absolutely amazing), and you can’t very well admire it going 55 mph. “Ah, yes, my wingman can snap a decent picture if I slow down to 15 mph.” Ultimately, the drive is well worth it! It’s just like waiting in line to ride that incredible roller coaster, or camping in line all night to get tickets for that hot concert, movie, art exhibit.

But what if you could make those seconds more memorable than the agony-ridden moments passed sitting in traffic? Great news! We’ve strategically put together a list of stops that can allow you to pass the time more enjoyably. Choose your route from the pit stop ideas below, and make your trip to Hatteras Island “pit-stop perfect”!

Our Top Outer Banks Pit Stop Recommendations

To Hatteras Island via US 64 :

Take a scenic route to Hatteras Island and rather than going over the Virginia Dare Memorial Bridge, take a left and opt for the William B. Umstead Bridge, driving through historic Manteo on Roanoke Island, dousing your family in history and beauty.

  • 1. Island Farm: This Outer Banks treasure is a living history site that interprets daily life on Roanoke Island in the mid-1800’s. You’ll find everything from restored and reconstructed buildings to livestock and free-range chickens.

For more information, visit https://www.islandfarm.com/

  • 2. Elizabethan Gardens: Get lost in a maze of beauty and foliage unlike any other. “Built on ten acres of indigenous growth, the gardens are the imaginative concept of an Elizabethan pleasure garden. Construction actually began on the historic date of June 2, 1953, the date Queen Elizabeth II was crowned Queen of England. The Gardens were formally opened August 18, 1960, on the 373rd anniversary of the birth of Virginia Dare, the first child born in America of English parentage. Thus The Elizabethan gardens came into being.”

For more information, visit http://elizabethangardens.org/

  • 3. North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island: A great stop for kids and adults alike, this aquarium boasts the largest collection of sharks in the state! You can also see an alligator up close and personal and pet a sting ray! Check out the STAR Center (Sea Turtle Assistance and Rehabilitation) and much, much more.

To learn more, visit http://www.ncaquariums.com/roanoke-island

To Hatteras Island via NC 158:[[{“attributes”:{},”fields”:{}}]]

  • 4. Wright Brothers Memorial: Ever been on a plane? Pay homage to the two brothers who started it all: Wilbur and Orville Wright. Bicycle mechanics, they succeeded in flight after conducting a series of experiments on the Outer Banks and the rest, as they say, is history.

For more information, visit http://www.nps.gov/wrbr/index.htm

  • 5. Jockey’s Ridge State Park: Climb the tallest living sand dune along US Atlantic coast, barrier island ecology. Live on the edge and hang glide from a dune or take a relaxing walk down by the sound side.

For more information, visit http://www.jockeysridgestatepark.com/

  • 6. Jennette’s Pier: With an official “Sand-Breaking” ceremony on May 22, 2009, this newly reconstructed pier is 1,000 feet long, and is an educational ocean pier—an outpost for the NC Aquarium on Roanoke Island.

To learn more, visit http://www.jennettespier.net

On the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, before the villages:  [[{“attributes”:{},”fields”:{}}]]

  • 7. Bodie Island Lighthouse: With over 200 steps to climb, this beautiful black and white beacon is sure  to use up some of that energy from a long car ride. It will also offer stunning views.

For more information, visit http://www.nps.gov/caha/planyourvisit/lighthouseclimbs.htm

  • 8. Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center: Utilize the gorgeous wildlife trail and viewing area and see an array of birds, turtles and so on while exploring this wonderfully useful and educational visitor’s center. Pop across the street and get your first taste of the beach and peek at the “The Boilers”, the locally coined shipwreck and surf break in the Graveyard of The Atlantic.

 To learn more, visit http://www.fws.gov/refuge/pea_island/