10. Jockey's Ridge and Wright Brothers' Memorial. These two sites are worth the trip off the island! The Wright Brothers' Memorial is a monument to the founding fathers of flight, Orville and Wilbur Wright, who tested and perfected their flying machine right here on the Outer Banks. Jockey's Ridge is a great place for hiking through a unique ecosystem, watching the sunset, or learning to hang-glide.
9. Aquarium. Tour all sorts of underwater environments in the North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island. Marshes, rivers, and even a deep-sea tank will amaze your whole family! Spend some time at the touch tank getting up-close and personal with some wet and wild critters, hunt for fossils in the fossil pit, or take a stroll on the nature trail. There's fun for the whole family here!
8. Roanoke Island Festival Park. Celebrate at the birthplace of English-speaking America! Explore trails through the maritime forest, and then climb aboard the Elizabeth II, a reproduction of a 16th-cetury sailing vessel, to see how the early settlers made it across the treacherous Atlantic. On a beautiful day, spend plenty of time outdoors at the Settlement Site, a recreation of an early European settlement. Interpreters in period clothing are on hand to answer all of your questions. Also check out the Roanoke Adventure Museum, full of hands-on exhibits that the kids will really get into-there are even costumes for them to wear while exploring! And you won't want to miss the variety of live performances that take place at the park year round!
7. Chicamacomico Lifesaving Station Historic Site. This well-preserved historic site should not be missed during your Hatteras Island vacation. The main museum is housed in the restored 1911 station. Exhibits tell the story of the United States Lifesaving Service with a particular emphasis on its presence on Hatteras Island. Also on the site are the original 1874 station, a cookhouse, several original boat and utility houses, and a 1907 home from the villages. Be sure not to miss the Beach Apparatus Drill during the summertime- active US Coast Guardsmen reenact a rescue procedure once widely used on the Outer Banks. It is excitement your crew will talk about for ages!
6. Kayaking in the Sound. No matter where you put your kayak in the water on Hatteras Island, you and your family are assured of a great time! Look for birds, fish, and turtles as you paddle around the marshes. Put in just north of Rodanthe at New Inlet and explore the ruins of a wooden bridge that once spanned an inlet long since filled, or paddle around the creeks in Frisco to see an entirely different environment. In this sheltered area, let your kayak drift for a few minutes and take some family photos. Pack a lunch and eat on the water. Make it a fishing trip for the whole family, and reel in the day's lunch while spending quality time together. There are plenty of places to rent kayaks on the island, if you can't bring one with you, so there is no excuse not to enjoy this great family activity! Your family will thank you.
5. Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge. The best time to visit the wildlife refuge on the north end of the island is winter, when thousands of migratory birds take shelter here, However, there really is no bad time to visit. No matter when your family gets here, there will be ample opportunity to view all kinds of native and migratory wildlife! From pelicans and herons to turtles and butterflies, animals of all types make this place their home. Take kids of all ages on the trail around the beautiful man-made pond, and be sure to take your time! If you rush, there's no telling what you may miss. A short walk across the road will put you on a scenic beach, where kids of all ages are sure to enjoy themselves!
4. Beach Picnic. Sure, your Hatteras rental has a great kitchen and fantastic views. But why not make your meals extra special. Whether you only do it once or you do it every day you're here, you absolutely have to take your family for a picnic on the beach. You are never more than a few minutes from a great stretch of sand while on Hatteras Island, so pack a blanket, some good food, and your favorite beach toys and nourish your soul while you fill your tummy. After eating, take the kids for some beachcombing, the search for the perfect shell to take home as a reminder of all the fun you've had during your stay.
3. Flight Tour of the Island. If you've ever envied a bird as it soared on the breeze above sand and sea, you won't want to miss this amazing opportunity to get a unique view of Hatteras Island! We recommend Burrus Flightseeing Tours, owned and piloted by native islander Dwight Burrus. As you fly over the ocean, keep an eye out for dolphins, turtles, and even sharks, and be sure to snap some pictures of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse as you pass a once-in-a-lifetime sight unrivaled by anything you've ever seen. Burrus offers three tours, each spectacular in its own way. From the moment you take off from the historic Billy Mitchell Airport in Frisco, to the moment you return to land once again, you will be amazed by Burrus' vast knowledge of the area and the breathtaking views.
2. Climb the Lighthouse. This experience is sure to thrill everyone in your family-the history buff, the adrenaline junkie, and the photographer will all enjoy this adventure! Climbing the 268 steps in the tallest brick lighthouse in the United States is quite a challenge, especially in the height of summer, but it is well-worth the effort. If the breeze at the top is refreshing, the view from the top is absolutely rejuvenating. Gaze out to sea, and if you're really brave, look straight down, marveling at the sight of miniature dunes, waves, and people. Take time before or after your climb to explore the Museum of the Sea, housed in the old Keeper's Quarters. And, of course, don't forget to take a picture of your family on top of the world-that's what it feels like at the top of this magnificent structure!
1. Make a new family album! No matter what you do while you and your family are on Hatteras Island, you will form more precious memories than you can count. Do not forget your camera, no matter what. You will never want to forget this vacation, no matter how many times you return (and believe us, you will want to return!). So start a family vacation tradition while you're here-take pictures to put in a family album when you get back to the real world. And every time you look at that album, you'll get to relive all the happy memories you formed on Hatteras Island. Who knows, maybe you'll make a new album each year you come back! We know you'll have enough pictures! No don't delete that picture of your kids making a funny face on the beach at Cape Hatteras, and hold on to that one of you and your sweetheart at the shark tank in the aquarium-you'll want to cherish them forever. And the best part is that this is something the kids can really get into. Let them choose their favorite pictures and give them their own pages. You won't regret it!