When I was a little kid, I spent my summers on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. We would leave in our black and tan Eddie Bauer Ford Explorer (so 90’s) while the sun illuminated the sky with vibrant pinks and oranges. I would sleep while my parents drove the ten hours to Avon, North Carolina to where my godmother owned a single family home right on the water. Filled with dark, creeky wooden floor boards, a carpeted spiral staircase and modest beachy furniture, this was my second home. The unsealed wooden deck overlooking the ocean was the best part. In those days, there were no OBX bumpers stickers; there was one gas station/grocery store combo, and they didn’t know what cold cuts or bagels were. There was no McDonald’s or Rita’s and you could see millions of stars when you sat on the beach at night.
I’m not going to chew your ear off about how much better it was back 10 or 15 years ago, and I’m not going to make you feel guilty about going there now just because you saw it featured in an ad or because the Jones’ just went there. What I’m going to do is share my experience with you; give you my insight so you can have a truly genuine OBX experience.
Avon is the town that I used to stay in. Quiet, residential, it’s the perfect beach town for families, couples or anything in between. The only problem is that most of the homes are now built to hold an astronomical amount of people, so you might want to consider going with multiple families or trying to find a smaller home. Either way, renting a house is the way to go. Bonus: outdoor showers are key.
Buxton is the quintessential of any OBX vacation, but it can be easy to get swept away in all the touristy gobbledygook. The one exception to that rule however is the Cape Hatteras lighthouse, which everyone has to see and climb at least once. In Buxton, you’ll find beaches that stretch on as far as the eye can see (and in late August or early September which count as off season, you may just be the only people on them). Here you can also go surf fishing right off the beach, and take your car four-wheeling in the sand (just remember to slightly deflate your tires!). Also, make sure to take a trip on the Miss Hatteras; Captain Stowe will “teach you how to flirt with those fish!”
Eat: The Froggy Dog
Don’t let sub-par reviews deter you. This is a classic OBX mainstay serving traditional southern and Hatteras style food (ex: fresh fish and hush puppies). Save space in your tiring beach schedule for a lunch at the Froggy Dog, which is steps away from the shore.
Pronounced oak-ra-coke, this tiny island is worth a ferry ride for a half or full day trip. Ocracoke has that small town southern feeling that will keep you wandering through the beaches or streets of town, learning about history, fishing or perusing the art shops.