Jul 27, 2022

Things to Do with Kids on the Outer Banks

Your Guide to Fun on the OBX

Planning your OBX vacation and looking for things to do with kids on the Outer Banks? The possibilities are endless! There are so many fun things to do in the Outer Banks with kids of all ages, from toddlers to teenagers.

things to do with kids

Learn More About Outer Banks Wildlife

Go on a Horse Tour

Get a closer look at the locals! Wild Horse Adventure Tours offers guided tours of the 4×4 beaches north of Corolla in search of the majestic Corolla Wild Horses. Aside from seeing the horses, many kids think it’s super cool that they’re cruising along the oceanfront in an open-air vehicle. Tours are generally around two hours long and are offered at various times during daylight hours. Book ahead to secure your day and time.

Visit the Aquarium

The NC Aquarium on Roanoke Island showcases wildlife found on and around the Outer Banks. Get an up-close look at alligators, watch river otters swim and play, and visit the fully functioning Sea Turtle Assistance and Rehabilitation (STAR) Center. The touch tank offers kids the opportunity to discover what a stingray feels like. Observe multiple species of jellyfish drifting about without worrying about getting stung. The large Graveyard of the Atlantic exhibit features large sharks and fish swimming by. Outside, kids will love digging for shark teeth in the fossil pit. The aquarium takes approximately one hour to tour, and reservations are required.

NC Aquarium Roanoke Island Manteo

Book a Dolphin Tour

It’s a treat to see dolphins swimming by in the ocean during your beach day, but did you know that dolphins can be seen in the sound as well? Book a cruise on Captain Johnny’s Dolphin Tours to see dolphins frolicking in the sound. The boat ride in the sound is gentle and dolphin sightings are guaranteed, making this the perfect OBX activity for kids of all ages. Tours are approximately 90 minutes and are available in the morning, afternoon, and at sunset. This is an amazing alternative to attempting to get your child to focus on the part of the ocean that you’re pointing at in case the dolphin you just saw resurfaces.

dolphin tour what to do with kids

Ghost Crab Hunting

After the sun sets for the evening, ghost crab hunting on the beach is a favorite OBX activity for kids. Some basic gear is needed to help you with your hunt: a flashlight, bucket, and a net. The little critters scurry along the beach between the dune line and the ocean. Kids can catch ghost crabs with the net and put them in the bucket to get a closer look. Be sure to release the crabs back onto the beach before heading home. Or you could learn the story of the ghost crabs and more from Jim at Ghost Crab Quest. Crab quests are 90 minutes and include all equipment needed. Public tour meeting places are available in Corolla and Nags Head, and private tours at your oceanfront vacation home are also available.

OBX Adventures for Kids on Land

what to do in the outer banks in march - jockey's ridge

Visit the Big Sand Dunes

Jockey’s Ridge State Park, the largest active sand dune system in the eastern United States, is a huge sandy playground in the eyes of a child. Kids can climb to the top of the dunes and either roll down or try to run down without falling into the sand. Purchase a kite from Kitty Hawk Kites across the street and fly it from the top of the dunes. The panoramic view of the ocean and sound is worth the trek to the top. An added bonus for tiny Star Wars fans: the sand dunes at Jockey’s Ridge look a lot like Tattoine.

Be mindful of the time of day when planning your trip to Jockey’s Ridge in Nags Head. The sand gets scorching hot in the mid-day sun! If you’re on the OBX during the summer, or on warmer spring or fall days, we recommend climbing Jockey’s ridge early in the morning or late in the afternoon. Watching the sunset from the top of the dunes is a popular OBX vacation activity. Jockey’s Ridge State Park closes at dusk. Parking is available on the south side of the park (off of Carolista Drive) and at the Kitty Hawk Kites complex across the street from the dunes, which includes a crosswalk with stoplight. There is a small sound beach at the southwest corner of the park that is perfect for little ones. The beach offers limited parking off, accessible from Soundside Drive.

kites on jockey's ridge
corolla adventure park

Climb Around a Real Life Treehouse

If the kids in your group like to climb and are looking for an adrenaline rush, head to an adventure park. Corolla Adventure Park and First Flight Adventure Park in Nags Head offer obstacles for all climbing skill levels, as well as stunning birdseye views of the OBX. Ninja warriors are welcome for the adventure parks’ guided climbs. See each adventure park’s website for age/height/weight requirements, hours, reservations, and pricing.

mini golf

Putt, Play, or Zoom

Mini golf and go-karts are always a favorite with the kids, and both activities can be found throughout the Outer Banks. Some facilities include other activities as well, such as an arcade or bumper boats. Hours, age requirements, and prices vary at each facility, so be sure to plan ahead for a fun outing.

Splash and Slide at H2OBX Waterpark

Just a few miles over the Wright Memorial Bridge in Currituck County, you’ll find a super fun waterpark that is perfect for all ages. H2OBX Waterpark has multiple areas for children, including a very shallow area with smaller slides for toddlers and a pirate ship area with sprayers and a bucket that dumps water every few minutes. There are larger slides and thrill rides for the teenagers in your group seeking an adrenaline rush. Everyone in your group will love floating around in the lazy river.

what to do with kids h2obx
obx ice cream

I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream for Ice Cream!

It goes without saying that kids and ice cream are a perfect OBX vacation combination. There are ice cream shops up and down the Outer Banks, and most are small, family-owned establishments. Here are a few of our favorite OBX ice cream shops:

 

The Chill Spot in Corolla

 

Holy Cow Creamery in Duck and Kill Devil Hills

 

Surfin’ Spoon Frozen Yogurt Bar in Nags Head

Have an Epic Day at the Beach 

The options for fun at the beach are endless! The beach is perfect for kids, and beach activities can be tailored for each child’s age group.

watermelon girls

Build a Sandcastle

For the little ones, grab some basic beach toys, plop them in the sand and let them create. Build a spectacularly detailed sand sculpture, or put some sand into a bucket of water and build a simple drip castle. Sand is unstable by nature, so sand tunnels should never be crawled through by kids or adults. For any holes that are dug during sand construction, be sure to fill them back in before you leave for the day. Sand holes can be hazardous for emergency vehicles, nesting sea turtles, and beach walkers.

obx sand castle

Take a Surfing Lesson

Bigger kids will love learning to surf. There are many high-quality surf lessons to choose from on the Outer Banks, and many of the instructors will meet your group at your oceanfront home or the nearest beach access.

boy surfing corolla

Find Beach Treasures 

Walk along the beach and look for a one-of-a-kind souvenir from the Outer Banks. Kids can find a special shell, some sea glass or fulgurite to take home and show their friends.

beach nap

Take a Nap

However the kids choose to spend their time on the beach, they’ll be tired! Some little ones choose to recharge appropriately, with a nap right on the beach.

Family Friendly Events

During the summer, there are many family friendly free events happening throughout the Outer Banks. The Town of Duck’s events include live music, family movie nights, story time, a variety show, and a magic show. Dowdy Park in Nags Head also hosts a variety of kid-friendly events during the summer, including family movies, live music, and their ever-popular farmers market.

Duck Town Park Music
kite festival

Kitty Hawk Kites hosts many family friendly events in multiple locations on the Outer Banks. If you’re unable to make it to one of their events, the kids may be entertained by simply watching Kitty Hawk Kites teaching hang gliding at Jockey’s Ridge State Park. 

Go Fishing

For kids that want to fish, the Outer Banks is a dream! Whether you’d like to fish on land or from a boat, there are many different kid friendly fishing options.

jennette's pier

Fish from Jennette’s Pier

Fishing from Jennette’s Pier is a great way to introduce kids to ocean fishing without having to deal with the dynamics of fishing directly from the beach. Rod rentals are available and bait can be purchased in the pier shop. During the summer months, Jennette’s Pier offers family fishing. The two-hour class covers pier fishing basics and includes instruction, equipment, bait, and the fishing fee.

Fish from a Head Boat

Fishing from a head boat is fun for the entire family. Charters are generally a half day, either in the morning or the afternoon. Head boats are large, comfortable, stable, and can accommodate a larger number of people than an offshore boat. Head boats cover all anglers under their fishing license, and they provide all equipment and bait needed to fish. Check our Miss Oregon Inlet or the Crystal Dawn to book your head boat fishing adventure.

obx head boat

Deep Sea Fishing

Recommended for teenagers, deep sea fishing on the Outer Banks is an experience they’ll never forget. Deep sea fishing requires going miles offshore to the Gulf Stream, where the larger fish like tuna and mahi live. Corolla Bait & Tackle can assist you with booking an offshore charter.

Are your kids fur babies?

Dogs can be considered kids too! We have plenty of pet friendly homes to accommodate your fur babies, and there are plenty of things to do with your dog in the Outer Banks.


Courtney Wisecarver

Courtney Wisecarver

Jul 27, 2022

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