If you like the ocean, beach, and history, the Outer Banks of North Carolina is where it’s at. With a choice of the Atlantic Ocean to the east and either Roanoke or Currituck Sound on the west, the water is always just steps away. Rentals are the most popular style of accommodations here. Unpack at Whalebone Ocean Cottage (from $359/night; www.keesouterbanks.com) in South Nags Head, a three-bedroom, three-bath home-away-from-home where the sound of the waves will lull you to sleep each night.
Photo courtesy of outer banks visitors bureau, www.outerbanks.org
Get your history fix at Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kitty Hawk, where Wilbur and Orville first successfully took to the skies, or visit Fort Raleigh Historic Site to learn about the mystery of Roanoke Island’s Lost Colony. (Don’t miss the chance to stroll through the Elizabethan Gardens next door.)
courtesy of outer banks visitors bureau, www.outerbanks.org
Since the 1500s, tens of thousands of ships have slipped beneath the waves and into their demise along the Outer Banks, earning the region the nickname “Graveyard of the Atlantic.” Today, lighthouses still provide a welcome beacon. Stop by Bodie Island Lighthouse in Nags Head, where you can climb the 10-story, 156-foot-tall lighthouse for spectacular views, or drive south to visit Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, a 12-story climb.
Hit up Trio Wine, Beer & Cheese in Kitty Hawk for lunch and a self-serve glass of wine. Survey the 2,500-bottle shop and pick up some Wild Pony White. (Trio’s owner donates a dollar from each bottle sold to benefit the wild ponies at Corolla — another must-see.) Visit Manteo for Outer Banks Distilling’s Kill Devil rum tour, then browse cute shops downtown along the Roanoke Sound. After, make time for dinner at Sanderling Resort in Duck for a spectacular sunset: The resort — and its views — span both shores.