8 Best Things To Do In The Folkloric Town Of Nags Head, North Carolina

things to do in nags head north carolina

Nags Head, a town located in the Dare County of North Carolina, is a popular tourist destination because of its glorious beaches and the tallest sand dunes in the eastern part of US called ‘Jockey’s Ridge’. Nags Head and the area around it is rich in history and myths, the most famous of them being the one behind how this place derived its name. It is an obscure tale comprising of pirates, treasures, horses (or nags in other words) with hot lanterns around their necks so as to ruse ships into running ashore. Besides such queer folklore, Nags Head today is famous for its long sandy coast, fishing piers, historic family cottages as well as flourishing art and culture. This article shares information on the best things to do at Nags Head.

1. Scale the sand dunes in Jockey's Ridge State Park

The Big Dune at Jockey's Ridge State Park
Source: Photo by user bobistraveling used under CC BY 2.0

Jockey’s Ridge State Park are the tallest sand dunes on the east coast of US. It comprises of 5 dunes. It is wondrous to watch how these dunes undulate in the wind and change shape. Every year millions of tourists flock to this attraction - some to simply hike all the way up to its summit, some to traverse on the nature trails meandering through the dunes while some to just take it to the sky through hang gliding. Besides, this large park has a museum, a visitor center and several picnic areas.

Jockey's Ridge State Park

Address: 300 W Carolista, Nags Head, NC 27959

Opening hours: 8 am - 9 pm

Website: Jockey’s Ridge State Park

2. Climb to the top of Bodie Island Lighthouse

Bodie island lighthouse
Source: Photo by user Russiancarolinanet used under CC BY-SA 2.5

This black and white structure is located south of Nags Head at Cape Hatteras National Seashore. The current structure, built in 1872, is actually the third lighthouse constructed in this area with the earlier one being destroyed in the Civil War. Visitors are welcome to climb to the top of the lighthouse and marvel at the panoramic views. Besides, there are stretches of nature trails with a raised platform, located adjacent to the lighthouse, from where you can view the wildlife in this area. This lighthouse provides enough frames to click amazing photos, so don’t forget to get your camera.

Bodie Island Lighthouse

Address: 8210 Bodie Island Lighthouse, Nags Head, NC 27959

Opening hours: 9 am - 5 pm

3. Go pier fishing at Jennette's Pier or Nags Head Fishing Pier

Great photo by visiting photographer William Clanton.

Posted by Jennette's Pier on Saturday, 8 July 2017

The famous public fishing piers, Jennette’s and Nags Head Fishing Piers, provide easy access to plenty of fish of different species. In fact, today Jennette’s Pier is also a cultural treasure and an educational center. It is a state of the art facility featuring marine exhibits, a classroom, a banquet hall and a pier shop with all types of fishing rods. Besides, there is also a clean beach, free parking space and outdoor showers at this pier. A daily fishing pass is available at 12 USD for adults and 6 USD for kids. This place is ideal for complete family fun.

Jennette's Pier

Address: 7223 S Virginia Dare Trail, Nags Head, NC 27959

Opening hours: 5 am - 12 am

Website: Jennette’s Pier

4. Engage in adrenaline pumping adventure sports at First Flight Adventure Park

Happy October! So close to 2,000 'Likes'. Once we reach that mark 2 pairs of tickets to the First Flight Adventure Park...

Posted by First Flight Adventure Park on Wednesday, 1 October 2014

First Flight Adventure Park is the first aerial adventure park at Outer Banks. The park has been designed keeping in mind the needs of adventure seekers starting from a 6 year old. This park has 48 obstacles and 6 zip-lines. Offering a complete thrilling experience at a height, this place is definitely not for the fainthearted. You can test both your physical as well as mental limits once at this park. Moreover, this place can also be rented to host birthday parties or wedding receptions. This park is another place that is perfect for a family outing.

First Flight Adventure Park

Address: 6716 S Croatan Hwy, Nags Head, NC 27959

Website: First Flight Adventure Park

5. Indulge in water sports at Roanake Sound

Posted by Kitty Hawk Watersports, Nags Head on Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Kitty Hawk Watersports is located on Roanake Sound at Nags Head. They provide tourists with a range of water-sports activities like kayaking, jet-skiing, windsurfing, parasailing, banana boating and more. The equipment is top-notch and the entire crew is experienced, which are 2 important points that the adventure enthusiasts consider. Besides, you can also take sailing lessons at this place.

Kitty Hawk Watersports

Address: 6920 S Croatan Hwy, Nags Head, NC 27959

Website: Kitty Hawk Watersports

6. Get trained in hang gliding at Kitty Hawk Kites Hang Gliding School

Hang Gliders Jockey's Ridge State Park
Source: Photo by user Linda Rae used under CC BY 2.0

Kitty Hawk is renowned globally for its connection with Wright Brothers who departed and arrived at the Outer Banks at this place. Located at Jockey’s Ridge State Park, today Kitty Hawk offers the world’s largest hang gliding school to its visitors. It was started in 1974 by John Harris. Here you get to fly over the sand dunes, which indeed is a delightful sight. Besides, you can even try your hands at flying a replica of the 1902 Wright Glider. The entire crew at this school are very knowledgeable and helpful and the instructors are expert gliders.

Kitty Hawk Kites Hang Gliding School

Address: 302 Carolista Dr, Nags Head, NC 27959

Opening hours: 9 am - 8 pm

Website: Kitty Hawk Kites Hang Gliding School

7. Go dolphin watching at Roanoke Sound

The only dolphin-watch on the Outer Banks owned & operated by dolphin researchers with 16 years’ field experience. http://www.nagsheaddolphinwatch.com

Posted by Visitob.com - Outer Banks Vacation Guide on Friday, 27 January 2012

Dolphin tours are being run by marine biologists as a part of their research on these aquatic mammals. So you can rest assured that this would be an informative trip. Nags Head area has plenty of wild Atlantic bottle-nose dolphins that frequent up to the surface of the waters. So you will get to see a large number of dolphins of all sizes around your boat during this tour. Tourists can also sight ospreys, pelicans and other sea-birds during this tour.

Nags Head Dolphin Watch

Address: 7517 S Virginia Dare Trail, Nags Head, NC 27959

Opening hours: 9 am - 7 pm

Website: Nags Head Dolphin Watch

8. Get clicked 19th-century style at Outer Banks Old Time Photos

Posted by OBX Old Time Photos, Outer Banks - OBX OTP on Saturday, 29 July 2017

If you have always been amused by the concept of time-travel, then you would definitely like this place. Though not really, but you can virtually travel back in time to the Civil War era by putting on those lovely costumes and getting yourself clicked with those outstanding props and authentic scenes from that time. You can pose as salon girls dancing in front of the bars, nefarious pirates or as sturdy cowboys along with your family and friends. Besides, you can also choose from a variety of frames and poster themes to capture your memory forever in the form of a photo souvenir.

Outer Banks Old Time Photos

Address: 1900 S Croatan Hwy Unit C, Kill Devil Hills, NC 27948

Opening hours: 11 am - 8 pm (Monday - Friday); 11 am - 3 pm (Saturday)

Become a part of the lore at Nags Head

After reading this article, you would be sure that any of the above ‘things to do’ are definitely worth the trip. However, with so many attractions and fun activities on offer, it might seem tricky to fit in all this on a Nags Head vacation, and yet have plenty of spare time to bask in the sun on the beach. However, if you have specific interests that lure you to this place, then it would be easier to tick a few of the above off your bucket list.

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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