Miles and miles of beaches -- many of them uncrowded even during peak season -- are the main draw for most Outer Banks visitors. It's an ideal place for a preschooler to build his or her first sand castle or for teenagers to try their hand at surfing. There's also a healthy dose of history, but the fun kind: pirates, airplanes, and the mysterious Lost Colony.
Summer is prime time on the Outer Banks. It's the perfect setting for swimming, kayaking, and other water sports. Spring and autumn are wonderful times to go, too -- the crowds are thinner and the water is still warm. Winter is a lovely and peaceful time -- the rental cottages are a fraction of their summer cost, and the Outer Banks feel secluded and private. August and September are peak hurricane season.
The high temperature in July is 86 degrees. The rest of the seasons are mild, with highs of 69 degrees in April, 71 in October, and 51 in January. Hurricane season runs from June to November. Get more weather info.
A small airport, Dare County Regional Airport (MEO) operates out of Roanoke Island, but very few flights operate from it. You'll probably need to fly into Norfolk International Airport (ORF) -- 90 minutes away in Norfolk, Vir. Several shuttle services provide rides to and from the Norfolk International Airport.
You'll need your own transportation once you get to the Outer Banks,as there is no public bus service. The main road through the Outer Banks is Highway 12, which can be slow-going in the summer months.
The festivals at the Outer Banks celebrate the unique history and culture of the area, including Native American traditions, wild horses, and hang gliding. Check OuterBanks.org for details.
The Outer Banks Visitors Bureau website offers comprehensive information on planning a visit.
Most visitors stay at rental houses, which range from simple cottages to veritable mansions that boast swimming pools, game rooms, playgrounds, and putting greens. There are many reputable rental agencies at the Outer Banks. Two to try are Sun Realty and Carolina Designs.
Roanoke Island Festival Park and the Elizabeth Gardens offer a joint admission pass that saves 20 percent. It's available at either location. Most rental cottages will have a coupon book for local attractions. If you don't see one, ask at the rental agency.