31 Ways to Explore the Carolina Coasts
Discover fun and adventure from Corolla to Hilton Head
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This story was updated in February 2020.
Carolinians looking for a beach vacation don’t have to travel far. Between the beaches of North Carolina and South Carolina, there are about 500 miles of coastline to explore and enjoy. Here are 31 spots to check out — from the north end of the Outer Banks in North Carolina, through the Grand Strand and on to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.
1. Tour Whalehead, a “mansion by the sea,” on the Currituck Sound in Corolla, North Carolina. Whalehead is a 1920s-era, art-nouveau-style mansion open year-round for tours. Learn the history of this glamorous hunting retreat that was restored to its original glory in 1992. visitcurrituck.com/whalehead
2. Make a splash at H2OBX Water Park in Powells Point, North Carolina. From thrilling water rides like Midnight Marauder and Riptide to low-key slides and lagoons, this water park offers something for everyone. h2obxwaterpark.com
3. Stand where the Wright brothers stood when testing out their flying machines in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina. Aviation enthusiasts can tour a temporary smaller facility while the Wright Brothers Visitor Center undergoes renovations. Hike to the top of Big Kill Devil Hill to see the Wright Brothers National Memorial. Be sure to save time for the kids to get their national park Junior Ranger badge. Inquire at the visitor information desk. nps.gov/wrbr
4. See America’s greatest unsolved mystery by watching the “The Lost Colony” outdoor drama in Manteo, North Carolina. The performance about what may have happened to the first English settlers on Roanoke Island includes fire and fireworks that will have kids on the edges of their seats. The 81st anniversary season of “The Lost Colony” runs May 29-Aug. 21, 2020. thelostcolony.org
5. Explore the Outer Banks’ lighthouses. Families can climb 257 steps to the top of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse in Buxton, the world’s tallest brick lighthouse. The Bodie Island Lighthouse in Nags Head and Currituck Beach Lighthouse in Corolla are also open for adventurous climbers. For nonclimbers, the Ocracoke Island Lighthouse is the perfect place to snap some pictures of North Carolina’s oldest operating lighthouse. visitnc.com/story/coastal-lighthouses
Photo courtesy of Ocracoke Island Visitors Center