Enjoying Beautiful Views
No matter what time of year you visit, the coastal scenery is a highlight of the Outer Banks. We drove up and down Highway 12 several times, marveling at the drifting dunes and marshes on the south end and the hundreds of colorful homes perched on stilts along the banks.
In Duck, a town of about 600, we perused the Waterfront Shops, boutiques and stores along the Duck Town Park Boardwalk. Many were closed. The owner of Duck’s General Store, where we bought coffee and books, told us business was slow this time of year, but she liked that because she had extra time to chat with customers. Farther south, Nicholas Sparks fans will find the charming homes recognizable from the movie “Nights In Rodanthe,” especially the Inn at Rodanthe, which plays a prominent role.
During a stop at the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, near Buxton, welearned from a sign that the warm Gulf Stream and the cold Labrador Current collide off the Outer Banks, creating treacherous conditions for ships, so the area is called the Graveyard of the Atlantic. A museum of the same name is about 20 minutes away in Hatteras, but it was closed during our visit.
Though the windy weather is bad for sailors, it’s perfect for pilots. The Wright Brothers picked Kitty Hawk on the north end of the Outer Banks to carry out their first attempt at flight specifically for its consistent breeze. We visited the Wright Brothers National Memorial at Kill Devil Hills, where you can walk the world’s first runway and visit a small museum documenting the brothers’ journey, from working with bicycles to being hailed as “first in flight.”
Nearby, we spent a couple of hours walking the massive 100-foot-tall sand dunes at Jockey’s Ridge State Park. From the top, you can gaze across both the ocean and Roanoke Sound. It felt a world away from Chicago, and reminded us how many diverse landscapes exist in the U.S.