When the time arrives to enjoy your summer vacation or to take a long weekend anytime of the year, you want a place where you can relax and unwind with the beach just a short distance away. Located in central eastern North Carolina, Hatteras is one of the cities and beach communities located on the Outer Banks.

On this series of barrier islands, the Atlantic meets one side of the island. Pamlico Sound sits on the other side. Vacation rentals line both the beach and sound side of the Outer Banks, making it a cinch to find a waterfront property. Each community on the Outer Banks offers its own vibe and host of attractions for you and your family to explore. Here are the top 10 Haterras vacation rental locations.

1. Hatteras

Hatteras Island
Source: Flickr / betancourt

Located on the tip of the barrier island is the coastal town of Hatteras, where your family can enjoy days filled with biking, playing on the beach, or boating on the sound or ocean. Take the kids to the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum to learn more about the long history of sailing ships in the area, some of which brought some of the earliest colonists.

2. Ocracoke

Ocracoke Island Day
Source: Flickr / Chris Ballance

Hop on the free ferry at Hatteras, and putt over to Ocracoke Island for a stay where peace and quiet take precedence. Days on this barrier island pass in a haze of bike riding, viewing the wild ponies, or looking for turtle’s nests on the beach side of the island. In the town on the island, you can stroll through the local shops and enjoy an ultra-fresh seafood dinner with your family at one of the local restaurants.

3. Frisco

Cape Hatteras National Seashore
Source: Flickr / Ken Lund

Drive north from Hatteras along Route 12 to the small beach community of Frisco. Take the kids to the Frisco Native American Museum & Natural History Center to learn more about the history of the Outer Banks and what life was like on these barrier islands for Native Americans. Find a vacation rental on the beach, and wake up each morning to stunning views. From your rental, take a short walk through the dunes to the water’s edge.

4. Buxton

Birds on the Seashore
Source: Flickr / Bil Kleb

Buxton is the ultimate small coastal community and perfect for families that want to avoid the crowds found at some of the larger towns on the Outer Banks. Wen you stay in Buxton, indulge in fishing, kayaking, or boating to relax the days away. Many of the vacation rentals have a kayaks and bikes inside, and you can rent these items from a local outfitter if you need extra.

5. Avon

Cape Hatteras Light House
Source: Flickr / Karen Blaha

In Avon, you can head to the beach and enjoy the excitement of mixing with the local crowds. You can also bike over to the Avon Fishing Pier and let the kids cast their lines in the water. With a little luck, you’ll have a mess of fish to cook at your vacation rental for dinner. If you want to explore, hop in the car and drive out to the nearby Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. Operated by the National Park Service, the lighthouse is open to the public.

6. Salvo

Outer Banks, NC
Source: Flickr / James Willamor

Salvo offers amazing views of the ocean from most areas in town. This small coastal community sits on the Outer Banks in an area that is not very wide. Take your bikes out and ride up and down Route 12 to get to the ocean, or get a special pass to drive your car out on the beach. In the evenings, take the short drive out to Avon for a seafood dinner or some Mexican food.

7. Waves

Seaside
Source: Flickr / hamiltonhill2

While in Waves, stop by Charlie’s Waverunners to rent a jet ski to take out on the sound for an afternoon of fun. You and your family can also check out the small local stores for some unique finds. Hatteras Island Surf Shop has everything you need for a day on the beach or on a boat, including beach towels, bathing suits, and sunscreen.

8. Rodanthe

Outer Banks beach access
Source: Flickr / TheRealOuterBanks.com

Let the cool breeze from the sound or the ocean cool you off as you read a book on the deck of your vacation rental in Rodanthe. It is right on the coast approximately 25 miles from Hatteras. Days seem longer on the Outer Banks, so bike, fish, enjoy parasailing, or take a boat charter for some great fishing while vacationing in this area.

9. Nags Head

Jockey's Ridge
Source: Flickr / Jim Rhodes

Hit all the local hot spots when you stay in Nags Head. Take the kids to Jockey’s Ridge to explore the largest sand dune in the southeast. For a small fee, you and the kids can try your hand at sand dune surfing. If you love history, visit Roanoke Island, the site of the Lost Colony of Roanoke in Dare County.

10. Kill Devil Hills

Wright Brothers National Monument
Source: Flickr / James Willamor

North Carolina features a license plate that states First in Flight, and it all began in the town of Kill Devil Hills. Stay in the town where the Wright Brothers became the first men to ever fly an airplane. You can climb up to the monument where their flight started and see in the distance where it landed. Explore the museum at this historic site, and watch a film about the Wright Brothers’ trials and triumphs.