If you dream of a partly off-the-grid vacation, your Carova Beach vacation rental takes you there. It’s a community that you reach only with a four-wheel-drive vehicle, driving on the beach from Corolla to get there. The roads in the neighborhood are also sand and quite entertaining to traverse in your special vehicle. The area includes pristine beaches, maritime forest, and open spaces where the famous wild horses roam. You need to take all of your supplies with you as Carova Beach has no stores, gas stations, or other businesses. Swimming, body boarding, hiking, and shelling await just past your doorstep. When you want to enjoy mini golf, parasailing, and other adventures, Corolla is only 10 miles to the south. While you think about your vacation, here’s a list of the 12 best things to do with kids in the area.

1. Swim and Relax on the Beach

When the weather is calm, Carova Beach slopes gradually into the gentle waves of the Atlantic, making it an ideal swimming spot for the entire family as long as you supervise the kids. Between frolicking in the surf with the kids and building sandcastles, your beach umbrella and a cold drink set the scene for a perfect day of beach fun and stress-busting relaxation.

2. Go Shelling

After a storm and at low tide are great times to hit the beach with bags or buckets in hand to collect some sea treasures. It’s best to dig through small piles of shells that you find close to the wash. Coquinas, periwinkles, augers, moon snails, and more typically appear intact at these times. Once the kids rinse the shells and let them dry, they make great craft items or souvenirs.

3. Ride the Waves on a Bodyboard

Imagine unlocking the garage of your Carova Beach vacation rental, taking out the body boards, and walking just a few feet to the surf to get the party started. For some rollicking fun, you can challenge the kids to races on the waves. Corolla Surf Shop offers daily and weekly rentals of bodyboards.

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4. Hike the Coastal Reserve and National Estuarine Research Reserve

Coastal Reserve and National Estuarine Research Reserve is 10 miles south of Virginia, bounded by Currituck Sound and the Atlantic Ocean. The 965-acre site includes ocean beaches with sand dunes, grasslands, maritime forest, marshes, and tidal flats. If you hike along the one-third-mile boardwalk, you come to a rustic trail that veers off the regular path. This hiking trail leads deeper into patches of the forest and through a mile-and-a-half of different habitats. If you have bird watchers in the family, keep an eye out for ospreys and terns.

5. Soar Above the Atlantic on a Parasail

For a family adventure that’s out of this world, Corolla Parasailing puts you hundreds of feet up in air above the ocean. Little kids always fly with parents or siblings in tandem or triple flights to meet the safe minimum weights. The crew smoothly reels you off the deck of the boat for your flight, keeping you dry. If you purchase a photo package, the crew takes at least 50 shots of your adventure, including your departure from the boat, the flight, and your gentle landing back on the deck.

6. Hang Out at Corolla Adventure Park

It’s okay to take your kids as young as five to enjoy the ropes obstacle course and zip lines at Corolla Adventure Park. Participants maneuver between platforms that range from 12 to 50 feet above the ground and must complete at least three obstacles to reach the zip line in the center of the course. Each level includes two zip lines that participants reach by traversing easy, intermediate, or difficult obstacles. Situated along a wetland ecosystem, the property gives you opportunities to see wild horses and native plant species.

7. Enjoy Miniature Golf

Corolla has two mini-golf courses within 10 miles of your Carova Beach vacation rental, including the 20-hole Grass Course and the 27-hole Corolla Adventure Golf. When the kids want more than just miniature golf, Corolla Adventure Golf also features bumper cars, arcade games, and a snack bar. If your kids are older, they might like the more challenging Grass Course. This all-natural course near the woods offers scenic views of Currituck Sound and is lighted for evening play. The clubhouse serves hot dogs, BBQ, and ice cream to enjoy at the picnic tables.

8. Explore the Diversity of Coastal Wildlife

When you step onto the grounds of the Outer Banks Center for Wildlife Education in Corolla, you notice the natural setting of 29 acres of oak trees. Bring a picnic if you like, and stroll around the grounds enjoying the views. The center features activities for children, including programs on fishing, kayaking, and nature photography. Kids get really excited about the 8,000-gallon aquarium, which contains many species of local sea creatures. Other exhibits include a sizable collection of collectible duck decoys, vintage outboard motors, and a life-size marsh diorama.

9. Learn the History of Corolla’s Wild Horses

Caretakers of the wild horse herd operate the Wild Horse Museum in Corolla, about 10 miles from your Carova Beach vacation rental. The museum features interactive exhibits for children, a wall-sized map of the range, and video displays. Museum staff members answer questions about the wild Spanish mustangs that roam the Outer Banks. During summer months, children’s activities include horse-figure painting and mustang rides. Proceeds from memorabilia, jewelry, and shirts purchased in the store support the wild horses.

10. Search for the Famous Wild Horses

Riding on sandy beaches in a jeep, truck, or a four-wheel-drive bus is fun, especially when you’re searching for the famous wild horses of the North Carolina Outer Banks. At least half a dozen tour companies offer tours along the Carova Beaches and streets. Imagine spotting these descendants of the Spanish mustangs in the backyard of your Carova vacation rental or strolling among the clusters of live oak trees.

11. Tour the Whalehead

The Whalehead is a restored 1922 Art Deco mansion situated on 39 acres along Currituck Sound near the Currituck Beach Lighthouse. The 21,000-square-foot mansion is open year-round for guided tours, including holiday tours. Special ghost tours give families opportunities to decide for themselves whether the mansion houses a ghost or two. Some visitors report smelling cigar smoke, hearing the cries of a phantom girl, and seeing the elevator engage and head to the basement by itself.

12. Climb the Currituck Beach Lighthouse

Between Easter and Thanksgiving Eve, the 1875 Currituck Beach Lighthouse Corolla welcomes visitors inside. If you decide to climb the 220 steps to the top, it’s interesting to pause at the base as well as the first two landings to view the historical exhibits about the lighthouse, keepers, and giant Fresnel lens that is still in use. The museum gift shop features books, lighthouse memorabilia, and clothing.

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