Nestled on the southern tip of one of North Carolina’s barrier islands, Hatteras is a friendly coastal community. A popular vacation spot, the area is the perfect place for a low-key, relaxing family vacation filled with sand and fun. Choose one of the large luxury homes along the ocean, or a cozy cottage tucked away more inland. Book a stay at a Hatteras vacation rental today. Here are the top family-friendly activities available in Hatteras.
1. Get a History Lesson at the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum
On a rainy afternoon, take the kids over to the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum to learn more about the local area and what life was like on the Outer Banks in the past. This museum concentrates on the maritime history and the legends and lore of various shipwrecks that occurred in the water off the Outer Banks. You can recognize the museum by its unusual shape that resembles the support beams of the sides of a ship.
2. Enjoy the View at Cape Hatteras Light Station
Cape Hatteras Light Station stands 150 tall and dates back to the mid-1800s when it warned sailors of the danger of Diamond Shoals. It’s in this area of the Atlantic Ocean where the Gulf Stream meets the Virginia Drift. The lighthouse is open for self-guided tours from the end of April until early October.
3. Visit Chicamacomico Life-Saving Station
Before the United States Coast Guard had a base on the island, the Chicamacomico Life-Saving Station responded to the needs of sailors in trouble and helped save survivors after a wreck. This is the oldest surviving life-saving station in North Carolina and one of the few left in the country. Learn more about what life was like for the dedicated men who lived here with a tour. There are five exhibit buildings, and one of them houses a boat that was used in rescue operations.
Kayaking is an excellent way to explore the sound side of the island. The calmer side of the island makes it easy to navigate with small children. On your journey, take note of the beautiful homes and the unique ecosystem of the marshlands along this side of the island. Keep your eyes out for unique flora and fauna along the shores and birds flying over the water.
5. Ferry to Ocracoke Island
Take the ferry to Ocracoke Island for a day of exploration. This ferry runs on the hour during daytime hours and doesn’t cost anything. It’s a great chance to get out on the water and see the beautiful shorelines. Once the ferry leaves the dock, take the kids out on the deck to enjoy the view, or move to the upstairs level to see even more.
6. See Wild Ponies on Ocracoke Island
Amaze your little ones with a chance to see real live wild ponies at Ocracoke island’s pony corral. A viewing area above the settlement offers your kids a perfect view of the wild ponies at play.
7. Rent Bikes
Rent bikes from one of the local outfitters and explore the area. The Outer Banks is made up of a series of small barrier islands connected by a single main road. Ride up the road to check out the beautiful scenery that includes protected sand dunes as part of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. In some places, the road narrows to where you can see the ocean and the sound at the same time.
8. Sea Turtles
If you’re visiting the Outer Banks from May to September, take the kids out in the evening to look for sea turtles. These massive turtles emerge from the sea and spend a couple of hours building a nest in the sand before depositing their eggs and returning to the sea. In the fall, the baby turtles emerge at night and make their way to the water. This nesting ground is a popular turtle-watching spot during the high season.
9. Learn About Aviation History at Wright Brothers National Memorial
Drive down the Outer Banks and up the coast to the Wright Brothers National Memorial. It’s here that the Wright brothers became the first men to achieve motorized flight. Start with a trip to the information center and museum, where you can learn more about the brothers’ aviation trials and errors, and make sure to check out the replica of their plane. Afterwards, you can walk up the field and see the markers where the Wrights landed on various flights. Finally, climb the hill to the memorial stands where their flight began. Afterwards, use the picnic area to enjoy a nice lunch with the family.
Kiteboarding blends surfing and parasailing in one fun water sport that’s a blast for older kids. Kitty Hawk Kites offers lessons to people who want to try out this cool sport, teaching you the basics before taking you out on the sound to practice. If you already know how, you can rent your equipment here by the day or for the duration of your stay.
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