Last-minute trips are great for spontaneous getaways or a surprise three-day weekend, but to get the most out of your vacation, it’s best to plan ahead—and to plan early. The Outer Banks, in particular, is a favorite beach vacation destination that often books out quickly for spring and summer. Get ahead of the crowds and find the perfect OBX rental for your group with dog-friendly and beachfront houses and amenities like pools, boat docks, hot tubs, and plenty of space. Lock in a great deal before 2024 rates change, then reserve adventures to look forward to, like snorkeling, kiteboarding, family surf lessons, or museum tours. With money saved, activities organized, and a vacation rental booked, you’ll be able to truly relax along the Outer Banks’ soothing crashing waves.
Thinking about an Outer Banks beach vacation next year? Book now to save your spot in the sand and let the countdown begin.
Featured Vacasa vacation rental: Island Oasis
As we mentioned, the Outer Banks is one of North Carolina’s most popular beach destinations and often books up for spring and summer seasons, but there’s still time to book now for 2024. The Outer Banks experiences a mild and pleasant climate throughout the year, making it a great vacation spot for fall and winter, too. Shoulder seasons mean lower prices and fewer crowds if a quiet coastal or snowbird retreat is more your style.
Enjoy a peaceful stroll on the empty beaches and look for shells and sea glass, putt around on the golf courses, or visit local eateries. However, if you prefer warmer weather and don't mind a bustling atmosphere, the summer months of June through August are ideal. Cool off in the refreshing ocean waves, charter a sport fishing tour, and catch seasonal events like the Outer Banks Pirate Festival in July or its Kite Festival in September.
Traveling with kids? The summer months promise plenty of family-friendly activities, as well as the best chance to spot sea turtles, from May through September.
History buffs and nature enthusiasts will both love Kitty Hawk, where they can tour the birthplace of aviation at the Wright Brothers Memorial or spot otters and turtles at Kitty Hawk Woods Coastal Reserve.
Featured Vacasa vacation rental: On Water’s Edge 954
As you might’ve guessed, OBX is a water sports wonderland. Here, you’ll find 175 miles of beautiful white-sand beaches and some of the clearest water on the Atlantic shore, with no shortage of ways to enjoy it. The Outer Banks has been referred to as the windsurfing and kiteboarding capital of the east coast, attracting professionals to its shores for its consistent strong winds, stunning scenery, and competitions. Book a day of parasailing at Kitty Hawk Kites for a bird’s eye view of the islands, check out the OBX Jetovator in Avon, or take your group out for snorkeling along Roanoke Island. Kids are sure to love an adventure out on jet skis or a dolphin cruise.
If high winds and high adrenaline aren’t your thing, the Corolla Salt Marshes, the Currituck Sound, and the Kitty Hawk Maritime Forest are premier spots for kayaking and paddle boarding. Try your hand at surfing with a few lessons or sit back and watch annual competitions like the ESA Eastern Surfing Championships.
Anglers are in luck too, as they can have their pick of inshore fishing spots on several piers, as well as a chance to reel in big game on offshore and deep sea charters.
If breathtaking beaches and a laidback atmosphere weren’t enough, take your time exploring the Outer Banks’ rich history, ranging from mysterious to maritime. Youngsters and the young at heart will find themselves intrigued by the mystery of Roanoke’s Lost Colony at the Roanoke Adventure Museum, where you can also watch history come to life at Roanoke Island Festival Park’s 16th-century ships. Step back in time at Rodanthe’s Chicamacomico Life-Saving Station Historic Site & Museum or dig into the islands’ history of shipwrecks at the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum.
The Outer Banks is home to 5 lighthouses, including the tallest lighthouse in the U.S:
Tour through the barrier islands one lighthouse at a time or stop by for a scenic backdrop to your family vacation photo.
With miles of beautiful shorelines, it’s no surprise that the Outer Banks has an unbeatable seafood scene. If you love digging into the fresh catch of the day, be sure to check out the region’s renowned shrimp, oysters, and crab. Make reservations at a fine-dining seafood restaurant by the water, or stop by a seafood shack after a day at the beach.
Plan ahead and set your trip in time for one of the many local seafood events, like the Outer Banks Seafood Festival in Nags Head (October), the Ocracoke Seafood Festival (September), the Day at the Docks on Hatteras Island (September), and the Shuck Hatteras Oyster Festival (December).
Not a seafood fan? No problem. Don’t miss out on the other great dishes OBX has to offer, and events like the Outer Banks Watermelon Festival in Nags Head (August), the Ocracoke Fig Festival (August), the Labor Day Beer Mile (September), and the hilariously unique OBX Brewtag in (October).
Featured Vacasa vacation rental: The Blue Pearl
From your OBX rental, opportunity awaits. When you book now for 2024, you’ll have plenty of time to map out your vacation itinerary, including day trips to distant coastal towns you might have your eye on. Take the ferry to Ocracoke Island, a popular day trip destination, where the natural coastal beauty is second to none. Here, the shoreline remains undeveloped without any houses or condos, so you can relax in the pure outdoors while fishing, crabbing, or enjoying a picnic.
Make reservations for adventures to remember, like romantic horseback rides on the beach or a family outing for a dolphin tour. Scope out green fairways for golfing in Nags Head and Kitty Hawk or grab tickets to the thrilling and world-famous monster truck, Grave Digger along Currituck. Parents can plan an easy day of fun with the kids at H2OBX Water Park or the North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island.
Looking to explore more of North Carolina? If your family can’t get enough of the beach, swing by North Carolina’s Crystal Coast (reachable by ferry or about a 4.5-hour drive) for a walk along the North Carolina Birding Trail or a dip in the clear ocean waves at Atlantic Beach. Topsail Island is also a great destination for secluded beaches and sea turtle sanctuaries.
Given its mild weather, the Outer Banks is an ideal year-round beach destination. If you prefer a quiet beach vacation, book your stay for the shoulder season from September through November. If you’re looking for warmer weather and plenty to do, March through May is when you can enjoy a host of activities in the sunshine.
Each of the Outer Banks’ coastal villages has a different adventure to offer. Hatteras Island is an excellent choice if you’re looking for an off-grid escape with plenty of surrounding nature. For a family beach vacation, head to Nags Head or Kitty Hawk, where you’ll find plenty of water sports, museums, and local festivals.