“I didn’t know it would be like this.”

Some firsts are small. And some take up three-quarters of the planet. Jazmene and her daughter Peyton had never seen the ocean, and their anticipation was sized to match. But a mother-daughter trip to the Outer Banks proved North Carolina’s shorelines are more memorable than they could have even imagined.

Seeing the Ocean

Find Your Firsts

Wild horses, lighthouses and blissfully isolated stretches of sand are just a few of firsts Jazmene and Peyton experienced on their trip. Explore these stops and more to find out what firsts you might uncover along 300 miles of North Carolina coastline.

1 Ramp 34, N.C. Highway 12

1 Ramp 34, N.C. Highway 12

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Travelers driving along N.C. Highway 12 are flanked by ocean on each side. North Carolina’s Outer Banks, Currituck and Ocracoke are a unique barrier island formation, jutting out 200 miles into the sea.

A First to Last

Pulling off at Ramp 34, Jazmene and Peyton experienced one of life’s most stunning firsts: They got to see and experience the ocean for the very first time.

Insider Tip

Beach accesses and parking along the Outer Banks and Cape Hatteras National Seashore are free and open to the public.

2 Rodanthe Pier

2 Rodanthe Pier

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Located on Hatteras Island, the Rodanthe Pier is a great spot for relaxing with a cool drink as the waves lap all around you or hooking up your fishing line - no license required when fishing from the pier..

Insider Tip

No fishing rod? No problem. Bait, tackle and beyond are available for purchase or rent at the pier house, as well as a few cool treats.

3 Cape Hatteras National Seashore

3 Cape Hatteras National Seashore

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These 70+ miles of Outer Banks shoreline are protected by the U.S. National Park Service, and it shows. Undisturbed, scenic beaches also boast some of the East Coast’s best surfing as well as birding and fishing opportunities.

Insider Tip

Locals have been known to refer to Hatteras as “the real Outer Banks.” Take advantage of the shoulder season months like April, May and September for a less crowded experience.

4 Miller’s Waterfront Restaurant

4 Miller’s Waterfront Restaurant

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This Nags Head classic offers more than the traditional surf and turf, though it excels there, too: A robust selection of beers and oysters Vanderbilt are well worth the trip alone.

Insider Tip

In addition to great food and service, Miller’s Waterfront Restaurant boasts a - you guessed it - waterfront view. Sunset on the Roanoke Sound side is a gorgeous way to end any day on the Outer Banks.

5 Jockey’s Ridge State Park

5 Jockey’s Ridge State Park

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As the tallest living sand dune on the East Coast, Jockey’s Ridge rises 110 feet and affords visitors the chance to explore a fascinating geological formation while hiking, hang gliding, flying kites and more.

A First to Last

Jazmene and Peyton flew kites for the first time at Jockey’s Ridge. It didn’t surprise Jazmene to learn her daughter was, of course, a natural.

Insider Tip

For your own aerial adventures, check out Kitty Hawk Kites for hang-gliding and kite-flying lessons.

6 Duck Donuts

6 Duck Donuts

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It’s hard to argue with hot donuts made to order, and at Duck, they’ve been making mouths water among visitors and locals alike since 2006. This is the original location.

What They Ate

Peyton ordered a strawberry donut with rainbow sprinkles and raspberry drizzle. But if you can’t decide between sweet and salty, Duck’s maple bacon donut is a local favorite.

7 The Sanderling

7 The Sanderling

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Home base for Jazmene and Peyton was the Sanderling, a AAA Four Diamond resort that boasts oceanfront property and panoramic views of the Outer Banks.

Insider Tip

Wondering what could make a night around one of the Sanderling’s fire pits even more enjoyable? How about a s’mores kit waiting in your room. If you don’t find one upon arrival, just ask.

8 Coastal Explorations

8 Coastal Explorations

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Jazmene and Peyton kayaked in Corolla with Coastal Explorations, an outdoor touring company that offers everything from guided boat tours, to wild horse adventures, to kayak and paddleboard rentals.

Insider Tip

Guided kayak tours like the one Jazmene and Peyton did are especially great for kids and animal lovers; the experience often includes local wildlife sightings like crabs, birds, fish and more.

9 Currituck Beach Light Station

9 Currituck Beach Light Station

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Jazmene had only ever seen a lighthouse in a book. At Currituck Beach Light Station, she and Peyton got to explore one that began operation in 1875 and is still active today. Visitors are welcome to climb to the top from Easter to Thanksgiving.

Find Out More

10 Corolla Wild Horse Adventures

10 Corolla Wild Horse Adventures

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It’s one of the most iconic and beloved scenes on the Outer Banks: Wild horses, brought to North Carolina shores 500 years ago, roaming the land between sound and sea.

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About the Region

In search of even more to see and do along North Carolina’s 300 miles of coastline? From the charms of quaint beach towns to the thrills of water sports and activities, there’s always something to do here (even if that something is nothing at all.) Explore our coast to learn more.

Updated June 15, 2018

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