Well hello there! You’re either reading this because it’s the first time I posted it and it’s on the blog, you FOUND it on the blog or through a search engine..or I copy and pasted this link to you in an email because it’s going to be able to give you more answers, time and energy than I can right now! 🙂 Here ya go!
I’m not a pro. I’m sure some banks born and raised will read this and be like “yeah she knows nothing” ..and you’re probably right! But, people aren’t emailing them to ask so I’m the tour guide of today. Let me start by saying I vacationed here my whole life and am JUST now a local — two months in. But every single week, without fail..someone is emailing me asking me what hotel to stay in, what restaurants to dine in, what places to go. All I know is what I’ve done..and here’s what I’ve done and LOVE below!
Note– this will change and be updated! I can’t wait in 6 months to a year to post a Part 2 with WAY more info for you. But for now..this is what mama’s got.
We love the Comfort Inn, Ramada and Shutters on the Banks. Cape Hatteras Motel is awesome too if you wanna go way further down and enjoy Buxton. Although there’s more action on the mainland, there’s nothing like Hatteras and it’s peaceful setting. SO beautiful in so many ways. But..where we live in Kitty Hawk is, too! We enjoyed a couple of vacations in Hatteras until the last one when I decided I wanted more choices of where to eat and things to do that suited me. But..I also had morning sickness and wanted to punch everyone in the face so don’t judge it based on me!
Houses to Rent:
Can’t even begin to tell ya. We rent one to live in– so I don’t even know what to recommend except we loved staying in Miss Jane where we were married 4 years ago through Stan White Realty. There is also a lady who’s been VERY kind to me and supportive of my business who works for Village Realty so I’d recommend them, too!
Stuff to Do:
YOU NEED TO GO TO THE BEACH. And stay there. And put your phone away. And take it in. There is no cleaner air I’ve ever breathed (British Virgin Islands actually made be tied though…) than the air here. Jump in the ocean, take shells, wake up for at least one sunrise..PLEASE! It’s worth it! The sun rises over the water (come on East Coasters..you know this!) and sets on the sound so plan some enjoyment of taking all of that in accordingly. There’s also little putt putt, one movie theater, etc.
If your house or hotel has one– get in the hammock! Or hot tub! Or porch swing! Take life in, grab a book but don’t get so lost in it that you forget to look up at the beauty around you.
Jockey’s Ridge is awesome, too! And we love all of the piers, especially gritty little Avalon Pier. If you love shirtless fisherman and people feeling the need to smoke cigarettes next to a building regardless of who’s face it blows in..it’s your place! HAHA but no really, we love the arcade. WE LOVE the old school air hockey and ski ball all day long. Pool tables, too! And you can pay a small dollar or two and walk out onto the pier! Don’t complain about the fee..it’s nothing compared to the beauty.
I love Scarborough Faire in DUCK. I love that little gem of a shopping center but I also looooove Carolina Keiki down the road! Mama and daddies this store is AWESOME! There’s nothing like supporting a fellow parent but a small business owner with such passion and class with what she does..I just adore that girl!
You’ve also got four lighthouses to visit and enjoy..but my favorite is always the Currituck Lighthouse right next to the Whalehead Club. We had our engagements there SO long ago and we have always loved it there! There’s something very incredible about it.
You can drive to Hatteras and enjoy our favorite, Buxton.. and even see the Nights in Rodanthe house on the way there! AHH! Obsessed! I feel so bad for whoever stays there and has 100 people get out and take pictures of and in front of that house lol!
Take a ferry to Ocracoke if that’s your thing! I like it there but I used to always have anxiety about leaving the mainland because there was so much I wanted to do there first before venturing out more..but it’s a SWEET and adorable little place to visit really! And it’s a different world. I love it there!
I personally have to admit, I’m not wild about visiting aquariums or museums while on “vacation” — not because I’m a dumb blonde and don’t love learning, I actually LOVE love love love taking in new things and soaking up so much new info and learning a lot, but during vacations I’d rather get on jet skis, see structures like lighthouses, drink beer, get a little burnt in the sun and be as lazy as possible while enjoying myself and sometimes the aquarium can be VERY crowded and overwhelming. BUT– we went on a really sunny and pretty day recently and kind of realized that it’s way less crowded then because it’s a rainy day last resort to most people here! If you love aquariums though it’s a good one! And you KNOW kids love that stuff so Cammy eats it up! 🙂
Okay, so truth be told there are 100 other things I could add to this but those are just MY personal top ones. I will do a part two to this blog one day, promise! 🙂
I worked in restaurants for a long time and I GET IT. I see these employees deal with the biggest loons on the block so just realize one big thing about summer here..it’s BUSY. Just like at other beaches and popular summer vacation spots. Sometimes people are camping out for three hours at dinner, so that means that the table is not available and sometimes the waits here are HOURS long! That’s because there are soooo many people here and that’s just normal! You have GOT to prepare for this. Eat something small before you leave the house because you could wait two hours for a table. If you have small kids..well, you are just going to have to deal with it. I HAVE two small kids, I would never ever ever go out at 6 or 7 during the summer here and get mad when I have to wait because it’s just the way it is! If I get lucky and sat right away? GREAT! We really beat the odds! But if not..tough luck pal! When we went out for our anniversary recently we knew we wouldn’t even get a table so we just did the bar and stand on the outside deck thing. That’s FUN, too..it really is!
Before I list our faves..consider something really fun and accessible like picking up seafood from the store and having a good home cooked/steamed/sautéed meal together. You know..it’s really fun to do takeout from a place like I Got Your Crabs and then take it ON the beach to eat before the sun sets! Visiting this place is ALL about atmosphere. Sitting out on the deck of your rental home or hotel balcony and doing everything you can to breathe as much as that clean salty air you can..that’s the goal. Restaurants are awesome but night after night after night that adds UP! Have a plan to do some steamed take out and home cooked meals! And PIZZA! We loooove Pizza STOP and Pizzazz. Is it gourmet and as good as Cogan’s in Norfolk? Not to me..but it’s still good enough for a quick meal 🙂
Our fave places to eat, get drinks and take out are:
Mama Kwan’s – seriously do yourself a favor and get a BUSHWACKER from here! THE BEST! Special Occasion Pasta is amazing!
Bonzer Shack -Bushwacker’s here, too! And according to Katie..the grit cakes!
Awful Arthur’s – Tuna sandwich, steamed seafood, hushpuppies & crab + lobster bisque
I Got Your Crabs – Snow crab legs, crab cake a la carte, steamed spiced shrimp and WAFFLE fries!! 🙂 Cam’s fave!
Hurricane Mo’s – that spicy tuna app ahhh so good!
Goombay’s – colorful with a cool inside ceiling 🙂
Tortuga’s Lie – beer!!!
The Good Life – EVERYTHING – salmon salad w/ house (spicy honey mustard?) dressing! surprisingly great! red velvet cookie!!
Rundown Cafe – fried mac and cheese and cheese dip with chips! BLUE margarita..
Pizzazz Pizza – I mean..the pizza is okay! haha! salad bar if you eat in!
Pizza Stop – cheese pizza is all I’ve had lol….
La Fogata – CHEESE dip!!! and everything else, it’s mexican lol!
Kill Devil’s – awesome little digs!
Booty Treats – because the name is Booty Treat’s…I mean come ON that’s reason enough to go!!! 🙂
Jolly Roger – BREAKFAST!! 🙂 bright and early do it!
Sam + Omie’s – breakfast and usually slammed busy
Max’s Bagels – so so freaking good, wake up with the sunrise and pick them up! affordable and fresh!
And there are definitely more but they will have to be a part of the future follow up blog post! 🙂
LAST BUT NOT LEAST…
GET COFFEE from Front Porch Cafe!!! It’s my favorite place in the world. I love them so much and their atmosphere is amazing! I’m not knocking Starbucks because I actually love and believe in that company deeply but I haven’t been to one in our new home since June 1 — that’s crazy! I love the simplicity of the iced coffee with a shot of vanilla and then I just add my half and half and I’m SO happy seriously! And it’s local coffee, locals working there..it’s just wonderful. I’m a total fan and when I walk in the door, they hold up a large clear cup and say “the usual?” — yeah they’re my girls!!! I brought one of them flowers one day, haha! The bagels there with cream cheese are so good, too! And sprinkle cookies for your demanding toddler are always available, too!
I’m not a born and raised local OR a tour guide but this is all I know and what makes us happy down here! We can’t wait to discover more as we live here and raise our babies in the beautiful Banks! 🙂
OHHH- last note! I don’t shoot family sessions but THANK YOU for the inquiries! I love Lundy Photography (Erin Lundy) and if she’s not available email me for more recommendations. And on that note..try not to wait until the week before your vacation to book a photographer for portraits! It’s SO awesome to get them done on vacation and give your photographer a little more notice so they can correspond with you ahead of time and pick location, time, what to wear– etc! 🙂