20 BEST Things To Do In Duck, NC

Explore the charming town of Duck, where relaxation takes center stage. This coastal gem exudes a laid-back atmosphere that entices visitors to unwind with the coastal breeze in your face.

Though if you don’t want to completely unwind, and are looking for some of the best things to do in Duck, we have you covered! Nestled amidst ancient live oaks, sun-kissed shores, and shimmering waters, Duck offers a delightful coastal escape for all visitors. Let’s dig into some of the best things to do!

Best Things To Do In Duck, NC

1. Duck Town Park

Duck Town Park
Image courtesy of Visit The Outer Banks / Best Things To Do In Duck, NC
  • Address: Duck Town Park Boardwalk, Duck (GPS)

The quaint seaside town of Duck offers plenty of attractions but none are as popular or more fondly visited than Duck Town Park, located around the City Government Office building. 

The park offers 11 acres of pristine natural beauty. In the park are plenty of trails to explore that wind through maritime forests, marshes, swamps, and open grasslands where you can catch sight of several species of rare plants and wildlife. 

Immerse yourself in the natural beauty and sound side views of your surroundings. The park also offers several amenities which include a children’s playground, picnic shelter, gazebo, an amphitheater, kayak/canoe launch area, and water fountains. It is also host to several annual events (especially during summer) that entertain the entire family! 

2. Duck Boardwalk

Duck Boardwalk
Image courtesy of Town of Duck
  • Address: Duck Town Park Boardwalk, Duck (GPS)

One of the best things to do in Duck is walk the Boardwalk that is part of Duck Town Park. However, being the main attraction of this little town, we felt the boardwalk deserves its own mention on this list. Unlike the park which is open from dawn to dusk, the boardwalk is open from dawn until 1 am – perfect for those looking for a romantic stroll.

It is nearly a mile long and juts out into the Currituck Sound, offering visitors panoramic views and making it the best place to catch the sunset at the Outer Banks. Walking along the boardwalk you are likely going to catch sight of waterfowl, wildlife, and migratory birds that also flock here enjoying the calm waters and peaceful vibes.

3. Wright Brothers National Memorial

Wright Brothers National Memorial
Image courtesy of trent roche via flickr
  • Address: 1000 N Croatan Hwy, Kill Devil Hills (GPS)
  • Hours: Monday- Sunday: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm

Just a short drive from Duck Town Park, in Kill Devil Hills, NC, lies the Wright Brothers National Memorial, a historic landmark built to commemorate the first successful and sustained heavier-than-air powered flight made by the famous Wright Brothers in 1903. 

The 60 ft. tall granite structure is built in the area where the two brothers conducted their test flights and is a homage to their inventive prowess, courage, and perseverance. The memorial is also the tallest man-made structure in the Outer Banks and a must-visit attraction for aviation fans and history buffs.

4. Shop At The Waterfront Shops

The Waterfront Shops
Image courtesy of The Waterfront Shops / Best Things To Do In Duck, NC
  • Address: 1240 Duck Rd, Duck (GPS)
  • Hours: Monday – Sunday: 10:00 am -8:00 pm

The shopping center in Duck is located right by the edge of the boardwalk and stretches along the sound side of the village offering fantastic views of the surroundings while you shop at boutique stores, eateries, and specialty shops. 

With over 25 restaurants (including a OBX favorite, The Blue Point) eateries, boutique novelty shops, and more, shopping at the Waterfront Shops is an activity people of all ages can enjoy. There is also a duck pond here where visitors can feed ducks and geese and enjoy the scents, sounds, and coastal vibes of being by the waterfront.  

5. Hike & Bike On The Duck Trail

The Duck Trail
Image courtesy of Town of Duck / Best Things To Do In Duck, NC

Duck may be a small OBX town but it offers plenty of outdoor activities for visitors to partake in, one of which includes hiking and biking along the Duck Trail. The trail runs parallel to Duck Rd (NC-12) and traverses the entire length of the township, stretching for about six miles in total. 

Starting by the Post Office, where visitors can also find parking, you can choose to either hike, bike or skate the Duck Trail. Motorized vehicles are prohibited on the trail. For visitor safety, the trail has a designated crosswalk and half-mile markers, and other notable signs so you don’t lose your way. 

6. Coastal Kayaking

Coastal Kayaking
Image courtesy of Coastal Kayak Touring Company
  • Address: 1240 Duck Rd Unit F3, Kitty Hawk (GPS)
  • Hours: Monday- Sunday: 8:00 am – 8:00 pm
  • Cost of Admission: For tour prices, click here.

The town of Duck, NC, is known for its water sports activities and the Coastal Kayak Touring Company located in the Waterfront Shops offers visitors everything they need to explore the waters around Duck. Visitors can opt to sign up for kayak tours that are safe for all ages and allow for exploration of the Outer Banks and its natural wonders.

You can also opt to partake in Stand Up Paddle Board Tours on the calm waters of the Currituck Sound. If you want to explore the Outer Banks solo, the shop also offers kayaks and stand-up paddleboard rental services. 

7. Spend the Day on Duck’s Family-Friendly Public Beaches

Kitty Hawk Beach
Kitty Hawk Beach
  • Address: 3802 N Va Dare Trail, Kitty Hawk (GPS)

One of the best family beaches in all of North Carolina, or for that matter, the US, Duck’s beaches are the perfect spots to bask in sand and sun. All the beaches overlook the North Atlantic Ocean, offer stunning views, and are generally quiet. 

Some of the popular beaches in Duck include Samuel Beach, Beach Access Gazebo, Ocean Dunes, Hillcrest Beach, and Kitty Hawk Beach.

To get to the beaches, you’ll need to take a stroll as there is no parking close to the beach areas. You can swim in the ocean waters but do so only while close to a lifeguard and in designated swimming areas.

8. Roanoke Island Festival Park

Roanoke Island Festival Park
Image courtesy of Roanoke Island Festival Park / Best Things To Do In Duck, NC
  • Address: 1 Festival Park, Manteo (GPS)
  • Hours: Tuesday – Saturday: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm, Closed: Monday – Tuesday
  • Cost of Admission: Ages 3-17: $6.00, Ages 18 and Up: $8.25, Ages 2 & Under: Free

A short 40-min drive from downtown Duck lies Roanoke Island Festival Park, which is both a historic site and a history museum. Roanoke Island was the place where the first English colony was formed in the ‘New World.’ 

Today, the 27-acre Roanoke Island Festival Park is a historical site that lets visitors experience what life was like for the first English settlers that landed on these shores in the 16th century. The park also features the Elizabeth II sailing ship, an Algonquian lighthouse, an Adventure Museum, an American Indian Town, and plenty of live exhibits.  

9. Jockey’s Ridge State Park

Jockey’s Ridge State Park
The scenic view of Jockey’s Ridge State Park
  • Address: 300 W Carolista Dr, Nags Head (GPS)
  • Hours: Monday – Sunday: 8:00 am -9:00 pm

Less than half an hour’s drive from Duck lies Jockey’s Ridge State Park, renowned for having the tallest natural sand dunes in all of the eastern United States. Some of these dunes can reach heights of over 80 ft and would seem more at home in a desert rather than near a quaint coastal town. 

The dunes are the highlight of the park and adrenaline junkies can make use of those dunes by taking flight in hang gliders or surfing the sands on sandboards. You can also experience kiteboarding, kayaking, hiking, and a ton of other outdoor activities or simply lie down and soak in the sun on the soft sands enjoying the cool oceanic winds.

10. Fort Raleigh National Historic Site

Fort Raleigh National Historic Site
Image courtesy of Fort Raleigh National Historic Site
  • Address: 1401 National Park Dr, Manteo (GPS)
  • Hours: Monday – Sunday: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
  • Cost of Admission: Free

Fort Raleigh National Historic Site is a part of Roanoke Island Festival Park and protects and preserves the site of the colony of the first English settlement that landed on American shores. It also exhibits the cultural heritage and history of European Americans, Native Americans, and African Americans that lived on Roanoke Island. 

The site has an extensive visitor center that houses many of the artifacts found in the area and theories and accounts of the mystery surrounding the disappearance of the colonists that lived here some four centuries ago.

11. Elizabethan Gardens

Elizabethan Gardens
  • Address: 1411 National Park Dr, Manteo (GPS)
  • Hours: Monday – Sunday: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
  • Cost of Admission: For daily admission tickets, click here.

A part of the Fort Raleigh National Historic Site, Elizabethan Gardens are perhaps the main attraction for visitors to the park. The fantastical 10-acre botanical gardens are a living memorial to the lost colony of Sir Walter Raleigh and exhibit an array of seasonal flowering plants, meticulously manicured shrubs and trees, exquisite Renaissance sculptures, and other unique Elizabethan features. 

You can also partake in activities through workshops and seasonal events, play at the Discovery Cottage, or shop at the gift shop. The Elizabethan Gardens is also a popular location for wedding and landscape photography thanks to its beautiful flowers and majestic water views. 

12. Bodie Island Lighthouse

 Bodie Island Lighthouse
  • Address: 8210 Bodie Island Lighthouse Rd, Nags Head (GPS)
  • Hours: 24hrs

A half-hour drive from Duck lies the picturesque Bodie Island Lighthouse, which is one of the best lighthouses in North Carolina. Built in 1872, the lighthouse is 164 ft tall and still active providing navigational aid to ships out at sea.

If you are lucky you can climb to the top for a bird’s eye view of the Outer Banks as the lighthouse is open seasonally for public tours. 

Bodie Island Lighthouse is one of the three lighthouses built to help ships maneuver along the coastline from Cape Hatteras to Currituck Beach. 

13. Currituck Beach Lighthouse

Currituck Beach Lighthouse
  • Address: 1101 Corolla Village Rd, Corolla (GPS)
  • Hours: Daily 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
  • Cost of Admission: $12 to climb the lighthouse tower (ages 4 and up)

Less than a half-hour drive from Duck, this time towards the north, lies Currituck Beach Lighthouse. This is also an active lighthouse and is the only one in America that still uses the first-order Fresnel lens that was installed to it in 1875. 

You can also climb to the top of the lighthouse by paying a $12 admission fee when the lighthouse is open to the public which is from mid-march through December. 

14. Cape Hatteras Lighthouse

Cape Hatteras Lighthouse
  • Address: 46379 Lighthouse Rd, Buxton (GPS)
  • Hours: Temporarily closed for restoration.

The furthest of the three lighthouses from Duck, but perhaps the most famous and historical of them all is the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, which is the most beautiful OBX lighthouse. First built in 1803 and then later rebuilt in 1870, the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse was one of the most important beacons of North Carolina.

It helped thousands of ships avoid the twelve-mile-long sandbar of Diamond Shole which once had the reputation of being the Graveyard of the Atlantic. Cape Hatteras Lighthouse is also the tallest brick lighthouse in America measuring a colossal 198.5 ft. and has a beacon that can be seen by ships 20 miles from the coast. 

15. Watersports & Flying At Kitty Hawk Kites

Kitty Hawk Kites
Image courtesy of Kitty Hawk Kites / Best Things To Do In Duck, NC
  • Address: 39432 North Carolina Hwy 12, Avon (GPS)
  • Hours: Monday – Sunday: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
  • Cost of Admission: Per adventure ticket prices, check here.

Did we already mention that Duck had plenty of recreational activities for visitors to partake in? Of course, we have! Home to Kitty Hawk Kites, located in the Waterfront Shops, is renowned for its association with the Wright Brothers and its passion for flying, sailing, and kayaking. 

Kitty Hawk Kites offers visitors the chance to learn and experience hang gliding, kayaking, kiteboarding, parasailing, and more via guided tours and rentals. It offers arguably the best and most unique way to explore the Outer Banks. 

16. Fishing & Crabbing

fishing in duck, north carolina
  • Address: 1180 Duck Rd, Duck (GPS)
  • Hours: Monday – Sunday: 7:00 am – 8:00 pm

Angling enthusiasts will love Duck as it offers some of the best fishing and crabbing spots in North Carolina. There are plenty of designated fishing areas around Duck, both near the beach and along the boardwalk. 

However, you will need to apply for a fishing license if you want to fish from the boardwalk’s fishing and crabbing platform. If you are looking for the best fishing gear and local knowledge about the fish you are likely to encounter in these waters pay a visit to Bob’s Bait & Tackle.

17. Birdwatching

  • Address: 300 Audubon Dr, Corolla (GPS)
  • Hours: Monday – Sunday: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm

There is a reason the town is named “Duck.” This small town gets more waterfowl than visitors every year and is often teeming with migratory birds such as terns, geese, pelicans, oyster skimmers, and of course ducks. 

If you are a bird-watching enthusiast, the entire Town of Duck is a designated bird sanctuary so you better have your binoculars and handbook on you at all times! 

You will also find the Donal C. O’Brien Sanctuary & Audubon Center just north of the town if you are seeking to learn more about the waterfowl and local species found here.

18. Enjoy The Local Cuisine

Duck Donuts
Image courtesy of Duck Donuts / Best Things To Do In Duck, NC
  • Address: 1190 Duck Rd, Duck (GPS)
  • Hours: Monday – Sunday: 7:00 am – 2:00 pm

Duck is home to plenty of amazing restaurants, cafes, eateries, and fine dining establishments for the foodies amongst you. The most popular of the local food places has to be Duck Donuts which has grown to become a franchise here on the East Coast. 

Here you can gorge on an array of baked goods, coffees, ice cream, and other scrumptious treats. However, that’s just the beginning of a long list of restaurants that offer everything from seafood to pizza and BBQ. 

19. Wake Up To Catch The Sunrise

Sunrise from the boardwalk
Image courtesy of R. Sadler from Town of Duck

For all you youngsters out there getting up at the crack of dawn can seem like a daunting task, especially after a late night, but in a place like Duck, you wouldn’t want to miss out on catching a glimpse of the sun rising above the waters of the Outer Banks. 

Those of us who have experienced the sunrise from the boardwalk or the many beaches in Duck know exactly how beautiful and awe-inspiring those views and moments are and that is why watching the sunrise is an attraction just as worthy as all the others on this list.

20. Collect some Shells!

seashell collecting

Duck also has some of the best beaches in North Carolina for shell collecting. Just taking a stroll along one of Duck’s many beaches you will likely come across a wide array of sea shells of different sizes, shapes, and colors. 

Duck’s beaches are also famous for having the Scotch Bonnet shell buried amidst its sands, which is the official North Carolina State Shell. Make sure you keep your eyes peeled for one of those on your adventures, especially if you enjoy shell collecting!


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About Natasha

Natasha moved to North Carolina for college years ago (but she's not trying to age herself here). Her days were spent reading a book on the beach and enjoying a cold glass of sweet tea in between classes at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Upon graduation, she met her partner, Cameron, and they traveled the world together crossing 85 countries and seven continents. After, many years of international travel they settled down a bit and launched Lost in the Carolinas to share their experiences about and travel tips on South Carolina and North Carolina.

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