25 BEST Things To Do in Nags Head

Welcome, fellow wanderers and adventure seekers, to the enchanting shores of Nags Head! Nestled along the picturesque Outer Banks of North Carolina, this coastal haven is a treasure trove of unforgettable experiences waiting to be discovered. Whether you’re a sun-soaked beach enthusiast, a history buff yearning for tales from the past, or a foodie eager to savor the local flavors, Nags Head has something special for everyone.

The architecture is classically coastal, and it’s all-around this quintessential beach-chic town, with one of the best beaches in North Carolina. There are many things to do in Nags Head, so let’s dig into a few!

Best Things To Do in Nags Head

1. Jockey’s Ridge State Park 

Jockey’s Ridge State Park 
  • Address: 300 W Carolista Dr, Nags Head (GPS)
  • Hours: Monday -Sunday: 8:00 am – 6:00 pm

Did you know you don’t have to travel to Abu Dhabi if you want to see some beautiful sand dunes? Jockey’s Ridge State Park is home to the tallest natural sand dune system in the Eastern half of the United States and offers breathtaking sights. 

There’s even a 360-foot boardwalk for you to enjoy all the sights without getting sand in your shoes and clothes. You’ll also have the chance to see some amazing wildlife like rabbits, deer, and red and gray foxes. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, there’s even a hang-gliding school!

2. Kill Devils Frozen Custard & Beach Fries

  • Address: 1002 S Croatan Hwy, Kill Devil Hills (GPS)
  • Hours: Friday – Sunday: 11:00 am – 7:00 pm

The beach and fast food go hand in hand, so make sure you stop at Kill Devils Frozen Custard & Beach Fries during your visit to the beaches of Nags Head. Located on South Croatan Highway in Kill Devil Hills, the quality of the frozen custard is incredible, and it shows that it’s made fresh every hour. 

Even though there’s a full menu featuring burgers, hot dogs, BBQ, sandwiches, and other fast food, it’s the signature custard and fresh-cut fries that are the real stars of the show.

3. First Flight Adventure Park

First Flight Adventure Park
Image courtesy of First Flight Adventure Park / Best Things To Do in Nags Head
  • Address: 6716 S Croatan Hwy, Nags Head (GPS)
  • Hours: Wednesday: 11:00 am- 2:00 pm, Thursday: 11:00 am – 4:00 pm
    Friday & Saturday:9:30 am – 4:00 pm
  • Cost of Admission: For ticket information, click here.

This family adventure park, located at Milepost 15.5 in Nags Head, features more than 40 obstacles and zip lines located 50 feet in the air. Tickets are priced between $45 and $55, and the minimum age limit is 6 years old with a minimum height requirement of 3’9″. 

Each obstacle course is of varying difficulty, so no matter your age or physical ability, you’re sure to find a course that suits you. First Flight Adventure Park is open on Wednesday from 11 AM to 2 PM,  Thursday from 11 AM TO 4 PM, and from 9:30 AM to 4 PM on Fridays and Saturdays.

4. Jennette’s Pier

Jennette’s Pier
Image courtesy of Jennette’s Pier
  • Address: 7223 S Virginia Dare Trail, Nags Head (GPS)
  • Hours: April and November 7:00 am – 9:00 pm, December – March 9: 00 am –
    5:00 pm, May – October 6:00 am – 10 pm.

North Carolina’s longest public pier gives anglers a chance to catch some incredible fish like red drum, sea mullet, and croaker. Jennette’s Pier also has aquariums where you can learn about the rich local marine life. 

The adjoining beaches are very clean and there’s more than enough room for the entire family. You’ll also find shops along the pier offering food, tackle, bait, and other fishing equipment. The pier is open from 6 AM to 10 PM from May through October, 9 AM to 5 PM from December through March, and from 7 AM to 9 PM in April and November.

5. Red Drum Grille & Taphouse

Red Drum Grille & Taphouse
Image courtesy of Red Drum Grille & Taphouse / Best Things To Do in Nags Head
  • Address: 2412 S Virginia Dare Trail, Nags Head (GPS)
  • Hours: Sunday – Thursday 11 am – 9 pm, Friday & Saturday 11am – 10pm

Red Drum has been a popular eatery for the locals for the last 20 years and it’s easy to see why. The menu features a long list of different cuisines, there’s an impressive selection of beers and wines, and the atmosphere is incredibly welcoming and comfortable. 

The staff have gone through so much trouble to keep the atmosphere fun, that there’s even a game room with a football table and billiards. Red Drum Grille & Taphouse is located on South Virginia Dare Trail and is open from 11:30 AM to 9 PM on Wednesdays to Sundays.

6. Windswept Wellness

  • Address: 2603 N Croatan Hwy # B, Kill Devil Hills (GPS)
  • Hours: Monday – Thursday: 9:30 am – 6:00 pm, Friday: 9:30 am – 5:00 pm, Saturday: 10: 00 am – 5:00 pm

Ever fantasized about getting a massage while on the beach? Well, with Windswept Wellness, you won’t have to fantasize anymore, because they bring relaxation to you. No matter what beach you’re at in Nags Head, Windswept Wellness will send an experienced team to you. 

You can enjoy massages, manicures, and many other spa treatments all while enjoying views of the sand and water.  They start offering their services as early as 9:30 AM and even have a spa of their own located on North Croatan Highway.

7. Bodie Island Lighthouse

  • Address: 8210 Bodie Island Lighthouse Rd, Nags Head (GPS)
  • Hours: 24 hours
  • Cost of Admission: Adults: $10, senior ( 62 or older ), children 11 years of age and under, and the disabled: $5.

Nags Head also has something to offer lighthouse enthusiasts (yes, they do exist). Bodie Island Lighthouse is surrounded by incredible views of the beautiful Bodie Island, Pamlico Sound, and the Atlantic Ocean. 

Visitors are allowed to climb the lighthouse only during the summer months from the third Friday in April till Columbus Day in October. Timings are from 9 AM to 4:30 PM and entry costs $10 for adults and $5 for children and senior citizens. It’s a steep climb of 200 steps, so wear something comfortable and be prepared for a workout. 

8. Barrier Island Aviation

Barrier Island Aviation
Image courtesy of Barrier Island Aviation / Best Things To Do in Nags Head
  • Address: 407 Airport Rd, Manteo (GPS)
  • Hours: Monday – Sunday: 8:00 am – 5:00 pm
  • Cost of Admission: To book a flight, check it here.

You might have heard about helicopter tours in popular scenic cities, but Nags Head also has something to offer that can rival the helicopter experience. Barrier Island Aviation gives visitors a chance to see the local sights from the open cockpit of a 1942 Cessna 172 biplane. 

History and aviation enthusiasts will especially enjoy this, as they see attractions like the Wright Brothers Memorial, Bodie Island, and even shipwrecks and dolphins, all from the perspective that only a historic biplane can offer. Flights depart from Manteo at the Dare County Regional Airport, which is just a 20-minute drive from Nags Head.

9. Forbes Candies

Forbes Candies
Image courtesy of Forbes Candies
  • Address: 2707 S Croatan Hwy, Nags Head (GPS)
  • Hours: Monday -Sunday: 9:00 am – 10:00 pm
  • Cost of Admission:

Have you got a sweet tooth or want to treat the kids to a memorable day? Then head on over to Forbes Candies on South Croatan Highway where you’ll find a bunch of homemade treats like candy, peanut brittle, nuts and brittle, fudge, chocolates, and even salt water taffy. 

For health-conscious individuals, there are even sugar-free chocolates. Forbes has been in business for over 90 years and has remained popular throughout with locals and tourists alike. The store is open every day from 9 AM to 10 PM, and they have multiple locations in North Carolina and Virginia.

10. OBX Ghost Tours

  • Address: 105 Sir Walter Raleigh St, Manteo (GPS)
  • Cost of Admission: Adult (13+) : $25, child ( 6-12): $20, toddler: free

Nags Head and the Outer Banks area are home to more than 2000 shipwrecks and, with a designation like that, fans of horror and the occult can expect a fair bit of entertainment. 

Located in Manteo, the OBX Ghost Tour takes visitors on a walk to different spooky sites in the area. It’s a 90-minute walk and, even though there are frequent stops, it can take a toll on the knees. If you’ve got children, you should know the tour operators rate the tour as PG, so it shouldn’t be too scary for them. Ticket prices start at $25. 

11. Tortugas Lie Shellfish Bar & Grill

Tortugas Lie Shellfish Bar & Grill
Image courtesy of Tortugas Lie Shellfish Bar & Grill
  • Address: 3016 S Virginia Dare Trail, Nags Head (GPS)
  • Hours: Monday- Saturday: 11:30 am –9:30 pm

You can’t be visiting the beach and not expect a seafood restaurant, but Tortugas Lie still manages to set itself apart. The Caribbean-themed menu is so popular it was even featured on an episode of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, a popular TV show hosted by Guy Fieri. 

If that’s not enough, there’s a “backyard” with volleyball courts, with professional grade nets, where you’ll find a game going on almost all the time. There’s also a store where you can get Tortugas Lie merchandise, seasonings, and sauces. The restaurant is located at Milepost 11 on Beach Road and is open every day except Sunday, from 11:30 AM to 9:30 PM.

12. Visit Shipwrecks

While there are hundreds and hundreds of shipwrecks off the coast of the Outer Banks, there are about 5 of which are easily accessible. These are the Triangle Wrecks, the Huron, the Oriental, the Winks, and the Pocahontas. 

All these shipwrecks have their own history and visiting them is like a walk through time. Some divers might be tempted to go exploring a bit up close, but it might be best to check with local authorities before doing so, to avoid any unfortunate accidents.

13. Seaside Art Gallery

Seaside Art Gallery Painting
Beautiful painting from Seaside Art Gallery / Image courtesy of Seaside Art Gallery
  • Address: 2716 S Virginia Dare Trail, Nags Head (GPS)
  • Hours: Monday – Saturday: 10:00 am -5: 00 pm

The Seaside Art Gallery houses more than 2,000 works of art by international, national, and local artists. Visitors can purchase many of the artworks on display. Some renowned artists on display include William Blake, Salvador Dali, Rembrandt Harmensz Van Rijn, and there’s even a Pablo Picasso painting available for $12000. 

Visitors can also take a self-guided tour and learn about the artwork on display. The Seaside Art Gallery is located on South Virginia Dare Trail and is open Mondays to Saturdays from 10 AM to 5 PM..

14. Mutiny Bay Mini Golf

Mutiny Bay Mini Golf
Image courtesy Mutiny Bay Miniature Golf / Best Things To Do in Nags Head
  • Address: 301 Hwy 17 S, North Myrtle Beach (GPS)
  • Hours: (November) – Monday – Sunday: 10: 00 am –10 :00 pm

This is a destination the kids will love and will make for some wholesome family entertainment. Mutiny Bay offers 36 holes of mini Golf, some of which are played on the park’s massive pirate ship. 

The park is located on Highway 17 South in North Myrtle Beach and is open from 10 AM to 6 PM. Adult tickets cost $12.75 for 18 holes of golf, while kids play for $9.50. There’s also a Hopper Pass which costs $25 and lets you play unlimited holes at Mutiny Bay and 2 other associated mini-golf parks.

15. Outer Banks Horseback

Outer Banks Horseback
Image courtesy of Virginia Beach & Outer Banks -OBX Horseback
  • Address: Bodie Island Lighthouse Rd. &, North Carolina Hwy 12, Nags Head (GPS)
  • Hours: 24 hrs
  • Cost of Admission: 1 Hour ride: $80, 30 minute ride: $60

As the name implies, visitors get tours of the Outer Banks Area, not by car, helicopter, or plane as one would normally expect, but on horseback. There are multiple guides to control and lead the horses, so you don’t need to be an experienced rider to take part in the tour. 

The experience makes for a memorable one and with the majestic horses and beautiful views, you’re sure to find many Insta-worthy moments on the tour. Ticket prices start at $99 and the tour, which starts from Bodie Island Lighthouse Road, lasts 1 hour.

16. Nags Head Golf Links

Nags Head Golf Links
Image courtesy of Nags Head Golf Links
  • Address: 5615 S Seachase Dr, Nags Head (GPS)
  • Hours: Monday – Sunday: 7:30am – 5:30 pm

Golfers rejoice for Nags Head is also home to one of the best golf courses in North Carolina. Nags Head Golf Links is a true Scottish links-style championship golf course and makes regular features in notable publications like Golfweek and Golf Digest. Also, while you’re out golfing, the kids can enjoy the swimming pool, leaving you to tee off in peace. 

There’s also a shop with some good choices for you to stock up on any gear you might need. There’s also a restaurant and bar, The Players Grille, that offers very delicious food. Nags Head Golf Links is located on West Seachase Drive and is open from 7:30 AM to 5:30 PM.

17. Hire a Fishing Charter

charter fishing boat

Nags Head has a rich fishing heritage, with an opportunity to catch fish like tuna, billfish, flounder, stripers, and many other species. With so much on offer, fishermen can charter boats for long relaxing fishing excursions. Many tour operators will offer a variety of boats and amenities. 

You can find a decent boat to hire for a day that’ll cost you around $300. You’ll also easily find a tour operator that includes all the necessary equipment so you won’t have to bring anything with you.

18. Get Extreme with Watersports

Watersports Nags Head
Image courtesy of Causeway Watersports
  • Address: Causeway Watersports- 3335 S Virginia Dare Trail, Nags Head (GPS)
  • Hours: Monday – Sunday: 9:00 am- 6:00 pm

Nags Head is a beach town, so it should come as no surprise that water sports are very popular. You’ll find many tour operators that will rent out boats and jet skis, and you’ll even be able to go paragliding and parasailing. 

Make sure you visit a reputable vendor though, as you could end up overspending or falling victim to a scam. One of the more popular vendors is Causeway Watersports; they have reasonable prices and an impressive fleet of vehicles as well.

19. The French Door

The French Door OBX
Image courtesy The French Door / Best Things To Do in Nags Head
  • Address: 2921 S Croatan Hwy, Nags Head (GPS)
  • Hours: Monday – Friday: 10:00 am – 6:00 pm, Saturday: 10: 00 am -5: 00 pm

This boutique store has a unique and unusual collection of clothing, handbags, accessories, home decor, jewelry, beauty items, and gifts. The goods on offer are from both high-quality brands and local artisans, and you’ll easily be able to find something for yourself or a gift for a loved one back home. 

The French Door OBX is located on Milepost 11, opposite to the Nags Head YMCA, and is open from 10 AM to 6 PM on Mondays to Saturdays, and 10 AM to 5 PM , closed on Sundays.

20. Outer Banks Surf School

Outer Banks Surf School
Image courtesy of Outer Banks Surf School / Best Things To Do in Nags Head
  • Address: 118 E Becker St, Nags Head (GPS)
  • Hours: Monday – Sunday: 8:00 am – 7:00 pm
  • Cost of Admission: For surf lessons prices, check it here.

This is a great activity for both families and couples. Surfing is actually a great workout and a great way to keep yourself engaged. The Outer Banks Surf School gives 1-on-1 and group lessons and the beaches around Nags Head can be an incredibly picturesque setting to learn how to surf. 

Lessons for couples cost $210 and lessons for families or groups of 4 or more cost $80 per person. Lessons last an hour and a half and the best part is the convenience; you can contact the school and they’ll send an instructor to you at any beach between Rodanthe and Corolla.

21. Take a Dolphin Tour 

  • Address: 7517 S Virginia Dare Trail, Nags Head (GPS)
  • Cost of Admission: $32.00 for adults, $18.00 for kids 12 and under, $1.00 for infants
    Sunset tours: $37.00 for adults, $22.00 for 12 & under, $1.00 for infants

Your visit to Nags Head can be an opportunity to see Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphins up close. Nags Head Dolphin Watch, located on Nags Head Causeway, is one of the most reputable tour operators that offer dolphin cruises, charging $32 for adults and $18  for kids aged 12 and under. 

Sunset cruises cost $37 for adults and $22 for kids. Be sure to bring snacks and refreshments, and a light jacket just in case the weather gets a bit cold. If you’ve got a large group, then you can also get a private charter and make the experience even more personal.

22. EnvirOBX

  • Address: Various locations
  • Hours: Monday – Saturday: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
  • Cost of Admission: Per adventure ticket prices, check here.

EnvirOBX Island Eco-Adventures offers incredible outdoor adventures, combining family-friendly fun with ecological conservation. Visitors can take tours on boats or kayaks and visit little-known spots where they’ll learn about coastal wildlife and habitats. 

You can also take fishing trips on boats or kayaks, and there are even surfing lessons. Regardless of what activity you choose, you’ll be learning about the local ecology, wildlife, and what role we all can play in ecological conservation. 

The kayak tours are the most popular activity; the tours usually last about 3 hours and prices start at $40 per person.

23. Dowdy Park

Dowdy Park
Image courtesy of Dowdy Park / Best Things To Do in Nags Head
  • Address: 3005 S Croatan Hwy, Nags Head (GPS)
  • Hours: Monday – Sunday: 6:00 am – 9:00 pm

Dowdy Park is one of Nags Head’s most beloved parks and a popular destination for locals. Located on the corner of South Croatan Highway and Bonnett Street and spread across five acres, the park has a lot of amenities including basketball and pickleball courts, a playground, a bocce area, restrooms, and an amphitheater. 

The park also regularly hosts festivals, live concerts, movie screenings, and other events. During the summer there’s also a farmers market every Thursday from 9 AM to 1 PM. The park also has free Wi-Fi, so it’s a great spot to get some work done as well. 

24. Nags Head Woods Preserve

The Nags Head Woods Preserve
photo courtesy of Nags Head Woods Preserve 
  • Address: 701 Ocean Acres Dr, Kill Devil Hills (GPS)
  • Hours: Monday – Sunday: 6:00 am – 6:30 pm

This 1100-acre woodland preserve protects a maritime forest, ancient dunes, freshwater and saltwater marshes, and freshwater ponds. The forest is filled with oak, hickory, and beech trees, some of which date back centuries. 

Wildlife enthusiasts will also enjoy visiting here as they have the chance to see more than 150 birds, 50 reptiles, and 20 mammal species. Bird watchers can see ospreys, the swallow-tailed kite, the pileated woodpecker, and the Cooper’s hawk, among other birds.

However, by far the cutest residents of the forest are the river otters. The preserve also has hiking trails and fishing facilities nearby as well. 

25. Roanoke Island Festival Park

Roanoke Island Festival Park
Image courtesy of Roanoke Island Festival Park
  • Address: 1 Festival Park, Manteo (GPS)
  • Hours: Tuesday – Saturday: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
  • Cost of Admission: Adult: $11, Youth ages 3-17: $8, Ages 2 and Under: Free

History enthusiasts will learn all about the history of Roanoke Island and what life was like for early English settlers. Spread across 27 acres, visitors can see magnificent, epic replicas of a ship, an early settlement, and an American Indian town. 

There’s an adventure museum as well where self-guided tours will educate visitors about indigenous culture and 400 years of Roanoke Island’s history after the Roanoke Voyages. Roanoke Island Festival Park is located in Manteo and is open from 9 AM to 5 PM on Tuesdays to Saturdays. Tickets for adults cost $11 and $8 for kids aged 3 to 17.

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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