My family has been taking Nags Head vacations for as long as I can remember. We tend to take weekend trips since we only live a couple hours away, but you could easily spend an entire week relaxing by the beach and taking in the sights.
I’ve always said we are going to Nags Head, but it’s become more common to say you are going to the Outer Banks which consists of many cities; Nags Head, Kitty Hawk, Corolla, and Hatteras Island, just to name a few. Each area offers beaches, restaurants and unique attractions. They’ve even changed all the interstate signs in my area from “Nags Head” to “Outer Banks.” Just an interesting little fact 🙂
Fun & Budget-Friendly Nags Head Vacations:
I must confess that a family member owns a house in Kill Devil Hills, so I’ve never had to pay for accommodations. If you don’t know anyone you can beg for a place to stay, there are countless hotels and cottage rentals to suit every need and budget.
House rentals are the best way to go if you plan to stay for a week, in my opinion. You have a kitchen so you can cook your own food which cuts the food budget substantially. There is usually a laundry area plus there is plenty of room to spread out. I tend to us VRBO, Airbnb and Home Away to find rentals.
Use THIS LINK and get a $40 credit on your Airbnb rental!
You should also try camping if you’re looking to “rough it.” What better place to sleep under the stars than on the beach!
Rates increase during peak season. A house rental in February may only cost $1250/wk but jump to $1920/wk in June. Try traveling in early spring or late fall. The water’s too cold for swimming but the weather is usually warm.
Don’t stay right on the beach. Yes, the view is amazing, but you will pay for it. Staying a couple blocks from the beach lowers your rate plus gives you more time outside 🙂 I’ve always had a 2 block walk and it’s not that bad – really! If we’re planning a full beach day with tons of stuff for the kids, we drive down early with the gear to get set up then walk down later with the kids.
Obviously, rates are more expensive for rentals with pools. Think about if it’s really a necessity. If you don’t like swimming in the ocean (Rip currents are VERY real), you may want the pool. If you don’t think you’ll use it much, skip the extra cost and hassle.
Share with friends. Rentals tend to be for a week and that can get costly. Further, it’s a long time to be off work. Consider splitting the rental with good friends. An over lap of stay can be extra fun for kids and adults.
The BEACH! Hey, it’s free and why you came to OBX right? Pack your sun block, water, snacks, and sand toys to spend the day relaxing in the sun.
North Carolina Aquarium is located on Roanoke Island. Take a break from the beach or use as a rainy day activity. Ticket purchase is required.
Cape Hatteras Lighthouse was completed in 1870 and is the tallest brick lighthouse in North America. There’s No Fee to enter Cape Hatteras National Seashore. It’s just amazing to stand outside and look at the lighthouse and play on the beach. Climbing Fees: $8 adults and $4 for children under 12 (must be 42” tall)
Wright Brother National Memorial is located in Kill Devil Hills and is the sight of Wilbur and Orville Wright’s first successful airplane flight in 1903. Fees: $4 ages 16 and older.
Jockey’s Ridge State Park is located in Nags Head; it is the largest sand dunes on the East Coast. Climb the dunes, fly a kite or take hang gliding lessons. Free admission!
Corolla Wild Horses the name says it all! You can also pay to rent jeeps or take guided tours.
Drive on the Beach! We used to love to do this in Corolla. Do you own a four-wheel drive vehicle? Make sure your vehicle can handle the deep sand otherwise; you’ll pay for it – literally. When I was younger, friends and I would often go down. One guy had a huge truck that made a lot of money in a weekend pulling people out for the sand. He was significantly cheaper than a towing company but still…..
Nags Head Fishing Pier is a great spot to fish or just to take a stroll. There is a small fee for sightseeing and a fishing fee if you want to catch your dinner.
Roanoke Island Festival Park is a ton of fun for kids. There is something for the entire family. My 4 and 2 year old nephews had a blast here and my 9 and 12 year old kiddos also thought it was interesting. Explore the ship Elizabeth II, an American Indian Town, and Roanoke Adventure Museum.
There are also several movie theaters for a break from the beach or even better, go to redbox and rent a movie with a free promo code! You could also try miniature golf. You will see a bunch of those located around as well.
Eating at home is always cheaper than dining out, so take that concept on your vacation. At least for breakfast and lunch. You’ll find Kmart, Walmart, Food Lion and Harris Teeter to get your perishables. If possible, pack your cereal, granola bars and water to save more. Do you live close? Take a freezer casserole so you don’t have to cook. It’s your vacation too!
There are numerous restaurants in OBX that are in other areas of the country such as Papa Johns, Tropical Smoothie and Outback. See if a local coupon is valid anywhere or use a gift card if you have one lying around. If you like fish tacos, check out Mama Kwans. My kiddos always request we eat there when visiting.
You can make any vacation cheaper by planning ahead, doing research, and implementing some of the same frugal principles you use at home.
Does your family take regular Nags Head Vacations? What are your tips?
You might also like our North Carolina Bucket List for more things to do.