Back from a new travel – oh so exhausting, but so much fun!
I negotiated and re-negotiated on selecting some mountain adventures, but my husband was stuck on visiting the beach. I do not blame him, having stayed all his life in a beach city, he echoes the emotions of being a beach person, while I prefer having conversations with trees, mountains, lakes, nature trails and waterfalls.
Once we reached a deadlock, I gave in, considering that we had three mountain vacations, on a trot, before this. Grudgingly, I agreed to explore the coast. Our first stop on the way to Outer Banks was a place called Elizabeth City, which was stated as one of the best small towns in NC. With high hopes, we entered the city and were surprised by the run-down state of the city, despite having a beautiful waterfront. Somehow it felt odd on a weekend to see the lonely streets, barren walls and isolated views, rather than a vibrant city.
The waterfront was clam and peaceful. We sat in one of the benches and had a picnic lunch. Then, we headed to the downtown streets which was right opposite the waterfront park. If you have kids with you, then it is good to take a break and go to Port Discover which is a small but good activity place for children. They have centers which cater to specific play like doctor’s clinic, aeroplane control center, kitchen center, pool center etc. Otherwise, not many unique or explorative shops in this downtown. There is a book, toy and gift store called Page by Page, which was good. The sunset was good by the waterfront, but otherwise nothing different.
The next day, we headed to Kitty Hawk to visit the famous Wright Brother’s First Flight and Memorial. We were not disappointed. The museum had some interesting exhibits like a replica of the airplane model used by Wright Brothers during their first flight, the wind tunnel, the tools they used, the problems they faced, their approach to solve them etc.
There is a long pathway leading to the memorial from the museum and on the way we viewed the ground where the Wright Brothers had attempted three flight attempts and the final take-off. It gets very hot in summer here.So, it is better to have sunglasses, sunscreen, hats before you head out. For people who cannot walk long distances, there is a car trail leading up to the memorial that provides a good view. There is also a narrow strip of airfield where the small airplanes and choppers do test runs. They are good to watch too. There is a gift shop where you can get memorabilia on the First Flight.
After this short but hot walk, we headed to the Bodie Island Lighthouse, which was built in 1872. It is around 50 feet tall and has more than 200 steps to climb. Do call and check with the visitor center if you want to climb up the stairs. The office had closed the lighthouse climb during the day we went, due to excessive heat and humidity. Also, if you have kids, make sure they are able to climb 200+ steps on their own as the office does not allow carrying kids due to safety issue.
Once you stand before the lighthouse, I can bet your mind will visualize a hundred different thoughts – so pretty, so tall, so majestic, so alluring, something magical that makes you stare at the majestic lighthouse and not take your eyes off it.There is also a wooden bridge leading to a pier kind of structure from where you can view the massive marshlands surrounding the lighthouse. Beware of letting children walk along the grasslands or marsh area as they are infested with snakes and other bugs.
On our way back, we visited the Coquina Beach, which was a nice, sandy beach. We spent our time watching the waves wash our feet, building sand castles and spying on seagulls which seemed to be in a world of their own. The beach had an area dedicated to changing rooms, so made it easy for people who wanted to swim or attempt adventure sports.
Soon, it was time to go back to the hotel. A day well spent and we got some beach treasures on the way back at the “The Cottage Gin” store which had an amazing collection of gifts and souvenirs. We were lucky to find an oceanside store which had 50-70% on entire store items and I jumped at the offer to buy some seaside wall hangings and magnets.
Also, do try the Big Bucks Ice Cream shop of home-made ice cream and I bet you will not leave the shop without eating and packing some of it. The flavors are too many and the taste was amazing.
In my next blog, I will talk about our adventures at Beaufort, and Morehead City, two more cities in the Outer Banks and the fun places to visit there.
Route directions: 3 hour drive to Elizabeth City, and then an hour and ten minutes drive to Outer Banks or OBX (as it is popularly called). Stop by at the Wright Brothers Memorial allowing for 2 hours, head to Bodie Island Lighthouse (around an hour visit) and then to the beach for the evening.
Other Places close to OBX: Manteo, Nags Head, Kill Devil Hills, Kitty Hawk, Corolla.