On North Carolina’s Outer Banks, names like Kitty Hawk, the Wright Brothers, Blackbeard and The Lost Colony stir young imaginations.
The barrier islands, on 130 miles of unspoiled coastline are lands of historical firsts, providing families with endless activities to experience the region’s rich past and nature in a hands – on way.
Outer Banks Activities:
Standing atop the largest sand pile in the eastern United States, surrounded by impressive views of the Atlantic Ocean and Roanoke Sound, it’s easy to imagine why Wilbur and Orville Wright chose the Outer Banks for their first flight.
With year round winds averaging 11 to 15 miles per hour and the 100 foot sand dunes of Jockey’s Ridge State Park visitors of all ages and abilities between 85 and 225 pounds can recreate the heady experience of flight.
Wright Brothers Monument
At the world’s largest hang gliding school, a three – hour beginner’s course includes all equipment, five well – monitored solo flights and a humorous video on aerial failures where would – be birds, complete with feathers and fake wings, crash to the earth.
For those unwilling to take the plunge, albeit into soft sands, the park provides kite flying, sand boarding, self – guided hiking trails and picnic sites with grills.
A few miles away in Kill Devil Hills at the Wright Brothers National Memorial, kids can see a life – size model of the “Wright Flyer”. Distance markers pinpoint each of the four December 17, 1903 flights.
Cycling the Outer Banks
Just south of the monument, the routes around Centennial Park are perfect for leisurely family cycling. While there are over 100 miles of cycling routes on the Outer Banks, small children fare better on the slower multi – use paths. The bike trail from historic downtown Manteo out to the Roanoke Island attractions is another route suited to young families. For more ambitious cycling, the ocean routes provide salty sprays and brisk sea winds.
The constant winds that gave birth to flight have made the Outer Banks the number one windsurfing destination on the east coast and have inspired new sports like kite boarding that older children can enjoy in the Atlantic ocean or the warmer intercoastal waterways.
The Lost Colony
At the Waterfront Theater next door, built on the very site where America’s first born English child and 116 other colonists disappeared, catch the captivating outdoor drama, “The Lost Colony”.
The colorful spectacle of song and dance tells the story of the colonists who arrived in 1587, predating the Jamestown settlers by twenty years. To this day, their disappearance remains a mystery.
The Children’s Performance Series at the Roanoke Festival Park will entertain the younger ones with a mixture of puppetry, magic and music.
From theater and adventure to every land, air and water sport imaginable, the Outer Banks has something for the whole family.