the Outer Banks of North Carolina by reading Outer
Banks, NC – Where Flight Began and Fun Never Ends by Charlie
Spence, travel writer and WTA member. It features a mini, but
thorough tour of the destination, plus all you'll need to know
to plan your trip including getting there, objective information
on places to stay and things to do. At the end of the article,
we've provided a summary of the contact information for your
easy reference. Enjoy!
The Outer Banks,
NC—Where Flight Began and Fun Never Ends
by Charlie Spence, Travel Writer and WTA Member
The Wright Monument dedicated to Wilbur and Orville
“dauntless resolution and unconquerable faith.”
A hundred years
ago, Orville and Wilbur Wright chose this area as the place where the
first powered flight would begin to break the surly bounds of earth.
Yet, long before that momentous event at Kill Devil Hills, the Outer
Banks area of North Carolina was the site of another
beginning—settlement of the New World.
In December, the
entire world will help celebrate the first flight here with almost
daily special events. Coming here to be a part of the centennial of
flight celebrations is reason enough to visit the area, but once here
you will find more than windy dunes that attracted the Wrights. Many
other places of magic, beauty, history, and fun await vacationers of
any age. Tour the Elizabethan Gardens, speculate on the fate of the
Lost Colony, climb the winding steps of a lighthouse, golf, parasail,
fish, dine elegantly, stroll the beaches, and do it all in a
laid-back, easy-going manner for which the area is noted.
Your first stop
will be Kill Devil Hill at Kitty Hawk. Here the 60-foot granite
monument atop Kill Devil Hill overlooks a replica of the primitive
campsite where aviation began. In 1953, to commemorate flight’s 50th
anniversary, the National Park Service built two wooden structures as
accurately as photographs and historical accounts could make them.
Inside are furnishings from the 1902-03 period, duplicating how the
brothers lived and worked.
A boulder marks
the takeoff spot of the 12-second flight, covering only 120 feet. (The
brothers took turns flying and made three more flights that momentous
day, the last going about twice as far.) Walk along the path of this
historic event. The distance of the first flight is shorter than
walking the aisle of one of today’s jumbo jets. At the visitors’
center, skilled guides will point out fascinating features of the
replica of the original airplane and describe other interesting
memorabilia of the time. The memorial is open 9-5 daily. Admission is
$2 per person, or $4 per carload.
In contrast to
the origin of flight, a paved runway welcomes airplanes today.
Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association has donated a pilots’ center
beside this runway for today’s followers of the Wrights. Here, today’s
pilots will find the latest state-of-the-art weather services as well
as other amenities of a flight stop.
Flight is not the
only first for which this area is noted. To experience a first
activity that long preceded the Wrights’ achievement, travel across
the causeway to Roanoke Island. It was here that Sir Walter Raleigh
made the first attempt to colonize this New World. The first child of
English parents, Virginia Dare, was born here. This site is truly the
birthplace of America.
One of the first
places to visit on Roanoke Island is Fort Raleigh, near the town of
Manteo, named for one of two Indians taken back to England by an
earlier exploratory party. Fifteen men had been left at “this new fort
in Virginia,” but when a group of 115 colonists arrived to settle,
they learned from evidence and friendly Indians that hostile Indians
from the mainland had promptly murdered most. Nevertheless, they
established the first colony in the new world. They did not have
enough supplies to last until the next harvest and friendly Indians
had scarcely enough for themselves.
A ship sailed for
England to obtain provisions. When the members of that sailing party
returned, there was no sign of the settlers or their village. Did
angered natives kill them? Did they find it necessary to relocate to
another place in this new world? If so, where? Everything and everyone
simply vanished. Did they give up hope that relief from England would
arrive and build a fragile vessel and attempt to sail home, only to be
lost at sea? When you visit the site of Lost Colony, you’ll form your
Elizabethan Gardens on Roanoke Island offer eye-dazzling
various flowers, shrubs and trees as a living
memorial to persons of
the Lost Colony
Nearby you will
enjoy a living memorial to those persons who disappeared and “walked
away into history” as you tour the Elizabethan Gardens. The Garden
Club of North Carolina created this garden in a tranquil setting on
Roanoke Sound. Myriad varieties of plants, wild flowers, indigenous
shrubs and trees will bring out the oohs and aahs as you stroll
through this lovely garden.
The sea has
played an important role in this area’s history, so experience a touch
of it by going aboard the Elizabeth II, a composite design of the 16th
century ships that brought the colonists to this area. It’s at Roanoke
Island Festival Park.
up history, turn to a few of the other attractions. There are four
lighthouses within easy drive in the area, including the noted one at
Cape Hatteras, known as America’s light.
From Corolla in
the north to Hatteras, the Outer Banks offers a variety of activities
that are sure to please any member of the family. Of course, the sandy
beaches and blue surf invite you to either loll in the sun or frolic
in the water. Along the one main road that extends the length of the
Outer Banks you will find everything from amusement rides to miniature
golf. The true golfer will find links that are often compared to those
in Scotland. Go deep-sea fishing, parasailing, or kayaking.
special festivals are held throughout the year. And one other thing,
you’ll see some of the most beautiful sunsets just as you are ready to
start out to enjoy a fine dinner and perhaps a show.
HOW TO GET
Unless you arrive by personal or charter aircraft, you will need
a car to get to this favorite vacation area. Air carrier service
is available to Raleigh, N.C., where rental cars are available.
From Raleigh area take highway 64 all the way. Driving from the
north, from Portsmouth, VA, area highway 17 to 158 takes you to
the Outer Banks just north of Kitty Hawk. From the south, ferry
service (tolls) is available from Cedar Island to Ocracoke.
Reservations are requested 30 days in advance for ferry service.
WTA's Auto Rental Discount Program
Online Travel Booking Service
to reserve your vehicle.
The area has lodging accommodations to fit every taste and every
pocketbook. You will find typical, small bed and breakfast
homes, plush resort suites, and everything in between. For an
elegant stay, check the Hampton Inn and Suites at Corolla with
its 123 rooms, suites—some with Jacuzzis—pools, exercise rooms.
A Holiday Inn Express is a possible choice in Kitty Hawk. If
planning an extended stay, like for a week, look into one of the
rental properties that abound in the area. For more information
about accommodations, check the website: www.visitnc.com/cst.
You can also use
WTA’s Online Travel
Booking Service to book your accommodations. Deep
discounts may apply on hotel rates.
There are so many excellent places for dining in the area that
you will want your stay to be longer in order to try more of
them. Of course, seafood is a regular item on all the menus but
you also can choose everything from fast food burgers to Greek,
Oriental, Italian, or good ol’ American steak and potatoes. In
Duck, you might want to try Swan Cove and ask for a window table
at sunset. Suggestion: ask some of the residents for their