North Carolina's string of pearls
A string of barrier islands, North Carolina’s Outer Banks stretch more than 120 miles south from Virginia’s southern border, hugging the Atlantic coast. Only three miles across at its widest point, the island chain was the first established national seashore in the country. It sees an annual influx of beach-seeking seasonal tourists—especially to centrally located hubs Duck, Kitty Hawk, and Nags Head. But when the tourists vacate their beachfront rentals, a tight-knit community of year-round residents remain, working in the commercial fishing industries and coastal cafes and kitchens that dot the distinctive towns of the Outer Banks. Catch sunset views over the Currituck Sound from the pier next to AQUA Restaurant in Duck and follow the boardwalk north to The Blue Point in Duck. Hang gliding lessons at Jockey Ridge State Park let you soak up panoramic views of the ocean, sound, and sand dunes in between. Whatever you choose, be it lounging on the beach or state park-hopping, enjoying the outdoors is essential to the Outer Banks experience.