Feb 03, 2021

6 Things to Do in the OBX in Winter

Explore the OBX Winter Wonderland

When thinking of a winter wonderland, the Outer Banks may not be the first place that comes to mind. Take a closer look and you’ll see that the OBX is a magical place in the winter months. Whether you’re looking to get closer to nature or to stay cozy, we have six good reasons to visit the Outer Banks in the winter.

Winter Beachcombing

With few visitors and even fewer folks on Outer Banks beaches, winter is the perfect time to search for beach treasures. Winter winds have helped make the Outer Banks famous, as the Wright Brothers specifically chose the consistently windy area to test their flying machine. Those same winds keep the ocean waves crashing throughout the winter, resulting in all kinds of treasures washing up on the beaches. 

obx metal detecting

Shelling is a popular (and highly addictive!) activity for OBX visitors and locals alike. Finding a completely intact whelk is commonplace in the winter. If you’ve been lucky enough to find a beautiful piece of seaglass in the summer, imagine finding a handful of it in one stroll down the beach in the winter. Dress warm and be sure to bring a mesh bag to hold all of your findings. See how many of these common shells you can find on your next off-season shell hunt. 

Metal detecting is another great way to find buried treasure on the beach. This activity takes a bit more skill, some special equipment, and possibly a special use permit. Do your research beforehand to be sure that metal detecting on the beach is legal in the area you plan to visit. 

Warm Up with a Bowl of Soup

One of our favorite winter activities is to visit local OBX restaurants and try their soups. The lack of crowds during the winter months allows local chefs to get creative. The cooler temperatures will have you yearning for some soup. Get ready for coastal delight in a bowl with the NC Seafood Gumbo at NC Coast Grill & Bar. Hatteras Clam Chowder is a local favorite that can be found at several local restaurants, including Black Pelican in Kitty Hawk. Try the soup of the day at The Blue Point in Duck…trust us, it’s always amazing! 

Sand Formations at Jockey’s Ridge

The sand dunes at Jockey’s Ridge State Park are referred to as living sand dunes due to the aforementioned wind. The consistent OBX winds blow the sand around, so the dunes are in a constant state of change. With all of the blowing sand, some pretty amazing sand patterns and formations are created. Look around between the dunes and behind dune ridges to see what kind of patterns you can find. If you’re lucky enough to experience a rare snow day on the OBX, the snow adds an extra layer of wonder to the already-fascinating formations in the sand. 

jockeys ridge
winter seal visitor

Wide Open 4×4 Beaches

Have you ever wanted to drive on the beach, but aren’t quite confident in your beach driving skills? Winter is the perfect time to practice! There’s less traffic on the 4×4 beaches, which should help ease anxiety and allow you to learn to handle your vehicle on the beach at your own pace. Fewer vehicles traveling on the beach means fewer tire ruts to bounce around on. 

Don’t want to take your vehicle on the beach, or already have great beach driving skills? Take a self-guided tour of the 4×4 beaches in a one-of-a-kind dune buggy from Good Vibrations Beach Rides. Be on the lookout for the Corolla wild horses. Seals are also known to stop by OBX beaches in the winter to catch a quick nap before continuing their journey. 

4x4 dune buggies

Take Family Movie Night to the Next Level

Have an epic family movie night in a vacation home with a theatre room. We have several great must-watch OBX movie recommendations, just add popcorn. Many vacation home theatre rooms have uber comfortable seating, perfect for spending the afternoon binge-watching Netflix. Curl up with a cozy blanket and relax. Twiddy has 200+ vacation homes with theatre rooms to choose from. The majority of them are oceanfront, so you can get a breath of fresh salt air and a view of the ocean whenever you need a break or when Netflix asks you if you’re still watching. 

Winter Birdwatching

The Outer Banks is a bird sanctuary, with many avid bird watchers visiting during opportune times of the year. Birders come to the OBX in hopes of observing any of the hundreds of species of native migratory birds. The unique location of the Outer Banks allows waterfowl and migratory birds to put on a stunning show

Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge is one of our favorite places for OBX birdwatching. The expansive natural area is protected and managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and considered an essential site for coastal bird research and monitoring. The refuge includes areas from the ocean to the sound, so a wide variety of shorebirds can be observed. Our OBX Birding Guide gives you an idea of the types of birds you could see while exploring. 

Courtney Wisecarver

Courtney Wisecarver

Feb 03, 2021

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