What to Do in the Outer Banks in December

Experience the OBX in the Off-Season

December is the time of year to spread some OBX cheer! Get ready to experience a true Southern-style winter in the Outer Banks. With average temperatures in the high 50s, the weather can be mild and sunny, or crisp and wet, so prepare for beautiful white snow or a warm sandy beach. But no matter what the elements may bring this December, you’ll have so much to do, so much to see, and so many memories to make on the Outer Banks.

shell heart

Hunt for Beach Treasure

Uncrowded beaches make December a great time of year to get out and do some shell seeking or metal detecting in search of your favorite shells, such as whelk, olive, and conch shells. Shark teeth can be found as well, not the mention one of the most prized finds, Outer Banks sea glass.

metal detecting rules
wright brothers first flight

Tour the Wright Brothers Memorial

While you’re here, visit the Wright Brothers Memorial. The Wright Brothers’ lasting legacy is well known for the first flight, right here on the Outer Banks. On December 17th, we will be celebrating 120 years of the first powered flight (more details on the celebration here!). Walk to the top of the hill to get an up-close look at the towering 60-foot-tall granite monument. Plan your visit to the Wright Brothers National Memorial and visitor’s center, which includes a bookstore and gift shop.

currituck lighthouse christmas

OBX Christmas & New Year’s Eve Festivities

If you’re planning to spend the holidays on the Outer Banks, there are many unique holiday celebrations happening throughout the OBX. Whether you’re looking for kid-friendly activities or a holiday-themed bar crawl, there are Christmas and New Year’s Eve events for all ages and interests.

Historic Corolla Village invites you to take a stroll through the sparkling wonderland that is Corolla Christmas Village, where fantastic lights, winter delights, and holiday sights are on full display. The festive fun takes place on Friday and Saturday evenings from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm on November 24th through December 30th. Each weekend includes special events, as well as refreshments and shopping opportunities. 

While in Corolla, take a tour of the Whalehead mansion all decked out in 1920’s holiday decor. Whalehead’s Candlelight Christmas tours are limited and reservations sell out quickly. Make sure to visit their website or call (252) 453-9040 for more information.

shop local december

Shop ’til You Drop

Shop for unique gifts for everyone on your list this year! With so many eclectic places and events during which you can shop on the OBX, you’ll have everyone checked off in no time. Corolla Christmas Village kicks off for the season on the day after Thanksgiving and includes a Christmas Craft Village with locally made goods. Head to the Duck Yuletide Celebration on the first Saturday in December before strolling through the shops in Duck Village, or enjoy a local holiday market such as the First Flight Holiday Market in Kill Devil Hills or the Dowdy Park Farmer’s Market in Nags Head. Don’t forget to check out our local gift guide!


The North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island

Learn about aquatic life on the North Carolina coast at the NC Aquarium on Roanoke Island in Manteo. Their Sea Turtle Assistance and Rescue (STAR) Center allows visitors to go inside of the sea turtle “hospital” and to learn about threats to the Sea Turtle population and how they can be rehabilitated. Take some time to watch the entertaining otters. Additionally, check out the fossil dig area where visitors are able to search for treasures; like small shells or shark teeth. The Graveyard of the Atlantic exhibit boasts an aquarium that holds larger fish, including sharks. 

nc aquarium
christmas stew

Eat and Drink Your Way Through the OBX

With fewer folks visiting the Outer Banks in December than in the summer months, you have the opportunity to visit new restaurants with little or no wait time. Some OBX restaurants close during the cooler months, but many choose to stay open year-round. Many local OBX restaurants make amazing soups and stews that are perfect for crisp December days. Please call ahead or visit a restaurant’s website before heading there to confirm that they are open.

The 12 Bars of Christmas is a festive and fun way to experience holiday cheer on the Outer Banks. Each of the twelve participating establishments will be decorated in a holiday theme, complete with special holiday menu items.

Check out our OBX off-season itinerary by town for our recommendations if you’re planning a driving tour of the Outer Banks during your December visit.

Twiddy & Company

Twiddy & Company

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