• Audra Krieg

Top Free Things to do on the Outer Banks

Vacation can be expensive! Especially if you're traveling as a family. Through all of our travels around the United States, we have always tried to find ways to save money and have a few days where we just don't spend any money with the exception of food. Y'all know we like to eat! One of the absolute best things you can do when you're traveling to the Outer Banks is to bring along a soft sided cooler so you can take a picnic wherever you go. You seriously won't want to lug a hard cooler through the sand, just trust me on that! We are borderline obsessed with our IceMule coolers and love that they can be worn as a backpack. By packing lunches and dinners up in our coolers we are able to adventure longer and that makes all the difference. Before we had this cooler I can't tell you how many times we would have a hungry kid or someone who needed a cold water and we would run into a store and end up spending $40 on junk. Anyway, a cooler always saves our family money and this post is about saving money on the Outer Banks... FREE ACTIVITIES to be exact! :)


Here are my top 8 free things to do on the Outer Banks! Picnic optional!


  1. Catch Ghost Crabs! While you can certainly see these cuties playing all day on the Outer Banks, we like to try to catch them by flashlight after dark. They are ghost crabs after all! All you need is a bucket or two and a small shovel or net. My kids are famous for bringing these home as a sweet Mother's Day gift for me a few years ago. Let's just say that since that year they have gotten better at gift-giving. You're not catching ghost crabs for a meal or to hurt them. They're super fun to look at and study but it's the thrill of the catch for us!

  2. Check out a local lighthouse. We have 5 noteworthy lighthouses and you can access the grounds of all of them for free. While you can climb some of the lighthouses for a small fee, I think they're just beautiful from the ants view!

  3. Sunset on the Soundside. Bring a libation or picnic or even popcorn and sit back and enjoy the show. Sure, you might need a little bug spray but I promise it is worth it! Better than any movie I've ever seen and there's a free show nightly.

  4. Sunrise on the beach. While sunrise comes early it really is the most peaceful thing you can witness. After the last year I think I have more appreciation for a sunrise and a new day than ever before.

  5. Wright Brothers Memorial. You can walk up the big hill to the monument and enjoy the 360 degree views while walking around the beautiful monument. While you would need to pay to access the indoor facility at the bottom of the hill, the monument itself is free and neat to check out. Plus it's a good, quick workout and one of Eloise's and I's favorite things to do together.

  6. Jockey's Ridge State Park. This one is a can't miss! When you're on the Outer Banks, a visit to Jockey's Ridge is so much fun! The largest living sand dune on the east coast offers amazing views, great hikes and sand as far as the eye can see.

  7. Nags Head Woods and/or Sandy Run Park. Both of these wooded nature trails are beautiful and great spots to see local wildlife like birds, lizards and nutrias!

  8. Shelling. This is one of my most favorite activities! A few tips: go at low tide, bring a bag or a bucket and be ready to walk. Shell beds pop up all over but my favorite spots are Shad Street in Corolla, Coquina Beach in S. Nags Head and Pea Island.