Curiously Currituck

By Lexi Holian

When you set your sights on Currituck County as a vacation destination, chances are the miles of wide-open ocean beaches are your main pull. But did you know there is more to see? Head to the opposite shore to lay eyes on the beautiful Currituck Sound, where you can partake in recreational boating or fishing, search for clams with a rake or cast your line in hopes of catching some blue crabs for dinner. Ocean and sound are only the beginning of what Currituck County has to offer. In fact, there are so many off-the-beaten-path activities that just pondering the choices is entertaining.

 

Climb Penny’s Hill
The wild Spanish mustangs of Corolla are famous by name and stunning to see in person, but they aren’t the only worthwhile sight on the 4x4 beaches. You’ll need to drive about 3 miles north in the sand before discovering Penny’s Hill, often called the Jockey’s Ridge of Currituck. This massive sand dune is the second largest in North Carolina – any guesses for the first? – and affords views of both ocean and sound from the top. In the olden days, people used to drive their vehicles up and all over Penny’s Hill. Now you’re more likely to see wild foxes and pigs, deer and the wayward foot traveler sinking feet into sand.

Wild Spanish Mustangs in Corolla

Good Eats on the Mainland
The eateries of Corolla are bursting with creative flavors and good vibes day and night. We recommend exploring them all, but don’t forget to make a stop on the mainland at one of the restaurants lining the highway. These are incredible dining experiences hiding in plain sight! Roadside grills serve up local delicacies, and there’s a marina where you can enjoy your seafood steamed or grilled while you watch yachts and sailboats cruising the Intracoastal Waterway.

Fresh Shrimp at Currituck County Restruant

Take a Hike in a National Wildlife Refuge
Summer vacationers of the human persuasion aren’t the only visitors to the Outer Banks. There is a vast array birds that take refuge in one of two national wildlife parks in Currituck County. You’ll have to take to the water to access one and let the air out of your tires to reach the other. Mackay Island Wildlife Refuge on Knotts Island harbors 187 species of birds including tens of thousands of mallards, teal, gadwall and wood ducks. You can get to the park via ferry from the dock near the Historic Currituck Courthouse. On the other end of the county is the Currituck National Wildlife Refuge, just north of Corolla. Here you can enjoy pastimes such as birding, boating, fishing and hiking through the beautiful maritime forest.

Currituck County Wildlife

Brewed on the Outer Banks
Who knew you could find an organic farm, butchery, brewery and restaurant all rolled into one? At Weeping Radish Farm Brewery in Jarvisburg, the produce is local and organic, meats are hormone free and unfiltered beer is brewed using hops, malt, yeast and water – no chemicals or preservatives. The owners support local farmers by turning their fresh meats into sausages that the farmers can then take home and sell. In the brewery, you can take a tour for $5 every Wednesday at 11 a.m. and try beer made on site like the OBX Kolsch, Corolla Gold and Black Radish. It’s actually the oldest microbrewery in North Carolina!

Weeping Radish Brewery

Explore the Vineyards
Most visitors wouldn’t expect to find vineyards at the beach, but there are two in Currituck that offer tastings of local wines. Sanctuary Vineyards in Jarvisburg is located right on the highway and plays host to many festivals and events throughout the year like the popular Wine and Swine in September. There are wine tastings every day, free tours of the property on Wednesdays and live music on Thursdays with local Outer Banks musicians in the country, reggae and classic rock genres. Make sure to take home a bottle of wine like the Coastal Collage or The Lightkeeper to savor your memories of the Outer Banks.

Make It an Adventure
You’ve heard of surfing and the new sport of standup paddleboarding – which we recommend – but what about tandem hang gliding? Take to the skies with a certified instructor in a glider made for two. An ultralight plane tows you up to either 2,000 feet or a mile high and releases the glider for a bird’s eye view of the Currituck Sound, Atlantic Ocean and beautiful countryside. This trip can be a serene glide or a thrill-seeking adventure if you prefer dives, twists and other aerial maneuvers. Those who want to remain on the ground, or in the water, could opt for a kayak eco-tour on the sound among the snowy egrets and great blue herons.

Movies Under the Stars
A lucky find is the mainland’s Currituck County Rural Center, which offers access to the sound for kayakers and canoe enthusiasts, fishing in two ponds, picnic pavilions and a boardwalk. Entrance to the center is free, and that includes outdoor movie nights in the summertime. Take the kids for this one-of-a-kind experience of watching their favorite movie outside along with activity booths, an appearance by the local horses and a bounce house. This summer’s movie dates are June 23, July 14, July 28 and August 11 from 6 to 10 p.m.

Farm Markets
From the time you cross the northern state border to the time you hit the Wright Memorial Bridge, you will spot farm markets along the highway boasting fresh produce and homemade treats. In the summer, local watermelons, strawberries and peaches abound in addition to homemade jams, salsas, ciders and the wildly popular okra chips. The handpicked produce is perfect for taking to the beach house, while the kids will enjoy tractor-churned ice cream and homemade fudge. Come hungry to partake in the abundance of free samples.

Tee Up at an Award-Winning Course
From the maritime forests to the wetlands, there are seven picturesque and challenging golf courses in Currituck County.  As varied as our landscape, the courses all stand out in their terrain and level of difficulty. You can find professional instruction, putting greens and driving ranges to suit your pleasure. And for the little ones, keep an eye out for putt-putt courses with fun area themes.

Pick Peaches on Knotts Island
Some would argue that there’s nothing better than picking your own fruit in the summertime. At Martin Vineyard & Orchard on Knotts Island, you can pluck red and golden apples, peaches and pears straight from the trees. It’s a 45-minute ferry ride and short drive to the orchard, which is also a bird sanctuary. Make sure to stop at the food stands along the way for homemade preserves and baked goods, and mark your calendar for the annual Peach Festival from June 27–28.

Currituck County Businesses

 

Currituck Outer Banks NC logo
Currituck Outer Banks Visitor’s Center:
(252) 453-9612  |  500 Hunt Club Drive, Corolla
Currituck County Tourism Department & Welcome Center:
(252) 453-2947, (877) 287-7488  |  106 Caratoke Highway, Moyock
visitcurrituck.com

 

About the Author Lexi Holian
Lexi Holian was born and raised on the Outer Banks and cannot remember a time when she wasn’t writing. She can often be found planning her next trip abroad but will always return to the Outer Banks, her place of greatest inspiration. You can contact Lexi at lexi@oneboat.com.