Family Time, Outer Banks Style

By Molly Harrison | Wednesday, November 24, 2021

The Thanksgiving holiday is about more than gratitude, it’s also about togetherness. Whether you’re bonding with family or friends on the Outer Banks this Thanksgiving, there are plenty of fun things to do together. Here are some ideas for group activities this weekend. For more, see our Daytime and Nightlife listings.


If you’re in one of those fit and active families, start your Thanksgiving Day with a 5K run. Unfortunately, the runs in Corolla, Duck and Nags Head are full, but you might find a spot in the runs in Hatteras or Ocracoke if you register on site (online registration is closed). In Hatteras on Thanksgiving Day is the Surfin’ Turkey 5K and Puppy Drum ½ Mile Fun Run starting at 8 a.m. (9 a.m. for the fun run). The event benefits the Hatteras Island Youth Education Fund and is held in Hatteras Village. Ocracoke Island is hosting the Ocracoke 5K Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning at 8 a.m., starting at 1718 Brewery. Proceeds benefit the Ocracoke community. Find more info here.


If your family would rather walk than run, you can always hit the beach for a long amble by the sea. But don’t overlook the woods. The Outer Banks has pockets of dense woods (we call them maritime forests), and there are several trail systems that make it easy to enjoy walks in the woods (that's Buxton Woods in the photo below). See a list of great woods-walking opportunities here.


Are you in one of those families that loves to go out shopping together? There are tons of shopping opportunities on the Outer Banks, and most of them are small businesses that are independently operated, though we do have a few chains and outlets. Every local business will be having Black Friday and Small Business Saturday sales, making it an awesome time to get out there and buy your holiday gifts. Corolla, Duck, Manteo, Nags Head and Ocracoke have concentrated shopping areas where you can walk to stores easily, but don’t overlook Kill Devil Hills, Kitty Hawk and Hatteras shopping opportunities. You can see all the Outer Banks shopping options here.

This weekend there are also a lot of holiday markets. Click here to see the rundown of this weekend’s markets, as well as the others coming up in December.


Creating something together is a fun way to connect. You can make wood projects at AR Workshop in Kill Devil Hills, jewelry at Cloud Nine in Nags Head, painted canvases at Local Color in Corolla, painted pottery at OBX Art Studio in Kill Devil Hills, and that's not all. See a list of crafting and making ideas here.


This weekend there are many family-friendly events happening around town.

Miraculously, tickets are still available for The Big Currishuck, an oyster and crab feast with live music, wine and beer at Sanctuary Vineyards in Jarvisburg. It’s set for Saturday, November 27 from 12 to 5 p.m. This is a popular event and usually sells out, so get your tickets online as soon as read this.

If you’re starting to feel festive for the Christmas holiday, kids will love Hangin’ with Santa at Kitty Hawk Kites in Nags Head on Friday and Saturday. Get your annual Santa pictures from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Friday or 1 to 4 p.m. on Saturday. Don’t miss Kites with Lights on Jockeys Ridge on Saturday evening from 4 to 7 p.m. Bundle up, walk up the dunes and enjoy seeing the giant kites decked out with lights.

Down in Ocracoke, the Parade of Boats is always fun. Lighted and decorated boats will parade through Silver Lake Harbor from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. 

Up in Corolla, the Christmas in the Village event is a wonderland of lights in Historic Corolla Village. Stroll through the village from 5 to 9 p.m. at no cost and look for special events at the village shops and attractions.

The biggest light display on the Outer Banks begins this weekend – WinterLights at The Elizabethan Gardens (photo above). The gardens are decked out in literally a million lights, and it’s really fun to stroll through the entire gardens at night. Opening night, known as Grand Illuminations, is on Friday, and it’s always exciting to be the first to see the year’s latest lighted creations.

Finally, on Sunday afternoon Mustang Music Outreach is holding its You Can Make a Change Fundraiser for its music program for local youth. Local music, food, beer and ornament painting for the kids will make it a great day of fun in the Outer Banks Brewing Station backyard from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m.

Find more about all of these events here.


I personally like to go to the movies with family during the holidays – not streaming on the couch but eating popcorn at the actual movies. RC Theatres in Kill Devil Hills has all the latest movies this weekend – House of Gucci, Dune, Clifford the Big Red Dog and more. The charming, old school Pioneer Theatre in downtown Manteo is showing Walt Disney's Encanto every night at 7 p.m. through December 9. On Saturday, November 27 at 3 p.m., they're having a special Spanish language mantinee.


Don't forget about the local attractions. Tour the Native American Museum in Frisco, visit the animals at the North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island, climb aboard the Elizabeth II at Roanoke Island Festival, take a Candlelight Christmas Tour through Whalehead in Corolla. See a list of all the Outer Banks attractions here.

Whatever you and your family and friends decide to do together this Thanksgiving holiday, I hope it's a wonderful time filled with gratitude, health and peace. Happy Thanksgiving!

About the Author Molly Harrison
Molly Harrison is managing editor at OneBoat, publisher of She moved to Nags Head in 1994 and since then has made her living writing articles and creating publications about the people, places and culture of the Outer Banks. When not working she practices and teaches yoga and spends as much time as possible outside and in or on the water with her husband and two children.