Piracy, a Big Swim and the Queen's Tea!

By Michael Lay | Tuesday, June 25, 2013
Audience with the Queen? Visit ElizabethanGardens.org.

Last Friday, as we once again officially crossed the somewhat ephemeral threshold of Summer, it occurred to me that I've witnessed quite a few of these seasonal transitions on the Outer Banks since first moving here in 1993. But my Outer Banks connection goes back even further, to those much anticipated family vacations taken here as a child. Looking back I remember being taught to body surf by my father, building an empire's worth of sand castles that disappeared with the tide, futilely chasing those freakishly quick ghost crabs, even an afternoon spent in the company of a beautiful blonde lifeguard who graciously treated as a peer a certain 13-year old boy newly chafing under parental supervision.

What I also remember about each of those Outer Banks escapades is being so worn out from the pummeling I'd taken in the surf and so sunburnt (a nicely charred but tender medium rare, as I recall, this being before the time of effective sunscreens) that by Day Three the beach was no longer a viable option and the vacation transformed into a sightseeing mission, with stops at Wright Brothers, The Elizabethan Gardens, Forbes Saltwater Taffy and, well, anywhere else that offered the potential of shade. It was one of these excursions that resulted in that first awe-inspiring, seemingly stratospheric view from the top the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse of this little strip of sand I was one day to call home.

Today, with the transition away from claustrophobic motel rooms to large beach cottages that offer myriad indoor activities, our modern technological distractions and sunscreens that actually work, there is perhaps less incentive (or, at least, less pain-related motivation) to get out and about. But don't let creature comforts and modernity tempt you into a hermetically-sealed vacation bubble. There is so much to experience here that exists nowhere else. You owe it to yourself to partake of as much as you can during your Outer Banks visit.

The Week Ahead


Each summer for the past 40 years the cast of The Lost Colony has produced a show just for kids. For 2013, the imaginative fantasy Puss In Boots will be performed every Tuesday and Wednesday at 2 p.m. in the air-conditioned comfort of the newly renovated Soundstage Theatre at The Lost Colony's Waterside Theatre on Roanoke Island. The show runs through August 14 and tickets are $7.50/person.

Rub shoulders with "royalty," enjoy sumptuous desserts, refreshing iced teas and delightful royal court antics during Tea with the Queen, your very own audience with Queen Elizabeth I held in the beautiful setting of The Elizabethan Gardens. The next Queen's tea will be Thursday, June 27 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and the ticket price ($22/adult; $11/youth ages 7-18) includes admission to The Gardens. Reservations are required 24 hours in advance. For tickets or more information call (252) 473-3234 or visit the Gardens' website.

"X" marks the spot for a morning of piracy during Saturday's Ahoy, Pirates! program at the North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island. From 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. kids ages 4 to 8 can get their swashbuckling fix when they join staff on the Aquarium's very own pirate ship! Walk the plank, fire cannons, learn about pirate legends of the Outer Banks, play games, sing sea shanties and hunt for Blackbeard's buried treasure! Arrrrrrr! Participants must wear closed toe shoes. Pre-registration is required and admission is $20/child; $18/NC Aquarium members.

Remember when the fair was a festive summertime tradition as dependable as pick-up baseball games and fireworks on the Fourth of July? Revisit those innocent and fun-filled days at The Fair at the Beach, open nightly 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Located at Nags Head's Full Throttle Speedway, the fair features popular rides such as the Tilt-a-Whirl and Monkey Mayhem, mini helicopters, a train, adult go-karts, junior racer karts and games such as Fishy Fish, Lucky Duck and that challenging ol' standby, Ring Toss. And what would a fair be without a Ferris Wheel? The brightly-lit wheel at Fair at the Beach is perfect for capturing a birds-eye view of Nags Head and reveling in those spectacularly glowing soundside sunsets! Treat your taste buds with candied apples, cotton candy, ice cream and other fairground favorites. The Fair at the Beach has all the ingredients necessary for a night of family fun! Discounted family packs are available.


Scarborough Faire's free Faire Days Festival returns for its third year! Every Wednesday (June through August) from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. you'll discover food, art, activities, entertainment and shopping for the entire family under the cooling shade of Scarborough Faire's magnificent tree-lined courtyard, located right in the heart of Duck. Highlights include live music featuring Mojo Collins and others, clown/magician Magic Mike, North Carolina Marionette Theatre, local artists, wine tastings and hors d'oeuvres, author book signings, shopping specials and discounts, scavenger hunts for free prizes, appearances by Corolla wild horses, and a bevy of kid-friendly activities including pony rides (benefitting the Corolla Wild Horse Fund), glitter tattoos, kids yoga, art projects and more!


In the category of "Things I Can't Believe Didn't Happen Sooner" is Sunday's inaugural OBX Swim Club-sponsored Open Water Swim, the first ever (can you believe it?) open water swim race event on the Outer Banks. Held at the Old Swimming Hole at 410 Airport Road on Roanoke Island beginning at 8 a.m., the event features three races in distances of 500 meters, 1 kilometer and 2 kilometers. The timed USA Swimming-sanctioned event is open to the first 300 registrants (age 11 and older) and will take place rain or shine. Prizes will be awarded to top finishers. Entrance fees are $30 for the first event and $10 for each additional event. All proceeds benefit the OBX Swim Club. Pre-registration is required and there will be no same day registration.


Yes, beer deserves its own category. For insight into the artisanal processes behind a quality craft brewing operation, you'll want to sign up for Tuesday's 2 p.m. free brewery tour at Full Moon Café and Brewery in downtown Manteo. Following the tour step up to the bar and sample owner Paul Charron's excellent English-style ales! Reservations are required and participants must be 21 or older. Call (252) 473-6666 to reserve your spot.


Duck renews its claim as a live music destination this summer with its two free outdoor music series. The popular evening Duck Summer Music Series, held Thursdays at 6:30 p.m. on the Duck Town Green, features some of the area's best known musical acts. Carbon Jam will perform this Thursday and the popular Kirsten Thien is scheduled for July 11. (Please note: there will not be a show on Thursday, July 4). The Duck Unplugged Singer-Songwriter Series brings diverse musical talent to the Duck Amphitheater on Tuesday evenings at 6:30 p.m. Rebekah Todd takes the stage for the Tuesday, July 2 show. Gates for each series open at 6 p.m. Visit the Town of Duck website for more information and the full season schedule for each series.

Outer Banks This Week Giveaway

This week you have a chance to win a $50 gift certificate to Peppercorns Restaurant and two tickets to the Outer Banks Comedy Club!

For more information about Peppercorns Restaurant, check out their oneboat page.

For more information about The Comedy Club of the Outer Banks, check out their website.

Last Week's Winner

Congratulations to Roxanne Crouse!!!

You won a couples surf lesson from Island Revolution & a $35 gift certificate to Corolla Cantina Bar & Grill!

Outer Banks This Week Giveaway Winner

For more information about Island Revolution, check out their website.

For more information about Corolla Cantina, check out their website.

About the Author Michael Lay
Michael Lay is a local graphic designer, artist, photographer and writer. He lives in picturesque downtown Manteo, NC, and is the manservant of two beautiful and willful feline princesses, Sophie and Sassy. You can contact Michael at mike.lay@oneboat.com.