What’s the weather like? Average temperatures in December are High: 55° and Low: 40°. Average temperatures in January are High: 51° and Low: 36°. Average temperatures in February are High: 54° and Low: 37°
The winter months in the Outer Banks can offer you an incredible experience. Here are some of the best things to enjoy about winter on the OBX!
Play a Round of Golf
Charter a Fishing Boat
The winter is an excellent time of year for fishing in the Outer Banks because the fish are still in abundance yet the beaches are empty. Field & Stream notes, “There may be no better time to visit this famous surf-fishing destination.” The Outer Banks also has several piers including Jennette’s Pier that offer fishing and equipment. For off-shore fishing, book a charter through one of the many charter boats.
Enjoy a History Lesson
Celebrate the success of Orville & Wilbur Wright by visiting the Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kitty Hawk. It features a monument to the brothers, markers indicating their flight line where you can actually walk in their footsteps, exhibits and replicas of their flying machines. An interesting attraction for all ages.
Visit a Local Museum
The Outer Banks area also offers several museums for both young and old celebrating not only local history and culture, but American history as well. The Outer Banks Children at Play Museum features interactive exhibits relating to science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics. Other museums include the Dare County Airport Museum, Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum, Chicamacomico Lifesaving Station Historic Site, Roanoke Maritime Museum, the Frisco Native American Museum & Natural History Center and Fort Raleigh National Historic Site.
Observe the Wild Horses
Schedule a tour to observe the wild Colonial Spanish Mustangs in Corolla. The Corolla Wild Horse Fund offers their own tour out of their museum/shop, or you can choose from several tour companies in Corolla. Plan your excursion today to see and learn about these beautiful horses that define the northern Outer Banks.
Tour the Wright Brother’s Memorial
Hunting in the Outer Banks
Some of the earliest visitors to the Outer Banks were hunters taking advantage of the area's exceptional waterfowl population. That tradition carries on today. From Hatteras Island to the 4WD beaches of Carova, duck and waterfowl hunting is allowed in a variety of different regions.
The Outer Banks is a generally little-known hunting destination that has a big following of die-hard fans. If you're planning your next big fall or winter hunting trip, consider heading to the Outer Banks.
For more information about hunting in the Outer Banks, click here.
Shop ’til You Drop
Whether you are looking for souvenirs, gifts for family and friends or perhaps some clothes for yourself, you are sure to find the right shop here in the Outer Banks. You will find boutiques galore, and for the best name brand items you can explore the Nags Head Tanger Outlet Mall. The Outer Banks Mall is also a great place to find other shops and restaurants. Visit The Outer Banks of North Carolina website for a more complete listing of stores that can be found in the area.
Restaurant choices in the Outer Banks run the gamut from seafood to ethnic cuisine, from casual to dressy and from locally-owned to national chains. Among some of the local choices open in the winter are The Colington Cafe, Ocean Boulevard Bistro & Martini Bar, Pok’s Art Asia Fusion Kitchen, Lifesaving Station Restaurant at Sanderling, as well as Basnight’s and Tale of the Whale on the causeway to Manteo. There are also some chain favorites like the Outback Steakhouse. For a more complete listing of the restaurants in the area visit The Outer Banks of North Carolina website.
Relax & Wind Down
What better time to think about yourself than in the winter when life has slowed down and you can take some time to relax. Plan some “me time” with a massage, waxing, pedicure, manicure or any other treatment to rejuvenate your body, mind and soul. The Outer Banks boasts several venues that offer a variety of services for your personal wellness. Visit The Outer Banks of North Carolina website for a complete listing.
Take a Hike
What better time to go hiking than when the temperatures have cooled down. The Outer Banks area offers more than just the beach for beautiful views of nature. From small venues offering just a few acres to larger venues with over 5,000 acres, the Outer Banks is home to beautiful foliage, a variety of bird species and other animals in their natural habitats. Duck Town Park, Jockey’s Ridge State Park, and the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge are just a few of the places available for hiking. For more information on hiking visit The Outer Banks Visitor Guide.
Visit a Lighthouse
Visit one or all of the five lighthouses throughout the Outer Banks. Starting in our northern area is Currituck Beach Lighthouse, then in Nags Head is Bodie Island Lighthouse, the Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse is on Roanoke Island, then to Hatteras for the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse and finally on to Ocracoke Island for the Ocracoke Lighthouse. Learn more about these lighthouses at Outer Banks Lighthouses or visit the link to each individual lighthouse.
Enjoy Fascinating Bird Watching
Cape Hatteras National Seashore is perfect for bird watching as many species migrate through the area to take advantage of the coastal ecosystem. In fact, over 400 species have been spotted in and around the area! The population of birds here changes with the season, but you can refer to this checklist to make sure you’re in the right place at the right time.
Stargaze Under Stunning Skies
The night skies of Cape Hatteras are some of the darkest skies east of the Mississippi River. So, no matter the time of year, you can enjoy incredible stargazing all along Cape Hatteras National Seashore.
If camping isn’t your style, there are two historic lighthouses that offer full moon climbs, the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse and the Bodie Island Lighthouse. These unique experiences provide a chance to look at the night sky from a different perspective. Expect to climb over 200 steps at both lighthouses. There are 257 steps at the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse - the tallest brick lighthouse in North America!
See the Ocracoke Ponies
Ocracoke Island, the southern island in Cape Hatteras National Seashore, is home to a herd of banker ponies. You can enjoy a beautiful view of Ocracoke and the herd of ponies from two viewing decks found at the Ocracoke Pony Pens. The Ocracoke ponies have a long and storied history that extends to today’s care of them. You won’t want to miss a look at these majestic creatures during your visit to the Cape Hatteras National Seashore!
Go Horseback Riding
Why not enjoy Cape Hatteras by horseback? Hatteras Island Horseback Riding offers unique and affordable horseback riding for all ages and skill levels. The rides take place 100% on the beach along the Cape Hatteras National Seashore! There are a few other riding opportunities on Hatteras Island, so take a look at where to enjoy Hatteras horseback riding if you’re interested.
During the offseason months, there is a great chance to find fully intact whelk shells, beautiful sea glass, and other items that could wash up on shore from sunken ships. With not many people being on the OBX, you will have an even greater chance to find these special souvenirs!
Kitty Hawk kites offers dune hang gliding year-round and thrill-seeking folks love the month of December for this unbelievable adventure! Check out dune hang gliding at the Kitty Hawk Kites website!
Check out the North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island that has a 285,000-gallon exhibit filled with nurse, sand tiger, and sandbar sharks. The aquarium is open year-round from 9AM to 5PM.
Kitty Hawk Kites offers four different kayaking adventures including tours at: Alligator River, Roanoke Island, Kitty Hawk and Pea Island.
Jockey’s Ridge State Park
Guests can join a ranger and hike the famous sand dune, with a chance to see unique animals only during the winter months.
Holidays in the Outer Banks
Finally, if you’re lucky enough to be on the Outer Banks during the Christmas / holiday season, there are some special activities designed for your holiday celebrations!
Winter Lights at Elizabethan Gardens
Stroll through the beautiful Elizabethan Gardens, one of the top 10 OBX attractions, for a holiday extravaganza like no other. Marvel at the colorful hues of twinkling Christmas lights illuminating the gardens that transform this nature reserve into a stunning wonderland. Enjoy the beautiful sights and soothing sounds filling the air. Between the festive trees and crackling of the warm open-air fire, you don’t want to miss this event. Check out the full schedule before you go!
Duck Yuletide Celebration
Mark your calendars for the first Saturday of December for the annual Duck Yuletide Celebration. Typically held in the afternoon, take the kids to see Santa, attend the lighting of the Town Crab Pot Tree, listen to holiday music from local talent, and delight in great food and company. You can enjoy shopping in the evening at many local boutiques, all open late!
The Annual Holiday at the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum
This event is fun for the whole family! At the Annual Holiday at the Museum celebration in the middle of December, observe the Winter Wonderland train display constructed by master model builder Charlie Klein. As you meander through this exhibit hall, you’ll recall memories from Christmases past while your children will dream of ones to come. Keep the magic of Santa Claus alive by encouraging your little ones to bring their letters to Santa (they may even get a reply!). Between the professional puppet show and other live entertainment, your family is sure to have a blast. Don’t forget to bring a donation to the Food Bank because you’ll receive an additional 5% off at the museum.
Christmas Past at Island Farm
Enjoy Christmas the way your ancestors did at Christmas Past at Island Farm on the second Saturday of December. After Santa arrives on his ox-drawn wagon, you may even get the take a ride in it with him. Christmas Past will feature open flame prepared 19th-century meals for all guests to sample. Take a self-guided tour of the farmhouse, warm yourself by the fire, and help decorate the family Christmas tree. Stop by to visit with the farm animals and then make your own beeswax candle to take home. All of this will take place on the second Saturday in December, and everyone will love it!