Quiet boardwalks, lucky fishing piers, 19th century mansions, humble museums, wild mustangs, and lots of ocean… the Outer Banks is much too relaxed to be considered a tourist trap. The barrier island runs all the way down the North Carolina coastline and so, there’s plenty of room for beach goers to spread out and find their own secluded slice of peace and quiet. But where are the best places to stay in the Outer Banks?

Instead of hotels, Outer Banks is heaping with vacation homes… from luxury estates to cozy beach houses. You can book a condo or home with lots of space and lots of amenities for the same price or less of a hotel room. Thankfully, you can find vacation rentals all over OBX.

Discover the personalities of the most popular OBX beach towns:

Crowd Appeal: Best Places to Stay in the Outer Banks

Nags Head

If you’re visiting the Outer Banks, there’s a decent chance you’re visiting Nags Head, as it’s the most popular resort town of the lot, which is saying a lot. Several beach access points are available to the public, but you’ll want to spend as much time exploring as sunbathing. After all, there are the Jockey’s Ridge sand dunes, the “Unpainted Aristocracy” – a collection of antique homes along Oceanside Road (or Beach Road) where no cars allowed, and Jennette’s Fishing Pier, the oldest pier in the Outer Banks, with an aquarium and display of trophy fishes.

Kids & the Adventurous: Best Places to Stay in the Outer Banks

Check out these laid-back, But activity-packed OBX beach towns.

Corolla

Follow up a soul-searching jaunt along the beach with a visit to the Currituck Beach Lighthouse or a tour of the historic Whalehead Club home. But no matter what you do (or don’t do, the Outer Banks is for relaxing), don’t miss out on the Wild Horse Museum, where you can watch native mustangs roam the beach.

Duck

Duck is super tucked away – as in there’s no public beach access! That’s okay, though, as long as you’re staying in a Duck beach house. Fishing on nearby Currituck Sound, souvenir hunting at one of the many locally-owned shops, and hanging out at the Town Park and Buck Boardwalk are favorite activities. Dogs are allowed on the beaches, and the town is especially pedestrian-friendly, so bring your pooch and your walking shoes (or better yet, your bike).

Hatteras Harbour

Kill Devil Hills

Kill Devil Hills’ claim to fame is that it’s the sight of the Wright Brothers’ first flight in 1903. Here, you can check out the Wright Brothers Monument paying homage to the historic event.

Kitty Hawk

Want a little adventure to go with your relaxing? Check out Kitty Hawk, where you can take hang gliding lessons at Kitty Hawk Kites, play a round of golf at Sea Scape Golf Links Golf Course, and kayak through Kitty Hawk Woods.

Couples: Best Places to Stay in the Outer Banks

Rodanthe

If getting away from it all with your significant other is your number one goal on vacation, consider these super small and sleepy Outer Banks destinations. 

More quiet OBX beach accommodations: