Welcome back to part 2 of my series Traveling with Toddlers. Today I am sharing part 2 of our vacation to Outer Banks, North Carolina. If you haven't read part 1, be sure to catch it here. In part 1 titled, "Getting to North Carolina", I shared THREE major lessons we learned traveling with the kids for the first time. We had a lot of mishaps on our first travel day, but once we got on the road and began our drive from the airport things started to look up. In this post, I will share all the photos, 3 helpful tips, and the must-sees when traveling to OBX as a family. You are going to love this!
The Drive to Outer Banks
To start, we flew into Norfolk International Airport. I shared finding our car and the hassle that went with it in part 1 of this series, but luckily once we left the airport we had a much better time. We knew in advance we had a 2-hour drive to our Airbnb which was located in the Kill Devil Hills bank town of Outer Banks. The drive was actually enjoyable. Traffic moved quickly and it was pretty cool to get to see the area. The views along US 158 were amazing and in some places, you could see water on both sides! As for the kiddos, they were tired from flying and napped on and off during the drive. When they were awake, we talked about what we were seeing and how excited we were to go to the beach. If you are driving US 158 down to Outer Banks, here are some two must-stops along the way-
Wawa Gas Station. We didn't need gas the entire trip thanks to the Tesla we rented. However, this gas station for us was a must-stop. We do not have one of these in Iowa and it was magical. Now it's not huge like Texan Buc-ees, but the smoothies you guys. SO GOOD. And for our little family of 4, they had everything we could possibly need for a road trip.
Roadside Markets. When you are driving the strip you will see tons of mom-and-pop farm stands. After the third or so one we passed, we caved and stopped. I figured we could use fruit and snacks for the Airbnb. Who doesn't want to snack on fresh fruit on the beach am I right? The one we stopped at was incredibly cute. They had a huge variety of fruit, veggies, and even chocolate fudge. 🤤 You better believe I bought myself more than one square and finished it before we reached our destination.
Time Spent in Kill Devil Hills & Surrounding Towns
Once we reached the Outer Banks towns we began exploring right away. Our first stop was to drop off luggage and then we went directly to the beach. We were completely new to the area, only having heard of OBX through a #1 family beach destinations website. So we found an Airbnb that fit our vibe and was within walking distance to the beach. Here's a tip about that though-
Tip #1- if traveling with young kids, make sure your Airbnb or hotel is on the side of US 158 closest to the beach.
Technically our stay was within walking distance, but walking across that major highway with a 2 and 4-year-old was an absolute no-go. Luckily there are tons of public parking & public access to the beach, so driving ended up being fine. 👀 below for a picture of Sofie relaxing at the Airbnb hangout. We loved the house we stayed in but will look for something on the other side of the highway if we ever go back. Probably in Nags Head, because that was our favorite of the Outer Banks towns!
The rest of our trip was pretty low-key. The first full day there we had rain most of the day. Instead of going to the beach, we explored shops and such. In the evening the rain stopped and we hit up one of the many local mini-golf spots. Honestly, it is not a Meck House family vacation without going mini-golfing. 😂 We loved the mini-golf in OBX because they were well kept and even had a pirate ship. The kids loved it.
Note- I have no idea what is happening with my hair in this next photo 😂. I just remember it being super windy.
The following days were filled with beach, beach, and more beach!
Tip #2- buy cheap beach toys at the local supermarket or souvenir shop. 1,000% worth the cost plus we paid it forward by leaving the toys behind when vacation was over for another family to enjoy.
The kids played all day, every day running up to the water & back. Bonus, all the sunshine wore them out come bedtime! I recommend getting to the beach early, between 8-9 am. We got tons of beach walking in before noon and then once it was a little more crowded we hung out by our spot.
We found tons of seashells, crabs, and more while walking the beach.
We also checked out some local eats. (I may do a post on our favorite eats in OBX, so stay tuned for that) My favorite was this frozen yogurt shop ⬇️. They had vegan ice cream and tons of toppings. This is important for me because I have a few allergies. Dairy can be tough on my stomach, and I have to totally avoid gluten & coconut. I know it's depressing.
Tip #3- Also, if you have a gluten intolerance like me, Slice Pizzaria has the best cauliflower pizza crust I have ever had. NOTHING here in Iowa compares to the yumminess of this pizza. There may have been others in OBX but once we tried this place we just kept going back. Ordered it 3 times during our stay 😅.
Non-Beach Activities that are a Must See
We did 3 non-beach activities while visiting the Outer Banks Area. The first was mini-golf, and the second was a dolphin boat tour. This is a serious MUST DO. I am not exaggerating. We booked a sunset tour through Kitty Hawk Kites. The price was $35 per adult and $20 for kids 2-12. We boarded the boat at a fishing dock. Bubba was thrilled as he was huge into fishing during this phase of life. Note- stop for snacks before leaving town. They have a little shop for fishermen, but the pickings are slim. Also- don't forget your sunscreen!
I had never seen a dolphin in the wild before & we saw so many I was left in awe. The tour guides even stated how amazing it was to see dolphins the entire duration of the trip (2 hours in length). If you go, be sure to do the sunset time slot. It was beautiful.
Our last stop on vacation was a trip out to Roanoke Island. We hit up the aquarium that was there and took a drive out to the wooded area the legend originates from. We did the latter last, so the kids were tired and not having it, but it was cool to be able to say we visited. Even if it was very brief. If you have littles I highly recommend the drive out to the aquarium. Especially if you need a non-beach activity. It was about a 20-minute drive.
That's all for now momma's! This series will have 1 more post, so be sure to stay tuned for the coming home story. You are not going to want to miss it. I have almost zero pictures because of how BAD it was. If you want a sneak peek, go ahead and imagine everything that could possibly go wrong on a travel day. Now imagine all of those things happening at once.
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💕💕sending you love & momma to momma support,