Cape hatteras lighthouse something to do in the outer banks besides the beach

Not really a beach person but planning on visiting North Carolina’s Outer Banks? There is a wealth of activities available that don’t involve sand, sunburn or saltwater! There’s plenty to do in the Outer Banks for people who don’t like the beach.


First and foremost, The Outer Banks has three historic and boldly painted Lighthouses. With it’s iconic black and white spiral or “daymark” and bright red base, the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse is a must see on any trip to The Outer Banks. In the late 18th century they constructed the original building. In 1870, builders erected the building that is standing in modern times. The current building received its famous striped spiral three years after construction.

Bodie Lighthouse, also painted black and white (but without the spiral), and Ocracoke Lighthouse, with its less ornate, all-white coloring are both located at the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. In addition to the historic lighthouses, you’ll find three beautiful hiking trails in the park. These take you through the Maritime Forest, Dunes and Salt Marsh.

Want a closer look? Both Bodie and Cape Hatteras lighthouses are open to the public for climbing and exploring from mid-April to early October.

Gardens, Malls & Art

When you’re ready for some quiet and contemplation away from the beach-going crowds, take a 1.2 mile easy hike through Airlie Gardens. With a sprawling 67 acres of gardens, sculptures and historical buildings, there’s something for everyone here. Make sure to bring binoculars. The Garden is a well-known birder’s paradise. After your hike be sure to visit the Butterfly house to see the garden’s most beautiful residents!

After a day outside, you’ll want to hit some of the many small, seaside towns of The Outer Banks. The small towns offer great shopping, local art, fresh seafood, museums and more!

Check out the historic and art districts in Nags Head, the Historic Waterfront and NC Aquarium in Manteo, or shop and dine on fresh local seafood, Italian fare, Mexican food and more at Kill Devil Hills.

All in all, The Outer Banks is a magical place where there’s plenty to see and a surprising variety of activities for those who don’t necessarily love the beach. Don’t let the popularity of saltwater and seashore hold you back from visiting this engaging and unique part of America.

For more information on everything Outer Banks and why you should consider visiting even if you’re not a beach enthusiast, visit Sandy Saltwater and start planning your perfect North Carolina Beach – or no beach – Vacation today!