The beautiful Outer Banks of North Carolina
By Laurette M. Veres and Kathleen Axtell
They say the sand is forgiving. They say the wind is consistent. They say the conditions are perfect for flying. That’s what Orville and Wilbur Wright knew more than 100 years ago. In 1903, they changed history on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Come to Jockey’s Ridge State Park and experience the thrill of flight just like the Wright Brothers did. Drive down the coast and see one of five light houses that mark the shoreline. Walk along the Atlantic coast and look for sea glass.
A unique natural phenomenon, the living sand dune that makes up Jockey’s Ridge State Park measures 140 feet high and covers 414 acres. This amazing location is the perfect place for your first hang gliding adventure. Check out Kitty Hawk Kites for training, coaching and a hands-on experience you won’t forget. After the instructional video, it’s time to head out to the dune, strap in, and before you know it, you are up, up and away. At the largest hand gliding school in the US, you are in good hands as you yell “clear,” take three preparatory steps and then run as fast as you can until you are airborne. Seconds feel like hours when you realize your feet aren’t touching the ground and you truly experience the freedom of flying. If you like this beginner adventure, they also offer advance, tandem hand gliding flights at the airport.
If lighthouses float your boat, there are five open for visit in this region. We chose the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, the second-oldest lighthouse in America. It also stands the tallest at a proud 208 feet. Get your calves in gear – there 268 steps between you and a panoramic view of Hatteras Island from the top of the lighthouse. At the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, outdoor activities abound such as camping, fishing, hiking, surfing and biking. In a turn of geological events, this lighthouse was moved 1,600 feet inland in 1999 to save it from the ravishing Atlantic Ocean.
Pilots, historians and tourists alike are all enthralled by the Wright Brothers National Memorial. With both temporary and permanent exhibits explaining the experiments conducted by the brothers, it’s easy to understand how 12 seconds changed history. Standing on top of the memorial, you look out over the field where the brothers took flight. There are four markers designating the length of the first controlled, powered and sustained human flight. You don’t want to miss the replica of Flyer One at the base of the monument. (The actual Flyer is on display in Washington D.C at the Smithsonian).
Dining in Duck
One of the many beach towns in the Outer Banks, Duck, is home to many fine, albeit casual, dining establishments. Flip flops and shorts are always welcome at The Roadside Raw Bar &Grill; a Duck institution that comes highly recommended by locals. Don’t miss the Shrimp and Grits with red-eye gravy — a detectible Southern dish.
Entertaining the Masses
Up and down Highway 158, the Outer Banks deliver something for every taste. For a down-home breakfast experience, try Stack ‘Em High. Featuring an assortment of breakfast classics inducing biscuits, pancakes and grits; you’ll appreciate the attentive service from the friendly staff. Kelly’s features live music each night, has a dance floor and can accommodate large groups. The dining area is separate from the bar thought the full restaurant menu is available. If you are looking for the epicenter of fun on the Outer Banks, you’ve found it at Kelly’s.
In the Outer Banks, watching the sunset is a not-to-be-missed, must-be-celebrated event. Fishbone’s Sunset Grille packs ’em in each evening for a walk on their deck and a chance to glimpse yet another perfect sunset.
Kitty Hawk Kites: www.kittyhawk.com 1-877-FLY-THIS
Jockey’s Ridge State Park: www.jockeysridgestatepark.com www.outerbanks.com
Roadside Raw Bar &Grill: www.duckncguide.com
Stack ‘Em High: www.stackemhigh.com
Jimmy’s Seafood Buffet: www.jimmysbuffetobx.com
Kelly’s Outer Banks Restaurant and Tavern: www.kellysrestaurant.com
Fishbone’s Sunset Grille: www.fishbonessunsetgrille.com