Although you may want to pack some layers including a jacket, the Outer Banks is still a year-round destination. Average high temperatures in winter are 53 degrees and average lows are 37 degrees and it is the perfect time to enjoy the attractions without the crowds and traffic. The areas golf courses are open all year and there are other activities including festivals and events, local attractions, shopping, restaurants, and plenty of things to do in the Outer Banks in the winter.
And don’t just take our word for it, read “The Outer Banks in the Off-Season” on the blog Next Exit Travel, and learn one traveler’s favorite things to do in the winter in the Outer Banks. (Caution: reading this will make you want to take a weekend trip just to try Tostones at The Outer Banks Taco Bar!)
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°
Pack your bags: With such low nightly temperatures it takes a little while to warm up during the day. You should be sure to pack plenty of layers including long sleeve shirts, pants, sweaters, jackets, walking shoes, camera, and sunglasses.
10 Things to Do in the Outer Banks in the Winter
1. Play a Round of Golf
Schedule your tee time at one of the local golf courses that are open to the public. Sea Scape Golf Links features an 18-hole golf course, a Pro Shop and a full-service restaurant. Nags Head Golf Links and Kilmarlic Golf Club are two other 18-hole golf courses in the area that are open to the public. Visit Outer Banks Golf Courses for links to other golf courses.
2. Go Fishing
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 boasts several piers including Jennette’s Pier that offer fishing and equipment. For off-shore fishing book a charter through Tuna Duck Sportfishing.
3. 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, exhibits and replicas of their flying machines. An interesting attraction for all ages.
4. Enjoy a Local Museum
The Outer Banks area also boasts several museums for 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.
5. Observe the Wild Horses
Schedule your tour to observe the wild Colonial Spanish Mustangs in Corolla. The Corolla Wild Horse Fund offers several tour choices out of their museum/shop with proceeds benefiting the wild horses. Plan your excursion today to see and learn about these beautiful horses.
6. 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. Boutiques such as The Cottage Shop, Kind Confections or the Indian Town Gallery are just a few of the places for unique finds. The best name brand items can be found at the Nags Head Tanger Outlet Mall. The Outer Banks Mall is also a great place to find groceries and other shops and restaurants for your convenience. Visit The Outer Banks of North Carolina website for a more complete listing of stores that can be found in the area.
7. Eat Out
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. A few of your choices are Dare Devils Pizza, Duck Donuts, The Colington Cafe, Ocean Boulevard Bistro & Martini Bar, Pok’s Art Asia Fusion Kitchen, Lifesaving Station Restaurant and Outback Steakhouse. For a more complete listing of the restaurants in the area visit The Outer Banks of North Carolina website.
8. 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.
9. 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.
10. Visit a Lighthouse
Visit one or all of the five lighthouses throughout the Outer Banks. Starting in the 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.
Outer Banks Winter Festivals & Events
- Annual Holiday at the Museum
- Festival of the Trees
- Annual Beach Food Pantry Chefs Holiday Challenge
- Duck Yuletide Celebration
- Outer Banks Festivus Road Race
- Hatteras Island Oyster Roast
- Annual Stumpy Point Oyster Feast at Bayview Chapel
- Annual Frank Stick Memorial Art Show
- Annual Animals in Art Show at Seaside Art Gallery