Five Offbeat Places to Visit in the Outer Banks of North Carolina


Surprising structures, mysterious disappearances and unique natural attractions all give North Carolina's Outer Banks (or OBX as it's more commonly known) a certain type of charm not found anywhere else. The next time you're relaxing among the sand, sun and surf of these barrier islands, be sure to check out some of these offbeat and unusual sites hanging out along its beautiful shores.

Hatteras Island UFO
Highway 12 snakes its way through the OBX (nearly 114 miles from Corolla to Ocracoke). Along the way, you'll discover vast stretches of sand, dunes and seagrass. Once you get to Frisco on Hatteras Island, you'll probably take a double take when you pass this wildly popular photo stop.

Built in the '60s by Finnish architect Matti Suuronen, the Futuro house has stopped a traveler or two over the years. These odd UFO-shaped structures were originally designed as ski cabins that would be easy to heat as well as set up in rough mountain locations. The fiberglass-reinforced polyester plastic homes did not take off, and one of them found its way to the OBX. Be sure to snap a selfie with the alien cardboard cut-outs peeking from the windows.

Kill Devil Grill
Along with a delicious selection of seafood, sandwiches, pasta and burgers, the Kill Devil Grill (previously known as Sam's Diner, Millie's Diner and Victory Diner) offers up a bit of nostalgic history. The front of the building is a real 1939 Kullman diner (think: Mel's Diner), and it's listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The structure has been added onto, so there's plenty of room. Tabletop jukeboxes add a fun touch.


Sandy Allen

Jockey's Ridge State Park
Climb, roll or sled down a mountain of sand. Jockey's Ridge State Park is the largest sand dune in the Eastern United States. It's a perennial favorite and must-do for many visitors to the Outer Banks. Located across from Kitty Hawk Kites, you can take a hang gliding class, fly a kite, watch the sunset or just try to wear out the kids. There is a visitor center, museum, restrooms and a boardwalk pier with exhibits. The best time to visit is in the evening after the heat of the day has subsided. As you can imagine, all that sand can get hot.

The Lost Colony
Performed every summer since 1937, The Lost Colony outdoor theater show tells the story of America's oldest mystery. With the intent of establishing a permanent English settlement on Roanoke Island, 117 colonists came ashore in 1587. By 1590, when ships arrived with supplies, there was not a colonist in sight. More than 100 actors, singers, dancers, musicians and technicians re-tell this story – at the actual site where it took place – through song, dance, elaborate costumes and a haunting storyline. You can also participate in character dinners and backstage experiences.

The Comedy Club
What could be more offbeat than an evening of laughs and hilarity? America's longest running seasonal comedy club, The Comedy Club, has been operating since 1984. Throughout the years, it has hosted the likes of Drew Cary, Sinbad and Ray Romano as well as nationally touring comedians who have appeared on "Last Comic Standing," "Comedy Central" and "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon." The show is often held at the Ramada Plaza in Nags Head, but it has also taken place at different locations around the OBX, including Avon and Corolla. Check it out. You just might discover the next big comedian.

Sandy has been visiting the Outer Banks for more than 25 years. She writes on lifestyle and travel topics for AFAR.com and Somewhereinthesand.com. The offbeat and unusual are her favorite parts of travel.

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