Home to charming bed and breakfast inns, gorgeous uncrowded beaches inhabited by wild horses, and fabulous award-winning restaurants, Currituck on North Carolina’s Northern Outer Banks remains somewhat of a hidden gem. For sports and nature enthusiasts, the Outer Banks is a paradise with its splendid parks with hiking trails where you can see various types of wildlife as well as a cluster of small islands off the coast easily accessible by boat that house their own unique habitats. Whether you’re traveling through or planning a lengthy stay, Currituck is a destination that won’t disappoint in 2017. Here are 12 of the top things to do and see in Currituck this year.
1. New Waterpark. Be among the first groups to visit H2OBX, a waterpark slated to open by Memorial Day. Some are already calling the $46 million park one of “the most innovatively designed and uniquely located waterparks in the world.” It will feature more than 30 waterslides, two gigantic wave pools, a lazy river and tons of water rides. The park will pay homage to the Outer Banks area with fun themed attractions including a Wright Brothers flyer bar. And this park isn’t just for kids; adults can book one of 50 private cabanas with first-class service and complimentary Wi-Fi.
2. Memorial Day Beach Blast. Come to Currituck for the grand opening of the waterpark and stay for the county’s biggest celebration, the Memorial Day Beach Blast in Historic Corolla Park. At no admission cost, families can gather from noon to 5 p.m. at this picturesque beachside park that’s home to the famous Whalehead Mansion from the 1920s. During Beach Blast, local and regional musicians perform live in front a crowd relaxing in lawn chairs and on picnic blankets. Food and drink vendors will be placed throughout the park, and kids can find plenty to keep them company—including a large bounce house.
3. Under the Oaks Art Festival. As the name suggests, Currituck’s annual Under the Oaks Art Festival also takes place in Historic Corolla Park by Whalehead Mansion under 80-year old Live Oak trees that surround the mansion and fill the park. Under the shade of the towering trees, event attendees can look through the works of more than 100 artists from across the nation and purchase items to take home.
4. 4th of July Celebration. Historic Corolla Park hosts another big event each summer—the 4th of July Celebration. Starting at noon on July 4, the park opens to vacationing families as well as locals with tons of food vendors, live music and amusing competitions (a watermelon eating contest and cornhole tournament, for example). Children get to participate in the games as well as additional kid-focused activities. Whatever you do, don’t leave before dark, because that’s when the massive fireworks display takes place, lighting up the sky over the mansion and the beach.
5. Whalehead Wednesdays. If you find yourself here during the middle of the week this summer, don’t miss Whalehead Wednesdays. Hosted by Sanctuary Vineyards and Vineyards on the Scuppernong, guests can enjoy wine tasting at Historic Corolla Park and the Whalehead Mansion each Wednesday from 3 to 7 p.m. Locals and visitors bring lawn chairs and blankets to the park to listen to live music (with a different band each week) and sip on the local wines as the sun goes down. Food vendors also set up around the park, so dinner is covered. Wine-tasting tickets cost $15, but the event is open to kids, too.
6. Carova Beach. There are lots of things to do in Currituck, but allow us to suggest an afternoon on Carova Beach, which Coastal Living readers voted the No. 1 beach out of 20 options chosen by the editors in a recent beast beaches poll. Despite its stellar reputation, Carova Beach is still relatively secluded and often uncrowded, even during peak summer season.
7. Currituck’s Wild Horses. Part of allure of Currituck’s beaches are the wild horses that live here year-round. The wild horses of Currituck continue to grow in number and remain one of coolest marvels of the Outer Banks. For a better chance to spot the horses, check out this guide to all the best places to see them.
8. Whalehead Summer Concert Series. During the summer, Whalehead also hosts a concert series on Tuesdays. The concerts have different musicians and bands every week, scheduled during sunset hours at Historic Corolla Park. And the best part? Admission and parking are absolutely free.
9. Weeping Radish. This year, take a day during your trip to Currituck to visit the oldest microbrewery in the state. The Weeping Radish is a cool destination in Currituck County, located on a farm with grazing livestock. Inside is a pub that serves Bavarian dishes like bratwursts, schnitzels and smoked pork chops (all marry perfectly with its brews). After sipping beer and devouring sausages, take something home with you from the on-site butchery where you can purchase some of the finest local cuts of meat.
10. Heritage Festival. If the idea of barbecued meat and a cold pint of beer make your mouth water, then Currituck is the place to be in September for the Heritage Festival – Bulls & BBQ Edition. At the fall event, which takes place at the Currituck Rural Center, top grillers compete in cook-offs for the best ribs, pulled pork and more. There’s also a rodeo, featuring bull-riding competitions and more, plus some interesting family-centered exhibitions with antique tractors and livestock. Other cool things for the kids to do include a bounce house, rock wall and competitive games.
11. Historic Corolla. Historic Corolla Park is a go-to destination throughout the year for fun local events, but there are a number of other cool things to do in the small Corolla community, which was virtually untouched until about three decades ago, according to a recent ABC News Travel story. “Even after a boom of development in the 80’s, you can still see much of its original beauty,” the story notes. Of course there’s Whalehead, the well-preserved Art Nouveau-style mansion with bright yellow exterior paint, copper roof and solid mahogany doors. You can visit Whalehead anytime between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m for tours to learn about the people who once lived there and how the mansion prospered through the ages. Other notable landmarks and places of interest in Corolla include the historic Currituck Beach Lighthouse, Whalehead Club and the Wildlife Education Center.
12. Road Trip. It’s one thing to visit Currituck. It’s another thing to experience it and spend some time traveling the county and the Outer Banks beyond. National Geographic calls the Outer Banks one of the country’s best road-trip destinations where you can see a bit of everything. See the four historic 1800s lighthouses throughout the Outer Banks, including the Currituck Beach Lighthouse, which starts your trip in Corolla. From there, explore the 114 miles of the Outer Banks, and return to Currituck to spend a final day relaxing before heading home.