Family oriented, gorgeous, wide 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 2023. Here are 10 of the top things to do and see in Currituck this year.
1. Currituck Beach Lighthouse. Climb the 220 steps to the top of the majestic, red brick lighthouse. First lit on December 1, 1875, the beacon filled the remaining “dark spot” on the North Carolina coast between Cape Henry and Bodie Island lighthouses. It is one of the only lighthouses in America that still houses its original first-order Fresnel lens. The light continues to flash today at 20-second intervals, serving as a navigational aid. The beacon, which can be seen for 18 nautical miles, comes on at dusk and ceases at dawn.
2. Currituck Maritime Museum. Surrounded by sound and ocean waters and interlaced with rivers and creeks, Currituck County has always been shaped by water, and equally, the water has helped to define and shape its people and rich coastal history. The Currituck Maritime Museum exhibits historic boats, artifacts, and other displays that will tell the stories of local businesses and citizens who have lived and worked on the various waterways of the region. This new facility, located across from the Currituck Beach Lighthouse, adds to the cultural richness of Historic Corolla Park, which also includes Whalehead and the Outer Banks Center for Wildlife Education, helping visitors learn more about the Currituck County’s unique heritage.
3. Under the Oaks Art Festival. The Annual Under the Oaks Art Festival also takes place in Historic Corolla Park by Whalehead under 80-year old live oak trees that surround the mansion and fill the park. Event attendees can look through the works of more than 50 artists and artisans from across the country and purchase items to take home. Come out and browse the unique items and while you’re there, bid on a silent auction item and have lunch by the Currituck Sound.
4. 4th of July Celebration. Each year, Currituck County Travel and Tourism hosts another big event—the 4th of July Celebration. On July 4, 2022, the park will be filled with vacationing families as well as locals enjoying live music, food vendors, and games. This is a family oriented, fun-filled day with children’s activities, games and competitions like a watermelon eating contest. Whatever you do, don’t leave before dark, because that’s when the spectacular fireworks display takes place, lighting up the sky over the Currituck Sound.
5. Cork & Craft If you find yourself here during the middle of the week this summer, don’t miss Corolla Cork & Craft. Please join the Currituck County Department of Travel & Tourism every Wednesday for local wine & beer, live music and curated local craft artisans in the breathtaking and peaceful setting of Historic Corolla Park. Admission to this event is free. Beer, wine, food, and crafts will be available for purchase. You may purchase beer and wine by the glass or by the bottle. There will be no free tastings at this event. There is also a cornhole tournament on Wednesdays (cost per team $20) so spend the afternoon with us enjoying some good, friendly competition.
6. Carova Beach. If you are adventurous and drive a 4 x 4 vehicle, a drive to where the road ends in Corolla, Carova Beach, is a must. Coastal Living readers voted Carova Beach the No. 1 beach out of 20 options chosen by the editors in a recent best beaches poll. Enjoy a day of sun, surf fishing, and playing in the Atlantic. While you’re there, you may even have a wild horse sighting. Access permit is required in season…
7. Currituck’s Wild Horses. Where the paved road ends in Corolla, you’ll find sandy beaches accessible only by 4 x 4 vehicles (Access permits required in season). It is on this stretch of beach from ocean to sound that is home to the legendary Corolla wild horses. If you don’t drive a 4 x 4 vehicle, you may take a tour from one of the outstanding wild horse tour companies. The wild horses of Currituck remain the most treasured locals in Currituck Outer Banks. For a better chance to spot the horses, check out this guide to all the best places to see them. Please remember, the Corolla wild horses are wild so, for your safety and the safety of the wild horses, please do not lure, approach or come within 50 feet of the horses and please do not feed the horses.
8. H2OBX waterpark. Take a day to experience H2OBX. This waterpark is one of “the most innovatively designed and uniquely located waterparks in the world.” It features more than 30 waterslides, two gigantic wave pools, a lazy river and tons of water rides. The park pays 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.
9. Bulls & BBQ. If the idea of KCBS competition barbecued meat makes your mouth water, then Currituck is the place to be in November for Bulls & BBQ. 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, some interesting family-centered exhibitions, unique crafters, and family activities. Other cool things for the kids to do include a bounce house, mechanic bull riding and games.
10. 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, Historic Corolla Village, the historic footbridge, and the Wildlife Education Center.