Beautiful lighthouses, sand as far as you can see, and a place that has forever changed history; these are some of the things my family and I got to experience a few weeks ago. What started as a field trip idea to enhance a book we were reading for review, has now become one of my favorite places. I am proud to call North Carolina my home. We have beaches, mountains, a rich history, and there is still so much I have yet to see! I hope this will be the first of many posts of the wonderful things NC has to offer. So pack your overnight bag, and check out how my husband and our two teens spent a memorable weekend!
The Roanoke River Lighthouse
I have only seen two of the lighthouses in NC. Last month, I decided that I wanted to see all the lighthouses in NC this year. Our first stop was The Roanoke River Lighthouse in Edenton, NC. Built in 1886, this lighthouse is unique because of its original support system called a screw-pile design. Each piling was literally screwed into the river or sound bottom so they would not pull out in heavy storms. You can read the history of the lighthouse here.
We took a tour that was fantastic! Our tour guide not only told us about the history and the workings of the lighthouse, but also the personal stories of some of the lighthouse keepers. The lighthouse is fully furnished, and you can see what it was like to live as a light keeper. The tour takes less than 30 minutes, and it was well worth the time and small fee.
- The 1886 Roanoke River Lighthouse is open to the public Tuesday through Saturday 10-4.
- Admission is $2.50 age 13 & up and $1.50 ages 3-12; 2 and under are free.
- I would recommend a taking a picnic lunch to eat on site at beautiful Colonial Park. There is also a nice playground and restroom facilities.
- We did not pack a lunch, but had a nice lunch at the Downtown Soda Shoppe. (The pimento cheese sandwich hit the spot!)
- Edenton is a charming little town, and there are other things to do if you have longer to stay. I plan to go back and visit again when we are not just passing though.
Currituck Beach Lighthouse
If you’ve ever wondered what a million bricks looks like, check out Currituck Beach Lighthouse in Corolla, NC., our second stop on our weekend adventure. In response to the ships, cargo, and lives lost along the 40 miles of dark coastline that lay beyond reach of existing lighthouses, work began on the lighthouse in 1873. On December 1, 1875 the beacon of the Currituck Beach Lighthouse filled the remaining “dark space” on the North Carolina coast. The Currituck Beach Lighthouse was the last major brick lighthouse built on the Outer Banks. Standing at 162 feet, with 220 winding steps, the Currituck Beach Lighthouse makes for a workout! The view from the top is worth it!
- Open Daily 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. from March 16-December 1st. (weather permitting) Extended hours on select days in summer.
- Admission is $10 to climb lighthouse tower. Children 7 & under climb free with constant adult supervision.
- No height restrictions for climbing lighthouse.
We arrived late in the afternoon at Kitty Hawk, and checked into the Best Western Ocean Reef Suites. The room was clean, and to my surprise, the room had two great views! Oceanfront view on the back, and a view of the Wright Brothers Memorial from the front. We headed out to eat and found Rooster’s Southern Kitchen. The atmosphere was nice, the food was great, and they also have live nightly entertainment. That night, we took a walk on the beach, and found dozens of Mermaid Purse’s. My daughter was hoping it was a shark egg, but we are thinking it was more likely a skate egg. Nonetheless, it was a great first find!
Our main reason for the trip was to see the Wright Brothers Museum and Memorial. It was all I hoped it would be! It was well-laid out, contained great exhibits, a full size replica of the 1903 Flyer, and a well-stocked gift shop. Whether you are familiar with their story or not, you will still leave with an appreciation for their humble beginnings, struggles, successes – and most of all their positive outlook and persistence. The Wright Brothers have recently become two of my favorite heroes in history.
The airfield, which is just outside the Wright Brothers National Memorial Visitor Center, is comprised of four attractions: a reproduction of the Wright Brothers’ living quarters and airplane hanger, the site where their first powered flight took place, Kill Devil Hill, the sand dune off of which they conducted their glider experiments, and a metal sculpture that depicts the first flight on December 17, 1903.
- Wright Brothers National Memorial is open seven days a week, year-round, 9:00 am–5:00 pm. The park is closed is Christmas Day.
- Park pass fee for ages 16 and up is $10, and free for kids 15 and under.
- I would allow 3 hours to take in all the park has to offer.
Jockey’s Ridge State Park
I loved our entire trip, but I was most amazed by Jockey’s Ridge! It is the tallest living sand dune on the Atlantic coast, but I did not expect to see acre upon acre of sand. It is truly breathtaking. Visually and literally! It is quite a trek up the dunes and also windy!
There is a visitor’s center with museum, but we just went for the trek uphill. We attempted kite flying, but if you are feeling adventurous, sandboarding is welcome with a permit, and hang-gliding is available through a vendor. Shoes and sun protection are recommended, and I would also note that I would not go in the middle of the summer, I would imagine the sand would feel like coals of fire on bare feet. You can find out more about Jockey’s Ridge such as ecology, events, wildlife, park hours, and more at Friends of Jockey’s Ridge State Park.
f you’re looking for a weekend get-away that’s fun for the entire family, I highly recommend a visit to this section of Outer Banks. There are many more things to do and see in this area, and we plan to go back and see more of the beautiful NC Outer Banks. We were able to do all these things in two days, not feel rushed, and able to enjoy a little down time!
(Check out the shell a random person gave me on my downtime! )