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The Small Town Draw of the Outer Banks

Aug 22, 2008
Given that the Outer Banks is only a couple miles wide at its widest point and 130 miles long, the fact that it has been constantly inhabited for over 400 years is fairly amazing. A big part of that, I've found from vacationing there, is the feeling that persists in the air.

The ocean is so close that wherever you go you can smell the faint tang of seawater and feel the salt in the air. Even with close to 100 years of development, that small island feel hasn't been lost; partly because it's nearly impossible to forget that you're on just that: a small island!

Part of the small town feel of the Outer Banks is undoubtedly due to local ordinances that dictate how high new buildings can be built. This keeps even the larger developments to a scale that is reminiscent of 50 years ago, when big wasn't necessarily overwhelming, and people understood the value of small towns.

And not only do the islands have a quaint feel, they're part of American history as the location where the Wright brothers ushered in the era of manned flight. In Kill Devil Hills you can find the location of the first manned flight by the Wright brothers and learn about their journey to the sky. There's nothing quite like learning about their story in the exact place where it happened. It gives the history a whole new perspective.

A little known fact is that Pea Island, north of Hatteras, is named for the wild pea vines that grow abundantly there. It is a wildlife refuge that is home to hundreds of species of birds, ducks, geese, and more. It's a wonderful place to hike and spend a day wandering around enjoying the wildlife and pristine flora. And of course, like every other point in the Outer Banks, you can easily walk to the beach and relax in the sun or play in the sand and water.

If you're a gardening enthusiast like me, Elizabethan Gardens is a memorial to the original colonists from Europe, and shows how they planted, grew, and harvested their gardens back before the day of hybrid vegetables and automatic irrigation. It's a fascinating display that is sure to interest everyone from the weekend gardener to the gardening expert.

Finally, since you're already so near the water and surrounded by sea life, you should take a visit to the North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke island. It showcases hundreds of animals local to the coastal area, and even has a gigantic central aquarium with a shipwreck, sharks, and sea turtles. It's a must see in the Outer Banks.
About the Author
Allen Wright is a freelance writer who follows whatever topics hold his interest. Look for more information on Outer Banks vacation rentals here.
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