For those traveling to the Outer Banks, The Cotton Gin is a beloved landmark with its large windmill and picturesque gardens. The Cotton Gin has stood in the same location since 1929, starting as a working cotton gin and growing to a gift store with 4 locations. Visitors are treated to a unique shopping experience in our main store in Jarvisburg, as well as our beach stores in Corolla, Duck, and Nags Head. Explore room after room filled with décor for your home and coastal fashions for both men and women. Discover the brands you really want, like, Vera Bradley, Vineyard Vines, Escapada, Simply Southern, Lindsay Phillips, Scout, Pandora, Kameleon, Brighton, Spartina, Tommy Bahama, Southern Tide and Salt Life and Old Guys Rule - all under one roof! Don’t forget the gourmet market, or shop our beautiful linens for your bedroom and bath. We also feature coastal books and fine art, or just a whimsical fun gift to bring home to family and friends. Stop by soon and don’t forget to try our estate grown wines in our stores or visit our vineyard and winery, Sanctuary Vineyards, located adjacent to the original Cotton Gin in Jarvisburg.
The Outer Banks has a national reputation as being the premier family friendly vacation destination, so it should come as no surprise that Nags Head, arguably the first tourist town on the OBX, has a wealth of activities designed just for kids.
Check out any of these local or close-by attractions and activities to keep young ones entertained.
Educational Sites and Attractions
Roanoke Island Festival Park - Experience life as the original late 1500s settlers did at this expansive Manteo Park which features authentic Native American and colonists settlements, as well as a world of outdoor demonstrations and displays.
North Carolina Aquarium at Roanoke Island - Kids will adore the touch tanks with live rays and hermit crabs, the huge tanks where sharks and alligators can be spotted up-close, and the discovery center that lets kids experience, first hand, the techniques modern biologists use to protect Coastal Carolina's sea critters.
Island Farm - Set in Manteo, this outdoor replica of a coastal 1850s farm features live farm animals, costumed interpreters, and interactive exhibits which showcase the activities and crafts of daily life in the 19th century.
Elizabethan Gardens - Beautiful in all seasons, kids can explore hundreds of native plants and carefully imported species while walking along guided trails that lead all the way to the sound. Elizabethan Gardens also features special events and programs just for kids, including annual Christmas, Easter and autumn celebrations.
Elizabeth II - Climb aboard this stunning 16th century ship that's identical to the vessel the colonists used to first access Roanoke Island. Docked at the Downtown Manteo harbor, visitors will be greeted by costumed interpreters who demonstrate how the crew lived and worked during the 3 month journey to the new world.
Jennette's Pier - The main pier house will fascinate visitors with exhibits borrowed from the NC Aquarium, and kids can sign up for a world of special programs that range from guided beach walks to fishing lessons.
Children at Play Museum - This Kitty Hawk museum keeps little hands busy with exhibits that are specially designed tointroduce kids to professional occupations, shopping, art, the great outdoors, and the local Outer Banks environment.
Wright Brothers Memorial - While kids will be wowed by the high flying gliders that hang overhead, the Visitors Center also offers a number of just-for-kids programs, (like kite flying and nature walks), that are seasonally offered by National Park Service rangers
- Jockey's Ridge State Park - Kids can splash along the soundside beach, explore the nature trails through Nags Head Woods, or climb to the top of the 80'-100' tall dunes at Jockey's Ridge, which makes it a perfect destination for active young outdoors lovers.
- YMCA - The Nags Head Y has a sprawling indoor pool, outdoor fields for quick pick-up games, and a massive skate park. The YMCA also offers regular swimming lessons and other classes for young members.
- Watersports - Jet skiing, kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, windsurfing and kayaking are all big on the open waters of the Albemarle Sound. Pick up hourly or day-long equipment rentals at Kitty Hawk Kites or Outer Banks Watersports, or sign up for personalized lessons at local shops and schools like the Farmdog Surf School.
- Kite flying and Hang Gliding - While the shoreline is fine for flying a kite, nothing beats the towering 7,000-year-old sand dunes at Jockey's Ridge for high flyers. Bring along a classic kite, or sign up for hang gliding lessons at Kitty Hawk Kites, which is literally located across the street from the park.
- Public Parks - Nags Head has three town parks that are wide open for visitors.
- The Town Park on 415 Health Center Drive features a covered area, playground and bathrooms.
- The Harvey Soundside Park features a scenic covered area and restrooms and is located adjacent to the Albemarle Sound on 6912 S. Croatan Highway.
- The Whalebone Park boasts shaded picnic tables, bocce ball and volleyball courts, and a playground, and is located across from Jennette's Pier at 7300 S. Virginia Dare Trail.
- Fishing Piers - The town of Nags Head has three fishing piers - the Outer Banks Fishing Pier, Jennette's Pier, and Nags Head Pier - which all welcome young anglers and even offer reduced rates for kids.
- Mini Golf - There are a number of mini-golf courses in the town of Nags Head, which include Blackbeard's Miniature Golf, Jurassic Putt and Galaxy Golf. Additional mini golf courses, like Mutiny Bay Adventure Golf, Lost Treasure Golf, and Paradise Golf and Arcade are also found nearby, within a 10-15 minute drive.
- Cape Hatteras National Seashore - Head south about 10-15 miles and explore the wide open beaches of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. The National Park Service Ranger' Station at Coquina Beach offers seasonal programs for kids, which include special sessions on crabbing, beach, fishing, and birding outings.
Laser Tag - Gearworks Laser Tag in Nags Head and Destination Fun in Kill Devil Hills feature sprawling laser tag courses in addition to arcades and other games for kids.
Movie Theaters - Nags Head Visitors can head to the modern and multi-screen theater in Kill Devil Hills, or the historic 1918 Pioneer Theater in Manteo to take in a summer blockbuster.
OBX Bowling Alley - The Nags Head bowling alley features a snack center as well as an arcade to keep kids entertained
Beach Snacks and Ice Cream - Take a stroll along the Beach Road, where there are plenty of ice cream shops and quick burger joints to be found. Nags Head's "Fast Food Alley" also has a half dozen fast food restaurant that are sure to appeal to young palettes.
Crafting Projects - Head to local paint your own pottery shops and bead stores, like Glazin' Go Nuts and Garden of ‘Beadin in Kill Devil Hills, for an indoor afternoon of creating personalized souvenirs.
At Home and on the Beach - With modern game rooms, theater rooms, and easy access to the sunny Nags Head beaches, kids can be perfectly entertained in an amenity-filled vacation rental.