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.

Bodie Island Lighthouse

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

Outdoor Activities

  • 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.

Other Entertainment

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.


Ben Franklin

Ben Franklin

Stop by Nags Head's Ben Franklin at Mile Post 10 on the Bypass where you will find everything you need for the beach! From Clothing, T-shirts and Swimwear to Boards, Chairs, Umbrellas and Tackle. You'll find it all…and of course, we have the best selection of Souvenirs anywhere on the Outer Banks. Enjoy your vacation! Independently owned by a member of one of the Outer Banks’ oldest families, the Ben Franklin store is stocked with just about everything a visitor would need to go to the beach.


Ben Franklin stores were once part of a five-and-dime retail empire, with about 2,500 locations across the country in its heyday. As decades passed and the times and customers began to change, many closed their doors, leading to fewer than 150 of these nostalgic shops. Nags Head Ben Franklin, however, has withstood the test of time and adapted to the needs of its customers to provide a memorable shopping experience on the Outer Banks.


Debbie Terry Tolson, manager of the Ben Franklin location in Nags Head, recalls working with former owner Tommie Daniels. Daniels’ father, Moncie Daniels, started the business in downtown Manteo in the early 1900s. The Daniels family has been a longstanding fixture in the Outer Banks business community—Moncie even sold gas to the Wright brothers in 1903.


Tommie, with an excellent business mind, saw the opportunity the new Bypass presented and, in 1977, he opened the Nags Head location of Ben Franklin. He was one of the first businesses on the Bypass,” Tolson says.In addition to a new location, the Ben Franklin store saw a new group of customers.


“People would come from all around because Tommie had a little bit of everything—it was more like a five and 10 then,” Tolson explains. “As he went to the beach, he began to get more tourists, so he started catering more and more to visitors.”


Today, the 21,000-square-foot souvenir shop quickly catches the attention of anyone driving by thanks to the ocean-themed mural that decorates the façade of the building, painted by local artist Rob Snyder. This Ben Franklin location has become the must-stop shop for both first-time visitors to the area and generations of families who escape to the Outer Banks annually.


Tolson credits the great prices and friendly customer service to the success of the location, which keeps families returning.“People come in all the time and tell me, ‘my grandmother or my grandfather used to bring me here and now I’m bringing my children,’” she shares. “One of my favorite parts about working here is seeing the people come back year after year.”

The Farmer's Daughter
Outer Banks Gearworks Laser Tag and Fun Center