The following Nags Head rules, regulations, and general guidelines will ensure that visitors enjoy an effortlessly breezy day in this classic vacation town.

Pet regulations - Dogs are allowed on the beach year-round in Nags Head, provided they are leashed. Use caution bringing pets to the beach in the summer, as in the middle of the day, the sand can be too hot for a dog's tender paws.

ATV regulations - ATVs are not permitted in the town of Nags Head, except by disabled individuals for access to the public beaches. Disabled persons who meet the requirements to operate an ATV must submit an application and a $25 fee to obtain a permit. Additional details can be found at the Town of Nags Head's website at{26F2CB34-5B49-4E6A-8DE5-EDB646122588}.

Alcohol regulations - Alcohol is allowed on the town beaches, however visitors should be sure and pick up all trash before leaving the shoreline. Open containers in a vehicle are illegal in North Carolina, even on the 4WD accessible beaches.

Fire regulations - Bonfires are permitted on the Nags Head beaches, but a permit must be obtained beforehand. Permits can be picked up at the Nags Head Fire and Rescue Station 16 at 5314 S Croatan Highway (Milepost 14.5), and Station 21 at 8806 S Old Oregon Inlet Road (Milepost 18.) Permits are $10, and are issued daily from 5:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m., depending on current wind speed and drought conditions.

Camping regulations - Camping is not allowed anywhere on the Nags Head beaches or within the local state or public parks. Campgrounds are located in the town of Kill Devil Hills, as well as in the Cape Hatteras National Seashore near Oregon Inlet, just south of South Nags Head.

4x4 regulations - Registered and licensed vehicles are allowed on the Nags Head beaches from October 1st through April 30. A Town permit is required and can be obtained online at{F6A77935-7735-4D9C-A96F-BE81C459959A}. The Cape Hatteras National Seashore also has three 4WD access ramps located south of Nags Head. A NPS Beach Driving permit is required, and can be purchased at the National Park Service's ranger station at Coquina Beach.

Fishing regulations - All saltwater anglers over 16 must possess a North Carolina saltwater fishing license to fish along the beaches or in the Albemarle Sound. (Licenses can be purchased online at, or picked up at local tackle shops.) A license is not required to fish from one of the town's three fishing piers.

Fireworks regulations - All fireworks are illegal in the town of Nags Head

Glass bottle regulations - Glass bottles must be properly discarded and not left on the beach. There are 24-hour drop off recycling stations at the Nags Head Town Hall at 5401 S. Croatan Hwy, the Public Works building on 2200 Lark Ave, and at the Huron Street Public Beach Access at Milepost 17.

Lifeguards - Nags Head has seasonally lifeguarded beaches from Memorial Day Weekend until Labor Day weekend, from 10:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. These stations are located at the following beach accesses:

  • Albatross Street
  • Bonnett Street
  • Enterprise Street
  • Epstein Street
  • Hollowell Street
  • Forrest Street
  • Gray Eagle Street
  • Gulf Stream Street
  • Hargrove Street
  • Juncos Street

There is also a seasonal roving patrol by lifeguards on all-terrain vehicles.

Surfing regulations - Surfers are always welcome in Nags Head, but are advised to stay at least 50-100 yards away from the local piers, and mind the red flags which are posted on the beaches during hazardous ocean conditions.

Beach Equipment - Visitors are prohibited from leaving any beach equipment on the Nags Head beaches overnight, (or from 8:00 p.m. until 7:00 a.m. daily.) These items include tents, canopies, chairs, volleyball nets, and / or any similar beach gear. In addition, these items must not block the path of 4WD vehicles and / or block the view of any stationed lifeguards.

Personal Watercrafts - Personal Watercrafts, or PWCs, are allowed in the ocean, although operators must proceed straight in and straight out from the beach, and PWCs cannot be operated within 600' feet of the ocean or sound shoreline.

Beach Wheelchairs - beach wheelchairs are available for disabled visitors at the Ocean Rescue Station at Milepost 11, and at the Hargove Beach access at Milepost 17, from Memorial Day until Labor Day, 10:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. Visitors can also call the Nags Head Fire and Rescue Department at 252-441-5909 for a list of local companies that supply beach wheelchair rentals, as well as additional assistance accessing the beach.

Beach Weddings - Weddings are allowed on the Nags Head beaches and no permit is required. Chairs may be set out for a maximum of 40 guests, (benches are not allowed), alcohol may not be served, and guests must observe the "No Parking Signs" along the Beach Road. Tents that are over 400' square feet or more must be inspected by the Nags Head Fire Department. For additional information on wedding regulations, couples can contact (252) 441-5508.


Fishing Unlimited Boating Center
Cookshak Fried Chicken
The Cotton Gin

The Cotton Gin

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, La Mer Luex, 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.


Most know The Cotton Gin as a must-stop shop for fine gifts, beachwear, souvenirs and so much more, but this retailer has a long-standing history within the Outer Banks. A local landmark that holds almost a century of memories, The Cotton Gin started from humble beginnings and continues to adapt to the times and tourists. Tommy Wright’s family has been in the Outer Banks for nearly 200 years. His great-great grandfather, Jacob Francis Wright, shipwrecked in Duck back in the early 1800s. Calling these barrier islands his new home, Wright and his family acclimated to their new environment.


Adaptation is a common theme for the Wright family. Tommy and his wife Candace, who continue to steer The Cotton Gin, have seen not only their business change with the times, but the Outer Banks as a vacation destination as well. A farm market in Jarvisburg eventually transformed and flourished into several retail locations dotting the Outer Banks.


“As the area changed and tourism took off in the 1960s, the family saw people coming for vacations, so they began to grow vegetables and things developed from there,” says Tommy Wright. The Wright family expanded upon the farm market and began to remodel a working cotton gin, later transforming the gin into The Cotton Gin general store in the late 1960s. While the additions to the farm store drew visitors, it was their encounters with the Wright family that kept people coming back year after year, which is something that remains true today.

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