The occasional rainy day doesn't have to stall a vacation, as Nags Head has number of shops, restaurants and sites, and is within an easy drive of some of the most acclaimed attractions on the Outer Banks.

Check out these close-to-home activities and essential OBX "must sees" the next time a little rain dampens a day at the beach.

Historic Sites and Museums

North Carolina Aquarium -The expansive Roanoke Island aquarium will keep visitors entertained for a full afternoon, with exhibits dedicated to every aspect of the coastal ecosystem. Watch sea otters play, touch live manta rays and hermit crabs, and view passing sharks and sea turtles in one of the largest saltwater tanks in North Carolina.

Wright Brothers Memorial - Head to the Visitors Center for an extensive collection of exhibits and multimedia presentations, special NPS guided-programs, and a chance to view an exact replica of the Wright Brothers' 1903 glider. The Memorial's Visitors Center is open daily, and is located in Kill Devil Hills.

Children at Play Museum - This Kitty Hawk museum is designed for the Outer Banks' youngest visitors and features a host of age 1-10 appropriate exhibits, including a Gone Fishing exhibit, the OBX Wellness Center, a Wonder Wall, an indoor Tree Fort, and a replica of an Open Air Market.

Bodie Island Lighthouse - Check out the Visitors Center and gift shop which is chock-full of memorabilia, or climb to the top of this South Nags Head beacon - the lighthouse is seasonally open for exploration, and only closes when thunderstorms are in the area.

Outer Banks History Center - This valuable collection of Outer Banks archives in Manteo has been visited by journalists, the History Channel and National Public Radio, but everyday visitors will also be fascinated with the center's rotating series of regional artworks and special historical exhibits.

Chicamacomico Lifesaving Station - Drive 30 minutes south to the small town of Rodanthe to discover one of Hatteras Island's most celebrated lifesaving stations, still in its pristine 1874 condition. The collection of stations and outbuildings contain a gift shop and museum of lifesaving service relics.

Area Activities

OBX Bowling - Open every day, the newly reopened Nags Head Bowling Alley features a snack bar, a separate arcade, and more than 20 lanes for families looking to have some fun.

Destination Fun - This Kill Devil Hills Laser Tag center is appropriate for all ages, and also features an arcade, a bounce house for young visitors, and a 3D mini golf course.

Gearworks Laser Tag and Family Fun Center - Nags Head's own laser tag center features plasma monitors and an observation deck so parents can watch their kids while they're in the heart of the action. The center also feature air hockey, and a video arcade.

Movie Theaters - Nags Head visitors will be close to both the Theatre 10 Multiplex in Kill Devil Hills, which features stadium seating, a game room, and digital projection and sound, as well as the historic Pioneer Theater, which has been Manteo's signature downtown theater since it was built in 1918.

Kitty Hawk Kites - The expansive Nags Head store features huge gliders on display, an indoor rock-climbing wall, and special programs throughout the year, from demos to holiday visits with Santa

YMCA - With fitness classes, indoor gym facilities, special kids' classes and areas, and a sprawling indoor pool, the YMCA is a rainy day destination the whole family will love. The Y features Guest Passes, and many rental homes in Nags Head offer passes as an amenity for guests.

Gallery Row - Running in between the Beach Road and the Beach Bypass in Nags Head, Gallery Row is home to a collection of art galleries that feature extensive collections from the best local, regional and even national artists.

Shopping and Dining

Outer Banks Shopping Mall - Located in Nags Head, the mall is a generations-old destination for a day of shopping, and features nearly 30 shops, grocery stores, services, and food vendors or restaurants.

Tanger Outlets - The Outer Banks' only outlet shopping center is located in Nags Head, and features plenty of famed name brands including Gap, Coach, Tommy Hilfiger, Corningware, Bali, and more.

Surfside Plaza - This classic shopping center features a cool collection of clothing shops, a consignment store, a music store, and a handful of OBX gift shops.

Beach Braids - Located in Nags Head, patrons of all ages can experiment with a (completely temporary) Henna tattoo, or get a new hairstyle with a colorful blend of braids and beads.

Glazin' Go Nuts Paint Your Own Pottery - Located in Kill Devil Hills, visitors can settle in and decorate a hand-picked ceramic piece of choice, which will be fired, glazed, and can be picked up within a couple of days.

Garden of Beadin' - Kill Devil Hills' Garden of Beadin' has thousands of beads that can be artfully transformed into gorgeous necklaces, bracelets, earrings, and other delicate treasures.

Coffee Shops - With roughly a half dozen relaxing coffee shops, with amenities such as books, games, and free Wi-Fi, Nags Head is the perfect locale for coffee fans to grab a hot brew and relax on a rainy morning.

Dining - Nags Head is home to more than 60 restaurants which range from cool seafood shacks and BBQ joints to upscale cafes. Stop at Owens Restaurant for a long dinner, (one of the oldest restaurants on the Outer Banks which first opened in 1946), or swing by a local Beach Road bar for an afternoon Happy Hour.


Fishing Unlimited Boating Center
Kitty Hawk Kites
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.”

Brew Thru

No trip to the Outer Banks is complete without cruising through Brew Thru, the Outer Banks’ original drive thru convenience store. Whether you’re looking for a refreshing cold beverage of Coke, Pepsi and other soft drinks on the go, stocking up your cooler with refreshments to enjoy at the beach or piling up on beer and wine for a party, Brew Thru is a fun and unique experience all vacationers need to see for themselves.

Drive-Through Beer & Gear

Brew Thru is Your One-Stop Shop at the Beach

The year was 1977, and Dana and Becky Lawrentz were chatting with friends over brews in their hometown of Akron, Ohio. They got to talking about a gas station convenience store in the area that had built a makeshift drive-through. Everyone agreed it would be pretty great if you could actually drive through a convenience store and pick up everything you needed without getting out of the car. But what would you call a place like that?

Well, you’d call it a Brew Thru.

It was an idea they couldn’t shake, so the Lawrentzes moved to the Outer Banks and built the first Brew Thru with the help of a partner. The idea was that people could come buy everything they would need for their trip to the beach—beer, wine, soft drinks, snacks, ice—without getting out of the car. That same year, a t-shirt salesman visiting the store and talked them into adding t-shirts to their product line—and 44 years later there are now more than five million Brew Thru t-shirts out in the wild.

The Lawrentzes’ daughter Brandy and her husband Philip Foreman purchased the business from them in 2002, and they now operate five locations across the Outer Banks.“We love being the one-stop shop for folks on the way to their beach house,” Foreman says. “Our car tenders are the friendliest people at the beach. We’re here to greet you, get you everything you need for your trip, load it up in the trunk for you, and have you leaving with a smile on your face.”

The store is quite expansive, featuring more than 100 brands of beer, dozens of wines and even a vast selection of cigars—not to mention all the snacks, t-shirts and other gear. To make ordering a little easier, customers in line get a menu—fondly known as the Summer-y—that outlines everything available at the store. These Summer-ies are also available in many of the beach rentals, which allows vacationers to decide what they want before driving through.

For customers who would like to get out and stretch their legs, there’s the Brew Thru Shop in Kill Devil Hills, where you can find their world famous t-shirts and other gifts. New t-shirt designs are created each year, making a yearly Brew Thru t-shirt a favorite of locals and annual visitors to the Outer Banks.

The Foremans both grew up in the Outer Banks, and they love that Brandy’s parents’ vision for a friendly and convenient place for people to grab their brews and other beach stay essentials is continuing to flourish.

“Our family has been welcoming people to the Outer Banks since 1977,” Foreman says. “We love this beautiful place, and we want everybody to get to enjoy it.”

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