There are few locales on the Outer Banks where multiple roads cross paths, and Whalebone Junction is one of the main intersections along this barrier island shoreline. The term refers to the area in South Nags Head where three major highways converge, which are US Highway 64, US Highway 158, and NC Highway 12. Both US 64 and US 158 end at this juncture, but NC Highway 12 continues south from this locale, all the way to the end of Hatteras Island, and across the Hatteras Inlet to Ocracoke and Cedar Islands.

Whalebone Junction Welcome Center


In addition to the joining of the three major roads, the region is geographically distinct, as from this point, Outer Banks visitors can head west to Roanoke Island, North to the Central Outer Banks, or south to Hatteras Island. The Cape Hatteras National Seashore also begins at this point, (as soon as travelers drive onto NC Highway 12), and a rest stop and seasonally opened Visitors Centers, appropriately named the Whalebone Junction Information Station, is located on the soundside just a hundred yards or so after NC Highway 12 begins.

The Whalebone Junction Information Station offers area information on the National Seashore and National Park Service managed attractions, like the Bodie Island and Cape Hatteras Lighthouses, and is typically open during standard business hours in the summer months. (The restroom facilities and parking area are open year-round, 24 hours a day.)

The origins of the unique Whalebone Junction moniker coincide with the first waves of Outer Banks tourism, and the first efforts by Outer Banks locals to draw more attention to their newly established businesses. Originally known as simply "The Junction," the area was relatively nondescript until a local entrepreneur found a new way to attract visitors to his Junction gas station.

In the 1930s, Alexander Midgett, owner of a local Esso filling station at the junction, discovered a dead whale that had landed on a remote shoreline along Pea Island. Midgett hauled the 72' foot long creature up the beach with the help of his Model T truck, and after a year or so, when just the skeletal framework of the Whale remained, he moved the massive collection of bones across Oregon Inlet, and north to the Junction, with the help of the local private ferry run by Toby Tillett. The bones of the whale skeleton were meticulously cleaned with lime by the Midgett family, and was placed closed to the filling station as a makeshift tourist attraction and advertisement for the gas station.

The unlikely tourism campaign worked, and soon visitors were stopping at the filling station by the junction to marvel at the collection of intact and stark white whale bones that guarded the premises. The filling station was eventually renamed the "Whale Bone Service Station," to coincide with the new roadside attraction.

The Whale Bone Service Station would eventually burn down in the 1940s, and the whale skeleton would in turn be moved, but the name for the crossroads stuck, and the site has been known as "Whalebone Junction" ever since.

Today, the Outer Banks boasts a number of surf shops, restaurants, and even roads which are named after this 1930s' era spectacle, and while the origin of the name is sometimes misunderstood or lost in translation, Whalebone Junction remains the gateway to the Outer Banks for thousands of annual Hatteras and Ocracoke Island vacationers.

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Nags Head
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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