Wright Brothers Visitors Center replica outside

17+ Fun Things to Do in Kitty Hawk NC | Outer Banks

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Kitty Hawk is a popular town in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. The small beach town is just above Nags Head and is usually associated with Kill Devil Hills, another fun Outer Banks destination. Kitty Hawk may be small, but it is full of history and amazing activities. 

Kitty Hawk’s history dates all the way back to the 1500s when small Native American communities lived on these shores. Many years later, in the 1900s, Kitty Hawk started making more of a name for itself with a few small plantations, a small schoolhouse, and the Kitty Hawk Life Saving Station. Most importantly, in 1900, the Wright Brothers arrived in Kitty Hawk to begin experiments with powered flight, which would eventually lead to the world’s first flight in 1903. 

Kitty Hawk is the tranquil beach getaway that you’ve been looking for, along with some bonus activities like the Wright Brothers National Memorial or the Kitty Hawk Woods Reserve. Whether you are looking for a nice place to explore for the day or you want a nice place to take a weekend vacation, Kitty Hawk will not disappoint. 

Things to do in Kitty Hawk NC

While Kitty Hawk may be small, there are many things to see and explore. We hope this guide will help you on your next trip to Kitty Hawk, NC. 

1. Wright Brothers National Memorial 

Address: 1000 N Croatan Hwy, Kill Devil Hills, NC 27948

Wright Brothers Visitors Center Sign

The Wright Brothers National Memorial celebrates the world’s first powered flight and draws many people from all over the world to the area.

Wright Brothers Visitors Center Monument to the Century of Flight

Inside the memorial, you’ll find a 60-foot granite monument built in 1932, and guests can stand at the very place where the plane first took off. The 400-acre area has walking paths, other historical plaques, and picnic areas. 

Wright Brothers Visitors Center plane replica

2. Monument to a Century of Flight

Address: 5230 N Croatan Hwy, Kitty Hawk, NC 27949

Monument to a Century of Flight is a memorial park that was opened just about 100 years to the day after the first flight took place. It’s located behind the Aycock Brown Welcome Center in Kitty Hawk.

This monument displays fourteen wing-shaped stainless steel pylons ascending from 10 ft to 20 ft and organized in an orbit of 120 ft, which is the distance the Wright brothers traveled on their flight.

The monument is a fascinating place to check out and walk around. There are informational placards and a great view. 

Wright Brothers Visitors Center replica outside

3. Kitty Hawk Woods Reserve

Address: 4361 The Woods Rd, Kitty Hawk, NC 27949

The Kitty Hawk Woods Reserve encompasses over 1,800 acres of maritime forest, marshes, and swamplands. The reserve is one of the largest Maritime forest reserves in the United States. This gorgeous area has miles of hiking loops, backcountry trails, picnic areas, playgrounds, and areas to kayak or paddleboard.  

4. Sandy Run Park

Address: 4351 The Woods Rd, Kitty Hawk, NC 27949

Sandy Run Park is a 16-acre park that brings visitors through the heart of the Kitty Hawk Woods Coastal Reserve. The park features many wonderful creekside hiking trails, covered pavilions, picnic areas, lots of wildlife, and a Wright Brothers Memorial.

5. Kitty Hawk Pier/Fishing

Address: 5353 N Virginia Dare Trail, Kitty Hawk, NC 27949

The historic Kitty Hawk Pier has gone through the wringer after being destroyed by Hurricane Isabel in 2003. However, the pier and the pier house were beautifully redone in 2006. The Pier House serves as a unique setting for weddings, events, and other small parties. Anyone is welcome to walk down the pier to look out and get a panoramic view of the Atlantic Ocean. 

The Kitty Hawk Pier is also one of the best fishing spots in the area. Fishermen can usually catch sheepshead, small mullets, largemouth bass, flounder, and other varieties of fish. Please purchase a pass before fishing from the Kitty Hawk Pier. 

View from above with drone on Outer Banks Coast with pier in the distance

6. Shopping 

Let’s explore some of the wonderful shops around Kitty Hawk.

🛍️ Absolutely Outer Banks

Address: 3708 N Croatan Hwy Suite #4, Kitty Hawk, NC 27949 

Absolutely Outer Banks is a cool local store featuring local art, gemstones, home decor, furniture, and more. Absolutely Outer Banks is the perfect spot to pick up a small gift or a souvenir to take home. The owners are very knowledgeable and kind and have the best collection of art in Kitty Hawk. 

Absolutely Outer Banks Store

🛍️ Gray’s Outer Banks Lifestyle Clothing Co

Address: 3860 N Croatan Hwy, Kitty Hawk, NC 27949

Gray’s Outer Banks provides all the best Outer Banks clothing, sweatshirts, T-Shirts, souvenirs, and more. They have a great selection of clothing for men, women, and children, sports clothes, and small gifts. 

🛍️ Starr Boutique

Address: 3701 N Croatan Hwy Unit 12, Kitty Hawk, NC 27949

Starr Boutique is one of the many stores in Kitty Hawk Plaza. They have a large and wonderful selection of trendy women’s clothes, swimwear, shoes, and more to add to your summer style. 

Starr Boutique

🛍️ Beef Jerky Experience Outer Banks

Address: 3809 N Croatan Hwy Suite E, Kitty Hawk, NC 27949

The Beef Jerky Experience is truly a beef jerky experience with wall-to-wall jerky. The store carries over 100 types of beef, turkey, salmon, and wild game jerkies, along with peanuts, hot sauce, popcorn, and other snacks. 

Beef Jerky Experience

🛍️ Miss Lizzie’s

Address: 3708 N Croatan Hwy, Kitty Hawk, NC 27949

Miss Lizzie’s is a family-owned boutique clothing store. They carry fun, trendy clothing for women, along with cute knick-knacks and goodies. 

Miss Lizzie's Store

🛍️ Island Bookstore

Address: 3712 N Croatan Hwy C, Kitty Hawk, NC 27949

Island Bookstore is a wonderful bookstore chain with locations throughout the Outer Banks. The store has huge selections of books from every genre, including children’s books, magazines, CDs, travel books, and more. 

Island Bookstore

🛍️ Super Wings

Address: 4116 N Croatan Hwy, Kitty Hawk, NC 27949

Super Wings has a huge selection of everything you might need for a trip to the beach. From bathing suits to swim trunks to sandals, sun hats, pool floaties, water kites, and sand toys, Super Wings has you covered.

7. Enjoy Kitty Hawks’ Beaches

What’s a trip to Kitty Hawk without visiting the beach? Kitty Hawks’ beautiful beach is open and ready for all your favorite beach activities. Whether it be a relaxing stroll in the sand, sun tanning, lounging, splashing in the water, or water sports, it can all be done in Kitty Hawk. 

Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, Kitty Hawks’ beaches are pet friendly from 10:00 am – 6:00 pm, and all dogs must remain on leashes. Driving vehicles of any kind is prohibited on Kitty Hawks’ beaches. Fishing is allowed with a permit. Permits can be obtained online or at any local tackle shop. Watch for red flag warnings if you are looking to go swimming. 

Bird on the beach in Nags Head NC

12 Public Beach Access Points
Kitty Hawk Beach Public Guide 

⛱️ Byrd Street | Includes parking lot, showers, handicap access, porta-potties, lifeguard, wooden walkway

⛱️ Fonck Street | Parking only

⛱️ Maynard Street | Parking only

⛱️ Bennett Street | Parking only

⛱️ Luke Street | Parking only

⛱️ Eckner Street | Parking/handicapped access

⛱️ Bleriot Street | Parking only

⛱️ Wilkins Street | Parking only

⛱️ Hawks Street | Parking only

⛱️ Balchen Street | Parking only

⛱️ Lillian Street | Includes parking lot, showers, handicapped access, wooden walkway

⛱️ Kitty Hawk Bath House | Includes parking lot, handicapped access, bath house (with bathrooms and showers,) lifeguard

8. Big Buck’s Homemade Ice Cream

Address: 3810 N Croatan Hwy, Kitty Hawk, NC 27949

Big Buck’s Homemade Ice Cream is one of the most popular sweet treat spots throughout the Outer Banks, with locations in Kitty Hawk and Corolla. All ice cream is made daily with the freshest ingredients to give customers the best and tastiest ice cream around. They also serve sorbets, sherbets, smoothies, coffee drinks, cakes, and more! 

Big Buck's Ice Cream

9. Kitty Hawk Plaza

Address: 3850 N Croatan Hwy #3830, Kitty Hawk, NC 27949

The Kitty Hawk Plaza is a strip mall with inexpensive, decent shopping. The plaza includes bargain stores, a thrift store, outlet stores, and more. 

10. TRiO Restaurant & Market

Address: 3708 N Croatan Hwy, Kitty Hawk, NC 27949

TRiO is everything you could ask for and more. The restaurant section serves fresh sandwiches, cheese plates, entrees, and weekend brunch, and this is also where visitors can catch live music all year round.

Afterward, stop by their market for a fantastic selection of wine, beer, assorted knick-knacks, and something from their cheese counter. TRiO is the perfect place for a quick stop or a nightly gathering with friends.

Trio Restaurant and Market

11. Sea Scape Golf Links

Address: 300 W Eckner St, Kitty Hawk, NC 27949

Sea Scape Golf Links is a premier golf course open to the public year-round. The 18-hole course includes a unique coastal backdrop that will excite any golf enthusiast and will not soon be forgotten. 

12. Kitty Hawk Kayak & Surf School

Address: 6150 N Croatan Hwy, Kitty Hawk, NC 27949

The Kitty Hawk Kayak & Surf School is the ultimate water sports recreation center in the Outer Banks. They have the largest selection of kayak tours, surf camps, paddleboard trips, summer camps, and beach gear rentals in the Outer Banks.

Guests are invited to join experienced guides on 3-5 day surf camps, year-round paddleboard adventures, and exciting kayak tours through places like the Kitty Hawk Maritime Forest. 

Drinks and Restaurants in Kitty Hawk, NC

Kitty Hawk has some amazing restaurants, from barbecue to Southern comfort food and more. We can’t list them all here, but these are some of our favorites. 

✅ Black Pelican Oceanfront Restaurant

Address: 3848 N Virginia Dare Trail, Kitty Hawk, NC 27949

Located in a former Life Saving Station built in 1874, Black Pelican is a town favorite. The oceanfront restaurant has a lovely beachy, rustic vibe and a wonderfully large menu. They serve woodfired pizzas, seafood, sandwiches, burgers, excellent daily specials, and much more. 

Black Pelican

✅ Art’s Place

Address: 4624 N Virginia Dare Trail, Kitty Hawk, NC 27949

It’s hard to miss Art’s Place as you’re walking down the street. The fun, colorful sign displaying the restaurant’s name gives you just a little taste of what the restaurant is. Art’s Place has been in business since 1978, and everyone will tell you what an amazing, genuine person Art truly was. Each meal, whether it be a delicious breakfast, specialty burger or sandwich, or anything else, is all made with love. This local staple restaurant is one you don’t want to miss. 

✅ Shipwrecks Taphouse & Grill

Address: 4020 N Croatan Hwy, Kitty Hawk, NC 27949

Shipwrecks is the newest restaurant and taphouse in Kitty Hawk, and they have just about anything you could ask for! The two-level restaurant has indoor and outdoor seating, a dog-friendly patio, 22 beers on tap, and amazing seafood and burgers. Not only that, but they are kid-friendly and have over 25 TVs, making it the perfect place to watch a sports event. 

✅ Rundown Cafe

Address: 5218 N Va Dare Trail, Kitty Hawk, NC 27949

Rundown Cafe is a fun, family-oriented restaurant with homemade Caribbean and Pacific Rim-style dishes. The brightly colored restaurant serves amazing dishes and has fun-themed nights like Fried Chicken Night every Monday. Stop in for savory dishes, or see a live band every Thursday, Friday, Saturday, or Sunday all summer long. 

✅ Hurricane Mo’s Beachside Bar and Grill

Address: 120 E Kitty Hawk Rd, Kitty Hawk, NC 27949

Hurricane Mo’s is newly renovated and looking better than ever! They have one of the best outdoor patios in Kitty Hawk with 360-degree views of the ocean (great for sunsets,) live music, and an expansive menu with all your favorite seafood dishes. Hurricane Mo’s has an amazing happy hour, steamed shrimp, wings, and tacos for all to enjoy.  

Hurricane Mo's

✅ Sandtrap Tavern

Address: 300 W Eckner St, Kitty Hawk, NC 27949

Sandtrap Tavern is the premier bar and restaurant at Sea Scape Golf Links. The neighborhood bar and & grill looks over the green and is a great gathering place with pub-style fares and delicious drinks. 

✅Barefoot Bernie’s Tropical Grill & Bar

Address: 3730 N Croatan Hwy, Kitty Hawk, NC 27949

Barefoot Bernie’s specializes in refreshing island cuisines in a tropical atmosphere. This beach-themed hang-out is a very fun place to grab a delicious drink or have a nice family meal. Barefoot Bernie’s serves seafood, sandwiches, and some of the best pizzas in Kitty Hawk. They also have a great gluten-free and kids menu. 

Barefoot Bernie's

✅ Spanky’s Grille

Address: 4105 N Croatan Hwy, Kitty Hawk, NC 27949

Spanky’s is a little mom-and-pop, family-friendly eatery famous for their footlong hot dogs and mouthwatering burgers, including the two-pound Viking burger (a thrilling food challenge.) They also have a number of delicious Southern-style sides, seafood combos, and more. 

✅ The Pony and the Boat

Address: 3712 N Croatan Hwy Unit A, Kitty Hawk, NC 27949

The Pony and the Boat is a Southern-style comfort food restaurant with a nostalgic, classy beach feel. They have a full-service bar and delicious seafood dishes, including baked NC oysters, flounder, and more. The Pony and the Boat are also famous for their brunch, homemade jams, and savory pot pies. 

The Pony & The Boat Restaurant

✅ High Cotton Barbecue

Address: 5230 N Virginia Dare Trail, Kitty Hawk, NC 27949

High Cotton Barbecue is a classic Southern barbecue stop with sweet tea, NC-style pulled pork, brisket, chicken, and more. You can’t beat the low prices, huge portions, and quality food. 

✅ Bad Bean Baja Grill

Address: 4146 N Croatan Hwy, Kitty Hawk, NC 27949

Bad Bean Baja Grill is a local favorite Mexican restaurant with authentic tacos, burritos, quesadillas, salads, and more. Popular dishes include fish tacos, pork belly tacos, and goat cheese quesadillas made from local and seasonal ingredients. Everything is made fresh in the kitchen, including their chips and salsa, sauces, and marinades.

✅ Capt’n Franks Hot Dogs

Address: 3800 N Croatan Hwy, Kitty Hawk, NC 27949

No one does hot dogs better than Capt’n Franks! At Capt’n Franks, it’s not just about eating hot dogs but about the experiences of hot dogs that have been bringing families together for decades. They make their own “all beef chili” from family recipes, hand-pulled pork, foot longs, and bites for kids. 

Capt'n Franks Hot Dogs

✅ Outer Bean Cafe 

Address: 3701 N Croatan Hwy, Kitty Hawk, NC 27949

Outer Bean Cafe is the perfect way to start your day. This fun, inviting cafe has all your favorite coffee drinks, fresh-squeezed juices, smoothies, and an array of simple breakfast options, sandwiches, and sides. 

Things to do near Kitty Hawk NC

Kitty Hawk is full of fun activities, but it is always nice to get out of town for the day and explore the area. Here are some things right outside of Kitty Hawk that you don’t want to miss. 

✅ Jockey’s Ridge State Park

Address: 300 W Carolista Dr, Nags Head, NC 27959

The famous Jockey’s Ridge State Park is just 16 minutes from Kitty Hawk in Nags Head. The beautiful 427-acre park is home to the tallest living sand dune system on the East Coast and is the most visited state park in North Carolina. The top activity of the area is hang gliding, and visitors can also enjoy the mile of hiking trails, paddle boarding, picnic areas, swimming, kitesurfing, and access to wetland habitats. 

Jockey's Ridge Dune State Park

✅ Avalon Pier

Address: 2111 N Virginia Dare Trail, Kill Devil Hills, NC 27948

The Avalon Pier is a 700-foot-long pier leading out to the Atlantic Ocean. The beloved pier is one of the best in the Outer Banks and has been serving the area for over 60 years. Guests can visit the Stonefish Beach Bar for cheap beers, the snack shack for fresh-caught seafood, the arcade, enjoy family fishing or catch an amazing ocean sunset. 

Avalon Fishing Pier

✅ First Flight Adventure Park

Address: 6716 S Croatan Hwy, Nags Head, NC 27959

First Flight Adventure Park is a premier amusement park and obstacle course with the beautiful Outer Banks as the backdrop. The park features 14 ziplines, 50 obstacles, night climbing, and more! All ziplines and obstacles range in difficulty level and are designed for ages six and up. If you are a thrill seeker looking to try something new, then you’ll have a blast at First Flight Adventure Park. 

Annual Events in Kitty Hawk, NC 

Are you interested in annual events around Kitty Hawk? Here are some of the best. 

✅ Annual Wright Kite Festival (July 14-15, 2023)

Address: Wright Brothers National Memorial

The Annual Wright Kite Festival is a day to celebrate flying! Visitors are welcome to bring their own kites to fly, participate in free stunt and power kite flying lessons, and let the kids make their own kites to bring home. There will be huge 100-foot kites, octopus kites, 80-foot panda kites, and more. 

✅ OBX Arts and Crafts Festival (August 28-September 3, 2023)

Address: 5353 N Virginia Dare Trail, Kitty Hawk, NC

The week of August 28 will be the 25th annual arts and crafts festival on the Kitty Hawk Pier. 24 local artists will be setting up vendors displaying paintings, pottery, jewelry, photographs, fiber arts, glass works, and so much more. Admission is free. 

✅ Hang Gliding Spectacular (May 18-21, 2023)

Address: Jockey’s Ridge State Park 

The 51st Hang Gliding Spectacular will take place in May this year at Jockey’s Ridge State Park. Pilots from all over are welcome to join in the four-day fun with hang gliding competitions and shows. There will also be retro-gliding displays, videos, photo exhibits, and more. Last year (2022) had over 100 pilots attend the biggest event yet, and this year is expected to be even better! 

​​Where To Stay in Kitty Hawk, NC

📍Saltaire Cottages – The Saltaire Cottages are a set of semi-oceanfront cottages in Kitty Hawk. They are a very popular low-budget option for guests from all around and have been serving Kitty Hawk for over 50 years. Units are anywhere from 1-4 bedrooms, and all rooms are fully decorated, clean, and comfortable. These cottages are within walking distance of many Kitty Hawk restaurants and attractions. 

📍The Beech House– This Kitty Hawk beach rental is located right next to Sea Scape Golf Course in a quiet, family-friendly neighborhood. The comfortable house sleeps up to 16 guests and has four bedrooms, making this the perfect place for large gatherings and family trips! Other amenities at the Beech House include an outdoor deck/patio, an outdoor pool, a screened porch, outside and inside showers, a hot tub, and more. 

📍Beachwoods Resort– Beachwoods Resort is a top resort in Kitty Hawk and is the luxury option you were looking for for this vacation. This gorgeous resort has rooms to accommodate any needs you might have, including family rooms, double beds, and more. There are also two swimming pools with water slides, a fitness center, an arcade/game room, barbecues, and a tennis court. This is an extremely fun, family-friendly option that is located right next to the Kitty Hawk Woods Reserve. 

Kitty Hawk NC: FAQs

📌 What is Kitty Hawk known for?

Kitty Hawk is mostly known for being a summer destination town, and the birthplace of the world’s first controlled powered airplane, thanks to the Wright Brothers

📌 Does Kitty Hawk, NC, have lots of nightlife?

Compared to other towns in the Outer Banks, Kitty Hawk is known for having a fun variety of nightlife options to pick from. Many of the bars and restaurants host live music, stay open later, and have lots of dancing and games. 

📌 What does the name “Kitty Hawk” mean?

The name “Kitty Hawk” came from the Native American Algonquin tribe’s word “Chickawa,” which means a place to hunt geese. 

📌 Is Kitty Hawk a dog-friendly town?

Kitty Hawk is a very dog-friendly town. Kitty Hawks’ beaches allow dogs on all public beaches as long as they remain on a leash and have their current rabies tag. Lots of restaurants and bars happily allow dogs on their patios as well. 

📌 What is the best time of year to visit Kitty Hawk?

Timing your trip to Kitty Hawk truly depends on what kind of vacation you want to have. If you are looking to enjoy the beaches and swim in the ocean, then the summer may be best for you. Locals will say that fall is the best time to visit as the crowds start to die down, and it is the best time of year for fishing and windsurfing. 

Final Thoughts

If you are planning a trip to the Outer Banks, you should strongly consider Kitty Hawk for its unique landscapes, family-friendly fun, wonderful restaurants, and exciting events. It is certainly a quieter experience than other places in the Outer Banks (OBX), but that allows visitors to more easily experience the full charm of the area. You will not be disappointed with your trip to Kitty Hawk. 

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