Corolla has a full plate when it comes to seaside offerings. Boredom is not possible! The climb to the top of the lighthouse and the wild horse herd alone will mesmerize guests. Add festivals, wine tastings, concerts and the sheer natural beauty of the village and seashore, and you will discover a mix of happenings that appeal to all of the eclectic tastes in your group.
What to Do in Corolla:
■ The county-owned Currituck Heritage Park is a culture hotspot bringing together three major attractions: the Whalehead in Historic Corolla, the Outer Banks Center for Wildlife Education and the Currituck Beach Lighthouse. Restored in the 1980s by the non-profit Outer Banks Conservationists, the historic Currituck Beach Lighthouse is one of the only three Outer Banks lighthouses that can be climbed. Scaling the 1875 tower’s 214 steps is well worth the effort. The view from the top is spectacular! Souvenir gifts and books can be purchased at the Museum Store, a small assistant keeper’s house that has been restored.
■ A short stroll on one of the park’s many paths – there are boardwalks and nature observation areas with interpretive signs– will bring visitors to the Outer Banks Center for Wildlife Education. The facility features 5,000 square-feet of educational displays, including an 8,000-gallon aquarium and stunning antique decoys. Watch a movie on the fascinating history of the Currituck Outer Banks. The center is a true cultural experience!
■ The extraordinary Whalehead in Historic Corolla is a clubhouse that was lovingly restored by the county in 2002 and is open for numerous daily tours, ranging from a docent-led tour to a self-guided audio tour. There are even ghost tours! Built in the early 1920s, the art nouveau-style mansion once served as a vacation home for a wealthy couple from the northeast. The grounds host weddings, musical performances, Fourth of July fireworks, concerts and a fantastic art festival. See our calendar of events (on page 20) for a full-bodied line-up sure to tickle anyone’s fancy!
■ The best way to see wild horses is by taking a guided off-road tour through natural preserves that also are home to numerous wild birds and other creatures. Self-guided tours behind the dune area are no longer permitted. Numerous commercial services provide tours in off-road vehicles, but be aware that the tours book quickly in-season.
■ Hike along a boardwalk to the Currituck Sound on the Currituck Banks National Estuarine Research Reserve Access Trail on the north end of Corolla village. At two-thirds of a mile, it’s a lovely walk through maritime forest and marsh. And it gives nature-lovers a way to see birds and a view of the water without getting wet!
■ Or you can rent a kayak, a bicycle or even a Segway to enjoy Corolla from a different perspective. The sound offers quiet beauty for kayakers looking for serenity, and pedalers will appreciate the charm of bicycling around Historic Corolla Village and having an open-air view of Corolla’s wonders off numerous trails.
■ Take advantage of Corolla’s breezy conditions and fly a kite from the beach. Stunt kites and kites of every design and size are available to purchase at several locations. Hey, the Wright brothers knew the Outer Banks was the place to go for wind beneath their wings!
■ All proceeds go to the care and preservation of the horses when you visit the Wild Horse Museum (1129 Corolla Village Road) and the Wild Horse Museum Store in Duck’s Scarborough Faire Shopping Village (1177 Duck Road). Both stores offer wild horse books, videos, clothing, jewelry, arts and crafts and toys. Children’s programs are offered during the summer. The Duck store offers weekly “Mustang Rides” where you have the opportunity to ride a formerly wild horse. It’s a perfect way to support the animals while also picking up a souvenir of the iconic creatures of the Currituck Banks.
■ Go fishing! With the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the wide Currituck Sound on the other, there are plenty of fishing options! Check with the local bait and tackle store to find out what’s biting and where to go. Don’t forget, North Carolina requires the purchase of a recreational fishing license before you go fishing, whether you’re throwing a line in the surf, or looking to hook a tuna off a charter boat.
■ How about fun in the sun! Enjoy beachcombing on Corolla’s gorgeous wide beaches, voted one of the 20 favorite beaches in 2014 by Coastal Living magazine. Or try catching a few waves on a body board or a skim board. If you’re feeling ambitious, take a few surfing lessons from the local surf shop pros and rent a surfboard! Or try your hand at Stand Up Paddling, or SUP, the latest craze that has taken off on the Outer Banks.
■ Why not relax at a spa, whether for an hour or a day? Full-service spas offer luxurious amenities equal to any top-class resort. What better way to rejuvenate? Treat yourself to a facial, a new hairstyle and a pedicure or a massage. Get a little pampering on your vacation!
■ How about a family portrait at the beach? Immortalize your down time in a vacation scrapbook! Professional photographers can make the most of our beautiful scenery and find the best setting for a memorable vacation photo of your family and friends. Images of a couple, the family pets, your children, or you alone can be this year’s Christmas card photo or added to a business portfolio. Nothing says ‘comfortable in your own skin’ better than a beach portrait!
■ Take the dog to the beach. Four-legged friends are welcome on Corolla’s ocean and sound beaches as long as they’re leashed. Almost every dog loves the beach, but be careful to keep your dog from getting overheated. Please don’t forget to bring water for Fido, and clean up his mess! For extra fun, look in gift shops for an Outer Banks souvenir collar or doggie scarf. The dogs back home will be jealous!
■ Rainy day? Too much sun? Spend the day shopping! There are many retail stores with beautiful merchandise that go beyond tourist souvenirs, such as galleries where you can purchase handcrafted jewelry, paintings and pottery created by local and regional artists. There is never a shortage of delightful beach buys for fun souvenirs or unique gifts to show appreciation for your friends and family back home!
■ Dining options range from seafood raw bars and gourmet burgers to Tex-Mex and Italian. And of course, fresh Outer Banks seafood, whether steamed, fried or grilled, will be delicious because it’s caught locally and prepared by the best. Ice cream and bakery treats are also available throughout the village to satisfy the sweet tooth.
■ You can always go to the movie theater or play miniature golf or arcade games. You’ll be guaranteed happy kids if you take them to drive go-karts or bumper cars. There is also a 5,000-foot concrete skate park that the young skaters can enjoy. Lessons are even available for those who want to learn new, active sports such as Stand Up Paddling (SUP) or surfing.
■ Corolla has an active live music scene at many outdoor eateries and venues. Check online for regular updates on fun activities such as lip syncing and children’s fun days. ■