Content Produced in Partnership with Visit Currituck
If you're in need of a nostalgic beach getaway, consider Currituck County your next adventure. Located in the northern Outer Banks bordering the Currituck Sound and the Atlantic Ocean, Currituck County makes up a portion of the mainland as well as Corolla and Carova Beaches. Here, homes are named like great ships, sporting names like "Whale Song" and "Seaside Heights," wild horses still roam free, and locals and visitors alike prefer to ride bikes rather than cars. It's a place where time seems to slow down and the sweet taste of summer lingers in the air perpetually. Ready to visit? Here's what you need to do once you get there.
Take in the Views
Partial to devastating shipwrecks 150 years ago, the Outer Banks is home to several lighthouses along its shores to help guide seamen to safety. The youngest — or “newest” — of the collection can be found in Currituck County in Corolla. Built in 1873 and first lit in 1875, the Currituck Beach Lighthouse was the last lighthouse along the Outer Banks, effectively filling in the “dark space” between it and Virginia. Today, visitors can climb the 220 steps to the top of the lighthouse for a spectacular, 360-degree view of the Currituck Sound and the Atlantic Ocean.
Visit the Whalehead House
Located on the same grounds as the Currituck Beach Lighthouse, the Whalehead House is a restored 1920s Art Nouveau mansion. When the wealthy Knights chose to build their bright yellow winter home in the 1920s, it was with the intention to use it as a lavish hunting retreat. Today, Whalehead sits adjacent to the Outer Banks Center for Wildlife Education, where you can learn more about the animals that call the Currituck Sound home. The property is open for tours daily, and its grounds are the site of several community festivals. It is also one of — if not the — best places to watch a sunset in Corolla Beach (we'll get to that in a bit).
See the Corolla Wild Horses
Brought over by Spanish explorers more than 400 years ago, the Corolla wild horses continue to wander the northern beaches of Corolla and Carova. Safely protected and monitored, their home is only accessible by four-wheel drive vehicles. Guided tours are available via multiple operators in the area. We recommend booking your spot early and opting for an early morning or late afternoon tour when the horses are more likely to be away from the interior of the island and are instead wandering the beaches and dunes.
Sip and Swirl
On the mainland side of things, you'll find North Carolina's first microbrewery as well as one of the state's most famous vineyards less than a mile away from one another. Serving up huge sandwiches and burgers and favorited by celebrity chef Guy Fieri, Weeping Radish Brewery is perfect for lunch. Its real star, though, is its series of in-house brews that are always on tap. You can try a flight of seven, including the famous Black Radish, for $10. After lunch, head down the way toward Sanctuary Vineyards. Specializing in growing European grapes and crafting unique dry and sweet wines, Sanctuary Vineyards is open daily, tours are offered every Wednesday and tastings are free. If you're tempted to buy a bottle, we highly recommend their top seller called the Wild White Pony, a dry white wine of which a portion of the proceeds benefit the Corolla Wild Horse Fund.
Catch a Sunrise (or Sunset)
It's all about the little things in Currituck County, which is why crowds of locals and tourists regularly gather together on the beaches to collectively "ooh" and "ahh" as the sun rises and sets. If you're an early riser, stay on the Atlantic side of Corolla to watch the sunrise. That said, no visit to Corolla is complete without watching a sunset from the Whalehead House grounds. Whether they're sitting on the picnic tables, standing on the bridge or walking on the docks, everyone's eyes are trained on the west as the sun dips below the horizon and the sky erupts in a series of vivid oranges, ambers and golds.
Take a Spin
With so many vacation rentals so close to local restaurants and the beach, there's not really a reason to use a car to get around Corolla and Carova. A bike path and nature trail follows the length of Corolla, which is why it's not unusual for walkers, joggers and bikers to far outnumber cars. On top of that, nearly all of the rental shops offer daily or weekly rates for bikes and scooters. We vote you take the hint and take a bike for a spin. It's the best way to embrace that relaxed, easygoing mentality you'll find throughout Currituck County.
Hit the Beach, Duh
When it's all said and done, playing in the surf and soaking up the summer sun is really why you ventured out to Currituck County. In addition to quaint B&Bs and resort-style hotels, you'll find plenty of vacation rentals available throughout the area that'll keep you close to the action. So, go ahead, put on your sunnies, pack a picnic basket and hit the beach — there's plenty of space for you in Currituck.