Duck, North Carolina is an adorable town in the northern part of the Outer Banks’ Southern Shores area. The quiet beaches plus shops and restaurants in town make it one of the best outer banks towns for families. If you’re looking for fun things to do in Duck, NC, there’s no shortage of family fun both in the town of Duck and neighboring communities.
Our last two trips to the Outer Banks were with younger kids, but these family-friendly things to do in the Outer Banks are great options regardless of who you’re vacationing in OBX with.
Spend Time at the Beach
The Duck, North Carolina beach is made up of about a 7-mile stretch of sand and is the reason most people visit this OBX town. Most of the beach can only be accessed by walking from the adjacent houses, making it a relatively quiet East Coast beach destination. (In fact, there’s no true public beach parking in Duck, NC!) We typically stay in Southern Shores, right on the border of Duck, which has similar private beach access.
Looking for fun things to do in Duck, North Carolina at the beach? It’s great for the typical searching for sea shells, playing in the sand, swimming in the ocean and sunbathing. You can hit the beach early for dolphin watching in the morning, fly kites in the afternoon and search for ghost crabs at night.
Pro Tip: If you’re planning to look for ghost crabs in the Outer Banks with kids, bring flashlights and glow sticks to make it even more fun! This was one of our favorite Outer Banks things to do with toddlers on our trip.
The Duck, NC water temp in the summer is typically in the 70s F on average (or warmer.) This makes it perfect for a swim throughout the summer.
Related Post: Packing Tips and Beach with a Baby Essentials
Stroll the Boardwalk in Duck, NC
The boardwalk in Duck is located along the water and boasts some of the best views in North Carolina. The Duck Boardwalk is about a mile long, with a parking lot located at the Town Park in Duck. It takes you along the Currituck Sound and connects to several shops and restaurants. While you’re strolling along, be sure to look out for the variety of wildlife including Osprey nests along the way. There’s also a playground in Duck right by the Town center that’s located adjacent to the boardwalk.
If you’re looking for more Duck, NC things to do, they host weekly events and activities near the boardwalk as well. They have things like story time, yoga on the green and art shows. You can find the calendar of events in Duck, NC here.
Note: If you’re riding bikes in Duck, you must get off your bike while going through the boardwalk area.
The village of Duck is packed with shops, making it a shopping destination for many families visiting the Outer Banks. There are several shopping areas, including the Waterfront Shops at the Duck boardwalk and Scarborough Fair Shopping Village. Most shopping centers focus on selling local goods and specialty items that are unique to the outer banks. We also especially loved some of the boutique stores at Scarborough Faire Village, including the Sandcastle kids store in OBX.
If you’re looking for more shopping in Duck, NC, you can also find several popular Outer Banks stores in Duck including Kitty Hawk Kites, Nags Head Hammocks, Life is Good and more.
You can find a full listing of shops in Duck, NC in this guide.
Enjoy Several Watersports
With the calmer Currituck Sound on one side and the ocean on the other, watersports are one of the most popular Duck, NC things to do. Popular water sports in Duck, NC include stand up paddle boarding, kayaking, parasailing and jet skiing.
Whether you’re looking for kayak rentals or stand up paddle boarding, there are several rental locations to choose from. Nor’Banks Sailing and Watersports is a popular option for sailing, kayak rentals and other Outer Banks watersports on the Currituck Sound. Ocean Atlantic Rentals is another option for anything from Duck, NC beach rentals to watersports and more.
If you want to bring your own kayak, we love this inflatable kayak which is great to travel with. We have the two-person version, but there are single person inflatable kayaks as well.
Visit the NC Aquarium on Roanoke Island
If you’re visiting Outer Banks with a toddler (or kids of any age) and want a break from the beach, the NC Aquarium in the Outer Banks is a great option. It’s located on Roanoke Island in Manteo and is about 45 minutes south of Duck. You can find a variety of sea life at the NC Aquarium, including several species from rivers and wetlands, jellyfish, sharks, stingrays and more. One of our kids’ favorite things was the N.E.S.T. sea turtle rehabilitation center. It’s home to several rescued turtles as well as an interactive display that walks you through the process of saving the turtles.
There are also several things to do outside of the aquarium, including a water maze, nature trails and the Soundside Pier.
Note: Tickets must be purchased in advance to visit the NC Aquarium. They do sellout, especially when people are looking for things to do on a rainy day in OBX.
Climb the Sand Dunes at Jockey’s Ridge State Park
One of the most unique things to do in Outer Banks is Jockey’s Ridge State Park. Jockey’s Ridge is located in Nags Head and has some of the tallest sand dunes in the US. The best time to go to Jockey’s ridge is before sunset. That way you can catch the beautiful views of the sun setting over the dunes. Be sure to bring a kite to fly kites at Jockey’s Ridge. There’s typically a good amount of wind all day long that makes it perfect for kite flying.
There is ample parking at Jockey’s Ridge State Park. Most people leave their shoes near the entrance to make the trek in the sand to get to the dunes. (It’s a bit of a walk, but for those with mobility issues, an all-terrain vehicle can be requested at certain times in advance.)
Ride Go Karts or Play Mini Golf at Paradise Fun Park
Paradise Golf and Arcade has arcades, mini golf and go karts in the Outer Banks. This makes it a great option if you’re looking for fun things to do in the Outer Banks with kids. The mini golf course is pirate themed with 18 fun holes throughout. The go karts are available for kids 10+ to ride solo. Kids 4 and older can ride with an adult. There are also bumper cars for ages 5+ and an arcade there as well.
While you’re there, be sure to stop at Booty Treats nearby. They have yummy snow cones and ice cream in Nags Head, NC.
Visit H2OBX Waterpark
Just outside of Duck in Powells Point is H2OBX, a fun and family-friendly waterpark in the Outer Banks. H2OBX waterpark has fun slides for all ages, including more mellow slides and raft rides or The Plank slide and Flowrider for thrill seekers.
There’s also a large wave pool and a lazy river at H2OBX that goes around the waterpark. If you’re visiting the Outer Banks with toddlers, they will also love Sand Pail Beach and Calico Jack’s splash playground area. Be sure to add this OBX waterpark to your list if you’re looking for Outer Banks kids’ activities to break up your time at the beach.
H2OBX Waterpark is open daily in the summer from 10am-6pm.
Have a Seafood Boil in the Outer Banks
You can’t vacation in Duck, NC without trying some of the amazingly fresh seafood. A fun way to enjoy seafood in the Outer Banks at home is with a seafood boil. There are several options depending on the size of your group and how much work you want to do. You can either have your OBX seafood boil fully catered or pick it up pre-boiled.
We choose to have the seafood boil catered for the adults one night on our OBX vacation. The food was prepared outside of our rental home and everything was put out and then cleaned up for us. We went with the Outer Banks Boil Company, which has several locations throughout OBX.
There are also several great seafood restaurants in Duck, NC to choose from, including NC Coast Grill & Bar, The Blue Point and The Village Table and Tavern.
Get Duck Donuts for Breakfast
Did you know that Duck, NC is the namesake and home of the original Duck Donuts? Duck Donuts is known for having some of the best made-to-order donuts in the country. With the popularity in the area, there are several Duck Donuts locations in Outer Banks so you can enjoy them regardless of where you’re staying. Duck offers seasonal and monthly flavors, popular standing flavors like Beach Ball, Chocolate Explosion and Maple Bacon.
We recommend getting to the Duck Donuts location in Duck early since there is always a line. You can always take stroll on the boardwalk beforehand to catch the pretty early morning views. You can also place an order in the Duck Donuts app in advance to cut the wait time.
More Fun Things to do in Outer Banks, NC
Looking for more ideas for Outer Banks things to do outside of Duck, NC? Below are a few items on our Outer Bank bucket list for the future.
- Visit the site of the first US flight at the Wright Brothers Memorial
- Head to the Corolla beach to see the wild horses in the Outer Banks
- See one of several OBX lighthouses up close
- Learn about the shipwrecks in OBX at the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum in Cape Hatteras
- Visit the Elizabethan Gardens for beautiful greenery
- Play at the huge Dowdy Park Playground in OBX
Have you been to the Outer Banks before? We’d love to here if you have any additional suggestions for fun things to do in Duck, NC and the rest of OBX.