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    • Fully Equipped Kitchen *
    • Cook & Tableware *
    • Coffee Maker *
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    * All houses include these items.

    Museums and Historical Sites on the Northern Outer Banks

    The Outer Banks, with its rich history, surprisingly hosts a few, yet significant museums worth visiting, mostly located north of Oregon Inlet.

    Steeped in history as it is, it is surprising, perhaps, that there are not more museums on the Outer Banks. Nonetheless, there are some and they are truly worth visiting.

    The museums listed here are all north of Oregon Inlet. There are two museums on Hatteras Island, the Frisco Native American Museum in Frisco and the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum in Hatteras Village. The Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum is currently closed as it undergoes a very substantial expansion and upgrade.

    For almost all Outer Banks activities, hours vary widely depending on the time of year, and museums are no exception. It’s a good idea to check websites or call for hours of operation.

    Historic Corolla Park/Whalehead Club


      Nestled at the foot of the Currituck Beach Lighthouse in Corolla, Corolla Park has two museums worth checking out. If time permits, make a reservation to tour the Whalehead Club.

      Outer Banks Center for Wildlife Education

      A fascinating museum that traces the history of hunting and the hunt clubs of Currituck Sound. Included in the museum displays is one of the largest hand-carved decoy collections in the world.

      Outer Banks Center for Wildlife Education

      The museum includes a diorama of life on the Currituck Sound in the early part of the 20th century.  An 8000-gallon aquarium stocked with fish native to the Currituck Sound is in the center of the floor.

      In the summer, the museum hosts some great activities for kids.

      Currituck Maritime Museum

      The Currituck Maritime Museum houses an extraordinary collection of Currituck watercraft. It will probably take you at most an hour to check it out, but it will be time well spent.

      Currituck Maritime Museum

      The staff has done a remarkable job finding historic boats for the Currituck Sound and restoring them to their original condition.

      Wright Brothers Memorial

      Kill Devil Hills

      After hiking to the top of Kill Devil Hills and walking the path of that first 12-second flight, be sure to check out the Wright Brothers Museum in the Pavilion. Or check it out before the other activities.

      Whether before or after all the other activities, this is a must-see experience to understand the genius of the Wright brothers.

      Wright Brothers Monument and First Flight Airport

      Orville and Wilbur Wright were gifted scientists and the evidence is there in a replica of the wind tunnel they designed when they felt accepted calculations were inaccurate.

      What really sets this museum apart, though, is the full-sized replica of the Wright Flyer—the original is in the Smithsonian Institute. Interpreters describe the brothers’ work and its significance. Although geared toward children, adults will find the talk engaging as well.

      Pea Island Cookhouse Museum


      A beautifully restored cookhouse that served the Pea Island Coast Guard Station until it closed in 1947, the museum includes a small but wonderfully interesting collection of memorabilia and artifacts.

      From its opening in 1880 until its closure in 1947, the Pea Island Lifesaving Station was manned exclusively by African American crewmen.

      Pea Island Cookhouse Outer Banks Museum

      The station is most famous for rescuing the crew of the schooner ES Newman on October 11, 1896, during a hurricane. All nine crew members were saved, even though none of the lifesaving equipment would work in the conditions. Station personnel swam to the ship with lifelines attached to save the crew. One hundred years later, the crew was awarded the Coast Guard Gold Lifesaving Medal, the highest medal for bravery the Coast Guard awards.

      The original ES Newman stern with the ship’s name is at the museum, along with other artifacts.

      What really sets the museum apart, though, are the volunteers who staff it, many of whom are direct descendants of Pea Island crewmen.

      Roanoke Island Festival Park


      An educational experience the whole family will enjoy.

      The displays include an outdoor replica of a Coastal Algonquian Indian town and a Settlement site that recreates a 17th-century English town in the New World. Very knowledgeable interpreters are on hand to explain the exhibits.

      Roanoke Island Festival Park

      There are also interactive museum displays that walk users through the history of the area.

      The highlight, though? The Elizabeth II, a copy of a 16th century sailing ship that would have sailed the seas at the time of the Lost Colony. The crew on the ship does a great job of explaining the ins and outs of the ship while staying in character.

      National Wildlife Refuges Visitor Center

      North End Roanoke Island

      A very small but nicely informative museum—if that’s what it is—that explains the environment of Pea Island National Refuge and Alligator River National Refuge through displays and interactive dioramas.

      National Wildlife Refuges Visitor Center

      The two refuges are managed from the Roanoke Island offices.

      This will be a quick visit but well worth the time, especially for anyone who has never been to Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge.