To the residents of the Outer Banks all of the towns have a distinctive personality, but for visitors it can be hard to distinguish between Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills and Nags Head. The Town of Duck, however, is absolutely unique, and it is the one town on the Outer Banks that has truly retained a quaint “village” feel.
Where to Stay in Duck
Attractions to Duck
No other town on the Outer Banks has done as good a job of creating a unique environment with a special feeling as the Town of Duck. For those visiting our area, it certainly is worthwhile to add Duck to your list of places worth exploring. Here are some of our favorite things to do in Duck that we think you will enjoy during your vacation!
Duck Town Park: The Duck Town Park consists of 11 acres of soundside property and is host to many amenities that are available for anyone to enjoy. Including but not limited to an amphitheater, playground, events throughout the summer, and the Annual Jazz Festival, the Town Park welcomes all to partake in the fun that is to be had.
Duck Soundside Boardwalk: One of the most notable features of Duck is its soundside boardwalk that runs over a half mile along the Currituck Sound. There are several shops and places to eat, but no matter where you are along the boardwalk, the views of the water are never far from sight. This is also a “locals favorite” spot to watch the sun set over the sound.
Watersports: It would be hard to imagine a more user-friendly body of water to explore than the section of the Currituck Sound that borders Duck. Shallow and narrow enough that land is always in sight, it is ideal for watersports adventures, and there are a number of outfitters dotting the shoreline that provide instruction, tours and rentals for kayaks, stand up paddleboards and other watercraft.
Shopping & Dining: The shopping district extends from the Waterfront Shops and Barrier Island Shops from the north down to Aqua Restaurant and Spa and Scarborough Lane at the southern end of town. In addition to distinctive shops, there are a number of great restaurants, many right on the water, providing a wonderful dining experience for “foodies.”
Beach Time: The beaches of Duck are some of the most beautiful on the Outer Banks, and even recognized as one of the “Top 15 Family-Friendly Beaches in America”. It does, however, offer very little public access so the use of the beach is primarily by residents, renters, and their guests.
Brief History of Duck, NC
Duck was actually one of the first areas of Dare County to be settled, although at the time it was still a part of Currituck County. Records are a bit spotty about the earliest settlers, but the family cemeteries tell a tale of a difficult life and early death.
Yet the village did survive, and in its own way thrived. There were probably less than 100 residents in the immediate area, and it was a close-knit community. There was minimal wealth in this region, so residents lived off the land and fortunately, the Atlantic Ocean and Currituck Sound yielded a bounty of fish and waterfowl.
Levin “Pop” Scarborough, whose family owned the land that became Scarborough Lane, was interviewed in 1999, and although he was in his mid 90s, he had a clear recollection of Duck before it became the center of tourism it is today. He commented that early residents also kept a limited number of cattle that ranged over the dunes.
Scarborough Faire was the first shopping center in Duck, an ambitious development inspired by the charm and character of our iconic lifesaving stations. By the 1980s, the Village of Duck had clear presence, and was an area that developers were eyeing as prime real estate. The community of citizens, concerned about retaining the quaint village feel, petitioned the North Carolina legislature to allow Duck to incorporate as a town. On May 1, 2002, the Village of Duck became the most recent and sixth incorporated town in Dare County. Since that time, Duck’s signature accomplishments were the development of a waterfront town park, a community building/town hall, and the boardwalk that runs along the sound in the center of the village.
Where is Duck?
Duck is located between Corolla (to the North) and Southern Shores (to the South), is about six miles in length, and its main shopping district is on the southern end of the town. Duck has several subdivisions, but only has one main road that leads you through the town.
Frequently Asked Questions
How far is Duck from the other towns of the Outer Banks?
North To South:
- Duck to Corolla — about 25 minutes
- Duck to Southern Shores — about 5 minutes
- Duck to Kitty Hawk — about 15 minutes
- Duck to Kill Devil Hills — about 20 minutes
- Duck to Nags Head — about 25 minutes.
Please note: These times are estimations and could be longer based on seasonal traffic.
Can you drive a golf cart on the road in Duck?
Golf carts are not allowed to be driven on Duck Road (NC 12), along the Duck Trail, or on the boardwalk. If you are driving a golf cart, you may drive it on the side streets within the Town, or to cross Duck Road (NC 12) to get to and from the beach. If you are crossing Duck Road, you are responsible for yielding to traditional motor vehicles and pedestrians.
Are dogs allowed on the beach in Duck?
Dogs are allowed to play unleashed on the beach in Duck if they are being watched and remain under control by their guardian. Please remember to always clean up after your dog. Please note: Not all towns enforce the same rules when it comes to dogs on the beach
Can you drive on the beach in Duck?
Driving on the beach is prohibited in Duck.
Why Is It Called Duck, NC?
It might be little more than a pleasant folk tale, but the story goes that around 1910, Lloyd Toler, a resident of the village, felt a post office was needed and filled out an application. One of the questions on the application asked for a proposed name for the post office, and since the cluster of houses did not truly have their own identification, he looked around, thought about what was most common and wrote down “Duck.”
What is the Best Time to Visit?
While many would say “there is no bad time to visit the beach”, we understand there are better times than others. Keeping in mind that everyone is different, we will just go through each season starting with the most popular — summer! Summertime on the Outer Banks is exactly how you’d expect a beach destination to be in the warmest months of the year. It is a bit more crowded than the rest of the year, but you’re nearly guaranteed the best beach days, the sunniest skies, and the warmest weather (remember, there are no guarantees when it comes to Mother Nature). Spring and fall, the shoulder seasons, are not to be overlooked though. They also offer up some epic beach days, fall more so than spring. The beauty of these seasons is that the beaches and roads are less crowded than the summer. Winter on the OBX is, again, how you’d expect a beach destination to be in the coldest months of the year. A lot of locations have closed for a couple months to get some R&R after a busy season and to gear up for another year. Winter nearly empties the beaches (with the exception of that one-off slightly warmer, sunshine-filled winter day).
How Do I Get to Duck?
There is only one way in and out of Duck – NC 12, a state maintained road that runs the entire length of the Outer Banks. This means getting to Duck is simple, just map a route to the Outer Banks, and once here, head north. Travel through Southern Shores and you’ll land yourself in the heart of Duck.