Kill Devil Hills is the most central town on the Outer Banks and offers an array of restaurants, shops, and things to do while visiting. This stretch of beach on the Atlantic Ocean offers several public access points, some with parking, bathhouses and special accessibility. For convenience and safety, lifeguards are stationed every half-mile during the summer season.
- Where To Stay in Kill Devil Hills
- Kill Devil Hills Attractions
- History of Kill Devil Hills, NC
- Where Is Kill Devil Hills?
- Frequently Asked Questions
Where to Stay in Kill Devil Hills, NC
Attractions in Kill Devil Hills
Kill Devil Hills offers a wide array of things to do across the town from north to south, but also from the ocean to the sound. Here are a few of our favorite things to do in Kill Devil Hills, but don’t forget to grab a beach chair and an umbrella and make your way to the biggest attraction to the area… the Atlantic Ocean!
Wright Brothers Monument: First time visitors should be advised that this is an important part of your Outer Banks experience. Located in the heart of Kill Devil Hills, the Wright Brothers Monument is located on top of Kill Devil Hill, a massive sand dune that was stabilized in 1932 for the construction of the iconic monument. The view from the top is spectacular, and it is worth the walk, which is somewhat strenuous.
Albemarle Sound: Bay Drive parallels Kitty Hawk Bay, which is part of the Albemarle Sound. Visitors who take this route will experience a beautiful drive and pleasant contrast to the Atlantic. Although there are no beaches on the soundside of Kill Devil Hills, there are four maintained water access points.
Nags Head Woods: The preserve encompasses parts of Nags Head and Kill Devil Hills. However, the entrance is located in Kill Devil Hills. Owned and operated by the Nature Conservancy, Nags Head Woods is a 1,100 acre maritime forest. There are a number of hiking trails throughout the park, and the terrain is surprisingly rugged and hilly.
Multi-Use Trails: The town of Kill Devil Hills has made a conscious effort to create and maintain interconnecting multi-use trails designed for biking, walking, jogging, and skateboarding. The trails are part of a series of interconnecting trails that run from the Currituck County line to South Nags Head.
Brief History of Kill Devil Hills, NC
Kill Devil Hills was the first town on the Outer Banks to incorporate, but it almost was the town that wasn’t. The town incorporated in 1953 amidst concerns that the county would not protect its familial and residential nature with the emerging tourist industry surrounding the Wright Brothers Monument.
The nearest town was Kitty Hawk located five miles away with 300 residents and sporadic supplies. There was a Kill Devil Hills Lifesaving Station not far from their camp, and Orville continually cites their aid in his letters. It was Surfman John Daniels who took the iconic picture of the Wright Flyer lifting off the ground.
In spite of the fame of the Wright Brothers and their flight, the area around the Monument remained isolated and undeveloped until bridges connecting Nags Head to Manteo in the south and a wooden bridge connecting Kitty Hawk to Currituck County in the north were built. The Manteo bridge was constructed in the late 1920s, and the wooden predecessor to the Wright Memorial Bridge was built in 1931. With the completion of two bridges, North Carolina paved a road connecting the two spans.
Although the population remained relatively modest, Kill Devil Hills was becoming an important tourist destination. One of the town’s first employees, George Frank, was hired as Chief of Police, Building Inspector, Supervisor of Streets and “other duties as needed.”
The town was growing and thriving though. The Sea Ranch Resort, one of the original beach motels, opened in the 1950s. In 1962 the Avalon Pier was completed. In 1988 the Dare Center, the first shopping center on the Outer Banks, was completed, and by 1990 there were almost 4300 permanent residents in the town. The population today is a little over 7000.
Where is Kill Devil Hills?
If there is a population center on the Outer Banks, it’s Kill Devil Hills. It is both the most centrally located of the major towns and the most largely populated. Kill Devil Hills is located to the south of Kitty Hawk, and to the north of Nags Head.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are dogs allowed on the beach in Kill Devil Hills?
From Memorial Day to Labor Day, dogs are not allowed on the beach between 9am and 6pm. Dogs are required to be leashed any time they are on the public beaches.
Can you drive on the beach in Kill Devil Hills?
Beach driving is allowed in Kill Devil Hills during the off-season (October 1 – April 30). A beach driving permit is required before driving on the beach. Obtaining a permit for Kill Devil Hills also allows beach driving in Nags Head.
Do you have to pay to park when you go to the beach in Kill Devil Hills?
All public beach accesses in Kill Devil Hills (and all of the Outer Banks towns) are free to park at.
Why Is It Called Kill Devil Hills?
The name Kill Devil Hills is certainly distinctive and wrapped in mystery; no one is sure of its source. The most colorful tale would ascribe the name to a comment from Governor Byrd of Virginia in 1728. No fan of his neighbor to the south, he wrote, “Most of the rum they get in this country comes from New England, and is so bad and unwholesome, that it is not improperly called ‘Kill-Devil…”. Not quite as colorful but certainly possible, is an explanation that David Stick proposed, referencing that early sailors reported it “was enough to kill the devil” to navigate the seas in the area. The third possibility is a shorebird, the killdeer, once populated the area which gave way to the large sand dune being referred to as “killdeer hill” and finally Kill Devil Hill.
What is the Best Time to Visit Kill Devil Hills, NC?
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 Kill Devil Hills?
Kill Devil Hills sits squarely in the middle of the Outer Banks. The town boundaries are placed at Milepost 5 on the north side where Kitty Hawk begins and Milepost 10 to the south where Nags Head begins. Almost all businesses are located along the Beach Road (NC 12) or the Bypass (US 158), although unlike any other beach town in Dare County, there are some businesses on streets immediately adjacent to the Bypass.