Southern Shores is located between Kitty Hawk and Duck but isn’t far from any of the towns on the Outer Banks. Drive along tree-lined streets as you make your way into the heart of the town, flanked between the Atlantic Ocean and the Currituck Sound. Southern Shores is the lovely, quiet community that greets you as you approach the Outer Banks from the Wright Memorial Bridge.
Where to Stay in Southern Shores
Attractions to Southern Shores
While Southern Shores is one of the more residential, laid-back towns of the Outer Banks, there is no shortage of fun activities to partake in. Here are a few of our favorite things to do in Southern Shores that we think you will enjoy during your vacation!
Duck Woods Country Club: The Duck Woods Country Club has outdoor activities to boot. From golf to tennis, pickleball to bocce ball, Duck Woods Country Club offers it all. Their 18-hole championship course was designed by the renowned architect, Ellis Maples. If you’re planning a wedding on the Outer Banks, the Country Club could be a great option to host your event at.
Parks: There is a soundfront park on North Dogwood Trail that provides panoramic water views and is ideal for picnics and family outings. Sea Oats Park, at the intersection of Hickory Trail and Hillcrest Drive has a playground, basketball half court and an open field for outdoor sports. Trinite Park, at the intersection of Trinite Trail and Chicahauk Trail has similar facilities. There is also a very good outdoor community tennis court located on Hillcrest Drive.
OB-Xscape Room: Do you enjoy a challenge, crave adventures, and thrive off thinking about a problem until you finally figure it out? OB-Xscape Rooms is for you! They have several different “rooms” to escape out of, so choosing one that fits your group won’t be hard. OB-Xscape is conveniently located in the Southern Shores Crossing shopping mall at the corner of NC Hwy. 12 and U.S. Route 158.
Shopping: Southern Shores is home to two shopping centers, The Marketplace and Southern Shores Crossing. Once crossing the Wright Memorial Bridge, The Marketplace is on the left. In addition to the Food Lion, there is a Starbucks and several great restaurant choices. Southern Shores Crossing is a bit more difficult to spot from the road. When heading north on NC Hwy. 12, it requires an immediate left hand turn once the sign comes into view, and there are several good reasons to drop by.
BEACH!: No one likes a crowded beach, and while none of the Outer Banks beaches are ever too crowded, Southern Shores offers a different type of beach experience. The Southern Shores beaches are wide, sandy and many are quite private. There are no public accesses to the beaches, and use of the beach is restricted to residents, renters and their guests who have beach parking permits.
Brief History of Southern Shores, NC
Southern Shores owes its existence to the vision of artist Frank Stick. From the early years of the 20th century until the 1920s, Stick was the preeminent illustrator for outdoor magazines. In a 2002 interview, his son, David, reminisced that by the mid-1920s, his father was tired of mentally creating unique cover art for magazines, so made the decision to move to the Outer Banks in 1929. Although he continued to create art for his own enjoyment, he rarely painted for commercial illustration again.
An ardent conservationist, Frank conceived the ideas of Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Wright Brothers Monument and the Fort Raleigh National Historic Site, and it was largely through his determination that they came into being.
When WWII ended, Frank recognized that returning soldiers would reenter civilian life, start families and want someplace to vacation. It was his opinion that the Outer Banks was the ideal location, and in 1947 he purchased 2,600 acres of barren beach and dense maritime forest for $30,000. That is slightly more than $11.50/acre. An unbelievable bargain by today’s standards–and even at the time it was considered a great value.
In 1948, the purchased land was sold by the lot with a basic vacation home for a cost of $12,000, that led to the creation of the Town of Southern Shores. What David understood, but a concept that had not been fully accepted by the other venture partners, was the greatest potential for development lay in the dense maritime forest and swamps west of the dunes. In the mid-1950s, David formed his own company to develop the soundside of Southern Shores.
At the time, there was only one primitive, sandy dirt road leading to the Currituck Sound, what is today East Dogwood Trail. Although the oceanside of Southern Shores contains some of the most beautiful beachfront properties on the Outer Banks, David’s vision of a residential community was realized once a stream of families began moving into the soundside development, and in 1979 the Town of Southern Shores incorporated as an independent municipality.
Where is Southern Shores?
Southern Shores is the first Outer Banks town you enter as you come across the Wright Memorial Bridge. Making a left hand turn onto Ocean Boulevard, also known as NC Hwy. 12, will lead into the heart of the town. If you veer right and continue on Route 158, it’ll take you into Kitty Hawk, Southern Shores’ neighboring town to the south.
Frequently Asked Questions
How far is Southern Shores from the other towns of the Outer Banks?
North To South:
- Southern Shores to Corolla — about 30 minutes
- Southern Shores to Duck — about 5 minutes
- Southern Shores to Kitty Hawk — about 10 minutes
- Southern Shores to Kill Devil Hills — about 15 minutes
- Southern Shores to Nags Head — about 25 minutes.
Please note: These times are estimations and could be longer based on seasonal traffic.
Is Southern Shores more residential, or commercialized?
Southern Shores is by far the most residential town in Dare County. The homes along Ocean Boulevard, Duck Road, Wax Myrtle Trail and Sea Oats Trail are highly concentrated with rental properties, while the remainder of the town is home to Outer Banks residents.
Are dogs allowed on the beach in Southern Shores?
Between May 15th and September 15th, dogs are only allowed on the beach between 6pm – 9am. Dogs must remain on a leash while on the beach, and you must 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 Southern Shores?
Driving on the beach is prohibited in Southern Shores.
Why Is It Called Southern Shores, NC?
Frank Stick had a vision for the oceanfront land on the Outer Banks of North Carolina but didn’t have the necessary funding to buy it himself. Upon developing the required partnerships to purchase the land that is now known as Southern Shores, he did so with the intention of building and creating a model oceanfront community that left the beauty of nature to be enjoyed by all who visited or relocated. Frank Stick was the one to come up with the Southern Shores name for the town, even though it isn’t exactly “southern” considering you turn north to get there!
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 Southern Shores?
Southern Shores is arguably the easiest town on the Outer Banks to navigate to if you’re traveling from the north. Essentially the moment your tires cross the other end of the Wright Memorial Bridge, you have arrived! What some may not know, is that contrary to what the name might suggest, you continue on to the north end of the barrier islands and you’re still in Southern Shores. If you’re driving to the OBX from the south or west, you will enter through Roanoke Island, which means you travel through Nags Head, Kill Devil Hills, and Kitty Hawk before you get to Southern Shores.