The five lighthouses along the Outer Banks are among the most famous landmarks to visit along the NC coast! If you haven’t seen them all up-close (or if it’s been a while), we encourage you to visit each one soon. We have a great itinerary for you to enjoy a road trip along the OBX that includes a stop at each lighthouse.
We recommend an early start and visiting the northernmost lighthouses in one day and traveling down Hatteras Island on another day to see the southernmost lighthouses. This way, you can take your time, enjoy the views, and visit businesses and restaurants in each area at your own pace. Weather can also impact your experience. If possible, pick a lower-wind day for the best experience.
The Currituck Beach Lighthouse, Bodie Island Lighthouse, and Cape Hatteras Lighthouse are typically open daily for climbing from mid-March through December. For safety, be mindful of height requirements, and small children (age three and under) may be in a secured carrier for the climb. You’ll want to purchase tickets in advance for Bodie Island and Cape Hatteras Lighthouse.
View from the top of the Currituck Lighthouse
Head south down NC-12 and US-158 to Roanoke Island and the quaint but lively former fishing village of Manteo, to the Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse on Shallowbag Bay. Parking near the waterfront in Manteo is easily accessible, and the walk to the lighthouse is short. This lovely example of an inland waterway lighthouse makes for a picturesque photo spot and is the smallest of the OBX lighthouses. Here, you can tour the lighthouse and surrounding area. Take a break from sightseeing and enjoy lunch at Poor Richard’s, Avenue Grill, or Olives Greek Kitchen on the waterfront before your next stop!
Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse
Bodie Island Lighthouse is an easy drive from Manteo and boasts perhaps our favorite view of the Outer Banks. This lighthouse climb is similar to Currituck Beach Lighthouse, with just over 200 steps. You can see miles of coastline and gorgeous views of the surrounding sounds from the top.
Every great day at the beach starts with a good breakfast! Fuel up for this adventure with a meal at Grits Grill before heading south. The drive on NC-12 to Hatteras is beautiful! From Nags Head, it can take an hour and a half to reach the famous Cape Hatteras Lighthouse in Buxton, NC. As you travel down the island, plan to stop at the Hatteras Toy Store for a shopping experience that will surely make the kids smile!
Cape Hatteras Lighthouse moved to its current location in 1999 and is undergoing restoration, and may be closed for climbing until June 2022. Check their website for updates, and don’t forget to purchase your ticket early on the day you visit. Be prepared for more steps to climb here–257 to the top of the tallest sandstone brick lighthouse in the United States.
Cape Hatteras Lighthouse
Grab a snack or lunch from Connor’s Supermarket and take advantage of their selection of take-and-go treats or choose from daily deli specials. From Buxton, drive through Frisco to the Hatteras-to-Ocracoke Island ferry terminal to hit the last lighthouse on your tour. Ocracoke is a destination, and the Ocracoke Lighthouse is one of the most popular island attractions. Accessible by air or water, you’ll take a free ferry over to this beautiful island. Be mindful of the ferry schedule to spend as much time as possible in Ocracoke before your return to the terminal and the trip back to Hatteras. Local tip: ferry traffic is lighter on weekdays.
Ocracoke is an unspoiled place to enjoy nature and scenery you won’t see elsewhere on the NC coast. Stop for a bite at Eduardo’s Taco Stand in the village before exploring Ocracoke and heading toward the lighthouse. Not open for climbing, you’ll still want to see the second-oldest operating lighthouse in the nation and take advantage of photo ops on the grounds.
We can help you plan a vacation to experience these landmarks and take in unforgettable views of the Outer Banks! Village Realty is proud to manage over 700 vacation rentals from Corolla to Nags Head. We have something to fit your family size, from smaller condos to larger homes. We also offer oceanfront rentals, soundfront rentals, and pet-friendly rentals. Book your Outer Banks vacation today; we would be delighted to welcome you to the beach!