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Tails Wagging: The Most Pet-Friendly Spots in The Outer Banks, NC

The Outer Banks, a chain of barrier islands off the coast of North Carolina, is a nature wonderland filled with outdoor activities, breathtaking beaches, and exuberant wildlife. This treasure trove of adventures welcomes thousands of visitors all year round — and many of them have their furry companions by their side.

Sometimes, we know it’s hard to find pet-friendly spots when you are traveling with Fido in tow, but that’s not the case in the Outer Banks. Almost every beach in the region welcomes dogs for a day of adventure, and the same goes for parks and restaurants. All you need to do is respect the local rules and then immerse yourself in a day full of exploration and natural beauty.

If you’re planning a trip with your pet, this blog is for you. Below, we have curated some of the best pet-friendly places in the Outer Banks.

Are you ready for some paw-sitively good experiences? 

Historic Corolla Park

Nestled in the heart of Corolla and open to the public and leashed pets, this picturesque 39-acre park boasts unique attractions and vast green spaces for activities like biking, crabbing, and fishing. Pet owners love to explore the park’s manicured walking trails with pooch by their side, and then rest at picnic areas or waterfront benches amid the natural surroundings. 

Within the grounds lies Whalehead, a historic Art Nouveau-style mansion-turned-museum listed on the National Register of Historic Places, along with a historic boathouse that adds a touch of nostalgia to the secondary. Although dogs are not allowed inside the building, admiring the structure from outside is already worth it. 

Local Tip: As the day comes to an end, Historic Corolla Park offers some of the most stunning and picturesque sunsets in the Outer Banks. Don’t miss the chance to pack a picnic and witness the beauty firsthand accompanied by your furry companion. 

Wright Brothers National Memorial

Fun fact: Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kill Devil Hills, NC, is the site of the first successful airplane flight — you guessed it; by the Wright Brothers!

Visitors can view the exact spot where the flight began and ended. The area around the memorial comprises a vast green space where visitors can fly kites and enjoy outdoor activities with their furry companions, although they must be kept on a leash at all times.

There are plenty of walking paths for dogs to exercise, and a water station is available at the base of the monument if they need a break. Some grass areas may have sandburs, so be sure to check your dog’s paws after your visit.

The museum is not pet-friendly, but if you’re with a group, you can take turns visiting, which is a common practice among pet owners visiting the memorial.

Note: There’s an admission fee for adults, but children and dogs enter for free.

Jockey’s Ridge State Park

Located in Nags Head, North Carolina, and boasting the largest natural living sand dune on the East Coast, this 426-acre park offers two self-guided trails and fantastic year-round nature programs that you and your pooch can enjoy. Just note that pets must be on a leash no longer than six feet at all times.

The park is an ideal spot for kite flying, hang gliding, sandboarding, and catching breathtaking sunsets, providing sweeping views of the massive sand dunes against the backdrop of the ocean. 

There’s also one mile of hiking trails you can explore with your pooch. After all the action, picnic facilities are available for you to recharge your energy. For more information about the park, the visitor center houses a museum and a boardwalk with exhibits detailing the ecology of this natural wonder, complemented by information panels describing the diverse plant and animal life found in the dunes. However, dogs are not allowed inside the buildings.

Heads up! Because of hot temperatures and sand spurs, make sure to protect your dog’s paws when visiting the park.

Nags Head Woods Preserve

Encompassing one of the largest remaining maritime forests on the East Coast, Nags Head Woods Preserve offers visitors and their pets a unique opportunity to explore a diverse ecosystem spanning more than a thousand acres. From sand dunes to ponds, marshes, wetlands, towering oaks, hickories, and beech trees — it’s a total natural wonder hidden in plain sight.

Dogs are allowed to walk with their owners on seven different trails that wind through the preserve. They are more than welcome to explore the stunning natural surroundings as long as pet owners observe the B.A.R.K. principle:

B – Bag your pet’s waste.
A – Always keep them on a leash.
R – Respect wildlife.
K – Know where you can go.

Remember to bring water for you and your furry friend and take breaks to admire the quiet and wild landscapes along the way.

Outer Banks National Scenic Byway

What about a road trip with your furry companion? The Outer Banks National Scenic Byway is a pet-friendly journey down North Carolina’s Outer Banks. The trip consists of 138 miles on land and 25 miles by ferry.

On the way, you will pass through several coastal villages boasting their own attractions and charms. Without stops, the trip takes around five to six hours. However, we recommend you take it slowly, stopping at different locations for you and your pooch to enjoy the best of what the region has to offer.

There are many restaurants and places to stay along the road; just make sure they are pet-friendly before you walk in!

Elizabethan Gardens

Elizabeth Gardens is one of the most beautiful attractions in Manteo, NC. Its scenic gardens and peaceful corners are pet-friendly, but there are some requirements.

Besides being on a leash at all times, first-time visitors must bring proof of vaccinations and fill out a quick form upon arrival. Only one dog per adult is admitted in the gardens, and there’s a small dog fee.

It might sound a tad bothersome, doesn’t it? Yet, with just a little effort, the payoff is undeniable. Trust me, these gardens? Absolutely stunning!

Serene pathways connect to several stunning gardens such as the Rose Garden, Butterfly Garden, Ancient Live Oak, and the Camellia Collection. Each season brings different flowers and fragrances throughout the gardens, and beautiful sculptures adorn the space. This is a perfect spot for relaxation and visual delights that you and Fido will certainly love.

Dog-friendly Beaches in the Outer Banks

The Outer Banks beaches are extremely pet-friendly, making it easy for everyone to enjoy a vacation on its pristine shores. Just pay attention to the rules of each beach and clean after your pooch.

Here are the pet-friendly beaches you and your furry friend can have fun under the sun:

  • Corolla Beach: All year round, dogs are allowed on the beach but they need to be on leash. Corolla Beach is a unique spot in the Outer Banks where you can see wild Spanish mustangs roaming freely along the ocean shore.

    Besides the wild horses, you and your pooch can enjoy wide, clean rolling dunes and engage in a variety of activities like kayaking, and paddleboarding.

  • Duck Beach: Pets are welcome on all the beaches in Duck, and they don’t need to be on a leash, giving them the freedom to play on seven miles of warm sands. However, make sure to watch your pet closely and ensure that they behave well to keep the space safe for everyone.

  • Southern Shores: Before 9 AM and after 6 PM, from May 15th to September 15th, dogs on leashes are allowed on the beach. The leashes must be no longer than 10 feet and always remember to pick up your pet’s waste.

  • Kitty Hawk: Dogs are welcome on the beach, and if they are off-leash, you must stay within 30 feet of the dog and have a leash on hand in case of necessity. Also, they must display a current rabies tag. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, considered peak season in Kitty Hawk, dogs must be on a leash not exceeding 12 feet between 10 AM and 6 PM.

  • Kill Devil Hills: dogs on leash are allowed on the beach, except during peak season (from Memorial Day to Labor Day). During this time, only service dogs are allowed between 9 AM and 6 PM.

  • Cape Hatteras National Seashore: Dogs are welcome year-round as long as they are leashed.

Pet-friendly restaurants in the OBX

While on vacation with pets in tow, there’s nothing better than enjoying a meal without the stress of having to leave them alone. Here’s a selection of great pet-friendly restaurants in the Outer Banks:

  • Mulligan’s Grille, Nags Head: this is a go-to restaurant if you have dogs in tow since they provide a menu specially catered to Fido. Dogs receive a complimentary bowl of water; the options on the menu are grilled hamburger or chicken breast accompanied by brown or plain rice.

  • Sweet T’s Coffee, Beer & Wine, Duck: dogs are welcome on their two pet-friendly outdoor decks as well as inside. Enjoy delicious bites and a selection of over 200 beers.

  • Ortega’z Southwest Grill, Manteo: located on a former gas station, pets are allowed on their covered porch. This is one of the most popular restaurants in Manteo serving amazing fajitas and nachos. 

  • Steamers Restaurant, Southern Shores: their pet-friendly covered deck with ocean views is the perfect place for savoring fresh seafood. Here, your pooch is welcomed with a fresh bowl of water.

Wondering where to stay with your furry companion in the Outer Banks, NC?

Booking your stay with Village Realty means staying in one of our exceptional, handpicked homes, including some great pet-friendly rental options.

From the oceanfront to the sound front, we offer outstanding OBX vacation rentals from South Nags Head to Corolla.

Our number one priority? Your ultimate comfort and happiness. Our local staff will always go the extra mile to make sure you and your family have a special vacation in OBX.

Staying with us, all you have to care about is letting the coastal beauty whisk you away – and you can rest assured it will!

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