12 Greatest Things To Do In Nags Head With Kids

For travelers looking for the best things to do in Nags Head with kids, we’ve got you covered! Nags Head is one of the most popular towns in the Outer Banks. (And for good reason) You will find yourself not wanting to leave this beautiful little beach town.

Let’s get started!

aerial photo of nags head, sandy beach, pier, homes, and marsh

FAQ’s About Nags Head, North Carolina

Does Nags Head Have A Boardwalk?

No, Nags Head does not have a boardwalk. They do have three piers though.

What Is Nags Head Known For?

Nags Head is best known for being the home of the largest naturally formed sand dune on the east coast.

Is Nags Head Good For Solo Travel Moms?

Totally! The Outer Banks are safe. We never experienced any situations that felt dangerous or like we shouldn’t be there.

12 Greatest Things To Do In Nags Head With Kids

Jockeys Ridge State Park

Visiting Jockeys Ridge State Park is one of the best things to do in Nags Head with kids. Great for travelers of all ages, Jockeys Ridge State Park should be on your list of things to do in the Outer Banks. Legend says that this state park got its name from the fact that early inhabitants would use the flat areas between dunes to raise ponies. However, today it is used mostly for hang gliding as opposed to horse racing.

If you have ever wanted to hang glide, here’s your chance! You can take lessons and try your hand at the sport in the park. There arent many places in the United States that are better for hang gliding than Jockey’s Ridge. One of the best parts about this state park is that it’s free! This is one of the reasons why it is the most popular state park in North Carolina.

Scientists believe that hurricanes and winds have built up the dunes over time leading to the tallest natural sand dune on the east coast. They have estimated that there are around 30 million tons of sand in the dune system. If you are traveling with dogs, they are welcome in the park! Make the most of your time spent in Nags Head by going sandboarding, flying a kite, or watching the sunrise over the dunes.

large sand dunes in jockeys ridge state park, one of the best things to do in nags head

Nags Head Woods

If you are looking for free things to do in Nags Head with kids, consider traveling to the Nags Head Woods. Technically, in Kill Devil Hills, Nags Head Woods is just a short drive from Jockey’s Ridge. Spend about eight minutes on the road and you will find yourself in this beautiful nature preserve.

The preserve has seven trails you can choose from. Most trails range from .25 miles to 2.25 miles and are ranked easy to moderate. However, there is one more strenuous hike that is 3.75 miles, the Blueberry Ridge Trail. There is also s ADA Trail that is a .5 mile loop around a pond and a maritime swamp forest.

wooden bridge over water in nature preserve, nags head woods preserve

Eat At Sam + Omie’s

Nags Head is home to some of the very best restaurants in the Outer Banks. One of the oldest can be found in Nags Head, Sam & Omie’s. It was founded in 1937 so a visit to Sam & Omie’s is more than just a meal, it’s a trip back in time.

It was originally called Sambo’s and was very popular among commercial fishermen. The name changed to Sam & Omie’s to include Sams’s son in the name. You can find the restaurant across the road from Jenette’s Pier. They offer breakfast, lunch, and dinner, serving up classic American fare, southeastern foods, coastal cuisine, and of course delicious desserts like key lime pie and banana pudding. Trying traditional southern cuisine is among the best things to do in Nags Head with kids!

key lime pie on plate

You can find the Seaside Art Gallery on South Virginia Dare Trail in Nags Head, NC next to the Morning View Coffee House. You can spend some time in the morning exploring the gallery before going over to the coffee house before you start your day exploring the gorgeous town of Nags Head.

You will want to check their website before heading to Nags Head as they hold art shows throughout the year and you may be able to catch one while you’re visiting the Outer Banks. If you are wanting something beyond the typical souvenir of a keychain or t-shirt, you will love shopping at the Seaside Art Gallery.

It’s an opportunity to bring back something from the Outer Banks that is memorable and a conversation starter. You can find artwork from the coastal parts of North Carolina as well artwork that showcases inland NC beauty. Whether it is a painting of a bald eagle, a playing bobcat, or the sand dunes in Jockey’s Ridge, a piece of art from the gallery would be something that you talked about for many years to come.

ocean artwork

Run Hill State Natural Area

This is another attraction that is technically in Kill Devil Hills, but is only a few minutes by car from some of the most popular Nags Head attractions, so are you going to want to be sure to check out this site when in northern Nags Head. Run Hill State Natural Area is basically like a mini Jockey’s Ridge State Park.

If you are visiting the Outer Banks during peak times of the year, you may find that Jockey’s Ridge is much too crowded, depending on what time of day you visit. At the Run Hill State Natural Area, you can get an excellent view of Buzzard Bay which opens up into the Albemarle Sound.

Run Hill is an active and migrating dune system like Jockey’s Ridge State Park but it is much smaller. Jockey’s Ridge is 420 acres while Run Hill is only 123 acres. You won’t find a visitors center, amenities, or marked trails at this location. So, if you’re wanting a less crowded and more natural experience, you may want to try Run Hill over Jockey’s Ridge.

foot prints in sand dunes

Grab Some Coffee From Front Porch Cafe

Spend some time in the morning sun at Front Porch Cafe. Grab yourself a big cup of coffee and chow down on some mouthwatering goodness from Front Porch Cafe. You can find stuffed croissants, turnovers, cinnamon rolls, muffins, bagels, and more at this tasty little cafe, making it one of the best things to do in Nags Head with kids.

One of the cool things about this cafe is that it is a bit of a shopping opportunity as well. They have books, tea, OBX travel mugs, and wine. This is a great place to buy something to take home with you from your time spent in Nags Head. It’s always great to support local businesses when you travel and at this cafe, you will be doing just that as their coffees are provided to them from a local source, Kill Devil Coffee. You can grab a bag of coffee to take home with you as well!

fruit muffin and chocolate muffin on a tray

First Flight Adventure Park

When looking for fun things to do in Nags Head with kids, you won’t want to miss the First Flight Adventure Park. This is an exciting attraction that has 14 ziplines and 50 obstacles. You will climb high, test your balance, soar through the air, and challenge yourself in the adventure park. For those who aren’t physically active, there are easier courses for you; there’s something for everyone!

There are some restrictions that you should know about. Participants have to be six years old and at least 3’9″ to take part. If any participants are less than five feet, then they have to be accompanied by someone who is taller than five feet. You also must weigh less than 250 pounds. If you have kids who want to go on the course, but you don’t, you have the option to hire a buddy to go with them. (This has to be reserved ahead of time.)

Go Dolphin-Watching

One way to enjoy a day in Nags Head is with a dolphin tour. You can book a tour through Nags Head Dolphin Watch. They have a location on the Nags Head Causeway and South Nags Head. The tours are run by biologists and you will be able to see how the researchers with Outer Banks Center For Dolphin Research perform their work.

There are some dolphins that are regularly seen on these tours that have been in the area for a couple of decades. You will get loads of fun information during your tour. There are opportunities to see not only dolphins, but Osprey, Pelicans, and other wildlife on your tour. If you are traveling with young kids, they will love to see these beautiful creatures in the wild!

dolphins jumping out of water

Outer Banks Fishing Pier

The Outer Banks fishing pier is arguably the best pier on the Outer Banks. One of the things that make this pier so great is that they have a boating center. You can rent pontoons and outboards and be the captain for the day with a rental from the pier.

Another reason this is such an amazing pier is that there is a restaurant at the beginning of the pier called Fish Heads Bar & Grill. It is without a doubt one of the best restaurants in the Outer Banks. We love their loaded nachos! If you get the opportunity to stop by Fish Heads during your time spent in the Outer Banks, make sure you take the opportunity because it is one of the best things to do in Nags Head with kids!

people fishing on a pier in nags head
Source: travelview / Shutterstock.com

Bodie Island Lighthouse

When you find yourself looking for cheap things to do in Nags Head with kids, consider visiting the Bodie Island Lighthouse. The name is pronounced like “body” because it is said that the name comes from all the bodies that would wash onshore from the horrific shipwrecks in the Graveyard of The Atlantic.

Although Cape Hatteras Lighthouse may be the most recognizable of the lighthouses in the Outer Banks, Bodie Island Lighthouse is in the most beautiful location. There are stunning marshlands around the lighthouse and a wooden boardwalk that take you out over them. The boardwalk leads up to an elevated observation deck where you can get otherworldly views of the lighthouse, the coastal marshes, and the surrounding area.

You won’t want to miss this Nags Head attraction!

one of the most popular lighthouses in the outer banks and overall, one of the best things to do in nags head.

Rent Jet Skis From Nags Head Watersports

There’s no better way to add some fun and excitement to your list of things to do in Nags Head with kids than to get out on the water with the help of Nags Head Watersports. You can find jet skis that are one, two, and three seats so if you are a mom traveling with two young kids, you are covered!

Nags Head Watersports also has stand-up paddleboard and kayak rentals. The kayaks are small and narrow, only having enough space for one or two people. You can paddle through the sound, go fishing from your kayak, simply enjoy the peacefulness of the environment, or maybe practice your photography skills while you are in such a beautiful area.

As you can tell, Nags Head Watersports is not a one-trick pony. Other than jet skis and paddle vessels, you can also rent a pontoon and make a day full of fun in sound or you can go parasailing. Two or three people can be lifted up behind the boat and be gifted with the most insane views of the Outer Banks!

jet ski going through the water

Jennette’s Pier

When looking for things to do in Nags Head with kids, you’ll want to check out this beautiful fishing pier! Jennette’s Pier was built in 1939 and is the oldest pier in the Outer Banks. It has been battered around and rebuilt many times throughout its life. Hurricane Isabel knocked the pier down in 2003 and it was built back stronger than ever. It’s now without a doubt the prettiest pier in the OBX.

The fact that Jennette’s Pier was one of the first fishing piers built in the Outer Banks and that it now has the prettiest appearance of any pier on the barrier islands, makes it a very popular spot in Nags Head. For those traveling with kids, you will enjoy this pier a bit more than the other ones on the Outer Banks because it has an educational center and a little aquarium in the pier house.

You can see check out the Ocean Classroom and the Giants Of The Sea Exhibit which has some of the region’s largest trophy-mounted catches. The beaches around Jennette’s Pier have soft sand, free parking, bathrooms, outdoor showers, a stabilizing beach mat for wheelchairs, a lifeguard on duty, and more! If you have been wanting to find the best beach in Nags Head, you’ve found it.

Jennette’s Pier towards the end of the day, waves rolling in, one of the best things to do in nags head nc

After learning about some of the best things to do in Nags Head with kids, what do you think? Are you ready for your Outer Banks trip? What will you do first?

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