Things to Do in the Winter in Cape Hatteras

Things to Do in the Winter in Cape Hatteras

Are you ready to take an exciting trip to Cape Hatteras during the off-season? Avoid the crowds and have plenty of time and space to do what you please with numerous Outer Banks winter activities. Here are six popular things to do in the OBX off-season.

1. Visiting Historical Sites

The Cape Hatteras area offers numerous historical sites and museums to visit during the off-season. These locations will likely have fewer people, making it easier for you to go at your leisure. Some of these things to do in the Outer Banks in winter include:

  • Cape Hatteras Light Station: The Cape Hatteras Light Station is a focal point for this area. You can visit the lighthouse keeper's quarters, a museum and a gift shop. The grounds are open year-round, with climbs available when listed online.
  • Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum: This museum is open year-round and offers several things to do. It has free admission and encourages donations, making it a low-cost activity for the family. Watch the shipwreck video, shop for unique gifts and view the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse lens on-site.
  • Chicamacomico Lifesaving Station: Visit this historical site to see two authentic lifesaving stations and several outbuildings. You can see a museum, view exhibits and shop for locally-crafted gifts. Museum tours run on weekdays. They also host seasonal events and reenactments, which you can find on their website.
  • Wright Brothers National Memorial: The Wright Brothers National Museum is open year-round. See the visitor's center, look at launching and landing points and view museums on the property.
  • National Wildlife Refuges Visitor Center: For an indoor activity, you can visit this visitor center to view interactive exhibits, take a virtual airplane trip, visit the Dare Forest Supply Store and explore exhibits. You can also meander the trail through the woods behind the building.
  • Outer Banks Scenic Byway: Drive across the scenic byway to see plenty of coastal landscapes, wildlife preserves and lighthouses and stop in small towns and villages along the way. There are 138 miles to drive.

Whether you want to explore these or find your own, walking through the remnants of the past is an ideal thing to do in Hatteras when it rains or is too cold to be outside. 

2. Trying In-Season Food and Unique Restaurants

Although Cape Hatteras and the Outer Banks are popular summer destinations, many restaurants stay open all year round to give you a sampling of the local cuisine. Popular establishments include:

  • Waverider's Coffee Deli & Pub
  • Food Dudes Kitchen
  • The Kill Devil Grill
  • The Blue Point
  • Hurricane Mo's
  • Noosa Beach Grille

With a wide selection to choose from, you can eat everything from Southern comfort foods to seafood, Mexican and several fusion options.

3. Attending the Shuck Hatteras Oyster Festival

This year marked the first-ever Shuck Hatteras celebration of community, food and music. This winter festival in OBX starts around December 16 with music and food from Cousin's Oysters. The event then continues all weekend with the Merry Muse Market, offering arts and crafts made by local vendors.

Throughout the day, there will be an Oyster Cook-Off Challenge followed by an all-you-can-eat oyster roast! Other activities include a 50/50 raffle, live music, children's games, a horseshoe tournament and dinner options from Chicamacomico Lifesaving Station BBQ.

KOA hosts the Shuck Hatteras event, and with proof of staying at the campground, you will receive a discount on ticket prices.

4. Viewing WinterLights at Elizabethan Gardens

The Elizabethan Gardens sits near the original site of the first English settlement, Roanoke Island. While this is a stellar attraction throughout the year, it has become one of the top Cape Hatteras winter activities.

During November through January, you can walk around the gardens in the evening to see beautiful winter lights, holiday decor and food. Elizabethan Gardens also provides an open-air fire, seasonal gift shop, face painting, Santa visits, live music, outdoor movies and plant sales during the event.

5. Trying Winter Fishing in OBX

Charter a fishing boat or head to the pier for winter fishing, a favorite pastime in the off-season of the Outer Banks. Choose between half and full-day trips that allow you to relax and catch all the in-season fish from November to March. In-season fish include:

  • Trout
  • Sea bass
  • Bluefish
  • Bluefin tuna
  • Oysters
  • Striped bass
  • Bay scallops
  • Flounder
  • Grouper
  • Speckled trout
  • Snapper

You can try offshore, inshore and surf fishing throughout the winter. All you need is a license and gear, and you are ready to go.

6. Walking, Driving and Exploring the Beach

Whether you are not a fan of crowded beaches or prefer cooler temperatures to summer heat, winter is an excellent time to explore Cape Hatteras and Outer Banks beaches. Bring your binoculars and cameras for a chance to see some unique birds, wildlife and scenery. You may also have a better chance of finding interesting shells since there are far fewer crowds in winter.

Plus, if you own or rent a four-wheel drive vehicle, you could also drive around on the accessible beaches. If you are feeling adventurous, you might even find that winter is the best time to attempt water sports, another popular thing to do in the OBX off-season. However, you might want to wear a wet suit! 

Enjoy Winter Events in Cape Hatteras and Stay at Cape Hatteras / Outer Banks KOA Resort

Are you excited to explore Cape Hatteras at your own pace during the off-season? Enjoy some oysters, shopping and historical sites with a comfortable and cozy place to come back to with Cape Hatteras / Outer Banks KOA Resort.

The campground has direct beach access and amazing rentals for winter-time activities in the Outer Banks area. Choose to stay in a Vacation Rental for amenities like a bath and shower, cable TV and kitchen. You can also relax in one of the Deluxe Cabins for a rustic feel that allows you and your family or friends to have a great place to recharge.

Stay cozy at a Vacation Rental or Deluxe Cabin at the Cape Hatteras / Outer Banks KOA Resort this winter or take advantage of the Shuck Hatteras deal for staying one night and get the second half off!

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