mid-atlantic coast

Mid-Atlantic Coast Featured Destination:

The Outer Banks
North Carolina

Besides sun-seeking vacationers, North Carolina's Outer Banks have attracted an interesting lot, including early colonist Sir Walter Raleigh, Blackbeard the pirate and the Wright Brothers, inventors of human flight.

The brothers could have been inspired by the hundreds of birds that flock to North Carolina's barrier islands and coasts, conveniently situated on a major avian flyway known as the Atlantic Flyway. Coastal birds like terns, black skimmers and oystercatchers find their way to Cape Hatteras National Seashore to nest and enjoy the beach waters brimming with seafood.

The nation's first national seashore provides a safe haven for 360 of these shorebirds and preserves unspoiled stretches of the barrier islands, shaped by wind waves and dynamic storms. It's also not a bad place to go windsurfing, searching for seashells or climb to the top of the historic Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, the East Coast's tallest lighthouse at 208 feet.

Best Time to Visit:

Most services at the Cape Hatteras National Seashore are available April through October and this seems to fit with the seasonal flow of the rest of the islands and coast. The spring brings great bird watching and fall brings the best windsurfing and kiteboarding as winds pick up. Summer is the busiest time of year.

What to Do:

There is no shortage of wildlife watching on the Outer Banks. Head to the southernmost barrier island, Harkers Island, to see the wild horses of Shackleford Banks. Cape Lookout National Seashore is home to over 100 mustangs brought to these shores 400 years ago. Tread lightly down existing horse trails until you spot a stallion taking a sip from a pond. There is also plenty more bird watching to be done at the Cedar Island National Wildlife Refuge at the southern end of Pamlico Sound, outside Beaufort, N.C., or the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge in Nags Head. Both are safe havens for ducks, wading birds and shorebirds. Get Directions

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