Finding free things to do on the Outer Banks is easy! We’ve got some top ideas right here. You don’t have to spend a fortune entertaining your friends and family during your Outer Banks vacation. One of the many great things about the Outer Banks is how many free activities there are to enjoy. It’s easy to entertain your family with free Outer Banks activities. We’ve come up with a list of the top free things to do on the Outer Banks that you’ll love.

Go to The Beach

The biggest reason why people come to the Outer Banks? Our gorgeous beaches. The Outer Banks is home to some of the most beautiful free beaches in the country. This is why spending your day at the beach is number one on our list of free things to do on the Outer Banks. You can see how to make the most of an Outer Banks beach day here. As long as you have a cooler packed with water and snacks and have layered on some sunscreen, the beach is one of the best free things to do on the Outer Banks. It costs $0.00 to have a great beach day and create memories that will last a lifetime with your friends and family.

OBX beach days are the best...and they're free!

Climb Jockey’s Ridge

Want to get some exercise in as well as learn about some seriously cool OBX history all for free? Explore the tallest natural living dune in the Eastern United States at Jockey’s Ridge on the Outer Banks. Jockey’s Ridge State Park and climbing the dune are completely free activities. Enjoy the views from the top of the dunes. With views of the ocean towards the east and views of the sound in the west, you get a unique view of the Outer Banks…all for free! Just make sure you bring plenty of water and snacks if you’re planning on playing for a while.

A climb up Jockey's Ridge is not only a free Outer Banks activity, it's also great exercise!

Search for Seashells & Beach Glass

Take home treasures from the sea and search for shells and beach glass! The best time to look for beautiful beach glass and shells is right after a storm early in the morning. Take advantage of the summer thunderstorms and go beachcombing when the weather clears. Who knows, you might find something special that’s for free and arguably better than what you’d find at an OBX souvenir shop!

Sea glass are some of the most beautiful free treasures you can find on the Outer Banks.

Explore Downtown Manteo

Downtown Manteo is full of history and beauty. Located just 10 minutes south of Nags Head, Manteo is the perfect town to walk around and explore. Take a stroll on the waterfront docks and enjoy the view of the Albemarle and Croatan Sounds. In Manteo, you’ll have the option to head over to Roanoke Island Festival Park. While the park itself does require admission, there’s a soundside walking path that’s free and open to the public. There are also free events that happen during the spring and summer months in Manteo. Exploring downtown Manteo is up there on our Outer Banks free things-to-do list!

Ride Bikes for Free on the Outer Banks

The OBX is full of safe paths for bikers and walkers alike. From Duck to Nags Head and, you can ride along the beach road. As you pedal, you’ll be able to check out all of the different little local shops and eateries. Park at one of the public beach accesses for a break and a view! There’s also a bike path in Manteo that takes you from one end of the island to the other. Plus, if you rent a participating home with Resort Realty, you’ll be able to get free beach gear credit! You can put that credit towards bike rentals for your family if you don’t want to bring your own. Read more about that right here.

Hunt for Outer Banks Ghost Crabs

Take part in an Outer Banks beach must; ghost crabbing! Ghost crabs sometimes scurry around during the day but they really thrive at night when the beaches are quieter. Grab the family, some dark clothing, and flashlights, and begin your “hunt”. Ghost crabs freeze when a bright light is shining on them so that gives you a chance to check them out up close and personal! Just don’t poke, prod, or attempt to harm them. They’re still a part of the Outer Banks’ ecosystem and they will try to poke you back! Learn more about hunting ghost grabs here.

Ride the Ferry for Free

Take the day and ride the free ferry from Cape Hatteras to Ocracoke! The ferry ride from Hatteras to Ocracoke typically takes 40-45 minutes depending on the weather and runs every 30 minutes from both sides. During your ferry ride, you’ll have the opportunity for some pretty sweet photo opportunities and sightseeing. The ferry sails over the Pamlico Sound where you can see miles of water! Once the ferry stops, adventure the towns of Ocracoke or Hatteras, depending on where you got on!

Head to the free Downtown Market

The Downtown Market happens every Saturday from 8 AM to 1 PM from May to September. Take a stroll downtown and discover homemade goods, homegrown produce, and more. Local artists sell their works and live music is played sometimes as well. Going to the Farmer’s Market is completely free so you don’t have to spend any money unless you see something really beautiful (or really tasty) that you want to take home with you.

Visit the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge

Learn more about the different wildlife refuges all over the country at the Coastal North Carolina National Wildlife Refuges Gateway Visitor Center. This center located in Manteo is 100% free! The National Wildlife Refuges Visitor Center represents nine different wildlife refuges and one national fish hatchery. With interactive exhibits and audio-visual programs like a virtual airplane ride, you can learn more about national refuge centers and their importance!

The Alligator River Wildlife Refuge is a free learning center in Manteo on the Outer Banks.

See the Catch of the Day

Take a trip down to Oregon Inlet Fishing Center or over to Pirate’s Cove Marina and watch the boats come in after a long day of fishing. Watch the catches of the day being unloaded off the boats and even see who had the best day of fishing!

Watching the catch of the day come in is an exciting, free thing to do during your Outer Banks vacation! See where local seafood comes from right off the boat.
Top 10 free things to do on the Outer Banks of North Carolina.
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