“We know what it means to feel over-extended, to be raising a family, running a household, managing a career (and all simultaneously) . . .. We know what it means to be aging gracefully and with intention. And, we believe . . . There is time for this.”—Outerbanksyoga.com
This is part two of a travel series regarding the Kitty Hawk area of the Outer Banks (OBX), North Carolina. In this piece, I will focus on tourist attractions and dining establishments that my daughter, Madelyn, one of her friends, Tatum, and me discovered and enjoyed last summer.
My family and I love traveling! My daughter, Maddie, spent a good portion of her summers, spring breaks, and sometimes, even holidays, on the road traveling with my husband, John, and me. We have traveled as far west as Colorado/Wyoming area, as far north/east as Prince Edward Island, Canada, and as far south as Florida. That said, one of our often-repeated travel destinations is OBX, NC.
As I explained in my last piece, this love affair with the OBX began around 40 years ago with my first visit as a teen with my parents, siblings, and grandparents. Over the years, the OBX has grown in popularity and expanded in scope/size. Thus, I do not get there as often as I once did, but it is still a great spot for a vacation get-away as we were reminded.
Last summer (2018), I returned to the OBX for the first time in several years. John was spending time in Canada fishing, so Maddie, and one of her friend from college, Tatum, and I left the Tri-State area early one Saturday morning. While it is less than a nine-hour trip without stops, we planned to drive easy, stopping every two–three hours. Therefore, we allotted about ten hours of drive time.
Thankfully, we made good time, and arrived earlier than planned—leaving us with plenty of time to unload, unpack, stow away perishables, and still managed to get to the beach for a couple of hours. I made the executive decision, that while this was a budget-friendly trip with most meals eaten in the cottage, we were splurging that first night on dinner at one of my OBX favorite restaurants, the Black Pelican, Waterfront Café. With an extensive menu–that includes both gluten-free and vegetarian options, plenty of fresh seafood-based dishes, and a wood-fired pizza oven—this eatery has something for every taste! Additionally, Black Pelican offers a kids’ menu, and all kids’ meals are served on a Black Pelican Frisbee. (Maddie used to own several of these Frisbees when she was young from our annual summer visits.) Our food, as usual, was amazing, and the service was outstanding!
The food, as pictured here, at the Black Pelican is always delicious with plenty of gluten-free and vegetarian/vegan options too!
Another restaurant, a bit closer to the house in which we stayed, that I tried and immensely enjoyed, was Vilai Thai Kitchen. I ordered take-out from there on a night that Maddie and Tatum also grabbed take-out from Subway after they spent an afternoon shopping. Once inside this charming eatery, the menu blew me away! In fact, Vilai’s describes their vast menu offerings as, “Thai with fresh OBX twists.” With plenty of sushi options; traditional Thai dishes; seafood, pork, chicken, beef, and/or noodle-based dishes; as well as numerous vegetarian and gluten-free options, there are plenty of options for all diners as I soon discovered. My meal, Vegetarian Pad Thai, by the way, was delicious and quite generous!
Vilai’s Thai Kitchen was a cozy restaurant within blocks of our vacation cottage. I ordered take-out and dumped my dish in a bowl before remembering to photograph. It was actually artfully arranged in the take carton before I messed it all up!
Later that week, in honor of July 4, we decided to visit both the Wright Brothers National Memorial and Jockey’s Ridge State Park. What a day we enjoyed! The WBNM is part of the National Park Service. While there, we were able to enjoy an interpretive tour of the story of the Wright Brothers with special emphasis on their time in NC. Afterwards, we made the long walk to the Wright Brothers National Memorial—commemorating their first successful airplane flight on December 17, 1903.
The Wright Brothers National Memorial is a national treasure for all; and, in case you didn’t notice a great place to play around with the camera! Click on each picture to enlarge.
Breath-taking views from the top of the WBNM from land to sea. Click on each picture to enlarge!
Next, we drove a little further down to road to Jockey’s Ridge State Park, home of the tallest active sand dune system in the eastern U.S. This park covers 426-acres, and it is the most visited of all NC state parks. It’s no wonder it is so appealing to visitors. Jockey’s Ridge is filled with places to walk/explore, hand glide, ride ATVs, camp, and even go sand-sledding. Plus, we can attest to the view from the top of the highest dune—just spectacular—especially when we were visiting due to the clear, bright skies. Both WBNM and Jockey’s Ridge are definitely worth the time to visit when staying at the OBX.
Cooling down and goofing off, just a bit, in the parking lot of Jockey’s Ridge before we began our hike all around this natural wonder!
Learning the science and history of the dune before trekking all around this marvel.
The views from the top are so worth the hike in the hot afternoon sun, and they were a bit inspiring as well! (The right angles of triangle pose, and the rootedness of tree pose are in strong contradiction to the soft, shifting lines of the sand of Jockey’s Ridge.)
After an afternoon filled with walking, climbing, and exploring, we were ready for a good dinner! Maddie and Tatum chose Plaza Azteca. Described as, Mexican, Southwestern, Vegetarian and Vegan Friendly on Tripadvisor, it seemed like the perfect spot for all of us. We noshed our way through chips, salsa, and freshly made guacamole while spending time chatting with our waitress. I wish I could remember her name, but she was a young college student from one of the European countries staying in NC on a student visa. She described to us with great awe the overwhelming abundance she was experiencing while staying in NC. Ultimately, she knew she would not remain in the US; however, she did not wish to return to her home country either because of the social restrictions on women and unrest. Bottom line, while the food at Plaza Azteca was unbelievably delicious with abundant portions, our conversation with this friendly student was a real-eye-opener to how much all of us take for granted as Americans.
This meal was so delicious, especially after all the walking/hiking we completed on that afternoon/evening.
Our waitress, pictured between Tatum and Maddie, was a delightful, curious, and friendly young college student who opened our eyes to the abundance of our country, ironically on July 4.
One of my favorite daily spots to visit while staying in Kitty Hawk was Outer Banks Yoga and Pilates Studio–only two-three blocks from the cottage in which we were staying. Offering, both yoga and Pilates mat classes, as well beach yoga, and more, I found this studio to be a beautiful place of restoration, renewal, and relaxation. The weekly beach yoga class was a one-of-kind experience for me, and the staff at the studio, and beach location, was knowledgeable, sensitive, and encouraging. This is one yoga studio I hope to make a return visit one day!
Images from OBX Yoga, “There is (was) time for this,” whether in their beautiful studio or enjoying one of their unique beach classes.
Anne Howard, Manager and Director of Yoga Teacher Training, at the Amalam School of Yoga at Outer Banks Yoga, was a unique, creative, and sincere yoga teacher from whom I had the pleasure of taking two of her classes during my stay at the OBX. I highly recommend this studio!
Finally, I would miss amiss if I did not mention the Tanger Outlets in nearby Nags Head, NC. While Maddie and Tatum spent two-three afternoons at the discount mecca, I only visited it once, as I am not a big shopper. That said, I did find some real bargains, (like 75% off name brand leather bags and clothing). Therefore, I was certainly glad the girls convinced me to go shopping with them.
All in all, I still love the OBX! It has changed dramatically since my teens, but at its heart, it is still the same sweet sand, ocean dunes, and waves. As the damp chill of February continues this week, maybe you’ll take time to plan your summer vacation. If so, be sure to consider the OBX, NC as a potential spot for your next beach adventure; and tell them, Stephsimply sent you!
From my family to yours, I wish you safe, budget-friendly, and relaxing travels for your next upcoming trip!