Three Outer Banks Parks for the Whole Family

Sandy Run Park in Kitty Hawk is an ideal place for a family to introduce children to nature.
Sandy Run Park in Kitty Hawk is an ideal place for a family to introduce children to nature.

The Outer Banks prides itself in being a family oriented place for a family to visit and there is a lot for the whole family to do while here.

There are the obvious things…going to the beach, checking out the Wright Brothers Memorial, Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge on Hatteras Island.

Sometimes though, it’s the small things that make a place special and the Outer Banks does that well too. Especially the town and county parks that often offer a break from the regular vacation things to do.

Here are three Outer Banks parks, all of them absolutely suitable for families

Whalehed Club, Corolla
The Whalehead Club seems to have something for the whole family.
The Whalehead Club seems to have something for the whole family.

The Whalehead Club, which is part of Currituck County Heritage Park, isn’t so much a park as it is a place to visit.

With a large, expansive lawn kids can run until they drop; the setting is exquisite so Mom and Dad can spend some time just enjoying the view.

Lots of activities here too, with a tour of the Whalehead Club available, the Outer Banks Center for Wildlife Education is a wonderful small museum and of course Currituck Beach Lighthouse begs to be climbed.

Sandy Run, Kitty Hawk

Located on the Woods Road in Kitty Hawk, Sandy Run Park is a beautiful example of

a maritime forest and wetlands.

A boardwalk circles the pond and wetlands and in the summer hundreds of turtles like to sun themselves on logs that are on the surface of the pond. Kids will love that.

There is also a catch and release area for fishermen.

Local families make this a regular spot to bring their children because of its beauty and the chance to talk to kids about the natural environment.

Dowdy Park, Nags Head
Dowdy Park--a great playground for kids.
Dowdy Park–a great playground for kids.

The newest edition to the Outer rBanks Park scene, seems like it has something for everyone.

There is a beautifully designed playground with some really innovative concepts—a swing designed for a child who is in a wheelchair is just one of the design features that make this a must see place.

For the adults , there is a fitness trail. For everyone, there are picnic pavilions, covered tables and grills.

Dowdy Park Grand Opening Worth the Wait

Three Hour Weather Delay Creates a Great Day
Painting a wall at Dowdy Park during Artrageous on Saturday.
Painting a wall at Dowdy Park during Artrageous on Saturday.

That three hour weather delay for the Grand Opening of Dowdy Park in Nags Head sure came in handy. If the weather was overcast with a little wind, at least it didn’t rain.

And that was a good thing, because the Grand Opening was as advertised and maybe a bit more.

Combining forces with the Dare County Arts Council to hold a springtime Artrageous in conjunction with the Grand Opening, Dowdy Park, located next to Nags Head Elementary School, was packed with kids, parents and good number of people who just wanted to be where the fun was.

DCAC Artrageous

Artrageous is a wonderful celebration of kids, creativity and the arts and at every turn there were kids trying their hand at painting, jewelry making, blacksmithing and so many more activities.

There is a very nice little stage at Dowdy Park and the local talent that performed was outstanding. The older students of Ruth Wyands Mustang Music Outreach Program really rocked the house.

Of course, after Artrageous leaves—it is a one day event—there is still Dowdy Park. And this is one time when the town of Nags Head really got things right.

With major grants from Trillium Health Resources and the Outer Banks Visitors Bureau, Dowdy Park seems to have something for just about the whole family.

There is a wonderful playground for kids featuring some really innovative designs. Plenty of parking, although the crowds certainly overwhelmed the parking on Saturday. There are lots of picnic tables, many of them a large pavilion; a nice walking/jogging trail…this is a shining star for the town of Nags Head.

Once upon a time this was the site of Dowdy’s Amusement Park, but after the park closed in 2005, it took a while to figure out what was going to happen with the property.

Luckily, after purchasing it in 2014, the town made the decision to try to create a public area that everyone could enjoy.

It looks as though they succeeded.

Dowdy Park Grand Opening Delayed 3 Hours

Rescheduling the Start Time
A children's playground and walking/jogging path are just some of the features at Dowdy Park.
A children’s playground and walking/jogging path are just some of the features at Dowdy Park.

Will the Dowdy Park Grand Opening happen? That is the question of the day as we cross our fingers and hope the weather miraculously clears for tomorrow, Saturday.

It looks as though it will clear, although a bit later than hoped.

But to take advantage of that late clearing the skies the start time of the Grand opening ceremonies have been moved back to 1:00 p.m. That 1:00 p.m. start time may be a bit optimistic, but some time by mid afternoon the weather is supposed to clear and the day should end on a really good note.

The plans for the Grand Opening are pretty spectacular. One of the biggest—and best—of the Dare County Arts Council’s outreach program is there Artrageous, a celebration of the arts, community and children.

Traditionally held in the fall, the DCAC rescheduled to coordinate with the Town of Nags Head for the Dowdy Park grand opening. If the weather permits, that would make for one of the best kid’s parties around. Lots and lots of creative things for kids to do, local organizations are on hand with booths, there’s live music…in short it’s a wonderful celebration of community.

The weather has throw a monkey wrench into the plans, but the Plan B should work.

Today, Friday, it’s cloudy, very windy and spitting rain from time to time.

Some Background

We’ll have to hope it does turn out ok because the Town of Nags Head looks like it hit a home run with this one.

The park is located next to Nags Head Elementary School, which is also where the Board of Education offices are located. It was originally Dowdy amusement park.

At one time Dowdy’s was a wonderful little park—a great place to take kids for a couple of hours. It was very much a family operation; small, friendly with a wholesome local town feel.

Modern times seem to have overtaken it and by the time it closed in 2005, it seemed to be struggling.

When the town took the property over, a number of ideas were kicked around, but the one everyone seemed to agree upon was a park.

And it is a wonderful park.