What’s on your Outer Banks Vacation Bucket List this Winter?

Hand drawn illustration on blue background. showing list of drinks by the sea, visit aquarium, lifelong learning, winterlights

Vacationing to the Outer Banks during the winter months can have its benefit as you’ll see a much lower crowd level. Staying in one of our OBX winter vacation rentals will allow you and your family to enjoy the cooler temps, all while exploring a few items on that bucket list. Visitor interest has increased compared to previous seasons to complete items off their vacation bucket lists and the Winter season gives everyone a chance to explore the Outer Banks at their own pace.  

Drinks by the Sea

Rum and Cola Cuba Libre with Lime and Ice

No need to pull out your passport & hop on a plane bound for the Caribbean to taste some delicious drinks this winter. Enjoy rum drinks, craft beer, & wine at The Wheel House Lounge within Outer Banks Distilling. Sample their Kill Devil Rum, and other celebrated small batch rums.  Located in Manteo, this rum distiller has been in business for over 20 year.  While they have paused their distillery tours at the moment you can still visit and do a little shopping for some of their locally made signature spirits. Take a bottle home to remind yourself of checking off visiting a rum distillery without leaving the country.

WinterLights at The Elizabethan Gardens

Christmas lights of reindeers

WinterLights is a seasonal holiday tradition that many OBX locals must visit each year, beginning in November and ending in December. This holiday celebration is located at The Elizabethan Gardens and has a wide arrangement of bright lights, seasonal displays, and holiday sounds. Visiting the Outer Banks during the holiday season can bring such delight to all those who enjoy the season’s sights, sounds and smells. Make new memories as you shop, watch a movie under the stars and warm up by the fire this winter.  Sharing this fun experience with family and friends makes checking that box off on your winter list this year even more special.

Visit the Aquarium on Roanoke Island

Young boy looking at a sea turtle at the aquarium

Roanoke Island is home to the historic site of Fort Raleigh, but it’s also the home to one of the NC Aquariums.  Eco-Tourism plays such a significant role on the Outer Banks, and so does conservation for our wildlife. At the aquarium, you and your family will experience the many different exhibits such as the Wild Wetlands with otters and Seven Rivers with reptiles. You’ll also be able to learn more about sea turtle conservation along with the sea turtle rescue. The NC Aquarium on Roanoke Island offers indoor fun for when the weather isn’t cooperating during the winter months such as behind-the-scene tours and even some arts and crafts. 

Lifelong Learning

Father And Son Look At Artifacts In Case On Trip To Museum

The Outer Banks is full of exciting facts, especially for those who love to continue learning. You can visit the Fort Raleigh National Historic Site and visit the Frisco Native American Museum. Located just south of the Hatteras Lighthouse is where you will find this museum & walking trails. One of the benefits about visiting the museum during the winter months, is you don’t have to worry about long lines or it being too crowded. North Carolina is rich in its history, which is no match to some of the artifacts on the OBX. If you are vacationing with the kids, bring them to the museum for a bit of history lesson or two and explore the trails.  Just remember to check the weather before you do some exploring. 

The Outer Banks is filled with so many different places to visit and activities to do year-round we are launching a new blog series to highlight the “do not miss” OBX Vacation Bucket list items to help you plan your next vacation. No matter what season you and your family plan to vacation with us, we promise that adding those check marks off on your list is immensely satisfying.

Joe Lamb Jr. & Associates is one of the most trusted vacation rental managers in the local area by growing into a market leader in the Vacation Rental and Sales Industry. Joe Lamb Jr. and his family have played a vital and intricate role in the Outer Banks Community for decades.

Over the past 50+ years, Joe Lamb Jr. & Associates have worked diligently to help promote the Outer Banks for the amazing beach and family vacation destination that it is, helping to increase tourism in the area and grow our beautiful community

Unprecedented-Cold Stunned Sea Turtles on Outer Banks


loggerhead turtle
Cold Stunned Loggerhead at Roanoke Island STAR Center

We sure had a warm December on the Outer Banks. Then suddenly earlier this week, temperature plummeted, we had a dusting of snow and a whole day where the temperatures struggled to reach the freezing mark. Inconvenient and a little bit miserable for us warm blooded animals, but for for cold blooded animals—especially sea critters, it’s a disaster.

For evidence, look no farther than the unprecedented number of sea turtles washing up on Hatteras Island beaches—somewhere around 350 at last count.

The STAR Center at the Roanoke Island Aquarium was designed as a care facility for injured and sick sea turtles, but never anything on this level. The problem, according to Christine Legner who oversees the facility, with all the warm weather, the turtles “ . . . just didn’t get the cue to leave.”

It is taking an amazing community and cooperative effort to help the stricken turtles. An otherwise cold stunned turtle will recover if they are kept in a relatively warm environment that will allow their bodies a few days to readjust. Every year the STAR Center gets a few dozen cold stunned turtles—mostly green sea turtles with a few Kemps Ridley and an occasional leatherback—and they are prepared to handle a typical winter influx.

350 or so? No. No facility is ready for that. Yet the aquarium team working with N.E.S.T. (Network for Endangered Sea Turtles) volunteers have managed to do an amazing job, losing to date just six turtles.

Walking into the STAR Center, there are bins and buckets everywhere with one, two or three turtles recovering. In the large tanks, some of the turtles are engaged in what is called a swim test—the last step before they are released.

The problem with releasing them is they cannot be released into local waters and have to be sent south. The first batch of 85 was sent to Florida earlier this week; the next batch is scheduled to be released into the Gulf Stream by the Coast Guard from Fort Macon, NC early next week.

Things have slowed down with milder weather and hopefully, the sea turtles who are still swimming about got the cue and headed to warmer waters.