Stuck on Duck
Duck is a quaint, coastal resort town on the Outer Banks with a population of fewer than 400 people, the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of city life in Raleigh. Though small, the town on the Currituck Sound offers no shortage of things to do, from shopping to festivals to hiking trails, to some of the most highly regarded spas on the coast. Of course, there’s also the ocean, which proffers a plethora of aquatic activities in and of itself. The town’s seven miles of private beach lend a tranquil atmosphere to leisurely walks, fishing exploits, yoga sessions or spacious tanning. Duck Town Park also offers a soundside boardwalk, playground, amphitheater and kayak launch. With easy access to the ocean and the sound, as well as charming restaurants, shops and vacation homes, Duck’s a place you definitely won’t mind being stuck in during the long, hot days of summer.
This four-diamond resort has practically any amenity you could ever wish for, including a private pool, tennis court, poolside bar, renowned restaurants and a world-class spa. Whether you’re vacationing by yourself, with a loved one, a group of friends, or with the whole family, the resort offers four types of beachfront rental, perfect for any occasion.
For a more private beach vacation experience, book one of Ships Watch’s quaint three, four or five-bedroom vacation rental homes, located in a resort community that provides both beachfront and soundside accommodations, including a pier for fishing and crabbing. Each house is fully equipped with views of the ocean and only a short walk from the village of Duck.
Duck’s original sea-to-table restaurant has been serving up local and sustainable dishes for 29 years. The menu rotates depending on what’s in season, with everything made fresh to order. Dinners include Rosebay oyster stew, Pamlico Sound green tail shrimp ramen bowl and slow cooked duck confit with house-made garlic pasta.
A casual spot home to the original Outer Banks tiki bar, Fishbones offers creative Caribbean-style cuisine combined with fresh, locally caught seafood in a newly renovated, modern setting. The raw bar features local oysters, Alaskan snow crab, middleneck clams and Old Bay steamed shrimp, with the option to create your own “bucket of bait.”
Get your beer (and wine) for the beach at Growlers To Go, a unique store with 42 rotating craft beers on tap and more than 100 bottles, cans and cases. With free samples and a passionate staff, even the pickiest beer drinkers are sure to find something they like within the walls of this one-stop-shop, located in the Loblolly Pines Shopping Center.
No matter what time of day or what beverage you’re in the mood for, Sweet T’s has it all, with a curated selection of more than 200 beers, an assortment of wines, locally roasted drip coffee and espresso from Kill Devil Roasters, smoothies and a selection of bagels, pastries, pretzels and cookies. The shop is a popular hangout among locals, with outdoor seating and various events throughout the year.
Stretching for nearly a mile along the Currituck Sound, boardwalk-strolling visitors can take in Duck’s seaside beauty in between stops at some of the town’s finest shops, bars and eateries. Duck Town Park features 11 acres of fun, including trails through the maritime forest and willow swamp, green open space, soundside views and picnic areas.
Tackle the Outer Banks’s rough waves with an exhilarating spin on a wakeboard or waterski. OBX provides expert instruction and a fun, relaxed atmosphere for all levels of wakeboarders and water-skiers, for novices and seasoned surf lovers alike. Services also include kneeboarding, tubing, skurfing and, for those wanting a more relaxed experience, sunset and cocktail tours on the sound.
For generations, Raleigh residents and old-timers have considered Atlantic Beach, the oldest of five beach communities along the Bogue Banks, their seaside home away from home.
The Outer Banks island of long, pristine beach is bordered by Bogue Sound and the Atlantic Ocean, accessible via a bridge (or boat) from Morehead City. Though some modest original cottages have given way to luxurious pastel-colored mansions and there’s no shortage of large commercial beachwear stores, Atlantic Beach has largely retained its retro charm with modern, trendy bars, shops and eateries mixed in for good measure—if you can tear yourself away from the sand, surf and boundless opportunities for fishing and boating, that is.
Another Atlantic Beach perk for Raleigh dwellers: the recently-completed Goldsboro Bypass. It makes your scenic jaunt to the Crystal Coast through several one-stoplight towns, farm country and the Croatan National Forest a little bit shorter—just three hours from Raleigh.
Rent a two- or three-bedroom villa in a resort with pools, tennis and basketball courts, picnic areas and mini golf, located right near the boardwalk for easy beach access.
Book a room at this cozy inn for a more intimate stay, with access to grills, bikes, hammocks, swings and an oceanfront pool. Villas with full kitchen and dining areas are available with easy access to the beach, Morehead City, historic Beaufort and Fort Macon.
Also known as “Tony’s” after the sea captain who supplied it starting in 1938, the waterfront institution (a hop across the bridge, in Morehead City) now seats up to 500. Order almost anything you like, from seafood prepared any way—try the lump crab meat panned in butter—to steak, sandwiches and Southern favorites.
You won’t find a tastier spot on the island proper. Amos Mosquito’s features mainly seafood, including sushi, but also salads, steaks, burgers, pork chops and more. All dishes are made from scratch using local ingredients, and you can dine on the restaurant’s patio overlooking the water.
Take a break from seafood (or, don’t!) at this Atlantic Beach mainstay. Four Corners is known for its breakfasts and burgers, but you can get a good meal there any time of the day.
With two locations, this newly established brewery offers its own seasonals, a blonde and an IPA, as well as various guest selections on tap.
Drop by for pastries and house brewed coffee, including specialties like the tiramisu mocha, cookie butter latte and Beach Buzzer, a frappe made with coffee and syrups.
Enjoy drinks and live music in this open-air bar, located at the end of the Oceanana Pier. The Barnacle gets its name from a legendary local watering hole popular in the ‘60s.
The home of a restored Civil War-era fort that’s open for exploration, Fort Macon is the second-most visited state park in North Carolina. Check out the stone fort’s 26 vaulted rooms, watch a cannon and musket demonstration, hike the park’s forest trails, or learn about barrier ecology at the Coastal Education Center.
Explore dozens of exhibits featuring otters, loggerhead sea turtles and plenty of fish and waterbirds. The aquarium offers behind-the-scenes peeks and kayaking tours, plus play areas for the little minnows.
Learn to shag on what’s popularly known as the best hardwood dance floor in eastern North Carolina at the only shag club on the Crystal Coast. Memories features DJs each weekend night during the summer, plus shag lessons on Wednesdays.
Winston-Salem has come a long way from its tobacco industry days, with innovations in the arts, theater, health and tech research, music and film festivals and a thriving food and beer scene. But with attractions including the Old Salem establishment, the city holds onto its history, which includes Moravian settlement in the 1700s and a rich legacy in industries such as banking, textiles and, of course, cigarette manufacturing.
The Moravians, who settled nearly 100,000 acres of land called Wachovia in the North Carolina backcountry, founded Salem in 1766. Salem has since been restored, with museums and gardens, preserving the town’s rich history. In 1913, it merged with the sleepy county town of Winston to create Winston-Salem, what is now the second largest city in the Triad.
In addition to its museums and gardens, Winston-Salem is home to modern, lively restaurants and breweries, many of them located downtown, as well an Arts District of galleries and workshops. The prestigious private college, Wake Forest University, is located in Winston-Salem, as is the North Carolina School of the Arts and cultural centers including the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art (SECCA), the Reynolda House, the Stevens Center for the Performing Arts and the Piedmont Opera Theater.
Voted the third best hotel in the South, this boutique hotel is located in downtown’s historic R.J. Reynolds building, which was recently renovated with an alluring Art Deco entryway, grand social living room, exquisite French café and a recreation room complete with its own full-sized, indoor slide. Treat yourself to a glorious night’s sleep in luxury bedding, a full-service spa treatment or a round of bowling.
The Hawthorne is located in the middle of it all, close to Historic Old Salem, Restaurant Row, BB&T Ballpark and just on the other side of the highway from all downtown has to offer.
This sleek downtown eatery offers exquisite lunch, brunch and dinner dishes curated with ingredients sourced from local farms in a lively atmosphere with plenty of outdoor seating. Menu items include firecracker salmon salad, southern spring rolls, pork osso bucco and tomato pie, as well as gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian options.
College students and locals are fans of this family-owned delicatessen and cafe, which has been serving up scratch-made sandwiches, salads and soups daily since 1995. Favorites include the roast beef sandwich, rosemary roasted pork loin, chicken salad, pastrami and delicious pecan bars and chocolate chip cookies.
Foothills beer is stocked at restaurants and breweries in Raleigh, but at the Foothills tasting room, you have the chance to taste some of the core brand classics, seasonals and one-offs. Brewery tours are held on the weekend, and there’s live music, food trucks, games and an outdoor patio to sit on all week long.
This chic cafe, with comfy couches as well as an outdoor patio, serves only North Carolina roasted coffee along with nitro cold brew, pour-over and muffins and pastries baked in-house daily.
This museum is housed in a work of art itself, the onetime home of Katharine and R.J. Reynolds, founder of the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company. The renovated house opened as an art museum in 1967 and displays many of the original furnishings Katharine decorated her home with in the height of twentieth-century American fashion. The 3,000-square-foot gallery also features rotating exhibitions and work from the permanent collection.
Go back in time with a visit to Old Salem, a Moravian settlement featuring original structures and other artifacts, tours, hands-on workshops, shopping, a tavern, restored gardens and the Mesda Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts.
Nestled in the mountains just south of the Tennessee border, Hot Springs is made for the adventure junkie or nature lover. Located at the junction of the French Broad River and Spring Creek, Hot Springs is an officially designated trail town on the Appalachian Trail. It exudes a friendly, accommodating vibe and locals pride themselves on sharing its beauty with all who wander through. Independently owned shops, inns and restaurants and local art and music add to Hot Springs’ charm. Additionally, visitors of all ages can enjoy a range of outdoor activities, including hiking, rafting, fishing, swimming, kayaking, skiing and horseback riding. There are also, of course, the natural hot springs that give the town its name, the only such hot water springs known to North Carolina. Discovered by Native Americans, the mineral waters are said to have healing properties that provide therapeutic relief.
The combined restaurant, tavern and inn located right on the Appalachian Trail consists of three adjoining historic buildings on Hot Springs’ main street, one of which is the oldest building in Madison County. The beautifully renovated property features original exposed brick and heart-of-pine hardwood floors.
River Lodge’s authentic sawn log cabins are built from local wood, situated right in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains with a picturesque view of the French Broad River. Enjoy the views from within cozy, private lodges that come with fire pits, decks and a hot tub.
Dave’s is a popular burger spot along the Rattler, a notoriously curvy Smoky Mountain path that stretches for 33.3 miles, with more than 200 turns. Step off the winding roads for signature burgers, pizza, sandwiches, fries and a fresh strawberry milkshake made from real strawberries.
Popular with locals and Appalachian Trail hikers, the Smoky Mountain Diner provides a range of comforting Southern dishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Breakfast favorites include the skillet breakfast with potato wedges, onions, mushrooms, cheddar cheese, eggs and sausage, the ultimate pancakes piled high with cinnamon apples, whipped cream and powdered sugar, and any of the loaded omelets served with grits and hash browns.
A beacon for local art, food, wine and coffee with a vibrant, friendly atmosphere, Artisun’s coffee is a special Appalachian Trail blend that can be topped with local raw honey or enjoyed with baked goods. The cafe offers treats from Ultimate Ice Cream, a handcrafted ice cream shop from Asheville. Be sure to check out The Mountain Vino Wine Shop within the gallery for a taste of local, regional and imported wines.
This tavern, inn and restaurant has 12 beers on tap and 50-plus bottled and canned craft, domestic and micro brews, including many North Carolina beers. Enjoy drinks on the covered and heated patio overlooking the creek, accompanied by live music on Friday and Saturday nights.