Located on what’s referred to as the Outer Banks in North Carolina, Corolla has a lot to offer tourists of all ages.
The city comes alive with tourists between May and September when the weather is warm and there isn’t as much rain.
Here are the best 25 things to do in Corolla whether you stay for a weekend of a couple of weeks.
Interactive Map of 25 Things to Do in Corolla (NC)
One of the most popular attractions in Corolla is the Currituck Beach Lighthouse. The lighthouse was first lit in 1875. Since then the Lighthouse has been added to the National Register of Historical Places.
The cost to enter the lighthouse is $10. Make sure to take your walking shoes with you because the lighthouse sits at 162’ tall, which is roughly 220 steps to the top. With a 20-second flash cycle, the light can be seen from 18 nautical miles away. While you can take as much time as you want, a self-guided tour will typically take anywhere from 5-20 minutes.
The beaches in Currituck county are known to be peaceful but with enough going on to keep you entertained during your stay. There are approximately 20 miles of shoreline in Currituck County. Make sure to take note of the public parking lots before visiting because street parking is not allowed.
The beaches are unique because they border the Atlantic Ocean and Currituck Sound. Because of this you are able to take advantage of swimming in the ocean but also having water calm enough for a kayak.
History buffs will love visiting Historic Corolla Village. The village was founded in the 1600s when Europeans settled in the area. By the late 1800s, the town was home to more than 200 people. By then, most of the male residents worked at the Currituck Beach Lifesaving Station.
At one time there were many towns like Corolla up and down the coast but now Corolla is one of the last remaining. This is thanks largely to restoration efforts by the Twiddys, Doug and Sharon. The couple has spent time over the years to help Corolla keep its title as having the most nationally recognized historic buildings in the Outer Banks.
The Wild Horse Tour will take about 2 hours and takes you through 7,500 acres where you can see the wild Spanish Mustangs up close. The horses originally landed in Sandbridge, VA with the first European settlers in the 1500s and made their way up to Corolla in the mid-1990s.
The Wild Horse Tour is a great activity for the whole family. The open-air safari style truck can fit up to 15 passengers. There are just over 100 horses to see on the tour and you are sure to catch them grazing or splashing around in the water.
For those hot summer days, the H20BX Waterpark is the best place to cool off and splash around. The park has over 30 rides and slides suitable for families, in fact it’s the number one family attraction in the Outer Banks.
The water park is unique because it blends the history of the area with adventure themed rides. You can ride along the Wild Horse Run, slide down the Dune Runner and swim around the Sandy Pail Beach. There are lots of great options for eating like Heavenly Hawgs BBQ for the best of Carolina BBQ brisket and pulled pork and Dune Devil Desserts for soft service ice cream and funnel cakes
Since 1979, the 3,000 acres of Pine Island Audubon Center has been offering visitors a chance to view some of Corollas most interesting birdlife in their natural habitat. Some of the birds that you will be able to spot at Pine Island Audubon Center include the Great Egret, Greater Scaup, Common Tern and Osprey.
There are lots of other activities to enjoy at the sanctuary like kayaking and walking along the nature trail. From April to September there are kayak trips available that will take you through the marsh where you can learn about the history and enjoy the beautiful views.
Outer Banks Center for Wildlife Education has daily tours available to teach you and your kids all about the wildlife found in coastal North Carolina. The center is located inside a 22,000 square foot building and sits on 29 acres of land.
There is a boardwalk that will take you past many of the beautiful oak trees on the land to Currituck Sound. Once you reach Currituck Sound, you can enjoy views of the water and wildlife while having a picnic.
This sprawling estate was built in the 1920s and is located at the base of Currituck Lighthouse. The 21,000 square-foot Whalehead in Historic Corolla was originally built by Edward Collins Knight Jr. The building was a gift to his bride who wasn’t allowed admittance to all-male hunting clubs to pursue her passion for hunting waterfowl.
Over the years the estate has been a boys school, an army training base and even a private vacation residence. It is not hard to see why many choose Whalehead for weddings with its stunning backdrop. If you are interested, there are daily tours available as well.
If you are looking for something unique to do in Outer Banks consider taking a lesson at the Outer Banks Surf School. There are many different lessons and camps available for all ages and skill sets. The owners of the shop, Chris Hunter and Zack Knapp have surfed in top surfing destinations like California, Barbados, Nicaragua, Indonesia and more.
The lessons typically run for 90-120 minutes and are available for people over the age of 7 years old. Each lesson will go over ocean safety, how to properly stretch and warm up, how to read ocean conditions, identify rip currents and of course learning to surf!
The Corolla Jeep Tours offer a unique way to spot the wild horses of Corolla. The Jeeps can accommodate groups of up to five. Enjoy the salt air and sunshine with the tops down. Each tour follows a guide that will take you on a 24-mile round trip journey.
There’s no need to worry about getting stuck in the sand on your tour because the guide will give you a detailed lesson about how to properly drive through soft sand and deep ruts before you go. The highlight of the tour is visiting Penny Hill where you will drive into the largest ‘living’ sand dune on the east coast.
The Timbuck II Shopping Village is a favorite in the area. Here you will find a variety of retail and restaurant experiences with over 60 venues. Don’t forget to pick up a map on your way in as it will list the different live concerts and art shows happening at Timbuck II.
Another favorite of the area is Monterey Plaza Shopping Center. There are over 25 shops to venture in and out of. The Plaza also has a movie theatre, plenty of restaurants and a spa to keep you busy all day long.
Nature lovers enjoy taking a stroll through the eleven acres of Duck Town Park. The area consists of willow swamp and Maritime Forest making it a great place for bird watching or enjoying a picnic. In fact there are several picnic shelters situated right next to the waters of Currituck Sound.
Every day in the summer there are storytelling, plays or magic shows for children in the morning. In the evenings there are concert series suitable for all ages. The new boardwalk is open from dawn until 1 am for runners and walkers to enjoy.
With over 56 dining options that range from casual lunch spots to high-end dinner venues in the small town of Corolla you are sure to find just what you’re looking for. Some favorites of the area include Aqua Restaurant, The Blue Point Bar and Grill and Kimball’s Kitchen.
The Blue Point Bar and Grill is a farm-to-table restaurant that often has live entertainment and an outdoor patio with a beautiful view. Kimball’s Kitchen offers French-inspired New American meals and is a great spot for a romantic meal. Aqua Restaurant is known for its seafood and locally sourced seasonal ingredients.
Corolla and Duck Parasail offer parasailing tours for the whole family. When you’re strapped in you could reach up to 800 feet in the sky! Don’t worry though, you are in safe hands because their captains have over 60 years experience between them. The boats leave every half an hour in the morning and afternoons during the busy season.
Every year the Mustang Music Festival brings music lovers to Corolla on three different occasions: the Mustang Spring Jam, Mustang Midsummer Meltdown and Mustang Rock & Roast. All of the Mustang Festivals are held as a way to raise money for the Wild Horses in Corolla.
The Mustang Spring Jam The festival has 5 touring bands that play music from 1pm until 10pm and takes place at Mike Dianna’s Grill Room. The Mustang Midsummer Meltdown takes place in July and features music from the east coast’s top artists from sunset until late into the evening. Lastly, the Mustang Rock and Roast happens in October and includes an Oyster roast on the first day and a BBQ cook-off the second day.
The Currituck Banks Estuarine Reserve has over 965 acres of natural marine habitat and miles of undeveloped shoreline. The northern park of the reserve was originally inhabited by local Poteskeet Native Americans.
In the late 1500s European settlers passed through the area but never settled and it wasn’t until the 1800s that fishing and farming communities began to pop up. Today the area is a great spot for fishing, hunting, birding, hiking and photography. The area consists of ocean beaches, shrub thickets, grasslands, maritime forests, freshwater marshes, tidal flats, saltwater marshes and sand dunes.
Despite the name there actually aren’t any monkeys on this island. In fact, it was named after the Pamunkey nation who first inhabited the area. The Pamunkey nation originally used the area for summer hunting. Today you will find the Monkey Island Hunting Club on the island which was founded in 1919.
Roughly half of the island is covered in dense forest and is a great place to spot wading birds. The island is also the most northern habitat of the Sabal Minor Palm. While there are various ways to get to the island, one of the best ways is to kayak over.
The kayak tours at Coastal Explorations will take you on a guided tour of Currituck Sound and is a great activity for the whole family. Whether you are a newbie or an experienced paddler, their Stand-Up Paddle boarding tours are a great way to enjoy the calm waters.
If you are traveling with a group, the sunset charters are the perfect way to end a day. The tours can accommodate groups up to 12. Of course, one of the best ways to see Corolla is by renting a bike from Coastal Explorations.
The mission at Corolla Bait and Tackle is to go beyond providing just equipment and supplies, they are there to teach you about the local fish and how to catch them.
In fact, they offer courses and charters if you are looking to improve your fishing skills. In the summer months Corolla Bait and Tackle is open every day from 8am to 9pm and in the winter they are open Saturday and Sundays from 8am to 7pm.
Guests who stay at the Currituck Club can take advantage of the various amenities and posh accommodations. Inside this gated community you will find all sorts of activities for the whole family including tennis and an 18 hole golf course. The golf course was designed by Rees Jones and is also an Auburn Society Cooperative Sanctuary.
The Currituck Club also has pickleball, basketball and volleyball courts for you to enjoy. Additionally, there is a high quality fitness center and many swimming pools on-site. Of course, you can’t forget to visit the beach to take advantage of their valet service either.
The Corolla Adventure Park is a giant jungle gym for all ages. There are 66 different obstacles for you to challenge yourself with. The obstacles can be arranged into eleven different circuits so you can create your own unique experience on the jungle gym. All of these obstacles typically take two hours to complete.
If you’re feeling brave there are also 8 zip lines you can do as well. If you’re afraid of heights the Corolla Adventure Park also has an axe throwing area. Once you are finished playing on the jungle gym or throwing axes you can grab a bite to eat and a drink at the outdoor bar. There’s a nature trail on the property with garden style seating.
The Corolla Raceway his a fun place to spend the day for adults and children. The main attraction is of course the go-karts and the large racetrack. You can rent single, double or junior carts. If you are looking for something that drives a little slower, Corolla Raceway has a bumper car arena on-site. The cars are freestanding and gas-powered.
Corolla Raceway also has plenty of arcade games to enjoy. Some favorites include skiball, redemption games and basketball. If you are visiting with younger children there are a number of kid-friendly games available.
The Wright family has owned Sanctuary Vineyards for seven generations. With centuries of farming experience under their belt, the Wright’s have been dedicated towards making world-class wine and produces over 15 different types of wine today. The vineyard started off with one single vine that was only really good for producing jam and juices.
Take a tour of the vineyard during your visit between Monday and Friday at 1pm. If you are traveling with a group you can also book the Voyage Vineyard tour which takes you on a cruise with tasting. Of course, it is always recommended to try some of the wines in their tasting room as well.
The Corolla Chapel is one of the most treasured historical buildings in the region. It was originally built in 1885 and was later moved across the village to accommodate renovations for the growing congregation.
One of the most interesting aspects of the chapel is that it still has all of its original walls. You will also find many of the original chapel items like the organ, pulpit, pulpit chair and pews inside. If you can spare the time, the best way to truly see the chapel is to attend a service.
Twiddy and Company owns over 550 rentals and have created a tranquil community in the Outer Banks. Many of the top attractions in Corolla are just 5-10 minutes away. The homes range from 3-28 bedrooms to accommodate any kind of group. The homes are all stunning from the outside and even better on the interior. You might even find it hard to get outside and do some of the top attractions!
Whether you plan on visiting Corolla for a weekend, a week or the whole summer you are bound to find something fun to do with your group. Do some research in advance to narrow down what you plan on doing, especially if you are short on time. Best of all, relax and enjoy the views!