When it comes to east coast beaches, the Carolinas have a glowing reputation. Corolla, North Carolina, is one of the most popular tourist destinations that boasts a 24-mile long coastline and offers visitors an unmatched experience.
The historic Outer Banks town combines natural coastal beauty with exciting attractions to give tourists a vacation unlike any other. From the famous Currituck Lighthouse to the wild horses on the beaches, you can simultaneously explore Corolla history while enjoying the best that North Carolina has to offer.
Whether you visit for a week or three weeks, you’ll never run out of things to do in this small beach town. Corolla, NC, tourists love getting out on the water by participating in various water sports in the beautiful Atlantic Ocean. Then, when you get hungry, you have endless dining options ranging from local seafood to world-famous North Carolina barbeque.
Corolla’s laid-back atmosphere makes it the perfect location for visitors of all ages. Kids love chasing the ghost crabs on the beach, while adults can enjoy professionally crafted beverages at a nearby bar.
If you are looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city, Corolla, NC, has everything you need for an exciting yet relaxing vacation.
Popular Things to Do in Corolla, North Carolina
See the Wild Horses
Although the town has several features that make it unique, the most notable are the wild Spanish mustangs.
The wild horses first arrived at OBX in the 1500s when Spanish explorers landed on the East Coast. However, when the explorers experienced resistance from locals, they left the area while abandoning their horses. Since then, the wild horses have continued to roam the Corolla beaches, giving us a living piece of history to enjoy today.
The wild Spanish mustangs are such an integral part of the state’s culture that the North Carolina General Assembly named the Colonial Spanish Mustang the state horse in 2010.
To continue celebrating the exquisite animal, Corolla hosts the Wild Horses Days every year in July to raise money and awareness for the official state horse.
Visit the Corolla Beaches
You can’t think of North Carolina without thinking about the beaches. Since the town has limited public beach access, the undisturbed beaches are significantly less crowded. In addition, Corolla beaches are wider than most North Carolina beaches, giving you more space to lay out and enjoy the warm Carolina sun.
Many visitors take advantage of the town’s numerous vacation homes. Most of these rental homes have close beach access that allows you to get to the Atlantic Ocean easily.
If you’re looking to do more than sunbathing, you can participate in various water sports in the Atlantic Ocean. Local companies like Ocean Atlantic Rentals and Kitty Hawk Kites give multiple rental options ranging from kayaks to jet skis. In addition, you can explore the beautiful North Carolina coast with other like-minded vacationers by joining guided kayak tours.
Not interested in getting the water? The Currituck Club golf course offers 18 holes and a stunning view of the area.
Go on Museum Tours
Explore more of what makes Corolla, North Carolina unique by visiting one of the several local museums! The Whalehead historic house museum gives you a firsthand look at the old architecture, while the Outer Banks Center for Wildlife Education offers engaging classes.
Many of the historical sites in the area make excellent locations for hosting weddings, anniversary parties, and various other events. Residents are proud of their Corolla history and love showing it off, whether at a museum or a local gift shop.
Enjoy Local Restaurants
With over 40 local restaurants in the area, you have endless dining options to choose from. You can find food to satisfy every taste bud, including seafood, Italian, Mexican, steak, raw bars, delis, barbeque, beer gardens, and so much more!
Most Corolla, North Carolina restaurants offer a laid-back atmosphere, so you don’t have to worry about changing out of your flip-flops after leaving the beach.
What Makes Corolla Unique?
Corolla isn’t like any other town in the Outer Banks. Vacationers can engage in both exciting on-the-water activities during the day while relaxing under the bright Carolina moon with a highly rated cocktail at night. From hosting a wedding to enjoying quality family time, Corolla has everything you need to make life-long memories.
Corolla, NC Weddings
Several vacation homes along the Corolla OBX coastline host wedding ceremonies, receptions, and other events. Whether you want an intimate experience or a grand endeavor, you can find the perfect location for your big day in Corolla.
Not only does the area look great as a background for wedding photos, but local businesses love to cater and help couples plan the wedding of their dreams!
Shopping in Corolla, North Carolina
If you’re looking for superstores that sell cheap nick-nacks, you may want to reconsider Corolla. Nearly every store in the OBX town is locally owned and operated.
You can grab a cup of coffee at a local cafe before finding a souvenir from a nearby surf shop in the Corolla Light Town Center. With several art galleries, shops, and local markets, you can explore the best of the OBX and find memorable keepsakes to bring home with you.
Hotels in Corolla
Corolla is home to only two hotels, both of which are upscale with lavish amenities. Although there are only two hotels, there are thousands of vacation homes to choose from. Many of these homes come with pools, hot tubs, luxurious kitchens, and various other amenities.
You can find several Corolla OBX vacation rental homes in communities with tennis, clubhouses, and sports clubs. Since Corolla is a relatively small town, you’ll have easy access to different restaurants, attractions, and the beach no matter where you stay.
Corolla OBX History
Corolla’s rich history makes it an exceptional vacation location. Before the European settlers arrived in the late 1600s, Native Americans lived and hunted in the OBX town.
The area separated from Virginia before the early 1800s, making it only accessible by boat. As the mid-1800s approached, multiple communities came to the area to begin fishing, hunting, and gardening. To earn a living, many early residents would salvage old shipwrecks.
In 1874, the town established the U.S. Lifesaving Service, which is now the Currituck Beach Life Saving Station.
Although people have been inhabiting the area for hundreds of years, the town did not earn the name Corolla until 1895. According to local legend, the town’s new post office was looking for a name. Someone suggested the name “corolla,” which is a flower’s inner part.
You can experience Corolla history firsthand by visiting one of the multiple historical sites in the area.
Along with the wild horses, the Currituck Beach Lighthouse is one of the most popular attractions in Corolla OBX. You can climb the building’s 214 steps to get to the top and experience a breathtaking view of the Atlantic Ocean and the Currituck Sound. The beacon on top of the 162-foot building projects a beam visible up to 21 miles away.
The Currituck Lighthouse lets you walk through history as the building is over a century old. With an unpainted exterior, you can see nearly one million bricks that make up the Outer Banks’ last prominent brick lighthouse.
The 24,000 square foot Whalehead Mansion is an architectural masterpiece that has awed visitors since 1925. Whalehead, Corolla boasts a historic and luxurious ambiance with its original period furniture, Tiffany fixtures, and Art Nouveau design.
The grand and gorgeous space makes it a superb location for weddings. Not only does the mansion offer breathtaking beauty, but it exudes both history and romance.
The original owner of the house, Edward Collings Knight Jr., built the mansion for his wife because she was not allowed to join him in the all-male hunt clubs. He and his wife, Marie Louise Label Knight, used their “mansion by the sea” as a place to enjoy their own adventures without the hindrance of other people’s rules and restrictions.
Historic Corolla Village
For a truly historical experience, head over to the Historic Corolla Village. Unlike other parts of the OBX, the Corolla Village lacks modernization, allowing you to take a stroll through historic times.
With sandy streets and wooden signs, you’ll forget what year it is. You can enjoy meeting the friendly locals who run old-timey shops before heading to the Wild Horse Museum to learn more about the area’s famous wild horses.
Corolla makes it easy for visitors from around the world to enjoy the scenic beauty of North Carolina while exploring the state’s history. If you are looking for a place to visit that takes you back in time, giving you the best of modern North Carolina, Corolla is the town to be.