A long time ago, the small town of Duck, North Carolina, was little more than a residential community. Now, the coastal area is one of the most popular vacation spots for visitors looking to experience the beauty of the East Coast.
Although the small seaside town has only seven miles of coastline, it allows visitors to participate in various activities, all within walking distance! Duck embraces the small-town vibe by avoiding big chain stores and restaurants. Instead, visitors and residents can enjoy award-winning dining at one of the local eateries. Whether you want a fancy date night or ice cream with the kids, Duck, NC, has many options to choose from.
After grabbing a bite to eat, you can take it to the beach. If you want to do more than stick your toes in the water, you can participate in several different water activities by renting a jet ski, paddleboard, kayak, and much more.
In the evening, you can visit the Duck Boardwalk and watch the world-famous Carolina sunset. Whether staying at the Sanderling Resort or a vacation rental home, you’ll have easy access to the local nightlife and every major attraction in the small but exciting OBX town.
Popular Things to Do in Duck
Duck, NC, is a small town with endless possibilities. Although you’re a quick drive from other popular Outer Banks attractions, you won’t want to leave the beachside town.
Duck has something for everyone. Whether you want a relaxing getaway or an exciting new adventure, this OBX town has everything you need to make lifelong memories.
The Duck beaches are, without a doubt, some of the most beautiful beaches on the East Coast. The Travel Channel would agree as Duck, North Carolina, continues to rank high on their annual list of America’s Best Beaches.
Unlike other popular beach destinations, visitors don’t have to worry about overwhelming crowds or searching for a place to lay their towels down.
You can relax in the sand and listen to the nearby waves or explore the Atlantic waters on a kayak. There are plenty of places to go for kayaks, sailboats, paddle boards, and other rentals to get you on the water.
Whatever you choose to do, you won’t be disappointed by the town’s natural beauty and bright sunshine.
Duck OBX Dining
Aside from visiting the beach, one of the best things to do in Duck is to enjoy the local cuisine. Some of the most highly rated OBX restaurants are right here in town, and you can find food for every craving.
Aqua Restaurant and Kimball’s Kitchen are excellent options for vacationers looking for intimate fine dining options. Another great high-quality seafood option is Blue Point, which has a reputation for serving creative yet delicious meals.
You can find plenty of casual eating options in town from the local bakeries, coffee shops, and diners. Locals and tourists love visiting Coastal Cantina or Duck Duck Burger for lunch with friends.
One of the most notable restaurants in town is Duck Donuts. Although it has several locations throughout the Carolinas, it started right here in town. Duck Donuts is famous for its mouthwatering made-to-order donuts that you can customize with toppings ranging from Oreo cookies to bacon.
Shopping in Duck
If you take a stroll through Duck, you might hear locals call it the Rodeo Drive of the Outer Banks. Although the town is small, it has no shortage of shopping and entertainment.
From surf shops to spas, you can easily spend your entire vacation exploring the various stores in Duck, NC. In addition, you can access nearly every shop, market, restaurant, and attraction in town by walking along the mile-long boardwalk.
Walking down Duck Road will lead to various shops ranging from local bookstores to souvenir stands. If you need gear for a day out on the water, you won’t have to go far.
Looking for big box stores? You won’t find them here. Duck in OBX is proud to host small shops with local flavors.
What Makes Duck Unique
Thousands of visitors from around the globe visit the Outer Banks every year. As the northernmost town in the North Carolina Outer Banks, Duck offers unique attractions that you won’t find anywhere else!
The Sanderling Resort is the only hotel in the small seaside town. The hotel combines vintage elegance with a modern touch to give tourists a unique perspective of Duck, North Carolina. Guests at the hotel can enjoy ocean-view rooms at the beachside resort renowned for luxury and quality. The Sanderling Resort has a gym, tennis courts, and a scenic biking and walking path nearby for visitors looking to keep up with their workout routine.
From high-end spas to award-winning dining, the Sanderling Resort offers incredible amenities to help you feel refreshed and relaxed. In addition, the hotel’s uniquely beautiful architecture makes it a popular location for weddings and other events.
Visitors who want a more casual stay can check out one of the hundreds of available vacation homes!
The Duck Boardwalk makes it easy for first-time visitors to navigate the town. It spans a mile by the sound and connects several shopping centers and restaurants in town. A great way to explore the area is to start at one end of the boardwalk and stop at different restaurants and shops as you walk to the other side.
Although the Duck Boardwalk gives you ample shopping opportunities, most people love it because of the view. Standing on the boardwalk allows you to experience the Currituck Sound and connect with nature. It also makes for a beautiful place to watch the sunset.
The boardwalk also conveniently connects to the Duck Town Park, where you can participate in outdoor yoga, tai chi, pilates, children’s story times, and annual music festivals.
Famous Duck, NC Attractions
There are several exciting attractions to enjoy, from the annual Duck Jazz Festival to the Duck Town Park.
The Duck Town Park is a popular recreational area connected to the boardwalk. Here, you can enjoy scenic trails, a playground, public kayak launches, and a cozy picnic shelter.
Music lovers can attend the annual Jazz Festival at the Town Park in October. The free event lets you listen to local and national artists while enjoying various festival activities throughout the weekend.
If you visit during the summer, don’t miss the Town of Duck Summer Music Series. Local artists hit the stage every Tuesday and Thursday for six weeks playing music of all genres, including jazz, bluegrass, and acoustic rock.
Duck is one of the only OBX towns to host an annual Independence Day parade. Every year the town follows the parade with live music and an exciting social event that residents and tourists can attend.
If you love learning about history, you can visit the US Army Corps of Engineers Research Facility at the Duck Research Pier. During the summer, you can schedule tours of the facility to learn more about the area and what makes it so unique.
Like other parts of North Carolina and OBX, the Duck history is an integral part of the town’s culture. Locals have a reputation of pride for their small-town coastal atmosphere.
Duck History: The Town Name
In the early 1900s, people flocked from all over North Carolina to go duck hunting in the area. During this time, ducks were more than sporting birds. Fashionable ladies loved wearing hats that used colorful duck feathers, making the bird the most popular animal in the area.
Although the town did not consist of more than a few homes and tackle shops, the population quickly grew thanks to duck hunting’s popularity.
The thousands of native ducks attracted so much attention from hunters that the postmaster named the small town after them.
From “Stuck in Duck” to Staying in Duck
In the 1970s, Duck was not a popular town to visit. Many residents put bumper stickers on their cars that read “Stuck in Duck” since the area was underdeveloped and only consisted of a few tackle shops and a single Winks convenience store.
Development in the area was slow, but locals were proud of their small town. So, when a large grocery store chain threatened the small-town beach vibes by planning to open a 31,000 square-foot store, Duck residents knew they had to protect their home.
After the franchising scare, town representatives took action. The town eventually welcomed development by opening more restaurants, shops, and water sports rentals. Now, the small town of Duck is one of the most visited areas in the North Carolina Outer Banks.
Duck began as a small, undeveloped town best known for hunting opportunities. Now, people flock from all over to experience the tranquility of the Currituck Sound, the waves of the Atlantic, and delicious coastal dining. Of course, now, the traffic during peak season and the single two-lane road going in and out of Duck, give new meaning to “stuck in Duck.”