Kill Devil Hills
Kill Devil Hills is one of the most popular destinations in the Outer Banks. The town offers vacationers numerous attractions and things to do. It’s home to more than 7,000 residents. However, in the summer season, tens of thousands of visitors come to take in the sights and sounds of this scenic town.
Kill Devil Hills, NC, is the perfect destination if you want to see both the northern and southern parts of the Outer Banks in one visit. It’s centrally located and has something for everyone.
There’s a healthy selection of accommodation options, including resort hotels and motels. Most of the commercial real estate in the area has an oceanfront view. If you’re looking for rentals in cheaper areas, you should look towards the west side of the Beach Road and the Bypass. The charges for the hotels often cover your connection and continental breakfast.
Kill Devil Hills restaurants offer the culinary delights you’d expect from other towns in the OBX region. You can get oysters, steaks, fresh seafood, burgers, pizza, BBQ, etc. The regional cuisines include Italian, Mexican, Thai, Caribbean, and Southern. Fine dining restaurants often insist on formal dressing.
Tourists can reach Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, via the Wright Brothers Memorial Bridge and US 158. If you’re visiting from the southern and northern areas, you can reach the town via NC Highway 12, connecting to the Beach Bypass/US 158.
Popular Things to Do in Kill Devil Hills
Visit the Wright Brothers National Memorial
The Wright Brothers Memorial is a popular attraction for visitors to the Outer Banks beach towns. It’s open year-round from 9 am to 5 pm, but seasonal changes may apply. Here, you can explore the 1903 camp buildings—the center of the Wright Brothers’ experiments.
There’s a museum and visitor’s center which holds the life-sized replica of the first aircraft ever made. The Centennial pavilion shows all the achievements we’ve seen in the aviation sector since the Wright Brothers flew the first aircraft.
Keep in mind that you have to pay a small fee to access the Memorial grounds. However, if you love aviation history, the fee is a bargain.
Fish on the Avalon Fishing Pier
The Avalon pier is 700 feet long, and you need to pay a small fee to gain access. The pier house looks similar to the Outer Banks Fishing Pier in Nags Head. You can find tackle & bait in the house, and the snack bar also has drinks and food for when you need to recharge.
Visit the Beach
Most people visit Kill Devil Hills for the beaches. As with other Outer Banks towns, beaches in Kill Devil Hills have rules and regulations. For example, you can’t bring your dog to the beach from 9 am to 6 pm between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
Similarly, you can’t bring glass or have bonfires at the beaches, and driving on the beach can only happen between October and March. The rules are necessary to ensure all beachgoers have an enjoyable time.
There’s no boardwalk across Kill Devil Hills beaches. However, navigating the dunes to get to the beach or reach the beachside shops for some refreshment is easy.
There are many public beach accesses across the town and more private options if you’re in one of the numerous oceanfront hotels or motels.
Go on a Dune Buggy Cruise
Visitors can rent a buggy to cruise the dunes along the beach road. Feeling the cool air from the water in your face as you race through the road is an exhilarating experience. There are many types of dune buggies to choose from, including 4×4 Jeeps and more vintage car models. You can rent a buggy by the hour or for a whole day.
Make Your Own Pottery
You’ll find lots of beach-themed artwork across local shops in Kill Devil Hills, but what if you learned how to make some yourself? Visit the art studios in the town to learn how to transform a ceramic piece into beautiful artwork you’ll be proud of. The studios fire your completed design in the kiln to finish it. Overall, it’s a great way to spend some time with your family.
Play Miniature Golf
A visit to Kill Devil Hills is incomplete if you don’t play a round of mini-golf with your whole family. There are multiple mini-golf courses in Kill Devil Hills, each offering a unique experience with its own theme.
Surfing is popular within the Kill Devil Hills community. The town has received some votes as one of the best surf towns in the US. There are a few surf schools in the area, each offering stand-up paddleboard and surf training.
Take a Boat to the Water
If you love cruising the beach waters with a boat, but you don’t have a boat, you can rent one while in Kill Devil Hills. Most boat rental companies allow rentals for single or multiple days. The boats come with real-time GPS tracking, life-vests, etc. Some companies will bring the boat right to your dock.
What Makes Kill Devil Hills Unique
Kill Devil Hills is the authentic birthplace of aviation. Kitty Hawk used to hold that designation before the incorporation of Kill Devil Hills as a town. However, the first flight took place in what’s now Kill Devil Hills. The Wright Brothers Memorial attracts lots of tourists every year. The anniversary of the First Flight is held every December at the memorial.
However, the town is more than just an attraction for history buffs interested in aviation. The mix of fun, food, and entertainment in Kill Devil Hills delivers an experience that’s hard to match by any other OBX town. The 4th of July fireworks display along the oceanfront attracts thousands of spectators.
Additionally, several special events are held exclusively in the town, including regular live music, marathons, etc. The magnificent collection of holiday lights on display at the Poulos Family Christmas Home is one of the most attractive you’ll ever see.
Beer lovers will appreciate that the town also has the only local brewery in the Outer Banks. The Outer Banks Brewing Station allows sampling, and in the evening, the area lights up for music and dancing.
Another unique aspect of Kill Devil Hills is the miles of unpopulated beaches, even during the summer. If you want a beautiful OBX location where you won’t feel too cramped during the peak of summer, Kill Devil Hills is the place to be.
The sound side features a slightly quieter area made up of residential neighborhoods. Colington, a community with year-round residences, adds to the allure of Kill Devil Hills. The canal-front access from the town and magnificent boat docks make for magical sunsets. It’s well off the beaten path.
Overall, Kill Devil Hills is the perfect mix of everything. The combination of pomp, pageantry, the hustle and bustle, and tranquility makes the town an excellent vacation destination. Other beach towns close up for winter, but businesses here are often open all year, serving locals and tourists.
The beachfront properties in the area are typically more luxurious in general than the options in other parts of the OBX. The area has shown faster development as well, which is perhaps best captured by the fact that it’s usually the most populated part of the Outer Banks region all year.
Kill Devil Hills’ history is one of the most intriguing in the Outer Banks area. First, no one knows the origin of the peculiar town name. Many local theories and legends have tried to explain the name over the last two centuries, albeit unsuccessfully. A document from 1809 holds the first recorded reference to the town.
According to some locals, the town’s name came from a potent rum presumed to be strong enough to “kill the devil.” Others suggest that the rum’s brand name was actually “Kill Devil Rum,” and the town just adopted the name.
Additional lore suggests that lamp lights from travelers over the hill distracted and disoriented sailors, causing shipwrecks once within the turbulent inshore shoals—thus, sailors named the town Kill Devil Hills. While the origins remain unclear, the name stuck quickly.
In 1873, the Lifesaving Station building watching over the local beaches got the Kill Devil Hills name, further entrenching it. Therefore, it didn’t come as a surprise that the town retained the name during its official incorporation in 1953.
Kill Devil Hills stayed off the radar almost completely until the Wright Brothers came to town to test their gliding mechanisms in an area with excellent wind conditions. They worked on the project for three years before the famous First Flight in 1903, where they took their new invention to the top of the hill to try it out. Thus, the first engine-powered flight was born.
The successful launch of the flight did more for Kill Devil Hills in terms of visibility than any other event. The government commissioned the Wright Brothers Memorial in 1927. Since its completion in 1932, the site has remained one of the key attractions in the region.