Outer banks – Corolla Dreaming

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On Thanksgiving weekend (2021), my mom and I set out for what I call ‘the glorious edge of the world’ – The Outer Banks of North Carolina.

We enjoyed several days enjoying the gorgeous and peaceful scenery of North Carolina’s northern Outer Banks from the seaside village of Corolla to formidable Hatteras Island.

We checked into the Hampton Inn in Corolla on Thanksgiving night. The oceanfront property is conveniently located a few minutes from Corolla Village and the Currituck Lighthouse. Readers may remember an earlier trip to the region several years ago, but as any traveler will tell you the ocean is constant and ever changing. I never tire of the view from the area around Corolla.

While fall and winter is not the popular season for tourists who enjoy sunbathing and swimming in the wave crashed waters – it is an ideal escape if you are open to solitude, ocean views and are on a budget. Prices drop significantly in the Outer Banks in the winter. Often times the weather is still fairly warm…but as luck would have it Jack Frost decided to join us on this adventure. The average temps were in the 40s with windchill.

On Friday, my mom and kicked off our day with the buffet breakfast and a quick walk on the beach. We then bundled up and headed to historic Corolla Village for their outdoor Christmas Fair.

Stepping into Corolla (pronounced Kuh-Rah-La) you feel as though you have entered a movie – or a hidden paradise. The historic village – remnants of bygone eras and a future unwritten – meanders through sandy unpaved streets. Historic homes are shaded by live oaks, scrub pines as the nearby Currituck sound echoes in the distance.

The mood felt like Christmas with the crisp chill of wintry air. Bundled up, my mom and I found a parking spot on a side street, near the Island Bookstore.

“I wouldn’t mind grabbing a fun cozy read for the weekend,” I pointed to towards the store. “Let’s check it out.”

This local book chain is perfect for readers of all ages. Housed in a two story historic home, the bookstore is filled to the rafters with nooks and crannies of all genres of books from specialty, regional, children’s and pop fiction.

I purchased a cozy Christmas romance from a British author and my mom discovered a few reads as well.

Also from the Island Bookstore, I noticed a sign for ‘coffee.’ I am a coffee snob – I love good coffee and make a point to seek out local coffee shops while traveling.

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The Corolla Village Market and Kind Coffee is by far one of the favorite hidden gems I’ve found in my travels. This refitted coastal home houses ‘fresh art’ from OBX artists and fresh roasted in house coffee.

My mom and I split a latte and also ordered their signature hot chocolate topped with fresh whipped cream and peppermint. Can I say DELICIOUS?

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After perusing the shops, we made our way to the Currituck Lighthouse. While I have a special love of lighthouses, Currituck is one of my favorites. It has a calming effect – perhaps it is Currituck’s located amid the live oaks and forest or the ambling path from the Keeper’s quarters – but it is a refuge – a place time forgot.

Fun Facts about Currituck Lighthouse

  • Currituck Beach Lighthouse towers above the northern Outer Banks in the historic Corolla Village. The last brick and mortar lighthouse built in North Carolina, its unpainted red brick served as a day marker to distinguish it from other coastal lighthouses.
  • The Currituck Beach Lighthouse is a first order lighthouse, having the largest of seven Fresnel lens sizes. With a 20-second flash cycle, the light can be seen from 18 nautical miles away. Upon entering, you will find exhibits interpreting the history and significance of the Currituck Beach Lighthouse; its role in cultural and maritime history on the Outer Banks is robust.
  • Lighthouse has 220 steps and the topflight view offers expansive vistas of the Currituck Sound, Atlantic Ocean, and the northern Outer Banks.
  • The Lighthouse has 1 million bricks

One of the coolest coastal shops is the Lighthouse Giftshop – housed in the keeper’s quarters – this giftshop benefits the lighthouse foundation and has the best souvenirs. I found lots of Christmas gifts from postcards and maps to several gorgeous lighthouse prints. To learn more about Currituck Lighthouse and giftshop click here

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We stopped briefly at the Maritime Museum before checking out the crafts fair. My mom found a cool handmade church decoration – ideal for Christmas.

Area highlights at Currituck and the surrounding Corolla Village include:

Maritime Museum – newly opened – this tells the story of the land’s maritime history.

Whalehead – this gorgeous former hunting lodge is now a popular spot for weddings.

Outer Banks Center for Wildlife Education – great museum that tells the story of the Outer Banks wildlife and resources

Wild Horses – the famed wild horses of Corolla are legendary. Families enjoy jeep rides over the sandy beaches of OBX to see this gorgeous wild horses.

For more travel ideas I recommend this site.


After a full day at Corolla, my mom and I decided to drive south to the community of Duck.

Duck is a quaint and fun tourist town with waterfront views of the Currituck Sound and Atlantic Ocean. We enjoyed a scallop dinner with a stunning waterfront view as the sunset into the sound.

May be an image of nature, twilight, ocean and sky

Darkness comes so early in November – that by five thirty the night was pitch black. After dinner we finished our evening with a quick drive back to the lighthouse to see the ‘Christmas lights.’

Stay tuned to my next post as I conclude our trip review.

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