The town of Duck, NC, is that quiet, charming northern Outer Banks seaside town many vacationing families have been seeking. With 7 miles of clean beaches, miles of bike path and a walkable village center with shops, restaurants, a soundfront park and activities, and bordered by the Atlantic Ocean and the Currituck Sound, Duck stretches north from Southern Shores to the Dare County/Currituck County line.
The wide, uncrowded Duck beaches have been ranked among the top in the nation, thus the Duck things to do offerings mostly focus on getting wet in one fashion or another. Watersports in Duck are big at the beach, whether it’s swimming, surfing, sea kayaking, beach walking or just lazing in the sun by the ocean. On the other side of this narrow island is Currituck Sound — a perfect place to sail, paddle a canoe or kayak, parasail, Jet Ski and windsurf. Several Duck recreational outfitters supply all the goods and gear you need for these sports. And if Duck fishing is what you’re after, welcome to hours of happiness…the fish are biting almost all year. If you’re someone who prefers indoor recreation, you will appreciate Duck’s day spas.
Duck’s shopping scene is impressive. Many people staying elsewhere on the Outer Banks make a yearly tradition of shopping in Duck. All the stores here are locally owned and operated and therefore unique in character. Several shopping centers are tucked into the village, and they’re all clustered together to make shopping an all-day event you can do on foot. You’ll find a gourmet market, a produce stand, women’s boutiques, watersports gear and outdoor clothing, great bookstores, toy stores, art galleries, gift shops and so much more.
The Duck restaurants scene is also fantastic, including some of the top food and wine destinations on the Outer Banks. You can sip coffee in a front porch rocker, have a romantic dinner with a sound view, savor wine under a canopy of live oaks, eat al fresco while listening to jazz, catch sports on a bar TV, grab a slice of pizza, lick an ice cream cone while feeding ducks or take the whole family out for a seafood dinner.
In the past several years, Duck, NC, has become one of the most popular family beach destinations in the country, helping to create a plethora of Duck vacation rental companies. This likely has a lot to do with some very favorable publicity from the Travel Channel. Duck consistently ranks high on the Travel Channel’s annual America’s Best Beaches list and has been somewhere on the best beaches list since 2000. This is what the Travel Channel has to say about Duck: “Duck’s relative solitude and its vast array of neatly constructed rental homes make it ideal for families. That is, unless your family likes to go bar hopping until the wee hours, in which case you may be out of luck…. Still, while we admit Duck would never make the list for top spring break party spots, boredom is hardly a threat here.” While most visitors stay in vacation rental homes, the other Duck accommodations, while few in number, are absolute top quality.
Surprisingly, the Town of Duck has no public beach accesses. You can’t go to the beach in Duck unless you’re staying here. But all of the town’s planned developments/communities offer beach access. If you are renting a house or staying in the town’s bed and breakfast inn, you will certainly have access to the beach. Duck’s beaches are less crowded because there are no public beach accesses, but still you probably won’t ever have them all to yourself (unless it’s winter). Thousands of vacation renters get to that beach however they can. And, wisely, the Town of Duck supplies ocean rescue guards during the summer months.
As is true with the entire Outer Banks, holding destination Duck weddings is wildly popular. Weddings are big business here, but that fact doesn’t take away from the ability to have an intimate, cozy experience…or a huge, expansive event. You’ll find hundreds of businesses ready and able to cater to whatever your wedding-oriented heart desires.
Duck is a relatively new vacation destination. Thirty years ago there were only a handful of locals, a few rustic vacation cottages scattered around the dunes and one gas station. In the 1980s, things started looking up for the tiny village. The vacation homes in Duck came first, then the shops, restaurants and recreational opportunities. Duck wasn’t even an official town until 2002, but now it’s a full-fledged vacation destination that offers everything you need for a great time at the beach.
The Town of Southern Shores borders Duck to the south. This community is predominantly residential and it is vacation-oriented, though it has many more year-round residents than Duck. Southern Shores also borders the Town of Kitty Hawk, with N.C. Highway 158 as the dividing line between the two towns.
Southern Shores is a beautiful town, with much of the natural vegetation left intact and has a marvelous stretch of beach with low-density oceanfront development. Southern Shores beach accesses are not public; only residents and vacationers staying in the area are allowed to use them. The soundside of the town offers dense maritime forest vegetation and canals leading to the sound.
There are a variety of rental homes in Southern Shores, from stately oceanfront homes to rustic flat-tops.
Southern Shores is home to the Duck Woods Country Club golf course, a semi-private facility. The town also has a wonderful bike path for walkers, joggers and bikers, and it connects to the commercial areas of town.