Duck, North Carolina

Photo: SCMiller (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons
Photo: SCMiller (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
What do you get when you combine a picturesque New England island—weathered-shingle houses, windswept beaches, and freshly caught seafood—with a strong dose of Southern hospitality? It’s the Outer Banks, otherwise known as your new, favorite summer destination.

The Outer Banks run parallel to the North Carolina coast for 130 miles. They’re filled with sand dunes, lighthouses, fishermen, and wild horses. Stands selling hand-picked sweet corn, tomatoes, and peaches line the sand-covered roads. Great blue herons wade through low-tide puddles in search of crabs to eat. And most visitors are not first-timers. This is a place families return year after year, generation after generation.

You’re staying at the Sanderling Resort, just north of the little village of Duck. One side of the resort has views of the Atlantic Ocean; the other overlooks Currituck Sound. The plantation-style main building has wrap-around verandas, a relaxing spa, and three pools. But your focus is the beach. Join the surfers catching early morning waves. Kayak through the marshland at high tide. Search for shells when the water starts to retreat. Try kiteboarding as the wind picks up in the afternoon. Or just relax under a shady umbrella.

Photo: hortongrou via freeimages.com
Photo: hortongrou via freeimages.com

Dinner comes with a water view. Start with a glass of chilled wine while sitting on an Adirondack chair overlooking the calm sound. The pink sky promises another perfect beach day tomorrow. Then move inside the Blue Point for dinner. Appetizers—she-crab soup, crispy fried green tomatoes, and ginger-and-hoisin-glazed Carolina shrimp—are meant for sharing. You’ll be licking the spicy red-eye aioli off your plate when you finish the fried Carolina catfish. Despite being stuffed, you can’t pass on warm pecan pie, especially when it’s served with bourbon ice cream.

Tomorrow, you’ll jog the beach, where two happy yellow labs will join you, to burn off dinner. You’ll go fishing on the Sanderling, book a sea-of-life facial at the spa, check out the concert at Duck’s amphitheater, and watch the sun set from the overwater gazebo at the Sunset Grille with a margarita. Then you’ll start planning to return next summer—and probably the summer after that, as well.

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