Friday, December 15, 2006

OBX For Those in the know

Ahhhh...a family vacation...a week with the in laws...a 14 (yes I said 14!) hour car ride...sound like fun? Well it should. Our first trip to the Outer Banks of North Carolina was, in a word, great and will not be our last either.

One thing noticeably different about the Outer Banks is the lack of huge condo developments and big hotels. Beach house rentals are the lodging of choice here and that, I think, sets the tone for the area. Because of this the OBX is more family focused than some other beach destinations. This for us is perfect. We rented a great beach house with a view of the Atlantic out the front and a nothing but marsh out the back. Eight bedrooms with eight and half baths were more than we needed but made us feel very spoiled. Our house, like many others, came with a private pool and hot tub. Both of which got plenty of use. When we go back I can't imagine renting any other house.

As far as activities go there are of course the mandatory putt putt and go cart establishments that are required for any tourist destination. I will say that there are not as many nor are they as big and annoying as some I've seen in other parts of the country. Other activities include the Wright Brothers Museum, Jockeys Ridge State Park (with huge sand dunes which are perfect for kite flying or hang gliding if you are brave enough) and of course lighthouses.

We took a day trip from our South Nags Head location to visit the Cape Hatteras Light House and Ocracoke Island. If you find yourself in the OBX don't miss this great trip. While the Hatteras lighthouse provides great views for me it was Ocracoke that was the highlight. This is a tiny island that time could have easily forgotten were it not for the free ferry that shuttles tourists back and forth (allow plenty of time for the ferry). This is a quaint seaside village with adorable shops and good restaurants. I can recommend the Parmesan Crusted fish at Cafe Atlantic. Moist flavorful fish encrusted in a delicious parmesan crust that had me from the first bite. Also try any of there wonderful homemade desserts. The coconut cream pie was a hit with my wife and I. Cafe Atlantic was recommended to us by Brian at BW (Big Waves Big Water) Surf Shop. One of the great little shops in town. Brian is super friendly and has a great selection of flip flops if you are in the market. If you stop by tell him we sent you. Ocracoke is definatly worth the trip.

During my stay I had the opportunity to play a couple of golf courses. Goose Greek Golf Club was okay but not worth the money. At the opposite end of the spectrum is Kilmarlic. This is a gem of a course and as head pro Dan O'Boyle says any level player can enjoy it. This course is a lush as they come. You will find an open course with plenty of water and sand to make you feel not far from the beach. Unlike many of the other courses in the area this is not a links style but more of a North American traditional. At Kilmarlic you will find greens that roll true, beautiful fairways and rough that will not overly penalize you. Be sure to bring a few extra golf balls for #11 though. The island green took two from me bofore I finally got on and made a 20 footer for a double! The entire staff was helpful and the pro shop is well stocked without gouging you on price.

In my next post I will give you a couple of restaurants not be missed in the OBX and one that I wouldn't bother with.

Tuesday's Tip: Allow plenty of time to take the ferry to Ocracoke. They leave every thirty minutes but you will, more than likely, have to wait in line for at least one or two ferrys before you can get on. The wait is worth it though.

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