For bird lovers, the Outer Banks is hard to beat. This delicate chain of barrier islands is not only home to dozens of different native shorebirds, but also thousands of migrating birds who make a rest stop on the Outer Banks every year. Add to this the fact that the islands have hundreds of miles of deserted beaches, maritime forest, and marshlands for species to quietly flourish, and it's clear that the Outer Banks is literally for the birds.
Let the kids run wild in Carova, a desolate beach destination that's famed for wild horses, isolated beaches, and miles of pristine shoreline. Combined with the neighboring town of Corolla, which features a world of shops and entertainment, kids will never be bored in this unique, Currituck Banks destination.
These local educational sites and museums in Corolla and the central Outer Banks prove that learning can be fun, and will surely appeal to a wide range of interests and ages.
Outer Banks Center for Wildlife Education - This sprawling center next to the Historic Corolla Park features plenty of activities just for kids, including tutorials and programs on fishing, kayaking and even nature photography. Young visitors will also be wowed by the center's signature 8,000 gallon aquarium, which is home to a myriad of local Outer Banks sea creatures.
Corolla Wild Horse Tours - The northern Currituck Beaches feature a half dozen companies that offer tours along the 4WD Carova Beaches in search of the famous wild horses. Educational and fun, these tours coincide with an on-the-sand Jeep, truck, or even 4WD bus ride, which is entertaining in its own right for tour-goers of all ages
Corolla Wild Horse Museum - This Corolla museum, which is staffed with knowledgeable and passionate local volunteers, sheds light on the history of the wild horses, as well as the current preservation efforts to maintain their legacy and wild Outer Banks lifestyle. Kids will especially adore the on-site gift shop, which features an abundance of wild horse books, toys, and apparel.
The Whalehead in Historic Corolla - The Whalehead in Historic Corolla is a solid destination for older kids who have an affinity for art, history, or architecture. Considered one of the best examples of the elite Art Deco architecture of the 1920s, the Whalehead in Historic Corolla offers regular guided tours, in addition to special "ghost tours" or "holiday tours" during certain seasons.
Currituck Beach Lighthouse - Climbing the Currituck Beach Lighthouse is an exciting tradition that results in unparalleled views that are 162' feet above the ground. The lighthouse is open for climbers in the summer months for a small fee, and is a suitable adventure for older kids who can handle the hike to the top.
Outer Banks Children's Museum - Head to Kitty Hawk, (located about a 30 minute drive away from Carova), to explore this museum designed for the Outer Banks' youngest visitors. Exhibits on local professions and the Outer Banks landscape allow kids to learn and play in a fun-filled environment designed especially with them in mind.
Carova is made for outdoors lovers, and active kids will love tackling these activities.
Hiking / Biking - Head to the Currituck Banks National Estuarine Preserve for an exploration of the Outer Banks' wild maritime forests. A short boardwalk is located close to the northern Corolla entrance, which is appropriate for all ages. A longer rustic path which leads to the sound is also located nearby, and presents views of the local woods, marshes, and the open Currituck Sound waters.
Stand-up Paddle Boarding, Kiteboarding and Windsurfing - The Currituck Sound is popular with watersports lovers, and visitors can easily access this area via a Carova canalfront home, from the Carova Beach Park at Milepost 21 in Carova, or from the Historic Corolla Park in Corolla. Carova vacationers can also easily pick up equipment rentals or lessons at local Corolla watersports shops, like Kitty Hawk Kites or Island Revolution.
Kayaking - Carova vacationers can enjoy a guided tour of the Currituck Sound's extensive wildlife via local tour companies and watersports shops in Corolla, such as Coastal Explorations, Outer Banks Kayaks Tours, and Kitty Hawk Kites. For a self-guided expedition, head to the Carova Beach Park on Ocean Pearl Road, (Milepost 21), which features a small public boat launch that leads directly to the open sound.
Skate Parks - Neighboring Corolla is home to two local skate parks, including one at Island Revolution, and one at the Corolla Light Town Center. Island Revolution offers weekly or daily passes for visitors, in addition to skate clinics, while the Corolla Light skate park boasts 5,000 square feet of dual bowls, grind pipes, quarter pipes and jumps.
Swimming - On a calm summer day, the ocean waters in Carova feature a gradual slope and gentle waves, which makes it ideal for swimmers of all ages. (Although parents should note that there are no lifeguarded beaches in Carova.) Many Carova vacation rentals that are 5 bedrooms or more may also include their own private swimming pool, which is generally available from late spring until early fall.
Playgrounds - Playgrounds can be found at two of neighboring Corolla's larger shopping centers, the Corolla Light Town Center and the Timbuck II Shopping Center. The Carova Beach Park at Milepost 21 has limited equipment, but does feature public restrooms, room to run around, and a good chance of spotting a small herd of Corolla's Famous Wild Horses.
Shelling - Wait for a low tide or a summer storm, and then hit the beach with bags in hand to collect the abundance of sea-worthy treasures that wash ashore. Look for small "shell piles" close to the ocean wash, and dig through the pile to find small and intact coquinas, augers, periwinkles, moon snails, and more.
Ghost Crab Hunting - When the sun goes down, grab a flashlight and take a walk below the high tide line to spot the famed local ghost crabs, which make regular nocturnal appearances in the summer months. Because the Carova beaches are isolated and undeveloped, the 4WD Shoreline is the perfect locale to "hunt" these abundant Outer Banks critters.
For a quiet afternoon in, or a wild evening out, check out these local activities that are found in Carova, neighboring Corolla, and even right at home.
Braids and Beads - Corolla is home to two shops that offer beach braids, hair beading, and temporary henna tattoos. Life on a Sandbar & Hair Wraps and Beach Braids both feature a number of cool, beach-inspired hairstyle and body art options just for kids, allowing young visitors to enjoy a bit of island style.
Arts and Crafts - Head to Corolla's Local Color for a fun painting class or painting party, or stop at Stonies Ice Cream & Fun, which features a wealth of crafting projects, like sand art and ceramic painting, for patrons of all ages. Visitors can also head to Kill Devil Hills' Garden of Beadin' for an opportunity to make their own unique jewelry pieces from thousands of beads.
Go Karts - Nearby Corolla is home to the Currituck Raceway, which is adjacent to the Timbuck II Shopping Center, and which features a seasonal go kart race track as well as bumper cars and other fun diversions.
Mini Golf - There are two mini golf courses in neighboring Corolla, which include the 27-hole Corolla Adventure Golf, and the 20-hole Grass Course. Corolla Adventure Golf, which also boasts bumper cars, a snack bar and arcade games, will appeal to children of all ages, while older kids will appreciate the more simplified, and more challenging, natural Grass Course.
Shopping - Kids will adore cruising the many beach stores, surf shops, and cool gift stores that are found in abundance in Corolla's local shopping centers, including Timbuck II Shopping Village, Scarborough Lane Shoppes, and Corolla Light Town Center. These stores are essentially the perfect place to pick up beach gear, beach apparel, and even watersports equipment and rentals, to make any day on the Carova beach an adventure.
Dining - Corolla has dozens of restaurants that will appeal to kids' palettes, and which feature kid-friendly staples like pizza, burgers, hot dogs, Mexican food, and even ice cream. Spend an afternoon enjoying the local cuisine, or order a pizza or two to enjoy at the Carova vacation rental home. (Several local pizza restaurants even offer off-road delivery to the Carova 4WD area.)
Fun at Home - The vacation rentals in Carova are among the most opulent places to stay on the Outer Banks, and as such, visitors will enjoy a wealth of amenities that ensure plenty of on-site entertainment. With game rooms, media rooms, home theaters, and plenty of games and books, kids generally don't have to go very far to have a blast at a Carova vacation rental.