25 + 21 + 13.9 + 4 = one of 125. Try that equation with the family when you announce your Outer Banks beach vacation.
Grand possibilities abound along the newly designated National Scenic Byway on this North Carolina coast.
Sure you know people who’ve enjoyed the Outer Banks. Their rent-a-big-house-on-the-beach style is still quite fine.
But now there’s a new way to go, with prompts to slip into fishing villages and ways to connect with families sharing rich traditions shaped by living on the water’s edge for generations.
Ferries carry cars and kids
First the math. Data’s interesting along this new National Scenic Byway, unlike any other. 25 means the number of ferry riding miles you can experience.
How many villages might you visit? That’s the 21 in the equation so clearly some narrowing down needs to happen for the holiday.
Lingering in Outer Banks fishing villages opens opportunities to discover someone like Bubba Harris weaving a pound net, continuing a skill learned as a little boy from a grandfather.
13.9 means the miles of tidal marshes and rivers between villages. Consider kayaking in or biking next to the expanse of tidal marsh in what they call Down East when you exit the ferry from Ocracoke Island.
Four would be the number of iconic lighthouses you can visit, some to climb, some with outstanding museums.
125 is the total of National Scenic Byways in America and it’s no small matter to qualify. Outstanding roadways – that’s what each one must be, documenting specific geology, heritage, culture and community.
Travelers can count on discovering the essence of a place on a National Scenic Byway because local folks had to work so very hard to qualify for this designation.
Discover stories in abundance, by listening to fisherman at the docks as they unload a day’s catch, in the eateries as villagers greet one another exuberantly, in a more formal way in May at the second annual Hatteras Storytelling Festival.
Colorful place names
Whalebone Junction is the northern end of this 138 driving miles paralleling pristine beaches. North River is the southern entrance. I drove top to bottom, spending the first night in Nag’s Head and the last in Beaufort, 13 miles beyond the access road to Cape Lookout Lighthouse.
South to north would work just as well, especially if riding the auto-carrying ferries sounds like a launch for family fun.
Closest airports? Norfolk VA to the north and New Bern NC to the south.
Note: This is the first in a series of stories along the Outer Banks National Scenic Byway.