Vacation for Less-Outer Banks, NC

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The Outer Banks consists of many cities; Nags Head, Kitty Hawk, Corolla, and Hatteras Island to name a few. Each area offers beaches, restaurants and unique attractions. We have been vacationing in OBX for as long as I can remember. We tend to take mini trips since we only live a couple hours away. Here are few ideas for vacationing for less in the Outer Banks:

I must confess that a family member owns a cottage in Nags Head, so I’ve never had to pay for accommodations. Don’t know anyone you can beg for a place to stay? There are countless hotels and cottage rentals to suit every need and budget.

Checkout the usual discount sites such as,, and for hotels. I also found discounts using the Entertainment Book website.

Cottage Rentals are the best way to go if you plan to stay for a week. You have a kitchen so you can cook your own food which cuts the food budget substantially. A couple sites I found for rentals are HERE and HERE.

Try Camping if your looking to “rough it,” what better place than on the beach!

Rates jump during peak season. A cottage rental in February may cost $1250wk, in June $1920wk. Try for early spring or late fall. The waters too cold for swimming but the weather is usually warm. I found sites offering “minivacations” (3 nights) during the off season.

Don’t stay right on the beach. Yes, the view is amazing, but you will pay for it. Staying a couple blocks from the beach lowers your rate plus the extra walk is good for you. I’ve always had a 2 block walk and it’s not that bad, really! If we’re planning a full beach day with Tons of stuff, we drive down early and get set up then walk down later with the kids.

Obviously, rates are more expensive for rentals with pools. Think about if it’s really a necessity. If you don’t like swimming in the ocean (Rip Currents are VERY real), you may want the pool. If you don’t think you’ll use it much, skip the extra cost and hassle.

Share with friends. Rentals tend to be for a week and that can get costly. Further, it’s a long time to be off work. Consider splitting the rental with good friends. An over lap of stay can be extra fun for kids and adults.

The BEACHHey, it’s free and why you came to OBX right? Pack your sun block, water, snacks, and sand toys and spend the day relaxing in the sun.

Jockey’s Ridge State Park is located in Nags Head; it is the largest sand dunes on the East Coast. Climb the dunes, fly a kite or take hang gliding lessons. Free admission!

Outer Banks Center for Wildlife Education is located in Corolla. There are also classes for children ages 4 and up-click programs. Free Admission!

North Carolina Aquarium is located on Roanoke Island. Take a break from the beach or use as a rainy day activity. Fees: $8 adults, $6 children, FREE ages 5 and under.

Cape Hatteras Lighthouse was completed in 1870 and is the tallest brick lighthouse in North America. There’s No Fee to enter Cape Hatteras National Seashore. It’s just amazing to stand outside and look at the lighthouse and play on the beach. Climbing Fees: $7 adults and $3.50 for children under 12 (must be 42” tall)

Wright Brother National Memorial is located in Kill Devil Hills and is the sight of Wilbur and Orville Wright’s first successful airplane flight in 1903. Fees: $4 ages 16 and older, FREE ages 15 and under.

Corolla Wild Horses the name says it all! You can also pay to rent jeeps or take guided tours.

Drive on the Beach. We used to love to do this in Corolla. Do you own a four-wheel drive vehicle? Make sure your vehicle can handle the deep sand otherwise; you’ll pay for it, literally.

There are several movie theaters for a break from the beach or even better, go to redbox and rent a movie with a free promo code!  You could also try miniture golf.  Here’s a site with attraction and dining coupons.

As a couponer you know that eating at home is always cheaper so take that concept on your vacation, at least for breakfast and lunch. You’ll find Kmart, Walmart, Food Lion and Harris Teeter to get your perishables. If possible, pack your free cereal, cheap granola bars and water to save more. Do you live close? Take a freezer casserole so you don’t have to cook. It’s your vacation too!

There are numerous restaurants in OBX that we have here in VA; Papa Johns, Tropical Smoothie, Outback, etc. See if a local coupon is valid anywhere or use a gift card if you have one lying around. Checkout these sites HERE and HERE for online coupons and reviews.

You can make any vacation cheaper by planning ahead, doing research, and implementing some of the same frugal principles you use at home.

Happy Traveling!

Note: I can’t  guarantee rates or tips and sites listed are not necessarily recommendations. You must perform your own research and use your best judgment when planning vacations.


  1. Megan Wolf says

    Thank you so much for researching this! I especially like the entertainment suggestions! Really wonderful! Love your blog! Thank you!

  2. Dana says

    Glad you liked it! Jockey's Ridge is fun for the kids-my heart stops when they go down. Forgot to mention, the sand is HOT in the middle of the day.

  3. CJ's Mommie says

    I agree! Eating at home is cheaper. When we went to Disney World in May we shopped for groceries and cooked breakfast and lunch, but dined out as a luxury since we were vacationing! The savings were plus and that allowed us to do other fun things while in Orlando.


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