Local News

Get off the beaten track on drive to Outer Banks

Posted May 1, 2009
Updated May 2, 2009

Head east out of Raleigh on U.S. Highway 64 toward the Outer Banks, and two hours down the road, you'll find yourself in Plymouth.

The town is one of several stops worth making before getting to the beach.

"I found a nice, quaint town," said tourist Cartherine Lovequist, who got off the beaten track in Plymouth.

On the west side of town lies a replica of the original Roanoke Lighthouse. You can wander around the grounds for free or pony up the adult admission of $1.50 to see the inside of the lighthouse and learn about life on the river.

A few blocks east, check out a replica Civil War ironclad. The site also make a great place for a picnic lunch.

"It's great. I would recommend it to everyone," Lovequist said.

Nags Head Trip to beach can make for interesting sightseeing

A short 30-minute ride farther east along U.S. 64 is the town of Columbia, on the Scuppernong River.

There, the Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge Resource Center hides behind a rest stop right off U.S. 64. Take a walk into the wetlands on a three-quarter mile nature trail.

"It's a good way to get a taste of what we have available in the entire park," park manager Howard Phillips said.

Be sure to bring your bug spray.

And then, not too much farther along the highway lies the 200 miles of beach known as the Outer Banks.

Highway improvements have made the shoreline only a three-hour trip from Raleigh. As another bonus, gas prices on the coast are usually a cent or two lower than in the Triangle.

"If you haven't been to the Outer Banks in the last five years, it's a lot closer than you remember," said Aaron Tuell, with the Outer Banks Tourist Bureau.

There are more than 80 public access points to the beach in Dare County and parking is free. It won't cost you a cent to surf, stroll, swim or surf.

Save a little energy to muster up for a sunset climb on the large dune at Jockey's Ridge State Park in Nags Head.

"It's free, and it's a blast," said tourist Carrie Sanders, who spent hours on the sand with her children. "We just love the beach."


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  • Hip-Shot May 1, 2009

    I agree, Plymouth is an interesting and historic town and enjoy stopping there. I only wish the powers that be were more concerned with fishermen than birds such as piping plovers. I love to head to the Outer Banks for fishing but there are few of the good fishing spots reachable due to protecting the birds.

  • OpinionOnEverything May 1, 2009

    Plymouth is a great little town to stop by on the way to the OBX.

    Unfortunately, it seems the state DOT has been making it harder for folks from the Triangle to do anything but zip right on through on 4-lanes of asphalt on their way to Nags Head. A bypass in every town, that's usually deserted for most of the year, has made it easier to avoid towns like Plymouth, while making it much more difficult to get out of our crowded urban areas after work.

  • briathar626 May 1, 2009

    As a Plymouth native, I have to say the community has put forth quite an effort over the last several years to revitalize the downtown. It's an ongoing endeavor, but the area is leaps and bounds ahead of where it was 10 years ago when I left home. If you are into history, Plymouth has quite a bit of it--the Port O' Plymouth museum on the waterfront is a great place to visit and learn about Plymouth's role in the Civil War. There is also a historic walking tour where you can see several of the structures that stood during that time, including Grace Episcopal Church which is a gorgeous structure. And, as far as "small town politics" go, Plymouth has no more and no less of that than any other small town in the area--doesn't change the fact that it's a charming town to visit.

  • capitalland May 1, 2009

    I have been to Plymouth many times on Bass fishing trips. I like river towns and the Roanoke is a special river. The history in the civil war museum is interesting. As to the 'Ghost Town' comment, have you been downtown in Raleigh on a weeknight?

    Last Sunday I roade a BMW touring motorcycle from Wake Forest to Hatteras and back. The best 8 hours I've spent in a long time. Too bad I didn't get to stop off in Plymouth.