Atlantic Coast

The windswept 110-foot-high twin sand dunes of Jockey’s Ridge State Park (252/441-7132, daily, free) tower over US-158 between Kitty Hawk and Nags Head. The highest sand dunes on the East Coast, Jockey’s Ridge barely survived being bulldozed in the 1970s to form yet another Outer Banks resort; it’s now one of the prime hang-gliding spots in the country—remember the Wright brothers! Jockey’s Ridge is also a nice place to wander the short boardwalk nature trail that points out the diverse plants and animals of the dune community. You may want to take your shoes off and scamper around the sands barefoot. If you feel especially daring, Kitty Hawk Kites Hang Gliding School (252/441-2426, $99 and up) in the park at milepost 12 dubs itself the “World’s Largest Hang-Gliding School” and offers equipment rentals to certified pilots and lessons to those of all experience levels, plus anything else you might need to make the most of your time here.