Atlantic Coast

The towns of the northern Outer Banks overlap each other so much it can be hard to tell you are in Nags Head, six miles south of Kitty Hawk. One of the oldest and most popular resorts in the region, Nags Head also offers the widest range of visitor facilities. Good places to spend a night or two include a beachfront roadside classic at milepost 16.5: the historic Sea Foam Motel (7111 S. Virginia Dare Trail, 252/441-7320, $130 and up), one of the last surviving 1940s motels on the Outer Banks. The pine-paneled walls, vivid tiles, and slamming screen doors will take you back to a simpler time. Nearby, the even more atmospheric First Colony Inn (6715 S. Croatan Hwy., 252/441-2343 or 800/368-9390, $89 and up), along US-158 at milepost 16, was moved from its valuable oceanfront location to the middle of the island, but it still offers oodles of old-fashioned charm along with a delicious breakfast and afternoon tea.

One more long-standing local landmark, Sam & Omie’s (7228 S. Virginia Dare Trail, 252/441-7366, closed for a few weeks in winter), near the east end of US-64, has featured inexpensive but well-prepared family fare, three meals a day plus a full bar, for 80 years.