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the OBX is OPEN – even in winter!

Every year I hear reports that winter is here and the Outer Banks are dead. As a long time resident and still living example of local life, I think it’s safe to say the rumors of our demise are greatly exaggerated. Don’t expect a wide open, every day of the week schedule like we have in the summer, but even now there’s a lot of activity, especially on the weekends on the northern Outer Banks. Hatteras and Ocracoke Islands are a bit of another story, so we’ll save that for another day.

There are a lot of great restaurants open (though some not every day), plenty of night spots to have a drink and catch some live music, shops to shop in, and even some activities to keep you occupied. You just need to look around and maybe give a call first if you aren’t sure something’s open.

cooks in the kitchen

Ocean Boulevard.

Looking for entertainment? Friday nights check out Ocean Boulevard—late night entertainment, great wine, killer martinis and what may be the best late night bar menu around. Also in Kitty Hawk, Trio has music all winter long on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays . . . plus a great wine selection, more than two dozen beers on tap AND they are open for lunch and dinner every day.

In Nags Head, Kelly’s almost always has something happening, either some kind of special event or live music. And in Manteo Poor Richard’s packs in the crowds on Fridays and Saturdays. If you’ve ever been to Poor Richards, you’ll know that is the case—the bar is small and the crowds large.

There is more live entertainment, and this is a just small sample of what’s out there. You can always check out the Outer Banks Live Music Calendar online before you head out for the evening.

A number of restaurants stay open year ‘round and for a couple looking for a special night out or some friends gathering to celebrate there are some great choices.

Back to Ocean Boulevard—the food is innovative, well-presented and wonderful—an ideal place to unwind after a long week or to celebrate being with someone special. Also The Blue Point in Duck is an experience all its own and worth a visit. The steaks and ribs at JK’s are always a good idea, and Flying Fish Cafe & Wine Bar is cozy and has a diverse menu. 

Mama Kwan's in Kill Devil Hills, one of the best places for lunch on the Outer Banks.

Mama Kwan’s in Kill Devil Hills is a great place for lunch on the Outer Banks.

A few other places for dinner that are a little more informal—Black Pelican in Kitty Hawk has been a part of local life for 21 years, and there’s a reason for that—great food, good service and a relaxing atmosphere. Barefoot Bernie’s has a great bar for watching the game AND a family friendly restaurant, Bonzer Shack on the Beach Road in Kill Devil Hills is informal, fun and the food is good. Mama Kwan’s is a great place for lunch, and both Mulligans and Blue Moon Grill in Nags Head are worth a visit or two. If you are looking for a juice or vegan choices for lunch, try Outer Bean Juice & Java in The Dunes Shops. And hey, we just heard that Food Dudes will be open by the end of this month!

Don’t forget—Valentine’s Day falls on the Saturday of President’s Day weekend this year. Lots of folks like to come to the Outer Banks over that long weekend, so make your reservations early for that romantic dinner.

Pizza and Chinese restaurants—none of them close during the winter. The hours may be restricted, but no one closes. And good news for coffee lovers—all the coffee shops are open!

This is just a partial list, so sorry if we’ve missed your favorite spot. We just wanted to make the point that the OBX is OPEN. Is it wide open like it is in the summer? Nope. But even at this time of the year there is a lot to do, so get out there and enjoy!

Kip Tabb, HOBX correspondent

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