“The ocean stirs the heart, inspires the imagination and brings eternal joy to the soul.” – Robert Wyland
Next on the OBX tour is Corolla, which they sometimes call the last beach frontier. It is at the very Northern end of the Outerbanks. And while it has only really been in the last forty years that it was developed, it is filled with insane beauty. It is a mixture of new and old, and truly embodies that OBX charm.
Corolla (pronounced not like the comedian, but with a Southern flare) is known for gorgeous beaches, humongous dunes, as well as the wild horses that run free on the beach. It has a bike path that actually connects to the one in Duck (as I mentioned in my last post, I can not tell when it ends and it begins) and is perfect for walking, running or yes riding your bike. I absolutely adored Corolla as there was so much to do, and you could really get the feel of OBX.
The Whalehead Historic Museum
Located in the historic Corolla Park, the Whalehead is a renovated mansion that now operates as a museum. Built in 1925, it was used as a lavish hunting retreat by the Knight family and legend says it might just be haunted. While I didn’t see any ghosts, the architecture and building as a whole was and is stunning. As are the lands it abuts, in particular the foot bridge which also was built in 1925. While it is open to the public, you can also host events there. It truly is a stunning, yet peaceful place to visit.
The Maritime Museum
Nearby, is the newly built Currituck Maritime Museum, which just opened in 2021. It is open 7 days a week and is free to the public. It not only gives rich insight into the nautical history of the Outerbanks, but especially Corolla, from piracy, to whaling, to the commercial fishing and tourism we now know it to be. The museum is filled with boats, fresnel lenses from light houses, old traps, and other assortment of historical artifacts. It takes you on a rich tour of the area and gives you a greater appreciation for this quaint village.
Historic Corolla Village
Just feet from the museums, lighthouse, and park, down an unpaved road is the Historic Corolla Village, that literally feels like you have taken a step back through time. Many of the buildings have been newly restored, or are being restored, and give you a glimpse of what life was like when Corolla was still very much cut off from the rest of North Carolina.
From the chapel, to the life saving station, to the one room school house, which is STILL in use today, it was fun to walk through this small, but mighty town, and let my imagination run wild. Many of the restored buildings, are now businesses, and it includes a coffee shop, which was fun to discover, as well as other fun little shops. It is definitely a place I could have spent all day in.
Currituck Beach Light House
The crowning jewel in Corolla and in the park, is the Currituck Beach Lighthouse. First lit in 1875, it was the final lighthouse to be built along the North Carolina Coast. Incredibly, it STILL has the original Fresnel lens. Comprised of 220 steps, it is open to the public to climb to the top which is exactly what I did.
And yes as someone who hates heights, I am very proud of myself! It wasn’t horrific, because it wasn’t windy that day, which usually makes it worse for me. The views were inanely gorgeous. That alone made it worth it!
The inside of the lighthouse is pretty cool, with the brick walls, and rod iron staircase. While I wasn’t a fan of the gaps between each stair, it did make for incredibly cool pictures and view as I looked up to the top and saw the fresnel light. This might sound corny, but I literally felt the history coming through. Though not going to lie, I definitely had sweaty feet as I made my way down the stairs afterwards. It is definitely worth it to see, and even better to combat your (my) fears! Corolla is the perfect place to visit if you have a big group with diverse interests, as there really is something for everyone!
Have you been to Corolla? What is your favorite thing to do there?