Emily M. DeArdo

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Duck

Postcard: Duck, North Carolina

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This is an update to a post I did a few years ago, which focused solely on Duck. Now, while my family has stayed in Duck every time we've gone to the Outer Banks, this year we ventured further afield and went to Corolla, Kitty Hawk, and Kill Devil Hills, so I've included my recommendations for restaurants and shopping (when applicable) there as well. I hope you find this entry helpful if you're planning a trip to the Banks (which you should totally do). 

Getting There

You can fly into the Outer Banks--the Richmond, VA airport is fairly close--but I recommend driving, because, if you're spending a week at the beach, you're going to need a lot of stuff. For me, it's a drive that can be done in one very long day, but both times I've gone, the drive has been split into two days on the way there, and done in one on the way back. 

Housing

The house we stayed in was a Sun Realty NC rental. They have a HUGE variety of properties to fit every budget, are pet-friendly, and are fantastic to work with. (They also support the CF Foundation!) They have everything from tiny beach bungalows to multi-story houses with pool tables and in-ground pools. 

 

Food

The food in the Outer Banks (Hereafter OBX) is fantastic, especially the seafood. Here are some of the places we've enjoyed eating: 

In Duck...

The Blue Point for a nice lunch or dinner. Located in the Waterfront Shops, you have a lovely view of the sound. 1240 Duck Road. 

Duck Pizza Company: It's a Sunday evening tradition--don't go grocery shopping, get Duck pizza. They deliver, or you can eat at their shop in the Scarborough Lane shops. 1171 Duck Road. 

Duck Donuts:  Incredibly delicious. Yes, they have locations around the U.S. now, but eating Duck Donuts in the OBX is something special.  1190 Duck Road (locations throughout the OBX, check their website for locations and hours--the one in Corolla is only open until 3 pm!)

Sooey's BBQ and Rib Shack: Get some Carolina cue in the Scarborough Faire shops (right next to the Scarborough Lane shops).  1177 Duck Road. 

Duck Deli:  A large menu, indoor/outdoor setting, and a casual vibe. They also offer take out and live music and entertainment on some evenings. 1223 Duck Road. 

Roadside Bar and Grill: My favorite new place--the shrimp and grits were absolutely perfect. There were so many delicious sounding things on the menu that I could've eaten here every day of our vacation and had something new each time! 1193 Duck Road

In Manteo...

Big Al's: We ate here on our way to see The Lost Colony (More on that below) when we visited in 2010. Fantastically fun retro diner. 716 S. Highway 64. 

In Corolla....

La Dolce Vita: An Italian restaurant that has upscale/casual vibes. If you can be both at one time, this place is. Beautiful decor and fixtures but still a place you can visit in your shorts. :) The food was delicious! There are familiar classics, like spaghetti and meatballs and chicken parmesan, but also dishes like chicken saltimboca, which aren't seen as often--and is delicious. Located in the TimBuck II Shopping Village, 798 C Sunset Boulevard. 

 

In Kill Devil Hills...

Jolly Roger: OK, this place looks sort of weird from the outside, but inside, it's a great Italian restaurant, but with plenty of other dishes, like their fantastic crab cakes, to whet your appetite. And characters from The Little Mermaid are painted on the walls! 1836 North Virginia Dale Trail. 

 

Grocery Stores

Food Lion in Corolla is your big box grocery store; there's also a Harris Teeter. In Duck, you have two smaller choices: Tommy's, which is a gourmet market and sells a ton of fresh seafood, general household goods,  as well as other gourmet eats, is in the waterfront shoppes. Your other option is Wee Winks, which is less pricey and But Tommy's is our general pick for groceries. 

 

Bookstores

That's right guys--book stores. Two fantastic independent bookstores!!!! Both have really friendly staffs and are heaven for book browsers. 

Duck's Cottage: My true love. I go there almost every day when I'm in Duck. Not only books--coffee and pastries, too, that you can eat in the shop or on the adorable porch outside. Treats and water for pups, too! Small, but an incredibly diverse collection, and they'll order books for you. 1240 Duck Road. (In the Waterfront Shops) 

Island Bookstore: Scarborough Faire shops. Packed to the rafters with all sorts of books, including ones that are crazy hard to find. A great place to dig around and browse. The Corolla location is a bit bigger and the selection is just as good. (1130 Corolla Village Road--it's sort of hard to find, but worth it!) 

 

Shopping

Duck is known as a shopper's paradise, and there's a lot of great places to check out. The Scarborough Lane and Scarborough Faire shops are a good place to go when it's raining since they're more covered; the Waterfront Shops overlook the sound. The Fudgery at the Scarborough Lane shops is to die for, and the Christmas Mouse shop there is really cute. I love just about every shop in the Waterfront Shops. There's also a Life is Good store! 

 

Beaches

The Beaches are divine. If you rent from Sun, you'll have private access routes to the beaches. You can also rent beach items--chairs, noodles, floats, even bikes--from various companies around town. The beaches all have lifeguards and boards noting the weather conditions, water temperature, and other things. Be aware of riptides and how to get out of them before you go, though--every house that Sun rents has information sheets about these in the main room. 

 

Theater

The Lost Colony is one of America's first outdoor drama performances, and it's one of the good ones. The performance features really cool sets and music, and is located in an outdoor amphitheater that overlooks the water. Wear bug spray and bring a jacket, because it gets chilly! But it's a great performance that details what might have happened to the "lost colony" of Roanoke. 1409 National Park Drive, Manteo, NC. 

History

If you want to see where the Wright Brothers took their first flight, head to the Wright Brothers National Memorial. (Even though the first flight was in Kitty Hawk, the museum is located in Kill Devil Hills. Go figure.) 

Sports

The OBX is a great place to learn to surf, SUP (Stand up Paddleboard), body surf, kayak--all sorts of things are available. There's fishing off the research pier, kite flying, and a lot more. 

Getting around/miscellaneous

Everything in Duck is off the main road--route 12, or the "Duck Road." It's easy to get around via car or even bike--and to get to the other towns, you either go north or south. Corolla, the city north of Duck, is pretty remote, and in Carova, you need 4x4, or you aren't going anywhere. 

Saturdays are crazy, because that's the biggest day for people leaving and arriving in the Outer Banks. Be prepared for slow traffic on the bridges and once you're on the island. It gradually clears up as you get closer to Duck. To avoid the traffic when you're heading home, leave really early in the morning. We found that if we're across the bridge by 11, we can avoid the traffic, and we usually get Sunday-Sunday rentals--the traffic isn't quite as bad then as it is on Saturday. Also be sure to study the hurricane information sheets in your hotel/rental, as well as the rip tide info. 

Your rental company will tell you what you need to bring in terms of cooking/household gear. If you're like me and you like to cook, you might want to bring a decent knife and cutting board, since those can be hard to find in rental houses. 

 

 

 

Duck: Days 5-7

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Sunset on Thursday, August 31. 

Sunset on Thursday, August 31. 

Day Five 

We had a delicious lunch at The Roadside in Duck, which was a new restaurant for us, but one I must go back to, because they had the best shrimp and grits I've ever had in my life

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The restaurant was really cute, with creative touches everywhere, like the following: 

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After lunch, it was back to the house for more swimming, reading, and knitting. I brought a very simple project with me (just stockinette stitch) in Quince and Company's Sparrow linen yarn (Truffle colorway). I'll talk more about this in my next yarn along. 

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My knitting/reading chair--the natural light, and that lamp, were perfect! 

My knitting/reading chair--the natural light, and that lamp, were perfect! 

And Thursday night was the kickoff to the college football season. It was strange watching football at the beach! But like good Ohioans, we settled in to watch Ohio State play Indiana. 

 

Friday morning, September 1. 

Friday morning, September 1. 

Day Six 

All week, Dad had promised me Duck Donuts on Friday--Friday treat! (As I took to calling it.) And lo, there were donuts, and they were magical. But we'll talk about those in a second. 

First, though, a note about me and vacation. Normally, when I'm on a long-ish vacation, there comes a point where I start thinking about the things at home--not in a bad, panicky way, but in a sense of, how can I take this vacation sort of atmosphere back home with me?  And then, of course, I do start thinking about projects, and blogging, and things to write, and what I'd like to do at home. So Friday morning I spent some time in Duck's Cottage, writing and thinking about these things, while mom and dad walked around and browsed the shops. 

(I also bought new books. But that's par for the course, in the Cottage. I also bought some of their coconut crunch coffee to take home!) 

So when I was done, Mom and Dad picked me up, and we headed for Duck Donuts. 

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There are locations all over the country now, but this is the original shop. The way it works is this: they have one "type" of donut--there aren't Boston cream or strawberry jam filled or anything like that. It's a basic donut, made fresh. What makes it different is the topping options: you can glaze, top, and drizzle to create whatever type of donut you desire! And no matter what, a donut is $1.50--so whether it's plain or abundantly topped, one price. 

You fill out your order sheet, pay, and then pick up your fresh, made to order, heavenly scented donuts .

Here: chocolate dip with rainbow sprinkles, and a simple glaze. 

Here: chocolate dip with rainbow sprinkles, and a simple glaze. 

That was our lunch that day, and it was delicious. 

Dinner was in Corolla again that night, and it was sort of eh. Not my favorite, but it was passable. 

I couldn't believe Friday had come so quickly. That's the thing about vacations, I've noticed--the days are long but the week is short! (And life, in general, right?) I was getting up around 7:45 every day--loads earlier than usual--and going to bed around 9:30 or 10, so my days were longer, but they were nicely full. Or maybe it's just being at the beach? There's something about it that naturally allowed my days to include lots of different activities. 

 

Saturday, September 2

Saturday, September 2

Day Seven 

It was our last day in Duck. I'm always sad about this, but determined to enjoy the last day--you know the feeling, right? 

I had a visitor during my morning prayer/journal/reading devotional time: 

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Our plan on Saturday was to pack, clean the house (in as much as we had to), watch the Pitt game, and then go to Mass in Kitty Hawk and dinner in Kill Devil Hills. If you're not familiar with the Outer Banks, Duck is one of the northern beaches, along with Carova, Corolla, and Southern Shores. Kill Devil Hills and Kitty Hawk are in the middle of the Banks, and there's a lot of activity down there--they're both bigger towns than Duck. 

Mass was...well, less said about that particular parish, the better. Dinner was fun though. We went to the Jolly Roger in Kill Devil Hills, which is an Italian restaurant--but it's so much more than that. The menu was huge, the crab cakes deservedly award-winning, and the decor was fun: 

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And our final stop in the OBX was the Duck Donuts nearby, to get breakfast for the next morning--and to get mom a donut, since she hadn't had one during our first trip. 

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Sunday morning was gorgeous--we got up a little before 6, in time to catch a sunrise before we left the OBX and headed home. 

 

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Duck: Days 3-4

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Tuesday morning

Tuesday morning

Tuesday morning was, as you can see, gray. And rainy. And windy. It was going to be a day for indoor things. So I read The Lake House, which I'd picked up at Duck's Cottage on the first day, and we went to The Blue Point for lunch. 

A very wet Duck horse 

A very wet Duck horse 

I like to go to the Blue Point for lunch at least once during a stay in Duck, and Tuesday was our day. We tried to walk along the Waterfront Shops for a bit, but it was just really, really rainy/windy, and sort of gross. So we headed back home, but did venture out again for dinner, this time to Corolla, the town north of Duck, for Italian food at La Dolce Vita. After dinner, we visited the Corolla Village, which is home to the Island Bookshop's Corolla location. And behold, another horse!

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We had high hopes that Wednesday would be better, weather-wise, and we weren't disappointed!

Day Four

Wednesday morning

Wednesday morning

The weather was perfect--sunny and breezy, so we spent a lot of time at the beach. The red flags were still up, but you could stand at the edge and let the waves wash over you. Because the moon was heading to full, the tides got stronger every day we were there. 

I experimented with watercolors, read books and magazines, and generally had a great time basking in the ocean. 

Wednesday was our "day in", where we didn't go anywhere except to get ice cream at the Waterfront shops after dinner, and a 1/4 pound of fudge from Candy and Corks (also in the Waterfront shops). It's not a beach vacation until there's some fudge eaten, that's my rule!

It was a nice night, so I took advantage of it to take more horse photos: 

 

 

Duck: Days 1-2

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Since we were in Duck a week, I thought I'd break my journal entries up into a few days so that we can really get the goodness. 

We arrived in Duck around 10:30ish, which was part of the plan. We wanted to be over the Wright Brothers Bridge before 11, because that's when we'd heard traffic got nuts. We succeeded, drove to our rental office, and arranged to be called when our house was ready. 

In the meantime, we headed to the Waterfront Shops, where I indulged in visiting Duck's Cottage (AKA, Favorite Place on Earth), bought books, and had coffee while my parents walked around. 

We had lunch at Duck Deli across the street, which was good, and plotted out our grocery shopping list. Then it was back to the Cottage porch to wait for the phone call. I had a great time sketching and journaling from my perch with my Mucky Duck. 

We got called a little after one--our house was ready! Yay! After provisioning at Wee Winks Market (and having an issue with the cashier, but that's another story), we headed to Barrier Island Station, and our condo for the week. 

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Our house is the lower deck and the floor beneath; my room is the bay window on the ground floor. 

The house had two levels, with two bedrooms, the laundry room, and a full bath on the ground floor, and the master suite, living room, kitchen, dining room, and porch on the second. So there was a lot of stair climbing involved for me, since my room was on the first floor! But hey, who cares? 

Dad and I were hot from the drive, and it was warm in Duck, so we quickly jumped in the pool and went swimming before dinner. 

We had pizza from Duck Pizza for dinner and we were all ready to go to bed sort of early, because we'd left Williamsburg rather early in the morning (before 8 A.M). 

When I'm at the beach, I always seem to go to bed earlier and get up earlier; I think it has to do with the sun setting and rising earlier than it does in Ohio (about a half hour earlier). And all that fresh air can make you tired!

Day two 

View from our deck of the ocean, Monday morning 

View from our deck of the ocean, Monday morning 

The winds were absolutely nuts, so we couldn't go swimming  in the ocean--in fact, the red flag that screamed NO SWIMMING was up almost all week. If you go into the water when that flag is up, you can be ticketed. We did go swimming in the pool that morning, though. 

We had lunch at the house and then went to the Scarborough Faire and Lane shops before eating dinner at Sooey's Barbecue, a place we'd eaten at before and enjoyed. At Scarborough Faire, I went to the Island Bookshop's Duck location. 

Well, hello, horse and teddy!

Well, hello, horse and teddy!

In Duck, the Winged Horses are a Thing--it's a public art installation celebrating the first flight's centenary in 2003. The horses are everywhere: along road ways, in shopping centers, and in stores. You'll see them a lot in my posts! This one is obviously well-housed in the Island Bookshop! (The horses are all throughout the banks, not just in Duck.) 

We grabbed a cup of coffee at Treehouse Coffee, and then headed to the Scarborough Lane shops, where I spent most of my time in the Spice and Tea Exchange, where I bought some new tea and a seasonings blend. When I was paying for my purchases I looked up--and saw it was pouring. 

"Welcome to the Outer Banks," the lady behind the counter said. Pop-up storms are not at all uncommon. 

We ran to Sooey's for dinner and had some excellent barbecue before heading back to our rental (named Seaside Serenity). By this point, it was crazy windy--a storm was clearly blowing in, quite literally! 

 

 

Vacation

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We're back!

This was one of the longer vacations we've (my parents and I) taken--we left on Friday, August 25, and got back last night, so 10 days of vacation. And every one of those ten days was fantastic.  

I've got so much to write about, especially since our vacation was really like two-in-one--we spent two nights in Colonial Williamsburg before spending the week in Duck, so I've got both places to talk about, and pictures to show, and all sorts of things to discuss--like yarn and colonial weaving and books and the beach. 

So this is just a teaser to say I'm back, happy September, and there's much more coming!