North Carolina's Outer Banks: Come for the Beaches, Stay for the... Beaches.
The Outer Banks is a thin chain of barrier islands dripping south from Virginia Beach and trimming North Carolina's northern coastline like an old, faded border. (Also known as "the OBX" to trendy folk who get excited about bumper stickers.)
While the name suggests a desolate, barren wasteland, the atmosphere is anything but - think haughty New England khakis and linens combined with the relaxed vibe of a barefoot NoCal surf town. Trendy restaurants, kick-back diners, kitsch shops, surf shops, and a whole lotta beach culminates in an easy place to spend a week. Or more.
From paddle boarding to surfing to swimming to parasailing, there's no shortage of water sports. But if that's not your thing, try hang gliding lessons on the monumental sand dunes in Nags Head (pictured) or strolling the quiet boardwalk in the family-friendly town of Duck. Wherever you go, you're sure to find something interesting.
Just don't be tempted to book a hotel. If you're going to stay in the OBX, the obvious choice is to rent a beach home. The beaches themselves are bereft of the towering modular skylines that come with your big-name hotel chains and instead are pleasantly dotted with multi-million dollar, clapboard-sided, salt-worn stilt homes --many available for rent to large groups for what can amount to a very reasonable weekly rate.
Stuff your car and drive if you can, but you can find anything there you need. And whether it be of the sound or the Atlantic, a view is never far away.