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The Short Version: The Outer Banks refers to a remote stretch of barrier islands off the coast of North Carolina and Virginia. Whether you enjoy boating, fishing, shopping, or fine dining, the historic destination has a wealth of indulgent options for vacationers. Over 100 miles of beaches inspire moments of wonder and relaxation. When it comes to romantic getaways, you can’t do much better than the setting of “Nights in Rodanthe,” a romance novel written by Nicholas Sparks. On the islands, you can stroll hand in hand along the beach, visit beautiful gardens, shop in charming villages, and explore noteworthy historical sites, including the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, the tallest lighthouse in the US. If you’re looking for some alone time with your significant other, you can escape to the Outer Banks to discover quaint, intimate, and romantic venues on the oceanfront.
“One weekend can change your life,” is the tagline of the romance movie “Nights in Rodanthe,” which is based on a Nicholas Sparks novel. In the movie’s adaptation, Richard Gere and Diane Lane become acquainted because they’re the only occupants of the Inn at Rodanthe, a gorgeous bed and breakfast on the water.
Love blossoms between the two strangers in true Hollywood fashion. Soon they’re strolling up the beach, laughing like old friends, and falling into each other’s arms (in the rain). The pair ended up healing each other’s heartaches while on vacation on Rodanthe Island.
Other romantics on vacation can book a stay at the Inn at Rodanthe in real life and create heartwarming moments of their own at the vacation rental. Some of the furnishings are actual props used in the movie, offering movie buffs an immersive experience during their stays.
According to Rodanthe’s official website, “The actual locations seen in the film still draw thousands of fans each year, all longing to experience the romance and solitude found so easily at the oceanfront hotels and beach rentals.”
This cinematic destination is just one of many beautiful spaces found in the Outer Banks, a string of islands off the coast of North Carolina. The remote destination maintains a wild beauty perfect for a seaside wedding or a sunset photo session with someone special.
More than 100 miles of beaches entice couples to linger in the sand, enjoy an adventure on the water, and make cherished memories in a breathtaking vacation spot. From national monuments to natural preservation, you’ll find no end of scenic places to enjoy at the Outer Banks.
“The Outer Banks — or OBX as the area is sometimes referred to by fans — can provide those romantic settings that couples talk about their whole lives,” said Aaron Tuell, Public Relations for the Outer Banks Visitors Bureau. “Imagine finally seeing the Milky Way here on the Outer Banks for the very first time, after looking up at the night sky your whole life, and sharing that moment with someone special. That’s powerful.”
The Outer Banks makes an ideal romantic getaway for couples. The website even suggests a three-day itinerary for couples visiting for the weekend. The destination’s romantic trip ideas start at dawn: “Slowly awaken your senses while watching the sunrise on the beach. Watch the sun peak above the horizon; hear the ocean waves lapping along the shore as the sun warms your soul.”
Then you can rejuvenate your body with a couples massage at the spa, spend the day exploring shipwreck diving sites, and dine on fresh local seafood for dinner.
According to the website, “We’re known for our independent and locally-owned restaurants, so be prepared to try something new and delicious… and yes, you’ll find fresh NC seafood harvested earlier that morning by an Outer Banks fisherman working the waters as his or her grandfather and father did generations before.”
This string of islands has a long history tracing back to the very first American settlers. Roanoke Island marks the site of England’s first settlement in the New World. A beautiful memorial garden now stands where colonists made a home in 1585 before mysteriously disappearing five years later. The intriguing true story captures the imagination and gives visitors something to ponder and discuss.
The history of the Outer Banks also includes the first successful flight by Orville and Wilbur Wright. History buffs can visit the exact location where the Wright brothers achieved the world’s first controlled power flight in 1903.
During your visit, you can check out the Outer Banks’ official events page to find family-friendly festivals, parades, holidays, and celebrations taking place all year round. As the webpage says, “We start every day with an open invitation to explore, to see unknown outcomes, and to challenge curiosity.”
Eager to see the sights with your date? There are plenty of engaging, informative, and thrilling attractions at the Outer Banks. Boardwalks, museums, aquariums, and parks give daters the space to appreciate their surroundings at a leisurely pace.
For instance, the Cape Hatteras National Seashore has been consistently ranked as one of the best beaches in the States. It houses a beautifully designed lighthouse which has shone its light across the Atlantic for more than 140 years.
Aaron told us, “You can take a horseback trail through the wild parts of Cape Hatteras, rent a Jeep or dune buggy and go explore unpopulated beaches, or eat seafood caught that morning in one of the many original island restaurants.”
Plus, you can check out hundreds of shopping centers and storefronts close to the water and find a souvenir to take back with you. And, of course, even if you’re not staying at the Inn of Rodanthe, it’s worth visiting the film locations to see the setting that brought such a heartwarming romance to life.
“My husband booked this house as a Valentine’s Day gift for me, and it was truly a wonderful and magical vacation,” wrote Cathy Zapko in a review of the Inn of Rodanthe in 2013. “The house had everything needed to make our stay wonderful.”
Beauty abounds at the Outer Banks, particularly at Roanoke Island’s famous gardens. The Elizabethan Gardens were built as a living memorial to Sir Walter Raleigh’s lost colonists, whose disappearance remains unsolved to this day. This beautiful monument ushers guests into a serene state of mind. The carefully cultivated environment — filled with Renaissance statues and lovely greenery — transports visitors to a bygone era.
If you’re taken by the beauty and history of the place, you can have your wedding ceremony at the Elizabethan Garden, which is a favorite wedding destination. From a rose garden to a picturesque gazebo, its lavish spaces provide an unforgettable backdrop for any ceremony.
Beautiful photo opportunities await you around every corner. According to the gardens’ wedding page, “The one-of-a-kind charm of the Elizabethan Gardens offer spectacular locations to photograph your special day.” You can inquire into the availability of the gardens by calling (252) 473-3234 or emailing [email protected]
The Outer Banks has a variety of gorgeous places to say I do. You can have a memorable wedding on the beach, in the gardens, or on a boat with the help of the Outer Banks Wedding Association, which offers more than 250 professional vendors for weddings big and small.
“One of the hallmarks of the Outer Banks is how undeveloped and natural the panoramas are, particularly in our several national parks and refuges,” Aaron explained. “You have these tremendous stretches of beaches and water views, so there’s plenty of room to be as social or as secluded as you desire.”
It’s no wonder the famed romance author Nicholas Sparks chose a beachfront bed and breakfast in the Outer Banks as the setting for “Nights in Rodanthe.” As a longtime resident of North Carolina, he often draws upon the beauty of the state to make his love stories come alive, and Rodanthe is a delightfully intimate vacation destination.
The Outer Banks islands offer you an array of romantic backdrops for your very own love stories. Whether you’re bringing a date on a weekend getaway or planning an oceanfront wedding, you can rely on the islands’ public beaches, historical gardens, and state parks to set the right tone. The small-town feel of these islands puts couples in a relaxed frame of mind as they make lasting memories together.
“People find joy in discovering beautiful shells, frosted sea glass and other beach treasures during tranquil morning walks, and watching the sun slip into the Pamlico Sound after a full day,” Aaron explained. “The Outer Banks is all about authenticity and peeling away life’s distractions to be back to what’s real.”
The events, attractions, and natural beauty of the Outer Banks makes it a perfect vacation spot for daters in search of a good time. You can’t go wrong bringing your date to the beach, and these islands have some of the most beautiful sandy shores in the US.
“The same core ingredients at the heart of your perfect beach daydream also bring it to life,” according to the website. Strong ocean currents keep the water temperature pleasant throughout the year and bring schools of fish to the waters just off the coast. “Always close to the water, there are no bad seats.”