The noted explorer, archaeologist, anthropologist, paleontologist, and part-time plumbing contractor from the University of Chicago, Professor Duffer A. Hacker, led two expeditions to the outer banks in the late 1920’s. The purpose of these expeditions was to search for an answer as to what happened to the lost colony of Roanoke Island and to look for treasure believed to have been hidden by Blackbeard the Pirate. Professor Hacker’s first surprise was the discovery of an old mining train built by the Confederate Army during the Civil War. They were searching for gold to finance their war effort. Take the mining car* to the top of the mountain and follow Professor Hacker as you putt your way through an adventurous expedition to find gold and diamonds.
Kill Devil Hills is arguably one of the busiest summertime towns in the Outer Banks, due to its wide collection of shops, restaurants, and off-the-beach entertainment options.
Hiking/walking - The Nags Head Woods Preserve, located on Ocean Acres Drive in Kill Devil Hills, offers a series of trails with varying degrees of difficulty, including a wheel-chair accessible trail and the 5-mile Sweetgum Swamp Trail. Visitors will also find a range of marked trails through the soundside maritime forest and sky-high sand dunes in Nags Head at the Jockey's Ridge State Park, as well as a network of rustic, unmarked trails in the Kitty Hawk Woods Coastal Reserve in Kitty Hawk.
Biking - The residential neighborhoods of Colington and soundside Kill Devil Hills are well-suited for biking through quiet, paved areas. For more of a challenge, head to the Preserve at Kitty Hawk Woods, where a network of rustic bike trails can be found. Visitors can start their explorations at the Twiford Street Multi Use Path in Kitty Hawk.
Kayaking - There are ample small islands and open soundfront water to explore on the soundside of Kill Devil Hills. Kayakers can put-in via the backyard boat dock of a canalfront or soundfront vacation rental home, or can head to one of several public boat launches found in Kill Devil Hills and Kitty Hawk. Head to the intersections of W. Durham and Avalon Dr. in Kill Devil Hills, or the soundside dock on Kitty Hawk Bay on Bob Perry Road for easy access to the Albemarle Sound.
Birding - Bird watching can be enjoyed from most any soundside vantage point in Kill Devil Hills, especially at the Nags Head Woods Ecological Preserve. Located on Ocean Acres Drive, this maze of wooded trails and raised boardwalks that arch over ponds and brackish canals allow visitors to spot a world of migrating and local species in a quietly secluded setting. Free fliers identifying some of the common wildlife can be found at the entrance's Visitors Center and sign-in station.
Surfing - Surfing is a big deal in Kill Devil Hills, and waves are typically at their best after a summer hurricane or fall Nor'easter. A storm passing well offshore can produce some big waves too, but surfers will want to be on the lookout for the red flags along the beach indicating treacherous water conditions. The beaches about 50-100 yards away from the Avalon Pier are often a local hot spot for surfers.
Lighthouses - Kill Devil Hills visitors will be within 30 miles of two of the famed Outer Banks lighthouses. The red brick Currituck Beach Lighthouse is found to the north in Corolla, and the horizontally black and white striped Bodie Island Lighthouse is found to the south on Bodie Island. Both lighthouses are seasonally open to climbers for a small fee, generally from March / April until October.
Fishing - Anglers can enjoy surf fishing both off the beaches and from the Avalon Pier in Kill Devil Hills, while kayakers and mariners can head to the Albemarle Sound for additional on-the-water fishing grounds. There are a number of bait and tackle stores in town, including TW's Bait & Tackle and Whale Bone Tackle.
Beaches - Kill Devil Hills is known for its beaches, and offers a range of vacation rental homes that are within yards of the oceanfront. Visitors will also find public beach access points, (often with parking and / or restrooms) at the following locales:
- Hayman Blvd - Milepost 6
- Helga Street - Milepost 5.5
- Lake Drive - Milepost 9.5
- Martin Street - Milepost 9
- Neptune Drive - Milepost 9.5
- Ocean Bay Blvd - Milepost 8.5
- Oregon Ave - Milepost 8.5
- Pinehurst Ave - Milepost 8
- Prospect Ave - Milepost 8
- Raleigh Ave - Milepost 8
- Sutton Ave - Milepost 8
- Walker Street - Milepost 6
- Woodmere Ave - Milepost 8
Wildlife viewing - The Nags Head Woods Ecological Preserve is a close-to-home destination for wildlife viewing, and explorers can also trek through the wooded and sandy trails of the Jockey's Ridge State Park in Nags Head. The Kitty Hawk Woods Coastal Preserve in neighboring Kitty Hawk is also a good destination for more rustic trails that are seldom visited.
Swimming - Visitors will find an indoor pool at the local YMCA in Nags Head which can be accessed with a temporary guest pass to the facilities. The ocean-facing beaches are typically warm enough for swimmers from Memorial Day until mid-September, and there are more than a dozen fixed lifeguarded stations that are seasonally manned, generally from Memorial Day to Labor Day. (The Kill Devil Hills Ocean Rescue Division also has a seasonal roving patrol.)
Camping - Kill Devil Hills and neighboring Kitty Hawk have one of the highest concentrations of campgrounds and RV parks on the Outer Banks, including Joe & Kay's Campground on Colington Road, OBX Campgrounds on Marshy Ridge Road, Adventure Bound Campground on West Kitty Hawk Road, and Kitty Hawk RV Park on North Croatan Highway.
Stand Up Paddleboarding - Stand Up Paddleboarding is big on the Outer Banks, and visitors' best bet for finding places to launch in Kill Devil Hills is to head to the soundfront neighborhoods along Bay Drive, or to the canalfront and soundfront neighborhood of Colington. Rentals and lessons can be acquired at Kitty Hawk Kites, Ocean Atlantic Rentals, and the Kitty Hawk Kayak & Surf School in neighboring Kitty Hawk.
Golf - Golfers can head north to Kitty Hawk to check out the Duck Woods Country Club or the Sea Scape Golf Links, or south to Nags Head to the Nags Head Golf Club.Temporary membership can often be obtained for vacationers, and some vacation rentals include passes or membership to area courses as an amenity for guests. There are also a number of mini-golf courses in the area, including Lost Treasure Golf and Paradise Golf and Arcade.
Scenic spots - For a panoramic view of the Kill Devil Hills shoreline, head to the Avalon Pier which extends 696' feet into the Atlantic Ocean. For a more aerial view, make the long trek to the base of the Wright Brothers Memorial, where vistas often span to the ocean and sound's borders. The Nags Head Woods Ecological Preserve is also a scenic destination for wooded and brackish pondfront vistas.
Boating - Boating is popular along the Albemarle Sound, thanks to the miles of open water and exceptional fishing. Free public boat ramps can be found in Kitty Hawk on Bob Perry Road, and on Dock Street in Kill Devil Hills. For repair and maintenance, head to Bill's Marine in Colington. Central Outer Banks marinas are also located on Bodie Island at the Oregon Inlet Fishing Center and in Manteo at Pirate's Cove.
Educational - The biggest historic attraction in Kill Devil Hills is the impossible-to-miss Wright Brothers Memorial, which also features an on-site museum, visitors' center, and offers seasonal educational programs. Visitors will also be just a 20-30 minute drive away from Manteo, where the Elizabethan Gardens, Roanoke Island Festival Park, and the North Carolina Aquarium can all be found.
Museums - Neighboring Kitty Hawk is home to the Children at Play Museum, which is a fun and educational destination for kids ages 1-10. Other area museums include the Outer Banks Beachcomber Museum in Nags Head, which focuses on the region's rich past as a vacation paradise, and Jennette's Pier in Nags Head, which is the longest public pier in North Carolina and features exhibits on the local maritime ecology.
Shelling - Shelling is a popular pastime for beach vacationers throughout the Outer Banks, and Kill Devil Hills visitors will have the best luck after a summer storm or hurricane, or in the fall and winter months when the beaches are less crowded. Common finds include colorful coquina shells, oysters, scallops, clams, and the occasional whelk.
Windsurfing - Windsurfing and kiteboarding can be enjoyed in the Albemarle Sound via a private vacation home watersports launch, or via the popular soundside beach in nearby Jockey's Ridge State Park in Nags Head. Wind sports fans will have the best luck in the fall and spring months, which typically boast consistent wind speeds of 10-20 mph.
Nightlife - Kill Devil Hills is arguably the best area in the Outer Banks for nightlife, as its home to nearly 70 restaurants, with many that stay open after-hours for bar patrons, and / or which feature regular live music. Popular hot spots include the Outer Banks Brewing Station, Mama Kwan's Tiki Bar and Grill, Port O'Call Restaurant and Gaslight Saloon, and Chili Peppers. The Comedy Club of the Outer Banks is located in Kill Devil Hills as well.
Crabbing - Crabbing in Kill Devil Hills is best accomplished via the dock of a soundfront or canalfront vacation rental homes, especially in Colington. There are also several public boat ramps where mariners can explore the Albemarle Sound. Check out the small outlaying Kill Devil Hills islands, like Burnet Island, Sloop Island, and Baum Point Island for muddy, shallow hunting grounds.