Powered by Outer Banks This Week

Corolla Attractions

The main Corolla attraction is the oceanfront—miles and miles of beaches that are lined with fabulous Corolla vacation rental homes. You’ll find plenty of other things to do here including lots of shops and restaurants, fishing adventures and other water sports.

The Whalehead Club and the Currituck Beach Lighthouse are the two major Corolla attractions for visitors in the area. Everyone loves climbing the lighthouse, and people return year after year to see the unique architecture at the historic club. The newest Corolla attraction at Currituck Heritage Park is the Center for Wildlife Education.

Just north of the lighthouse is old Corolla village. Here you’ll find old homes, quaint shops and friendly folk in an atmosphere that is very different from the rest of the beach.

Just when you think you’re getting somewhere, the paved road ends abruptly at the beach. You can keep going, however, driving on the beach into what the locals call the “four-wheel drive area,” up to Penny’s Hill, Swan Beach and Carova Beach, where there are more Corolla rental homes and a few full-time residents, including wild horses. About 10 miles up the beach, there’s a gate blocking you from entering the state of Virginia. This is the ending point of Currituck’s Outer Banks. You have to turn around and go back the way you came.

Back Beach Wild Horse Tours

1159-H Austin Street
Corolla
(252) 453-6141

This is Wild squared! Join Bob in one of his three monster trucks or his open-air safari-style trucks for a wild ride to see Corolla’s wild horses. Up to 14 people can join the fun—including Grandmom and the baby, because while it’s wild, it’s also perfectly safe—for a view of Corolla’s horses, wildlife and landscape like no other. Your tour guide will regale you with stories of history and fun facts. These tours run five times a day, March through November (weather permitting), from 9 a.m. until sunset. Don’t miss out on this unfiltered fun!

Back Country Wild Horse Safari

107-C
Corolla Light Town Center
Corolla
(252) 453-0877

Scott Trabue’s Wild Horse Safari is an off-road eco-adventure that will deliver you and your family directly to the wild Spanish Mustangs that have thrived on the northern Outer Banks for nearly 500 years. Your naturalist guide will carry you in custom open-air Safari Cruisers through 30 miles of beaches, dune and back country sand lanes to discover the Outer Banks’ unique wildlife. Shore life including pelicans, dolphins and osprey are almost always present. You will hear stories about the Ghost Fleet and Outer Banks maritime history and learn about the mysterious petrified forest. Back Country Outfitters has exclusive access to the Spanish Mustang Preserve, where sightings of these regal wild horses is guaranteed, while your tour guide explains their Spanish Colonial heritage and the local preservation efforts. Reservations are required.

Bob’s Wild Horse Tours

1066 Ocean Trail, Inn at Corolla Light
Highway 12
Corolla
(252) 453-8602

Bob White is a legend among the horse-sighting enthusiasts, and his trained staff has been offering tours since 1996 with a great reputation for being entertaining and informative. Bob’s tours last two hours and incorporate quite a bit of local history to complement the sightseeing. At the beginning, your guide will take you past Whalehead and the lighthouse and through Corolla Village, showering you with some interesting lore. Then it’s up to the four-wheel-drive area, where you’ll see the horses grazing in their natural habitat. Bob’s tours are given in their open-top vehicles — one of a kind experience! — and in their new “Monster” vans, and they can accommodate large groups. Call for details and reservations. All tours have a money back guarantee if you don’t see the horses.

Corolla Outback Adventures

1150 Ocean Trail
Corolla
(252) 453-4484

Established in 1962, Corolla Outback Adventures was the first to offer guide service and off-road beach tours on the Currituck Outer Banks. Benderʼs Beach Service began guiding beach tours to Corolla and beyond 50 years ago, well before a paved road existed north of Duck. That same tradition continues today, featuring their unique tour into Corollaʼs “outback,” where wild herds still roam freely. The 20-mile round trip along the beach strand includes exclusive access into the wild horse habitat on land the Bender family donated to protect future herds. Seasoned guides share their experience and knowledge along with history and colorful folklore. Corolla Outback also offers off-road transportation for special events, wedding parties, family reunions, school groups or business meetings.

Corolla Wild Horse Museum

1129 Corolla Village Road
Corolla
(252) 453-8002

Housed within a historic home in Corolla Village, the free Corolla Wild Horse Fund museum shares the wonderful history and legacy of the Colonial Spanish Mustangs. Descendants of Spanish Mustangs brought to our island nearly 500 years ago, they are a hardy and majestic breed that is teetering on the brink of extinction. At the museum the whole family can learn more from our knowledgeable staff, photography and historical information. Donations are accepted and encouraged.

Here are some special events for the summer:
Paint your own wild Colonial Spanish Mustang! The Corolla Wild Horse Fund sponsors horse painting for kids every Tuesday and Thursday, from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Hours are 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Paint, brushes and smocks are provided, and kids of all ages can join in the fun. Artists can choose from large wooden horses attached to posts that stay up all week for visitors to admire or smaller wooden horse cut-outs to go and paint later. All proceeds benefit the wild horses.

On Fridays, weather permitting, a gentled Colonial Spanish Mustang is ready to meet and greet your family at the Wild Horse Museum from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Corolla Wild Horse Fund staff and trained volunteers provide fascinating information about the history of wild horses and how YOU can help save this heritage breed. Petting is encouraged!

Take the Trip of a Lifetime to see the wild horses, riding with the experts in charge of the actual management and care of the wild herd. All funds raised go right back into the care and protection of the wild horses. Prices are $20 for children and $45 for adults. Please call for reservations or book your trip at www.corollawildhorses.com

On Wednesdays, at their second location at Scarborough Faire Shopping Village in Duck, ride a gentled Colonial Spanish Mustang around the ring while raising awareness and funds to help this critically endangered breed. Rides are offered from 2 to 5 p.m. in conjunction with other Faire Days festivities including live music and kids crafts.

While a lot of the fun programming happens during the summer, the Corolla Wild Horse Fund is open all year, so please stop by to visit and become a member.

Corolla Wild Horse Tours

1210 Ocean Trail
Corolla
(252) 207-0511

Corolla Wild Horse Tours has been guiding tours to Corolla’s horse country — the four-wheel-drive-only beaches north of Corolla — since 1996. With these experienced and knowledgeable guides, you can sit back and enjoy a comfortable, family-oriented tour. This company uses 15-passenger open-air safari-style trucks that are safe for any age, including kids in car seats. Along the trip, your guide will tell you about the history of Corolla and the horses as well as point out all the wonders of nature. The guides have been certified by the Corolla Wild Horse Fund and have a reputation of being quite entertaining. The two-hour tours, which cover about 25 miles of off-road area, run all day long until sunset.

Currituck Outer Banks Visitors Center

500 Hunt Club Drive
Corolla
(252) 453-9612

The Currituck Outer Banks Visitors Center offers restrooms plus all the visitor information and assistance you'll need for a trip to Corolla and its surrounding areas. You'll find it on the west side of N.C. Highway 12 on the south end of the Currituck Club; if heading north, start looking for it on the left after you pass the Hampton Inn.

Currituck County also operates the Currituck County Welcome Center on the NC/VA state line next to the Border Station convenience store. It offers restrooms, free WiFi and coffee and tons of information and assistance for visitors. Passengers, go ahead and pick up the local publications here because you still have an hour's ride from here to Corolla. 

Humvee Adventure Tours

610 Clubhouse Drive
Shoppes at Currituck Club
Corolla
(252) 489-4878

See the wild horses of the Outer Banks and whip through beach, dune and forest trails with Humvee Adventure Tours. The 13-passenger, open-air Humvee has been upgraded and customized to offer the safest and most comfortable ride possible. With the recent purchase of land in 2014, Humvee Adventure Tours can now venture into three distinct ecosystems that are teeming with an abundance of wildlife, providing an exciting ride through a maritime forest and high sand and dune trails with views of the protected marshlands. Inaccessible by most off-road vehicles, the Humvee can take you where no other vehicle can. You’ll see wild horses (money back guarantee!), and you will also explore some of the most beautiful, wild beach environments on the East Coast.

Whalehead

1100 Club Road
Historic Corolla
Corolla
(252) 453-9040

Whalehead is a historic house museum on the northern Outer Banks. The grand residence, dressed in bold yellow and striking copper, stands on a vast green lawn bordering the Currituck Sound. At first sight of the more than 21,000-square-foot Art Nouveau home, so out of place in the Outer Banks landscape, it’s immediately apparent that it has an intriguing past and a fascinating story to tell.

Once you’ve had time to gaze over the lush green live oaks and take in the beauty of the home’s exterior, step inside and take a jaunt back in time to an era reminiscent of prohibition and fights for women’s rights. Shortly after being wed, the original owners, Edward Collings Knight Jr. and Marie-Louise LeBel Knight, purchased a four-mile tract of land running from ocean to sound. While taking residence in the Lighthouse Hunt Club, they embarked on a building project that would take three years to complete. Just as visitors to our area today take pleasure in the opportunity to get away from it all, so did the Knights. While they kept a grand permanent residence near Newport, Rhode Island, the “cottage” at Corolla Island was their winter retreat. After a chilly day spent in the blinds hunting waterfowl, they could relax in the library by a roaring fire while partaking in a game, reading, listening to music or simply enjoying the gorgeous views from the room’s window-lined walls. Peeking into the library and spying the custom-made 1903 Steinway piano, you can just imagine Mrs. Knight sitting down to play a few melodies for her guests. Later, they would be treated to a marvelous duck dinner prepared for them by their beloved cook, Miss Rose, who was one of about a dozen servants who traveled to and from Corolla Island each year with the Knights.

Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, Whalehead sat empty and abandoned for nearly 25 years until Currituck County bought the building with the intent of restoring it. Since 1999, the county has painstakingly restored the house to its original 1925 grandeur. The multi-million-dollar restoration began with the replacement of the copper roof. The exterior of the house and boathouse are again the original paint colors as are the interior walls. The interior has been completely restored, from the coffered ceilings down to the cork floors. Many of the original fixtures and details remain: The water lily motif carvings again stand out near the dining room ceiling, the duck head door handles are back in place, the Tiffany glass light fixtures shine again, the mahogany trim and woodwork has been refinished.

A team of researchers ensured restoration accuracy, and recent efforts have focused on filling the home with original and period pieces. Mrs. Knight’s Steinway piano, Mr. Knight’s iron safe and portrait, portraits, Perkinhammer china, Louis Majorelle furniture are just a few of the pieces that now grace Whalehead.

In 2008, the kitchen was furnished back to the 1920s, including the original Frigidaire refrigerator. Visitors can stand in the room and see the old tools used to prepare meals for the large household and guests entertained by the Knights. It offers a real appreciation for the stark differences between performing routine kitchen tasks then and now. There is a Hoosier cabinet in the corner, and the original kitchen table is once again in the center of the room under a pot rack.

Whalehead is open and offers tours year round Monday through Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Legacy tours are self-guided and available any time during regular hours. If you’ve already taken an audio tour, try one of the many specialty tours offered weekdays with advanced reservations. Moonlight Ghost Tour, Tippling at Twilight, Nuts & Bolts, Boat-ology and Behind the Velvet Ropes are just a few of the specialty tours they offer.
Got kids? Whalehead offers children’s activities too — Mystery of the Old House, a guided search and find or Let’s Talk Tiffany where they make their own stained glass and learn about Louis Comfort Tiffany. The Magic of Light teaches them to make a kaleidoscope and about reflection and other properties of light. Winnie the Pooh and Whalehead are the same age, so come celebrate and listen to a tale of that silly old bear!

Be sure to visit the Museum Gallery at Whalehead. It’s stocked with 1920s-inspired gifts and Whalehead souvenirs such as jewelry and ornaments made from the original copper roof plus books, postcards, memorabilia and educational toys and games for kids.

Whalehead sits on 39 acres of pristine soundfront property providing bike paths, a public boat ramp and areas for picnicking, fishing and crabbing and is located in Historic Corolla along with the Outer Banks Center for Wildlife Education and next to the Currituck Beach Lighthouse. The grounds of Whalehead are perfect for a relaxing afternoon outdoors away from the beach and are available to rent for ceremonies and receptions as well as for corporate events and family reunions