Duck, the Outer Banks' northernmost town, really was named for the waterfowl that first brought hunting "tourists" to the area. Today, it is a community that offers a wide variety of family-oriented activities year round.
From Charlotte, it's a 6 1/2-hour drive (380 miles) one way.
To see and do
Until the 1970s, Duck was a very sparsely populated area of the Outer Banks, nestled along a thin strip of sand between the Atlantic and Currituck Sound. Once known only for fishing and hunting, the area became increasingly popular with vacationers.
You notice the difference from nearby communities immediately; N.C. 12, the main road through Duck, meanders through remains of maritime forest and quiet residential areas. The feel is of a small community, something town officials are proud of.
The town boasts a seven-mile multiuse trail, the first to be built in the Outer Banks. It also has been building a sound-side boardwalk connecting Town Park (Duck's 11-acre civic/cultural center, complete with walking trails, playground and picnic area) with area businesses; the boardwalk currently is two-thirds of a mile long and has a fishing dock and a canoe/kayak put-in.
Biking and kayaking are very popular in the area; but you can also sail, windsurf, parasail and jet ski, especially on the sound. More traditional beach activities like swimming, fishing and simmering in the sun are still in vogue.
For those who enjoy a more refined and relaxed experience, Duck offers a wide array of shopping. Food options are as varied; it's no harder to get a burger or pizza than a fine-dining experience. (For fine dining: Try Aqua Restaurant & Spa; www.AquaOBX.com).
Festivals and other public activities taper in Duck's off-season; at any time of year, Duck is a quieter place to relax after enjoying events in nearby and busier Nags Head/Kill Devil Hills and Manteo areas.
Any time of year, you can kick back and luxuriate at Duck's famous Sanderling Resort & Spa, which in January made Condé Nast's Gold List ("World's Best hotels, resorts, cruise lines"), and its spa was ranked No. 3 in North America by the same magazine. The Sanderling was also one of four "Best fall beach bargains" named in the September issue of Southern Living. Sanderling info: 800-701-4111; www.thesanderling.com.