To this day when people are planning a trip to the Outer Banks regardless of where they are staying, “we’re going to Nags Head”.
This is where the first oceanfront gathering from inland areas began because this is where the ferry embarked from Point Harbor(before the bridge) on soundside behind Jockey’s Ridge. They then came over in wagons, the ladies with their parasols and the men often in suits until they reached their cottages. They came for the summer with the wives and kids and domestic help(more a part of the family) settling in and the husbands/fathers commuting back and forth throughout the summer. Many of the older homes are still here and are part of the historical district.
Lest we not forget that Nags Head was also home to “The Casino” a truly one of a kind dance hall the likes of which I have never nor will ever see again and I have traveled extensively. And the hotels, The Nags Header at the 11 mile post with the popular “Tap Room” bar underneath and The “Carolinian”(queen of the beach) at the 10 mile post and “The Arlington” owned and operated by Dewey and Phoebe Hayman who also opened and ran seasonally “The Seafare” restaurant which initially was an oyster bar, but later became by far the best restaurant on the beach and competed with “Owens” which is still here today and maintains the same standards they had in the 40’s. Part of a bygone era, these hotels were steeped in history when tea was served on the oceanfront porches prior to cocktails in the bars and dinners were to die for. Time for me to hit my bar and sit on my oceanfront porch with a cocktail after writing this.
And while we’re going back in time “The Recreation Center” which was next to the Nags Head Pier and was the first place when you were a kid that you could not wait to get old enough for your parents to let you meet friends there at night on your own. There was a bowling alley with real pin boys setting up the pins and a skating rink and the beach music was loud and so cool.
Also you will find Jockey’s Ridge the tallest of sand dunes that are constantly moving and shifting with the winds since the beginning of time. Legends abound about this mound like” there’s an old hotel buried there” and the age old story of the “land pirates” walking a nag(pony) around the dune with a lantern around his neck and luring in passing ships that would run aground thinking the lattern was the lighthouse only to be looted and plundered and crew sent to a watery grave. Thus the name “Nags Head”. What’s not to love?
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