Fashion and lifestyle blogger Natalie Pinto, who goes by @thefashionablybroke on Instagram, is a girl after our own hearts. The Northern Virginia native has a knack for shelling out style ideas that don't induce sticker shock, and satiating our wavy blunt bob cravings wherever she goes. Ahead, she lets us in on her childhood family summer destination, a beach town on the barrier islands known as Outer Banks in North Carolina. Think wild horses, finger licking-good BBQ, and affordable vintage finds.
I’m from Northern Virginia originally and I currently live in Falls Church, about five miles outside of Washington DC. My boyfriend Wes’s parents bought a beach house in the Outer Banks three years ago but I’ve been visiting there as long as I can remember with my family every summer!
The Outer Banks are barrier islands off the coast of North Carolina and about a 4-5 drive from Northern Virginia. The vibe in the Outer Banks is super laid back and relaxed, it is an island after all! It’s definitely a beach town, so think lots of seafood, surfboards and no shoes required. It also has a quaint feeling to it, as there aren’t many hotels or big chain restaurants in the Outer Banks (known as the OBX for short). The Outer Banks also has special sense of history, nature, and wildlife that makes you want to go out exploring.
It’s always fun visiting the Outer Banks in the summertime, also referred to as the “in-season” which is generally June – August. But, I think the best time to visit is in May or September when the beach isn’t as crowded when the weather is still really nice. And, although it might not be ideal bikini weather, I even like visiting in the spring or early fall for just a relaxing weekend away. It’s still fun to grab a blanket and enjoy the views!
Beauty Packing List
- I love to use cream-based products at the beach because they look more natural and really let your skin’s natural beauty shine through. I use Chanel Soleil de Tan Bronzer, Glossier Haloscope Highlighter and NARS Cream Blush Stick in Orgasm.
- Hydrating Mask: To keep my skin from drying out in the heat, I always pack an overnight water mask. My favorites include Belif Aqua Bomb and Glow Recipe’s Watermelon Mask.
- OUAI Hair Oil: Perfect to apply right off the beach to tame your hair’s natural waves. This is usually the only product I have to use on my hair after being in the salt water. The best part – no curling iron needed! If you don’t have naturally wavy hair, I’d recommend the OUAI Wave Spray instead (or, even better, use both!).
- SPF: Even though I love the beach, I rarely go in the sun anymore, so I always make sure to pack a good SPF. Lately I’ve been loving Coola products because they’re mineral-based and are made with organic ingredients.
- Facial Spray: I love to bring my Caudalie Beauty Elixir for a quick spritz on the beach. It’s so refreshing and great for your skin! Just make sure to purchase their cute, little travel-sized bottle.
Fashion Packing List
- Lots of bathing suits because we go to the beach every day! My favorite swimwear brand is probably Solid & Striped. I have over ten of their suits and they never fail me. The quality is great, and you can’t beat the price. Plus, they’re just so cute!
- I purchased this large beach tote from Mango a couple of summers ago and I’m obsessed with it. It holds so much but is super lightweight. Again, since we’re usually spending the whole day at the beach, you need to bring a big bag to carry your things.
- Lots of hats! Not only for cute factor, but also to add an extra layer of protection from the sun. My favorite hat brands are Lack of Colour (Splurge) and Brixton (Save).
- I purchased a small basket bag on Etsy a few years ago and I always bring it to the Outer Banks with me. It also perfectly fits into my bike basket for when we ride bikes into town at night!
- Gold jewelry! There’s nothing better than gold jewelry against bronzed skin, in my opinion. I also recently got into wearing earrings to the beach. It sounds extra, I know. But it’s such a fun and easy way to elevate your swim look!
- I typically pack my Rimowa Salsa Air. It’s a carry-on size bag, but it surprisingly holds a lot. Then, I’ll put everything that doesn’t fit into my large beach tote like extra shoes or a toiletries bag.
Where to Stay
If you don’t have your own beach house, there are a few Airbnb’s you can rent or hotels, but I recommend getting a house. Ocean front if possible! But if not, there’s plenty of beach accesses with parking. Typically, when someone travels to the Outer Banks, they rent a house for a week or a weekend. You can rent a house by using a real estate agency such as Southern Shores Realty. You can find others via a simple Google. But - When deciding what area to stay in for the first time, here’s a little guide:
Basically, the Outer Banks is one, big, long strip of beach, so each town runs into the next.
Carova: If you have four-wheel drive and are comfortable driving on the sand. Less people and less crowded beaches, possible wild horse sightings, but furthest from everything.
Corolla, Duck or Southern Shores: I’m lumping these three together because they’re very similar. They are in order of furthest to closest to the highway. Our house is in Southern Shores, but my family loves to stay in Duck. Duck is also the quaintest, with plenty of shops, restaurants and bars in walking distance.
Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills, Nags Head: These three are closer to the highway, where there are tons of houses, restaurants and shops. This is where we would stay growing up! I listed them in order of closest to furthest from the highway.
Dressing the Part
When packing for the Outer Banks I’d recommend packing swim looks for the daytime (suit, cover-up, hat and sandals) and then some easy, beachy dresses for the evenings. Plus, some cozy outfits to wear around the house in between.
Getting around is easiest by car of course. There is Uber on the Outer Banks as well. If you’re staying in Duck, it’s more of a quaint town where you could easily bike around.
Tip for First-Timers
A tip first-timers should know before visiting is to try to arrive super early in the morning, super late at night, or NOT on a change day (Saturday/Sunday) when possible. Traffic can get crazy sometimes getting into town, especially on the weekends and especially if you’re staying in the town of Duck or anywhere past it. If you can’t avoid the traffic, just make sure to pack snacks and things to do in the car and be prepared for it.
Don't Leave Without
Besides sea shells, I would say to never leave the Outer Banks without trying some traditional North Carolina BBQ! Our favorite is Pigmans’ BBQ – that’s where we worked when we lived there and is also my mom’s favorite.
DAY 1 in Kitty Hawk/Kill Devil Hills/Nags Head:
10AM Breakfast at Sam & Omies is a local favorite and a hidden gem.
1PM Grab lunch at Art’s Place! They have amazing burgers, Aperol Spritz’s, and ocean front views!
2PM My favorite vintage store is in Kill Devil Hills – Something Old, Something New. I’ve found so many good things here (like vintage cowboy boots, earrings, sunglasses and blazers) and the price points are much lower than most vintage shops.
4PM Climb the dunes in Jockey’s Ridge. Or, if you have all day, take the ferry over to Ocracoke Island.
7:30PM Dinner at The Kill Devil Grill or Blue Moon Beach Grill – they are two of my favorites just based on quality of food!
10PM The Brewing Station is super fun for going out, especially if you like craft beers.
DAY 2 in Duck/Corolla:
11AM At Treehouse Coffee, the breakfast is so delicious! You have to try one of their biscuits and they have a delicious turmeric latte and avocado toast.
1:30PM Sit bay front and eat fish tacos & margaritas at Coastal Cantina in Duck.
2:30PM Since you’re already there for lunch, go shopping at The Waterfront Shops in Duck. I love to walk around on the water and pop into the little beach shops. My favorite boutique is Islands by Amity (they carry brands like Free People).
4PM Drive on the beach in Carvoa. You need a car with four-wheel drive, but it’s so fun and you’ll likely see wild horses!
8PM My new favorite restaurant in Duck is The Village Table & Tavern. I love the ambiance at this waterfront restaurant and the food and cocktails are amazing.
9:30PM The Blue Pointe is amazing for cocktails and music while you watch the sunset. Then head over to Backyard at Roadside Bar & Grill for the rest of the night.
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