[Baltimore Sun] Guide to the Outer Banks for summer 2024: What not to miss

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WHAT’S NEW

Harbor Towns Cruises

Tours and ferry trips will connect six towns within historic Albemarle Sound. The excursions, created by a private nonprofit with the help of state funds, will take to the water in a pair of Hysucats (hydrofoil-supported catamarans) custom-designed for the Albemarle. Travelers can opt for scenic or sunset cruises from Elizabeth City, Hertford, Edenton, Plymouth, Columbia or Manteo; longer tours from the Albemarle Plantation residential community; or to-and-from trips between pairs of towns. Harbor Towns Cruises also plans to add a 140-passenger dinner boat. harbortownscruises.com

Great Trails State

Walk, pedal, paddle or ride. With a historic investment of nearly $55 million for trails, North Carolina transitions from 2023’s Year of the Trail celebration to even higher ground as the Great Trails State. Projects to be funded include the Saluda Grade Corridor Trail on a historic rail path, additions to community-led “Trails for All” project in Pisgah National Forest, and the development of the N.C. State Trails, a dozen paths that traverse land, water and history. Among them: The Mountains-to-Sea trail, a 1,175-mile land and water route that links Clingman’s Dome in the Great Smoky Mountains to Jockey’s Ridge State Park on the Outer Banks. greattrailsnc.com

EVENTS

Under the Oaks Art Festival

Under the Oaks Art Festival event will be held in Currituck Outer Banks. (Courtesy of Currituck Outer Banks Tourism)

JUNE 18-19: Peruse a colorful array of vibrant artworks and crafts while enjoying the postcard-perfect setting on the grounds of the Whalehead Club by attending the 22nd Annual Under the Oaks Art Festival. This popular festival brings together a collection of talented artists and artisans who will share their wares in a pretty outdoor setting that will make shoppers want to linger and enjoy the views over the Currituck Sound. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Historic Corolla Park. visitcurrituck.com/events/under-the-oaks

Wright Kite Festival

Wright Kite Festival will take place on the Wright Brother’s National Memorial grounds. (Handout)

JULY 19-20: Now celebrating its 46th year, the Wright Kite Festival in Kill Devil Hills is a celebration of aviation that takes place where flight began — the Wright Brothers Memorial. Enjoy a walk on the hallowed grounds where Wilbur and Orville took their historic first flight in 1903, then take a fun flight of your own. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission to the park is $10 for ages 16+. 1000 North Croatan Hwy., Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina. kittyhawk.com

18th Annual Outer Banks Watermelon Festival

AUG. 1: Have you ever wanted to try watermelon bowling? Celebrate summer at the annual OBX Watermelon Festival. This beloved celebration is held at Jockey’s Ridge Crossing in Nags Head. Highlights include Native American jewelry-making lessons, watermelon-themed competitions, arts and crafts, music and more. Free for guests to attend; however, tickets are required to play and eat. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. 3933 S. Croatan Hwy., Nags Head, North Carolina. kittyhawk.com

Outer Banks Pirate Festival

Outer Banks Pirate Festival (Handout)

AUG. 7-8: ARRGH you ready for a pirate invasion on the Outer Banks? This festival will be held next to Jockey’s Ridge State Park in the central Outer Banks town of Nags Head. Come learn the vast history of pirates on the OBX and participate in Scallywag School. Free to attend. Scallywag School is $10. For more information, go to kittyhawk.com.

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