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Dreading the drive down....

Trafford...
Level Contributor
295 posts
8 reviews
Dreading the drive down....

Have never been to the outer banks before and am reading/hearing all of these horror stories about hours of traffic to get there. We are staying in Corolla. From what I understand there is only one way in and out of the outer banks area? A big bridge? Is it only the bridge that gets really backed up or is it the whole way up that Route 12 I think it is to get up to Corolla? We are coming from Pittsburgh so it's a long enough drive just to get down there. If we leave in the middle of the night and get there in the morning we have nowhere to go before we can get into our house at 4pm. We are bringing our dog with us so it's not like we can go to a restaurant or bar to pass the time.

Thanks for any insight into this!

19 replies to this topic
Philadelphia
Level Contributor
307 posts
21 reviews
1. Re: Dreading the drive down....

When are you going? We go every year in September and the traffic can get backed up on the bridge and on 12 as well. We have never been there in the summer months and I hear that traffic can be brutal. We are from Philadelphia so we leave early in the morning (with our dogs too) and with stops for food and potty breaks we don't arrive usually until close to check in time. If we are there earlier I usually go grocery shopping and my husband takes the dogs for a walk on the beach. There is Corolla Village BBQ and they have picnic tables outside. You could sit there and have a bite to eat with your dogs.

Trafford...
Level Contributor
295 posts
8 reviews
2. Re: Dreading the drive down....

We are going in 2 days! The 21st thru the 28th.

Kitty Hawk, North...
Destination Expert
for Outer Banks
Level Contributor
3 081 posts
136 reviews
3. Re: Dreading the drive down....

What you are reading is misinformation or old or both. First of all the traffic I will be talking about is here in NC, I have no idea what it would be like in other states on your trip. The bridge you have read about used to back up badly on Saturdays in the summer, BUT that has not been true last year or this year, so far, and we have been thru some of the peak problem times from the past. But it has not backed up over the bridge at all this year or last year unless there was an accident, so stop worrying about that. The 2 lane road going from Kitty Hawk north to Duck is 5 miles long and it will be slow moving traffic there as usual on Saturday and Sundays, but it is just 5 miles to Duck and then a couple miles thru Duck and then it opens up. So don't worry so much!

Edited: 19 July 2018, 19:50
Level Contributor
825 posts
4. Re: Dreading the drive down....

download WAZE app to your phone and use it before you drive south. coming on a Saturday, in Virginia, AVOID interstate 64 between Richmond and Williamsburg. major construction in 2 spots, the virginia dept of transportation even has billboards and radio ads advising travelers to avoid it! instead take 295 to 460 east.

Here is another thread on construction to avoid!

https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g28967…

MD
Level Contributor
838 posts
25 reviews
5. Re: Dreading the drive down....

As for what to do once you get there, that depends somewhat on your timing of course. Check with your rental agency about whether or not they will let you park at the house until the cleaners are done and you can gain access. Most homes have under house parking that's shaded and acceptable even on hot days. Our house also has a fully functional outdoor shower and toilet, which we can use to change into swimsuits if we want. If it's nice out, have things in your car easily accessible like a beach umbrella, a few chairs and a cooler with drinks, also beach towels and sunscreen . . . basically, why not hop on over to the water and enjoy. As soon as you get over the sand dune, there's a cool breeze for your dog and family. Set up the umbrella and base camp so you dog has shade - make sure to bring a 1-2 gal jug with water for the dog. As for lunch, you can either bring it in the cooler, or grab it as carry out to your house and eat it picnic style once you get there.

Alternatively, there's a few public beach access points in Corolla you could use as base camp if your rental is off limits. One is at Yaupon Lane if you want to GPS it. There's a bath house there with showers, toilets and a place to change. Just up the street from there is Cosmos Pizza if you want to stop there for lunch.

A third alternative is to use the Whalehead Club as your base camp. It's free to park and has lots of walk around things to explore - a free nature center for the kids, the Currituck Lighthouse is right there, the mansion and grounds have picnic tables and some shaded spots for a picnic lunch. Lots of room to walk a dog around - yes, dogs are welcome. They also have large public restrooms. And not far from there are plenty of places to eat including Corolla BBQ which has well-known pulled pork and other NC BBQ specialties.

As for the drive, as mentioned, the horrific traffic from a few years back is gone now. It'll test your patience once you cross the bridge and head north on route 12 toward Duck and through Duck. I suggest getting a restroom break someplace before the bridge just so you can relax and not stress for those few miles. It might take an hour or more to get 4-5 miles up to Duck, but once you're through there, it's smooth sailing up to Corolla.

Duck is a bottleneck coming and going on Saturdays. It'll also be that way anytime it rains and people are looking for off-the-beach activities. So if you plan to visit some of the southern towns like Manteo during your stay, it could be very bad traffic if you opt to do it on a rainy day. The only strategy is to undercut the traffic by getting out of the house and through Duck early, like 8 am. Dealing with Duck traffic is one of the realities that Corolla vacationers have to deal with. I highly recommend visiting Duck on any given nice day or evening for shopping or dinner. It's a great town for both. Try the Paper Canoe or Aqua restaurants for a treat (or Red Sky, or Bluepoint) - some of the best eating on the Outer Banks is in that town and its only bad when it's bad weather or turnover and the streets are loaded with walkers going from shop to shop.

Hope you enjoy.

Chesapeake, Virginia
Level Contributor
1 440 posts
306 reviews
6. Re: Dreading the drive down....

We did have one rental that let us park in the driveway and they cleaned the pool first, so we were allowed to use the pool while we waited for access to the home... but I agree... you could spend some time at the Whalehead Club area too..... The lighthouse area has some shade so someone could stay with the dog while others climb....

www.virginia2obx.blogspot.com

Some photos and notes from our stays there over the years....

Trafford...
Level Contributor
295 posts
8 reviews
7. Re: Dreading the drive down....

Thanks for all the tips! I definitely need to download the WAZE app, been hearing about it for some time now.

Was already told by a friend who goes to the outer banks every year to not go on 64 so at least knew about that!

York, Pennsylvania
Level Contributor
701 posts
37 reviews
8. Re: Dreading the drive down....

This year we left at 3am and sailed right in. Got to Corolla at 9:30am. So why did we do until rental was ready? Ate breakfast, went to the movie theater, ate lunch , walked the beach and went grocery shopping. It all worked out perfectly. Our grown children left much later in the morning and it took them much longer to get here with several back ups to contend with.

York, Pennsylvania
Level Contributor
701 posts
37 reviews
9. Re: Dreading the drive down....

With a dog it would be a little more tricky. But there are certainly places to walk with the beach and walking trails along the road, public restrooms in theTimbuck II shopping village and there are places to sit to each lunch outside so you don’t have to keep your dog in the car. Lots of people with dogs - our daughter brought hers. Our grown children left much later in the morning and it took them much longer to get here with several back ups to contend with. Our check in time was 4pm too.

Edited: 20 July 2018, 01:50
Trafford...
Level Contributor
295 posts
8 reviews
10. Re: Dreading the drive down....

Thanks @tryla3! We haven't decided what time we are leaving yet but most likely not at 3 am! Maybe we'll try for 6 am. We'll see how the packing goes tonight!

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