You'll love this cozy coastal getaway. 

Photo: Town of Duck, via Facebook

Beaches aren’t necessarily the first thing to come to mind when picturing North Carolina, where mountains take precedence over beachside escapes, but the Outer Banks is home to a string of barrier islands that extend nearly 300 miles along the vast Atlantic Ocean. One day you might experience each island’s sweeping sandy dunes and frothy surf, and then the next you may find yourself lulled into its tranquility, thanks to the gentle, rhythmical flow of the warm Carolina waters.  

But even with its dreamy destination potential, the Outer Banks is still the area known as “a secret worth keeping.” And the narrow island and small residential community of Duck, in particular, is a closely guarded secret among its 370-plus residents, partly because it offers a paradisiacal bliss that remains largely unspoiled—until now that is.

Sorry, North Carolinians, we had to let the cat out of the bag about this burgeoning coastal town, which gets its name from the large group of fowl that migrate there. With its smattering of vacation rentals, restaurants, and even a resort encircling the island, we just couldn’t keep this quaint, secluded oasis to ourselves. And after discovering these attractions in Duck this summer, you won’t be able to keep it a secret for much longer either. 

1. Duck Beach

A backdrop of seven miles of unbroken white sand, gorgeous clear water, and an uninterrupted view of the ocean frames Duck Beach. Its open space is arguably the focal point of the Outer Banks. Not only is this small beach getaway kid-friendly, but dogs are also allowed to roam freely off the leash in the windswept open areas, as long as you stay close by to your furry friend.

2. Sanderling Resort and Spa

Nestled perfectly between the Atlantic Ocean and the Currituck Sound, the Sanderling Resort offers a panoramic view of the water from most of the guest rooms. With their award-winning spa and the on-site Kimball’s Kitchen restaurant, this upscale resort serves as a great wedding reception venue. But, most importantly, it provides big-time luxury with a dose of small-town charm.

3. Vacation Rentals

Unlike most towns, Duck doesn’t have many hotels. But that’s part of the appeal, in that it’s largely a residential rental community. Visitors, who make Duck a weekend retreat, either stay at Sanderling Resort or in one of the hundreds upon hundreds vacation rental homes that Duck boasts. Sure, you won’t find a Hyatt or Holiday Inn here— although there is the newly-built Hilton Garden Inn—but what you will discover is high-end quality as opposed to quantity.  

4. Aqua Restaurant and Spa

Duck has many restaurants overlooking the Sound and the Outer Banks sunset, including Coastal Cravings, Roadside Raw Bar & Grill, Red Sky Cafe, The Blue Point, and Paper Canoe. But Aqua Restaurant is unique, because not only can you order organic foods from the savory menu, but you can also partake in a spa treatment on your way out the door.

5. Wright Brothers National Memorial

Aviation and history buffs should make a pit stop at this nearby attraction in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, which is the site of the world's first controlled-powered airpline flight in Kitty Hawk by the Wright Brothers in 1903.

6. Duck Boardwalk aka Soundside Boardwalk

Easily walkable, the Duck Boardwalk offers a mile-long scenic view of aquatic animals, a new expansive pier for boat travel, and waterfront shopping that includes more than 18 boutiques, restaurants, and other notable points of interest.

7. Duck Town Park

Adventure enthusiasts, rejoice! You won't get bored from commonplace tourist attractions here in Duck. Adjacent to the boardwalk is the 11-acre Duck Town Park, which is an ideal nature spot for hiking and exploring the swamps and forests. When you tire of your exploits on dry land, try kayaking and canoeing for an enjoyable time on the water.  

WATCH: 5 Ways to Make a Vacation House Pay for Itself

You could travel further south to Myrtle Beach or Florida, but may we remind you that there’s a beautiful, budget-friendly beach destination closer to home in North Carolina, too.