I travel differently than a lot of people, I drink a lot. That’s not always good news for my family who wants to spend every waking moment on the beach, lightly toasting themselves, rather than bellied up to a bar getting lightly toasted. Folks like you, though… you benefit from my exploration, and might even like to travel the way that I do. When I go on vacation, I spend a lot of time figuring out the best places to go grab a drink – thus… the Outer Banks Drinking Guide!

Where Should I Drink In The Outer Banks?

Let me start with a simple caveat here… I haven’t hit it all, yet. I do my best to figure out the best places, but especially when we talk about a place as expansive as North Carolina’s Outer Banks… there are a lot of places that are easy to let slip past me.

With that being said, not only do I think I did a great job of hitting a lot of places in the heart of OBX, but I also will always update this post as I visit new places throughout the years… so bookmark this, and every time you visit, make sure you revisit this outer banks drinking guide first!

I’m not organizing these in any way other than alphabetical. I can’t choose which one of these places is the best for you, or even for me – so I’m not going to even try. I think you should check them all out for yourself, one at a time!

Art’s Place

4624 Virginia Dare Trail N, Kitty Hawk, NC 27949

This is one of the places that I didn’t get a chance to visit, but after hearing enough about it I’m confident enough to put it on the list. Art’s is low-key, relaxed, and exactly the vibe that I anticipate a lot of folks want to have when they are at the beach.

The bar/restaurant is known for making a killer burger, which definitely hits the spot after you eat enough seafood to stock an aquarium. Definitely, a place to add to your list if you’re looking to grab an easy lunch and a beer!

Check out their website here.

Blue Moon Beach Bar

4104 S Virginia Dare Trail, Nag’s Head, NC 27959

The Blue Moon opened back in 2009 with only 8 tables. Their growth has been slow and steady, as they took over more and more room in their little strip mall. They announced in 2022 that not only were they not done growing, but they were also doing it in a big way with a new location to come in 2023.

My visit in 2022 was my first, and obviously, the last that I’d get to make in their original spot – but keep in mind that when you visit… things might be a little different… bigger, and better hopefully!

This place is a bar and restaurant, so the food plays a big role in what they do – but that doesn’t mean it’s all that they do. A fun cocktail list (the star of the several that I tried was a spicy treat called the ‘Spicy SeƱorita’ that was a rum, ginger, and lime wonder that I could drink all day) – If you’re on the hunt for a beer, though to wash down some shrimp, they keep a rotating draft list of a few nationwide big guys as well as local favorites that you’ve gotta try.

Check out their website here.

Corolla Beer Garden

1148 Ocean Trail, Corolla NC 27927

The Corolla Beer Garden doesn’t have the biggest tap list of any beer garden I’ve ever seen, nor does it have the most space… but this place is all about the vibe. While they do have a great selection, don’t get me wrong – and while there is plenty of space for you and your friends or family to spread out in their outdoor beer garden – it’s all about the kitschy, weird vibe that I 100% resonate with.

There is an indoor section, too and a coffee shop on-site if beer isn’t your thing. I’m a firm believer though that a couple of beers while sitting outside in the sun is hard to beat as a way to spend an afternoon.

Check out their website here.

Dirty Dick’s Crab Shack

2407 S Croatan Hwy, Nag’s Head NC 27959

This place screams tourist trap… but it might have been one of my favorite times while we were there. We had a massive group of us and had an absolute blast knocking back a bunch of their cocktails, and eating a bunch of fried seafood.

If cocktails aren’t your thing… they do have a great beer selection, to keep you happy – but a souvenir cup filled with the “Dick’s Addiction” or the “Dirty Banana” will make you remember that you’re at the beach, and you’re definitely on vacation.

Check out their website here.

Fish Heads Bar & Grill

8901 S Old Oregon Inlet Rd, Nags Head, NC 27959

If you can only find time to go to one place (maybe your just passing through, I don’t know..) this is the place where you should stop. If you asked me to describe what I think a beach bar should be – I’d describe Fish Heads. They can get a little bit of a wait (especially during happy hour) but they have a bar built onto the front of the restaurant to make sure that you always have a beer in your hand while you wait.

When you finally do get your table (or barstool) you’re first led through a bait shop before working your way down the rickety pier to your spot. Live music entertains you, a massive beer list keeps your glass full and an insanely fun (and tasty) shrimp special for happy hour is what you need to have on your plate.

I knew that Fish Heads was going to be good, but I didn’t know that Fish Heads was going to be the star of the show for me. Go. Go, Go, Go. I don’t know how to make this more clear, you can’t drink on the outer banks without going here!

Check out their website here.

Growlers To Go

Growlers To Go is a simple bottle shop. This is your spot to go fill up a few growlers, howlers or 16oz refillable pints – grab a six-pack, some wine, cigars… you get the drill. While yes, you can hang out here and have a pint or two – it’s built to be the spot where you fill that fridge back at the beach house (or hotel).

I can’t understate how important this is… I love going out and grabbing a beer, but it’s hard to beat a late-night pint watching the waves crash upon the shore. Don’t mess up and run out of beer after the sun sets. Afterall, to drink on the outer banks is to spend some time doing it on the beach!

Check out their website here.

Lost Colony Tavern

208 Queen Elizabeth Ave, Manteo, NC 27954

The Lost Colony has a story that is very familiar to any homebrewer turned professional. An owner’s passion for homebrewing made him decide to start selling his beer, which quickly started to turn into something very different. Demand was outpacing the production capability of their small operation and they bought a 10,000-square-foot production facility to keep up.

We visited the little pub in Manteo one afternoon for lunch and immediately got excited to see the menu that covered the whole gamut of Irish, Scottish, and other traditional European fares. It was far from what I expected after eating more than my weight in seafood already that week… in a really good way.

The beer is solid – nothing too far out in left field – it’s beers that are meant to pair up with what you’re eating. Traditional styles that fit the menu near perfectly.

Check out their website here.

Miller’s Waterfront Restaurant

6916 S Croatan Hwy, Nag’s Head NC 27959

Skip eating here… not that the food isn’t good, it’s just fine – but this place shines with a cold drink, sitting outside at a picnic table at sunset. A tablecloth is fine, as is a seat inside their nice comfortable restaurant… but sitting on the water, at a picnic table here is absolutely perfect. Get yourself something to eat, grab a drink and soak it up.

Miller’s has a great cocktail and beer menu that you’re going to spend plenty of time working your way through, and that’s exactly what you should be doing while you’re here.

From Margaritas, and spinoffs of them – to sunset punches and a really delicious strawberry smash – there are plenty of drinks that you’re going to want to try – and you should. Try as many as you can. This place can get a little expensive, but a few cocktails helps to ease that pain, too.

Check out their website here.

Outer Banks Brewing Station

600 S Croatan Hwy, Kill Devil Hills, NC 27948

The Outer Banks Brewing Station opened its doors in 2001 as the first wind-powered brewpub in the United States. In the years that have since passed, the brewery has become a staple for folks looking to spend an afternoon in the sunshine over a few great beers with their family.

My take on this place is very, very simple… my family loved it as much as I did. That’s a hard thing to come by. Out behind the brewery is a big beer garden that features a second, outdoor bar – lots of tables, corn hole games, and the centerpiece a pirate ship playhouse for the kids to play on. I don’t need to paint the picture… if your kids are happy, you get more time to put your feet up and relax a little bit with a beer!

Check out their website here.

Outer Banks Distilling

510 Budleigh St, Manteo, NC 27954

I’m going to be completely honest with this one… I didn’t expect the best. I anticipated the Outer Banks Distlling (the home of Kill Devil Rum) was going to be making mediocre product, cheap rum that is meant to be drowned out by mixers. I also have to be honest in telling you that it blew me away.

Not only is the rum fantastic (they’ll walk you through a full tasting of their products when you walk in the door) but the space itself has become a really great little watering hole in downtown Manteo. The bar isn’t very big – a few tables and barstools, but they’ve managed to use what they have in the perfect way to make you feel comfortable and at home.

The cocktails (I had entirely too many of them) are all nicely done. Nothing too far out of the familiar rum drinks that folks love – and each one is a great showcase for how to use each of their products in a unique way. From a painkiller riff to a nice refreshing Rum & Ting… It’s heaven for a rum fan like me!

One tip… don’t miss out on their Pecan Rum, which not only was the star of the show for me while visiting – it made a very prominent appearance on the deck every night for the rest of the week.

Check out their website here.

Sam & Omie’s

7228 S Virginia Dare Trail, Nag’s Head NC 27959

This place has been a Nag’s head staple for decades (they opened back in 1937). They’re definitely known for their breakfast, which is a pretty stellar way to start your day with a bloody mary or a mimosa… but if you venture over in the evening, it’s the type of place that makes you feel comfortable and relaxed. Burgers and sandwiches compliment their no-frills beer list and uncomplicated cocktails.

Sam and Omie’s is the type of place that has been around forever, and feels like it might be around forever, again… it’s beautifully done and doesn’t try to be anything other than what it is.

Check out their website here.

Swells’a Brewing

1802 S. Virginia Dare Trail, Kill Devil Hills, NC 27948

This brewery immediately felt like a familiar place to me. The place could have been picked up and dropped from any one of a number of the country’s great beer cities and I wouldn’t have been the slightest surprised – expect the overwhelming beach vibe that oozes from every nook and cranny.

They opened their doors in 2021, so my visit came within their first year – and it already feels like they’ve got things dialed in like a long-tenured operation. I felt at home right away.

I tried every single beer that they had on tap, maybe hoping to find a weak spot in what they are doing, and I couldn’t find one. They are cranking out a full lineup of great styles, all executed really, really well.

Check out their website here.

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