By Maggie Miles/Correspondent
Bored of the usual dinner and drinks date? Looking for some healthy options to enjoy with your partner that get you moving or leave you feeling nourished? There’s so much more to do on the Outer Banks than go to the beach and drink Coronas, think again. With a little creativity and sense of adventure, you’ll find healthy date activities throughout the islands. We’ve done the work for you, and drummed up with fun, alternative dates for you and yours to enjoy this summer.
Dinner and a play
How often do you and your partner actually go out to see a play? Reserve tickets for The Lost Colony, the Tony-award winning, historical outdoor drama held at the open-air Waterside Theatre on Roanoke Island. Grab dinner in downtown Manteo beforehand. Both Avenue Waterfront Grille or Olives A Greek Kitchen have an array of delicious, fresh and veggie-forward options. If you have time, stroll the picturesque waterfront boardwalk and watch the sunset over the sound.
A relatively new activity to the Outer Banks, disc golf is the perfect activity if you want to get out into nature and get your muscles pumping. Three options around the central Outer Banks include the Casey R. Logan Disc Golf Course and the Outer Banks Disc Golf Course, both located in Kill Devil Hills, and the Ace Run Disc Golf Course in Manteo. You could even bring a picnic and drinks to enjoy as you make your way along the course.
Hike to the end of Jockey’s Ridge to watch the sunset
Don’t just cross the U.S. 158 to climb the first dune. Make your way to the state park’s final hill for a show-stopping sunset over the Roanoke Sound. You can do this by hiking from the highway across all of the hills or taking the network of trails through the maritime forest around and behind Jockey’s Ridge. There’s no right way to see the sunset from the park, but two of my favorite viewing points are from atop a dune or the beach at the Soundside Access behind Jockey’s Ridge. Go to ncparks.gov for trail details.
Check out Backyard Bootcamp with 3.13 Coaching at Jack Brown’s
Earn your beer together in the backyard at Jack Brown’s Beer & Burger Joint in Kill Devil Hills. $20 suggested donations gets you a class and on Saturdays it gets you a beer as well. Every Tuesday and Thursday at 7 a.m. and Saturdays at 9:30 a.m. Bonus: A portion of all proceeds go to local charities, which rotate monthly.
Bike along the Bay Drive for a coffee date
A locals’ favorite, Bay Drive (the soundside road in Kill Devil Hills and Kitty Hawk) includes a scenic multiuse path for foot and bike traffic. It connects to Palmetto Street and Helga Street, which lead to Front Porch Cafe and Ashley’s Espresso Parlor, respectively. What’s better than taking a bike ride on the water, absorbing all of the beautiful sights and smells, and ending with a warm, locally roasted, cup of joe? Go to kdhnc.com for bike map details.
Create your own Beach Road bike tour in Nags Head
A stretch of N.C. Highway 12 (known as the Beach Road) through Nags Head is filled with a row of amazing restaurants. Start around Danube Street and make your way north to restaurant stops like Blue Moon Beach Grill and the oceanview deck at Mulligan’s Grill in Historic Cottage Row. Taste the Caribbean cuisine at the famous Tortuga’s Lie (their steamed veggie/seafood platter is amazing), try the salads at Lucky 12 Tavern, and end the outing with some fro-yo from Surfin’ Spoon on your return trip.
Go get a ‘Big Salad’
Whoever says a salad isn’t a sufficient meal doesn’t know how to do a proper salad. These local spots, on the other hand, prove this point. If you are looking for a nutritious and filling salad to break up the margaritas and chips and guac, find the balance of leafy greens, whole grains and proteins at these local faves: Lucky 12, Poke Box, Khan’s Mongolian Grill, Woo Casa, Fresh Fit Café, Shine On Juicery, Bad Bean Baja Grill, or Trio Restaurant & Market.
Explore the forest
Get a taste of the wild by taking U.S. 64 west across the Virginia Dare Memorial Bridge to the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge. This preserved wetland is home to black bears and red wolves. There’s also Nags Head Woods Preserve, where a network of trails lead through the maritime forest. A good option is the trail that ends on top of Run Hill. Pack a picnic and watch the sunset. Just leave with enough time to get back to your car before dark. For info and safety procedures go to fws.gov/Alligator_River and nature.org
Yoga and breakfast
Take a free yoga class with the Peace Garden Project, held at Beechland Farms in Manteo (donations accepted). Yoga is on the first Sunday of each month and guided meditation on the third Sunday. Ask if you can meet the goats, ducks and chickens while you’re there. Following your time of stretching and centering, head to Fresh Fit Café located waterside on the Nags Head-Manteo Causeway to have an amazing, healthy breakfast on the sound. Their menu is amply supplied with gluten-free and vegan options.
Home-prepared farm-to-table meal
Go to Secotan Farmers Market or Dowdy Park Farmers Market together, and procure fresh vegetables, organic, local meats and home-baked bread for dinner at home. While these markets have everything you need to create an amazing meal, simply walking around them is a whole experience unto itself. The Secotan Market is located in an open-air farm-house style venue in Wanchese. Check out their farm tours and craft workshops while you are there. Dowdy’s is equally charming, located in Nags Head right across the Bypass from the Outer Banks Family YMCA in Nags Head. In season, the Secotan Market is every Saturday 8 a.m.-12 p.m. and Dowdy’s is every Thursday from 9 a.m.-1 p.m.
Now get out there and nurture your Inner Banks!