Finding the Perfect Vacation Home

 In Family Matters, Holiday

Before starting your search, make a list of conveniences that you can’t live without. This will make your search easier, regardless if you are going to take care of booking a house yourself, or if you choose to use one of the fabulous rental companies here on our barrier islands. The choices in rental beach houses are essentially unlimited. The size in houses drastically range from a single bedroom to 10+ bedrooms. And the amenities are endless too. Hot tub? Private pool? Sunning Deck? Ping Pong table? No problem! You can reasonably pick, choose, and likely find your perfect Outer Banks vacation home to spend your summer vacation. Who knows, maybe you will even find the perfect house to return to for many years to come!

There are many towns that make up the Outer Banks, but don’t let that overwhelm you about where to stay. Every destination has their own stunning selection of beach homes. Each with different qualities and attractions that they offer. Nags Head, is the home of Jockey’s Ridge – the largest sand dune on the east coast. Kill Devil Hills, is where you can explore the Wright Brothers National Memorial. Then there is Buxton, where you can climb America’s tallest brick lighthouse. The wild Mustangs that you might get lucky enough to see, live along the shores of Corolla. Let’s not forget about all of the historical events and reenactments that take place every year in Manteo. Wherever the physical location of your beach house, of this you can be sure, you will feel right at home during your stay.

obx vacation homeWhen selecting your just perfect beach house for the summer, you will want to consider all amenities that your family will both want and need. The conveniences and luxuries in your rental can make all the difference in the world. Whether you are flying solo, or are with a sizable group, finding a vacation house that is accommodating and hospitable to everyone doesn’t have to be taxing. Some of the basic essential amenities might include:

Internet and Wi-Fi
If being off the grid sounds pretty good to you, feel free to skip right over this part… For many vacationers, a technology free getaway sounds appealing, but isn’t very reasonable these days. We all have become accustomed to being able to readily access our email for work purposes, to stay in touch with family and friends, and to update social media accounts. Not being able to easily do so can make an otherwise enjoyable vacation seem a bit stressful. Check to ensure that your vacation home has internet and Wi-Fi service.  

Pet Friendly
Most vacationers consider their pet to be part of their family and enjoy bringing them on their summer vacation. The Outer Banks has always been known as one of the most pet friendly beach destinations. Carolina Designs Realty, says that “Dog friendly homes are the number one searched amenity on our website.” There are numerous pet friendly hotels and home rentals in each town. If you plan on bringing your pet on vacation, be aware that pet laws vary from place-to-place. Something to keep in mind when deciding where you will be renting your beach house. See “Beaching it With Fido” in this issue for local pet leash laws and various dog parks. Bringing your pet with you on vacation doesn’t have to be daunting. Just be sure your beach house and the town it is located in is pet friendly, and your four legged friend will fit right in!

Early Check-In, Late Check-Out
Being able to check-in early to your long anticipated beach house can quite possibly be one of the best feelings ever; almost as good as being able to check-out late. Early check-in allows you to start the unpacking process just a little earlier than expected, and perhaps beat some of the traffic onto the beach. And a late check-out gives you those last few beach moments that you are desperately clinging to. Some rental properties allow you to modify check-in and check-out, with a small fee.

outer banks vacation homeWasher and Dryer
For vacationers staying longer than just a couple of days, and especially for those families that are traveling with children, a washer and dryer can make your vacation a lot less stressful. Having easy access to laundry facilities can also help keep your packing to a minimum as you will be able to wash and re-wear clothes. This amenity can be more important than you think.   

Pool and/or Hot Tub
Quite a few rental houses on the Outer Banks include a swimming pool and/or hot tub. It may be something to consider for your next vacation home. When traveling with a large family, sometimes preferences can be split on where to spend the day. So having the beach AND a pool gives you double the options. Vacationing AT the beach doesn’t necessarily mean that every second has to be spent ON the beach. So making sure that you select a vacation rental with plenty of options for activities just might be a selling point for you. Besides, who couldn’t imagine spending a gorgeous sunny day by the pool, or unwinding after a long day in a relaxing hot tub?

Beach Access versus Sound Access
Elaine from Carolina Designs Realty also had this to say, “Possibly one of the biggest concerns that Outer Banks vacationer’s have, is beach access and the proximity to the Atlantic or even the Sound.” If you enjoy a late night stroll on the beach, or if you’re an early bird who loves to watch the stunning Outer Banks sunrises, a home that is on or near the beach might be right up your alley. There are rentals all along the coast that allow you to walk straight out your back door and sink your toes directly into the sand. There are also dozens of public beach accesses up and down Highway 12. Some offer showers to rinse away the salt and sand, restrooms, and even handicapped facilities. Now, if you aren’t that much of an early riser yet still want the same fun that the beach has to offer without the crashing waves, a home between the highways or on the west side of the Bypass might be more suitable for you. Keep this in mind too, rentals situated on the Sound typically offer calm and relaxed waters, even with shallow spots – both ideal for children and pets at play. And let’s also not forget the sunsets on the sound are spectacular!

Here is a partial checklist for amenities for your next vacation house

Pet friendly (rentals and towns)
Heated pools
Central locations with walking distances
Plenty of space – indoor and outdoor  
Entertainment options
Elevators/handicapped accessible

For more information check out

Finding the perfect beach house for your vacation is the very start of many summer memories to come. Choose a rental by prioritizing what you want and need, and what will help make the most out of your time away from home. No matter the rental, the location, or the who, what, when, where, and why, the Outer Banks will provide all you need for an extraordinary and unforgettable beach vacation!

Tara Turner is a freelance writer, stay-at-home mom, and an OBX enthusiast.

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