We just returned home from our vacation in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. We try to rent a house with our good friends each year for a week and spend time on the beach, seeing the local area and relaxing. This was Liam’s first vacation and first time on the beach so we were even more excited to see some sights with our almost 2 year old. While we spend a lot of time on the beach, or relaxing during nap time, we also find some things to do in the local area. This year we headed to the Currituck Lighthouse and Whalehead Club for a fun activity. Both of these activities were in the area of Corolla which was about a 45 minute drive from our rental in Kill Devil Hills. We first decided to climb the lighthouse and then head across the bridge to the Whalehead House.
About the Currituck Beach Lighthouse
This red-brick lighthouse towers above the northern Outer Banks landscape in the historic Corolla Village. Visitors can climb the winding staircase, 220 steps in all, to the top of the lighthouse for a panoramic view of Currituck Sound, the Atlantic Ocean and the Currituck Outer Banks. Inside the lighthouse, at the base and on the first two landings, there are museum-quality lighthouse exhibits. On the way up or down, stop to learn about the history of coastal lighthouses, the Fresnel lens, shipwrecks and the lighthouse keepers.
The Currituck Beach Lighthouse is known as a first order lighthouse, which means it has the largest of seven Fresnel lens sizes. With a 20-second flash cycle (on for 3 seconds, off for 17 seconds), the light can be seen for 18 nautical miles. The distinctive sequence enables the lighthouse not only to warn mariners but also to help identify their locations. Like the other lighthouses on North Carolina’s Outer Banks, this one still serves as an aid to navigation. The beacon comes on automatically every evening at dusk and ceases at dawn.
The four of us climbed the lighthouse and Garrett carried Liam up there for me as there was NO way that I could do the 220 steps with my back and carry Liam. He wasn’t too happy as he wanted Momma but he did alright. Inside of the lighthouse, there is a beautiful staircase, windows along the way up and some historical signs to tell the history of the lighthouse. The stairwell is narrow and its the same way up as it is down – so it’s challenging with others going the opposite way. We made it to the top and oh man, what a view!! You could see the water, houses, the parking lot, the museum store and even the Whalehead House. We were able to walk around, feel the nice breeze and remember that we were on top of a historical lighthouse. I think that this one is SO beautiful – the brick and the area that it is in. The drive there was long but a beautiful journey.
Climbing the Currituck Beach Lighthouse
The Currituck Beach Lighthouse opens daily in early Spring for climbing, 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., weather permitting, through Thanksgiving weekend. Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, the lighthouse and grounds will remain open on Wednesdays and Thursdays until 8 p.m. During periods of high winds or thunderstorms the lighthouse tower may be closed to climbers. Lighthouse construction predates modern building codes and safety regulations, so visitors are required to sign a liability waiver prior to climbing. Children 12 and younger may climb only if accompanied by an adult. Parents or guardians must sign a waiver for unaccompanied children ages 13 through 17.
There is a fee to climb the tower (when we went it was $10 per person). Children 7 years and younger are admitted free with a climbing adult. Cash and checks are accepted forms of payment.
Admission to the grounds and parking are free.
We then made the trek back down the stairs, and it was much easier going down than up. We took a quick stop to get some water and a breather and then headed over to the beautiful Whalehead House. I had no idea what this historical home was and what the tour would entail. While we couldn’t take pictures inside of the house, we could take some of the outside and take our time inside of the house.
About the Whalehead House
Set on 39 pristine acres along the Currituck Sound in Historic Corolla, the Whalehead Club is a beautifully restored 1920s-era Art Nouveau-style mansion listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
With its bold yellow paint, copper roof and mahogany doors, the Whalehead invites you to explore a fascinating period in Outer Banks history. Nearly every inch of the home has been carefully restored to the way it looked when Edward Collins Knight Jr. and his wife, Marie Louise, first opened the doors as a lavish hunting retreat in 1925.
The wealthy Knights spent their winters here hunting, relaxing and entertaining. Today, stepping inside is to step back into another time and place. Restored in 1992 to its original glory, the Whalehead Club is now open year-round for tours.
When we entered the home, we were greeted by Fred who told us a little about the self-guided tour and got us signed up and set up. We then walked to the rear of the house to chat with another Fred for a map and instructions on where to go in the house. We started out on the back deck which has such a BEAUTIFUL view and listened to a 5 minute or so recording about the history of the home and guidelines for the tour. Each of the stops had a short 5-8 minute recording that told you about the area that you were touring. There were a total of 13 and the tour was self-guided. Fred showed us some distinctive decor and woodworking on the door frames and told us to look out for other special touches throughout the home. We had a great time exploring the first and second floors where we saw a dining room, Mrs. Knight’s room, Mr. Knight’s room, guest rooms, servant’s quarters, kitchen and then finally the basement which had some pretty awesome details about the time that the Knights lived there and more history about Corolla. When we left, Fred gave us an activity book and crayons for Liam!
We couldn’t take pictures inside of the home but I cannot recommend this tour enough. It was so neat to see the pictures of how the house was set up and then to see the set up today and compare the two. It was neat to see the history in this home and learn its significance. I love that the tour was self-guided as well!
Touring the Whalehead:
The Whalehead in Historic Corolla is open daily for tours from 10:00 am-4:00 pm. Prices and tour options vary. Come uncover the mystery of a by-gone era on the Outer Banks, when waterfowl outnumbered the people, and a once flourishing family built a mansion retreat for the ages.
Restored in 1992 to its original glory, the Whalehead Club is now open year-round for tours. Inside, you’ll see Mrs. Knight’s Steinway piano and petite Art Nouveau “grandmother” clock, as well as many elite-at-the-time amenities including original Tiffany glass sconces, corduroy walls, cork flooring, Otis elevator and a a cast-iron safe within an ornate, marble-topped sideboard.
Ages: 0-5, free
Ages: 6-12, $5
Ages: 13-54, $7
Ages: 55+, $5
Active Military, $5
For reservations, call 252-453-9040, or visit us at 1100 Club Road, Corolla, NC 27927