Comfort Inn (formerly the Ramada Inn)
Fondest memory: The Ramada Inn (now a Comfort Inn) is a seven-storey high hotel. To this date, it is the tallest hotel in the northern Outer Banks. I stayed in the former Ramada Inn in August, 1975 and June, 1977. Last time I was there, the restaurant was on the second floor with an eye-level view of the ocean (the first floor consisted only of the lobby). There were two pools- a standard pool for the adults and older children and a smaller, more shallow one for the little nippers. There was also a poolside snackbar. This hotel was conveniently located right on the beach so all we needed to do was take the lift down, pass the pool area, and get to the beach. In 1977, we came here after the Holiday Inn relegated us to dune level due to a medical convention. Ramada Inn hooked us up with a kitchenette on the 4th floor. Believe it or not, I preferred old room 623 from 2 years before.
Customer satisfaction: 5 stars. If VT had a 6th star, I'd use that one too!
(I hope the Comfort Inn is a fraction as good as the old Ramada Inn.)
I have no idea how much it cost us to stay per night in 1975 and 1977. However, the Comfort Inn is in the $180 + per night range for an oceanfront room with two beds in high summer.
Address: 8031 S. Oregon Inlet Rd., Nags Head, NC 27959
Telephone: (252) 441-6315
Directions From Raleigh, NC, take HWY 64 east to Manteo. Cross the bridge to beach road, the hotel is on the left 1/5 mile. From VA, exit 291 B off I 64, take 168-158 to Nags Head, turn left at milepost 16.5 on beach road, hotel is 1/3 mile.
- Family Travel
Fondest memory: Before my first trip to Nags Head in 1975, I never heard of a scallop. That's logical because I was born and raised inland. I first tried the scallop at Owen's Seafood Restaurant our second night there and fell straightaway in love with the earthy taste. I had it fried with baked potato and salad, not to mention plenty of cocktail sauce in which to dip it. The waiters and waitresses were all bumfuzzled that someone pushing 6 years old could eat all that. Regardless of the restaurant, I knew what I liked and my parents knew that any seafood restaurant worth its salt down there had fried scallops (with the usual sauce and sides) on the menu. I also had the scallop sauteed in seafood Norfolk (Owen's now calls it Seafood Outer Banks), but I have to say that now, as then, I prefer my scallops fried.
- Food and Dining
Tacky, even here
Fondest memory: As many good Outer Banks memories as there are, some are tacky. For one example of my definition of tacky is the Sea Foam Motel. I cannot speak for the quality of this motel. My parents stayed there in the mid 1960s and had nothing but good things to say about the service and the cleanliness of the rooms. But on enlarging the photo, you will see what I mean in my critique of the decor. The aqua trim of this hotel, which may have been in vogue at the time the hotel was built, stands out even in the mid '70s, let alone the 21st Century. The pictured Sea Foam Motel isn't the only example of tacky I could cite.
- There used to be this t-shirt place on the Beach Road right across from Surfside Plaza that was a pitch black cinderblock building with a flat roof and gray floors. Even when I was a kid, I thought this was tacky.
- There are as many shops that sell nothing but cheap, gaudy, Outer Banks rubbish as a dog has fleas.
This kind of tacky can be found at any beach resort and is acceptable. However, tacky isn't only in the look, but in the attitude as well.
- I find it tacky that a formerly good restaurant like Owen's which did well its first 35 years by keeping the food simple and good has gone upmarket and snooty.
- It's a tacky thing when the Croatan Inn and its restaurant incarnations has to be torn down in favour of more condominums.
There were many crocodile tears shed a long time ago that the inn was built into the dunes. Suddenly, nobody's crying about the condominiums taking more of the dunes. If it keeps getting tacky like that, the next thing you will have is Baja Virginia Beach. The Outer Banks needs to grow some backbone and revert to the character it had when I was a kid and tell the elites from elsewhere there are plenty of other resorts that will cater to their snooty whims. As to the Sea Foam, it may look tacky, but at least they haven't been bought out by a national chain!
Good restaurants gone, but not forgotten
Fondest memory: The Dareolina was a more affordable counterpart to Owen's Seafood Restaurant directly across the street. It was a little less spectacular in terms of restaurant decor, but with an ocean view on three sides, they let Mother Nature do the decorating. The food was just as good as Owen's and cheaper once the sons took over for their parents and it went upmarket...and even snooty. We hadn't been back to Owen's since 1981. Ironically and sadly, the Dareolina closed some time in the late 1980s. My favourite dish here was either the fried scallops or the Seafood Norfolk, both with baked potato and salad bar. The thing that stands out most to me is the appetiser. They would always serve a crock of soft champagne cheddar cheese.
Papagayo's was, for many years, the only Mexican restaurant in the Outer Banks. The restaurant took the place of the old Croatan Inn and was built into the sand dunes. They incorporated locally caught seafood in some of their dishes. The up close and personal ocean view was every bit as good as the food. I had the good fortune to be able to bring both Luc (from France) and Fernando (from Spain) here in 1992 and 1995. It closed in 1996, giving way to a similar restaurant called Quagmire's. More sadly than that, Quagmire's closed down in September, 2005 and the former Croatan Inn and its latter-day incarnations was torn town to give way to condominiums. So-called progress isn't always for the better.
- Food and Dining
Fondest memory: The Galleon Esplanade has to be the most unusual shopping places I have ever seen. See, I never have liked to shop. However, one shop was a replica of an honest-to-goodness galleon (a large three-masted sailing ship with a square rig and usually two or more decks, used from the 15th to the 17th century especially by Spain as a merchant ship or warship, for those in Roxboro) and the unique offerings made shopping here an excellent adventure in 1975, 1976, 1977, and 1981. They sold things here I couldn't find at home such as t-shirts, seashells, wind chimes, and ceramics (Mama was keen on that back then). Having an ice cream shop also helped: they had great lemon custard. Sadly, it closed some time in the 1980s. I cannot imagine it not doing a good business because the curiosity factor alone would draw people there. For example, my first time there, I saw a car with Texas plates.
- Family Travel
- Road Trip
Jockey Ridge State Park
Favorite thing: We didn't visit Jockey Ridge State Park, but it has the tallest natural sand dune system in the Eastern United States. I understand that there is an amazing view from the top of the dunes.
But I was not in good enough physical shape to climb the dunes. The park is free
I had a hard time getting a picture of the park entrance road
Fondest memory: But I took this picture quite near there at Milepost 13, just south of Jockey's Ridge State Park, on US 158 in the heart of old Nags Head. The picture has a sign indicating the Nag's Head Church (which is Baptist)
The church's physical address: 105 W. Soundside Road, Nags Head, NC 27959-0302
Phone Number: 252-441-7548
You can email us at email@example.com
- Religious Travel
- National/State Park
- Budget Travel
Favorite thing: Hubby and I went to Outer Banks during Thanksgiving weekend last year-2003. I remember the weather was warm-almost 70! They had JUST opened up the very southern tip of OBX, and some areas were still not passable. The storm really did severe damage, I took some pics-really sad. Building torn to shreds.
Fondest memory: I went to OBX the summers of 2000 an 2001, then last year -Nov. 2003. I always did like OBX...nice people, weather, scenes-I wouldn't mind living there!
Favorite thing: I have not been down in the area since the storm Isabell this year so I can't tell you how bad it is, Nat (B1bob) said Isabel hit hard, check out his NC travel logs of the damage. I do know that just north, Assateague & Chincoteague Islands in Virginia were hit pretty hard. First hand the sand covered every thing and took some time to clear, so I can't imagine.I would call local visitor center for more updated information.
Favorite thing: As you lay on the beach you will see many pelican flying over head. They are here every time we are in September, not sure if they are migrating or not. You can also catch them fishing. Hope they don't release any little bombs!
My first trip to Nags Head, 3 August 1975
Fondest memory: Without a doubt, the fondest memory of Nags Head was the first visit from Sunday 3 August to Thursday 7 August 1975. Not to sell subsequent visits short, but everything was new and I was just loving every minute of it. PHOTO (5 August 1975): I was sitting on the air conditioning unit at Ramada Inn room 623. The ocean front room had a balcony.
One evening after supper, round about dusk, my mama and I decided to walk on the beach. There was a distant thunderstorm just off the coast. Sure enough, I saw the tentacles of lightning. At that age (pushing 6), I was deathly afraid of thunderstorms. So, I was FLAT GETTIN' IT (that is, Bruce Jenner, eat your heart out) down the beach towards the hotel with my eyes closed. (I don't think I moved that fast until almost 14 years later in Monaco.) I was moving at the aforesaid good clip until I ran head long into a fat lady's belly, which knocked this 40 pound (18 kg.) kid plumb on his bum. Mama still hadn't caught up with me. I ran into the hotel and got on the lift before she could catch up with me. I saw her as the doors closed. I knew to hit the 6th floor button because I had seen daddy do it. However, Mama says she could her me scream, "MAMAAA!" from 6 floors up.
You'd think the story would end as we were reunited outside room 623, but it didn't. As mama and daddy were watching what passed for prime time entertainment, I was sitting on the air conditioning unit watching the sky. At the same time I saw offshore lightning, the air conditioning unit rumbled. I thought I had been hit and I screamed (even louder than during my solo ride in the lift), jumped high (I could have been a contender in the broad and high jumps in Montreal the following year as well as the sprint events), and landed in bed under the covers.
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