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Knotts Island, North Carolina

Knotts Island, North Carolina


On the northeastern tip of the state sits a quiet place with only about 2,000 inhabitants. This unincorporated area straddles the North Carolina-Virginia line. And is both part of Currituck County and Virginia Beach. It's not just the location that makes it special, there's actually a lot to love about this town on the bay and by the ocean.

Welcome to Knotts Island

Originally settled in the late 17th century, the island has long been considered a favorite of people who have come upon it. Now that includes you. It usually requires a ferry to get on the land, but this is a special pass. We're going to take an insider's look around.

Historic Knotts Island

Before we get going on our adventure, it helps to have an idea of how we got here in the first place. Long before North Carolina was a state, the colony was thriving and expanded out to Knotts Island. The land isn't actually out on its own, so it's not technically an island but a peninsula. However, the way the landscape is surrounded on almost all sides makes it easy to understand why it was given the name. Not to mention, the vibe of Knotts overall fits in with the slow-paced island way of life.

It was that island feel that prompted William Byrd, founder of Richmond, to be the first to put his thoughts about the place on paper in 1728. It continued on through time as a place where people came to seek out the ocean until the Civil War broke out. Then, the beaches were used as a place to obtain salt, an ingredient used heavily on both sides of the conflict to keep meat edible longer.

In the years that followed the war, Joseph P. Knapp made a trip that uncovered his passion for birds. The wealthy native New Yorker started a foundation called Ducks Unlimited. Ducks Unlimited works on the conservation of areas. Like Mackay Island National Wildlife Refuge and their waterfowl. Philanthropist Knapp loved Knotts Island so much. That he owned a lodge that was given to the refuge after his passing.

Since the state started offering a complimentary 45-minute ferry ride to the island, it's been seen as open for visitors. The town has created a schedule of activities to bring in tourists for decades now.

Mackay Island Wildlife Refuge

Knotts Island has had many years of people checking out the wildlife. It only made sense to establish a refuge for them where people come to offer support. Congress made it official just a matter of hours before 1961 kicked off. The focus is mainly on keeping migratory birds safe as well as watching after the other species around.

If you have an interest in birds, there might not be a better place to watch them or even record ones you haven't seen before, than Mackay Refuge. There are almost 200 bird species but there are plenty of other types of wildlife taking up residence as well. After days of looking at avian life, there are other activities to keep you fulfilled as a visitor.

  • Archery
  • Biking
  • Boating, motorized, and not
  • Fishing
  • Hiking

Currituck National Wildlife Refuge

Mackay is focused on birds in the forests of the island. Currituck Refuge expands to include the beach and a wider array of wildlife, as well as beach conservation. One component unique to this location is the wild horses you can see running along the beach. While it may be tempting to get close to them, it is against the law to do so. Admire from afar.

You can bring your four-wheeler to the beach with a permit or walk one of the three trails. Each is less than half a mile but is so scenic that it might take you a while to finish.

Knotts Island Peach Festival

Nothing says summer like a juicy peach. If that's not a good reason to have a festival, we don't know what one is. The last weekend of July hosts an annual festival dedicated to the tasty fruit with enough for everyone. What can you expect at such an event? Plenty of crafts and activities for everyone, live music, food, and all the peaches you can imagine.

As one of last year's attendees shared, "The best peaches and BBQ around! My family looks forward to this all year. The peaches are so juicy, so grab napkins! The rides are a lot of fun for all ages and the live music really kicks things off." Parking and children under 12 are free. For everyone else, admission is $8, but if you buy online, the cost is $5.75.

Martin Farm and Winery

Strawberry farmers from Virginia decided to make the move to Knotts Island in the late 70s. Since then, the Martin family has built a farm that grows peaches, grapes, apples, tomatoes, pumpkins, and more. If you'd like some of that fresh produce for yourself, they have a U-Pick schedule that allows you to choose which ones you want to take home.

If you're coming for a taste test, you'll have plenty to choose from. Here are the types of wine available:

  • Peach
  • Apple
  • Blackberry
  • Strawberry
  • White or Red Muscadine

For the non-alcohol drinkers, there are peach slushies, beer, tea, and soda.

Best Places to Eat

After all the outdoor time, you'll want somewhere comfortable to dine and think about what you've seen. There's Knotts Island Market, which has been around since 1855, and it has everything you need to pick up quick bites or groceries for your stay. If you want the restaurant experience, here are a few of the top-rated eateries in town:

  • Pass the Salt Cafe
  • Corolla Village BBQ
  • Northern Lights Bakery

Now that we've pinpointed what makes this place so great and entertaining.  We hope you'll be checking your calendar to set a date to come out and see Knotts Island for yourself real soon.

This place is for Publicity

This place is for Publicity

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