by Nikki Terpilowski
On one of my recent trips to the Outer Banks during the off-season, I went solo and with the express purpose of visiting every single book store in the area. Fortunately, I was able to visit all but one store on my list which was closed that day.
The commonality between all of these shops is that they have great book collections, really wonderful kid sections, friendly service and knowledgable staff. But what I really love about this group of bookstores is the diversity of character and personality that each bookstore offers its customers. Whether the bookstore is in a strip mall, a historic building or a shopping center, each bookstore presents a unique experience for the beach-loving bookworm.
There are many great bookstores at the beach, and if you’re a booklover and you’re heading to the Outer Banks, you’ll definitely appreciate this list of the best bookstores to visit in the area.
Let’s get started!
Buxton Village Books, Buxton, NC
Located in a vintage cottage with lots of charm, Buxton Village Books can be found right off Highway 12 in a rural beachy environment. The store is small and every inch of the space is crowded with books – but it’s a good kind of crowded – where you keep bumping into shelves and finding new things to read.
Don’t expect to find a comfy chair where you can sit and read, this is not that kind of place. Rather, you go here to find the book you want, (and that includes the kids, so make sure to bring them along because they have an expansive children’s section), and head directly to the beach for some reading in the sun.
A perk of visiting the beach during the “shoulder season” is missing most of the crowds. I was fortunate enough to have the entire store to myself. The owner was there and we discussed how and why she opened the bookstore, the challenges she faces and why she loves what she does. She also recommends books – so if you’re at a loss as to what to purchase, just ask.
The Island Book Store, Kitty Hawk, NC
The Kitty Hawk location of The Island Bookstore is in a cute, beach-themed strip mall. It’s nice and spacious, beautiful with lots of hardwood and stacks and stacks of books.
I spoke with the manager here and learned a great deal about the three individual stores that make up the locally owned The Island Book Store chain, the owner and what makes their stores so special. The owner has a professional history in the publishing industry, and his passion for books and his knowledge of the industry is evident in the curation of his book collections
I enjoyed strolling through this store and was able to find many new books that were on my to-be-read pile. I have three sons who love to read, so I’m always interested in bookstores with fantastic children’s section – this bookstore has one of the best!
The Island Bookstore, Duck, NC
Based in Duck, NC’s Scarborough Faire shopping center, this Island Books Store is the largest of The Island Book Store family. Nestled on a second floor in a corner of the shopping center, this bookstore is both spacious and cozy with nooks and crannies for enjoying your books.
There’s a gourmet coffee shop right next door, the Treehouse Coffee Company that makes a mean iced latte, so make sure to stop by – if you’re like me – and enjoy books and coffee at the same time.
They have a great collection of southern fiction, including stories set in the OBX, plus nonfiction detailing its history. I don’t know about you, but when I’m vacationing or traveling on business, I really enjoy stories set in the same location, either for myself or myself or as a thoughtful gift.
Duck’s Cottage, Corolla, NC
Established in 2002, Duck’s Cottage is located on the pond at the Waterfront Shops in Duck, NC. We love buildings with history and this adorable little cottage has loads. The building was originally known as the Powder Ridge Gun Club, a hunting cottage built in 1921 by a group of New York investors who visited the area to hunt waterfowl.
Duck’s Cottage has gourmet coffee, pastries and books, just like the sign over the door states. Like all of the bookstores on the island, Duck’s Cottage has a great selection of books, including a nice collection of novels set in the Outer Banks.
This location has a small seating area up front, but Duck’s Cottage sits in such a pretty area you may want to take your coffee and books and hang out on the porch (it’s the south ya’ll!) or walk around and enjoy the view.
Books To Be Red, Ocracoke, NC
Another cozy spot to enjoy, Books To Be Red sits on a large piece of land and you can stroll the property, swing on a tire and rest on the porch steps (more porches!). Books To Be Red was established in 1995 when a couple of friends decided to open a shop to sell books and pottery. Twenty years later, Books To Be Red is an island institution.
Magic Bean Coffee Shop is right across the street, and since you’re walking everywhere on the island, you may as well walk right across the street and get your caffeine fix before you find your new favorite books.
The Island Bookstore, Historic Corolla Village, Corolla, NC
Built in the mid-1990s on the grounds of a former general store, the design of this bookstore was inspired by the original building and was designed to have a historic feel. We love that this building is in keeping with its environment, offering lots of character and personality.
This spacious bookstore with two floors and several cozy nooks for reading makes this location a readers lover paradise. They have tons of genres and subjects to choose from and it’s located literally steps away from the Currituck Beach Lighthouse. If you’re interested in books and history, this location is a twofer!
I encourage you to incorporate travel to local bookstores in your vacations, especially to the beach. Besides the obvious reasons that a beach vacation is the perfect time to get some extra reading in when you patronize local independent book stores you’re supporting the local economy. That’s always something you can feel good about.
And besides museums and gift shops, local bookstores are the natural place to find books on the area’s history or fiction set in the area. Whatever you buy and take back with you will always remind you of your time of relaxation at the beach!