I love a relaxing beach vacation, but when we visited the Outer Banks of North Carolina, my family enjoyed learning some important aviation history by visiting the Wright Brothers National Memorial.
In 1903, Wilbur and Orville Wright made history by completing four brief flights in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. When you visit the Wright Brothers Memorial, you will walk on the field where the first flights made history.
Here are four tips for a successful visit to the Wright Brothers National Memorial.
Watch the weather
The first time we visited the Wright Brothers Memorial, it was pouring rain and we decided a historical sight was a good alternative to sitting in our beach house all day. We were able to enjoy the visitor's center, but we missed out on the full experience because of the torrential downpour.
Since the majority of the Wright Brothers Memorial is outside, the best weather would be a cool morning or an overcast day. My kids favorite part was playing on the metal airplane replica, and on a hot afternoon the metal would be too hot for kids to play on.
Related: Fun Things to Do in the Outer Banks
Listen to the ranger program in the Visitor's Center
Start at the Visitor's Center, which has a small museum with information about the Wright brothers. The Flight room talk is a 25-minute ranger-led discussion that happens periodically throughout the day.
We loved the Flight room talk because the ranger involved the children in the discussion while he taught a history lesson. He demonstrated the control system on the replica of the 1903 airplane and showed them how the Wright brothers figured out how to fly. It was fascinating.
Plan to walk
Put on your walking shoes to truly enjoy the Wright Brothers Memorial. After you leave the Visitor's Center, you can walk to the field where the first flights happened. Stone markers identify where the first four flights landed on that December day in 1903. My kids enjoyed “flying” from one stone to another.
You can see a replica of the cabin they lived in while they stayed in Kitty Hawk working on the airplanes. Finally, you will want to walk up the hill to the Memorial that looks down on the field.
Save time to play on the airplane replica
After learning all about flight, my children played for nearly an hour imagining they were explorers flying to different countries on this first airplane. We were glad it wasn't too busy that afternoon because our kids and their imagination completely took over the plane. We were grateful for one tree and a shaded bench to rest on while they played.
Good to Know
Where: On Highway 158 in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. You can't miss it.
When: Open daily, 9:00-5:00 p.m. Closed Christmas Day.
How much: $4/adult. Ages 15 and under are free.
How long: 1-2 hours
Amenities: Restrooms, small gift shop