Welcome to Nags Head’s fun zone

By on April 30, 2013

Rides include a Ferris wheel. (Boardwalk Attractions)

New rides include a Ferris wheel. (Boardwalk Attractions)

Once the homogenized center of the Outer Banks no-fun zone, Nags Head has come a long way in giving visitors and residents a pretty cool town.

Although I’ve harped on the wisdom of spending $36 million to widen the beach, the shoreline has held up against some big storms much better than, say, Kitty Hawk and Hatteras Island.

Better yet, the multi-use path on U.S. 158 is spectacular. Not only does it rank high in usability, it looks great. It puts the on-again, off off-again sidewalks and pathways along the bypass in other towns to shame.

That’s not to diminish the attractive paths weaving through Kill Devil Hills neighborhoods or the scenic route along The Woods Road in Kitty Hawk. And Manteo has long provided a nice byway for strollers and riders.

But five-lane U.S. 158 is a dangerous place, and Nags Head is working to make it safer.

Meanwhile, the town’s decision to allow a Ferris wheel and other rides at a go-kart track on the southern end of U.S. 158 is nothing short of a miracle. Once known as the town that never saw an idea it liked and recoiled at the prospects of a “carnival atmosphere,” Nags Head welcomed this plan as a source of fun for the tourists.

Yes, we live in a resort town, not a suburb of Washington, D.C.

Multi-use path on U.S. 158.

Multi-use path on U.S. 158.

Nags Head wasn’t directly responsible for the state-of-the-art Jennette’s Pier, but it made sure that access was as good as it could be in an odd convergence of roadways on N.C. 12. The town provided additional parking across the street. A kid-friendly town park is part of the complex.

The Outer Banks Tourism Board oversees the old Windmill Point site along the sound. But if public opinion didn’t sink the idea of a conference center and hotel there, the chilly reception from Mayor Bob Oakes and other members of the Board of Commissioners pushed it over the edge. The town is a part owner of the site.

Now planned as an outdoor events venue, the site has already hosted a carnival, open-air movies and a hugely successful Outer Banks Seafood Festival.

I’m normally not much of a cheerleader. But Nags Head deserves a fair measure of congratulations for some good decisions. And for finally creating a fun zone for the Outer Banks.

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