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Tim and Lisa, owners

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What’s New at The Lark in 2015

Living Room

First up, a fresh coat of pale, pale blue for the walls, new sofa and bench and a new rug in a beachy chevron.


I love the Rowe sleeper ordered from local business Manteo Furniture. It’s in a durable Sunbrella fabric, perfect for rental wear and tear.


Dining Area

Noticed the mural in that last photo, huh? Let’s take a closer look.


Inspired by this wall from Jessica Helgerson Interior Design, I liked how it’s evocative of the ocean while helping to draw my various color choices together.


Goodbye, 80’s gold! A can of Rustoleum heat resistant paint transformed the whole look of the fireplace. The paintings on the mantle got moved to a hallway in exchange for this mirror I bought on Craigslist and painted white.

These mason jars left behind by a guest and Dollar Tree vases also got upcycled to help aid with our cool coastal theme.


Second Bedroom

Our favorite update – the Queen bedroom. Photos don’t do it justice, likely because I’m a terrible photographer. This went from perfectly usable, but bland to a peaceful and calming retreat thanks to new paint in ocean colors, Stella bedding from West Elm and local photography by Eve Turek, owner of Yellowhouse Gallery in Nags Head.



My biggest complaint about vacation rentals are DULL KNIVES. I recently discovered Mercer knives at A Culinary Affair in Outer Banks Mall. Mercer supplies all the cooking schools and offer good quality at affordable prices. They actually aren’t pictured here. The new knives are on a simple, clean magnetic strip on the wall. Also not pictured: a new sink faucet and a fabulous new washer dryer unit.
SHARP Mercer knives and a well appointed kitchen with new appliances

The Lark awarded 2014 TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence


TripAdvisor, the world’s largest travel site, has awarded The Lark a 2014 Certificate of Excellence. This prestigious award recognizes businesses that consistently earn top ratings from TripAdvisor travelers as well as exceeding other hospitality measures. Out of more than 3,500 vacation rentals in the Northern Coast and Outer Banks, only a small percentage will earn this distinction.

The pillow top king bed promises a good night's rest

Many guests comment on the comfort of the beds at The Lark

“TripAdvisor is pleased to honor exceptional hospitality businesses for consistent excellence,” said Marc Charron, president of TripAdvisor for Business. “The Certificate of Excellence award gives top performing establishments around the world the recognition they deserve, based on feedback from those who matter most – their customers. From Australia to Zimbabwe, we want to applaud exceptional hospitality businesses for offering TripAdvisor travelers a great customer experience.”

Tim and I are proud to receive this award because it demonstrates the high regards and opinions of our guests, whom we love and appreciate.

Guest photos

A guest-provided photo of their pups enjoying the view

2013 FlipKey Top Vacation Rental Bronze AwardThis is the second year The Lark has been recognized for stellar hospitality. In 2013, our first year of operation, we received a FlipKey bronze Top Vacation Rental award.

Read the reviews that made the award possible on FlipKey and VRBO.

Some photos from our recent trip

horses and their riders on the beach

Horses on Coquina beach.

The Cape Hatteras lighthouse against a black and white lighthouse against a blue sky

The Cape Hatteras Light Station is a historic landmark.

The Wright Bros. Memorial is one mile from The Lark

The Wright Brothers Memorial is a short walking distance away via back roads.

A man stands on a wooded beach admiring the Roanoke Sound

A short trail leads to a quiet beach on the Roanoke Sound in Nags Head Woods Preserve.

A kite flies against the setting sun on Jockey's Ridge

A kite flies against the setting sun on Jockey’s Ridge

Read about our favorite things to do.

What’s nearby? Everything!

  • Beach
  • Comedy club
  • Groceries
  • Fishing pier
  • Jockey’s Ridge State Park
  • Kayaking
  • Mini-golf
  • Movie theater
  • Nags Head Woods Preserve
  • Places of Worship
  • Restaurants
  • Shopping
  • Sound
  • Walking paths
  • Wright Bros. Memorial Park

Our Top 5 OBX Activities

Our Top 5 Things to Do at the Outer Banks

a skim boarder takes advantage of the waves on First Street1. The Beach (1.1 mi.)

This one’s a given. Miles of rolling blue Atlantic surf on one side, wild and natural Sound on the other. There’s surfing, dunes, kayaking, parasailing, fishing, horseback riding, 4-wheeling and every other water-related sport imaginable. And let’s not underestimate the simple pleasures of laying down a blanket under an umbrella to catch some rays, building sandcastles and watching the waves do their mesmerizing dance with the shoreline.

Now a confession: I don’t really care for the beach. For Tim and Larkin, a visit to the beach while at the Outer Banks is like a Christmas tree in December — life wouldn’t be natural without one. Me, though, I could do without. Blasphemy, I know. Luckily, there’s plenty on the island for land lubbers like me.

Getting there by: car – 5 min. bike – 6 min. foot – 21 min. Public beach access is a straight shot down First Street. You’ll love the fact that there’s a traffic light to cross the two main roads, which makes driving or bicycling a breeze in the traffic-dense summertime. [view map]

A toddler admires the fish at the NC Aquarium2. North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island (18.7 mi.)

Anytime we visit a city with a zoo or aquarium, we’re there. We’ve been going to the NC Aquarium on Roanoke Island located in nearby Manteo since before we were parents. And though we’ve seen many, many aquariums through the years, this one has become “our” aquarium. It’s intimate size means you can explore all the nuances of the exhibits, plus take time for side trips to visit historic Roanoke Island.

Getting there by car: 30 min. The little ones (and the kids at heart like my husband) will love the biiiiig bridge over the Croatan Sound, AKA the Virginia Dare Memorial Bridge. [view map]

A dozen delicious donuts in a box

3. Eat (0 mi.)

I love to cook, especially while on vacation when I don’t feel the need to clean dishes after every meal. That’s why our first order of business when we purchased The Lark was to equip it with everything you need to make a gourmet meal at home, including brand new appliances and all the gadgets — including Corelle dishware, an ice cream maker and spices for cooking! Of course we immediately ran out of funds after that, so new cabinets and countertops are coming next year (I can’t wait!)

Sometimes, though, food tastes better when it’s served to you by someone else in a cool environment. The Outer Banks has those a-plenty. Some of our and our friends’ favorite places include:

  • Chip’s Wine & Beer Market (1.6 mi.) – Located at MP 6, there’s nothing to eat here, but copious amounts of drink of the adult variety. The famous ‘Wall of Beer’ and wine vending stations are a must-visit.
  • Awful Arthur’s (1.8 mi.) – The freshest of the fresh seafood overlooking the ocean. Need we say more?
  • Duck Donuts (2.0 mi.) – First, the donuts are freshly mixed and cooked as you watch. Then, you choose from 10 different coatings like cinnamon sugar, maple and lemon icing, then top them with sprinkles, nuts or shredded coconut. Delish. The closest location is only 2 miles from the loft, but it’s worth the drive to the original location in Duck for piping hot donuts overlooking the Sound on the boardwalk.
  • The Bad Bean Baja Grill (2.2 mi.) – Mexican inspired food, great margaritas and affordable prices. Their homemade salsa and tofu tacos are to die for, the food is made fresh to order and the servers are always friendly and accommodating.
  • Trio (2.9 mi.) – As implied by their name, Trio has three specialties: beer, wine and cheese. And they do all three extremely well, with 250+ beers, 50 artisan cheeses and wines from NC and around the world. It’s also a live music venue popular with locals year-round.
  • Outer Banks Taco Bar (3.1 mi.) – For a completely different taco experience, try Outer Banks Taco Bar. This is a local secret camouflaged by its location in a strip mall. Don’t be fooled by its nondescript appearance or you’ll miss out on no-frills, tasty food like cuban pressed sandwiches, hand pressed corn tortillas filled with grilled fish and yucca fries.
  • Morning View Coffee House & Roastery (4.0 mi.) – We are passionate about coffee and have visited every roaster on the Outer Banks. Owner and roast master Ashley Barnes, equal parts surfer chick and coffee goddess, is the best. We recommend their signature Morning Woody blend and, if you’re feeling indulgent, the Jamaican Blue Mountain.
  • Blue Moon Beach Grill (6.5 mi.) – We feel a special loyalty to this place as the co-owner, Melissa Shields, spent years managing landmark restaurants near our hometown in the Shenandoah Valley. It’s the consummate beach grill.
  • Basnight’s Lone Cedar Cafe (10.6 mi.) – This seafront restaurant proudly serves seafood that is only caught in local waters, farm fresh and hormone-free meat and herbs grown on-site.
Getting there: The closest grocery store is Food Lion only 1 mi. away, and you can take the back roads — a huge plus in the summertime. We’ve left VIP cards at the condo for your use to both Food Lion and Harris Teeter (our favorite — free cookies and coffee and parking for families with young children). [view map]

purple shoes stand on a pine-needle covered grond4. Outdoor Recreation

The Outer Banks is a prime destination for outdoor living. Our favorite spots also happen to be 100 percent free. Nags Head Woods Preserve offers hundreds of acres of hiking past dunes and marshes and ponds. Our favorite is the Roanoke Trail, a short family-friendly hike passing through a salt marsh to a peaceful beach on the Sound. Jockey’s Ridge State Park also provides opportunities to kick off your shoes and explore the tallest natural sand dunes on the East Coast. Watch the hang gliders and kite pilots — or join in the fun! Finally, much has been said, mostly by us, about the multi-use path that runs past the Oyster Pointe complex that houses our condo. I really wish they’d chosen a more spectacular name when they were naming the place. It really is neat. It passes the Sound, the Wright Bros. Memorial Park and other scenic stops along the way, and is fully paved for runners, stroller pushers and prissy dogs like ours.

In the category of Things We Intend To Do But Haven’t Yet, there’s horseback riding on the beach, take a 4×4 ride to see the wild horses in Corolla, go on an off-road Segway safari, and take hang gliding lessons at Jockey’s Ridge. We expect these all to happen once the kid gets a few years older.

Getting there: Take the sidewalk outside our building and walk either direction to the road. The multi-use trail is right there.

Matching father-son outfits purchased in the Outer Banks5. Shopping

We tend to do all our shopping in two places: online, and on vacation. Online because it’s way more convenient, and on vacation because it’s way more fun. And the Outer Banks surely has some fun options that make indulging in retail therapy.

  • Toy Gallery (2.4 mi.) Pirates & Pixies (10.0 mi.) – I can’t emphasize enough how much we love these toy stores. Friendly owners can help you choose unique and interesting gifts for every age range of child, plus you know that they’ll be free of any potentially harmful materials.
  • Tanger Outlets (9.5 mi.) – I grew up in the shopping mecca of Washington, DC., so I find this strip of 23-stores to be refreshingly manageable. It houses big name stores like Gap, Eddie Bauer and COACH — but at outlet prices.
  • Scarborough Faire (11.1 mi.) – We have a love/hate relationship with this charming village of boutiques and cafes. The “hate” part comes from the fact that we always get Simon & Garfunkel stuck in our heads after a visit. Scarborough Faire also hosts events throughout the year like 5Ks, music festivals and weekly Faire Days Festival during the summer.
  • Outer Barks (11.0 mi.) – Located in Scarborough Faire, Outer Barks is unique enough to deserve its own entry. Each week between Easter and Thanksgiving the dog gift store hosts a Yappy Hour for your furry friends with frozen doggie daiquiris, puppy pasta and cake, paw painting, baby pools and an agility course.
  • Thrift Stores – I had to include this entry because my husband loves to thrift. He gets it from his grandma, who at 90 years old spends several hours driving herself to all the local thrift stores as soon as they open (that’s when you can find all the deals you know!) Take your pick in OBX — I’ve located all the main ones on a map for you.
Getting there: various, obviously. But if you do want to stick to online shopping, there’s high speed Internet at the condo!

Kid-Friendly Amenities and Activities

U.S. News & World Report recently named the Outer Banks the top family beach vacation in the USA, beating out more exotic locales of Maui and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The magazine lauded the OBX’s “consistent-yet-manageable waves and beautiful natural landscape,” also giving a nod to its historical charm and rugged sense of adventure.

“A cottage or condo rental will give you more space for family time and prime beach access.” -U.S. News & World Report.

Vacationing with children at OBX is a joy at any time of year. Here’s our list of recommendations.

For the wee ones

  • A child plays with a shovel and sand bucket as the sun sets across the SoundSound side beach. A favorite among locals is behind Jockey’s Ridge where the kids can play in the water with no waves. It’s around milepost 12 on Soundside Rd. — take a right at the Nags Head church. The entrance is down the road on the right. Here’s a map from the condo.
  • Coquina Beach. This one is nice because it has wide beaches and a bath house with restrooms and changing stations. Our son was terrified of the ocean until he was about 3 so having a wide stretch between the sand and the waves was a big plus.
  • Playgrounds. Hayman Park at MP 5.5 is the one we normally hit when we go down there. Perfect for the 1-3 year olds, the park set is set in the residential west side and surrounded by live oaks. Bonus: it’s not well known to tourists.
  • Wright Brothers National Memorial. Lots of open space for the little ones to wear out. Be sure to keep to the trails and not the grass, which is full of prickly pears. Don’t miss the photo ops near the interactive sculpture of the first flight and at the top of the memorial!
  • NC Aquarium on Roanoke Island and Jennette’s Pier ( Be sure to check out the historic Roanoke Island waterfront after visiting the sharks!
  • Pirates & Pixies toy shop. You’ll find tons of fun, well crafted gifts and the owner is usually the one behind the counters.
  • Duck Soundside Boardwalk. An easy, picturesque walk lined with shops and restaurants.
  • Outer Banks Children’s Museum. The museum recently re-opened in the Buccaneer’s Walk Center, expanding the already great play/learning space.
  • Bouncing off the Walls. Inflatable bounce houses and other fun for children under 12.

Older kids

  • A skim boarder at the beachExtreme sports. Here’s a map showing The Lark in relation to kayaking, parasailing, sandboarding and hangliding locations. We keep a body board at the condo for those who want to enjoy the waves. First Street, our closest public beach access point, is also a historic surf break of the OBX. View the live cam. Kitty Hawk Park also has a 5,000 sq. ft. skate park (and covered picnic areas so you can watch your children under the shade).
  • Mini Golf. These fun themed putt-putt courses are all throughout the Outer Banks. The closest one being Lost Treasure Golf 1/2 mile from The Lark!
  • First Flight Adventure Park. Hello, ropes, zip lines and obstacle courses 10-50 feet above the Sound!
  • Destination Funplex. Nearby The Lark is an indoor bounce house, arcade, mini golf and laser tag. Great for those rainy days.
  • Arts and crafts. Paint your own pottery at Glazin’ Go Nuts or make jewelry at its sister store, Garden of Beadin’ or Cloud Nine in Pirate’s Quay shopping center. You can also tye dye a shirt at Island Dye.
  • Hair wraps and temporary tattoos.  No trip to the beach is complete unless you come home with your hair in corn rows and your arms covered in temporary tattoos. At least that was me growing up.
  • Off-roading. See the wild horses, take a 4×4 adventure trip or a Segway tour in the Carova Beach region to the north. You can rent your own off-road vehicle or take a guided tour.
  • Take a hike! We love the Nags Head Woods Preserve.
  • Jockey’s Ridge. Climbing the dunes is a must. You may also buy a kite across the street at Kitty Hawk Kites or take a guided sunset tour.
  • The Lost Colony. The historical reenactment is a 2013 Tony recipient for excellence in theatre. Not to mention a lot of fun.
  • YMCA. The Y in OBX has all the regular fitness equipment and group fitness classes for Mom and Dad, as well as pools with a waterslide and a skate park.
  • The Wright Brothers National Memorial. To mark the 99th anniversary of humans’ first flight in 2002, 99 aircraft flew over the memorial and parachuters glided to the earth near the granite statue that marks the location of the Wright Brothers’ historic flight. We likely won’t be treated to another such spectacle for another 100 years, but the memorial is still impressive. You can walk to the memorial from The Lark on the multi-use trail. Go south on the trail for about 1.5 miles and turn into the charming little airport at the rear of the memorial.
  • Ghost Tours. I actually lead ghost tours in my hometown of Harrisonburg, VA, and was excited to find these tours at Whalehead in Historic Corolla. There’s a nighttime and daytime option as well as other tours of the non-spooky variety.


For more ideas and events, check out Outer Banks Child. Around The Lark, you can also make it a family day in by choosing a family-friendly selection from our DVD collection or hanging out by our pool.

Parents’ Night Out

Need a break from the little ones? You can hire a sitter to come to the condo. A quick search for “babysitting Outer Banks” will yield several results. We personally met the owner of At Your Service and found her to be professional and trustworthy.

Family Friendly Restaurants

Truly, though, there are many, many great options. Outer Banks Taco Bar has a box full of toddler toys to keep the littles entertained and Outer Banks Brewing Station has a playground on premises. We also enjoy American Pie, Rundown Cafe and Mama Kwans. If your child is a history buff, check out Black Pelican. The old life saving station is where the Wright Brothers sent their telegraph announcing they had successfully taken the world’s first flight.

Our Child Friendly Amenities

The Lark was designed with young children in mind. We have everything you need for a relaxing vacation.

  • Pool located directly across our building with beach and pool toys
  • First Street beach access is a mile down the same road and has a lifeguard station
  • Low profile queen size bed for easy in and out access
  • Sleep sound machines in both bedrooms
  • Outlet covers, child cabinet locks and child proof option on the dishwasher
  • Toys, books and board games
  • Pack N’ Play, travel high chair and baby spoons
  • Potty reducer seat
  • Clutter-free decor! Nothing is more relaxing than chasing your child around putting dusty knick-knacks back in place right? Right? (Not.)
  • Easy wipe furniture, extra towels for accidental spills and lots of soft or rounded furniture edges
  • Open concept design so you can watch the little ones while cooking

The Outer Banks Christmas House

Every time we are in the Outer Banks between Thanksgiving and New Year someone will ask if we’ve been to see the house with all the Christmas lights. “Turn at the Pigman’s BBQ” is the only description we’ve ever received. So tonight, we hopped in the car, made a right at the Pigman’s BBQ on Ocean Acres Drive, then drove until the cars slowed to a crawl and Christmas carols poured in from the open window.

Then we saw this.

Lovingly owned by landscaper Jim Poulos and his wife Ann, the operation of the house’s holiday display is a whole family endeavor. Having been ill-prepared for the wonder appearing before our eyes, we were lucky to have a chance to speak with Jim’s son-in-law. We asked him all sorts of burning questions, and he was kind enough to answer them all. Now that I’m home I can think of several more impertinent things I’d like to ask, but I admit I was distracted by the pretty flashing lights.

Q: How long does it take to set this up?
A: We started in mid-August. The garage takes 30 to 40 days alone.

Q: How much is your electric bill each month?
A: It’s actually not as much as it was! We switched to nearly all LED lights and that helps.

Q: What do the neighbors think?
A: Most of them like Christmas. You’ll notice many put up their own Christmas lights. But really, my father-in-law has been here for 30 years. If you don’t like Christmas, you don’t move to this neighborhood! One lady moved in a few years ago and called the police five times in the first night. The next night she turned around and filed seven more complaints. Finally the police told her, “if you’re calling about the Christmas house again, you can just stop calling. It was there before you were.”

Q: So what will Santa bring you this year?
A: Santa came early this year and dropped off a train set. You see it there by the pond. That was nearly $500 alone. My father-in-law is a landscaper by trade, so next year he’s going to take up the pond and rearrange it. It’s expensive keeping up the house, but the children love it.

Q: This is so much more than we were expecting. Do you get a lot of visitors like us completely in awe?
A: We’re glad we could beat your expectations. It was actually voted best Christmas display by the Today Show in 2005. They never repeated the contest, so we still hold the title!

A. Maze. Ing. We’re probably going to go back tomorrow. And every remaining night of our trip. Apologies for the poor quality of the photos and video. We only had an iPad on us since we were only hoping to capture a picture for our family scrapbook. The best advice I can give you is to come see it for yourself. Just turn at the Pigman’s BBQ.





The OBX Stars in Reality TV Episode

Vacation rentals have been gaining popularity among the nation’s travelers. Though slow to follow, the media is starting to pay attention. Last night CNBC’s Mad Money featured an interview with Brian Sharples, CEO of vacation rental search powerhouse HomeAway.


Now, the process of selecting and staying in a vacation rental has its own reality tv series on PBS. According to the show’s website, Getting Away Together highlights the “rapidly growing trend of sharing a vacation rental home with friends and family. From girlfriend getaways to family reunions and milestone celebrations, the series shows diverse groups of real travelers vacationing together in some of the most fascinating destinations and staying at spectacular vacation rental properties across America.”

In an age where nothing is official until it’s FBO (that’s Facebook Official, as a teenage friend tells me) and washed out celebrities cleave to the limelight by enrolling in as many reality shows as will accept them, I think that having our own series means that we have arrived in the vacation rental industry!

And of course, since Getting Away Together features some of the most fascinating destinations in the US, the Outer Banks already has an episode. It features a large Greek family that converges on the island for a family reunion. You can watch the full episode here.

Rare White Alligator Comes to Live at the Aquarium

This ultra rare leucistic alligator will appear in the Wetlands on the Edge exhibit. Photo by NC Aquariums.

This ultra rare leucistic alligator is on loan from New Orleans. Photo by NC Aquariums.

Now’s your chance to see a live white alligator! One of the world’s estimated 12 leucistic alligators (even more rare than the albino trait) is on loan from New Orleans at the NC Aquarium on Roanoke Island. It’s currently in quarantine before being introduced to the Wetlands on the Edge exhibit. Early reports say the resident alligators are green with envy at the new arrival. Read more.