Growing up about 30 miles from the coast, I practically grew up at the Outer Banks of North Carolina. My summer days during High School often meant calling up some friends, getting a beach chair and towel, and heading down to the beach for a day to soak up some sun, get some ice cream and relax. Those days seem like a distant memory now (even though they weren't that long ago!), and I find that my new favorite time of the year at the Outer Banks is in the fall, when the tourist have all gone home. Any time of year is really a great time to visit the Outer Banks, although some of the best restaurants there are opened seasonally. To me, the towns that make up the Outer Banks, Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills and Nags Head, still have that "beachy" feeling. Even though mass commercialization is coming, you can still shop in general stores and boutiques that have been around for what seems like forever. There are many independent surf shops up and down the bypass road, and the houses range from tiny shacks to oversized mansions on stilts.
For my friends and I, avoiding the tourist spots has become somewhat of an art form. We usually drive an extra half hour or so down the beach road, and stop just south of Oregon Inlet (a great fishing spot) outside a small town called Rodanthe. Here we can literally park on the side of the road, climb a 15 foot sand dune, and on the other side there will be no one as far as the eye can see. We set up fishing poles down current from where we will lay out and swim, and enjoy a day of blissful relaxation. Come to think of it, I might have to call up some friends this summer and take a trip back. You should consider it for your next beach vacation, there's plenty of beach for everyone.