Blue Moon Beach Grill: Review

By Laura Dunbar

Dinner in Nags Head was one of the most difficult choices we had to make on our trip. Compared to the other towns we had visited, Nags Head had an abundance of restaurants to offer. When we shared our dilemma with our Uber driver, she told us, “If you’re only in Nags Head for one night, you have to go to Blue Moon.” After looking it up, we learned that Blue Moon Beach Grill was one of the best rated restaurants in town, so we knew it was a must.


When we pulled up to the restaurant that night, we were surprised to find it nestled into a strip mall. The windows were dark and tinted, and from the outside it appeared as if nobody was inside. We had expected the number one rated restaurant to be a bit more popular on a Saturday night, and were sure we had the wrong place, but upon double checking we found we were right. We almost turned around and went somewhere else, but decided to give it a try.


When we walked in, we saw just how wrong we had been. The restaurant was packed, with groups of friends sitting at the bar and big family parties taking up many of the tables. We ended up having to wait a few minutes while a table was cleared for us, and the host was extremely friendly, making conversation with us while we waited. Our waitress was very kind as well throughout our meal. The Blue Moon Beach Grill was clearly a place of real southern hospitality.

Although the restaurant appeared to just be like any other bar on the inside, with flat screen TVs and neon beer signs, the menu proved otherwise. It wasn’t just typical bar food, like burgers and fries. The food was creative and new, with dishes like fried green tomato and shrimp napoleon and a braised portobello mushroom stuffed with arugula and goat cheese risotto. Everything on the menu seemed delicious, and there was also a blackboard of specials that change daily. It was clear that seafood was the specialty in this coastal town, so I ordered the seaside bucatini, a pasta dish tossed with a roasted tomato pesto sauce with sauteed shrimp and scallops, artichoke hearts, baby spinach and parmesan cheese. The shrimp and scallops were large and tender, and the vegetables and sauce paired with them perfectly. Jennifer, the group member at dinner with me, hopped on the seafood train as well and ordered the salmon gnocchi special. It came in a tomato cream sauce with fresh sauteed vegetables and a filet of salmon cooked so well that it flaked away with the touch of a fork. It was, hands down, the best meal of the trip. For dessert, we split the pumpkin cheesecake, a dessert special for the autumn months that exceeded our expectations with its creamy filling and sweet whipped cream topping. After every course, we became honorary members of the clean plate club.

We said goodbye to our waitress and left the Blue Moon Beach Grill feeling happier— and much more full— than when we had entered.

OBX Brewtag Festival

By Laura Dunbar

The Outer Banks is a popular destination in the North Carolinian summer months, and a common misconception holds that there isn’t much to do come the off season. Though there are many less tourists and the Atlantic isn’t exactly swimmable, there isn’t a lack in activities. Among these autumn activities is the OBX Brewtag Festival, which took place on October 28th this year.


The Brewtag festival is modeled after Red Bull’s annual Flutag festival, which occurs in multiple cities around the world. Flutag is German for “flying day,” and the event features competitors attempting to fly home-made, human powered flying machines. Brewtag takes its own twist on this concept. Instead of flying machines, teams are challenged with the task of building a contraption to fly a one sixth keg barrel.


Participating teams, made up of four or more people hailing from all different states, worked for weeks on their keg-flying machines. Most resembled planes, with two wings coming out of the keg, while others had a totally different design, such as one board atop the keg. The teams all had quirky names and wore costumes to go along with it. Their excitement was palpable as they climbed the flight deck and launched the kegs into the air.

Though the concept seemed a bit bizarre to me, I was surprised to find myself getting caught up in the excitement of the crowd as the kegs went flying. Before launching, team members danced around, riling the crowd up, and by the time the keg was launched the crowd was going wild. Some kegs soared; others went crashing, face first into the ground. No matter the outcome, I found myself cheering, awe-ing, or laughing with the crowd, becoming a part of the exciting atmosphere.


The keg flying competition, though the main attraction, wasn’t all the Brewtag Festival had to offer. The festival was from 1:00-5:30, so there were a lot more activities to occupy our time. We ate from two food trucks catering the event from local restaurants, which had something for everybody— from tuna tartar in an ice cream cone to beef tacos and cheeseburgers.There were two bands performing live during the event as well, and after the keg competition we sat on the ground in front of the stage and listened to the music with other festival-goers. The first band seemed to be more of background noise to everything else, but the second band— a reggae style— had everyone dancing along. Though the event was centered around beer, it was very kid-friendly, and families seemed to be the most common of the attendees. There were many children’s activities, including a rock climbing wall, face painting, a mechanical shark, a bounce house, and an arts and crafts station. There were also many local vendors selling souvenirs and apparel, including funny graphic t-shirts that went along with the event, like a bear hugging a mug of beer saying “Beer Hug.” Because it was halloween weekend, many people were wearing costumes, which were judged in a costume contest at the end of the festival along with the awards ceremony for the keg competition, though we weren’t there to see the results.


The Brewtag also had a record number of 25 breweries in attendance, housed at their own tables under a large white tent. At the entrance to the festival you were able to purchase a punch card for 20 dollars each, good for either four beers or 12 beer tastings. The breweries had IPAs, blonde brews, ciders, etc. There was something for everyone, and there were large crowds underneath the tent for the entirety of the festival.


It was the third annual OBX Brewtag, and after talking to other festival-goers, it seemed that it was the best, despite a disagreement about whether the competition was cancelled the year before due to a hurricane. Some argued that it was, but others claimed that was a different weekend, and that the show did in fact go on. This year, though, the weather was warm, the music was great, and the entertainment was definitely unique. All in all, the OBX Brewtag was a great time and I would definitely recommend it to anyone heading to the Outer Banks during the off-season!

Surfin’ Spoon

Surfin’ Spoon is the quintessential Outer Banks shop. A small family business just a few steps from the beach in Nags Head, Surfin’ Spoon is a frozen yogurt bar that indulges in the laid-back atmosphere of the coastal town. After opening in 2012 by local professional surfing legend Jesse Hines and his wife Whitney, people have been dipping their spoon in the healthy and tasty dessert ever since. With nine different fro-yo flavors and one vegan sorbet, a full topping bar, and plenty of room to hang out with friends, this shop is something special for late summer nights. Surfin’ Spoon has the authentic spirit missing from the chain dessert locations apparent in the endless photos, memorabilia, and local artwork that line the walls. No matter if you are a local weekly customer or a once a year tourist, the friendly and genuine customer service will always put a smile on your face. Next time on the Outer Banks skip the Dairy Queen, Sweet Frog, or Wendy’s Frosty and take part in the Surfin’ Spoon tradition.

For more information about the establishment:

The North Carolina Aquarium

By Taylor Logeman, 2014

As they approach the North Carolina coast, those traipsing near the end of Highway 64 are likely to miss a certain point of interest, though this is a site definitely worth visiting.  Roanoke Island, adjacent to the beachy town of Nags Head, is home of the North Carolina Aquarium, a waterfront facility that houses a remarkable variety of aquatic wildlife, from local species (mostly various small fish and turtles) indigenous to the region to those of a more exotic nature (like the seahorse, angelfish, and starfish exhibits).  Guests are guided through displays of all kinds, from a playful, family-friendly otter house to rooms of a more sinister nature, most notably the dimly-lit space showcasing an impressive collection of five shark species in the facility’s largest tank.

North Carolina Aquarium

Piering Over the Edge

By Eliza Williams – 2014

The sand squishes between your toes as the cool, crystalline water engulfs your feet. The waves retreat and emit a soothing sound as the shells and rocks along the shore are rolled back out to sea. Is the relaxing atmosphere of the beach not everyone’s dream? After our 8-town tour off of Highway 64, Taylor and I relished in the fact that we were now strolling along the seashore in our final destination: Nag’s Head. Ice cream in hand, we ambled our way to the 1,000-foot-long Jennette’s Pier. A staple among locals and visitors alike, the pier is constantly packed with beach-goers, fishermen and other folks trying to catch a glimpse of the surfers down below. Luckily for us, the weather was definitely cooperating with us on our visit. We climbed the steps to the main entrance of the pier; however, we opted not to pay the entrance fee of $6 and simply stood by the entrance so we could look down at the surfers that freckled the water that day. Enjoying our ice cream (my Key Lime Pie flavored cone was an absolute highlight of my day), we reveled at the talent of the surfers below as they swooped in and out of the barrels of the waves. The swells were better than we could have hoped for and they kept us entertained for quite some time. A man next to us struck up a conversation and we explained our class assignment and purpose of our trip to him. As we chatted, he stood with a large Nikon camera in hand, snapping photos of his son out in the water. A Virginia native turned California local, his son had moved to the West Coast to pursue his career aspirations, as well as his passion for surfing and being in the water. After a decent amount of time, we decided we should head out and explore the coastal beach town more. We sauntered back to the car, refreshed and satisfied with our leisurely afternoon on the pier, but we hadn’t made it half way back before a pack of surfer dudes asked us if we needed a ride. Politely, we declined and thanked them. “Alright, ladies. Hang loose,” one with luscious blonde locks replied with a swoon-worthy smile.


Dunes Burger

By Ja’Mei Bess, 2013

I patiently waited for the slow mini van to chug on by as I pulled into the parking lot beside the entrance I meant to turn into. Having had a long day of horrible GPS directions, I found myself not caring. I chose to stay put in the lot and walk over to the window. Little did I know this would take away from part of my experience. I stood waiting at the window as a lively blonde woman came up to take my order. As I placed my order for the Dune Cheeseburger I quickly realized that I would have to awkwardly wait by the window for my order to come, because of where I parked. Meanwhile, everyone else sat in their cars because that was the custom. When the food was ready, she would bring the food to the customer.

Since my driving partner, better known as Bubba, complained that I had a tendency to eat on the go (though that is the purpose of fast food) we decided to sit in the car and enjoy the burger. I have to say it was what I would call a pretty darn good burger. First of all, I was eating real beef, which was great. It was a bit heavy on the mustard but it was still good. I don’t know what type of cheese they used. It wasn’t cheddar. Whatever it was, it made it even better. The fries were covered in what tasted like fresh sea salt and ground pepper. The seasonings gave it a bit of a kick. The fries were crispier than I usually prefer, but your common food lover would’ve enjoyed them. I’m not going to lie, I still say Five Guys has the best “fast food” burgers that I’ve ever had, but this was a pretty strong second – minus the mustard.

Jockey’s Ridge: Breathless Oasis

By Brittany Wheatley
I have left the plain, and each sinking step brings my wandering mind back to that realization.
The grains of sand pivot around your skin until you’ve sunk ankle deep; from the bottom of the
dune you look like a human growth on the East Coast largest sand dunes.
From the bottom of the first dune I felt that I was about to climb a really short mountain.
Breathless at the top, the trail of footprints looks like I stumbled, but no one would pay much
attention to my footprints here. The expanse of sand and the lack of a beaten path make my
leftover markings unremarkable to other people.
There are people here; at one count I spotted 28 people, but from where I stood, each individual
was an ant. A football stadium full of fans could walk on to Jockey’s Ridge, go in separate
directions and not meet their friends again for at least 24 hours. To me this is better than being at
the beach; the quiet where I can only hear wind whistles and uses the nearest American Beach
Grass as an alternative instrument. The reeds are sparse in number overall, nestled close to the
small puddle shaped lakes coming from heavy rain in the valley of the dunes.
The plant life was a surprise when I walked up the first dune. I paused in at the patch of forest
areas spread out in front of me and exclaimed: “Oh my gosh, there’s trees! There’s like this
random patch of trees.” Inside the forests, live oaks, red cedars, wax myrtle, bayberry, and read
oaks only make up a portion of the maritime thinckets. Per typical of arial perspective, the
patches looked more like broccoli bits separated on the plate. Expanses of desert shorter dunes
than the one I stood mesmerized was filled with the potential adventure I didn’t have time for.
A person can go to Jockey’s Ridge everyday of the week for years and never experience it the
same way. My experience was that of a wanderer. Turing left for ten minutes and then right for
thirty, zigzagging up one dune and down to the valley of the other side. A windmill marked the
entrance of my journey, like an enormous flag without marring the ocean view. The sand dunes
change, constantly blowing over and being built up by the wind current coming off the Atlantic
Ocean, although that in and of it’s self makes the exploration of the sand dunes an exceptional
joy. 420 acres of sand may never be walked over.
I spotted a couple who were dog walking, there was no leash and in the space of allotted, no
peace the barking dogs could bother. A family with five kids use a sand dune closer to the
entrance as a water slide. All members lined up to watch one another slide down wetted beach
sand into the shallow lakes bellow, cheering at the splash and no doubt enjoying nature’s toy and
the lack of lines that come with the territory of a manmade water slide. It’s a very safe, kid
friendly adventure. The lakes barely reach up to the shoulders of a nine-year-old boy lying down.
And the vantage point of being on a sand dune rather than flat beach is the ability to see the
actions of little kids from whatever direction they are headed easily.
I was able to observe their adventure and wade in the water as well; up to my ankles without the
fear of a currant taking me by surprise or kids tossing water up and splashing me by accident.
I’m also not in the way of young and old hang gliders, coming back from a lesson two or three
dunes outside of my exploration area. Free permits to hang glide are available through the park
office for those who have a valid USHGA rating, but for those interested in flight but do not wish
to their feet to leave the ground, the sand dunes are an ideal spot to fly kites.