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Duck, North Carolina
Boardwalk over Currituck Sound with reflecting sunlight
The boardwalk at Duck Town Park, in 2009
Location in Dare County and the state of North Carolina.
Location in Dare County and the state of North Carolina.
Country United States
State North Carolina
County Dare
Founded 1984
Incorporated 2002
Named for The duck
 • Total 3.72 sq mi (9.63 km2)
 • Land 2.42 sq mi (6.26 km2)
 • Water 1.30 sq mi (3.37 km2)
7 ft (2 m)
 • Total 369
 • Estimate 
 • Density 163.91/sq mi (63.30/km2)
Time zone UTC−05:00 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC−04:00 (EDT)
ZIP Code
Area code 252
FIPS code 37-18060
GNIS feature ID (populated place) 1025292
GNIS feature ID (town) 2406400
Historical population
Census Pop.
2010 369
2019 (est.) 396 7.3%

Duck is a town in Dare County, North Carolina, United States. As of the 2010 census, the population was 369. During the peak vacation season, starting after Memorial Day, the population increases to over 20,000. Duck is the northernmost incorporated town in Dare County and the Outer Banks' newest town, incorporated on May 1, 2002. Duck offers visitors outdoor recreational activities, summer events and concerts, watersports, fine dining, shopping, art galleries, and a nationally known jazz festival, as well as the 11-acre (4.5 ha) Town Park and soundside boardwalk.


Duck is located along the northern Outer Banks, between the Atlantic Ocean to the east and Currituck Sound to the west. According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 3.7 square miles (9.6 km2), of which 2.4 square miles (6.3 km2) is land and 1.3 square miles (3.4 km2), or 35.02% is water. Originally part of Currituck County to the north, the stretch of the Outer Banks which includes Duck was transferred to Dare County in the early 20th century. The region was named for the many ducks and waterfowl in the area.

Tourist attractions

The town park is a recreational facility with trails through the maritime forest and willow swamp. It also has an amphitheater, playground, picnic shelter, and public kayak/canoeing launch. The town has built a boardwalk which can be accessed from the park and through the commercial village. The boardwalk extends 0.78 miles (1.26 km) along Currituck Sound. Duck's beach was named one of the "Top 15 Family-Friendly Beaches in America".

In October Duck hosts its annual Jazz Festival. During the summer months, the town offers over 60 events and programs including Yoga on the Green, Movies on the Sound, a family magic show, live concerts and interactive theater. Programs are free and open to the public.


In 1984, the North Carolina General Assembly established Duck as a North Carolina Beautification District. As such, an ad valorem tax could be levied to beautify the district and/or protect its citizens. Initially, a tax was levied for the purpose of providing for the underground installation of power lines throughout the community. This action prevented the power company from installing 30-foot-high (9.1 m) concrete poles along Duck Road. The result was an uncluttered skyline, increased safety for evacuation from the area (no downed poles or wires), and maintaining household power through major storm periods.

From 1986 to 1988, the community agreed to levy a tax for a two-year period to pay for the construction costs of a 7-mile (11 km) multiple-use trail. These funds were augmented by a $30,000 grant received by the Duck Civic Association (DCA) from the Dare County Tourism Bureau. The State Department of Transportation was also a major participant in obtaining easements and contracting for the trail installation.

In 1987, the Duck Civic Association was established to represent the community in matters of public safety, land use, and other public interests. The association management was set up with a nine-member board of directors and the usual complement of officers.

Charlottes web
A morning theater and music show
at the Duck Town Park.

On July 18, 1994, the Dare County Commissioners adopted a resolution "to preserve our coastal village atmosphere through land use management and the policies and implementation strategies contained in the 1994 Land Use Plan update," signed by Robert V. Owens, Jr., Chairman.

In February 1999, the Dare County Planning Director made the DCA aware that a plan was being submitted by Food Lion to build and operate a 31,000-square-foot (2,900 m2) supermarket in Duck Village, behind Herron's Deli.

From June 15 to August 14, 1999, the DCA prepared a petition objecting to the introduction of the proposed supermarket into Duck Village. The petition was circulated within the community and made available at many of the businesses in Duck. During the two-month period, a total of 3,311 signatures was received. The majority of the full-time residents signed the petition. A large number of tourists (2,266) signed the petition and many expressed dismay at the thought of a supermarket in Duck. The sign-up list contained names of people from 32 states and the District of Columbia. Also, there were four different United Kingdom parties and residents of Norway, Poland and Russia who signed. The results of the survey were passed along to Food Lion, Armada Hoffler (a Virginia Beach-based commercial real estate and construction company), and local and state political leaders.

On September 27, 1999, the president of the DCA received a conference call from the vice president of real estate and store development for Food Lion and the vice president of development for Armada Hoffler. They confirmed that Food Lion had bought the property in question, but said they were abandoning their present plans to build the proposed store. They mentioned that they hoped to develop the property in the next one to three years.

In late 1999 and early 2000, the President of the DCA had a number of discussions with Food Lion executives concerning the potential for DCA to buy the property from them, using grants and other means to raise the funds.

At the DCA meeting on January 6, 2000, the membership, in response to the Food Lion scare, asked the DCA Board to develop a set of materials relating to the possible incorporation of the community into a separate town.

On February 7, 2000, the DCA Board developed the requested information, including detailed financial projections, and sent it to all Duck property owners and registered voters. The revenue projection was based on making no changes in taxes that were currently being paid to Dare County for Duck-unique services. That total was 17 cents per $100 valuation (11 cents for waste disposal/recycling, 4 cents for fire department, 1 cent for ocean rescue/lifeguards, and 1 cent for trail maintenance). A questionnaire was part of the package.

In April 2000, responses to the questionnaire were tallied. The 1,051 respondents were overwhelmingly in favor of incorporation. Duck residents were 62% in favor and non-resident owners were 74% in favor.

In June 2000, the DCA Board appointed a 10-person Incorporation Committee.

In the late summer and early fall of 2000, the voter signature process to petition for incorporation was carried out. In late October, the Dare County Board of Elections certified the signatures (55% of registered voters) and the package was mailed to the Joint Legislative Commission on Municipal Incorporation.

On October 1, 2000, the president of the DCA received a call from the new director of real estate for Food Lion. He indicated that they were prepared to talk to the Duck Community about purchasing the property at the price they had paid for it, plus minor costs since the purchase.

On January 30, 2001, Food Lion and DCA executed an agreement which gave DCA the right to buy the property or to find a third party purchaser acceptable to Food Lion. Terms of the letter of intent were in force until December 31, 2001. The purchase price was $4,100,645.30.

During the 11-month period, serious discussions were held with many potential funding sources, such as the Clean Water Management Trust Fund, Division of Coastal Management, Department of Environmental and Natural Resources. Even with a seven-person team working on the project, it was not possible to find a fast way to raise $4M.

In February 2001, the Joint Commission completed its review of the Duck petition and forwarded it to the legislature with no recommendation for a referendum. The Commission sent an email to the Interim Council stating that it was “the most professionally done” petition of any they have ever received.

On March 28, 2001, Representative Bill Culpepper introduced the Duck Incorporation Bill in the House.

On August 29, 2001, after clearing the Senate on August 28 and the House on August 29, the bill became law.

On November 6, 2001, voters voted “for” the incorporation of Duck.

Duck was incorporated as the sixth town in Dare County on May 1, 2002.

The Caffeys Inlet Lifesaving Station was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.

Awards and recognitions

  • Duck was ranked one of USA Today's "Best Coastal Small Towns" by USA Today and 10Best.
  • Duck was ranked one of "America's Top 10 Best Beaches" in 2002 by the Travel Channel.
  • Duck was ranked number one of the "10 Best Family Beach Vacations in America" by US News.

"Duck, North Carolina Population and Races". World Media Group, n.d. Web. 14 Dec. 2012. [1].


2020 census

Duck racial composition
Race Number Percentage
White (non-Hispanic) 697 93.94%
Asian 7 0.94%
Other/Mixed 22 2.96%
Hispanic or Latino 16 2.16%

As of the 2020 United States census, there were 742 people, 288 households, and 202 families residing in the town.


Residents are zoned to Dare County Schools. Zoned schools are Kitty Hawk Elementary School, First Flight Middle School, and First Flight High School. Prior to 2004, First Flight High zoned students were zoned to Manteo High School.

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