You can't drive the entire coast. You can "hug" the NC coast with Route 17 from South Carolina through Wimington. Near Jacksonville, you can get onto 42 through Swansboro and drive Emerald Isle up through Atlantic Beach, but it may not be very interesting as you will just be going through beach-side communities. From there, you can jump off island through Morehead City/Beaufort and up 70 to Cedar Island. Here is where it gets interesting as you can actually take the ferries to Ocracoke and then to Hattaras Island, up 12 through the Outer Banks. This leg you are truly driving along the coast. You will only be able to take 12 to Kitty Hawk area. If you go north of there to Duck, Corolla, etc. you will dead-end, as there is no outlet into Virginia.
Things to do-list off top of my head, but not EVERYTHING:
Antiques in Swansboro
Lighthouse at Cape Hatteras
Cape Hatteras Ntl. Seashore
Wright Brothers National Mem. Park
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