Manteo is a small coastal town in Dare County, North Carolina, on Roanoke Island, part of North Carolina's Outer Banks. The island has long and turbulent history with the reminders such as the 16th century ship at Roanoke Island Festival Park, the George Washington Creef Boathouse and Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse, now part of the North Carolina Maritime Museum. Each summer, the town celebrates its past with the nation's oldest outdoor symphonic drama, The Lost Colony, performed by hundreds of actors, singers and dancers, set in the Waterside Theatre. The town is home to the beautiful Elizabethan Gardens where lush plants exist together with timeless art. Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge includes over 154,000 acres of wetland habitat, large concentrations of threatened or endangers species and a wide range of wildlife. Roanoke Island Festival Park is a 25-acre historic site where visitors can experience firsthand the life of the first English settlers. It is also a location of the town’s many festivals and celebrations.
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Located in Fort Raleigh National Historic Site in Manteo, North Carolina, next to The Lost Colony’s Waterside Theatre, The Elizabethan Gardens consist of ten acres of lush plants and spectacular art. As the seasons change, the displayed sculptures change their background, from fragrant blooms to verdant shrubs and majestic leafy trees. Among the most significant sculptures are a bronze sculpture of Queen Elizabeth I, ancient Italian Renaissance statues and the solitary figure of Virginia Dare. The gardens offer summer programs for children, beautiful water views, a prize-winning collection of camellias, native plants from the region, azaleas, crape myrtles, hydrangeas, conifers and seasonal blooms and a range of events. There are regular plants sales, workshops, seasonal events and picnics on the Great Lawn.
1411 National Park Dr, Manteo, NC 27954, Phone: 252-473-3234
2.The Lost Colony
© The Lost Colony
Located in Fort Raleigh National Historic Site in Manteo, North Carolina, The Lost Colony is the name of the outdoor theater famous for staging annual summer musical about the Lost Colony on Roanoke Island, the fascinating true story about the 117 English men, women, and children and their dreams. More than 120 actors, technicians, designers and volunteers work together every spring to bring The Lost Colony to life for another summer season. The stage for this enormous production is huge, three times larger than most Broadway stages in New York City. It includes epic battles and Indian dances, the pageantry of the Queen and her court, the music, laughter, romance and dance. The Lost Colony is produced by the Roanoke Island Historical Association, a non-profit organization with a mission to celebrate the history of the first English colonies on Roanoke Island, North Carolina.
1409 National Park Dr, Manteo, NC 27954, Phone: 252-473-6000
3.Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge
Located on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, near the town of Manteo, Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge includes over 154,000 acres of wetland habitat, some of the most unique landscape along the "Inner" Banks, large concentrations of threatened or endangers species and a wide range of wildlife, from alligators and wood ducks to black bears and red wolves. Plant species include Atlantic bald cypress, white cedar, wildflowers and shrubs. Visitors can enjoy hiking along miles of paved and unpaved wildlife trails, boardwalks, observation platforms, fishing, kayaking and canoeing. The Visitor Center is full of exciting exhibits was designed to be a starting point for exploring the eleven national wildlife refuges and Edenton National Fish Hatchery within "day-trip" distance of the Outer Banks.
Route 64/264 , Manteo, Roanoke Island, NC 27954
4.Roanoke Island Festival Park
© DESIGN STOCK/stock.adobe.com
Roanoke Island Festival Park is a 25-acre historic site where visitors can experience firsthand the life of the first English settlers in the area in 1585. Historic costumed interpreters walk through Indian Town, the Settlement Site and the Elizabeth II ship to tell how the story of the first settlers, how they lived, worked and played on Roanoke Island. The Adventure Museum features interactive exhibits that offer a hands-on history lesson. The park is also a venue for concerts, public events and weddings, held in the indoor theatre or waterfront outdoor pavilion. Even without all the events and entertainment, the Festival Park is a beautiful place to visit, with piers, nature trails and scenic views.
1 Festival Park , Across from the Manteo Waterfront , Manteo, Roanoke Island, NC 27954-9396
5.Fort Raleigh National Historic Site
© Zack Frank/stock.adobe.com
Fort Raleigh National Historic Site was established in 1941 to preserve the site of Roanoke Colony, the first English settlement established in 1587 in the present-day United States. The colony, which was promoted and backed by Englishman Sir Walter Raleigh, was abandoned sometime between 1587 and 1590, when supply ships came too late. No survivors were found and the fate of the "Lost Colony" is a mystery to this day. The historic site is located on the north end of Roanoke Island, North Carolina, about three miles from the town of Manteo. The visitor center has a museum that contains exhibits about the history of the English colonies, the Roanoke Colony, the island's Civil War history and Freedmen's Colony.
1401 National Park Dr, Manteo, NC 27954, Phone: 252-473-2111
6.Outer Banks Distilling
© Outer Banks Distilling
When Outer Banks Distilling opened in early 2015, it was the first-ever distillery in the area. Located in a 1946 historic brick building in downtown Manteo, North Carolina, Outer Banks focuses on small-batch white, gold and spiced rums, with holiday flavors available in December. Visitors can purchase un-aged Kill Devil Rum, take tours of the distillery, and participate in tastings. Distillery tours are available from Monday to Saturday and the visitors must be 21 years old. Their flagship lineup of rums, available year round, are award-winning Silver Rum, Gold Rum and Pecan Honey Rum. They also produce Kill Devil Shipwreck, Kill Devil Solstice and Kill Devil Angel’s Share Series.
510 Budleigh St, Manteo, NC 27954, Phone: 252-423-3011
7.Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse
The Roanoke Marshes lighthouse is the most overlooked of the Outer Banks lighthouses, probably because it is small, has limited visibility and is in a remote location. It is located at the quiet east end of the Manteo waterfront, sticking out 40 yards into the Roanoke Sound. The bright white exterior is accented with black shutters and red shingled roof. It has a two-foot four inch tall lens, giving the lighthouse a classic coastal look. Tourists love strolling along the wooden boardwalk enjoying the views and taking photos of the lighthouse. Little is known about the original 1857 lighthouse, which was replaced in 1955 with an automated light on a smaller tower.
Queen Elizabeth Ave, Manteo, NC 27954
© Island Farm
Island Farm is a 19th-century historic farm and a living museum where interpreters in period costumes tell the story of the family that lived on the farm and visitors experience life on Roanoke island as it was in the mid-1800s, before the Civil War. There are many hands-on activities and demonstrations for the visitors - woodworking, cooking, blacksmithing, children's games, an ox-drawn wagon rides and so much more. Activities vary from day to day and there are special events throughout the season. The farm used to belong to Adam Etheridge and his family. He leased 1,500 acres on the North End of the island to farm and to raise his livestock. The family owned the property for more than 200 years, until 1997 when the non-profit Outer Banks Conservationists acquired it.
1140 US-64, Manteo, NC 27954, Phone: 252-473-6500
9.The Mother Vine
© The Mother Vine
The Mother Vine, about 400 years old and growing on North Carolina’s Roanoke Island, is probably the oldest grape vine in North America. It was probably planted by Croatan Native Americans or settlers of the Lost Colony. The vine is called by some people the “mother” of all vines for scuppernong grapes, the state fruit of North Carolina. Jack and Estelle Wilson bought the property in Manteo growing the Mother Vine in 1957. It was occupying about a third of their front yard. They cut down some of its tangled branches and have become its keepers. The visitors are allowed to see the ancient vine and the neighbors are invited to pick and eat the grapes. They even allowed the local winery owners to take clippings of the vine and plant them in their vineyards. They are now making Mother Vine Wine, slightly acidic sweet wine.
Mother Vineyard Road , Manteo, Roanoke Island, NC 27954
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10.Dare County Arts Council
© Dare County Arts Council
Located in Manteo, on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, Dare County Arts Council is a nonprofit organization focused on encouraging the arts in the area through enrichment, advocacy and opportunity, in the belief that the arts are essential for a thriving, vital community. For over 35 years, the Arts Council has sponsored a large range of programs for artists, performers, writers, students, visitors, and volunteers. The Art Council Gallery is located in the historic old courthouse in downtown Manteo. It offers art in every medium and style including realism, abstraction, impressionism and more. The multi-room gallery features photographers, jewelry designers, potters and fabric artists as well. All the work in the gallery is created by Dare County Arts Council members.
300 Queen Elizabeth Ave, Manteo, NC 27954, Phone: 252-473-5558
11.Blue Water Grill & Raw Bar
© Blue Water Grill & Raw Bar
Overlooking the docks at Pirate’s Cove Marina in Manteo, North Carolina, Blue Water Grill & Raw Bar is a bright, airy family-owned and run restaurant offering seasonal seafood and high quality meats, imaginative cocktails and spectacular views of the water and Bodie Island Lighthouse. The menu changes with seasons as most dishes use local, seasonal crops, local catch, and always the freshest ingredients. Their lunch and dinner specials change every day and you can expect such delights as Bacon chipotle mac and cheese, Sesame seared tuna or Sweet potato pie. Blue Water has a nice wine list and full bar. Guests can enjoy live music at their sister Mimi Tiki Hut, located on the dock just outside the restaurant.
2000 Sailfish Dr, Manteo, NC 27954, Phone: 252-473-1955
12.Ortega'z Southwestern Grill & Wine Bar
Ortega'z Grill on Roanoke Island is a popular Manteo southwestern grill and bar located in a 70-year old former ESSO station. The station changed its identity a few times before becoming a place that brings some spice to downtown Manteo. With a distinct southwestern vibe, Ortega’z is relaxed, casual family-friendly spot, bright and airy, with two dining rooms, a covered outdoor patio and a long Wine Bar in the heart of the restaurant as seating options. The menu is large and diverse, with popular comfort food options, mostly prepared using local ingredients, produce and fresh catch.
201 Sir Walter Raleigh St, Manteo, NC 27954, Phone: 252-473-5911
13.Big Al's Soda Fountain and Grill
© Big Al's Soda Fountain and Grill
Big Al’s Soda Fountain and Grill is the result of a pleasant visit to the Coca Cola factory. Inspired by the classic diner of the 50’s, Big Al is a fun spot with black and white floors, bright and shiny vinyl banquettes and chairs, old-fashioned soda fountain, colorful old jukebox and a whole bunch of classic Coca Cola paraphernalia. The menu is also nostalgic and includes classic American favorites such as thick juicy burgers with just about anything and, of course, delicious hot fries, gourmet sandwiches, fresh local seafood, salads, shakes, floats and the large assortment of desserts. There is also beer. .
716 US-64, Manteo, NC 27954, Phone: 252-473-5570
14.Garden Deli & Pizzeria
© Garden Deli & Pizzeria
Garden Deli and Pizzeria is an old-fashioned friendly neighborhood restaurant in Manteo, a Roanoke Island favorite spot for delicious New York style hand-tossed pizzas and the best subs on the island. It is often busy, but service is fast and the wait is never long. The pizzas are loaded with large range of toppings and clients can eat in the quaint, bright dining room, on the outdoor deck or can take their meals out. Garden Deli also delivers on Roanoke Island and in Pirate’s Cove. Their sub rolls are freshly baked and smell heavenly even before they are filled with cheese steak, in- house-made chicken salad, or deli meats and cheeses. Garden Deli also serves paninnis, salads, burgers and desserts such as Hershey Bar cake.
512 US-64, Manteo, NC 27954, Phone: 252-473-6888
14 Best Things to Do in Manteo, NC
- Elizabethan Gardens, Photo: Zack Frank/stock.adobe.com
- The Lost Colony, Photo: The Lost Colony
- Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge, Photo: halbrindley4/stock.adobe.com
- Roanoke Island Festival Park, Photo: DESIGN STOCK/stock.adobe.com
- Fort Raleigh National Historic Site, Photo: Zack Frank/stock.adobe.com
- Outer Banks Distilling, Photo: Outer Banks Distilling
- Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse, Photo: jiawangkun/stock.adobe.com
- Island Farm, Photo: Island Farm
- The Mother Vine, Photo: The Mother Vine
- Dare County Arts Council, Photo: Dare County Arts Council
- Blue Water Grill & Raw Bar, Photo: Blue Water Grill & Raw Bar
- Ortega'z Southwestern Grill & Wine Bar, Photo: mnimage/stock.adobe.com
- Big Al's Soda Fountain and Grill, Photo: Big Al's Soda Fountain and Grill
- Garden Deli & Pizzeria, Photo: Garden Deli & Pizzeria
- Cover Photo: James/stock.adobe.com