Maybe it’s the sunrise over Shallowbag Bay that paints the sky in a colorful awakening. Or perhaps it’s the lure of local legends that draws visitors from near and far. Whatever the reason, more than 400 years after English adventurers landed on its shores, the island town of Manteo continues to be a destination worthy of exploration.
Located on Roanoke Island, between the central Outer Banks and the mainland, Manteo is built on rich historic attractions and quiet island charm. Only a few hours from Cary on Highway 64, this tiny town has all the shops, restaurants, accommodations, attractions and recreation for a perfect daytrip or extended stay.
Named after the Native American chief who befriended English explorers in 1584, Manteo has kept its history alive with attractions centered around its colonization attempts. A replica of 16th-century ship Elizabeth II, manned by costumed sailors, is similar to merchant vessels hired by Sir Walter Raleigh. The outdoor symphonic drama, “The Lost Colony,” tells the story of colonists who attempted to settle here, only to mysteriously vanish years later. Their fate remains unsolved.
Visitors come for the history and stay for much more. Enjoy strolling through the Elizabethan Gardens or along the waterfront boardwalk, encountering sharks at the North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island, spotting wildlife at Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge, staying at an historic inn, sailing the sound with dolphins or sampling rum on a distillery tour.
Manteo’s past and present are ready for discovery.
- Roanoke Island Festival Park. Festival Park, Manteo, (252) 475-1500, roanokeisland.com
- Waterside Theatre – The Lost Colony. 1409 National Park Drive, Manteo, (252) 473-6000, thelostcolony.org
- NC Aquarium on Roanoke Island. 374 Airport Road, Manteo, (252) 475-2300, ncaquariums.com/roanoke-island
- The Elizabethan Gardens. 1411 National Park Drive, Manteo, (252) 473-3234, elizabethangardens.org
- Outer Banks Distilling. 510 Budleigh St., Manteo, (252) 423-3011, outerbanksdistilling.com
- Lost Colony Brewery and Café. 208 Queen Elizabeth Ave., Manteo, (252) 473-6666, lostcolonybrewery.com
- NC National Wildlife Refuges Gateway Visitor Center. 100 Conservation Way, Manteo, (252) 473-1131, fws.gov/refuge/alligator_river/
- White Doe Inn. 319 Sir Walter Raleigh St., Manteo, (252) 473-9851, whitedoeinn.com
- Downeast Rover Sailing Cruises. 207 Queen Elizabeth Ave., Manteo, (252) 473-4866, downeastrover.com
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