Roanoke Island Attractions & Manteo Attractions

Explore Every Roanoke Island Attraction

World-class Roanoke Island attractions are what lure many people here. Many attractions celebrate Roanoke Island’s history as the site of the first attempted English colonization of America such as Fort Raleigh National Historic Site, The Elizabethan Gardens, The Lost Colony outdoor drama, the Elizabeth II sailing ship and the Roanoke Island Festival Park. There are other Roanoke Island attractions, too, that you will not want to miss like the North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island, musical events such as the Shallowbag Shag Beach Music Festival or the Mountain Music by the Sea bluegrass festival at the beautiful outdoor amphitheater, the North Carolina Maritime Museum and the Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse. You can also step back to the mid-1800s at Island Farm or to a more simple time in Manteo's history by just walking or biking the streets and looking at the restored homes. With all these attractions and the many sites that capture Roanoke Island’s history, you’ll find that a day trip is never enough. In part due to these Roanoke Island attractions, more and more visitors are choosing this island as their vacation destination.

Roanoke Island Attractions by Location or Category

Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge

Milltail Road, off U.S. Highway 64, Manteo
(252) 473-1131

Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge is a 154,000-acre refuge on the mainland portion of Dare and Hyde counties. It was established in 1984 to preserve and protect a unique wetland habitat type, the pocosin, and its associated wildlife species. Pocosin is a Native American word meaning ‘‘swamp-on-a-hill’’ and is characterized by poorly drained soils high in organic material. The Refuge's diversity of habitat types includes... read more

Elizabethan Gardens

1411 National Park Drive (off U.S. Highway 64) next to Fort Raleigh National Historic Site, Manteo
(252) 473-3234

Designed by two of America’s foremost landscape architects to pay tribute to America’s first English colonists, The Elizabethan Gardens is a rare treasure and a beloved Outer Banks attraction. It’s a haven of verdant, flourishing growth and natural prosperity. The gardens are in bloom year round with azaleas, dogwoods, roses, camellias, daphne, a variety of annuals and herbs and much more. Adding exquisite touches are... read more

First Fridays in Manteo

Downtown Manteo, Manteo

First Friday is a family-oriented festival held in downtown Manteo on the first Friday of every month from April through December. From 6 to 8 p.m. downtown Manteo’s sidewalks come alive with a wide variety of musical performances and festive activities for all ages. Individual shops and restaurants frequently do their own celebratory activity such as live music, special sales, refreshments and hors d’oeuvres. Dare County... read more

Island Farm

1140 N. US Highway 64, Manteo
(252) 473-6500

A living history site, Island Farm interprets daily life on Roanoke Island in the mid-1800s. Visitors feel as if they’ve stepped back more than 150 years as they explore the farm and see interpreters dressed in period attire carrying out the daily activities of the time — tending animals, blacksmithing, hoeing corn, doing laundry, making corn cakes. Hands-on activities and demonstrations may include woodworking, textile... read more

Lost Colony

1409 National Park Drive (off U.S. Highway 64), Waterside Theatre, Manteo
(252) 473-2127

More than 400 years ago, 117 men, women and children sailed from Plymouth, England, in an attempt to settle on Roanoke Island. They vanished just two years later. The only clue left behind was the word “CROATOAN” carved in a tree. The Lost Colony is their story. This outdoor drama is the longest-standing Outer Banks attraction, celebrating its 80th season in 2017!

Written by Pulitzer... read more


(252) 473-2133

Manteo, the only incorporated town on Roanoke Island and the Dare County seat, is a small island town complete with a picturesque waterfront, a safe harbor, welcoming docks and a charming downtown historic area. 

Manteo’s waterfront downtown is an attraction in itself, with shops, art galleries, eateries, a lighthouse, a waterfront boardwalk, a park and children's playground and boats sitting in the harbor of Shallowbag Bay.... read more

North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island

374 Airport Road, Manteo
(252) 475-2300
(800) 832-3474 x4

The North Carolina Aquarium is one of the most popular attractions on the Outer Banks, and it got a fantastic renovation that was completed in the summer of 2016. Yes, it's perfect for a rainy day, but you will also appreciate the cool, quiet environment when you've had enough of the sun. Just stepping into the aquarium’s lobby is like diving into the ocean’s depths.... read more