22 Best & Fun Things to Do in Manteo (NC)

In search of the best and most fun things to do in Manteo, NC? Manteo is among the oldest towns in North Carolina State, in Dare County, United States.

This small community has a population of 1,602, according to the 2020 census.

The town was named after a Chief in the Local Roanoke Island, a neighborhood of Native Americans, who was a goodwill ambassador of English explorers in the 16th century.

He was one of the early American citizens who visited Europe as a distinguished and notable figure.

Though the town was founded in the 1580s, Manteo features many essential attractions for locals and visitors to explore.

There are fantastic places to visit, such as the Waterside Theatre, Fort Raleigh National Historic Site, Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse, Dare County Arts Council, Manteo’s Downtown Market, and more.

Are you planning an exploration of Manteo? Check out the top things to do in Manteo, NC.

Things to Do in Manteo, NC

1. Elizabethan Gardens

Elizabethan Gardens
Credits: Mary Volkova / Shutterstock
Elizabethan Gardens

Elizabethan Gardens is located in Fort Raleigh National Historic Site besides the Water Theatre of the Lost Colony in Manteo.

These Gardens stretch for ten acres featuring beautiful green plants and unique art. It usually changes from leafy trees to verdant shrubs and fragrant blooms.

You will find significant sculptures, including Queen Elizabeth’s bronze sculpture. The backgrounds of the sculptures change with the seasons.

There are historic Italian Renaissance sculptures and the isolated Virginia Dare figure; you need to check them out.

Elizabethan Gardens offers children interactive summer programs, an array of events, local plants, crape myrtle, conifers blooms, camellias collection, and more.

Different sites within the property have a unique theme, including the Great Lawn, Sunken Garden, Queen’s Rose Garden, and Gazebo.

Address: 1411 National Park Dr, Manteo, NC 27954, United States

2. Roanoke Island Festival Park

Roanoke Island Festival Park
Credits: William Silver / Shutterstock
Roanoke Island Festival Park

Your bucket list of things to do won’t be complete without a visit to Roanoke Island Festival Park, a 25-acre historic site.

Roanoke Island Festival Park is where visitors get an intimate insight into the life of the first English migrants in the region in 1585.

Throughout the Elizabeth II ship and the Settlement Site, interpreters are starred to demonstrate the ways the first settlers lived their lives and worked.

The adventure museum showcases exhibits that enlighten the public about the region’s history. Roanoke Island Festival Park hosts numerous weddings, public events, and concerts indoors or at the outdoor pavilion.

Roanoke Island Festival Park is a beautiful place to visit to enjoy the nature trails, piers, and picturesque views.

Address: 1 Festival Park, Manteo, Roanoke Island, NC 27954-9396, United States

3. Dare County Arts Council

Dare County Arts Council
Credits: Jimmy Emerson, DVM / Flickr
Dare County Arts Council

Dare County Arts Council is a non-profit organization dedicated to encouraging arts in the region.

This goal is achieved through enlightening and enriching the school of thought that arts are essential for a vibrant community.

Nestled on the Outer Banks of the State, the Arts Council has funded many programs for more than thirty years for writers, artists, visitors, performers, and volunteers.

The Arts Council gallery is housed in a historic courthouse, featuring artworks in different styles and mediums, which includes impressionism, abstraction, realism, and more.

As a gallery with multiple rooms, it features photographers, potters, jewelry makers, and fabric designers produced by Dare County Arts Council members.

Address: 300 Queen Elizabeth Ave, Manteo, NC 27954, United States

4. The Pea Island Cookhouse Museum

If you’re searching for what to do in Manteo, NC, visit the Pea Island Cookhouse Museum, a unique museum waiting for your exploration.

The Pea Island Cookhouse Museum honors the service and sacrifices of the lifesavers, African Americans, who operated the Pea Island Lifesaving Station.

One of the most glorious rescue operations of the station is the rescuing of E.s Newman. The main cookhouse building was a component of the Pea Island Lifesaving Station before it was designated as Cookhouse Museum.

The Museum showcases the original signboard of E.S Newman and a Lyle gun used by the Pea Island Lifesaving Station rescue team.

The Pea Island Cookhouse Museum houses photographs, relics, artifacts, memorabilia, and other essential information about the station and its workers.

The workers were majorly African-American because, under the administration of Keeper Etheridge, local black men were employed as life savers.

Address: 622 Sir Walter Raleigh St, Manteo, NC 27954, United States

5. Blue Water Grill & Raw Bar

Blue Water Grill & Raw Bar
Credits: Blue Water Grill & Raw Bar / Facebook
Blue Water Grill & Raw Bar

For an incredible outdoor dining experience, visiting Blue Water Grill & Raw Bar is one of the top things to do in Manteo, NC.

Blue Water Grill & Raw Bar is a family-owned and operated restaurant in the town known for serving the best seasonal seafood.

The restaurant’s menu changes with the season since most meals are made with fresh, locally sourced ingredients.

Daily, the lunch and dinner specials are changed, ensuring something fresh and new for everyone, including sweet potato pie and bacon chipotle mac & cheese.

Blue Water Grill & Raw Bar offers an impressive wine and cocktails list and a live musical presentation for guests to enjoy.

The staff is friendly and polite when attending to guests; they are known for offering the best customer service in the city.

Address: 2000 Sailfish Dr, Manteo, NC 27954, United States

6. The Mother Vine

Mother Vine
Credits: Jill Lang / Shutterstock

Among the best things to do in Manteo, NC, is a visit to the Mother Vine, the oldest vineyard in North America.

The Mother Vine is roughly four hundred years old and was possibly cultivated by Native Americans of Croatan or the lost colony’s migrants.

It is commonly referred to as the “Mother” of vines because of scuppernong grapes, which are fruits unique to North Carolina state.

The vineyard was purchased in 1957 by Jack and Estelle Wilson for the cultivation of the Mother Vine.

The owners of the Mother Vine allow local owners of wineries to take small branches of the vine to sow in their vineyards.

 Address: Mother Vineyard Road, Manteo, Roanoke Island, NC 27954, United States

7. Fort Raleigh National Historic Site

Fort Raleigh National Historic Site
Credits: Jeffrey M. Frank / Shutterstock
Fort Raleigh National Historic Site

Are you interested in learning about the history of the Roanoke Colony? Fort Raleigh National Historic Site is one of the best places to visit in Manteo, NC.

Fort Raleigh National Historic Site was founded to preserve Roanoke Colony’s site in 1941. This site was the first dwelling place for the first English settlers in 1587.

From 1587 to 1590, the colony, initially supported by Sir Walter Raleigh, an Englishman, was later abandoned due to the late supply of ships.

The circumstance behind the loss of lives and the goal of the Lost Colony is still unknown. This historic site is nestled on the northern part of Roanoke Island, just three miles away from the Manteo town.

There is a museum housed in the Visitor’s Center featuring exhibits on the English colonies’ history, the civil war history of the Island, the Roanoke Colony, and Freeman’s Colony.

Address: 1401 National Park Dr, Manteo, NC 27954, United States

8. Ortega’z Southwestern Grill & Wine Bar

Ortega'z Southwestern Grill & Wine Bar
Credits: Ortega’z Southwestern Grill & Wine Bar / Facebook
Ortega’z Southwestern Grill & Wine Bar

Ortega’z Southwestern Grill & Wine Bar is one of the most popular restaurants, housed in a former Esso station of about 70 years.

Esso station changed its name a couple of times before it was converted into a location that brings an eclectic mix of spice to the town.

They offer an extensive menu featuring a wide variety of food options majorly made using freshly cut meats and local farm produce.

Ortega’z Southwestern Grill & Wine Bar features two dining rooms, a shaded outdoor patio, and a full-time Wine Bar.

They offer Grilled Chicken Salad, Fish Tacos Wasabi, Shrimp tacos Buffalo, Fajita Fixings, Onion Rings, Traditional Carne Asada Tacos, Coastal Cobb Salad, House-Made Chips & Salsa, and more.

Address: 201 Sir Walter Raleigh St, Manteo, NC 27954, United States

Check out our checklist of fun things to do in Oak Islandthings to do in Beaufort, and things to do in Pinehurst, if you are planning a road trip to North Carolina.

9. The Outer Banks History Center

Outer Banks History Center
Credits: Outer Banks History Center / Facebook
Outer Banks History Center

One of the best places to visit in Manteo, NC, is the Outer Banks History Center; suppose you need a vaster collection of North Carolina history.

The Outer Banks History Center is a paradise for academicians and researchers, where they get abundant resources about the state.

The Center is just a few blocks from the Roanoke Adventure Museum at the Roanoke Island Festival Park.

This History Center houses regional archives relating to the undying culture and history of the North Carolina Coast.

The Outer Banks History Center features mainly materials that are timeless pieces, the only one of their kind which can’t be found elsewhere.

Address: 1 Festival Park, Manteo, NC 27954, United States

10. Outer Banks Distilling

Outer Banks Distilling
Credits: 5PH / Shutterstock

Outer Banks Distilling officially opened in 2015 as the first distillery company in the town. It is housed in a historic brick building dating back to 1946.

The distillery specializes in the production of spiced, gold, and white rums in small batches composed of bold flavors.

You can also join in tastings and tours of the facility and purchase one of its most outstanding productions.

Outer Banks Distilling offers tours of their company from Monday to Saturday to those aged twenty-one and above.

They offer rums throughout the year, including Pecan Honey Rum, Gold Rum, Kill Devil Shipwreck, Silver Rum, and Kill Devil Solstice.

Address: 510 Budleigh St, Manteo, NC 27954, United States

11. Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse

Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse
Credits: jadimages / Shutterstock
Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse

Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse, located on the eastern side of the waterfront of Manteo, is one place you must visit in Manteo.

The Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse is not given the attention it deserves mainly because of its size, location, and restricted view.

The Lighthouse features a white exterior mixed with a red roof and black shutters featuring a two-foot lens of four inches which gives it a stylish look.

You will love walking through the boardwalk constructed from wood as you enjoy lovely views and take gorgeous photographs.

The Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse was originally built in 1857, before a new one with a small tower housing an automatic light was created as a replacement in 1955.

The Lighthouse is located around Fernando Street, accessible through a pier featuring educational and historical exhibits.

Address: Queen Elizabeth Ave, Manteo, NC 27954, United States

12. Captain Johnny’s Dolphin Tours

Captain Johnny’s Dolphin Tours
Credits: rachael hansen / Shutterstock

Captain Johnny’s Dolphin Tours allows you to meet beautiful dolphins in the waters of outer Banks.

For those who want a fun and highly safe dolphin tour, Captain Johnny’s Dolphin Tours should be your first choice. It features a dock close to the Waterfront Marina of Manteo.

The cruise is driven by Jamie Wescott, an experienced captain who tours the Outer Banks’ protected waters for two hours.

While on board, visitors enjoy fascinating views and the popular stories told by the captain about the bottlenose dolphin.

During many tours, visitors might watch dolphins mating or reproducing. These tours are perfect for all ages.

Captain Johnny’s Dolphin Tours offers school field trips, private dinner cruises, family reunions, private tours, business gatherings, etc.

Address: 400 Queen Elizabeth Ave, Manteo, NC 27954, United States

13. The Lost Colony/ The Waterside Theatre

Lost Colony/ The Waterside Theatre
Credits: lilywarrior / Flickr
Lost Colony/ The Waterside Theatre

Watching the Lost Colony is a must-add to your list of fun things to do in Manteo, NC. The Waterside Theatre is an outdoor theatre with a 5,000-square-foot stage, where you can watch the Lost Colony’s musical presentation, amongst other annual summer musicals.

The Lost Colony, an award-winning and widely recognized theatrical production, is produced by a non-profit organization, the Roanoke Island Historical Association, in honor of the history of Roanoke Island’s first English colonies.

The Lost Colony is about the true life story of the 117 English migrants on Roanoke Island who were never found. The show features over 120 designers, technicians, actors, and volunteers who work during spring to bring forth The Lost Colony for the next summer season.

The production of the Lost Colony describes the dances of Native Americans, local battles, and the pageantry of the court and queen of England.

Address: 1409 National Park Dr, Manteo, NC 27954, United States

14. Garden Deli & Pizzeria

Garden Deli & Pizzeria
Credits: Garden Deli & Pizzeria / Facebook
Garden Deli & Pizzeria

If you’re wondering what to do in Manteo, NC, visit Garden Deli & Pizzeria for a unique dining experience.

Garden Deli & Pizzeria, an old-fashioned restaurant, is the best spot for those who want to enjoy deliciously made pizzas on Roanoke Island.

The pizzas are prepared with a wide variety of toppings for visitors to enjoy in their colorful outdoor dining room. They also offer take-out.

Something you wouldn’t like to miss is the freshly baked sub rolls packed with chicken salad, cheese, or meats.

Garden Deli & Pizzeria serves burgers, salads, paninis, cannoli, brownies, cookies, homemade chicken alfredo, and more.

The restaurant is beautifully designed with stylish decor, chairs, and tables, which offer a warm and comfortable ambiance.

 Address: 512 US-64, Manteo, NC 27954, United States

15. Poor Richards Sandwich Shop

Poor Richards Sandwich Shop
Credits: KvaS / Shutterstock

The excitement at Poor Richards Sandwich Shop is immense, especially when you stop by with your loved ones.

Poor Richards Sandwich Shop is a highly recommended joint by numerous locals, having served the people for decades since 1984.

They use head products of Boar to serve their bread-meat and cheese invention, which every food buff would love.

Their menu offers diverse cuisine, including Italian, classics, and more. Locals’ favorites include their Angry Burger and the Heart Attack Wrap.

Poor Richards Sandwich Shop’s interior is inspired by a ship’s cabin, with two unique booths offering gorgeous views of the Manteo Waterfront.

This Shop is also a popular spot for nightlife fans to relax and dine as they enjoy some of the best imported and local beers.

Address: 305 Queen Elizabeth Ave, Manteo, NC 27954, United States

Also check out our checklist of fun things to do in West Jeffersonthings to do in Mt. Airy, and fun things to do in Gastonia, if you are planning a road trip.

16. Jumpmasters Trampoline Park

Jumpmasters Trampoline Park
Credits: Petr Smagin / Shutterstock

An indoor adventure park for the entire family, Jumpmasters Trampoline Park is perfect for everyone, regardless of their age. Exploring this destination is one of the fun things to do in Manteo, NC.

This amusement center, 14,000 Square feet, offers fitness routines that will make your heart beat faster with large balls of sweat, indicating the overwhelming experience.

There Is something for everyone, including trampolines, battle beams, climbing walls, foam pits, and more.

You can also participate in the ninja warrior course, but for more competition, dodgeball is available too. Jumpmasters Trampoline Park offers team-building courses, toddler time, stumbling classes, fitness classes, and camps.

Jumpmasters Trampoline Park is a venue for large or small groups’ birthday parties and other events; you can also decide to rent the whole park.

Address: 728 US-64, Manteo, NC 27954, United States

17. Island Farm

Island Farm
Credits: daniel.baker / Flickr
Island Farm

You travel back to the 19th century when you visit Island Farm, a historic farm and Museum.

Island Farm is where interpreters during that era tell the tale of the family who once lived on the farm.

Here, you get to feel and understand what life was like on Roanoke island just before the Civil War in the mid-1800s.

Adam Etheridge once owned Island Farm; he rented 1,500 acres for livestock breeding. The property belonged to his family for over two hundred years until 1997.

Visitors participate in various hands-on activities and presentations, including blacksmithing, woodwork, games for kids, cooking, and so on.

Wagon rides are available on the farm for everyone. Although, the selection of activities differs according to the day and the special events held.

Address: 1140 US-64, Manteo, NC 27954, United States

18. Manteo’s Downtown Market

Manteo's Downtown Market
Credits: Ary Acevedo / Shutterstock

If you have not visited Manteo’s Downtown Market, your vacation is incomplete.

The Downtown market is open only on Saturdays; you have to go to the Market early, so you don’t miss out on the excitement.

This Market vendors offer outstanding service through the quality of commodities they offer patrons annually.

You can shop for the freshest vegetables and fruits, baked goods, crafts, artwork, flowers, grass-fed meats, and more.

The Downtown market is a perfect place to meet new people, gist with friends & neighbors, and enjoy the remarkable views of the waterfront.

Address: 106 Fernando St, Manteo, NC 27954, United States

19. The Roanoke Adventure Museum

Roanoke Adventure Museum
Credits: Ken Lund / Flickr
Roanoke Adventure Museum

The Roanoke Adventure Museum is situated in the Roanoke Island Festival park, accessed through Ananias Dare Street.

You can embark on a self-guided tour that takes you throughout Roanoke Island’s historical past dating back four hundred years.

Kids who visit the Museum also get to try on period costumes from the 16th century; the Museum features a diverse collection of exhibits centered not only on the first English settlers.

The Roanoke Adventure Museum showcases exhibits about the 19th-century natives of Roanoke Island and North America.

Address: Manteo, NC 27954, United States

20. The Roanoke Island Maritime Museum

Roanoke Island Maritime Museum
Credits: photo516 / Flickr
Roanoke Island Maritime Museum

If you’re a maritime history fanatic, who would like to learn more about North Carolina’s Maritime, this place is for you.

The Roanoke Island Maritime Museum is George Washington Creef Boathouse’s masterpiece on Fernando Street.

The boathouse was named in honor of the constructor of the famous Shad Boat, George Washington Creef, in the 1870s.

North Carolina established the Shad Boat in 1987 as the State Boat due to the mind-blowing durability of its building.

The construction of Shad Boat was stopped in the 1930s. However, others erected before that period still functioned as seaworthy because of their robust construction.

The Roanoke Island Maritime Museum features numerous tiny watercraft which are part of the local maritime history.

Address: 104 Fernando St, Manteo, NC 27954, United States

21. The North Carolina Aquarium

North Carolina Aquarium
Credits: ChristopherSlater / Shutterstock
North Carolina Aquarium

The North Carolina Aquarium is a 68,000-square-foot facility on Roanoke Island in Manteo. It is a great destination to get closer to aquatic life.

The Aquarium is known for housing the biggest collection of sharks in North Carolina in a tank of 285,000-gallon capacity.

The North Carolina Aquarium features alligators, turtles, the iconic river otters of North America, and different fish species.

There is an interactive component in the Aquarium’s Close Encounters exhibits, which allows you to get close and touch a sea star, a stingray, or a bamboo shark.

The Aquarium is dedicated to researching, educating, and engaging in fieldwork with the assistance of the members of the team to learn more about local and international animals.

Address: 374 Airport Rd, Manteo, NC 27954, United States

22. The Coastal North Carolina National Wildlife Refuges Gateway Visitor Center

The Coastal North Carolina National Wildlife Refuges Gateway Visitor Center covers eleven national wildlife sanctuaries and a fish hatchery.

The Center encourages guests to visit and explore all it has installed, including interactive displays which educate them about every refuge in the facility.

As a non-profit organization, the Center is operated by professional volunteers who are available to answer every question you may have.

There is also a gift shop packed with books & toys for children, apparel, nature identification handbooks, jewelry, and more.

Address: 100 conservation Way, Manteo, NC 27954, United States

Want more of North Carolina? do check out our list of things to do in High Pointthings to do in Atlantic Beach, and things to do in Statesville for a memorable vacation.

Plan Your Trip to Manteo

Manteo will undoubtedly exceed your expectations and offer more than you can fathom.

You get to have the perfect gateway you’re searching for through outstanding cruises, national parks, eateries, pubs, historic sites, museums, distilleries, etc.

You’re sure of having a fantastic experience whether you visit alone or with your colleagues, friends, and family.

Start planning your trip to Manteo, NC!