buildings in downtown Manteo, NC

Explore the Historic Downtown Manteo, NC

04/19/2019 | by Joseph Mitchell | Outer Banks Travel Tips

Roanoke Island may be small, but it packs in plenty of fantastic things to do and places to see. One of the top places to explore is the quaint and charming downtown Manteo, NC, waterfront! Here, you’ll find local shops, restaurants, and attractions that are perfect for adults and kids! It’s a great escape from the crowded Outer Banks beaches, especially during the summer! 

Discover our favorite things to do and places to see in our complimentary Vacation Guide!

The Best of Downtown Manteo, NC



1. Poor Richard’s Sandwich Shop

Poor Richard’s Sandwich Shop is a downtown Manteo, NC, institution. This is THE place to grab lunch while you peruse the many local shops, enjoy the beautiful waterfront setting, or explore Roanoke Festival Park. They have everything from pulled pork wraps to Italian subs to crab cake sandwiches! You can even find some good deals on domestic and imported beers after they reopen for dinner at 5 p.m.

2. Lost Colony Brewery and Cafe

With a selection of locally brewed craft beers and a delicious menu full of steaks, burgers, seafood, baked brie, and other specialties, you can’t go wrong with a visit to the Lost Colony Brewery and Cafe. Whether you’re sampling their Kill Devil Hills Scotch Ale or digging into a tasty dinner, we have a feeling you’ll come back for seconds during your time in downtown Manteo.

3. 1587 Restaurant

If you’re looking for an exceptional dining experience in downtown Manteo, NC, 1587 Restaurant is the place to go for a romantic date night. This waterfront dining establishment features fresh seafood, steaks, salads, and plenty of appetizers that will please the most sophisticated palate. It’s the perfect spot for an upscale evening on the Outer Banks.

4. Outer Banks Distilling

Locally crafted rum is the primary attraction at Outer Banks Distilling. While they don’t serve up any food here, you can taste four different lines of this sweet, small-batch libation and even take a bottle or two home with you to enjoy in the porch of your vacation home rental in downtown Manteo!

Three ice cream cones5. Drop by Big Buck’s Homemade Ice Cream

Be sure to infuse a sweet moment or two into your downtown adventure by making time on the itinerary for a stop at Big Buck’s Homemade Ice Cream. Located at 207 Queen Elizabeth Avenue, this delicious and inviting stop is sure to be a favorite for everyone in the family! Known and loved for its wide variety of flavors, Big Buck’s Homemade Ice Cream serves up homemade selections daily as well as cookies, cakes, candies, chocolate, and beyond.




1. Roanoke Maritime Museum

You can learn about the local and regional maritime heritage at the Roanoke Maritime Museum. This downtown Manteo attraction has exhibits showcasing watercraft, restoration projects, and the rich history of boat building of Roanoke Island.

2. Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse

It may not be the classic Outer Banks lighthouse that most people envision, but this reconstruction of the old Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse is still worth a visit during your time in downtown Manteo, NC.

3. Roanoke Island Festival Park

Adults and kids will love exploring the beautiful Roanoke Island Festival Park. Several attractions including a representational ship from the 1585 English voyage to the island, a constructed American Indian town, an English settlement site, and a museum highlighting the history of Roanoke Island! There’s also a large outdoor space for concerts and events.Outer banks farmers market - box of fresh farm vegetables

4. Historic Downtown Manteo Farmers Market

The Historic Downtown Manteo Farmers Market is a popular summertime tradition from mid-May to the beginning of October. Visitors and residents walk the streets on Saturday mornings browsing the many local produce, flower, and craft vendors! It’s a great time to pick up a souvenir to commemorate your trip!




1. Spend Quality Time Enjoying Fantastic Shopping Opportunities

A highlight of spending time in scenic downtown Manteo is the opportunity to enjoy some quality retail therapy while you’re here! This area is packed with fantastic shops and boutique storefronts to check out. Whether you’re in the market for customized apparel, jewelry, souvenirs, or handcrafted goods, you’ll likely find everything you’re searching for right downtown. Burnside Books is a great stop if you’re looking for a new story to add to your collection while there are also fly fishing stores in the area so you can stock up on gear before you head out on adventures. From tasty food shops to home décor, it’s all within reach in downtown Manteo.

2. Explore the Waterfront and Playground

Manteo, NC at sunsetFrom Festival Park, those who are spending time in the area only have to walk across the bridge to reach downtown where they can then spend time exploring and enjoying the gorgeous waterfront boardwalk. Even if you choose to simply take a stroll with family and friends, you’re in for a treat. This area is a great place to watch boats sail by, explore the docks, or settle in and people watch too. Around the corner from the town docks, those exploring downtown with little ones will find a great waterfront playground to enjoy as well.

3. Book On-The-Water Activities

Easy access to the Manteo Waterfront Marina makes time spent downtown the perfect moment to book on-the-water fun as well. Consider the excitement of renting a vessel and exploring the Intracoastal Waterway at your very own pace. From the boardwalk downtown, visitors can just as easily access companies like Captain Johnny’s Dolphin Watch when you’re ready to get out on the waves and connect with marine life at its best. There are sailing tours that can be booked here as well through Downeast Rover and Sail Outer Banks. Kitty Hawk Kites is well within reach and offers paddleboarding, kayaking and bike rentals. Looking to book a fly fishing charter? That can be done here too.

4. Accessing the Fun, Parking Downtown, and Getting Around

Travelers who are heading to downtown Manteo after time well-spent at the beach will want to cross at the Nags Head/Manteo Causeway and the Washington Baum Bridge. When you arrive at the large intersection, head right and merge onto Highway 64/264 right into Manteo. This route will lead to a right onto Fernando, Budleigh, and Agona Streets which offer up a clear path to downtown fun. Upon arrival, visitors will be pleased to find that there are plenty of street parking options to choose from as well as ample parking lot options on Budleigh Street. You won’t need a vehicle to get around downtown as it’s designed with comprehensive exploration and easy walking in mind.


Book Your Pirate’s Cove Resort Getaway!

The Roost rental near downtown Manteo

You don’t have to go far from downtown Manteo to find your vacation rental home. Here at Pirate’s Cove, we offer a variety of houses and condos in and around town, so that you can walk to and from the shops, restaurants, and attractions! You’re also a short driving distance from the North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island, The Lost Colony show, and the beautiful Elizabethan Gardens!

Book your stay and start planning your beach trip today! Didn’t find any rentals around town? We have several other locations like Shallowbag Bay and Pirate’s Cove Resort that are right around the corner! We look forward to welcoming you to Roanoke Island!