There are so many things to do in the Outer Banks it can be hard to decide what you want to do on a short vacation. That’s why we’ve created the ultimate Manteo, NC bucket list! We’ve rounded up all the best and can’t-miss attractions on and around Roanoke Island.
If you want to discover more things to do and places to see in the area, request our complimentary Travel Guide! It’s full of the best places to eat, shop, and more in the area.
Plan the Perfect Manteo, NC Bucket List
Check Out the Sand Dunes at Jockey’s Ridge State Park
Jockey’s Ridge State Park is the most popular state park in North Carolina. That’s because the tallest living sand dune in the eastern United States calls the park home. The area makes for a great place to watch a sunset, fly a kite, or learn about the history of the dunes.
Learn How to Hang Glide with Kitty Hawk Kites
The sand dunes at Jockey’s Ridge State Park are also a popular spot for hang gliding. Just imagine the feeling of flying over the dunes while the Atlantic Ocean seems to open up in front of you. It’s definitely one of the most exciting ways to get some of the best views in the Outer Banks. Kitty Hawk Kites offers lessons where you get to learn how to hang glide at the park.
Catch a Showing of The Lost Colony Play
The Lost Colony play takes guests on an adventure through the history of England’s first attempted settlement in America. This exciting story takes place on Roanoke Island at a beautiful outdoor theater overlooking the sound. Unfortunately, the show only runs during the summer season from May until August.
Visit Some Lighthouses and Piers
Jennette’s Pier holds the prestigious title of the oldest fishing pier in the Outer Banks. Many storms battered and bruised this iconic pier, but even after many rebuilds it still stands strong on the Nags Head Beach today!
When most people think of lighthouses in the Outer Banks, they probably picture a tall, stately structure with a distinct striped pattern along the coast. Well, the Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse ducks all of the stereotypes in our area. This small building sits on a dock extending into Shallowbag Bay near the charming town of Manteo. This reconstruction of the old lighthouse is an active navigation aid for ships traveling through the Roanoke Sound. It also houses educational activities in coordination with the Roanoke Maritime Museum.
Cape Hatteras Lighthouse provides that classic lighthouse look with black and white spiral stripes. The lighthouse protects an area known as “the Graveyard of the Atlantic.” According to the National Park Service, the area gets its name because “the Gulf Stream collides with the Virginia Drift, a branch of the Labrador Current from Canada. This current forces southbound ships into a dangerous twelve-mile long sandbar called Diamond Shoals.” This has caused hundreds of shipwrecks through the years making the lighthouse extremely important to the Outer Banks.
Hit the Beach
The Outer Banks is obviously known for its sprawling beaches and beautiful landscape. It takes 20 minutes or less to get to two of the best beaches in OBX, Nags Head and Kill Devil Hills, from Manteo. Nags Head beaches provide more than 30 public access points to the 12 miles of pristine seashore where you and your family can frolic in the ocean, build sandcastles on the beach, and relax with your favorite book or drink under an umbrella. Visitors can also bring their dogs on a leash.
The thin strand of sand draped up and down the coast of Kill Devil Hills Beach is perfect for long walks, surfing the beach’s celebrated waves, and relaxing with your favorite cold beverage. There are many public access points in addition to over 15 lifeguard stations that rotate on a scheduled basis. The history-laden beach town offers some interesting attractions.
See the Wild Horses Near Corolla
Wild horses are a popular sight in the northern region of the Outer Banks. These herds of beautiful creatures roaming the beaches originated from a deserted Spanish settlement in the 1500s that continued to breed. Today, you can book an adventure with an Outer Banks horse tours to discover these horses as they roam near Corolla.
Check Out Some Historical Sites
Exploring some of OBX’s vast history definitely needs to be on your Manteo, NC bucket list! If you’re searching for some fascinating American history that’s a little more current, check out the Wright Brothers National Memorial. Orville and Wilbur Wright’s dream of flying came true in 1903 on this windy hill near Kitty Hawk. The Visitor Center highlights exhibits about flight achievements.
Next door to The Lost Colony play is Fort Raleigh National Historic Site. This beautifully wooded area is home to the basis of the production. Here you can explore the preserved earthen remains of Sir Walter Raleigh’s first English ‘colony’ in America.
The Roanoke Island Festival Park is a collection of museums, outdoor adventures, re-enactments, and replicas that are fun to explore for all ages. The large space also hosts events like concerts and local festivals. Trust us; this is a must-see attraction for first-time visitors!
The Elizabethan Gardens in Manteo is a gorgeous 10-acre oasis near the site of England’s lost colony. This tract of land provides guests with a serene spot to enjoy the beautiful array of flowers, landscapes, and local foliage. Named after the large gardens kept to entertain Queen Elizabeth I, the grounds contain a distinct English theme. It’s the perfect blend of nature and history!
Spot Some Wildlife at Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge
The Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge is full of natural wonders. From wildlife to scenic coastal marshes, this is one of the most beautiful areas along the Outer Banks. It’s a great place to explore if you need a break from the beach crowds with more than a handful of attractions throughout the expansive preserve.
Stay In the Perfect Location
Now that you have your Manteo, NC bucket list planned out, it’s time to book your stay! Here at Pirate’s Cove Realty, we offer an extensive collection of home and condo rentals in a variety of locations on Roanoke Island. Are you searching for a large home for a family reunion? We have you covered! Or maybe you want to find a small condo for a romantic getaway in a gated community. Whatever you’re looking for, we have the perfect property for you!
Browse our list of rentals and start planning your Outer Banks getaway today! We can’t wait to welcome you to our island!