If you’re on the northern part of Roanoke Island, near the site of the famed “Lost Colony,” visit the picturesque town of Manteo. Steeped in small-town charm, Manteo is beloved by locals and tourists alike because it offers unique restaurants and shops within walking distance of the beautiful waterfront setting. Stroll throughout the town and on the boardwalk, stopping to explore interesting businesses and historic attractions. You’ll find that Manteo is a beautiful town and one you will undoubtedly fall in love with.
Along the Manteo waterfront, you’ll find people wandering the boardwalk that runs by many of Manteo’s famous structures, its parks, the boat ramp and the marina. As you walk along, be sure to stop at the waterfront gazebo for a family photo or the picnic areas for a quick bite to eat and great scenery. Children will love the recently renovated waterfront playground where they can slide, swing, and command the play ship.
The Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse can also be found while walking along the boardwalk, but it is situated on a pier that extends 40 yards into the Roanoke Sound. It is different from the tall spiraling lighthouses found on Bodie Island and Hatteras, but it does still have a Fresnel lens that was made in the 1800s. It’s definitely an appealing building and could almost pass for a regular cottage if it didn’t include the light on top. But this is not the original Roanoke Marshes lighthouse—it’s the fourth and it was completed in 2004. It was modeled after the third Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse, which was built in 1877 and destroyed after an attempt to relocate the building inland. Currently, on Tuesdays-Saturdays during most of the year, visitors can step inside the lighthouse where they’ll find art exhibits and historic information on Manteo’s past.
Near the lighthouse is the Manteo Weather Tower—a coastal warning display that was built in 1904 for the US Weather Bureau. Due to the stormy weather that can wreak havoc on Manteo, this structure (in combination with the lighthouse) has been very important to the shippers, boaters, and general community. It may not look like much, but the flags atop the steel tripod convey a great amount of information. Not only do they tell locals of impending storms and floods, but the flags also used to indicate when to do outdoor household chores or bring in fishing nets. At night, blinking lights would warn people of incoming storms. Like the lighthouse, the weather tower has not always been located on the waterfront. It started on the grounds of the courthouse before being relocated a few more times. In 2005, it was moved to the area it currently occupies and continues to fly its combinations of flags as it has from the beginning.
For an insight into boat building, visit the Roanoke Island Maritime Museum to see boats being made or the restored. Located in the George Washington Creef Boathouse, the museum also features programs where kids and adults can learn about sailing. This museum is also where the Elizabeth II, a replica of the style of ship that carried the lost colonists of Roanoke, was constructed.
These are just a few of the historic gems that can be found in Manteo. There are many more places to visit, things to do and interesting people to meet. After spending a day shopping, dining and playing in Manteo, you’ll want to come back for more!