10 AMAZING Things to Do on Roanoke Island, North Carolina

Are you looking for a relaxing vacation? Well, look no further than Roanoke Island! This beautiful island is located just off the coast of North Carolina and is filled with natural beauty.

There are so many things to do here-from kayaking in the sound to hiking up to our historic lighthouse. We’ve compiled a list of 10 activities that will make your visit unforgettable!

The Sights

Visit the Elizabethan Gardens

Established in 1951, these beautiful gardens were created in the style of an Elizabethan garden. Elaborate gardens were maintained to entertain and amuse Elizabeth I at the time of her reign.

They are home to stunning flower beds, a rose garden, and even a Shakespeare Herb Garden!

Also, be sure to visit the walled garden where you can enjoy a picnic lunch with stunning views of Roanoke Sound.

Top Review: “The gardens are absolutely beautiful. My son had such a great time. He loves throwing coins in to the fountain and following the fairy scavenger hunt. We signed up for a small butterfly release which was very interesting. Each participant was given a butterfly in a little cage and some food. We were able to release our butterflies and watch them each the food. The statues in the garden are very neat as well as the beautiful flowers. And I didn’t get a chance to check out the greenhouse but next time I would totally buy some plants.”Barrie P.

1411 National Park Dr Manteo, NC 27954, (252) 473-3234

The Lost Colony

The Lost Colony is America’s longest running outdoor drama. This legendary story tells of English settlers who came to Roanoke Island in 1587 with the hopes of establishing a colony here that would become the first permanent English settlement in North America.

However, when they arrived on our shores, there was no trace or word from their fellow colonists… only a cryptic message left behind that has yet to be solved.

This play is a must-see for any history buff!

Top Review: “It was an absolutely wonderful show! We have been a few times over the years, but since we last attended, they have added many special effects, projections, and unique theatrical elements that made the story come to life even more than before. It is a must see if you are coming to the Outer Banks, and we look forward to visiting again!”Gregory H.

1409 National Park Dr, Manteo, NC 27954, (252) 473-2127

Roanoke Island Festival Park

Roanoke Island Festival Park is home to the Rolfe House, which was built in the late 1800s and served as the home of John White, Governor of Roanoke Colony.

The house has been beautifully restored and is open to the public for tours.

Also on site at the park, you can visit a recreated Native American village and enjoy live demonstrations of various historic crafts!

Top Review:

1 Festival Park Manteo, NC 27954, (252) 475-1500

North Carolina Aquarium at Roanoke Island

Sculptures in front of North Carolina Aquarium at Roanoake Island, fun things to do on the weekend
Photo: Stacy H.

The North Carolina Aquarium is a must-see for any nature lover! It’s home to salt and fresh water tanks, as well as exhibits on the local marine life.

You can even touch some of the animals in the touch tank!

Top Review: “The aquarium was the highlight of our trip to the OBX for our son. He loved looking at all of the exhibits. There were fun things inside and outside for him to explore. He loved the star center and all of the activities there. The interactive turtle stations were so much fun and he learned a lot. They do have reciprocals with some museum memberships so it was half price for us.”Barrie P.

374 Airport Rd Manteo, NC 27954, (252) 475-2300

Fort Raleigh National Historic Site

The Fort Raleigh National Historic Site is home to one of the country’s most important colonial history sites.

It was here that the first English settlers landed in North America and established the Roanoke Colony. The fort has been reconstructed and is open for tours.

Top Review: “Fort Raleigh National Historic Site is a great place to visit and is a nice alternative to the beach. There are some really cool exhibits on the Lost Colony and I enjoyed the short film on the Lost Colony as well.  It looks like there are some trails around the property and rangers give tours at certain days/times so call ahead for the schedule. Definitely can’t beat this free activity!”Emily M.

Jockey’s Ridge State Park

Jockey's Ridge State Park, cool things to do in Roanoke Island NC
Photo: Nikki G.

Jockey’s Ridge State Park is a must for any outdoor enthusiast! It’s home to the tallest sand dune on the East Coast, which offers stunning views of Roanoke Island and the Outer Banks.

You can hike or bike up the dunes, or enjoy a picnic lunch in one of the many pavilions.

Top Review: “Not a thing would I change! Take your family and watch the sun set! This place was beautiful we stayed on the dunes side, we took our chairs and we enjoyed people watching and the views as the sun disappeared. This was really a lovely way to end our last day of vacation. We parked across the street and had no issues.  I would definitely recommend.”Lurine J.

Outer Banks Horseback

If you’re looking for a bit of adventure during your stay on Roanoke Island, why not try horseback riding with Outer Banks Horseback?

There are several stables located near the island that offer guided tours through the beautiful Outer Banks landscape.

Top Review:

Bodie island Lighthouse Rd & NC-12 Nags Head, NC 27959, (252) 573-8044

OBX Winery

If you’re looking for a fun night out, be sure to visit the OBX Winery. You can sample some of their award winning wines and even enjoy live music on certain nights!

Top Review: “John was amazing! We ended up coming the day after his birthday (happy birthday again john) and he not only had the best stories, but an ample amount of information on all of the wine. He made our experience so pleasurable, and we are grateful for that. Unfortunately, our experience with Lorraine wasn’t as nice. She refused to help us while John was struggling with our large party and the other customers at the store. Regardless, John made our experience so pleasurable that I will still give 5 stars and be back next year. Cheers!”Callie L.

2606 N Croatan Hwy Ste B Kill Devil Hills, NC 27948, (252) 715-3744


1587 Restaurant

Located in the Tranquil House Inn, the 1587 Restaurant offers fine dining with a view! The menu features dishes made from fresh ingredients grown right here on site.

It is also home to North Carolina’s very first green certified kitchen!

Top Review: “Amazing food and peaceful atmosphere near the water. Service outstanding. Great drinks! Will definitely be back for a date night.”Gregory R.

Poor Richard’s Sandwich Shop

Poor Richard's Sandwich Shop, best places to eat, Roanoke Island NC
Now this is a Ruben! Photo: Grogory T.

Looking for a great place to grab lunch? This is it! You’ll find delicious sandwiches, wraps and salads-all made with fresh ingredients.

In addition, be sure to try their famous Poor Richard’s cheesecake or one of many decadent desserts from the bakery case.

Nags Head Pizza Company

Every pie comes with a custom inspirational quote! Photo: Deane L.

If you’re a pizza lover, you’ll definitely want to check out Nags Head Pizza! They make some of the best pizza on the Outer Banks. In addition to pizzas, they also have a variety of pasta dishes and salads.

Hotels and Accomodations

The Roanoke Island Inn

This historic inn is located right in the heart of Manteo and offers beautiful rooms with water views. It’s also home to a restaurant and lounge, as well as an outdoor pool.

Check current pricing here.

White Doe Inn

The White Doe Inn is a super charming bed and breakfast located just a few minutes from the Wright Brothers National Memorial. The inn offers beautiful rooms and suites, furnished with luxurious amenities such as Sitronu Rose Lavender Natural Plant-based Bath Products, bath robes and elegant bath linens. When you need to be pampered, this is a great choice.

Check current pricing here.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Roanoke Island worth visiting?

Absolutely! Roanoke Island is a beautiful place with a lot to offer. Whether you’re looking for history, nature, or just a place to relax, you’ll find it here.

What Roanoke Island Known for?

Roanoke Island is a small island off the coast of North Carolina. It is known for its history and for its beautiful beaches. The island was the site of the first English settlement in North America, and it is also the site of Fort Raleigh, the first English fort in North America. Today, Roanoke Island is a popular tourist destination, and it is known for its large number of historical sites and for its natural beauty. Visitors to the island can explore the many historical sites, visit the beaches, or take part in the many activities that are available on the island. There are also many restaurants and shops on the island, making it a great place to visit for a day or a weekend.

Does Roanoke Island have beaches?

Yes, Roanoke Island has several beautiful beaches. The island is also home to Jockey’s Ridge State Park, which is a great place to hike, bike, or just enjoy the views. If you’re looking for a bit of adventure, you can also try horseback riding or visit the OBX Winery. There are many hotels and inns on the island, so you can easily find a place to stay.

What happened at Roanoke Island?

In 1585, a group of English settlers arrived at Roanoke Island. The colony was led by Sir Walter Raleigh. The settlers built a fort and houses, but they were unable to find enough food to sustain themselves. In 1587, another group of settlers arrived, led by John White. This group included White’s daughter, Eleanor Dare, and her husband, Ananias Dare. The colony prospered for a time, but in 1590, the settlers mysteriously disappeared. Today, Roanoke Island is known as the “Lost Colony” because no one knows what happened to the settlers. Some believe that they were killed by Native Americans, while others believe that they simply abandoned the colony and returned to England. Whatever happened, the Roanoke Island Lost Colony is one of the most mysterious events in American history.

Can you visit Roanoke Island Lost Colony?

The Roanoke Island Lost Colony is a historical site that includes the remains of the original settlement. The site is open to the public and offers tours, as well as a museum. Visitors can also explore the nearby Fort Raleigh National Historic Site, which was the first English fort in North America.

How far is Roanoke Island from Croatoan Island?

Roanoke Island is located just off the coast of North Carolina, while Croatoan Island is located further offshore. However, both islands are part of the Outer Banks and can be reached by ferry. The ferry ride from Roanoke Island to Croatoan Island takes about two hours.

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