North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island
North Carolina Aquariums have three campuses; Roanoke Island, Pine Knoll Shores, and Fort Fisher. The Roanoke Island museum features indoor exhibits and a large outdoor nature trail. The museum hosts the Sea Turtle Assistance and Rehabilitation Center, with each rescued turtle’s information displayed. In the next space, children learn about sea turtle conservation through a series of interactive exhibits.
Island View Farm
We loved Island Farm on Roanoke so much that we became members. The site of the Etheridge Family Farm has been recreated as an 1860 working farm. Exhibits show how the family lived and grew their crops. Recreated living quarters and interpretation recount the lives of the enslaved people that lived on the farm. Inside the visitor center, static displays also tell the story of Richard Etheridge, who was born into slavery on the property and later commanded the Pea Island Life Saving Station, the first to be crewed by black men.
Downtown in Manteo
Downtown Manteo is filled with shops, restaurants and galleries. Our perfect afternoon is checking out local art at the Dare County Arts Studio followed by lunch at Lost Colony Brewing & Cafe.
From downtown Manteo, its easy to take in more history of Roanoke Island. If you read a short history of Manteo, you will recognize many of the surnames on the graves found in the town’s historic cemetery. Just a short walk over the bridge takes you to the Roanoke Island Festival Park. The Museum has indoor exhibits as well as the Elizabeth II, a recreation of a 16th Century English shipping vessel. There are a few hotels and B&Bs on the island, but we found better luck on AirBNB with a small house within a short walk from downtown.
Fort Raleigh National Historic Site Museum
Fort Raleigh National Historic Site in Manteo is the archeological site of the “Lost Colony” of English men and women in the late 16th century. The museum tells the story of the purpose of the expedition, and about the early encounters with the Algonquin people who lived on the land where the colonists built their settlement. Finally, studying artifacts recovered at the site and reading the documented history, guests are asked which theory for the disappearance of the colonists is the most realistic.
The Outer Banks of North Carolina was one of the first areas in the South to come under control of Northern troops, and Roanoke Island was settled by people who were formerly enslaved. In front of the visitor center is a marker that commemorates the island as a “Freedmen’s Colony.”
Elizabethan Gardens in Manteo
The Elizabethan Gardens in Manteo were created in 1951 adjacent to the site of Fort Raleigh. The Garden is easy to see in just an hour or two, with both traditional European-style gardens and sections of forest with native plants. The Butterfly House was open and filled with mostly tropical plants, but I didn’t see any residents. Discovery Cottage children’s garden has a koi pond, fossil dig, and playhouses.
Let me help plan your trip to The Outer Banks (OBX), North Carolina
Determine Your OBX Style
Do you like driving on the beach and fishing, shopping for quirky art, or kayaking and beach sports? Each section of OXB has a distinct feel.
Ocracoke offers independent shops and restaurants, a day trip to Portsmouth Island, beach driving, and more.
House, Hotel, Camping, or B&B?
OBX has many options, from camping under the starts to renting an oceanfront mansion.
Plan Your Excursions In OBX
Visit the North Carolina Aquarium, visit the Elizabethan Gardens, take a day trip to Ocracoke, visit all the lighthouses, and learn about shipwrecks at the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum. OBX is more than just a beach destination
OBX offers tons of ways to play by both land and sea. Go on a fishing charter, kayak through the marsh, birdwatch, ride horses on the beach, and take surf lessons! Play mini-golf or climb Jockey’s Ridge to take in sunset.