Roanoke Island

One of three islands of Outer Banks, Roanoke Island is the setting of one of history's great mysteries. In 1587 Sir Walter Raleigh and a band of English explorers settled in America for the first time. Virginia Dare was the first child born to English parents in the New World. However, Dare and company became the Lost Colony—fate unknown—after three years.

Today, the island is part of Dare County and a bridge from the mainland is named in her honor. This eight-mile island feels a bit off the beaten path, but that doesn't mean there aren't many things to do on Roanoke Island. In the intervening centuries since Raleigh and company arrived, the island has grown into a place well suited for vacations. Manteo and its nearby communities are home to a host of Roanoke Island attractions, beach rentals, outdoor recreation, restaurants, arts organizations, and so much more.

On the waterfront in Manteo, Roanoke Island Festival Park is where you'll find many of the things to do on Roanoke Island. Visitors can wander through a replica of the sixteenth-century ship that brought the first colonists to the New World. Costumed interpreters aboard the Elizabeth II answer questions and lead tours. In addition, the park is home to an interactive museum, an art gallery, and performances.

The story of those doomed colonists comes to life with one of the most popular of all of the Roanoke Island attractions, The Lost Colony. This outdoor drama, an island tradition since 1937, tells this amazing story. Playing nightly between May and August, The Lost Colony is staged at the Waterside Theatre. The nearby Elizabethan Gardens, an oasis in the New World, are as lovely as they are interesting.

Fort Raleigh is another one of the interesting Roanoke Island attractions. This national historical site preserves the sites where the colonists arrived, including the remains of an earthen-work fort. You'll have the chance to explore the exhibits, hike through the interesting grounds, and engage in a ranger-led program where Dare and Raleigh once lived.

Like the other barriers along the North Carolina Coast, including Bald Head Island, Oak Island, Hatteras Island, and others, Roanoke offers an array of recreational activities. You could hit the beach for some swimming, surfing, shelling, and soaking up the sun. Active sorts will find exhilaration with surfing, deep-sea fishing charters, kayaking, windsurfing, and more. The island also is a popular place for boating, whether you bring your own or embark on a sightseeing cruise.

The North Carolina Aquarium also is one of the interesting things to do on Roanoke Island. You'll get a chance to peek under the waters of the Outer Banks and see what's swimming. The Roanoke Island locale is one of three North Carolina aquariums, along with Fort Fisher in Kure Beach and Pine Knoll Shores.

Like any good barrier island primed for tourism, Roanoke offers its share of visitor amenities including shops and galleries, restaurants, and overnight accommodations. The list of options includes North Carolina hotels, bed-and-breakfast inns, condo rentals, RV campgrounds, and motels. No matter which one suits your budget, you'll find the perfect place to relax after a day of fun and sun on the Outer Banks.

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