Historical Adventures in Manteo and Kill Devil Hills – Excursions on the Outer Banks: Day Two and Three

Waking up after the hectic first day of vacation was luxurious; my mom and I were well rested after a comfortable stay at the inn and Roanoke Island was calling our names. Our second day was meant to be A LOT more relaxing than the day before. We wanted to explore some of the most popular attractions in Manteo and on Roanoke Island.

(Click on the following day to read more of my “Excursions on the Outer Banks” series. Blog post: Day One)

If you look on TripAdvisor at Manteo, the first six items on the top 10 list of things to do sum up what we explored during our second day of vacation. The following destinations and attractions all have the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence:

  • The Lost Colony
  • North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island
  • Elizabethan Gardens
  • Roanoke Island Festival Park
  •  Fort Raleigh National Historic Site
  • Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse

Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse

This lighthouse is small, but gives you a taste of what lighthouses are like on the Outer Banks. It honestly makes you want to get out and explore all of the North Carolina lighthouses. We enjoyed the Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse because it was in walking and viewing distance from the inn; plus, it’s free to visit!


View from afar of the Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse

The Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse is called a screw-pile lighthouse. According to the United States Lighthouse Society, a screw-pile lighthouse was built on poles that were “screwed” into the sea floor. They often supported a small wooden building with a tower and light on top.


Roanoke Island Festival Park

After grabbing lunch at Poor Richard’s sandwich shop, we walked on the boardwalk and headed over to the Roanoke Island Festival Park. You cross the sound and the park is on its own small island. While at the Festival Park, we saw a replica of the old-time ship Elizabeth II, a settlement site and a small museum. Visiting this attraction won’t take a long time, but it’s worth it to experience some of the history that took place in the area.

 It does cost to visit the Roanoke Island Festival Park. There is a $10 fee for adults; prices will differ for children and seniors. The settlement site was really neat! You got a glimpse of what life would’ve been like for new settlers coming across the ocean from England, trying to build a new life for themselves in America. The museum is small which allows you to take your time and soak in the history.

The biggest highlight of visiting the Festival Park had to be the replica of Elizabeth II. There were sailors on board that knew a wealth of knowledge concerning the history of the ship. Visitors can explore the inside of the ship and imagine what life was like taking the Elizabeth II across the Atlantic Ocean.


The replica of Elizabeth II


Elizabethan Gardens

Once we finished up at the Festival Park, we walked through downtown Manteo and window-shopped before heading to our next destination. Downtown Manteo is charming and quaint, it has a sleepy-like quality that pulls you in and makes you feel like you could spend hours lost in the stores. It doesn’t hurt that downtown Manteo is only one block from the waterfront, too.

So, from there we drove to the Elizabethan Gardens. We spent a good hour at the gardens, perusing through the endless rows of beautiful flowers and plants. The gardens are impeccable when they are in full bloom. It was a great place to stop and literally “smell the flowers.” We got a little caught up in the beauty and took several pictures of the plant life.

The Elizabethan Gardens do charge an admission fee, but if you enjoy beautiful scenery and flowers, it is absolutely worth a visit! The gardens captivate visitors, transporting them to the Elizabethan period of history when colonists were making their way over from England to America.

North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island

Our next stop was a relatively quick one. We stopped by the North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island. There are several activities and programs for people who want to prolong their visit to the aquarium.


Outside of the North Carolina Aquarium

My mom and I were only wanting to take a brief walk through and see all of the precious animals and amphibians! We saw fish, sharks, sleeping otters, turtles, alligators and MUCH more! Visitors have the opportunity to touch a stingray.

Even though our time didn’t last too long at the aquarium, it was clear to us that the workers took pride in their job. It was an incredibly impressive aquarium!

Fort Raleigh National Historic Site

After spending the rest of the afternoon relaxing at the inn, riding bikes and enjoying the amazing, cool weather, we ate at a southwestern style Mexican restaurant called Ortegz. The restaurant has an outside patio, perfect for enjoying the food and nice weather.


The grounds of the Roanoke Island Inn


Later in the evening, we got ready and headed to the Fort Raleigh National Historic Site. This is where some of the known settlements were located so there is an immense amount of history. There isn’t an entrance fee to the historic site so it makes it even sweeter!

We didn’t look that much through the sites and museum at this area; our main reason for coming was to attend The Lost Colony play held at the historical site. The play had great reviews and feedback, so we were really anticipating learning some of the history through that type of entertainment.


Employees in period costumes at the historic site

The Lost Colony

The Lost Colony play is performed at an outdoor theater located next to the sound. The environment is one of the best that I’ve experienced while watching a play! The play starts at 7:30 p.m. so it is usually on its way to getting dark by that time. Bring a jacket or hoodie to keep yourself cozy during the play!


The stage for The Lost Colony play

The cost to attend is pretty pricey, but well worth it to enjoy the historical story of the settlers and what they went through including their mystery disappearance.

Below is a description of what the play is about and how it got its name– “The Lost Colony” (Source: TheLostColony.org):

“In July of 1587, 117 English men, women, and children came ashore on Roanoke Island with a commission from Elizabeth I to establish a permanent English settlement in the New World. Just three years later in 1590, when English ships returned to bring supplies to the settlement, they found the island deserted with no sign of the colonists except the single word, “CROATOAN,” carved into the surface of an abandoned structure and the letters, “CRO,” scratched into the bark of a tree. After nearly 450 years, the mystery of what happened to the colonists remains unsolved.”

The play was entertaining with the actors moving in and out of the stage along the stairways where the audience was seated. The story was interesting and gave me a glimpse of the mysterious Lost Colony settlers. To this day, I still wonder what could’ve happened to them.

Our second day on the Outer Banks was full of interesting history and fun attractions. Time seems to move slower on the Outer Banks and the people are welcoming and are more than happy to share their little slice of heaven with visitors.

With the arrival of our third day in paradise, we left the comfort of our inn and made our way to Kill Devil Hills to visit the Wright Brothers National Memorial. What a neat place! Wilbur and Orville Wright were inspired by their love of planes and flying. They yearned to be able to successfully fly and that they did!


The view of the ocean from the national memorial


The Wright Brothers National Memorial

While visiting the national memorial, we took pictures at the memorial, explored the museum to read the history and then went out to an area where there was a replica airplane and life-size statues. We had a blast taking pictures with the place and statues… we could have fun at any place!


The spot where the first successful flight was made. 


Inside the museum


Replica airplane…lots of photo opportunities! 

The entrance fee to visit the Wright Brothers National Memorial was relatively cheap at $7 per adult and children being able to enter for free…you just can’t beat free.

Around lunchtime, we stopped at a restaurant called Mulligans. They have an outside deck on their second floor where we enjoyed the warm sunshine and delicious burgers and fries. The view of the ocean from the deck was beautiful!

From there, we made our way to the beachfront hotel we were staying at for the night. Our room was spacious with two bedrooms and a balcony with an ocean view. We didn’t last long before we got our swimsuits on and made our way down to the beach.


Playing around in the crashing waves and sunbathing while reading our books was so relaxing. The water temperature was cool but not cold…just right. I’ll recommend July as an ideal time to visit the Outer Banks!

For dinner we ate at a place called Sam & Omies, a seafood restaurant that is well-known for their wonderful cooking. My mom enjoyed the fresh fish of the night which was tile fish and I had flounder. I also enjoyed a cup of clam chowder which was out of this world!

After dinner, we went back to the beach to enjoy the view some more and then drove to an ice cream shop to get some dessert. It was another successful day on the Outer Banks with beautiful weather, great good and endless attractions. We didn’t ever want to leave!

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