The island’s soul belongs to the town of Manteo, a place where the word neighborly is synonymous with the sharing of conversation. It’s a place where white picket fences wear vintage roses and all streets lead to the gentle waters of Roanoke Sound. It’s a place for walking and biking. A place where you can slip onto a bench and listen as the water methodically laps the shore.
Home of “The Lost Colony,” an outdoor drama recounting the 400-year-old mystery surrounding the Roanoke Island colony, and the Elizabethan Gardens, a lush paradise of flowering plants and shrubs, Roanoke Island is only minutes away from Nags Head in the Outer Banks. Historic downtown Manteo rests in the center of the island, skimming the waterfront of Shallowbug Bay and the Roanoke Sound.
Queen Elizabeth Avenue, where sailboats, schooners and shad boats anchor, runs parallel to the waterfront and the wharf. The waterfront is the island’s largest shopping district, filled with unique gift boutiques, antique shops and restaurants. The Coffehouse is a local favorite that cranks out espressos, smoothies, milkshakes and coffees ’round the clock. The décor lends itself to conversation — plump, upholstered, Queen Anne chairs and sofas nudge up to windows and walls. Another local haunt: Manteo Booksellers, where a mellow, white feline named Stunt Cat lounges in the sun, meowing at visitors as they walk by. The small but well-stocked store hints at bygone days. Antique chairs and sofas inhabit every available nook, beckoning readers to sit for a spell.
On the corner of Queen Elizabeth and Sir Walter Raleigh streets is the Full Moon Café, which offers both indoor and alfresco dining.