How to Spend a Day on Roanoke Island

Looking for the perfect day trip during your Outer Banks vacation? Spend a day on Roanoke Island for the ultimate OBX experience. It’s easy to fill up a whole day on Roanoke Island because there are so many options for activities in the area. Roanoke Island has something for everyone, whether you’re interested in wildlife, science, history, and more!

For more things to do on the barrier islands, make sure you get your copy of our free OBX Vacation Guide! Our guide makes your trip-planning easier with recommendations for amazing local restaurants, shopping, entertainment, and outdoor recreation! Get your guide and start planning!


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Spend a Day on Roanoke Island

Take a short drive over the oldest Outer Banks Bridge, the William B. Umstead Bridge to Roanoke Island, for a day full of adventures and thrill! The great thing about the island is that it’s home to downtown Manteo and is just across Roanoke Sound to Nags Head. You’re sure to find plenty of things to do in the area. Below, you’ll find our favorite activities for the ultimate day trip!

The Lost Colony

History Buffs need to see The Lost Colony. This popular attraction lets you see how 117 colonists established the first of English settlements in the New World and mysteriously disappeared a couple of years later.

Watch history come to life and experience an incredible theatrical performance reenacting the historic events. A fun fact to know is that the show takes place on the exact grounds where the English explorers lived!

You also have the option of taking a backstage tour at the Waterside Theatre. Learn some fun facts while you scope out the costume shop, visit the armory, and see how the actors prepare for the show!

If you’ve ever wanted to experience a tea party, now is your chance! The Lost Colony puts on a Royal Tea Ceremony where you can enjoy tea and desserts while taking photos with a Queen Elizabeth I character.

Elizabethan Gardens

For another dose of history, as well as some natural beauty, visit the Elizabethan Gardens. Explore a diverse array of flowers that once entertained Queen Elizabeth I! Learn the history of the gardens and see how Sir Walter Raleigh’s lost colonists lived more than 400 years ago.

While you’re at the Elizabethan Gardens, make sure to explore the North Carolina Birding Trail. The gardens are one of several birding locations on the Outer Banks. Some of the birds you might come across include the Great Crested Flycatcher, Magnolia Warbler, Black-Throated Warbler, Brown-Headed Nuthatch, Baltimore Oriole, and Wintering Waterfowl. 

Roanoke Island Festival Park

Discover Roanoke Island Festival Park, a 25-acre historic site that gives you an interactive experience while seeing what the English Settlers went through in the 1500s. Tour guides in costumes will show you around the settlement site and the Elizabeth II ship. Depending on the time of year that you visit, you can also see concerts and other events at the indoor theatre or outdoor waterfront pavilion!

North Carolina Aquarium

The marine biologist of your crew is sure to love a trip to the North Carolina Aquarium. Explore the depths of the sea through different exhibits throughout the aquarium. You can take a behind-the-scenes tour or take your explorations outside with an outdoor excursion. These include fishing lessons on a pier, standup paddleboarding, kayaking, and crabbing!

vacation rental on outer banksThe Best Vacation Awaits With Paramount Destinations

After a day trip to Roanoke Island, you’ll want to unwind in the best Outer Banks accommodations. Reserve a vacation rental with Paramount Destinations for maximum relaxation during your time on the barrier islands.

Book our CheckMate vacation home in Southern Shores for outstanding ocean views and luxury accommodations. This six-bedroom beach home can accommodate 13 of your closest friends and family. Plus, you can enjoy incredible amenities like a gas grill, hot tub, private pool, outdoor shower, and more. Check our availability and start planning your dream getaway on the Outer Banks of North Carolina!