Manteo is the primary town on Roanoke Island, nestled inside North Carolina’s Outer Banks. You may know about its history — Sir Walter Raleigh was granted a charter to settle the area by Queen Elizabeth I in 1584. Several groups of colonists tried to make it through the hardships, but when a supply ship returned after leaving the settlers for three years, it found no one alive on the island. Virginia Dare, the first child born to English colonists in the New World, had also disappeared.
Today, that story is told in a seasonal outdoor drama called The Lost Colony (Great American Things, June 7, 2010). But that’s just one of the incredibly charming things about the little town of Manteo. I’ve done two posts on this site about the best small towns in America, and I won’t claim that Manteo is better than many other similar towns. I’m sure there are others with a restored lighthouse, Elizabethan garden, and a reproduction of a 16th century ship. But few have the Atlantic Ocean within walking distance, I’m fairly certain of that.
Naturally, Manteo is most alive in the summer, when tourists come to the famous beaches of Nags Head, Kitty Hawk, and Hatteras Island. But it’s probably more interesting during other seasons, when Manteo Booksellers (the prototype of a charming, independent bookstore) isn’t crowded, and you can get a specialty coffee across the street at the Coffeehouse on Roanoke Island. If everything breaks our way, it’s where I’d love to retire. It’s a beautiful, quiet, very special place.
- Roanoke Island, North Carolina (journeyamerica.wordpress.com)