When you’re visiting the Outer Banks, and need a break from the beaches and crowds, visit Roanoke Island Festival Park and enjoy a fun family day at the interactive 25-acre attraction. Adults will eat up the history, and kids will love that they can touch and try everything. It’s a totally hands on learning environment!
What I really appreciate about Roanoke Island Festival Park is that they replicate 16th-century Roanoke Island from both the perspective of the English settlers and from that of the American Indians.
The park is self-guided, but there are costumed interpreters throughout who are full of historical tidbits and information, so stop and see them! They do a fantastic job of bringing to life the relationship between the settlers and the Algonquins. I particularly enjoyed hearing stories about how they communicated and traded.
American Indian Town
This newest section of the park lets visitors walk through, touch and explore a 16th century Algonquin village. Inside the leader’s house (equivalent to today’s mayor), you can see how various hides, tools and supplies were used, and in the longhouse, visitors are encouraged to help complete the construction by using cordage to attach the mats that cover the frame.
The dance circle was used for special celebrations and festivals. The words used for dance and stop dancing were “whip” and “nae nae”. I wonder if it inspired the popular dance tune??
In the work shelter, get hands on and discover early pottery, fishing techniques, food preparation, how to make cordage, weave mats and more.
There’s also an area where visitors can practice scraping the burned out hollows of early canoes.
This area of the park is designed to show what daily life was like for the settlers. Visitors can try their hand at woodworking skills, watch a blacksmith at work, play Elizabethan games like Skittles, try on armor or watch a blacksmith at work.
I spent some time in the pillory where public scorn was meant to teach a lesson. Villagers might slap, spit, throw rotten cabbage and dead cats, or dump their empty chamber pots on the offender. Thankfully nobody did that to me.
Climb aboard the Elizabeth II, a full-scale working replica of a small merchant vessel, designed after one of the 7 vessels that sailed in the Roanoke Voyage of 1585.
Visitors are free to explore the entire ship, and there are interpretive, costumed sailors on board who can answer most any question about the ship itself or the historic Roanoke voyages.
Roanoke Adventure Museum
Explore 400 years of Outer Banks history at your own pace. Whether you’re learning about the indigenous people, the settlers, pirates or the ‘lost colony’, there’s a lot to see, touch and do within the museum.
Legend of Two-Path
We didn’t have time to view this short movie while at Roanoke Island Festival Park, but I’m anxious to go back and see it. It’s about two famous American Indians, Manteo and Wanchese, and using actual recorded European records, the movie was created to illustrate and dramatize the meeting, dialogue and relationship between the American Indians and Europeans.
Just starting to plan your Outer Banks getaway? Make a visit to OuterBanks.org for more information.
Comments & Reviews
Robin Rue (@massholemommy) says
That reminds me a lot of Plimouth Plantation that we have here. It’s a loving history museum, but the actors who play Pilgrims WILL NOT come out of character. I’ve tried and they won’t do it.
Alissa Apel says
The Dance Circle is pretty interesting. It looks like they have a lot of cool things to look at though!
Heather Johnson says
Roanoke Island Festival Park sounds like a perfect vacation idea for my family. We love historical places with lots of interaction.
Amanda Love says
Now this is something that I’d enjoy. My kids might not be into this however but sometimes you need something just for the adults. 🙂
I’m with you. A little something for everyone. I like the long house the best.
This sounds like so much fun! I’ve never even heard of it before. I bookmarked do I can show my husband. I think we NEED to go this summer.
Robin Rue (@massholemommy) says
I would love to head there this summer, too! It sounds like such a cool place to visit.
What a neat park! At first when I saw the word festival I thought it was a one time thing and only on specific dates, then realized it is park and open on a regular basis which made me super excited to visit the area.
Dannii @ Hungry Healthy Happy says
It looks like a fun day out and it certainly looks like you had great weather for it!
Lisa Brown says
It looks interesting to visit. I would love to explore the ship. I think it would be very educational.
[email protected] says
That sounds like a great way to spend the day – educational and fun too!
Maureen @ A Debt Free Mess Free Life says
Liz, All the great pictures you take make you feel as if you’ve seen all the great parts of this park. It sure looks very educational for the kids too.
Stacie @ Divine Lifestyle says
Festival Park sounds like so much fun! I’ve always loved historical venues like this. They really make you feel like you’re witnessing history.
Lindsey @ Redhead Baby Mama says
I helped BUILD a longhouse when I was a girl scout in New Jersey. It was amazing to watch it come together. We even made our own ladders.
Natasha Mairs says
I would love to go somewhere like this, looks so interesting. The kids would love the pirate ship
My son would also love to see a pirate ship! This is so great for all ages.
This looks so cool! It’s been years since I visited the Outer Banks. I may have still been in college. I need to make the trip again!
Heather D. (@GirlGoneMom) says
I love visiting places with history. Love that this is a kid friendly place!
I really enjoyed Roanoke Island Festival Park! It was really nice and there was a lot to see!
Michelle Gwynn Jones says
The long house is very interesting. I am going to check this out next time I am on the outer banks.
Karen Glatt says
I would love to see the Roanoke Island Festival and with the interactive 25-acre attraction! What a lot of neat sites to see and my niece and nephew would love to go there!
This looks like such a great place to visit, I really like interactive exhibitions! xxx
Stephanie H. says
My family and I would enjoy exploring this park. It looks like a lot of fun for all ages!
Catherine S says
This looks like a fun afternoon. It would be neat to see the blacksmith and explore the ship.
It was definitely a neat experience! I have never got to do anything like exploring the ship before.
Rhian Westbury says
This looks like a great day out, need to keep my eyes open for something similar in the UK x
Paula Schuck says
My kids would have such a blast there. I think they’d love the ship the most. They’re obsessed with sips.
maria @closeothome says
Looks like you have had some fun in VA these past couple of days. I have never been to roanoke and we live in Richmond.
I would love to take the family to Roanoke Island Festival Park. It looks like a lot of fun, and it would be a great learning experience for them, as well.
We enjoy visiting fun historical places that reenact from the old days. This looks like tons of fun.
Kristen from The Road to Domestication says
This looks like an amazing place! Just the kind of historical location that we love to visit when we travel!
Emma White says
oh wow this looks like a totally amazing place to visit
Kathy Kenny Ngo says
It looks like something someone may enjoy but for me, it looks really complicated. I have never been a fan of ropes and the like.
This looks like a place that would definitely keep my two kids interested! They’d love to explore a ship like that.
That looks like a really neat park to take the kiddos to for a homeschool field trip! I am sure the hubby and I would enjoy it also! If only I lived closer……
Becky @ Disney in your Day says
This looks really neat! I’ve always wanted to visit Roanoke.
What an interesting place to visit. I hope I can visit the Roanoke island someday.
Jessica McDonnell says
This looks like a lovely place, it sounds like you had a wonderful time.
Gloria @ Homemade & Yummy says
That looks like it would be a fun filled day for everyone.
Hannah Wood says
What a good place looks very good and lots to do sure does seem a good place to go.
Ana De- Jesus says
What a great day out this is! I love that it allows you learn about the history of the early canoes and is an interactive experience too!
Cassandra Mayers says
Wow this place looks great and the ship is so cool!
this place is right up my alley! i would love to visit here and learn and have fun! i would definitely have to put myself in the stocks for a picture
Angela Toslma says
oh this place sounds fun! I love that it’s hands on!
I haven’t been to Roanoke island since I was a kid but this bring back so many memories! It’s such a great place to take the family and learn about history in an interactive way.
Helen at Casa Costello says
Looks like there is loads to do here. Don’t much fancy rotten cabbages being thrown at me though!
This would be a great educational and fun place to take the whole family. I like how there are so many interactive activities to do.
Nicole Escat says
It looks so fun there, a lot of fun activities. I’m sure I would love this place.
Mama to 5 BLessings says
I would love to take my kids there. What a great place to learn and have fun!
Fashion and Style Police says
Lovely pictures. I bet you had a great time.
I love the dance circle, would love one in my yard! 🙂
Jessica Harlow says
This is such a great local history resource! I love the Dance Circle and that you can climb aboard the Elizabeth II! That’s such a great way to engage in our history!
Lois Alter Mark says
This looks like a great place to spend the day. I love when you can get a hands-on feel for history.
Ora Lee Gurr says
I am really enjoying the tales of your adventures. I never expected a pic of you in the pillory. It’s great you got away with just a bit of public embarrassment instead of chamber pots and dead cats.
My oldest would spend days here! She’s such a history buff, and Native American History is her absolute favorite. Definitely putting this on the “must visit” list.
A tour of that ship would be an adventure in and of itself! I would love to take my boys on it.
Debbie Denny says
Goodness. I have not seen these. This would make an awesome day and adventure.
Neely (@Neelykins) says
This looks like a super fun place! Glad you had a great time
How fun !! This looks awesome I would live to visit !
Heather Pfingsten says
Oh my gosh, your pictures are dynamite! I’m a huge history buff … as is my husband … and this would be right up our alley. The added bonus that my daughter can have a hands on experience here, ask a million questions, and pick up knowledge is a definite bonus.
Claudia Krusch says
Looks like a great place! So much fun! I would to visit it!
Amy Jones says
Yarrrr i always like pirate stories, maybe i can go and visit roanoke island someday!!
My kids are studying this time period right now, so we’d love to go visit!
Janice Cooper says
This sounds and looks like a fun place to visit!
Amanda O. says
The American Indian Town and Settlement look like a lot of fun. I always learn so much at those historic reenactments.
I would love to visit Roanoke Island Festival Park. It looks like there is so much to see and learn and I love anything to do with history. Thank you for sharing.
Holly Thomas says
Thanks for sharing I have always wanted to go to Roanoke Island.
Colette S says
I love slowing down and a self – guided park is just right for me.
Sounds like a place I’d love to visit with our family.
Elizabeth O. says
That’s quite an adventure. I have always been amazed at how advance settlers are and they really are awesome when it comes to adapting, a trait I have yet to master. Lol. That’s a tour I’d like to experience, hopefully, soon!
Oh wow.. looks amazing! I want to visit Roanoke Island!
Me too! I see a lot of activities there that my family will enjoy.
Doran @ Haute Beauty Guide says
I would love to visit that merchant vessel! I have never heard of Raoanoke Island… thanks for sharing it.
Gosh this sounds like a fantastic place! I’d love to visit one day.
Tara | C&CO. says
This looks so fun! I wish we had more of these kind of places near me
It looks so fantastic all around. With loads of fun.
This is definitely the type of place I love to visit. I would love to get hands on and help put up the longhouse (or cover it actually) and to learn to scrape out a canoe sounds like hard work but enjoyable. I think I will leave the pillory to others!
Joyce Brewer (@MommyTalkShow) says
I’d love to take our son here. He’s 6 and always asking about what life was like hundreds of years ago.
Wow, this place looks amazing. I love seeing how other cultures lived before us. My grandkids would really enjoy visiting. Thanks for the info!
Amber Starr @ Love, Laugh, Live Well says
How fun! I love visiting parks like this! I can’t wait until my kids are old enough to really appreciate going to parks and museums.
Don’t know this part of NC. We love visiting places that have a lot of history. We’ll put this place on our bucket list.
Looks like such a fun time! North Carolina has such cool things to do 🙂
laura londergan says
I love going to different cities to learn about them and this looks like a good time. Although we have never been to NC, I hope to one day
Ann Bacciaglia says
This looks like a fantastic place to spend the day. My kids would love it.
Miss Happyfeet says
Such a great day out! I am sure the kids would love to see this! THanks for sharing.
Dawn Nieves says
This is fantastic! I’m hoping to visit the Outer Banks soon (it’s on my bucket list) and would love to check this out.
Wow, the pictures make it look like sure a fun place. I love to explore so I would definitely visit
This looks like an adventure the entire family would enjoy. What I love best is how affordable it is! A family of four can spend like $35 and have two days worth of fun!
Mardene Carr says
This looks so amazing, makes me want to get up and go right now. The pics are fantastic
Alexandra Elizabeth (@MsAlexandraV) says
Our family loves being active and spending time outside and this looks like a fun family activity!
leslie rossi says
i’m so glad we are living in the world today. what a hard life!
I love historical reenactments/attractions!!! I’m putting this on my bucket list of places to visit in the US!
Oh wow I would love to go there it looks so incredibly interesting! I’m always into going to historical sites when I travel!
Janeane Davis says
Visiting places like this is a great thing because it allows you to appreciate the hard work that went into creating everything. It give you an appreciation for both the way things were done a long time ago and how they are done today as well.
Up Run For Life says
I haven’t heard of Roanoke Island. I lived in Southern North Carolina for a few years and often didn’t know what’s going on up north.
Angie Scheie says
This looks like so much fun! The best way to learn about history, for me, are things like this that are really hands-on and visual. It looked like a beautiful day too!
Seattle Travel Blogger says
This is a great pictorial trip description.
I think we would like this place very much.
Lisa Rios says
Sounds like a wonderful place to visit with kids & I love how unique it is from the other parks. My kids would be so excited to watch out that ship & that beautiful museum as well. Thanks for those great pictures.
This is a great place to brought my kids, I love taking a lot of picture there
That’s interesting that whip and nae nae arent’ song originals. Who knew? 🙂
You’ve got great pics here!
Bonnie @wemake7 says
I think my family would enjoy visiting that place. Different to what we are used to and would be a great experience.
Claudia Krusch says
Love the pictures! Sounds like it was a great trip!
Chelsea L. says
This is fun to go especially this spring, this place is similar to the one closer to us. The Cherokee Indian reservation TN and NC border. I love going to places with nice scenery, and to learn the old history.
Tanya Brannan says
What an absolutely fabulous place! I love learning about history, and to see it “live” makes it far more interesting
That place looks like tons of fun!!Looks like you had a blast,Thank you for the fun share!
Jojo Vito says
it appeared that this is a nice place to visit. You seemed to have a blast! 🙂
I was only to Roanoke Island once and I loved it. This festival park looks like so much fun. I would love to go back again and visit
Zoë IKIWN says
What a wonderful place to go for a day out, I love historical places like this where you learn something from the day. Great pictures too! x
Looks like a great day out! Some lovely pictures, lots of different things gong on by the looks of it
Ana Fernandez says
This looks amazing! what a great place to go and create some food memories!
We love finding place that both our kids and us would enjoy and this sounds perfect! The interactive aspect is definitely a win! Adding to our family bucket list!
What a wonderful place to visit. Beautiful pics, Liz!
Becca Wilson says
I lived on the Outer Banks and in Manteo for some time (7-8 years!) We loved Festival Park. Beautiful and you learned so much. The events that they also held were always engaging and family friendly.
This looks like a really cool vacation. I can see my son losing his marbles!
Looks like a really cool vacation. I can see my son losing his mind.
A great trip, looks like you had a good time. I love exploring fun places like this
Great review. Looks very interactive and engagement!
Tonia @TheChattyMomma says
This looks like a lot of fun. I haven’t been to Roanoke in a while. I love a nice festival and some good food.
Tracy @ Ascending Butterfly says
I have never visited Roanoke before, looks like you had fun!