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Manteo Walking Tour

 In Activities, Back In The Day, Something to Talk About

Have you ever wished you could spend just one day in Mayberry?

What if I told you that you may be able to get close on your next visit to the Outer Banks with a short jaunt over to Roanoke Island. The mostly bricked grid of Downtown Manteo, located in the middle of Roanoke Island, encompasses just 1.92 square miles. Small but mighty, the town is steeped in history dating as far back as the late 1500s and is as quaint as the day is long. As for Mayberry, Andy Griffith himself had quite the life here in Manteo…

This rich and lengthy history is why Cory Himmelright, a native of Manns Harbor, a town just a stone skip across the sound, began the Historic Manteo Candlelight Walking Tour last spring. “The town had a ghost tour already,” Himmelright remembers, “but there was so much more to the town’s story.” He knew there was a place for a telling of the tales of days gone by in

manteo walking tour rex
Rex Etheridge

downtown as well. Cory is the owner of the Bluegrass Island Trading Company, located in Manteo, where he has also installed the Buffalo City Museum to share the tales of moonshining from the 20s, but that’s a yarn for another time. Let’s just say that Cory has a thing for bygone eras would be an understatement.

But he’s just the beginning of the story. Cory having enlisted the help of two fellow history buffs to help him share the tales of centuries past. His two tour guides are longtime Manteo resident Greg Smrdel and Outer Banks native Rex Etheridge. If you know anything about the Outer Banks, you know that Etheridge is a name with deep roots.

manteo walking tour greg smrdel
Greg Smrdel

Let’s start with Greg. Originally hailing from the Cleveland area, as many of our visitors. Though his heart forever resides, as he does, in Manteo. Greg is a writer and editor of Coastal Life, stand-up comedian, trivia host, history lover, radio personality, Andy Griffith fanatic, and Manteo Walking Tour guide. As Greg weaves you through the charming streets, he shares his vast knowledge of the buildings and landmarks and their purposes throughout the centuries. He tells of rich history, and though jovial, he is always factual, fascinating, and unique. Greg’s love of all things Andy Griffith adds a whimsical and subtle pop culture spin to his tellings. You will leave believing that you did, just, in fact, visit Mayberry. What if we could just Make America Mayberry Again? Greg gives tours on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings.

manteo walking tour andy griffith

A sixth-generation native of the Outer Banks, Rex Etheridge, brings a wealth of historical knowledge and personal anecdotes about the history of Roanoke Island to life. The descendant of lighthouse keepers, a former commercial fisherman, and a retired history professor, Rex brings his passion for storytelling and his extensive knowledge of the area together for a walking tour like no other. He holds a Master’s Degree in History from UNC-Chapel Hill, has served in the Army, is a kayak instructor, and is an avid outdoorsman. Rex gives tours on Wednesday nights. Though each tour guide offers their own uniqueness to the tour, the subject matter remains the same. First, you’ll meander through the town and learn about the original homes along the coast and the families

who built them. Then, stop in the middle of Main Street to learn about the old courthouse and its new colorful existence and hop around the corner to visit the longest family-owned theater in the country. Finally, you’ll mosey along the waterfront to learn about the Manteo Light, The Elizabeth II, a replica of a 16th-century sailing ship, and the strange metal structure along the waterfront that once acted as a stationary Jim Cantore for mariners in times of bad weather. All in all, you’ll have an eclectic, informative, and entertaining adventure!

The walking tours run nightly at 6pm, Wednesday to Saturday throughout the Summer and early fall. The cost is $24 per person, and kids 12 and under are free and encouraged to join! Cory and the team have scheduled the tours early enough so you can make a night of your Roanoke Island adventure. So come to town early, beat the crowds by snagging an early meal at one

manteo walking tour old house

of downtown Manteo’s lovely dining establishments, hit the Historical Walking Tour, and still have time to catch the Lost Colony Theatre production or do a little shopping at some of the adorable locally owned shops.

Ami Hill
Author: Ami Hill

Ami Hill is the head bus driver and curator of Bus 252. Find the bus in various pop-up art shows on the Outer Banks.

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