Hertford, NC

Herford, NC is the quintessential small southern town, where the faces are friendly, the smiles are warm and the history runs deep. It’s a place where you’ll experience old-fashioned southern hospitality and a peaceful, relaxed way of life. An all-American town that is uniquely North Carolina, it is full of antiques and ancestry, heritage and history. Hertford is the 7th oldest town in the State and celebrates its small town culture in many ways throughout the year. For a laid back town, Hertford is a happening place with lots of community spirit. The spring weekend “Pig Out on the Green” event is a traditional southern “pig picking” with live music held on the lawn of the historic Courthouse. An annual Historic Homes Tour and a true Southern Garden Party give you a true southern feel. You’ll be dancing in the streets at the Indian Summer Street Festival and the holiday Grand Illumination and Parade will get you into the holiday spirit each year. Hertford is a neighborhood type of town where you’ll feel at home in no time. Beginning in the spring you can step back in time by visiting the 1730 Newbold-White House, a colonial Quaker homestead. Aside from the tours, visit during the Summer Breeze Concert Series and join them for ongoing workshops and activities. See first hand an authentic colonial workboat or visit the on-site vineyard. Nestled on the banks of the Perquimans River and the Albemarle Sound, the Hertford area boasts over 100 miles of shoreline. Experience the nature and wildlife as an active participant or a relaxing spectator. Launch your canoe or kayak and paddle the tributaries for a closer look or set out in your boat for a day of sailing, water skiing or fishing. Prefer a slower pace? Picnic under the pavilion and savor the beauty of the river, watch the waterfowl and the activity at Hertford’s “quirky little landmark,” The Turtle Log. You haven’t truly experienced Hertford until you’ve had a hand-dipped ice cream cone or fresh squeezed orangeade at the soda fountain in Woodard’s Pharmacy. If you’re a baseball fan, you may already know that Hertford is the home of major league Baseball Hall of Famer Jim “Catfish” Hunter who played for the Oakland A’s and the New York Yankees and was the first multi-million dollar baseball player. Swing by the museum that honors him in the Chamber of Commerce office in downtown Hertford.

Elizabeth City, NC

Elizabeth City has long been known as the Harbor of Hospitality and one of the Best Small Towns in America, but it has quite recently been making a name for itself as the cultural hub of eastern North Carolina. The town has not so quietly been developing and promoting its cultural resources, and has rebranded itself as a town that H.A.S It! with an abundance of History, Arts, and Science activities and events.

With an active and growing arts and performance community, you can fill your schedule with something every night of the week in Elizabeth City. The downtown waterfront is home to many local restaurants and pubs that serve delicious food, spirits, and feature live music or poetry readings. Art galleries and artist cooperatives dot the downtown area. A monthly First Friday Art Walk (held year round) will take you from art spot to art spot throughout the town. In the spring and summer, watch old black and white movies on the lawn by the river and enjoy the sounds of live local musicians at the Music on the Green events held in the summer and fall.

The regional Museum of the Albemarle not only showcases the area’s rich aviation, agricultural, and maritime history, it is often host to lectures, local theater and musical performances, and operas. Overlooking the Pasquotank River, partying on the patio is also a favorite thing to do.

You can “get your art on” at The Center, home of Arts of the Albemarle. It’s a world-class arts facility that houses an art gallery chock full of works by over 250 artists. It has a theatre that attracts local, regional, and national performers whose talents will amaze you. If you’ve always wanted to learn how to play the guitar, paint or act, you can channel your inner musician, artist or thespian, choosing from any number of performing and visual arts lessons, from painting to music to drama.

And it doesn’t stop there. Elizabeth City has a local community theatre group, a community college performing arts ensemble, and a renowned music department at the university, all performing throughout the year.

A hands-on children’s science center and a state-of-the-art planetarium round out the science aspect of the H.A.S. It! Theme.

The weekly Saturday Downtown Waterfront Market features nearly 40 artisans and crafters as well as fresh fruit and vegetable vendors from May through October.

As their slogan says, “Discover the Good Life Daily in Elizabeth City.”

Edenton, NC

It’s hard to find a town in this area of the state that isn’t surrounded by water and steeped in history. Edenton is no exception. Voted by Forbes.com as one of America’s Prettiest Towns, it’s a waterfront village with southern grace and colonial history, but it’s also a growing eco-tourism destination. In the Edenton/Chowan area you can excite your outdoorsy side with a wealth of eco-tourism activities including birding, paddling, camping, biking, boating, fishing, hiking, and wildlife. With six unique canoe and kayak paddle trails of various lengths and skill levels, it’s impossible not to find one you’ll enjoy. Some take you paddling the Edenton Bay by the beautiful downtown waterfront; others take you a little deeper into nature where you can bird and nature watch and camp if you’d like.

This area offers some of the most unique primitive adventure camping opportunities, accessible only by boat. An experience not to be forgotten, the raised camping platforms hover over the water, accommodate six to eight campers and are designed especially for kayak, canoe, or boat access. One group of platforms is located in the middle of the Chowan River near Holladay Island, first discovered in 1586 and still uninhabited. The other group is convenient to downtown Historic Edenton.

With meandering country roads and lots of architecturally divine colonial homes to see, biking is easy and fun. Designated routes of five, ten, fifteen, and twenty-five miles can be provided, or you can go out on your own. Whether for exercise or to explore, Edenton’s “Walkable Communities Guide’ will guide your trek throughout the town and county. If you want to learn a little about Edenton’s history, it’s worth it to take the guided walking tours from the visitors’ center.

If you’re more into spectator sports, during the summer, visit Historic Hicks Field and enjoy an Edenton Steamers’ baseball game or visit the Cycle Speedway and watch exciting bicycle racing every Saturday evening from May through October. You definitely won’t want to miss the carnival experience by walking the midway, riding the rides, and eating cotton candy at the Chowan County Fair.

The county is the perfect place to explore nature, history, architecture, or just enjoy the quaint shops and restaurants in downtown. It is, you know, one of America’s Prettiest Towns.

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Outer Banks, NC

A region, rather than a city, the Outer Banks is a vacationer’s paradise familiar around the world, described by some as “Mother Nature’s Amusement Park.” And it’s literally in your back yard!

The narrow strip of land known as the barrier islands stretches from the northernmost border of the state southward providing over 300 miles of pristine beaches for you to enjoy with friends and family. If you get tired of the Ocean side, make the short hop on over to the calmer, Albemarle Sound side beaches.

What folks love about the Outer Banks’ beaches is the fact that they aren’t crowded and you can enjoy a more leisurely pace than most resort beaches. You don’t have to hit the beach early to stake your claim on a beach spot; you’ll always have plenty of sand surrounding you.

Oh, you’ll still find all of the traditional beach activities like fishing, swimming, surfing, kayaking, miniature golfing, beach cruising, and shopping, but you’ll also find many things unique to the Outer Banks Beaches.

There are miles of national parks and wildlife refuges. There’s the 30,000-acre Cape Hatteras National Seashore. There is the country’s tallest historic lighthouse at Cape Hatteras, and three others for you to visit. There’s Jockey’s Ridge, the largest natural sand dune in the East. There’s the 70-mile strip of sunken ships just off the shoreline known as the Graveyard of the Atlantic.

There’s the famous beach cottage “Serendipity” in the fishing village of Rodanthe that was featured in the Hollywood movie starring Richard Gere and Diane Lane. There’s the awesome North Carolina Aquarium in Manteo. There’s the Wright Brother’s Memorial where the brothers took the first manned flight over 100 years ago. There is “The Lost Colony,” the longest running outdoor theater production in the country that tells the story of the first English colony in America. There’s the wild Colonial Spanish Mustangs that roam free on the northern beaches.

With all of that, in addition to seven coastal golf courses and nearly 300 superb local restaurants, it’s great to be such a close neighbor to Mother Nature’s Amusement Park.