Welcome to one of America’s Prettiest Towns!
When we first moved to North Carolina last year, we stopped off at one of those visitor centers along 95, and picked up a travel guide. I had lived in this area years ago, but I honestly couldn’t tell you what I spent my time doing – because it sure as heck wasn’t traveling. To this day, I surprise people when I tell them “I’ve never been there”. So, my goal this time around was to explore as much as possible while we were here.
Earlier this year, we visited Bath, NC, the oldest incorporated town in the state, and the first capital of the Providence of North Carolina. Well, the Providence of North Carolina actually had four capitals before the colony separated and became what is now known as North Carolina and Tennessee. The second capital was Edenton, a town named after their second governor, Charles Eden, at town that Forbe’s calls One of America’s Prettiest Towns, and a town that is a landmark in women’s history for the organization of the Edenton Tea Party.
I mean, who wouldn’t want to see this place?
I had originally planned on going the weekend after our Bath trip, especially because I heard quite a bit of reference between Edenton and Blackbeard. Apparently, Charles Eden was quite the advocate towards eliminating piracy in the region. So much so, that at one point, Blackbeard surrendered to Governor Eden and received the Kings Pardon if he were to change his ways. Unfortunately, Blackbeard would return to piracy which resulted in his demise.
However, I learned that a couple weeks after I had planned my visit, the town was hosting their annual Historic Pilgrimage Tour of Homes and Countryside. I was totally won over by the event and all of the historical knowledge I would learn, so I pushed my travel date back to coincide. Along with this seasonal event, the town hosts additional events each year to include their Candlelight Tour in the winter, the Music & Water Festival in the summer, and the Taste of Edenton extravaganza in the autumn.
And while I would recommend attending one of these events to gain as much knowledge as possible about this quaint little town, it’s totally unnecessary.
Here’s how I would spend 24 hours in Edenton, NC.
The Edenton Coffee House is exactly what I always imagine a coffee house to be. Just like Central Perk on the television show Friends, it’s a perfect gathering for locals. The cafe is filled with a modge-podge of chairs and tables, a staff that know what the locals want before they ever place their order, and a menu that’s quite extensive for such a small-town vibe. It even has cushion-ie chairs and couches, making it the perfect location to sit back with a good book and read on a rainy day. Located in the heart of Edenton, this little gem serves breakfast daily – making it the perfect first stop on your trip.
In addition to Edenton’s serene beauty, history seeps through every nook and cranny of this little town. Not only are the waters of the Edenton Bay and Albemarle Sound absolutely stunning, but the bay is home to many historical homes and churches dating back to the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. So, I hope you wore your walking shoes, because the next thing on your itinerary should be checking out all of this glorious buildings, like the Chowan County Courthouse and the Cupola House.
Audrey thought she wanted to keep going up in the Cupola House. On the second floor, there is a spiral staircase that takes you up to the cupola, which is a dome-like fixture on top of a building that allows light and air into the home. Let’s just say she was much more brave going up then going down.
After all that walking, I bet you’re hungry!
Head on over to the Downtown Cafe and Soda Shoppe, and grab yourself one of their original sandwiches for such an incredible price. I travel 100% of the time with a toddler, so when I’m looking for a restaurant to go to, I need it to fit quite a few criteria. One: I need it to have a children’s menu. I have a fairly picky eater, but anything that’s typically on a kids meal is a winner. Two: I need it to be reasonably priced. Especially when it comes to breakfast or lunch. I can’t imagine spending $8 on a kid’s meal and Audrey barely eat half of it. Three: It has to have something that piques my own interest. It’s no lie that I love all food, but when I travel somewhere, I want to get something that I haven’t had before. Or a tried-and-true favorite to see how that make it. Two of their sandwiches that piqued my own interest? The Governor Eden and The Pilgrim Special. It took me up until I was placing the order to decide what to get – and I was so happy with my choice! (Yes, I look at menus prior to going to establishments so I’m prepared!) After lunch, grab a scoop or two of ice cream. From all that walking earlier, you deserve it!
Next, head on over to the waterfront and check out the Roanoke River Lighthouse. This is one of the many famous lighthouses that adorn the waterfronts of Eastern North Carolina. The lighthouse is opened for touring from 10-4 Tuesday through Saturday and children of all ages can venture inside as long as they are accompanied by an adult. I mention this, because not all of the lighthouses are child-friendly, and there is an age restriction for entering a few. Viewing this lighthouse, along with a few others in the state, has prompted my first “Bucket List” entry of North Carolina – capture of a photo of every lighthouse in the state.
I always like to throw a little something in there for Audrey when we go on these trips. Especially when they are filled with historical facts or attractions she may not be that interested in. Right outside of the lighthouse is a children’s park which has the most perfect setup to keep a toddler entertained! This can obviously be avoided if children aren’t in your party – instead, spend the time perusing the local shops. And if you’re visiting on a Saturday, check out the local farmer’s market!
Next, head back on over to the Penelope Barker House Welcome Center (which I’m assuming you already viewed in your tour of historical buildings earlier in the day). Penelope Barker is well known for gathering 50 women in the home of Elizabeth King, where they signed a resolution in support of the boycotting of British imports – including tea, also known at the Edenton Tea Party. This home has been transformed into a welcome center offering maps, a book and gift shop, and trolley tours.
If you’ve been following my blog for any time at all, you know my next recommendation: a trolley tour! I absolutely love guided tours from individuals who know absolutely everything about the town they live in. Because, while I may be able to venture out on my own and get a certain grasp of the history, the tour guides always seem to know some tidbit of information that I didn’t – like all about the oldest building in North Carolina!
I bet you’re ready for dinner!
For dinner I’m recommending the Waterman’s Grill which occupies one of Edenton’s oldest buildings. Their menu provides a little bit for everyone – whether you want a romantic dinner, you’re feeding the entire family, or you’re traveling the state with your toddler. There’s just something about being near the water that has me craving seafood – so this menu is right up my alley. But if you’re not a seafood fan, don’t fret, they offer plenty from the land as well.
Well, that wraps up my 24 hours in Edenton. I hope this guide helps you plan your own trip to one of America’s most beautiful towns.