Edenton and the art of aging beautifully

Roanoke River Waterfront Lighthouse in Edenton, North Carolina, at sunset

Judge Edenton by its beauty. For starters, at least. The town gets its good looks from the waters of Edenton Bay, stunning architecture that dates as far back as 300 years and period gardens that meet the tree-lined streets downtown. A streak of vanity would be understandable, but Edenton’s pride owes less to its alluring assets than its history.

The town was North Carolina’s first Colonial capital. It was home to signatories of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution, and one of the five original U.S. Supreme Court associate justices came from Edenton. But hometown pride stands more firmly behind two women: Penelope Barker, who orchestrated the 1774 “Edenton Tea Party” to become America’s first female political activist, and Harriet Jacobs, who hid in her grandmother’s attic for seven years before escaping slavery and writing a landmark narrative.

Today, women keep Edenton lively as they innovate on historic settings at inns (Inner Banks Inn & Restaurant, Cotton Gin Inn), restaurants (The 51 House, which pays homage to the 51 participants in the Edenton Tea Party; Edenton Coffee House) and shops (Downtown Diva, Polka-Dot Palm).

Historic Edenton Trolley passing the Penelope Barker House

For pursuing history, the Historic Edenton Trolley departs from the Penelope Barker House Welcome Center and introduces travelers to must-meet people from the past on a ride through the town’s remarkable loveliness. To explore at greater leisure, find your path via Visit Edenton’s list of historic sites, which extend through time to the early 1900s at the Edenton Cotton Mill Historic District. If it occurs to you that some of these places might be haunted, test your courage on the Original Edenton Ghost Walk. It is October, after all.

Pleasures can be experienced without even a whiff of interest in history and architecture, without the faintest impulse to shoot selfies at the 1886 Roanoke River Lighthouse or Cupola House Gardens. With the abundance of creeks and rivers flowing toward the Albemarle Sound, outdoor recreation options cover the range from sailing and paddling to fishing and sitting back on a cruise aboard the Liber-Tea. Other outdoor options include strolling, birding and platform camping.

Edenton can be accessed via Coastal Highway U.S. 17, which connects the town with other maritime gems, including Hertford (home of the Catfish Hunter Museum) and Elizabeth City. All three towns are also part of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway’s Albemarle Loop, which includes Plymouth, Columbia and Manteo as well. Find more inspiration and information at VisitNC.com.


Cucalorus Film Festival
November 10-14, Wilmington, North Carolina
Wilmington is much farther south than Edenton in the state, but if you’re in the area in early November, you should check out the Cucalorus Film Festival.

The 27th annual Cucalorus Film Festival will take place Nov. 10-14 in downtown Wilmington. Cucalorus brings together filmmakers, performance artists and community organizers for the screening of more than 100 films paired with live performance, site-specific installations and a series of roundtable conversations about undoing racism.

Cucalorus supports more than 100 filmmakers and performers from around the world each year with a focus on gender equity and showcasing emerging storytellers. Accumulated attendance at last year’s more than 50 events, both online and at drive-ins, totaled more than 12,000. Festival programs include Dance-a-lorus, the Bus to Lumberton, Community Conversations on Race, Visual/Sound/Walls and Listening to Film – a digital literacy screening for elementary schools.