Located on the banks of the Pasquotank River and the Intracoastal Waterway, Elizabeth City was once a major seaport. It rivaled the ports of Norfolk, Virginia, and Baltimore, Maryland.
Founded as Redding in 1793, the name was changed to Elizabeth City in 1801 for Elizabeth Tooley. She had donated most of the land for the new town.
Blackbeard sailed the local waters. The Wright Brothers spent time here before their historic flight at Kitty Hawk. Union forces captured and occupied the city during the Civil War.
And in 2004, Elizabeth City was recognized as a site on the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom for runaway slaves.
Come discover American history as we explore the historical things to do in Elizabeth City NC.
Founded in 1967, the Museum of the Albemarle is across from Waterfront Park. The museum promotes the rich history of the 16-county Historic Albemarle region. It is open Tues - Sat.
The Our Story: Life in Albemarle exhibit covers 10,000 years of local history. It depicts how local communities adapted to this area that is half land and half water.
Tour the Jackson House from 1755 and the Proctor Smokehouse from the 1800s. Russell Steele reconstructed both historical buildings using authentic tools and techniques.
The museum features both permanent and rotating exhibits. You’ll even see the cannon from Blackbeard’s pirate ship, Queen Anne’s Revenge.
Built in 1895, the restored Lowery-Chesson Building is home to the Arts of Albemarle. This former department store is now a cultural center that promotes art in all its forms. Come explore the 3 distinct galleries featuring national and international artists. Or take in a show at the McGuire Theater of Performing Arts upstairs.
Billed as Albemarle’s first skyscraper, the Virginia Dare Hotel was built in 1927. At 9 stories tall, it is the tallest building in Elizabeth City and dominates the city’s skyline. This Colonial Revival-style hotel was the center of local society for more than 40 years. When the hotel closed, the building became an elderly apartment complex.
Waterfront Park is a great place to enjoy the scenic views of the Pasquotank River. It features 2 boat ramps, picnic tables, a pavilion, and a boardwalk. The pavilion, or “the Dome,” is a historic waterfront landmark.
Elizabeth City is known as the Harbor of Hospitality. Arriving boaters get 48 hours of free docking at both Waterfront Park and Mariners Wharf.
Waterfront Park is also the site for the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom landmark.
Looking for more historical things to do in Elizabeth City NC? Visit Historic Downtown.
Perfect for history buffs, Elizabeth City dates back more than 300 years. It has an old-fashioned Main St and beautiful waterfront. Grab a free walking tour guide at the Elizabeth City Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. Enjoy exploring the six historic districts.
Take a stroll down South Water Street and discover great restaurants and trendy boutiques.
A strategic port during the Civil War, Union forces captured Elizabeth City in 1862. They would hold the city until the end of the war. Within walking distance of the waterfront are six civil war sites. They tell the story of the Union occupation and guerilla war waged by the Confederates.
From Waterfront Park, take a stroll up South Water Street to the Cypress Creek Grill. It’s the perfect place for lunch or dinner. Enjoy the crab and shrimp starter as you take in the beautiful views of the river. For steak lovers, the bourbon ribeye has received great reviews. Or try the popular bacon-wrapped scallops and crab cakes.
Port Discover is a great hands-on learning center for all ages. Check out the flight simulator. Try your hand racing boats on the water table. The kids will love exploring one of the many community projects.
Next to Port Discover, the trendy new Kraken Coffeehouse is a great place to recharge. Enjoy one of their many unique lattes or fruity refreshers. Want something with a little more oomph…try a Cannonball made with Italian soda and Red Bull.
ECSU was first named Elizabeth City State Colored Normal School. It was founded in 1891 to provide training for primary grade teachers. The university now offers over 30 undergraduate and graduate degree programs. ECSU is the #1 historically black college and university in the country for helping low to moderate-income students achieve success.
Move over Idaho… the North Carolina Potato Festival celebrates all things potato! The festival is held in mid-May across from the Downtown Waterfront Market. Come enjoy live music, great fun, and of course your favorite potato dish.
The Albemarle Craftsman’s Fair is a holiday tradition. The Albemarle Craftsman Guild sponsors the festival. Find the perfect gift as you browse the traditional arts and crafts. The artisans even dress in period costumes.
Enter historic homes and listen as ghosts tell their stories of Historic Albemarle. But have no fear, this family-friendly tour is more Casper than Poltergeist.
Walk from site to site or take a complimentary trolley. Part history lesson and part live theater, you’ll meet a ghost at each of the 7 sites. Come hear their unique stories as they bring the rich history of Elizabeth City to life.
From history buffs to weekend vacationers, you’ll find it in Elizabeth City.
Enjoy the great restaurants and shops on the Historic Downtown Waterfront.
Stroll the shady, tree-lined streets of the six historic districts.
Take your time exploring all the great historical things to do in Elizabeth City. You’ll soon discover why it’s called the Harbor of Hospitality.