North Carolina is filled with history. It’s home to some of the oldest towns in the nation. Towns that were stomping grounds for famous pirates, witnesses to both the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, and early settlements dating back to 1705. These ten historic towns have witnessed a vast amount of history, and visiting them today, you can experience it all.
During these uncertain times, please keep safety in mind and consider adding destinations to your bucket list to visit at a later date.
Historic Bath is North Carolina's first town and port, it was incorporated in 1705. It is also the stomping ground of famous pirate Blackbeard. On your visit stop by St. Thomas Episcopal Church, built in 1734. Bath also has several historic houses like the Van Der Veer house which dates back to 1790.
2. New Bern
New Bern has a long history. Before being settled by the English in 1710, the ancient village of Chattoka was inhabited for hundreds of years by indigenous people. After European settlers made a home here, Tryon Palace was completed in 1770 and became the first permanent capitol in North Carolina. After being meticulously reconstructed, you'll want to visit Tryon Palace first. New Bern has a number of walking tours and battlefield tours offered in the historic downtown district as well.
Edenton was incorporated in 1712 and quickly became one of the most popular shipping ports on the East Coast. The history, and beauty, is very much alive today. Edenton is also the birthplace of famous author and abolitionist Harriet Jacobs. The Chowan County Courthouse (pictured above in middle) is one of the State's oldest courthouses and is still in use today. The Roanoke River Lighthouse, built in 1886, (pictured above) is also an extremely popular destination for visitors. Just a simple stroll through the beautiful downtown, or along the waterfront, will transport you back in time. Edenton has been called one of America's prettiest towns.
Beaufort was discoverd by settlers in 1709 and established in 1713. During its heyday as a port city, it attracted a number of pirates, including notorious Edward Teach (Blackbeard) who ran his ship, Queen Anne's Revenge, aground near present day Beaufort. There are several sites in Beaufort on the National Register of Historic Places. Visit the old burying ground, Cateret County Home, Gibbs House, and the Jacob Henry House. The town of Beaufort is amazingly charming with a cool, coastal flair, and was recently named as one of the Coolest Small Towns in America by Budget Travel Magazine.
5. Old Salem, WInston-Salem
Right beside downtown Winston-Salem, you'll find the historically rich Old Salem. With a strong Moravian History, most buildings date back to the 18th century. Visit the living history museum, make candles, enjoy some Moravian cookies, and feel transported back in time between the horse-drawn carriages and period-piece attire.
Right outside of Winston-Salem, you'll find Bethania. As a Moravian settlement older than Old Salem (dating back to 1759) Bethania is small but the history is rich. Visit the Jacob Loesch House and be sure to stop by Bethania Mill Village Shoppe.
7. Banner Elk
Banner Elk was establish in 1848 and today is a small town with beautiful views. While in close proximity to the popular Beech Mountain, you'll want to stop before your next ski trip and explore the historical Lees-Mcrae college. Founded in 1900, many of the original buildings still stand.
8. Chapel Hill
Since we're talking about historical universities, you can find one of the oldest universities in the United States at Chapel Hill. The school opened its door in 1795 and to this day, is considered one of the best 'public ivy league' schools in the nation.
Rutherfordton was formed in 1787, and today, much of the quaint and beautiful downtown is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. While visiting Rutherfordton, visit the Rutherford City Cemetery. Considered to be one of this most historic cemeteries in North Carolina, you can find gravestones dating back to the 1770's. The St. John's Church (pictured above) was built in 1849. You'll also want to visit the St. Francis Episcopal Church, completed in 1899, it's a beautiful example of Gothic-Revival architecture.
10. Brunswick Town/Fort Anderson
Brunswick Town is a colonial ghost town found beside the Cape Fear River. The town was ravaged by British Troops in 1776 and never rebuilt. Yet today, you can still find beauty in the ruins. The remains of St. Phillips Church is used today as a unique wedding venue. Fort Anderson (pictured above) was built atop the old village site and used during the Civil War.
What did you think of our list? What would you have added? Tell us in the comments below!