Ever since I was 11, I have always wanted to take a trip for my birthday. So, when I read about the gorgeous charming town of Edenton, North Carolina from Annaliese of Southern Belle In Training‘s Instagram and blog, I knew I had to make a visit to Edenton as I am a major sucker for small, historic, and charming towns! To be honest, Edenton was not on my radar until I saw Annaliese’s content on the town and I’m glad it is now. My Papa and dog Rosie came along with me to celebrate my Birthday in Edenton and we had an incredible and special time together in this sweet and charming town.
We ended up going on a Sunday-Tuesday and spent most of Sunday and all of Monday in Edenton. The Sunday we arrived it was super stormy in the evening, but we luckily had arrived in Edenton and were in awe via *none other than* the calm before the storm. One of the most beautiful things that Papa and I learned about Edenton was how the community always comes together and has for centuries during tough times, whether it be to save a community home, repair someone’s home, maintain a historic landmark, or simply lend someone a helping hand. I think that is why the town’s population has remained stable for over a century. The community of Edenton is such a beautiful and remarkable community that has stood the test of time.
About Edenton – Edenton, North Carolina is located on the Albemarle Sound just about 2 hours East of the state capital of Raleigh and about 90 minutes south of Virginia Beach, Virginia and is the county seat of Chowan County, North Carolina. It is a part of North Carolina’s Inner Banks region which the locals proudly call “God’s Country”. I went to Meredith College – an all-women’s college in Raleigh, North Carolina and quite a bit of Meredith College alumnae are proud Edentonians. As of 2021, Edenton’s population was around 4,400 which has remained stable for over a century. Edenton used to be the North Carolina state capital specifically in the colonial days. To this very day, Edenton’s history and charm remains in tact along with a rich community that has stood the test of time.
Even though many of the historic sights in Edenton were closed when we were visiting since our sightseeing days were a Sunday and Monday, Papa and I still got to get a great taste of the town of Edenton (and didn’t do our wallets too much damage either!). Edenton is such a picturesque town that has become well-known by Forbes and Visit North Carolina to name a few! I have listed all of the places that we visited in this blog post. Needless to say, Edenton was a *very* impressive little town filled with several kind and welcoming souls!
Penelope Barker House Welcome Center
This iconic welcome center is such a beautiful asset to the town of Edenton! I felt SO welcomed to Edenton when I saw this gorgeous welcome center. I walked in and was in awe with the gorgeous antiques that have been local to the Edenton community for years along with books on Edenton’s rich history. Guests are welcome to hang in the living areas of the welcome center and even on the gorgeous back a porch for a picnic (which we would’ve done if it weren’t for the strong winds while visiting!). While there, I met the former First Lady of Edenton who happened to pop in for a visit and she was such a delight to chat with! The best part?! The Penelope Barker House Welcome Center is named for Penelope Barker – the leader of what is said to be the first-ever women-lead political activity in the United States. Penelope Barker lead the Edenton Tea Party, on October 25, 1774 where she organized a petition for the British to stop “taxation without representation” on tea and other goods in when North Carolina was one of the 13 colonies in response to the Tea Act passed by the British parliament in 1773. Barker sent the petition off to England where it was shut down by the British, but its legacy remains true to its day. What’s super impressive about the Edenton Tea Party is that Barker found 40+ women who knew how to read and write (which was rare in 1774 for women) to read and sign it. To this very day, the Penelope Barker House Welcome Center stands in its gorgeous glory to honor Barker and welcome in guests to Edenton from all walks of life.
Also known as Edenton’s waterfront dining destination, The Herringbone is a popular place that attracts locals and visitors alike. The bar at The Herringbone is STUNNING along with the outside seating looking over Edenton’s gorgeous waterfront. The Herringbone is housed in a remarkable buiding – which has served as both the Edenton Ice Company and the Edenton Police Headquarters over the years. Papa and I (Rosie too!) had burgers and fries for lunch when we arrived on Sunday via the calm right before the storm. We, then, came back to The Herringbone for dinner on my Birthday for beer and pizza and live music. The menu of The Herringbone involves A LOT of unique Eastern North Carolinian delights and classic American fare! The Herringbone is a PERFECT place to wind down, take in the scenic views, and enjoy some Eastern North Carolinian delights.
Cupola House and Gardens
The Cupola House was owned by the same family for generations for 141 years, after being built in 1758 on land gifted by King Charles for Frances Corbin who was an agent for Lord Granville – one of eight Lords Proprietors. After the last of the generations of family members who had owned the Cupola House couldn’t afford to maintain and care for it anymore, the people of Edenton also proudly known as “Edentonians” came together to make this historic home into The Cupola House Association. Edentonians also gave that final generation of the home’s owners assistance to move into a home that they could afford. To this day, the community effort of Edentonians remains true to the town’s legacy and love for one another. Today, the Cupola House Gardens is open between 9:00am-4:30pm and is free to visit. Whereas, the Cupola House is open for tours and visits on certain days of the week and tickets for those guided tours can be purchased at the Edenton Historic Sites Visitor Center (which was closed when I was visiting). The craftsmanship of the Cupola House to this *very* day serves as an example of craftsmanship and styles that were architecturally popular in the mid-1700s.
Edenton Bay Trading Company
This wine bar was THE CUTEST! I was also blown away at how Papa and I only spent $8.50 on a bottle of beer and glass of wine, coming from the Washington, DC area where cocktails can cost upwards of $25 or more (JUST WOW!!!!!!). Guests can also buy bottles of wine and cases of beer from North Carolina and beyond. I LOVED the atmosphere of the Edenton Bay Trading Company, as it was so eclectic and relaxing. Papa and I came here before lunch for a pre-Birthday drink, because what better way to celebrate a Birthday?!?! It also serves as a favorite spot for the local Edentonians to come together. Although we didn’t spend much time here, I really enjoyed the time that I did spend there.
As a history buff, Edenton’s iconic Trolly Tour was a MUST DO (!!!) and a highlight of Edenton for both Papa and I. It is run by two Edentonians who have been sharing the passion and history of the town for quite a while now. I learned and saw SO MUCH of Edenton that I would not have learned about otherwise. Papa and I saw several different iconic historic sites to be seen all across Edenton, including: the historically African American neighborhood, Edenton Cotton Mill Historic District, Waterfront Park, Iredell House Homesite, Saint Paul’s Episcopal Church, and so much more. One of the most touching parts was learning about the life of Harriet Jacobs – an Edenton resident who escaped slavery to move up North, write about her own experiences, and become an Abolitionist. Harriet Jacobs is one of a few written accounts of the Maritime Underground Railroad. Another majorly touching part of the Trolley Tour was to learn how much the people of Edenton come together to help another town member in need (case in point: The Cupola House and Gardens!). Edentonians truly love one another and their gorgeous town! Tickets for the Trolley Tour can be purchased in the Penelope Barker House Welcome Center the day-of.
1767 Chowan County Courthouse
Known as the most intact Colonial courthouse in the United States according to researchers, the 1767 Chowan County Courthouse still beautifully gleams just in front of the waterfront. Declaration of Independence signer Joseph Hewes was one of the commissioners who was appointed to raise money for the courthouse’s construction. And, well-known Revolutionary patriots Judges James Iredell and Samuel Johnston have heard cases in this *very* exact courthouse. How cool?! Papa and I learned a lot about the Chowan County Courthouse from the historians on the Edenton Trolley Tour and took Rosie here later on in the evening and it was SO NICE!
Edenton Tea Pot
The Edenton Tea Pot was constructed to honor Penelope Barker’s fight and drive via the Edenton Tea Party that she organized (read more about that above!). It is said to weigh several tons, too. Needless to say, Edenton is beyond proud of its heritage as the first-ever North Carolina State Capitol and for being put on the historic radar via the Edenton Tea Party. As previously mentioned, the Edenton Tea Party is said to be the first-ever women-run political activity in the United States – something that Edentonians are very proud of.
1886 Roanoke River Lighthouse
On commission from 1887-1941, the Ronaoke River Lighthouse is the only surviving of 3 lighthouses in Edenton over the centuries. Its permanent location is overlooking the Edenton Bay with excellent views from the Edenton Waterfront Park. It moved offshore to its current location in 2012, as reported by WRAL’s Tar Heel Traveler series. At one point, the Roanoke River Lighthouse housed a family with kids before its move in 2012! It is said that the lighthouse is the last surviving example in the United States of a “squarer frame building built for a screw-pile base” (“Visit Edenton”). Papa and I LOVED walking up to the lighthouse and admiring it via the waterfront park. It is such a gorgeous asset to Edenton. Currently, the 1886 Roanoke River Lighthouse is being continuously restored, in order to keep its glory running sky-high for centuries and visitors to come!
Edenton was such an incredible place to visit! Edentonians have shown so much grit and love for their little town for centuries and will for centuries to come. I loved getting to visit Edenton, as to be honest, it was never on my travel radar until recently. The passion and love that I now have for Edenton is something I am very grateful to now have.
XOXO – Katie <3