For travelers tuned in to the call of the water, Visit North Carolina rolls out Dream Big in Small Town NC on the Inner Banks, a region shaped by a far-reaching river and a history-making sound. The initiative arrives with a sweepstakes that showcases hurry-free destinations with wide-open beauty, water-based adventure and unexpected experiences.
A video accompanying this announcement is available at: https://youtu.be/1md5p4XvYtI
From Walks on the Wild Side to Waterfront Fun, North Carolina's Inner Banks Add Scenes to Your Memory Bank
Now is the perfect time to discover destinations along the Albemarle Sound and the Roanoke River, said Wit Tuttell, executive director of Visit NC. For travelers visiting towns on the Albemarle, this summers launch of Harbor Towns Cruises will enhance the experience with tours and between-town trips. And 2023s Year of the Trail celebration draws attention to the newly designated Roanoke River State Trail and its connect-the-dots River Towns.
Dream Big in Small Town NC, created by the General Assembly as the Rural Tourism Recovery Pilot Program, targets 16 counties at risk for population loss as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The initiative aims to boost local economies with an infusion of visitor spending plus an introduction to the quality of life in under-the-radar locations. The initiative targets Chowan, Gates, Hertford, Martin, Perquimans, Tyrrell and Washington counties for the Inner Banks following previous promotions of designated counties in the Scenic Mountains and Northeast Lakes & Rivers region.
Travelers who want to explore the Inner Banks destinations might start by entering the sweepstakes for a chance to win:
A $1,000 voucher from program partner Airbnb.
A $500 gift card from Visit NC to assist with travel expenses.
Scenic beauty, singular attractions and intriguing histories shape the Inner Banks towns that have blossomed in the homeland of the Meherrin, Chowanoke and other Native American tribes. Traveling among the destinations, nature lovers can find opportunities to spot black bears, Tundra swans and alligators while history aficionados can immerse themselves in a host of stories, ranging from the feats of Edenton socialite Penelope Barker, the first American woman to organize political action, to Hertfords Jim Catfish Hunter, the Baseball Hall of Famer.
Anytime I go to Hertford, I stop at the Catfish Hunter Memorial and then head to Captain Bobs for barbecue, said Tuttell, a die-hard baseball fan and barbecue aficionado. He also notes that Williamston has a city park named for its hometown hero, Hall of Famer Gaylord Perry.
Harbor Towns Cruises, launching this summer with a pair of custom-built Hysucats (hydrofoil-supported catamarans), will make good use of the placid Albemarle Sound with tours and ferry trips that include the Dream Big communities of Hertford, Edenton, Plymouth and Columbia. The destinations brim with local character that complements the expansive beauty of the sound, the largest freshwater lagoon in North America.
Travelers fall in love with Edenton and other Inner Banks destinations, said Erienne Mizell, Visit Edentons tourism director. Beyond the romance of the water, people connect with our stories and often want to become part of the places that have seen so much history built amid such beauty. Our free parking and complimentary two-night boat docking speaks to the hospitality that defines our community. It is that same spirit that flows into our passion for preservation, which in Edenton includes everything from our welcome center at the Penelope Barker House to the restored 17th-century ice house that is now The Herringbone on the Waterfront.
Like Hertford, Edenton enjoys a place on both the Harbor Towns lineup and as a designated river town on the Roanoke River State Trail, which was officially designated in November 2021. At 410 miles, the Roanoke is North Carolinas longest river, loved by locals and visitors alike for fishing, paddling and platform camping. Roanoke River Partners, which is based in a former Rosenwald School in Hamilton, helps adventure seekers connect with Native Girl Kayaking, Frog Hollow Outfitters, and other rental and guide services.
State parks, museums and singular attractions convey the regions special sense of place. In Gatesville, old-growth cypress trees draped in moss make Merchants Millpond State Park an enchanted forest, and its the American alligators northernmost habitat. Between Plymouth and Columbia, Pettigrew State Park displays centuries-old dugout canoes dredged up from Phelps Lake. Nearby Somerset Place State Historic Site presents a comprehensive and realistic view of 19th-century life on a large North Carolina plantation.
In Murfreesboro, the Brady C. Jefcoat Museum of Americana features a mind-blowing collection with everything from an RCA Dog and a sofa from Gone with the Wind to butter churns and a dog-powered washing machine. Native American artifacts are also on view. Plymouths NC Black Bear Discovery Center offers a lesson in the regions black bear population, the densest in the world. A five-minute walk leads to the Port OPlymouth Museum, which tells the story of the CSS Albemarle, the Confederacys most effective ironclad ram, and its sinking in a daring nighttime raid. Pocosin Arts School of Fine Craft in Columbia is a makers mecca with classes, events and a fine craft gallery on the Scuppernong River. With all the dreamers who have made this region special, theres much to inspire todays travelers, Tuttell said. These destinations are ready to welcome them.
About Visit North Carolina:
Visit North Carolina is part of the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina. Established in 2014, the EDPNC is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation that oversees the state's efforts in business and job recruitment and retention, international trade, and tourism, film and sports development. The mission of Visit North Carolina is to unify and lead the state in developing North Carolina as a major destination for leisure travel, group tours, meetings and conventions, sports events and film production. For more information on North Carolinas destinations and travel assets, go to VisitNC.com.
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Disclaimer: The views, suggestions, and opinions expressed here are the sole responsibility of the experts. No Sahyadri Times journalist was involved in the writing and production of this article.