Small Coastal Towns
Towns Along NC’s Central Coast
For centuries, people settled along the banks of the Pamlico Sound and the rivers leading to it for the rich fishing and fertile soil. You can explore this relationship and more at the North Carolina Estuarium in Washington. Once a busy major port, Washington was not only named for the first president, it was visited by him. Another area visitor, the infamous pirate Blackbeard, found the many coves in the Sound made great hide outs and he moored his ship near the tiny village of Bath, today a state historic site and the oldest town in North Carolina.
Another old town, New Bern, is the birthplace of Pepsi Cola as well as the former state capital. The revitalized downtown shops and waterfront are fun to explore as is Tryon Palace Historic Site and Gardens, the former Governor’s home. You’ll find Civil War relics at the New Bern Firemen’s Museum and the world’s only full scale Civil War ironclad replica in Kinston at the CSS Neuse II State Historic Site.
The central coast is also home to the Crystal Coast, a string of barrier islands also referred to as North Carolina’s Southern Outer Banks. From the 25.4-mile long barrier island of Bogue Banks to the Cape Lookout National Seashore, you’ll find a beach for every taste. With Fort Macon State Park on the east, and Bogue Sound on the north, these south facing beaches are a rare find along America’s east coast.
If history is your thing, visit Fort Macon and see a Civil War reenactment. Nearby Beaufort has everything from pirate lore at the North Carolina Maritime Museum to great restaurants and shopping. Explore the ocean’s ecology at the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores or visit the Rachel Carson Reserve, a protected marine research area for fish, waterfowl and other wildlife. Take a ferry to the Cape Lookout Lighthouse from Harkers Island or learn about the wild Shackleford ponies. For a change of pace and a great evening of family entertainment, take in a performance of the Crystal Coast Jamboree in Morehead City.
Throughout the year there are festivals to celebrate a variety of events. There’s the North Carolina Pickle Festival in Mount Olive and the Ayden Collard Festival in Ayden for starters, but it’s not all about food. Sometimes it’s about football and the East Carolina University Pirates are ready thrill fans with home games and tailgating action in Greenville. Oh, and be sure and try the local fare, Eastern North Carolina barbeque. You’ll find lots of barbeque restaurants, each with its own twist to the recipe, then wash that “q” down with some Muscadine wine from the three award winning wineries.
Start your Central Coast vacation planning now. Contact the Crystal Coast Tourism Authority, Greenville-Pitt County CVB, New Bern-Craven County CVB, and the Kinston-Lenoir CVB.
By Pam Watson
By Pam Watson
added: December 31, 2008
updated: May 6, 2011