Jump off the ICW and slow down! The Albemarle Sound covers 50 miles (east to west), from the Outer Banks to the mouth of the Chowan River. Small-town charm surrounds you in these welcoming North Carolina locales.
Town of Edenton
This first colonial capital of North Carolina boasts rich history, scenic beauty and exceptional architecture. Edenton is home to three National Historic Landmarks, one of which is the state's oldest courthouse, built in 1767 and still in use. Recently recognized by Forbes.com as one of "America's Prettiest Towns," Edenton continues to age with grace. Various boutiques and eateries are a short walk from the breakwater-protected Edenton Harbor Marina (252-482-7421). Catch a first-run movie in the classic Taylor Movie Theater downtown, enjoy waterfront dining on the Chowan River at The 51 House (transportation required) or cheer on the Edenton Steamers baseball team at historic Hicks Field.
Town of Plymouth
At one time the second largest port in NC, the Town of Plymouth is an easily walkable, boater-friendly destination that will thrill history buffs. Located 6 miles south on the Roanoke River, Plymouth Landing Marina (252-217-2204) is convenient to the antiques shops and unique eateries along Water Street and the riverfront boardwalk. Visit the Roanoke River Lighthouse and Maritime Museum for the story of this once-bustling port town, where schooners, steamboats and barges frequented the customs house. Golfers will be delighted by the Plymouth Country Club, which was designed by the legendary William S. Flynn.
Town of Hertford
Located north on the Perquimans River is historic Hertford. The tree-lined streets, waterfront parks, 1825 Federal-style courthouse and well-preserved late 18th- to early 20th-century Queen Anne Colonial Revival homes beckon to visit. The historic courthouse contains North Carolina's first deed and the Chamber of Commerce is home to the Jim "Catfish" Hunter Museum, honoring the Baseball Hall of Fame member who hailed from Hertford. The municipal Hertford Bay Marina (252-426-1969) is just one block from the historic downtown, with restaurants, shops, a hardware store and a convenience store with groceries.
The luxurious resort community of Albemarle Plantation (252-426-4037) attracts boaters with its full-service marina and unique amenities, including an award-winning golf club, Olympic-sized swimming pool, tennis courts, fine dining at The Clubhouse and casual dining at the Grill Room and Dockside Restaurant. The docks, off the entrance channel to the Yeopim River, are usually busy with friendly boat owners who are willing to offer local knowledge and share the stunning sunsets.
The town docks in Elizabeth City mark the beginning (or end) of the Dismal Swamp Canal. Here you will find convenient dockage, friendly people and lots to see and do. Billed as the "Harbor of Hospitality," Elizabeth City has long been a favorite for sailors. The free Museum of the Albemarle is a big draw here with over 700 artifacts covering 400 years of local history. Mariners' Wharf (252-335-5330) is located in the heart of the downtown waterfront, while the Pelican Marina (252-335-5108) is located on the eastern side of the Pasquotank River and is just a short walk or dinghy ride to town.
Town of Columbia
Located on the eastern shoreline of the Scuppernong River, Columbia was chartered in 1793 as Elizabethtown. (It was renamed Columbia in 1801.) Follow the raised boardwalk to the large Tyrrell County Visitors Center to learn more about the history of the town and surrounding county. Boaters are invited to spend the night at the Columbia Municipal Marina (919-495-1028), where restaurants, shopping, museums and a winery are within a short walking distance.
Visit for FREE
Can't decide? Visit them all! The North Carolina Albemarle Loop allows you to select the facilities that best meet your needs and enjoy FREE dockage and amenities. In addition to the marinas mentioned above, the Manteo Waterfront Marina (252-473-3320) on Roanoke Sound and the Dismal Swamp Canal Visitors Center (252-771-8333) participate in the Albemarle Loop. Go to albemarleloop.com to print out a free dockage (two days per marina) and vendor coupons prior to your arrival. You can also make reservations on the website.