Edenton and Manteo

Return to North Carolina's Outer Banks

  • Edenton | Manteo | The Albemarle Sound | Lake Mattamuskeet


November 12 - 18, 2023


  • Charming boutique inn accommodations 
  • Historic house visits, including the Cupola House and Somerset Place
  • Eastern North Carolina’s charming “rural ideal”: quaint, friendly, slow-paced. Discover the scenic, underpopulated outback of the land between the Pamlico and Albemarle Sound, and the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge – a birdwatcher’s dream!  
  • Lovely backroads drives, great local seafood, and fabulous stories on location!

Trip Description

Return to NC’s Outer Banks:  Edenton & Manteo

It’s a coastal pilgrimage, back by popular demand – join us as we explore North Carolina’s Enchanting East!  Spend two nights in idyllic Edenton – could this be North Carolina’s cutest and quaintest town?  It’s certainly an architectural treasure trove, and the oldest true town in North Carolina. Then, spend two nights in Manteo – home to a delightfully walkable waterfront, Elizabethan gardens, the lost colony of Roanoke, and the gateway to Cape Hatteras.

It’s the land of water:  tidal sounds and estuaries . . . and canals; and the biggest Carolina Bay Lakes in the Southeast.  And “open ocean,” lying just off the Outer Banks.

Experience great stories . . . backroads you haven’t traveled . . . and excellent accommodations and meals when you arrive.  Pack your bag, birding glasses, and sense of adventure, and let’s discover the best kept secrets and stories of the Outer Banks!




Sunday, November 12

We’ll depart the western Carolinas, driving through the North Carolina Piedmont to Hillsborough – our home for the night.  Our hotel, the Colonial Inn, is the perfect perch, from which to enjoy a casual walk among antebellum residences, or to the courthouse square and the town’s quaint commercial district.  Hillsborough combines a true historic importance with an appearance of mindful preservation, and “happening town”-vibe better than any other Carolina Piedmont town.  It represents the western boundary of “settled colonial North Carolina” in 1770 . . . our entry point into so many stories we’ll uncover on this adventure!

Dinner and overnight, Hillsborough.

Monday, November 13

Today, we’ll drive beautiful backroads to Edenton.  Initially through horse country, north of Durham; taking in the pretty town of Littleton and a unique lake-side summer camp near the Virginia border.  We’ll stop for lunch in Roanoke Rapids; and we’ll see the vestiges of the ancient Roanoke Canal.

By mid-afternoon, we’ll arrive in Edenton, checking into the Inner Banks Inn – home for the next two nights.  (If you like the idea of inns that are the perfect “trailhead” for easy walks of pretty downtowns and residential streets, you’re in for the best luck on this trip!)

Dinner and overnight, the Inner Banks Inn, Edenton.

Tuesday, November 14

Enjoy a delicious breakfast in the inn; then have a great day in Edenton itself – and there’s lots to merit our attention and affection.  Edenton is compact, water-front, ancient – by North Carolina standards, and beautifully preserved.  Our visits will showcase a variety of important architectural gems of the state:  the Chowan County Courthouse (the state’s oldest); the Roanoke River Lighthouse; the Cupola House.  Then there are those idyllic places and green spaces that define the city:  beautiful and lively Broad Street (fun to stroll and browse); and lovely Court Green, leading from the old courthouse to the water.

This evening, we’ll enjoy a special, gourmet dinner.  Overnight, Edenton.

Wednesday, November 15

After breakfast, we’ll depart Edenton, driving across the Albemarle Sound to NC’s mystical “land between the sounds” – thought to be uninhabitable by early settlers to the Albemarle.  Our featured stop will be at Somerset Plantation, among North Carolina’s most famous plantation sites.  We’ll enjoy guided touring, and the opportunity to see birds, stately trees, and a totally bucolic way of life.

We’ll arrive in Manteo by the mid-afternoon.  Check into the White Doe Inn, two blocks from Manteo’s waterfront.  It’s our HQ for settling into a splendid waterside lifestyle for two days.  Enjoy low-key exploration of local museums, featuring birds, the sounds, historic Fort Raleigh, the story of the Pea Island surfmen (U.S. Lifesaving servicemen), and Outer Banks history; cafés and eateries on Budleigh Street, or Queen Elizabeth Avenue; and casual conversations with other explorers to this maritime mecca.

Dinner and overnight, Manteo.

Thursday, November 16

Today, we’ll take a drive along the Outer Banks, to Corolla – wedged between the open Atlantic on the east, and the Currituck Sound on the west.  (Our drive to Corolla will first take us to the site of the Wright Brothers’ famous experiments with gliders and powered aircraft in the Kill Devil Hills – where we’ll pay tribute.)

In Corolla, we’ll enjoy the village ambiance, and key historic elements:  the red brick Currituck Beach Lighthouse; and the circa 1925 Quebecois Revival Whalehead Club mansion – which we’ll tour.  The mansion exists as a legacy of the draw of the banks and their migratory waterfowl for a well-heeled northern elite, who colonized the region during a winter social / shooting season.  The house is among the most striking and unusual on the Southeastern coast.

We’ll return to Manteo for relaxation and dinner.

Overnight, Manteo.

Friday November 17

We’ll depart Manteo this morning, and begin our drive for points west, with lovely eastern NC backroads between us and our destination – the town of Elizabethtown on the Cape Fear River.  It will be an epic journey – and one that will define important elements of eastern NC’s identity:  the biggest farms in the state; a watery, often sparsely-populated interior coastline; several larger, prosperous towns – the economic hubs of sub-regions; and unusual lakes.  We plan to drive close to massive Lake Mattamuskeet, and pass through Swanquarter – the state’s smallest county seat – occupying what should be considered the state’s most expansive county (story on location).

We’ll also see the pretty town of Washington, at the head of the Pamlico Sound; then drive through beautiful farmland to the Bladen Lakes region. Enjoy the evening at the Elizabethtown Inn – including dinner, prepared by our hosts.

The following day, November 18, will see us return back to Western North Carolina & the South Carolina Upstate via a drive through southern North Carolina.

Thanks for sharing the adventure with us!

Featured Experiences

The Colonial Inn

We'll spend one night in historic Hillsborough at The Colonial Inn. The Inn, an 1838 landmark in a quiet and sleepy southern town, was lovingly restored in 2020. The Inn is one of the oldest operating hotels in the state and located within easy strolling of downtown. With an on-site bar and restaurant, we'll enjoy a relaxing stay here in one of North Carolina's best preserved historic towns.

The Inner Banks Inn

The Inner Banks Inn is a romantic bed and breakfast set on nearly 3 acres in the famed Edenton NC Historic District. An easy stroll to the downtown and Edenton Bay waterfront, this Diamond Collection Inn is a top-rated Bed and Breakfast in Edenton. The historic inn has twenty rooms and suites with modern conveniences, gourmet hot breakfasts, and relaxing moments on the inn’s picturesque porches, courtyard and grounds.

The White Doe Inn

Tucked in along the shores of Shallowbag Bay is the picturesque waterfront village of Manteo on Roanoke Island, home of the White Doe Inn. Owners Bob and Bebe Woody along with Innkeeper Topanga Daniels, invite you to experience our Outer Banks bed and breakfast, located in this quaint coastal village. The Inn is a late-Queen Anne style house, constructed in 1910 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Guestrooms have fireplaces for cozying up on cool evenings while enjoying hot cocoa, cider or a glass of wine. Each room is decorated with family heirlooms, antiques, and comfortable sitting areas. Every effort has been made to create a comfortable and charming ambiance to enhance your stay.

Elizabethtown Inn

We'll spend one night at the Elizabethtown Inn, formerly the Colonel John McDowell House. This house was built circa 1834, one of the oldest structures in the charming 18th century town of Elizabethtown, North Carolina.

The Inn offers 21st century conveniences in comfortable, tastefully renovated rooms.

What's Included

  • Comfortable transportation
  • Accommodation for 6 nights
  • Breakfast, 5 lunches, and 5 dinners
  • All activities / admissions per the itinerary
  • Guide and concierge service throughout the trip

Trip Price

$3,439 / person (double occupancy; single supplement, $815)

What's Not Included

Price does not include alcohol, other meals, or optional trip insurance.

..well-planned, from interesting and fun excursions planned each day, to comfortable lodging and transportation. Our trip leaders, Chumley and Khal, were impressive with their knowledge of each area we explored and gracious in their planning of every aspect of our trips.

Trip insurance safeguards your travel investment, your belongings, and most importantly, you. Though trip insurance is optional, we strongly encourage travelers to purchase trip insurance in the event you have to cancel or leave a trip for any reason. Please note, all trip participants should wait for confirmation from Explore Up Close that the trip has the minimum sign-up required to be a “go” before purchasing travel insurance. Please confirm with Explore Up Close before making any additional travel arrangements.

Once you have received confirmation from Explore Up Close, we recommend contacting a travel insurance provider directly to request a quote and compare pricing and features. You can find other providers that may fit your needs at www.insuremytrip.com, or we can gladly connect you with our travel agent.

This trip departs from Greenville / Spartanburg, South Carolina and Asheville, North Carolina. If you live elsewhere, please contact us to discuss travel arrangements, and we will look forward to assisting you!

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