As one of the original thirteen colonies that formed the United States of America, North Carolina is chock-full of history. From its original Native American settlers to its role in the Revolutionary War and the Civil War, the state is jam-packed with interesting historical sites. The list below is only a taste of what you can find in the Tar Heel state!
Here’s a guide to historical sites in North Carolina you can visit with your family!
This town sprung up on the southern bank of the Roanoke River in 1760 and quickly became a transportation hub. Then, it served as a crossroads of politics and culture even before the American Revolution. This likely created the pioneering atmosphere that led to the Halifax Resolves of April 22, 1776, the first official action by an American colony to call for independence from Britain. There are five guided tours of this 40-acre district that enable tourists to travel through important buildings, taverns, law offices, a jail, a springhouse, and plantation homes.
Former North Carolina Governor David Stone lived at Hope Plantation from 1770 until 1818. The 45-acre plantation is four miles west of Windsor, NC and offers a look into rural life in eastern North Carolina and the South during the late 18th and 19th centuries. There are two main homes on the property – the Hope House Mansion built in 1803 and the King-Bazemore House built in 1763. The King-Bazemore House is one of the last remnants in North Carolina of the mid-eighteenth century “hall and parlor” design. The home has been restored and furnished based on the 1778 inventory of owner, William King. Both homes are on the National Register of Historic Places and ninety-minute guided tours are offered daily. The tours allow guests to walk through sixteen rooms such as bedrooms, ballrooms, and libraries with era-appropriate furniture.
From 1722 until 1743, North Carolina’s second oldest town served as the colony’s first capital and later became an essential stop on the Maritime Underground Railroad during the Civil War. With guided walking tours, you can check out the rich history of this storied district. There is a visitor center that highlights Edenton famous 18th- and 19th-century buildings, which include the 1736 St. Paul’s church, the 1767 Chowan County courthouse, and the 1827 home of James Iredell, a U.S. Supreme Court Justice.
North Carolina is full of diverse land from the mountains to the coast. Much of that land was turned into family farms and large plantations. Somerset Place was once over 100,000 acres of heavily wooded swampland bordering Lake Phelps. It was an active plantation for 80 years from 1785 to 1865. During that time hundreds of acres of forest and swamp were turned into high-yield fields for rice, corn, oats, wheat, beans, peas, and flax. Sawmills turned much of the forests into thousands of feet of lumber. By 1865, Somerset Place was one of the largest plantations in the South. On ninety-minute tours you and your family can learn about the slave community that lived and worked there, the time Union troops visited in 1862, and the Emancipation Proclamation as well as make your way through gardens, a chapel, several task-specific houses (like dairy, salting, meat smoking, etc.), the plantation hospital, and many historic homes and mansions.
Sights at North Carolina’s Historic Capital
Explore the heart of North Carolina’s history in Raleigh. The city was chosen as the site of the new state capital in 1788 because its central location protected it against attacks from the coast. It was established in 1792 as the capital and was a name for Sir Walter Raleigh, the sponsor of the “lost colony” of Roanoke. Raleigh is one of the few cities in the United States that was planned and built specifically to serve as a state capital.
John Haywood was Raleigh’s first mayor. He built his Federal-style home in 1799 and named it Haywood Hall, one of ten stops on the Raleigh Heritage Trail. Other stops include Raleigh’s only remaining water-powered gristmill at Historic Yates Mill County Park, which was established in 1756, a cotton museum and 1850 antebellum home at Historic Oak View County Park, the City of Raleigh Museum, and the North Carolina State Capitol.
Fort Raleigh National Historic Site
Fort Raleigh protects and preserves known portions of England’s first New World settlements from 1584 to 1590. The Fort is located on Roanoke Island, the same place that the 1585 “lost colony” settlers lived before mysteriously disappearing. You can explore reconstructed earthworks and metallurgical activity from that time period before visiting the First Light of Freedom monument which commemorates the Roanoke Island Freedman’s Colony that was established during the American Civil War. The Freedman’s Colony at Roanoke provided a safe haven and education for former slaves. Next, stroll through the Elizabethan Gardens or take a hike along the 1.25-mile Freedom Trail and the 0.3-mile Thomas Hariot Trail through the maritime forest. Finish your exploration with a stop at the Visitor Center or catch a show at the Waterside Theatre.
With so much to explore in North Carolina, take a day trip with your family to one of these historic sites for a memorable adventure! While you’re off adventuring, schedule a cleaning with our Tidy Titan professionals so you can come back to a cozy and spotless home!