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    North Carolina Road Trip! Fun To-Dos on Your Way to the Outer Banks

    October 16, 2020

    North Carolina west of Fayetteville, Tennessee and the Atlanta Metro area

    Not all roads to the Outer Banks lead through Hampton Roads and Norfolk. Anyone arriving from North Carolina will certainly not go north just to go south again. This route is also for anyone who has mapped a route through either Asheville or Charlotte.

    Virginia Dare Bridge Manteo
    Virginia Dare Bridge leading to the Outer Banks from US Hwy 64

    Carl Alwin Schenck Forest

    Reedy Creek Rd

    Raleigh, NC

    Time to get out and stretch your legs and this 286-acre forest that is part of North Carolina State University is perfect for it.

    Carl Alwin Schenck Memorial Forest
    Carl Alwin Schenck Memorial Forest – NCSU Piedmont Forest Work Crew Photo

    Because it is a research and teaching facility for NCSU, there are a number of small ecosystems within the forest. The 1.2 mile Frances L. Liles Trail is a loop trail that passes through a number of them.

    The Forest is just off I40 making it a convenient place to take a break from driving.

    Blount-Bridgers House

    130 Bridgers St

    Tarboro, NC

    Built in the Federalist style around 1808 by Thomas Blount, a North Carolina Revolutionary War veteran and prominent politician who served as Lieutenant Governor and in the US House of Representatives.

    Blount-Bridgers HouseThe house has been beautifully restored, but that’s not the real attraction here.

    The reason to visit this site is the Hobson Pittman Gallery on the second floor.

    Pittman, who was raised in Tarboro, was an internationally recognized artist of the mid 20th century. He was also considered one of the finest art teachers of his day.

    The gallery features a number of his works representing a range of the different styles that he painted.

    Downtown Plymouth

    Located close to the mouth of the Roanoke River, at one time Plymouth was an important port town.

    plymouth town north carolina street scenesThe entire downtown is considered the Plymouth Historic District. The buildings lining Water Street are the same buildings that can be seen in photographs from the 1920s and 1930s.

    There are three small museums in the town that will take 10 or perhaps 15 minutes each to visit.

    Port o’ Plymouth Museum

    302 East Water Street

    Plymouth, NC

    Includes a replica of the CSS Albemarle, a Confederate ironclad that dominated the Albemarle Sound in the summer of 1864 until she was sunk in a daring commando raid in October.

    The museum includes Civil War artifacts and information as well as local history.

    Roanoke River Maritime Museum

    206 West Water Street

    Plymouth, NC

    Roanoke River LighthouseFeatures a replica of the second Roanoke River Lighthouse. The museum, located across the street from the lighthouse, houses a collection of historic photographs of Plymouth and surrounding towns, an aquarium featuring local fish, and exhibits on boatbuilding.

    God’s Creation Wildlife Museum

    1110West Water Street

    Plymouth, NC

    Filled with big game and other animals from the four corners of the earth.

    Somerset Place State Historic Site

    2572 Lake Shore Road

    Creswell, N.C.

    Somerset Place Historic SiteAt one time with over 100,000 acres, Somerset Place was one of the largest plantations in the South. The site is 31 acres adjacent to Lake Phelps just a few miles south Creswell. One of the North Carolina Historic sites, there has been specific attention paid to historic accuracy and detail. In particular, slave and staff quarters have been recreated realistically.

    Expect an hour to an hour-and-a-half for a visit.


    This is your last stop before the Outer Banks. After this, it’s about an hour and fifteen minutes to the Outer Banks.

    Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge

    205 South Ludington Dr

    Columbia, NC

    This is the Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge information office and a rest stop so it’s very convenient. The parking lot is on the right as soon as you cross the Scuppernong River.

    Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife RefugeThere’s some great information about Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge which has one of the largest populations of black bear in the southeastern US. There is also a very pleasant boardwalk available to stroll along the river.

    It doesn’t take that long to get to the Outer Banks from Columbia. Watch your speed on US 64 through Alligator River; the road is heavily patrolled.