Elizabeth City, NC is called the “harbor of hospitality,” which proves to be the city’s guiding message in almost everything one can do there, especially during the holiday season. Located in Pasquotank County, North Carolina on the Pasquotank River, Elizabeth City is in the Historic Albemarle region of northeastern North Carolina. It is home to one of the largest Coast Guard bases in the nation. It is also where the HBCU Elizabeth City State University resides in the Elizabeth City State Teachers College Historic District. Six of the university’s original buildings still exist and are on the National Register of Historic Landmarks, one of which is a historic Rosenwald school.
History meets you everywhere in Elizabeth City, notably on the Pasquotank River. The River played an important role in the Underground Railroad as it served as a major escape route to freedom up North. One of the passages used led to the Dismal Swamp Canal and through to the Great Dismal Swamp, a refuge for runaway enslaved Africans. A historical marker is located at the Waterfront Park. The Dismal Swamp State Park is currently open for year-round recreation that includes kayaking and canoeing, and a robust nature reserve.
Albemarle Bank, the first African American owned bank in northeast NC was established in Elizabeth City and the building still stands as a business hub.
Christmas in Elizabeth City is family and kid-friendly, and features an ArtWalk, Lighted Boat Parade, live music, and there is even a Noon Year’s Eve event for children on December 31, 2021.
In the evenings, at the downtown waterfront in the Pasquotank River, lighted boats are docked to add to the festive feeling.
The Museum of the Albemarle has a permanent exhibit, Our Story, that highlights the city’s history and their gift shop has a number of handcrafted items by regional artisans.
Now until Christmas Eve, Arts of the Ablemarle is hosting a Holiday Gift Bazaar with beautiful artist-created items such as art, jewelry, candles, puzzles, oils and more. You can find a list of other local holiday events here.
Looking for lodging? Well, there is a Black-owned event venue/bed and breakfast, Loft Gardens, which is a stunning facility with multiple rooms and open meeting areas as well as a kitchen.
Black restaurants and food establishments in Elizabeth City are plentiful. If you want a mix of Jamaican/Caribbean and Southern Soul, visit Island Breeze Grille (oxtails pictured below). You can eat dessert before choosing a savory dish at Bam’s Best Bites. And if you’re looking for a good home-cooked meal, then visit Uncle Chuck’s Soul Food Café (try the crab balls).