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Touring Northeast NC & the Albemarle

The northeastern section of North Carolina east of the “Fall Line” is considered the Coastal Plain, with forests, farmlands, marshlands, beautiful sandy beaches, giant sounds, dynamic towns, outdoor recreational opportunities, fascinating museums, and tons of historic sites seemingly everywhere you look. Let’s check it out with a drive tour taking us from the Fall Line at Roanoke Rapids to the dunes of North Carolina’s Outer Banks to back the cities inside the historic Albemarle region.

We’ll see some of the world’s largest havens for waterfowl, the site of the Wright Brothers first airplane flight, a major Carolina university, the “Lost Colony” of English settlers, museums, national wildlife refuge areas, and plenty of historic districts – some of which date back to the 16th century!

Let’s begin this tour just south of the Virginia-North Carolina line along I-95 in Roanoke Rapids, a city of 16,000. Roanoke Rapids lies along the Roanoke River at the “Fall Line”, where many establishments settle because waterways drop elevation and serve as a) the innermost navigable point from the ocean and b) handy sources for falling water power. Here, the falls of the Roanoke River gave rise to mills, including a series of textile mills that powered the economy for much of the early 20th century. Working conditions in some of the mills were rough, leading to unionization activity in the early 1970s that was depicted in the movie Norma Rae¸ which won Sally Field an Academy Award for Best Actress.

Housed in a canal lock building from 1823, the Roanoke Canal Museum and Trail sits along river (with a great hiking and biking trail following its original 7.2-mile canal tow path) and shows how traders and merchants navigated the river and its rapids using the canal, some of which remains. The Carolina Crossroads Entertainment Complex,

Manmade activities aren’t the only points of interest or places for recreation around here: just down I-95, Medoc Mountain State Park offers a forested getaway, equestrian trails, and Medoc Mountain, a 325-foot peak that would go unnoticed in western North Carolina but it quite prominent on the Coastal Plain. The Park covers 2,300 acres and includes in its history of the earliest grape harvests and winemaking activity in the Southeast.

The Best Western Roanoke Rapids Hotel & Suites lies within eyeshot of I-95 for easy access, and close proximity to the city of Roanoke Rapids and all of the nearby activities. For the tour, let’s move on!

From Roanoke Rapids, head south out of town on U.S. 301. Weldon sits next door and was a key lifeline for Confederate forces during the Civil War, hosting an early railroad trestle across the Roanoke River which still stands. Weldon and Roanoke Rapids both lay claim to the title “Rockfish capital of the world” due to large population of rockfish swimming upstream to spawn every spring; the banks of the Roanoke River become very popular with anglers during this time.

A few miles south on U.S. 301 you’ll find Halifax, which also sits along the river and is famous for the “Halifax Resolves,” the first official colonial declaration of independence from England. It took place right in what is now Historic Halifax on April 12, 1776. The Historic Halifax Center features a museum, living history demonstrations, films, an archeological exhibits, and a series of historic structures that can be toured. Examples include the Tap Room from 1760 and Eagle Tavern from 1790; the original Halifax County Jail, dating back to 1838; and several homes that date as far back as 1760.

From Halifax, follow NC 561 and then U.S. 258 15 miles to Scotland Neck, which is home to Sylvan Heights Bird Park – the World’s Largest Waterfowl Park. Across themed aviaries that each represent a different continent, Sylvan Heights everything from common ducks and geese to exotic cranes, macaws, kookaburras, and a new flamingo exhibit. Exhibits on poison dart frogs, working bee hives, and more offer something for everyone to marvel.

From Scotland Neck, angle south on U.S. 258 to Tarboro, a city of 13,000 first established back in 1760, when town-establishing activity in this part of North Carolina was obviously quite busy. The Tar River meets the Fall Line at Tarboro, which is basically why the town grew up here in the first place. Historic Tarboro is one of the largest historic districts in North Carolina, with beautifully-maintained old homes and parkland spanning over 45 blocks. The lovely Town Commons, one of only two original Town Commons remaining in the United States, features several memorials, an original 1860 Cotton Press, an obelisk, and a two-tier, cast-iron fountain. The Blount-Bridgers House opened as “The Grove” in 1808 as the home of Revolutionary War veteran and statesman Thomas Blount. The home, built in the Federal style, is open for tours and serves as the base for a walking tour of the entire historic district. Within sight is the Pender Museum, located in a restored 1810 home. Pender features original hand-made furniture from the area, along with 19th century ceramics and 20th century pottery; it is available for tours by appointment (252-823-4159).

In the heart of the downtown, the Edgecombe County Courthouse sits handsomely amidst 19th century buildings; the Edgecombe County Veterans Military Museum is nearby on Church Street and features a wide variety of artifacts dating back to the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, as well as those more recent. Just down the street, the Calvary Episcopal Church (hence the name “Church Street”) features a Gothic Revival design; completed in 1867, it is considered an architecturally important antebellum church and also features an arboretum-style grounds, blending a mix of native and exotic trees and plants.

Tarboro is bordered on the south by the U.S. 64 freeway, which we’ll follow east on the Tour to delve deeper into the Albemarle region. If you’re ready to relax, the Best Western Tarboro Inn is right along the highway for a convenient overnight stay.

From Tarboro, let’s head east! Jump on U.S. 64 for an express trip to Williamston, where you pick up U.S. 13 and U.S. 17. Williamston is a town of about 5,500, home to the Senator Bob Martin Eastern Agricultural Center, which hosts a series of equestrian and livestock events, as well as ATV and motocross races, circuses, truck pulls, boat shows, concerts, and more. Williamston lies along the Roanoke River just a few miles short of where it expands into Bachelor Bay and eventually Albemarle Sound. The area has plenty of paddling paths and hiking trails and the historic Asa Biggs House offers a look at an authentic 1831 home, much of which contains original materials and furnishings.

From Williamston (you can cut through town or stay on the freeway bypass), head north on U.S. 13/17 to Windsor, a growing town of 3,000 with its own historic district. Another great example of early plantation life in North Carolina can be experienced at Hope Plantation, located four miles west of town. Hope Plantation centers on the Hope Mansion, constructed in 1803 for former NC Governor David Stone. A mix of Federal and Georgian architecture, the mansion holds many original period pieces. On the same grounds, the King-Bazemore House dates back even earlier, to 1763. A nice example of early “hall and parlor” design, the house was restored to its 1778 look. Both homes have guided tours available daily. Nine walking trails allow you to explore the grounds and get a better sense of plantation life from a broader perspective.

From Windsor, follow U.S. 17 north. After a long bridge spanning the Chowan River as it widens to meet Albemarle Sound, we descend into historic Edenton. A town of 5,000, Edenton declares itself the “the South’s prettiest small town.” While that may be subjective, what is not is that Edenton was the first permanent European settlement in what is now North Carolina; it was established as Edenton Colony back in 1658 by explorers from Jamestown, Virginia, looking for something new. Edenton – which went through a few alternate names like The Towne on Queen Anne’s Creek and Port of Roanoke before incorporating with its current name in 1722 – served as the capital of North Carolina Colony until 1743. Inspired by Boston, Edenton held its own “Tea Party” in 1774 that received a lot of attention in England because it was organized by women.

Today, you can tour the waterfront home of lead instigator Penelope Barker, which has been expanded since and now also, as the Barker House, houses Edenton and Chowan County’s Visitor Center. Just up Broad Street, the Historic Edenton State Historic Site encompasses several blocks and Historic National Landmarks like the Cupola House, built in 1758 and the Chowan County Courthouse, built in 1767. Cotton also plays a big role in Edenton’s history, and the Edenton Cotton Mill Historic District features over 60 historic buildings in a well-preserved former mill. The Edenton Cotton Mill Museum of History showcases cotton’s importance and the activity that took place in this district through the years – up through the early 1990s – in a relatively new museum still adding new exhibits. Down along the water, the 1886-era Roanoke River Lighthouse was built with a unique design called “screw-pile”, where supports are literally screwed into the ground to help stabilize it during hurricanes. In commission until 1941, plans are underway to open the lighthouse to visitors.

From Edenton, U.S. 17 is a fast four-lane drive to Elizabeth City, home to 64,000 residents and the largest Coast Guard Air Station in the nation, Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City. There are five commands here, as well as the Aviation Technical Training Center. The city grew quickly due to its location on a narrowing of the Pasquotank River, just before it widens and becomes part of Albemarle Sound, one of the largest freshwater sounds in the world – and one reason the Outer Banks are relatively tough to get to due to geography. By contrast, it’s easy to get to the Best Western PLUS Elizabeth City Inn & Suites on the west end of the city; it’s located right off Business U.S. 17 for easy access and newly-designed creature comforts.

Following U.S. 17 to U.S. 158 brings you to downtown Elizabeth City, an area redeveloping nicely with shops, restaurants, and attractions like the newly-relocated Museum of the Albemarle, which showcases much of the region’s history. A burgeoning arts community exists here, centered on Arts of the Albemarle, which offers a variety of art pieces, exhibits, and events – some of which involved wine. Elizabeth City State University has its 200-acre campus near downtown and the Khan Planetarium can have you stargazing or just learning about the universe as you plan to also learn more about the Carolina coast.

From Elizabeth City, head east on U.S. 158; it’s time to get to the coast. Near Barco, the road turns south and we wind through Currituck County, commonly referred to as the “Inner Banks”. This area is known for fresh produce stands that line the highway in some of the towns. The climate and vegetation of the area is perfect for certain fruits and vegetables to grow and you can stop and pick up a nice variety depending on the season. Of course, many of them also sell baked goods, fresh pies, boiled peanuts, and other local fare.

Just past Harbinger and Point Harbor, we get to cross Currituck Sound on the Wright Memorial Bridge, just north of where the water expands into Albemarle Sound. The bridge is 5.5 miles long and is the “unofficial” welcome point for the Outer Banks. The Outer Banks – or “OBX”, as you’ll see abbreviated almost everywhere – were quite before bridges were built for easier access. Only a few adventurous, often wealthy vacationers would frequent the area prior to the 1930s. The Wright Brothers’ famous first flight put the area on the map back in 1903, so when the area suddenly became easier to access it grew quickly. On summer weekends and during spring break, don’t be surprised to find portions of the Outer Banks packed with traffic – so just be prepared.

Once you reach the barrier island, you’re in Kitty Hawk, which is of course the reason North Carolina’s license plates say “First in Flight.”

Optional North Loop via Highway 12

Shortly after arriving on the island, you’ll reach North Carolina Highway 12. On our main tour, we go south; you can take the “north loop” by heading north on Highway 12 where you’ll catch a few dunes, including Three Dunes, which rise to the height of an 8- or 9-story building. Rising even higher than that is the Currituck Lighthouse, which offers a view for miles around if you’d like to climb the 220 steps to the top. Made of one million bricks, this lighthouse can help ships up to 18 nautical miles away navigate. The lighthouse towers above the historic town of Corolla, which was a haven for a few wealthy residents and vacationers until fairly recently; in fact, a fully paved road in the form of Highway 12 didn’t even reach the town until 1984… seriously!

Today, Corolla offers upscale specialty shops, recreational opportunities including kayaking and SUP (stand-up paddle boarding), day spas, surf shops, and art galleries. A large museum and mansion called Whalehead Club, constructed in the 1920s by a family who appreciated the seclusion of the area, is worth a tour if you want to see what many compare to the Biltmore Estate on the other end of North Carolina.

The 21,000 square foot mansion sits on 39 acres of beachfront property and went up in town thirty years before electricity arrived there. Corolla even has wild horses, many of whom are of Colonial Spanish Mustang descent, that roam throughout a 7,500-acre area along the beach, where their ancestors have been hanging out for 500 years. Corolla Wild Horse Tours, as you might imagine by the name, offers two-hour tours of these areas. Highway 12 ends in Corolla, since north of the town sits the Currituck National Wildlife Refuge, which offers beaches, marshes, sand dunes, concentrations of wildlife from waterfowl to reptiles to sea turtles, which nest there occasionally.

Since you can’t drive further north, you can loop back to Kitty Hawk via Highway 12 and U.S. 158 to continue the journey south.

In Kitty Hawk, U.S. 158 is the main drag with plenty of restaurants, antique stores, surf shops, and more, which continues as you enter Kill Devil Hills. While condos and homes line the seashore to the east through each of these towns, the area’s key historical event took place on the western side of this narrow barrier island: the site of the Wright Brothers’ first successful airplane flight... literally, where air travel was born. You’ll find it at the Wright Brothers National Memorial.

This site covers over 400 acres and marks the very spots where Orville and Wilbur Wright’s plane took off and landed on four separate flight attempts; the first flight was quite short, but the fourth lasted 59 seconds and covered 852 feet. Although the plane was damaged after landing, it was considered the first successful controlled, powered, and sustained heavier-than-air flight and of course things “took off” from there. The excellent Visitors Center includes original parts from airplane prototypes the Wright Brothers worked on, a full-size replica of their Flyer (the original is in the Smithsonian in Washington DC), and plenty of exhibits covering the region's history as well as aviation history. After all, this flight at Kitty Hawk led to plenty of aviation history.

Also look for the 60-foot pylon atop Big Kill Devil Kill just to the south, marking the location of their earlier 1902 gliding experiments. The Wright Brothers National Memorial is open seven days a week from 9am-5pm; only on Christmas Day is it closed. There is a small fee to enter, although individuals 15 years and younger are free.

Also in Kill Devil Hills, you’ll find the Best Western Ocean Reef Suites, offering beachfront views and all the amenities you’ve come to expect. It’s located off U.S. 158, right on Virginia Dare Trail along the beach. And the beaches along the Outer Banks are fantastic. Whether you want to play in the sand and surf or check out the piers such as Avalon Fishing Pier (near Kitty Hawk) or the Nags Head Fishing Pier (conveniently, in Nags Head).

Next up is Nags Head itself, long a resort town and home to the tallest sand dunes on the east coast. These dunes, which have moved around over the years (including burying a former miniature golf course and an old hotel), can be seen, climbed, and otherwise enjoyed a multitude of ways inside Jockey’s Ridge State Park. At the park, you can check out the dunes, enjoy the recreational opportunities throughout the park, and see a view of the Outer Banks from over 80 feet up that will truly allow you to appreciate the area.

Further south on U.S. 157 at Whalebone, you can enjoy the Jennettes Fishing Pier and the Outer Banks Fishing Pier, and connect to U.S. 64 heading back inland. At this junction, you’re at the easternmost point of U.S. 64, a road considered to be the “backbone of North Carolina” which also leads across the country all the way to Arizona near the Four Corners. Let’s head west on U.S. 64.

As we leave the Outer Banks, be sure to check out Roanoke Island! After a brief crossing of the Roanoke Sound on U.S. 64, you’re on it. Follow the signs to Manteo, which is just before the bigger bridge at Croatan Sound. Manteo is one of only two towns on the island, with about 1,500 residents. It serves as the county seat of Dare County, which included Kitty Hawk and Kill Devil Hills. Dare is the easternmost county in North Carolina and its largest, if you include the water area – include only land, and it becomes 68th largest of the state’s 100 counties. The naming connections of both the town and county go back to the days of colonization; Dare County is named after Virginia Dare, the first child known to be born in the Americas to English parents (1587) while Manteo is named after a Native American who became a liaison between the Native Americans and the English settlers, earning him the title Lord of Roanoke – the first Native American to be given a “title of nobility” by Britain. The town on Manteo became the county seat of Dare County in 1870.

Roanoke Island lies between the Outer Banks and the North Carolina mainland, right between Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds. With its strategic location, people have settled there for centuries. It is infamous for the “Lost Colony,” an English settlement established in 1585 as Roanoke Colony, with backing from home by Sir Walter Raleigh (whose last name you might recognize from another Carolina city). After a few years, during which the Anglo-Spanish War was taking place and England wasn’t timely with supply deliveries, the settlers there all but vanished; to this day historians can only speculate on what happened.

The original English settlement location is marked today by the Fort Raleigh National Historic Site, about three miles off U.S. 64 on the north end of Roanoke Island. The Visitor Center features an excellent museum outlining what is known about the original “Lost Colony” and a number of settlements that followed, including Freedman’s Colony, which lasted from 1863 to 1867 and was populated with freed former slaves. Partially rebuilt remains of earthen forts, historic markers, and wooded walking trails await on the grounds, along with the Waterside Theatre, a performance venue that has hosted the outdoor symphonic drama The Lost Colony since 1937. The Elizabethan Gardens are part of the park (though at times require a separate admission fee); their elaborate and lovely garden arrangements emulate those of the Queen Elizabeth era and serve as a living memorial to the Lost Colony. They are maintained and open all year ‘round, seven days a week; special events are frequent.

Nearby, you’ll find the North Carolina Aquarium, which features the largest collection of sharks in the state (that aren’t, you know, in the nearby waters) and a series of other interactive exhibits.

From Manteo, you can take either the old U.S. 64 bridge (on the north end) or the newer, wider U.S. 64 bridge (on the south end) across Croatan Sound; they meet up on the mainland either way. A gas station and mini-lighthouse will greet you on the mainland side (tip: gas stations are few and far between for a while heading west, so fill up and grab snacks here if supplies are low!)

You have an option to follow U.S. 264 south, which meanders through the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge and south through fantastic hunting and fishing grounds near the Pamlico Sound, or continue west on U.S. 64 across the Alligator NWR and over the Alligator River and Intracoastal Waterway on another long bridge that brings you to Columbia, a small town of 1,000 established along the Scuppernong River (as Elizabethtown) in 1793. Columbia features a connection to U.S. 264 – which is 35 miles away at this point – via NC Highway 94 past the Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge and a long bridge over Lake Mattamuskeet, which is the largest natural lake in North Carolina and has its own National Wildlife Refuge as well.

Columbia itself is a laid-back town, serving as the Tyrrell County seat since 1799 and otherwise just taking it easy. The area is growing due to its proximity to the Outer Banks, and the arts community is booming. The small downtown abuts a beautiful waterfront and features several galleries, along with the Pocosin Arts, an arts and arts education center featuring the works of local artists and crafters, including pottery, woodwork, metal work, and more.

Just west of Columbia, near Creswell, you’ll find Somerset Place, a former plantation on the shores of Lake Phelps. Operating as a plantation from 1785 until the end of the Civil War (when it became one of the largest plantations in the South), Somerset Place now chronicles the life of the Collins family who owned the plantation and the 300+ slaves who worked there. The plantation house was built in the 1830s; a diary, smokehouse, salting house, stocks, and kitchen and laundry house are all on the grounds and available for touring. Nature trails lead to Pettigrew State Park, which borders the plantation site.

Continue west on U.S. 64 to Plymouth and then south on NC Highway 32, which will take you across the marshlands of the peninsula down to U.S. 264 just west of Bath, another historic settlement that was North Carolina’s first town and first official port of entry, having been established on the Pamlico Sound in 1705. Today, Bath’s little historic district and offers walking tours, complete with stories about legendary figures like Blackbeard the pirate, its status as an early capital of North Carolina until 1722 (when it moved to Edenton, which we explored earlier), the Tuscarora War, and more.

From either Bath or the NC 32/U.S. 264 intersection, continue west; the Pamlico Sound has narrowed to the Pamlico River at this point, and it narrows as you enter the town of Washington, 10,000-person burg established in 1776 (named after guess-who). Washington immediately starting functioning as a port city when several under North Carolina cities were under siege during the Revolutionary War; it played this role during the Civil War, too. Like the other nearby towns, Washington features an historic district with walking tours, Since we’re heading inland, fans of the sounds, estuaries, and marshlands and the ecosystems they host might want to stop at the North Carolina Estuarium before continuing west. The Estuarium – the first “Estuarium” in the world – features plenty of exhibits on nature’s activities in this part of the state, the hydrologic cycle of water, a wildlife area, a boardwalk, and at certain times offers pontoon boat rides on the river. Many in the region call the town “Little Washington” to help distinguish it from Washington, DC – but of course, the two otherwise rarely get confused for each other!

To continue the Tour, head west about 20 minutes on U.S. 264 into Greenville, North Carolina’s tenth largest city with nearly 90,000 residents. Located along the Tar River, the city has a strong college vibe since it holds East Carolina University (ECU), the third-largest university in the state with over 27,000 students. ECU’s campus sprawls across 1,600 acres in three sections: the Main Campus, the Health Sciences Campus, and a West Research Campus. The Main Campus is closest to downtown and covers 530 acres; it is notable for the Spanish Mission style architecture of many buildings, a nod to the university founder Thomas Jarvis’ fondness for that style drawing from his days as a foreign ambassador. The school has many research and medical advancements to its credit, including development of new speech fluency devices, the standard procedure for gastric bypass surgery, in-vitro fertilization programs, and even archeological digs out along the coast that unearthed a 16th century 10-karat gold ring related to The Lost Colony we’d seen earlier in the Tour as well as the anchor from pirate Blackbeard’s flagship vessel. Who knows what else they’ll dig up?

ECU’s sports teams are part of the NCAA Division I; the ECU Pirates play football at 50,000-seat Bagwell Field at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, the third largest football stadium in North Carolina. The men’s and women’s Pirates basketball games (along with many other events) take place at Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum. The campus also features art galleries and specialty museums, including the Ledonia Wright African-American Cultural Center, which focuses on African-American art, history, and culture. The Greenville Museum of Art downtown offers 19th and 20th century art exhibits including one of the largest collections of Jugtown Pottery you’ll find anywhere; admission is free.

Greenville has become a magnet of sorts for BMX bikers; many nationally prominent and professional riders make their home in Greenville and major BMX events take place here, giving the city the moniker “BMX Pro Town USA.”

All of the city and campus can be easily accessed from the ring road around Greenville, and near 10th Street and the Tar River along this ring road (designated “ALT” U.S. 264), you’ll find the Best Western PLUS Suites – Greenville. Being near the river, you can also walk to enjoy the South Tar River Greenway, and excellent series of trails removed from the city bustle and avoiding dangerous road crossings; it’s perfect for a run, hike, or to just enjoy nature.

The Eastern Carolina Village & Farm Museum just outside of the city on County Home Road offers indoor and outdoor displays and exhibits depicting life in Pitt County from 1840 until about 1940. Included are a 1915 steam engine, a 200-year old copper still, a log tobacco barn, an old water tower, and hundreds of artifacts across the 18-building campus.

From Greenville, continue west on U.S. 264; the next little town, Farmville (which you have to admit, is very much a “little town” name) hosts an annual Dogwood Festival and has the May Museum and Park, a nationally-recognized historic museum located in a house from the 1850s. Holdings include over 10,000 artifacts, plus period furniture, glassware, and other materials crucial to life in the 19th century. Rotating exhibits change things up regularly.

From Farmville, continue on US. 264 to Wilson and catch either U.S. 301 or I-95 (if you want an express route) back north to Rocky Mount, a city of 50,000 also along the Tar River that made its early fortunes in tobacco and cotton. The first cotton mills in North Carolina were established in 1818, when Rocky Mount Mills opened; they lasted until 1996. A craft beer incubator called the Rocky Mount Brewmill is opening inside some of the old mills and is striving to become a major craft beer center; it’s a work in progress, so feel free to check it out! Next door to the Mills, you’ll find Stonewall Manor, built in 1830 by Bennett Bunn. Bunn profited handsomely by locating near the falls of the Tar River, owning several of the larger stores in town, and holding the land where the railroad came through to connect today’s Rocky Mount to northern markets. His mansion and plantation grounds are available for tours.

The city straddles the border of Nash and Edgecombe Counties. The railroad was deemed so important for the area when it opened, the county border was realigned to run down the center of the tracks. The downtown area includes a number of buildings being redeveloped, including the Douglas Block, which includes the historic Booker T Theatre and other night spots that harken back to the days of this block being the early center of African-American business and entertainment in Rocky Mount. The city has a strong musical history: jazz legend Thelonious Monk was born here in 1917 and played during his early days in the complex that is now part of the Douglas Block.

In the downtown area of Rocky Mount, several museum can capture your – or your kids’ – fancy. Kids love old fire engines (as do many of us adults), and the Rocky Mount Fire Museum displays old engines (including a horse-drawn steam engine built in 1878), a wooden fire main, equipment, historical artifacts, old photos, and more in a former 1924 fire station on Church Street near downtown. In the heart of downtown, the Imperial Centre for Arts & Sciences is a complex of arts, science, and cultural attractions located in former tobacco warehouses. The Maria Howard Arts Center blends visual and performing arts programs along with galleries for everything from clay to glass and metalwork. The Rocky Mount Children’s Museum & Science Center is part of this complex, which also features the Cummins Planetarium and a brand new alligator the community named “Darth Gator” (and really, isn’t it worth checking out based on that?).

Rocky Mount is right at the junction of I-95 and U.S. 64, the main road connecting the Outer Banks and Raleigh. The Best Western Inn I-95/Goldrock is on the north side of Rocky Mount in Battleboro, making for a convenient place to conclude this tour. From here, you can head north on I-95 to Roanoke Rapids and check everything out again, get back to the Inner and Outer Banks via U.S. 64 east, hit Raleigh, the Research Triangle, and the Piedmont via U.S. 64 west, or head south on I-95 to head toward Fayetteville or Wilmington. It’s all an easy and enjoyable drive from here!