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Load Up the Kids and Head to Elizabeth City!

Posted on 09/26/2019 by Visit Elizabeth City

three people wearing converses with feet kicked up overlooking river at Sunset

Get out of the car and into some fun in Elizabeth City!  Road travel is never as challenging as it is with kids in tow. There are the inevitable soda spills, family feuds and wayward limbs ("Mom! She's touching me!"). Elizabeth City has exactly what you need to entertain your young travelers!  Let them release that energy at our splash pads and skateboard parks, explore our nature trails and historic tours and make discoveries through hands-on science experiments.  Relaxing and cooling off in our river is always a blast.  Rent some kayaks or a pontoon boat and enjoy floating, swimming and tubing along the river. 


Dismal Swamp State Parkkayaking Dismal Swamp State Park

If you're traveling toward Elizabeth City via Highway 17 from the north, make your first stop the Dismal Swamp State Park. Just the name—Dismal Swamp—should get their attention. And when they learn that George Washington explored the forested wetlands in 1763 or that bobcats and bears prowl the inner depths of the forest, they'll want to learn more.

Rangers at the park's visitor center are happy to oblige. The center features interior exhibits that interpret the history and biological make-up of the swamp. Native stands of Atlantic white cedar thrive here, as well as deer, river otters and rare plants. Migratory, neo-tropical birds and a significant number of butterfly species also make the state park home.

Families can explore outdoors via a raised boardwalk or go for a longer excursion among the 16.7 miles of hiking and mountain-biking trails. Visitors can rent bikes for traversing the park's interior trails and rent kayaks for a paddling excursion on the historic Dismal Swamp Canal. There are more adventures down the road in Elizabeth City.


kids playing on Splash Pad at Enfield ParkSplash Pads

We have not just one, but two splash pads in Elizabeth City!  This is a great way to cool the kiddos down and let them have some water-time fun. 

The Splash Pad at Enfield Park offers hours of playtime in the sun.  Be daring and join in the fun, be ready for the giant water dump on the right of the pic! 

Our other splash pad is located within Fun Junktion, which offers a fabulous playground and picnic area.  You'll hear the sound of laughter as the fountains intermittently turn on surprising the little ones as they wait with anticipation for the next cooling fountain to spray them.


teen skateboarding and doing trick over fire hydrant at Enfield Skateboard ParkSkateboard Parks

We have two skateboard parks for those who are ready to roll!  No matter what your skill level, bring your board, elbow and knee pads and a helmet and drop into a half-pike.  Hit the rails or just soar over the hills.

Enfield Skateboard Park is located in Enfield Park diagnonal from the splash pad.  This is a great course with many options for dropping in and jumping over intentional obstacles such as the fire hydrant shown here.  

Fun Junktion (same location as our other splash pad) also has a skateboard park!  Pack a lunch and make a day of fun for all ages.  You can also rent paddle boats and fish in the pond while there.


Museum of the Albemarle-Sister at River Bridge Exhibit, sisters learningMuseum of the Albemarle

Have you ever walked inside a Colonial farmhouse, or stood by a real cannon from a ship? You can, when you visit Museum of the Albemarle, located along the city's downtown waterfront. The museum is chock full of artifacts that reveal the history of 13 counties in northeastern North Carolina, considered by many to be the birthplace of English America.

The "Our Story" permanent exhibition, showcases more than 750 artifacts and displays that tell the story of the region's watermen, farm life, the Civil War, the Wright brothers, the Coast Guard, as well as the region's rich African American and Native American history.

It won't take long for kids to spy the cannon recovered from the ship purported to be Blackbeard's Queen Anne's Revenge, or the horse-drawn "steam pumper" fire engine used in Elizabeth City through the 1920s. The will also enjoy learning how early farm families lived by exploring the Jackson House, a 1755 farmhouse and the 1840's Proctor Smokehouse, both original structures from the area.

Younger kids can pretend to sail the high seas and enjoy maritime-themed activities in the Discovery Room.  They can jump aboard the Queen of the Albemarle, read books in an 'underwater cave', learn about the food chain and play pirate games.


children learning about robots at Port DiscoverPort Discover

For even more experiential fun, young travelers can explore and interact with the science around them at Port Discover Hands-on Science Center. Offering free science and health programs for children to enjoy with their parents, the center is a science teacher's dream come true. Kids can fly an airplane, observe sea life, examine rocks and minerals and take part in a host of special programs that bring science to life. Special attention is given to what's unique about North Carolina's Albemarle region with programs on environmental, marine and aviation sciences.

Be sure to visit the resident pets while there.  Fish, reptiles and turtles are a favorite at Port Discover!


TCOM Hanger and blimp or aerostat over fieldElizabeth City Aviation Trail

Travel the Elizabeth City Aviation Trail, from Wright brothers visits to blimps drifting across our skies, to our local U.S. Coast Guard rescue flights, we are rich in aviation history. Residents have long been accustomed to seeing airships and Coast Guard aircraft in the skies over Elizabeth City. In 1942, from two enormous hangars in neighboring Weeksville, the U.S. Navy began launching airships, or blimps, that were instrumental in combating enemy submarines that lurked off the North Carolina Coast during World War II. Today, TCOM, L.P., an international supplier of tethered aerostats and airship blimp envelopes, operates at the Weeksville site. If you drive by, you can see one of the extremely large historic hangars and if you're lucky, you might just spy a blimp aloft.

Adventure awaits you, stop by the visitors center to pick up a free coloring page for the kiddos.  Remember to share your E-City vacation pics with us at #VisitECity.

Looking for more things to do and places to see in Elizabeth City? Check out our Insider's Guide Blog for a local's perspective on why EC is a great place to visit any time of year!

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