11. Edenton, North Carolina
North Carolina's first colonial capital and a popular stop-off on the way to the Outer Banks, Edenton came in high on our list of towns packed with historic sites—almost the entire town is listed on National Register of Historic Places. A four-year restoration of the 1886 Roanoke River Lighthouse (built on stilts, it seems to float above the river) just wrapped up, while other history-rich hot-spots include the Penelope Barker House, site of the first organized political action by American women (a group of 46 local ladies made worldwide headlines in 1774 when they signed a petition to boycott British tea). The town is also staying true to its roots with an expanding small farm and local food movement. In January, the Inner Banks Inn opened a farm-to-table restaurant, The Table, while the Heritage Farm Fest in June will explore the county's agrarian life pre-1950 with a variety of demonstrations from local farmers.