Here, military families can quickly connect with their new community.
For U.S. military families, establishing new roots every few years is the norm. As the base to one of the busiest U.S. Coast Guard air stations in the country, Elizabeth City welcomes newcomers with outstretched arms and works hard to ensure they feel right at home.
From venues that celebrate the arts, like the Museum of the Albemarle and First Friday ArtWalk, to social events and outdoor recreation opportunities, folks are able to connect quickly with their new community.
Amanda Moore, president of the Coast Guard Spouses’ Club of Elizabeth City, moved to the area with her family two years ago. The club has given Moore a way to make friends and participate in volunteer and service opportunities.
“We love this community so much,” Moore says. “Elizabeth City is a small town, but everyone is so nice, and the Coast Guard community is really strong. You can always find something to do.”
The Moores regularly attend the First Friday ArtWalk downtown, featuring the work of local artists as well as shops and live music. They also enjoy the Downtown Waterfront Market, which is held every Saturday from June through the end of August and features events, vendors and activities. On her own, Moore is partial to the themed history presentations at the Museum of the Albemarle.
“We try to take advantage of what this community offers as much as we can,” says Kayley Shepro, another Spouses’ Club member. “Our community has been wonderful, especially during the government shutdowns and COVID-19.”
Many businesses in the community also provide military discounts and other creative ways to support Coast Guard families. A number of parents take advantage of the Albemarle Family YMCA Stay & Play nights that offer supervised fun for their children while they enjoy a date night or a trip to Ghost Harbor Brewing Company to catch up with friends.
“This has been an invaluable resource in this area for military families who may not have family in the area to watch their kids,” Shepro says.
Other activities for families include the Das Danmine Family Fun Center, which boasts everything from board games to basketball and volleyball courts to arcade games, among other things, and Dixieland Speedway.
Take it Outside
Thanks to Pasquotank County’s 46 parks and public-use areas, families enjoy kayaking on the Pasquotank River, fishing at Dismal Swamp State Park and numerous activities at the 133-acre Fun Junktion park.
Bobbi White, a former director of the Elizabeth City/Pasquotank County Parks and Recreation Department, says the park includes a $650,000 grant-funded playground designed to be inclusive for all ages and abilities.
“We try to get families out to do more together,” White says. “Many of our parks have walking trails, splash pads, golf, skate parks, sports fields and other options where they can be doing multiple things outside and still be together.”
While there’s much to do on any given day of the week in Elizabeth City, it also offers the perfect pace, says Ciara LaBelle, whose family recently signed for their second Coast Guard tour here.
“It’s not just hustle and bustle all the time here,” LaBelle says. “You really have time to enjoy your neighbors and get to know people.”
If you’d like to learn more about the Elizabeth City area, check out the latest edition of Livability: Elizabeth City, NC.