Published by Carl Hedinger. Last Updated on May 30, 2023.
Camden County, North Carolina, has one of the state’s smallest populations (10,000+), but it’s filled with wonderful places to visit. The amazing Dismal Swamp State Park, a collection of history-filled unincorporated towns, and gorgeous scenery are here.
If you’ve come to paddle the Dismal Swamp Canal, drive toward the Outer Banks, or live in the area, you should dive deeper into Camden County.
We created this guide to help you explore Camden County NC and here’s how we’ve organized it:
- Where is Camden County NC?
- Camden County Towns
- Where to Stay
- Annual Events
- Places to Visit in Camden County This Weekend (and All Year!)
- Where to Eat
- More Things to Do in Camden County and Nearby (Travel Guides)
You can skip to any section or continue reading about how to find Camden County on a map and the towns that reside here!
Where is Camden County NC?
Camden County is located in Eastern North Carolina, within the region known as the Inner Banks. The cities and towns of Elizabeth City and Edenton are also included in the Inner Banks.
US-17, US-158, and NC-343 are a few of the major roads that connect Camden County to its neighbors, which include the following counties in North Carolina and independent cities in Virginia:
- The City of Suffolk, Virginia (North)
- The City of Chesapeake, Virginia (North)
- Gates County NC (Northwest)
- Currituck County NC (East)
- Tyrrell County NC (South)
- Pasquotank County NC (Southwest)
- Elizabeth City: a small part is located in Camden County.
- Edenton (40 minutes)
- Chesapeake, Virginia (45 minutes)
- Kill Devil Hills (50 minutes)
- Norfolk, Virginia (50 minutes)
- Duck (1 hour)
- Nags Head (1 hour)
- Virginia Beach (1 hour)
- Corolla (1 hour 20 minutes)
- Greenville NC (2 hours)
- Rocky Mount NC (2 hours)
You can visually plan your trip to Camden County with the following maps:
Camden County Towns
Camden County has some wonderful unincorporated towns and one larger coastal city. Here’s a breakdown of the most prominent spots in the area.
- Camden: Camden is the county seat and the first town you’ll see after crossing the Pasquotank River from Elizabeth City. The Camden County Courthouse and the Camden County Heritage Museum and Historic Jail are here.
- Elizabeth City*: A small portion of Elizabeth City is in Camden County, all on Machelhe Island. Popular attractions on this side of the city include the scenic George M Wood Memorial Park and Paradiso Roma, an excellent eatery we’ll touch upon shortly.
- Shiloh: The area known as Shiloh was once called “Milltown.” That’s because there were five windmills built along the shoreline. Shiloh Baptist Church is one of the township’s most famous landmarks, built in 1849.
- South Mills: The Dismal Swamp Canal passes through South Mills, also home to Dismal Swamp State Park. A Civil War battle took place in South Mills, and you can learn all about it during a driving tour that we’ll mention in our “Places to Visit” section.
Where to Stay
Camden County’s North River Campground (256 Garrington Island Rd, Shawboro, NC) on the eastern edges of the county is where we’ve stayed and is a place that you should consider, too.
I don’t like to use that cliche often but after staying in one of their cabins and walking around the property, I will say that it’s the perfect place for any traveler.
Whether you’ve brought an RV, a tent, or just yourself, there’s a spot for you to stay at North River Campground. If you forgot something or need a bite to eat, their office has a variety of supplies, pizzas, and more food for purchase.
We think these annual events will bring you to the area if you didn’t already know about them!
- William’s Strawberry Farm (Mid-April-May): During strawberry season, head to William’s Strawberry Farm in South Mills for U-Pick, pre-picked, and strawberry-centric foods. Their strawberry ice cream will always be on my mind.
- Paddle for the Border (May): Paddle for the Border is a fantastic May event open to a limited number of kayakers. I’ve also joined this 7.5-mile excursion from Dismal Swamp State Park and paddled across the border to Chesapeake, Virginia.
- Camden Heritage Festival (September): This family-friendly September event brings the county’s communities together with food trucks, local crafts and artisans, and more.
- Dismal Day (October): Dismal Swamp State Park brings everyone back in October for Dismal Day. This event celebrates the nature and history of the Dismal Swamp Canal and Camden County. Food, kid’s crafts, free wagon rides, and more fun await.
Do you know about any other Camden County events that we should include? Let us know in the comments or by email!
Read More: The NC Tripping Events Calendar
Places to Visit in Camden County This Weekend (and All Year!)
I look forward to each of those annual events but you can visit these places in Camden County this weekend and throughout the year.
We start with the biggest name in the area.
Dismal Swamp State Park
Address: 2294 US Hwy 17 N, South Mills, NC
We mentioned Dismal Day and Paddle for the Border but want to share more about Dismal Swamp State Park. The North Carolina State Parks side of the million-acre Great Dismal Swamp has 20 miles of trails, a 2,000-foot boardwalk, and many opportunities to scope out birds and wildlife.
You can also ride your bike on most trails, including the 2.2-mile-long Canal Road. Of course, you can kayak the Dismal Swamp Canal and really feel like you’re the only one out there.
Camden County Heritage Museum and Historic Jail
Address: 117 NC 343 North, Camden, NC
Open on Saturdays and By Appointment on Other Days (Phone: 252-771-8333)
The Camden County Heritage Museum and Historic Jail are two buildings that start with the museum’s collection of exhibits, artifacts, and more. You’ll learn about the area’s rich history and evolution into the wonderful place we know today.
The Historic Jail is just a few feet from the museum and has four holding cells on the second floor. On the first floor are more exhibits about the area’s law enforcement over the years and a collection of photographs from area photographers from the 1800s through today.
African-American Heritage Landmarks (Driving Tour)
Dismal Swamp State Park and the Camden County Heritage Museum are two sites included on the area’s NC Black Heritage Tour.
These sites commemorate the Black experience in Camden County, including Dismal Swamp’s role in the Underground Railroad and the Heritage Museum’s exhibits on Moses Grandy and other area contributors.
Here are a few more sites to visit as part of this tour:
- Parksville AME Zion Church (566 N Trotman Rd, Camden, NC)
- Marian Anderson High School, named initially Sawyer’s Creek High School (248 Scotland Rd, Camden, NC)
- McBride Colored School Marker (1332 N Carolina Hwy 343 S, South Mills, NC)
Civil War Landmarks (Driving Tour)
Another driving tour around Camden County revolves around the Civil War’s Battle of South Mills. During this battle, the Union intended to blow up the Dismal Swamp Canal’s Locks but were ultimately unsuccessful.
Stops along this tour include the Dismal Swamp Welcome Center near Dismal Swamp State Park, the South Mills Locks, the Camden Courthouse, and the Heritage Museum.
We grouped these two places together but they each deserve a visit, no matter what your meal plan needs.
- Little Riddle Market (891 South Sandy Hook Rd, Shiloh, NC): Little Riddle is closer to North River Campground and has arisen out of a need for a grocery story in the Shiloh.
- Poor Boys Market (273 US-158, Camden, NC): Poor Boys has been serving beachgoers and locals for 70 years.
Both of these places are excellent additions to Camden County and I look forward to coming back and seeing them again!
One Mill Park
Address: 293-299 1 Mill Rd, Shiloh, NC
One Mill Park is one of the area’s most scenic places and a great spot to let your little ones play while you kick back and relax. An informative historical marker shares how “One Mill” got its name.
Spoiler alert: Milltown in Shiloh had five mills and the town here had just one.
One Mill Park also has a boat ramp and scenic boardwalk, perfect for watching sunsets.
Address: 123 Treasure Point Rd, Camden, NC
Treasure Point is another gorgeous place to visit in Camden County. A pier, canoe/kayak launch, and picnic tables allow you to sit and relax or get out on the water.
A nature trail will take you into the woods nearby, and we remind you to leave no trace during your hike!
Where to Eat
Another great thing to do in Camden County is search for great food. Restaurants are scattered around the county and here are a few of our favorites:
- Belcross Biscuit Company (269 US-158, Camden, NC): Formerly Belcross Bake Shop, this place serves delicious breakfast and lunch, but don’t forget to grab a cookie or one of their other sweet creations to go.
- Lamb’s Seafood Restaurant (152 Hwy 158 W, Camden, NC): Lamb’s serves excellent seafood (grilled or fried) and has daily specials to keep us on our toes.
- Paradiso Roma Ristorante (35 Camden Cswy, Elizabeth City, NC): Paradiso Roma is on Machelhe Island and offers homemade everything and exquisite river views. Arrive early if you want to get a table because this place is popular!
- Taylor’s Oak (101 Taylors Ln, Camden, NC): Everything on the menu at Taylor’s Oak deserves a try, whether you’ve come for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or brunch. Just make sure you stop by when they’re serving biscuits. A spicy chicken sweet potato biscuit hits the spot every time!
- Waterfall Blossom Café (100 Plank Bridge Rd, Camden, NC): Waterfall Blossom Cafe is a newer spot, serving, bubble tea, frappes, smoothies, refreshers with poppers, and snow ice.
Ready to Explore Camden County, North Carolina?
Camden County NC is waiting for you to explore; this guide will get you started. We’d love to hear from you if you’re familiar with this part of the state.
What are your favorite things to do around here? If you hadn’t heard of this place before or hadn’t visited yet, which part of the county will you be visiting first?
Let us know in the comments or by email. Don’t forget to share your adventures in our North Carolina Travel Facebook Group!
More Things to Do in Camden County NC and Nearby (Travel Guides)
We’ve featured many of these Camden County attractions and nearby places in our huge NC Travel Guides collection. Here are a few of them: