The off-season is a great time to take advantage of the slow pace, hop in the car and take a drive to some of the charming nearby communities.

Located about 1.5 hours from Kitty Hawk on Albemarle Sound in Chowan County, Edenton offers plenty of opportunities to explore the history, culture and fine dining of the area.

“Edenton’s rich history, vibrant downtown with unique and boutique shopping, tours that can be taken aboard a trolley, guided or self-guided walking, a locally owned and operated movie theater with first-run movies, a great mix of restaurants and accommodations weave together perfectly for the experience everyone is looking for when you want to get away and relax,” says Nancy Nicholls of the Chowan County Tourism Development Authority.

A short drive transports visitors from “a very busy lifestyle” to a gentler place where people can park their cars and explore the historic town nestled along the Sound. There’s a reason why named Edenton “One of America’s Prettiest Towns,” Nicholls says.

This year mark’s Chowan County’s 350th Anniversary, and Edenton is celebrating with a host of special promotions, including special Valentine’s Packages, museum exhibits and more.

“Romance is what Valentine’s Day is all about, and with it falling on a Wednesday, our inns are suggesting some nice ways to celebrate either with an overnight or two the day of or maybe even the weekend before or after,” Nichols says. “Valentine’s Day is a big out-to-dinner evening for both locals and visitors. Many of our inns offer dinner at the inn where they are staying. For those that do not have that feature — or if the couple decide they would like to venture out — we have several fine dining options, some within walking distance, as well as others that are just a short drive.”

All of the packages are listed on the calendar page for February, with a direct online link to each for further details on all offerings.

Everyone knows the French are purveyors of fine wines — which pairs nicely with the art of romance — but French food is known globally for its finesse and flavor. Those who want to prepare a romantic dinner for two can channel their inner Julia Child and take part in one or more of three French cooking classes offered at The Cotton Gin Inn.

In addition to learning how to prepare a sumptuous 3-course meal, participants will receive a CGI logo apron.

Classes begin at 6 p.m. at the historic inn, 110 Old Hertford Road, and are $50 per person, per class.

The first class is set for Friday, Jan. 12. The menu includes salade de carottes râpée avec betterave (grated carrot salad with beets), chicken chasseur (a dish that combines mushrooms and chicken in a tomato and white-wine sauce) and raspberry millefeuille (a rich cake consisting of thin layers of puff pastry filled with raspberry).

The menu for the Friday, Jan. 19, class includes petite salade niçoise vegetarian (a salad typically including tuna, black olives, hard-boiled eggs and tomatoes), quick cassoulet (a casserole) and chocolaté crème brûlée (a dessert consisting of a rich custard base topped with hard caramel).

The menu for the Friday, Jan. 26, class includes classic cheese soufflé (a baked egg-based dish), boeuf bourguignon (a dish consisting of beef braised or stewed in a red wine sauce, to which mushrooms and onions are typically added) and chocolaté mousse (a sweet dish made as a smooth light mass with whipped cream and beaten egg white, flavored with chocolate).

Nicholls says the cooking classes are a great way for couple to bond.

“Pairing the cooking class with an overnight getaway may be the answer,” she says. “We are only an hour from the Norfolk/Hampton Roads area, and an hour and half from the Outer Banks. A special romantic experience can be closer than we think.”

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