A few weekends ago, a dear friend invited me down to her family’s boat docked in Oriental, NC for a girls’ weekend. I hadn’t been to Oriental in years and I was thrilled to get to spend time with her catching up and also exploring this quaint coastal town. Oriental is one of the places on my North Carolina Bucket List and I am so excited to update my 100 county tour with this things to do in Oriental NC post!
Oriental is located on the Neuse River and is about a 2.5 hour drive from the Triangle, depending on where you are located. It’s a rather easy drive and takes you through New Bern, which is a great stop for lunch and a stroll before driving the last stretch to Oriental. Keep scrolling to read more!
Things to Do in Oriental NC
What to Do in Oriental, NC – What to Do
Grab a Beer at New Village Brewery
This brewery features both beers brewed in their facility and NC craft beers from NC breweries. It’s located in a beautiful 1910 historic home and boasts a beer garden, an expansive front porch, and a wide variety of food truck options.
New Village Brewery is located at 702 Broad St., Oriental.
Support Local Artists at Village Gallery
One of my favorite things to do is browse art galleries and the Village Gallery features a gorgeous variety of local artists’ work. There are beautiful pieces ranging from jewelry, pottery, yard art, and paintings.
Village Gallery is located at 300 Hodges St, Oriental.
Sit a Spell in the Adirondacks at Lou Mac Park
Lou Mac Park offers Adirondack chairs to take a seat and enjoy the Neuse River. While we were there, we stopped to watch the sailing lessons happening. There is also a community pier to walk out on and take in more of the views, or even do a little fishing.
Lou Mac Park is located at 504 South Ave., Oriental.
Stroll the Waterfront
Park down by Lou Mac Park and walk down to the Village Gallery before making a loop back down to Adirondack chairs in the park. I so enjoyed strolling past the sailing lessons and the well manicured lawns with beautiful hydrangeas.
Watch the Boats Come in at the Town Docks
Grab a coffee and watch the boats come in at the Town Docks. I’m partial to the shrimp boats coming in, though there is quite a variety to enjoy coming in from all over the world.
Walk the Labyrinth
There is a community labyrinth right across the street from Lou Mac Park which is a nice place to reflect or enjoy the views.
Other Things to Do:
- Check out the Summer Nights Outdoor Cinema showings by the Old Theater at The Red Rooster: A great line-up of films to enjoy outside. The Red Rooster is behind one of the restaurants in town, the Silos, and offers a great food and drink menu for purchase at the outdoor cinema.
- Learn more about the local history at the Oriental History Museum: The museum offers a mix of permanent and rotating exhibits, plus they have walking history tours and a town historic plaque program.
- Take sailing lessons or charter a boat with Bow to Stern Boating: With Oriental boasting that it has more sail boats than people, I’d say it would be really hard not to enjoy the water for at least part of your trip. Bow to Stern offers sailing lessons, boats to charter, and kayak rentals. It’s a perfect way to experience all that the Neuse River has to offer.
- Hang out at the local beach: The John Bond Town Beach is located a bit further down from Lou Mac Park and is a nice, quiet place to have a picnic or to enjoy the water. It has a covered picnic area to get out of the sun. A quick note that there is pretty limited parking but is a short walk or bike ride from most parts of town.
What to Do in Oriental, NC – Where to Eat
Enjoy Dinner at the Toucan to Watch the Boats Come In
The Toucan Grill and Fresh Bar was hopping when we visited for dinner, so we ordered a beer from the Tiki Bar located on the pool deck of the Oriental Marina & Inn and sat in the chairs to watch boats coming in that evening. The Toucan offers a laidback vibe with delicious food and excellent views from their porch. We split the crab dip and I ordered a fried shrimp basket for dinner.
The Toucan Grill is located at 103 Wall St., Oriental.
Catch Live Music & Pizza at the Silos
The Silos Restaurant is the cutest spot to get pizza and a salad in Oriental. It’s a great spot for take out to bring back to a boat or to have a picnic in one of the parks. There is also the Red Rooster, which is located directly behind the Silos and has live music on Fridays and Saturdays.
The Silos Restaurant is located at 1111 Broad St Ext., Oriental.
Grab a Cup of Coffee before Strolling the Waterfront from the Bean
This quaint coffee shop located right across from the harbor has an excellent selection of coffee and tea, plus bagels, muffins, and ice cream for later.
Have a Leisurely Lunch on the Patio at Yawl’s Cafe
Located in River Dunes in the heart of Harbor Village, Yawl’s Cafe is a great spot for a leisurely lunch. While I love a good BLT in the summer time, their shrimp salad also looked tasty and would be what I ordered on my next trip. If they have lavender lemonade Prosecco on the menu, definitely order a glass as well.
Yawl’s Cafe is located at 468A Harborside Dr, Oriental.
Other Restaurants to Consider:
- M&M’s Cafe: This restaurant has quite a diverse selection of menu options, including their dessert list. The cafe has a beautiful porch to sit back and relax with a delicious meal.
- Food Trucks at New Village Brewery: I’ve heard excellent things about the Thai food truck, and all of the options on their calendar look delicious!
What to Do in Oriental, NC – Where to Stay
For this visit, we stayed on my friend’s boat overnight, I did make note of some places that I’d love to stay on a return trip. Here are a couple spots that really caught my eye.
The Oriental Marina and Inn are located right on the Intracoastal Waterway and in the heart of Oriental. It is located steps away from the shops, galleries, and outdoor activities, plus offers a great space to take in the boats coming in and out of the harbor. The Oriental Marina & Inn is where the Toucan Grill and Tiki Bar are as well. There are a variety of room options and the inn comes with access to the pool as well. It’s a great spot to stay whether you are arriving by car or boat.
The Oriental Marina & Inn is located at 103 Wall St, Oriental.
Magnolia House is a luxury bed and breakfast located in a historic home in the quaint village of Oriental, North Carolina. Located steps from restaurants, shopping and the waterfront, Magnolia House provides the perfect “getaway” experience. There is one suite and three rooms available, plus there is a gourmet breakfast served daily at 8:30 and a nightly wine and cheese reception.
Magnolia House Bed & Breakfast is located at 505 Broad St., Oriental.
Other Places to Stay:
- Inn at Oriental: This cute, quaint hotel offers 10 rooms and each one is the same price regardless of the season! Some of their rooms are pet friendly and offer outdoor decks. It’s a great option for staying in town.
- Harborview Suites: The River Dunes suites offer well-deserved space to relax and rejuvenate with outstanding water views in the Heart of the Harbor Village. These luxurious third floor retreats have spacious morning kitchens & sitting areas with spectacular views. The Suites are located across from the Harbor Club & Pool area, above Yawl’s Cafe and Natural Elements Spa & Wellness.
- Harborside Cottages: These cottages located in the River Dunes offer a luxurious cottage experience with bespoke coastal charm, antique and North Carolina furnishings, fireplaces, morning kitchens, and soaking tubs. The cottages are located across the street from the Harbor Club, marina, dining room, and pool with private front porches facing a shared courtyard and gas-lit firepit with oversized adirondack chairs.
A special thanks to my lovely friend, Susie, for inviting me for such a wonderful experience in Oriental! She truly is the hostess with the mostest!
Which of these things to do in Oriental NC would you be most interested in trying? Let me know in a comment below!
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