Washington, North Carolina was settled as early as 1585, though the settlement would officially show up on a map as a settlement in the 1770s. It was first called Forks of the Tar since it borders the Pamlico and Tar Rivers, it was then named in 1776 Washington to honor General George Washington, marking this the first town to be named after the first President of the United States. This inviting small town is full of history, delightful restaurants, locally owned boutiques, and outdoor activities. Here is a weekend travel guide featuring what to do in Washington, NC.
This small town sparked my love of exploring towns across North Carolina. Throughout college, I worked at a boutique in Washington with my best friend, which is where she grew up. I have such fond memories of this charming town, and I always look forward to spending time here whenever I can.
Weekend Travel Guide: What to Do in Washington, NC
What to Do In Washington, NC
Check Out Goose Creek State Park
Image via NC Parks
Goose Creek State Park offers 8 miles of coastal experiences. The park includes live oaks draped in Spanish moss, wetlands along the Pamlico Sound and a cypress swamp viewed from an extensive boardwalk with a visitor center and an environmental education center to learn more. There is also space for a sandy swim beach, a boat ramp or a separate paddling launch. There is also a small camp ground if that of interest to you.
Take a Walking History Tour
Image via Our State Magazine
Washington has such beautiful architecture and waterfront, so check out these five options for walking history tours. There is something for everyone and these are self-guided audio tours. The options include East Side Historic District and West Side Historic District. There is an African American History tour, a Historic Port of Washington tour, and a Washington Haunts and Ghost Walk.
Explore the North Carolina Estuarium
Image via NC Partnership for the Sounds
The world’s first estuarium is located in Washington, NC. There are over 200 exhibits that provide visitors opportunities to learn more about North Carolina estuaries and coastal rivers. David and I always enjoy talking a walk beside the Pamlico to see the happenings. It is definitely a unique experience!
Grab a Pint at Pitt Street Brewing on the Pamlico
Stop by Pitt Street Brewing Company On the Pamlico for a pint of beer and watch the boats float by. It’s a great spot with a variety of seating options and a food truck in the evenings. David ordered the Code of Conduct Hazy IPA. If you’re like me and prefer wine to beer, they have a good wine list for a brewery as well!
Enjoy the Washington Waterfront
One of the best things to do is just enjoy the waterfront. Grab a cone of ice cream or a coffee and a seat to watch the boats come by. When I worked at the boutique, the back entrance faced the waterfront, so I often took breaks out there.
Browse the Shops Downtown
As you are strolling downtown, take some time to explore the shops. Some of my favorites to pop in are Flash from the Past Antiques & Uniques, Lane Blu, and Cottage Junkies.
Where to Eat in Washington, NC
Dine on the Back Porch at the Beautiful Mulberry House
Mulberry House is a new spot in the historic Fowle Building on Main Street. It is named for the Mulberry Tavern that was one of the first businesses in Washington. Mulberry House is a restaurant with beautiful views of the Pamlico either from the rooftop or from the back porch. It also has a coffee shop and bakery at the front of the space. Soon, it will open as a boutique hotel and brewery as well. It is quite a lovely spot to hang out! The pimento spread is a delicious starter while I really enjoyed the fried chicken sandwich while David tried the BBQ bacon burger. The herbed falafel wrap also sounds delicious!
Grab a Seat at the Bar in The Hackney
The Hackney is located in a beautifully restored former 1920s bank and serves a unique coastal menu with a British flair. Chef Jamie Davis, originally from Jacksonville, NC, serves up delicious takes on his menu. They also offer afternoon tea in addition to the dinner menu. The Hackney distillery makes gin and their cocktails are out of this world good. I also love the Art Deco interior and the vault serves as an entrance to the kitchen.
Down on Main
Image via Down on Main
If you’re looking for a spot to grab local seafood, comfort food, and the best homemade chips and homemade ranch dressing, then head to Down on Main. Their sidewalk seating is a great spot for people watching. My go to order is always a crab cake sandwich with the homemade chips and a side of their ranch dressing.
Most people know about Bill’s Hot Dogs and I know it’s a staple to the town; however, I don’t eat hot dogs. So, if you want to do something that is iconic Washington there and King Chicken are two of the spots to check out!
Where to Stay in Washington, NC
Cozy Up at the Ell Hotel
Image via the Ell Hotel
This new hotel is veteran and woman owned and is such a stunner! The hotel offers a complimentary coffee bar, high-speed internet, plus access to gazebo with a fire pit. The Gold Room is such a pretty space and would be the perfect spot to call home for a weekend!
Our Ride for the Weekend
David and I drove a Toyota Highlander Hybrid Bronze Edition for the weekend. The Highlander Hybrid got approximately 525 miles per tank and was such a smooth ride. Features included a sunroof, unique bronze interior stitching, bronze finish rims, a wireless cell phone charger in the center console, and room for 7. David and I are starting to look for a new vehicle and a Toyota Hybrid SUV has been at the top of our list, so this just affirmed it!
See more highlights from our trip here.
Thank you to Southeast Toyota Distributors, Inc. for partnering with I’m Fixin’ To. As always, all opinions are my own.