Tarboro is the ninth-oldest incorporated town in North Carolina, created in 1760. It’s situated right on the Tar River at the fall line in the Piedmont and the town served the area as an important colonial river port. It’s located in Edgecombe County and about an hour drive east of Raleigh, located right off Highway 64.
5 Best Things to Do in Tarboro NC
Visit Local Tarboro Museums to Learn More Local History
There are quite a few museums located in Tarboro and neighboring Princeville to learn more about the local history of the area. Visit the Edgecombe County Veterans’ Military Museum (located right beside Tarboro Brewing Company) to learn more about the past, present and future military veterans who were born in, lived in, or had family in Edgecombe County.
Head across the bridge to the Princeville Museum and Welcome Center. Princeville was originally known as Freedom Hill and was incorporated on February 20, 1885. The Museum and Welcome Center are located inside the beautifully restored schoolhouse that once housed Princeville Grade School, interpretive displays bring the town’s rich history to life.
Explore Blount-Bridgers House and Historical Gardens and the African American Historic Sites Trail
Photo via Rocky Mount Telegram
Blount-Bridgers House and Hobson Pittman Memorial Gallery
A Federal-style, circa 1808 plantation house built by Thomas Blount, a prominent Edgecombe County businessman and U.S. congressman. In 1979, the house was adaptively restored and turned into a museum. Today, the first floor is home to a collection of 19th century furniture, furnishings and Edgecombe County memorabilia. Visitors can learn about the history of the town, county and the house itself.
The second floor houses the beautiful Hobson Pittman Memorial Gallery, a living museum to Pittman, Edgecombe County’s premier artist (1899-1972). Here, visitors can enjoy the permanent Hobson Pittman Collection of 20th century artwork, as well as exhibits from local, regional, national and international artists.
The museum is open for tours Wednesday-Friday from 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., Saturday and Sundays from 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Special tours by appointment.
Blount-Bridgers Historical Gardens
Surrounding the Blount-Bridgers House are its attractive gardens comprised of mostly native plants, shrubbery, flowers and trees that were prevalent in the early 1800’s. A perennial garden, two shade gardens, a kitchen garden and evergreens are maintained by the Blount-Bridgers Garden Committee, a 14-member governing body that sponsors an annual Garden Symposium with noted speakers and vendors, and hosts plant and flower sales fundraisers to support beautification efforts for the gardens. Most notable is the gardens’ Quercus stellata, an 87-foot tall Post Oak that shares the NC Co-Champion State Tree with two other trees in the western part of the state.
African American Historic Site Trail
African Americans have played central roles in the history of Tarboro and Edgecombe County from their beginnings. The African American Historic Sites Trail recognizes outstanding African American citizens in our community by highlighting their lives, the houses in which they lived, and some of the buildings and structures associated with their lives in East Tarboro, the all African American 20th century neighborhood. The trail provides glimpses of local African Americans who have contributed to the cultural, social, economic, political, and religious development of our community over the years. Fourteen sites, some of which are over 100 years old, are featured, including residences, church buildings, a hospital, a pharmacy, and an ante-bellum plantation house.
Guided tours are available for individuals and groups, on request, by calling (252) 823-0275.
Visit the Town Commons
Photo via Visit NC
Tarboro’s impressive Town Common is one of two remaining original town commons in the United States, the other one being in Boston. Its 15 acres of lush, oak-shaded lawn serve as a gateway to the 45-block Historic District. Lined with stately homes built between 1890 and 1910, the Common was established by Tarboro’s founding fathers in 1760 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Originally designed for the common grazing of livestock, community outings and military drills, the land is the crown jewel of Tarboro’s 45-block Historic District. Granite statues grace the grounds, as well as the beautiful Wyatt Fountain, named for Henry Wyatt, the first North Carolina casualty of the Civil War, the 1840 Cotton Press, which is the last of its kind, the beautiful Herb Gardens area, and the nature walk along McBryde Trail.
Be sure to stroll downtown to check out some of the local shops and Riverfront Park on the Tar River.
Grab a Brew from Tarboro Brewing Company
One of David’s very favorite beers is Tarboro Brewing Company’s Sexy Canoe, so be sure to stop in the taproom and enjoy one on draft. The taproom offers a variety of Tarboro Brewing Company beers on tap which include seasonal favorites like Sweet P Sweet Potato Amber Ale and Oktarborofest. Plus, on weekends, there are food trucks that park near the outdoor seating area!
Dine at On the Square
On the Square’s low-key charms haven’t faded since its opening, but rather have increased with every weekly menu change. Seasonal, sustainable ingredients are celebrated accordingly throughout the ever-changing menu that ranges from subtle to blunt and is teamed nightly with recommendations from a value-driven eclectic yet classic wine offering.
We started with the fried Brussel sprouts. For our main plates, I ordered the steak frites and David got the burger. Then, we finished our meal with the apple cobbler which was a delightful take on a classic with the crumbles.