The Weekend Guide to Little Washington, North Carolina
Discover history and southern charm along the Little Washington, NC Waterfront
This sponsored post is written in collaboration with Washington NC Tourism. All opinions of the stay and my experience in the inn are my own.
Perfectly positioned on the inner backs of North Carolina, along the Pamlico River, you’ll find Washington, North Carolina. In the first city in the nation to honor and be named after George Washington, you’ll find a peaceful, community-minded town and lovely people, full of personality. Whether you are visiting from a nearby city like Charlotte or enjoying a vacation out of state, Little Washington is a historic waterfront town that is big on the allure and Southern hospitality.
Though the city may boast plenty of charm and a friendly downtown, Original Washington also offers rich pockets of arts and culture, which is a huge part of what keeps the locals here and many retirees scrambling to buy a slice of waterfront heaven.
Just a few hours from all the major southern cities, Washington is an easy drive. If you have a boat want to explore all the coast has to offer, you can dock here for a few nights as the marina is steps away from the Historic downtown For those outside the Southeast, a trip to Little Washington is a bit of a haul that would merit more than a weekend trip, but if you are already heading to the Carolinas for sun and fun be sure to add Little Washington to your list.
When to Visit
Although the town is great getaway spot all year round, the proximity to the water and outdoor activities, Washington an ideal spring and summer destination.
Quick Facts about Washington
State: North Carolina
City Nickname: Little Washington; Original Washington
Motto: "Heart of the Inner Banks"
Best Known For: Victorian homes, stops along the underground railroad, walks next to the Pamlico and a hangout spot for the pirate Blackbeard
First in Namesake: Established in 1776 on land donated by Col. James Bonner, Washington is the first city named after George Washington, the first president of the United States
History lives here: The Bank of Washington, West End Branch, Beaufort County Courthouse, Bowers-Tripp House, North Market Street Historic District, Rosedale, Washington Historic District, and Zion Episcopal Church are all listed on the National Register of Historic Places
When you visit, follow our itinerary for an easy and perfectly planned good time.
1 p.m. — Check in to Elmwood 1820
Spend the weekend at this charming, historic bed and breakfast at the end of Main Street where the wine flows like water. A cool sanctuary of white and blue, the intimate and modern abode only holds a few families so you won’t run into crowds at breakfast and no noise complaints in the evening. Sleep steps away from the Pamlico River in the classic and cozy guest rooms named for the inspirational characters: The Writer, The Painter, The Explorer, The Gardener, and The Romantic.
Pamlico House: sits on the opposite end of the historic district. The Pamlico House offers a choice of five luxury guest rooms with private baths and all the added amenities of a boutique hotel. Here you’ll find a wine shop and monthly wine tasting events open to guest and all visitors.
Stay in your very own (temporary) riverfront home. Airbnb and local rental properties have tons of inexpensive inventory nearby for the weekend or the season.
2:00 p.m. — Grab Coffee and a Treat at Rachel K’s Bakery
This delightful and incredibly popular bakery and coffeehouse is housed in a restored town hall building. Sweet treats, fresh bread, and great lunch offerings make this a great place to fill your belly before sightseeing. Be prepared for a line out the door as residents clamor for a caffeine fix and fresh baked goods in the early afternoon. Cinnamon buns, chocolate cupcakes and Counter Culture coffee au lait with vanilla, sprinkles on everything.
2:30 p.m. — Get Hands-on at the North Carolina Estuarium
Don’t feel bad if you had to look up what an Estuarium was —those of us that don’t live close to water year-round would probably never hear about them outside of science class. Plainly put, it’s where the river meets the sea. In this environmental center, you’ll learn about vital estuaries and coastal rivers with hands-on exhibits, aquariums filled with crabs and other estuarine life and artifacts from life on the Pamlico River. There's even a Pamlico boat tour of the river. Get there early as it’s only open from 10 AM to 4 PM and closed on Sunday.
4 p.m. — Explore Washington’s Shops
While shopping is not the draw here, there are a quite a few boutiques worth checking out and be sure to visit the more than 10 galleries while you are strolling downtown. Wander around the picturesque heart of Little Washington by visiting some downtown shops. A few, in particular, stood out to us: The Rivergirl, Art Tyndall Studio, Bloom’s, The Southern Nest and Wine and Words. During our visit to Rivergirl, we were delighted to find an eclectic mix of antiques and vintage items, as well as time-worn gifts. Art Tyndall Studio is a fine art gallery that features original paintings of Washington, the Washington waterfront, and East Carolina landmarks. The Southern Nest offers antiques and lots of vintage items which include great furniture and décor. Bring a truck when you visit, as you’ll need a way to get all the great furniture home. Wine and Words boasts a fantastic collection of premium wines, NC Craft-brewed and imported English beers, cheeses & deli fare from around the world and an eclectic selection of new books at discounted prices. Bloom’s sells some of the cutest women’s fashions in town. If you’re looking for a new date night outfit, you’ll find great moderately priced clothing, jewelry, and accessories.
6:30 p.m. — Drinks at The Wine Crate
After heading back to the hotel and changing into your evening wear, it’s time for a drink. Pass the time before dinner with a board game and charcuterie at The Wine Crate. Indulge in a glass of wine, while you enjoy a waterfront sunset from one of two oversized patios that overlook the beautiful Pamlico River. Listen to some local live music and settle into life in Washington.
8:00 p.m. — Dinner at The Bank Bistro
Reserve a table at the Bank Bistro after your downtown excursion for an artful meal.
Small plates. Filet Mignon. Crab Cakes. Jalapeno Chili Margarita. Built in 1852, this upscale restaurant was once the town's first bank. While retaining the original architecture, including the Bank Bistro takes care to ensure every element is high quality and authentic. Especially the food which is made from scratch using the freshest ingredients. It makes my foodie soul sigh with relief — even the music is perfect, and don’t get me started on that bank vault turned liquor cabinet! Incredibly beautiful food, simple design, craft cocktails and the best service from the nicest staff.
9:00 a.m. — Breakfast at Elmwood 1820
Make your way to downstairs for an early morning spread before you explore the town. Indulge in some delicious home cooked meal as you take in the beautiful decorated Elmwood dining room.
10 a.m. — Morning Jams at the Turnage Theatre
Opened as a vaudeville theater in 1913, the refurbished Turnage Theatre is home to the Arts of the Pamlico and site of the town’s art openings, movies and musical events. On Saturday mornings, attend an open jam of the Beaufort County Traditional Music Association. You can also bring an instrument if you play and join in. Circle back in the evening and you’re sure to find something fun to fill the time. During our stay, the local high schools hosted a talent show and I’d wouldn’t be surprised to see a few Washington faces on the next season on the Voice or American Idol.
12:00 p.m. — Comfort Food at Old Town Country Kitchen
Quintessential southern style foods in Bath. Served with hushpuppies and a smile. There’s a good chance you’ll be called “honey” while you enjoy your sweet tea.
1 p.m. — Visit the “Queen Anne's Revenge” exhibit and take a stroll around Historic BathThe 300th anniversary of the sinking of Blackbeard’s flagship is underway with a tour of artifacts recovered from the vessel, Queen Anne’s Revenge. Stop by Queen Anne’s Revenge traveling exhibit at Bath High School and learn more about Edward Teach, the notorious pirate Blackbeard and his affinity for the Carolina town he called home. Afterwards, take a leisurely stroll around the oldest town in the state. Colonial homes, lakeside play, nature walks, hikes, trails, etc… makes Historic Bath a good spot to get outside and move around. Before heading back to Washington, say a quick prayer at St. Thomas Episcopal Church, built in 1734, making it the oldest church building in the state. Then head to Bonner Point for a breathtaking view.
5 p.m. — Walk/Bike the Boardwalk
It is time to head to the Historic waterfront. Walk or ride along the boardwalk as the sun sets or have a seat on a bench and watch the boats
6 p.m. — Dinner at Grub Street EateryMeet the best NC Beer selection in Little Washington. You don’t have to visit every brewery around the state (but you should) to find all that the Tarheel State has to offer. This low key Southern and Cajun eatery features great bar snacks, quirky menu items like “Possum in the Trash” and fun, buzzing atmosphere. If you happen to visit Grub Street on a lovely night, grab a seat in front of the window and watch the locals at play. Positioned right in the center of downtown, Grub Street is a chill place to take a seat at the bar and catch the latest game. Fried shrimp and fries, homemade chips with ranch.
8 p.m. — Cocktails On the WaterfrontIf you are in need of a nightcap, make your way to the Waterfront. It’s open “until”, which I believe means until you’ve worn out your welcome, on weekends. Seafood and patio dining along the river. Redneck Rockefeller, Shrimp and Grits, Pamlico Peach Cosmo.
9 a.m. — Breakfast at Elmwood 1820
Pack your bags and head downstairs for breakfast. As your favorite Motown hits fill the air, Elmwood has the perfect breakfast on your last day in town. Our hearty Sunday menu was filled with fruity yogurt, lemon scones and fresh baked Dutch Babies served with maple bacon. Grab a coffee to go before hitting the streets.
10 a.m. — Historic Washington Walking tourBefore you leave, take an opportunity to discover Little Washington history and hot spots on a self-guided tour. Historic Washington Walking Tour will take you through the main parts of Little Washington and give you the background on some of the prettiest homes in town. Stop by the visitors center for you ring your camera to capture some of the beautiful Victorian styled plantation homes that date back as far as the Revolutionary War. The route is easily walkable but you can also rent bikes if you’d like.
12:00 p.m. — Hot Dogs at Bill’s Hot DogsIf you want to fill your belly one last time before heading for home, stop by Bill’s Hot Dogs. for a quick and easy bite. No frills, just good hot dogs. Open since 1928 and a famous staple in the town. When you’ve been open this long, you must be doing something right. Find more things to do and discover at www.littlewashingtonnc.com.