Washington, NC

Washington is one of North Carolina’s hidden gems. The breeze from the waterfront, the kindness of the locals, the truly one-of-a-kind experiences only found here, and let’s not forget about the food. This tour collects those signature tastes that can only be found in Washington and spreads them across a weekend made for adventure, relaxation and moving down a notch on the belt loop.

Medium Activity

4 days | 29 stops

Day 1

STOP 1: Taste Baked Goods at Washington Café

Come with me and you’ll be in a world of the sweetest temptations! Washington Café is the place where breakfast dreams are made of. This is the place to indulge in a morning coffee and a chocolate-filled croissant. The atmosphere of the bakery is warm and captures that millennial vibe in its decor with the exposed brick wall that lines the entire bakery and string lights encircling bags of coffee for sale, and pottery pieces made by local artists. The menu opens up a large selection of drinks, wraps, salads, and a range of daily specials for lunch and breakfast from sweet potato ham biscuits to sticky buns.

STOP 2: North Carolina Estuarium

You can’t head to Washington without experiencing the Pamlico River in all its glory, and one of the best places to do that is at the North Carolina Estuarium. This is the world’s first estuarium and home to 200+ exhibits focusing on North Carolina’s estuaries and coastal rivers. After exploring this innovative environmental center, make sure to head outside to grab a selfie in front of the large crab in front of the building, which valiantly states on his large claws, “Keep it clean, keep it crabby.”

STOP 3: Aurora Fossil Museum

Watch out for that Megalodon! Prehistoric shark teeth, shells, coral, and other fossils are yours for the finding at the fossil pits outside of the Aurora Fossil Museum. Bring your own sand sifter and walk away with a discovery. Inside the museum learn about the unique natural history of the coastal plains of North Carolina. Explore exhibits featuring Native American artifacts, fossils of all shapes and sizes. You may even walk away with your own precious gem.

STOP 4: Backwater Jacks

There's perhaps no other place in Washington that is so Washington. Hang out and enjoy the waterfront views. Savor the area's most unforgettable burger. This local favorite has a long line-up of live music, friendly people, drinks that keep flowing, and right off-the-boat access to seafood, burgers, hot dogs, and more. As a local hangout spot, we promise you won’t leave this place without a new friend.

STOP 5: Fish IBX Charters

Unlike that other Washington a little to the North, In Washington N.C. the biggest liars are found on the local fishing charters. Fish IBX has been taking locals and visitors out into the waters of the Pamlico searching for their next trophy since 2006. Lucky or not, anglers will get an earful about all things fish and fishing. Because nothing makes a fish bigger than almost being caught.

STOP 6: The Mulberry House

Sun and breeze on your face, drink in your hand. Spend cocktail hour with one of the best river views in Washington at Mulberry House’s rooftop lounge. This boutique hotel has it all: coffee shop, brewery, restaurant, and rooftop deck. For dinner, leave the decisions to the chef and opt for the six-course Chef’s Tasting Menu with optional wine pairing, or tempt your palate with something from their main menu including Japanese charcoal grilled skewers and Yakitori, local crawfish, or ginger braised pork belly.

Day 2

STOP 7: Val's Gourmet Baked Goods

Val’s has what you want for breakfast. Serving cakes, muffins and cinnamon rolls and smiles just to name a few, you'll recognize the love and warmth of homemade with every bite you take. This is not the place to count calories because you'll be tempted to take home a variety of different pies, cakes and other morsels.

STOP 8: Inner Banks Outfitters

If you're a more “hands-on” person and would prefer to get in the water instead of just observing it, stop by Inner Banks Outfitters before heading towards the water to rent a kayak or stand-up paddleboard. They also rent bikes for those who would rather explore while peddling instead of paddling. Inner Banks provides a range of services and products for the outdoor sports enthusiasts no matter your experience level.

STOP 9: Goose Creek State Park

The eight miles of trails at Goose Creek State Park lead visitors through a broad range of coastal experiences—live oaks draped in Spanish moss, wetlands along the Pamlico Sound and a cypress swamp viewed from an extensive boardwalk. A visitor and environmental education center explains it all with detailed exhibits. Getting into or onto the waters of the sound is easy at a sandy swim beach, a boat ramp or a separate paddling launch. A small tent-oriented campground offers solitude, even though the park is just a short drive from the historic towns of Bath and Washington, N.C.

STOP 10: Washington Crab & Seafood Shack

If you love seafood…and by that, we mean you eat everything you see…then you’re going to love the Washington Crab and Seafood Shack. This place is a destination in itself for travelers spending time down by the Pamlico. The restaurant is nothing fancy. But, when it comes to great seafood, it’s as real as it gets. Fish, shrimp, oysters, crabs, clams, and more cooked to order. Everything is freshly caught, and you can taste it. So what will it be? Low country boil, bacon wrapped sea scallops, fried oyster burger, seared tuna. Maybe a combo plate is in order. Any choice is the right choice. Prepare to be hooked.

STOP 11: Turnage Theatre

Step inside the Turnage Theatre and you’re transported back to the 1920s. Art Deco chandeliers illuminate the 432-seat theatre. A grand stage awaits the next magical performance. You can almost hear the cheers, laughter and applause of the audience. Visitors can tour the restored property by appointment. The Arts Council has transformed the space at the font of the theater into an art Gallery featuring the work of local craftsmen. So even when there is not a performance, there is always something creative to experience.

STOP 12: The Hackney Restaurant & Distillery

Welcome to The Hackney, a farm to table restaurant that combines locally sourced seasonal ingredients with an eclectic culinary outlook and their own brand of gin, all made right here in Washington. The upscale ambiance is perfectly paired with a meal that you will be thinking about for years to come. We promise your taste buds won't be disappointed. The Hackney also offers tasting and tours of its gin distillery, home of 1,000 Piers Gin, just make sure to call ahead to schedule.

STOP 13: The Elmwood 1820

For nearly 200 years Elmwood has been the historic and architectural crown jewel of the "original" Washington. Its lawn, sweeping porches, and expansive rooms have been home to prominent families over many generations. Today, Elmwood remains an icon of style and sophistication with its eye-catching Italianate detailing and eclectic well developed charm. A privately-owned fine residence operating as a luxury Bed & Breakfast Inn, Elmwood 1820 offers one of a kind nightly accommodations, as well as a spectacular stage for the most memorable of events to those who were born to wander, find adventure, and seek respite in the most unique and curious of places.

STOP 14: The Ell Hotel

Located in a century old house complete with a rocking chair front porch just minutes from downtown, The Ell Hotel greets you with a two story foyer as you walk in. Keeping the historic charm of the house, the updates have brought a sense of whimsy and comfort fitting today’s traveler. Visitors can check in on the push pin world map guest book. There’s a photo wall where you can snap the perfect selfie for your socials. There are quiet spaces for reading, a beautiful garden. Beyond the shared living spaces, four private guest rooms await your arrival. Each is decorated in a different color and style, incorporating local art, fresh flowers. All designed to make your stay feel curated and luxurious. But be careful, you may not want to leave

Day 3

STOP 15: Bill's Hot Dogs

Opened in 1928 by Bill Jackson. Hot dogs, chips and drinks is all Bill's Hot Dogs has ever served and we promise you won't be complaining about it. The legacy of this eatery is part of Washington's landscape and you can't beat the original. The chili is even the original recipe! Pairing years of hot dog history, everyone's favorite hands-only food, you get a winning combination here at Bill's Hot Dogs.

STOP 16: The Underground Railroad Museum

The Washington Waterfront Underground Railroad Museum is a National Park Service Underground Railroad-Network To Freedom Facility completely dedicated to telling the story of freedom seeking from the Greater Washington NC region. Using research through documents, narratives of the formerly enslaved and other information housed in university libraries across North Carolina and the Country, we are able to share how many of those freedom seeking attempts gained them freedom in Northern states, Canada, Florida, the Caribbean Islands and many other places.

STOP 17: Harbor District Market

Part of the fun in coming to towns like Washington is shopping in local galleries and independent shops unlike anything you have back home. To that end, we suggest you start your shopping at the Harbor District Market. It’s home to 26 full-time vendors offering a little of everything. Pick up a few bars of local handmade soap. Invest in a landscape painting by a resident artist. Grab a handmade chair...or table…or basket. Or let your sweet tooth take over the credit card. We won’t tell anyone Either way, you’re sure to leave with a little piece of Washington that you can box up and take home with you.

STOP 18: Boss Hogs BBQ

Mouthwatering is the only word to describe the experience you'll have at Boss Hogs BBQ. This eatery is where you can delight in all the Southern staples of homemade mac and cheese, collard greens, ribs, fried chicken and more. You won't be leaving here hungry...just make sure you have some napkins before you dig in!

STOP 19: Copper Canyon Wellness

Copper Canyon Wellness is an upscale comprehensive holistic wellness company with a focus on clients’ physical, mental, emotional and spiritual needs. Offering a variety of services such as Massage and Bodywork, Yoga, Medical Aesthetics, Aesthetics, Injectables, Botox, Dermal Fillers, Reflexology, Reiki and many other treatments that will have all your tension melting away.

STOP 20: Pitt Street Brewing

What’s better than a great craft beer? How about drinking that craft beer while sitting down by the River? Welcome to Pitt Street Brewing Company on the Pamlico. Fans of this craft brewery may know it from it’s Greenville location. The indoor area has been opened up to allow the breeze and views of the water to fill the space. Outdoors, there are picnic tables by the water. Boats can dock so you can go ashore and grab a pint. There’s a food truck to give you a reason to buy more beer. Even friends of the four-legged variety are welcome. It should also be said, this Pitt Street also has a great beer selection to go with the great views. I tried the hazy IPA (fruity and medium bitterness) and the coffee porter (smooth and complex), both of which were great. If you only drink on days ending in “y,” this is the place to be.

STOP 21: Explore Fresh Air at the Washington Waterfront

The Washington Waterfront Docks borders a park where you can spend the entire afternoon laying around and enjoying the scenery. Watch as jet skis and boats pass by. Talk to the locals that promenade to see the sunset. Enjoy the fresh breeze coming off the water. If you're looking for the perfect spot for contemplation, relaxation and the occasional selfie, head down to the waterfront.

STOP 22: The Bank Bistro

Whether you are single or ready to mingle, the Bank Bistro & Bar is a place to sit back, enjoy an expertly craft meal, and take in the ambiance. This upscale dining experience in a laid back environment offers not only offers you a chance to try one of Washington's best dining spots, but its the perfect spot to spend with someone special, including yourself.

Day 4

STOP 23: Pam's Diner

Buttery, cheddar cheese biscuits. Not that you need another reason to go to this warm, friendly breakfast joint, but you can expect a bottomless cup of fresh, hot coffee and some fluffy, fresh blueberry pancakes. Savory more your breakfast style? Try the corn beef hash with eggs how you like ‘em. If it’s all too much, don’t take your food for granted, take it to go!

STOP 24: Flying Pig Provisions

At Flying Pig Provisions, you’ll find the walls lined with the culinary, quaint, and curated. Products line the shelves from the floor to the ceiling, from gourmet Italian sauces, raw local honey, and coffee, to loose-leaf teas, spices, and fresh and local farm meats and dairy products. Did we mention they also have tons of candy? Flying Pig Provisions is truly a one-stop shop for anything and everything artisan. Want to support the locals? Love the hidden gems of North Carolina? Planning a dinner party? We promise that you’ll be very well stocked coming out of this shop.

STOP 25: Lone Leaf Gallery

Every item in this gallery and shop is marked by its craftsmanship and an artist’s eye. Unique gifts like handmade bags and hand-forged oyster knives will tempt you to do all of your gift shopping for the year in Lone Leaf. If you’re a sucker for letterpress, this shop has that, too, along with jewelry, artwork, and ceramics. The husband and wife owners are also custom framers who can help you select the perfect frame for your photos and artwork.

STOP 26: King Chicken

Whether it’s the fresh collards grown locally, fried, baked, and barbequed chicken seasoned to perfection, fried pork chops, or the famous chicken and cheese cathead biscuits, King Chicken has many products that are historically unique to the residents of the area and many passersby.

STOP 27: Two Rivers Ale House

Small-batch craft brews are a refreshing treat at Washington’s newest brewery, Two Rivers Alehouse. The name is a nod to the Pamlico and Tar Rivers that meet just under the Highway 17 bridge in Washington. This dog-friendly pub is owned and operated by a group of friends who created a spot where people can come together to enjoy a drink and quick bites like charcuterie and other finger foods. Sit outside and bring your dog. Listen to live music while you sample a beer flight from their 8 taps. Ah, now that’s vacation.

STOP 28: Wine & Words Gourmet

When walking up to Wine & Words & Gourmet, you’ll find a large space with two doors covered by a red awning. One space leads into a lounge area from another era, and the other leads into the completely unexpected; a large wine shop with aisles of wine and a deli case with olives, meats, fruits, and more to pair with your wine selection. But it doesn’t stop there. Crossing over into the lounge space, you’ll immediately be embraced by a warmth of laughter, live music, conversation, and of course, bottles of wine and glasses poured amongst friends.

STOP 29: 1906 Bistro & Bourbons

How can you go wrong with pub food and expertly crafted cocktails to wash it down with? At 1906 Bistro & Bourbons, you'll find that your resident bourbon lover will be in paradise. Share a meal and a drink with friends or family, and enjoy the light ambiance of the lounge and the warmth of your drink.