Washington, NC

In this riverside town, it’s hard not to be inspired by the natural beauty and convivial community of the locals. Creativity abounds around every corner of Little Washington, you can see it in the flower boxes, the thoughtfully restored historic buildings of downtown, public art, and in the galleries and shops. Discover the art all around in Washington, and perhaps you’ll come home with a spark of creativity and a new piece for your home.

Medium Activity

2 days | 16 stops

Day 1

STOP 1: Washington Cafe

The Washington Cafe smells like your grandmother’s kitchen and tastes like it, too. A menu of fresh baked, scratch made pastries, breads, sweets are as comforting as they are filling. The bakery works closely with local farmers to use local, in season ingredients and boy, can you tell. Oh and don’t forget a cup of organic Counter Culture coffee; it smells and tastes amazing. Breakfast here is a must for starting the day off right.

STOP 2: Lemonade Art Gallery

Making lemons into lemonade is the specialty at Lemonade Art Gallery. The five artist-owners of Lemonade were inspired to open their own space after a gallery hosting them closed unexpectedly. Now, they display and sell works by more than 27 artists. Photography, paintings, hand blown glass, and woodworks are just a few of the mediums you’ll find in this gallery and gift shop. The artists also teach classes and workshops in the rear of the gallery. Now that goes down sweet.

STOP 3: Riverwalk Gallery

Here’s a chance to be an artist or simply support the arts. A trip down Main Street isn’t complete without a stop in Riverwalk. A hub for artistic development in the area, Riverwalk Gallery and Arts Center is a popping downtown gallery that displays works by North Carolina artists. Participate in one of the classes or workshops to learn more about techniques in pottery or acrylics, among other courses, or shop the gallery which offers works of all mediums from a rotating cast of artists and craftspeople.

STOP 4: Art Tyndall Studio

When you’re an Artist named Art, can you live up to your own name? In this case, the answer is definitely yes. Bring home a taste of Little Washington with an oil on canvas painting by Art Tyndall. Beauty in the outdoors and the everyday are his subjects. Tyndall paints on location and captures his surroundings in oil on canvas. His original works depicting local scenes--downtown waterfront, landscapes, lighthouses, old cars and trucks, even Bill’s Hot Dogs--are available for visitors to buy and bring home. And paintings of hot dogs have a lot less calories.

STOP 5: Wine and Words Gourmet

This might be your favorite store in Washington. Books, wine, craft beer, cheeses from around the world, chocolates and specialty foods. . .what more could you ask for in a gift shop? There’s always something new to try and the aimable owners will steer you in a tasty direction when you ask for advice. Have Mary create a custom gift basket and be the most gracious guest at the next houseparty you attend.

STOP 6: Historic 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 7: Underground Railroad Museum

Corner of Main and Gladden Streets, Washington, NC
See the faces. Read their stories of sacrifice. Understand what it took to escape from slavery. Climb aboard the restored Seaboard Coast Line Railroad Caboose and enter a pictorial history of slavery in Washington and Beaufort County. Part of the National Park Service “Underground Railroad Network to Freedom,” this small museum has a big impact.

STOP 8: Crab Trail

Want to go on a crab hunt? Not for the kind you can eat, but for giant, vibrantly painted crab statues that make a great selfie partner. In 2006, 32 local artists each painted one of these large, fiberglass crabs as part of an outdoor community art project. The project raised a substantial sum for local charities. Though many have been “adopted” and moved out of town, you can still find six along the waterfront area, each decorated in a unique way.

STOP 9: Havens Garden Wheel

Take a selfie with one of Washington’s most beloved landmarks: the Havens Garden Wheel. A relic from an area lumberyard, the giant steel wheel sits at the water’s edge just before the bridge on Park Drive. Kids of all ages love to climb it and at sunset it makes a fantastic silhouette against the Pamlico. Check out the inclusive playground while you’re there, and watch for turtles and crabs waddling out of the river.

Day 2

STOP 10: Giddy Up Coffee House

Saddle up for your day with breakfast at Giddy Up Coffee House. Try a Western-themed specialty latte--the Buckaroo gives you a mocha with a shot of caramel while the Skinny Cowgirl corrals the calories with sugar-free flavor add-ons. Get it with a bagel and you’re set for the morning. Don’t forget to bring your li’l doggies, they’ll be welcomed with a treat on the patio or in the drive-thru.

STOP 11: 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 12: Mulberry House

For a gourmet lunch with a river view, head to Mulberry House. This boutique hotel has it all: coffee shop, brewery, restaurant, and rooftop deck. Tuna tartar, local crawfish, or oysters on the half-shell will satiate seafood lovers. Nosh on a spiced salmon burger with cilantro-lime glaze and carmelized onions or keep it classic Mulberry House BLT with tomato jam and ale mayonnaise. You also can’t go wrong ordering from their tempting list of snacks and appetizers--chorizo cheese bites and focaccia flatbread, anyone?

STOP 13: 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 14: Secret Garden Gallery

Ladies, if you want to step up your wardrobe while taking in new art, look no further than Secret Garden Gallery & Boutique. Pick up statement necklaces. Try on flowy tunics in dreamy fabrics. Buy a local landscape as a constant reminder that you need to come back for your next visit. Mission accomplished.

STOP 15: The Estuarium

Ready to learn about what happens when fresh water mixes with saltwater? Well, we have an entire museum dedicated to the subject. Welcome to the world's first Estuarium, an interactive center that explores estuaries, where saltwater and freshwater mix. Washington has more estuarine waters than anywhere on the East Coast. These waters form unique habitats for a lot of fish species. Come in to explore more than 200 exhibits and drink in some knowledge.

STOP 16: The Bank Bistro and Bar

For a posh dinner out, step through the white columns and soak in the luxurious atmosphere of the Bank Bistro and Bar. Inventive, gorgeous craft cocktails and savory dishes await. Bring your appetite for the tomahawk ribeye and filet oscar. Try the saffron seafood bouillabaisse packed with clams, mussels, shrimp, scallops and fennel in an out of this world broth. For special occasions or any Tuesday worth celebrating in style, this is the place for a dining memory you can bank on.