Little Washington, the original Washington or however you want to refer to it, is a historic city that we recently learned was the first town in the United States to be named after General George Washington. Before, it was known as the “Town at the Forks of the Tar River”. The area was settled in around 1700, was the second shipping port in the state of North Carolina and center for commerce. Washington is located in eastern NC on the Pamlico River and has a small town maritime charm to it.

I’ve been to Washington many times, either boating down on the Tar River from Greenville, watching the fireworks over the water every 4th of July as a kid, or getting an ice cream cone from the Dairy Palace. I can’t say I’ve spent a day there as a tourist though and that’s what we did this time!

Harbor District Market

Harbor District Market

We started at the Harbor District Market. It’s open Thursday-Saturday, with live music on Saturday mornings. There you will find locals selling items they’ve made, and fresh fruit and vegetables. It’s always awesome to support the people from the area. This is on the main street, which has other shops, boutiques, and businesses, although the whole road is currently under a huge reconstruction but supposed to be finished by this year. Can’t wait to see it when it’s completed. It’s still accessible for walking to all the storefronts but part is closed to driving.


Washington Waterfront Underground Railroad Museum

A small museum in a refurbished railroad car that shares the history of slavery and those seeking freedom in the area. Displays are also set up in the Harbor District Market for viewing which is how we found out about this museum.

Bill’s Hot Dogs

You can’t go to Washington without trying this local hotdog place. We stood in line at Bill’s Hot Dogs. It’s known for its famous meatless chili that’s original since 1923 which is white beans and has a kick. Marvin loves their chili and many people do, but a bit too spicy for my taste. The place is small with no indoor seating but they sure do pump out the hot dogs! They now have got a chain in Greenville too. People were ordering these dogs by the bag fulls.

Rachel K’s Bakery

After a hot dog from Bill’s, something sweet with an afternoon coffee is always a good idea. We sampled a chocolate eclair and mocha from Rachel K’s bakery. Sandwiches, soups and salads are on the menu too. Can’t wait to try more items on their menu!

Washington Waterfront Boardwalk

Take a peaceful stroll down the waterfront for a view of the Pamlico River. I love how the railings and benches are painted in royal blue. This area is a major hit during festivals or 4th of July!

North Carolina Estuarium

Located on the waterfront and next to the Festival Park, this has hands-on interactive exhibits which explains about the coastal rivers and estuaries. An estuary is where fresh and saltwater mix or “where the rivers meet the sea”.

Festival Park

This beautiful green area is connected right to the waterfront. This is where festivals and outdoor concerts are held when happening. Public restrooms and a playground are available here, and shelters with seating.

If you have a full weekend or extra day in Washington, also check out…

Goose Creek State Park

A place to spot wildlife, walking trails and safe swimming access to the river. Check out our trip to the park here!

Washington has more places to explore, amazing restaurants to try out, and history to be learned that we will have to save for another time! Please give us your favorites on little Washington if you’ve ever visited or are a local of the area! 

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