Soak in history, nature, and coastal beauty in one of my favorite NC towns. Beaufort County is a fantastic place to spend the day or an entire weekend wandering!
Founded in 1705, Bath is NC’s oldest town with quite a history! Politics, war, an epidemic, and piracy are all part of the rich history of Bath. Goose Creek State Park is home to 1,672 acres of natural coastal beauty including eight miles of trails for outdoor lovers. Washington is the first city in America to be named for General George Washington. Perfectly situated on the Pamilco and Tar River, Washington is a charming town with historic homes, shops, art, dining, and a welcoming waterfront. Want to know more about these three points of interest? Read on!
Our visits to Bath, Goose Creek State Park, and Washington have all been on separate occasions because it is close to home. Combined, these three places make for a great day trip or a weekend over-nighter! With every visit, I learn something new or see something different. Whether you are a history buff, nature lover, young or old, this coastal gem has much to offer everyone!
In Historic Bath, view a 15 minute orientation film in the visitor’s center. Check out the Exhibit Center with two rotating exhibits and gift shop. Tour three historic homes, and take a 1-mile walking tour. Baths are optional. I’m just kidding, it just seemed like it should go on the list. The oldest church building in NC, St. Thomas Episcopal Church, is also open to the public to tour, and still meets for Sunday services. While in Bath, our co-op group participated in a guided tour of two historic homes. At the Palmer-Marsh House, we heard stories of the residents and saw how they lived long ago.
Our group enjoyed colonial games on the lawn, and a favorite by all was the game of hoops. The littles as well as the teens all played. It is interesting that the kids today are really not much different than the kids of yesterday when it comes to having fun. We also worked together to make ropes. It sure took a lot of cranking! The church and the surrounding grounds are steeped in rich history, and although not part of the tour, it’s definitely worth a visit.
As I said earlier, I learn something new with each visit. This time I learned why the porch ceilings are painted “haint blue”, why there are no tombstones older than the 1820’s at the church graveyard, and that cage in the above picture is for a carrier pigeon.
Plan your visit
Guided tours are available for a small fee, and are offered Tuesday through Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
You can find current information here, as well as field trip and group information.
Goose Creek State Park in Washington
Just a short drive from Bath, Goose Creek State Park is a paradise for those who love the outdoors. There are eight miles of trails at Goose Creek State Park, ranging from a 0.3 miles to 2.5 miles. During our recent visit, some trails remained closed due to hurricane damage. The trails are well-maintained, and most have boardwalks through the wetlands. You will see the beautiful live oaks, an abundance of Spanish moss, cypress swamps, the Pamlico River, and several creeks. I’ve seen squirrels, turtles, ticks, snakes, herons, and even a deer on the trails. Tip: bring insect repellent, and check yourself for ticks after the hike.
Since my last visit, the park has more camping options than before. They now offer an RV area with full hookup, cabins, and a spot for large group tent camping. There is a boat ramp, a designated swimming area with shallow water and a sandy beach. Several picnic areas are scattered throughout the park, as well as places to paddle, and even wet a hook. There are many educational opportunities at Goose Creek State Park with ranger-led programs available for families and groups. The Visitor’s Center is a fantastic place to get close and personal with replicas of some of the animals that you may see in the park. I’m glad I only was able to take silly selfies with the bears inside! You can find much more information on their website, as well as guided tours and events.
“Little Washington” is what most locals call it, as not to be confused with D.C. or the state of Washington. I love walking the waterfront, reading where the boats are from, and relaxing by the river. There are a few colorful crabs scattered around the area, antique shops, art galleries, as well as great places to eat, or grab a hand-dipped ice cream cone. While we’re talking food, if you are short on time, head to Bill’s Hot Dog Stand on Gladden Street. I do not usually eat hot dogs, but I make an exception for Bill’s. They only have three toppings: mustard, onions, and Bill’s special chili sauce, so get it all the way! Bill’s is takeout only, so enjoy lunch at the beautiful picnic area on the waterfront.
One area of interest you don’t want to miss is the North Carolina Estuarium. Learn about the special ecosystem where the salt water mixes with freshwater and find out what that means to aquatic life in the “sound-lands.” With over 200 exhibits, interactive displays, and amazing art, it is an excellent environmental museum. We have visited on our own, as well as with a group in the past. Touring by ourselves, we spent about an hour at the estuarium. If you plan to go with a group/co-op, ask to speak with Russ. He is a fantastic educator, and is great with kids of all ages. After 12 years of homeschooling, the group tour of the estuarium marks one of my favorites. Check here for the most current hours and pricing. They are closed on Monday, and have slightly shorter than typical hours.
Easily spend the day or the entire weekend wandering around beautiful Beaufort County on the inner banks of NC. The next stop, may be a weekend wandering adventure on the NC’s outer banks.