Blake Walsh

16 Best Things to Do in Washington, GA

  • Published 2022/09/06

Washington is a city with a small-town charm that can at once endear itself to visitors.

This city, with an area of 7.75 square miles, is the county seat of Wilkes County on the eastern side of Georgia.

It was established in 1774 as Heard’s Fort, named after its early colonist and founder, Stephen Herd.

For a short time during the American Civil War, Heard’s Fort was designated as Georgia’s capital.

At Heard’s Fort, the Confederacy was voted dissolved, effectively ending the Civil War.

This city is often referred to as Washington-Wilkes to differentiate it from other places named Washington.

Visiting the city will also unveil other distinguishing features, as can be appreciated in the following list of the best things to do in Washington, Georgia:

Tour the Washington Historical Museum

Exterior of the Washington Historical Museum

TampAGS, for AGS Media, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Located on Robert Toombs Avenue, the Washington Historical Museum features remarkable artifacts.

Its displays include relics from the Civil War, art, antique furnishings, photographs, documents, Georgia pottery, and personal correspondence.

The museum boasts special collection rooms with exhibits devoted to varying historical themes.

These specialized exhibits are set in the Native American Room, the Confederate Room, the African American Room, and the Children’s Playroom.

Stonewall Jackson bust displayed in Washington Historical Museum

Dsdugan, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Washington Historical Museum displays include George Washington’s gravy boat, an Eli Whitney Cotton Gin, a Victorian-era suit of armor suit, Jefferson Davis’ field desk, and Dave the Slave pottery.

The museum pieces are housed in a historic home built in 1835 and expanded in 1857.

Have a Drink at Maddy’s Public House

Maddy’s Public House, also known as Maddys Pub, has served patrons since June 2019, well ahead of the hotel’s restoration and 2004 reopening.

This homey watering hole and restaurant is inspired by UK and Irish pubs.

They offer a rich mix of beers, specialty cocktails, spirits, meads, and wines of various domestic and imported brands.

The menu includes iconic British fish & chips for starters and entrees of salmon fillet, ribeye, and shrimps.

Maddy’s Public House is located downstairs of Fitzpatrick Hotel on West Square.

Stay at the Historic Fitzpatrick Hotel

Exterior of the Historic Fitzpatrick Hotel

TampAGS, for AGS Media, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Built in 1898, the Fitzpatrick Hotel is a centerpiece of Washington-Wilke’s Courthouse Square.

This hotel, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was initially owned by first-generation Irish immigrants.

It underwent a meticulous restoration in 2002 and was reopened as a hotel in 2004, and now features 17 guest rooms with luxurious appointments.

Striking in its Queen Anne architectural style, the hotel features interiors that boast reproduction furniture and period antiques.

The guest rooms’ private baths notably feature claw-footed tubs, thus retaining their Victorian touch.

The modern flair deftly comes in the hotel rooms’ flat-screen cable TV and high-speed Wi-Fi.

Besides its fine guest accommodations, the historic Fitzpatrick Hotel provides a fitness center and conferences and special events facilities.

Go Local at the Washington Farmers’ Market

Get bargains on seasonal produce, crafts, and homemade goods at the Washington Farmers’ Market.

It’s held year-round every Saturday at the back of the historic Washington County Courthouse.

Locals and visitors look forward to this market, especially for its home-baked cakes and bread, jams, soups, farm fresh eggs, and organic produce.

The Washington Farmers’ Market also offers handcrafted items, jewelry, beauty products, live plants, and floral bouquets.

Go Hunting at Pope Plantation

This hunting preserve, located off Lundburg Road, offers guided quail and deer hunts.

Pope Plantation has been offering these well-managed thrills since 1985, with white-tail deer as its most sought-after hunt quarry.

The patrons of this preserve can rely on its experienced guides and hunting dogs for a safe and enjoyable experience.

Full-day or half-day is the pick for quail hunts, while deer hunting can go from one day to four days.

Pope Plantation also accommodates bow-and-arrow hunting, wherein hunters can bring their own dogs.

The plantation also offers a circa 1800s farmhouse for hunters’ lodging accommodations.

Visit the Wilkes County Courthouse

Exterior of the Wilkes County Courthouse

TampAGS, for AGS Media, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Discover more about the rich architectural styles of the vintage buildings in Washington-Wilkes with a visit to the Wilkes County Courthouse.

Still operating in its traditional function, this courthouse on East Court Street was completed in 1904.

Its natural stone and sand-colored bricks with red-brick accents plus a clock tower make the courthouse stand out northeast of another historic building, the Fitzpatrick Hotel.

Confederate memorial in front of the Wilkes County Courthouse

TampAGS, for AGS Media, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The courthouse grounds feature several monuments honoring several individuals prominent in local history.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Wilkes County Courthouse had a jail wing added to its rear side in 1911.

Enjoy the Outdoors at Holliday Park

Holliday Park is accessible via Goat Pasture Road on the eastern outskirts of Washington.

Covering 333 acres, the park spreads on the northwestern side of Clarks Hill Lake/Lake Strom Thurmond.

Visitors can fish in the lake, where the potential catch includes various bass species and catfish.

The park is family-friendly and provides 31 RV campsites, plus 19 spaces for primitive camping.

The facilities in Holliday Park include a boat ramp and a picnic area with a grill.

Park visitors and campers can shop last-minute items at a convenience store along Holliday Park Road, where park fees can also be settled.

Enjoy a Home-Cooked Meal at Big Bee’s Soul Food

This charming restaurant is located on East Square and boasts home-style cooking.

Drop by Big Bee’s Soul Food on a Sunday for a chance to catch its buffet-style dining and specialty sandwiches.

The food served in this restaurant is fresh every time.

Short orders that sell out quickly at Big Bee’s Soul Food include wings and burgers, which are matched in popularity by pork chops and fried chicken.

Tour or Camp at the Callaway Plantation

Exterior of the Callaway Plantation house

A P Wood, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Covering 56 acres, the Callaway Plantation is a major restoration project where visitors can glimpse Wilkes County’s 200-year history.

This project on Lexington Road brings to life the past working agricultural plantations in the South.

It features several historic structures: a 1785 log cabin, an 1860s brick mansion, the 1790 Grey House, an 1840 Daily Slave Cabin, and an 1891 one-room schoolhouse.

The Callaway Plantation also includes a 1930 general store where souvenir items are for sale.

Its grounds also provide woodland for RV camping with full hook-ups, picnic tables, and free Wi-Fi.

Haggle at On the Square Antiques & Gifts

On the Square Antiques & Gifts is located on West Robert Toombs Avenue and comprises nine separate vendors.

With this combo, this shop is the place to go in Washington for a large variety of picks on gift and vintage items.

The hot stuff that doesn’t last long on On the Square Antiques & Gifts’ shelves includes antique furniture, vintage toys, porcelain figures, and print collections.

Check Out the Gems at Tena’s Fine Diamonds and Jewelry

Washington-Wilkes is host to one of the locations of Tenas Fine Diamonds and Jewelry.

This store carries in its jewelry collections some of the premium brands in the market, including Charles Garnier, Vahan, Rembrandt, and Bulova.

Tena’s Fine Diamonds and Jewelry also offers premium services on jewelry repair, like remounting and pearl or bead restringing.

Hike at the Kettle Creek Battlefield

History marker of Kettle Creek Battlefield

Chris Crookston, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Located on War Hill Road off Highway 44, the Kettle Creek Battlefield spreads over 220 acres with a 500-foot hill.

It is an affiliate area of the National Park Service and commemorates the historic Revolutionary War battle on February 14, 1779.

This revolutionary skirmish was the only battle that happened in Georgia but broke the British control of the state.

The Kettle Creek Battlefield’s features include a 1930 monument, interpretive signs of the battle, and some gravesites of Revolutionary soldiers reburied atop the site’s hill.

Visitors can hike around the battlefield via a 4.5-kilometer loop trail, which can take an hour and a half to negotiate.

Annual celebrations of the Kettle Creek Battle typically include a color guard parade, ceremonies, and battle reenactment.

Enjoy the Mule Day Festival

Washington celebrates its Mule Day Festival annually around early October, with the Callaway Plantation as its venue.

This celebration focuses on Georgia’s dominant rural farm life from the late 1700s to 1900.

The mule is central to this festival because this beast of burden has a major role in those early farms.

Activities during this festival include a Mule Show and Mule Plowing Contests with cash prizes.

Other events show how Georgia’s early farmers made baskets, wood shingles, soap, and other products.

Children can join in hands-on demonstrations like rope-making, mule plowing, sheepdog herding, quilting, and weaving.

They can also have fun on pony rides and interact with other farm animals in the festival’s petting zoo.

Other crowd-drawers of the Mule Day Festival are its blacksmith demos, live music, and displays of old wagons, vintage cars, and antique tractors.

Vendors of Georgia’s southeast also take advantage of this festival to sell homemade foodstuff and local handicrafts.

This Washington event is not to be confused with a similar Georgia celebration, the Mule Day, held in Calvary annually on the first Saturday of November.

Visit the Robert Toombs House Historic Site

Exterior of the Robert Toombs House

TampAGS, for AGS Media, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Located on East Robert Toombs Avenue, the Robert Toombs House Historic Site was the home of a legendary Georgia congressman and senator during the 1800s.

Built sometime between 1794 and 1801, it was first owned by Doctor Joel Abbott.

In 1837, the fiery lawmaker and Confederate general Robert Toombs acquired it.

This two-story wood-frame structure is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is notable for its fluted columns.

Signage and history marker of Robert Toombs House

TampAGS, for AGS Media, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

To help preserve Toombs’ legacy, the historic house hosts museum exhibits and educational programs.

The Robert Toombs House Historic Site also offers customized tours upon reservation, a self-guided garden tour, and a picnic area.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Explore the Fishing Creek Wildlife Management Area

The Fishing Creek Wildlife Management Area is located in the city of Lincolnton, about 16 miles or a 28-minute drive northeast of Washington.

This area sprawls over 2,900 acres, offering opportunities for hunting deer, small game, turkey, and waterfowl.

It also features a lake where visitors can go fishing and canoeing.

There is no fee to access the Fishing Creek Wildlife Management Area, but visitors will need a license to hunt or fish here.

Have Fun at Amity Recreation Area

Amity Recreation Area is located in the city of Lincolnton, just 20 miles northeast of Washington.

This destination is among the most popular parks around the 70,000-acre J. Strom Thurmond Lake.

The activities that can be enjoyed at Amity Recreation Area include swimming, boating, fishing, water skiing, hiking, and picnicking.

Final Thoughts

Exciting vacation ideas are easy to come by if you include Washington-Wilkes when planning a trip to southeast Georgia.

The seat of Wilkes County has plenty of natural and historic attractions and festivals for an eventful itinerary.

Make this city your next destination and enjoy all the best things to do in Washington, Georgia!

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