The Fitzpatrick Hotel in Washington, Georgia.
3 Ways to Get to Know Washington's Southern Charm
A key stronghold in the nation’s Revolutionary War and one of nine small towns dripping with Georgia’s Southern charm, Washington claims historic homes, exemplary architecture, refreshing outdoor spaces and a town square straight out of a storybook.
1. Tour Historic Sites
Take a leisurely drive around Washington’s streets to see homes dating to the 1700s, making sure to stop at the Robert Toombs House State Historic Site, a grand Federal-style house built in the 1790s. Take a tour where you’ll learn not only about the general and his family and the people enslaved there , but also the life and times of the town itself during that era.
Don’t miss the Revolutionary War Kettle Creek Battlefield Park to see graves and historical markers and to understand the area’s role in the nation’s fight for independence. In 1779, 360 Patriots defeated 800 Loyalists to loosen the British army’s hold on Georgia. Hiking trails, a picnic area atop War Hill and a tour of its monuments make for an easygoing afternoon.
Other sites in Washington include:
- Washington Historical Museum: Explore 200 years of artifacts, photos, memorabilia and authentic furnishings in this 1857 home.
- Mary Willis Library: On the National Register of Historic Places, this 1888 high-Victorian-style brick building houses a collection of rare books, books by local authors, memorabilia from the Willis family and a stunning Tiffany window, and was the first free library in Georgia.
- Cherry Grove Schoolhouse: Also on the National Register, this rare surviving example of a one-room schoolhouse for African Americans was built in 1910 by the Cherry Grove Baptist Church, which still owns the land.
- Callaway Plantation: See the cabins, brick mansion and other historical structures built from the 1780s to 1930s on this former cotton plantation.
2. Eat & Shop Around the Historic Town Square
From shopping for a beautifully crafted journal to savoring a well-deserved ice-cream cone, Washington’s 230-year-old Town Square is a delightful place to while away a day. Sit by the fountain to watch the people go by, then pop into some of the restaurants and shops around the square. Seek out a few of these favorites:
- Maddy’s Public House is the neighborhood place to wet your whistle.
- Kettle Creek Creamery serves up unique ice cream flavors all year long.
- Fievet Pharmacy and Soda Shop offers an old-timey lunch counter and plenty of curiosities.
- The Collective is a gathering of artisans selling boutique clothing, jewelry, artwork, pottery, natural soaps and much more.
- Antiques on the Square will hook you up with something old that’s new to you.
- Washington Farmers Market is the place to find local produce, farm-fresh eggs, baked goods, jams, handcrafted items and much more — every Saturday morning year-round.
3. Get Outside
An abundance of natural beauty surrounds Washington. Here are a few ways to get out and enjoy it.
Holliday Park is home to Clarks Hill Lake, which lures kayakers, anglers, boaters, sunbathers and swimmers to its serene waters. Find primitive and RV campsites, a picnic pavilion and a convenience store where you can pick up your tackle before settling in for a night under the stars. Follow Georgia’s Little River Water Trail, which runs 20 miles around the lake past gold mines, Quaker settlements and Native American sites. Look for deer, wild turkeys, wood ducks, beavers, river otters, eagles and other wildlife along the way.
Three Georgia State Parks are within a 30- to 40-minute drive of Washington. Elijah Clark and Mistletoe state parks are also found on the shores of Clarks Hill Lake and have fishing areas, swimming beaches, rental cottages, campsites, paddle-boat rentals, a mini-golf course and plenty of things to do with the family. A. H. Stephens State Park has lakeside cottages, a campground with plenty of amenities, a Civil War museum, and hiking trails.
Stroll around 6 acres of creek-side walking trails, picnic tables and peaceful scenery in Fort Washington Park, located downtown behind the Wilkes County Courthouse. The park is roughly where some of the town’s settlers built a fort, named in honor of General George Washington, in 1773. In 1780, the surrounding area became the first incorporated city in the nation to be named for our future first president.