Last Updated on May 29, 2023
Last Updated on May 29, 2023
We love exploring small towns throughout North Carolina and Warrenton is emerging in the shadows of Raleigh and Durham. The historic town is experiencing a renaissance and we want to help you enjoy all the wonderful things to do in Warrenton and nearby.
Inside our guide, you’ll get to know Warrenton’s place in history, fun activities in and around town, and how to find this place. Here’s how we’ve organized this Warrenton travel guide:
- Where is Warrenton NC?
- Visiting Today (and Where to Stay)
- Things to Do This Weekend (and Most of the Year!)
You can skip ahead to our favorite things to do in Warrenton or keep reading some vital background info about the town.
Where is Warrenton, North Carolina?
Before we share the best things to do in Warrenton NC, we want to share some background info and how to find the town on a map.
- The Town of Warrenton, North Carolina, is just an hour northeast of Raleigh and about 20 minutes from the Virginia border.
- Warrenton is the county seat of Warren County. Other key cities in the county are Norlina and Macon.
- Other cities an hour or less from Warrenton are Rocky Mount, Wake Forest, Roanoke Rapids, and Durham.
- US highways 158 and 401 are the main routes servicing the area.
The History of Warrenton NC
A variety of historic buildings will greet you upon arrival in Warrenton. Luckily, many remain from the town’s previous heyday.
Here’s a quick breakdown of the lengthy and rich history of Warrenton:
- The Town of Warrenton, North Carolina was founded in 1779.
- Joseph Warren, a soldier who died at the Battle of Bunker Hill in the Revolutionary War, is the town’s namesake.
- Warrenton was North Carolina’s wealthiest town from 1840 to 1860 due to its position as a tobacco trading post.
- After the Civil War, Warrenton and its surroundings remained tied to agriculture and many residents left for cities.
- In 1969, a planned community named Soul City was proposed. It would be an integrated community, with an emphasis on supporting Black-owned businesses and Black economic power. Unfortunately, the town did not succeed in a variety of ways. Still, it did bring Warren County’s first health care facility, a tri-county water system, a sewage treatment plant, and the first positive inward migration of African-Americans since Reconstruction.
- Today, the overwhelming majority of buildings in Warrenton are regarded as historic places.
- As of the 2020 census, the town’s population was just over 1,000.
Visiting Today (and Where to Stay)
Today, Warrenton is growing as a place to live and one of our favorite spots to visit in Central NC! Before settling here, we think you should know about these great places to stay.
Address: 331 N Main St, Warrenton, NC
The Ivy is a charming English bed & breakfast near downtown Warrenton. It’s regarded as a little slice of England right here in North Carolina.
The Ivy is located in the Carter Williams House, a gorgeous Queen Anne-style house whose origins can be traced back to the very early 1900s. The building has exchanged hands a few times, with the Williams family having owned it for the longest time.
Carter Williams III sold the house to Betty Hall Johnson in 1914, and the Johnson family continues to operate the B&B today.
Part of the English experience that the Ivy offers includes rooms with names like “Kensington” and “Chatsworth,” and afternoon tea. Guests can order an afternoon tea that comes with an assortment of small sandwiches, scones, and pastries.
On your next trip to Warrenton, check out the Ivy for a blend of English and small-town culture.
Matthews Creek Farm
Address: 609 Manson-Axtell Rd, Norlina, NC
Ten minutes outside of downtown Warrenton, Matthews Creek Farm offers a varied selection of places to stay. The farm sits on 20 acres and consists of two cabins, a yurt, an RV campsite, and goats and cows.
The two cabins are Alice’s Cottage and Tiny House, both of which take bookings for families throughout the year. Alice’s Cottage is a 2 bed, 1 bath, with expansive gardens and farm animals. Tiny House is an eco-friendly loft with 1 bed and 1 bath.
For some adventure, the farm also has its own yurt, a 15-foot, climate-controlled house from the plains of Mongolia. While staying at Matthews Creek Farm, you can get the full farm experience and pet a cow.
Things to Do in Warrenton This Weekend (and All Year!)
For a small town tucked away from it all, we loved exploring these things to do in Warrenton proper.
- Downtown Warrenton
- Mill Hill Brewery and Taproom
- Burger Barn
- Warren County Farmers’ Market (Mostly Year-Round)
US 401 runs through downtown and eventually becomes Main Street, lined with an ensemble of historic homes and repurposed historic buildings. Downtown Warrenton is home to some great local cafés and shops.
Here are some of the places you won’t want to miss:
- Drip Coffee + Market (127 S Main St): Start your morning with a coffee and delicious pastry from Drip Coffee + Market, open every morning except Sundays. While their entire menu is worth trying, Drip Coffee is famous for its cinnamon buns, so definitely grab one before they run out!
- Uptown Mercantile (130 N Main St): Uptown Mercantile was opened in 2021 by Kevin and Meredith Kelly, who own three local businesses between them. The shop has quite an extensive collection of North Carolina-made products, such as pottery, stationery, and woodworking. They also sell candy, coffee mugs, oils, soaps, and just about anything else you can imagine.
- Hardware Café (106 S Main St): A sandwich shop found in a restored hardware store, Hardware Café is the perfect lunch spot. Their handcrafted sandwiches are made with fresh bread and the finest ingredients. They also serve prime rib on the first and third Fridays of the month.
- Bragging Rooster Beer and Mead (120 S Main St): Warrenton’s first brewery, Bragging Rooster opened just this year. The ownership team has worked to create a brewery that seeks to intertwine the building’s historic roots with a more modern look. The taproom serves craft beer and cider from breweries in the Raleigh and Durham areas.
- Locōrum Distillery (142 S Main St): Located in the heart of downtown, it’s no surprise that Locōrum has become Warrenton’s community hangout spot. Locōrum focuses on building community and using distilled liquor to unite people.
Read more: North Carolina Distilleries
Mill Hill Brewery and Taproom
Address: 112 Madison St, Warrenton, NC
Mill Hill Brewery and Taproom is outside of town, but it still encompasses community values and good vibes. The taproom is located in a building that dates back to the 1940s as a mill village commissary.
After a time as a hot dog joint, the building was completely renovated into the current taproom.
Mill Hill considers all visitors as family, so come in for a beer tasting and some great company!
Address: 328 E Macon St, Warrenton, NC
Just east of Main Street is Burger Barn, a hidden gem of a restaurant. Or maybe it WAS “hidden” to us because the place doesn’t slow down for lunch.
It’s easy to see why because the food is delicious, and the service is outstanding. Get the whole family together and visit this Warrenton staple.
Warren County Farmers’ Market
Address: 544 Ridgeway St, Warrenton, NC
If you visit Warrenton between April and October, be sure to stop by the Warren County Farmers’ Market. Every Saturday from 8:00 am to 12:00 pm, local vendors from Warrenton and nearby towns gather to sell their wares.
Browse everything from fresh fruit, herbs, jams, baked goods, flowers, and more. It’s a great way to spend your Saturday morning sampling what Warrenton offers.
Read more: 50 of the Best Day Trips from Durham
Ready to Explore These Things to Do in Warrenton NC?
We love this town and can’t wait to keep coming back to enjoy all the things to do in Warrenton. We’d love to know about your favorites if you’re familiar with this fun area.
Let us know here in the comments or by email. Don’t forget to share your adventures in our North Carolina Travel Facebook Group.
Before you do that, though, here are some things to do in Warrenton’s surroundings.
Things to Do Near Warrenton
We’ve covered some great things to do in Warrenton but here are plenty of fun nearby places that you can check out, too!
Seven Springs Farm and Vineyard
Address: 332 Axtell Ridgeway Rd, Norlina, NC
Closer to Norlina, Seven Springs Farm and Vineyard is a delightful winery owned by the Williams family. The property has seven natural springs, livestock, cabins, and amazing views.
If you’re looking for a more immersive experience, feel free to stay at one of Seven Springs’ two Airbnbs. They also offer bookings at the nearby Hampton Inn. While at the vineyard, sample the variety of wines, such as Chardonnay, Merlot, and more.
Read more: North Carolina Wineries We Love!
This is technically a thing to do in Warrenton but Lafayette’s Tour will take you elsewhere. This is one of North Carolina’s 62 “scenic byways” that span the state.
The byway follows the route that French General Marquis de Lafayette took when he visited the United States in 1825. Lafayette’s Tour begins at the US 1 and Warrenton Road intersection in Henderson and passes through Warren County as it moves west towards Elizabeth City.
Whether you’re looking to drive the entirety of the 3.5-hour byway or just explore the section near Warrenton, Lafayette’s Tour will take you through history to some great places.
Kerr Lake State Recreation Area
Kerr Lake State Recreation Area in Henderson is about 20 minutes west of Warrenton. The lake and recreation area are shared by both Warren and Vance counties.
Kerr Lake is popular with anglers, as the 50,000-acre body of water provides some impressive fish. There are also campsites, RV sites, beaches, and picnic areas around the lake.
After visiting Kerr Lake, you can grab a bite to eat in nearby Henderson, the county seat of Vance County. It’s a well-developed municipality with lots of local places to choose from.
Sunrise Biscuit Co. (333 N Garnett St, Henderson, NC) makes some of the best biscuits in not only the county but the state. You might recognize the name from their sister location in Chapel Hill, aka Sunrise Biscuit Kitchen.
Sadie’s Coffee Corner (324 S Garnett St, Henderson, NC) has some great coffee to give you the energy to keep exploring.
Lake Gaston is northeast of Warrenton and sits between Warren, Northampton, and Halifax counties. The 20,000-acre reservoir has a healthy supply of fish like striped bass, rockfish, bass, and catfish.
You can fish, enjoy the beach area, swim, and picnic at Lake Gaston.
Halifax County is your one-stop shop for history and outdoor recreation.
- As we mentioned, Lake Gaston provides nature activities while Medoc Mountain State Park offers hiking and great views.
- Additionally, Sylvan Heights Bird Park in Scotland Neck is one of the county’s most popular attractions, and we love seeing the park’s 2,000+ bird species collection.
- Halifax County was also the birthplace of the Halifax Resolves. Detailed information about this piece of North Carolina history can be found at the State Historic Site and educational sites across the county.
More Things to Do in Warrenton NC and Nearby (Travel Guides)
Whether you’re looking for things to do in Warrenton NC or elsewhere, we encourage you to search through our North Carolina travel guides collection. Here are a few of them.