Eclectic and Creative, Downtown Goldsboro, North Carolina, is so Inviting

Goldsboro, North Carolina | I-95 Exit Guide
Goldsboro, North Carolina | I-95 Exit Guide

This is the proud home of Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, one of the oldest fighter communities in the world. But vibrant downtown Goldsboro is a welcoming mix of old and new, with both hometown traditions and worldly flair. Its restored brick storefronts house independent restaurants, shops and boutiques. Its food scene includes famous North Carolina barbecue and international specialties. And its mix of entertainment options and public art displays keep it fresh and exciting all year long.

Halfway between Raleigh and the Atlantic coast, Goldsboro, North Carolina, sits on the banks of the Neuse River and is the centerpiece of Wayne County. Located just east of I-95, getting there is easy via U.S. Highway 70 or I-795. Once there, an eclectic mix of sights, tastes and experiences welcomes visitors with interests ranging from locally brewed beer to international cuisine to thrilling ghost stories. And it is all set amid a restored downtown which boasts an extraordinary collection of amazing works of public art. Each year a new series of creations is unveiled.  

A decade ago, this historic downtown began a renaissance and the energy and variety continue to grow today. The walkable business district is now home to a variety of popular retailers and services. Unique among them is the Cry Freedom Missions Shoppe (101 North Center Street, Goldsboro, North Carolina 27530; 919-583-9330), which features items made by survivors of human trafficking and Nashona (102 East Walnut Street, Goldsboro, North Carolina 27530; 919-947-1273), where sales of authentic Tanzanian clothing designs benefit orphanages in the African nation.

Its historic architecture is the perfect environment for the Downtown Goldsboro Ghost Tour, which shares tales of the spirits that are said to inhabit these buildings. Led by a costumed paranormal investigator, the tours are a popular downtown attraction. In daylight hours, there’s also a free monthly Downtown History Walking Tour, which begins at the Wayne County History Museum (116 North William Street, Goldsboro, North Carolina 27530; 919-734-5023). 

Those with a competitive spirit can find their outlet here, too. Whether a little competition at Whoopaxe Axe Throwing Lodge (2305 East Ash Street, 37534; 919-947-5753) or a team challenge in your choice of four rooms at Downtown Escapes (208 East Walnut Street, Goldsboro, North Carolina 27530; 919-588-1025), the encounters are sure to be loads of fun.

Quenching a thirst in Goldsboro is an easy task. There are brew pubs, tap rooms, wine bars and more, many with live entertainment, pet-friendly areas and family-friendly fun. At Goldsboro Brew Works (207 North John Street, Goldsboro, North Carolina 27530; 919-429-6162) the taps are flowing with local craft beer and the atmosphere is fun and casual. The whole family is welcome to enjoy the arcade games and trivia night. The brews don’t get any fresher than from the taps at GBW Filling Station (118 West Chestnut Street, Goldsboro, North Carolina 27530; 919-988-9121), Goldsboro’s first microbrewery, where the brew room is visible from the bar. Nearby, Well Travelled Beer (201 South Center Street, Goldsboro, North Carolina 27530; 919-750-1476) is a unique downtown location, with its art-filled taproom and a bottle shop filled with more than 500 beers, wines, meads and seltzers. 

Tobacco and Hops (112 West Chestnut Street, Goldsboro, North Carolina 27530; 919-288-1166) combines the best in craft beers with an ode to North Carolina’s agricultural history. This is a place to sit back, relax and enjoy a brew along with a selection from a full line of premium cigars. For stronger spirits, patrons will find Church Spirits & Cocktails (110 West Walnut Street, Goldsboro, North Carolina 27530) serves up the best in seasonal craft cocktails and prohibition-era favorites. 

Dining in Goldsboro is an enormously satisfying adventure. From the Asian-American fusion of Jay’s Kitchen (330 North Spence Avenue, Goldsboro, North Carolina 27534; 919-751-3322) to the Caribbean specialties of Brisas (103 North Center Street, Goldsboro, North Carolina 27530; 919-288-1946) to a fine dining experience at Barrique (217 North John Street, Goldsboro, North Carolina, 27530; 919-288-2614), there is truly a menu for every taste here.

Patrons will also find an amazing number of food truck options in Goldsboro. Skullies Street Q is known for smoked brisket and grilled cheese and at Pinky The Best Street Food find everything from Hawaiian chicken tacos to flavorful eggrolls. To satisfy a sweet tooth, Kendall’s Creamery or Sea Breeze Italian Ice have just the thing to quench that craving.

Where to stay

Goldsboro and Wayne County have a full slate of nationally flagged hotels with a host of amenities and a hospitable Southern welcome. For those who prefer to camp, Cliffs of the Neuse State Park (240 Park Entrance Road, Seven Springs, North Carolina 28578; 919-778-6234) offers RV and tent sites amid 1,000 acres of protected lands and recreational amenities.

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