A DAY IN SMITHFIELD, VIRGINIA: TRAVEL GUIDE
I took my parents on a day trip around the most charming small town in the 757... Smithfield, Virginia! I've been lucky enough to call this place home for the past 2 years and there is so much to love, enjoy, and experience. I gathered our full list of "must do's" for y'all to check out and reference to when planning your next weekend getaway to the Ham Capital of the World!
Kayaking at Windsor Castle Park:
One of my favorite places in Smithfield is Windsor Castle Park. This little slice of heaven is located on the Pagan River and Cypress Creek. We rented kayaks to tour around and enjoy the beautiful morning weather and cruise by Smithfield Station to see the boats docking. Seeing the town's natural beauty from this point of view was such a unique experience! There is so much to do at WCP such as walking or running the trails, natural playscapes for the kids, kayaking on the river, riding on the mountain bike path, a dog park for your furry friends, cast a line at the fishing pier, and plenty of picnic space for an afternoon lunch with family and friends. If you love the outdoors, Windsor Castle Park will be one of your hotspots in Smithfield!
Farmers Market - Downtown Smithfield
There's nothing like supporting local small businesses like the ones at the Farmer's Market in Downtown Smithfield! These businesses create every single thing they sell in some way, shape, or form -- they are so talented! We always make sure to go by and stop at West Village Barkery for Roscoe's favorite venison stick treats! Then we stroll around and check out the flowers, produce, witty signs, candles, soap bars, and so much more! Some of my favorite stands are: Farm to Florist, Linda's Natural Goat Milk Soap, Scraps to Crafts, Sycamore Springs, and so many more. You have to check them out! The Farmer's Market is located right on N. Main St. in the parking lot of BSV bank and is held every Saturday from April - November from 9:00am - 12:00pm.
We made a pit stop by Cure Coffeehouse, the most adorable small town cafe right next to Smithfield Winery. They have the best craft beverages such as espresso beverages, pour overs, nitro coffee, wine and craft beer, loose-leaf teas, fresh-squeezed lemonades, as well as unique house-made specialty syrups. My top choice is the Creme Brulee Latte! The best part about Cure -- the all day breakfast menu!! I got the yogurt and granola parfait and it was OUTSTANDING! We also ordered the Pimento BLT and the pimento hit just right. They also have a variety of salads, sandwiches, and share-able fare such as cheese and charcuterie boards! This cafe gives all the positive vibes and is a hotspot for a study group, catching up with a friend, or an afternoon photoshoot!
Shopping in Downtown Smithfield:
Downtown Smithfield has some of the cutest shops you have ever seen, hands down! From the Christmas Store to Pearls and all the way down to Fleur de Fou -- you will find a variety of everything! We spent some of the afternoon peaking in the stores and still weren't able to cover them all! Some of the ones we were able to catch were: Pearls, When Pigs Fly, Beyond Main (which I have featured in a previous blog post I wrote about top boutiques in the 757), Perfectly Natural, Victoria's Rose, and Fleur de Fou! I snagged some special kitchenware for the summertime, lavender bath bombs, and a swig coffee mug. It sure was a successful shopping trip. I am excited to take a trip back down to Main Street to cover the rest of the amazing stores!
THE WORLD'S OLDEST HAM SAY WHAT?!?! When we heard the oldest ham and the oldest peanut were located right here in Smithfield, we had to go check them out at the Isle of Wight County Museum! Smithfield is known for its hams, and the museum's star attraction receives plenty of visitation. In 1902, one of P.D. Gwaltney Jr.'s cured hams was overlooked, and for 20 years, it hung from a rafter in a packing house. Fast forward to 1924 where it was fashioned with a brass collar and kept in an iron safe for guests to view! This is where it began being advertised as the world’s oldest Smithfield ham! Gwaltney also took it to expositions with him to show off the preservative powers it held! On top of that, the museum itself is so interactive such as the country store and tells many historic stories all throughout! The world's oldest ham just had it's 120th birthday party last weekend.... so Hammy Birthday to him! Each July, the museum hosts a birthday party for the Ham where they have a sleepover the night before, and everyone sings "Hammy Birthday." It is always preceded by a sleepover the night before. Oh, and not only does he have his own camera, "The Ham Cam" which shows what the Ham is up to 24/7, but he also tweets.... @worldsoldestham - so go give him a follow!
When walking throughout Smithfield, you'll notice eight life-size statues of market hogs, also known as the “Porcine Parade." These are painted by local artists to reflect on the history and culture of the town! I was able to spot 3 of them: The Cultural Pig (Artist: Jennifer Lycke - celebrating the arts), The Magnolia (Artist: Lois Chapman Tokarz - highlighting the town's rich history of photographs from the museum), and The Swine & Roses (Artist: Sheila Gwaltney - showcasing the culinary arts of Smithfield). Smithfield sure is the "Ham Capital of the World!" Hats off to all of the amazingly talented artists that donated their time, talents, and materials to create them for this town! Keep your eyes peeled when strolling through the town of Smithfield -- you'll see them everywhere now (or you can just ask for my cheat sheet of addresses!).
St. Lukes Historic Church & Museum:
We had the opportunity to visit Virginia's Oldest Church Building, St. Luke's, built back in the 1600's! Serving as a symbol of religious freedom, packed with over 400 years of vibrant, American History. You can explore the grounds of this landmark while learning all about its journey from experts themselves. Inside the church, you will find Artisan Mannerism Architecture with romanesque, gothic, and Jacobean influences within their designs. In their Ancient and Memorial Park Cemetery, thousands of Virginians rest where good stewardship and an active historical interpretation and education program assure their memory. This historic landmark signifies the importance of our 1st Amendment Rights and the unique nature of the American Constitutional Republic. They have many events you can attend, you can host your own, or just be a part of their support team. I could talk for hours about ALL the information we learned on our tour, but if there was one significant piece I took away from this tour, it's that in the school system we are taught the highlight points -- but what happened in between those points is true beauty! If you're a history guru, wander through St. Luke's and experience their guided tour into the oldest brick church in the state! Book your tour, HERE!
It was "MURDER MYSTERY NIGHT" at Smithfield Inn and I was all in! We dressed up, grabbed a cocktail (his lavender martinis are a MUST), and sat at a round table to watch the show. The show was very entertaining and put on by local actors/actresses. At the end, you had to guess who committed the murder as a table and it was super challenging. Throughout the night we also were served a three course meal! Amongst us all, we were able to try the salad, crab cakes, ribeye, bread pudding, chocolate mousse, and of course my favorite... peach cobbler - YUM!!! There is never a dull moment at this Historic Restaurant and Tavern Bed & Breakfast on Main Street. They have amazing food, relaxing atmosphere, beautiful gardens, and the BEST people! The Smithfield Inn also won "Best of" Readers Choice Award in 2021. Fun fact, George Washington was actually a guest here back when it was established in 1752.
The Arts Center is located within the Smithfield Visitors Center and exhibits the works of local and regional artists! They host multiple shows throughout the year for citizens to come out and admire the beautiful work. The Arts Center also hosts working studios for eight resident artists, a gift shop with creations by its member artists, and an arts classroom for lessons! I was so amazed at all of the beautiful artwork displayed that these talented artists created!
Last but certainly not least, Smithfield Station, the most charming hotel and dining experience with views of the Pagan river! I actually shared this destination with you all last summer for a couples staycation. It's a one-of-a-king quaint waterfront inn with elegant rooms, nearby gift shops, a divine seafood restaurant, a fully equipped marina, and of course the most gorgeous views of the town! I highly recommend grabbing a drink and sitting out on the boardwalk to watch the sunset. You won't regret it! Smithfield Station was voted as the "Best of Virginia", Boaters Choice, Top Wedding Venue, Traveler's Choice and Diner's choice all in the year of 2020! WOW! It's safe to say that Smithfield Station should be at the top of your list when visiting Smithfield!
There are so many ways to enjoy this beautiful town! Smithfield has everything you could imagine and adheres to a variety of interests, ages, and activities. I hope this travel guide was helpful for you in planning your next weekend getaway (or staycation!) to this quaint and charming destination that I am blessed to call home. Smithfield is a small town with lots of heart and you'll feel like a local before ya know it. I hope to see ya around town! Till next time...
XOXO - Amber