Updated July 21, 2020.
Surprise! I took a quick, last-minute trip down to Smithfield, VA, to visit my friend Amanda and explore this cute town within day-trip distance of Colonial Williamsburg! If you find yourself exploring southern Virginia, or if you just like ham, peanuts, or Colonial American history, Smithfield is for you. Here are some of the best things to do!
10. Take Some Piggy Pics
So, Smithfield is all about the pigs. They’re famous for their hams! As such, it only stands to reason that pigs would be celebrated, kind of like the town mascot. You’ll find pigs everywhere—gargoyle pigs, painted pigs, pig pins and jewelry… it’s all about the pigs! Find your favorite or just get pictures with them all. If you don’t get a piggy pic in Smithfield, did you really go? I think not.
9. Stop into the Visitor Center and Art Gallery
You really should make this your first stop! The folks in here are so kind and helpful, and you’ll want a map so you can take the walking tour! The same building also serves as the arts center, so if you’re interested in local art and jewelry, this is a great place for you!
8. Attend a Festival
Smithfield is home to several festivals throughout the year. In January you can attend the “BOB Fest” featuring Bloody Marys, Oysters, Brunswick Stew, and Barbecue; come in April for the Smithfield Wine and Brew Weekend; and don’t miss the Bacon, Bourbon, and Beach Music Festival in October! The shop owners also hand out candy to kids for Halloween, and I hear it’s also enchanting at Christmastime!
7. Take a Walking Tour
When you stop into the Visitor Center, don’t forget to pick up a map so you can take the self-guided walking tour! It’s an excellent map with a lot of information, and the historic district is easily walkable, especially on a beautiful day!
6. Do Some Antiquing
As most charming small towns do, Smithfield has its share of unique shops from jewelry to antiques to “exquisite junk” as one store proudly touted! You never know what you’ll find in small towns like this, especially when you can tell that the residents take pride in their town. There are treasures to be found if you can take the time to look!
5. Visit Historic St. Luke’s Church
If you’re as passionate about history as my friend Amanda and I are, a tour of this church should be at the top of your list! John was our tour guide, and he was fountain of historical knowledge. The church is no longer active, but the church does have a mission: to preserve history. It’s the oldest church building in Virginia, the architecture itself is fascinating, and there is a chamber organ in there that dates back to 1630!
4. See the World’s Oldest Peanut
Smithfield is known for the ham, but this region of Virginia is also known for its large and tasty peanuts! Get some while you’re here (in any flavor variety you like!), but also stop by the Isle of Wight County Museum to see the world’s oldest peanut! Sitting pretty since 1890.
3. Get on the Ham Cam
There is an actual “ham cam” that watches people while they meet the oldest ham in the world. Me, I took a selfie. One way or the other, make sure you get a lasting shot of the world’s oldest ham, aging nicely since 1902! You can see it at the Isle of Wight County Museum.
2. Visit the 1750 Courthouse
This was the pleasant surprise of the day! My friend Amanda and I love visiting historic buildings, but the experiences can be hit-or-miss. This small museum is set up beautifully, and you can walk right past the bar if you like! Jim was the docent on duty, and he was an absolute wealth of information. We learned a lot about the courthouse itself, but also about Smithfield and the surrounding area—and, of course, the area’s history!
1. Eat Ham!
If you do nothing else on your trip to Smithfield, by all means, eat some ham! We ate at Taste of Smithfield, and we can highly recommend it as excellent Southern fare with ham options for days!
Don’t skip this! What to Eat in Smithfield
I hope you’ll love Smithfield as much as we did! I already can’t wait to go back because I know we only scratched the surface! Have you been to Smithfield, VA?
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