Hams, History, Hospitality and HeART ... In Smithfield & Isle of Wight
Nestled along the Pagan River, Smithfield, Virginia is a quaint river-port town rich in hams, history, hospitality and heART. Enjoy strolling along Main Street in the Historic District and step into a time when people acknowledged each other by name, the ice cream parlor or candy store are the center of every child’s universe and people feel safe leaving their doors unlocked.
Smithfield is known as the “Ham Capital of the World” being home to Smithfield Foods, Inc. Historically, members of the English monarchy had standing orders for Smithfield’s famous hams prior to the Revolutionary War. The ham plants are not open for tours but you can visit Darden’s, a classic country store and smokehouse that has been in operation since 1952 and is still run as a family business. Visitors and shoppers can peruse hanging hams, side meat, country cheese and peanuts.
Both Smithfield and Isle of Wight County play host to many significant sites. St. Luke’s Church (circa 1632) is the nation’s oldest Gothic church of English foundation and was the site of both a Revolutionary and Civil War encampment. Fort Boykin and Fort Huger, are the homes of historic military history in our area. Visit the Isle of Wight Museum to learn about the Smithfield ham curing process, Isle of Wight’s agricultural significance and much more. Boykin’s Tavern, a former Innkeeper’s establishment and fully restored historic home stands proudly next to the Isle of Wight Courthouse of 1800 (the NEW Courthouse-the other one, the OLD Courthouse was built in 1750 in the Smithfield Historic District) and is a beacon for the historically curious. The Schoolhouse Museum, a restored African-American one-room schoolhouse is popular with both the young and young at heart! Smithfield's latest attraction is the eco-friendly Windsor Castle Park with its over 4 miles of beautiful, pristine walking trails, state-of-the-art canoe and kayak launch, shaded dog park, popular fishing pier, picnic area under a canopy of trees, fledgling fruit orchard and its historic manor house and grounds. Most area attractions offer free admission. And, history doesn’t stop at the historic sites. Smithfield’s historic district features many fine Colonial, Federal and Victorian homes. The Old Town Walking Tour features over 50 historic homes and buildings.
If history isn’t your cup of tea, Smithfield has many shops and art galleries, as well as a variety of exclusive specialty shops specializing in gifts, accessories, Christmas accouterments, cookies and candy, pampered pet supplies, home décor, and specialty food items including Smithfield Ham and peanuts.
As a matter of fact, there are five art galleries within a four block area each featuring its own unique style and panache. At The Art Center @ 319 (which shares space with the Visitor Center), you can visit with working artists in their studios or take in one of the ever-changing gallery exhibits spotlighting talented local and regional artisans. Color Scapes offers colorful and imaginative paintings, sculpture and creative clay objects. You’ll find intricately painted furniture and gifts at the Painted Garden Boutique and a masterful collection of fine art and valuable objects d’art at Mansion House Art and Antiques. Plus performing arts abound at the Smithfield Little Theater which boasts a huge regional following and is located here in a professional state-of-the-art facility. Or take in a show presented by Smithfield Music, a subsidiary of the Arts League, which hosts top tier singer songwriters in the intimate setting of the Smithfield Little Theater. Plus enjoy the Summer Concert Series on the lawn at Times Square. Concerts are EVERY Friday night from Memorial Day to Labor Day!
One can’t miss a meal in Smithfield. Opt for a hearty breakfast or a scrumptious lunch at the Smithfield Gourmet Bakery. Dine in Colonial elegance at the Smithfield Inn, a local source of hospitality since 1752, or dine waterside at the Smithfield Station Waterfront Inn and Marina or Captain Chuck-a-Mucks. Or scoop up a cold confection at the Smithfield Ice Cream Parlor.
Smithfield hosts many festivals and special events throughout the year! The best way to be "in the know" is to check out the ever-changing and ever-increasing events on the website at www.VisitSmithfieldIsleofWight.com. One family favorite is “Christmas in Smithfield,” an entire month of holiday events. Other annual events include a Chocolate Lover’s Evening in February; Olden Days on the weekend before the 4th of July and Town and Country Day and the Aiken & Friends Music Festival in October. Music and culture abound with several concert series and an up scale farmer’s market held throughout the season and at selected times throughout the year.
Smithfield is just a ripple away from Jamestown and Williamsburg via the relaxing (and free!) Jamestown-Scottland Ferry. Smithfield is easily accessible from Newport News and the Norfolk/Virginia Beach/Portsmouth area via major highways.
For further information contact the Smithfield/Isle of Wight Convention and Visitor’s Bureau at www.VisitSmithfieldIsleofWight.com or (800) 365-9339.