15 Best Things to Do in Smithfield, VA

Smithfield, VA
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Considered one of the prettiest towns in Virginia, Smithfield has gained fame from curing ham.

First settled in 1634, Smithfield is on the Pagan River and the South side of the James River.

The Native Americans who lived in the area called it Warascoyak.

You will find many things to do in this lovely town, like taking a tour of the ham factory and visiting one of the many museums.

Smithfield is a small town on the Isle of Wight County, where you can easily spend a day or two exploring everything it offers.

Stroll down the historic Main Street, explore the Isle of Wight Museum, or head out to Windsor Castle Park for some great views.

There are hiking and biking trails for those looking for some outdoor activities.

Here are the best things to do in Smithfield, VA:

Enjoy the Great Outdoors at Windsor Castle Park

Daytime view of Windsor Castle Park
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Windsor Castle Park is a beautiful public park located on the banks of the James River.

It's an ideal place to enjoy the outdoors, with picnic areas, hiking trails, and a playground.

The park also has historic features, such as the Windsor Castle Farmhouse, built in the early 1800s, and the remains of the 17th-century James Fort.

Pathway at Windsor Castle Park
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Builders used brick for the farmhouse, with plaster used to cover the internal brick.

Then, they used stucco to cover the outer brick.

You can still find the exposed brick in two basement rooms now known as the Pub & Tavern.

There are also Civil War-era earthworks, which offer great views of the river.

If you want to take a scenic hike, check out Windsor Castle Park.

River at Windsor Castle Park
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Relive the Past at the Smithfield Historic District

The historic district's Main Street features more than 50 remarkably designed buildings that evoke the grace and beauty of older times.

The tree-lined streets and gas lamps give the town an old-fashioned feel, making it a great place to take a stroll.

There are shops and restaurants to explore; you can easily spend a few hours wandering the Smithfield Historic District.

Visit the numerous museum and art galleries along the way.

Stop at the Isle of Wight County Courthouse, one of the oldest courthouses in America.

You can grab a bite at one of the oldest restaurants in town, Taste of Smithfield, or enjoy some peace at one of its parks.

If you have the time, visit the numerous historic sites.

Go to the Historic 1632 Saint Luke's Church and Museum in Virginia.

Find the two earthen works forts in Isle of Wight County: Fort Boykin Historic Park and Historic Fort Huger.

The latter was a critical fort during the Civil War.

You can find both sites along the picturesque James River's banks.

Various festivals also happen in the district throughout the year.

There's always something going on at the Smithfield Historic District.

Discover the Charm of the Schoolhouse Museum

The Schoolhouse Museum is a charming little museum in the historic district of Smithfield.

You can find it inside an old schoolhouse.

The museum features displays about Isle of Wight County's educational history.

The schoolhouse served as a community school until it closed in the 1960s.

In 1932, authorities added the Smithfield Schoolhouse Museum to the Christian Home School, a venerable Rosenwald school.

The school initially occupied two acres in Virginia's Isle of Wight County's Chuckatuck neighborhood.

The Schoolhouse Museum also has several interactive displays, such as a mock-up of a one-room schoolhouse.

You will also see a 1900s first-grade reader, a slate board, and a student desk with an ink well.

Likewise, you'll find a ball made with fabric, a stick bat, and a wood-burning stove.

Take a Tour of the Isle of Wight Courthouse

Exterior of Isle of Wight Courthouse
AlbertHerring, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Isle of Wight County Courthouse is one of the oldest courthouses in America.

It is also an excellent example of colonial architecture.

Built in 1750, the Isle of Wight County Courthouse's current building is the third courthouse on this site.

The town renovated the building, formerly patterned after the Colonial Williamsburg Capitol Building.

You can join group tours of the courthouse any day or time with advance notice.

Likewise, you can rent the Isle of Wight County Courthouse for special occasions.

Interior of Isle of Wight Courthouse
AlbertHerring, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

William Rand built the structure, featuring a characteristic semi-circular apse and conical roof.

The design was typical in many English churches.

Moreover, the courthouse design remained consistent throughout its 50 years of service as the county courthouse in Isle of Wight and Smithfield.

The courthouse is now a museum, which features exhibits about the history of Isle of Wight County and the courthouse itself.

For instance, you can see the gallows where they used to hang pirates in the 18th century.

Relive the Past at the Nelms House

Built in 1899, the Nelms House is a historic house museum located in the historic district of Smithfield.

A local merchant George Nelms built the house in 1901.

The house is an excellent example of Queen Anne-style architecture and contains many period pieces.

You can find stunning historical settings both within and outside the Nelms House.

Moreover, you can rent the place for weddings and other special occasions.

Additionally, the Nelms House makes the ideal background for picture-taking.

Have a Fun Hike with Friends at the Windsor Castle Trail

The Windsor Castle Trail is a 3.8-mile hiking trail in Smithfield.

The trail gets its name from Windsor Castle, a 17th-century brick manor house that Sir John Smith built.

Five pedestrian bridges cross the creeks and marshes, with many well-placed overlooks for relaxing and sightseeing.

The Windsor Castle Trail also passes through woods and fields and offers several scenic views.

The trails are ADA-compliant and follow "Sustainable Trail Design" guidelines.

The Windsor Castle Trail is a great place to hike with friends or family and is also a popular spot for bird watching.

Marvel at the History of the Historic St. Luke's Church

Exterior of St. Luke's Church
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The Historic St. Luke's Church is a beautiful old church built in 1632.

It is the oldest surviving church in Virginia.

Likewise, it's the only remaining Gothic-style building in North America that dates back to the early 17th century.

Since the 17th century, St. Luke's Church has hosted life-stage celebrations for families and the neighborhood as Virginia's Oldest Church.

St. Luke's has become the ideal location for worship, marriages, family reunions, community picnics, and funerals.

Arched entryway of St. Luke's Church
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Initially built as an Anglican parish, the church now serves as a museum.

The church has several intriguing features, such as a hand-carved pulpit, a 17th-century font, and stained glass windows.

There is no longer a thriving congregation at the Historic St. Luke's Church.

Statue of St. Luke in front of St. Luke's Church
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Shop Fresh Produce at the Smithfield Farmers Market

The Smithfield Farmers Market is great for buying fresh, locally-grown produce.

You can find the market in Smithfield Historic District.

It opens every Saturday morning from April through October.

The market features a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, flowers, baked goods, honey, jams, and jellies.

Vendors of Smithfield Farmers Market come from within 100 miles of Smithfield.

The Smithfield Farmers Market is also a great place to socialize, meet new people, and support local farmers.

Visit the Smithfield and Isle of Wight Visitor Center

If you need a guide on what to do in Smithfield or are just curious about the town's history, visit the Smithfield and Isle of Wight Visitor Center.

The visitor center is in the historic district of downtown Smithfield.

You can find it inside a beautiful 19th-century building.

Stop by the visitor center first to get a map of the town's historic walking tour and details of its attractions, housing options, places to eat, and special events.

The Smithfield and Isle of Wight Visitor Center offers various exhibits that present the town's history, from the early days of settlement to the present.

It also has a gift shop to buy souvenirs and local products.

Learn the Town's History at the Isle of Wight County Museum

Close view of Isle of Wight Museum's clock
Isle of Wight County Museum, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Isle of Wight County Museum is a great place to learn about the history and culture of Smithfield and the surrounding area.

Founded in 1796, the museum tells the story of the county's people from the English settlers to the present day.

The museum is in an 18th-century courthouse, once used as a jail and courthouse, and features a variety of exhibits on local history.

You can learn about the town's role in the American Revolution, see historical artifacts, and view various artwork.

The Isle of Wight County Museum also features interactive exhibits, such as a turn-of-the-century county store, the Smithfield ham industry, and the Civil and Cold Wars.

It offers educational programs, such as walking tours, lectures, and workshops.

If you're interested in the history of Smithfield, this is the place to go.

Spend an Afternoon at the Blue Sky Distillery

Blue Sky Distillery is a proudly local small-batch craft distillery in Smithfield, Virginia.

The distillery offers various spirits, such as vodka, rum, gin, and moonshine.

You can tour Blue Sky Distillery to see how they craft the spirits, or you can enjoy a tasting.

Their famous Flying Dragon Spiced Rum comprises all-natural spices and Virginia honey.

You can buy a bottle of their spirits in a handcrafted wooden box.

If you are feeling a little adventurous, you can also buy a bottle of their moonshine to take home with you.

Grab a Bite at the Wharf Hill Brewing

The Wharf Hill Brewing Company will make you feel like you've returned to 1906.

You can find the brewery and restaurant in an old brick building on Main Street.

The restaurant has a casual yet elegant atmosphere, with a menu that features fresh, locally-sourced ingredients.

Their seafood is especially noteworthy, caught fresh from the Chesapeake Bay.

Marvel at the restaurant's first floor housed in the 1906 Elk's Lodge, with interior woodwork from 1906.

The second floor has an outdoor deck that overlooks the Pagan River.

Wharf Hill Brewing should give you a good time, whether you're looking for a casual meal or a fine dining experience.

If you're looking for a sumptuous meal and local history, you must check out Wharf Hill Brewing Company.

Discover the Wonders of Fort Boykin

Nature trail at Fort Boykin
Nat Webb, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Along the James River in Isle of Wight County, Virginia, lies a historic site called Fort Boykin.

In 1623, the Smithfield colonists built a fort to defend their settlement from Spanish marauders or Native American attacks.

Over the centuries, the fort has undergone expansion and improvement.

During the American Revolutionary War, the fort received the new name Fort Boykin in honor of Major Francis M. Boykin.

Boykin was a local officer in the Continental Army who owned the property at the time.

As an active military installation, Fort Boykin saw three wars: the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, and the Civil War.

The last major conflict where the fort saw action was World War II.

Nowadays, Fort Boykin is a beautiful state park perfect for picnicking, fishing, kayaking, and exploring.

Explore the Attractions at the Arts Center at 319

The Arts Center at 319 is a community arts center that offers various classes and activities for all ages.

You can take painting, pottery, photography, and even belly dancing classes there.

The Arts Center at 319 also has a gallery that hosts the work of local artists, as well as rotating exhibitions of regional and national artists.

If you're looking for something to do with the kids, the center also offers various camps and classes for children.

You can also find eight resident artists' working studios, a gift shop with artists' creations, and a classroom for art lessons.

It also has a gift shop.

The Arts Center at 319 is a great place to find unique gift items from local artists.

Other Things to Do Nearby

See the Wildlife at the Ragged Island Wildlife Management Area

Daytime view of Ragged Island Wildlife Management Area
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The Ragged Island Wildlife Management Area is a great place to see wildlife in their natural habitat.

It is near James River's south bank with borders of pristine brackish marsh and small pine islands.

You can find this place in Carrollton, Virginia, 14 minutes from Smithfield.

The Ragged Island Wildlife Management Area is home to various animals, such as white-tailed deer, wild turkeys, red-winged blackbirds, and ospreys.

Boardwalk trail at Ragged Island Wildlife Management Area
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There are also different reptiles, such as turtles and snakes.

The Ragged Island Wildlife Management Area is open to the public for hunting, fishing, and wildlife watching.

You can go to a boardwalk to see the marsh's wildlife.

The waters of Ragged Island Wildlife Management Area
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Final Thoughts

Smithfield is a gem of a town that has something for everyone.

Whether you're looking for history, delicious food, or a creative outlet, you'll find it in Smithfield.

So what are you waiting for?

Start planning your trip today!

You might even find more things to do in Smithfield when you arrive.