Smithfield, North Carolina, located on I-95 just 30 minutes east of Raleigh, is situated along the Neuse River, with great connections to history, entertainment, dining, lodging, and outlet shopping. Explore a variety of attractions, attend local festivals, discover unique boutique shops, meet some good people, and experience even better BBQ served with sweet tea and a generous helping of true southern hospitality.  

With a growing culinary and craft beverage scene in the county, we invite you to traverse the Beer, Wine, and Shine Trail, the first of its kind in North Carolina. With eight partners – two wineries, four breweries, and two distilleries – enjoy tours and tastings, plus dining options that feature local craft beverages. For a weekend get-a-way choose the Sip & Stay Package, visit all eight trail stops and receive a free gift.

Outdoor enthusiasts can spend time nearly all year-round in our scenic outdoors parks and trails, kayaking the Neuse River, biking on one of several greenways, or exploring wooded trails while bird watching at Howell Woods Environmental Learning Center or Clemmons Educational State Forest. 

We hope you will visit our culinary trails and recreational trails…again and again!  

The county seat, Smithfield, has a thriving downtown with new retail shops, restaurants, events and festivals, historic attractions, and recreational activities throughout the town. Travelers along I-95 will find an abundance of hotels located at Smithfield’s Exit 95, as well as plentiful shopping opportunities thanks to Carolina Premium Outlets where 80 national brand stores offer 25-65% off retail prices daily. For a weekend trip for shopping and savings, book the Girl’s Weekend Package for discounts on hotel rooms and receive a gift bag at check-in.

The Ava Gardner Museum, located in Downtown Smithfield, is home to an incredible collection including original scripts, photos, costumes, and personal effects of screen legend Ava Gardner—a true Hollywood “Cinderella” story. Born near Smithfield discover more about Ava’s rise to fame from a local country girl to one of Hollywood’s film goddesses. She starred in 59 movies with several film icons, such as Clark Gable, Grace Kelly, and Gregory Peck, and the museum features exhibits on her personal life and turbulent marriage to Frank Sinatra.

Born on Christmas Eve in 1922, the museum is kicking off Ava’s Centennial year with the Ava Gardner Festival, October 7-9. Enjoy a weekend of celebration including an opening night concert, new exhibits, heritage tours, the Ava Mural and Rose Garden dedication, street vendors, movie screenings, and more. In December, the museum will celebrate Ava’s 100th birthday through special events and will continue Ava’s centennial tributes into 2023 with an array of programs.

For planning your trip to Smithfield for tours, tastings, and shopping, here’s our suggestion for a day trip or weekend excursion.

The Grapes, Gardner, and Great Deals itinerary groups together our connection to Hollywood, wine tasting, great dining options, savings on outlet shopping, and craft beverage tours. 

Start your day at the Ava Gardner Museum which opens at 9:30am and tour the museum (1 hour), then depart Smithfield for Hinnant Winery just 5 miles away in Pine Level, for a tour and tasting. By this time, you will need a bite to eat, try one of many locally owned restaurants in Downtown Smithfield where you will also find several unique shops. For serious shopping therapy spend the afternoon at Carolina Premium Outlets.  To make it a weekend trip, check into an area hotel then spend the evening at Double Barley Brewing’s Beer Garden, and savor dinner after a satisfying day exploring Johnston County.

Learn more about Smithfield and Johnston County, and find day trips and themed itineraries on johnstoncountync.org and we hope you visit us soon!