Year of the Staycation--Frugal Family Ideas in 90+ Cities (www.walkinginhighcotton.net}Any times we say we’re from Smithfield, folks immediately ask, “You mean, like the ham?”

Yes. Exactly.

Smithfield, Virginia is the original home (and still headquarters) of Smithfield Foods. “Hams, History, Hospitality, and HeART” as we like to say around here.

Here’s some of our favorite, pretty much free, ways to spend a nice weekend around here…

Here's a picture of the boys with Mr. Fix-It and Papa while spending an afternoon on Main Street last fall.

Here’s a picture of the boys, Mr. Fix-It, and Papa spending an afternoon on Main Street last fall.

Smithfield Farmer’s Market…it’s growing every year and is quite the local hot spot on Saturday mornings. It includes everything from fresh veggies, to soap, to cut flowers, to bakery treats. Admission is free, of course, so you can just window shop (and gossip! {smile})  if you’d like, but you won’t be able to resist the ham biscuits from Darden’s Country Store, I’m tellin’ ya. (They’re our neighbors as well, and sometimes I make Mr. Fix-It take me to the Market just to get some fresh!)

Windsor Castle Park…a little fresh air and blue water right here. The Park is a recent, but well-loved, addition to the Town. Admission is free and there’s trails the whole family will enjoy, along with a dog park, canoe launch, fishing pier, and picnic areas. It’s a perfect place to enjoy some of our wetland wildlife and birds, including osprey, cranes, and herons. (And keep your eyes peeled for bald eagles!!)

Then be sure to walk across and enjoy some ice cream or a too-beautiful-to-eat cupcake at Jeff’s Sir-Cakes-A-Lot bakery on the Smithfield Station Boardwalk!

I told you we love pigs and art around here! {smile} Here's a new mural on a downtown building.

I told you we love pigs and art around here! {smile} Here’s a new mural on a downtown building.

Be sure to stop by the Visitor’s Center and browse the local art center and studios. And be sure to download a free copy of the Children’s Coloring Book with history facts and a scavenger hunt all about the Town in it. (Tours can be easily arranged if you have a group in the area as well!) And be sure to pick up a free copy of the “Porcine Parade” map and enjoy our life-sized painted pigs! (Ask the Visitor’s Center about a special treat for munchkins that identify all the piggies!)

And while you’re right downtown, you can grab a drink and a huge homemade muffin at the Smithfield Bakery (there’s actually a Virginia Bicycling Route named “the Smithfield Bakery Run” because it’s so yummy!)–which is Mr. Fix-It’s favorite local place for lunch. Not a “bargain” price for lunch, but you get good food and large helpings–and the place is always buzzing!

The kiddos were enjoying a little history on the Old Courthouse Green.

The kiddos were enjoying a little history on the old Courthouse lawn.

If you’re looking for a little shopping time, we’ve got quaint or we’ve got commercial. (Hop over to the Visitor’s Center website to see more info on our local shops.) When we’re downtown I love to stop in Wharf Hill Antiques and Laura and Lucy’s, but if you’re coming from out-of-town, you might want to double-check the store hours. Not all our shops are 7 days a week.

But the best thing about Smithfield is that there’s always something going on!

Our local Lions sponsor a “Classic Cruz-In” car show the 1st, 3rd, and 5th Friday every month from 6:00 to 9:00 pm, starting in April. This is a big event, completely free and family friendly! (I hope to have pictures from us visiting later this month!)

The Town hosts weekly free Friday Night Concerts series at the open Gazebo on the Green right in the middle of Town over the summer.

And we have Smithfield Olden Days Festival every June (this year it’s June 28-29, 2013), including concerts, car shows, river raft races, craft and food vendors, a kids and pets parade, and more all day fun. Oh, and it’s free, free, free. (Ok, a few specific activities have a small fee. But you can just come enjoy the day for nada if you want to–we do!)

And here's the crew enjoying a visit with Benjamin Franklin at the Gazebo on the Green in front of our local newspaper office.

And then they stopped to visit Benjamin Franklin at the Gazebo on the Green in front of our local newspaper office.

While you’re around, be sure to stop by the County Museum (it’s free) and look around at 400+ years of history. Isle of Wight County was originally settled around 1619 (we’re just a free ferry ride away from Jamestown!) and we’ve got every kind of American history right here in the County. From early settlement, to Civil War, to the Cold War, there’s a bit of it right here, and most of our historic properties are owned and managed by the County with free admission for visitors.

Fort Boykin

Fort Huger

Boykin’s Tavern

Nike Park/Nike Ajax Missile Site

And a few other historic sites worth visiting with your family–but I’m not sure if they are free, or a nominal cost.

The Old Schoolhouse Museum (The website alone is awesome–you should check out some of that oral history whether you come to visit or not!)
Historic St. Luke’s Church (Heritage Day is coming up June 8, 2013, with free activities for the whole family!)

And here's the Cowboy doing time for...something. {smile}

And here’s the Cowboy doing time for…something. {smile}

If you’re in Tidewater, you really should come out one Saturday and visit. There’s more than just an afternoon of fun here. And if you’re visiting Virginia Beach, Williamsburg, or other local attractions, don’t forget we’re here! {And if you’re coming this way–don’t forget to come by and visit us at The Lowe Farm!! Just drop us an email so someone ca be sure to be here!}

And be sure to come by tomorrow, where we’ll be linking up with The Happy Housewife’s Year of the Staycation campaign to bring you ideas for frugal family fun in 90+ more locations! (Maybe your town will be on the list!)


See where I’m sharing this week…

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Staycation — Enjoying Smithfield and Western Tidewater Virginia — 5 Comments

  1. What a nice article….Thank you from SMITHFIELD GOURMET BAKERY AND CAFE..Glad you like our little place:)
    and the Bicyle run began because they liked our muffins and then it turned into a larger group..We are so blessed to have many wonderful and loyal customers..Thanks to all:)

  2. Pingback: Summer Staycationing 2014 - Ben and Me

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