Making firm travel plans might be a little challenging right now, but consider this: Short, scenic trips by car allow you to pick and choose where you go and what you do, based on your interests. That’s why we’ve come up with a road trip that combines a city landscape with a more rural one, both allowing for plenty of social distancing and access to open spaces.
Outdoor Art Treasures
- Smithfield is proud to boast the country’s largest collection of bronze statues by acclaimed sculptor George Lundeen.
- Snap a selfie or take a group photo with the LoveWorks “L-O-V-E” letters found in both destinations! Smithfield’s letters are located at 319 Main St., while Newport News’s can be found in City Center at Oyster Point in the 700 block of Town Center Drive.
The Great Outdoors
For a fun and relaxing way to explore our historic waterways, consider taking the Jamestown-Scotland vehicle ferry through Surry County to the heart of downtown Smithfield. There’s no better way to get a real taste of the area's natural beauty than on this FREE ferry ride … and as they say, getting there is half the fun!
After arriving in Newport News, stroll along Huntington Beach at the foot of the James River Bridge; challenge yourself to a 5-mile hike along the breathtaking Noland Trail at Mariners’ Museum Park; or take a leisurely walk in Newport News Park, a 7,711-acre oasis at the north end of the city. For an overnight outdoor adventure, reserve one of our 188 modern campsites in Newport News Park.
A trip to Newport News would not be complete without a visit to the Virginia Living Museum and its ¾ -mile elevated boardwalk, which features animals native to Virginia in their naturalized habitats. The boardwalk crosses Deer Park Lake and winds through woods and a wetlands area. Along the boardwalk, you’ll see red wolves, the most endangered animal in North America. You’ll also see beavers, river otters (who love showing off for visitors), bald eagles, vultures, bobcat, deer, wild turkeys, opossum, gray fox, red fox and coyote.
- Smithfield’s Windsor Castle Park at 301 Jericho Road has been described as 208 acres of “natural beauty, nestled along the banks of the Pagan River and Cypress Creek.” It features a woodland trail system, picnic and open-area space, a kayak/canoe launch, fishing pier, mountain bike path, scenic overlooks and the historic manor house, Windsor Castle.
Newport News may be considered more “urban” than “rural,” but you’d never know it after visiting our local farmers’ markets: Dean & Don’s Farm Market on Warwick Boulevard and Game’s Farmers Market on Harpersville Road. And, of course, Smithfield’s agricultural heritage is still very much alive, so much so that they offer a “Visit the Farms” brochure, available at their Visitor Center.
Al fresco dining
Dining al fresco has become even more popular since it’s the “safer” way to dine, according to the experts. As a result, even restaurants that didn’t offer outdoor seating have figured out a way to offer it today!
A few popular Newport News restaurants include Crab Shack on the James, where you can catch the most magnificent sunsets over the James River, and Smoke BBQ, a fun place for families. For more upscale fine dining, try FIN Seafood in Port Warwick or Circa 1918 in Historic Hilton Village. In Smithfield, you’re sure to find something you like at Smithfield Station on the Pagan River, Taste of Smithfield at 217 Main Street, or Wharf Hill at 25 Main St.
Since there are too many superb restaurants to name them all, we suggest you visit each city’s website for phone numbers to check on a particular restaurant’s outdoor dining opportunities. Click here for Newport News eateries and click here for Smithfield.
Breweries and distilleries
Cap off your “Where Urban Meets Rural” road trip with a sampling of an adult beverage, hand-crafted locally, or buy your own to take home as a souvenir.
- Distilleries in Newport News and Smithfield include Ironclad Distillery on 23rd Street in Newport News and Blue Sky Distillery on Isle of Wight Industrial Park Road in Smithfield.
Breweries range from Tradition Brewing Company on Thimble Shoals Boulevard and Twisted Knot Brewing Company on Canon Boulevard (both in Newport News) to Wharf Hill Brewing Company on Main Street in Smithfield. And although Newport News doesn’t yet have its own winery, Smithfield has SummerWind Vineyard on Eagle Nest Lane.
From the quaint, walkable downtown streets of Smithfield to the city landscape of Newport News, you’ll find a wonderful mix of urban and rural in these two neighboring cities. Happy exploring!