Foodie Fanatic Tour of the Salty Southern Route
True foodies will want to take in as much as there is to offer on the Salty Southern Route. From RV and campsites to luxury accommodations and top-of-the-line chains - you'll find somewhere to stay that matches your style and budget. You'll learn all there is to know about the region's peanuts and pork industries and get a real taste of it along the way. Just be sure to take home some edible souvenirs to remember your visit.
Begin with stops at three of the most authentic peanut shops and processors in the region. You’ll be immersed in the industry with visits to the Peanut Patch, Gurganus Peanuts, and Newsoms Peanuts. Afterwards, you’ll be ready for some good country cooking with lunch at Grayson & Emma’s Garden Spot. Next, enjoy a country drive along scenic rural roads to Darden’s Country Store & Smokehouse. Be sure to call ahead to see if Dee Dee or Tommy can give you a tour of their smokehouse. Head into downtown Smithfield for your first stop there – the Isle of Wight County Museum. Here you’ll learn all about the pork and peanut industries – and how they’re connected historically.
Stroll along Smithfield’s charming Main Street where merchants offer plenty of pork-themed souvenirs. Head out to Summerwind Winery, Smithfield’s newest addition to take in the beautiful scenery and taste some great local wines made from grapes grown right on the property. Finish your busy day with dinner at Taste of Smithfield and top it off with a drink at Wharf Hill Brewing Company, or a stroll through Windsor Castle Park.
If you’re staying the night in downtown Smithfield, all these stops are within easy walking distance. Lodging options in downtown Smithfield include the Smithfield Station, the Smithfield Inn, and Mansion on Main Bed & Breakfast. Just outside of town is the Hampton Inn & Suites – Smithfield.
Focus on the Virginia’s largest city – Suffolk, the Peanut Capital. Be sure your first stop is at Suffolk’s Visitor Center for maps, brochures and information. Stroll downtown Suffolk and take a selfie with one of the area’s Mr. Peanut statues. You will love the aroma of roasted peanuts at the Planters Peanut Center.
Then head over to the Seaboard Station Railroad Museum to hear a bit of the city’s colorful history and how it relates to the peanut industry. You will have worked up an appetite so enjoy lunch at “That Good BBQ.”
Take it easy that night by a twilight stroll through historic Cedar Hill Cemetery, featuring the Grave of Antonio Gentile, the designer of Mr. Peanut. Follow this up with a refreshing brew at one of Suffolk’s two brewpubs, Brick & Mortar Brewing Company or Decent People Tap Room.
Your journey takes you to Surry and Sussex Counties. Just a 20-minute drive from Smithfield, Bacon’s Castle is a carefully-preserved historic treasure with one of the county’s oldest smokehouses. Stop by Edwards Ham Shoppe for a quick snack, then head out to the Hampton Roads Winery for a tour and few souvenirs. Adams Peanuts and Country Store in Wakefield offer up some authentic culinary treats, then head just up Route 460 to the iconic Virginia Diner for lunch.
Plantation Peanuts and Wakefield Peanut Company are two more authentic, “can’t miss” stops on the Salty Southern Route. How about enjoying some country air with a hike at the Airfield Conference Center in Sussex County?
There are a few other options for the last day of your tour. These are smaller operations or volunteer-run so call first to be sure they are open. A farm tour at Drewry Farms or Red Barn Berkshires may be available seasonally. The Southampton Agricultural Museum offers a real taste of the agricultural heritage of the region, but hours are limited. R. M. Felts Packing and Hubs Peanuts are two smaller peanut processors – well worth a visit – but offer limited hours.