The Outdoor Lover's Guide to Smithfield and Isle of Wight County

June 06, 2024

Calling all nature enthusiasts, history buffs, and families looking for a fun day out! Smithfield and Isle of Wight County offer an exciting range of outdoor activities for all ages and interests. Whether you’re paddling a serene river, hiking scenic trails, or exploring historic sites, here are some of our top picks for an unforgettable adventure:

Windsor Castle Park
This 208-acre gem boasts extensive walking and biking trails, scenic views along the Pagan River, and ample opportunities for birdwatching. Windsor Castle Park features a historic manor, fishing piers, kayak and canoe launches, and a natural playscape for children. It’s an ideal spot for a picnic or a leisurely stroll through nature. The park is also offering new monthly Tree Walks with a certified arborist.

Birding and Wildlife Observation
Isle of Wight is a fantastic destination for birding enthusiasts. Windsor Castle Park, Fort Boykin Historic Park, Nike Park, and the Ragged Island Wildlife Refuge are notable spots listed on the “Tidewater Loop” of the Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail. These locations provide unique opportunities to observe a diverse range of bird species and other wildlife including great blue herons, laughing gulls, fiddler crabs, osprey, and much more.

With abundant rivers and creeks, Smithfield offers excellent fishing opportunities. Popular spots include the Pagan River and Cypress Creek. Clontz Park and Carrollton Nike Park offer fishing piers, while Windsor Castle Park features a quiet place to fish along Cypress Creek. Remember to secure the necessary fishing licenses, which can be purchased locally.

Boating and Kayaking
The Pagan River provides ideal conditions for canoeing, kayaking, and motorboating. Windsor Castle Park and Carrollton-Nike Park have state-of-the-art, roller style kayak and canoe launches. You can also explore waterways via the boat launches at Jones Creek, Tyler’s Beach, Clontz Park, the Joyner’s Bridge Boat Ramp. Private marinas include Brown’s Marina, Gatling Pointe Yacht Club, and the family owned Smithfield Station.

Enjoy ample wooded trails at two of the county’s parks through the Park-to-Park trail, which connects Carrollton-Nike Park to Windsor Castle Park and was recently completed in 2021.
The East Coast Greenway, an urban trail system linking 3,000 miles of bike/ped trails across 16 states also includes Smithfield and Isle of Wight County in its trail connecting the Historic Triangle (Williamsburg/Jamestown/Yorktown) with the Great Dismal Swamp Trail.

Fort Boykin Historic Park
Dating back to 1623, Fort Boykin Historic Park offers a mix of history and natural beauty. The park sits atop a bluff overlooking the James River and includes a public beach, picnic areas, and historically significant trees and structures.

Historic Fort Huger
A fascinating destination for those interested in Civil War history, Fort Huger features a self-guided walking tour along verdant trails and bridges that culminates in scenic overlooks of the James River and the “ghost fleet” of ships anchored in the water.

Public Art
The Porcine Parade is a great way to explore Smithfield. This quirky attraction, located in multiple spots throughout downtown, features life-size statues of hogs, each painted by local artists to reflect different aspects of Smithfield’s history.
The town also boasts the largest collection of bronze statues by George Lundeen, including notable figures such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and Robert Frost.
Don’t forget to stop by Smithfield’s beloved LOVEwork sculpture beside The Smithfield Times building and take a photo. This artwork was sponsored through a 2017 contest and designed by winner Meagan Pugh.

Genuine Smithfield Walking Tour
Stop by the Smithfield Visitor’s Center at 319 Main Street to pick up a map, then explore the town’s rich history through a self-guided walking tour of the Historic District. Discover over 50 buildings of architectural significance, ranging from Colonial to Victorian styles. This tour is a delightful way to immerse yourself in the town’s heritage while enjoying a pleasant walk.

Smithfield Farmer's Market
Held Saturdays April-October, the Farmer's Market is the best way to savor the region's freshest foods and handmade items. The market takes place 9am-12:30pm at the Bank of Southside VA parking lot (115 Main Street) and has a vendor focus on Farm Goods: farm grown, raised or fished products such as produce, meat, seafood, dairy, and dairy products eggs, animal products, honey, plants and flowers. They also have hot food vendors, baked goods, some crafters, and live music. Learn more about the market's specialty and holiday markets here.

Hayden’s Lane
Located in the 200 block of Main Street in downtown Smithfield and running between Main and Grace Streets, Hayden's Lane was originally the driveway to Hayden Hall, an early girls' school. Today the lane is a popular destination for Storywalks presented by the Smithfield Public Library, where families can read the pages of a book posted on signs along the lane. You can also sit on one of the path’s many benches and enjoy the peaceful surroundings and garden.

Visit the Farms
Go strawberry picking, meet alpacas, and enjoy fresh seasonal produce at one of Isle of Wight County’s many farms. View the full list of locations and offerings here and don’t forget to call ahead for hours and tour availability.

Riverview Park
Nestled in the heart of town, Riverview Park offers a tranquil escape for walkers and runners. Lush greenery, winding trails, stunning river views, and a playground and fitness equipment provide an inviting ambience at the 9 acre park.

Carrollton-Nike Park
This versatile outdoor park offers a wide range of recreational activities including various sports facilities, picnic areas, a fishing pier, observation deck, bike trails, a skate park, and a playground. Paddling enthusiasts love the kayak launch, which allows easy access to Jones Creek and eventually the James River. History lovers are invited to explore the U.S. Army’s history at the park, a former Nike-Ajax missile base, through interpretive signage and at guided walking tours offered throughout the year.

After your adventure, enjoy one of Smithfield’s many other charming attractions! Restaurants, specialty shops, wineries and more abound to supplement your visit. Explore our other trip ideas here!