Visitors travel to Johnston County for all types of reasons...some are driving through to NC beaches, others are outlet shopping here for the day, and many are here visiting friends and family seeing the local attractions. Putting together ideas for your visit is what we do for a living and we have taken the time to create several fun, historical, and adventurous day trips for your consideration.
So rely on our knowledge of the county and find a Day Trip that looks like fun -- and let us know how you enjoyed the itinerary by posting up photos and comments on our FB page: JoCoVisitorsBureau
Downtown Clayton has become a destination for visitors with a sweet tooth. It didn't happen overnight, but we sure are glad it did. We have put together a sample day trip itinerary for you, but we suggest you walk this sweet trail to burn off some calories!
9:30am Walk along the Clayton Art Trail
The town of Clayton has brought public art to the forefront with sculptures placed around town, murals throughout town, school art projects along Sam's Branch Greenway and Clayton River Walk and more. Start your sweet day with a brisk walk along the river walk and build up an appetite for some sweet treats. Clayton River Walk on the Neuse is a beautiful 4-mile, 10-foot wide paved trail that begins at the Wake County/Johnston County line and parallels the Neuse River under Covered Bridge Road. It is part of the 1,000-mile Mountains-to-Sea Trail, which will connect Clingman's Dome in North Carolina's Great Smokey Mountains National Park to Jockey's Ridge State Park all the way at the coast.
Johnston County can offer a "hands on" history lesson for all ages from the Bentonville Battlefield State Historic Site to the Benson Museum of Local History...we invite you to explore our corner of history in North Carolina. Heritage Tourism is keeping old traditions alive for visitors to discover through exhibits, educational programs, folk-life films, music, and art. And history is always best served with a little taste of local Eastern-style barbecue and sweet tea!
9:30am Bentonville Battlefield, Four Oaks
Located in the village of Bentonville in southeast Johnston County, this 5,000 acre battlefield is in pristine condition. Most of the farmland continues to be owned by the descendents of the families that lived here during the Civil War. The historic site offers a 20-minute introductory video that explains the three day battle against General Sherman as he marched from Atlanta near the end of the war. Confederate General Joseph Johnson waged the only offensive against Sherman's destructive march. The confederates were out numbered 20,000 to 60,000 as this would be the last major battle of the Civil War. The site's museum and gift shop are on the tour and include a fiber optic map of the battle. After touring the museum plan to visit the Harper House, which was the home of John Harper and his family. They resided upstairs as the Union Army converted the downstairs into a field hospital. Over 4,000 soldiers were wounded or killed in the intense battle. FREE. Two Hours.
Music is such a significant part of Christmas and nothing will put you in the Christmas spirit as easily as the American Music Jubilee Christmas Show. Take a nostalgic trip back in time to an innocent age when the anticipation of Santa made the holidays magical…when we all dreamed of a"White Christmas" and listened for "Silver Bells". Enjoy gospel favorites, or find yourself tapping your toes to the exciting contemporary beat of hits like "Christmas in Dixie". Located along the I-95 corridor, Selma offers a "touch of Branson and a touch of Myrtle Beach in Eastern North Carolina." Round out this itinerary with great shopping options to complete your Christmas list!
9:00am Shop 'til you Drop in Johnston County
Smithfield and Selma offer over 85 outlet shops for all your Christmas Shopping! Carolina Premium Outlet located in Smithfield, (I-95, Exits 95) has over 80 factory direct retail stores with 25-65% savings every day. JR Discount Center in Selma has the largest selection of perfumes in the state, and offers a Christmas shop, housewares, toys, books, old-fashion candies and much more. For an upscale unique shopping experience stop by DeWaynes in Selma for jewelry, fun clothes at The Boutique, Vera Bradley and more at the Christmas Store. If antiques are what you seek, the Town of Selma is known for the variety of shops all within walking distance in downtown. 3 hours or more.
Johnston County is a community of rural X-roads, farms and church families, where locals often meet at country stores for supplies and gossip. Enjoy these “off-the-beaten” path tours featuring out of the way attractions such as Atkinson's Mill, strawberry picking or stopping by a local farmer's market and why not picnic in a managed forest. This tour is certainly worth the time and effort to see and experience what lies beyond the highway on Johnston County’s X-Roads.
9:30am Tobacco Farm Life Museum
Learn more about area farmers and their families and the difference from the “old ways” of the 19th centuries and today…and what has remained the same…the love for the land. Tour the 6,000 square foot museum that chronicles the everyday life of Eastern North Carolina farm families and explore the depression era homestead including the kitchen, packhouse, and tobacco barn. Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 9:30am-5pm, Admission fee. 1 hour
709 S. Church St., Kenly
We invite you to come along on a journey of history, family, culture and of course some amazing wine! Choose one of the wineries or breweries (or both) along the Beer, Wine and Shine Trail for this day trip of wineries, outlet shopping, and a touch of Hollywood glamor.
10am Ava Gardner Museum
Ava Gardner was born and raised in Johnston County, just seven miles east of Smithfield in the Brogden Community. Ava signed a contract with MGM at age 17 and went on to become a internationally acclaimed star appearing in 59 films. The museum showcases her life and career with memorabilia and personal belongings.
Admission charged. Hours: Monday-Saturday, 9-5pm, Sunday 2-5pm. Closed major holidays. 1 hour.
325 E. Market Street, Smithfield