Recently, I took a weekend trip to Smithfield, Virginia, and the experience felt like Southern hospitality at its greatest.
Over 3 days, we felt fully immersed in this small town. The trip was inspired by our purchase of a package at a Louisa County Chamber of Commerce event. In that package, we got an overnight stay at the Smithfield Inn, with two walking tours through downtown Smithfield, admission into the local museum, a bottle of wine from the local winery SummerWind, and a gift certificate to the Taste of Smithfield Restaurant.
We started the trip by checking in to the Smithfield Inn, which was built in 1752. We were warmly greeted by the manager and he introduced us to a beautiful whiskey bourbon collection, one of his passions. This set the tone for the friendly and unique interactions we’d continue to have over the weekend.
My friend Nicole, who works for the Isle of Wight County Economic Development Office, joined us for our first big night out on the town. She took us to the local brewery (the only place that was open past 8:30 pm) and we closed the place down at 10:30 pm on a Friday night!
Saturday morning, we went to the Smithfield Gourmet Café & Bakery for breakfast and our server Erin was absolutely delightful. Later that day, we shopped up and down the streets of Smithfield and went to the Farmers Market, which was lovely and huge for a small town. It was great to see libraries actively participating in the Farmers Market.
On Sunday, we went on a Walking Tour, which was led by our tour guide Deb, as well as the local historian, Kathy. Deb and Kathy gave us a truly exceptional VIP tour of the old homes in downtown Smithfield, with the backstory, history, and insights on the Victorian homes. It was truly inspiring… and the walking tours usually cost $5!
The weekend exceeded our expectations, and the walking tour was a huge part of that. Getting to experience a tour through the eyes of locals and individuals passionate about the community is like nothing else! In the upcoming months, the Smithfield Visitor’s Center is going to be offering a new version of tours on the water.
If you’re running a tourism office, what unique packages do you offer? How can you engage visitors so they aren’t just walking on their own? How about offering a guided walking tour? You could get volunteers involved to give tours, document them, and create binders of articles with all the details. If you’re already offering walking tours or big bus tours, what could you do differently? Maybe you could offer segway tours, canal tours, or boat tours.
How is your town engaging visitors in unique ways? Message us to share!
Reimagining Places With You,
Sandy the PPR Strategies Team