Find out why Johnston County, North Carolina makes a great weekend getaway from Raleigh or a perfect place to stop on a road trip down I-95. This week Karen Dawkins from Family Travels on a Budget joins us to share her knowledge and love for this special part of North Carolina tucked between 95 and 40 just outside of Raleigh.
ON THE PODCAST
00:30 – Visit JoCo Sponsor introduction
01:14 – Road trips on Interstate 95
03:22 – Johnston County, North Carolina
04:30 – Talking with Karen Dawkins from Family Travels on a Budget
10:07 – How long to stay in Johnston County
11:57 – Finding out about festivals and events in Johnston County
15:55 – Favorite places to stop and eat
22:54 – Must dos in Johnston County
27:52 – Where to stay
31:20 – Off the beaten path
35:34 – Final tip
36:44 – Best place to take a family photo
37:24 – Karen’s favorite travel gear
39:40 – Thanks!
ABOUT KAREN DAWKINS
Karen Dawkins writes at Family Travels on a Budget, and has been sharing travel stories, itineraries and tips since 2012 to encourage families to get out and explore the world — or their own neighborhood. She moved to Johnston County, North Carolina in 2001 and has enjoyed living in this close knit community just outside of Raleigh. A long-time homeschool mom, she and her kids took many field trips to explore all JoCo, as the locals call it, has to offer. Follow Karen on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
ABOUT JOHNSTON COUNTY, NC
Today’s podcast is sponsored by Johnston County, North Carolina. Whether you are looking for a weekend getaway or a place to stop on an East Coast road trip, Johnston County, affectionately known as JoCo, is a perfect destination for families.
Located at the intersection of Interstate 95 and 40, just outside of Raleigh, JoCo offers a small-town vibe in a convenient location. Families will enjoy visiting farms, shops, museums, and cafes, as well as attending outdoor movie nights and one of the county’s many outdoor festivals. And don’t miss the BBQ!
Visit johnstoncountync.org and get to know JoCo! It is easy to remember, just take exit 95 off I-95. Don’t pass it by!
TIPS FOR VISITING JOHNSTON COUNTY, NC
- Johnston County is a great place to visit even if it’s just for a weekend or a stop on your road trip down to Florida. You can hang out and explore some festivals or go berry picking in the spring and visit pumpkin patches in the fall. Though you won’t find any festivals in the winter and summer because they tend to be either too hot of too cold, there are plenty of other things to explore.
- If you visit the johnstoncountync.org website you can find out everything that is going on. There is a calendar of events for the entire county and a very active blog that keeps current information posted.
- Even though there are not any festivals during the summer and winter, there are still a ton of places to stop along the route of Interstate 95 through Johnston County.
- One highlight is the Tobacco Farm Life Museum, which is right at the beginning edge of the county when you are driving down from New York or New Jersey. This museum is open all year long with live demonstrations and hands on experiences your kids will love; especially after sitting in a car for hours.
- If you are interested in shopping and antiquing, then you should think about stopping in Selma and grabbing an orangeade to quench your thirst during your shopping spree.
- Going further south into Benson, NC there is a great gluten-free bakery to grab a snack. If you are bringing a dog with you on your road trip, Benson is also a great place to stop since they have an off-leash dog park!
- If you can’t stop for a day or two, you should think about at least stopping for a meal and get away from the fast food you find on the highway. Just by driving a little way off the highway you can grab a great meal that will only cost a little bit more than that fast food you were going to get and is so much better!
- Just a five minute drive off the highway you can hit Smithfield and grab some food at Simple Twist, which is a farm-to-table restaurant that is laid back and serves some great light dishes. SoDoSoPa is another restaurant to try which serves a twist on southern cuisine.
- Beer Wine Shine Trail is really fun experience and a great way to try some local brews, wines and moonshine made in a local distillery. Of course this is more for the adults on your trip!
- If you like exploring the outdoors with your kids, you can check out some great hiking trails that even some of the locals don’t know about! You can learn more about the hiking trails and other outdoor adventures at Mountains to Sea Trail.
- If you are traveling with pets make sure to check out the Hampton Inn in Benson which is new, pet-friendly, and located right across the way from the dog park.
- If you are looking to stay somewhere more untraditional, you should stay at the Morning Glory Inn in Clayton. With its location you can walk almost anywhere in Clayton and spend your nights in a beautifully restored historic home.
- If you plan on spending a little more time in Johnston County you should think about visiting the Bentonville Battlefield. This area is also known for playing a big role in the Civil War . The battlefield is out in the middle of nowhere but not too hard to find and is a great learning experience. If you go in March that is when they do their reenactment of the battle.
- If you have any interest at all in early Hollywood or even the Royals you should check out the Ava Gardner Museum. The facts you learn about Ava Gardner will blow you away.
- If you are going to spend any time in Clayton you should make sure to check out the Sculpture trail which is amazing to go and see plus every year they feature a different artist so you can keep going back and see something new.
BEST PLACE TO TAKE FAMILY PHOTO
When visiting Johnston County there are a lot of places to take a family photo. If walk the Sculpture trail there is usually some sort of sculpture that forms an arch which makes a great frame for you family photo. The I Love Benson Mural is another great photo opportunity! If you are outdoors exploring, anywhere along Neuse river have beautiful places to take a family photo.
FAVORITE TRAVEL GEAR
Karen loves to where her Keen sandals which are closed-toed and are very comfortable, she has been wearing them for many years.
MENTIONED ON THE PODCAST
Glendas Sweet Shop
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