Welcome to Suffolk, VA, the original home of Planters Peanut and Chocolate company (and Mr. Peanut) and a remaining leader in peanut processing. If you find yourself with a day to spend in this Exploring Main Street community and the largest city in Virginia (by boundary land area), here’s how to pack all of the excitement of “Surprising Suffolk” into 24 hours.
Start your day downtown at PourFavor Coffee Shop with an Original Coffee Flight and breakfast burrito. This Puerto Rican coffee shop allows you to be indecisive and try all their specialty drinks at once. If that won’t provide you with the energy you need to see the rest of the historic downtown, I don’t know what will!
After getting your caffeine fix (and some), head over to the Great Dismal Swamp to enjoy nature and get your blood pumping. The trails are open for hikers and bikers from sunrise to sunset. From ¾ to 12 mile hikes, you can choose your own adventure! Regardless of which one you choose, you will be able to experience the Swamp’s unique ecosystem and blend of northern and southern wildlife species. This refuge contains some of the most important wildlife habitat in the mid-Atlantic region. If you are feeling ambitious, take the trail all the way to Lake Drummond to see the beautiful cypress trees growing right out of the water. The Swamp was also an important part of the Underground Railroad, and you can check out the newly constructed Underground Railroad Education Pavilion in the Great Dismal Swamp Wildlife Refuge to learn more about its historical significance.
If you love architectural history, visit Riddick’s Folly, a 21-room Greek Revival mansion built in 1837 that has been turned into Suffolk’s only house museum. Named after its original owner, Mills Riddick, the mansion was mocked for its ornate design when it was constructed. Now, the public can explore its beautiful architecture and interior design. Hour and a half guided tours are offered daily and provide a glimpse into the Riddick family history and the history of Suffolk.
Refuel from your busy morning at Wall St. Cafe. Sip on one of their signature Refreshers and try their historically-inspired chicken wings or one of their famous sandwiches. This cafe’s allure extends way beyond their menu. Owners and founders, Domenick Epps and Danita Hayes have extensive education programming around asset building, which includes a variety of classes on stocks, FOREX, commercial real estate and homeownership.
After eating lunch and improving your financial literacy, head around the corner to Character Corner to take a picture with Suffolk’s own Mr. Peanut. Then, stop by the Planters Peanut Center and Store to load up on peanut snacks for the road. Don’t forget to ask for complimentary authentic peanut recipes!
Check out the Suffolk Art Gallery, housed in a former public library, to see the works of local artists. If you’re lucky you might be able to take a quick art class or come back in the evening for one of their open mic nights! This local gallery is a partner of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and the Suffolk Art League.
Take some time to relax at Constant’s Wharf Park and Marina located in the middle of the city. Located on the Nansemond River, you can watch boaters and kayakers enjoying the city’s beautiful waterways and more!
End the day at Harper’s Table, a modern Southern restaurant with a dedication to support Suffolk and the surrounding communities. Acclaimed Chef Harper Bradshaw locally sources his produce, meat and seafood. Suffolk provides access to a plethora of amazing local farms and the Atlantic Coast for fresh seafood. The Pork Belly Biscuit cannot be missed. They pride themselves on showcasing southern cuisine and hospitality, with their motto “Every guest, every table, every time.”
You can also unwind and grab a beer at Nansemond Brewing Station, the only local brewery in Suffolk. Whatever your favorite type of beer is, they’ve got it here. You can get comfortable, spread out and play corn hole all in one central downtown spot.
If you’re in town on a Saturday, finish the day with Legends of Main Street: A Suffolk Ghost Walk. Go on a lantern-lit tour through the shadows of the historic Main Street and learn the legends and “unexplained occurrences” of the City. Tales of unsolved mysteries and unresolved affairs abound.
You’ll end your day well fed and more knowledgeable on history, investing and coastal wildlife. You may need more time to truly enjoy this quirky town and recognize all of the charm that it has. Make a week long trip out of it and explore the rest of the seven cities in Hampton Roads!