One of the ways I enjoyed the holiday season was by visiting Benson for a little day trip as part of my 100-county tour across North Carolina. Benson, NC is located in Johnston County and is located approximately 30 minutes south of Raleigh. Johnston County was formed in 1746 and was named after Gabriel Johnston, the Royal Governor of North Carolina. The Town of Benson, which derives its name from early settler Alfred Monroe Benson, owes much of its historical development to the railroad line that passed through the present location in town in 1886 on its route between Fayetteville and Contentnea. Benson was incorporated in 1887.
Benson is such a charming small town and offers great antiquing, BBQ, and people. Here are 5 things to do in Benson, NC.
Day Trip Guide: 5 Things to Do in Benson, NC
Grab a Cup of Coffee & a Belgian Waffle at Cornerstone Cafe & Coffee
Enjoy food made fresh at locally owned Cornerstone Cafe, located right on Main Street. Try gourmet sandwiches, salads, and delicious Belgian waffles for breakfast, lunch, or dinner! Cornerstone serves these beauties all day, every day. I loved the Moon Pie Latte and the breakfast sammie to start my trip and appreciated being able to customize the waffles as well.
Check Out Local History at the Benson Museum of Local History
Visit the museum to explore exhibits depicting the early days of Benson, and learn about how the past has made this charming community what it is today. This free museum boasts a vast collection of artifacts with themed exhibits on a variety of subjects such as farming, home life, local artists, military history, merchants, the State Singing Convention, Benson Mule Days, and country doctors. To watch a video overview of the museum, click here.
Shop Local on Main Street
I love the shops that inhabit small town Main Streets and Benson has some great ones! Here are some of my favorites that I visited:
Morgan’s On Main is a unique boutique featuring antiques, vintage, and resale items as well as handmade creations from some fantastic local vendors.
Jenny’s Sweet Creations always has a candy case full of fresh, homemade candy as well as cupcakes, pound cakes, and cakes by the slice. During the holiday season, she serves up special Christmas-themed treats as well as selling Melissa & Doug toys. I brought David home chocolate-covered pretzels and they were delish!
Royal Boutique is a locally-owned clothing and jewelry store with carefully curated seasonal items. Royal specializes in monogramming & embroidery, as well as women’s and children’s clothing.
If you’re looking for a special treat to take home, especially if you have special dietary needs, stop in at JP’s Pastry. JP’s is a certified gluten-free bakery specializing in baking gluten-free, artisan cupcakes and pastries with a whimsical twist that are both distinctive and delicious! Everything made at JP’s Pastry is gluten-free, also their kitchen is free of contaminants. We loved the granola and the oatmeal cream pie!
Salvaged Heirlooms is self-described as the neighborhood artisan general store – shop locally-made goods while you enjoy regional craft beer. Find home decor, gifts, and food products. Grab a cold NC craft beer
or wine. Salvaged Heirlooms encourage drinking and shopping, however, they also have tables and couches for you to hang out and sit a spell. They also host events like trivia nights, music bingo, and
Take a Distillery Tour at Broadslab Distillery
Jeremy Norris opened Broadslab Distillery with the help of his grandfather — teaching him a moonshine recipe passed down for five generations. Jeremy does all the farming, distilling, and production on his “dirt to bottle” product so that he can control every process and ingredient. He also gives the tours, so you’ll get to hear him talk about the 100-plus years of history that Broadslab is built on. The tour includes a ride through the farm on the way to the distillery and rickhouse before sampling their products in the tasting room.
Jeremy recently debuted another product called Broadslab Bourbon, plus on-site accommodations. Broadslab is a stop along the JoCo Beer, Wine, & Shine Trail. There is a great bar onsite that serves a full line of beer, wine, and liquor and also hosts food trucks. It’s a hidden gem in the area and in such a beautiful location with great people and history. I especially like the flue-cured bourbon with the nod to tobacco curing.
Try Award-Winning BBQ at Redneck BBQ Lab
Offering pulled pork, brisket, turkey, ribs and chicken. And true BBQ sides such as slow-cooked baked beans, green beans, and collards like your mama used to make, jalapeno mac and cheese, and slaw. Do not miss that jalapeno mac & cheese and the BBQ sammie is truly great. We can’t believe we’ve lived as close as we have to this spot and never visited.
I hope you’ll consider a visit to this quaint town for some antiquing, great BBQ and bakery items, and locally distilled spirits this year!
Thanks to Ashby Brame and the Johnston County Visitors Bureau for helping coordinate my itinerary. As always, all opinions are my own.