You may have heard that life moves pretty fast. Now’s your chance to slow down and look around so you don’t miss the beauty right in front of you. This tour is designed to bring out your inner zen while bringing you to some of the most beautiful spots in and around Wilson. So stop and smell the roses, literally. The world is waiting.
2 days | 11 stops
STOP 1: Botanical Garden
Eleven acres and 18 gardens are there for the exploring at Wilson Botanical Gardens. Discover new blooms and learn a bit at this educational garden where the staff are friendly and helpful. They can tell you what plants grow best in warmer climates. They can tell you what plants will attract birds. But what most visitors see is a whole lot of pretty. The facility hosts thousands of varieties of plants. There are flower gardens, hosta gardens and pondside gardens. There’s even a secret garden with raining sunflowers, a dino dig and garden tunnel for the young or young at heart. Drop by to learn more. Or just to relax and bask in the pretty.
STOP 2: Rose Garden
Now’s your chance to stop and smell the roses. One of the most beautiful and relaxing attractions in Eastern North Carolina, the Wilson Rose Garden contains over 1,200 rose plants. Old garden and modern hybrids–180 different varieties in all–these roses are nothing short of spectacular to see in person. Take a moment to lean in close for their sweet aromas. A couple of deep breaths will remind you that a pause every now and then is rejuvenating.
STOP 3: Tig's Courtyard
This pretty building in the heart of downtown Wilson is a great lunch spot. Featuring outdoor seating, you’ll find a substantial sandwich, salad, and coffee menu. Order at the counter and they’ll bring it to you. The Wilson Cuban is a delectable pressed panini that comes with housemade pickles. Or try the Chicky Boom Boom with their spicy boom boom sauce, avocado, and cilantro lime range.
STOP 4: Pup's Steakhouse
A massive outdoor bar, roaring fireplace, string lights, and plenty of local flavor are the story at Pup’s Steakhouse. The Golden Leaf Patio is the spot for live music to go along with a menu featuring local produce, Black Angus Beef and North Carolina seafood. Try the oysters, they come fried, on the half-shell, or Rockerfeller if you like them well-dressed.
STOP 5: Treat Yo'self
Make every day a treat day. Step into this modern, chic artisanal bakery and bring a hanky for the drool. Try a signature cupcake–brilliant concoctions inspired by Swiss roll snack cakes, Cap’n crunch berries–or pick from some traditional flavors. What’s available depends on the baker’s imagination that week. You’ll also find heavenly breads, scones, cookies, and pastries with the best coffee in town. There’s always something new on the menu, so stop in, treat yo’self, and discover why it was voted Wilson’s favorite bakery in 2021 by Reader’s Choice Magazine.
STOP 6: Whirligig Park
Vollis Simpson created sculptures that, with the slightest breeze, would come alive --spinning, dancing. Vollis found harmony in marrying the unexpected to form the fantastic. He called these works of folk art Whirligigs. Today, his work can be found in museums around the world. But the largest collection of his Whirligigs are right here in Wilson. Inside the park that bears his name you’ll find 31 kinetic sculptures. Some are over 50 feet in height. Stop by and look at the sky on a windy day. You’ll be amazed and inspired. You’ll never think of junk the same way again.
STOP 7: Artisan Leaf
See tobacco leaves transformed into art. Wilson’s local fields once overflowed with thick, hairy stems and large simple oval leaves. Today, their fields are not quite as abundant with tobacco, but one local store has found a new way to bring this cash crop back to life and, in the process, pay respects to local history. In this gallery, tobacco leaves are not cured and smoked. They are manipulated into various works of art. They are pressed into tables. They are affixed into wall panels. They are transformed into amber-veined tabletops, mugs, plates and vases. Each piece is as unique as the leaf it was created from.
STOP 8: Wilson Arts Gallery
Walk into the immense space at the Wilson Arts Center and try not to gawk. Formerly a Roses department store, this lovingly restored, bright gallery space now features a cleverly curated display of art exhibitions and a large gift shop. The gallery welcomes a rotating cast of community and professional artists and their works. The gallery shop contains some one-of-a-kind gifts. Some are so tempting you many want to treat yourself.
STOP 9: Ruckus & Redemption
When the drink menu includes a signature cocktail called Gunshot Bicycle Man, you know the meal is going to be a topic of conversation. That’s exactly what you get at Ruckus & Redemption. Located just a block from the Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park, this unpretentious little restaurant offers some big flavors to satisfy any appetite. The food is American with a Southern kick. Burgers are served topped with pimento cheese. Brussel sprouts are fried with pork belly. Cocktails go down easy. Maybe too easy. Come hungry and with a belt you can loosen a couple notches.
STOP 10: Wilson Country Club
Tee up at one of the finest golf courses in North Carolina. Designed to be enjoyed by all skill levels, the Wilson Country Club Golf Course offers an idyllic stroll between greens. Pine-tree lined with a serene lake and fountain, this is a serene way to spend the afternoon. Head to the Grover’s Grill Bar after hitting the links for a cool beverage and a club sandwich.
STOP 11: Beefmastor Inn
This little restaurant in Wilson is known for not really having a menu at all. They serve ribeye steak, a baked potato and salad. That’s it. The owners wanted to keep things simple and concentrate on doing one thing well. Judging by the size of the crowds tailgating in the parking lot, it seems to be working out for them. So if you’re hungry for ribeye, and only ribeye, pop on over for a not-so-quick bite.