A Year-Round Guide to Franklin and Nantahala

Don't miss these pit stops off I-95: Roanoke Rapids, Weldon, Benson, Rocky Mount, Smithfield, Fayetteville, Lumberton, and a few extra!   Roanoke Rapids Browning’s Grill It’s not just the Jesse

Rosemary and Goat Cheese Strata

Don't miss these pit stops off I-95: Roanoke Rapids, Weldon, Benson, Rocky Mount, Smithfield, Fayetteville, Lumberton, and a few extra!   Roanoke Rapids Browning’s Grill It’s not just the Jesse

I-95 Road Trip: 17 Can’t-Miss Stops

Don’t miss these pit stops off I-95: Roanoke Rapids, Weldon, Benson, Rocky Mount, Smithfield, Fayetteville, Lumberton, and a few extra!


Roanoke Rapids

Browning’s Grill

It’s not just the Jesse Jones hot dogs topped with homemade chili and slaw that repeatedly draw customers back to Browning’s Grill. It’s also the family-friendly atmosphere that hasn’t changed a bit since the restaurant opened in the early 1950s. Currently owned and operated by Fran and Chris Conner, Browning’s is famous for its curbside delivery that transports customers to a bygone era of food service. “We’re not like fast food,” Fran says. “The atmosphere is different. The taste is different. It’s just a whole different experience.”
2066 West 10th Street
(252) 537-1106


Ralph’s Barbecue

Operating in its current location since 1952, Ralph’s Barbecue is a fourth-generation family-owned restaurant serving up original Southern recipes — passed down for 70 years — for Brunswick stew, coleslaw, and, of course, slow-cooked chopped barbecue with Ralph’s famous eastern North Carolina vinegar sauce.

1400 Julian R. Allsbrook
Highway, (252) 536-2102

Weldon Mills Distillery is the perfect place for a sunset cocktail. photograph by Alex Boerner

Weldon Mills Distillery

Tour the distillery and learn the history of both bourbon and the 1892 corn mill that houses the distillery’s bar. On Friday nights, relax on the patio overlooking the Roanoke River, and enjoy cocktails made with fun spirits like Royal Rhubarb Gin (it’s pink!) and Bombardier Cinnamon-Flavored Vodka (it’s green!).
100 & 200 Rockfish Drive
(252) 220-4235


Broadslab Distillery

With family recipes passed down from before Prohibition, Broadslab uses a handcrafted, solid copper still to produce authentic, all-natural corn whiskey that’s smooth enough for sipping straight.
4834 NC Highway 50 South
(919) 207-1366

Cornerstone Café

This family-owned café and coffee shop serves full-bodied roasts, artisan breads, and Belgian waffles (all day!) in a relaxed atmosphere featuring hardwood booths and exposed brick walls.
101 West Main Street
(919) 701-1600

Pick your own berries at Smith’s Nursery and Produce Farm. photograph by Tim Robison

Smith’s Nursery and Produce Farm

Visitors to Smith’s can purchase fresh produce or landscaping plants, pick their own berries, or feed the farm animals and learn about sustainable farming practices like irrigation and beekeeping on a self-guided tour.
443 Sanders Road
(919) 934-1719

Benson Museum of Local History

Housed in the former Rose and Woodall furniture store — and including exhibits on agriculture, home life, merchants, military history, and local artists — this museum preserves and shares the heritage of the Benson area.
102 West Main Street
(919) 894-1266

Rocky Mount

Battle Park

Battle Park — the site of the town’s namesake rocky mounds — features boating and canoe access to the Tar River, a winding greenway trail, and a history of human habitation dating to 9000 B.C.
1300 Falls Road
(252) 972-1151

Explore the breweries, restaurants, and shops at Rocky Mount Mills. photograph by Charles Harris

Rocky Mount Mills

Overlooking the Tar River Falls, the second-oldest cotton mill in the state has been restored and converted into a multi-use campus that features breweries, restaurants, and even a tiny-house hotel.
1151 Falls Road
(252) 969-0909

City Lake

Populated with a variety of waterfowl, and shady hardwoods, and surrounded by a half-mile waterfront jogging path, City Lake offers visitors a choice between recreation and relaxation.
Sunset Avenue at U.S. Highway 64 Business
(252) 972-1151


Have a cold one at Double Barley Brewing. photograph by Tim Robison

Double Barley Brewing

Sit down for handcrafted ales and food in a space made for the community to enjoy meaningful time together. Featuring an inviting taproom and beer garden, this family-operated brewery specializes in bold-flavored beers with a whole lot of grain. Double Barley lets patrons go behind the scenes of their craft beer-making process in weekly tours.
3174 U.S. Highway 70 West
(919) 934-3433


Pharaoh’s Village

This Mediterranean grill and market uses secret family recipes to make its authentic, traditional delicacies. The restaurant brings the Middle East to North Carolina with made-from-scratch dishes like chicken shawarma — marinated chicken wrapped in warm pita bread.
2425 Hope Mills Road
(910) 323-2425

North Carolina Veterans Park

One hundred hands, cast in bronze, line a wall in this park, representing veterans from each North Carolina county. The first park in the state dedicated to members of all branches of the military features an interactive story garden and symbolic sculptures.
300 Bragg Boulevard
(910) 433-1457


Stephens Vineyard and Winery

This local vineyard features award-winning wines, including reds, whites, and sweet wines made from blackberries, watermelon, and three types of muscadines. Stephens Vineyard also offers a steady rollout of delicious new blends.

284 Smith Mill Road
(910) 734-1829

Stock up on the good stuff at Sweet Candy Café. photograph by Tim Robison

Sweet Candy Café

Located in historic downtown about a block from Inner Peace Center for the Arts, Sweet Candy Café carries 92 types of old-school and new-school candy (Pop Rocks to gummy bunnies), along with popcorn, warm mixed nuts, and mouthwatering fudge.
212 North Chestnut Street
(910) 674-4831

Lumber River

At nearby Lumber River State Park, visitors can explore eastern North Carolina’s natural beauty by doing a little fishing, kayaking, and tent-camping near picnic areas and short hiking trails.
2819 Princess Ann Road
Orrum, NC 28369
(910) 628-4564

This story was published on Jul 01, 2021

Our State Staff

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