Small Town USA: Duplin County, North Carolina

There are so many small towns across America worthy of your travels and Duplin County, North Carolina is one of them. With easy access from I-40 in the southeastern part of the state, folks often couple this trip with one to North Carolina beaches experiencing two different atmospheres, tastes and cultures.

While you’re no doubt wondering why the name Duplin County might be familiar, it is important to give credit to the filming notoriety in this community. Some well-known movies were filmed in Duplin County including the likes of Nicholas Sparks’ blockbuster hit “The Longest Ride,” as well as others you’ll recognize like “Iron Man 3” and “Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood.”

Duplin County is all about relaxing and unplugging. And, if you’re like me, that’s hard to come by. A quaint town with cornerstones like local boutiques, specialty shops, eastern North Carolina BBQ (of course!) and close proximity to hugely popular east coast beaches makes it a perfect stray away town. Did I mention the part about it being at the center of the state’s coastal wine region—yea, there’s that, too!

History, Heritage and Happenings

The Cowan Museum
The Cowan Museum

Duplin County exudes a strong sense of community that traces back for ages and offers modern-day experiences for visitors. Liberty Hall Plantation is the draw in Kenansville—a restored home, Southern Historic Landmark and perfect example of the Antebellum South. The Kenan family was early dwellers (among the founders actually) in Duplin County and today their home of yesteryear is on display for all to visit. Aside from the home, visitors will find a historical park with a log cabin, general store, tobacco barn and more. Don’t forget to go next door to the Cowen Museum of History and Science (part of the Kelly-Farrior House), a partner in the preservation and interpretation of local history.

If antebellum plantation houses are your jam, you must add Buckner Hill Plantation to your itinerary. Shown by appointment only, it is one of the largest antebellum plantation houses in North Carolina. A beautiful Greek Revival architecture with Italianate features, Buckner Hill is a show piece for the era of time it represents. So much so that the “Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood” was filmed there.

Warsaw is home to the nation’s oldest consecutively running Veterans Day Parade that started back in 1921. Dubbed as the official State Veterans Day Parade of North Carolina, it’s definitely worthy of a visit if your travels take you close in November. There is additionally a Duplin County Veterans Museum in Warsaw, so tack that onto the parade visit.

The Country Barn
The Country Barn

Don’t miss the fun shopping spot in Beulaville—The Country Barn—where the Mennonite heritage and lifestyle equates to goodies for travelers. Choose from fresh homemade breads, muffins, pies and other local farm vittles like freshly churned butter, produce, meats, cheeses, bulk flour and grains and such. The family-owned business also makes and sells furniture and crafts, too, so be sure to take a look.

Each May the Carolina Strawberry Festival is held in historic downtown Wallace. You’ll find entertainment galore (how about let’s kick it off with a Strawberry Jam), attractions, games, rides, vendors, a 5K run/walk and so much more! People come from miles away to take part in this popular festival. No doubt, it’s a great time for a visit.

Find more attractions in the area by visiting Duplin County website. You’ll be able to find lots of historic (and otherwise) events and activities of interest.

Wine Country of the South

If good wines are enough reason for you to travel, then Duplin County is the right place! From vineyards and tasting rooms to tours and pairings, you’ll find so many ways to enjoy award-winning North Carolina vinos in Duplin County. And, you can purchase your favorites to take home—the BEST souvenirs!

Duplin County wineries
Duplin County is at the center of the state’s coastal wine region.

The oldest and largest winery in the south is Duplin Winery in Rose Hill where they have been producing award-winning wines for more than three generations. They offer free daily tours, tastings, lovely pairings, gourmet foods and a gift shop. You can sample wine for $5 or do the Deluxe Wine Tasting for $10—a great value considering you can taste up to 10 wines from the tasting sheet plus nibble on some gourmet crackers and dip. (Bonus: you get to keep the glass!) You can also plan to dine in the Bistro or catch a dinner theater production for even more fun.

The Country Squire Restaurant & Vintage Inn, an area landmark dining spot and country inn between Kenansville and Warsaw, now has a working winery in the 18th Century portion of the restaurant. The Vineyard has a charming gazebo perfect for weddings and gatherings and continues the flow of wine excellence throughout the property. Don’t miss this one, The Country Squire Winery’s Tartan Tasting Room in the 1780s farmhouse.

The Tipsy Bee takes the cake for best-named business and is perfect for a family-run company operating with a hefty dose of passion. Their wines are made in small batches and you’ll love sipping them in the tasting room. Other indulgences include cakes, cupcakes and lots of Southern desserts.

Christmas Shenanigans

If December travels give you all the feels of holiday goodness, Duplin County has fun and frolic in store for you. Check out Liberty Hall’s Christmas Candlelight Tours where guests celebrate the season amidst natural decorations similar to those of the 19th century. Period-dressed guides and interpreters will share stores and traditions that will resonate with the Antebellum South. Also, the Civil War Soldier Encampment shares about the life of a soldier during war times.

Duplin Winery
Duplin Winery and their fabulous country ambiance.

Duplin Winery offers Down Home Country Christmas as the winery’s annual holiday dinner theater performance. Your festive evening will include dinner in the Bistro and a show you won’t soon forget filled with music and lots of nostalgia. The dinner theater is offered on weekends November 9 – December 14.

Duplin County offers the perfect small town USA destination complete with family-friendly fun, historical attractions and extraordinary hospitality. Pair it with a beach stay and make the most of a North Carolina road trip.

38 Comments

  1. I totally love the vibe of Duplin County. There looks to be several activities for both young and old alike. I would love to check out some wineries!

  2. Being able to see all that history right in front of you sounds really cool. I think visiting some of these places would be nice.

  3. I’ve always been fascinated with cultures like the Mennonites who are so family-oriented and hard working. Taking the kids to see these guys working must have been amazing for your children.

  4. I just love to read about all your travels, Becky!! This looks like destination I need to visit! I’m in Florida I should be visiting these nearby states.

  5. My husband has a good friend who lives in NC. I think it is about time we pay him a visit. This place is so beautiful. I just love the small town charm!

Parting thoughts?