Spend the weekend in Clayton, North Carolina—a beautiful town in Johnston County, affectionately known as JoCo to those in the know—minutes east of Raleigh. Clayton is far enough away from the urban areas to offer visitors the charm of farm life and small-town living, but close enough to be convenient to the big cities of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill, as well as RDU International Airport. 

Bread pudding from Crawford Cookshop in Johnston County, North Carolina

Dine at Scott Crawford’s new casual concept, Crawford Cookshop. A James Beard five-time nominee and NCRLA’s 2023 Restaurateur of the Year, Crawford has brought his signature “superstar” style to an approachable menu right on Main Street in Downtown Clayton. With simple and delicious dishes that change as ingredients are in-season, Cookshop is a dining experience you can enjoy over and over again. 

Vegetables at the farmers market in Cityscape of Johnston County

From chef-driven restaurants to casual cafes serving unique regional food items, Clayton’s food scene is for the adventurous and refined food enthusiast. Enjoy a local favorite, the Brightleaf red hot dog, at the family-owned Jones Cafe. Johnston County has many farms and agricultural history, which allow chefs to source locally and serve seasonal menus. Head out of town to visit some of those farms for yourself, like Pace Family Farms—in the spring, you can pick strawberries straight from the field.

When the weather is perfect for staying outdoors, even when dining, enjoy the many restaurants, cafes, and bars with spacious and shaded patios. Get to the Clayton Community Farmer’s Market early on Saturdays for delicious locally baked foods, honey, and fresh produce. Enjoy a sweet treat at Nancy Jo’s Homemade or Patty Cake’s Littlest Cupcake Shop. Then walk off that pleasantly full feeling by exploring the Clayton Sculpture Trail with multiple locations around the downtown area. 

Clemmons Educational State Forest

Explore the Johnston County craft beverage scene on the Beer, Wine, and Shine Trail. Stop by Deep River Brewing in Clayton for a line-up of beers made from local ingredients; there’s a style for everyone! Visit a second stop on the Beer, Wine, and Shine Trail just around the corner from Deep River, InStill Distillery, and enjoy a tasting and tour! Take a nightlife crawl in Downtown Clayton starting at vintage, jazz cocktail lounge Revival 1869, you can also visit First Street Tavern, The Cardinal Bar, and LaDiDa Wine Bar.

Explore the great outdoors in Clayton by attending a class at Clemmons Educational State Forest or taking a stroll along the Clayton River Walk and Sam’s Branch Greenway. Both are part of larger trail networks that reach into the Raleigh and Durham area over 70 miles and are also part of North Carolina’s Mountains to Sea Trail and the US East Coast Greenway. Don’t forget to bring your dog along. All trail locations mentioned are pet friendly.

Explore a variety of attractions, attend local festivals, discover unique boutique shops, meet some good people, and experience Clayton’s emerging food scene—always served with a generous helping of true Southern hospitality. Start planning your trip today at VisitClayton.org

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