Just south of Greenville, lies the town Ayden. Their charming walkable downtown is filled with small businesses, including local favorites Gwendy’s Goodies bakery and Cindirene’s bottle shop. Adjacent to Main Street is a residential neighborhood listed on the National Register of Historic Places filled with beautifully crafted and maintained older homes along tree-lined sidewalks.
Ayden is known for being the “Crossroads of ‘Cue & Collards” due to its reputation for being the home of Eastern NC barbecue and other down-home Southern cooking favorites like collards. Since 1947 people have flocked to Ayden from far and wide to eat at the famous Skylight Inn Barbecue, founded by Pete Jones and now run by his grandson, third-generation pitmaster and fixture on the international food scene Sam Jones. If you smell smoke and see a large cluster of cars around a brick building with a replica of the US Capitol Rotunda on top you will know you are truly in the “Capital of Eastern NC BBQ”. While in line take a look at the “wall of fame” to see pictures of some of the famous faces who have passed through Ayden over the years to sample “Pete Jones Barbecue” from US presidents to Daisy Duke. Just down the road is Bum’s Restaurant, another legendary Eastern NC BBQ establishment owned and operated for generations by Latham “Bum” Dennis and his family.
The annual Kings of Q Barbecue Festival takes place here every May to pay homage to the original “Kings of Q” to pay homage to Pete Jones and Bum Dennis, the founders of Ayden’s iconic BBQ joints, and the history and tradition of Eastern NC BBQ. In September, the annual Ayden Collard Festival provides family-friendly entertainment and mouthwatering food from mess of greens to more ‘cue!
Not too far from town is Simply Natural Creamery & Jersey Farm owned by the McLawhorn family. This farm is home to a 200+ Jersey cow herd that produces the tastiest milk that is bottled for sale, and used to make the best homemade ice cream you can find! Have some fun on the farm with petting the baby calves, tractor tours, and knowledgeable guides to explain how things go from cow to cone! Then head inside to the scoop shop for a cup or cone of your favorite flavor (or combo) and enjoy it on the porch from a rocking chair while soaking up the view!