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Hidden Gem: A Visit to the Town of Scotland Neck

by Halifax County CVB

We were looking for a family day trip off the beaten path and found the perfect option in Scotland Neck, North Carolina, part of Halifax County. Whether you’re coming from the Raleigh-Durham area like we were or from another nearby city across the border in Virginia like Norfolk or Richmond, it’s a trip that’s ideal for people with kids in tow.

Visit Flying Friends at Sylvan Heights Bird Park


As parents, we’ve found zoos, aquariums, and bird parks are a great way to help our kids enjoy trips. The Sylvan Heights Bird Park in Scotland Neck was a special treat. Founded by two bird lovers, Mike and Ali Lubbock, the park opened in 2006 as a response to increased public interest in learning about waterfowl that grew from the Lubbock’s breeding program for rare waterfowl, which began in 1981.

Today the Sylvan Heights Bird Park is a nonprofit organization that’s home to the world’s largest collection of waterfowl in addition to other birds from around the globe. The organization focuses on conservation, education, and research and allows visitors to wander through the park which features over 2,500 birds in sizable walk-through aviaries.


We were so glad that we got an early start at the park in the morning and were able to enjoy up-close encounters with the birds. Our kids squealed with delight at The Landing Zone where they were able to feed parakeets and flamingoes themselves. 


The kids also loved meandering the nature trails through gardens, wetlands, and woods, as we spied parrots, toucans, and even cassowaries, birds considered to be akin to living dinosaurs! They especially loved the cassowaries’ colorful blue neck and red wattles (the flaps of skin you see hanging from the head or neck of a bird like a turkey).

After filling up our stomachs, we decided to take a short walk to McDowells Pharmacy across the street to get the kids’ wiggles out. The pharmacy has been in the family for four generations and has been serving the Scotland Neck community since 1901.


Although we didn’t need anything medicine-related, we did enjoy browsing their shelves for some treasures. We even got a mug with an illustration of a crane and “Scotland Neck, North Carolina, est. 1867” written on the back to remind us of our trip. Since we started the day visiting with avian friends, it just made sense to get a bird on the mug!


We also picked up some black raspberry vanilla goat milk lotion made nearby at a local farm at McDowells Pharmacy. After a couple of uses, I’m now swearing by it. Not only does it smell delicious but also it makes my skin silky smooth.

Wander Down Main Street to Visit a Community Staple

Get Lunch at a Hardware Store

After a morning hanging out with birds, we were ready to eat, so we decided to visit a hardware store for lunch. That’s right—Hometown Hardware and General Store. Although it might not look like it from the outside, Hometown Hardware is a great place to go for food. In our estimation, we got some of the best sandwiches we’ve ever had. Our kids loved the hot dogs.


While the food was great, we liked the hometown atmosphere in particular. The store is in a vintage building, and we enjoyed wandering around the store after we finished our food and got some dessert—banana pudding—and some fresh honey to go.

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Find a Hidden Gem at the Rock Museum at Kaye Lee’s Corner

We decided to give the kids one more hurrah before wrapping up the trip at the Rock Museum just a mile down the road from the pharmacy. Although it doesn’t look like much from the outside, the Rock Museum features a number of fossils and minerals the owner Kelly has collected over his lifetime.


Kelly was more than willing to share his knowledge with our kids about geodes, crystals, agates, and more. After getting to see so many cool rocks, the kids wanted some of their own so we went “mining for gems” at the gift shop. The kids were delighted with their hidden gems just about as much as I was with the goat milk lotion!

End the Day at La Casetta

Before we left to return home, we stopped at La Casetta Italian Restaurant for dinner. We all shared pizza and garlic knots, and the fresh dough was delicious. It was great to find a place that was a treat for both us adults and the kids.


After a delicious dinner, we began the trip back, and within minutes of us starting our drive, both kids were already conked out and slept the whole way home. Our day trip to Scotland Neck, North Carolina, was definitely one of the best family trips we’ve done in a while, and we can’t wait to visit again.

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