Also called Southside Virginia, Southern Virginia includes charming small towns like Clarksville, South Boston, and Danville. The region is largely rural and lies along the Virginia-North Carolina border, with thousands of acres of bucolic, rolling landscapes. Visit Southern Virginia to get away from hectic city living and explore some of the Commonwealth’s most beautiful rural retreats.
—TRIP PLANNING OVERVIEW—
Stay at: Berry Hill Resort & Conference Center in South Boston, starting at around $128 per night. Virginia International Raceway Lodge in Alton, starting at around $125 per night for the Lodge, $200 for the Junior Villas, and $224 for the Studio Villas.
To experience luxury in Southern Virginia without breaking the bank, book a room at Berry Hill Resort in South Boston. This National Historic Landmark sits on 650 acres of stunning countryside, providing a quiet, upscale retreat at incredibly reasonable prices. Every room is spacious and immaculately decorated, seamlessly blending the historic elements of the property with all the modern conveniences you’d expect in a 21st century hotel room. After checking in, wander the historic grounds to learn about the estate, which dates back to 1728. In addition to expansive rooms and suites, the resort boasts an indoor pool, tennis and basketball courts, and several yard game options, including horseshoes, croquet, bocce, and cornhole. Grab a more casual dinner at Darby’s Tavern or splurge on a culinary experience at the Mansion Dining Room, both on the resort grounds.
For racing lovers and car enthusiasts, Virginia International Raceway is a must for an overnight stay. Many know the Southern Virginia destination as a racetrack, but it also has on-site accommodations that let you get closer to the action. Whether you stay in the Lodge, the Junior Villas, or the Studio Villas, you’ll have a view of the track. And even if racing isn’t your thing, the destination has plenty of other amenities for every type of traveler. Looking for a little luxury? Visit the on-site spa or book a once-in-a-lifetime experience with Formula Experiences, the only Formula and prototype driving experience in America. More interested in history? Visit Oak Tree Tavern, a beautifully restored 1800’s plantation house on the property. Want to get more hands-on with your activities? In addition to the main racetrack, the grounds also contain a skeet shooting range and karting track with rentals available. But even if you’re just looking for a place to relax at the end of a long day, Virginia International Raceway’s lodging options have all the amenities you need for an enjoyable stay. (Note: many of the raceway’s activities are currently unavailable due to COVID-19; check the website for up-to-date information)
Suggested Prior Reservations: Berry Hill Resort, Virginia International Raceway Lodge and Villas, Rentals at Clarksville Water Sports, dinner at The Mansion Dining Room at Berry Hill.
Begin your adventure in Southern Virginia at Occoneechee State Park, located along the shores of Buggs Island Lake (also referred to as “Kerr Lake” by some). Rent boats, paddleboards, kayaks, and other watersports gear through Clarksville Water Sports, a local rental company that has locations on Route 58 as well as a small shop at the Occoneechee Marina Dock. Take your rental out for some smooth sailing along the manmade lake, and be sure to snag a picture underneath the Route 58 bridge—the narrow water route makes for an epic shot.
After your morning paddle on the water, cross the bridge into the small but charming town of Clarksville for lunch at Lamplighter Restaurant & Lounge. With a menu consisting of American favorites, you’ll find a wide array of sandwiches, burgers, soups, and salads, as well as specialty plates like the Fish & Chips or the Hawaiian Chicken, all at affordable prices.
Finish lunch and head just up the hill to the Cottage Barn, a furniture shop that specializes in restoring vintage pieces. In addition to one-of-a-kind furniture finds and home accents, the shop carries Homestead Creamery Ice Cream, so we recommend picking up a cone with your favorite flavor before browsing the wares.
Spend an hour or two strolling the shops along Virginia Avenue in Clarksville, including Hite’s Clothing, a contemporary clothing boutique for both men and women, Virginia Avenue Mall, a seemingly endless store filled with all sorts of knickknacks from over 30 independent retailers, and Galleria on the Lake, known for their selection of Virginia wine, beer, and locally made goodies (get a tub or three of the Birdie’s Pimento Cheese—you’ll thank us later).
While shopping, stop in to Hill Top Berry Farm & Winery’s tasting room on Virginia Avenue, where you can sample several dozen meads and fruit wines. Our favorites included the Plum Crazy, Perry, and the Jolly Dragon, a mead made from hickory smoked hot peppers, honey, and blackberries. If you’re into fall flavors, make sure to taste the Hunter’s Moon, a spiced pumpkin mead made with real pumpkins that is available year-round due to heavy demand.
Before leaving Clarksville, travel to Buggs Island Brewing to get a taste for the local craft beer scene. The pet-friendly brewery carries an impressive lineup; we liked the Without a Paddle IPA and Kerr Lake Kolsch, but ordering a flight is the best way to sample your way through the brews before choosing a pint.
Head towards South Boston and check into the Berry Hill Resort and Conference Center for your first night’s stay. After getting settled in your room, take a quick tour of the grounds before venturing a few miles down the road to Springfield Distillery. Here, you’ll get a chance to explore a working distillery and taste their corn whiskey products. The spirits come in flavors like Sweet Heat, Brown Sugar Cinnamon, and Blackberry, and you can either sample them straight or mixed into simple cocktail recipes that are easily recreated at home.
Return to Berry Hill for dinner at the resort’s on-site restaurants: for a casual but elegant meal, head to Darby’s Tavern, or if you want something a little more formal, book a table at the Mansion Restaurant.
Enjoy a few drinks and a game of pool at the Tavern before calling it a night and heading back to your room.
Wake up and get brunch at Berry Hill, or travel back into downtown South Boston for breakfast at Southern Plenty Café before hitting the road towards Danville.
For a latte or specialty coffee, stop into Links Coffee House and Café, which you can pair with a delicious dessert or pastry for a quick snack.
Walk around the downtown Danville area for an hour or two, stopping into shops like Vintages on the Dan, a wine and craft beer shop that is stocked with a huge selection of beverages from Virginia businesses, as well as notable producers from all over the world, and River District Artisans, a shop that houses goods from dozens of local artisans and also teaches visitors how to make their own wares in crafting classes.
If you’re interested in exploring the scenic Danville Riverwalk Trail, either set out on foot or use your Smartphone to download the Zagster app and find nearby bike rental spots. Affordable and easy, the service allows you to rent and return bike at any of the designated locations within Danville’s River District.
After working up an appetite, grab lunch at Mucho Taqueria, a taco restaurant and tequila bar with stylishly vibrant décor. Consider treating yourself to an afternoon margarita with your tacos, as the cocktails are a must for tequila lovers.
Get a taste of the Southern Virginia brewery scene at Ballad Brewing, located in a renovated warehouse just around the corner from Mucho Taqueria. The brewery holds more than just a tap room; you’ll find games like cornhole, tabletop shuffleboard, and board games within the cavernous floor space. Sample a few of the staples, like the Fast Mail Ale, Bohemian Pilsner, and Cash Crop Farmhouse Ale, but don’t miss out on trying their specialty seasonal offerings, too.
Leave Danville’s River District and drive to Virginia International Raceway to check into the Lodge. Take some time to look into the raceway’s many activities—relax at the upscale spa, get your adrenaline going during a luxury driving experience with Formula Racing, or a squeeze in a little target practice at the skeet shooting range. (Note: many of the raceway’s activities are currently unavailable due to COVID-19; check the website for up-to-date information)
Head back to the room and get ready for dinner at Oak Tree Tavern, Virginia International Raceway’s historic restaurant, or head back into Danville to dine at Cotton at Riverside Mill, a fine dining restaurant serving specialty pizzas and Southern-style entrees that overlooks the Dan River.
Enjoy a leisurely breakfast at Heartline in Danville. This authentic retro eatery is extremely popular with the locals, cooking all the typical diner favorites in the open kitchen behind an old-fashioned Formica countertop.
If weather allows on Sunday, rent kayaks through the Danville Parks & Recreation Department and traverse the Dan River. Not an experienced kayaker? No worries. The city department often hosts guided paddling trips with employees skilled and familiar with the waterway.
Return the kayaks before getting lunch at Golden Leaf Bistro in the historic Tobacco Warehouse District of Danville. The menu boasts creative salads, burgers, and sandwiches that incorporate local ingredients, infusing the dishes with classic southern flavors.
After lunch, pack up and hit the road for your journey home.