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Central Virginia Hiking Outdoors Southern Virginia Travel Ideas

WanderLove: A Road Trip from Richmond to Danville

Wanderlust is defined as a strong desire to travel, but here in Virginia, we call that feeling WanderLove. And while travel is a little bit different in 2020 due to COVID-19, you can still explore Virginia’s endless beauty with an epic road trip! To help you plan your next vacation out on the open road, we’ll be sharing a few of the most scenic and adventure-filled routes through the Commonwealth, including the best outdoor adventures, important sites, restaurants, and lodging options to add to your itinerary.

Photo Credit: Kyle LaFerriere, IG account: @laferriere.photography

Travel from the capital city of Richmond to Farmville, a town packed with outdoor adventure and two college campuses, continue to Clarksville, “Virginia’s only Lakeside Town”, and then end your adventure in Danville, a growing town in southern Virginia. This leisurely Central Virginia road trip is an ideal route for those looking for a change of pace and a quiet getaway away from the bustle of city living. 

**While we have shared COVID-19 alternate hours and closures when possible, please contact individual businesses before visiting, as these details may change at any time. Inclement weather may close the Parkway. Call 828-298-039 or check the real-time closure map for status.

ROUTE 360: FROM RICHMOND TO FARMVILLE

61.3 miles, approximately 1 hour 25 minutes

Leave Downtown Richmond through the Manchester area of the city, crossing the James River and following Route 360 (also known as Hull Street). Before leaving the city, get a prime view of the river by walking or biking across the T. Tyler Potterfield Memorial Bridge, a pedestrian walkway that runs about 20 feet above the James and spans from Downtown Richmond’s Brown’s Island to Manchester. 

Photo Credit: Matt Long, IG account: @landlopers

If you’d like to explore the river from a closer perspective, rent kayaks or paddleboards through Riverside Outfitters, or book a guided kayak or whitewater rafting tour through RVA Paddlesports. Both of these outfitters also offer climbing courses, from rock climbing with RVA Paddlesports to treetop climbing courses through Riverside Outfitters. 

Photo Credit: Patrick Griffin

Leave the city and take Route 360 through the Brandermill and Woodlake suburbs, heading to the Metro Richmond Zoo. Home to over 2,000 animals representing nearly 200 different species, the zoo currently has various safety measures in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19, from operating at a 50% capacity and controlling the direction of foot traffic to moving the gift shop outdoors. As with every business open during COVID-19, masks are mandatory for visitors in the indoor parts of the zoo and if a safe six-foot distance cannot be maintained. Spend some time wandering around the exhibits, getting a close look at exotic animals like kangaroos, orangutans, giraffes, and lions. Don’t miss the baby Pygmy Hippo, the latest (and cutest) addition to the zoo family. 

Continue your road trip along Route 360. If you’re enjoying a leisurely drive and aren’t in a hurry, take a detour along State Route 153 to Route 460 and visit Richlands Dairy Farm & Creamery. The farm is currently open during select hours for drive-through service, where you can pick up an array of lunch options like pulled pork sandwiches and chicken salad wraps as well as fresh ice cream made on-site in flavors like Peaches & Cream, Butter Pecan, and Peanut Butter Cup. After stopping in for lunch or just a sweet treat, there’s no need to backtrack to Route 360; instead follow Route 460 through Crewe and towards Farmville. 

If you decide to skip the detour and head straight to Farmville, pick up Route 307 just west of Amelia. This small country road will shave a bit of time off your trip from Richmond to Farmville, and will also take you past Sailor’s Creek Battlefield Historical State Park. This preserved property contains a farmhouse that dates to the 1780s and marks the site of the Battle of Sailor’s Creek, where over 7,700 Confederate soldiers were killed, wounded, or captured during the Civil War. Just 72 hours later, General Lee would surrender his forces in Appomattox and begin the arduous process of ending the American Civil War.

Pick up Route 460 from Route 307. For those that are looking for some good fishing, head to Sandy River Reservoir. This 740-acre man-made lake is fully stocked with Largemouth Bass, Black Crappie, Channel Catfish, Redear Sunfish, Bluegill, and Chain Pickerel, and in the fall, the changing leaves provide a stunning backdrop for your fishing expedition. 

Sitting on the reservoir, Sandy River Outdoor Adventure Park is another excellent stop along your Richmond to Farmville route. A treetop course that runs from 25 to 50 feet above the ground, there are over 60 obstacles including 17 ziplines, rope bridges, swings, and ladders. Conquer the course, then consider renting canoes, kayaks, or paddleboards from the park to set out on the reservoir. Consider spending the night at this amazing adventure park, as their luxury glamping tipis are a once-in-a-lifetime type experience. These massive tipis have heated floors for the cooler nights, air-conditioning for the summers, full bathrooms and kitchens, and plush memory foam beds, allowing you to enjoy the Great Outdoors without sacrificing any of the amenities or comforts found at an upscale hotel.

Restaurants, Breweries, Wineries, & More

Croaker’s SpotSoul seafood restaurant in Richmond’s Manchester region. 

Brewer’s Waffles & MilkshakesManchester restaurant crafting signature sweet and savory waffles paired with kid-friendly milkshakes or boozy hard milkshakes. 

Pig & BrewBarbecue restaurant in Manchester serving authentic North Carolina-style bbq. 

Manchester’s TableMediterranean-influenced restaurant and gourmet market in historic Manchester. 

Laura Lee’sUpscale yet comfortable bar and restaurant in Southside Richmond, with a menu focusing on family-friendly American cuisine. 

Legend Brewing CompanyCraft brewery/restaurant serving sandwiches, steaks, and an array of pub fare. Excellent views of the James River and Richmond city skyline from the patio. 

The Boathouse at Sunday ParkSeafood and steak fine dining restaurant located on Swift Creek Reservoir in Midlothian. 

Fest BiergartenMidlothian restaurant and beer garden serving traditional German fare like artisanal sausages and sandwiches. 

Hotels, Resorts, & Other Lodging

Graduate RichmondPet-friendly boutique hotel in Downtown Richmond with a rooftop bar and pool, on-site dining options. 

Sandy River Outdoor Adventure RetreatFully furnished log cabins, a cottage, and glamping tipis on a 23-acre farm outside of Farmville. 

ROUTE 15: FROM FARMVILLE TO CLARKSVILLE

55.3 miles, approximately 1 hour 3 minutes

Upon arriving in Farmville, head to High Bridge Trail State Park to either walk, jog, or bike the 31-mile multi-use trail. Rent bikes from Outdoor Adventure Store, an outfitter located right on the trail in Downtown Farmville, and set out on the trail going east to find the namesake bridge, a 2,400-foot wooden path that towers 160 feet above the Appomattox River and offers clear views of the surrounding landscapes for miles in any direction. Don’t miss taking a photo to commemorate your biking adventure in front of the wooden LOVEwork, located right across the street from the Outdoor Adventure Store. Just across the river on Main Street, you can find a second LOVEwork made out of kayaks at Appomattox River Company, an outdoor recreation shop that sells new and used kayaks, canoes, paddleboards, and other waterfront gear. 

Photo Credit: Big Orange Frame

Peruse the warehouses and shops of Green Front Furniture Company that are spread throughout Downtown Farmville. With nearly a million square feet of showroom space in 13 shops and warehouses, you can easily spend an entire afternoon browsing furniture and home decor sourced from around the world. Whether your tastes lean towards sleek and modern, exotic and colorful, or tastefully classic, Green Front has an extensive collection that is carefully organized so that you can find exactly what you’re looking for. Before leaving the Downtown Farmville area, walk through Longwood University’s campus to enjoy gorgeous architecture and get a taste of the local college experience. 

To learn about Farmville’s important contributions in the battle for Civil Rights in Education, visit the Robert Russa Moton Museum. The site of the first non-violent student demonstration, the schoolhouse-turned-museum explores the regional history that led to the landmark Brown vs. Board of Education Supreme Court case, a decision that would effectively end segregation in the American education system. In addition to historic events, the museum honors local heroes in the struggle like Barbara Johns, the 16-year-old Prince Edward County student that would lead the charge in the Brown case. 

Photo Credit: Michael Mergen

On the way out of Farmville, follow Route 15 and enjoy the scenic drive between Farmville and Clarksville. Consider a detour to drive through the grounds of Hampden-Sydney College. The tenth oldest institution of higher education in the United States, this private all-male college has an idyllic countryside campus worth a visit. 

Restaurants, Breweries, Wineries, & More

Charley’s Waterfront CafeDowntown Farmville restaurant overlooking the Appomattox River with upscale, family-friendly dining. 

The Fishin’ PigSouthern barbecue and seafood restaurant outside of Farmville near Hampden-Sydney College. 

North Street Press ClubBurger and sandwich restaurant in Downtown Farmville with a creative drink menu and laid-back modern dining atmosphere. 

Effingham’s RestaurantBreakfast, lunch, and dinner restaurant within the Hotel Weyanoke; known for the wood-fired pizzas. 

Three Roads Brewing CompanyCraft brewery in Downtown Farmville with outdoor seating. 

The Virginia Tasting CellarWine tasting room below Charley’s Waterfront Restaurant that offers tastings of a rotation of Virginia wines, craft beers, and ciders. Riverside patio allows for social distancing. 

Bondurant Brothers DistilleryChase City moonshine distillery owned and operated by one of the descendants of the Bondurant Brothers, a Prohibition-era moonshining family made famous by the movie Lawless. 

Hotels, Resorts, & Other Lodging

Hotel WeyanokeNewly renovated pet-friendly boutique hotel in Downtown Farmville with on-site dining and a rooftop bar. 

ROUTE 58: FROM CLARKSVILLE TO DANVILLE

50.9 miles, approximately 58 minutes

Clarksville is in Mecklenburg County and is known as “Virginia’s only lakeside town” due to its location on the shores of Kerr Lake, also called Bugg’s Island Lake. Experience the best of the area’s outdoor adventures at Occonechee State Park, where you can rent paddle boards or kayaks, fish on the 50,000 acre manmade lake, and walk shaded trails along the shoreline. 

Photo Credit: Sam Dean, IG account: @sdeanphotos

Before leaving Clarksville, walk along Virginia Avenue and peruse some of the local shops like The Cottage Barn or Galleria on the Lake to browse local artwork, home decor, and a selection of gourmet foods and wines. 

Take Route 58 west towards Danville, making sure to stop in South Boston and Halifax, a few of Virginia’s charming small towns, during the trip. While these towns may be small, they have several restaurants that could rival those of the biggest Virginia cities, so if you’re looking for a dinner spot, consider making a reservation at either Molasses Grill or Bistro 1888

Your road trip ends in Danville, another Virginia small town filled with boutique shops, excellent restaurants, outdoor activities, and historic sites. For outdoor lovers, the Danville Riverwalk Trail has over nine miles of walking and biking trails that provide beautiful views of the Dan River. Ballou Park’s disc golf course has a nine-hole recreational course, as well as a challenging 18-hole competitive course. Finally, Danville is home to the Anglers Ridge Mountain Bike Trail System, one of the longest single track mountain biking trails in the region. Accessible from Anglers Park or Dan Daniel Memorial Park, the system offers a variety of trails for every rider, from beginners to expert mountain bikers. 

History enthusiasts should visit Danville’s AAF Tank Museum to get a view of rare tanks, military vehicles, and a variety of cavalry artifacts from 1509 to the present. Another bit of local history can be seen along Millionaires’ Row, a long section of Main Street in Danville that is filled with a pristine collection of Victorian and Edwardian homes. Many of these homes have long and interesting histories, with one even playing a part in the Civil War. Five historic and architecturally-significant churches also sit along Millionaires’ Row, and are worth visiting since Danville is sometimes referred to as the “City of Churches”. To pick up a free self-guided walking tour brochure for the area, stop by the Danville Museum of Fine Arts & History, where you can also dive deeper into local history and art. 

Restaurants, Breweries, Wineries, & More

Buggs Island Brewing CompanyCraft brewery in Clarksville offering a line of flagship beers in addition to seasonal small-batch brews. 

Lamplighter Restaurant & LoungeClarksville casual dining restaurant that serves full breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus. 

Springfield DistilleryDistillery in Halifax County that produces straight and flavored corn whiskeys in seasonally-inspired flavors like maple syrup, peach, and cinnamon. 

Southern Plenty CafeEccentric coffee shop, cafe, and boutique store in Downtown South Boston known for their creative coffee drinks and homemade pastries and desserts. 

Molasses GrillHalifax fine dining restaurant that fuses Southern traditions with modern culinary practices.

Bistro 1888Upscale restaurant and bar in South Boston that serves up New American Cuisine made from fresh, seasonal ingredients.

2 Witches Winery & Brewing CompanyWinery and brewery combination in Danville; currently closed Monday-Wednesday due to COVID-19, open select hours other days. 

Me’s Burgers & BrewsBurger restaurant in Danville with an extensive craft beer list. Operating on reduced hours with a limited menu due to COVID-19. 

Mucho TaqueriaEclectic taco restaurant and tequila bar in Danville’s River District. In addition to limited seating, the restaurant is offering curbside pickup during COVID-19. 

Heart Line RestaurantClassic greasy spoon diner in Danville that is popular with the locals and known for their delicious and affordable meals, especially breakfast. 

Dry Fork Fruit DistilleryDanville distillery that specializes in fruit-flavored moonshines, whiskeys, and brandys.

Ballad BrewingCraft brewery in Downtown Danville making everything from Pilsners and IPAs to Sours and Stouts.

Hotels, Resorts, & Other Lodging

Cooper’s Landing Inn & Traveler’s TavernHistoric home in Clarksville that has been renovated into a beautiful pet-friendly inn. Features an in-ground pool and hot tub, casual fine dining, and an outdoor patio and wine bar. 

Berry Hill ResortHistoric South Boston luxury resort on 650 acres that has a spa, on-site dining options, and an indoor pool. Pet-friendly rooms available. 

The Lodge at Virginia International RacewayLodge and private villas located right alongside the racetrack at Virginia International Raceway outside of Danville. 

Looking for more WanderLove adventures around the Commonwealth? Use the following guides to start planning your next road trip!

Categories
Blue Ridge Highlands Festivals Heart of Appalachia History Music Travel Ideas Virginia Mountains

But Did You Know…Appalachian Music & Virginia’s Mountain Towns

While there are countless music genres in existence today, nearly all of these musical genres owe at least some credit to the musical heritage of the Appalachian Mountains of Southwest Virginia, referred to as “Appalachian Music”. 

Many people may only think of Bluegrass when they think of Appalachian Music, but did you know the genre is the culmination of nearly 300 years of musical influences from around the world and has contributed to nearly every modern musical genre?

International Migrations & Their Influence on Musical Traditions

The Appalachian Music genre first arose after people from various European and African countries intersected in the mountains of Virginia, bringing their own traditions and cultures together to form a new and enormously influential musical style. 

Photo Credit: Shannon Terry

During the 18th century, several international migrations were responsible for the birth of Appalachian Music. In Ireland, a population explosion changed a citizen’s prospects in their home country, which went from having four million citizens in 1780 to a total of more than seven million just forty years later. Many would leave Ireland in hopes of finding jobs in the expansive new country across the ocean, and most would take on positions as indentured servants to pay their way. 

Another wave of immigrants would come to America from England after the French and English signed the Treaty of Paris of 1763, in which France relinquished their control over lands in America to England. England found itself in control of large swaths of land, which was then sold off to British citizens looking to live in a place that would give them more property for less money. 

Immigrants also arrived in American from Germany following the implementation of laws that restricted religious freedoms and economic factors like land becoming more expensive in Central Europe. In America, land was abundant, therefore much more affordable for lower and middle class immigrants. 

A final major migration was the forced migration of Africans across the Atlantic Ocean into slavery. These people would bring nothing with them on their cruel journey to the New World except for their traditions and beliefs, so of course these would be cherished and passed down to their children and grandchildren in generations to come, allowing them to keep their ancestry alive.

While America would see an increase in immigrants from many other parts of the world that would feed into the musical evolution of Appalachia music, these four cultural groups were the biggest contributors to the genre, blending their musical traditions with the indigenous peoples that had lived in the mountains for generations prior to create a sound that would endure for hundreds of years. 

The Rise of Traditional Appalachian Music

When musical historians talk about “Appalachian Music”, they break down the genre into two defined periods. The first era would lead to the overwhelming popularity of the second period. The traditional Appalachian period occurred between the 1700s and the early 1900s, while the second, the Old-Time Appalachian Music era, took place from about 1900-1930. 

The traditional Appalachian Music style fused the heritage of America’s immigrant populations with the indigenous groups living in Southwest Virginia, bringing together unique musical elements that had been passed down from generation to generation. For the Europeans coming to America, these elements included ballad-style songs that detailed the struggles of daily life as well as instrumental dance tunes. The nasal quality that was typical of traditional Appalachian Music was a Celtic contribution, and while these new citizens were adjusting to a starkly different life in America, they kept their folklore alive by singing ballads of lords and ladies, castles, and ghosts, with the central themes of the stories being love and loss. 

When it came to instrumental contributions, the Anglo-Celtic peoples are credited for bringing the fiddle to American music. Pianos were too costly for most immigrants, so fiddles would be one of the few instruments that they could afford, and the tonal styles of the fiddle perfectly mirrored the qualities of their ballad-style songs. A Scottish fiddle player by the name of Neil Gow is credited with introducing the rhythmic and powerful short bow sawstroke technique that became synonymous with Appalachian Mountain fiddle playing. German immigrants added to the development of Traditional Appalachian Music with instruments like the harmonica, Appalachian dulcimer, and autoharp. 

While the European style of singing was typically solo or duet, Africans that were enslaved in the colonies brought a distinct tradition of singing songs about work and worship as a group. These songs were usually in a call-and-response format, with one person singing a line and the rest singing the response. The lyrics in African songs were constantly changed and updated to inspire hope and raise the spirits of the enslaved as the widespread practice of slavery began to take a strong hold in America. The banjo was another major contribution that Africans made to Appalachian Music. The instrument originally hailed from Arabia and was brought to western Africa as the Islamic faith spread. When Africans came to America, they began to make their own banjos from hollowed-out gourds or pots that were covered in animal hides. Banjos were considered slaves instruments and were not frequently used or heard outside of their homes, but beginning in the 1840s, the banjo’s singular rhythm and beat began popping up in Traditional Appalachian Music, producing an entirely new sound when combined with the fiddle. 

The Hardships of Frontier Life

Photo Credit: Beth-Anne Norman Driskill

As European immigrants arrived in America, they found that much of the settled parts of the colonies were too expensive, especially as recently released indentured servants. Rather than living in abject poverty in the urban centers, many chose instead to purchase land in the untamed Appalachian Mountains, where they could make their living in a hard but proud manner. These early mountain men and women were perceived by the settled regions in the East as being poor and lower class, and they attained the nickname of “hillbillies” due to this association. However, the truth is that to survive in the wild mountains of Southwest Virginia, you had to be healthy, strong, and knowledgeable about all manner of things, from farming to building and even general practices of medicine. Living on the American frontier was a struggle, and these “hillbillies” learned soon after taking up residence that relying on other mountain residents was necessary for their survival. Close-knit communities began to pop up in the mountains of Southwest Virginia, where religion and social gatherings were extremely important. Musical traditions ran deep in both of these aspects of the communities, and as decades passed, these neighbors began to meld their cultures into the sound that is now considered Traditional Appalachian Music. 

With emancipation, many Black Americans wished to leave their former slave residences and find their own homes, but they were met with the same problem as the European immigrant populations had faced: settled farmland was too expensive. Some of these newly freed peoples would also find an identical solution, moving to the Appalachian Mountains in search of a new life and taking the traditions of their music with them. 

In addition to instrumental and lyrical elements, the cultural elements that emerged from the Appalachias were also distinct attributes of the music. Religion was a core component of life in the remote mountain towns, but so was community. The Appalachian folk worked extremely hard to eke out a living during the days through farming, coal mining, and other backbreaking careers, so on weekend nights, they would gather together and let loose with barn raising events and musical performances by other locals. 

Dialects were another element that went into the creation of Appalachian Music; these remote communities often did not have much contact with the outside world, or even other communities outside of a small radius, as the natural, unrefined landscape made crossing over mountains a near-impossible task. When record labels began travelling to these untouched communities in Southwest Virginia, they would frequently find that they couldn’t understand the performers, leading to occasionally incorrect song titles for the earliest recordings done in the region. 

These unique musical and cultural elements all came together in the Appalachian Mountains, with the communities having strong religious centers, lyrical themes of survival, love, and heartbreak, and the rhythms of the banjo, fiddle, and other European instruments complementing each other, resulting in a musical genre that would come to captivate America.

Traditions Evolve: The Birth of Old-Time Appalachian Music 

Photo Credit: Cameron Davidson

After almost 250 years of musical traditions meshing together in the Appalachian region, a distinct sound began to emerge that was referred to as Old-Time music. Researchers and historians worked in the late 19th century to collect traditional musical forms, recognizing the importance of cataloguing this music to preserve the cultures that were fading as a national American culture emerged. Technological innovations were exploding, allowing for the music scene to grow like never before; automobiles gave people the ability to travel long distances and to more remote places than they have previously been, mail-order and mass-produced instruments provided the means for less affluent musicians to expand their talents, and the invention of recorded sound meant that songs performed in the most remote areas could be preserved and replayed hundreds of miles away. Music that had been played only on front porches and in the barns of Appalachian America could now be recorded and broadcasted on radio stations, giving the rest of the country a taste of the unmistakable genre that was to be called Old-Time Appalachian. 

Image Courtesy of the Library of Virginia

These recordings were happening throughout America, but some of the most important and lasting performances were recorded in the mountains of Southwest Virginia. In the summer of 1927, a series of recordings were undertaken by Victor Records that came to be known as the Bristol Sessions. Recorded in the small city that straddles the Virginia/Tennessee state line, this music brought performers from all over the surrounding mountain landscapes together in one place to immortalize their songs using the brand-new technologies. Huge music stars like Jimmie Rodgers and local Virginia legends the Carter Family were recorded for the first time ever during these sessions, launching their careers as international country music stars and leading the city to be nicknamed “The Birthplace of Country Music”. 

It’s important to note that while these iconic recordings were meant to capture the sounds of Appalachian Music, there was only one Black artist, El Watson, to be recorded during the Bristol Sessions. During this era, America was experiencing the ugly transition into lawful and formalized segregation, and most of the noteworthy contributions of Black musicians in America were being wiped out or credited to the White artists in the area.

Image Courtesy of the Library of Virginia

The first-ever recordings of Appalachian Music may have been a pivotal component to the genre’s growth, but another aspect of the music industry that was important was the emergence of large-scale music festivals. One such festival in Virginia was the White Top Folk Festival, which ran from 1931-1939. Held in the mountains of Grayson County near Abingdon, this annual festival showcased the music and traditions of the surrounding regions, but like the Bristol Sessions, the festival did not include Black performers or allow Black attendees, severely limiting the authenticity and true heritage of Appalachian Music experienced at the festival. The first White Top Folk Festival in 1931 drew thousands of people, and it would continue to grow over the years into a major music event. In 1933, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt even attended the festival. Her father, Elliot Roosevelt, had moved to Abingdon by himself to seek treatment for a drinking problem when Eleanor was a child, and he would often write her letters that described the area. As an adult and after her father had passed away, Eleanor Roosevelt wished to see the place where her father had lived, and the White Top Folk Festival gave her the chance to experience the epitome of Appalachian culture. By 1935, the festival had peaked to draw over 10,000 visitors, but subsequent years would draw smaller crowds, and after several years of cancelling the festival due to weather or local problems, the White Top Folk Festival was finally shuttered in 1939. 

Appalachian Music Today

Photo Credit: Brian Camp, IG account: @brian_k_camp

The popularity of Appalachian Music waned during and after the Great Depression, but rather than completely dying off, the genre began to transform and influence the latest musical stylings created in the latter half of the 20th century. Country, Bluegrass, Rock n’ Roll, Folk, and Americana all contain notable aspects of Appalachian Music, pulling from the religious, thematic, and instrumental qualities associated with the genre. 

But in addition to continuously inspiring other musical genres, Appalachian Music is currently making a comeback, especially in the mountains of Southwest Virginia. Here, you can follow The Crooked Road, a route that ties together the most important musical heritage destinations of the area, including the Birthplace of Country Music Museum, where you’ll learn all about the important 1927 recording sessions, the Carter Family Fold, the home of the famed Carter Family that has been converted into a performance theater and museum, The Floyd Country Store, an authentic country store that is over 100 years old and one of the few places you can experience Appalachian Music firsthand during the weekly Friday Night Jamborees, the Southwest Virginia Cultural Center & Marketplace, where you can peruse goods made from local artisans and often catch live music performances, and the Blue Ridge Institute & Museum, which is the largest folklife museum in Virginia and highlights the historic traditions of music, customs, and crafts that impacted everyday life in the Appalachian Mountains. This route provides an in-depth look at the Appalachian Music genre, and every real music lover should make the trek along the Crooked Road at least once.

Photo Credit: Brian Camp, IG account: @brian_k_camp

Appalachian Music originated in the mountains of Southwest Virginia, and today, the region still creates some of the most skilled performers, historians, and craftsmen at the Wayne C. Henderson School of Appalachian Arts. This program focuses on teaching students about the rich musical heritage of the region, as well as the meticulous skills needed to become a Luthier (someone who builds string instruments like guitars). The school was named for native Virginia, Master Luthier, and Appalachian Music expert Wayne C. Henderson, who has made guitars for internationally-renowned artists like Mumford & Sons and Eric Clapton. While a guitar from Wayne C. Henderson requires you to join a years-long waitlist and will set you back thousands of dollars, there are several other talented Luthiers in Southwest Virginia that craft gorgeous handmade guitars as well as a variety of other string instruments. 

Photo Credit: Joshua Moore, IG account: @jtm71

Music festivals have also begun to instill more Appalachian Music into their annual lineups. Large Virginia festivals like Bristol Rhythm & Roots, FloydFest, the Richmond Folk Festival, Red Wing Roots, and Rooster Walk have incorporated Appalachian traditions into their events in everything from the vendors and foods to the artists performing, while festivals like the Blue Ridge Folklife Festival, Old Fiddlers’ Convention, Mountains of Music Homecoming series, and the Virginia Highlands Festival are all centered around the heritage of Appalachian Music. If you’d like to hear Appalachian Music firsthand and learn more about the history of the genre, plan on attending a few of these annual Virginia festivals in future years (with COVID-19, virtually all of the Virginia festivals and large events in 2020 have been cancelled). 

Want to know more about Virginia’s lesser-known history? Dig into these articles and stay tuned for more But Did You Know… history pieces to learn about some of Virginia’s most incredible true but untold stories!

Categories
Appalachian Trail Blue Ridge Highlands Heart of Appalachia Hiking Outdoors Shenandoah Valley Travel Ideas Virginia Mountains

Can’t-Miss Mountain Destinations

Virginia’s mountain ranges are world-famous for a number of reasons, including the challenging hiking trails, scenic winding drives, and the storied musical history of Appalachia. Whether you travel in the spring, summer, fall, or winter, the mountains of Virginia invite you to come for a visit and stay a while. And be sure to block off some down time on your itinerary; often, the most memorable part of a stay in the mountains involves just sitting still and taking in the beauty of Virginia’s rolling landscape. Discover all there is to LOVE about the mountains of Virginia.

—THE MOUNTAIN RANGES—

You’ll often hear Virginians refer to the mountains as the Appalachian Mountains, and while this is correct, the Appalachian chain actually runs down most of the eastern North American coast. To be more specific to a region, the Appalachian Mountains are divided further into smaller mountain chains. The two major chains that run through Virginia are the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Allegheny Mountains.

—STUNNING MOUNTAIN SITES—

There are too many iconic mountain sites to list, but these are a few destinations that visitors rave about in the mountains of Virginia.

Mount Rogers National Recreation Area

This gem in Southwest Virginia is known for the wild ponies, rugged but beautiful landscape, and the highest elevation point in Virginia, Mount Rogers. Hiking, horseback riding, biking, and camping are popular within the park.

Mabry Mill

Mabry Mill is considered the most iconic structure on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The site still gives tours with milling, blacksmithing, spinning, and other various demonstrations that showcase traditional Appalachian crafts.

McAfee Knob

Hikers take on a 4.5 mile hike through the mountains to reach McAfee Knob, the most photographed spot on the Appalachian Trail. This site provides panoramic views of the Catawba Valley, Tinker Cliffs, and Roanoke Valley.

Shenandoah National Park

One of the most beautiful park’s in America, Shenandoah National Park contains countless scenic vistas to take in the mountains and the sweeping valleys below.

More Must-See Mountain Destinations

—WINDING DRIVES WITH GORGEOUS VIEWS—

Want to get a front-row seat for the mountain views without hiking the exhaustive terrain to reach an overlook? Plan a road trip to discover Virginia’s mountainsides from behind the wheel.

Back of the Dragon

Route 16, called “The Back of the Dragon” by those that conquer its curves, is a six hour drive through a hundred miles of Southwest Virginia. This is a route favored by motorcyclists, but anyone driving the route can appreciate the scenery.

Blue Ridge Parkway

Running from the Northern Shenandoah Valley to the Great Smoky Mountains in North Carolina, the Blue Ridge Parkway winds through 469 miles of stunning mountain terrain.

Skyline Drive

Skyline Drive connects to the northern point of the Blue Ridge Parkway, traveling a further 105 miles along the Blue Ridge Mountains. The views of the Shenandoah Valley are awe-inspiring, and there are more than 75 overlooks right off the road that let you stop and take it all in without hiking multiple miles. During the fall, the mountains are alight with the oranges, reds, and yellows of the changing foliage, attracting thousands of visitors to the route.

More Mountain Drives for Unbeatable Scenery

—HIKING & BIKING TRAILS—

The mountains in Virginia were practically made for hiking and mountain biking. About a quarter of the Appalachian Trail runs through Virginia, and numerous trails off the Blue Ridge Parkway invite hikers to meander through the shady rolling landscape to spectacular payoff views. Intense mountain biking routes like the Spearhead Trails in Southwest Virginia provide a challenge to even the most seasoned rider.

Popular Hiking Spots:

  • Cold Mountain
  • Old Rag
  • Whiteoak Canyon
  • Dragon’s Tooth
  • Crabtree Falls
  • Sharp Top

More Popular Mountain Hikes

Popular Mountain Biking Locations:

  • Carvins Cove
  • Flag Rock
  • Southern Traverse
  • George Washington and Jefferson National Forests
  • Douthat State Park

More Mountain Biking Destinations

—THE HISTORY OF MOUNTAIN MUSIC—

Virginia boasts a thriving music scene, with live performances happening nonstop a venues and clubs throughout the Commonwealth. The mountains have a particularly rich music heritage, in part due to the legendary history behind the music. Famous musicians like the Carter Family and Dr. Ralph Stanley called Virginia home, instilling the Appalachian mountain sounds into their songs that would inspire generations to come. Take a trip along the Crooked Road, Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail, to learn more about the music of Virginia’s mountain regions.

More Virginia Mountain Music

—MOUNTAIN TOWNS—

Dozens of small towns can be found within Virginia’s mountain regions, giving visitors a glimpse into what daily life in the mountains is like.

Roanoke

Roanoke is one of the bigger mountain towns in Virginia, providing a bevy of great restaurants, hotels, and events along with the outdoor recreation. The 26 miles of biking and walking trails that make up the Roanoke Valley Greenways provide a pedestrian pathway to Mill Mountain, where the iconic illuminated star looks down on the beautiful city of Roanoke. The Appalachian Trail passes close by the city, with access points to stunning mountain peaks like Dragon’s Tooth, McAfee Knob, and the Tinker Cliffs.

Damascus

This small town in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Southwest Virginia packs a lot of personality. With the Appalachian Trail running right down the sidewalk of one of the main streets, you know that this town is passionate about the mountains and outdoor activities. Hikers stop in the town for the annual Trail Days celebration, and mountain biking enthusiasts hit the Virginia Creeper Trail to enjoy a leisurely downhill ride through the mountains of Virginia. The quaint but charming town is also not far from Mount Rogers, making it an ideal vacation spot for those looking to meet the wild ponies.

Luray

In the Shenandoah Valley, the town of Luray sits adjacent to Shenandoah National Park, and mountain road trippers can access Skyline Drive from the Thornton Gap Entrance, less than ten miles away from the town. The well-known Luray Caverns provide visitors with the rare chance to see what is underneath the mountains of Virginia.

More Picturesque Mountain Towns

—WINERIES, BREWERIES, & MORE—

There are tons of wineries, breweries, cideries, and distilleries tucked away in the mountains of Virginia. Sample some impressive beverages when you add one of these scenic drink destinations to your travel itinerary.

Mountainrose Vineyards—Wise

The grapes used in wine production at Mountainrose Vineyards are grown in the mountains, lending to delicious, subtle aromas apparent in every glass of wine. But if you think the wines are impressive at Mountainrose, just wait until you step outside and take in the picturesque views of the surrounding mountains.

Sugar Hill Brewing Company—St. Paul

If you’re heading to St. Paul to ride the epic Spearhead Trail ATV systems, a visit to the Sugar Hill Brewing Company is a must. The craft brewery creates a wide array of refreshing beers, including a light and easy-to-drink pilsner, several unique IPAs, and dark offerings like an Irish dry stout.

Big Fish Cider Co.—Monterey

This microcidery uses locally grown apples and traditional cider-making techniques to craft incredible ciders, ranging from dry and crisp to semi-sweet.

Davis Valley Distillery—Rural Retreat

The roots of distilling in America go deep in the Appalachias, so of course you will still find some of the best distilleries in the country in Virginia’s mountains. Davis Valley Distillery produces several corn whiskey moonshines (in wonderfully classic flavors like Apple, Peach, and Cherry Pie) and a traditional grain vodka. Currently, they are working on new whiskey and bourbon products, as well.

More in the Blue Ridge HighlandsMore in the Heart of AppalachiaMore in the Shenandoah Valley More in the Virginia Mountains

—FARMS & ORCHARDS—

The cool air and rich soil of the Virginia mountains results in outstanding fresh produce. These farms and orchards let you interact with farm animals or pick your own selection of apples, peaches, and more.

Graves’ Mountain Apple Orchard—Syria

Pick your own apples from the trees or purchase them already picked by farmhands at Graves’ Mountain Orchard. They also sell fresh-pressed cider and apple butter made from their fruits. In the fall, pumpkins and gourds are available.

Seven Springs Alpaca Farm—Lebanon

You probably won’t have too many chances in your lifetime to pet an alpaca, but Seven Springs Alpaca Farm offers the opportunity to learn about them as you stroke their soft fleece coat.

Chiles Peach Orchard—Crozet

Nothing is better than a perfectly ripe peach picked straight off the tree, and you can do just that at Chiles Peach Orchard. Additionally, they have pick-your-own strawberries, apples, and pumpkins seasonally grown on the farm. If you don’t want to pick it yourself, head into their market to buy it fresh, along with local vegetables, jams, foods, crafts, and more. The ice cream shop and bakery inside the market serves up some delicious treats for those with a sweet tooth.

More Interactive Farm Tours and You-Pick Orchards

—PLACES TO STAY IN THE MOUNTAINS—

From simple cabins to sprawling luxury resorts, Virginia’s mountains offer lodging for every visitors.

Resorts:

Each of these resorts are filled with luxury amenities and year-round activities like zip-lining, hiking, and a full array of spa services.

  • Wintergreen Resort—Wintergreen
  • Massanutten Resort—McGaheysville
  • Bryce Resort—Bayse
  • The Omni Homestead Resort—Hot Springs
  • Primland Resort—Meadows of Dan

Find More Mountain Resorts

Cabins:

In addition to large resorts, the region is filled with private cabin rentals that provide a little peace and quiet during your visit to the mountains.

More Cabins in the Mountains

Discove endless beauty and adventure with a trip through Virginia’s renowned mountain ranges. Where is your favorite destination in the mountains of Virginia?

Categories
Appalachian Trail Central Virginia Fall in Virginia Outdoors Shenandoah Valley Travel Ideas

WanderLove: A Road Trip Along Virginia’s Blue Ridge Parkway

Wanderlust is defined as a strong desire to travel, but here in Virginia, we call that feeling WanderLove. And while travel is a little bit different in 2020 due to COVID-19, you can still explore Virginia’s endless beauty with an epic road trip! To help you plan your next vacation out on the open road, we’ll be sharing a few of the most scenic and adventure-filled routes through the Commonwealth, including the best outdoor adventures, important sites, restaurants, and lodging options to add to your itinerary.

Winding through 469 miles of the storied Appalachian Mountains, the Blue Ridge Parkway extends from Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee. This scenic roadway begins in Afton and continues south, and key communities along this fee-free route include Waynesboro (Milepost 0), Buena Vista (Milepost 46), Buchanan (Milepost 86), Roanoke, and Fancy Gap (Milepost 200). The speed limit along the Blue Ridge Parkway is 45 miles per hour, so this iconic Virginia road trip adventure is perfect for those that are looking to take their time and enjoy the journey. Follow our guide to the Blue Ridge Parkway to find the best restaurants, hotels, wineries, and can’t-miss sites along the way! 

Photo Credit: Cameron Davidson

**While we have shared COVID-19 alternate hours and closures when possible, please contact individual businesses before visiting, as these details may change at any time. Inclement weather may close the Parkway. Call 828-298-039 or check the real-time closure map for status.

BLUE RIDGE PARKWAY: FROM AFTON TO ROANOKE

116 miles, approximately 3 hours 5 minutes

As the Blue Ridge Parkway runs entirely through mountain terrain, there are countless outdoor activities located along the route. You’ll find hiking opportunities around every bend, from quick jaunts that allow you to stretch your legs to 30-mile sections of the Appalachian Trail that involve overnight backpacking. 

From the North Entrance of the Blue Ridge Parkway near Afton, the Humpback Rocks region has several hiking trails, but the most popular is the Humpback Rocks Trails, a short but strenuous 1-mile climb directly to the rocks. There is also a secondary route to the Humpback Rocks along the Appalachian Trail, giving you the chance to conquer part of this legendary trail during your Blue Ridge Parkway journey. More hiking trails on this section of the Blue Ridge Parkway include Upper Shamokin Falls & Lower Shamokin Falls (a total of 2.1 miles with scenic waterfall views along the trail), the Three Ridges Hike (14.4 mile backpacking circuit with vista after vista along the Appalachian Trail), the White Rock Falls Loop (a 4.7-mile moderate trail with waterfalls), and Crabtree Falls Trail (located about six miles off the Blue Ridge Parkway, a 2.5-mile loop that features the highest vertical-drop cascading waterfall east of the Mississippi River). The Blue Ridge Parkway crosses the Appalachian Trail in several spots, so if tackling a few section hikes is on your bucket list, this is the trip to do it! 

Photo Credit: Creative Dog Media, IG account: @creativedogmedia

A short detour off the Parkway, Wintergreen Resort offers four-season fun for visitors driving the Blue Ridge Parkway. The resort contains two 18-hole golf courses that are open spring through fall; swimming, boating, and paddleboarding at Lake Monacan are available during the warmer months; skiing, snowboarding, and tubing slopes are open in the winter. The 11,000-acre mountain-top resort has miles of hiking trails, tennis courts with lessons available through expert trainers, a full-service spa, several restaurants on-site, and indoor and outdoor pools (outdoor pools only open during the summer months). 

Photo Credit: Sam Dean, IG account: @sdeanphotos

Looking for even more ways to enjoy the Great Outdoors along the Blue Ridge Parkway? Plan a picnic along the sandy beach shores of Sherando Lake Recreation Area, mountain bike the Big Levels 4×4 Trail (a 17-mile trail that is also open to off-highway vehicles and off-road driving), or take your ATVs out on the South Pedlar ATV Trail System’s network of 19 miles of trails open to riders April-November (permits must be purchased ahead of time).

While driving the Blue Ridge Parkway between Afton and Roanoke, plan a detour to Natural Bridge Historic Landmark. A site on the National Register of Historic Places once owned by Thomas Jefferson, this 215-foot tall limestone bridge was formed over thousands of years as Cedar Creek slowly eroded the land underneath the bridge. This natural wonder is surrounded by pristine forests, rolling meadows, and impressive vistas that showcase the beauty of the surrounding mountain terrain. Follow the park’s six miles of hiking trails to take in the variety of landscapes found within Natural Bridge State Park. 

Photo Credit: Creative Dog Media, IG account: @creativedogmedia

Head back to the Blue Ridge Parkway, where you’ll cross the James River and continue to Milepost 85.6 to the famed Peaks of Otter. Made up of Sharp Top Mountain, Flat Top Mountain, and Harkening Hill, this trio of mountains is a must-see landmark off the Blue Ridge Parkway. Take some time to hike any or all of the three mountains: Flat Top, a 5.6-mile trail, affords spectacular views at the top, particularly in the fall when the leaves blanket the surrounding region in fiery colors; Sharp Top, a difficult 2.6-mile trail with 360-degree views at the top; and Harkening Hill, a 3.5-mile loop and the easiest of the three trails. In addition to hiking, there are picnic areas, campgrounds, wildlife exhibits, and interpretive programs that you can learn about at the Visitor’s Center. 

Your final optional detour before reaching the outskirts of Roanoke is the unique Buchanan Swinging Bridge. A 366-foot long and 57.5-foot tall pedestrian bridge swinging above the James River, parts of this historic bridge date to 1851 and have survived countless natural disasters such as floods, as well as the destructive Civil War battles that were fought throughout Virginia. If you’re looking to spend more time out in nature before continuing towards Roanoke on the Blue Ridge Parkway, rent kayaks, canoes, or tubes through Twin River Outfitters and set out on the James River from downtown Buchanan. 

SCENIC OVERLOOKS & VIEWPOINTS—SEE ALL

Afton Overlook—Milepost .2

Rockfish Valley Parking Overlook—Milepost 1.5

View Shenandoah Valley—Milepost 2.9

Greenstone Overlook—Milepost 8.8

Rock Point Overlook—Milepost 10.4

Ravens Roost Overlook—Milepost 10.7

Three Ridges Overlook—Milepost 13.1

The Priest—Milepost 17.6

20-minute cliff overlook—Milepost 19

The Slacks Overlook—Milepost 19.9

Bald Mountain Overlook—Milepost 22.1

Fork Mountain Overlook—Milepost 23

Big Spy Mountain Overlook—Milepost 26.4

Boston Knob Overlook—Milepost 38.8

Irish Creek Valley Overlook—Milepost 42.2

White’s Gap Overlook—Milepost 44.4

Chimney Rock Overlook—Milepost 44.9

View Buena Vista—Milepost 45.7

House Mountain View—Milepost 49.3

Punchbowl Mountain Overlook—Milepost 51.7

Bluff Mountain Overlook—Milepost 52.8
White Oak Flats Overlook—Milepost 55.1

Dancing Creek Overlook—Milepost 55.9

Upper Otter Creek Overlook—Milepost 57.6

Otter Creek Flats Overlook—Milepost 58.2

Otter Creek Overlook—Milepost 59.7

The Riffles Overlook—Milepost 60.4

View Terrapin Hill—Milepost 61.4

Lower Otter Creek Overlook—Milepost 62.5

Otter Lake Overlook—Milepost 63.1

View Terrapin Mountain—Milepost 72.6

Arnold Valley Overlook—Milepost 75.3

Apple Orchard Mountain Overlook—Milepost 76.5

Sunset Field Overlook—Milepost 78.4

Onion Mountain Overlook—Milepost 79.7

View Black Rock Hill—Milepost 79.9

View Headforemost Mountain—Milepost 81.9

Upper Goose Creek Valley Overlook—Milepost 89.4

Porter Mountain Overlook—Milepost 90

Mills Gap Overlook—Milepost 91.8

Purgatory Mountain Overlook—Milepost 92.1

Boblett’s Gap Overlook—Milepost 93.1

Pine Tree Overlook—Milepost 95.2

Harvey’s Knob Overlook—Milepost 95.3

Montvale Overlook—Milepost 95.9

Iron Mine Hollow Overlook—Milepost 96.2

Taylor Mountain Overlook—Milepost 97

The Great Valley Overlook—Milepost 99.6

The Quarry Overlook—Milepost 100.9

N & W Railroad Overlook—Milepost 106.9

View Coyner Mountain—Milepost 107

Read Mountain Overlook—Milepost 109

Stewart Knob Overlook—Milepost 110.6

View Roanoke Basin—Milepost 112.9

Photo Credit: Mike Herrick, IG account: @wahoophoto

Restaurants, Breweries, Wineries, & More

12 Ridges VineyardVineyard that currently provides tastings of wines from around the world, specifically focusing on cool climate and sparkling wines. Located on milepost 25 of the Blue Ridge Parkway, the winery offers stunning mountain views. 

Nelson 151 TrailBeverage trail that follows Route 151 through Nelson County; includes six wineries, four breweries, three cideries, and a distillery. 

Royal Oaks Country StoreOld-fashioned country store with a restaurant serving breakfast and lunch.

DeVine Cafe & Wine ShopLocated 5.5 miles off the Blue Ridge Parkway at Milepost 14 on the Wintergreen Resort grounds. Small cafe with coffee and wine bar, gourmet grocery and gifts, local products.

Peaks of Otter WineryWinery and vineyard that also grows apples, peaches, nectarines, plums, and pears. Open for pick-your-own seasonally. Currently open for outside service only due to COVID-19. 

Hotels, Resorts, & Other Lodging

The Iris Inn19-acre luxury inn, cottages, and cabins in the Blue Ridge Mountains overlooking Shenandoah Valley.

Photo Credit: Jumping Rocks Photography IG account: @jumpingrocksphoto

Wintergreen Resort11,000 acre resort in the Blue Ridge Mountains that offers four-season activities, including skiing and tubing in the winter and hiking and golf during the spring, summer, and fall. Several restaurants on the grounds and an on-site spa with indoor and outdoor pools. 

Fenton InnInn off the Blue Ridge Parkway renovated to look like a Bavarian village, combining Old World craftsmanship and charm with modern luxuries. 

Royal Oaks CabinsCabin and chalet rentals, country store, deli, and gift shop off the Blue Ridge Parkway; exit at Milepost 16 onto Route 814. Cabins and chalets have fireplaces, hot tubs, and gorgeous mountain views.

Sugar Tree InnRustic pet-friendly inn nestled above the Shenandoah Valley in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Located about a mile off the Blue Ridge Parkway from Milepost 27. 

Peaks of Otter LodgeOn the Blue Ridge Parkway at Milepost 86 and nestled between the Peaks of Otter mountains, this pet-friendly lodge is open May-November and has 63 guest rooms, an on-site restaurant serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily, and a gift shop.

Montebello Camping & Fishing ResortMountain campgrounds and cabins in Nelson County that is open April-October; guests are invited to fish in resort’s the four-acre pond. 

Peaks of Otter CampgroundCampground right off the Blue Ridge Parkway and near the Peaks of Otter Lodge with 132 camp and RV sites; no electric, water, or sewer hookups at individual sites. A 24-acre lake beside the campground is stocked with small mouth bass and bluegill.

BLUE RIDGE PARKWAY: FROM ROANOKE TO VIRGINIA/NORTH CAROLINA BORDER

103 miles, approximately 2 hours 27 minutes

Note: A section of the Blue Ridge Parkway spanning from Milepost 112.4 to 135.9 (from Roanoke to Adney Gap) is currently closed due to damage caused by heavy flooding. Check the website for updates and take the detour provided in our map. 

While most of the Blue Ridge Parkway around Downtown Roanoke is currently closed, Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge has put together a 26-mile detour that still offers scenic views and several pit stops along the way.

While in the Downtown Roanoke area, walk or bike the Roanoke River Greenway, a system of trails in and around the area that highlights the best the region has to offer, including riverfront views, craft breweries, and some of the most beloved local restaurants.

A must-see attraction in Roanoke is Mill Mountain Park, a 568-acre park that contains miles of multi-use trails open for mountain biking, hiking, and even horseback riding, as well as the iconic Roanoke Star (where you’ll get an incredible view of downtown Roanoke), the Mill Mountain Wildflower Garden, and the Mill Mountain Zoo

Photo Credit: Creative Dog Media, IG account: @creativedogmedia

Fill this section of your road trip with even more outdoor fun at Explore Park. Bordering the Roanoke River, the park is a blend of mountain terrain, pristine forests, and waterfront landscapes and contains an aerial adventure course with challenging obstacles and ziplines, a campground area with campsites, cabins, and yurt rentals, and multiple hiking trails. Book kayaks and tubes to set out on the water through Blue Mountain Adventures, an outfitter and guide company within Explore Park that also offers unique lodging options like treetop platform camping sites and glamping in their canvas tent rentals. Relax after your outdoor excursions with a craft beer, cider, or glass of wine at Twin Creeks Brewpub, conveniently located inside the park.

Photo Credit: Shannon Terry

Get a taste of Appalachian music, food, and culture at the Floyd Country Store. This authentic general store is a true hidden gem of Southwest Virginia, where you can pore through an extensive collection of bluegrass and old-time music, pick out a selection of sweets housed in old wooden barrels, and savor some seriously delicious home-cooked meals. While the country store’s regularly-scheduled Friday Night Jamborees are not currently held inside the store due to COVID-19, you can catch a performance outdoors behind the store during the summer and fall months, as well as live streaming these performances on their Facebook page every week to experience the musical heritage of the Virginia mountains. 

Resume your journey south on the Blue Ridge Parkway and head to Rocky Knob Recreation Area, which is near the intersection of the parkway Milepost 169 and Route 8. Covering over 4,000 acres, Rocky Knob has numerous trails open for hiking and horseback riding, such as Rock Castle Gorge Trail, a moderate 10.8-mile trail known for its beautiful rock crystalline quartz formations that includes a fun rock scramble and outstanding views of the surrounding mountains at the top. There are also campgrounds in the recreation area open seasonally, allowing you to spend the night under the clear starry skies and enjoy both a stunning sunset and sunrise in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Two spots to take in these views are Grassy Knoll and Saddle Overlook, which provide uninterrupted views of the mountains for miles around. 

Photo Credit: Cameron Davidson

About 30 miles further south on the Blue Ridge Parkway, Mabry Mill is another can’t-miss site along your road trip route. Known as one of the most iconic structures on the Parkway, this historic mill also has a restaurant and gift shop on the grounds, where you can dine on country-style fare before perusing the gift shop for handmade crafts from local artisans and old-fashioned Virginia foods such as stone-ground grits, cornmeal, and buckwheat flour made at the mill.

Photo Credit: Shannon Terry

If you’re looking for a sugary stop along the way, head to Nancy’s Candy Company in Meadows of Dan, right off the Blue Ridge Parkway. This candy factory makes over 45 flavors of fudge, 49 unique truffles, 85 different chocolates, and many other varieties of sweets. The retail shop is currently closed due to COVID-19, but you can still place an order online or over the phone and pick up at this delectable candy store.

Nancy’s Candy Co. is a working candy factory, selling over 45 flavors of fudge, 49 different truffles, 85 different chocolates, and more. Their 2,000 square foot candy store is a chocolate lovers dream! Virginia Tourism Corporation, www.Virginia.org

Your final pit stop along the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia should be The Blue Ridge Music Center, which is hosting a socially-distanced concert series at their state-of-the-art amphitheater on select dates through the fall. If you’re not lucky enough to be passing through during one of these shows, the music center is still worth a visit due to their on-site hiking trails.

SCENIC OVERLOOKS & VIEWPOINTS—SEE ALL

TEMPORARY CLOSURE STARTS HERE—PLAN YOUR DETOUR

Buck Mountain Overlook—Milepost 123.2

Masons Knob Overlook—Milepost 126.2

Metz Run Overlook—Milepost 128.7

Poages Mill Overlook—Milepost 129.3

Roanoke Valley Overlook—Milepost 129.6

Lost Mountain Overlook—Milepost 129.9

Slings Gap Overlook—Milepost 132.9

Bull Run Knob Overlook—Milepost 133.6

Poor Mountain Overlook—Milepost 134.9

BLUE RIDGE PARKWAY REOPENS HERE

Cahas Mountain Overlook—Milepost 139

Devil’s Backbone Overlook—Milepost 143.9

Pine Spur Overlook—Milepost 144.8

Smart View Overlook—Milepost 154.1

Shortts Knob Overlook—Milepost 157.6

The Saddle Overlook—Milepost 168

Rock Castle Gorge Overlook—Milepost 168.8

Round Meadow Overlook—Milepost 179.3

Groundhog Meadow Overlook—Milepost 189

View Pilot Mountain—Milepost 189.1

Puckett Cabin—Milepost 190

Mount Airy Overlook—Milepost 202.8

Photo Credit: Shannon Terry

Restaurants, Breweries, Wineries, & More

FarmBurguesaFarm-to-table burger restaurant in Vinton. 

Blue Cow Ice Cream Co.Artisan ice cream shop in Roanoke. Currently open for carryout, curbside pickup, and delivery. 

AmRhein’s Wine CellarsFamily-owned winery just off the Blue Ridge Parkway at Milepost 136. More than a dozen Virginia-style wines available to sample during a tasting.

Photo Credit: Shannon Terry

Villa Appalaccia WineryTuscan-style pet-friendly winery on the Blue Ridge Parkway between Mileposts 170 and 171. 

Chateau Morrisette Winery and RestaurantWinery and restaurant with incredible views off the Blue Ridge Parkway at Milepost 171.5. Currently closed due to COVID-19; check website for updates.

Mabry Mill Restaurant & Gift ShopHistoric mill, restaurant, and gift shop on the Blue Ridge Parkway at Milepost 176; open Wednesday-Sunday during COVID-19. The circa-1910 mill is known as one of the most photographed spots on the Blue Ridge Parkway. 

Photo Credit: Beverly Smith

The Gap Deli at the ParkwayDeli in Fancy Gap near the Virginia/North Carolina border off the Blue Ridge Parkway serving signature salads, sandwiches, desserts, coffee, and daily specials. Currently only offering curbside pickup due to COVID-19. 

Hotels, Resorts, & Other Lodging

The Overlook CabinsFully-furnished rustic pet-friendly cabin rentals on a 63-acre horse farm in the mountains. Only three miles from Grayson Highlands State Park. 

Bent Mountain Lodge Bed & Breakfast15,000 square foot bed & breakfast with ten pet-friendly suites that offer beautiful views of the Blue Ridge Mountains and have Jacuzzi tubs. 

Stonewall Bed & BreakfastFloyd log cabin bed & breakfast in the mountains with five rooms, a suite, and two cabins. 

Hotel FloydEco-friendly and pet-friendly hotel in Downtown Floyd that utilizes Green technology in their sustainable practices. 

Tuggles Gap Restaurant & MotelHistoric restaurant and motel off the Blue Ridge Parkway on Route 8, just six miles south of Floyd.

Woodberry InnPeaceful mountain inn off the Blue Ridge Parkway at Milepost 174.1. 

Primland ResortLuxury pet-friendly resort with spectacular mountain views about 12.5 miles off the Blue Ridge Parkway in Meadows of Dan. On-site fine dining restaurant, spa, and indoor pool; grounds offer an 18-hole golf course and a disc golf course, flyfishing, sport shooting, archery, biking, horseback riding, RTV trail riding, and stargazing at the resort’s observatory. 

A Blue Ridge Haven Cabin RentalsAppalachian-style pet-friendly log cabins along the Blue Ridge Parkway; sleep up to six people. 

Meadows of Dan CampgroundCampground in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains with camping and RV sites and log cabin rentals that feature Whirlpools and gas-log fireplaces. 

Lonesome Pine Cabins12 rustic mountain cabins with modern conveniences outside of Fancy Gap that sleep 2-4 people. 

Fancy Gap Cabins and CampgroundPet-friendly campground, cabin rentals, and a quaint motel with mountain views. The grounds include 22 acres of hiking trails as well as peach and apple orchards.

Categories
Central Virginia Northern Virginia Outdoors Shenandoah Valley Travel Ideas

WanderLove: A Northern Virginia Road Trip From D.C. to Culpeper

Wanderlust is defined as a strong desire to travel, but here in Virginia, we call that feeling WanderLove. And while travel doesn’t look quite the same in 2020 due to COVID-19, you can still explore Virginia’s endless beauty with an epic road trip! To help you plan your next vacation out on the open road, we’ll be sharing a few of the most scenic and adventure-filled routes through the Commonwealth, including the best outdoor adventures, iconic sites, restaurants, and lodging options to add to your itinerary.

Locations Featured in Video: Delaplane Cellars, Dinosaur Land, Fuller House Inn, Sweet NOLA’s, Family Drive-In Theatre, It’s About Thyme, The Frenchman’s Corner

The Washington metropolitan area includes one of the most bustling parts of Virginia, so if you live in this cultural hub, you may be looking for a slightly slower change of pace. Skip the highways and their potential traffic snarls when planning a road trip out of the D.C. area, choosing instead to take Route 50 West towards Winchester, then heading south to Culpeper on Route 522. This leisurely route may take a bit longer, but it will guarantee that the journey is just as much fun as the rest of the vacation. 

**While we have shared COVID-19 alternate hours and closures when possible, please contact individual businesses before visiting, as these details may change at any time.

ROUTE 50: WASHINGTON, D.C. TO WINCHESTER

73 miles, approximately 2 hours

Whether you’re setting out from Washington, D.C., Alexandria, or Arlington, you can start your journey with a few activities only a few miles from home. Stop by the Torpedo Factory Art Center in Alexandria and browse works from local artists. This artistic mecca is home to the largest number of publicly-accessible working artists’ studios in the United States, and in addition to the cultural immersion, you can also take in the views of the Potomac River from the center.

For a little active entertainment, conquer part of the Mount Vernon Trail by bike or by foot. This eighteen-mile paved trail winds along the Potomac River, spanning from Theodore Roosevelt Island to George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate, where you can tour the estate and learn about one of America’s most pivotal Founding Fathers and the first President of the United States. 

Photo Credit: Cameron Davidson, IG account: @cameron.davidson.usa

Head west on Route 50 towards Chantilly, where you can visit the National Air & Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center. The museum offers free admission (although there is a parking fee), and to keep visitors safe during COVID-19, the tickets are timed to ensure only a limited number of visitors are inside the museum at any given time. 

If you’re traveling with kids, detour to Frying Pan Farm Park, a preserved farm that dates from 1920 to 1940 and pays tribute to Fairfax County’s rural roots. Kids can see (and sometimes even pet!) draft horses, chickens, pigs, goats, cows, sheep, rabbits, and peacocks. 

Antique lovers should spend some time in Middleburg, a charming small town in Loudoun County set against the backdrop of the Blue Ridge Mountains that is known as the nation’s horse and hunt capital. There are over a half dozen antique shops located on Washington Street, the town’s main street, where you’ll find hidden treasures and gorgeous antique pieces to take home.

Photo Credit: Salamander Resort

Continue along Route 50 to Sky Meadows State Park in Delaplane. An 1,860-acre pet-friendly park that combines history with outdoor adventure, Sky Meadows has 22 miles of hiking trails, access to the Appalachian Trail, nine miles of biking trails, and 10.5 miles of bridle trails open for horseback riding, as well as fishing, picnicking, and primitive hike-in camping sites. If your group includes any people with physical or mental limitations, the Sensory Explorers’ Trail, a short .03-mile trail for people of all ages and abilities, is a must. This trail encourages pedestrians to use all of their senses to traverse the surrounding landscape. 

Photo Credit: Jeff Mauritzen, IG account: @jeffmauritzen

After visiting Sky Meadows, swing by Mount Airy Farm Market to pick up some fresh fruits and veggies, baked goods, jams and preserves, and other locally-made products such as honey, cheeses, wines, and craft beers. The farm market also serves an array of custom-made deli sandwiches, soups, and homemade sides, so consider picking up lunch along with some gifts to take home on your way to Winchester. 

Restaurants, Breweries, Wineries, & More

Artie’sSeafood and meat entrees. In addition to dining in, curbside pickup and delivery is also available during COVID-19. 

Ambar ClarendonBalkan small plates; recommended for group dining. Outdoor patio seating, delivery, and takeout also available during COVID-19. 

Photo Credit: Cameron Davidson, IG account: @cameron.davidson.usa

Chrysalis Vineyards at the AG District400+ acre pet-friendly winery in Middleburg with views of the Bull Run Mountains.

Boxwood Estate WineryWinery located on Boxwood Estate, a National Historic Landmark and one of the earliest established farms in the historic village of Middleburg.

Greenhill Winery & VineyardsAdults-only boutique winery; charcuterie platters for purchase to pair with wine tastings. 

The Red Fox Inn & TavernVirginia landmark established in 1728 offering hearty meals in an historic tavern setting. 

King Street Oyster Bar in MiddleburgSeafood restaurant & oyster bar open for lunch, weekend brunch, and dinner. Patio seating and to-go orders available during COVID-19.

Market SalamanderEpicurean market selling prepackaged foods and a selection of deli sandwiches, salads, sides, and gourmet picnics to-go. 

Photo Credit: Salamander Resort

Wild Hare Cider PubMiddleburg cider pub location recently opened for Leesburg’s Wild Hare Cidery. Open select hours Wednesday-Sunday. 

Hunter’s Head TavernHistoric tavern built circa 1750 with a traditional English pub menu featuring a wide selection of on-tap beers and local and imported wines. Open for dinner seven days a week and lunch Tuesday-Sunday. Outdoor seating available.

Delaplane CellarsSmall boutique family winery offering outdoor seating and curbside pickup during COVID-19. 

Photo Credit: Eric Weiss

James Charles WineryBeautiful winery with expansive vineyards, apple orchards, and rolling hills. Several tasting options available, including tastings by reservation and group tastings. 

Winchester CiderworksCidery tasting room on a gorgeous orchard outside of Winchester producing English-style hard ciders. 

Photo Credit: Robert Harris IG account: @robertharris

0-60 Energy CafeGrilled cheese sandwich and soup restaurant also serving specialty coffees, teas, and bubble teas. 

Benny Meleto’sPizzeria known for their oversized pizza slices.

Sweet NOLA’s Southern Food LoungeNew Orleans inspired restaurant with a Creole and Cajun-style menu; currently only open for curbside carry-out.

Photo Credit: Robert Harris IG account: @robertharris

Brewbaker’s RestaurantRestaurant on the Old Town Walking Mall in downtown Winchester serving appetizers, sandwiches, burgers, salads, and entrees. Outdoor dining available. 

Hotels, Resorts, & Other Lodging

Salamander Resort & SpaUpscale resort set on 340 acres in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the center of Virginia’s horse country; pet-friendly accommodations available, indoor and outdoor pools, and an award-winning restaurant on-site. 

Photo Credit: Salamander Resort

The Red Fox Inn & TavernHistoric Virginia inn and tavern in Middleburg that was established in 1728.

Goodstone Inn & RestaurantLuxurious country inn with private rooms and cottages, as well as an on-site restaurant serving farm-to-table cuisine made from ingredients grown on the property and an outdoor pool. 

Photo Credit: Jumping Rocks Photography, IG account: @jumpingrocksphoto

The Ashby Restaurant & InnLocated in the tranquil village of Paris, Virginia, an historic inn that dates back to 1829. The inn’s restaurant features a gourmet Executive Chef and Sommelier and serves locally-sourced, seasonally-inspired fare. 

The George Washington HotelOriginally built in 1924, the George Washington Hotel is a charming blend of history, modern amenities, and first-class service. Located just steps from the Old Town Walking Mall in downtown Winchester.

Photo Credit: Bill Crabtree Jr.

Fuller House InnHistoric mansion inn in Old Town Winchester that was built circa 1850. 

ROUTE 522: WINCHESTER TO CULPEPER

67 miles, approximately 1 hour 22 minutes

Spend some time exploring Winchester, a small Shenandoah Valley city located in the northern section of Virginia. Walk through Old Town Winchester, an outdoor pedestrian mall in historic downtown Winchester lined with shops and restaurants. 

Photo Credit: Robert Harris IG account: @robertharris

Next, tour the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley to learn about the history and culture of the region. The museum includes galleries and exhibits, seven acres of formal gardens, and the Glen Burnie House, an historic home with sections originally built in 1794 and 1797 (the Glen Burnie House is currently closed to the public due to COVID-19). To ensure the safety of their guests, the museum has instituted several mandatory protocols during COVID-19, such as requiring guests to wear face masks in compliance with state policies and only using select entrances and exits throughout the museum. 

While the Patsy Cline Historic House, the childhood home of the iconic American singer, is currently closed due to COVID-19, you can still stop by the outside to pay homage to the country music legend. 

Photo Credit: Robert Harris IG account: @robertharris

If you’re feeling nostalgic and need an evening activity that is both safe and entertaining, catch a movie at the Family Drive-In Theatre, about ten miles south of Winchester in Stephens City. 

Depart Winchester for Front Royal, where along the way you can get active on the Jim Barnett Park Disc Golf Course or the Rockland Park Disc Golf Course, both 18-hole disc golf courses that are open to the public. Bring your own discs if this is on your itinerary, and be ready for a little cardio exercise, as these courses are very hilly. 

Take a detour (about ten miles) off Route 522 to visit Shenandoah River State Park. Situated on the South Fork of the Shenandoah River, the park has 5.2 miles of shoreline and over 1,600 acres of pristine mountain landscape. There are more than 15 miles of trails within the park open to hiking, biking, and even horseback riding, as well as primitive campsites and a full-service bathhouse. 

Photo Credit: Mike Zorger

Another potential detour is the State Arboretum of Virginia, which has a collection of over 6,000 types of trees and woody shrubs (including a third of the world’s pine species) and the largest collection of boxwood cultivars in North America. The grounds are open from dawn to dusk daily and are free to the public.

Traveling with kids? If so, Dinosaur Land is a must! This kitschy roadside attraction has been a road trip staple since 1969 and features more than 50 fiberglass dinosaur statues. There is even a king kong statue large enough that you can sit in the hand for a photo op! Before leaving, spend some time perusing the gift shop to bring home some one-of-a-kind souvenirs. 

Photo Credit: Chris Cruz IG account: @_chriscruz

Head into Shenandoah National Park at the Front Royal Entrance to Skyline Drive. This section has several popular hikes, like Dickey Ridge, a 5.3-mile hiking trail that starts right off the Front Royal Entrance at the Dickey Ridge Visitor Center. 

Photo Credit: Cameron Davidson

You’ve spent some time exploring Virginia’s mountains, but to truly marvel at the Commonwealth’s magnificent natural wonders, travel to Skyline Caverns outside of Front Royal. One of Virginia’s eight cavern systems open for tours, Skyline Caverns is famous for its Anthodite formations (gorgeous rock formations that resemble colorful flowers). 

Resuming your journey south on Route 522, you’ll hit another access point to Shenandoah National Park, the Thornton Gap Entrance, outside of Sperryville. From this entrance, you can reach some of the best trails in Shenandoah, such as Mary’s Rock, which runs over one of the most spectacular sections of the Appalachian Trail, Whiteoak Canyon, a trail that features six stunning waterfalls, and Old Rag, Shenandoah’s most popular hike (this circuit hike is about nine miles long and is suited for more advanced hikers, so allow plenty of time if you plan on conquering this arduous trail!). 

Photo Credit: Nate Dennison

Leave the park and pick up Route 522 until you reach your destination: Culpeper. Spend some time walking around downtown, stopping into a few local shops and enjoying the laid-back vibe of this quaint small town. 

Looking for a once-in-a-lifetime experience while in Culpeper? Book a helicopter tour of the region through Skyline Heli Tours and soar above Culpeper and nearby Charlottesville, getting a bird’s eye view of the mountains and valleys below. 

Restaurants, Breweries, Wineries, & More

L’Dees Pancake HouseFamily-owned and -operated restaurant known for their delicious breakfast fare, but also offering lunch and dinner menus. 

Griffin TavernTavern-style restaurant in an historic building that dates to the 1850s. Outdoor seating available.

Chester Gap CellarsPicturesque winery offering tastings of their estate-grown Viogner, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Petit Manseng, and several innovative blends. 

Photo Credit: Bill Crabtree Jr.

The Blue Door Kitchen & InnInn and restaurant located inside an historic schoolhouse; menu features creative dishes made from locally-grown, seasonal ingredients.

Glen Gordon ManorWinery/Bed & Breakfast overlooking Shenandoah National Park with an outdoor pool and an award-winning on-site restaurant.

Gadino CellarsWinery in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains near the historic town of Washington.

Old House Vineyards75-acre farm and vineyard that hosts tastings in a beautifully renovated barn that dates to the 1800s. Offering curbside pickup in addition to wine tastings in compliance with state guidelines. 

Three BlacksmithsUpscale Sperryville restaurant crafting a fixed weekly dinner tasting menu out of locally-sourced, seasonal produce and goods. 

Copper Fox DistilleryDistillery in Sperryville that offers self-guided cocktail flights in an outdoor garden space. Curbside pickup available for purchasing bottles. 

18 Grams Coffee LabCoffee shop that also serves seasonally-inspired toasts and baked goods. 

Rappahannock Pizza KitchenSperryville wood-fired pizzeria offering carryout only during COVID-19.

Mountain Run WineryFamily and pet-friendly farm winery in Culpeper crafting wines and ciders.

Belmont Farm DistilleryMoonshine distillery on a 189-acre farm outside of Culpeper. Currently offering tastings and cocktails and curbside pickup, but no tours due to COVID-19.

It’s about ThymeCharming cafe serving European country cuisine in a casual old-world setting.

Love’s KitchenCulpeper restaurant serving New Orleans cuisine. 

Hotels, Resorts, & Other Lodging

Inn at Little WashingtonLuxury boutique inn that is also home to a Michelin-star restaurant. 

Photo Credit: Inn at Little Washington

The Inn at Mount Vernon FarmLuxury bed and breakfast on a bucolic farm in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains

L’Auberge Provencale Bed & BreakfastFrench-inspired country bed and breakfast in the Shenandoah Valley with an upscale on-site restaurant. 

Photo Credit: Jumping Rocks Photography

Inn at Vaucluse SpringAccommodations include six guest houses amidst 100 acres in scenic orchard country of the northern Shenandoah Valley. Outdoor pool, pond with natural springs, and on-site restaurant that utilizes ingredients grown on-site for an impressive seasonally-inspired menu.

Thyme InnDowntown Culpeper inn with luxury suites with fireplaces, Jacuzzi tubs, and skylights. Located beside their restaurant and market, It’s About Thyme and Thyme Market. 

Need more ideas for future road trip adventures? Check out our other WanderLove articles, which will inspire you to get out and explore the open road! 

Categories
Craft Beer Hiking Outdoors Travel Ideas

Payoff Hikes: Virginia Trails With Excellent Craft Breweries Nearby

Dragon’s Tooth (Appalachian Trail – Catawba)

The view from the top may be enough motivation for you to hike some of Virginia’s most beautiful trails, but if you need a little extra something to keep you going, plan to follow up these epic hikes with a stop at a nearby brewery, where you can relax with a refreshing (and well-deserved!) craft beer.

 

The Hike: Stony Man Overlook or Mary’s Rock

If you’re looking for a quick hike with incredible views, start with Stony Man Trail in Shenandoah National Park. The 1.6 mile trail has a steady uphill grade ending in a rocky outcrop that provides scenic views of the Blue Ridge Mountains and Shenandoah Valley below. 

Another popular nearby trail is Mary’s Rock, which has two possible routes. A 3.7-mile route runs from the Panorama pull-off of Skyline Drive, while the 2.8-mile section starts at the Meadow Spring parking lot. Both trails are moderately difficult and have outstanding views of Shenandoah National Park.

The Brewery: Hawksbill Brewing Company 

Hawksbill Brewing Company in Luray is about 17 miles away from Stony Man Trail and only 11 miles from Mary’s Rock. 

 

 

The Hike: Old Rag Circuit Hike

A challenging trail in Shenandoah National Park, Old Rag is best suited for experienced hikers. The 8.8-mile route ends with a rock scramble and a breathtaking summit. While many trails in Virginia allow pets to join you, Old Rag is not one of them; please leave dogs at home! 

The Brewery: Pen Druid Brewing

Pen Druid Brewing in Sperryville is about 12 miles away from Old Rag. 

 

 

The Hike: Devil’s Marbleyard

The Devil’s Marbleyard trail is an 8.3-mile hike named for the difficult hillside scramble through monumental boulders, some as large as trucks. To make the hike even longer, you can continue along the Appalachian Trail for an extra three miles, which ends with one of the most breathtaking panoramic views in Virginia. 

The Brewery: Great Valley Farm Brewery

Great Valley Farm Brewery is about 13 miles from Devil’s Marbleyard. 

 

 

The Hike: Cascade Falls

Cascade Falls is a scenic four-mile trail within the Jefferson National Forest that follows a shaded mountain creek to a 66-foot waterfall. The hike is suitable for beginners with only a few spots that are moderately challenging. 

The Brewery: Rising Silo Brewery

Rising Silo Brewery in Blacksburg is about 22 miles away from Cascade Falls. 

 

 

The Hike: Tinker Cliffs

Part of the famed Triple Crown in Virginia (along with Dragon’s Tooth and McAfee Knob), Tinker Cliffs is 3.8 miles from the base to the summit, with a fairly difficult trek ending with pristine views of the Roanoke Valley. This hike is not for beginners! 

The Brewery: Olde Salem Brewing Company

From Tinker Cliffs, Olde Salem Brewing is about 17.7 miles away.

 

 

The Hike: Dragon’s Tooth or McAfee Knob

If you’re already in the area checking out Tinker Cliffs, consider conquering McAfee Knob or Dragon’s Tooth. McAfee Knob is an 8.3-mile hike that wraps up at one of the most photographed spots on the Appalachian Trail, with 270-degree panoramic views of Catawba Valley and North Mountain. McAfee is a fairly strenuous hike that involves lots of stone steps, but there are several rewarding vantage points along the trail. The 4.1-mile Dragon’s Tooth hike takes you to the top of Cove Mountain, but while McAfee Knob has some challenging spots, Dragon’s Tooth is a much more advanced hike, with a section that is very rocky and steep; be ready for a difficult climb when you hike Dragon’s Tooth. 

The Brewery: Parkway Brewing Company

Parkway Brewing Company in Salem is 7 miles from the McAfee Knob trailhead and 11 miles from the Dragon’s Tooth Trailhead. 

 

 

The Hike: Crabtree Falls

An extremely popular hike in Virginia, Crabtree Falls has the highest vertical-drop cascading waterfall east of the Mississippi River with the five major cascades sections totaling 1,200 feet in drop. The first overlook is just a few hundred feet from the parking lot, providing a quick payoff for even the least experienced hiker. While the trail’s total length is about 3.3 miles, you can continue through Crabtree Meadows, hiking another 3.8 miles to Spy Rock

The Brewery: Devils Backbone Basecamp Brewpub

Devils Backbone Basecamp Brewpub is about 15 miles away from Crabtree Falls.

 

 

The Hike: Raven Rocks

About an hour outside of Washington, D.C., the Raven Rocks trail is a moderately challenging 5.5-mile out-and-back hike, with the rocky trail finishing at an outcropping along the Virginia/West Virginia border that offers views of the Shenandoah Valley.

The Brewery: Dirt Farm Brewing

Dirt Farm Brewing in Bluemont is about 5 miles from the Raven Rocks trailhead.

 

 

The Hike: Eagle Rock

Part of the Tuscarora Trail and the Appalachian Trail, Eagle Rock runs along the Virginia/West Virginia border. The hike can either be done as a 7.2 mile out-and-back trail or a more family-friendly 2.1-mile hike. Expect less foot traffic along the Eagle Rock Trail than along Big Schloss, located just to the south of Eagle Rock. 

The Breweries: Winchester Brew Works, Alesatian Brewing, & Escutcheon Brewing 

Winchester Brew Works and Alesatian Brewing are about 23 miles from Eagle Rock, while Escutcheon Brewing is about 24 miles from Eagle Rock.

 

 

The Hike: Humpback Rocks

The trailhead for Humpback Rocks is located along the Blue Ridge Parkway only a short distance off I-64, leading to a one-mile steep hike that is short but difficult. Several benches sit alongside the trail, offering spots for a quick rest as you climb the sharp angle towards the summit. Hikers can either take the same route back to the parking lot or opt for another two miles along the Appalachian Trail, which has a more gradual descent and less foot traffic than the one-mile trail. 

The Brewery: Basic City Beer Co.

Humpback Rocks is about 15 minutes from Basic City Beer Co.

 

 

The Hike: Buttermilk Trail in Richmond

If you’re looking for an urban hike, head out on the Buttermilk Trail along the James River in Richmond. The 4.5-mile out-and-back trail provides a moderate hiking route without leaving the city limits, and also has the added benefit of being pet-friendly to leashed dogs. Add the James River North Bank Trail for a further two miles of trail. 

The Brewery: Legend Brewery

Legend Brewing Company is about a half a mile from the Buttermilk Trail trailhead. 

 

 

The Hike: Peaks of Otter

There are actually three peaks that make up the Peaks of Otter; Sharp Top, Flat Top, and Harkening Hill. Each trail has its own amazing view at the top, but Sharp Top is known for the best views, with a 360-degree summit that completes the strenuous 2.6-mile trail. Flat Top Trail totals about 4.8 miles and is also a difficult hike best suited for advanced hikers. The only looped trail out of the Peaks of Otter group, Harkening Hill totals about 3.3 miles and while the elevation gain is the lowest in the trio, it is still a moderately strenuous climb. 

The Brewery: Beale’s Brewery

Beale’s Brewery is about 11 miles from the Peaks of Otter Lodge, a good starting point for any of the three Peaks hikes. 

 

 

The Hike: High Bridge Trail

A renovated rails-to-trails project, High Bridge Trail is about 31 miles long and is open to both hikers and bikers. The trail’s namesake bridge spans 2,400 feet over the Appomattox River, providing views of the surrounding countryside. The trail is relatively flat, making it an ideal route for families, hiking beginners, or hikers with leashed pets. 

The Brewery: Third Street Brewing

Third Street Brewing is .3 miles from the trailhead in Downtown Farmville, but the trail itself runs right beside the brewery.