Fall in Virginia Outdoors Shenandoah Valley Travel Ideas

WanderLove: A Road Trip Through Lexington & Rockbridge County

Rockbridge County is the southern gateway to the Shenandoah Valley. Conveniently located at the junction of I-81 and I-64 W, visitors have fast and easy access to our “big backyard” – 100,000 acres of public forests, parks, recreation areas and two rivers where outdoor enthusiasts of all ages and skill levels can hike, bike, paddle, fish and camp.

Lexington is the perfect hub for this outdoor lover’s itinerary. The historic downtown is completely walkable and boasts over 65 indie-owned shops and eateries, in addition to numerous museums, historic sites and tours. Stay at one of the three hotels within walking distance of the historic district and universities: Hampton Inn Col Alto, The Georges Inn, ranked the #2 hotel in the U.S. by Travel + Leisure, or The Gin Hotel, an Ascend property.

For those looking for a more rustic or rural setting, the area offers many cabin and vacation home rentals including properties specializing in outdoor recreation such as Sugar Tree Inn, Fox Hill B&B, Steeles Manor Tavern B&B/Cabins, and Hummingbird Inn.

Cross Natural Bridge State Park off your bucket-list. The geological wonder is an awe-inspiring 215-foot high limestone arch carved from Cedar Creek, and is estimated to be 450 million years old. Today, the Virginia State Park offers educational programs, over 6 miles of trails and the Kids in Parks Track Trail and a NatureExplore play area at the new Children’s Discovery Area.

Photo Credit: Shannon Terry

Get a new perspective of the Blue Ridge Mountains! Spend the afternoon paddling, fishing and wildlife viewing on the 65 miles of the Upper James River Water Trail. This waterway features Class I-III rapids, ensuring paddlers a segment suitable to their skill level. Bring your own equipment or utilize an outfitter who will provide gear and shuttle transportation.

After a jaunt on the river or trail, “Drink in the Shenandoah Valley” with a cold craft brew along the Shenandoah Beerwerks Trail. Relax and enjoy the companionship of good friends amidst beautiful farms and mountains, breathe in the scent of ancient forests on a hike, explore a fascinating new community, taste the fresh flavors of a farm-to-table meal, or listen to music under the stars as you discover a new favorite band. Don’t forget to get your Beerwerks Passport stamped at 8 of the 15 breweries to receive a commemorative Beerwerks t-shirt and bragging rights.

Stable Craft Brewing, Photo Credit: Nikki Nargi

Get an early start on 2 wheels as you breeze past pastoral landscapes, quaint cities and towns, and historic, natural and cultural resources with a Rockbridge County cycling route.

Experts can start in charming Buena Vista, an Appalachian Trail Community, and climb their way to the iconic Blue Ridge Parkway, “America’s Favorite Drive.”

The Lexington/Goshen Pass Loop will wind along the Maury River on Rt. 39, Appalachian Waters Scenic Byway with many pull offs to enjoy river access and views of Goshen Pass, a three mile-long gorge in the Goshen and Little North Mountain Wildlife Management Area.

Or peddle around the Villages of Fairfield, Raphone and Brownsburg on a “tour de farm” route visiting farms, a vineyard, grist mill, community museum and more rural beauty than you can imagine. Many of the stops are members of the Fields of Gold Farm Trail.

And for those looking for an epic cross county experience, cycle a segment of the TransAmerica Bike Trail along Scenic Byway Rt. 56. And for those who wish to explore the natural beauty from behind a windshield, any of these routes make the perfect scenic drive.

Put on your walking shoes and explore Glen Maury Park in Buena Vista. This 315-acre park includes camping, hiking/mountain bike trails, fishing on the Maury River, an Olympic-sized pool, playing fields, picnic areas, and the 18-hole Rick Jacobson designed links course. Catch a bluegrass, gospel or beach music concert. Stroll the Buena Vista Riverwalk, a two-mile flood wall that connects the park to the nearby Chessie Nature Trail.

The Chessie Nature Trail parallels the Maury River, connecting Lexington and Buena Vista. A 7-mile rail-trail, the Chessie’s path is part of the old Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad bed as well as canal towpaths and boat lochs. It’s the perfect place to hike and run because it’s easily accessible while also boasting abundant natural beauty, wildlife, and farmsteads.

There are Hidden Gems just waiting to be discovered in Rockbridge County!

Take a peaceful moment and discover the flora and fauna tucked away just 1.6 miles from the historic downtown district at the Boxerwood Nature Center and Woodland Garden, a 15-acre arboretum featuring over 12,000 trees, fields, woodlands, ponds, and native and unusual plant specimens. There is a Kids Play Trail and Fairy Forest and a summer music series for the young at heart. Go on a high-tech treasure hunt using GPS coordinates to locate hidden geocaches.

The Gems of Rockbridge Geocaching Trail consists of ten geocaches that are strategically placed to highlight the natural beauty and cultural heritage of the gateway communities along the Blue Ridge Parkway: Vesuvius, Buena Vista, Lexington, Glasgow, and Natural Bridge.

Looking for a decadent slice of homemade pie? Local jams, jellies and pickles? A souvenir to take home? Visit a nostalgic Country Store! Opened in 1954, Layne’s Country Store is famous for their Virginia Country Ham and Hoop Cheese sandwich, which was ranked in the top 10 “Top 50 places in Virginia to get a country ham sandwich” by USAToday.

Natural Bridge General Store & Natty B’s Cafe serves up the best homemade pies around and is a great place to fuel up with a Blue Plate Special for a day on the river.

Gertie’s Country Store & Deli in Vesuvius was a finalist on the Blue Ridge Parkway Foodie Tour with their infused pulled pork BBQ sandwich. The store’s walls are covered with signatures from visitors from around the world, and is a convenient stopover for travelers on the TransAmerica Bicycle Trail, who can camp out back for free.

To come full circle, visit the Brownsburg Museum’s new exhibit, “Cradle to Coffin: Remembering the Country Store,” which includes an actual screen door where visitors step back in time and enter a one-room replica of a country store. The replica is complete with chairs so you can sit and “loaf” – which was the “term of art” used by the men of the village when they hung out at Whitesell’s Grocery or Swope’s store or Bud Wade’s barber shop and pool hall.

You’ll want to remember your “Small Towns, Big Backyard” road trip with a photo in front of the Natural Bridge State Park LoveWork. Designed by Mark Cline – famous for his life-size fiberglass dinosaurs and Foamhenge, a true to scale replica of Stonehenge. This installation includes elements that represent Rockbridge County, including the Natural Bridge, Lace Falls, wildlife such as deer and eagles, paddling on the James River, and stunning rock formations…what Rockbridge County is named after! This LoveWork is scheduled for installation by October 2020. 

Chesapeake Bay Coastal Virginia - Hampton Roads Outdoors Travel Ideas

WanderLove: A Road Trip Through Chesapeake

Wanderlust is defined as a strong desire to travel, but here in Chesapeake, Virginia, we call that feeling WanderLove. And while travel doesn’t look quite the same this year, you can still get back in touch with what you love: exploring the great outdoors, connecting with friends and family, and the winding roads in between.

Chesapeake offers lots of social distancing fun with stand-up paddle boarding, hiking, restaurants with plenty of outdoor seating and so much more. Chesapeake is easily accessible from the western part of Virginia, Richmond, and NOVA via I-64, or neighboring Coastal Virginia cities via US-158 W. And we’re a short drive away from the famous Virginia Beach Oceanfront, historic Portsmouth, Downtown Norfolk, and North Carolina’s Outer Banks.

The whole family will have a wonderful time—even your furry friends. You’ll want to make more than a day of it, so choose from many affordable hotel options, including dog-friendly establishments. If you’re the outdoors type, pitch a tent and sleep under the stars at our beautiful and scenic campgrounds. If you’re here during the fall, watch the leaves change colors before your eyes along our trails and waterways.

Here are six great reasons to get back to what you love on a road trip to Chesapeake, Virginia.

Nature Trails


Get outside and explore Chesapeake’s miles of trails and hundreds of acres of green parks. Shady and green in summer, gloriously beautiful with fall colors in late October, Chesapeake is the perfect place to bike, hike, or bird watch with the whole family.

Wander through the Chesapeake Arboretum, a 48-acre natural classroom featuring a lovely trail system and a self-guided tree walk. The Dismal Swamp Canal Trail offers tons of family fun with a lush 16-mile bike loop or leisurely 2-mile up-and-back nature walk, while the Interpretive Trail at Battlefield Park, on the grounds of the Great Bridge Battlefield & Waterways Museum, brings history to life through engaging and detailed placards. But that’s only the beginning. Check out all the parks and trails Chesapeake has to offer.

Kayaking Waterways


Grab your paddle and drop into a variety of tidal and non-tidal waterways. This includes Dismal Swamp Canal TrailNorthwest River ParkElizabeth River Park, and other beautiful kayaking and canoeing spots in Chesapeake. You’ll get both a workout and a dose of fun exploring your natural surroundings. It’s serenity. It’s peace and quiet. And it’s completely family-friendly. If you’re in Chesapeake, you owe it to yourself to give it a try.

Don’t have a kayak? Rent one and head out on your own or take a guided tour with Kevin Fonda at Adventure Kayak & SUP Tours. Adventure Kayak Tours is family owned and operated, and proud to be considered Coastal Virginia’s top outfitter for custom kayak and paddle tours and rentals. They offer guided tours at several Chesapeake locations, to include some scheduled overnight excursions.

South Norfolk Jordan Bridge


Take a scenic walk or bike ride across the South Norfolk Jordan Bridge—at 167 feet high, it’s the region’s tallest bridge. It connects Chesapeake to the City of Portsmouth across the Elizabeth River’s Southern Branch and offers sweeping, panoramic views from its soaring architectural curves. Explore the mile-long crossing via the protected Pedestrian Walkway with a healthy 5% grade (across and back is two miles total). As a FREE activity, walking the South Norfolk Jordan Bridge makes a fun date night, is family-friendly and safe for pedestrians.

Just below the bridge is Elizabeth River Park. After your walk along the South Norfolk Jordan Bridge, stop in the Snack Shack for a treat. The park also features a playground, 1/2 mile trail, dog run, 24-hour boat ramp, a spectacular view of the winding Jordan Bridge, and sunsets that will take your breath away. You can also fish or crab from the fishing pier, no fishing license is required. If you have a boat or kayak you can launch it for free from the easily accessible public boat ramp or kayak launch.

Breweries & Tap Rooms


Chesapeake’s local breweries and tap rooms are the perfect way to relax after a day of exploration with a cold, affordable pint. Big Ugly Brewing boasts up to 10 “Big, Bold Beers” on tap any given night and spacious indoor and dog-friendly outdoor seating. The eclectic interior showcases a variety of vintage vehicles from the collection of founders Jim Lantry and Shawn Childers—including a private seating area inside a Volkswagen bus, complete with a custom tabletop. Food trucks stop by often, so be sure to follow Big Ugly’s Facebook page to know who’s coming next.

Chesapeake’s newest addition, The Garage Brewery, offers a seven-barrel microbrewery experience. At the center of the business is Ulyana Gomez, a local entrepreneur, investor and lover of craft beer. She dreamed of opening a brewery and finally made her dream come true when she opened The Garage Brewery back in 2019. The dog-friendly brewery offers roomy indoor seating, an outdoor patio and plenty of nibbles to choose from.

Foodie Destinations


Food lovers, rejoice! We’ve got fresh, locally prepared foods and artisanal creations. From fresh ice cream and coffee to baked goods and beer. Experience fine dining at The Butcher’s Son or Passion The Restaurant. You will enjoy waterfront dining at Big Woody’s Bar & Grill and Lockside Bar & Grill. Or bask in the delectable, local flavors of Mount Pleasant FarmsGreenbrier FarmsHickory Ridge Farm, and Bergey’s Breadbasket—each of which has tons of fall fun options for the kids, including corn mazes and pumpkin picking.

For classic local flavors, satisfy your sweet tooth at H.E. Williams Candy Company or flashback to the 50s with affordable shakes, burgers, and eclectic memorabilia at Irwin’s Fountain. If you prefer delicious seafood freshly caught in season, stop by the family-friendly Wicker’s Crab Pot, or take your taste buds on a trip to Jamaica at Cutlass Grille.

Don’t miss out on local hangouts, like Kapers EateryThe Egg BistroMcGrath’s Burger Shack, and Racha Thai Cuisine.

Check out the Chesapeake restaurant page to find the perfect flavor. If you’re hungry for something familiar, we have plenty of popular restaurant chains to choose from.

Continue on your WanderLOVE experience with this great itinerary Into Chesapeake’s Outdoors!

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:

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.


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. 


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. 


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!

Central Virginia Family Outdoors Travel Ideas

WanderLove: A Guide to a Girl’s Weekend in Charlottesville

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 this year, you can still explore Virginia’s endless beauty with an epic road trip!

Charlottesville is a picturesque city with a booming wine scene, indie boutiques, beautiful accommodations, tasty eateries, and outdoor activities. Its location in the Blue Ridge Mountains’ rolling foothills makes it the ideal getaway for a girls weekend. It is also consistently mentioned as one of the top, up-and-coming, award-winning wine regions to visit for those who love wine. This charming city is home to nearly 40 wineries and vineyards and is a significant producer in Virginia’s wine country. What also makes this wine region unique is the numerous vineyard B&Bs and wine experiences – perfect for a safe vacation during this global pandemic. And it’s just a short two-hour drive from Washington, DC.

Photo Credit: Bram Reusen

No matter where you are driving from, you will know that you arrived in Charlottesville when you see views of rolling hills and mountains, and if you’re lucky, you’ll see them peeking above the fog. It is a sight to behold.

Vineyard Lodging

We arrived in Afton and checked-in to The Farmhouse at Veritas Bed and Breakfast. Built in 1836, The Farmhouse offers eight luxurious bedrooms with stunning views of the mountains and grapevines. Each reservation includes a bottle of sparkling wine and a fresh farm breakfast. I highly recommend staying in the Derby Room — a contemporary, two-level, airy room with views of the Petit Verdot and Viognier vines. The room also has a spiral staircase, which leads to the king bed on the second level. A private entrance leads to a beautiful wraparound porch, which includes multiple rocking chairs. If you’re unable to stay in the Derby Room, any room will do, as it is the crème de la crème of vineyard B&Bs — especially if you prefer accommodations with charm, elegance, and a bit of European flair.

Photo Credit: Carlita Pitts IG: @iamthelita

Need a larger space? I recommend booking the Barn Cottage. The vineyard also offers a full dining experience in any three indoor dining spaces equipped for social distancing.

If you desire a vineyard accommodation with a tranquil, resort experience, I recommend Glass House Winery Bed and Breakfast in Free Union. Free Union is ten miles northwest of Charlottesville and is located on a hill overlooking the vines and a lake, plus the scenic views of Blue Ridge Mountains in the background make the drive worth it.

Photo Credit: Carlita Pitts IG: @iamthelita

Glass House B&B is a group-friendly bed and breakfast with a pool and hot tub. The house itself is large, with funky décor and lots of space to move around. I highly recommend staying in the Suite to the Stars, a two-bedroom suite, with a living room, dining area, kitchen, and a large private deck. Each reservation comes with a complimentary wine flight at the winery and some decadent chocolates made in-house.

Wineries & Vineyards Near Charlottesville

There are so many beautiful wineries along Virginia’s Monticello Wine Trail that it’s hard to choose which to visit. If you’re traveling for a girls’ weekend, be sure that the wineries you select are near each other, so you aren’t driving all over Charlottesville. Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards is one of my favorites. I’ve visited multiple times, and it gets prettier each time. You can’t beat the beautiful landscaping, mountain views, boutique wines, and farm-to-table menu. While you’re out there, check out Blenheim Vineyards, owned by Dave Matthews. This beautifully designed winery has excellent views of the vineyards and countryside. If you’re up for winery hopping, I’d suggest stopping by Jefferson Vineyards and Gabriele Rausse Winery.

To experience more of the Monticello Wine Trail’s beauty and scenic views, be sure to also visit Afton Mountain Vineyards, Barboursville Vineyards, and Stinson Vineyards.

Wine Experiences Outside of Charlottesville

Want to add adventure and a great bonding experience to your trip? I’d highly suggest booking a private horseback riding tour through the vineyards with the Indian Summer Guide Service. We planned our ride at Veritas after Saturday brunch, and it was terrific. Our horses, Gracie and Amber, were well-mannered, and our guide was very patient with us. When we booked this tour, we didn’t realize we were riding up the mountain, and when we got to the top, we saw the most beautiful views of the wineries, farms, and properties. It was indeed a memorable experiermnce that I would do again in a heartbeat.

Photo Credit: Carlita Pitts IG: @iamthelita

Another excellent wine experience to add to your itinerary is the Roseland Polo Match at King Family Vineyards on Sundays. It’s fun to get dressed up in floral sundresses, hats, and wedge heels to watch an action-packed polo match with the background’s dramatic mountain views. Don’t forget to take lots of photos for the ‘gram!

Dining in Charlottesville

There are many great places to dine in Charlottesville. Given that Charlottesville is in the south, it’s most known for southern cuisine such as fried chicken, smoked BBQ, and black-eyed peas.

While we wanted great food on our trip, given that it is a girls’ weekend, we also wanted to dine at trendy restaurants with great views. On Friday night, we ate at Common House, a contemporary member’s only social club. It is beautifully designed, with a multipurpose event space, networking lounge, library, game room, and roof terrace. It rained the evening we went, so we didn’t get to see the roof terrace. However, we enjoyed our meals while we there, and we were equally impressed by the décor and service. 

On Saturday evening, we dined at the Quirk Hotel in downtown Charlottesville. The Quirk is one of Charlottesville’s newest boutique hotels, opening earlier this year, and is a modern hotel with a chic, artsy atmosphere. Upon entering, you’ll notice the curvaceous ceiling, a large art gallery, two restaurants, and a café.

We dined at the rooftop bar, which was just as stylish as it is beautiful. Like the rest of the city, the roof bar had lovely panorama views of downtown Charlottesville and the Blue Ridge Mountains. The restaurant offers a rustic Italian menu serving pizzas, oven-fired vegetables, pastas, charcuterie, and cheeses. They also locally sourced craft beer and wine from the Virginia wineries.

I’ll never forget my trip with my girls to Charlottesville and its surrounding wineries. In fact, we enjoyed it so much, we’re already planning our next visit!

THIS GUEST BLOG POST IS COURTESY OF Carlita Pitts, a vineyard loving, wine sipping, travel enthusiast living in Northern VA. She is the chief content creator of Divine Lita, a vineyard, wine, and travel blog – which mostly highlights her experiences visiting the wine regions in Virginia, DC, and Maryland. Visit her blog or catch her on Instagram @iamthelita to learn more. 

Family Outdoors Travel Ideas Virginia Mountains

WanderLove: A Family Road Trip Through the Virginia Mountains

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.

Follow this family-friendly road trip through the Virginia Mountains for a relaxing vacation that the whole family will love!

**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.

DAY 1: Explore Park & Virginia’s Blue Ridge

Photo Credit: Cameron Davidson

Start your adventure in Virginia’s stunning Blue Ridge, right near the beautiful town of Roanoke. For your first adventure, head to Explore Park, located right on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Explore Park will provide more than a full day’s worth of activities. Kids ages 4+ and adults will love the Treetop Quest ropes course. All of the equipment is sanitized in between uses, and the outdoor, spacious course is perfect for a socially distanced adventure. We loved that there was a smaller course for younger children, and more challenging ones for older kids and adults.

Photo Credit: Shannon Terry

Once you’ve climbed around while safely harnessed, head over to Blue Mountain Adventures to do some tubing down the river. The gentle rapids mean adults and kids 7+ can go on their own – perfect for maintaining social distance. There’s truly an activity for every interest in the Virginia mountains!

If outdoor adventure isn’t up your alley, consider going to find the iconic Roanoke Star and then heading over to the trail to Mill Mountain Zoo (open daily 10am-5pm). Or is arts and culture more your thing? Be sure to check out Center In The Square. Don’t miss the Roanoke Pinball Museum and Roanoke Starcade.

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

After your day of adventure, grab some dinner – some great options are Wildflour Cafe, Tuco’s Taqueria, Taaza, and Cedar’s Lebanese. All of these should be open for carry out, so you can eat outside wherever you wish, or consider taking your meal back to Natural Bridge KOA, a fantastic campground for families. Whether you’re in your own RV or renting one of their private cabins, it’s a perfect way to have your own space and relax. The campground is spacious and clean, and has full RV hookups for a comfortable stay. 

DAY 2: Natural Bridge & Rockbridge County

Start your morning with a scenic drive through beautiful Goshen Pass. There are several pull offs where you can stop to admire the Maury River and the surrounding beauty. Depending on your timeline, you may want to consider fishing, swimming, walking the trail on the north side of the river, or tubing. Virginia’s mountains have a vast variety of activities, giving you lots of options for outdoor fun.

If it’s a Thursday-Sunday, consider stopping at Wade’s Mill, Virginia’s oldest continuously operating commercial grist mill. You can even purchase grains fresh to order!

After stopping for some lunch (consider the Pink Cadillac Diner), head over to Natural Bridge State Park. The 215-foot tall natural limestone bridge was carved out by Cedar Creek, and is surrounded by forested area and hiking trails. A National Historic Landmark, the area was once owned by Thomas Jefferson. Admission is $6 for kids age 6-12, and $8 for those 13+.

The Cedar Creek Trail will take you to a 30-foot waterfall with beautiful views along the way. Stop to take in the awe-inspiring wonder of the natural bridge itself, and don’t forget to cross the small pedestrian bridge to peek into a cave. There are several easy access points to the creek, so little ones will love getting their feet wet in the shallow and cool water. And at just 1.6 miles round trip with minimal elevation gain, it’s perfect for families (though not stroller-accessible). While the Monacan Indian Village is currently closed to visitors, hikers can still view the outdoor setup as they walk by.

After your hike, head back to your campsite at Natural Bridge KOA and relax while you make some dinner. 

DAY 3: Virginia Safari Park & Downtown Lexington

On your third morning, consider doing something a bit different – a Virginian safari! At the Virginia Safari Park, visitors can view animals from the comfort of their own vehicles, and kids will love that the animals often come right up to the car to eat. Plus, the park is just down the road from your campground, offering easy and quick access during your stay. 

After your morning fun, head into downtown Lexington to pick up lunch and explore this enchanting city, which is home to both Washington & Lee University and Virginia Military Institute, giving it the beautiful and vibrant feel of a college town.

Be sure to walk around the charming streets of the downtown area, and consider any safe indoor activities that might be open, such as Boxerwood Nature Center, or just drive around taking in the beautiful homes and Virginian charm!

Finally, head back for a final night at Natural Bridge KOA. It’s the perfect convenient spot to launch your adventures during the following day.

DAY 4: Covington & the Alleghany Highlands

Now that you’ve explored the Lexington and Roanoke areas, head towards the Alleghany Highlands in the Virginia Mountains for some gorgeous and restful time in the Great Outdoors. On your way to some distanced outdoor activities, detour to the charming town of Covington.

For your first stop, seek out the Downtown Covington LOVEwork right on Main Street. It’s a perfect photo op to start your day and remember this incredible adventure. Next, head to the Eastern National Children’s Forest, a beautiful forested monument in an area that once suffered from wildfires. The site was planted by over 1,000 children – a fact any little travelers will love.

Stop in for lunch at Cucci’s Pizzeria, a Covington staple. The pizzas are huge and the crust is fantastic, so be ready to take home some leftovers if you’re traveling solo or with a single companion.

Next, head over to the LOVEwork at Humpback Bridge. This was our family’s favorite by far, and you’re sure to love it, too. The bridge itself is a National Historic Site and is the oldest remaining covered bridge in Virginia. The LOVE letters here are all constructed from materials unique to the history of the area. 

Once you’ve snapped a few photos with the LOVEwork, take some time to walk under the bridge over to the grassy area on the other side. The water is usually fairly shallow here, so it’s a fun place for little ones to get their feet wet, or if it’s moving more quickly, there are plenty of rocks to throw in – an activity that could keep the kids occupied for several hours if they are anything like mine!

After playing at the bridge, head up to Falling Spring Waterfall. The 80-foot waterfall and its surroundings are incredibly scenic, and there is a beautiful viewing area that’s perfect for taking a few photos. It’s a great stop even if little legs are tired because the view point is right by the parking lot – no hiking required.

Finally, head up to Morris Hill Campground at Lake Moomaw. It’s an amazingly beautiful area with private sites that are surrounded by trees. It’s a perfect spot to roast marshmallows and sit around the campfire. Just be sure to pack away all food and trash as black bears do frequent the area. They’re generally harmless, but it’s always best to keep everything safe. 

DAY 5: Alleghany Highlands in the Virginia Mountains

It’s your final day exploring this beautiful area of the Virginia Mountains! Kick things off with a peaceful morning bike ride along the Jackson River Scenic Trail and Blueway. Alleghany Outdoors is located right near the Intervale trailhead, and has bike rentals available for riders ages 10+. You can either ride as far as you’d like and turn back or do a one way rental and catch the shuttle back. If you have younger riders, feel free to bring your own bikes – the trail is perfect for little ones as it has finely packed gravel and only a 1% grade. The protected path is perfect for all ages, even kids in bike trailers.

After your bike adventure, switch to a different outdoor adventure – kayaking! Alleghany Outdoors also rents kayaks to paddle down the Jackson River (Ages 8+; 6+ for tubing). It’s a perfect way to see the beautiful cliffs along the river and to experience the stunning Alleghany Highlands from the water. The full trip is about two hours downriver (a shuttle will take you to the start), while a shorter trip of about an hour is also possible. If you have smaller children, consider instead walking across the swinging bridge.

Finally, finish out your time in the gorgeous Alleghany Highlands by heading up to the Coles Point Beach area at Lake Moomaw. The swimming area is clean and perfect for families, with warm, clear water and a sandy beach. Bring a picnic and watch the sunset over the water before heading back to Morris Hill Campground for the night.

This guest blog post is courtesy of preethi, the author of the local passport family blog. Preethi feels passionately about providing a diverse education for families through travel. She works to make travel and the outdoors more inclusive, and helps families develop curiosity and connection by connecting with the world at home and abroad. She loves exploring with her 5 kids, and writes about actual and virtual travel, global education, and parenting.

Follow Preethi & her family as they travel:
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.


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.


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


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


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


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


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 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.


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.


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


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


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


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


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


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?