Take the opportunity to slow down and truly enjoy all that the commonwealth has to offer by visiting one of these destinations.
While big cities like Richmond, Virginia Beach, Arlington and Roanoke offer plenty of attractions to keep both residents and visitors engaged, Virginia has a number of small towns with 10,000 or fewer residents that shouldn’t be overlooked.
Whether you’re looking for a place to get away for a day trip or weekend getaway, the small towns below will help you slow down and enjoy the Old Dominion.
Located on the lower edge of the Roanoke Valley, Rocky Mount has a lot to offer for those who enjoy music and a good drink.
It is the eastern gateway to The Crooked Road: Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail, a 330-mile driving route dedicated to the region’s traditional music heritage. It’s also home to the Harvester Performance Center, a mid-sized music venue with upcoming performances by Mark Chesnutt and Southern Culture on the Skids.
For those who enjoy fine libations, there are plenty to choose from, considering Franklin County is considered the “Moonlight Capital of the World.” At Twin Creeks Distillery, for example, you can “experience mountain spirits made by the grandsons of conspiracy-era smugglers.” Living Proof Beer Company, a microbrewery that produces a wide variety of beers on rotating taps, opened just this summer.
Located in the southwestern tip of Virginia, Wise is perhaps best known for being the home of Virginia Wise University. However, the city, perched high on the Appalachian plateau, is much more than your average college town—it’s a rural oasis.
Pro-Art helped cement Wise’s status as one of the region’s cultural hubs. The non-profit organization produces a variety of performances throughout the year, including orchestras, popular music concerts, plays and dance performances.
If you’re staying the night, The Inn at Wise is the place to stay. Built in 1910, the Colonial Revival Inn is quite impressive. Even if you’re just passing through, you can stop at the casual Wise & Shine Diner or the upscale and casual Colonial Comedor for a bite to eat, followed by a drink at the 110 Bar. Depending on what night you’re at the bar, there might even be live music.
Given the fact that Clarksville is Virginia’s “only lakefront city,” it’s the perfect place for those who enjoy spending time on the water. Or at least look at it.
Each year, dozens of fishing tournaments take place on Kerr Lake, also known as Buggs Island Lake. The freshwater lake covers 50,000 acres and has 800 miles of shoreline. For those looking to try their hand at bass or walleye fishing or just want to enjoy a day on the water, there are a number of fishing guide services such as Prime Time Guide Service and boat rentals such as Clarksville Water Sports.
When visiting Clarksville in the south central part of the commonwealth, one of the main attractions is Occoneechee State Park, a 2,698-acre state park that includes cabins, campgrounds, an equestrian camp, picnic shelters, an amphitheater, and boat ramps.
After a long day on the lake, you can retire to Cooper’s Landing Inn. Steeped in history, the main inn was built in 1830, while the smokehouse was built in 1833. The inn is not only a place to stay, but also a place to dine. Traveler’s Tavern’s menu reflects each season with seasonal farm-to-table options; think fresh fish, wild game and steamed summer seafood.
You’ll find a visit to the charming town of Smithfield in the Isle of Wight coastal county just as delicious as its famous hams.
Smithfield Town Center is a good place to start. There you’ll find places to see locally produced art, like the Arts Center @ 319, see a production at Smithfield Little Theatre, dine and drink at Wharf Hill Brewing Co. and shop at Hamtown Mercantile.
Various events are held throughout the year, including the Wine & Brew Fest and the Bacon, Bourbon & Beach Music Fest.
Don’t forget to take a photo with one of George Lundeen’s bronze sculptures, including Benjamin Franklin, George Washington and Robert Frost, which are scattered throughout the city.
And it wouldn’t be a trip to Smithfield if you didn’t stop by a couple of the “Porcine Parade” locations. The eight life-size statues of market pigs serve as a tribute to Smithfield’s status as the “Ham Capital of the World.”
Warsaw is the place to go if you’re looking for a quiet day on the Northern Neck, a peninsula on the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay.
In the quaint little town, you’ll find a number of unique dining options. Relish Restaurant & Wine Bar sources fresh ingredients daily from local farmers and producers. If you stop by Old Rapp Taphouse’s massive taproom and beer garden, you’ll have your choice of craft cocktails, beer and wine.
If you need something to eat on the way home, grab a bag of Northern Neck popcorn. With flavors ranging from lemon cheesecake to beer cheese, you’re sure to find a bag or two that will make your mouth water.
To bring a piece of Northern Neck life home, stop by Colonial Collectibles.
About an hour from Washington, DC, Warrenton offers a vibrant downtown area with many galleries, shops and restaurants. As you wind your way up and down the brick sidewalks of Old Town Warrenton, you can browse the shelves of Carter & Spence jewelry and retailer, then grab a bowl of Claire’s Famous She Crab at Claire’s at the Depot.
A visit to the city would not be complete without taking the historic 15-stop walk.
Warrenton also has a number of events throughout the year, including several restaurant weeks, The Great Pumpkin Ride and GumDrop Square.
If you decide to stay the night, Airlie doesn’t just offer a luxurious place to rest your head at night. During your stay, you can explore the formal gardens, the butterfly garden, the LOVEwork poster and the organic garden.