There’s never been a better time to explore the small towns of Virginia’s Blue Ridge than 2020, the year that brings great destinations into clear view. A focused travel plan can be essential for some while others look for simple inspiration.
The beginning of The Crooked Road: Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail, Rocky Mount is home to one of Virginia’s best music venues, great food and art, and a moonshine destination. Perhaps you’ve heard that Franklin County is the Wettest County in the World? Here’s where to go…
- The Harvester Performance Center hosts national artists for intimate concerts. Slated for 2020 are The Indigo Girls, Graham Nash, Charles Esten, Melissa Etheridge, Rosanne Cash, and many more. Upcoming events at The Harvester >
- Twin Creeks Distillery is the place to get your legal moonshine fix or try it for the first time. The Twin Creeks story >
- Rocky Mount Burger Co. slings the best burgers in town and folks rave about the wings and layered fries. View Menu >
- The Artisan Center along The Crooked Road offers regional art and great souvenirs for your perusal or purchase.
- The folks at the Franklin County Historical Society can share the fun regional history of moonshine as well as other local facts and stories. Historical Society Website >
The hippiest of Virginia’s communities, Floyd is all music and art all the time. It’s also one of Virginia’s friendliest communities. Everyone has an open invitation to bring an instrument and join in a jam session at the Floyd Country Store, and their Friday Night Jamboree is legendary. The party overflows into the street with music inside and out, and plenty of dancing everywhere you look.
Buchanan is a river town and launch point for outdoor excursions. It’s also a nostalgic stop along Route 11 with iconic architecture like the swinging bridge and the neon marquee of the Buchanan Theatre. Visit both of those sites and plan to do a bit more, too.
- Float or paddle the Upper James River Water Trail with Twin River Outfitters. They’ll equip you with all you need or assist you with an overnight trip. Twin River Outfitters Trip Options >
- Step into the ‘50s when you enjoy lunch at the Buchanan Fountain & Grille. Grab a seat at the original counter and try a shake and burger. Feel free to drop a quarter in the jukebox, too.
Historic Fincastle is walkable town and has a self-guided walking tour map, how about that? Dating to 1770 (incorporated in 1772), there are several historic buildings to admire. Find help with additional interpretation of the sites and learn about the town’s Lewis & Clark connection you visit the Botetourt County Historical Museum.
- Fincastle Café is an ideal breakfast or lunch spot, or just grab a beverage and collapse into the comfy leather couches for a breather. Fincastle Cafe Facebook Page >
- Heritage Family Market is a must-stop for those interested in deli sliced meats and cheeses, freshly baked breads, dried fruits, salsas, and bulk pantry staples. Heritage Family Market Facebook Page >
Vinton is a small town with pretty sweet amenities. Finding what’s fresh and local is a snap at the Vinton Farmers’ Market, open every day from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Continue the trend of good, fresh eats with a meal at FarmBurguesa. Their claim to fame is hamburgers, but they’re not so plain or simple. A diverse menu offers a bit of something for most everyone. Consider their one-of-a-kind Toston, a farm-fresh burger on twice-fried plantain patties rather than bread. It’s a nod to their Colombian heritage. See the FarmBurguesa Menu >
Head to the Vinton War Memorial where you’ll find the LOVE Letters and High Ground Veterans Monument. Set the timer on your camera and pose with a letter, then check out the monument honoring veterans and current members of the armed forces from Botetourt and Roanoke Counties.
Home of Roanoke College, Salem is as busy as any college town (it's technically a city, but you'll love the small town feel!), and offers dining and shopping for those coming, going, and living. Visitors will want to take their time to appreciate a few of the finer points, however, and we’d like to point them out:
- The Salem Museum & Historical Society is located in the historic William-Brown House of Longwood Park. Peruse the exhibits, appreciate the grounds, and then spend time enjoying the park. The kids will love the chance to burn off energy at the playground. Museum Exhibits >
- Olde Salem Brewing Company is serving their handcraft beer in one of Salem’s oldest buildings. If it’s on tap, try a Coal Tattoo. It’s their commemorative 100th batch, a BA English Barleywine at 10.3% ABV. One’ll probably do ya. Olde Salem Beer Menu >
- The Salem Farmers Market is open Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon through March and then Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. April through December. Farmers Market Vendors >
- For the best understanding of Salem’s history, take a self-guided Historic Walking Tour. Along the way you’ll meander through Roanoke College and see Monterey (1840), a one-time hotel with a grand two-story entrance. Walking Tour Digital Guide >
- As Virginia's Championship City, Salem is a great spot for sports fans. The city hosts numerous NCAA Championships throughout the year at its many first-class facilities, and you can also see future MLB stars when you check out the Salem Red Sox. Salem Championships Website >
With its close proximity to Smith Mountain Lake and the Blue Ridge Mountains, Bedford is a small town full of history and character that's framed by beautiful scenery. Consider a visit to Bedford during your road trip on the Blue Ridge Parkway and include the following stops:
- The Bedford Area Welcome Center serves as the perfect introduction to the town and is full of information and resources to learn more about nearby things to do, as well as offering its own collection of Bedford-related artifacts, memorabilia, and antiques.
- The National D-Day Memorial is the country's official memorial that honors American D-Day veterans. It's location is especially significant as Bedford suffered the greatest loss of life proportionately of any community in the United States as part of the D-Day campaign. D-Day Memorial Tickets & Tours >
- Virginia's Blue Ridge is America's East Coast Mountain Biking Capital, so make some time to enjoy the network of trails at Bedford's Falling Creek Park, which also make for fun hiking & trail running. Falling Creek Park Trail Map >
- We know you've worked up on appetite, so head to Beale's for some amazing BBQ and craft beer. You can also learn about the legend of Thomas Beale and the rumor of treasure buried in the nearby mountains! Beale's Menu >
Cheers to your year of fresh, new adventure! Share your travels through Virginia’s Blue Ridge socially with the hashtag #Trailsetter to showcase your favorite eats, drinks, stays, and ways to play.