As you look to plan your next WanderLove adventure in Virginia, consider a visit to some of the quaint small towns in Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains.
You'll find local charm, hidden gems, history, outdoor adventures, and unique flavors - all of the things that make Virginia's Blue Ridge the perfect metro mountain destination.
*This post was originally published in January 2020 but was updated and republished in September 2020.
NOTE: Due to COVID-19, many businesses are offering adjusted services or hours. We recommend contacting a business beforehand as details may change at any time.
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. Though the venue isn't hosting any shows onsite for the remainder of 2020 due to COVID-19, they are collaborating on special outdoor events such as the Art at The Coves series at Smith Mountain Lake and plan to offer a fantastic lineup for 2021. Harvester Website >
- 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. The venue is currently closed to the public, but you can find some interesting information and online resources on the Historical Society website >
- A Saturday visit to the Rocky Mount Farmers Market is a fantastic opportunity to pick up an assortment of locally-made products, including delicious food & hand-made goods. You can also snap a pic in front of the town's LOVE sign, part of the Virginia LOVEworks initiative. Farmers Market Website >
- Cast a line and go fishing at Gilley's Park! With three ponds that are stocked multiple times a year, the park is a great spot to introduce little ones to a relaxing afternoon of fishing. Park Info >
The hippiest of Virginia’s communities, Floyd is all music and art all the time. It’s also one of Virginia’s friendliest communities. In fact, Floyd has been named one of the South's best small towns by outlets such as USA TODAY and Southern Living.
Get a sense of the rich music history and heritage of Floyd with a visit to the iconic Floyd Country Store - an official stop on The Crooked Road: Virginia's Heritage Music Trail. It's changed the format of its popular Friday Night Jamboree into a fun Friday Night Backyard Jamboree to allow for outdoor fun and proper social distancing.
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.
- Find lots of special treasures at The Best Place Antiques, featuring two floors full of fun items and collectibles - both old & new.
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 >
- The new 1772 Rooftop on Main is the perfect place to have a seat on the rooftop patio while you enjoy a delicious drink and tapas. Rooftop on Main 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. Sour beer lovers will be in heaven, as Olde Salem features a Mother Pucker section of its beer list full of sour & Berliner Weisse options. Even if you aren't a beer fan, try one of the hard seltzers. Olde Salem Beer Menu >
- The Salem Farmers Market is open Saturdays from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. While walk-up sales are welcome, the market is encouraging patrons to contact vendors ahead of time to ensure they'll have what you're looking for. Farmers Market Vendors >
- For more great shopping and local items, head to The Dilly Dally, a neighborhood store with a cafe that's a perfect spot to grab lunch. With items like cupcakes, doughnuts, and ice cream, you'll definitely want to save room for dessert. Dilly Dally Website >
- You can also pick up a piece of beautiful jewelry at R.M. Johnson & Sons Jewelers, a family-owned and operated shop located on College Avenue in the heart of Downtown Salem. R.M. Johnson & Sons Website >
- 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 >
- Grab a sweet treat at one of many local options in Downtown Salem. You'll find hand-dipped ice cream at Salem Ice Cream Parlor, Thai-style rolled ice cream at Champloo, gelato at Kelly Cafe, gluten free baked goods at Corbin's Confections, and smoothies at Elderberry's.
- Take the kids to feed the ducks, walk around the pond, and enjoy the beautiful plants and flowers at Lake Spring Park.
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 >
Share the special moments of your WanderLove adventure through Virginia’s Blue Ridge socially with the hashtag #Trailsetter to showcase your favorite eats, drinks, stays, and ways to play.
Map of Locations