As you probably know by now, I love where I live. I truly can't imagine calling anywhere else home or, at the very least, not being able to get to Southwest Virginia in a short drive. This little neck of the woods is so rich in history and culture and just really great people. If you've ever thought about making the trip this way, come on over! I've put together my top ten list of things you must do when you get here. You can also check out this great Huffington Post article from a couple years ago!
one // BARTER THEATRE
This is one of my favorite things to do here and is a must if you visit SWVA. There are two stages - The Main Stage and Stage II. Both settings are incredibly unique, and the productions will leave you amazed. I saw Mamma Mia! this past summer and just took in Chicago a few weeks ago.
two // THE CARTER FAMILY FOLD
Growing up in SWVA, a visit to The Fold (as we like to say) is a rite of passage. There's live music every Saturday, usually traditional mountain music, bluegrass, or country. But every now and then a band like Folk Soul Revival plays and it's a religious experience.
three // STAY AT A BED AND BREAKFAST
When you come here, there's really no reason to stay in a chain hotel. Part of the experience when visiting this part of Virginia, is receiving the full "Southwest Virginia hospitality" treatment. Do some research and embrace the sweet folks who live here.
four // THE VA CREEPER TRAIL
You can walk the trail or bike it! The fall is (of course) the perfect time to experience the trail, but really any time of year is satisfying. There are a few locations in the area where you can access the trail, and you can make the trip as long or short as you want.
Everyone's looking for one or the other these days when they travel, and when you come here, you get both. And they're both damn good.
six // WALK THE EMORY & HENRY CAMPUS
Okay, okay. So I'm a little biased. But I swear I wouldn't suggest it if it wasn't necessary. My college campus is absolutely beautiful and a SWVA landmark. It would be the perfect location for an evening stroll after dinner.
seven // STAY AT THE MARTHA WASHINGTON INN
This is definitely a splurge on the trip but worth it for some! The Martha is absolutely beautiful, and even if you don't stay there, it's worth a visit just to see. It's right in the heart of Abingdon, directly across the street from The Barter. It's the perfect location for a late night drink after a show.
There is so much to see and do in the area, but spending a day in the city that stradles the state line is a must. State Street is the Bristol downtown area - one side sits in Virginia, the other side in Tennessee. There are great little shops, antique stores, restaurants, breweries, and The Birthplace of Country Music Museum!
nine // EAT REALLY GOOD FOOD
The food in Southwest Virginia is another staple. We have some outstanding restaurants that highlight the traditional food that you'll find in any SWVA kitchen, but there are also "fancier" establishments to enjoy! Here are a few musts:
ten // HEARTWOOD
The Heartwood gallery is considered the "gateway" to Southwest Virginia's heritage and culture. If you visit you can see the work of local artisans, musicians, and hear firsthand stories from locals.