17 Reasons to Visit Lexington and the Rockbridge Area in 2017

Did you know that January 31, 2017 was National Plan for Vacation Day? Such a day exists because 658 million vacation days are unused every year. National Plan for Vacation Day

Stop the madness!

Studies suggest that by simply setting aside time to plan how you will use your vacation days makes the greatest difference in whether you will use them. Let us help! Below are 17 reasons why you should visit our area in 2017.

We Have NEW Stuff!

1. Our not new, but certainly treasured, historic, and iconic Natural Bridge (often called one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World) is now a Virginia State Park!

2. We have a brand new craft brewery! Great Valley Farm Brewery is a small batch brewery with an astounding view of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Their vineyard will one day be cause for a return visit.

3. In fall 2017, we will have our first cidery, called Halcyon Days Cidery. You won't want to miss this addition to our thriving beverage scene.

Great Valley Farm Brewery

Our Outdoor Adventure is Top-Notch

4. Mark a major to-do off your bucket list: Hike the Appalachian Trail. Not the whole thing, of course, but a portion. Start in Glasgow and end in Buena Vista. At about 10.5 miles, it could be a day hike, but with two shelters and several established camp sites along the way, you might as well get the real experience and stretch it for two. Both towns are Appalachian Trail Communities.

5. Glen Maury Park is the jewel of Buena Vista and the venue for many summer concerts and festivals, like Fish & Pick, now in its second year. Camp, fish, hike, and even explore the town in a golf cart, if you want. That's right, Buena Vista is now a golf cart-friendly community. If you enjoy bicycling, the park is hosting cyclists for Bike Virginia, a family-friendly, easy-going event through the Shenandoah Valley.

Focus Your Adventure in Specific Locations

Mount Pleasant6. In northeast Rockbridge County, you'll want to spend a day (preferably a hot summer one) exploring three of our favorite swimming holes. First, explore St. Mary's Wilderness, the home of St. Mary's Falls. The area is recovering from a 2016 wildfire, but the streams and falls are still an excellent experience. The streams are actually pretty renowned for brook trout, FYI. Hike Mount Pleasant, a six-mile out-and-back loop with breathtaking panoramic views. Finally, seek out Panther Falls just off the Blue Ridge Parkway. It's a favorite place for our college students and locals to chill out when the temperature heats up.

7. Your adrenaline in southern Rockbridge County comes in several fun forms. Catch dirt track racing at Natural Bridge Speedway, boulder your way through Devil's Marbleyard, take on the Maury and James Rivers with Wilderness Canoe Co., and take a hike on the Balcony Falls Trail.

8. Goshen Pass is a day of fun in many ways. If you like to swim on a hot day, it's a great swimming hole. Hike? There are beautiful trails lined with wildflowers. Dash between the boulders on a watercraft? Yep! After a good rainfall, the Pass is a ton of fun for kayakers with two Class IV rapids. Even climbers will face a nice challenge with the Maury River Wall. Pack a basket and enjoy the picnic area. Afterward, bask on those aforementioned boulders; they're great for sunbathing.

9. Our most prominent landmark is House Mountain. Not only can you climb it (and it's a fun one!), but you can stay at House Mountain Inn in the same room Tom Cruise slept in when filming War of the Worlds. Yep, true story. On the grounds are hiking trails, guided off-road excursions, horseback riding, and fly-fishing instruction. There's also a restaurant, so you don't even need to leave the premises if you don't want to.

10. Plan a visit around an outdoor event, like the Chessie Trail Half Marathon, the Rockbridge Road & River Relay, the Natural Bridge Cycling Challenge, or perhaps a show at the Virginia Horse Center.

Taste Our Favorite Local Flavors

11. Narrow your sights on Northern Rockbridge for award-winning wine at Rockbridge Vineyard, homemade delights at Gertie's Country Store, and a farm-fresh meal at Osceola Mill Restaurant. Take home a bit of this goodness, too, when you snag a bottle or two of wine and a bag or two of freshly ground grits from Wade's Mill.

12. Expand on number 11 with a wider view of all we have to offer! Taste our Asian pears in the fall at Virginia Gold Orchard and make an appointment to score more wine at Lexington Valley Vineyard. Not only do we have wine, but we have craft beer. Award-winning craft beer. Devils Backbone Outpost Brewery and Tap Room is where Vienna Lager is made. Perhaps you've heard of it? If you're more of a coffee drinker, we've got you covered. Lexington Coffee Roasters offers coffee flights at their downtown tasting room. Those beans are also award-winning.

Summer's heat calls for ice cream and Sweet Things has been our favorite place for homemade flavors for decades. If you have a sweet tooth but it's not "ice cream season," make a beeline for Cocoa Mill, the destination of choice for fine handmade chocolate. Summer (and spring, fall, and winter) are also for farmers' markets and our area has a few to choose from.

Fun for the Family

13. When you have kids in tow, activities are a must. Try camping at Yogi Bear's Jellystone Park Camp-Resort or Cave Mountain Lake Recreation Area and then fill your days with nearby excursions. The Virginia Safari Park is a must-see as it's Virginia's only drive-through zoo. Natural Bridge State Park is Virginia's newest state park, and nearby are the Caverns at Natural Bridge, Natural Bridge Zoo, and Dinosaur Kingdom II, which are also fun for the family. Take a quick drive just north of Lexington to Hull's Drive-In, a local and regional favorite as well as a nostalgic treat. It's more than enough for a weekend, so stretch that stay or come again.

Luxe Lexington

14. As fun and outdoorsy as we are, we also know how to roll out a red carpet and polish our pearls. If you're looking for an elegant, upscale getaway, we believe we have just what you want. Center yourself at The Georges, a boutique hotel encompassing several historic downtown buildings. Enjoy a creative cocktail at TAPS and fine dining at Haywood's, The Red Hen, Southern Inn, or Rocca Ristorante & Bar. If you're in town on Saturday, book a spot with Lexington Food Tour to sample a bit of whatever you haven't tried. Shopping is excellent here, too. Find wines from around the world at Washington Street Purveyors, fine furnishings and decor at Southern Girls, beautiful custom jewelry creations at Hess & Co., and fun finds at Pumpkinseeds and Pappagallo.

Take an Edu-Vacation

15. Learn to do something while you vacation with us. Take a fly-fishing class with John Roberts or learn to climb with Lester Zook. Try skeet shooting at The Glorious Twelfth or make your own glass light fixtures at Renegade Art Glass. Crafty folk will have a stitchin' good time at The Stitchin' Post or artists can hibernate in the haven that is Shenandoah Art Destination.

A Bit of History Hurt No One

16. Lexington is the home of three renowned generals: Robert E. Lee, Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson, and George C. Marshall. Visit the places that best tell their story: the Stonewall Jackson House, Lee Chapel & Museum, VMI Museum, and the George C. Marshall Museum. Get a broader sense of our history when you notice the bricks on our sidewalks. Engraved blocks are part of our Righteous & Rascals of Rockbridge self-guided tour. For a guided tour with a wealth of information, climb aboard with Lexington Carriage Company or book an evening with Haunting Tales: Lexington's Ghost Tour.

BONUS: Inventor Cyrus McCormick's farm is open for your exploration. The grounds include the grist mill, a small museum, nature trails, and beautiful picnicking opportunities. Nearby is the Brownsburg Museum, a community-run museum dedicated to telling the history of northern Rockbridge County. In Lexington, the Miller's House Museum is a brand new attraction that tells the story of industrial transportation into and out of the city, including the once thriving shipping access along the Maury River.

An Arts & Gardens Breather

17. In April, Virginia's Historic Garden Week also includes the arts. Visit Lexington on April 22 for a chance to tour artist Cy Twombly's home and studio. The Lexington - Rockbridge Studio Tour is May 13 and 14 and includes stops at seven studios representing 25 artists. Of course, our galleries are open all the time, so find a signature Lexington item to take home for your collection.

Find a moment of zen when you take your time walking a labyrinth. Our area has three - Robert E. Lee Episcopal Church, Country Retreat at South River Highlands, and an apple tree grove labyrinth at the new Halcyon Days Cidery. If a simple walk through nature or sitting and taking it all in is more up your alley, try Boxerwood Nature Center & Woodland Garden. It's free to the public and accessible during daylight hours.

Can we assist you further in planning your vacation? Request our latest Visitor Guide or see the digital version here. You might also subscribe to receive our monthly enewsletter. It's always loaded with upcoming events and suggestions for ways to enjoy our communities.

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