Natural Beauty Activities

Parks and Green Spaces

Bordered by sun-dappled mountains, lively rivers, and shimmering lakes, parks in Rockbridge County are, simply put, stunning. They're also light on crowds, which makes them prime spots for picnicking, relaxing and letting the kids range free.

Riverside Parks

For river views in Lexington, head down to Jordan's Point off Route 11 near Veteran's Bridge. A trade-and-transportation hub in the 1700s and 1800s, this grassy patch of land beside the Maury River is a breezy place to eat lunch and toss a Frisbee. The riverbanks here were the site of a stand-off between Confederate and Union troops on June 11, 1864. At Ben Salem Wayside, halfway between Lexington and Buena Vista, you can check out the historic river lock then enjoy a picnic lunch as kayakers and inner tubers float past. The water is shallow, making it a fun spot for kids to wade in their favorite sandals.

Ben Salem Wayside - Canal Locks
Ben Salem Wayside - Canal Locks

What do the best scenic drives have in common? In our opinion, the best offer at least one roadside picnic area with an awesome view. Route 39 along the Maury River fulfills just that with the Goshen Pass Wayside, one of the prettiest picnic spots in Virginia. From the wayside's rocky shoreline, the view of the mountain-wrapped river will clear your mind and reinvigorate your soul.

A city park with a big presence is Glen Maury Park in Buena Vista. The Maury River runs alongside it offering breezy, shaded tent camping, easy fishing with kiddos, and an ideal spot to launch a kayak. Glen Maury hosts numerous concerts and festivals throughout the summer and campers love the pool in the upper portion of the park. Family reunions are quite common at the double-decker pavilion overlooking Buena Vista and the Blue Ridge Parkway. It's a great place to fly a kite or simply enjoy the view.

Parks with Lakes

Collierstown Road is a scenic country backroad that's lined with farms, creeks, and wildflowers. It ribbons to the lovely Lake Robertson Recreation area. With wooded hills, a small lake, and a campground, this secluded park is a pleasant place to hike, fish and spend the night. The lake is off-limits for swimming, but there is a pool if you want to take a dip.

Lake A. Willis Robertson
Lake A. Willis Robertson

Lake swimming is A-okay at Cave Mountain Lake Recreation area near Natural Bridge. Managed by the U.S. Forest Service, the park offers picnic sites, campsites and hiking trails.

City Parks

If the kids are getting cranky, drive to Richardson Park at the corner of Diamond Street and Lewis Street. The swings and slides will help burn off their fussiness. Families can also head to the playground at Kids Playce at Wallace and Taylor Streets and Woods Creek Park, just off Highland Road between Ross Road and Lime Kiln Road.

Speaking of fun places for kids, Boxerwood Nature Center and Woodland Gardens is an excellent destination for families. Let them free play with nature in a designated children's area that includes forts, digging, a kitchen area, and a stream to splash in. A "little free library" is also on-site for those who wish to take a moment to enjoy a story.

For big kids, supervised little kids, and adults, the rest of the 15-acre arboretum features wandering paths that lead to a fairy forest, ponds, lush natural landscape, and a stage for evening entertainment.

Boxerwood Nature Center & Woodland Gardens
Boxerwood Nature Center & Woodland Gardens

Lexington's downtown city park is Hopkins Green on the corner of Nelson and Jefferson Streets. A large white pergola is the backdrop for events throughout the year and park benches are a welcome reprieve for shoppers or those who simply love a shady spot for their morning coffee and newspaper.

State Parks

Natural Bridge State Park is the most recent addition to the Virginia State Parks collection, but it's been in our hearts and the namesake of Rockbridge County since, oh, forever. Or so it seems. The iconic natural limestone arch was formed by Cedar Creek which still runs beneath it. The bridge is reported to have been surveyed by a young George Washington (look for his initials carved in the rock), and we know Thomas Jefferson once owned the acreage that included the Natural Bridge. Indeed, he was impressed with - if not in awe of - his holding. He wrote that it was "the most sublime of Nature's works."

Aerial view of Natural Bridge
Aerial view of Natural Bridge

Additionally, the Monacan Indian Nation shares history and heritage with this natural wonder. After passing beneath the bridge along Cedar Creek Trail, you'll find an interpreted Monacan Indian living history exhibit complete with homes, hides, fire, tools, and perimeter fencing.


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