A Day or More in Walkable Downtown Lexington
Just 50 minutes north of Roanoke and a less crowded version of Charlottesville, downtown Lexington is home to locally-owned boutiques and gift shops, farm-to-table dining, and elegantly refashioned historic accommodations. It's an ideal day trip. weekend getaway, or even a week-long escape. And all of downtown is a walkable delight!
When you arrive into town, make the Visitor Center your first stop. We'll greet you with warm Southern hospitality and arm you with a walking map, good directions, and parking tips!
It's vital to know that in Lexington, every store is not the same. You wont' find the same products in more than one store, which means every store is worth your attention.
You may have heard that the cutest darn store ever resides in Lexington. Yes, Pumpkinseeds is perfectly situated on the corner of Main and Washington Streets and offers quirky gifts, ladies apparel, baby gifts, jewelry, soaps, lotions, and more. More ladies apparel and shoes are available at Gladiola Girls (pictured), Pappagallo, and The Ladies Habit. For men's wear and ladies casual comfort, check out Alvin-Dennis and Walkabout Outfitter, which is also the locally-owned outdoors store.
Primitive, country decor can be found at Shenandoah Attic. Mr. Hockaday will lead you to the latest candles, jams, jellies, and preserves, or show off a wide range of iron accessories and accessories. Next door is the sister business, The Victorian Parlour, run by Mrs. Hockaday, and that's where you'll find linens, lace, and fine gifts.
You don't know what you don't know, and that's where Ladles & Linens comes in. It's Lexington's favorite kitchen store! You'll find a wide range of cutlery, gadgets, towels, soaps, and beautiful dishes. More home ideas are awaiting your arrival at Southern Girls, an interior design firm with a shop full of gorgeous decor, rugs, and mirrors. It's not your run-of-the-mill space, however. Southern Girls is more like walking into a home.
Baby's First is a shop for just that - a newborn's first gifts! Stop in for sweet snuggly blankets, plush lovies, and the most adorable tiny clothes.
Lexington's first farm-to-table dining establishment is The Red Hen, where the menu reflects whatever is farm fresh for the week. The list of restaurants sourcing local ingredients continues to grow and includes Chef George Huger's Southern Inn Restaurant, Haywood's, TAPS, Mano Taqueria, Bistro on Main, and Pure Eats.
Authentic Italian can be found at Rocca, tucked onto the second floor of Robert E. Lee Hotel and overlooking Main Street. It's the place to be any sunny afternoon or evening in Lexington.
For all things vegetarian, vegan, organic, and gluten-free, Blue Phoenix (pictured) is your place. You'll also love that it's something of a community kitchen, as the owners brace an "everyone eats" policy, regardless of ability to pay.
Splurge on a craft cocktail at TAPS and then head across the street to Haywood's for piano bar tunes and an excellent dinner menu.
Large groups and patio lovers will want to check out Sheridan Livery Inn. Their robust menu and full bar ensures there's something to please everyone in your party.
As the sun sets, the dining crowd grows, and the night sparks to life with live entertainment and various venues through town on various days. You'll find local musicians playing their own music at The Palms on Thursdays, regional artists performing at Brew Ridge Taps on Saturdays, and local pianists tickling the keys at Haywood's just any ol' time.
The First Friday of each month is a time to peruse our art galleries, where coincidentally, local musicians gather to up the vibe. On warm evenings, the party spills onto the sidewalks and the entire city comes alive. It's an electric feeling that beckons you linger a while.
It's no secret that Lexington is a hotbed of Southern history. Heck, both Confederate Generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson lived and are buried here. Jackson was a professor at Virginia Military Institute and Lee's name is reflected in our local liberal arts college, Washington & Lee University. These two men are not the beginning or the end of history in Lexington, however. As you travel down our sidewalks, larger grey bricks will undoubtedly catch your eye. Take time to learn about some of our other "Righteous & Rascals of Rockbridge" through these quick hits.
To explore more, head to the George C. Marshall Museum, Lee Chapel, Stonewall Jackson House, Miller's House Museum, VMI Museum, or the Rockbridge Historical Society. From these you'll not only get local history, but also information from World War II, the Civil War, the Industrial Revolution, and westward migration.
For a narrated overview of town, choose one or both of these awesome options: Lexington Carriage Company horse-drawn carriage tours (pictured) or Haunting Tales: Lexington's Ghost Tour. While some of the information may overlap, the experiences are vastly different and equally informative.
ARTS & ANTIQUES
Lexington is a haven for artists and art galleries. You’ll find an incredible selection of handcrafted pieces, from jewelry and stained glass to paintings and sculptures. Most of the galleries are cooperatives featuring many artists’ works for sale and displayed.
For a great mix of artisans, head to Artists in Cahoots (pictured) and Cabell Gallery, both on Washington Street. For incredible sculpture, John W. Mason's on form sculpture in stone is the place to go. If pottery is your thing, you'll want to make a beeline for Earth, Fire & Spirit Pottery where a family of potters craft new wares using generations' old glaze recipes.
There's plenty of nostalgia, charm, history, and warmth to a red brick town like Lexington. Our architecture is mostly untouched and our storefronts gleam with both fresh ideas and fetching products. If you only spend the day promenading to take it all in, you've spent the day well. We'll see you soon!