Country roads link small towns and quiet villages that once served as stagecoach stops. Others were bustling commercial hubs beside the James and Maury Rivers. These communities are beautiful places to stop and stretch your legs during a drive, a paddle or a bike ride.
Lined with historic buildings, farm-to-table eateries, bright galleries and inviting boutiques, downtown Lexington is easy to love. And with red brick sidewalks tying it all together, it's easy to leave the chaos and congestion behind and explore on foot. But there's something a little offbeat bubbling beneath the red-brick façade. Scots-Irish feistiness? A hippie soul?
For 200 years the junction of Main and Washington Streets has been the busiest spot in town. In the 1700s Main Street was part of the Great Wagon Road and was often jammed with horses and wagons. Three courthouses have anchored the southeast corner, and the Alexander-Withrow House (home of The Georges), on the opposite corner, dates from 1789.
With power lines hidden underground and Washington and Lee University and Virginia Military Institute flanking the downtown core, the historical architecture looks much as it did in the 1860s. The museums and cultural events on these campuses are open to the public, offering world class speakers and entertainment. Two stylish hotels – The Georges and the Robert E. Lee Hotel – overlook Main Street while Haywood's, TAPS, The Red Hen, and Rocca are re-energizing the dining scene.
The welcome sign on the way into town sets the tone for this scrappy city: "Welcome to Buena Vista. 6002 Happy Citizens and 3 Old Grouches." The phrase was coined by a 1970s businssman as a humorous response to bickering citizens. Today, to be one of the grouches is considered an honor and a place of distinction. But everyone else? They're loving the proximity to the Blue Ridge Parkway, the thrills of the Maury River and the stately profile of Southern Virginia University.
How best to enjoy downtown? Hop onto the 2 ½ mile River Walk and look for kayakers and migrating birds. Or stroll up to the campus of SVU. Or sample a fruit pie at the bustling Amish Cupboard. Buena Vista is also an Appalachian Trail Community, so thru-hikers should descend for a hearty sit-down lunch – Italian, Mexican or BBQ – at a homespun downtown restaurant.
River, Mountain and Valley Towns
Country roads link small towns and quiet villages that once served as stagecoach stops. Others were bustling commercial hubs beside the James and Maury Rivers. From the historic homes of Brownsburg to the trailside hospitality of Glasgow to the scenic farms of Raphine to the sleepy charms of Fairfield and Rockbridge Baths, these communities are beautiful places to stop and stretch your legs during a drive, a paddle or a bike ride.