In Lexington, red-brick sidewalks link new hotels and innovative eateries to a slew of boutiques and galleries. Buena Vista is a launch pad to the Blue Ridge Parkway. Antique malls, country stores, craft breweries, the Virginia Horse Center, and old time music shows add oomph to the landscape's ahhhh's along the county’s back roads.
The energy is palpable in downtown Lexington in fall. Returning coeds and cadets flock to Main Street to see what’s new. Fall produce impresses foodies at farm-to-table restaurants. Young and old bump elbows at piano jams and acoustic shows. And the Lexington ghost walk? It reaches maximum spooky. On campus at W&L, VMI, and SVU, concerts, plays, and football games take the spotlight.
The fall festival season kicks off on September 21st with the three-day Nothin’ Fancy Bluegrass Festival at Glen Maury Park in Buena Vista. Bring your lawn chair and your yodel.
If fall is stressing you out, release the tension with grape stomping at the Rockbridge Vineyard Harvest Festival September 30th. Afterwards, you can rest your feet on a hayride and enjoy a glass of Tuscarora white. The Rockbridge Beer and Wine Festival occurs the same day, if you care to split your time.
Mountain music and culture are the draw October 14 in Buena Vista at the annual Mountain Day celebration. Enjoy traditional arts & crafts, history, and music. Save the date for October 21 for one of the longest running, most unique festivals Rockbridge County has to offer: the Apple Butter Festival at Wade's Mill in Raphine.
One of the best things about downtown Lexington? Its walkability. Sidewalks link the top historic and cultural attractions, and most of them sit within a half-mile stroll.
Don't miss the Arts of Lexington Block Party September 29 from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. The party will feature plenty of artisans and musicians, all within the historic downtown area. Let the kids get their hands on pottery, their faces painted, and their art in chalk on the sidewalks.
On the Haunting Tales Ghost Tour, a guide in black Victorian garb leads a “spirited” evening walk past Lexington’s many haunted sights, with an eerie stop in the Stonewall Jackson Cemetery. Downtown art galleries open their doors at 5:00pm for the Lexington Gallery Walk on the first Friday of the month, with nearby businesses joining the fun with wine tasting, food sampling, and live music.
Weekly fall events include a free wine tasting every Friday starting at 4:30pm at Washington Street Purveyors. The competition is fierce at Tuesday Trivia every other Tuesday night at Brew Ridge Taps. The Wednesday morning Lexington Farmers Market on Jefferson Street runs through late November.
Cool on Campus
If you can, time your visit to coincide with a VMI Full Dress Parade, when the entire corps of cadets marches in full formation. This fall, the parades occur on select Friday afternoons and Saturday mornings.
In a football state of mind? Then follow the cheers on Saturday afternoon. A cannon blast from “Little John” rallies the corps at Alumni Memorial Field at Foster Stadium while the Washington & Lee Swing rallies W&L Generals at Wilson Field. Both fields are a short walk from downtown. VMI alumni may want to head to TAPS or Haywood’s for a post-game celebration.
Acclaimed orchestras, ensembles, and dance troupes take the stage at W&L’s Lenfest Center for the Arts. "The Addams Family: A New Musical" is a highlight to the fall calendar. The theatre gang at Southern Virginia Theatre in Buena Vista likes to mix it up every year with both musicals and classics.
Live Music and Outdoor Entertainment
Downtown Lexington gets it groove back in the fall with a toe-tapping line-up of weekly performances. Piano players complement the cocktails Wednesday through Sunday at Haywood’s.
On Thursday nights settle in at The Palms for its Thursday Night Sessions featuring local singers and songwriters. Musicians also descend upon The Sheridan Livery Inn and Rocca Ristorante & Bar throughout the week.
Beyond Lexington? Sit outside, sip chardonnay, and listen to bluegrass, folk, and pub tunes during Sundays on the Deck at Rockbridge Vineyard. This series runs from 2-5pm on select Sundays through the end of October.
What views will you enjoy from the tap room patio at Devils Backbone Outpost Brewery & Tap Room? The Blue Ridge Mountains, historic Route 11, and beer, mmm, beer. South of Lexington is Great Valley Farm Brewery, which also welcomes food trucks and musicians to their majestic Blue Ridge Mountain patio. Check each brewery’s calendar for a music schedule. Most Friday nights, you can catch old-time jams and dancing at Clark’s Ole Time Music Center in Raphine.