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, music jams, Devils Backbone Brewery, and the Virginia Horse Center add oomph to the landscape's ahhhh's along the county’s back roads.
How do you know summer has arrived in Rockbridge County? Some might say it's the marquee at Hull's Drive-In announcing the weekend double feature. Or maybe it's the flower boxes abloom in front of Lexington's boutiques. Or the sounds of live music floating across gardens and vineyards. Others might say the true harbinger of summer is the abundance of parking spots available on downtown streets. With coeds and cadets gone for break, Lexington and Buena Vista are oh-so-easy for an impulsive visit.
Live Music & Outdoor Entertainment
The revamped Lime Kiln Theater, formerly a limestone quarry, kicks off its spring and summer music series in late May. With a new music director and a schedule packed with up-and-coming bluegrass talent, high lonesome never sounded so good.
Fiddle-and-banjo fans also head to Glen Maury Park in Buena Vista for the annual Maury River Fiddlers Convention in mid-June. The park hosts old-time bands and dancer in September during the Rockbridge Mountain Music & Dance Festival. On Friday nights in June, August, and September, catch old-time jams and dancing at Clark's Ole Time Music Center in Raphine.
On select Friday evenings, follow the music to Davidson Park in downtown Lexington for the popular Friday's Alive music series. Wild gardens and the Blue Ridge Mountains are the backdrop at Boxerwood Nature Center during its Music in the Garden concerts, held the second and fourth Fridays of the month throughout the summer. Boxerwood is A-okay with picnics, blankets, and children.
Summertime Family Fun
There's no time for nostalgia at Hulls Drive-In. This drive-in movie theater is too busy entertaining the crowds cruising in for the weekend double feature. The theater – a community-owned non-profit – welcomes families and pets, and you'll likely see children romping on the lawn before the first show.
Dinosaurs and Union soldiers collide at the new Dinosaur Kingdom II: Back from Extinction theme park. Thirty fiberglass and Styrofoam dinosaurs inhabit this family friendly wonderland, the brainchild of artist Mark Cline.
There's one great truth at the
Virginia Safari Park: it's a llama's world, and you just live in it. You'll see what we mean on a windows-down cruise through this popular drive-thru zoo where llamas, camels, and zebras approach your car, and your feed bucket, with mouths wide open. The park opens in mid-March.
There's an event every summer weekend at the 600-acre Virginia Horse Center on scenic Hwy 39 on the northern outskirts of Lexington. Stop by for dressage, jumping, and vaulting events as well as shows spotlighting Arabian and barrel horses.
Breweries & Wineries
Rockbridge County is home to two craft breweries on the Shenandoah Beerwerks Trail. The trail links a dozen craft breweries stretching from Harrisonburg south to Lexington.
What views will you enjoy from the taproom patio at Devils Backbone Brewing Company? The Blue Ridge Mountains, historic Route 11, and beer, mmm, beer. In summer, quaff the seasonal Trail Angel Weiss, a Bavarian-inspired hefeweizen. Check the online calendar for the Live Fridays music schedule.
Speaking of amazing views and tasty craft beer, check out Great Valley Farm Brewery in Natural Bridge. They're Virginia Craft Beer Cup award winners and their weekend food trucks are the perfect compliment to the chilled brews.
Sit outside, savor the chardonnay, and listen to bluegrass, folk and pub tunes during Sundays on the Deck at Rockbridge Vineyard. This concert series runs from 2-5pm on selected Sundays beginning in April.
A summer time picnic in Goshen Pass is always a good idea. To enjoy wine with your picnic, purchase a bottle at the Friday night wine tasting at Washington Street Purveyors in Lexington. Or pick up a bottle of cabernet sauvignon at Jump Mountain Vineyard (open weekends), or a French-American varietal at Lexington Valley Vineyard on the way to the Goshen Pass wayside. Both wineries are open by appointment – just give 'em a call.
Small farms dot the countryside in Rockbridge County, providing a remarkable variety of fresh fruit and vegetables for local chefs. As winter recedes and gardens rejuvenate, the farm-to-table fare at The Red Hen, Haywood's, and Southern Inn gets downright innovative – and irresistible – as farmers roll out their summer produce.