Welcome to the Small Towns, Big Backyard of Lexington and Rockbridge County, Va.
Just off the bustle of Interstates 81 and 64, the rolling hills and winding roads of Rockbridge County invite you to slow things down and stay for a while. Located at the southern gateway to the Shenandoah Valley, you’ll have easy access to 64,000 acres of national forest lands, miles of the Appalachian Trail and Blue Ridge Parkway, two rivers and countless locally-owned shops in Lexington and Buena Vista. Whether it’s a weekend trip or week-long getaway, use this itinerary to explore the best the area has to offer.
Start your trip off with a visit to the county’s namesake, Natural Bridge State Park. Walk the short trail down to Cedar Creek where you’ll be greeted with a sight of the towering limestone formation carved out over millions of years. Take advantage of stargazing opportunities throughout the year in this International Dark Sky Park.
Just around the corner, the Virginia Safari Park (open March-November) is a fantastic stop for the whole family with numerous ways to encounter and feed the animals by car and foot. Make your way into the town of Lexington where you’ll find dozens of shops to browse, including the delicacies of Cocoa Mill Chocolate Company, Cheese to You and Old Lex Mercantile.
Extended Stay: From Glen Maury Park, Lake Robertson, and Goshen Pass to the sprawling George Washington and Jefferson National Forest, fill your days with hiking, fishing, paddling and biking.
The aromas wafting from the Southern Inn’s kitchen will leave you craving a plate of their famous fried chicken as you refuel after the morning’s activities. Indulge your sweet tooth with a scoop from Sweet Things Ice Cream Shoppe, a stop that should be on every visitor’s bucket list as each cone proves homemade treats are always better.
After lunch, stroll through the lavender fields at Tantivy Farms for sweet fragrances and pollinators buzzing about the plants, or walk out to Tantivy Falls for a peaceful moment beside the water. Then it’s time for a wine tasting at Ecco Adesso Vineyards, whether seated in the library or enjoying the mountain views in the fresh air. Keep an eye out for exciting things coming in 2022 as facilities expand and new wines hit the shelf.
Extended Stay: A tour with the Lexington Carriage Company (open April-October) is one highlight you don’t want to miss. This horse-drawn ride fuses scenic views with the history of the charming college town.
There’s something about a good meal after a long day outside that just hits differently, like savoring dinner on the balcony of the Juniper Lounge as you watch the sunset over Main Street. Explore more options like Tonic Restaurant and Lounge, TAPS and Haywood’s Piano Bar and Grill.
Cap your day off with a seasonal ghost tour of Lexington, a delightful combination of storytelling, history and entertainment that shows a different side of town after the sun goes down. If ghost stories aren’t your thing, follow the Shenandoah Beerwerks Trail for a drink at a local brewery, or catch the latest cinematic releases at Hull’s Drive-In, open March through October.
Extended Stay: Cozy up at one of the three hotels within walking distance to the historic downtown—The Georges, The Gin Hotel, and the Hampton Inn Col Alto—or one of the area’s many B&Bs, inns, cabins, vacation home rentals or campgrounds.
Between the inviting small towns and expansive backyard, discover for yourself why Lexington, Buena Vista, and Rockbridge County should be your next Virginia destination.
Photos by Ellen Kanzinger; carriage photo by Chris Weisler; The Georges photo by Sera Petras Photography