Aerial view of Chincoteague Island, Virginia.

11 Of The Most Hospitable Small Towns In Virginia

The Commonwealth of Virginia, the United States’ 35th largest and 12th most populous state in the mid-Atlantic and southeastern region, stretches between the Appalachian Mountains and Atlantic Seaboard. Dotting the state’s breathtaking terrain are some fantastic small towns, often left unnoticed by holidaymakers who mostly like to tour the Old Dominion’s populous metro cities. Boasting awe-inspiring natural beauty, fascinating histories (as one of the initial Thirteen Colonies), revitalized Main Streets, vibrant celebrations, plenty of recreations, and soothing Southern hospitality, these ‘hospitable’ Virginia communities are worthy locales to stay and explore.


Downtown Abingdon, Virginia.
Downtown Abingdon, Virginia.

Washington County’s administrative center, Abingdon, is situated in the Appalachian Mountains’ Blue Ridge highlands between the Holston River’s North and Middle forks, approximately 133 miles southwest of Roanoke. Originally referred to as “Wolf Hill Tract,” the settlement was the site of Black’s Fort in 1774 before being renamed after ‘Abingdon-on-Thames,’ Martha Washington’s ancestral residence in southeast England’s ceremonial county Oxfordshire. The 159.5-acre Abingdon Historic District encompasses a major part of the town and comprises numerous landmark properties dating from the late 18th to the mid-20th century. Abingdon’s notable sites of interest include the Martha Washington Inn & Spa, Barter Theater, Washington County Courthouse, William King Museum of Art, Historical Society of Washington County, Sinking Spring Cemetery, Alexander Findlay House, Abingdon Bank, and Arts Depot. Additionally, Abingdon is the starting point for the 35-mile-long multipurpose Virginia Creeper Trail that winds through the forests and hills and is excellent for recreational activities like hiking and biking.


The waterfront in Chincoteague, Virginia.
The waterfront in Chincoteague, Virginia. Editorial credit: Kosoff /

Chincoteague, a teeny Accomack County town on the northeastern edge of Virginia’s Eastern Shore, includes the complete Chincoteague Island placed between the Atlantic Ocean and Assateague Inlet to the east and the Chincoteague Bay to the west. This serene waterfront community is a tourist gateway to the adjacent Assateague Island’s Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, an ideal place for avian enthusiasts and home to the celebrated Chincoteague ponies. The Museum of Chincoteague Island, Assateague Lighthouse, Chincoteague Cultural Alliance, Beebe Ranch, Chincoteague Veteran’s Memorial Park, and Captain Timothy Hill House are some of the town’s remarkable attractions. Chincoteague’s Main Street has a large number of small-town businesses, Chincoteague Island Library, Sundial Book Store, cozy bed & breakfasts, Island Theater, ice cream parlors, and a variety of eateries serving delectable seafood. The annual Pony Swim & Auction Festival hosted by the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company draws thousands of spectators to this island town every July.


Shenandoah National Park, Virginia.
Shenandoah National Park, Virginia.

Page County’s seat, Luray occupies the Shenandoah Valley between the Massanutten and the Blue Ridge Mountains in the northern portion of the state, just 90 miles west of Washington D.C. Founded by William Staige Marye in 1812, Luray’s closeness to the Shenandoah National Park has made it a mecca for adventure seekers. The Luray Downtown Historic District includes notable landmarks like the Page County Record Building, Skyline Building, Luray United Methodist Church, etc. Outdoor enthusiasts should head straight for the spectacular 105-mile-long Skyline Drive that runs along the mountain ridges throughout the entire length of the Shenandoah National Park, tour the 117-feet-high Belle Brown Northcott Memorial (The Luray Singing Tower), partake in subterranean tours at the Luray Caverns and rest after a hectic day at the classic Mimslyn Inn.


Downtown artwork in Smithfield, Virginia.
Downtown artwork in Smithfield, Virginia. Image credit: Jasperdo via

Nicknamed “The Ham Capital of the World,” this pleasant river-port town in Isle of Wight County is located on the banks of the Pagan River in southeastern Virginia’s South Hampton Roads subregion. Home to 8,533 residents as per the latest US Census, Smithfield is best known for the curing and production of a particular form of country ham called Smithfield ham. Covering the downtown and abutting residential areas, the 200-acre Smithfield Historic District contains several contributing properties, including the Wentworth-Grinnan House, Thomas House, Old Isle of Wight Courthouse, etc. St. Luke’s Historic Church & Museum, Isle of Wight County Museum, Fort Huger archaeological site, William Rand Tavern (Smithfield Inn), Windsor Castle Park, Fort Boykin Historic Park, Smithfield & Isle of Wight Visitor Center, Cypress Creek Golf Course, Waterfront Inn & Marina, and Taste of Smithfield Restaurant are other interesting sites. Smithfield hosts various yearly events such as the Smithfield Farmers Market, Smithfield Olden Days, and Christmas Parade.


Middleburg United Methodist Church, Middleburg, Virginia
Middleburg United Methodist Church, Middleburg, Virginia. Image credit: Farragutful via Wikimedia Commons.

Established by Leven Powell - a Virginia planter and Continental Army Officer, in 1787, Middleburg is located halfway between the independent cities of Alexandria and Winchester in Loudoun County. Steeped in equestrian heritage and referred to as the “Nation’s Horse and Hunt Capital,” the town is reputed for its steeplechasing, foxhunting, and massive estates. Flanked by Constitution Street in the west and Independence Street in the east, the Middleburg Historic District extends along Washington Street’s entire downtown section and features dozens of old buildings dating from the late 18th to the mid-19th century. Do not miss touring the National Sporting Library & Museum, Middleburg Museum, Boxwood Estate Winery, Greenhill Winery & Vineyards, Lost Barrel Brewing, Chrysalis Vineyards, Middleburg Antique Gallery, Highcliffe Clothiers shop, Crème de la Crème home goods store, hotels like the Red Fox Inn & Tavern, and world-class restaurants like King Street Oyster Bar, Middleburg Common Grounds, and The Upper Crust. The Middleburg Film Festival, held annually every fall at the Salamander Middleburg Resort & Spa, attracts more than 5,000 attendees from all over the globe.


Bedford County Courthouse in Bedford, Virginia.
Bedford County Courthouse in Bedford, Virginia. Image credit: Jimmy Emerson DVM via

Bedford, the administrative center of Bedford County, is situated at the bottom of the Peaks of Otter in the Blue Ridge Mountains of southwest Virginia. Travelers must take a stroll through the Downtown of “The World’s Best Little Town” and peruse the abundant vintage stores, artist studios, galleries, and home-like restaurants. The National D-Day Memorial, Bedford Area Welcome Center, Bedford Boys Tribute Center, and Bedford Museum & Genealogical Library are some of Bedford’s outstanding attractions. Vacationers can also tour the different orchards such as Johnson’s Orchards and A.J. Gross & Sons Orchard, aside from the open natural areas like Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest, Blue Ridge Parkway, Falling Creek Park, and Smith Mountain Lake State Park.


Lilliston House in Onancock, Virginia.
Lilliston House in Onancock, Virginia. Image credit: Joel Bradshaw via Wikimedia Commons.

Called by Captain John Smith as the “Gem of the Eastern Shore,” this enchanting Accomack County town, home to 1,263 inhabitants, is the perfect jumping-off point for surveying the remaining part of the Eastern Shore. Onancock has superbly maintained its residential allure in addition to a downtown district overflowing with elegant Victorian-period mansions, theaters, top-ranking bed & breakfasts, an unparalleled art scene, museums, renowned eateries, and boutique hotels. Covering 225 acres, the Onancock Historic District has uncountable contributing properties, including the old-time Roseland Theatre which hosts an International Film Festival, where each month, an acclaimed international film is available for public viewing at a highly discounted price. From May to October, the Tangier Onancock Ferry provides holidayers a chance to witness some of Chesapeake Bay’s prized assets.


Aerial View of Buildings on Main Street in Farmville Virginia
Aerial view of buildings on Main Street in Farmville, Virginia.

Farmville, a prosperous college town in Central Virginia, is spread across the Cumberland and Prince Edward counties along the head of the Appomattox River. This seat of Prince Edward County houses the main campus of Longwood University and a plethora of attractions that entice locals and tourists alike. Farmville’s bustling Main Street is filled with scores of eclectic shops, trendy boutiques, museums, coffee shops, art galleries like the Longwood Center for the Visual Arts, breweries, and restaurants. History lovers must tour the Robert Musa Moton Museum located in the erstwhile Robert Russa Moton High School, which tells stories about the foremost non-violent student demonstration in 1951 that ultimately led to the start of the Civil Rights era. Outdoorsy types should visit the High Bridge Trail State Park, Twin Lakes State Park, Dick Cross Wildlife Management Area, and the nearby Sailor’s Creek Battlefield Historical State Park. Farmville’s Heart of Virginia Festival on the first weekend of May every year celebrates arts, homemade crafts, delicious cuisines, music, and many more.

Cape Charles

The Cape Charles Beach on the Chesapeake Bay, in Cape Charles, Virginia
The Cape Charles Beach on the Chesapeake Bay, in Cape Charles, Virginia.

A charming beach town in Northampton County on the southern edge of Virginia’s Eastern Shore, Cape Charles is situated near the mouth of Chesapeake Bay, bordered by King’s Creek in the north and Old Plantation Creek in the south. Initially founded as a planned railroad community in 1884, the town at present greatly benefits from its carefully preserved waterfront buildings, hundreds of locally-owned businesses at the commercial hub, and the pristine one-half-mile-long Cape Charles Town Beach - the sole public beach on the bayside of the state’s Eastern Shore. Travelers touring the town must visit the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, the 29-acre Cape Charles Natural Area Preserve, Cape Charles Museum & Welcome Center, Cape Charles Harbor & Marina, a Fun Pier neighboring the Cape Charles Town Beach, Kiptopeke State Park, and the Eastern Shore of Virginia National Wildlife Refuge. Hosted by Cape Charles every year, the Harbor for the Arts Summer Festival is the Eastern Shore’s most popular summer outdoor concert program.


A street scene from Culpeper, Virginia
A street scene from Culpeper, Virginia. Image credit: Refrina -

The seat of government of Culpeper County, this scenic hamlet is located between the Rappahannock and Rapidan rivers in the Piedmont River Valley. Heritage buffs are especially drawn to the Museum of Culpeper History, as well as the town’s meticulously maintained Civil War battlefields and the various colonial-era churches and landmark properties. A classic example of a Great American Main Street, the streets of Culpeper’s downtown are lined by quirky shops, boutiques, antique stores, and top-class restaurants catering to every taste. Annually, the town hosts the Mardi Gras celebration, Fourth of July festivities, national horse shows at Commonwealth Park, Summer Third Thursday Concert Series, Holiday Open House, Gnarly Hops & Barley Fest, and Culpeper Fest.


Rappahannock River, Irvington, Virginia
Carter's Creek from the Tides Inn, on the Rappahannock River, Irvington, Virginia. Image credit: David Broad via Wikimedia Commons.

Irvington, named in honor of the Baltimore native Captain Levin Irvington, is a picturesque coastal village situated in Lancaster County, on the southeastern part of the Northern Neck peninsula, along the eastern banks of Carter’s Creek, where it drains into the Rappahannock River. The town’s National Register-listed historic district is spread over an area of 1,107.2 acres and features over 149 contributing properties. Irvington welcomes holidayers to spend an afternoon observing herons, ospreys, and eagles along Carter’s Creek, play a round of golf at the Golden Eagle Golf Club, relish some fresh fish, Chesapeake Bay blue crabs, and oysters at the town’s award-winning eateries, shop in the farmers market as well as other boutiques and retail stores, cruise the Rappahannock River & Carter’s Creek, bike to the dog-friendly Dog & Oyster vineyard, rest at the famed Tides Inn or Hope & Glory Inn, and learn about the town’s glorious past at the Historic Christ Church & Museum and the Steamboat Era Museum.

From the quaint town of Bedford in southwest Virginia to the coastal retreats like Cape Charles and Chincoteague on the Eastern Shore, the ‘Mother of Presidents’ is well-known for its cornucopia of small towns that mesmerize millions of tourists visiting this southeastern state from far and wide. With gorgeous natural surroundings, thriving cultures, loads of attractions, friendly residents, and a welcoming ambiance, these hospitable towns are typical all-season vacation destinations in the Old Dominion.

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