Restaurant patrons dine under the shade of tents on a summer day in Staunton, Virginia

11 of the Most Welcoming Towns in Virginia

Virginia is the "birthplace of a nation" known by many for its rich and prominent history. It is one of the Original 13 Colonies, home to a part of the first English settlement and four of the five Founding Fathers of the United States. Virginia played a significant role in the American Revolution and the Civil War. But there's more to Virginia than her storied past.

Virginia is exquisite, from the valleys to the mountains and the oceans to the plains. The natural beauty and outdoor recreation are enough to draw in visitors, but when they're some of the friendliest small towns, the experiences hit differently. There is nothing like a pleasant and friendly environment to set the mood for a weekend getaway or business trip. Here is your guide to some of the most welcoming towns in Virginia. 


Historic downtown of Lexington.
Historic downtown of Lexington. Image credit Kristi Blokhin via Shutterstock.

Lexington, Virginia, is an independent city in Rockbridge County. The scenery is exceptional, with views of the Shenandoah Valley region. The western foothills of Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains and the valley open the doors for abundant outdoor recreation. The Chessie Nature Trail is a rail trail along the Murray River that links Buena Vista with Lexington, VA. This trail spans around seven miles (one-way). It is an incredible location to walk through the forest, sit by or take a dip in the river, and see picture-worthy geological formations.

The Virginia Military Institute Museum (VMI Museum) is one of the first public museums in the Commonwealth. The Jackson House Museum was once the home of Stonewall Jackson, and it now serves as a place that interprets his life, trials, and accomplishments. The Lexington Carriage Company provides narrated rides throughout the town's historic district. Lexington is one of the best historic districts in Virginia.

Downtown Lexington can be one of the best places to mingle with the welcoming people in the area. Main Street is where you can find unique shops: game, book, and gift stores are only a few. Travelers might also enjoy the quaint and unique artisan shops and galleries. Artists in Cahoots is a gallery featuring local artists' work. Hull's Drive-In is a charming 1950s drive-in theater open between March through October.

Haunting Tales Ghost Tour is one for the paranormal and ghost-hunting fans. This historic tour leads you down alleyways where things might go bump in the night. Lexington is more of an interactive town. Self-guided tours are nice, but having a knowledgeable guide explaining the details and stories adds to the welcoming experience and atmosphere.


Downtown Kilmarnock, Virginia.
Downtown Kilmarnock, Virginia.

The small town of Kilmarnock offers urban amenities in a small-town atmosphere. It's a quaint small town in the Chesapeake Bay. Hughlett Point Natural Area Preserve is a beautiful slice of nature in Northumberland County, Virginia. Not only is it a peaceful area, but it is a vital wintering location for migrating waterfowl and other birds. Enjoy a hike along the trails or stroll along the boardwalk; you never know what you might witness. Baylor Park Nature Trail is a short, half-mile trail along Norris Pond's banks and part of Virginia's birding and wildlife trail systems. Anyone who brings their dogs traveling with them will find the Scottie Yard Dog Park within the Town Center Park.

The Kilmarnock Museum is one of the oldest buildings in town, preserving the town's history and hosting community events. The Antique Gallery is an exquisite shop and is home to the largest display of Oyster Plates. Speaking of art, there are also a couple of art galleries and an arts and antique shop. 

After a long day of learning, browsing, and shopping, head over to Good Luck Cellars for a bit of wine tasting and live music. If you are looking for a family-friendly place to grab a snack, kids love Northern Neck Popcorn Bag. They serve fresh, small-batch popcorn made daily. Northern Neck offers various flavors; you can customize them to create a personal flavor. Grab some popped corn and head to Town Center Park for kid-friendly adventures on the playground.


Street view in downtown Luray, Virginia
Street view in downtown Luray, Virginia, By Bill McChesney from Charlottesville, VA - IMG_3686, CC BY 2.0, File:DowntownLuray.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

Situated in the Shenandoah Valley is the welcoming town of Luray in Page County. It is one of the most picturesque small towns in Virginia. There are many opportunities for various outdoor activities in this small Virginia town. Shenandoah National Park is only a 14-minute drive from town. It is one of the 15 most underrated US National Parks. The park provides the space and areas for night sky viewing or stargazing, hiking, biking, backcountry camping, and more.

The Shenandoah River is a beautiful rafting, kayaking, and canoeing area. The Lake Arrowhead Park and Recreation Area is a popular location for fishing from March through October and November to February. The Luray Caverns can be a great experience; there is history, science, and even music. The recent additions of the Stalacpipe organ and singing tower have piqued people's interest. Travelers and road-trippers adore Skyline Drive; it runs along the park's crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The ride from one end to the other takes about three hours, but the scenery and backdrops are like Bob Ross's paintings that came to life.


Downtown Onancock, Virginia.
Downtown Onancock, Virginia.

In the center of Virginia's Eastern Shore, you can find the inviting little harbor town of Onancock. Imagine a setting of Victorian-era homes along tree-lined streets. While there is usually little traffic, the best way to tour Onancock is by parking in the middle of town and exploring on foot or maybe by bike. It's a tad bit off the beaten path, as some of the best towns are.

The town's rich history can be noticed throughout the city. Waterman's Museum and Research Center covers maritime history. Historic Onancock School opened its doors sometime during the mid-1920s and serves as a museum and community center today. One of the most intriguing museums in the area is the Samuel D. Outlaw Blacksmith Shop; this museum preserves the legacy of Outlaws.

The Inn at Onancock is a lovely little bed and breakfast. Choose one of five rooms that are perfect for a romantic weekend. The Main Room is dog-friendly (for a fee) and has the largest bed.

You can watch a movie at the local theater, catch a performance, or play at North Street Playhouse. Enjoy a tour of Ker Place, the incredible Victorian-style mansion. After a long day, stop into one of the many restaurants for a delicious meal. You'll find pubs, cocktail bars and restaurants, bakeries, homemade comfort food, and some international cuisine.


View of the main street in Smithfield, Virginia
View of the main street in Smithfield, Virginia, via Wikipedia

 Smithfield, Virginia, is a charming small town with a population of about 8,867. Outdoor recreation opportunities are abundant. James River is a beautiful kayaking, swimming, and canoeing area. Windsor Castle Park has an incredible trail system, including bike trails. There is a dog park within Windsor Castle and a natural playscape for the little ones. Don't forget your pole and tackle box because there are some great fishing spots along the pier. After a long day of outdoor recreation, have yourself a picnic at one of the beautiful picnic sites. Another popular site at Windsor Castle Park is the Historic Manor House. 

Smithfield has one of the best historic districts in Virginia. The 1750 Isle of Wight Courthouse is an exceptional museum worth exploring. The Schoolhouse Museum is another interesting site that shows us what school was like many years ago. 

The Arts Center @319 features stunning exhibits, studios, an art shop, and a section for musicians and music. The Painted Garden Gallery sells furniture and artwork. The Smithfields and Isle of Wight Visitor Center is another excellent place to see artwork exhibits. After a long day of exploration, stop into Breezy Hill Meadworks for a bottle of handcrafted honey mead. The Smithfield site posts its calendar of events; if you're thinking about heading to this welcoming small town, it's worth checking out the calendar because there is always something going on.


The marina at Chincoteague, Virginia.
The marina at Chincoteague, Virginia. Editorial credit: Kosoff /

The small town of Chincoteague, Virginia, has a population of about 3,262. This welcoming town is on the  Island of Chincoteague, and it's the gateway to Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge on Assateague Island. The Island is home to beautiful wild horses, and currently, there are two bands of horses, one on Maryland's side of the Island and the other on Virginia's side. 

Boat tours, camping, lighthouses, and nature trails are merely a handful of exciting things to explore and experience on this beautiful and welcoming island. One of the best ways to view the incredible horses of the island is by taking a boat or kayak tour of the area.

Funland Amusements is a great place to bring the family. You can play a few rounds of mini-golf, ride go-karts, play arcade games, and ride bumper boats, and there is an area for climbing. Maui Jacks is a fantastic waterpark the whole family can enjoy during the summer.

History fans might enjoy the Historic Main Street merchants or the Museum of Chincoteague Island, where the history of the people, culture, and heritage are carefully preserved. The Captain Timothy Hill House is a historic home from the 1800s, a piece of architectural history that was dilapidated when it was found in 2009 but has since been restored.


Buildings along Beverley St in Downtown Historic Staunton, Virginia
Buildings along Beverley St in Downtown Historic Staunton, Virginia. Image credit Kyle J Little via Shutterstock

Staunton, Virginia, is one of many towns in the  Mid-Atlantic with the best Main Street. Beverly Street is the main street in Staunton, which offers a little bit of everything. The unique shops are abundant, and the folks are charming and ready to greet you with welcoming words and kind recommendations.

Betsy Bell Wilderness Park offers beautiful forested mountain terrain with scenic views. There are various trails and picnic spots. Gypsy Hill Park is an excellent recreational park in the center of town; enjoy a picnic and bring your dog too because they're welcome. Montgomery Hall Park is a lovely community park with trails, sports fields, a pool, BBQ grills, and picnic tables.

The Wharf Area Historic District is ideal for history lovers to explore. Frontier Culture Museum is an open-air museum. You'll find costumed historical interpreters with all sorts of knowledge to share. Photography lovers who are curious about photography's history should take a tour of the Camera Heritage Museum. It's a unique exhibit displaying photography's history, science, and art.


Downtown Culpeper, Virginia.
Downtown Culpeper, Virginia.

Located in Culpeper County, Virginia, Culpeper has a small population of over 20,000. While there might not be as much to offer kids and teens in Culpeper as in Chincoteague, you will find warm and friendly locals with insight into all the great attractions and places to go. Culpeper is an ideal town for seniors and retirees.

There is plenty of outdoor recreation available in Culpeper. Rockwater Park is a fine example, with its various multi-use trails, a Fitcore Extreme obstacle course, a splash pad for kids, disc golf, and more. Head to the Museum of Culpeper History to taste the town's history. The Graffiti House was built during the late 1800s. While you won't find any modern graffiti, you will see messages, inscriptions, drawings, and signatures on the walls of the second floor. The Burgandine House was built in the 1700s; the interior is still original, aside from a couple of restorations that needed to be done.

If you are interested in live music performances, stop into the Jewell Box. The Sangria Bowl offers delicious Latin dishes inspired by the Caribbean and South America. After a fulfilling meal, you can head over to the Puzzle Room Live, an escape room with various challenges and puzzles to figure out.


Historic brick buildings in Wytheville, Virginia
Historic brick buildings in Wytheville, Virginia, via Kristi Blokhin /

Wytheville is a charming small town with a population of about 8,177. This beautiful Virginia town is worth visiting. Crystal Springs Recreation Area is just outside of city limits and is an ideal place for outdoor enthusiasts. You'll find hiking and biking trails, footbridges, wildlife, an old reservoir, and free campsites. However, camping spaces are limited. Beagle Ridge Herb Farm is a seasonal farm where visitors can hike the beautiful trails, work in the gardens, and learn about nature and gardening.

History buffs might enjoy visiting the Edith Bolling Wilson Birthplace Museum. Edith is a former first lady, and her role in the White House was pivotal during World War 1 (WWI). The Octagon Mansion History Museum is full of the town's local history. Wytheville Homestead Living History Museum is an excellent place to learn about how life was once lived. The Trinkle Mansion Bed and Breakfast is a luxurious Classic Revival style B&B built in 1912. The southern hospitality is exceptional at this Virginia Landmark.

Wytheville has several reputable restaurants, including the Log House 1776 Restaurant and Moon Dog Brick Oven.


Historic Barter Theater in Abingdon, Virginia
Historic Barter Theater in Abingdon, Virginia, via Joel Carillet /

Located in Washington County, Abington, Virginia, it has a population of 8,376. Abington is located in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The charming historic district has awesome artsy vibes.

Abingdon Muster Grounds is the northern trailhead for the Overmountain Victory Trail, a National Historic Trail. This trail spans over 300 miles and stretches through four states, including Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. During the spring, summer, and fall, Callebs Cove Campground is an excellent spot to enjoy outdoor recreation and possibly meet some locals or other travelers in this family-friendly atmosphere. Spend some time out on the water at South Holsten Lake. This beautiful mountain lake is perfect for fishing, swimming, and boating.

Abingdon Historic District is exceptional. Much of the district is on Main and Valley Streets. You will find some outstanding historic buildings dating back to the Antebellum period. The William King Museum of Art is a visual arts and cultural heritage museum. The exhibits are so original and unique that one could spend hours exploring. The galleries showcase regional and world arts, both contemporary and historic.

Sinking Spring Cemetery is an old cemetery with some tombstones dating back to the 1700s. This 11-acre cemetery was designed for Sinking Spring Presbyterian Church members, and on the opposite side of Russel Road is the burial place for the enslaved peoples owned by the Presbyterians, as well as free people of color.

The Crooked Road: Virginia's Heritage Music Trail hosts Sunday music sessions and other live music events. The Friday Night Jamboree is a popular event and a great place to meet people. Abingdon's quiet, small town hosts many community activities, festivals, and events throughout the year.


Downtown Farmville, Virginia.
Downtown Farmville, Virginia. Image credit: Puritan Nerd via Wikimedia Commons.

Farmville is home to the Sandy and Appomattox Rivers. The Appomattox River is one of the longest rivers in Virginia. Sandy River Outdoor Adventure is family-friendly, with rustic log cabins and glamping tents. The year-round accommodations make it easy to camp any time of the year. The Adventure Park offers visitors a treetop adventure full of obstacles, swinging bridges, high ropes, and ziplines. The outdoor adventure park is actually in Rice, Virginia, but that is only an 8-minute drive away.

Wilck's Lake Park is beautiful. It features hiking trails that traverse through rivers, swamps, and marsh habitats. It is an excellent place for bird and wildlife watching. High Bridge Trail State Park is only a 15-minute drive from town and another great outdoor recreation location.

The Historic Downtown Walking Tour is a great way to see the sights and learn more about the area. Farmville's historic district has around 26 historic buildings and homes, with everything from courthouses and churches to universities and bed and breakfasts. Dunnington Mansion is a Victorian Manor and a historical landmark.

Grove Street Park is an inviting place for kids to play, with a shady area for picnics and relaxation. The park also has a skate park. Adults aged 21 and up might enjoy a Tipsy Carriage Bar Tour ride. The bus tours historic Farmville with five stops at local bars.

Virginia is a beautiful state with a rich history. These small towns are welcoming in every way; it's hard not to feel welcome and comfortable. There is something for everyone, whether exploring the great outdoors or museums. You'll find excellent eateries, unique shops, and loads of personalities throughout the entire state. 

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