Aerial view of Chincoteague, Virginia.

9 Most Charming Towns In Virginia

Virginia's small towns enchant on a getaway from the city into a land of discoveries, for every group, age, and taste of pursuit and any time of the year, each unique and equally charming. Visit in the summer for the stunning Chesapeake Bay nature and the seafood delights from the ocean, among other waterways striking through Virginia's deeply historic and culturally vibrant hearts. Choose a charming East Shore small town for the ultimate beach escape with views that stretch on forever, or a mountain town for a winter wonderland of fun snow pursuits and scenically old Christmases.


The Virginia Creeper National Recreation Trail in autumn. Abingdon, VA
The Virginia Creeper National Recreation Trail in autumn in Abingdon, Virginia.

This charming southern town is a fun and relaxing getaway that will keep any group engaged, regardless of taste or age. Highly rated among the nation's best small towns, Abington rests scenically in the cozy cradle of the awe-inspiring Blue Ridge Mountains. It was once home to the Cherokee Nation and the stomping grounds of William Byrd and Daniel Boone in the mid-18th century. The immersive small-town feel of just 8,000 locals blends cultural hotspots into the pristine natural beauty for a calming environment.

Take a hike, like the Virginia Creeper Trail, and discover architecture through the lovely historic district, amid antique sights interspersed with modern-day attractions and home to a thriving arts and culture scene. Named after Martha Washington’s ancestral home in England, Abington's sophisticated hotspots offer a laidback atmosphere, including the historic Barter Theatre, galleries, museums, and open-air markets.

Cape Charles

Aerial view of the Central Park in historic Cape Charles, Virginia.

Cape Charles is the epitome of Virginia's flashy vintages and nature, all concentrated around one small, charming townscape. Seek out the 19th-century buildings on a stroll along traditional homes and cottages, inviting you to experience the cherished southern hospitality. Choose a place right by the shores for serene bay views at your doorstep, and waste the rest of the summer's days swimming and sunbathing at the beach if you wish.

Otherwise, stay outdoors with luxurious scenery and your favorite pursuits, like strolls through the nearby state parks, water-edge trails, and golf. The charming town founded in 1884 on the Chesapeake Bay is one of the best for tranquil vibes and feel-good pastimes for the entire family along Virginia's Eastern Shore in Northampton County. Visit for a laidback beach getaway and stay for the bayside lifestyle and time capsule vibe of the railroad and ferry industries booming days.


Chincoteague, Virginia.
Hotels by the marina in Chincoteague. Editorial credit: Kosoff /

Chincoteague is a small town in Virginia with big-time fame for horses along its wild beachscape and the historically charming Assateague Lighthouse, one of the state's most beautiful. Moreover, the town home to the Wallops Flight Facility Visitor’s Center is abrim with cozy cafes, tasty restaurants, and tasteful attractions that will not rob the bank. Visit this small port town for the best weekend getaway of your life with Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge nearby, and dine every day posthike on the area's staple oyster dishes.

Stop by the Museum of Chincoteague Island to learn more about this thriving, brimy-scented industry along Virginia's Eastern Shore and enjoy the scenery from the culprit beaches. Chincoteague's fairy-tale, picturesque beachscape is one of the rarest and coolest places in the nation, perfect for recreation and relaxation at the sights. The bare-naked Assateague Island National Seashore overlooking Chincoteague Island with wide open vistas is home to roaming wild ponies for one charming getaway.


Aerial view of Kilmarnock, Virginia.
Aerial view of Kilmarnock, Virginia.

This small, charming town of around 1,500 people spreads scenically near the Rappahannock River through two of the state's counties, Lancaster and Northumberland. From one side, it is George Washington's birthplace; from the other, it is a laidback town to relax on a getaway with easy access to your favorite natural, historical, and even boozy pursuits. Find everything for every taste to bond, have fun, and unwind, like in the refreshing Westmoreland State Park and strolls through the deeply historic downtown area.

Visit for the quaint little wine scene, serene atmosphere, unique shopping, and dining through the 17th-century-reminiscent downtown, when the area was called "The Crossroads." Stop for a selfie with the 18th-century Christ Church & Museum and browse through sights at the Lancaster Historical Society. Kilmarnock Town Centre Park offers open-air excitement for the whole family, like stage concerts, an outdoor gym, and colorful gardens. Take on the Hughlett Point Trail on a picnic-powered hike with quick beach access for a summer's day in nature.


Lee-Jackson House, Huntley Hall and Morris House at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia. Editorial credit: Bryan Pollard /

This tiny town with strong connections to military history and the Civil War boasts an impressive concentration of historic sites and something for everyone on a getaway in the Old Dominion State. Lexington strikes the perfect balance with modern-day cultural attractions like music venues, theaters, galleries, and art-strewn streets with highly rated farm-to-table restaurants. Take in the vintage beauty of days gone by on a stroll amid historic homes and buildings with unique shops, boutiques, and a plethora of cozy cafes for sights and cultural absorption on a terrace.

Home to two colleges, VMI and W&L, Lexington is your escape into the revered small-town atmosphere, made richer by friendly student life. Relish in the lively vibe with a youthful ring in the air, with plentiful after-study pursuits for the most relentless. The Shenandoah Valley is a quaint natural paradise with a historic feel extending from downtown. Find breathtaking nature around town for varied-level hikes, sightseeing, other outdoor recreation, and relaxation.


Historic town of Occoquan neighborhood in northern Virginia h
Historic town of Occoquan in northern Virginia.

Occoquan is a deeply historic riverside town, home to America's first automated grist mill. With a population of just over 1,000, the town is chock-full of historical and natural charms along the banks of the Occoquan River. Explore one of the top small cities, according to Cities Journal, on foot or by bike, with a historic feel still lingering from its establishment in 1765 in the modern-day artists’ community.

From ghost walks to boating and fishing, Occoquan bursts with small,charming town delights, including over one hundred shops and restaurants. Discover its gritty tobacco warehouses and grist mills, and strike balance with rejuvenation and relaxation at the Pink Bicycle Tea Room. This Scandinavian spa and tea room are great for a whole family day of bonding, followed by an adults night out at Cock & Bowl for European fare, Belgian brews, and live music.


Market Street in Onancock, Virginia.
Market Street in Onancock, Virginia. Editorial credit: John Blottman /

Onancock is an oxymoron—an infamous hidden gem that stays low-key despite being ranked as the coolest and top small town in Virginia. Visit "the Gem of the Eastern Shore," a moniker that Captain John Smith bestowed on the town, for an affordable and laidback city escape. Founded as Port Scarborough in 1680, the town has no shortage of things to see and do for modernists in between historical vestiges that make Onancock like no other small town around.

Find a conglomeration of cultural attractions and pursuits like live theater, award-winning restaurants, and local artists on the streets, along with galleries, historic buildings, churches, and more. Onancock is home to craftsmen, sculptors, actors, dancers, musicians, and glassblowers, as well as former Native American villages and local wineries. Enjoy local beaches with pubs on the water for live music in the evening after a day of kayaking, cruising, and sailing. The town on the South Branch of Onancock Creek is your gateway to amazing boating adventures to Tobacco Island.


Windsor Castle Park in Smithfield, Virginia.
Windsor Castle Park in Smithfield, Virginia.

Smithfield, a lovely little town on the Pagan River near Jamestown, is famous for a number of big things. "America’s Happiest Seaside Towns" could not be any more charming if it tried, but being home to the famous Ham and rich history as part of the Virginia Colony from 1634 does it. It didn't take long for the town to thrive as the "Ham Capital of the World," and Smithfield Foods, a Fortune 500 company and the world’s largest pork processor and hog producer in the US, proudly calls Smithfield home.

Visit this inspiring, spirited community to stay happy and full, along with a variety of outdoor pursuits in "one of the prettiest towns in Virginia," according to The Virginia Review, for all levels of activity. There's plentiful fun in cultural sights and relaxation as well, like concerts in the park, community BBQs, and regular local events. Stroll through the stunning historical downtown with time-capsuled buildings like schools, churches, and homes, like the iconic Smithfield Inn.


People riding a horse carriage in a farm at Staunton, Virginia.
People riding a horse carriage in a farm at Staunton, Virginia.

Staunton is a stunning, historic town, settled in 1732—a real treasure trove for vintage fans as the former state capital. Visit the birthplace home of President Woodrow Wilson, built in 1846 atop the historic Gospel Hill, complete with exhibits through seven galleries from the early years to the First World War, for a self-guided tour. The lovely little town is a hidden gem in the Shenandoah Valley, surrounded by beautiful mountains for the outdoorsy. All literary fans rejoice equally in Staunton at the American Shakespeare Center replica of the Blackfriars Theater, the only authentic one in the world with a living museum.

Find culture aplenty in historic architecture and modern-day attractions encompassed in a small-town, laid-back atmosphere. Feel the heritage on a stroll down the streets with countless Victorian homes and the impressive Trinity Church with Tiffany windows. The Frontier Culture Museum is decorated with photographs of thousands of colonial immigrants to America. Enjoy an affordable getaway with southern charm at its best, complete with sensational specialty shopping, dining, and nightlife opportunities.

Virginia is a revered East Coast destination getaway in the country, abounding with southern hospitality and feel-good pursuits in between relaxation. most popular beach destinations. Hit the Blue Ridge Parkway in the Western part of the state or take Skyline Drive for beautiful views, orchards, and wine country. The state was the birthplace of many presidents and, curiously, the birthplace of the tasty ham that delighted Queen Victoria many times.

From visiting Virginia’s Historic Triangle of Jamestown, Colonial Williamsburg, and Yorktown, ground zero of the US, to the site of NASA in Hampton that researched and developed the art of space flight, Virginia knows no bounds to charm. Foodies, culture vultures, spring breakers, wine enthusiasts, and even ski enthusiasts equally rejoice from the mountains to the beaches in the state.

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