Well known for its natural beauty, Virginia boasts rolling hills, lush forests, and the majestic Appalachian mountains. Nicknamed "Old Dominion," Virginia is where the nation was born. Dotted around the state are many small towns that have managed to not only stay true to their historic roots but also blend in Virginia's beautiful natural landscape. Whether seeking a soothing bath in the hot spring of Warm Springs, a hike through the Shenandoah National Park near Front Royal, or taking a kayak along the nearby Little River near Floyd, Virginia, has something to appeal to everyone. These are nine of the quaintest towns with a small outline but a lot to give. So, prepare your backpack and explore Virginia!
Front Royal is a gateway to Shenandoah National Park in the Shenandoah Valley. This town provides endless recreational activities, such as boating on the adjacent South Fork Shenandoah River or hiking trails in the Shenandoah National Park, the Shenandoah River State Park, and a section of the Appalachian Trail. Moreover, feel free to venture underground in the Skyline Caverns and explore the fascinating rock formations. This serene town is a beautiful choice for those who want to experience a strong sense of community and enjoy a peaceful vacation immersed in nature.
Centered in Virginia's Heartland, Farmville boasts many natural, cultural, historical, recreational and educational attractions. The Robert Russa Moton Museum is of great historical importance for being the birthplace of America's student-led Civil Rights Revolution. Another popular tourist attraction is The Sandy River Outdoor Adventures just outside Farmville, with over 60 high ropes obstacles such as tight ropes and swinging bridges. Moreover, One of Virginia's oldest and largest canoe and kayak stores, Appomattox River Company, found both in Farmville, grants a collection of fine solid oak paddles and many boats for all tastes and purposes. Farmville Municipal Golf Course and/or wine-tasting tours at high-end restaurants or local wineries like The Virginia Tasting Cellar can crown your perfect trip.
Abingdon is a historic town in Washington County amidst the gorgeous Blue Ridge Highlands. It grants a romantic atmosphere with wooden bridges submerged in greenery, quaint little houses, typical red brick walls, and a thriving local art scene. For example, artsy activities can be enjoyed at the William King Museum of Art and/or the Barter Theatre, which is the only one considered the "State Theatre of Virginia" and one of the longest-running regional theaters in the nation. Hiking trails to reach breathtaking Blue Ridge Mountains destinations is a popular activity, including the nearby Watauga Trail and the Mendota Trail.
Smithfield is a small town with lots of heart and so much to love. For example, you can taste the ham that made Smithfield famous at the Darden's Country Store and Smokehouse. Smithfield Main Street is lined with historic buildings with architecture from the Colonial to Victorian eras. Popular destinations in Smithfield include Windsor Castle Park with ample green spaces, Historic Fort Boykin with its adjacent beach, and Isle of Wight County Musem, which displays some centenary ham. Nicknamed "The Ham Capital of the World," the town is also home to a highly productive ham manufacturing community with many farms, breweries, and distilleries. You can sip some home-brewed beer at the Red Point Taphouse, accompanied by a gourmet pizza.
Only 20 miles away from Washington, D.C., the Occoquan community rests on the Occoquan River, which flows into the Potomac River just a few miles downstream. This town's 1,033 or so residents are certainly blessed with one of Virginia's quaintest settings, with the river's clear waters traversable by bridge, making for a perfect photo opportunity. Designated as a Virginia historic landmark in 1983, Historic Occoquan is an original 18th-century mill town that still retains an old-town charm immersed in nature. Additionally, more pieces of information about Occoquan can be picked up at the Mill House Museum located on the far end of town.
Staunton is a distinctive destination known for its magnificently preserved architecture from the 1800s. It is a town that grew to be a transportation center upon the launch of the Virginia Central Railroad in 1854. The town boasts an active arts and culture scene, including the American Shakespeare Center's Blackfriars Playhouse. Furthermore, Staunton is the birthplace of Woodrow Wilson, the 28th President of America, and you can visit the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Museum and Library. For nature lovers, Gypsy Hill Park is a great place to unwind and relax after a long day visiting this charming town. When night comes, those who dare can explore the spooky Ghosts of Staunton Walking Ghost Tours, which are not for the easily frightened. Staunton balances the authentic American small-town feel while emphasizing its cultural scene.
Floyd is a small, secluded community with a population of just 450 people, which sits in the heart of the Blue Ridge Plateau in southwestern Virginia. Green spaces take over the scenery, with even shack roofs sometimes blending with the natural backdrop. Its charming main street is a hub of activity, especially on weekends when the regular Friday Night Jamboree takes place, with musicians, dancers, and visitors from all over the world all coming together to spend the night. Visitors travel from across the state for these fun musical soirées, with special emphasis placed on traditional bluegrass music and dancing. For outdoor lovers, a short drive away, hiking the Buffalo Mountain Natural Area Preserve to experience the enchanting view atop, or kayaking along the nearby Little River are all must-do adventures worth the effort.
An hour's drive west of Washington, D.C., Middleburg has made the most of its reputation for its equestrian pursuits. Primarily known as the nation's "Horse and Hunt Capital," Middleburg is rightfully proud of its equestrian roots. To commemorate the more than 1.5 million horses that died during the Civil War, a sobering "Bridal Veterans Memorial" has been erected, further enhancing the strong bonds with this animal in this town. With many well-preserved old homes and commercial buildings dating from the 18th and 19th centuries, downtown Middleburg still captures the quaint outlook of old America. For those interested in finding more information about the town's equestrian past, the National Sporting Library and Museum is a must-stop.
Warm Springs is among the most remote towns in Virginia. Its secluded location means it is surrounded by the pristine nature of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Initially established in 1761 as a bathhouse around the hot Jefferson Pools springs that burbled out of the ground. It was a relaxing experience only reserved for men, with women only being allowed a few decades later. Today, guests may again "take the waters" at the historic Warm Springs Pools, which are now part of The Omni Homestead, a resort hotel nearby Warm Springs. Some say visiting Bath County is like stepping back in time, so come to Warm Springs to experience something similar to the Roman hot springs.
Discover Virginia's Timeless Charm
Virginia is one of the most naturally gifted states with the longest history, perfect for outdoor sports and relaxing experiences in stark opposition to major cities and their fast-paced lifestyles. From the birthplace of America's student-led Civil Rights Revolution in Farmville to "The Ham Capital of the World," Smithfield, or the birthplace of Woodrow Wilson, Staunton, Virginia, is shaped by its history and carved by the elements. These quaint Virginia towns are well worth visiting for their serene surroundings alone but offer much more.