Central and Western Virginia

We’ve compiled the best of the best in Central and Western Virginia - browse our top choices for the top things to see or do during your stay.

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  • 1. Anne Spencer House and Gardens

    Garden

    Step into "Edankraal," the studio of this late poet of the Harlem Renaissance, and the place where Anne Spencer wrote her most significant poems...

    Step into "Edankraal," the studio of this late poet of the Harlem Renaissance, and the place where Anne Spencer wrote her most significant poems. Hers is the only work of a Virginian to appear in the Norton Anthology of Modern American and English Poetry. A librarian at one of Lynchburg's segregated black schools, Spencer (1882–1975) penned most of her work in this back-garden sanctuary, which has been left completely intact with her writing desk, bookcases, mementos, and walls tacked with photos and news clippings.

    1313 Pierce St., Lynchburg, Virginia, 22504, United States
    434-845–1313

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: $5, Tours by appointment.
  • 2. Appomattox Court House

    Historic District/Site

    To many history buffs, the Civil War lives on, but the history books say it ended here, 25 mi east of Lynchburg, on April 9, 1865, when Confederate...

    To many history buffs, the Civil War lives on, but the history books say it ended here, 25 mi east of Lynchburg, on April 9, 1865, when Confederate General Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia to General Grant, leader of pursuing Union forces. There are 27 structures in the national historical park, restored to its 1865 appearance; most can be entered. A highlight is the reconstructed McLean House, in whose parlor the articles of surrender were signed.

    3 mi northeast of Appomattox, on Rte. 24, Lynchburg, Virginia, 24522, United States
    434-352–8987

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: June–Aug. $4; Sept.–May $3, Daily 8:30–5
  • 3. Ash Lawn–Highland

    Historic Home

    Standing in contrast to the grandiose Monticello is the modest home of James Monroe, who held more major political offices than any other U...

    Standing in contrast to the grandiose Monticello is the modest home of James Monroe, who held more major political offices than any other U.S. president. He intentionally kept it a simple farmhouse, building the home in 1799, 2 mi from his friend Jefferson's estate. A later owner added on a more prominent two-story section where two original Monroe rooms burned down. Though it definitely has a more common feel than Monticello, the small rooms in Ash Lawn–Highland are similarly crowded with gifts from notables and souvenirs from Monroe's time as envoy to France. Allow a couple of hours to visit Monroe's estate, a perfect way to complete a day that begins at Monticello.

    1000 James Monroe Pkwy., Rte. 795 southwest of Monticello, Charlottesville, Virginia, 22902, United States
    434-293–9539

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: $10, Apr.–Oct., daily 9–6; Nov.–Mar., daily 11–5
  • 4. Barboursville Vineyards

    Winery/Brewery/Distillery

    Barboursville Vineyards . This vineyard between Charlottesville and Orange was the first in the state to grow only vinifera (old-world) grapes...

    Barboursville Vineyards. This vineyard between Charlottesville and Orange was the first in the state to grow only vinifera (old-world) grapes. The grapes were planted in 1976 on the former plantation of James Barbour, governor from 1812 to 1814. His house, designed by Thomas Jefferson, was gutted by fire in 1884; the ruins remain are open to visitors for self-guided tours. 17655 Winery Rd., near intersection of Rtes. 20 and 23, Barboursville, VA, 22923. 540/832–3824. www.barboursvillewine.com. Tours free; tastings $5. Tastings Mon.–Sat. 10–5, Sun. 11–5.

    17655 Winery Rd., near intersection of Rtes. 20 and 23, Barboursville, Virginia, 22923, United States
    540-832–3824

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Tours free; tastings $5, Tastings Mon.–Sat. 10–5, Sun. 11–5
  • 5. Belle Grove

    Historic Home

    Both an elegant farmhouse and 100-acre working farm, Belle Grove is a monument to the rural and the refined, two qualities that exist in harmony...

    Both an elegant farmhouse and 100-acre working farm, Belle Grove is a monument to the rural and the refined, two qualities that exist in harmony in the architecture here and throughout the region. Constructed in 1797 out of limestone quarried on the property, the building reflects the influence of Thomas Jefferson, said to have been a consultant. Originally built for Major Isaac Hite and his wife Nelly (President James Madison's sister), this was the headquarters of the Union general Philip Sheridan during the Battle of Cedar Creek (1864), a crucial defeat for the Confederacy. Part of the battle was fought on the farm.

    336 Belle Grove Rd., Middletown, Virginia, 22645, United States
    540-869–2028

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: $5, Apr.–Oct., Mon.–Sat. 10–3:15, Sun. 1–4:15; Nov., Sat. 10–4, Sun. noon–5
  • 6. Blue Ridge Parkway

    Scenic Drive

    The Blue Ridge Parkway takes up where Skyline Drive leaves off at Waynesboro, weaving south for 469 mi to the Great Smoky Mountains National...

    The Blue Ridge Parkway takes up where Skyline Drive leaves off at Waynesboro, weaving south for 469 mi to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina. The parkway goes up to higher elevations than the drive, up to 4,200 feet at Apple Orchard Mountain, and even higher in North Carolina. In Virginia the parkway is especially scenic between Waynesboro and Roanoke, winding through the George Washington National Forest, visiting numerous ridgetop overlooks that provide views of crumpled-looking mountains and patchwork valleys.Milepost 0 is at Rockfish Gap. There are no gas stations on the parkway, so you'll have to exit if you need to refuel, and be prepared for a leisurely drive as the speed limit is 45 mph. Go to the Visitor Center at Explore Park, open 9–5 daily year-round, 1.5 mi north of milepost 115 near Roanoke, or call the National Park Service's office in Vinton (540/857–2490) for information on Virginia's section of the parkway.

    Virginia, United States
  • 7. Booker T. Washington National Monument

    Memorial/Monument/Tomb

    It would have been hard for Booker T. Washington to imagine the farm on which he was born into slavery hosting a national monument. But this...

    It would have been hard for Booker T. Washington to imagine the farm on which he was born into slavery hosting a national monument. But this restored tobacco farm 25 mi southeast of Roanoke and 21 mi south of Bedford is a fitting tribute to the humble origins of Washington (1856–1915), who broke through the yoke of oppression to become a remarkable educator and author, advising presidents McKinley, Roosevelt, and Taft and taking tea with Queen Victoria. More important, he started Tuskegee Institute in Alabama and inspired generations of African-Americans. Covering 224 acres, the farm's restored buildings; tools; crops; animals; and, in summer, interpreters in period costume all help show what life during slavery was like.

    12130 Booker T. Washington Hwy., (Rte. 122, 21 mi south of Bedford) Hardy, Roanoke, Virginia, 24101, United States
    540-721–2094

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free, Daily 9–5
  • 8. Carter's Mountain Orchard

    Farm/Ranch

    If apple cider is more to your taste, visit Carter's Mountain Orchard for stunning views of Charlottesville and some of the best apples in the state. ...

    If apple cider is more to your taste, visit Carter's Mountain Orchard for stunning views of Charlottesville and some of the best apples in the state.

    1435 Carters Mountain Trail, Charlottesville, Virginia, 22901, United States
    434-977–1833
  • 9. Center in the Square

    Museum/Gallery

    In a restored warehouse, Center in the Square contains the Mill Mountain Theatre and regional museums covering science, history, and art, but...

    In a restored warehouse, Center in the Square contains the Mill Mountain Theatre and regional museums covering science, history, and art, but during the renovation, the museums will be moving into temporary quarters starting in 2011. The finished facade will be upgraded, and a new atrium and green rooftop space with a butterfly habitat will be added. Check the Center's Web site for address and contact information until the construction is completed in 2012. A combined ticket grants access to the science museum, which has many interactive exhibits, as well as the MegaDome theater and Hopkins Planetarium.

    1 Market Sq. SE, Roanoke, Virginia, 24011, United States
    540-342–5700
  • 10. Crabtree Falls

    Body Of Water/Waterfall

    A series of cascades fall a distance of 1,200 feet. Taken together, Virginia claims these cascades as the highest waterfall east of the Rockies...

    A series of cascades fall a distance of 1,200 feet. Taken together, Virginia claims these cascades as the highest waterfall east of the Rockies, though no single waterfall within the series would qualify as such. Whatever the superlatives or qualifications, the falls are a wondrous sight. A trail winds up a steep mountainside all the way to the top, but the first overlook is an easy stroll 700 feet from the lower parking lot. The best time to see the waterfalls is winter through spring, when the water is high.

    11581 Crabtree Falls Hwy. , Montebello, Virginia, 24464, United States
    540-291–2188
  • 11. Exchange Hotel Civil War Museum

    Museum/Gallery

    During the Civil War, a handsome Greek revival hotel was transformed into a Confederate receiving hospital for wounded and dying soldiers. In...

    During the Civil War, a handsome Greek revival hotel was transformed into a Confederate receiving hospital for wounded and dying soldiers. In addition to weapons, uniforms, and the personal effects of Union and Confederate soldiers, the museum displays the often crude medical equipment used for amputations, tooth extractions, and bloodletting. One room re-creates a hospital ward; an estimated 70,000 soldiers were treated here between 1862 and 1865. The museum hosts an annual ghost walk every October.

    400 S. Main St., Gordonsville, Virginia, 22942, United States
    540-832–2944

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: $6, Apr.–mid-Nov., Mon.–Sat. 10–4, Sun. 1–4. Closed Wed.
  • 12. Frontier Culture Museum

    Museum/Gallery

    An outdoor living-history museum, the Frontier Culture Museum re-creates agrarian life in America. The four illustrative farmsteads, American...

    An outdoor living-history museum, the Frontier Culture Museum re-creates agrarian life in America. The four illustrative farmsteads, American, Scotch-Irish, German, and English, were painstakingly moved from their original sites and reassembled on the museum grounds. A West African village and an American Indian village are also among the exhibits. The livestock and plants here resemble the historic breeds and varieties as closely as possible. Special programs and activities, held throughout the year, include soap and broom making, cornhusking bees, and supper and barn dances.

    1250 Richmond Rd., off I–81, Exit 222 to Rte. 250 W, Staunton, Virginia, 22402, United States
    540-332–7850

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: $10, Dec.–Mar., daily 10–4; Apr.–Dec., daily 9–5
  • 13. George C. Marshall Museum

    Museum/Gallery

    This museum preserves the memory of the World War II army chief of staff. Exhibits trace his brilliant career, which began when he was aide...

    This museum preserves the memory of the World War II army chief of staff. Exhibits trace his brilliant career, which began when he was aide-de-camp to John "Black Jack" Pershing in World War I and culminated when, as secretary of state, he devised the Marshall Plan, a strategy for reviving postwar Western Europe. Marshall's Nobel Peace Prize is on display; so is the Oscar won by his aide Frank McCarthy, who produced the Academy Award–winning Best Picture of 1970, Patton. An electronically narrated map tells the story of World War II.

    VMI campus, Letcher Ave., Lexington, Virginia, 24450, United States
    540-463–7103

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: $5, Tues.–Sat. 9–5, Sun. 1–5
  • 14. Harrisonburg–Rockingham Historical Society

    Museum/Gallery

    Displays of multimedia folk art reflect the largely German and Scotch-Irish culture of the valley. One Civil War exhibit includes an electric...

    Displays of multimedia folk art reflect the largely German and Scotch-Irish culture of the valley. One Civil War exhibit includes an electric map that traces Stonewall Jackson's famous 1862 Valley Campaign.

    382 High St., Dayton, Virginia, 22821, United States
    540-879–2616

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: $5, Mon.–Sat. 10–4
  • 15. Historic Smithfield Plantation

    Historic Home

    Almost a century before Virginia Tech's founding in 1872, the Historic Smithfield plantation was built in what was then the frontier wilds....

    Almost a century before Virginia Tech's founding in 1872, the Historic Smithfield plantation was built in what was then the frontier wilds. Aristocratic colonist and Revolutionary War patriot William Preston moved his family to the estate in 1774, a year before the war began. Among his descendants were three Virginia governors and four U.S. senators. Today costumed interpreters, authentic period furniture, and Native American artifacts reveal how different life in the New River valley was more than two centuries ago.

    1000 Smithfield Plantation Rd., Blacksburg, Virginia, 24060, United States
    540-231–3947

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: $7, Mon., Tues., and Thurs.–Sat. 10–5; Sun. 1–5. Closed Wed.
  • 16. James Madison Museum

    Museum/Gallery

    The James Madison Museum presents a comprehensive exhibition on the Founding Father most responsible for the Constitution (Madison became president...

    The James Madison Museum presents a comprehensive exhibition on the Founding Father most responsible for the Constitution (Madison became president in 1809). The collection includes some of the china and glassware recovered from the White House before the British torched it during the War of 1812. The fourth president's tiny Campeachy chair, an 18th-century piece made for him by his friend Thomas Jefferson, shows how short he was.

    129 Caroline St., Orange, Virginia, 22960, United States
    540-672–1776

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: $5, Mon.–Sat. 10–4, Sun. 1–4
  • 17. Legacy Museum of African-American History

    Museum/Gallery

    This museum's rotating exhibits focus on such themes as health and medicine, education, business, the civil rights struggle, and the contributions...

    This museum's rotating exhibits focus on such themes as health and medicine, education, business, the civil rights struggle, and the contributions African-Americans have made to society, the arts, and politics.

    403 Monroe St., Lynchburg, Virginia, 24505, United States
    434-845–3455

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: $5, Wed.–Sat. noon–4, Sun. 2–4, and by appointment.
  • 18. Luray Caverns

    Cave

    Not only is this the largest cavern in the state, it also features the world's only "stalacpipe organ," composed of stalactites (calcite formations...

    Not only is this the largest cavern in the state, it also features the world's only "stalacpipe organ," composed of stalactites (calcite formations hanging from the ceilings of the caverns) that have been tuned to concert pitch and are tapped to create echoing sound. The organ is played electronically for every tour and may be played manually on special occasions. A one-hour tour begins every 20 minutes. Beyond the organ, Luray Caverns holds plenty of natural beauty, like the Dream Lake that perfectly mirrors back the stalactite formations. It's an easy addition to Skyline Drive, just 9 mi west on U.S. 211.

    U.S. 211, 101 Cave Hill Rd., Luray, Virginia, 22835, United States
    540-743–6551

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: $19, Mid-Mar.–mid-June, daily 9–6; mid-June–Labor Day, daily 9–7; Labor Day–Oct., daily 9–6; Nov.–mid-Mar., weekdays 9–4, weekends 9–5
  • 19. Mabry Mill

    Factory

    Mabry Mill, north of Meadows of Dan and the Blue Ridge Parkway's junction with U.S. 58 at milepost 176, 55 mi south of Roanoke, is one of the...

    Mabry Mill, north of Meadows of Dan and the Blue Ridge Parkway's junction with U.S. 58 at milepost 176, 55 mi south of Roanoke, is one of the parkway's most popular stops for photographers.

    Blue Ridge Pkwy., milepost 176, Virginia, 24120, United States
    276-952–2947

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free, May–Oct., daily 8–6
  • 20. Market Square

    Plaza/Square

    Market Square is the heart of Roanoke, with Virginia's oldest continuous farmers' market, a multiethnic food court inside the restored City...

    Market Square is the heart of Roanoke, with Virginia's oldest continuous farmers' market, a multiethnic food court inside the restored City Market Building, and several restaurants, shops, and bars. The building is undergoing a renovation to turn it into a retail complex with shops and restaurants (opening late 2011), but the farmers' market will stay in operation at its current location throughout the construction period.In a restored warehouse, Center in the Square contains the Mill Mountain Theatre and regional museums covering science, history, and art, but during the renovation, the museums will be moving into temporary quarters starting in 2011. The finished facade will be upgraded, and a new atrium and green rooftop space with a butterfly habitat will be added. Check the Center's Web site for address and contact information until the construction is completed in 2012. A combined ticket grants access to the science museum, which has many interactive exhibits, as well as the MegaDome theater and Hopkins Planetarium. 1 Market Sq. SE, 24011. 540/342–5700. www.centerinthesquare.org.

    Roanoke, Virginia, United States

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