We’re continually on the hunt for experiences that add richness to our lives. In the spirit of the revival of road trips, we are proud to feature a monthly section featuring destinations within driving distance of Charleston. We feel that our smart and savvy readers will find these trips interesting and entertaining.
Driving a little less than four hours slightly Northeast of Charleston, West Virginia, brings you to Lynchburg, Virginia. Lynchburg (the town of hills) holds a Civil War historical past, was home to some of the first major shoe manufacturers and tobacco tycoons, and a place where all things local are coveted. Whether you’re visiting Lynchburg for the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains or exploring a new city, chances are you’ve made a good choice.
WHERE TO EAT & DRINK IN LYNCHBURG
Breakfast in Lynchburg is a real treat at Market at Main, an old-timey dining spot with a lunch counter and breakfast on the menu all day. The most unique find on the menu: Flight of Pancakes. You can try one of the sweet potato, corncake, and buttermilk pancakes with your choice of breakfast protein. The Eggs Chesapeake (Benedict) with crab cake or Eggs Virginia (with Virginia sage sausage patties) are two other tasty options.
My Dog Duke’s Diner serves mouth-watering comfort food and gourmet grilled cheeses, such as the Short Rib with pimento cheese. This culinary hotspot also has Mac & Cheese with truffle cream and all-day breakfast items, heavy on the waffles and French toast creations. Grey’s is another tasty dining option, with creative hand-crafted cocktails, house-made Burrata, and exotic farm-to-table dishes.
Lynchburg has plenty of sweets in store for you, too. Cinn City Gourmet Buns & Beignets offers gourmet cinnamon buns (think Blueberry Lemonade or Birthday Cake), while Mrs. Joy’s Absolutely Fabulous Treats has homemade donuts, cupcakes, and brownies. You can enjoy a proper English afternoon tea or a plate of pastries and sweet treats at Ploughcroft Tea Room, also offering an à la carte menu.
WHAT TO SEE & DO in LYNCHBURG
There are some interesting art galleries in Lynchburg, including the Maier Museum of Art’s collection of 19th through 21st-century paintings. Impressive works by Hopper, Audubon, and O’Keeffe are some you will see in this free museum. This lovely urban city, with a prevalent arts and culture scene, also has trendy roadside public “LOVE” artwork displays created to honor the “Virginia is for Lovers” 50th birthday.
Explore the performing arts at the Academy Center for the Arts, a fixture in Lynchburg for 110 years. While driving around town, you will notice seven painted pianos scattered throughout. These public artistic gifts are sponsored by Hill City Keys and are available for anyone to sit down and hammer out a tune.
Lynchburg runs along the gorgeous James River, and Percival’s Island Trail is a perfect place to get outdoors and enjoy a brisk walk or run in a scenic setting. Once an old railroad bed, the 1 1/2 mile paved trail is a Lynchburg landmark. You can also canoe, kayak, tube, batteau, or standup paddleboard on the James.
Explore some of Lynchburg’s historic sites at Old City Cemetery (burial site of 20,000 Confederate soldiers, tobacco farmers, and European immigrants), Monument Terrace, the Lynchburg Museum, and Courthouse Hill. Twenty minutes west lies Poplar Forest, Thomas Jefferson’s self-designed retirement home where he made special memories with his grandchildren.
Save time to tour Point of Honor, a Federal-style historical home turned city museum. Point of Honor belonged to a prominent local physician who was friends with Thomas Jefferson (and possibly the doctor that killed one of this own patients, Patrick Henry). The views of the James River alone are worth the visit.
If you are traveling with kids, they will be in heaven at Amazement Square; a four-story venue packed full of engaging exhibits and climbing structures for all ages. Kids can also learn about harvesting and selling crops and milking “Milky,” the cow. They will also enjoy the Riverside Park Sprayground with dumping buckets, a playground, and spraying frogs.
WHERE TO STAY in LYNCHBURG
The Craddock Terry Hotel is a converted shoe warehouse that is now a boutique hotel showcasing the tremendous shoe industry once found in Lynchburg. It has a lovely lobby, gift shop, and shoe-box themed room decor, as well as one of the most popular restaurants in Lynchburg. Staying there or not, pop in to say hello to Penny Loafer, the in-house mascot who endorses the hotel’s Pampered Pet Package.
Luxury accommodations, gorgeous rooms, and a convenient downtown location are what you’ll find at the historic Virginian Hotel, part of the Curio Collection by Hilton. One of Lynchburg’s best fine dining restaurants is in the hotel—The William & Henry. Upstairs you’ll find Skyline, the only rooftop restaurant and bar in downtown Lynchburg.
A weekend visit to Lynchburg is a great way to immerse yourself in the Eastern foothills the picturesque Blue Ridge Mountains. Lynchburg’s gracious hospitality and big city feel will surprise you.