10 Best Mountain Towns in Virginia, According to Locals

These are the best mountain towns in Virginia for scenic views and outdoor adventures.

<p>krblokhin/Getty Images</p>

krblokhin/Getty Images

The diversity in Virginia’s geographical regions allowed it to become a state with multiple identities. In the Coastal Plain, life is defined by access to the ocean or the Chesapeake Bay. In the Piedmont, rolling hills and farmland create incredible pastoral scenes that surround larger cities. Then if you head west to the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Valley and Ridge, and the Appalachian Plateau, you’ll encounter ancient mountain ranges towering over rivers, valleys, and a variety of small towns — many of which have their own unique personalities, attractions, and reasons to visit.

“Virginia mountain towns make me think of windy roads and endless stonewalls — a feeling of going back in time,” says Ann Shannon, lead concierge at The Clifton, a boutique hotel in Charlottesville. “I’m also reminded of eclectic shops, delicious food, the friendliest people, and fresh air. It gives me a sense of peace.”

As someone who grew up in Bedford, a small town at the base of the Peaks of Otter, I can also vouch for this specific blend of charm, magic, and nostalgia. And while the fall is a particularly special time to experience it — according to Shannon, the foliage is “second to none with bright reds, yellows, and oranges cascading throughout the mountain ranges" — the best mountain towns in Virginia are filled with year-round appeal. Read on to discover our expert-recommend favorites.

Related: 10 Best Mountain Towns in the South


<p>krblokhin/Getty Images</p>

krblokhin/Getty Images

Charlottesville might technically be a city, but it veers more toward small town than bustling metropolis. “Home to the University of Virginia, Charlottesville is a beautiful college town,” says Shannon. “I love walking the UVA grounds or hiking the Rivanna Trails and the Saunders-Monticello Trail; there’s [also] spectacular hiking in the Blue Ridge Mountains only a short drive from Charlottesville.” After you’ve worked up an appetite, you’ll be more than ready to fill up at a neighborhood bistro or snack on a charcuterie plate at a local winery. “The restaurants offer incredible culinary experiences, and there are more than 40 vineyards in the area,” she adds.


<p>Boxcar Photography/Getty Images</p>

Boxcar Photography/Getty Images

If you’re traveling through the Shenandoah Valley, which sits between the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Alleghenies, make it a point to stop in Harrisonburg. “This prime location gives you access to most outdoor activities you would want to do in Virginia: trails for hiking and biking, rock climbing, paddling, hunting, fishing, offroading, and more,” says Grant Price, a guide at Blue Ridge Mountain Guides. And if you’re looking to learn more about exploring the area? He recommends visiting some of Harrisonburg's many outfitters — including Walkabout Outfitter and Mossy Creek Fly Fishing.


<p>Bruce Yuanyue Bi/Getty Images</p>

Bruce Yuanyue Bi/Getty Images

Another college mountain town to add to your list is Lexington, home to Virginia Military Institute and Washington and Lee University. “Nestled in the mountains, Main Street welcomes visitors with cute shops and darling restaurants — most of which are locally owned,” says Shannon, who recommends staying overnight at The Georges. If you’re visiting in the summer, be sure to leave time in your itinerary for a performance at Lime Kiln Theater, an afternoon at Devils Backbone Brewing Company, or an entire day tubing the Maury River or fly fishing the nearby streams.


<p>Kyle Little/Getty Images</p>

Kyle Little/Getty Images

Galax, Virginia bats well above average in two areas: music and mountain adventure. Not only is it a stop along “The Crooked Road,” Virginia’s musical heritage trail, but it’s also known as the “Old Time Music Capital of the World.” Here, Appalachian music continues to reign supreme, and you can hear it in its many forms at the Blue Ridge Music Center, the Old Fiddlers’ Convention (held every August), and The Rex, a historic theater and live music venue located in downtown Galax. Before embarking on a day of hiking or mountain biking along the New River Trail, which has a trailhead in Galax, pop into New River Trail Outfitters for last-minute gear or bike rentals.


<p>Eifel Kreutz/Getty Images</p>

Eifel Kreutz/Getty Images

“Put simply, Damascus is a trail town,” says Price. “In fact, it is one of only three downtowns that the Appalachian Trail runs through.” (Hot Springs, North Carolina and Hanover, New Hampshire are the other two, although this definition depends on the understanding of trail placement and where it falls in relation to town.) He also notes that this mountain town is home to the 33.4-mile Virginia Creeper Trail, which many runners, hikers, and bikers use to explore the area between Abingdon and the Virginia-North Carolina border. While in Damascus, make it a point to visit the Appalachian Heritage Distillery for a bourbon and enjoy a meal at The Damascus Diner.


<p>Jon Bilous/Getty Images</p>

Jon Bilous/Getty Images

Those familiar with the state of Virginia may associate the town of Luray with the Luray Caverns, a geological marvel and the largest cavern in the eastern U.S., but there’s plenty more to do in this Shenandoah Valley town. Start your trip by checking into the Hotel Laurance, then get in some mileage on the Skyline Drive. Hiking in Shenandoah National Park is, of course, a must, as is a quick stop at the Luray Valley Museum and a day of family fun at nearby Massanutten Mountain. During the warmer months, the resort’s outdoor water park provides hours of entertainment with its water slides and wave pool.


<p>Bill Koplitz/Getty Images</p>

Bill Koplitz/Getty Images

One of the best features of mountain towns is their ability to explored in just a day or two. Take Sperryville, for example. The tiny destination has two main streets and no stoplights — and it’s the perfect basecamp for anyone driving the Blue Ridge Parkway or hiking in Shenandoah National Park. ”On a recent visit, I had lunch at the RPK Pizza Kitchen and everything was delicious, gourmet, and fresh,” says Shannon. “Right next door is The Corner Store, an upscale grocery with local goods — perfect for grabbing some freshly baked bread and a bottle of wine for dinner. Just 10 minutes north is Patty O’s in Little Washington — a true culinary treat.”

Related: 15 Best Weekend Getaways in Virginia, According to Locals


<p>Katherine Frey/The Washington Post via Getty Images</p>

Katherine Frey/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Abingdon encompasses everything that makes a Virginia mountain town so special. There’s great food — dinner at The Tavern is a nonnegotiable — a book store, a unique coffee shop, cozy places to grab a drink (Katbird's Wine & Gourmet and Tumbling Creek Cider Company), a world-class farmers market, and a dedication to celebrating the arts (check out The Arts Depot and Barter Theatre). You’ll also find a touch of luxury at The Martha Washington Inn & Spa; as a guest, you can use the hotel’s complimentary town bikes to ride down the historic Main Street.


<p>Ryan Herron/Getty Images</p>

Ryan Herron/Getty Images

“Roanoke continues to evolve into an outdoor hotspot,” says Price. “One shining example is the annual Roanoke Go Outside Festival, which brings paddlers, bikers, hikers, frisbee golfers, tree climbers... [and all types of] outdoors people together.” Those in search of a small-town feeling within the city should head to the historic Grandin Village, a walkable neighborhood with all types of boutiques, local restaurants, coffee shops, and live music performances. For travelers looking for a more heart-pumping adventure, Price recommends the “classic sections of the Appalachian Trail, such as Dragon’s Tooth and McAfee Knob,” the latter of which is one of the most photographed spots on the AT.


<p>John Covert/Getty Images</p>

John Covert/Getty Images

Bedford is a small mountain town that has begun to hold its own in the world of Virginia tourism. It’s an easy day trip from both Lynchburg and Roanoke — approximately 20 and 40 minutes, respectively — and its proximity to the Blue Ridge Mountains is hard to beat. It’s a short drive up to the Peaks of Otter, where hiking trails, picnic tables, and the Blue Ridge Parkway’s scenic overlooks await. In town, be sure to stop by the National D-Day Memorial, have a beer at Beale’s Brewery, and shop for local art at Goose Creek Studio.

Related: This Charming Virginia Town Is the Perfect Fall Escape — With Beautiful Foliage, Apple Picking, and Family-friendly Events

For more Travel & Leisure news, make sure to sign up for our newsletter!

Read the original article on Travel & Leisure.