Unveiling Virginia’s Historical Legacy: Exploring 7 Enchanting Small Towns
Virginia, renowned as the “birthplace of the nation” due to its distinction as the home of the first permanent English settlement, is a state brimming with rich culture, captivating individuals, and unparalleled historical sites.
Furthermore, Virginia showcases a diverse geographical tapestry, spanning from the majestic Appalachian Mountains to the picturesque Atlantic Coast. Amidst this captivating landscape, you’ll discover an array of delightful small towns, tailor-made for unforgettable getaways with loved ones.
Boasting a delightful blend of peculiar attractions and enjoyable pursuits, these towns emerge as the quintessential vacation destinations for all.
Located in Washington County, Abingdon is a stunning town that combines history with natural beauty. Founded in the late 1700s, the town area has seen many significant events such as the American Revolutionary War and Lord Dunmore’s War. So, if you’re a history enthusiast, check out spots like the Barter Theatre and William King Museum of Art. Designated as the “State Theatre of Virginia,” the 1933 Barter Theatre is a stunning tourist destination.
As of today, it is one of the few year-round professional resident repertory theaters still open in America. Similarly, the William King Museum of Art is housed in a 1913 school building and showcases spectacular art pieces from across the world. If you’re history nerves are still tingling after these sights, you can enjoy an evening at the Abingdon Historic District. The district boasts many notable buildings such as the Martha Washington Inn and Abingdon Arts Depot.
After taking in the past, move back into the present to enjoy Abingdon’s outdoor scenery. The Virginia Creeper Trail is a great place to take in the views. This 35-mile (56 km) trail is open for hiking, cycling, and even horse riding so you can spend an entire day taking in Virginia’s beautiful countryside.
If this seems like too much effort, you might find Abingdon Vineyards more entertaining. With 16 acres of natural land, you can witness the wine-making process and end the day with delicious local wines. All in all, Abingdon is rich with historical value with a side of natural beauty for the perfect combination.
Nestled within Prince William County, Occoquan is an adorable town perfect for a summer trip. Home to a quaint population of 934, this town boasts the beautiful Occoquan River and an intriguing past. If you’re here to enjoy the outdoors, River Mill Park is a must-visit destination.
The lovely park showcases Occaquan’s verdant scenery as well as the rapid waters of the flowing river. You can spend the day watching the sights, having a picnic, or walking along the paved walking trail! If you want to get closer to the water, opt for the Occoquan River Footbridge instead. This small footbridge is surrounded by trees, water, rocks, and natural beauty making it an ideal picture spot for tourists.
After enjoying the natural sights, it’s time to take in Occaquan’s vibrant culture. While it may not be very large with an area of less than 1 square mile, the town is filled with amazing stores, eateries, and cafes. For example, grab a snack at The Secret Garden Cafe which serves delectable French toast and salads. Or, enjoy a fresh drink at the Bottle Stop Wine Bar which serves delicious beer on tap! After quenching your thirst, you might want to take a look at some relaxing attractions. So, walk on over to the Mill House Museum which is a highlight in town.
This 18th-century mill was America’s first automated gristmill which operated until a disastrous fire burned it down in 1924. Today, it is used by the Occoquan Historical Society to showcase exhibits, memorabilia, and artifacts surrounding the town’s past.
Forget about all your stress and tension with a relaxing trip to the stunning town of Onancock in Accomack County. Home to a tight-knit community of 1,260, this town is the embodiment of adorable charm. No matter where you go, you’ll find aesthetic boutique shops, quaint cafes, and stunning art galleries lining the streets.
If you’re into art, the Danny Doughy Gallery is an unmissable spot showcasing the famous artist’s paintings stretching the boundaries of realism. If you find something you like, you can buy the piece to take home as a souvenir! After some tiring art shopping, stop by Mallards at the Wharf which serves some of the best fresh seafood dishes in the region.
Speaking of seafood, Onancock’s true beauty is nestled throughout its majestic coastline. With direct access to the Atlantic Ocean and the Chesapeake Bay, you can get out on the water and have some fun under the sun. The best way to do this is by getting on the Tangier-Onancock Ferry rides which offers an amazing boat tour of the nearby waters. End the day with a short tour of the 1799 Ker Place museum to take in all of Onancock’s diverse offerings.
Ironically located in the middle of this list, Middleburg is a small town in Loudon County touted for its amazing horses and hunting. Nicknamed the “Nation’s Horse and Hunt Capital,” this small town of 700 boasts a past filled with foxhunting, equestrian activities, and large mansions. To learn about this exhilarating past, spend your day at the National Sporting Library & Museum.
With hundreds of art pieces, equipment, and other items, it showcases the immense importance of horses and sports in the town. That being said, along with the past, Middleburg is still a great place for horseriding today! With fantastic racing fields like the Fox Chase Farm and Glenwood Park, you can get on a trusty steed and race with the locals. These spots also serve wine and food for an amazing experience surrounded by good vibes.
While cute horses galloping around is more than enough to make Middleburg one of the most adorable destinations, the town also has some colorful attractions. Riddled throughout the streets, you’ll see a lot of amazing specialty stores with unique gifts and souvenirs. One great spot is The Christmas Sleigh Inc., a small store with authentic German decorations and clothing.
If you’re looking for something a bit more refreshing, 50 West Vineyards is a great winery with a vast collection of crisp and balanced wines. So, after enjoying your stay in Middleburg, you can also bring something adorable back for your friends and family.
Chincoteague is a beautiful resort town in Virginia located on its namesake, Chincoteague Island. Testament to this, the magnificent town is surrounded by water providing tourists with a beautiful environment rarely found elsewhere. To enjoy the waters, set up a beach chair at the vast Assateague Beach. Featuring crystal-clear water, white sand, and a bustling vibe, you can relax and spend some time sunbathing.
The beach also has unique quirks such as clams, shells, and occasional horses to keep things exciting! If the mention of horses got you interested, you’ll be glad to know that the town is also home to the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge. This 14,000-acre expanse is home to a wide variety of wildlife including waterfowl, peregrine falcons, Chincoteague ponies, sika deer, and Atlantic horseshoe crabs. So, any animal lover is sure to have a blast here.
While the waterside sights are never ending in Chincoteague, the town also has some interesting historical attractions. For example, the 1833 Assateague Light lighthouse is a popular spot showcasing the stunning building along with the keeper’s house.
To learn more about the local past, you can visit the Museum of Chincoteague Island which is a wellspring of memorabilia and even displays the lighthouse’s first-order Fresnel Lens. No matter what you plan on doing, end the day with an amazing sandwich at the Sea Star Cafe and you’ll enjoy your time in Chincoteague.
Often ranked as one of the most beautiful small towns in Virginia, Staunton is a treasure trove of adorable charm. From the bustling arts and music scene to the amazing scenic outdoor attractions, there is no end to the activities in this town. Understand the high-spirited town at its core with a trip to the Frontier Culture Museum.
One of the region’s largest museums, you can witness recreated rural architecture and interactive exhibits for a fun and educational experience. Similarly, another must-visit cultural destination in town is the magnificent American Shakespeare Center. Showcasing stunning architecture and a regal ambiance, this place is perfect to witness iconic Shakespeare titles such as Hamlet and Coriolanus. If these sights aren’t enough, a short stroll through town is sure to be filled with intriguing galleries, museums, and more.
After walking all over town, you might want to relax and cool down. Well, Staunton has just the thing for you. Grab a seat at Gypsy Hill Park and meet some of the locals who are always up to talk to new people. Or, grab a bite at the famous Kline’s Dairy Bar. Established in 1943, this site holds paramount importance with some of the state’s best-frozen custard and ice cream! While these things are fun, Staunton also houses a hidden surprise after dark.
This is the spooky Black Raven Paranormal ghost tour which is not for the light of heart. Covering haunted locations such as a train station under lantern light, enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Founded in 1810, and named after General Joseph Warren, a Revolutionary War hero, Warrenton is a blast to the past. This laid-back town of 10,000 has managed to keep its historical roots in combination with modern amenities and attractions. If you’re into the region’s history, The Fauquier History Museum at the Old Jail is one of the most popular spots to visit. Built in 1808, this jail saw harsh conditions and treatment for inmates until it was closed down in the 1960s.
Soon after, the site was converted into a museum that preserves important exhibits on the town’s business, military, and cultural history. To learn more about the town, you can spend a day at the Warrenton Historic District which features an impressive 288 contributing buildings!
While the local history is definitely intriguing, Warrenton is also known for its positive vibe. No matter where you go, the streets will be filled with cute stores, eateries, and interesting establishments. For example, the Fox Den Antique Mall is a quirky location offering refurbished and new items perfect for buying as souvenirs. Or, try out some of Molon Lave Vineyard’s famous handcrafted wine to give your taste buds an exhilarating experience. Walk off the calories at the Warrenton Branch Greenway which showcases the town’s verdant beauty and lovely environment. All in all, Warrenton is a treasure trove of adorable and enjoyable attractions.
From an interesting history to amazing eateries, each of these towns has something unique to offer. For example, history enthusiasts can enjoy Warrenton’s historical sites while nature lovers might prefer the vast open land in Chincoteague. No matter what you’re into, you’ll find it in one of these adorable small towns in Virginia.