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Home of the Birthplace of Country Music, the Blue Ridge Highlands region in Southwest Virginia echoes with the passion of history’s most dominant country music pioneers. Annual festivals, historic venues and nightly jamborees celebrate Virginia’s global influence, creating a rich musical soundtrack for all travelers – whether meandering along winding roads, or venturing out onto scenic rivers and trails.
WHAT TO DO
- Abingdon’s first ever Restaurant Week will kick off at the Barter Theatre on Wednesday, March 4 with Southwest Virginia native and celebrity Chef Sean Brock. Chef Brock will sign copies of his new cookbook South: Essential Recipes and New Explorations, and discuss his career, his philosophy and Abingdon roots.
- A new and innovative concert venue is coming to tradition-rich Bristol Dragway. The legendary dragstrip, which has showcased the world’s fastest race cars and iconic drag racers, will now add a new chapter to its legacy when it moonlights as a premier outdoor concert venue known as the Thunder Valley Amphitheatre at Bristol Dragway.
- In September 2020, one of the country’s best music festivals and America’s night race are teaming up to offer an unforgettable experience in Bristol. The Rhythm and Racing Super Ticket includes a three-day weekend pass to Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion music festival and a three-day ticket to all the races at Bristol Motor Speedway, including the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race.
- Built in 1902 and beautifully restored, the Rock Room at the Bristol Train Station was remodeled and opened as a micro-wedding venue in October 2019.
- The Buffalo Hemp Company opened a retail outlet in the Town of Floyd offering organic CBD products that are grown and processed in Floyd.
- A new cycling event, The Appalachian Journey, will take place April 11 in Floyd County, one of the least populated and highest mountain plateaus east of the Mississippi. Three cycling trails, ranging from 36 miles to 110 miles, will suit any rider.
- Four new boat landings and river access points will be added to the The New River Water Trail in Giles County in 2020.
- In spring 2020, GearHead Moto Tours will be offering all-inclusive adventure motorcycle tours throughout Southwest Virginia.
- Patrick County Trail Hands brings art and trails together to engage visitors in a meaningful and unique experience. In addition to hiking, each experience includes the opportunity to learn more about the heritage, arts, nature, dreams and stories of the local community.
- The Patrick County Barn Quilt Trail was designed to connect with barn quilt trails in neighboring counties to promote tourism.
- A new public art trail in Radford encompasses murals and art museum exhibits, with temporary and permanent pieces throughout Radford.
- The Wonder Universe: A Children’s Museum opened in late 2019 in the New River Valley Mall in Christiansburg.
- Blacksburg Mountain Biking Skills Park opened in July 2019 with a climbing tail and beginner and intermediate flow trails.
- The Virginia Highlands Festival and William King Museum of Art are hosting a special opportunity for artists April 23-25 in Abingdon. “Plein Air Abingdon” is a plein air paint-out and pop-up gallery for creating new work, selling work and networking with fellow artists and creators.
WHERE TO EAT & DRINK
- Opening in spring 2020, Snow’s Fine Meats & Provisions is Abingdon’s first whole animal butcher shop and delicatessen. Located on Main Street, Snow’s Fine Meats & Provisions will offer pastured local meats, deli items and grab-n-go sandwiches, as well as cooking classes.
- Nicewonder Farm, located on 400 acres in the area, offers award-winning Nicewonder Vineyard wines and Appalachian cuisine at Taste, a wood-fired kitchen restaurant. In February 2020, Nicewonder Inn & Spa and Hickory, a fine dining restaurant, will open.
- The Bad Apple, a new destination dining experience, opened in Pembroke at Doe Creek Farm, a premier wedding venue and u-pick apple orchard.
- Opening in winter 2019, Tumbling Creek Cider Company offers local, hand-pressed cider for sale in Abingdon restaurants. Tumbling Creek Cider uses heritage cider varieties, with flavors heartening America’s cider legacy, while using a modern approach to finishing. Their first offerings include Moonshot, a semi-dry hard cider, and Hellbender, a hopped hard cider.
WHERE TO STAY
- After several years of fundraising and renovations, the highly anticipated Sessions Hotel will open in Spring 2020 in Bristol on State Street. The 70-room, $20 million project includes Southern Craft BBQ Restaurant, indoor and outdoor music venues, rooftop space and a luxury spa.
- Dream Rock Silo, an up-cycled 1950s Dairy Barn, was converted into a bed and breakfast with three separate accommodations.
- Eagleview Event Center, a brand new event and wedding barn that can accommodate up to 200 people, opened in Elk Creek.
- Beginning in April 2020, Gatewood Park Campground & Reservoir in the town of Pulaski will have upgraded camping facilities.