Small town living is something that never goes out of style. A drive through Virginia’s rural country yields exquisite scenery and puts you in the company of some of the friendliest folks around. And as Virginians know, there are more than a few of these places around — unique in their characteristics, but similar in their charm. If ever you need to escape the rush of traffic and routines, here are some downright delightful places you can escape to.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life. While we continue to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, please take proper precautions or add them to your bucket list to see at a later date. If you know of a local business that could use some extra support during these times, please nominate them here:
1. Rocky Mount
Just a stone’s throw from Roanoke, Rocky Mount has been attracting travelers since the 1760s, when English colonist arrived there for the first time. Living through much of the state’s history, this town has acquired much history. It’s here you’ll find the Booker T. Washington Natural Monument as well as a charming historic district. This town is best explored on foot, and there’s a music center that hosts some incredible acts.
Tucked away in the Blue Ridge Mountains of southwestern Virginia, Floyd is delightful in almost every regard. Despite a rather small population of under 1000, Floyd serves as its own county seat. It’s the music that really puts this small rural town on the map, though. For authentic, bluegrass music, the Friday Night Jamboree at the Floyd Country Store is not to be missed.
Another neighbor of Roanoke, Salem is a medium-sized small town that is also the home of Roanoke College. The main street is charming and picturesque, marked by historic buildings and friendly storefronts. Visitors can enjoy attending any of the town’s numerous athletic events, as this area is well-known for its sports teams.
Many Virginians are familiar with Luray for its proximity to Luray Caverns, an amazing series of underground caves for which that region of the state is well known. However, the town itself is also full of places to explore. Located in Page County, Luray has a population of nearly 5,000 and is named after a town in France. The town has a lively outdoor scene and is the location of the Shenandoah National Park headquarters.
First established in the 1700s, the town of Orange has served as a scenic place to call home for centuries. The population of this rural area is just under 5,000 and is known for its proximity to the home of James Madison, Montpelier. Visiting Orange means exploring the city’s historic buildings, including the Orange Train Station. There’s also a delightful farmers market selling local produce and crafts on Saturdays.
Formerly part of Fairfax, Culpeper is a beautiful example of the Virginia Main Street program. In recent years, the area has been renovated to show off its incredible dining and shopping scene. Of course, the charm of Culpeper goes much deeper than that. Downtown is a gateway into the town’s history, which is showcased at the fascinating Museum of Culpeper History.
Part of the Lynchburg Metropolitan Area, the town of Bedford was named by the Fourth Duke of Bedford, John Russell, in 1754. Poplar Forest, the second home of Thomas Jefferson, is located here. In addition to beautiful architecture, Bedford has incredible natural landmarks nearby. To the west are the Blue Ridge Mountains, the south is Smith Mountain Lake and the northeast is the James River.
8. South Hill
Located in southern Virginia is the memorable town of South Hill. With a population of just under 5,000, it's a relatively small area of Mecklenburg County. Some of South Hill's characteristic traits are the brightly colored buildings of its downtown districts and its tobacco market. Photographed above is the picturesque tobacco flower, a common sight along the area's rural landscape.
Wachapreague is a tiny fishing community in Accomack County, right along Virginia's Eastern Shore. The town is home to only 200 residents, who are secluded by beautiful woods, farmland, and water. Lovingly referred to as the "Little City by the Sea," Wachapreague makes for a great coastal destination.
Nestled in the Blue Ridge Highlands of southwestern Virginia, the town of Marion is a designated National Main Street Community. This honor is apparent in the beautiful downtown, which features the historic Lincoln Theatre. Among other performing arts, this venue is known for hosting the fantastic bluegrass program known as “Song of the Mountains.” There’s also the elegant General Francis Marion Hotel which is classified as three-diamond.
Originally referred to as Scott's Landing, this historic James River community was established in 1818 along an area known as Horseshoe Bend. The town's identity has been linked to the river since it was first established. In its time, Scottsville has served an important role in commerce, including the construction that ran a canal to Richmond. Visitors today can see the Canal Basin Square and learn more about Scottsville's fascinating history.
Did any of your favorite rural towns in Virginia miss the list? Or, do you have ties to any of these wonderful places? In either case, we’d love to hear from you! For more small town lovin’, be sure to check out these
10 Small Towns In Virginia That Offer Nothing But Peace And Quiet.