With dozens of critically acclaimed restaurants, nonstop entertainment, and easy transportation, the lure of Virginia’s bigger cities is obvious, but less likely are the quaint and cozy small towns. Southwest Virginia has many options in this category, offering a quiet getaway with tons of character and friendly locals to make it worth your while. These five small towns beckon you to come stay a while and experience the laidback charm of Southwest Virginia.
The small town of Coeburn sits along the Guest River with the Jefferson National Forest just south of the town border, providing ample outdoor activities for visitors. The High Knob Lake Trail and Little Stony National Recreation Trail are two of the popular hiking spots in the area, and cyclists head to the Guest River Gorge Trail, a scenic “rails-to-trails” pathway that runs along the river. Coeburn recently partnered with the neighboring town of Saint Paul and Spearhead Trails, an ATV and multi-use trail system in Southwest Virginia, to add a trailhead that offers access to the Mountain View Trails, one of the trails that winds through about 100 miles of the region.
Known for its beautiful downtown, this mountain gem features antique lamps, brick sidewalks, and several pedestrian bridges. Coeburn is also known as an artistic haven and is part of the Lonesome Pine Artisan Trail in Wise as well as a member of the ‘Round the Mountain Artisan Network. The Historic Lays Hardware Center for the Arts is part of the famed Crooked Road, which pays tribute to local musical legends like the late Dr. Ralph Stanley, himself a longtime resident of Coeburn, and Appalachian music culture as a whole. Every Friday night, the venue hosts musical talents from the region and informal performances are offered most Thursdays.
Where to Stay/Eat: When planning a visit to Coeburn, consider staying at the nearby Inn at Wise, located about 8 miles west of the downtown area, and stop at Moon Dog Brick Oven for a bite to eat. Looking for a quick but delicious takeout spot? Coeburn’s Frosty Bossie is known for their burgers, chili, shakes, and ice cream.
Pulaski has several historic stops worth a visit, including the Pulaski Theatre, a recently restored historic theatre that hosts concerts, live stage performances, and children’s shows. Another spot worth a visit is the Pulaski Railway Station, a historic train depot built by the Virginia-Tennessee Railroad in 1888 and nicknamed the “Grand Old Lady of Pulaski”. While much of the depot was destroyed in a fire, a historical restoration managed to salvage the original stone walls, preserving this important piece of Southwest Virginia history.
A few miles southeast of Pulaski, the Draper Mercantile has been a favorite spot for locals for over 125 years, frequently hosting live music, workshops, and special events. You can also shop a selection of locally sourced foods and artisan wares in the Draper Mercantile Marketplace.
Pulaski is also well known as an outdoor recreation …read more