See why we can’t wait to get to Lexington.
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Main Street in historic downtown Lexington.
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Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery.
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An equestrian rides at the Virginia Horse Center.
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A flight of beer at Devils Backbone Brewing Company.
It’s quaint and historical, and it’s quietly becoming a weekend favorite for Virginians and out-of-staters alike. Lexington, the picturesque Shenandoah Valley city with a population of less than 8,000 and home to Virginia Military Institute and Washington & Lee University, offers a growing selection of hip cultural attractions like microbreweries, wineries, hiking trails and locally-made art.
If you haven’t been, Lexington should be at the top of your list of places to visit. Why not go this weekend? Here are our picks to get you started.
Cheese To You 32 S. Main St. Thinking about taking a hike in Natural Bridge Park? Before you go off exploring the miles of trails and admiring the 215-foot limestone arch, don’t forget to pack a picnic. Stop by Cheese To You and have Meg the “cheese savant” put together a sampler just for you, with cheeses like a soft-ripened Bûcheron, a hard aged vintage cheddar and a fresh Greek feta. Be sure to go on Saturday, though, because the shop is closed on Sunday. CheeseToYou.com Pure Eats 107 N. Main St. Is there any combo better than a burger and a shake? How about throwing a beer or a donut into the mix? Located inside a former gas station, this grass-fed burger joint is the place to go for some classic patio sittin’ and milkshake sippin’. Pure-Eats.com Rocca Bar Ristorante 30 S. Main St., 2nd floor of the Robert E. Lee Hotel Whether you’re in town on business or visiting on vacation, go ahead and treat yourself to the indulgences of Rocca Bar Ristorante. Located at the edge of downtown, this rooftop spot with breathtaking mountain views offers shareable small plates, classic Italian pastas and an extensive cocktail, beer and wine list. RoccaRistorante.com
Blue Lab Brewing Company 123 S. Randolph St. It wouldn’t be a Virginia road trip without a brewery stop, would it? Lauded as Lexington’s first microbrewery, Blue Lab was the brainchild of Washington & Lee professors Bill Hamilton and Tom Lovell. It opened its doors in 2010, and the taproom serves up five year-round brews plus seasonal specials. And of course there's Outpost Brewery & Tap Room, the second iteration of Virginia favorite Devils Backbone Brewing Company. BlueLabBrewing.com, DBBrewingCompany.com Lexington Valley Vineyard 80 Norton Way, Rockbridge Baths If you’re willing to drive about 10 miles out of town, check out Lexington Valley Vineyard. Handcrafted wines are available for tasting, and once you pick a bottle (or two) to buy, pop it open on the patio overlooking the rolling hills of Central Virginia. You could even bring that cheese you bought downtown to pair with your wine. LexingtonValleyVineyard.com TAPS 11 N. Main St. Need a cocktail (or two) before hitting the town? Even if you’re not staying overnight at The Georges downtown, you’re welcome to pop in to TAPS, the boutique inn’s lobby lounge in the Marshall building. Kick off the night with The General (vodka, basil, muddled grapes, fresh-squeezed lemon, simple syrup, ginger ale) or a New Market (blanco tequila, blood orange liqueur, Serrano pepper, cilantro, muddled raspberries, orange juice). TheGeorges.com/taps
Artists in Cahoots 21 W. Washington St. Peruse the ever-changing pieces at Artists in Cahoots and you’re sure to find the perfect thing to bring back from your trip. Founded in 1983, it’s a cooperative of local artists specializing in everything from bird-carving and photography to fabric arts and ceramic jewelry. The idea is to take original art that reflects the culture of the area and make it approachable and affordable. ArtistsInCahoots.com Lime Kiln Theater 607 Borden Road It’s only a few minutes from downtown, but the outdoor theater sits among massive quarry cliffs and old log cabins in a 12-acre park. The venue first captured the hearts of locals when it opened for performances in 1967, and after a 2-year-long closure due to financial troubles from 2012-2014, the venue has reemerged to hold concerts for sell-out audiences. On Aug. 23 the venue will host “An Evening with Gillian Welch” for some bluegrass music, and on Aug. 26 guitarists Julian Lage and Chris Eldridge will perform. LimeKilnTheater.org Stonewall Jackson House 8 E. Washington St. We know Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson for his role as a Confederate general, but before the Civil War he was also a professor, businessman, active church leader and well-known community leader in Lexington. Owned and operated by VMI, the house displays several of Jackson’s personal belongings and is open to the public for guided tours. StonewallJackson.org Virginia Horse Center 487 Maury River Road Saddle up and head over to the Virginia Horse Center, a dream venue for the equine enthusiast. Watch hunter paces on the 600 acres of hills and fences or take a seat in the 4,000-seat coliseum to hold your breath as Grand Prix riders soar over head-high jumps. The Horse Center also hosts rodeos and barrel racing, so don’t forget your cowboy boots. Stop by this weekend to check out the National Barrel Horse Association Colonial National, Aug. 18-21. HorseCenter.org VMI Parade 309 Letcher Ave. Every Friday at 4:30 p.m. from September to May, the cadets at the Virginia Military Institute march out of the barracks under the arch displaying Stonewall Jackson’s favorite maxim, “You may be whatever you resolve to be.” Once they’ve reached the Parade Ground, an expanse of green framed with four cannons named Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, you can listen to music from one of the best military bands in the country. And while you’re on campus, stop by the George C. Marshall Museum to check out “From Machine to Man,” an exhibit featuring a collection of combat photography by Howard Hammersley that will be on display through Aug. 31. VMI.edu, MarshallFoundation.org