Abingdon is a charming town in southwestern Virginia, nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Known for its quaint downtown, vibrant arts community, and abundant outdoor recreation, Abingdon offers visitors a taste of Appalachian culture coupled with modern amenities. From historic sites to wineries, here are the top 10 best things to do in Abingdon VA.
01 – Visit the Famed Barter Theatre
Abingdon VA, a small town located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, is home to one of the most iconic and historic theaters in the United States- The Barter Theatre. If you ever find yourself in Abingdon VA, make sure to visit this remarkable theater, because no trip to Abingdon Virginia is complete without experiencing a show at the Barter Theatre.
The Barter Theatre has a long and rich history that dates back to 1933 when it was founded during the Great Depression. During those difficult times, many people couldn’t afford to buy tickets to see shows, so the founder, Robert Porterfield came up with a unique idea – to allow patrons to barter goods and services in exchange for theater tickets. This innovative approach made it possible for people to attend the theater who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford it.
Today, the Barter Theatre continues to produce a full season of plays, musicals, and comedies in its striking gothic-style building. The theater’s main stage is the perfect place to catch a show, and the productions are always of high quality, making audiences feel like they are watching Broadway-level performances. From classic dramas to modern-day plays and everything in between, the Barter offers an outstanding lineup that caters to a broad range of tastes.
Apart from its impressive lineup of shows, the Barter Theatre also has a significant impact on the local community. It provides employment opportunities for actors, directors, and crew members, and it attracts visitors from all over the country who come to experience the unique brand of theater that the Barter has to offer.
2. Bike or Hike the Virginia Creeper Trail
The Virginia Creeper Trail is a 34-mile long rail trail located in southwestern Virginia VA. It follows the path of an old railroad bed that was used to transport lumber and coal in the early 1900s. Today, the trail is a popular destination for hikers, joggers, and cyclists and the one of best things to Do in Abingdon VA.
The trail is relatively flat, making it ideal for families and people of all ages. It is also a great place to see wildlife, as the trail passes through forests, farmlands, and mountain streams.
If you are interested in riding the Virginia Creeper Trail, you can rent a bike in Abingdon. There are several bike rental shops in town that offer shuttle services to the top of the trail. From there, you can enjoy a leisurely downhill ride to Damascus.
3. Stroll through Historic Downtown
Abingdon’s downtown district is a must-see for anyone interested in history and architecture. With over 130 buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places, visitors are transported back in time to experience the charm of centuries past. The streets are lined with trees, adding to the quaint atmosphere of the area.
The downtown district has something for everyone, with a variety of shops, cafes, restaurants, and inns housed in historic buildings. Visitors can explore the boutiques, antique stores, and art galleries that offer unique and one-of-a-kind items. They can also enjoy a meal or a cup of coffee at one of the many restaurants and cafes, each with its own unique ambiance.
One of the most popular attractions in Abingdon’s downtown district is the Abingdon Market Pavilion, where local vendors sell fresh produce, baked goods, and crafts. The pavilion is a great place to find locally grown fruits and vegetables, homemade jams and jellies, artisanal bread, and handmade jewelry and pottery. Visitors can chat with the vendors and learn more about the products they offer while enjoying the vibrant atmosphere of the market.
Overall, Abingdon’s downtown district is a charming and picturesque area that offers visitors a glimpse into the town’s rich history and culture. From historic buildings to unique shopping and dining experiences, there’s something for everyone to enjoy in this beautiful part of town.
4. Sample Wine at Abingdon Wineries
The rolling hills surrounding Abingdon, Virginia, have a unique climate and soil composition that are ideal for growing grapes. This is known as terroir. The grapes grown in this region produce wines with complex flavors and aromas.
There are several wineries in Abingdon that offer tastings and tours. One of the most popular is Abingdon Winery, which is known for its signature Chardonel, a crisp white wine. Wolf Hills Winery & Vineyard also offers a variety of wines, including reds and whites. And Blue Ridge Vineyard, located 14 miles west of town, specializes in cabernet franc.
In addition to tastings and tours, many of the wineries in Abingdon host special events, such as live music nights. This is a great way to enjoy the wines and the scenery.
Here are some specific examples of the wines that you can taste at each winery:
- Abingdon Winery: Chardonel, Vidal Blanc, Cabernet Franc, Merlot
- Wolf Hills Winery & Vineyard: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio
- Blue Ridge Vineyard: Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Viognier
5. See Wildlife at Grayson Highlands State Park
Grayson Highlands State Park, a beautiful state park situated approximately 30 minutes from Abingdon VA, is an ideal destination for nature lovers. The park boasts stunning scenery that is sure to leave visitors in awe. One of the best things to do in Grayson Highlands State Park is hiking through the picturesque meadows surrounded by towering mountaintops. This hike offers an opportunity to admire the area’s natural beauty and witness the park’s famous wild ponies roaming freely through the highlands.
These wild ponies are one of the most popular attractions in the park and are a sight to behold. Visitors can watch these majestic creatures in their natural habitat, grazing on the grassy meadows or galloping across the hills. The park rangers have made it clear that visitors should not approach or feed the ponies as they are wild animals and need to be treated with respect.
For visitors seeking a more challenging adventure, hiking the 1.8-mile trail to Mt. Rogers is a must-do activity. This hike takes visitors to Virginia’s highest peak, which stands at a towering height of 5,729 feet. The hike to the summit is a bit strenuous, but the breathtaking views at the top make the effort worthwhile. From the summit, visitors can enjoy panoramic vistas of the surrounding landscape, including the rolling hills, lush forests, and sparkling streams.
In addition to hiking, Grayson Highlands State Park also offers a variety of other outdoor activities such as fishing, camping, and mountain biking. The park has well-maintained trails that cater to all skill levels, making it an excellent destination for families and outdoor enthusiasts alike.
Overall, Grayson Highlands State Park is a hidden gem tucked away in the Appalachian Mountains. It offers visitors a chance to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of city life and immerse themselves in the tranquility of nature and it must be a memorable things to do in in Abingdon VA.
6. Explore Abingdon’s Haunts on a Ghost Tour
Abingdon, a historic town with a rich past spanning centuries, has accrued an abundance of ghost stories and legends. If you’re looking for a chilling and spine-tingling experience, why not embark on a ghost tour to hear these accounts of paranormal activity firsthand?
Ghost tours are a popular option things to do in in Abingdon Virginia, allowing visitors to explore the haunted history of this charming town while also experiencing its eerie ambiance after dark. Tours such as Ghosts of Abingdon offer a unique opportunity to visit spooky spots around the town, where you can hear tales of ghostly encounters and otherworldly happenings.
One of the stops on Ghosts of Abingdon tour is the circa-1778 tavern, which has been rumored to be inhabited by a lingering presence. As you venture through the dimly-lit space, illuminated only by lantern light, you’ll hear stories of unexplained noises and strange occurrences that have been reported over the years. Your imagination will run wild as you imagine what it must have been like to encounter these ghosts and spirits yourself.
Taking a ghost tour in Abingdon is a must-do for anyone interested in history, the supernatural, or just looking for a spooky evening out. These tours are an excellent way to learn more about the town’s rich history while also exploring its darker side and the mysterious happenings that still occur to this day.
7. Picnic & Play at Abingdon Muster Grounds
Families with children seeking a fun day out in nature can consider visiting the Abingdon Muster Grounds situated along the picturesque Holston River. This is an excellent location for picnics, as visitors are encouraged to bring their blankets and relax on the verdant grassy fields while enjoying the serene environment. Parents can also rest easy knowing that their kids have plenty of room to run around and play. The Muster Grounds boasts an expansive playground that will keep children entertained for hours on end.
For those who prefer a more active experience, there are hike-bike trails that allow families to engage in some physical activity while taking in the natural beauty of the surrounding area. Additionally, access to the river offers an opportunity for water-based activities such as swimming, fishing, or even renting a boat to explore the waterway.
You may also be interested in attending festivals and events hosted at the Muster Grounds throughout the year. These events range from outdoor concerts to historical reenactments, providing something for everyone to enjoy. Whether you’re looking to spend time with family or friends, the Abingdon Muster Grounds has plenty of activities and events to offer.
8. Enjoy a Concert at the Abingdon Market Pavilion
The Market Pavilion downtown hosts a series of live music concerts that fill the air with delightful melodies and rhythms. This lively event attracts both locals and tourists alike, creating a festive atmosphere that exudes a sense of community.
One of the best ways to enjoy this musical extravaganza is by bringing along a picnic dinner to savor while listening to the talented performers. Alternatively, on-site vendors offer an array of delicious food options that are sure to satisfy any appetite. From classic burgers and fries to vegetarian wraps and artisanal sandwiches, there’s something for everyone.
As the sun sets, concertgoers can settle in on the lawn to enjoy the free evening concerts. The lineup includes a diverse range of musicians, from bluegrass bands to symphony orchestras, ensuring that there’s always something new and exciting to be heard. Whether you’re a die-hard fan of a particular genre or just looking to discover new sounds, these performances are not to be missed.
The setting of the Market Pavilion amidst Abingdon’s shops and restaurants is perfect for those looking to explore the town’s many attractions. The downtown area is home to a variety of shops selling everything from handmade crafts to boutique clothing. Additionally, there are numerous dining options available, ranging from casual cafes to upscale bistros, making it easy to find something that suits your taste.
Here are some additional details about the live music concerts at the Market Pavilion:
- The concerts are typically held on Friday and Saturday nights from 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM.
- The lineup of performers varies from year to year, but past performers have included The Steel Wheels, The Infamous Stringdusters, and The Virginia Symphony Orchestra.
- The concerts are a popular event for locals and tourists alike.
- They are a great way to enjoy a summer evening in Abingdon and to hear some great live music.
9. Marvel at Artifacts at the William King Museum
The William King Museum is a visual arts and cultural heritage museum located in Abingdon, Virginia. It is housed in a historic 1788 mansion that was once the home of William King, a prominent lawyer and politician.
The museum’s collection includes regional art, crafts, and historic artifacts. Permanent exhibits explore the history of Abingdon, the surrounding region, and the United States. Topics include local geology, Civil War history, decorative arts, and more. Temporary exhibits highlight regional culture, history, and artwork.
The museum also offers a variety of educational programs for children and adults, including art classes, lectures, and workshops.
The William King Museum is a great place to learn about the history and culture of Abingdon and the surrounding region. It is also a great place to enjoy art and participate in educational programs.
Some details about the museum:
- The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM and Sunday from 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM.
- Admission is $10 for adults, $8 for seniors and students, and free for children under 12.
- The museum is located at 209 S. Main Street, Abingdon, Virginia 24210.
10. Explore Abingdon’s Gift & Specialty Shops
Abingdon’s downtown district is a vibrant area that is packed with a plethora of charming shops offering an impressive range of products. From home decor to art, women’s clothing to children’s toys, gourmet foods to locally-made gifts, this thriving shopping district has something for everyone.
One of the standout features of the downtown district is the abundance of pottery, crafts, jewelry, candles, knick-knacks, and other unique items that showcase the local flair of the area. Visitors can explore these quaint shops and discover one-of-a-kind treasures that they won’t find anywhere else.
For those looking for kitchenware, linens, and vintage-inspired home decor, a visit to Tavern Restaurant & Gifts is a must. This shop boasts an array of high-quality products that are both practical and stylish, making it the perfect place to find the perfect piece to enhance any home.
Book lovers will also enjoy a visit to The Bookstore on Main. This notable store features an extensive selection of books written by local authors, providing visitors with an opportunity to learn more about the history, culture, and people of Abingdon.
Restaurant in Abingdon VA
Abingdon, VA is a small town in the southwestern part of the state that has a rich history and culture. Despite being a small town, there are plenty of restaurants in Abingdon that offer a wide variety of cuisine to satisfy any taste bud.
Here are some of the highly-rated restaurants in Abingdon VA:
- Rain Restaurant serves upmarket American cuisine in a vibrant setting with smart decor and outdoor seating. They are closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.
- The Tavern is an upscale American and German restaurant located in a 1779 inn. They have a cozy, period-decorated interior and a shady brick terrace. They are open for dinner only from Thursday to Sunday.
- Peppermill is an eatery and lounge offering New American chow in quaint digs with dark woods and an old-time feel. They are open for lunch and dinner from Thursday to Sunday.
- 128 Pecan is a Southern restaurant with a focus on fresh, local ingredients. They have a wide variety of dishes, including fried chicken, shrimp and grits, and collard greens. They are open for lunch and dinner from Tuesday to Sunday. [Image of 128 Pecan Abingdon VA]
- The Girl & The Raven is a gastropub with a menu that changes seasonally. They have a focus on craft beer and cocktails, as well as elevated pub fare like burgers, pizzas, and tacos. They are open for lunch and dinner from Wednesday to Sunday.
These are just a few of the many great restaurants in Abingdon. When choosing a restaurant, consider your budget, the type of cuisine you are looking for, and the atmosphere you prefer.
Frequently Asked Questions About Things to Do in Abingdon VA
Q. Is Abingdon a walkable town?
Yes, Abingdon’s charming historic downtown district is very walkable. Many attractions, restaurants, shops, galleries and historic sites are located within a compact area, making it easy to explore on foot.
Q. What is there to do in Abingdon at night?
Some top evening activities include seeing a play at the Barter Theatre, taking a ghost tour around the historic district, enjoying live music and dinner at the Martha Washington Inn, catching a movie at the historic Abingdon Cinema, stargazing at an observatory just outside town, or having drinks and listening to live music at one of Abingdon’s local breweries.
Q. When are the best times of year to visit Abingdon?
Abingdon enjoys pleasant weather for most of the year. Spring, summer and fall are all popular times to visit to take advantage of the town’s many outdoor recreation opportunities. Abingdon’s charming holiday festivities also draw visitors in winter.
Q. What is the closest airport to Abingdon, VA?
The closest commercial airport is the Tri-Cities Regional Airport in Tennessee, about an hour’s drive from Abingdon. Abingdon does have a small regional airport that accommodates private planes. Many visitors fly into larger airports in Virginia like Roanoke Regional Airport and rent a car to drive to Abingdon.
Q. What hotels or inns do you recommend in Abingdon?
Some of the most well-known historic places to stay include the Martha Washington Inn, the General Francis Marion Hotel, and the Abingdon Manor B&B. There are also chain hotels like Holiday Inn, Hampton Inn, Comfort Suites and Quality Inn located near Interstate 81 exits.
This guide provides you with the 10 best things to do in Abingdon VA – from exploring the town’s historic sites and museums, to shopping in downtown stores or grabbing a bite to eat at one of the area’s delicious restaurants, Abingdon is an ideal destination for anyone looking for an enjoyable getaway. With its beautiful scenery, welcoming people, and abundance of activities and attractions, it’s easy to see why visitors come back time and again! Be sure to check out Abingdon the next time you’re looking for a change of scenery.
Hi, I’m Kemp Alexander and I’m an adventurous travel blogger. I’m a passionate explorer who loves discovering new cultures, experiencing unique customs, and capturing my journeys through stories. Whether it’s trekking through the mountains of Thailand or eating local delicacies in South America, every journey is an opportunity to uncover something new. I’m a vibrant traveler with a knack for capturing the beauty of each destination in all forms: visually, mentally, emotionally. Through my blog I take readers on unforgettable trips to far-off places around the world while providing helpful insight for their own journeys. Follow me on my incredible adventures!