The 10 Best Small Towns in Virginia to Visit

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There are dozens of charming small towns in Virginia, but in our experience the ones in the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Shenandoah Valley easily rank among the best. 
Each of these quaint little VA towns offers a plethora of reasons to visit, including a diverse array of attractions to keep you busy for days. 
Whether you’re primarily interested in shopping, wining and dining, history, live music, or art, there are loads of museums, restaurants, and shops to explore.
If you love the outdoors, most of these towns are close to great hiking trails, waterfalls, national forests, and scenic roads lined with breathtaking views.
Read on for our in-depth guide to the best small towns in Virginia to visit, including an overview of some of the best things to do in each one.

Best Small Towns in Virginia Guide

(Arranged geographically & alphabetically)

  1. Abingdon VA
  2. Bristol VA
  3. Coeburn VA
  4. Floyd VA
  5. Tazewell VA
  6. Lexington VA
  7. Luray VA
  8. Natural Bridge VA
  9. Staunton VA
  10. Waynesboro VA

READ MORE: The 10 Best Things to Do in Harrisonburg VA & Rockingham County


Small Towns in Southwest Virginia

best Virginia small towns - Abingdon VA
Photo courtesy of

1. Abingdon VA

Size: 8.3 sq miles • Population:  8,376 • Official Website

Located 16 miles northeast of Bristol, Abingdon is great for outdoorsy types as well as those who’d prefer to explore the town’s bars and restaurants (or catch a show at the historic Barter Theater).

One of our favorite things to do there is riding bicycles on the 34-mile Virginia Creeper Trail from Abingdon to Whitetop VA. You’ll go through magical forests, past mountain streams, and over rolling meadows. 

Just 15 miles north of Abingdon, The Great Channels is home to a 20-acre natural maze of huge sandstone gulleys. 

Check out the NPS’s interpretive center at the Abingdon Muster Grounds, where you can learn the history of local indigenous and African-American people as well as the lives of soldiers mustered there during the Revolutionary War.

You can also hop on the Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail and follow the route soldiers took on their way to a major Civil War battle

READ MORE: Exploring the Crooked Road, Virginia’s Appalachian Music Trail

Virginia mountain towns - Bristol Sign
Bristol TN/VA Sign, photo by Emma Gallagher

2. Bristol VA

Size: 13.2 sq miles • Population: 17,219 • Official Website

During a recent weekend in Bristol, my husband and I thoroughly enjoyed wandering up and down State Street, state-hopping between Virginia and Tennessee.

This cute, hip little town straddles both states, but for now we’re going to concentrate on the wonders of the Virginia side.

One of the biggest draws is the Birthplace of Country Music Museum. It celebrates the historic 1927 Bristol Sessions, which helped popularize the genre (and bands like the Carter Family) on a national level. 

There are a number of delicious Bristol restaurants, such as Bloom and Red Pepper Indian Cuisine, as well as fun Bristol breweries (including the Michael Waltrip Brewing Co. and State Street Brewing). 

Adventurers should check out Bristol Caverns, where you can explore caves carved out some 200-400 million years ago. You can also hike the trails at South Holston Lake, or take a leisurely stroll around Steele Creek Park.

READ MORE: The 10 Best Things to Do in Bristol TN/VA

cute towns in Virginia - Coeburn VA
Photo courtesy of the Town of Coeburn

3. Coeburn VA

Size: 2.0 sq miles • Population: 2,139 • Official Website

This cute little town in VA has lots of unique things to do.

If you’re a climber, grab your gear and head to Guest River Gorge Rock Climbing. The hike in to the main climbing spot takes you through an old, dark, abandoned train tunnel.

Looking for a sweet selfie spot? Check out the Coeburn LOVE sign (Virginia is for lovers, after all!), where you’ll find various bridges crossing Tom’s Creek and other icons representing the tiny town.

Spearhead Trails is a great network of paths that can be enjoyed by bikers and hikers alike. There are stunning views and ample chances to spot local wildlife and beautiful birds of Virginia.

For those who are into off-roading, there are 600 miles of trails tailor-made for ATVs, UTVs, 4-wheelers, and dirt bikes. 

READ MORE: The 10 Best Historic & Covered Bridges in Virginia

music festivals VA - Floyed Fest
Photo courtesy of FloydFest

4. Floyd VA

Size: 0.5 sq miles • Population: 448 • Official Website

If you’re looking for a small town in VA that’s hip (and even a little hippie) around the edges, Floyd VA is a tiny mountain town with a huge personality. 

Floyd has a great music scene that mostly celebrates old-time and bluegrass. There’s a cool Country Store that doubles as a jam spot for local bands. If you’re in town in July, stick around for Floydfest, the town’s annual music festival

In terms of outdoor adventures, Fairy Stone State Park is about 30 minutes away. The park boasts a 168-acre recreational lake, miles of hiking trails, and a great campground

We didn’t find a single fairy stone on the trail until we joined an organized event led by one of the park rangers. He taught us how to identify fairy stones, then led us right to a spot where we were promised we’d find some.

It was so much fun spotting them on the ground, then running over to the ranger to have him confirm our treasures!

READ MORE: The 15 Best Virginia Music Festivals to Visit

Oktobrewfest Tazewell VA
Oktobrewfest in Tazewell VA

5. Tazewell VA

Size: 4.0 sq miles • Population: 4,627 • Official Website

Tazewell is a small town in Virginia with a surprising number of attractions to bring you back time and time again.

There’s the Pocahontas Exhibition Mine & Museum and the Historic Crab Orchard Museum, where visitors can learn about the Appalachian Mountain cultural heritage of Southwest Virginia.

In October, be sure to check out Oktobrewfest. The celebration features local and regional breweries, cideries, and wineries, along with music, food, and arts and crafts vendors.

Nearby Hungry Mother State Park has an enormous lake with a beach, jumping tower, and myriad water-based activities. We enjoyed a stunning walk around the lake, watching kayakers and paddleboarders along the way. 

For more outdoor activities, check out Burke’s Garden, VA’s largest rural historic district, which offers spectacular views of the valley and lots of wildlife. You can also grab a meal at Mattie’s Place and shop at Burke’s Garden General Store.

READ MORE: The 15 Best Lakes in the Virginia Mountains to Visit


Small Towns Near Shenandoah National Park

Virginia historic towns - Downtown Lexington VA
Downtown Lexington, photo by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett

6. Lexington VA

Size: 2.5 sq miles • Population: 7,320 • Official Website

This historic Virginia town is a college town that is fantastic for Civil War buffs and anyone into 18th and 19th-century architecture.

When your appetite strikes, stop by one of the many great restaurants in Lexington VA, which offer everything from upscale foodie-friendly fare to casual, budget-friendly options.

If you’re into haunted places, join one of Lexington’s ghost tours to learn more about the area’s supernatural phenomena. 

Boxerwood Nature Center & Woodland Garden is a little gem located 5 minutes from downtown. They have a Play Trail for kids under 8, a mud kitchen, a chance to dig for dinosaur bones, and a Haiku Bird House.

The whole family will enjoy exploring the Field, Pioneer Forest, Established Forest, Hedgerow, and Wetlands to learn all about the flora and fauna each ecosystem has to offer. 

READ MORE: The 15 Best Things to Do in Lexington VA & Natural Bridge VA

Virginia mountain towns - Luray Singing Tower in Luray VA
Luray Singing Tower in Luray VA, photo by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett

7. Luray VA

Size: 4.8 sq miles • Population: 4,895 • Official Website

Luray is a sweet little Virginia mountain town with a historic downtown district and several cool local attractions. 

The Shenandoah River runs the length of the county and invites you to partake in some Virginia river tubing, swimming, kayaking, or canoeing. There’s also Lake Arrowhead which offers more fun in and around the water. 

Luray is famed for its Caverns, the largest in the eastern USA. Visitors can explore various chambers and cathedral rooms with 10-story-high ceilings, and be dazzled by the optical illusions of the underground Dream Lake.

For adventures above ground, check out the magnificent Shenandoah National Park. Skyline Drive is an extension of the Blue Ridge Parkway, with 75 overlooks and 500 miles of hiking trails (including part of the Appalachian Trail). 

The Luray-Hawksbill Greenway is another special place. Miles of pathways meander along Hawksbill Creek and through downtown Luray, giving ample opportunities to spot local wildlife and Virginia wildflowers

READ MORE: The 15 Best Things to Do in Luray VA (Gateway to Shenandoah)

Natural Bridge Park
Natural Bridge, photo by Emma Gallagher

8. Natural Bridge VA

Size: 35.32 sq miles • Population: 851 • Official Website

Not to be confused with the famous state park, Natural Bridge VA is an unincorporated community that’s well worth a visit. You can go river tubing, or rent a kayak and spend the day taking in the spectacular views of the James River. 

We also enjoyed getting some stamps on our Shenandoah Beerworks Trail passport, doing a bit of antiquing, and stopping by the Natty B Cafe & Natural Bridge General Store to pick up some local crafts and snacks. 

But of course the unique Natural Bridge State Park is the main attraction here, with a 200-foot tall stone bridge that was carved from the limestone by Cedar Creek.

If you visit, keep your eyes peeled for initials carved by George Washington himself! 

Another essential stop while you’re in the area is the Caverns at Natural Bridge. You can head 34 stories below the surface and explore chambers and rooms that were formed over thousands of years. 

READ MORE: The 15 Best Escape Rooms in Virginia to Visit

best towns in VA - Main Street Staunton VA
Main Street Staunton VA, photo by Heather Taylor & Jon Weaver

9. Staunton VA

Size: 20 sq miles • Population: 25,750 • Official Website

Staunton is another one of these cute little VA towns that should not be missed. There are tons of things to do in Staunton, including restaurants, bars, museums, historic sites, and ample outdoor pursuits. 

As one of Virginia’s oldest towns, this is one for the history buffs! Check out the Frontier Culture Museum, an outdoor living history attraction, and learn all about the 28th US President at the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Museum.

They also have an annual African American Heritage Festival in September that is the oldest festival of its kind. 

If you’re visiting during the holiday season, check out the Staunton Christmas Parade at the end of November. 

Shenandoah National Park is just 28 miles away, and local parks such as the Natural Chimneys Park, Montgomery Hall Park, and Betsy Bell Wilderness Park are well worth a visit.

READ MORE: The 10 Best Restaurants in Staunton VA to Visit

best Virginia small towns -Picnic Shelter on South River Greenway Trail in Waynesboro VA
Picnic Shelter on South River Greenway Trail, photo by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett

10. Waynesboro VA

Size: 15.2 sq miles • Population: 22,196 • Official Website

The small town of Waynesboro VA is a perfect jumping-off point for exploring the Blue Ridge Parkway, Shenandoah National Park, Skyline Drive, and the Appalachian Trail. Downtown Waynesboro has a lot to offer, too.

Humpback Rocks Visitor Center & Mountain Farm tells stories of early life in the Blue Ridge Mountains, while Waynesboro’s Black History Museum shows how African-Americans shaped this historic Virginia town. 

Walk the 2.25 miles through the Blue Ridge Tunnel (bring a flashlight!), or check out the Grand Caverns just a short drive away. Families can let the kids run wild at the Blue Ridge Children’s Museum‘s natural playground.

You can also catch a show, a concert, or a lecture at the historic Wayne Theater in Downtown Waynesboro, which opened in 1926 and was recently renovated in 2016.

There are also dozens of sweet little shops, boutiques, and restaurants offering local crafts, artisanal souvenirs, and farm-to-table foodie fare.  -by Emma Gallagher, featured photo of Staunton VA via Canva


Leave No Trace logo

We encourage anyone who loves the Blue Ridge region to learn about the Leave No Trace principles of responsible environmental stewardship. 

Stay on marked trails, take only pictures, pack out your trash, and be considerate of others who share the trails and parks you explore. 

Remember that waterfalls and rocky summits can be dangerous. Never try to climb waterfalls or get close to a ledge to get a selfie.

When you're exploring the wilderness, it's better to be safe than to be a statistic!

Born in Britain, writer/photographer Emma Gallagher lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains of NC on a permaculture homestead with her husband, Jonathon. While traveling the world for 13 years, she fell in love with the natural beauty of the Blue Ridge region when she lived at an artist retreat in Burnsville NC before moving to Brevard. Today Emma lives near Stone Mountain State Park and Doughton Park volunteers at the Surry County Fiddlers Convention, and cares for the gardens at the Reeves Downtown School of Music in Elkin. She's also a volunteer for the Elkin Valley Trails Association, which maintains segment 6 of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail.