Best Small Towns in Virginia Guide
(Arranged geographically & alphabetically)
- Abingdon VA
- Bristol VA
- Coeburn VA
- Floyd VA
- Tazewell VA
- Lexington VA
- Luray VA
- Natural Bridge VA
- Staunton VA
- Waynesboro VA
Small Towns in Southwest Virginia
1. Abingdon VA
Size: 8.3 sq miles • Population: 8,376 • Official Website
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.
2. Bristol VA
Size: 13.2 sq miles • Population: 17,219 • Official Website
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
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.
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.
For those who are into off-roading, there are 600 miles of trails tailor-made for ATVs, UTVs, 4-wheelers, and dirt bikes.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Small Towns Near Shenandoah National Park
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.
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.
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.
If you visit, keep your eyes peeled for initials carved by George Washington himself!
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.
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