Exploring Mabry Mill on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. All hosted affiliate links follow our editorial & privacy policies.

Stretching 469 miles from Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina to Shenandoah National Park in Virginia, the Blue Ridge Parkway is the #1 most visited unit of the US National Parks
The world-famous scenic route attracts nearly 16 million visitors each year. And Mabry Mill in Virginia is one of the most popular (and most photographed) of the BRP’s 200+ overlooks and other stops.
This beloved SWVA attraction is nestled in the pristine Appalachian Mountains of Virginia, just a few miles north of the North Carolina state border.
A working grist mill is clearly the centerpiece of the historic site.
But there’s also a Mabry Mill restaurant and gift shop, walking trails, living history demonstrations, and special events (including live music).
Read on for our in-depth guide to visiting Mabry Mill, including Mabry Mill history and an overview of things to do at the mill and in the nearby community of Meadows of Dan.
Mabry Mill in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia
Mabry Mill in Spring, photo by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett

Mabry Mill Info

ADDRESS: 226 Mabry Mill Road SE (BRP Milepost 176.2), Meadows of Dan VA, 24120

PHONE: (276) 952-2947

MABRY MILL HOURS: Historic Site & Mabry Mill Trail open year-round

RESTAURANT/GIFT SHOP HOURS: Mon to Fri 7:30AM-5PM; Sat & Sun 7:30AM-6PM. Open through November 5, 2023.




From Roanoke VA, take US-221 S/Brambleton Ave SW for 41.4 miles, then turn left onto State Route 726. In about 400 feet, you’ll turn right to stay on State Route 726 and go 7 miles. 

Turn right onto the Blue Ridge Parkway and follow it for 4.2 miles, then turn left onto State Route 603. You’ll see the Mabry Mill parking lot on the right. 


From Mount Airy NC, head north on NC-103 E/E Pine St toward S Gilmer St for 8.5 miles, then continue onto VA-103 N. 

Turn left onto State Route 614 and follow it for 9.6 miles, then make a right to stay on 614. In 0.8 miles you’ll make another right to stay on 614, then go 0.4 miles and turn left, then right onto the Blue Ridge Parkway

Take the BRP for 7.6 miles, then make a right and a quick left onto Mabry Mill Rd SE. The Mabry Mill Restaurant will be on your left in 0.1 miles. 

READ MORE: The 15 Best Things to Do in Roanoke VA

Antique Wagon & Plow at Mabry Mill on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia
Antique Wagon & Plow at Mabry Mill, photo by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett

Mabry Mill History

Ed and Lizzy Mabry built their mill in the first decade of the 1900s to serve as a corn grist mill for the local communities in Southwest Virginia.

One of the great benefits and challenges of the new mill was the limited water supply. 

On one hand, the lack of water hindered the mill’s ability to generate the power necessary to grind corn well. 

In order to meet that challenge, the Mabrys built an intricate system to divert water from two nearby streams.

On the other hand, the limited water also meant a slower turn of the mill and a finer grind of the corn.

Local people loved that fine grind, which soon made Mabry Mill one of the most popular grist mills in Virginia.

Matthews Log Cabin at Mabry Mill on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia
The Matthews Cabin at Mabry Mill, photo by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett

The Mabrys eventually added a sawmill apparatus to cut logs, as well as a woodworking shop, blacksmithing shop, and wheelwrighting service.

Over time, Mabry Mill became an incredibly important business in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.

Around 1920, the Mabrys built their house on the property, and lived there until Ed died in 1936.

That home was soon torn down, and the National Park Service took over the property in 1938.  

The NPS began a complete restoration of the site in 1942, including the relocation of the Matthews Cabin as an example of early 20th century Appalachian living.

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

Moonshine Still at Mabry Mill on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia
Moonshine Still at Mabry Mill, photo by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett

Things to Do at Mabry Mill

Mabry Mill is encircled by the 0.5-mile Mabry Mill Trail, an easy walking trail that allows visitors to explore the buildings and other attractions at the historic site.

Along the trail you can see various items– some antiques, some replicas– that were used in the life and work of the Mabry family.

The massive mill stones and clothes drying rack made from lumber were of particular interest to me. But many Mabry Mill visitors are also drawn to the site of the moonshine still near the creek.

There’s a sign about whiskey distilling that explains how corn and water were combined to create a potent (and famously illegal) elixir.

Living History Demonstration at Mabry Mill on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia
Living History Demonstration at Mabry Mill, photo by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett

The grist mill itself is a fascinating site filled with interpretive signs explaining the process of grinding of grain and “planking” of logs.

Visitors can see very clearly how the water turning the mill wheel generates powerful energy to the mill stones and cutting saws. 

From Memorial Day through the end of October, the Matthews Cabin hosts demonstrations of early 20th century rural life. Park rangers and volunteers showcase a variety of skills used by Appalachian settlers. 

This one-room cabin had no electricity or running water, but included a rustic kitchen, fireplace, and gathering space, illustrating how people lived more than a century ago.

The National Park Service continues to manage and maintain Mabry Mill in VA today, including a number of annual celebrations and living history exhibitions.

READ MORE: 10 Great Romantic Getaways in Virginia for Couples

Mabry Mill Restaurant & Gift Shop on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia
Mabry Mill Restaurant & Gift Shop, photo by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett

Mabry Mill Restaurant & Gift Shop

The Mabry Mill Restaurant and Gift Shop is a terrific place to stop for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

But they’re perhaps best known for their pancakes and other hearty breakfast fare.

As an homage to the mill, pancakes here can come in buckwheat, cornmeal, traditional flour, or sweet potato. Don’t miss a chance to try the grits as well!

Lunch and dinner from the restaurant at Mabry Mill offer traditional Southern comfort foods, including pot roast, chicken pot pie, and roast turkey, as well as sandwiches and salads.

As is customary in the Blue Ridge region, you can also choose from a variety of vegetables to accompany your meal, or choose them as a meal unto themselves.

Did you know that macaroni and cheese can count as a vegetable? It definitely does here!

READ MORE: The 10 Best Things to Do in Staunton VA



Things to Do Near Mabry Mill

Just south of Mabry Mill at BRP Milepost 177.7 lies the unincorporated community of Meadows of Dan, Virginia.  This small hamlet is well worth a stop, with some of our favorite places to visit listed below.

READ MORE: 20 Beautiful Butterflies in VA

Things to do near Mabry Mill - Lunch at Jane's
Lunch at Jane’s Country Cafe, photo by Travis Feezell

Jane’s Country Café

2588 Jeb Stuart Highway, Meadows of Dan VA • (276) 952-1112 • Official Website

HOURS: Mon 11AM-4PM; Tue-Sun 11AM-7PM

This restaurant’s humble red cinder block building belies excellent food and amazing service. 

There’s no breakfast service. But their burgers, fries, sandwiches, and entrees (including BBQ pork, grilled chicken, and baked ham) will satisfy the biggest of appetites at lunch or dinner.

Don’t miss the desserts at Jane’s. Their cakes, pies, and puddings change regularly, but all are superb!

READ MORE: The 15 Best Virginia Waterfalls for Hiking

Things to do near Mabry Mill VA - Poor Farmers Market
Poor Farmer’s Market, photo by Travis Feezell

Poor Farmer’s Market Country Store

2616 Jeb Stuart Highway, Meadows of Dan VA • (276) 952-2670 • Official Website

HOURS: Mon-Sat 6AM-8PM; Sun 7AM-8PM

One of my absolute favorite places to stop near the Blue Ridge Parkway, this quirky general store offers up anything from dried beans and canned jams to cast iron, pickling crocks, and biker vests.

That doesn’t even cover the fresh seasonal produce, or the small grill in the back.

My best advice? Grab a cold Blenheim Ginger Ale and two scoops of ice cream, then head out to the store’s back porch to sit for a spell.

READ MORE: The 10 Best Civil War Battlefields in Virginia to Visit

Things to do near Mabry Mill Virginia
Primitive Coffee Antique Market, photo by Travis Feezell

Primitive Coffee Antique Market & Bakery

2677 Jeb Stuart Highway #4, Meadows of Dan VA • Official Website

HOURS: Mon, Tue & Fri 8AM-2PM; Wed, Thu, Sat & Sun 8AM-4:30PM

A recent addition to the Meadows of Dan community, this coffee shop offers up excellent brews of all types, including your requisite cappuccinos and lattes.

But Primitive offers much more. Look into the cold cases and you’ll find dairy and meat products from Virginia farms.

Go further down the line and you’ll find local roasted gourmet coffee, plus local bitters and simple syrups for the cocktail aficionados in your life.

There are even a few antiques, and baked goods as well! In our experience, Primitive is well worth a stop.

READ MORE: The 10 Best National Parks in Virginia

Mayberry Trading Post
Mayberry Trading Post, photo by Travis Feezell

Mayberry Trading Post

883 Mayberry Church Road, Meadows of Dan VA • (276) 952-2155 

HOURS: Mon-Sat 9AM-5PM; Sun 10:30AM-5PM

Further south from Mabry Mill and Meadows of Dan sits the Mayberry Trading Post, which is located between Milepost 180 and 181 off the Blue Ridge Parkway.

The Mayberry Trading Post was established in 1892 and has seen four generations of ownership. It was most recently remodeled and reenergized in 2022.

Part general store and part gift shop, the shop is filled with local crafts and other basic goods.

On my most recent visit I purchased a locally made walking stick, a book on Appalachian culture, and the best fried sweet potato pie I’ve ever eaten.

Living history demonstrations happen here throughout the year. My personal recommendation is to come for the sorghum syrup making.

It’s also important to know that this is the original Mayberry!

While Andy Griffith may have created the fictional town of Mayberry after his hometown of Mt. Airy, North Carolina, this area is the origin of that name.

Griffith’s grandparents grew up a stone’s throw from this store. Local legends suggest Andy would spend summers with them as a boy, playing along Mayberry Creek and coming into the store with some regularity. 

READ MORE: The 10 Best Things to Do in Mount Airy NC (& Surry County)

Rock Knob Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway
Rocky Knob Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Rocky Knob Recreation Area

The Rocky Knob Recreation Area is located north of Mabry Mill, around BRP Milepost 169. It’s an excellent place for nature lovers to explore.

For experienced hikers, I recommend the Rock Castle Gorge Trail, This taxing 10.8-mile loop takes you into the gorge and river below the Blue Ridge Parkway, then back up again through heavily wooded and rocky terrain.

For the casual hikers, there are less taxing sections can be accessed at various points along the trail.

There are also numerous other hiking trails scattered throughout the area, most of them emerging from (or linked to) the Rocky Knob Picnic Area and the Rocky Knob Campgrounds.

If you’re a photographer, don’t miss the various Blue Ridge Parkway overlooks in the Rocky Knob area, which offer expansive views and lovely spots for picnics.

My personal favorite is the Rock Castle Gorge Overlook, but the Twelve O’Clock Knob Overlook and the Saddle Overlook are also superb.  -by Travis Feezell; lead photo by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett


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!

Raised in the Midwest, Travis Feezell moved to North Carolina in 2008, which began his love affair with the Blue Ridge Mountains. He ended up buying a cabin near the Blue Ridge Parkway in Southwest Virginia, making the Meadows of Dan, the Dan River, and Rocky Knob his playground. Currently an executive in higher education, Travis is a longtime writer with numerous publications about travel and sports. His first novel, Home On the Line, explores themes of home and food and will be published in Summer 2023. You can often find Travis exploring hiking trails in Western NC and SWVA, and exploring restaurants in his hometown of Charlotte.