Last fall Spokes Magazine featured a nice fall biking destination trip in our biking weekend itinerary in Abingdon Virginia . We received lots of requests for that article and are offering it here for your enjoyment and planning ease.
A Three Day Fall Getaway: Abingdon’s a Place for Fun
Published: Spokes Magazine October 2016
Text by Kimberly Perry, Ed.D. Header Photo Credit- Sam Dean
If you are itching for a getaway this fall this 3 day weekend itinerary for Abingdon, Virginia can give you fun escape that mixes biking and relaxing leisure in one of the Blue Ridge Mountain’s delightful small towns. Fall is stunning in the mountains of southwest Virginia and Abingdon has plenty of cozy accommodations and indie restaurants and shops, making it a great jumping off point for exploring the region’s outdoor attractions.
Abingdon is home to riches of both the natural and manmade kind making it a great spot to combine outdoor fun with delightful indulgence.
Surrounded by beautiful mountains and rolling farmland, woven with fresh water lakes and streams, there is something for nearly every kind of outdoor enthusiast to enjoy. Recently inducted in to the Rail-to-Trail Hall of Fame, The Virginia Creeper Trail stretches 34 miles from Abingdon, Virginia down thru the lovely, cycling friendly town of Damascus, Virginia. It winds along the Whitetop Laurel River and up to its highest point Whitetop Station near the North Carolina State Line at Whitetop, Virginia. The Creeper Trail is open year-round to hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding.
History lovers will find plenty to enjoy in Abingdon, since the town has been welcoming visitors back to the late 1700s. Self-guided tours are available at the Visitors Center, and guests will want to make sure to check out two beloved local landmarks: The Tavern and The Martha.
The Tavern, the oldest of Abingdon’s historic buildings and one of the oldest west of the Blue Ridge was built in 1779. Today the building is a fine-dining restaurant with a German flair.
In 1860, Martha Washington College opened in a former private residence in Abingdon. The college closed in 1932, but the grand building affectionately known as “The Martha” re-opened as a hotel in 1935, and is now a luxurious 4-star hotel.
If you enjoy fine craftsmanship, theater, and art you’ll be delighted too. Even though the town has just 8,000 people, Abingdon has an abundance of culture packed into the charming downtown and surrounding area. Abingdon is home to the famous Barter Theatre, whose alumni include Gregory Peck, Ernest Borgnine and Patricia Neal. Shows run nearly every night of the week, year-round.
See beautiful local artisan treasures at the Arts Depot, Holston Mountain Artisans Co-op, the William King Museum of Art, along Southwest Virginia’s Round the Mountain artisan trails, and at Heartwood.
Good food and drink are abundant too. When you want to wind down with good food and drink, there will be something to suit your desire.
All around Abingdon makes a great destination for a getaway. You can play, relax, explore, and learn. Take your pick, or do it all.
Three Days of Play and Relaxation
The weekend itinerary provided below was created by the Visitor Center in collaboration with Bike Virginia. We’ve included a mix of riding, sightseeing, dining, and shopping.
Day 1- Begin your day with a ride on the Virginia Creeper Trail, a 34 mile hiking, biking and horseback riding trail. The fall season brings perfect temperatures and unbelievable scenery with an abundance of autumn color. Rent a bike from a local outfitter or bring your own, take a shuttle to the top of Whitetop Mountain and coast 17 miles through the Jefferson National Forest. Between Abingdon and Damascus, a short distance off the trail in Alvarado you will find the Abingdon Vineyard & Winery, Washington County’s first Virginia Farm Winery. Hop off the trail to recharge your batteries with a wine tasting and lunch on the outdoor patio overlooking the South Holston River.
After the ride, unwind at The Martha Washington Inn & Spa, a historic 4-star inn. Enjoy a cocktail on the wide front porch overlooking Main Street, or schedule a massage at the Martha’s day spa to pamper those tired muscles.
Make plans for dinner at one of Abingdon’s independent restaurants, almost all of which are located an easy walk from The Martha. Abingdon’s culinary scene ranges from home-style southern comfort food to sophisticated fine dining.
Day 2 – Pick up a box lunch from a local restaurant, and head out for a driving tour of southwest Virginia’s fall beauty by traveling State Highway US 58 through Damascus. Head to Grayson Highlands State Park for some great day hikes, and a chance to see wild ponies grazing on the high mountain fields.
That evening, take in a show at the historic Barter Theatre, founded in 1933 during the Great Depression, when actors bartered an evening’s entertainment for food from local farmers. The theatre now performs year-round in three venues on Main Street.
Day 3 – Spend your morning on the bike enjoying a loop road ride leaving from Abingdon. There is a lot of wonderful riding in the region, this loop offers a taste of all the great cycling. In 2015 Bike Virginia’s tour selected this 22 mile route to welcome participants to their event. This ride includes Abingdon proper and the nearby rural farmland. View the map and details at https://ridewithgps.com/routes/16859784. After you enjoy a morning riding spend the afternoon strolling the tree-lined brick sidewalks of the historic downtown shopping district. Stop by the Arts Depot, located in a historic train station, and watch as local artists work in their studios. For happy hour, check out Wolf Hills Brewing Company and enjoy a craft brew and live local music, then walk over to The Tavern (built in 1779) for fine dining and cool historic ambiance.
Planning Your Trip
- Places to stay: visitabingdonvirginia.com/where-to-stay
- Places to eat: visitabingdonvirginia.com/dining