Some cities you can’t wait to leave while others you want to stay longer. After two days of discovering all the best things to do in Lynchburg, VA, I wasn’t ready to leave.
Note: I visited Lynchburg in September 2019 but because of the political climate and possible misassociations with the word “Lynchburg” I chose to hold off publishing this post until now. Double-check open hours of each attraction before visiting.
Disclosure: As is common in the travel industry, my trip was provided for review purposes. All opinions are 100% mine.
I can see the puzzled look on your face, “Lynchburg, Virginia?” You aren’t the first to wonder, “You’re a travel blogger. You can go anywhere in the world and you picked Lynchburg?”
Yes, I did, and here’s why.
Lynchburg, Virginia isn’t your typical Southern town.
Cities like Lynchburg offer a big bang for your vacation dollar with great food and lots of activities.
East of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Lynchburg, Virginia is an easy drive from Baltimore, Charlotte, Raleigh, Richmond, and Washington, DC, and a relaxing train ride from Boston and New York.
Lynchburg, VA is a must-visit for travelers seeking a budget-friendly vacation destination. From family-friendly activities to one of the oldest farmers’ markets in the US, sinful desserts to year-round skiing and snowboarding, Lynchburg offers something for everyone.
How to Get to Lynchburg, VA
Baltimore, Charlotte, Raleigh, Richmond, and Washington, DC are within driving distance of Lynchburg, making it an enjoyable staycation or weekend getaway.
Prefer to relax and enjoy the ride? Amtrak’s Northeast Regional offers service into Lynchburg, Virginia from as far north as Boston and all the stops between such as New York.
Prefer to relax and enjoy the ride? Amtrak’s Northeast Regional offers service into Lynchburg, Virginia from as far north as Boston and all the stops between such as New York.
Best Things to Do in Lynchburg, VA
Named after John Lynch who started the first ferry service across the James River, Lynchburg is also known as the “City of Seven Hills” and “Hill City,” indicative of the seven historic districts surrounding the original ferry location downtown.
Proximity to the James River helped Lynchburg establish itself as a commercial hub for tobacco and iron manufacturing. By the mid-1800’s Lynchburg was one of the wealthiest towns in the US. Evidence of the city’s wealth and grandeur are visible in the opulent homes and estates in Federal Hill, Diamond Hill, and Garland Hill.
You could spend hours driving around Lynchburg marveling at the various architectural styles from Queen Anne, Colonial Revival, to Victorian. But there’s more to see and do in Lynchburg than drooling over mansions. Here are all the best things to do in Lynchburg, VA.
Off the Beaten Path Things to Do
Virginia Love Collection
- Lynchburg James River Heritage Trail
- Craddock Terry Hotel
- Madison House of the Arts
- Lynchburg College
Lynchburg Community Market
The Lynchburg Community Market, one of the oldest farmer’s markets in the United States, is open every Saturday. Offering everything from fresh baked goods to organic vegetables, local crafts to jewelry, come to shop or come to nibble.
The permanent indoor stalls offer an unusual assortment of items. One sold water fountains made from repurposed kitchenware while another offered cozy totes to keep your potluck contribution warm. Need a sweet pick me up? Try the donuts from my Father’s Cafe and Bakery. Indoor art and craft stalls are open Tuesday through Saturday all year. 1219 Main St, Lynchburg, VA 24504. Phone: 434-455-4485. Indoor art and craft stalls are open Tuesday through Saturday all year. Farmer’s market on Saturday from 7 am to 2 pm. Green market on Wednesday from 10 am to 2 pm in the summer.
Another off the beaten path thing to do in Lynchburg is to visit the Hill City Keys pianos. In its sixth year, this public art project offers playable pianos throughout the city.
Unlike some public art, the city didn’t commission high profile artists to paint the pianos. Instead, they are a true community passion project. Lynchburg students painted the pianos with unique themes before the city installed them downtown.
Find the Hill Street Keys pianos at:
- Lynchburg Community Market
- Kegney Brothers Pub
- Absolute Bridal and Formal
- The Galleria
- Bank of the James
- Amazement Square
- Lynchburg Visitors Center
- Academy Center of the Arts
- Lynchburg Airport
Adventurous Things to Do
The Riverwalk trail offers users a way to explore downtown Lynchburg, the James River, and Percival Island. Visitors can walk, jog, or bike along the multi-purpose trail. Strategically placed benches offer spots to rest, take in the scenery, or have a snack break.
The 3.5 mile trail connects to the 3 mile Blackwater Creek Trail and 1.5 mile Point of Honor Trail. The paved trail allows little ones to run free and burn off excess energy and play at the seasonal Zero Depth fountain at Riverfront Park and Riverside Park Sprayground.
Percival’s Island Natural Area
Formerly used for industry, Percival’s Island Natural Area is a treat for flora and fauna lovers. Birders will love spotting migrating birds and other wildlife. The paved handicapped accessible 1.5 mile trail offers shaded areas and scenic views of the James River. There’s even a small bridge where couples leave love locks like the Pont des Arts (Passerelle des Arts) bridge in Paris. 1600 Concord Turnpike, Lynchburg, VA 24504. Phone: 434-856-2489.
Rise Up Climbing
Rainy day or sunny day, any day is a good day for indoor rock climbing at Rise Up Climbing. Besides the climbing walls, the gym offers two autobelays and several bouldering areas.
An autobelay lets you climb without a partner by strapping in and the equipment acts as a belayer. This is great if your friends don’t want to climb or you don’ t have anyone to climb with. Instead of sacrificing your work out, you can climb to your heart’s content.
Bouldering is closer to the ground and open to all ages. Participants must be 3 years old and 30 pounds to use the climbing wall. Day passes are $17 for adults, $15 for students, teachers, first responders, and active military. 1225 Church Street, Lynchburg, VA 24504. Phone: 434-845-7625. Monday to Saturday from 11 am to 10 pm, Sunday from 1 pm to 7 pm.
Never rock climbed before? Here’s everything you need to know about indoor rock climbing and my experience at Rise Up Climbing.
Liberty Mountain Snowflex Centre
One of only three US locations, Snowflex Lynchburg, VA offers year-round skiing, snowboarding, and tubing. Whether you’re getting in or staying in shape for ski season or looking for a fun activity for the whole family, Snowflex is a great way to spend a few hours in Lynchburg, VA.
I was looking forward to trying this during my visit but unfortunately, my visit coincided with their yearly maintenance schedule.
Skiing or snowboarding costs $8 an hour or $25 for a day pass Sunday to Friday and $30 on Saturday; Tubing costs $13 an hour. Bring your own gear or rent equipment for $14 a day. Military discounts are available. Liberty University, 4000 Candlers Mountain Road, Lynchburg, VA 24502. Phone: 434-582-3539. Monday to Friday from 3 pm to 10 pm; Saturdays from 10 am to 10 pm, and Sunday from 12 pm to 6 pm.
Lynchburg Hillcats Minor League Baseball
The Lynchburg Hillcats Minor League Baseball is the farm team for the Cleveland Indians. Baseball fans can watch the Hillcats play April through September. At only $7 a ticket a day at the ballpark is an inexpensive way to spend an afternoon. 3180 Fort Ave, Lynchburg, VA 24501. Phone: 434-528-1144.
Best Things to Do for Culture Lovers
Art is alive and well in Lynchburg. The theater, the symphony, Jazz music, and art museums featuring styles from contemporary to works by 19th and 20th century American artists all contribute to the rich cultural environment. There’s so much art it spills into the streets where colorful murals adorn brick walls and painted pianos asking to be played beautify the city streets.
Maier Museum of Art
Built in 1952 during the Cold War to safeguard the nation’s art in the event of a nuclear holocaust, the proactive storage facility became the Maier Museum of Art. The museum features 19th, 20th, and 21st-century art with a strong focus on American Impressionism and 20th-century Realism from artists such as Mary Cassatt, Gilbert Stuart, and Winslow Homer. Randolph College, 1 Quinlan Street, Lynchburg, VA. Phone 434-947-8136. Open Tuesday to Sunday from 1 pm to 5 pm from September to April; Wednesday to Sunday from 1 pm to 5 pm from May to August. Admission is free.
Academy Center of the Arts
Lynchburg’s Academy Center for the Arts is a cultural gathering place offering various art classes, film and theater events, and concerts. Unobstructed views and perfect acoustics give the Academy Center for the Arts an edge over venues attracting artists of renowned caliber. 600 Main Street, Lynchburg, VA. Phone 434-846-8499. Ticket prices vary depending on the event. Military, student, educator, and senior discounts are available.
In what used to be Lynchburg’s original courthouse, the Old Court House houses the Lynchburg Museum. Built in 1813 and remodeled in 1855, the city council voted to convert the courthouse into a museum. Relaunched as the Lynchburg Museum in 1977, exhibits feature the history of Lynchburg, art, and life.
Visitors can view Lynchburg’s history from 1607 through 2007 in the former Husting Court, now the Main Courtroom Gallery. Artifacts and exhibits include an 1855 gargoyle, local crafts and textiles, and stories of Lynchburg residents who served in the military. 901 Court Street, Lynchburg, VA., 24504. Phone: 434-455-6226. Open Monday to Saturday from 10 am to 4 pm; Sunday from 12 pm to 4 pm. Closed on New Years Day, Easter Sunday, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day. Admission is free.
From Confederate Army infirmary to grocery warehouse, the J.W. Wood building is home to Amazement Square, a hands-on museum that’s fun for all ages.
With four floors of interactive exhibits, visitors can paint walls, create rainstorms, climb ladders, even zip-line in the 29,000 square foot building! 27 9th Street, Lynchburg, VA 24504. Phone: 434-845-1888. Open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 am to 5 pm and Sunday from 1 pm to 5 pm. Admission is $10.75 for ages 1 to 75, seniors pay $7.75, and children under 12 months are free.
Pest House Medical Museum
The Pest House Museum, in the City Cemetery, is a replica of Lynchburg’s first hospital, the Pest House aka “house of pestilence,” and includes some of Dr. John J. Terrell’s medical equipment.
During the 1840s and 1850s the hospital treated patients with infectious diseases such as cholera, scarlet fever, and small pox.
The Pest House treated servicemen during the Civil War and was a quarantine hospital for Confederate soldiers.
Due to Terrell’s revolutionary procedures such as washing his hands and sterilizing instruments after every surgery and using sand instead of beds, the mortality rate decreased from 50 percent to 5 percent. 401 Taylor St, Lynchburg, VA 24501. Phone: 434-847-1465. Daily dawn to dusk. Admission is free. Visitors can’t enter the Pest House Museum but can walk around the outside.
Old City Cemetery
Old City Cemetery is the oldest city-owned cemetery in Virginia. Still in use today, the 27-acre cemetery is the resting place of residents, Confederate Soldiers, and tobacco factory workers. 401 Taylor St, Lynchburg, VA 24501. Phone: 434-847-1465. Daily dawn to dusk. Admission is free.
Anne Spencer Home and Gardens
Anne Spencer Home and Gardens was the home of Harlem Renaissance poet Anne Spencer and her husband Edward. Spencer was the second African American to be featured in the Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry. Martin Luther King, Arthur Ashe, W.E.B. Dubois were often guests of the Spencers. The cottage and garden are where she wrote her poetry. 1313 Pierce Street, Lynchburg, VA 24501. Phone: 434-845-1313. Garden open daily dawn to dusk. Admission is free. Home by appointment only April through October. Admission is $15 for adults $15, $10 for seniors, $5 for college students, and $3 for children under 12.
National Civil War Chaplains Museum
The National Civil War Chaplains Museum highlights the impact that religious organizations and approximately 3,700 heads of faith (chaplains, priests, and rabbis) had during the Civil War. Exhibits include religious artifacts, shipping coffins, Black Chaplains, and the US Christian Commission Headquarters Flag. 1917 University Blvd, Lynchburg, VA 24515. Phone: 434-582-7090. Admission is free.
Best Things to Do in Lynchburg, VA for History Lovers
Courthouse Hill and Monument Terrace
Courthouse Hill and Monument Terrace overlook downtown Lynchburg and is a great spot to view the city. Monument Terrace memorializes those who died in the Civil War to present day. There are 139 steps from the bottom of Monument Terrace to the steps of the Lynchburg Museum. 313 9th Street, Lynchburg, VA 24504. Open 24 hours.
Legacy Museum of African American History
The Legacy Museum of African American History, dedicated to victims of lynching, highlights America’s history of slavery and racism and African American history and culture. Exhibits include narratives of personal accounts of slavery. 403 Monroe Street, Lynchburg, Virginia 24504. Phone: 434-845-3455. Open Wednesday through Saturday from noon to 4 pm and Sunday from 2 pm to 4 pm. Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for seniors, and $2 for students and children.
Point of Honor
Point of Honor, the Federal-style former home of Dr. George Cabell, a friend of Thomas Jefferson, is dedicated to Lynchburg life in the 1800s. The stately home, once a 740-acre plantation, overlooks Lynchburg and the James River. Called Point of Honor because the area used to be a dueling location. Exhibits include “Medicine in Early Virginia 112 Cabell Street, Lynchburg, VA 24505. Phone: 434-455-6226. Open Monday through Saturday from 10 am to 4 pm and Sunday from noon to 4pm. Closed on New Year’s Day, Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day. Guided tours of 45 minutes available on first come, first serve basis. Admission is $6 for adults, $5 for seniors age 60 and older, $4 for college students, and $3 for children age 6 to 17. Grounds are open daily from dawn to dusk.
Sandusky House also known as Historic Sandusky is one of the first homes built in the Federal style. Future presidents Rutherford B. Hayes and William McKinley were part of a regiment that seized and use the home as Union Headquarters. Thomas Jefferson visited Sandusky House often. 757 Sandusky Drive, Lynchburg, VA 24502. Phone: 434-832-0162. Closed on New Year’s Day, Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day. Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for seniors and military, $2 for students and children 5 and older, free for University of Lynchburg students, faculty, and staff.
Best Things to Do Near Lynchburg, VA
Poplar Forest, the first octagonal house built in the United States was Thomas Jefferson’s private retreat that he designed and built on property inherited from his father in law. Popular Forest has been restored to Jefferson’s original vision. 1542 Bateman Bridge Rd, Forest, VA 24551. Phone: 434-534-8120. Open weekends from 10:30 am to 3:30 pm through March 14, then daily from 10:30 am to 3:30 pm starting March 15. Guided tours only. Admission is $18 for adults, $16 for seniors age 65 and older and military, $10 for college students and teens age 12 to 18, and $6 for children age 6 to 11.
The 50-acre D-Day Memorial at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains honors those who gave their lives in Normandy on D-Day, June 6, 1944. The memorial’s location in Bedford is an homage to the 23 “Bedford Boys” who died at Normandy.
There are three distinct areas of the memorial: Reynolds Garden, symbolizing the planning, preparation, and execution of the invasion; Gray Plaza where the invasion pool with sculptures of soldiers making way on the beach is located, represents the landing and fighting stage; and Estes Plaza with the Overlord Arch and Allied Nations flags celebrating victory. Note: The invasion pool is drained in January and February. Open daily from 10 am to 5 pm. 3 Overlord Circle, Bedford, VA 24523. Phone: 540-587-3619. Closed Mondays December through February. Closed on New Year’s Day, Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day. Admission is $12 for adults, $10 for military and veterans, and $8 for students.
American Civil War Museum in Appomattox
The American Civil War Museum in Appomattox highlights the legacy of the Civil War. Exhibits include General Lee’s sword and the uniform worn when meeting General Ulysses S. Grant at the Appomattox Court House. 159 Horseshoe Road, Appomattox, VA 24522. Phone: 804-649-1861, extension 200. Open daily from 11 am to 4 pm. Closed on New Years Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas Day. Closes at 2 pm on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. Admission is $12 for adults, $10 for seniors, military, veterans, teachers, and students, and $6 for children ages 6 to 17.
Appomattox Court House National Park
Set on 1,800 acres, Appomattox Court House National Park includes McLean House where General Robert E. Lee surrendered to General Ulysses S. Grant on April 9, 1865, and the village of Appomattox Court House. The buildings have been restored to their original condition. Open daily from 9 am to 5 pm. Closed on New Years Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas Day. Closes at 2 pm on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.
Where to Eat in Lynchburg, VA
Lynchburg isn’t your typical Southern city. The vibe is very northern. Proximity to Washington, DC with an influx of various cultures makes it’s more heterogeneous than other cities in the South. Resulting in a wide variety of cuisine from fried chicken to sushi.
Market at Main
Market at Main with its lunch counter invokes nostalgic memories of days gone by and what downtown restaurants were like, a gathering place that served food and conversation. The restaurant is centrally located in downtown Lynchburg serves breakfast and brunch and has a wine shop. Dining for breakfast? Three words: stuffed french toast. Gluten-free bread is available. 904 Main Street, Lynchburg, VA 24504. Phone: 434-847-9040. Open Monday through Wednesday from 7 am to 2 pm, Thursday through Saturday from 7 am to 8 pm, and Sunday from 8 am to 2 pm.
My Dog Duke’s Diner
Where Market at Main is retro old-school, My Dog Duke’s Diner is the anti-thesis. Located in a restored downtown building, My Dog Duke’s Diner is a modern hipster upscale diner but without the pretension. Bring your pooch and enjoy your meal on the dog-friendly patio. The Chicken & Waffle is a must! 1007 Commerce Street, Lynchburg, VA 24504. Phone: 434-849-8868. Open daily from 7 am to 3 pm.
Aji Ramen and Sushi, the only sushi restaurant in downtown Lynchburg, serves sushi and a variety of Asian food. Daily lunch specials offer the best value. You can read my review of Aji Ramen and Sushi. 910 Main Street, Lynchburg, VA 24504. Phone: 434-845-2816. Open Monday through Saturday from 11 am to 9 pm.
Water Stone Pizza
Why have regular pizza when you can have oven fired artisan from Water Stone Pizza? Never had I ever had a tastier cauliflower pizza. Gourmet ingredients and a generous hand with the toppings and cheese and views of the James River make this a must spot for lunch and dinner. 1309 Jefferson Street, Lynchburg, VA 24504. Phone: 434-455-1515. Open Sunday through Thursday from 11:30 am to 9 pm, Friday and Saturday from 11:30 am to 10 pm. Closed New Years Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.
Isabella’s Italian Trattoria
Isabella’s Italian Trattoria offers a modern take on Northern Italian cuisine using fresh local ingredients with everything made in house. Portions are generously sized so come prepared to share or take home leftovers. Check for daily dinner specials. A gluten-free menu is available. 4925 Boonsboro Road, Lynchburg, VA 24503. Phone: 434-385-1660. Open Tuesday through Thursday from noon to 8 pm, Friday and Saturday from noon to 9 pm.
Grey’s is a casual cozy eatery that serves big portions bursting with flavor. The limited but frequently changing menu offers you lots of opportunities to dine without getting bored. Be sure to try their handcrafted drinks. 512 Fifth Street, Lynchburg, VA 24504. Phone: 434-616-4939. Open Tuesday through Saturday from 5 pm to 9 pm and Sunday from 11 am to 2 pm.
Where to Stay in Lynchburg, VA
The Virginian Hotel is the place to stay in downtown Lynchburg. The beautifully restored Beaux Arts hotel with plush luxury bedding and all the modern comforts is walking distance from restaurants, shopping, the James River, and all the downtown attractions. Be sure to grab a drink and bit at the Skyline Grill, downtown Lynchburg’s only rooftop restaurant. 712 Church Street, Lynchburg, VA 24504. Phone: 434-329-3200.
With so many attractions and activities, Lynchburg is an affordable value destination for solo travelers, families, couples, and girls getaways.
The best things to do in Lynchburg
This short trip wasn’t long enough and I can’t wait to go back.
What are your favorite things to do in Lynchburg?
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