If you’re planning a fall foliage driving tour of Back of the Dragon or the Mount Rogers Scenic Byway to see some of the most stunning fall color in the Blue Ridge mountains, you’ll see why Smyth County is an ideal leaf peeping destination. While you’re peeping those leaves, make it the perfect Fall weekend by adding some of these unique ideas to your itinerary:
1. Meet a Mastadon at the Museum of the Middle Appalachians
There’s no other place like Saltville, VA in the world. The unique geology attracted the earliest human settlers and wildlife, including the most complete Mastadon remains on display in the US. The natural salt marsh here put Saltville on the map during the Civil War. While there is history and science to learn about, Saltville also has an incredible overlook, perfect for basking in the Fall colors. Don’t fight the leaf peeping crowds. Instead, grab lunch at The Lilypad for a relaxed and casual picnic at the overlook on Rt 107 before or after your visit to the museum.
2. Feel the LOVE at the Chilhowie Visitor Center
Stop by the Visitor Center in Chilhowie, and appreciate the architecture and history of the HL Bonham house while you’re getting local travel tips from the friendly staff. The HL Bonham house is listed on the National Register for Historical Places. Built in 1911, the house features Colonial Revival style, classical detailing and retains all interior wood finishes and decorative mantels. While you’re here, grab a picture in front of the LOVE sign and mark off 1 of 275+ LOVEworks in Virginia off of your list!
3. Get Active with a Guide
The tumbling creeks, expansive views and Virginia’s highest peaks beckon hikers, horseback riders and anglers to Smyth County year-round, but especially during the Fall. Instead of fighting the crowd to explore Fall’s beauty, why not find a local guide to take you off the beaten path to complete the perfect fall weekend?
Take a hike with White Blaze Outdoors and elevate your hike with a knowledgeable guide to point out wildlife and natural elements while you explore. Also offering hiker and biker shuttles if you want to section hike a portion of the Appalachian Trail.
Make unforgettable memories with family and friends, guided by those who spend their lives on the world-class fisheries here in Smyth County. Matt Reilly Fly Fishing will guide you with practical knowledge and techniques that you can take with you on waters everywhere.
Who wants to look at the Fall colors from afar when you can get inside the dazzling golden leaves? Zip through the treetops on the longest, highest, and fastest zip line in the state of Virginia, with nearly a mile of lines through five sections, flying over valleys and through the treetops at Hungry Mother Outdoor Adventures. Younger children (and timid first timers!) can enjoy the mini-zipline as well.
4. Taste the Flavors of Fall
Agriculture is a way of life for folks who live in Southwest Virginia. Get off the scenic byway to explore working farms and to taste the flavors of Smyth County.
Farmers Markets are the hub of small town life on the weekend. Open through the end of October, the Marion Farmers Market offers arts and crafts vendors alongside preserved foods and farmers every Saturday. Enjoy lunch in Marion at Wooden Pickle, where they source local food for their menu.
Virginia grape varieties are rising in esteem in the wine world. Visit Davis Valley Winery & Distillery to sample their Virginia wines on a 100-year old oak bar, tour the winery, browse the gift shop, or just sit on the veranda and enjoy the spectacular view of the Fall Colors.
For a more immersive farm experience, book a visit to Long Neck Lair Farm, where you can pet the alpacas. Additionally, they offer lodging on the farm, but book early to reserve your coveted Fall spot.
5. Immerse Yourself in Culture
Explore The Wayne C Henderson School of Appalachian Arts, housed in a historically significant building that was once used as a schoolhouse. Register for a workshop in letterpress, fiber arts, luthier and woodworking skills or ceramics for a truly unforgettable experience.
Get your hands dirty at The Ford Studios in Marion with one of their Pottery Classes. From beautiful, wearable felted scarves to one-of-a-kind marbled greeting cards & jewelry, painting, mixed media, handmade soaps and more… they have a beautiful collection of artful finds to discover. It’s the perfect spot to find a memento to remember your perfect fall weekend by.
Take in the musical heritage of SWVA, home of the Crooked Road. Housed in The Lincoln Theatre, Song of the Mountains showcases the best talents in bluegrass, Americana and old-time music. Also an award-winning public television series, you’ll enjoy hearing the musical heritage and culture of the Southern Appalachians in a historical theatre.
Experience the small town charm of Smyth County’s favorite Fall Festivals. These annual events include nostalgic parades, chili cook-offs, live music and family friendly fun. Schedule your trip to include our favorite local events: Chilhowie’s Apple Festival, Marion’s Chili Cook-Off or the Appalachian Heritage Festival at Hungry Mother State Park. There are always things to do in Smyth County, check our running list of Things to Do This Weekend when you’re planning your trip.