Tucked in Virginia’s western Shenandoah Valley, Lexington Virginia in Rockbridge County offers a fun-filled vacation for the entire family. Home to two major schools: Washington and Lee University and The Virginia Military Institute, it’s a quaint, historic visit for couples and families. From Confederate history, wineries, and plenty to do for kids, it offers something for everyone and should be added to your list for family vacations.
Best Time to Go
Like many popular tourist destinations, the summer is the peak season, however, you’ll find that spring and fall are equally as beautiful, with plenty of events to fill your time. The winter can also be a nice time to visit, with places less crowded, and several winter outdoor activities and indoor attractions available.
Things to Know
Eastern Standard Time
The weather in Lexington is pleasant, with summers averaging around 88 degrees Farenheit, and winters getting pretty cold, averaging 23 degrees. Autumn and spring are comfortable, with temperatures in the 60s and 70s.
Getting To Lexington
Charlottesville Airport is a little over an hour away and offers flights to and from major cities up and down the east coast, including New York, Atlanta, and Philadelphia.
Lexington is easily accessible by car, and parking is fairly easy throughout the area. It is only a day or less of driving away from many east coast locations, making it a great spot for a road trip for many families.
How to Get Around
While there is no bus or train to get around the area, Rockbridge Area Transportation System (RATS) is available for rides to anyone who needs one. The Maury Express is also available for disabled individuals.
Lexington is an extremely walkable city, with many attractions, restaurants, and hotels within walking distance of each other. If you are considering a stay longer than a weekend, a car is advisable to visit attractions outside of the city.
Driving in Lexington and surrounding areas is easy, as most attractions have free parking. Downtown Lexington has street parking, as well as several parking lots, and while parking is free, many spots have a time limit, so be sure to check the signs when parking.
Best Hotels in Lexington
Best Luxury Hotel – The Georges
History, luxury, and comfort all meet during your stay at The Georges. Made up of five different historic buildings in downtown Lexington, The Georges is impeccably decorated, with large comfortable beds, heated floors in the bathroom, and a complimentary breakfast each morning, served either in their on-site restaurant Taps or in the comfort of your bedroom. In addition to Taps, the Haywood Piano Bar is also on-site on the first floor of the Washington Building.
Best Budget Hotel – Country Inn and Suites
When you are on a budget and you are just looking for a basic hotel during your Lexington stay, Country Inn and Suites is a great option. Located just a few minutes outside of downtown, it includes a complimentary breakfast, an indoor pool, WiFi, and more. With rooms averaging around $100/night, you won’t be breaking the bank.
Hotel for Families – Hampton Inn
Located in the historic district of Lexington, the Hampton Inn has plenty of outdoor space so your little ones can easily play outside, which is often needed after a long day of traveling by car or airplane. Situated on 7 acres of land featuring the Col Alto mansion, which houses ten rooms on the property. There is an outdoor pool, free wifi, and a continental breakfast included.
Unique Location – Ecco Adesso Vineyards
Winos, get excited! Here is your chance to stay on a functioning vineyard. Ecco Adesso Vineyards features four properties available to rent on Airbnb: a four-bedroom farmhouse, a three-bedroom guest house, a one-bedroom cabin, and a one-bedroom barn loft- all at different price points, perfect for whatever vacation you want. And, despite it being on a vineyard, there is plenty to do for everyone: wine-tasting for the adults, hiking and biking trails, games and events for kids, and stunning views.
Working Farm Stay – The Bread Barn, Seasons Yield Farm
Wake up to the smell of freshly baked bread during your stay at the Seasons Yield Farm. Owners Daniel and Fawn Shear live on-site with their children and encourage lodgers to explore the farm and get a tour of the bakery. Located 20 minutes from Lexington in the Shenandoah Valley, The Bread Barn is a two-bedroom apartment that incorporates elements from a 200-year-old barn and is expertly decorated by Fawn. Be sure to visit Season’s Yield Farm at Haywoods when you are in Lexington, where you can get a cup of coffee and a pastry for breakfast.
Best for Lunch – Legendary Eats
The legend-themed sandwiches at Legendary Eats make for the perfect lunch while in town. Try menu items such as the Sasquatch (a breakfast sandwich, served all day), Jersey Devil (an Italian sandwich), El Cuco (a Cuban sandwich), or the Shapeshifter (loaded tater tots). There are a few tables for eating in, or taking it to go during a busy day.
Best for Outdoor Dining – Pure Eats
With a huge outdoor patio, you can enjoy some classic diner food at Pure Eats. Treat yourself to delicious homemade donuts, pickle chips, a hamburger, and more.
Best for Families – Devils Backbone Brewing Outpost
Yes, a brewery can be family-friendly! Devils Backbone is the perfect spot to try some beer, and eat some delicious food. The dining area is large, and there is a big outdoor patio, perfect for kids to run around when they get antsy. The menu features appetizers, salads, sandwiches, entrees, and a selection for kids.
Best for a Date Night – Red Hen
The Red Hen is the perfect spot for an intimate dinner for two. With a select seasonal menu, you feel like you are getting special treatment while dining here. With seating for only twenty-six patrons, reservations are recommended. You can make reservations here.
Best for Vegetarians and Vegans – Glowbol Cafe
With the most selections for vegans, Glowbol Cafe will quickly become every veggie-loving person’s go-to spot while in Lexington. Working with local farmers, Glowbol provides healthy, tasty meals- from salads, “glowbols” to vegan empanadas to those looking for a healthier meal option.
Best for a Fancy Night Out – Southern Inn Restaurant
Enjoy delicious food with a great ambiance, and an extensive wine and cocktail list at the Southern Inn Restaurant. From classics like hamburgers and fried chicken to more unique dishes like calves liver and Seared Tuna Bruschetta, both picky eaters and those with a more refined pallet will be satisfied.
Best for Local Beer – Heliotrope Brewery
Heliotrope Brewery serves craft beers and food using as many locally sourced ingredients as possible. They have a small outdoor patio, and inside, long tables for a communal feel. Try a flight of beer to get a taste, or grab a pint. Whatever you do, you must try their Hard Seltzer Slushie, which combines their housemade Orange Mango hard seltzer with a mango slushy mix to make an absolutely refreshing beverage.
Best Ice Cream – Sweet Things
For a decadent experience, you must try Sweet Things. Choose from twenty-four different flavors, all homemade on site- from classics like mint chocolate chip, chocolate, and their one-of-a-kind Oreo (trust me, it’s not like any other Oreo ice cream you have ever had), to their more specialty rotating flavors like Guinness and Chunky Girl Scout, you will not be disappointed.
Things to Do
Lexington and the area surrounding the town is filled with things to do and see.
Ecco Adesso Vineyards
More than just a vineyard, Ecco Adesso Vineyards has something for everyone: hiking/biking/horseback riding trails, family-friendly events, murder mysteries, trivia, live music, and more! Of course, don’t forget the wine tasting! Flights are available for reds, whites, and sparkling wines.
Lexington Carriage Company
The Lexington Carriage Company offers horse drawn tours- and is the best way to get a real view and history of the town all in one go. Your tour guides are extremely knowledgeable in all things Lexington, and you will get nuggets of town lore you likely won’t hear anywhere else. You can book online here.
Natural Bridge State Park
See the amazing limestone Natural Bridge at Natural Bridge State Park. Designated both in the National Register of Historic Places and as a National Historic Landmark, this 215-foot tall Natural Bridge is a limestone gorge carved out by Cedar Creek and was once owned by Thomas Jefferson. The park offers hiking trails, and picnic areas, and is also a designated International Dark Sky Park. The park also features a Monacan Indian Village, which, when open, is a living history exhibit that shows what life was like for the Moncan Indians who once inhabited the region.
Rockbridge Vineyard and Brewery
Located in the heart of Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley wine country, the Rockbridge Vineyard and Brewery will give you a chance to have a bit of a breather during a long day of sightseeing. Try some of their award-winning wines, or some beer from their newly opened brewery.
Tantivy Lavender Farm
You’ll smell the lavender and begin to relax as soon as you get out of your car at Tantivy Farm. Set on 54 acres of gorgeous landscape, the farm features a lavender shop, forest trails, picnic tables, and farm animals to visit with.
Virginia Safari Park
I bet you didn’t think you could go on a safari in Virginia! Virginia Safari Park is fun for the whole family – drive through the 180 acres with your windows down and a bucket of provided food out the window, and the animals will come running. Get up close and personal with llamas, deer, zebras, buffalo, and more. When you’re done driving around, take a walk through the village, where animals you’ll see include giraffes, a giant anteater, and kangaroos. The Budgie Adventure Aviary allows visitors to feed “budgies” (parakeets), who will perch on your hand, shoulder or arm (maybe even your head!)
See how a fully automated milling system works at Wade’s Mill. Built in 1750 it is the “longest continuously operating commercial grist mill surviving in the Shenandoah Valley.” The 100% natural stone-ground grains are available for purchase in the shop.
Downtown Lexington has a variety of shops for both unique finds and everyday necessities. From antiques, to artisan shops, and clothing, Lexington has you covered. Shops include:
Artists in Cahoots
A co-op artist shop, Artists in Cahoots features the works of several artists, who sell their work and take turns covering the register. You’ll find paintings, pottery, handmaid jewelry, and more.
There is always something special about an independent bookstore, and Downtown Books is no different. Perfect spot to pick up your vacation book while away.
If you are in need of clothes, shoes, or accessories while in town, Pappagallo is the stop for you. You’ll find both familiar and lesser-known brands of dresses, jeans, tops, and more.
Check out local vendors and their goods at the Lexington Farmer’s Market. Treat yourself to a fresh croissant, or pick up some local honey, jam, or lavender products – a great spot to find a local gift to bring home!
Walkabout Outfitter is your one-stop shop for casual wear and outdoor accessories while in town.
Arts & Culture
There are plenty of opportunities to experience some arts and culture during your visit to Lexington.
Lime Kiln Theater
607 Borden Road, Lexington, VA
See theater and music like you have never seen before, in a former lime quarry. At the Lime Kiln Theater, you’ll see top musical acts and familiar plays performed while surrounded by natural stone walls, trees, and mother nature.
Lenfest Center for Performing Arts
100 Glasgow Street, Lexington, VA
The Lenfest Center is located at Washington & Lee University. See students and faculty perform concerts, theater, opera, and dance recitals.
The author of this story was hosted by Lexington and Rockbridge Area Tourism.
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