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Cascade Falls Hike in Giles County: What to See

Cascade Falls in Giles County is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Virginia.

About 150,000 people visit the falls each year, according to the Giles County government. It is easy to see why. (more…)

Lee County Fair

Lee County Fair is one of the earliest fairs each year, scheduled for late August.

Special events include a tractor pull, beauty contest, demolition derby and horse show. Concerts feature performers on stage.

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Southwest Virginia Events

Virginia Lake Festival
credit: Virginia Lake Festival

Anyone looking for food, crafts, entertainment, sports or wine events will find plenty of options in southwest Virginia.

The area is known for its natural beauty, history and culture. It also has historic sites, parks, sports arena, golfing, concerts, festivals and celebrations throughout the year.

Whether visitors are planning a day trip, weekend trip or lengthy vacation in advance, they will find plenty of events to enjoy year round. While the list goes on for pages, here are some of the favored choices in the region.

Virginia Lake Festival – Clarksville’s Annual Virginia Lake Festival has been named “One of the Top 20 Events” by the Southeast Tourism Society. Tethered hot air balloon rides, sand sculptors, live music and vendors fill the streets during the July weekend.

Spencer-Penn Bar-B-Que Cookoff – Spencer-Penn Centre is the locale for this popular Pig Cookin’ Contest held in April. Some of the best cooks in Virginia and North Carolina gather for this whole pig cooking competition. Judged by the NC Pork Association, you can partake of the barbecue by the plate, sandwich or pound. There’s live music, vendors and activities for all ages.

Ridgeway Springfest – A day filled with fun for all, Springfest offers music, food and vendors, and children’s activities. There is also a one-mile fun run. Held in downtown Ridgeway in May, it is a great day to escape the daily grind and have some fun.

Clarksville Lake Country Wine Festival – The lawns of historic Clarksville are filled with the samples of almost 100 wines from 15 Virginia wineries. Virginia’s only lakeside town is filled with delicious food, talented artisans and live music for the Saturday in April.

Noland Country Day Fair – Step back in time with antique machinery, classic cars, arts and crafts, homemade Brunswick stew and homemade desserts in Nathalie. The one day event is held on a Saturday in May, and offers a look into days gone by. Proceeds go toward the upkeep of the oldest Presbyterian church in the county.

Frederick County Fair – For a week every summer, the fairgrounds come alive with traditional fair activities, such as a demolition derby, beauty pageants, and agricultural exhibits. Of course there is plenty of food and other activities.

Peach Festival – Marker Miller Orchards in Winchester offers everything peaches on the hot Saturday in August. With peach cobbler, pie and turnovers, there is plenty of music, food, and children’s activities to enjoy.

Tomato Fest – Celebrating the tomato and all things related to it. A community recipe contest, chef demos, children’s activities and other activities are held at Harrisonburg’s Turner Pavilion on the Saturday in August.

Mountain Jamboree at Massanutten – Live music, fireworks, plenty of food, activities for the kids plus a beer and wine garden provide a fun-filled day at the Massanutten Ski Area in McGaheysville every August. Various bands perform and make the day memorable.

Mountain Magic in Fall Bluegrass, Antiques and Crafts Festival – Downtown Buchanan hosts the festival that was voted a “Top Community Event” by readers of the Roanoake Times Boutetourt View. Celebrating heritage through music, crafts, history and architecture, there is a full-day of free bluegrass music. There are more than 100 vendors plus dozens of antique vehicles and tractors on display.

Regardless of their interest, visitors will find an event offering entertainment, food, and fun that will make your visit to the region much more memorable and enjoyable. Plan a special visit to Southwest Virginia.

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Shot Tower Historical State Park

Photo Credit:Virginia Dept. Conservation & Recreation

Shot Tower Historical State Park has a history hundreds of years old.

The 75 foot shot tower the park is named for was built in the 1800s, as a place for early settlers to make ammunition for their firearms.

The settlers would melt lead from a nearby mine on top of the tower. The melted lead was poured through a sieve and would fall the length of the tower, and then an additional 75 feet into a kettle of water.

The long drop was necessary to mold the lead into a round shot of ammunition. The kettle served as a cushion for the lead.

When the ammunition cooled, it was taken out of the kettle and sold on the market.

Today, visitors to the park can go inside the tower and learn more about the lives of these settlers.


Shot Tower State Park overlooks the New River in the southwestern region of Virginia.

The park is located in the town of Foster Falls. Foster Falls is home to the African American Heritage Museum and the New River Trail State Park.

Shot Tower State Park is a six and a half hour drive from northern Virginia, and about five hours from Richmond.

The park is a one and a half hour drive from Richmond.

Shot Tower State Park is a part of the New River Trail State Park.


The tower itself is open on weekdays from dawn to dusk. Occassionally, the tower is open on weekends as well.

Group tours can be arranged by calling the park’s office, 276-699-6778.

Visitors to Shot Tower can also enjoy a day of hiking at New River Trail State Park. The park stretches 57 miles along and abandoned railroad.

The trail provides opportunity for hiking, running, and biking. The trail goes through two tunnels, over three major bridges, and across thirty other small bridges and trestles.

The trail can be accessed by hikers at the Shot Tower.

Shot Tower State Park does not offer boating or fishing, but both can be accessed at New River Trail State Park.

Shot Tower State Park does not have a designated swimming area. However, tubing along the New River is a popular activity among visitors to the park.

Overnight Accommodations

For overnight guests, primitive camping is available .2 miles down the road from the Shot Tower.

The campsites are tent only, with no room for vehicles. Cars must be parked remotely.

The campsites do not offer bathhouses or showers.

Shot Tower Historical State Park is a great place to learn about history and enjoy the beauty of the outdoors.

Hungry Mother State Park

Hungry Mother State Park, Virginia Dept. Conservation & Recreation

Hungry Mother State Park has a story as unique as its name.

Legend has it that hundreds of years ago, Native Americans in southwestern Virginia were destroying settlements along the New River. Molly Marley and her toddler child survived.

As they wandered through the woods, they had little more than berries to eat, and eventually Molly collapsed from exhaustion and hunger.

The toddler kept walking until he could find help, explaining the situation with only two words, “hungry mother”.

When the search party finally found Molly, she had died by the stream where she had collapsed.

Today, the creek is named Hungry Mother Creek.


The park is located in Smyth County, about two hours from Roanoke.

Hungry Mother State Park is five hours from Richmond, and six hours from both Northern Virginia and Virginia Beach.


Hungry Mother State Park has a variety of landscape: woodlands, beach, and a lake sprawling across 108 acres.

The lake has a supply of largemouth, smallmouth, hybrid, and spotted bass. The lake is also populated with carp, sunfish, and catfish.

Fishing is permitted with a valid Virginia fishing license. A fishing pier is located next to the beach area.

Canoes, paddleboats, and kayaks can be rented from the boat house between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Rentals can be made on weekends through October, weather permitting.

Hungry Mother State Park has more than five miles of hiking and bicycle trails, open year round.

The park has three picnic shelters, all of which can be reserved by calling the Reservation Center 1800-933-PARK.

Each shelter has a charcoal grill, picnic tables, a fireplace, electricity, lights, and access to restrooms.

Overnight Facilities

Hungry Mother State Park has cabins, lodges, and campsites available for overnight accommodations.

The Camp Burson campground, located just before the entrance to Hungry Mother State Park proper, accommodate tents, pop-up campers, and RVs.

Two of the three campsites in the Burson campground have electric and water hookups.

Swimming is free for overnight guests.

Cabins are available for rent on a weekly basis. Weekly rentals start on Saturdays and Sundays.

All cabins have a kitchen with utensils, a stove, a coffeemaker, and dish towels.

Cabins also have a living room, bedrooms, with linen sets, fireplaces, picnic tables, and a charcoal grill.

The Hungry Mother Lodge is a six bedroom lodge that sleeps up to 15 people, making it a great place for reunions and family get togethers.

The lodge has six bedrooms, a porch, washer and dryer, gas grill and fireplace, horseshoe pits, and a large deck. The kitchen has a refrigerator, a coffeemaker, dishes, and utensils.

Guests should bring their own food and extra bath towels.

Grayson Highlands State Park

Photo Credit: Virginia Dept. Conservation & Recreation

Grayson Highlands State Park offers some of the most beautiful views in all of Virginia state parks.

Thanks to the fact that the park is nestled close to Mount Rogers and Whitetop Mountain – two of the tallest in the entire state – visitors can be assured to have the opportunity to see amazing sunrises and other unforgettable sights.

The park is surrounded by Jefferson National Forest, so you will have access not only the Grayson Highlands trails, but to those in the National Forest as well. Additionally, access to the Appalachian Trail and the Highland horse trails is also provided.

This 4822-acre park boasts miles of hiking trails. Those who enjoy these trails will be rewarded by amazing views as some of trails end at a waterfall or picturesque overlook.

History buffs will want to take the trail that leads to an authentic pioneer cabin that is more than 200 years old. The cabin gives you just a glimpse into what life may have been like for early settlers.

You’ll find many things to do at this park including hiking, mountain biking and fishing. The park sits alongside wild trout streams, so you can expect a good catch. Guided canoe trips are available from late spring through summer.

This park is a favorite with those who enjoy bringing their horses along. Grayson Highlands offers equestrian trails and has both covered and uncovered stalls available.

Overnight horse facilities are available, but you must bring your own hay and water bucket.

Overnight facilities at this state park include campsites and a bunkhouse.

The bunkhouse is quite primitive and linens are not provided. Grayson Highlands has a visitor’s center and many special programs and events take place here throughout the year.

The Grayson Highlands Fall Festival and the Albert Hash Memorial Festival are two examples of the annual events held here.

Pack up family, four-legged friends and camping gear and head to Grayson Highlands State Park – 4822 acres of beauty.

Grayson Highlands State Park Basics

Handicap accessible: Some areas including some trails, bathrooms and the visitor center are accessible.
To reach Grayson Highlands take I-81 to exit 45 and then go south on route 16. Go 33 miles to US 58. Take a right onto 58 and reach the park’s entrance in about 8 miles.
Pets are allowed, and must be on a leash. There is an extra fee for pets that stay overnight.
For more information about Grayson Highlands State Park call 276-783-5196.

Fairy Stone State Park

Photo Credit:Virginia Dept. Conservation & Recreation

Fairy Stone State Park is a 4639-acre park, packed with all of the outdoor activities and overnight facilities necessary for an enjoyable visit.

The park is home to a 168-acre lake that is perfect for enjoying fishing, kayaking, paddle boating or canoeing. Several types of boats are available for rent. A playground located in the water.

In addition to the water activities, Fairy Stone State Park has hiking, biking, picnics and horseback riding on lovely trails.

Bring along four-legged family members as dogs are welcome. They can even stay overnight for an additional fee.

Overnight facilities include cabins and campsites. Available amenities include showers and a camp store.

Some of the cabins have views of the lake and screened in porches. Cabins also have fireplaces, and firewood is for sale in the park.

Another perk of staying at Fairy Stone State Park is the park’s close proximity to the Blue Ridge Parkway. This area is home beautiful scenery, as well as attractions, antique stores and more.

Visitors who stay overnight should be sure to venture out at least once to explore the gorgeous Blue Ridge Parkway.

Now about the park’s name: Crossed shaped stones, which some call Fairy Stones, are found in large numbers in the park. The stones were formed under great pressure.

In this case, the pressure came as the Appalachian Mountains were being formed. Another more fanciful explanation for the stones involves a legend about weeping fairies.

The legend tells that, many years before Chief Powhatan’s reign, fairies were dancing around a spring of water, playing with other woodland creatures. As they were enjoying the beautiful outdoors, an elf came with a sad message: Christ was dead.

The fairies cried many tears as they listened to the story of the cruxifiction. The tears crystallized to form the uniquely shaped stones, including the shape of the cross. While Fairy Stones are found in other spots, this park has more of them than anyplace else.

Fairy Stone State Park Basics

Overnight: Cabins and campsites are available. The park also has a conference center.
Handicap accessible: Some of the park’s trails are wheelchair accessible.
Public bathrooms: Yes
Fairy Stone State Park is located off of Interstate 81. Take route 581 to 57 and finally to route 346.
Pets are allowed in the park. They must be on a leash at all times. If staying overnight, there will be a per night pet fee.
Call 800-933-PARK for reservations or more information.

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