excludeDestination Adventure

Destination Adventure

When planning a road trip, what does adventure look like for you? Maybe it’s flying high over the treetops on a mile-long zipline or paddling through splashy whitewater. Maybe it’s a cold beer after a long day of mountain biking flowy singletrack. Whatever your speed, we’ve got plenty of suggestions for where to play, eat, and stay this summer. As you travel across the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast, stop into one of these 16 destinations for adventure around every bend in the road.

Galax, Virginia 

Find your groove in Galax, a city steeped in music and art in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Southwest Virginia. Hit the trails on foot or bike, grab a jam session or an art class, or visit a working farm. Enjoy a bite downtown and browse an eclectic mix of stores.

Go Outside and Play

Starting at the red caboose, ride for miles along Chestnut Creek in lush greenery and wildlife. Need more of an exciting ride? Bike the singletrack of Mathews State Forest.  Foodies shouldn’t miss the Smoke on The Mountain BBQ Competition, July 22-23. Teams compete from all over the country for the title of best barbecue. The 86th Annual Old Fiddler’s Convention, oldest and largest in the world, runs August 8-13. Catch the main stage or a small jam session in the field. You won’t find a better showcase anywhere of Old Time and Bluegrass music; it’s an experience you won’t want to miss.

Website: VisitGalax.com

Phone Number: (276) 238-8130

Facebook: Galax City Tourism Center 

Bedford, Virginia

Whether you prefer to adventure by land or water, Bedford, Va., offers something for families of all ages. Named the Top Small Adventure Town in 2020 and a finalist in 2021 by Blue Ridge Outdoors readers, there are countless ways to get outside in this mountain town. Discover stunning overlooks at the Peaks of Otter, mountain bike singletrack at Falling Creek Park, and rent a boat from Smith Mountain Lake State Park. Throw in a scenic drive around to the area’s best galleries, eclectic shops, working studios, and delicious eateries for a getaway you’ll want to repeat next year.  

Eat 

There are a variety of locally-owned restaurants featuring all types of cuisine. If you’re near downtown Bedford, stop into Beale’s BBQ & Brewery or Clam Digger’s Seafood for fresh eats while visitors staying in the Forest area can’t go wrong with Brauburgers or Sourdough Pizza Company. For some waterfront dining, check out Drifter’s, Mitchell’s, or The Landing.

Play 

Since the first course was built in 2008, Bedford has quickly become a top destination for disc golf in the region. Today, the parks and recreation department has developed 128 disc golf holes spread across five courses, each one offering unique challenges. The newest course, New London Tech Disc Golf Course, was designed by five-time World Champion Disc Golfer Paul McBeth and is attracting players from across the country. 

Stay 

Find a place to curl up at the end of the day in one of the area’s cabins, cottages, and campsites, or a room in a mountain lodge or lakefront resort.

Website: DestinationBedfordVA.com

Phone Number: 540-587-5681 

Instagram: @DestinationBedfordVA

Facebook: @DestinationBedfordVA

Tucker County, West Virginia

There’s no other way to say it—Tucker County combines the best of small mountain towns with the personality of epic adventure. This is the perfect spot for a summer getaway where temperatures are typically 20 degrees cooler than most places in the region. Tucker provides endless opportunities for those looking to get outside as more than half of the county is designated as public land. Home to Canaan Valley Resort and Blackwater Falls state parks, the natural beauty will blow you away. There’s always something happening in Tucker, whether it’s free music at the resort’s outdoor amphitheater or drinks while enjoying the contemporary art at Gradient Project.

Eat 

Nearly all of the county’s restaurants are owned by members of the community. Head to the Ish Kitchen at the Billy Motel, featuring cuisine from all across the world on its menu and a popular bar. 

Play 

What better way to take in the scenery than on horseback with Mountain Trail Rides in Canaan Valley? Enjoy the views in Dolly Sods Wilderness as you watch the sun rise at Bear Rocks Preserve or take a dip in a swimming hole along Red Creek Trail. If you’re looking for a thrill, mountain bike on the famous Moon Rocks and HooDoo Trail Loop or compete in the upcoming Revenge of the Rattlesnake Mountain Bike Race. 

Stay 

Tucker has an amazing array of cabins in the woods for vacation rental or stay at a classic bed and breakfast or hotel. If you’re feeling extra outdoorsy, pitch a tent at one of Tucker’s many campgrounds. 

Website: CanaanValley.org

Phone Number: 800.782.2775 

Instagram: @TuckerCounty_WV

Facebook: Tucker County, West Virginia

Charlottesville and Albemarle County, Virginia

Escape to the foothills of Central Virginia for a fun-filled adventure by land and water in Charlottesville and Albemarle County. Remote stretches of nature paired with the amenities of the city and a wide range of lodging options, from chain hotels and resorts to inns and cabins, make for an exhilarating combination.

Go Outside and Play

Cool off with a paddle on one of the area’s refreshing rivers. Although the Rivanna River flows through the city, you’ll feel like you’re in the middle of the forest on your kayak, canoe, or standup paddleboard, while the river town of Scottsville provides easy access to the historic James River. Both rivers have outfitters offering a variety of rafting, tubing, paddling, and camping excursions. Explore all of the tastes and views of the area along the Charlottesville Ale Trail and Monticello Wine Trail. For a one-of-a-kind experience, you can book a horseback ride through a vineyard with Indian Summer Guide Service. 

Website: VisitCharlottesville.org

Phone Number: (434) 293-6789

Instagram: @CharlottesvilleVA

Facebook: Experience Charlottesville

Frankfort, Kentucky 

In the heart of Kentucky’s Bluegrass country, Frankfort offers the finest southern hospitality, landscapes, and, of course, bourbon. From hikes and bike rides through the forested canopies to scenic paddles along the Kentucky River, there is so much to see and do around every bend. 

Go Outside and Play

Head to West Sixth Farm for miles of mountain biking and a new 18-hole disc golf course. When you’re ready for a break, hit the taproom onsite for a craft beer made with ingredients from the farm. Rent a ride from Kentucky E-Bike Adventures for an electric-assisted jaunt around town or hit up Cove Spring Park and Nature Preserve for wetlands, walking trails, and waterfalls. Then get your paddle on with Canoe KY as you take to Elkhorn Creek and Kentucky River. Whether you prefer splashy whitewater, smallmouth bass fishing, or a fun float, there’s a trip for everyone. 

Website: VisitFrankfort.com

Phone Number: 800-960-7200

Instagram: @VisitFrankfortKY

Facebook: @VisitFrankfortKY 

Rockingham County, Virginia

Surrounded by the Alleghany and Blue Ridge Mountains, Rockingham County boasts a diverse mix of peaceful hiking trails and challenging mountain bike courses. The area is designated a “Bronze Level Bicycle Friendly Community” by the League of American Bicyclists, offering something for all cyclists. The county is also home to Skyline Drive and the Appalachian Trail.

Go Outside and Play

Between Shenandoah National Park and George Washington National Forest, nearly 177,000 acres of the county are designated as public lands. Enjoy several hundred miles of backcountry trail projects optimized for mountain biking, including Narrowback Mountain, Lookout Mountain, and Wolf Ridge. A trip to the area wouldn’t be complete without a stop at Massanutten Resort, one of only two lift-accessible mountain bike parks in the state. The Western Slope Trails offer an additional 30 miles, part of a dense network of trails. Cool off on the South Fork of the Shenandoah River with miles of a leisurely flowing river for paddling, tubing, and fishing. 

Website: VisitRockingham.com

Phone Number: 540-435-7775

Instagram: @VisitRockinghamVA

Facebook: Rockingham County, Virginia 

Gatlinburg, Tennessee

Surrounded by Great Smoky Mountains National Park, there is adventure around every corner in Gatlinburg, Tenn. No two days will look the same as you fill your hours with whitewater rafting, hikes to waterfalls, stops at scenic overlooks, and more. You might even find that one trip isn’t long enough to fit in everything. 

Go Outside and Play

With 800 miles of backcountry trails, you can always find something new to see in the national park. Drive the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail for untold wonders, including cool mountain streams, historic structures, and scenic picnic spots. On Wednesdays and Saturdays, cyclists should take advantage of the empty roads to ride the Cades Cove loop. For the best views around, fly high in the Gatlinburg SkyLift or walk across the 700-foot SkyBridge for panoramic views of the park and town. There’s even more adventure at Anakeesta with a dual racing zipline, single-rail mountain coaster, and spectacular views from the Anavista Tower.

Website: Gatlinburg.com

Phone Number: (865) 436-4178

Instagram: @VisitGatlinburg

Facebook: @GatlinburgTN

Frederick County, Maryland

Frederick County is where “hip meets historic.” Located an hour outside of Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, Frederick is home to enriching outdoor activities that make it the perfect escape from bustling city life. Experience downtown Frederick, which hosts over 200 restaurants and shops, and explore important historic sites from prominent scenes in American history. 

Go Outside and Play 

The Appalachian Mountains run through Frederick County, which gives outdoor enthusiasts the ability to experience breathtaking views. Hike Chimney Rock to take in the beauty of Catoctin Mountain Park from an elevation of 1,400 feet. Explore Frederick’s 90 park facilities, with possible activities ranging from swimming to horseback riding. Zip through 30 acres of forest at TreeTrekkers, which features 14 trails and over 30 ziplines. Enjoy some of the best mountain biking around in Frederick City Watershed, with miles of forest roads and singletrack trails. If you’re looking for an outdoor adventure, Frederick County has it all. 

Website: VisitFrederick.org

Phone Number: 301-600-4047 

Instagram: @VisitFrederickMD

Facebook: @VisitFrederickMD

Prestonburg, Kentucky

With views this good, it’s easy to tell why Prestonsburg is known as the Star City. Within this small, creative Appalachian town are over 55 miles of hiking, biking, and horseback riding trails, river and lake waterways, and entertainment venues that will move you to your feet. 

Go Outside and Play

This is your next summer destination. Sugarcamp Mountain Trails features Kentucky’s top intermediate-advanced mountain biking with 30 miles of hand-carved trails. For less elevation, the paved Prestonsburg Passage is one of the country’s newest rail trail systems. Don’t miss the renowned school bus bridge at mile seven! The day isn’t over at sunset. Live music abounds at restaurants and the Mountain Arts Center. Prestonsburg is home to over 20 locally-owned tastebud-pleasing restaurants whether you crave fresh-ingredient burritos, a hot brown pizza, or mouthwatering burgers. There are a variety of lodging options including camping, short-term rentals, brand hotels, and the top state resort park.

Website link: prestonsburgky.org

Phone Number: (606) 886-1341

Facebook: @PrestonsburgTourism

IG: @Visit_Prestonsburg

Photos: request to use the mountain bikers at the overlook as the main photo

Southern West Virginia

Looking for a breath of fresh air? Visit Southern West Virginia and enjoy the outdoors! From local and state parks to the newest National Park—New River Gorge National Park and Preserve—there are so many ways to get outside and play.

Go Outside Play

Zipline through mountains, hike and bike or 100 miles of trails, rock climb sandstone cliffs, and explore underground in a cave or coal mine. Take a scenic drive ro motorcycle run to some fabulous overlooks and waterfalls. Spend a day at a lake swimming, standup paddleboarding, kayaking, or playing in a splash or aqua park. A day on the river can’t be beaten whether you’re enjoying a family rafting trip, a whitewater adventure, a jetboat ride, or letting an expert fisherman guide you to the best fishing holes on the river. Find your next outdoor adventure in Southern Western Virginia!

Photo caption: Explore mile afet mile through the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve.

Website: wvtourism.com/southernwv

Phone number: 18008474898

Highland County, Virginia 

There’s no better place to find solitude amidst nature than the mountains and waters of Highland County. Whether you fish the pure headwaters of the James and Potomac rivers, hike secluded trails, or spend the night staring up at the dark starry sky, this is your basecamp to rejuvenate.

Go Outside and Play

Climb over 100 steps up Sounding Knob Fire Tower for breathtaking aerial views and one of the best sunset spots in the area. George Washington and Jefferson National Forests feature even more miles to explore, including Shenandoah Mountain Trail. Cyclists should plan to visit for the annual Mountain Mama Road Bike Challenge—the first Saturday of August—for 10,000 feet of climbing over 105 miles while anglers are sure to find a spot to reel in some mountain trout. Of course, a visit to Highland County wouldn’t be complete without a taste of the local maple sugar found along the Virginia Maple Syrup Trail. 

Website: HighlandCounty.org

Phone Number: (540) 468-2550

Instagram: @Highland_County_VA

Facebook: @HighlandCounty

RoanokeVirginia’s Blue Ridge, Virginia 

You’ll find over 1,000 miles of trails for hiking, biking, and paddling in Virginia’s Blue Ridge, which serves as the perfect destination for an outdoor adventure. Check out epic hiking on the Appalachian Trail, backcountry mountain biking in the Jefferson National Forest, scenic paddling on the Upper James River Water Trail, and treetop camping at Roanoke County’s Explore Park. It’s time to be a #Trailsetter in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Eat 

They have trails for everyone in Virginia’s Blue Ridge, including those who want to check out the local food and drink scene! Virginia’s Blue Ridge Cheers Trail is a collection of nearly 30 breweries, wineries, and craft spirits producers located in the region. Each one features its own unique flavors and atmospheres that serve as great spots for a post-adventure drink. Text “CHEERS” to (540) 253-4311 to download your free VBR Cheers Trail Mobile Passport and receive exclusive special offers and discounts!

Play 

Chasing waterfalls is highly encouraged in Virginia’s Blue Ridge. The trails that lead to beautiful

waterfalls are some of the best hikes in the region, and the entire family will enjoy visiting spots like Roaring Run Falls, Apple Orchard Falls, and Bottom Creek Gorge. You can even wear your swimsuit and make your way down the natural waterslide along the Roaring Run Trail!

Stay 

Whether it’s a historic downtown hotel, charming bed and breakfast, peaceful rustic cabin, or a luxurious lodge, you’ll love the variety of overnight lodging options to choose from in Virginia’s Blue Ridge. And no matter where you’re located, it’s never far from a local trail to explore!

Website: VisitVBR.com

Phone Number: (540) 342-6025

Instagram: @VisitVBR

Facebook: @VisitVBR

Shenandoah County, Virginia

Find your way back to mountains, rivers, fresh air, and all of the outdoor activities you love, whether on the ground, in the sky, or on the water. Only 90 miles from Washington, D.C., and 150 miles from Richmond, Shenandoah County is the perfect weekend destination.

Go Outside and Play

Hit the road and get ready for adventure! Shenandoah County has a variety of accommodation styles from tent camping to “glamping” or hotel, B&B, and rustic cabins. Bring your gear for your favorite activities such as mountain or road biking or hiking, or get on the water with a kayak, canoe, paddleboard, or fishing pole.  With over 178 miles of trails, there’s room for horses, special OHV trails, and hikes with rock scrambles and incredible views. Experience Shenandoah county by air with a high-adrenaline rush skydive or with a quiet trip through the valley in a hot air balloon

Website: VisitShenandoahCounty.com

Phone Number: 540-459-6227

Instagram: @ShenandoahTravel 

Facebook: @VisitShenandoah

Patrick County, Virginia

In Patrick County, Va., every curve of the road leads to new adventures. The mix of peaks and valleys in these parts offers exciting hiking and biking trails, plentiful waters for paddling or fishing, and beautiful mountain overlooks. Grab your boots and find yourself here.

Go Outside and Play

Hunt for staurolite crystals at Fairy Stone State Park. Hike the Rock Castle Gorge National Recreation Trail, just off the Blue Ridge Parkway. Get on the water at Philpott Lake. Ride the cross-country mountain bike trails at I.C. Dehart Park. Test your speed at the annual Kibler Valley River Run. Get lost in the music at Floydfest, Front Porch Fest, Beach Music Festival, and other summer music festivals. after a long day of play, relax in luxury at Primland Resort and enjoy some of the many guided outdoor adventures they offer or find a more private escape with a cabin, B&B, or yurt.

Website: visitpatrickcounty.org

Phone: 276-693-2005

Facebook: @VisitPatrickCountyVa

Instagram: @VisitPatrick

Dawsonville, Georgia

Perfectly situated between the shaded trails of Chattahoochee National Forest and a variety of water sports on Lake Lanier, Dawsonville, Ga., invites you to explore the great outdoors this summer. This destination features the best of Georgian rivers, waterfalls, and mountains with access to great eats and shops, like the North Georgia Premium Outlets and a variety of locally-owned boutiques. Explore the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail or find a path less trodden. Hundreds of miles of trail and shoreline are waiting for you in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Eat

Grab a bite to eat from the Dawsonville Pool Room. Filled with memorabilia from NASCAR Champions Bill Elliott and Chase Elliot, the restaurant is known for its Bully Burger served with fresh-cut fries.

Play

Follow the Edge of the World Trail, a 2.5-mile nature trail with an ADA-accessible boardwalk along Amicalola Creek, to the class II-IV rapids at the end of the trail, a popular fly fishing spot with a great swimming hole and kayak put in. This is a fee-user area so a fishing license or Georgia Lands Pass is required. Steele Bridge is another great spot for anglers looking to reel in trout. The nine-mile paddle from River Park to Kelly Bridge on the Etowah RIverthrough the undeveloped Dawson Forest WMA is a great option for families.

Stay

Spend the night at Amicalola Falls State Park and lodge, a mountaintop lodge with stunning views of the southern Appalachian Mountains and home to Georgia’s tallest cascading waterfall, Amicalola Falls.

Website: DESTINATIONDAWSONVILLE.COM

Phone: 706-265-6278

Facebook: @DestinationDawsonville

Instagram: @DestinationDawsonville

Fayetteville, West Virginia  

Fayetteville, W.Va., is home to America’s newest national park, the breathtaking New River Gorge. Fayetteville is a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts with world-class whitewater rafting, rock climbing, mountain biking, and hiking.  Explore waterfalls and scenic vistas by day and enjoy Fayetteville’s small-town charm by evening.

Go Outside and Play

Enjoy endless hiking trails, paddleboard under a waterfall, mountain bike, and hang out with goats at Arrowhead Bike Farm. Enjoy a stroll around the historic downtown where you can indulge in the local flavor with unique eateries and eclectic shops. A historic church has just been converted into the Love Hope Center for the Arts museum with stained glass windows illuminating regional art pieces. There is an abundance of accommodations to suit every taste from a boutique hotel to a historic bed and breakfast, or simply live like a local and stay in one of the many vacation rentals.

Website: VisitFayettevilleWV.com

Phone Number: 304-574-1500

Instagram: @VisitFayettevilleWV

Facebook: @VisitFayettevilleWV

Places to Go, Things to See: