The Go Outside and Play Guide

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6 Adventure Itineraries

Planning for your next weekend getaway? Check out these six outdoor adventure hotspots for the best recreation, food, and lodging recommendations. Follow the itineraries or create your own when you Go Outside and Play.

Along the 64 miles of the Upper James River and 10 miles of the Maury River, a 59-mile stretch of the James River was recently designated a Virginia Scenic River. After a day on the river, enjoy a refreshing craft brew at one of the breweries along the Shenandoah Beerwerks Trail.  Photo by Sam Dean.

A WEEKEND IN…

Lexington & Rockbridge County, Virginia

As the southern gateway to the Shenandoah Valley, Rockbridge County, Va. is easily accessible to 100,000 acres of public forests, parks, and rivers where outdoor enthusiasts of all ages and skill levels can hike, bike, paddle, and camp. In the college towns of Lexington and Buena Vista, visitors can enjoy the Blue Ridge Parkway, Appalachian Trail, food and spirits scene, and historic sites.

DAY ONE

MORNING

Start your morning off at Boxerwood Nature Center and Woodland Garden, a 15-acre arboretum filled with a variety of ecosystems and wildlife. Kids of all ages will enjoy exploring nature through the Kid’s Play Trail and Fairy Forest. Go for a walk on the Chessie Nature Trail. This seven-mile rail trail connects the towns of Lexington and Buena Vista along the Maury River. 

Photo courtesy of Lexington & Rockbridge County.

AFTERNOON

Enjoy lunch in Lexington at Salerno Wood Fired Pizza & Tap House. They have more than 30 beer choices on tap with their “self-pouring wall.” Grab a scoop or two of homemade ice cream at Sweet Things Ice Cream before heading out on the water. Paddle or tube the Upper James River Water Trail for views of the wildlife and a new perspective on the Blue Ridge Mountains. The Wilderness Canoe Company can hook you up with boats and suggestions for on the river. 

EVENING

Choose from several local eateries for dinner, serving up everything from barbecue and burgers to seasonal dishes at farm-to-table restaurants. Continue the fun at Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp-Resort. Choose from cabins perfect for the whole family or seasonal campsites. Enjoy roasting marshmallows around the campfire and themed weekends, such as Chocolate Paradise and Mad Scientist Weekend. 

Did You Know? Animal lovers will enjoy two animal parks, shows at the Virginia Horse Center, and tours with Lexington Carriage Company.

DAY TWO

MORNING

The kids will enjoy feeding the animals directly from your car at the Virginia Safari Park. Walk through the Safari Village with interactive animal exhibits such as the Kangaroo Walkabout, Budgie Adventure Aviary, and a giraffe feeding station. Or, reimagine the Civil War at Dinosaur Kingdom II where you will encounter life-sized dinosaurs engaged in battle.

AFTERNOON

Stop at the Pink Cadillac, a 50s diner, for lunch. You can’t miss the pink exterior from the road. Finish the afternoon with a visit to Natural Bridge State Park, a 215-foot natural wonder once owned by Thomas Jefferson. While there, visit the Monacan Indian Village and Children’s Discovery Area to learn more about the area’s history, flora, and fauna. Take a stroll through the apple orchard labyrinth at Halcyon Days Cider Co. for sweeping views of the mountains.

Photo by Steve Shire.

EVENING

Kick back and relax with dinner at Devils Backbone Outpost Brewery & Tap Room, a family-friendly stop on the Shenandoah Beerwerks Trail. Enjoy a double feature under the stars at Hull’s Drive-In, the nation’s only non-profit and community-owned drive-in theater.

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LEXINGTONVIRGINIA.COM | ROCKBRIDGEOUTDOORS.COM


Historic Downtown Elizabethtown Corner. Photo courtesy of Elizabethtown Tourism.

A WEEKEND IN…

Elizabethtown, Kentucky

It’s all about the trails in Elizabethtown, Kentucky’s first urban trail town. With 16 different hiking and biking trails in the area, you are sure to find one that fits your style. Check out a different kind of trail as you stop by some of the distilleries on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.

DAY ONE

MORNING

Fuel up with a cup of coffee, a freshly squeezed juice, and bagels from Vibe Coffee. They source all of their beans from local roasters. When you are ready to go, head over to Freeman Lake Park to rent a kayak, row boat, or paddle boat or bring your own paddleboard to explore the park by water. Spend your morning casting a line for largemouth bass, channel catfish, rainbow trout, and more. Play a round of disc golf or take the kids to the American Legion Water Park.

AFTERNOON

Take a break to eat at one of the many lunch spots, including barbecue, pizza, and sandwiches. Don’t forget to try a sweet treat like homemade ice cream and pie. Visit several sites important in the life of the United States’ sixteenth president, including Abraham Lincoln’s boyhood home and the Lincoln Heritage House.

Photo courtesy of Elizabethtown Tourism.

EVENING

Unwind with a drink at Flywheel Brewing for locally made drinks, trivia, live music, and a food truck. Try your hand at axe throwing to liven the night up. When you’re ready to turn in, choose from several hotels in the area with easy access to all of the fun. 

Don’t forget to find the cannonball from the Civil War that is still in the side of a downtown building.

DAY TWO

MORNING

Take it easy this morning and sit down for breakfast at a local restaurant. From biscuits and gravy to freshly baked doughnuts, there is something for everyone. Head to Fort Knox for the General George Patton Museum of Leadership, featuring artifacts and films of his life. Or admire classic cars at Swope’s Cars of Yesteryear Museum. 

Photo courtesy of Elizabethtown Tourism.

AFTERNOON

Hike miles of trails in the Greenbelt Trails System. From a loop around the lake to a stroll through an arboretum, soak up all the nature in Elizabethtown. The trails are inclusive and easily accessible from town. Geocaching enthusiasts will find treasures along the trails. Check out the cute boutique stores to bring home something to remember your trip by or the vendor mall for vintage finds. 

EVENING

Grab dinner at a local restaurant and get your taste of the “true Kentucky” as you enjoy a wide array of bourbon at one of America’s best bourbon bars. Take in a show at one of the local theatres in town to finish the night with a flourish. 

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TOURETOWN.COM



Sierra Nevada Brewery is one of 16 craft producers on the Henderson County Cheers! Trail. Photo by Sam Dean Photography.

A WEEKEND IN…

Hendersonville, North Carolina

Surrounded by Pisgah National Forest and minutes from the Blue Ridge Parkway, Hendersonville beckons travelers looking to disconnect from daily worries and reconnect with each other and the natural world. Just south of busy Asheville, the vibrant mountain town of Hendersonville delivers its own blend of arts and culture, outdoor adventure, and creative craft beverage producers.

DAY ONE

MORNING

Start the day with a relaxing paddle along the French Broad River, one of the oldest in the world. Lazy Otter Outfitters rents all the gear necessary to tube, kayak, canoe, or stand-up paddleboard. This section of the French Broad remains largely untouched by development, so paddlers will enjoy wildlife and vegetation along the banks.

Photo courtesy of Lazy Otter Outfiitters, Hendersonville, North Carolina.

AFTERNOON

Stop by The Baker’s Box and grab a freshly made sandwich, wrap, or salad to go. Enjoy a picnic lunch at DuPont State Recreational Forest. A short hike leads to Hooker Falls or take a longer trek up to Triple and High falls.

EVENING

Book a room at The Charleston Inn or 1898 Waverly Inn for a downtown lodging experience. The side-by-side bed and breakfasts both include historical charm and modern amenities. Walk to dinner on Main Street and choose from 25 independently owned restaurants. Don’t miss cocktails at Shine, Hendersonville’s first rooftop bar.

Did You Know? Jump Off Rock, only 15 minutes from downtown, offers stunning sunset views. Peer into four states as the sun sinks behind the Blue Ridge.

DAY TWO

MORNING

Get an early start at North River Farms where DB bar D Outfitters leads half-day and full-day guided trout fishing trips on the 1,450-acre farm along the north fork of Mills River. Rainbow, brook, and brown trout are plentiful in the catch-and-release waters. Afterward, enjoy a streamside lunch.

AFTERNOON

The new Riveter gym combines an extensive climbing facility and bike park under one roof. With more than 16,000 square feet of climbing terrain, a multi-feature covered bike track, yoga studio and fitness area, Riveter accommodates whatever exercise gets you moving.

Photo by Bill Russ of Hendersonville, North Carolina.

EVENING

Next door to the Riveter, the East Coast headquarters of Sierra Nevada Brewing Company beckons beer enthusiasts. The palatial brewery combines good beer, environmental stewardship, culinary creativity, and fun times. Sign up in advance for a brewery tour or take a self-guided stroll down hallways filled with memorabilia from the company’s 40-year history. Circle around the fire pit in the expansive beer garden out back and toast your time in Hendersonville.

Facebook & Instagram: VISITHENDERSONVILLENC
VISITHENDERSONVILLENC.ORG | 800.828.4244


Take epic selfies & get the best views of the world’s largest steerable telescope from the Observation Deck at Green Bank Observatory. Photo courtesy of Pocahontas County, West Virginia.

A WEEKEND IN…

Pocahontas County, West Virginia

You will find four seasons of family fun and adventure in Pocahontas, W. Va. Disconnect from your emails while you reconnect with friends and family in the Birthplace of Rivers. There’s plenty to do on this off-the-beaten path vacation as you explore five state parks, Monongahela National Forest, and the IMBA bronze-level Snowshoe Highlands Ride Center. 

DAY ONE

MORNING

Start your morning at Dirtbean Cafe & Bike Shop. Fuel up on the “Da Kine” bagel sandwich with ham, spinach, egg, and all the fixings, or try their lattes, cappuccinos, or Flood Mud, a chai latte with a shot of espresso, for an extra kick. Pick-up bike rentals at the shop and go for a ride on the Greenbrier River Trail State Park. Head north from Marlinton towards Cass to Sharp’s Tunnel and Bridge. Bike through the tunnel without any flashlights to enjoy the full experience. This 9-mile ride on the trail is fun for the whole family.

AFTERNOON

For lunch, stop at the Greenbrier Grille. Dine on the deck for the best views of the river. While waiting on your food, the kids can buy 50 cents worth of corn to feed the ducks that float on the river below the restaurant. Walk across the bridge in Marlinton to Appalachian Sport to pick up fishing poles, bait, and the inside scoop on the best fishing holes in Pocahontas County. Be sure to fish the Greenbrier River for plenty of easily accessible fishing holes in town that often hide stocked trout.

Photo courtesy of Pocahontas County, West Virginia.

EVENING

After an afternoon of fishing, return your gear and head across the Marlinton bridge on Route 39 for dinner, wine, and beer at Locust Hill Pub. Enjoy delicious goods like their cheese platter, perfectly paired with a glass of red or white wine, or the famous Locust Hill Crab Cakes. Stay overnight with Country River Cabins, conveniently located along the Greenbrier River and Greenbrier River Trail State Park.

You can rent your bikes at Cass Scenic Railroad State Park before riding the beginner trails around the Green Bank Observatory. 

DAY TWO

MORNING

Take a short drive to Cass for the Company Store, artisans co-op in Leatherbark Ford, historical town tours, and more. Book a ride ahead of time on the Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad with Mountain Rail Adventures for scenic rides through the countryside.  

Photo courtesy of Pocahontas County, West Virginia.

AFTERNOON

Enjoy lunch at Last Run Restaurant, including old-fashioned barbecue and ice cream. After your meal, head to the Green Bank Observatory to take in the Science Center and tours, such as the SETI (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) Tour. 

EVENING

Stop in at Dean’s Den along Route 92 in Frost to dine on some health-conscious and delicious homemade meals. Relax in your room at the Mountain Quest Inn for night stay number two. Enjoy the uniquely themed rooms, and a wonderful homemade breakfast from the hosts at Mountain Quest Inn.

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NATURESMOUNTAINPLAYGROUND.COM


Let the good times flow. Photo courtesy of Martinsville-Henry County, Virginia.

A DAYTRIP TO…

Martinsville-Henry County, Virginia

Explore and relax among the rolling foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge when you visit Martinsville-Henry County. From state parks and waterways to local eateries and an artisan trail, there’s something for everyone. Let your imagination run wild with theatrical performances, museums, and live music. Go for a scavenger hunt to find the public art murals throughout the community. 

MORNING

Get your day started with a walk, run, or bike ride on the Dick and Willie Passage Rail Trail. Read about the history of the Danville and Western Railroad along the way. Mountain bikers of all abilities can enjoy ten miles of looping singletrack at the Mountain Laurel Trails. Earn your Dirty Dozen patch when you hike, bike, and/or paddle 12 miles of trail in the area.

Did You Know? Camp on Deer Island, a remote island on Philpott Lake that is only accessible by boat! 

AFTERNOON

Pick up a meal to take with you for lunch from Hamlet Kitchen, a locally owned and operated wine bar and gourmet-to-go shop. Spend the afternoon on the water, exploring hidden waterfalls and rock outcrops as you paddle Philpott Lake. Anglers will enjoy fishing for walleye, bass, and catfish. Then make your way to the Smith River. With eleven public canoe ramps, you can customize your river trip with ease. 

Photo courtesy of Martinsville-Henry County, Virginia.

EVENING

Slow down in the evening, exploring the shops, art galleries, and restaurants in the Historic District of Uptown Martinsville. Or check out the farm-to-table brewery or award-winning winery in the area for a refreshing drink with unbelievable views. Cozy up for a night at The Simmons House Bed & Breakfast for easy access to Uptown and the Silverbell Trail.  

Facebook & Instagram: VISITMARTINSVILLE
VISITMARTINSVILLE.COM


Calling all adventurers to come explore with us this Spring to witness spectacular views of the Great Smoky Mountains as the trees’ beautiful colors come back to life. Photo courtesy of Gatlinburg, Tennessee.

A DAYTRIP TO…

Gatlinburg, Tennessee

Gatlinburg, Tenn. is the perfect mountaintop getaway, complete with breathtaking views of the Smokies and endless fun. Surrounded by Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Gatlinburg is steps away from outdoor adventure no matter what time of year you visit. This spring, take a hike during the Annual Wildflower Pilgrimage and uncork something special courtesy of the Smoky Mountain Wine Fest. 

MORNING

Start your day with a visit to one of the town’s famous breakfast spots like Crockett’s Breakfast Camp or Log Cabin Pancake House to enjoy a stack of pancakes that will keep you full all day.  Then, spend some time in the country’s most-visited national park for a morning hike. Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail is an all-time favorite with an old-growth forest, rushing mountain streams, well-preserved log cabins, grist mills, and other historic structures. Those wishing to enjoy the park from the road can also drive the motor trail which invites you to slow down and enjoy the forest and the area’s historic sites.

Don’t Forget! All items at Ely’s Mill are made in Gatlinburg, from brooms and baskets to honey and soap.

Photo courtesy of Gatlinburg, Tennessee.

AFTERNOON

On your way out of the park, make a stop at Ely’s Mill for a journey back in time to “Old Gatlinburg” where craftspeople and nature work in harmony. A rare mountain gem, Ely’s Mill is full of homemade wares that celebrate Gatlinburg’s local culture, right on the banks of Roaring Fork Creek.

EVENING

When it’s time to refuel, end your day with dinner at The Greenbrier Restaurant, a food and spirit outpost sitting right on the edge of the Great Smoky Mountains.Then, head back downtown to end your night at one of the many famous distilleries, wineries, or watering holes.

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GATLINBURG.COM


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