Outdoor Shop

River Rock Outfitter

Fredericksburg, Va.

“Adventure in any direction,” with the help of River Rock’s seasoned staff. Opened in November of 2014, the family owned outfitter is located right on the Rappahannock River where the company offers water-based instructional courses in flatwater and whitewater paddling.

FINALISTS

Endless River Adventures, N.C.

REI, Various locations

Fly Fishing Outfitter

Fly Fishing the Smokies

Gatlinburg, Tenn., Bryson City N.C.

Float or wade, walleye or smallmouth, winter or summer, these guides can do it all. If you need another adventure to add to your bucket list, tack on the outfitter’s Smokies Backcountry Trip, a two-day, one-night backpacking and fly fishing trip into the heart of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

FINALISTS

Endless River Adventures, N.C.

Mossy Creek Fly Fishing, Va.

Running Shop

Fleet Feet Sports

Various locations

From the outside, Fleet Feet might look like any old specialty running store, but talk to the staff behind the counter and you’ll see what makes this fast-growing chain of franchises one of the most respected in the industry. Fleet Feet works hard to introduce non-runners to the sport through inclusive clinics and non-intimidating group runs.

FINALISTS

Foot RX, N.C.

Ragged Mountain Running, Va.

Bike Shop

New River Bikes

Fayetteville, W.Va.

Located in the old Fayetteville feed store, New River Bikes embodies everything we love about Fayetteville—the quirk, the character, the shirt-off-your-back hospitality. The shop’s owner Andy Forron is like a walking encyclopedia when it comes to any and all forms of riding, be it mountain biking, road riding, or bikepacking. Just don’t tell him you like Strava.

FINALISTS

Motion Makers, N.C.

Blue Ridge Cyclery, Va.

Environmental Organization

Southern Environmental Law Center

Charlottesville, Va.

Now more than ever, it’s hard to keep track of the numerous threats and policy reversals that risk damaging the places we love. That’s why the Southern Environmental Law Center exists, to be not only a resource for concerned citizens in the Southeast but also the warriors who defend those without a voice—our water, air, mountains, forests—in the courtroom.

FINALISTS

Trout Unlimited, Various locations

Friends of Rappahannock, Va.

Raft Guide Company

Nantahala Outdoor Center

Bryson City, N.C.

When Payson Kennedy and his wife Aurelia opened the NOC in 1972, they never envisioned their outfitter would become one of the most recognized breeding grounds for competitive paddlers in the world, but that’s just what it’s become. Raft guides here do more than push rubber. They’re well rounded paddlers of all disciplines, and 22 of the NOC’s staff have gone on to be Olympians.

FINALISTS

Endless River Adventures, N.C.

ACE Adventure Resort, W.Va.

Climbing Guide

Seneca Rocks Climbing School

Seneca Rocks, W.Va.

Named for that iconic flake of rock that rises high above the community, Seneca Rocks Climbing School has been showing both new and veteran climbers the ropes since 1971 when the school and climbing shop were based out of the back of a Volkswagen bus.

FINALISTS

Blue Ridge Mountain Guides, Va.

Fox Mountain Guides, N.C.

Climbing Gym

River Rock Climbing

Roanoke, Va.

For the fourth year in a row, River Rock has taken the cake as Best Climbing Gym in the region. Their facility is impressive (and conveniently located next to a taproom), offering a diverse mix of beginner and expert problems, hands-on instruction, youth teams, and yoga classes to balance out all of that upper body training.

FINALISTS

Peak Experiences, Va.

Climb Max/Smoky Mountain Adventure Center, N.C.

Ski Resort

Snowshoe Mountain Resort

Snowshoe, W.Va.

Few places in the Southeast rival Snowshoe when it comes to natural snowfall. The mountaintop resort can receive upwards of 180 inches, and with 251 acres and 57 trails to explore, it’s a big kid’s literal winter wonderland.

FINALISTS

Wintergreen Resort, Va.

Beech Mountain Resort, N.C.

Après Spot

Wild Wolf Brewing

Nellysford, Va.

Just a short drive away from the Appalachian Trail and Crabtree Falls, Wild Wolf is almost too conveniently located to pass up after a day on the trail. Their food portions are hearty, not to mention locally sourced, and with 13 beers on tap, it’s easy to find a brew that works for you.

FINALISTS

Stumptown Ales, W.Va.

Appalachian Mountain Brewing, N.C.

Yoga Studio

Asheville Community Yoga

Asheville, N.C.

Paying $20 for a yoga class seems to be the standard fare in larger cities, but it’s that pay-to-practice philosophy that pushes away the people who need yoga most. Asheville Community Yoga is a nonprofit that offers yoga classes on a donation basis. In 2016, the center crowdfunded over $150,000 to purchase their building outright, a testament to the tribe that supports this community-minded yoga facility.

FINALISTS

Uttara Yoga, Va.

Now Yoga, Va.

Zip Line

Adventures on the Gorge

Fayetteville, W.Va.

Humans might not be able to fly, but they can zip line, and short of donning a wingsuit and jumping off a cliff, this is the next best (and safest) thing. Sail 200 feet above ground on a mile-and-a-half course, where you’ll zip through the trees at a speed of up to 65 miles per hour.

FINALISTS

The Gorge Zipline, N.C.

Navitat, N.C.