Go Outside and Play Guide 2020

From small towns to big cities, we know you want a turn-key itinerary for the perfect 24- or 48-hour getaway. We’ve got you covered!  

Check out our guide to 11 adventure-packed destinations across the Southeast. You will find everything you need to plan a memorable trip for this fall, or in the future, including outdoor adventures, cultural experiences, craft beverages, local eats, lodging recommendations, and more.  

For more information on how you can safely enjoy your experience, please check your destination’s website prior to travel.  

Now Go Outside and Play!

Biking in Mount Jackson, Virginia, photo by Synaptic Visuals

A Day in Shenandoah County, Va.

A visit to Shenandoah County, Va., is an unforgettable time where anyone can enjoy a day outdoors in the fresh mountain air. Nestled between the Blue Ridge Mountains to the east and the Alleghenies to the west, visitors can hike, bike, or ride horseback along 178 miles of trails through the George Washington National Forest to see incredible views of the valley. 

Morning
Stay at the Hopewell House Bike and Bed where cycling enthusiasts Kevin and Alice serve a wonderful breakfast, offer suggestions about the best country roads for biking, and provide a small shop to handle minor bike repairs. After a morning ride, stop into Burg Nutrition or Old Dominion Doggery & Burger Shop to refuel.

Afternoon
For a short hike, the Woodstock Tower atop Massanutten Mountain features views of Fort Valley and Shenandoah Valley. The rock outcropping at the end of Big Schloss, four miles round trip, offers a view you will never forget. 

Evening
Back in Woodstock, The Woodstock Café is a hot spot for dinner Thursday through Saturday nights, serving beautiful in-season local foods with an incredible wine selection. If there’s room after dinner, stop into Sugar Creek Snowy & Sweet for an ice cream cone as you make your way back to the Bike and Bed.

Bucket List
If you take the Massanutten Trail, there is a clearing where hang gliders launch and the view of the seven bends of the Shenandoah River is spectacular.

VisitShenandoahCounty.com

At Ride Kanuga, start at the top of Wolf Mountain and choose one of 12 trails — from beginner to expert — to reach the bottom. photo courtesy Ride Kanuga

A Weekend in Hendersonville, N.C.

During a time when we’re all looking for safe adventures in smaller towns with outdoor activities, Hendersonville, N.C., checks all the boxes. Located just south of Asheville, this Blue Ridge Mountain town is surrounded by Pisgah National Forest. Hendersonville’s vibrant downtown and creative culinary scene combine with its natural setting to make for a well-rounded destination.

Day 1

Morning
Go full throttle at The Gorge Zipline. Billed as the steepest, fastest zipline in the country, the experience includes 11 ziplines, a sky bridge, and three rappels. As you cruise through the treetops, enjoy the pristine view of 18,000 acres of preserved Green River game land.

Afternoon
Hit the trail at the brand new Ride Kanuga mountain bike park. Founded by world-champion downhill racer Neko Mulally, the park features 12 downhill-specific trails suitable for all ability levels. Located on 1,400 acres at Kanuga Camps & Conference Center, the park’s trails descend from Wolf Mountain through old-growth forest.

Evening
Book a spacious room at Cascades Mountain Resort. Kids delight in the indoor pool with a 110-foot water slide, while adults enjoy the secluded hot tub. The hotel’s Old Orchard Tavern has a full bar serving craft spirits and an award-winning chef who wows diners with well-executed nightly specials.

Day 2

Morning
Take an informative hike at Holmes Educational State Forest. What was once a nursery developed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s is now a living classroom with five miles of trails, including the “talking trees” trail that educates hikers about different species and their uses.

Afternoon
Earn your pint of beer aboard Hendersonville’s pub cycle. HVL Pedal & Brews books tours to downtown breweries and tasting rooms. Five breweries lie within pedaling distance. Those averse to cycling shouldn’t fret—an electric motor will kick in if you give out.

Evening
Downtown Hendersonville is home to 25 independently owned restaurants. Choose from authentic Italian, funky tapas, traditional Carolina ’cue or farm-to-table fare that showcases some of western N.C.’s finest producers. For a nightcap, head to the rooftop bar at Shine or The Poe House, a cozy spot that’s a favorite of locals.

Fun Fact
When Hendersonville was established in the 1840s, one of its founders decreed that Main Street should be wide enough to turn around a wagon pulled by four horses. That early planning continues to serve the city well. Today the curvilinear Main Street is pedestrian friendly with public art, outdoor dining areas and flowering brick planters.

VisitHendersonvilleNC.org

Post-hike beers at Jocassee Valley Brewing Company in Salem, SC, photo courtesy Lake Hartwell Country

A Day in Lake Hartwell, S.C.

Discover your new favorite mountain getaway in a place with hundreds of cascading waterfalls, hiking trails that weave through the hills, libations that are served with a smile, and overlooks that will take your breath away. Welcome to Lake Hartwell Country, a stunning region that sits at the foot of the Blue Ridge Escarpment in the mountains of South Carolina.

Morning
Start your day with a delicious coffee and crepe from Coyote Coffee in downtown Pickens. Afterwards, make your way to the beautiful Hagood Mill Historic Site, one of the last working grist mills in the country. Pick up a bag of authentic, stone ground grits while you’re there.

Afternoon
For lunch, enjoy some amazing food at the Pumpkintown General Store. Then, stretch your legs and take in gorgeous views at Table Rock State Park on the Lakeside Trail. To unwind, take a tour of Table Rock Tea Company and taste delicious, home grown tea.

Evening
End the day with some mouth watering barbecue from the Pumpkintown Mountain Opry and sip on some refreshing craft beverages from Victoria Valley Vineyards or Jocassee Valley Brewing Company. End the day in a cozy cabin at Wildwater Ltd. South Carolina is just right!

Fun Fact
There are over 300 waterfalls in the area to visit, including King Creek Falls and Opossum Creek Fall.

LakeHartwellCountry.com

Showalters Orchard & Greenhouse, photo courtesy Rockingham County Tourism

A Day in Rockingham County, Va.

Year-round attractions truly make Rockingham County a four season destination. Ski the slopes in the winter, fly fish cool mountain waters in the spring, listen to live music in the summer, and hike among the changing leaves in the fall. The rolling farmland connects you to wineries, apple orchards, small towns, rural communities, and local favorites that’ll keep you coming back for more.

Morning
Wake up with breakfast from Thunderbird Café. Take a short drive to the overlooks and trailheads along Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park or fish for largemouth bass, channel catfish, and musky in Lake Shenandoah. 

Afternoon
Grab lunch to go from Fulks Run Grocery or The Dayton Market. Spend the afternoon picking apples at Showalters Orchard and sipping cider at Old Hill Cider. The whole family will love the games and attractions at Back Home-on the Farm or visiting the animals at White Oak Lavender Farm.

Evening
Stop at Hanks Grille and Catering, Dayton Tavern, or Old 33 Beer and Burger Grill for a delicious post-adventure dinner. Catch a band at Cave Hill Farms Brewery or Elkton Brewing Company before settling in for a cozy night at Massanutten Resort or Silver Lake Bed and Breakfast. 

Hidden Gem
Surrounded by Shenandoah National Park, head to Mountaintop Ranch for horseback riding, private waterfall hikes, mountain biking, and more.

VisitRockingham.com

River walk, photo by Lucas Chambers 

A Weekend in Clarksville, Tenn.

If you’re looking for a fall or winter getaway that’s off the beaten path but convenient, affordable with plenty to do, loaded with scenic outdoor recreation but not too crowded, Clarksville, Tenn., checks all your boxes. You can best enjoy Clarksville’s outdoors by following recommended safety precautions like wearing a mask, staying six feet apart, and washing your hands frequently.

Day One

Morning
Dunbar Cave State Park is one of Clarksville’s most popular outdoor spots in every season. This 144-acre natural playground in the middle of the city includes almost four miles of hiking trails, picnic areas, wildlife, and guided cave tours May-October. Enjoy breakfast or lunch at The Wonderland Café with divine pastries, as well as breakfast and lunch entrees.

Afternoon
The nine-mile Clarksville Greenway is a paved walking and biking trail along two waterways where you’ll enjoy native species, bluff walls, tree canopies, overlooks, and a 600-foot pedestrian bridge. The nearby North Ford Mountain Biking Trail is the perfect spot for riders of all skill levels.

Evening
Enjoy an evening downtown where you’ll be captivated by historic architecture at every turn. The city offers several choices for dinner along with pubs, breweries, and a meadery. Explore a variety of local shops and check the schedule at the Roxy Regional Theatre for live professional productions. 

Day Two

Morning
Start your day with a mouthwatering French pastry from Madeleine’s Bakery then take in some local history and switchback trails at Fort Defiance Civil War Park overlooking the confluence of the rivers. Next, find permanent and rotating exhibits, plus plenty of interactive play spaces for children, at the Customs House Museum. The iconic architecture outside and massive model train exhibit inside are thrills for all ages. If you’re a fan of good sushi, enjoy lunch at Yellowtail or Kohana just outside downtown. 

Afternoon
Schedule a tour and tasting at Beachaven Winery or Old Glory Distilling. You’ll meet people who are passionate about their craft and have been working many years to perfect it. With a driving tour and short walk in Liberty Park, you’ll be inspired by two Clarksville trailblazers and legends, Wilma Rudolph and Pat Head Summitt, whose bronze likEnesses anchor both ends of the park.

Evening
You’ll want to time your evening activities around a vivid Cumberland River sunset. A romantic stroll along the RiverWalk is an ideal way to soak up the last of the daylight. Dinner at Liberty Park Grill overlooking the marina is another prime location for a fantastic view.  

Fun Fact
Frank Sutton, who played Sgt. Carter in the sitcom, Gomer Plye, USMC, is a Clarksville native. Take a selfie with his statue downtown. 

VisitClarksvilleTN.com

Boardwalk bridge along the renowned Clinch River at the Cleveland Town Park. Photo by Heather Powers

A Day in Russell County, Va.

It’s all about the outdoor adventures and unwinding with some local brews, wine, or good food right now in Russell County. Find a local trail, enjoy kayaking the Clinch River, sit by a waterfall, explore Cyclops Cave, and much more this fall. There are also some amazing spots to discover, including a lodge with your own cave to explore. 

Morning
Start off your day with home cooking from Fourth Avenue Baked Goods Café and Bakery or Pat’s Kountry Diner. Head to Clinch Life Outfitters for all the gear, guidance, and inspiration you need to get outside. Hike or bike Sugar Hill Loop Trail and Oxbow Lake for beautiful wildlife and peaceful scenery. 

Afternoon
Stop by Fat Boy’s BBQ, Giovanni’s, or J&V’s Corner Diner for a filling lunch. Kayak and canoe the Clinch River with Clinch River Adventures or enjoy a local ATV trail. Head to Pinnacle Natural Area Preserve or the Cleveland Barrens/Tank Hollow Falls Riverbend Trail for more exploration of the area. 

Evening
Finish your day with a craft beer and good eats from Sugar Hill Brewing Company and Lonesome Pine Brewing or enjoy a wine tasting and mountain views at Vincent’s Vineyard. Settle in for a night at the secluded Beef Holler Lodge-Private Mountain Getaway or pitch a tent at Riverbend Campground. 

ExperienceRussell.com

Moore’s Knob at Hanging Rock State Park, photo courtesy Stokes County

A Day in Stokes County, N.C.

From thousands of acres of public lands to dozens of miles of waterways, there is something for everyone in the mountains of Stokes County, N.C. Take in the scenery all around with cascading waterfalls, sheer cliffs, and bare rock peaks. Bring your own gear or visit one of the many outfitters in town, ready to help you get outside. 

Morning
Start off at Hanging Rock State Park for miles of hiking and mountain biking trails, rock climbing opportunities at Moore’s Knob, and a network of trails to five different peaks. Paddle or fish the 73-acre Hanging Rock Lake or access miles of the Dan River. 

Afternoon
Pack a lunch or pick up a deli sandwich from nearby diners in Danbury before taking a canopy tour through the colorful fall foliage with Carolina Ziplines. Explore the local arts scene or find unique treasures in the charming downtowns of Danbury, King, or Walnut Cove.

Evening
Grab a drink at Pilot Mountain Vineyard and Winery or MidSummer Brewing, two new tasting rooms in the area. Rest up in one of over 40 vacation rentals by owner found around Hanging Rock. Big Creek Lodge at Luna’s Trail Farm features nine suites overlooking the majestic Sauratown Mountains, plus three cabins and an on site restaurant.

Hidden Gems
Step back in time to the historic Priddy’s General Store just across the Dan River, plus live music in February and October. 

HangingRock.com

Davis street in downtown Culpeper. Photo courtesy of Visit Culpeper

A Weekend in Culpeper, Va.

Culpeper is a surprising little town with big heart, reminiscent of when life moved a bit slower. The architecture and land is steeped in history, but the food, spirits, shops, and trails reflect a life more modern. It is the perfect escape from your day-to-day demands, but quaint enough you feel fully immersed the moment you arrive.

Day One

Morning
Start off at Moving Meadows Farm for daily specials and provisions to take home. Then head over to Rockwater Park for miles of walking trails, an 18-hole disc golf course, ninja obstacle course, climbing boulder, and splash pad.

Afternoon
Continue your love of the outdoors by choosing from any number of iconic scenic byways perfect for casual or enthusiastic cyclers. The 23-mile loop to Brandy Station is a locals favorite, since it starts and ends at downtown breweries. Prefer dirt to gravel? Head to Burke Farm, home to over 300 acres of mountain biking trails.

Evening
Check out Grass Rootes for a casual dining experience and ample outdoor seating. For endless outdoor space, head over to veteran owned Mountain Run Winery for wine, cider, and food trucks. You cannot miss Old House, Virginia’s only family owned and operated winery, brewery, and distillery. For easy access to the heart of historic downtown, spend the night at Suites 249, Thyme Suites, or The Loft on Davis.

Day Two

Morning
Fuel up at 18 Grams Coffee Lab with seasonal delights and homemade pastries. Select one of three self-guided tours of historic downtown Culpeper or enjoy the walking tour at Virginia Bison Company, where you can get up close with grazing herds of bison. Grab food for a picnic from Thyme Market, including sandwiches, pizza, and desserts.

Afternoon
Immerse yourself in American history as you explore Cedar Mountain Battlefield where Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross, performed her first field duty. North of town lies 2,100 preserved acres at Brandy Station, home of the Civil War’s largest cavalry engagement. 

Evening
Piedmont Steakhouse, Lucio’s Italian, or Pinto Thai, it’s impossible to not eat well in Culpeper. Far Gohn Brewery is everyone’s favorite tavern featuring rotating German brews. Flavor on Main serves the best balance of specialty cocktails and small plates; and Old Trade Brewery and Cidery brings forth an assortment of flavors with views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Walden Hall gives you the choice: a private suite, a guest house, or the entire house, yours for the taking.

VisitCulpeperVa.com

Canoeing on Tellico Lake, photo courtesy Visit Loudon County

A Weekend in Loudon Co, Tenn.

In a state full of fall color and made for road trips, Loudon County, in east Tennessee, is golden. With the Smoky Mountains creating a backdrop for hiking, kayaking, boating, and fishing on Tellico Lake or the Tennessee River, visitors can enjoy scenic drives, stunning sunsets, and trademark misty mornings.

Day One

Morning
Start your morning off with sunrise at the Million Dollar View over Fort Loudoun Lake. Loudon County, known as the Lakeway to the Smokies, offers a multitude of water and nature activities. Bring your fishing gear and explore the natural, scenic areas around Lenoir City Park and Tellico Dam or venture out to the East Lakeshore Trail, a system of nine hiking trails that feature incredible lake views. 

Afternoon
Enjoy lunch at the Seed to Sandwich Café, located at Sweetwater Valley Farm in Philadelphia, a working, family dairy farm that produces a variety of delicious farmstead, cheddar-based cheeses for visitors to sample and purchase. If they’re making cheese when you visit, you’ll get to watch the process through a viewing window and enjoy some fresh cheese curds.

Evening
Stroll through downtown Loudon and explore the Stimpson Seashell Museum—one of the world’s largest seashell collections. Make two selfie stops at the mural in Veteran’s Park and in the courtyard beside the Historic Loudon Theatre, where live music is featured most weekends. Enjoy a relaxing dinner at the historic Carmichael Inn and continue the fun at Kinfolk Farms where you can choose from one of four unique-themed cabins and play giant outdoor chess with the family.

Day Two

Morning
Hit the links for a round of golf at one of the area’s top-rated golf courses, Rarity Bay, Landmark Club at Avalon, WindRiver Golf Course, or one of the three exclusive courses at Tellico Village which offer public play—Toqua Golf Course, Tanasi Golf Course, and The Links at Kahite Golf Course. 

Afternoon
Take a break for lunch on the deck at Calhoun’s at Fort Loudon Marina and spend the afternoon canoeing or kayaking on Fort Loudoun Lake. Fuel up with an afternoon coffee at the Ugly Mug and take a self-guided walking tour through downtown Lenoir City. History buffs can check out the Lenoir City Museum and explore two of Loudon County’s six Civil War Trails sites.

Evening
Get ready for a feast at The Burgers. Be sure and start with a basket of fried pickles and get homemade banana pudding for dessert. End the night on target at East Tennessee Axe Throwing, a family-friendly ax throwing venue.

Hidden Gem
Loudon County is home to Tennessee Valley Winery, one of the oldest operating family-owned wineries in Tennessee.

VisitLoudonCounty.com

Couple running on Cottonwood Trail. Photo by Sam Dean

A Weekend in Spartanburg, S.C.

Nestled in the Upstate of South Carolina at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Spartanburg is full of outdoor adventures that are waiting for you. From the miles of trails perfect for bikers, hikers, and horseback riders to the quaint downtowns bursting with charm, discover something new when you head to this historic county in South Carolina.

Day One

Morning
Get your day started with a sweet or savory breakfast from The Crepe Factory and then head out to Croft State Park, a prime destination for hikers, bikers, and horseback riders. At the park, explore over 20 miles of trails with gorgeous views of Lake Craig, featuring a boat dock, ramp, and rentals so you can stay cool during your visit.

Afternoon
Refuel with a hot chicken meal from Flock Shop or a spread of high quality goods from Stone Soup. Get back outside after lunch on the Mary Black Rail Trail, featuring B-Cycle rentals, a bike park, and NFL Play 60 course. Or walk the four-mile Cottonwood Trail as it weaves its way through a 116-acre urban preserve just minutes from downtown. 

Evening
For the best dishes off the grill, try Southside Smokehouse or Level 10 for dinner. Grab a post-adventure drink from RJ Rockers or the outdoor biergarten at FR8yard before you settle in for a luxurious night in a suite or cabin car at the Clevedale Historic Inn. 

Day Two

Morning
Whether you’re looking for breakfast on the go or a sit down brunch, get your day started at Downtown Deli and Donuts or Initial Q. Once you’re ready to get moving, reconnect with nature at Glendale Shoals, a scenic preserve featuring a cascading waterfall, eye-catching bridge, and river access for paddlers and waders alike.

Afternoon
At lunch, stop by Sugar-N-Spice or Cribbs Kitchen for southern staples that locals and visitors love. Get back to touring the town with some antique shopping in Landrum or explore Drayton Mills, a revitalized textile mill featuring a marketplace and two-mile trail. 

Evening
While you’re already at Drayton Mills, you’ll find comfort food favorites at Dray Bar & Grill and a cold beer from Holliday Brewing. For other dining options in the area, The Kennedy offers a true food experience featuring fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Or pair a delicious sandwich and artisan brew from New Groove. Turn in for the night at AC Hotel Spartanburg or Spartanburg Marriott, both within walking distance to downtown amenities.

Fun Fact
Croft State Park, South Carolina’s largest state park at a sprawling 7,054 acres, was once a WWII Army Training Facility. 

VisitSpartanburg.com

Biking on Dick & Wallie Passage. Photo by Steve Sheppard Photography

A Weekend in Martinsville-Henry County, Va.

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. Go for a scavenger hunt to find the public art murals throughout the community before finishing up your day with a craft beverage from the area’s wineries or brewery.

Day One

Morning
Get your day started with a walk, run, or bike ride on the Dick and Willie Passage Rail Trail while reading 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.

Afternoon
Pick up 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. 

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 and award-winning vineyard for a refreshing drink with unbelievable views. Located right on the Smith River, Cahill’s Lily Pad RV Park & Campground is the perfect place to sleep among the stars.

Day Two

Morning
Visit one of the local bakeries or cafes for a hearty breakfast before a round of golf at Forest Park Country Club. Or try your hand at disc golf at Frank Wilson Park, plus a natural surface walking trail, horseshoes, and more. Visit Fairy Stone Park and search for the fairy stone, a naturally occurring crystal found in only a few places on earth. 

Afternoon
Watch the planes and helicopters coming and going at the Blue Ridge Regional Airport while you enjoy a variety of American classics from Simply Suzanne’s. Then make your way to the Smith River. With eleven public canoe ramps, you can customize your river paddling trip with ease.

Evening
From southern cuisine and barbecue to pizza and burritos, you are sure to find a delicious spot to dine outside or pick up to go after a long day outside. Cozy up for a night at One Starling, a charming bed and breakfast with a beautiful porch to relax on. 

VisitMartinsville.com 

Places to Go, Things to See: