Sponsored ContentEat, Sleep, Play - Franklin County, Virginia

Eat, Sleep, Play – Franklin County, Virginia

Nestled in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, near the city of Roanoke, you’ll find a place with old-school charm, rich heritage, and boundless natural beauty. Franklin County, Virginia might not be on the top of your mind when it comes to outdoor recreation – but it should be.


Franklin County has no shortage of tasty eats for all types of visitors. Here, you’ll find restaurants ranging from classic diner fare to high-end American eateries, to smokey southern BBQ. Perhaps just as important as the food is the genuine kindness of the folks you’ll meet no matter where you decide to dine.


  • 77 Restaurant – The building might be a little unassuming but this little diner is a local favorite. 77 Restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner but we had a tasty breakfast of eggs, sausage, hash brown and an excellent cup of hot coffee to start our day of adventures.
  • Dudley’s Truck Stop – Dudley’s is a full-service truck stop serving up home-cooked meals with full-service taste! When you walk in you’ll be greeted by the aroma of fresh-brewed coffee, warm hashbrown, and tasty fried eggs. In true Franklin County fashion, you can expect a friendly staff and quick service to get you back on the road.


  • Mexico Viejo Tequila Bar – This is THE spot for delicious Mexican food and a fresh margarita with a stunning view of Smith Mountain Lake. Mexico Viejo boasts a lineup of awards including best outdoor seating, the best place to come by boat, best cocktail and salads, best Mexican fare, and best restaurant service. Pro Tip: cool off with the frozen piƱa colada. It comes in a full pineapple!
  • Magnum Point Grill – Magnum Point Grill is the perfect spot to take a break during a day of enjoying the Blackwater side of Smith Mountain Lake. Magnum Point is a Veteran-owned full-service marina serving up a wide array of American Fare. Accessible by car or by boat.
  • Bowling’s Hot Dogs – Bowling’s has been a Franklin County staple since 1950. The menu is limited to hotdogs, a few sides, cheap beer, and that’s just how the locals like it. The saying goes “stick to what you’re good at” and that’s exactly what Bowling’s is doing. You can’t stay in business that long if you don’t have a great product. You haven’t been to Franklin County if you haven’t been to Bowling’s.


  • Buddy’s BBQ – We don’t take BBQ lightly and neither do the owners. This is North Carolina style BBQ with a true Franklin County moonshine twist added in all of their homemade sauces. All of the pulled pork is smoked fresh daily with hickory and lump charcoal made locally in Franklin County. You MUST try the Brunswick Stew. It’s incredible.
  • Ippy’s – Perfect for a night out, Ippy’s has been serving made from scratch food since 1919! Here’s you’ll find steaks, seafood, prime rib, craft cocktails, and live music. Come for happy hour and stay for dinner and you won’t leave disappointed.
  • Whole Bean Coffee House – You might not think of a coffee house as a dinner spot but Whole Bean Coffee House is the perfect spot for a quick wrap or sandwich. This is also a great place to sit and get some work done while you’re traveling.


The Homestead Creamery – There isn’t much in life that is more satisfying than a big scoop of ice cream after a summer day on the water. Homestead Creamery is a popular destination for fresh food, locally grown produce, and a heaping scoop of award-winning ice cream. Stop in the Homestead Creamery Farm Market for a taste of southern hospitality.


Twin Creeks Distillery – After a day of exploring, there’s no better way to relax than visiting the Twin Creeks Distillery tasting room. Here, you can not only sample some of the best and most authentic moonshine there is. you can also dive into the rich bootlegging history that makes Franklin County the Moonshine Capital of the World. For owner and Master Distiller Chris Prillaman, moonshine is just a way of life and the product of deep passion.

Other great places to grab a drink include Franklin County Distilleries, Hammer and Forge Brewing, and Chaos Mountain Brewing.


Franklin has some absolutely charming places to stay central to everything the county has to offer. The Claiborne House located in Rocky Mount was built in 1895. the Queen Anne style house features six guest rooms, a private cottage, large gardens, and a 130′ wrap around porch that offers stunning views from every side.

Situated on 10 scenic acres, the Early Inn at the Grove is the perfect place to relax. This 1854 Greek-Vevial boutique hotel offers six charming and spacious bedrooms. Come for an overnight stay, a romantic getaway for two, or book the whole property for a destination wedding.

Want something a little more rustic? Book a campsite at one of the many scenic campgrounds surrounding Philpott Lake.


Go for a paddle on Philpott Lake

If you are looking for solitude, Philpott Lake is the place for you. With 100 miles of mostly undeveloped shoreline, Philpott Lake is surrounded by 7,000 acres of unspoiled wilderness. With eight campgrounds, six beaches, and a number of birding and wildlife trails, this is the perfect place to spend a few days exploring. Consider one of the paddle-in only campsites for some added peace and quiet. Franklin County Parks and Rec regularly host their Concert by Canoe on Philpott Lake complete with a floating stage and dance platform, free rental canoes, and food trucks.

Mountain bike or float the Pigg River at Waid Recreation Park

Floating the Pigg River is the perfect way to cool off after going for a mountain bike ride on the newly renovated trails at Waid Park. The park has also recently added a quarter-mile jump-line trail dubbed the Old Buzzard Trail. This adds to the Roanoke Valley’s claim as the mountain bike capital of the east. It’s free to float the Pigg River but if you want to rent a tube for the day it will only cost you five dollars. Only interested in a short float? You can rent a tube for two dollars for one hour. If you’re not interested in floating or biking you can just relax in the shade, on the beach by the river.

Visit Black Water Junction Wake Park

Whether you’re a pro-wake-skater, or a first-timer looking to learn how to wakeboard/skate – Black Water Junction Wake Park is an absolute must. BWJ is a family-owned cable park near a smith mountain lake. A cable park allows you to wakeboard and skate without the use of a boat. This makes it much more affordable and easier to learn. The park offers runs for beginners and experts alike. They also offer lessons and gear rentals.

Have Some Fun at Crazy Horse Marina

If you want to have some fun on Smith Mountain Lake, Crazy Horse Marina is a great place to start. This is a full-service marina with 24-hour fuel pumps, lots of parking and a restaurant (Mexico Viejo). No boat? No problem. Smith Mountain Boat Rentals has you covered. Here you can rent a variety of watercraft from stand up paddleboards and kayaks to speedboats and jetskis

Go Wake Surfing with Smith Mountain Wake Company

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Whether you are a seasoned pro looking for gear or a novice (like us) in need of some lessons, Smith Mountain Wake Company has what you need. We took wake surfing lessons and had an absolute blast. Not into surfing? Smith Mountain Wake Company is a full-service watersports pro shop. They offer a variety of watersports lessons, rentals, and more.

Places to Go, Things to See: