WanderLove: A Road Trip through Southwest Virginia

Wanderlust is defined as a strong desire to travel, but here in Virginia, we call that feeling WanderLove.

And while travel may look a little different these days, you can still explore Virginia’s endless beauty from the comfort of your own car – with plenty of fresh-air stops along the way.

Follow along through the mountains of Southwest Virginia, as we turn a simple road trip into an unforgettable outdoor escape! 

**Know before you go! Please wear a mask or face covering when indoors and observe Virginia’s current safety guidelines when you travel. Before visiting, be sure to contact individual businesses for the most up-to-date hours and info.

The Virginia Creeper Trail, photo by Sam Dean


Begin your trip in Roanoke with a bike ride along the Roanoke Valley Greenway, which has over 30 miles of paved trails; rent bikes through Roanoke Mountain Adventures. Or head to the trails of Mill Mountain Park where a hike or ride to the top leads to spectacular views from the Roanoke Star, one of the most iconic sites in Virginia’s Blue Ridge

For another cycling opportunity, head to Christiansburg on Route 11. Reserve bikes from the ROAM New River Valley hubs and pick them up from their Christiansburg Recreation Center to bike the paved Huckleberry Trail that runs from Christiansburg to Blacksburg.

Claytor Lake State Park, photo by Sam Dean

For waterfront outdoor adventure, detour off Route 11 to Claytor Lake State Park. Rent paddleboards or kayaks through Mountain2Island Paddleboard Company and head out on the water. Looking to soak up some sun on the shoreline? The park also has a beach area with a snack bar and bathhouse. 

Another worthwhile detour off Route 11 is a stop at Draper Mercantile & Trading Co., a dining/shopping village that also offersbike rentals and is conveniently located beside New River Trail State Park.

Next, stop by Iron Heart Winery, located about twelve miles south of Draper. While the tasting room is currently closed due to COVID-19, you can enjoy a private cabana rental, which includes a bottle of wine, a tent, two chairs and a table, and a cooler with ice, all set up before your arrival. 

Continue south on Route 11, driving to the Big Walker Lookout Tower & Country Store. Climb the 100-foot tower for breathtaking views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and spend some time perusing the country store.

A can’t-miss destination in the Wytheville area, the 45-acre Fort Chiswell Animal Park, offers a petting zoo and a Safari Bus ride that lets you get close to exotic animals such as zebras, antelopes and ostriches. 

Restaurants, Breweries, Wineries, & More

Hotels, Resorts, & Other Lodging


Depart Wytheville, continuing along Route 11 to Hungry Mother State Park. With a 108-acre lake and picturesque woodland surroundings, it’s the perfect spot to enjoy the water – whether unwinding on the lake’s sandy beach area or renting a boat to head off-shore.

Thrill-seekers will love the zipline tour at Hungry Mother Adventures, the longest, highest and fastest zipline in Virginia that provides a bird’s eye view of the Park.

Follow Route 11 to Abingdon and rent bikes from the Virginia Creeper Trail Bike Shop. The shop will shuttle you and your bikes further down the Virginia Creeper Trail, a 34-mile trail that runs between Abingdon and Whitetop Station. If biking the entire trail, stop through Damascus, an enchanting mountain town, to peruse outdoor-centric shops and grab a bite to eat. 

Return to Abingdon for your overnight stay and catch a play at the Barter Theatre Moonlight Drive-In, a drive-in live theater opened in response to COVID-19. 

Before heading home, stop by the Southwest Virginia Cultural Center & Marketplace to peruse goods made from local artisans. Don’t miss the stunning LOVEwork, a prime spot for a photo opp. 

Restaurants, Breweries, Wineries, & More

Hotels, Resorts, & Other Lodging

For more road trip ideas, check out Virginia’s WanderLove getaways!

Places to Go, Things to See: