Lynchburg is a fun city to visit with your family or friends, but if you’re limited on time, it can be a tough decision on what’s best to do. After scouring many websites, blogs and YouTubers on the subject, we thought others might also find this useful, even if they don’t live in Lynchburg.
Things to Do in Lynchburg, VA
No matter what you’re into, there’s no shortage of things to do in Lynchburg, Virginia. Located between North Carolina and West Virginia, Lynchburg sits within the Blue Ridge Mountain region just outside the foothills of the Appalachian Trail. Oh, and did we mention it has the most beautiful city skyline in America? Here are our suggestions for the top things to do in Lynchburg, VA for when you travel there.
Visiting Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest Retreat
There’s a lot to see in Lynchburg, but one of the unique experiences you can have is a visit to Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest estate. The site serves as a beautiful escape from the hustle and bustle of the city, while acting as a testament to the fact that Virginia truly was once frontier country.
As you explore Poplar Forest, you’ll witness firsthand how its architecture is a precursor to modern buildings and how it reflects Jefferson’s great interest in science and its relationship with architecture. You’ll discover why he designed the building to be an octagon shape, and learn about its many other innovative features.
The Plantation office Building
It’s also interesting to note that this estate was used for his own personal retreat, separate from Monticello. This speaks to Jefferson’s desire for privacy and quiet time away from his other properties. For example, you’ll learn that the plantation office building was built so that he could come and go without anyone knowing; it was constructed in such a way that it didn’t disrupt the flow of the property.
Touring Lynchburg’s five museums and galleries: the Lynchburg Museum, Maier Museum of Art at Randolph College, Academy Center of the Arts, Amazement Square and Point of Honor. Lynchburg is a city steeped in history, with a rich culture and diversity that can be experienced through its many museums and galleries. Here are five of our favorites:
The Lynchburg Museum
Located in the heart of downtown Lynchburg, this museum covers 400 years of local history in three floors of exhibits. From the Civil War to the Civil Rights Movement, it’s an amazing experience for both children and adults alike.
Maier Museum of Art at Randolph College
Housed inside a gorgeous Tudor-Revival building on campus, this museum is home to 6,000 pieces from American artists like Remington and O’Keefe, along well as British painters like Reynolds and Gainsborough.
Academy Center of the Arts
This performing arts venue hosts concerts, plays, films, art exhibitions, classes and more throughout the year. Stop by their gallery to see one of their exhibitions while you’re in town!
The Children’s Museum of Central Virginia has something for everyone, from toddlers to teens, and it includes hands-on learning experiences that encourage creativity through play with science exhibits like “Bubbles” or “Engineering.”
Point of Honor
Another must-stop place on your tour is Point of Honor, which was built around 1800 by Dr. George Cabell. The Federal-style house features an extensive collection of original furnishings as well as temporary exhibits throughout the year that highlight Lynchburg’s history. The museum offers weekend tours from April through October, with special events held throughout the year.
A Self-Guided Tour of Downtown Lynchburg Historic District
With a quarter of the city’s population in the 1800s, Old City Center is a step back in time. The residential areas are home to beautiful antebellum homes, and the downtown area is home to some of Lynchburg’s oldest buildings. You can take a self-guided walking tour and see the architecture up close!
The City of Seven Hills
The hills surrounding Lynchburg are part of its charm. They’re easy to hike or drive up and offer incredible views of the city and surrounding mountains. The tallest hill, College Hill, is home to Liberty University. The Old City Center area of Lynchburg is the original city center, and it was founded around the James River and Kanawha Canal. This makes for a beautiful walking tour with plenty of sightseeing opportunities.
The district is home to more than 200 buildings on the National Register of Historic Places that were constructed between 1815 and 1930. The structures are all unique, displaying a range of architectural styles, including Gothic Revival, Greek Revival, Second Empire, Italianate, Colonial Revival and Tudor Revival architecture. The historic buildings have been repurposed as homes and businesses.
Strolling Through Downtown Area
Take time to peek inside some shops, but remember that many of these buildings are private homes. The best things to do in Lynchburg, VA, include visiting historic sites and taking advantage of the city’s outdoor activities. A stroll through the downtown area will take you past antebellum homes and a statue of Thomas Jefferson, who founded Lynchburg College in 1799.
Old City Cemetery Museum & Arboretum
When you visit the Old City Cemetery Museum and Arboretum, you’re in for a treat. There’s plenty to love about this place: from its history, to the architectural details, to the natural serenity of strolling among the graves and trees. It was established in 1806 as the first public burial ground in Lynchburg. Over the years it has been home to many famous people. Now the cemetery is home to over 15,000 people buried there, and more than 100,000 visitors each year.
The cemetery has many beautiful sculptures and monuments that are worth visiting for their artistic merits alone. In addition to its many examples of funerary art, there are also over 80 varieties of trees that make up its arboretum.
Blackwater Creek Trail
One of the most popular attractions in Lynchburg is the Blackwater Creek Trail. The four-mile trail is a favorite for biking, jogging or walking. You can rent bikes at Riverside Cycle, which also offers guided bike tours of the city. There is an offshoot trail at Dearington Park where you can walk your dog and let it run off-leash.
For a day trip from Lynchburg, visit Crabtree Falls along Route 56 in Montebello, VA. At 1,200 feet, this waterfall is one of the highest cascades east of the Mississippi River. The falls are on private property but are open to the public with a parking fee. The Crabtree Waterfall LLC has more information on visiting hours and fees, as well as hiking trails around the falls.
Glen Maury Park
Glen Maury Park is a nice park that runs along the west bank of the James River. It’s nestled between downtown Lynchburg and a few neighborhoods in the west end of town. The northern end borders some industrial parks and the southern end is bordering an apartment complex. The access point for Glen Maury is at the intersection of Water Street (Route 460) and Hickory Street, facing south toward Lynchburg College. Have fun!
These are all the best things to do in Lynchburg, VA. Thanks a lot and safe travels!
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