The obvious beginning to a Natural Bridge getaway is the iconic National Historic Landmark, the Natural Bridge itself. A walk along Cedar Creek at Natural Bridge State Park leads to the soaring limestone arch that was once owned by Thomas Jefferson and still bears the carved initials of George Washington, who once surveyed it. If there’s a selfie spot for day one, this is it!
Seeing “the bridge” is just the beginning of your explorations. Follow the trail to discover the Monacan Indian Village and Lace Falls. Wrap up your Cedar Creek Trail walk with a lunch at the Archway Deli, then head to the Caverns at Natural Bridge, the deepest caverns on the East Coast!
Cocktails, craft beer, and wine are all available with your dinner at Red Fox Tavern, located inside the Natural Bridge Historic Hotel & Conference Center. At dusk, wander back down to the Natural Bridge for a presentation of “The Drama of Creation”. Enjoy your overnight stay in the newly remodeled rooms of the Natural Bridge Historic Hotel & Conference Center or check into a nearby cabin at Yogi Bear's Jellystone Camp Resort.
Drive to historic downtown Lexington and make the Visitor Center your first stop. Pick up information for a self-guided walking tour of the picturesque 19th century town, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. The best way to get an abbreviated historical overview of Lexington is to hop onto a carriage with Lexington Carriage Company. The driver narrates as he or she guides the horses around town.
Key historic destinations are the Lee Chapel and Museum, the George C. Marshall Museum, Virginia Military Institute, and the Stonewall Jackson House. Finding lunch and dinner between all of the museum visits and shopping is no issue. Pop in to Southern Inn Restaurant, Macado’s, or The Sheridan Livery Inn for lunch, and try Haywood’s, The Red Hen, or Rocca for dinner.
For some old school fun, catch a movie at Hull’s Drive-in! Open Friday and Saturday nights between May and October, the drive-in is affordable family entertainment.
Virginia Gold Orchard is an Asian pear farm, and you’re just in time for the harvest! Pay the Estabrook family a visit to secure a sack of fresh pairs before you climb aboard the tractor-drawn wagon at the Virginia Safari Park, Virginia’s only drive-thru zoo. Be sure to explore the aviary, feed the giraffes, and pet an animal or two before taking in the craft beer and scenic Blue Ridge Mountain views at neighboring Great Valley Farm Brewery.
When you depart Natural Bridge, drive the Blue Ridge Parkway. The scenery and foliage are spectacular! If heading south toward Roanoke, you’ll see some of the area’s highest peaks (Thunder Ridge at MP 74.7 and Apple Orchard Mountain at MP 76.5). Enjoy lunch overlooking Abbott Lake at Peaks of Otter (MP 84-87), and take a walk around the lake for stunning photo opportunities. If you’re heading north toward I-64, stop at MP 8.8 for a quick leg-stretch at the Greenstone Parking Overlook, or at MP 5.8, the Humpback Rocks Visitor Center where costumed interpreters offer demonstrations at the mountain farm museum.