Nestled within the rolling hills and winding valleys of Southwest Virginia, the Crooked Road weaves together 300 miles of picturesque terrain and historic music venues, each resonating with the echoes of bluegrass and old-time country melodies. 

In 2024, Virginia's musical heritage takes center stage as the Crooked Road, Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail celebrates its 20th anniversary, marking a significant milestone in the musical legacy of Southwest Virginia. Among the trail's landmarks, the historic Carter Family Fold in Hiltons marks its 50th year, honoring the enduring legacy of the Carter Family, one of America's most iconic musical families who helped to spark the “Big Bang of Country Music” in 1927. Alongside this milestone, other key venues, such as the Birthplace of Country Music Museum in Bristol and the Floyd Country Store in Floyd, are also commemorating major anniversaries.

With special concerts and events planned throughout the year, visitors have the unique opportunity to experience the rich cultural tapestry of Southwest Virginia's musical heritage like never before. Pack your bags, tune your guitar, and immerse yourself in the heartfelt rhythms echoed through Southwest Virginia’s scenic landscapes. Here’s how! 

Attend Special Anniversary Shows at Major Crooked Road Venues

Birthplace of Country Music Museum

Birthplace of Country Music Museum

1. Attend a performance at the Carter Family Fold in Hiltons. 
Visit the reconstructed Carter Family homestead. As pioneers of the American country music heritage, the Carter Family has long-standing roots in Virginia that are dedicated to arts and cultural practices. One of the premier experiences on the Crooked Road, celebrate the 50th anniversary of the iconic Carter Family Fold at monthly special anniversary shows all year. Buy tickets here

2. Visit the Birthplace of Country Music Museum in Bristol.
“Bristol Sessions” of many famous country music musicians like Johnny Cash, Jimmie Rodgers, and the Carter Family are known to be the “Big Bang” of country music, beginning the careers of these musicians and bringing country music to commercial practice. Find tickets to the museum here

3. Experience live music at the Blue Ridge Music Center in Galax.
Celebrate the music and heritage from the Blue Ridge Mountains with indoor or outdoor performances from bluegrass, folk, Americana, blues, or gospel artists. Open through October, the center lets you take part in their Summer Concert Series or Midday Music from 12-4 pm every day that the center is open. Find tickets here

4. Enjoy a show at the historic Rex Theater in Galax.
Since 1940, the Rex Theater has been a community staple, showcasing films, live music, and performances. The Rex also hosts “Blue Ridge Backroads Live,” a weekly radio show focusing on old-time and bluegrass music. Check out a live performance here

5. Explore the Blue Ridge Institute and Museum.
Founded by Ferrum College in 1973, the Institute was created to support the history and heritage of the Blue Ridge through festivals, concerts, exhibitions, and programming. As a major venue on the Crooked Road, the Blue Ridge Institute and Museum hosts Monday Night Jams with old-time and bluegrass music. Their annual Blue Ridge Folklife Festival celebrates regional traditions with moonshiners, music, craftspeople, and more. 

6. Experience old-time music at the Floyd Country Store in Floyd.
Check out the Friday Night Jamboree, beginning with gospel music and followed by two dance bands. Americana Afternoons are on Saturdays, playing all types of American roots music. Finish the weekend off with a Sunday Music Jam from 1:30-6 pm that is led by an old-time or bluegrass band. While taking in the performances, make a stop at the Soda Fountain for a classic taste of American sweets. Find tickets to their weekly events or monthly performances here

7. Visit The Southwest Virginia Cultural Center and Marketplace in Abingdon.
Explore the rich culture of Southwest Virginia by taking a stroll among the artists, artisans, and vendors of the marketplace. 

8. See Song of the Mountains production at The Lincoln Theater in Marion.
Song of the Mountains presents great talents from bluegrass, Americana, and old-time music with live concerts and videotaped performances. The Lincoln Theater has been a staple for music and film in Marion since its inception in 1929. After its closure in the 1970s, renovations began in the 1980s until 2004 when the doors reopened and the Lincoln Theater was preserved and cherished for what it is today, showcasing mountain music heritage and artistic endeavors. 

9. Visit the Country Cabin II in Norton for live music and dancing.
Put on your best dancing shoes and get ready to dance the night away through Appalachian dancing traditions in Norton. Located in a 20 by 40-foot old-fashioned log cabin, the Country Cabin II transports you to old-time musical roots with live bluegrass bands and cultural programs.

Commission Your Own Handmade Instrument

Barr's Fiddle Shop

Barr's Fiddle Shop

10. Tour Barr's Fiddle Shop in Galax for an inside look at instrument making.
Barr's Fiddle Shop is a family-owned business specializing in the crafting and repairing of stringed instruments, particularly fiddles. Visitors can tour the workshop, watch demonstrations of instrument making, and even commission custom-made instruments. Hours: Monday-Saturday from 9am-5pm; Closed Sundays.

11. Explore The Handmade Music School in Floyd.
Following the traditions of the Floyd Country Store as a community gathering space, The Handmade Music School brings musical heritage to life by passing down old-time, bluegrass, and traditional music and dance to visitors. Take a private instrumental lesson or attend an in-person or virtual workshop to be immersed in the musical traditions of the Blue Ridge. 

12. Visit the Wayne Henderson School of Appalachian Arts.
Wayne Henderson teaches luthiery through his School of Appalachian Arts, where aspiring instrument makers can learn the art of building guitars and other stringed instruments under his guidance. Wayne Henderson's contributions to the preservation and promotion of Appalachian music and instrument-making have made him a legendary figure in the region. The Wayne C. Henderson Music Festival, Guitar Competition, and School of Appalachian Arts offer unique opportunities for music enthusiasts and aspiring luthiers to immerse themselves in the rich cultural heritage of Southwest Virginia.

Attend Notable Music Festivals

Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion

Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion

13. Feel the music move you in the Blue Ridge Mountains at FloydFest.
During their five-day event from July 24-28, 2024. Music, art, and culture combine for a one-of-a-kind festival with experiences from outdoor adventures and performances to healing workshops and craft brews, right from the heart of Virginia. Tickets can be found here

14. Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion honors Bristol as the birthplace of country music. 
From September 13-25, 2024, join in on the rhythm with three days of live performances from country, folk, and bluegrass artists and more. Find tickets here

15. The Carter Family Fold Festival is the marquee Carter Fold event of the year!
Attend the special anniversary festival in August to experience top talent performing on this hallowed stage. More info to come - check back for details as it’s sure to be an event to remember!  

16. The Galax Old Fiddlers Convention is celebrating its 88th year on August 5-10, 2024.
Hundreds come near and far with their instruments to participate in music shows and competitions, showing off their skills from fiddling to playing mouth harps. 

17. Travel to Blue Highway Fest in Big Stone Gap.
Winning the IBMA Event of the Year, the festival has brought vitality back into the region through uniting bluegrass artists and musicians. Take in the stunning mountain views in the fall by traveling to the four-day affair from October 9-12, 2024. 

Learn Traditional Appalachian Dance

Floyd Country Store

Floyd Country Store

18. Attend a square dance at Odd Fellows Hall in Blacksburg.
On the first Saturday of each month, Odd Fellows Hall is filled with live bluegrass and old-time music and dancing. If you’re new to square dancing, callers lead you through the movements as you square dance and do-si-do through the evening.

19. Join in on a dance workshop at the Floyd Country Store.
On Thursday nights, stop by Honky Tonk Thursdays where dance lessons and partner workshops are taught. From square dancing to country two-steps, lessons are open to all who are willing to participate and try their hand (or feet) at a traditional dance practice. 

Learn & Play Music

20. Find a jam session in Southwest Virginia.
Every Friday night at Axe Handle Distilling in Lee County are bluegrass picking sessions with live musicians. Also on Fridays are the Hicks Friday Night Jam in Nickelsville. Find affiliated venues on the Crooked Road for more jam sessions.

21. Attend Thursday Night Jams in Fries.
Head to the historic Fries Theatre for the weekly Thursday night jams. Mingle with the local residents who gather for a relaxing evening of old-time music and fellowship. Bring an instrument and join in the music circle or dance the night away. If you don’t know the traditional two-step waltz, just ask and someone will help.

Stay at Boutique Hotels, Historic Inns, & Luxury Resorts

Nicewonder Farm & Vineyards

Nicewonder Farm & Vineyards

22. Stay at the music-themed Sessions Hotel in Bristol.
Each room reflects the history and heritage of Bristol with themed decor alongside modern amenities. Request a record player for your room for a private listening session. Indoor and outdoor music venues at the Sessions invite guests to fully immerse themselves in the city known as the “Birthplace of Country Music”. Book here

23. Experience Southern hospitality at The Martha Washington Inn & Spa in Abingdon.
Offering 63 guest suites and rooms, historic southern charm is at the heart of The Martha. Perfect for families, a vast variety of amenities are available from access to a private library and kid's movie nights to outdoor recreation and a relaxing spa. Book here

24. Stay at The Historic General Francis Marion Hotel in Marion.
Winning multiple awards for Virginia Living magazine’s “Best of Virginia” as well as many national accolades, the General Francis Marion Hotel has a focus on elegance by blending the antique ambiance with modern amenities. Check out their “Song of the Mountains” package that partners with the Lincoln Theatre for an old-time and bluegrass music experience. Book here

25. Splurge on your lodging at Nicewonder Farm and Vineyards.
Noted as one of the top lodging destinations in Virginia from national acclaim, Nicewonder offers a luxurious stay along the Crooked Road. With esteemed wine, an on-site spa, and a James Beard award-winning chef at the Hickory restaurant, you’ll be delighted by everything Nicewonder has to offer. Book here

26. Stay overnight at Ralph Stanley Museum in the spacious suite on the third floor.
The museum honors the late Appalachian musician Ralph Stanley and his great contributions to the bluegrass world. Take your time to explore the museum and then retire upstairs in comfort at the historic home. Book here

27. Stargaze in a silo or from your treehouse balcony at Primland Resort
Choose from several lodging options at Primland from chalets and cottages to a unique treehouse stay nestled among Virginia’s mountains. For a journey among the mountains, go horseback riding or biking through the many trails along the property. Book here

28. Experience the beauty of the mountains at Bristol Hotel’s Lumac Rooftop Bar.
As the only rooftop bar in Bristol and on-site of the Bristol Hotel, Lumac Rooftop Bar is a perfect place to go for a 360-degree view of the Appalachian mountains. Enjoy live music on Sundays and events throughout the week. An immersive experience in Bristol’s music scene, the Bristol Hotel is only a short walk away from several attractions and venues in the heart of country music’s birthplace. Book here

Enjoy Local Appalachian Cuisine

Bloom

Bloom

29. Eat a world-class meal prepared by James Beard-nominated Chef Travis Milton at Nicewonder Resort in Bristol.
Raised in rural Virginia, Chef Travis Milton takes Appalachian inspiration and combines it with refined dining to create his distinguished menus.  

30. Try a blend of Appalachian and Pakistani fare at the Pakalachian Food Truck in Abingdon.
Moshin and Katlin Kazmi aim to bring unique tastes with a forefront of sustainability to the Southwestern Virginia region. Find them in Abingdon or at various events in the region for rotating seasonal flavors. 

31. Stop by Skeeter’s World-Famous Hot Dogs in Wytheville and Dipdogs in Marion.
Since 1925, Skeeter’s has been serving hot dogs and diner classics in the historic district of Wytheville. Drive further down Interstate 81 and get a world-famous “Dipdog'' from Dipdogs in Marion. 

32. Open since 1942, the Burger Bar in Bristol offers a classic diner experience.
Rooted in years of Bristol history, the legend is that the Burger Bar was the last place Hank Williams Sr. was seen alive.

33. Learn about moonshine making and bootlegging at Franklin County Distillery. Find out how moonshining drove the economy of Boones Mill in the 20th century during Prohibition. Using their history and heritage of moonshine, Franklin County Distillery serves up an expansive selection of liquors and cocktails in their Tasting Room and Moonshine Bar. 

34. Eat at the oldest bar in Virginia and the 8th oldest in the nation at The Tavern in Abingdon.
A community staple to Abingdon, The Tavern has been a post office, bank, bakery, grocery store, and even a hospital during the Civil War. Steeped in history, the Tavern in Abingdon offers fine dining with a German flair. 

35. Don’t miss the Carter Family Fold Omelette at Bloom in Bristol.
Focused on quality and detail, the menu at Bloom is sure to impress. The Carter Family Fold omelet changes to incorporate fresh seasonal ingredients grown locally. 

Embrace Outdoor Adventures & Scenic Beauty

Breaks Interstate Parl

Breaks Interstate Park

36. Bike the Virginia Creeper Trail for scenic views and outdoor fun.
This 34-mile multi-use trail is popular for biking, hiking, and horseback riding. It follows an old railroad bed through the scenic mountains and valleys of Southwest Virginia, offering breathtaking countryside views. Pro tip: skip the Saturday crowds. 

37. Explore Natural Tunnel State Park.
This geological wonder features a massive limestone tunnel carved by the flowing waters of Stock Creek. As the only state park with a chair lift, Natural Tunnel is a great place to visit during the warmer seasons for a skyline view. Visitors can take guided tours, hike the surrounding trails, and enjoy picnicking and wildlife viewing in the park. 

38. Go fishing or kayaking in one of the world’s most biodiverse rivers, The Clinch River.
With 135 miles of river traveling from Virginia to the Tennessee border, there are so many opportunities to kayak or fish along the shore. Take a trip into one of the adjacent towns on the river for a stop to enjoy the arts and culture of the region. 

39. Take a scenic drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Visitors can enjoy scenic drives, hiking trails, and overlooks that offer stunning views of the Appalachian Mountains and surrounding landscapes.

40. Get your adrenaline pumping with Spearhead Trails.
Offering ATV Trails, hiking and biking, equestrian trails, and a sportsman’s complex, Spearhead Trails gives you a variety of activities to choose from when you’re looking for that outdoor adventure kick. 

41. Zip line across the mountains and see wild elk at Breaks Interstate Park. 
One of only two interstate parks in the nation, and known as the “Grand Canyon of the South,” Breaks Interstate Park is home to one of the deepest gorges east of the Mississippi River, making it a thrilling ride for zipliners through the canyon. 

42. Visit The Appalachian Trail Center in Damascus, known as “Trail Town USA.”
Hike along the Appalachian Trail, which runs through town along Main Street. 

43. Visit Big Walker Lookout outside Wytheville.
From the 100-foot tower, you can see panoramic views of scenic mountains and farmlands in Southwest Virginia. Adjacent to the lookout is a must-see old-fashioned country store with hand-scooped ice cream, local crafts, and weekend mountain music. 

44. Take a scenic drive along Back of the Dragon.
From Marion to Tazewell on Route 16, this drive among the Appalachian mountains offers over 400 curves for backroads thrill seekers. 

45. Venture into Giles County to explore the New River and Cascade Falls.
As a year-round trail, Cascade Falls is a 3.7-mile out-and-back hike that takes you through scenic mountain landscapes, ending with a gorgeous waterfall. For more experiences surrounding the water, go rafting, kayaking, or tubing on the New River, an ancient river system flowing through North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia. 

Experience Live Theater

Barter Theater

The Barter Theater, the State Theater of Virginia.

46. See a show at The Barter Theater, the State Theater of Virginia.
Located in Abingdon, the Barter Theater is one of the longest-running professional theaters in the United States. It offers a diverse range of productions, including classic plays, musicals, and original works, attracting theater enthusiasts from across the region.

47. Visit Big Stone Gap for The Trail of the Lonesome Pine.
Situated among the pines and a small waterfall lies the Barbara Polly Theatre. Immersing guests into the story, The Trail of the Lonesome Pine is known as the Official Outdoor Drama of the Commonwealth of Virginia and has been one of the longest-running outdoor dramas in the U.S. 

Find Handmade Art

48. Shop at the Southwest Virginia Cultural Center and Marketplace
This cultural center and artisan gallery showcases the craftsmanship of Southwest Virginia's artisans and craftspeople. Visitors can shop for handmade goods, attend craft demonstrations, and learn about the region's cultural heritage. Support the Round The Mountain Artisan Network to find locally made arts, crafts, and instruments. Round the Mountain Artisan Network connects visitors with local artisans across Southwest Virginia, offering opportunities to purchase handmade crafts, including pottery, textiles, and woodworking. 

49. Visit the Reynolds Homestead in Critz.
Built in 1843 as the Rock Spring Plantation, by Hardin Reynolds, a successful farmer and tobacco manufacturer, the Reynolds Homestead has been designated a State and National Historic Landmark and is listed on the National Registry of American Homes. The historic home is open for tours, a community engagement center for activities, and experiential education opportunities. 

50. Browse the William King Museum of Art.
Situated in Abingdon, this museum features a diverse collection of contemporary and regional art, including paintings, sculptures, and multimedia installations. It also hosts rotating exhibitions and educational programs.

As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Carter Family Fold and the 20th anniversary of Virginia’s Crooked Road, we invite you to join us in honoring these deep-rooted traditions. The Carter Family's legacy awaits, inviting you to become part of a musical journey that spans generations.

From weekly jam sessions, special concerts, fiddlers conventions, and traditional dances, the region is alive with music, community, and authenticity every day, just waiting to be discovered.