2024 is a unique year for celebrating music heritage in Southwest Virginia. Not only will it mark the 50th anniversary of the iconic Carter Family Fold but also the 20th anniversary of the Crooked Road, The Birthplace of Country Music Museum’s 10th anniversary, and Floyd Country Store’s 40th anniversary of its Friday Night Jamborees. To celebrate these momentous milestones, take your family on a road trip along the Crooked Road and explore the most notable sites for music heritage.

Thursday

Road trip with the family to Ferrum, Virginia, stopping at scenic spots along the way to take pictures and make memories. Your destination is the Blue Ridge Institute and Farm Museum, a family-friendly (and free!) folklife museum that preserves and documents the heritage of the Blue Ridge Mountains and the surrounding areas. 

Next, attend a live music performance at the Harvester Performance Center in Rocky Mount. Check the schedule for family-friendly events as there are often Thursday evening shows on the calendar.

Fairy Stone State Park
Photo Credit: Chad Williams, @echadwilliams

After the show, head to Fairy Stone State Park, where you can book cabins, lodges, and yurts that accommodate different size groups. You can also camp at one of the shady, wooded campsites and wake up in the natural splendor of Southwest Virginia. 

Want to stay in Rocky Mount after the show? Early Inn at the Grove is a small boutique hotel with six unique suites located in Rocky Mount. 

Other Things to See & Do Nearby: 

Tickets/Bookings: 

Drive Time: 

  • The drive from Ferrum to Rocky Mount is approximately 15 minutes.
  • The drive from Rocky Mount to Fairy Stone State Park is approximately 30 minutes.

Friday

Fairy Stone State Park
Photo Credit: Chad Williams, @echadwilliams

Wake up at Fairy Stone State Park and consider taking a sunrise hike to look for the famous fairy stones with the kids. 

Once you’ve packed up the car, head to Floyd and get breakfast at Red Rooster Cafe & Bakery. Spend the morning hiking off the Blue Ridge Parkway near Floyd, Virginia. Depending on age and hiking ability, you have several options; the Hardwood Cove Nature Trail is less than a mile long and is part of the Rock Castle Gorge Trail off milepost 167.1 of the Blue Ridge Parkway; Mabry Mill Trail is an easy, ½-mile long paved trail with a boardwalk that allows for wheelchair accessibility; Smart View Loop Trail is a 2.6-mile hike with moderate difficulty off milepost 154.5 of the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Dogtown Roadhouse

After your hike, grab lunch at Dogtown Roadhouse in downtown Floyd, then explore the charming downtown area, known for its vibrant arts scene. There are several cute local shops to explore, including Troika Home Goods, the Floyd Station, and Lichen or Knot Plant Company.

Floyd Country Store

That evening, visit the Floyd Country Store, a hub for traditional music and dancing, and enjoy a meal at Floyd Country Store’s cafe. The popular Friday Night Jamboree is a must, so stick around and put on your dancing shoes as local bands play toe-tapping tunes throughout the evening. 

Walk across the street and spend the night at Hotel Floyd.

Other Things to See & Do Nearby: 

Tickets/Bookings: 

  • Purchase reserved seating tickets to Floyd Country Store Friday Jamboree; general admission tickets can also be purchased at the door; cost is $10 for adults and $7 for children ages 7-12. Kids six and under are free.
  • Book lodging at Hotel Floyd

Drive Time: 

  • The drive from Fairy Stone State Park to Floyd is approximately 35 minutes.

Saturday

Blue Ridge Music Center
Photo Credit: Cameron Davidson

Get up early, as this will be your busiest travel day! Start your Saturday with a sunrise breakfast at the Blue Ridge Diner, then leave Floyd and head to Galax to check out the Blue Ridge Music Center and learn about the roots of American music at the museum. The center is located off the Blue Ridge Parkway, so consider detouring a few miles to take in the views from a few of the scenic overlooks. 

Southwest Virginia Cultural Center & Marketplace

Grab a quick lunch in Wytheville at the Log House 1776 Restaurant, a dining establishment that traces its history back to our country’s founding era, or at Moon Dog Brick Oven Pizza. Get back in the car and road trip to the Southwest Virginia Cultural Center & Marketplace in Abingdon to peruse locally made artisan goods and crafts.

Barter Theater

While in Abingdon, take some time to peruse the downtown shops along historic Main Street such as Holston Mountain Artisans, a cooperative gallery featuring locally-made woodwork, pottery, quirts, and handwoven baskets or Chellas on Main, a boutique specializing in women’s clothing, home goods, and gifts. Check out the Barter Theatre, the official state theatre of Virginia and the nation’s longest-running professional theater (if you decide to spend a night in Abingdon, don’t miss catching a show at this historic theater!). 

Carter Family Fold

No trip to Southwest Virginia is complete without a visit to the Carter Family Fold in Hiltons, Virginia, a rustic, 800-seat venue offering traditional music every Saturday night. The Carter Family was one of the musical acts discovered in 1927 by Victor Recording Studio in Bristol, and the trio recorded approximately 300 songs between 1927 and 1942. Playing traditional Appalachian music, the family has often been credited as forerunners of modern-day country music. 

Take some time to tour the small museum dedicated to preserving the family history next door, then get on the dance floor and put your flatfooting skills to the test as old-time country and folk musicians take the stage. 

The Bristol Hotel

Wrap up your Saturday in Bristol, a charming city located on the border of Virginia and Tennessee. Get rooms at either the Sessions Hotel or the Bristol Hotel for lodging that is within walking distance of all the fantastic shops and restaurants in downtown Bristol. 

Other Things to See & Do Nearby: 

Tickets/Bookings:

Drive Time: 

  • The drive from Floyd to Galax is approximately one hour. 
  • The drive from Galax to Wytheville is approximately 45 minutes.
  • The drive from Wytheville to Abingdon is approximately one hour.
  • The drive from Abingdon to the Carter Family Fold is approximately 45 minutes.
  • The drive from the Carter Family Fold to Bristol is approximately 40 minutes.

Sunday

Bloom

Start Sunday with breakfast or brunch in Bristol. We recommend eating at Bloom, a large restaurant right on State Street that has both indoor and outdoor seating options. Their menu features southern breakfast and brunch fare, like buttermilk drop biscuits, biscuits & gravy, chicken & waffle sandwiches, and grits bowls. Once you’ve finished eating, walk along State Street browsing the local shops, from antique stores and art galleries to outfitters and clothing boutiques. If you’ve been looking for a place to buy that cowboy hat or boots, you’ll find several shops for that here in downtown Bristol! 

The Birthplace of Country Music Museum

Next, tour the Birthplace of Country Music Museum, located just a few blocks from State Street. An affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, this state-of-the-art museum celebrates the influence of the 1927 Bristol Sessions to today's music and features exhibits spread over two floors, including traveling exhibits from the Smithsonian.

Spearhead Trails
Photo Credit: Sam Dean, @sdeanphotos

If you’re not ready to head home, continue exploring Southwest Virginia. Get an adrenaline-packed tour of Southwest Virginia’s mountains as you traverse Spearhead Trails, a multi-use trail system that runs through hundreds of miles and multiple small towns. You can rent an ATV from a local retailer and purchase a permit from Spearhead Trails. Day passes and annual passes are available.

Other Things to See & Do Nearby: 

  • Tour the Ralph Stanley Museum, which highlights the life and legacy of American bluegrass artist Dr. Ralph Edmund Stanley, who was internationally known for his unique, innovative style of singing and banjo playing. The museum is open Tuesday-Saturday; tickets are just $10 each and can be bought at the door with cash or major credit cards. 
  • Explore Natural Tunnel State Park, whose namesake tunnel was naturally carved through a limestone ridge over thousands of years, resulting in a cavern more than 850 feet long and 10 stories high. A chairlift, observation deck, and a 500-foot boardwalk provide accessibility to all guests, including those in wheelchairs. 
  • Drive up the mountain and then walk the accessible trail to High Knob Observation Tower to see stunning views of Southwest Virginia.
  • Drive out to Breaks Interstate Park, called the “Grand Canyon of the South”. This is an outdoor recreation paradise, featuring hiking, mountain biking, ziplining, canoeing, kayaking, paddleboarding, fishing, birding, rock climbing, and even guided elk viewing tours. 
  • Picnic, hike, and take in the beautiful landscapes of Southwest Virginia at Wilderness Road State Park.

Tickets/Bookings:

Drive Time: 

  • No drive time on Sunday except for your trip back home. 

There's always more to experience along Virginia's Crooked Road, so while this trip may be a first, it definitely won't be your last! Return to this Southwest Virginia musical heritage trail again and again to rediscover your love for the sounds of the mountains.