If you are anything like me, when you think of Floyd County, you think of FloydFest or “that place where my uncle was born.” FloydFest is amazing and epic and truly something every single person should experience at least one time.
But beyond that, Floyd is a surprising, magical small town filled with entrepreneurs, innovators, inspiring families, passionate people, lifelong friends, and great food and drinks!
Photo credit: Brian Camp @brian_k_camp
My first stop was the Floyd Country Store. I’ve known about their Friday night jam sessions – the traditions, music, flatfoot dancers and cloggers - but did you know their food is flavorful and delightful? We had the grilled cheese and tomato soup and of course, a sweet tea. My sandwich was ooey and gooey and just what your grandma makes you in the dead of winter or when you are fighting a cold. After we ate, we picked up a few retro candies (the one-stop store has a collection of unique and quirky merchandise) and walked across the street. The owner of the Floyd Country Store, Dylan Locke, just opened County Sales. It’s the largest collection of bluegrass records and CD’s. The store is captivating. I could have spent 4 more hours in there. It reminded me of my childhood, walking into my favorite music store (either Peaches or Plan 9 Records) and choosing the newest record or CD. Back then, that was the thing to do. And now in Floyd, it will become the thing to do!
After lunch, we had a hankering for some chocolate. Grayson Rudd is one of those entrepreneurs that never thought he would end up in Floyd. He’s lived and worked in many places and always thought he was going to open a wine shop. He fell in love with Floyd and when you walk into his store, Cocoa Mia, you feel like you are inside a corner boutique in Paris. You have a sample of hot chocolate while you are browsing chocolates from all over the world. Customers can even choose their own toppings and create custom chocolate bars! The flavors and choices of chocolate bars, too – crazy and interesting! Chocolate with shrimp? Who knew!
We then made a quick stop at the Floyd Center for the Arts. It’s known as “the Jax” to the locals for its original name, Floyd’s Jacksonville Center. There is a hayloft gallery that has exhibits year-round but you can also see performances, classes, festivals, and there is even a gift shop. The best part is --- it’s free admission! The children displays tug at your heart strings.
Buffalo Mountain Brewery was our next stop. You literally look like you are walking into a brick rancher-style home. Bill, the owner, greeted us, and told us that he bought a house that he turned into a brewery. Talk about innovation! It is cozy, warm and welcoming. The back door opens to a deck covered by a pergola for shade. The fire pits and the corn hole are surprising and appealing, and the beer is delicious. If you try nothing else, try the Far-Tar (Fire Tower)--Habanero Chocolate Stout. It’s dark and a stronger stout than I’m used to but you will get some chocolatey tastes and then the heat!
Photo credit: Cameron Davidson
What’s better than pizza and beer for dinner? Dogtown Roadhouse has wood-fired pizzas (try “The Appalachian”) and a ton of drink options. All of their pizzas can be made gluten-free, too. We listened to some great local music which happens a lot of the nights. Make sure to visit the roadhouse Weds – Sunday though as they are closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.
That night we stayed at the Hotel Floyd. It’s a boutique hotel located in the heart of town. Each room and suite is artfully decorated – I’m going back to see room 104, the LOVE-themed for the rest of this year in celebration of Virginia is for Lovers 50 Years of Love. The hotel encompasses all of the magic of Floyd. The rooms are charming, well-equipped, and a great value. Some have back porches that open to an amphitheater and some rooms are pet-friendly. The hotel is beautiful and is a Virginia Green property.
The next morning we had Red Rooster Coffee. It is a Virginia-based, family coffee company that roasts beans from around the world. The coffeehouse strives to operate sustainably in the daily operations so you feel good about the coffee you’re drinking. This year, Red Rooster won the Good Food Award for coffee, one of only 15 coffee roasters in the US. Somehow their coffee tastes even better knowing the owners have a true passion for making a positive social impact both at home and abroad.
After we were caffeinated, we started on our outdoor adventure. We hiked a mile to the Buffalo Mountain Natural Area preserve summit so in total a two-mile hike. One Trip Advisor review says “this is a beautiful spot to hike and it’s off the beaten path.” It wasn’t too hot or too cold. Please note: there is a small gravel parking lot and only a no-flush bathroom facility. Great payoffs once you hike since there are so many calories to intake later on during the day.
- Rocky Knob/Rock Castle Gorge-10.8 miles strenuous hike at MP 16
- Black Ridge Trail-3.1 miles moderate hike at MP 169
- Smarts View Trail-2.6 miles moderate hike at MP 154.5
- Bottoms Creek Gorge-4.5 miles of moderate hiking trails
- Dodd Creak Trail-1.25 miles moderate loop hike in town
If you prefer the water, head to the Little River outfitters On the Water in Floyd. You can fish or rent a kayak, canoe, or single tube. They provide the equipment – a life jacket, paddle, etc. Another option is bicycling along the 40 miles of scenic Blue Ridge Parkway surrounding Floyd.
- Town of Floyd, 2.5 – 6 miles, unpaved
- Tour de Floyd, 62 miles, an annual signature road-bike route and event, ride just a section or the entire route
- Rocky Knob Classis, 27.5 miles
- Willis Loop, 33 miles, fully-paved loop
- Laurel Ridge Loop, 32 miles, advanced level road bike, several big climbs
- Tour de Dirt, 30-57 miles, mostly unpaved back roads
Photo credit: Rich Grant, @richgrantdenver
If you aren’t into hiking, water, or the outdoors, then jump in your car. Drive the Blue Ridge Parkway (“experience America’s favorite drive") and catch all of its glory! The scenery will blow your mind. Check out Mabry Mill – located at MP 176.1 and about a 25-minute drive from downtown – where visitors can see the restored gristmill and sawmill. The mill also has a restaurant and gift shop to visit so grab yourself a souvenir.
On the return trip, stop at Chateau Morrisette. It’s about ten minutes from Mabry Mill and is the winery that overlooks Buffalo Mountain. We dined al fresco on the beautiful outdoor patio with sweeping mountain views. I highly recommend the winemaker’s platter and the Viognier, which uses fruit grown in Virginia. If you prefer red wines, try the Cabernet Franc. Chateau Morrisette has a number of fruit wines, too, if you like something sweeter. Take a 4-bottle sample pack to go! The winery is open on most holidays and complimentary cellar tours are offered daily, lasting about 30 minutes each.
Photo Credit: Star City Skycams, @starcityskycams
Our last day in Floyd we visited SustainFloyd’s Farmers Market across from the Floyd Country Store. Farmers sell their locally grown produce while local artisans showcase their special creations. Last year the market had more than 20 full-time vendors. Organic breads, pastries, microgreens, produce, meats, eggs, aromatherapy products, flowers, cheeses, jellies, granola, and more can be purchased while strolling. Open Saturdays May through November from 9am to 1pm. For me, an interesting find at the market was from Blacksnake Meadery. Otherwise known as “honey wine,” this vendor had a ton of flavorful options. My recommendation is the Sweet Virginia, a 2019 Governor’s Cup Silver winner.
After we stocked up at the Farmers Market, we spent time touring some of the local working farms. There are so many to see. These farms have everything from veggies, fruits, herbs, meat, eggs, honey, and grains. Farmers like Zach Fisher, owner of Thomas Hill Angus, has a compelling story for why he chose Floyd to plant his seeds. For a list of Floyd farms, their stories, and touring hours, please visit the SustainFloyd website.
Speaking of farms, Chantilly Farm is a beautiful venue for events and weddings. They have full RV facilities, along with tent camping and other amenities. When you’re there, you will see the acres of fields, woodlands, and wildlife. It’s quiet, serene, and peaceful. One of their most popular events is the Annual Chantilly Farm Bluegrass & BBQ Festival. It is usually Memorial Day weekend and is one of the region’s fastest-growing bluegrass events. Additional events this year include an annual gospel jubilee and the cirque du Floyd event with renowned artist performances.
Photo Credit: Star City Skycams, @starcityskycams
Our last night, we ate at Mickey G’s Bistro. We sat outside and the staff was friendly and helpful. This place has legit Italian food, y’all! The seafood has to be fresh from a local farm because the calamari was some of the best I’ve ever had!!! The restaurant is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays during the winter so make sure to check the hours before you go.
Needless to say, Floyd was such a surprise beyond what I knew. While music is their foundation, there is so much more to see and do. Spend a few days taking it all in – the outdoors, the arts, the wineries, the food, breweries, farms and agriculture, the chocolate, and the annual events. It’s much bigger than FloydFest, in every sense.