The Crooked Road: Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail is a driving trail through Southwest Virginia that takes you through one of the most scenic and culturally unique regions of the United States. It also takes you through some of the most musically significant areas in the U.S. for Bluegrass and Traditional Mountain Music. The trail itself is more than 300 miles, including more than 60 cultural music venues across 19 counties, four independent cities, and more than 50 towns.

Many of the venues and institutions that make up the Crooked Road experience have been in existence for years; however, the Crooked Road initiative was launched in 2003 as an effort to link these opportunities together into a more coordinated tourism experience for the traveling public. The Crooked Road helps a traveler recognize a variety of activities while visiting.  From shopping to outdoor recreation to cultural or historic attractions, the Crooked Road helps attract tourists, grow businesses, and improve Southwest Virginia’s quality of life for local residents. Experience first-hand for yourself with the following suggestions when you visit.

Dance to Live Music at the Carter Family Fold

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The Carter Fold is a rustic, 1,000-seat music shed offering traditional music every Saturday night. The Carter Family was discovered in 1927 by Victor Recording Studio in Bristol which recorded 300 songs between 1927 and 1942. Playing traditional Appalachian music, the family has often been credited as forerunners of modern-day country music. Today, A.P. Carter's old general store acts as a museum. Recent additions include the newly moved and reconstructed original A.P. Carter Homeplace.

Tour the Birthplace of Country Music Museum


An affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, the Birthplace of Country Music Museum celebrates the influence of the 1927 Bristol Sessions to today's music and features exhibition space spread over two floors including traveling exhibits from the Smithsonian. Discover a performance auditorium, radio station, and an interactive multimedia experience charged with making history come alive.

Where to Eat

  • Lumac Rooftop Bar– Rooftop bar and restaurant at the Bristol Hotel
  • Blackbird Bakery – pastries and sweets
  • Burger Bar - Long-running spot for burgers, hot dogs, shakes, where singer Hank Williams was last seen alive.

Shop Artisan Goods at the Southwest Virginia Cultural Center & Marketplace

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Stop into the Southwest Virginia Cultural Center & Marketplace to get a personal welcome to Southwest Virginia's heritage, craft, music, outdoor recreation, and scenic beauty at the gateway to Southwest Virginia craft, music, food, and local culture. Shop crafts by local artisans, juried to be the best of the best, and the most complete collection of Crooked Road old time, bluegrass, and gospel music. Meet artisans and musicians at live events and in interactive exhibits.

More Must-Visit Spots in Abingdon

Explore Marion & The Wayne C. Henderson School of Appalachian Arts

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The Wayne C. Henderson School of Appalachian Arts is named for Wayne C. Henderson, a world-renowned guitar instrumentalist and luthier from nearby Rugby, Virginia who has become an international ambassador for the music, heritage, and culture of the Southern Appalachian region. Check out the “Henderson Happenings” to see upcoming events and get more details on when to visit this notable music heritage destination. 

More Places to Explore in Marion

  • The Wooden Pickle – come dine where the locals do, sweet spot in Marion

  • Moon Dog Brick Oven of Marion –  Wood fired pizza restaurant

  • Waterlily Restaurant– Casual farm-to-table restaurant in Marion

  • Live music at the Lincoln Theatre: Home of the nationally-syndicated “Song of the Mountains” bluegrass television series and an Affiliate Venue of the famous “Crooked Road” Heritage Music Trail, the Lincoln Theatre is one of only three remaining Mayan Revival theatres in America. This Virginia Historic Landmark is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and its history harkens back to the romantic heyday of the grand movie palaces of the “Roarin’ Twenties.”

  • Overnight at General Francis Marion Hotel: Named National Geographic’s Top 150 Hotels in North America! The General Francis Marion Hotel, once said to be the most elegant lodging establishment in Southwestern Virginia, reopened in February 2006. After almost two years of renovation and restoration, the grand old hotel was reborn with the comfort, convenience and amenities of a modern hotel while retaining the ambiance of the 1920's.

Visit Galax's Blue Ridge Music Center & Rex Theater

The Rex Theater in Downtown Galax

Photo Credit: Emily Miller

The Blue Ridge Music Center is a state-of-the-art performing arts facility built to preserve and promote the historic music of Virginia and the Blue Ridge, celebrating the music and musicians of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Each spring, summer, and fall, the Galax destination welcomes thousands of visitors to enjoy some of the region’s finest traditional music, including bluegrass, old-time, folk, Americana, country blues, and gospel. 

Located off milepost 213 of the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Visitor Center and Museum are open May through October and admission is free. In addition to the museum and visitor center, the grounds have an outdoor amphitheater and an indoor interpretive center with a theater, gift shop, and museum that highlights the American musical culture still thriving in the region. 

Every summer, the Blue Ridge Music Center hosts a concert series in the outdoor amphitheater, with concerts on Saturday evenings from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Tickets to these incredible outdoor shows can be purchased in advance or at the gates, and season passes are also available.

After touring the Blue Ridge Music Center, head to Galax and stop by the Rex Theater. This historic theater hosts a live radio show every Friday evening featuring stage performers of bluegrass and old-time bands.

Flat Foot with Local Music Lovers at the Floyd Country Store

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There are few music experiences in the country as captivating as flat footing to live music at the Floyd Country Store, an authentic country store with popular Friday Night Jamboree and Sunday gospel sessions. Peruse locally made goods, grab a bite to eat at the store's southern-style restaurant, and top it all off with freshly-churned ice cream before hitting the dance floor and learning how to flat-foot with the locals! 

More to Do in Floyd:

  • Stay at Hotel Floyd
  • Dine at Dogtown Roadhouse, a wood-fired pizza restaurant that often hosts live music and karaoke. 
  • Peruse artisan goods at The Station, a shopping center with a handful of locally-owned shops. 


These are just a few of the incredible music experiences found along the Crooked Road in Southwest Virginia. Plan a road trip to this Appalachian music heritage region to learn all about country music's history and visit more noteworthy destinations along the trail!