Wanderlust is defined as a strong desire to travel, but here in Virginia, we call that feeling WanderLove. And while travel is a little bit different due to COVID-19, you can still explore Virginia’s endless beauty with an epic road trip! To help you plan your next vacation out on the open road, we’ll be sharing a few of the most scenic and adventure-filled routes through the Commonwealth, including the best outdoor adventures, important sites, restaurants, and lodging options to add to your itinerary.
Photo Credit: Kyle LaFerriere, IG account: @laferriere.photography
Travel from the capital city of Richmond to Farmville, a town packed with outdoor adventure and two college campuses, continue to Clarksville, "Virginia's only Lakeside Town", and then end your adventure in Danville, a growing town in southern Virginia. This leisurely Central Virginia road trip is an ideal route for those looking for a change of pace and a quiet getaway away from the bustle of city living.
ROUTE 360: FROM RICHMOND TO FARMVILLE
61.3 miles, approximately 1 hour 25 minutes
Leave Downtown Richmond through the Manchester area of the city, crossing the James River and following Route 360 (also known as Hull Street). Before leaving the city, get a prime view of the river by walking or biking across the T. Tyler Potterfield Memorial Bridge, a pedestrian walkway that runs about 20 feet above the James and spans from Downtown Richmond’s Brown’s Island to Manchester.
Photo Credit: Matt Long, IG account: @landlopers
If you’d like to explore the river from a closer perspective, rent kayaks or paddleboards through Riverside Outfitters, or book a guided kayak or whitewater rafting tour through RVA Paddlesports. Both of these outfitters also offer climbing courses, from rock climbing with RVA Paddlesports to treetop climbing courses through Riverside Outfitters.
Photo Credit: Patrick Griffin
Leave the city and take Route 360 through the Brandermill and Woodlake suburbs, heading to the Metro Richmond Zoo. Home to over 2,000 animals representing nearly 200 different species, the zoo currently has various safety measures in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19, from operating at a 50% capacity and controlling the direction of foot traffic to moving the gift shop outdoors. As with every business open during COVID-19, masks are mandatory for visitors in the indoor parts of the zoo and if a safe six-foot distance cannot be maintained. Spend some time wandering around the exhibits, getting a close look at exotic animals like kangaroos, orangutans, giraffes, and lions. Don’t miss the baby Pygmy Hippo, the latest (and cutest) addition to the zoo family.
Continue your road trip along Route 360. If you’re enjoying a leisurely drive and aren’t in a hurry, take a detour along State Route 153 to Route 460 and visit Richlands Dairy Farm & Creamery. The farm is currently open during select hours for drive-through service, where you can pick up an array of lunch options like pulled pork sandwiches and chicken salad wraps as well as fresh ice cream made on-site in flavors like Peaches & Cream, Butter Pecan, and Peanut Butter Cup. After stopping in for lunch or just a sweet treat, there’s no need to backtrack to Route 360; instead follow Route 460 through Crewe and towards Farmville.
If you decide to skip the detour and head straight to Farmville, pick up Route 307 just west of Amelia. This small country road will shave a bit of time off your trip from Richmond to Farmville, and will also take you past Sailor’s Creek Battlefield Historical State Park. This preserved property contains a farmhouse that dates to the 1780s and marks the site of the Battle of Sailor’s Creek, where over 7,700 Confederate soldiers were killed, wounded, or captured during the Civil War. Just 72 hours later, General Lee would surrender his forces in Appomattox and begin the arduous process of ending the American Civil War.
Pick up Route 460 from Route 307. For those that are looking for some good fishing, head to Sandy River Reservoir. This 740-acre man-made lake is fully stocked with Largemouth Bass, Black Crappie, Channel Catfish, Redear Sunfish, Bluegill, and Chain Pickerel, and in the fall, the changing leaves provide a stunning backdrop for your fishing expedition.
Sitting on the reservoir, Sandy River Outdoor Adventure Park is another excellent stop along your Richmond to Farmville route. A treetop course that runs from 25 to 50 feet above the ground, there are over 60 obstacles including 17 ziplines, rope bridges, swings, and ladders. Conquer the course, then consider renting canoes, kayaks, or paddleboards from the park to set out on the reservoir. Consider spending the night at this amazing adventure park, as their luxury glamping tipis are a once-in-a-lifetime type experience. These massive tipis have heated floors for the cooler nights, air-conditioning for the summers, full bathrooms and kitchens, and plush memory foam beds, allowing you to enjoy the Great Outdoors without sacrificing any of the amenities or comforts found at an upscale hotel.
Restaurants, Breweries, Wineries, & More
Croaker’s Spot—Soul seafood restaurant in Richmond’s Manchester region.
Brewer’s Waffles & Milkshakes—Manchester restaurant crafting signature sweet and savory waffles paired with kid-friendly milkshakes or boozy hard milkshakes.
Pig & Brew—Barbecue restaurant in Manchester serving authentic North Carolina-style bbq.
Manchester’s Table—Mediterranean-influenced restaurant and gourmet market in historic Manchester.
Laura Lee’s—Upscale yet comfortable bar and restaurant in Southside Richmond, with a menu focusing on family-friendly American cuisine.
Legend Brewing Company—Craft brewery/restaurant serving sandwiches, steaks, and an array of pub fare. Excellent views of the James River and Richmond city skyline from the patio.
The Boathouse at Sunday Park—Seafood and steak fine dining restaurant located on Swift Creek Reservoir in Midlothian.
Fest Biergarten—Midlothian restaurant and beer garden serving traditional German fare like artisanal sausages and sandwiches.
Hotels, Resorts, & Other Lodging
Graduate Richmond—Pet-friendly boutique hotel in Downtown Richmond with a rooftop bar and pool, on-site dining options.
Sandy River Outdoor Adventure Retreat—Fully furnished log cabins, a cottage, and glamping tipis on a 23-acre farm outside of Farmville.
ROUTE 15: FROM FARMVILLE TO CLARKSVILLE
55.3 miles, approximately 1 hour 3 minutes
Upon arriving in Farmville, head to High Bridge Trail State Park to either walk, jog, or bike the 31-mile multi-use trail. Rent bikes from Outdoor Adventure Store, an outfitter located right on the trail in Downtown Farmville, and set out on the trail going east to find the namesake bridge, a 2,400-foot wooden path that towers 160 feet above the Appomattox River and offers clear views of the surrounding landscapes for miles in any direction. Don’t miss taking a photo to commemorate your biking adventure in front of the wooden LOVEwork, located right across the street from the Outdoor Adventure Store. Just across the river on Main Street, you can find a second LOVEwork made out of kayaks at Appomattox River Company, an outdoor recreation shop that sells new and used kayaks, canoes, paddleboards, and other waterfront gear.
Photo Credit: Big Orange Frame
Peruse the warehouses and shops of Green Front Furniture Company that are spread throughout Downtown Farmville. With nearly a million square feet of showroom space in 13 shops and warehouses, you can easily spend an entire afternoon browsing furniture and home decor sourced from around the world. Whether your tastes lean towards sleek and modern, exotic and colorful, or tastefully classic, Green Front has an extensive collection that is carefully organized so that you can find exactly what you’re looking for. Before leaving the Downtown Farmville area, walk through Longwood University’s campus to enjoy gorgeous architecture and get a taste of the local college experience.
To learn about Farmville’s important contributions in the battle for Civil Rights in Education, visit the Robert Russa Moton Museum. The site of the first non-violent student demonstration, the schoolhouse-turned-museum explores the regional history that led to the landmark Brown vs. Board of Education Supreme Court case, a decision that would effectively end segregation in the American education system. In addition to historic events, the museum honors local heroes in the struggle like Barbara Johns, the 16-year-old Prince Edward County student that would lead the charge in the Brown case.
Photo Credit: Michael Mergen
On the way out of Farmville, follow Route 15 and enjoy the scenic drive between Farmville and Clarksville. Consider a detour to drive through the grounds of Hampden-Sydney College. The tenth oldest institution of higher education in the United States, this private all-male college has an idyllic countryside campus worth a visit.
Restaurants, Breweries, Wineries, & More
Charley’s Waterfront Cafe—Downtown Farmville restaurant overlooking the Appomattox River with upscale, family-friendly dining.
The Fishin’ Pig—Southern barbecue and seafood restaurant outside of Farmville near Hampden-Sydney College.
North Street Press Club—Burger and sandwich restaurant in Downtown Farmville with a creative drink menu and laid-back modern dining atmosphere.
Effingham’s Restaurant—Breakfast, lunch, and dinner restaurant within the Hotel Weyanoke; known for the wood-fired pizzas.
Three Roads Brewing Company—Craft brewery in Downtown Farmville with outdoor seating.
The Virginia Tasting Cellar—Wine tasting room below Charley’s Waterfront Restaurant that offers tastings of a rotation of Virginia wines, craft beers, and ciders. Riverside patio allows for social distancing.
Bondurant Brothers Distillery—Chase City moonshine distillery owned and operated by one of the descendants of the Bondurant Brothers, a Prohibition-era moonshining family made famous by the movie Lawless.
Hotels, Resorts, & Other Lodging
Hotel Weyanoke—Newly renovated pet-friendly boutique hotel in Downtown Farmville with on-site dining and a rooftop bar.
ROUTE 58: FROM CLARKSVILLE TO DANVILLE
50.9 miles, approximately 58 minutes
Clarksville is in Mecklenburg County and is known as “Virginia’s only lakeside town” due to its location on the shores of Kerr Lake, also called Bugg’s Island Lake. Experience the best of the area’s outdoor adventures at Occonechee State Park, where you can rent paddle boards or kayaks, fish on the 50,000 acre manmade lake, and walk shaded trails along the shoreline.
Photo Credit: Sam Dean, IG account: @sdeanphotos
Before leaving Clarksville, walk along Virginia Avenue and peruse some of the local shops like The Cottage Barn or Galleria on the Lake to browse local artwork, home decor, and a selection of gourmet foods and wines.
Take Route 58 west towards Danville, making sure to stop in South Boston and Halifax, a few of Virginia’s charming small towns, during the trip. While these towns may be small, they have several restaurants that could rival those of the biggest Virginia cities, so if you’re looking for a dinner spot, consider making a reservation at either Molasses Grill or Bistro 1888.
Your road trip ends in Danville, another Virginia small town filled with boutique shops, excellent restaurants, outdoor activities, and historic sites. For outdoor lovers, the Danville Riverwalk Trail has over nine miles of walking and biking trails that provide beautiful views of the Dan River. Ballou Park’s disc golf course has a nine-hole recreational course, as well as a challenging 18-hole competitive course. Finally, Danville is home to the Anglers Ridge Mountain Bike Trail System, one of the longest single track mountain biking trails in the region. Accessible from Anglers Park or Dan Daniel Memorial Park, the system offers a variety of trails for every rider, from beginners to expert mountain bikers.
History enthusiasts should visit Danville’s AAF Tank Museum to get a view of rare tanks, military vehicles, and a variety of cavalry artifacts from 1509 to the present. Another bit of local history can be seen along Millionaires’ Row, a long section of Main Street in Danville that is filled with a pristine collection of Victorian and Edwardian homes. Many of these homes have long and interesting histories, with one even playing a part in the Civil War. Five historic and architecturally-significant churches also sit along Millionaires’ Row, and are worth visiting since Danville is sometimes referred to as the “City of Churches”. To pick up a free self-guided walking tour brochure for the area, stop by the Danville Museum of Fine Arts & History, where you can also dive deeper into local history and art.
Restaurants, Breweries, Wineries, & More
Buggs Island Brewing Company—Craft brewery in Clarksville offering a line of flagship beers in addition to seasonal small-batch brews.
Lamplighter Restaurant & Lounge—Clarksville casual dining restaurant that serves full breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus.
Springfield Distillery—Distillery in Halifax County that produces straight and flavored corn whiskeys in seasonally-inspired flavors like maple syrup, peach, and cinnamon.
Southern Plenty Cafe—Eccentric coffee shop, cafe, and boutique store in Downtown South Boston known for their creative coffee drinks and homemade pastries and desserts.
Molasses Grill—Halifax fine dining restaurant that fuses Southern traditions with modern culinary practices.
Bistro 1888—Upscale restaurant and bar in South Boston that serves up New American Cuisine made from fresh, seasonal ingredients.
2 Witches Winery & Brewing Company—Winery and brewery combination in Danville; currently closed Monday-Wednesday due to COVID-19, open select hours other days.
Me’s Burgers & Brews—Burger restaurant in Danville with an extensive craft beer list. Operating on reduced hours with a limited menu due to COVID-19.
Mucho Taqueria—Eclectic taco restaurant and tequila bar in Danville’s River District. In addition to limited seating, the restaurant is offering curbside pickup during COVID-19.
Heart Line Restaurant—Classic greasy spoon diner in Danville that is popular with the locals and known for their delicious and affordable meals, especially breakfast.
Ballad Brewing—Craft brewery in Downtown Danville making everything from Pilsners and IPAs to Sours and Stouts.
Hotels, Resorts, & Other Lodging
Cooper’s Landing Inn & Traveler’s Tavern—Historic home in Clarksville that has been renovated into a beautiful pet-friendly inn. Features an in-ground pool and hot tub, casual fine dining, and an outdoor patio and wine bar.
Berry Hill Resort—Historic South Boston luxury resort on 650 acres that has a spa, on-site dining options, and an indoor pool. Pet-friendly rooms available.
The Lodge at Virginia International Raceway—Lodge and private villas located right alongside the racetrack at Virginia International Raceway outside of Danville.
Looking for more WanderLove adventures around the Commonwealth? Use the following guides to start planning your next road trip!
- A Road Trip Along Virginia’s Blue Ridge Parkway
- WanderLove: A Northern Virginia Road Trip From D.C. to Culpeper
- A Shenandoah Valley Road Trip From Harrisonburg to Charlottesville
- A Southwest Virginia Road Trip from Roanoke to Abingdon
- A Road Trip From Fredericksburg To Virginia’s Northern Neck
- A Road Trip From Norfolk to Virginia’s Eastern Shore
- The Guide to a Girl's Weekend Road Trip in Charlottesville
- A Road Trip to Waynesboro Through Shenandoah National Park