Virginia's Main Street Communities are recognized for their down home hospitality, locally-owned businesses, family-style eateries, small town heritage events and unique outdoor attractions.
Their citizens invite you to spend an afternoon, a weekend and/or an entire week getting to know them and their Main Street way of life. Add one of these destinations to your itinerary, and change what could be a simple road trip into the vacation of a lifetime.
Gloucester Courthouse - The town of Gloucester is a must-see for Civil War enthusiasts. The Gloucester Courthouse is a Civil War Trails site and includes a Confederate Soldiers' monument and a monument honoring Union soldier, James Gardner, the only Gloucester County resident to receive the Medal of Honor. The 1766 courthouse, serving as the County seat, was the target of several Union raids.
Altavista - Billed as "A place to live, a way to live," the town was listed as a Main Street Community in 2007. Situated in Campbell County, south of Lynchburg, Altavista was incorporated in 1912, the same year as the Lane Co., a box manufacturer, was founded.
Ashland - Known for its rich rail heritage, Ashland is a true slice of Americana with quaint boutiques, live music, and art galleries. Amtrak stops right in the historic district, and the nation's two longest bike routes (1 and 76) intersect here, too.
Bedford - Surrounded by the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Bedford gained worldwide recognition as the city that lost more soldiers per capita on D-Day.
Blackstone - Located on Nottoway County, the town of Blackstone was founded as "the village of Blacks & Whites" and dates to the pre-Revolutionary War era. The village derived its name from two rival taverns - Schwartz Tavern (Schwartz is German for Blacks) and Whites Tavern at the intersection of three stagecoach roads.
The village carried the name until 1885, when its citizens renamed it after jurist William Blackstone. The town was incorporated in 1888, and in 1914, was the 13th town in the United States to adopt the Town Manager form of government.
Farmville - Centered in Virginia's Heartland, Farmville is the hub of economic activity in the region and boast a wealth of natural, historical, cultural, recreational and educational attractions.
Franklin - A fire in 1881 destroyed all the commercial buildings in Franklin. Then in 1999, Hurricane Floyd's flood waters submerged the Franklin Historic District. What a comeback story for this dynamic Main Street community!
Situated on the banks of the Blackwater River, it was once a major transportation center for trains and steamboats.
Hopewell - City Point, the oldest part of Hopewell, was founded in 1613 by Sir Thomas Dale. City Point's location on a bluff overlooking the James and Appomattox Rivers has been an important factor in Hopewell's history for almost four centuries.
Lynchburg -Lynchburg counts 500 significant buildings in its downtown, including The Academy of Music, where Sarah Bernhardt, Pavlova and Paderewski performed!
Four impressive residential districts also encompass the downtown area and include various architectural styles. Visit the Anne Spencer House, where the Harlem Renaissance poet lived.
Orange -Orange was named for Prince William of Orange in 1734 and served as a courthouse town and railroad-stop. The courthouse architecture depicts an acceptance of exotic tastes after the Civil War. In 1908, a fire destroyed the eastern half of the town. In the 1930s, Orange became a regional center for automobile sales and services as well as a diversified manufacturing center.
President James Madison's Museum is in Orange, too.
Danville -Danville is the Heart of Southern Virginia. Sitting majestically on the banks of the Dan River, Danville exceeds expectations with a wide variety of activities ranging from outdoor festivals and events, to concerts featuring nationally-acclaimed artists in a recently-renovated amphitheater.
After World War I, the textile industry caused another building boom. Today's historic district features unique shops, outdoor cafés and "The Big Chair."
South Boston -South Boston is located on the Dan River and became the second largest bright leaf tobacco market in the USA. Today, the historic district features many old tobacco-related buildings, making the community very unique.
During the Revolutionary War, the 1781 "Retreat of the Dan" is regarded as a turning point in the war.
Culpeper - The county seat town of Culpeper was founded in 1759 and grew rapidly in the mid-1900s at the crossroads of major highways. The downtown economy has evolved from five-and-dime stores and agricultural services to a vibrant mix of locally owned shops and restaurants.
Fredericksburg - Step into another time when you step onto the streets of Fredericksburg. Deep-rooted history that includes the likes of George Washington and epic Civil War battles overflows abundantly here. Restored 18th and 19th century buildings welcome you with cute shops, galleries, and restaurants, and the Potomac River has its own tales to tell. Historic moments are yours for the taking in Fredericksburg.
Manassas - One of five communities in the USA to win a Great American Main Street Award, Manassas was once totally destroyed during the Civil War.
In 1905, a fire destroyed much of the town's commercial area. Today, the 1914 train depot serves as a Visitors Center, the old candy factory is an arts center, and an old opera house is a gourmet food store.
Warrenton - This colonial village of Warrenton was home to Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall. A number of buildings date from the Civil War, when it was occupied by both the North and South troops.
Today, the commercial district features more than 400 renovated buildings housing a great mixture of businesses.
Berryville - The colonial town of Berryville sits at the crossroads of two routes that linked the community's economy to trade between Winchester and Alexandria.
The railroad brought growth to this city "on the doorstep" of Washington, D.C. See about 200 buildings that have been rehabilitated as well as the Old Clarke County Courthouse and jail.
Harrisonburg -Harrisonburg's downtown historic district is centered around Court Square with streets that intersect or are tangential to the sides of the courthouse square. Harrisonburg is the earliest known occurrence of this plan.
The famous Virginia Quilt Museum is located in the historic Warren-Sipe House on Main Street.
Lexington -Lexington is located in the center of Rockbridge County in the Shenandoah Valley region of Virginia. It is home to Virginia Military Institute and Washington and Lee University, which contribute a high level of cultural activity to the community.
Luray -Luray in Page County became prosperous after the construction of the Shenandoah Valley Railroad in 1881. Shenandoah National Park and Skyline Drive helped the town grow into the 20th century. Luray Caverns also brings many visitors.
Staunton - The railroad changed the economic structure of Staunton in 1852. The city's Beverley Historic District includes about 150 buildings within 11 blocks of downtown Staunton, with Beverley Street being a classic Victorian Main Street. Staunton received Virginia's first Great American Main Street Award.
Waynesboro -Waynesboro can trace its roots beyond 1798, when a mill, an inn, maybe a church or two, and some other dwellings comprised the downtown area. The railroad brought more expansion to the city and set the stage for the real estate boom of the 1890s.
Today's Main Street has no overhead power lines and is the site for many community events, such as this Blue Ridge Valley Soap Box Derby!
Winchester -Winchester was always a main center for trade, even when the Shawnees lived here. Several battles from the French and Indian, Revolutionary and Civil Wars occured here, too.
During the early 1900s, the leading industry was glove making. Today, Winchester is one of Virginia's leading apple producers and is the site for the world-famous Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival.
Blue Ridge Highlands
The town also holds the distinction as a Virginia Historic Landmark with 20-square block Historic District. It was founded in 1778 and first named "Wolf Hills" by Daniel Boone.
Bristol - Known as "The Birthplace of Country Music," Bristol was the location of the first country music recordings made for national distribution. And in 1998, Congress made it official! Today, country music murals and monuments line Bristol's State Street.
Marion -Marion boomed in the late 18th century when the Wilderness Road opened and the railroad and coal industry were established. In 1905, author Sherwood Anderson purchased the Marion Publishing Co. and edited two newspapers.
Renovations include the creation of a Mountain Dew Museum, where the popular soft drink calls home.
Wytheville -Wytheville is located in Wythe County in the Blue Ridge Highlands region of Virginia. Its beautiful landscape includes lush forests, an abundance of water, fields, rolling hills and surrounding mountains.
For outdoor enthusiasts, the 5,609 acres that comprise the Beartown Wilderness north of Wytheville are some of the most remote in the Jefferson National Forest.
Heart of Appalachia
St. Paul - Chartered in 1911, St. Paul is nestled in one of the most beautiful, diverse areas of southwest Virginia. Located in the southeastern corner of Wise County and the western side of Russell County, the community enjoys a caring, small town atmosphere with deep-seated heritage.
This list reflects current and past "Designated Virginia Main Street Communities" per the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development.
Last Updated: 12/15/2016