15 Best Things to Do in Abingdon, VA

Abingdon, VA
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On the southernmost edges of Virginia, you'll find a historic town where many things meet and come together: the charming community of Abingdon.

Thanks to its unique location, it serves as the terminus of the lengthy and beautiful Virginia Creeper National Recreation Trail.

And on its borders lie the northern reaches of South Holston Lake and the midpoint of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

These features have made it a significant human settlement for hundreds of years, so there are many historical sites to see.

And all around are high-elevation nature attractions for adventurers, nature lovers, and everyone in between.

So if you have an upcoming holiday getaway, why not make this place your top choice?

Here are the 15 best things to do in Abingdon, VA:

Catch a Show at Barter Theatre

Exterior of the brick building of barter theatre with a red car parked in front.
Steven C. Price, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

During the Great Depression, actors and theater companies struggled to find an audience who could pay for tickets to their shows.

So a group of actors came together in Abingdon to perform in exchange for goods like vegetables and farm products.

This is where the "barter" in Barter Theatre came from, and this legacy is still celebrated today.

This attraction is considered the longest-running Equity theater in the country, having been around since 1933.

Barter theatre exterior view from down the road with a light post.
Upstateherd, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Some famous actors of the 1940s and 50s started here, and it continues to produce talented artists throughout the years.

So come and watch show-stopping performances and thought-provoking plays during your visit to Abingdon.

These Broadway-calibre shows are sought after by many, so make sure to book tickets ahead to reserve a seat.

Discover Stunning Works at William King Art Museum

Set in a hard-to-miss Greek Revival building that once was a schoolhouse, the William King Art Museum incites intrigue for those who see it for the first time.

Thankfully, it's open to the public, so you can check it out any time you want to satisfy your curiosity.

This facility is the center for the visual arts on this side of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

So you'll find collections of artworks by local and regional artists displayed in the museum's galleries.

It also has pieces from all over the world made by influential and prominent masters.

These exhibits are rotating, so you'll find new artworks every visit.

Outside, there's a sculpture garden serving as a permanent exhibit, showcasing winners from past sculpture contests.

So if the weather is nice, take your time examining these marvelous creations by local artists.

Go Camping at Washington County Park

The grand Washington County Park is considered the southernmost attraction in Abingdon, lying just meters away from the Tenessee state line.

This green space sits next to South Holston Lake, with golden sand beaches on the banks.

Because of the beauty and tranquility of the county park, there are several camping grounds established within the area.

These include Lake Shore Campgrounds and Wolf Lair Campground.

Both have modern amenities, sites for RVs and tents, and hookups for electricity and water.

While camping, you can try the many outdoor activities available, such as hiking, swimming, and sunbathing on the beaches.

The park also has its own playground, picnic shelters, and even a Wi-Fi connection that the whole family will enjoy.

Explore the Virginia Creeper National Recreation Trail

A wooden bridge with trees surrounding it and leaves covering the walkway.
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Abingdon is the location of the Virginia Creeper National Recreation Trail's northern terminus, so many people treat it as a starting point for their trip.

This trail spans 35-mile and passes most of Virginia's southwestern cities and towns.

The other terminus is at Whitetop near the borders of North Carolina.

A still body of water reflecting the blue skies and trees around it.
GL Mannes / Shutterstock.com

Along the way, travelers will pass near the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area and other wonders.

These include large swaths of forests, creeks and rivers, and historical landmarks in a few communities.

Many people choose to explore the trail on foot to marvel at every beautiful segment, but cycling and horseback riding are also possible.

Whichever option you choose, be sure to slow down once in a while to take in the scenic countryside views, valleys, and quaint towns along the route.

Leaves covered trail with grass and trees framing it.
GL Mannes / Shutterstock.com

Watch Artists Work Their Magic at Arts Depot

Abingdon's Art Depot is a community-based fine arts center located in a historic freight train station that's been around since the 1860s.

Within the old building, there are studios and galleries where works of contemporary artists are displayed.

Marvel at the paintings, sculptures, and other magnificent pieces crafted by the town's talented artists.

Seven resident artists will also be there during your visit.

You're welcome to watch them create clay sculptures, make watercolor paintings, weave textiles, create jewelry, and so much more.

This hands-on and real-time experience will let you appreciate all the effort that goes into every piece.

If you're interested in these artworks, make sure to stop by the gift shop and find souvenirs made by the artists themselves.

Shop Fresh Produce at Abingdon Farmers Market

The Abingdon Farmers Market is one of the most bountiful markets on this side of Appalachia.

It's one of the best ways to partake in the harvests from the fertile lands of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

So if you're looking for fresh produce from local farmers and growers, make a stopover here on Fridays and Saturdays.

You'll find the freshest vegetables, seasonal fruits, and premium root crops harvested just outside the town proper.

Aside from produce, tasty baked goods, preserves, soaps, and other items are also available.

On occasion, there will be live music concerts on the market grounds, providing entertainment for everyone.

You'll get to listen to local bands, artists, and instrumentalists as you peruse the displays.

Immerse in History at Abingdon Muster Grounds

Abingdon muster grounds with horizontal wooden fence and autumn colored trees.
JERRYE & ROY KLOTZ, M.D., CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Thanks to its location, Abingdon had strategic importance during the American Revolution.

So many notable events happened here during the conflict, and you can learn all about them at Abingdon Muster Grounds.

This nine-acre complex houses buildings and facilities that detail the Colonial Backcountry history in all of Virginia.

The muster grounds trail with tall trees and clean cut grass.
Warfieldian, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

One of the most prominent attractions is the Keller Interpretive Center.

Here, you'll learn all about the stories of Overmountain Men, African Americans, Native Americans, British Loyalists, and other groups of people.

So explore the exhibits and displays to get to know these societies, which are often forgotten in mainstream history.

Aside from the historic buildings, the Abingdon Muster Grounds contains the northern trailhead for the Overmountain Victory Trail.

You're welcome to explore this historic trail, which spans more than 330 miles to three other states.

Reach Tennesee Via South Holston Lake

The magnificent South Holston Lake is the largest water feature in the region, serving as a natural source of irrigation for adjacent agricultural lands.

Spanning 7,580 acres, this impoundment is located mostly in Tennesse, but its northernmost sections spill over to Virginia.

That's why many Abingdon residents treat the lake as the premier destination for water recreation.

To access this body of water, head to Washington County Park or the marinas dotting the shoreline.

Kayaking, canoeing, and boating are your options to reach the more isolated sections, even the ones over a state away!

You can also test your angling skills by catching the many freshwater species living in the lake.

These include large and smallmouth bass, walleye, and various types of catfish.

Play a Few Rounds at Glenrochie Country Club

Set in the rolling foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Glenrochie Country Club offers marvelous views and plenty of activities to do.

Chief of this is golf, with a lush and scenic 18-hole course covering much of the property.

It was only nine when the club was founded in 1958, but the others were added as the country club expanded.

The first nine holes are in relatively flat terrain, so the gameplay is friendly for beginners.

But the other ones are located in elevated areas that require great iron play and course management skills.

If golfing is not for you, you can visit the other facilities of the country club.

These include well-maintained tennis courts and a large pool for cooling dips and laps.

For those who'd like to sample the local cuisine, head to the in-house restaurant and order from the wide appetizer and lunch selections.

Marvel at the Falls of Logan Creek

Waters cascading down the rocks of logan creek waterfall.
Ashley Perrin Johnson / Shutterstock.com

North from Abingdon's town proper lies a majestic water feature that will enthrall every visitor: the Falls of Logan Creek.

This terraced waterfall is located deep in the Blue Ridge Mountains, accessible from Hayters Gap Road near Morrison Cliff.

Thanks to the topography, Logan Creek cascades into a flowing curtain of water surrounded by thick foliage.

To reach this magical place, you only need to hike a 0.2-mile trail from the road.

It's moderately trafficked and mild, so you can even bring pets during your trip.

They will enjoy the view just as much as you would!

Relax and Unwind at Riverside Campground

The north fork of the Holston River runs parallel to one of the long, continuous mountains of the region.

In one segment, there's a serene getaway where you can stay for a few days: Riverside Campground.

It's flanked by slopes and sits next to the aforementioned river, making it an idyllic slice of paradise in the middle of the forest.

From here, you can explore the nearby wilderness and cruise the meandering waterways.

The destination can serve as your base for these adventures, as there's plenty of space for RVs and traditional tents.

For your convenience, the owners have installed modern amenities like utility hookups, a store, and an on-site laundry.

After exploring the nearby trails, you can take a relaxing dip at the pool or play a few games at the arcade, a feature you won't usually find on other campgrounds.

Stay Active at Harry L. Coomes Recreation Center

For those who find Abingdon's natural attractions too wild for their taste, Harry L. Coomes Recreation Center is a great alternative.

This facility is the premier destination for various fitness and sports activities.

Thanks to the many modern facilities in the center, residents and visitors alike can enjoy basketball, swimming, and more.

There's an indoor and outdoor pool where you can do laps or go for a cooling dip.

Regulation basketball courts, outdoor walking trails, a disc golf course, and volleyball courts are also located outside.

You can let children play at the playground or the older kids shred at the well-designed skate park.

Indoors, there's a 1/6th-mile track with an impact cushion surface that's gentle to the knees and joints.

For those who like to work out, there's a free weights room and a spin bike classroom where you can work up a sweat.

Go Restaurant Hopping along Lee Highway

Lee highway sign with cars driving along the road.
Famartin, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The unique blend of Appalachian and Southern cultures creates a distinct food heritage in Abingdon.

To get a taste of the community's tasty cuisine, head to Lee Highway, a major road running along the busiest section of town.

You'll find local favorites that are often just a block away from each other, allowing for an epic food trip experience.

Bonefire Smokehouse BBQ has all the savory Southern staples, with mouthwatering barbeques as the house specialty.

At 128 PECAN, you can enjoy traditional American dishes like burgers, sandwiches, and pies—all elevated with a Southern touch.

For a change of flavors, head to The Tavern and enjoy their upscale American and German-themed dining menu in a 1779 inn.

Learn the Local Heritage at Southwest Virginia Cultural Center & Marketplace

Abingdon is located in a portion of Virginia close to the Deep South, so the cultural identity here mixes with the Appalachian societies upstate.

One of the best places to learn about this blended heritage is Southwest Virginia Cultural Center & Marketplace.

This attraction serves as the first stop in the region, with art, music, and events that promote its rich culture.

For music history lovers, check out the Crooked Road, one of the premier attractions in the complex.

It's one of the best places to learn about American Country Music and watch performances by established singers of the genre.

There's also the marketplace, where you can find cultural items like paintings, glasswork, textiles, and other items crafted by local artisans.

Don't forget to check out the visitor's center, which has a hand-carved wooden map showcasing the wonders in this region.

Sample Fine Drinks at Abingdon Vineyards

While Abingdon sits on a high-elevation location that would normally be unsuitable for growing grapes, the town is blessed with fertile soil that allows vines to flourish.

So there's a small wine scene here, thanks to the diligent farmers.

One of the best places to sample their products is at Abingdon Vineyards, which has been around since 2001.

While an engineering couple started the business, a family from California came over to offer their Napa Valley expertise and improve operations.

And so, the business grew and became a well-known establishment in Abingdon.

Visit their tasting room and sample their bottles, such as Chardonnay, Rose, Reds, and blends of various varietals.

You'll recognize fruity aromas and full-bodied flavors reminiscent of those from California's Wine Country.

Don't forget to bring a bottle home to open during special occasions and celebrations.

Final Thoughts

There's something for every preference in the vibrant town of Abingdon, whether you're an intrepid adventurer, nature lover, or thrill-seeker.

From the historic buildings to wineries, from large lakes to cascading waterfalls, the list of things to see and experience is endless.

Reference this guide when making your itinerary so you won't miss the top spots!