Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Danville, VA

  • Published 2022/10/03

In the heart of Southern Virginia, in Pittsylvania County, you’ll find the small independent city of Danville.

Historically, Danville has a significant past relevant to the American Civil War.

It became a strategic location for the Confederate forces during that time due to numerous railroad systems found in the area.

Today, Danville is a complete contrast to its past.

It has all the qualities of a charming town and traits of a growing city.

Most travelers may haven’t heard of Danville, but mind you, this small Southern Virginia city has many attractions worthy of exploring.

Since it’s nestled on the banks of Dan River, expect many outdoor activities to do and natural sceneries to see.

At the same time, Danville’s locals are known throughout Southern Virginia for their festive attitude.

So, most likely, you’ll be joining them with various festivals or community events during your visit.

Here’s a list of the best things to do in Danville, Virginia:

Be Awed by the AAF Tank Museum

An army tanked displayed in AAF Tank Museum

Ryan Crierie, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The AAF Tank Museum is a military enthusiast’s haven.

You can find this museum along the US-29 highway.

This museum primarily chronicles and displays World War II tanks, vehicles, cavalry artifacts, and memorabilia dating centuries ago.

You’ll come across the famous German Panzer tanks and their rival, the Sherman tanks of the United States.

Exhibit in AAF Tank Museum

StarSword, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

At the same time, you’ll also get a closer look at over a hundred mid-sized weaponry and more than a thousand tank and cavalry uniforms.

Some of the best ways to enjoy visiting the AAF Tank Museum are by joining guided tours.

Besides the tour, take as many photos as possible while posing beside these massive war machines.

Get Acquainted with Locals at the Danville Welcome Center

The best way to start your travel adventure is to drop by the Danville Welcome Center along River Park Drive.

Before exploring Danville’s attractions, you must drop by this place.

Talk to the Danville Welcome Center staff and ask for brochures or maps to make your exploration more convenient.

Aside from the usual maps and brochures, you can also ask for other recommendations such as lodgings, restaurants, and hidden gems.

Learn and Have Fun at the Danville Science Center

Who says science is boring?

Well, the Danville Science Center will prove you wrong with its fun-filled interactive exhibits for everyone.

This fascinating attraction along Craghead Street features various sections that offer you and your kids exciting activities and learning.

The Danville Science Center welcomes over 50,000 visitors annually, making it a must-visit attraction.

While touring inside, you can visit various exhibits about physics, Earth science, and light and vision.

At the same time, you can check out its biology, natural history, and ecology sections.

Each section offers you and your kids a unique, fun, and educational experience.

Get Fascinated at the Danville Museum of Fine Arts and History

Exterior of Danville Museum of Fine Arts and History

MarmadukePercy, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

One of the city’s most famous attractions is the Danville Museum of Fine Arts and History.

This museum along Main Street features its vast collection of art and historical artifacts displayed in various exhibits.

Fascinatingly, this museum housed in an 1800s mansion was where former tobacco magnate and industrialist Major William T. Sutherlin lived.

In addition, it served as the official residence of Confederate president Jefferson Davis.

It’s where Davis authored his final and official proclamation as the president of the Confederacy.

Thus, they called the mansion the “Last Capital of the Confederacy.”

Today, it’s a charming museum that you can visit through self-guided and guided tours.

It’s full of fascinating backstories related to the American Civil War, making it a recommended historical attraction.

At the same time, you’ll come across various artworks, from paintings and sculptures to ceramics and furniture dating back to the Confederacy era.

Cast Your Line at Anglers Park

Danville is also home to a charming park known for being a prime fishing location called Anglers Park.

You can head to this park along Northside Drive and bring your bucket of baits, a cozy retractable chair, and some cold beer.

This park offers various outdoor activities, but many people, especially anglers, love to return here for fishing along the Dan River.

So, if you’re a seasoned angler or even a newbie, you can cast your line at the Dan River through this park.

Dan River is abundant in black bass, catfish, and sunfish, making it an exciting location for fishing.

At the same time, the park is a host of the annual MBA Rugby Tournament, considered one of the major tournaments of its kind.

Besides fishing, you can enjoy various outdoor activities at Anglers Park, such as hiking, picnicking, biking, and boating.

Break a Sweat at Dan Daniel Memorial Park

Trail at Dan Daniel Memorial Park

Miguel Gereda, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Visit Dan Daniel Memorial Park along River Park Drive if you want to engage in various outdoor activities.

This 170-acre natural attraction is famous for its pristine rolling terrain filled with woodlands, wetlands, and scenic river frontage.

However, there is more to it than its natural beauty.

This memorial park is an excellent destination for those looking for some outdoor activities and recreational opportunities.

It has a vast green open space, a picnic site, hiking and biking trails, and other sports facilities.

Whether you want to play, hike, or enjoy a lovely picnic, there are many things you can enjoy at Dan Daniel Memorial Park.

Listen to Serenading Musicians at the Carrington Pavilion

The Carrington Pavilion is ideally located along the banks of the Dan River, making it a premier concert venue in the region.

You can find this place along Craghead Street, where you can see outdoor concerts, live performances such as theater and musicals, and other events.

It can accommodate as many as 1,100 audiences through its covered seats while adding 4,000 more to its lawn area.

The Carrington Pavilion is where the Danville Harvest Jubilee Concert Series performs regularly.

It’s also where many artists such as the Dobbie Brothers, Little River Band, and Blake Shelton held their concerts before.

Taste Local Favorites at the Danville Farmers’ Market

The Danville Farmers’ Market is where many locals converge to buy the best local products.

You can find this farmer’s market along Craghead Street from May through October.

Visiting a farmer’s market offers a unique experience, especially if you’re a visitor to an unfamiliar place.

It’s where you see local and unique products that you can buy, taste, or use at affordable prices.

Danville Farmers’ Market offers the same experience where you can buy fresh produce, preserves, baked treats, meats, and quality handicrafts.

At the same time, you’ll meet Danville’s locals, who will offer you warm greetings.

Traverse the Riverwalk Trail

Daytime view of Riverwalk Trail

Mx. Granger, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Hike through the Riverwalk Trail for a more engaging outdoor activity.

You can access this trail near Averett University in the city’s northwest area or start hiking at its southern part near Angler’s Park.

The trail features over nine miles for hiking, biking, and off-road running.

It’s a highly-recommended outdoor attraction in Danville, especially if you want to see the city’s hidden gems while traversing along the Dan River.

While hiking, you’ll pass through historic sites, parks, and numerous establishments where you can stop to buy food or drinks.

On the other hand, you can bring your bike and explore many trails along the way.

Besides self-exploration, you can join various sports events at the Riverwalk Trail, such as footraces, charity walks, and canine events.

Don’t forget to pack your hiking boots if you’ll likely be traversing this gorgeous trail on your visit to Danville.

Stroll through Millionaires’ Row

Millionaires’ Row stretches along Main Street featuring a collection of well-preserved and gorgeous Edwardian and Victorian mansions.

It’s where you’ll see Danville’s rich southern history closely.

At the same time, it’s also where you can find the famous Danville Museum of Fine Arts & History, the Danville Welcome Center, and other attractions.

However, it’s most famous for the line of 1800s mansions on its streets which are still in use and in pristine condition.

You’ll be amazed to see the gorgeous architecture that you’ll rarely find these days.

The best way to enjoy your stroll through Millionaires’ Row is by joining guided tours from Danville Welcome Center.

Step inside Dan River Mills

A building at Dan River Mills

Acroterion, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Dan River Mills is a historical attraction known for its massive and abandoned riverside cotton mill factory.

You can find this place along Dan Memorial Drive, near Dan River.

Historically, this mill became a significant manufacturer of apparel fabric in the region back in the day.

At the same time, it also manufactured beddings in the late 1800s.

It eventually grew as the most extensive textile firm in Virginia back in the day.

White mill at Dan River Mills

Acroterion, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

However, the mill closed down in 2006 due to competition and a low employment rate.

Today, the vast mill stands idle, empty, and full of stories to tell.

Head to Dan River Mills and join guided tours to explore more of its fascinating backstory.

At the same time, don’t forget to take photos of the mill and read interpretive signs to complete your visit there.

Watch the Braves Play at American Legion Field

Danville’s locals are huge baseball fans.

Their collegiate team, the Danville Otterbots, plays at American Legion Field.

You can find this stadium at Dan Daniel Memorial Park.

It can accommodate as many as 2,500 spectators at its stands.

Previously, the stadium hosted the Danville Braves, a former team that competed in Minor League Baseball from 1993 to 2020.

Today, American Legion Field hosts sports events, especially baseball, providing local fans and visitors with top-notch sports entertainment.

Don’t forget to buy hotdogs and soda to complete your baseball game experience!

Loosen up at Ballad Brewing

Visit Ballad Brewing if you’re looking for a place to spend happy hour.

You can find this brewery along Craghead Street, featuring an 1891 warehouse-turned taproom.

This brewery mainly features its signature craft beer fresh from its 20-barrel facility.

The 1891 warehouse served as a facility for tobacco during the height of Danville’s tobacco industry.

Before converting it into a brewery, the warehouse remained empty for two decades.

Today, it’s one of Danville’s beloved watering holes, which you can visit with your loved ones or travel buddies.

Besides its signature craft beer, Ballad Brewing offers live music, games, and a cozy patio to hang out and enjoy.

Have Some Quality Leisure Time at the Danville Mall

Exterior of Danville Mall

Mike Kalasnik from Fort Mill, USA, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Despite its size, Danville offers locals and visitors an idyllic location for leisure at the Danville Mall.

This mall along Piedmont Drive features a vast indoor shopping mall operating since 1984.

It remains one of the top choices for locals and visitors to shop, dine, and pamper themselves.

Interior of Danville Mall

Mike Kalasnik from Fort Mill, USA, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Danville Mall mainly features American Eagle Outfitters, Divine Boutique, Suit City, Aéropostale, Hot Topic, Cato, Rue 21, etc.

At the same time, it has a wide array of dining options you can check out.

JC Penny in Danville Mall

Mike Kalasnik from Fort Mill, USA, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Become a Lumberjack at Grizzly’s Hatchet House

There’s no more exciting way to wrap up your Danville travel adventure than trying the unique but exciting lumberjack games at the Grizzly’s Hatchet House.

You can find this unique attraction along Lynn Street.

It mainly features numerous lumberjack games, especially the hatchet throwing game, which everyone can safely try.

Besides hatchet-throwing games, you can also enjoy its escape rooms and other fun-filled games, making it a worthwhile place to visit, especially with your loved ones.

After enjoying Grizzly’s Hatchet House, you can also order delicious food, beer, and other drinks for a satisfying experience.

Final Thoughts

Danville might be far from the rest of Virginia’s main cities.

However, it completely shines on its own, making it an ideal travel destination for everyone.

You won’t run out of activities in this city near the Virginia-North Carolina border.

You’ll enjoy visiting historical and natural attractions while engaging in various recreational activities.

Plan your itinerary with this list of the best things to do in Danville, Virginia, to make your visit memorable.

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