15 Best Things to Do in Gordonsville, VA

Gordonsville, VA
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Gordonsville is a quaint but charming town in Virginia's Orange County.

This town is 19 miles east of Charlottesville and about 70 miles north of Richmond.

Despite its size and unassuming appeal, Gordonsville had a key role during the American Civil War.

Since Gordonsville is nestled on the Central Railroad of Virginia, it became the main transport hub for many people who evacuated the places involved during the war.

One of its most historic places, the Exchange Hotel, saw everything transpired during the Civil War.

Built way back in 1860, the Historic Exchange Hotel has served thousands of travelers on the Virginia Central Railroad.

Today, the Historic Exchange Hotel serves as the Civil War Medical Museum.

However, there is so much Gordonsville has to offer other than its rich history.

This town is popular across Virginia as a top-notch destination for wine tours.

It has numerous wineries and vineyards that produce superb wines in the United States.

In addition, Gordonsville is the "World's Fried Chicken Capital" and annually celebrates the "Fried Chicken Festival" that draws thousands of visitors.

There are tons of great places and exciting stuff to do in Gordonsville.

So, here is a list of the 15 best things to do in Gordonsville, VA.

Tour inside the Exchange Hotel Civil War Medical Museum

The historic Exchange Hotel was constructed way back in 1860 in the town.

It was an important junction for transportation as it offers a stopover and a resting area for passengers who travel along the Alexandria Railroad and the Virginia Central Railroad.

When the Civil War started, these railroads got converted into supply routes for ammunition, supplies, and troops to Gordonsville.

The beautiful Exchange Hotel was then converted into a field hospital that provided medical care for Confederate and Union troops wounded in battle.

In 1971, the Exchange Hotel underwent a massive restoration and became a museum.

Today, the museum is a popular place to learn history and ghost hunting.

Visiting this museum is a nice place to start your Gordonsville travel adventure.

The Exchange Hotel is situated at 400 S. Main St. Gordonsville, VA.

Indulge in Good Wine at the Horton Vineyards

This winery which opened to business in 1989, boasts more than 55 acres of vineyard in Gordonsville.

It's widely known for creating new varieties of wine and introducing new techniques to produce top-quality wines in Virginia.

They are known for practicing viticulture and using the open lyre training system.

Their vineyard is also one-of-a-kind for using drip irrigation to keep soil moisture at the ideal level.

Above all, Horton Vineyards offer everyone a flavorful bottle of wine.

Their tasting room offers you more than 40 wines that you'll get to taste.

Horton Vineyards is located at 6399 Spotswood Trail, Gordonsville, VA.

Fish at the Lake Gordonsville

Known by locals as Bowler's Mill Lake, it's one of the several quaint impoundments in Virginia.

It is teeming with warm water fish populations, making it a perfect spot to lure your line.

Lake Gordonsville has an area of 75 acres loaded with various warm-water fish in bluegill, largemouth bass, and pumpkinseed sunfish.

If part of your itinerary is fishing in Gordonsville, this fishing spot won't disappoint you.

Enjoy Delicious Food at the Barbeque Exchange

Gordonsville is also home to a popular barbeque joint, The Barbeque Exchange, nestled in the downtown area.

They are well known for their mouthwatering hickory-smoked spareribs, pork shoulders, and other barbeques that are slow-roasted on their pits.

If you're a fan of barbeque, this joint uses a rub from secret ingredients then roasts slowly every day to achieve that juiciness and flavor.

Their famous grilled chicken is roasted under live coals, roadside barbeque-style.

Pair their delicious barbeque with baked rolls, slaws, salads, and mac & cheese.

To dine at The Barbeque Exchange, they are located at 102 Martinsburg Ave, Gordonsville, and they start serving food from 11 am to 7 pm daily.

Shop Beautiful Antiques at the Raindrops in Virginia

This small antique shop in Gordonsville boasts some of Virginia's most beautiful antique collections.

Don't be deceived by the shop's unassuming appeal outside.

You'll be amazed by its excellent handmade products and vintage collection of furniture, accessories, jewelry, and exquisite homeware dating back to the 1800s and 1900s.

They also have a wide range of bath and body products and other exciting stuff to buy.

If you're planning to shop while touring around Gordonsville, check out Raindrops in Virginia at 206 N Main St, Gordonsville, VA.

The shop opens from 10 am until 5 pm but closes on Saturdays to Mondays.

Taste Fine Wines at the Honah Lee Vineyard

Gordonsville is home to numerous wineries and vineyards, so it's not surprising that part of your itinerary there is wine tasting.

One of the highly recommended wineries to visit is the Honah Lee Vineyard.

Like most vineyards and wineries in Gordonsville, they offer winetasting at their tasting room at 13443 Honah Lee Farm Dr, Gordonsville, VA.

This winery boasts more than 15 varietal grapes from their 40-acre vineyard, supplying other wineries in Virginia since 1992.

If you have more room for a glass of wine, head to Hona Lee Vineyard.

Celebrate the Fried Chicken Festival

Kentucky is not the 'fried chicken capital of the world,' but Gordonsville.

Not many have known, Gordonsville is a popular destination for fried chicken.

Historically, the women of Gordonsville offer fried chicken to train passengers who stop by the town.

They pair their fried chickens with pies, bread, and coffee.

Gordonsville's fried chicken eventually became a popular staple that earned the town its recognition.

The annual Fried Chicken Festival is being celebrated every third week of May to celebrate its heritage.

The Fried Chicken Festival usually happens at the Gordonsville Fire Company Fair Grounds.

The festival not just highlights delicious fried chickens served to thousands of visitors, but there are also other exciting activities waiting for you there.

The festival also opens up a bazaar that features more than a dozen artisanal shops, gourmet food, and more.

Drink and Eat at the Champion Ice House

Champion Ice House was a former ice maker in Gordonsville that ventured into the food and beverage business, which they named Champion Brewing Company.

Today, this restaurant/saloon offers ice-cold beer and delicious fried chicken for everyone.

If you crave hot and crispy fried chicken and pair it with a pint of beer, you know the best place to go in Gordonsville.

Champion Ice House is situated at 212 N Main St, Gordonsville, VA.

Learn Horseback Riding at the Oakland Heights Farm

Oakland Heights Farm is a beautiful upland property in Gordonsville dedicated to horseback riding.

If you want to experience Gordonsville's natural area while learning horseback riding, Oakland Heights Farm is the best place to go.

The farm is located on the Blue Ridge Mountains' foothills.

The farm owners also offer horseback riding lessons, leisure trail rides, and a lot of exciting outdoor activities.

Furthermore, Oakland Heights Farm is also a popular place for bull riding events which has been happening since 1979.

Visit the Oakland Heights Farm at 17110 James Madison Highway, Gordonsville, VA.

Graves Fine Art Gallery has a vast collection of antiques and fine arts on its 6,000 square foot exhibit in Gordonsville.

The gallery opened in 1978 as a framing and artwork appraisal service.

However, in 2017, local artist Annie Gould converted the shop into a gallery for classic and contemporary arts from various artists worldwide.

For a relaxing tour around Gordonsville, you can visit this art gallery that features artworks from more than 50 national and regional artists.

Take a closer look at different artworks from painting, photography, textiles, sculptures, and jewelry.

Check out Graves Fine Art Gallery at 109 S Main St, Gordonsville, VA.

Other Things to Do Nearby

After celebrating the Fried Chicken Festival and visiting various wineries in Gordonsville, you can head to the neighboring cities and towns filled with nice places to visit.

If you have more time to travel and explore, here are a few of the best things to do nearby Gordonsville, VA.

Shop at Charlottesville's Downtown Mall

View of Charlottesville's Downtown Mall
Alex Proimos from Sydney, Australia, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Traveling to other places won't be complete without shopping.

Thus, it would be awesome to head to Charlottesville's Downtown Mall.

This popular outdoor shopping destination is 20 miles west of Gordonsville.

View of Charlottesville's Downtown Mall
Queerbubbles, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

As you would imagine, the mall is nestled on the main street of Charlottesville, wherein you can choose from more than 150 shops and restaurants, art galleries, and other stores while strolling.

The outdoor mall stretches for around eight blocks on Charlottesville's main street, making it a perfect destination to unwind and shop.

The best shops to visit are Cinema Skate Shop, Arsenic & Old Lace Vintage, Caspari, Jean Theory, Bittersweet, 2nd Act Books, and Shenanigans.

View of Charlottesville's Downtown Mall
Bobak Ha'Eri, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Revisit History at the Fredericksburg Battlefield

Around 57 miles east of Gordonsville takes you to the historic Fredericksburg Battlefield in Fredericksburg, VA.

This place is teeming with great historical facts about the Civil War for history buffs.

It's where the Battle of Fredericksburg happened on December 11 to 15, 1862, between the Union Army and Confederate Army.

The Union Army was on the losing side during the battle after they failed to capture Richmond, the Confederate capital during that time while attempting to cross the Rappahannock River.

Visiting this place commemorates the thousands of lives lost during the battle.

You can also head to the Fredericksburg Battlefield visitor's center, which has a mini-museum that stores artifacts like weaponry, clothing, and other stuff used during the Civil War.

Take a Break and Fish at the Izac Lake

Izac Lake is situated roughly five miles from Gordonsville.

This popular outdoor attraction in Louisa County, near Green Springs, is a perfect place to do waterborne activities such as fishing, kayaking, and canoeing.

However, the most popular thing to do there is fishing since the lake is teeming with various popular warm-water fishes such as perch, largemouth bass, bullhead, bluegill, sunfish, and crappie.

Aside from fishing, people also swim on the lake during summer.

If you're in for another fishing trip, you can head to Izac Lake for a relaxing experience with nature.

Uncover Rich History at the James Madison Museum

Front View of James Madison Museum
Scooteristi, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Roughly nine miles northeast of Gordonsville takes you to the James Madison Museum in Orange, VA.

This museum features an interesting Madisonian collection from James Madison himself and Dolley Madison.

The museum's main focal point is the Madison Room, wherein you'll get a closer look at numerous personal items, furnishings, and documents from Madison and another American President, Thomas Jefferson.

Aside from the abovementioned exhibits, you can also visit the Hall of Transportation & Agriculture, Price House, Cube House, and the 1924 Model T Ford fire truck.

If you're planning to check out the James Madison Museum, it is situated at 129 Caroline St, Orange, VA.

Appreciate Indigenous Art at the Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection

The University of Virginia Museum, about 22 miles west of Gordonsville, takes you to the unique and magnificent Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection.

It is the most extensive permanent exhibit for Australian Aboriginal art outside Australia.

This exhibit inside the University of Virginia Museum opened in 1999.

It features old sculptures, native musical instruments, paintings, and other artifacts from the Aboriginal people of Australia.

The museum is dedicated to public viewing and studying the style and methods of the Aboriginal people's art.

Final Thoughts

Gordonsville offers you history, heritage, food, and outdoor adventure, which you don't expect from a quaint town in Orange County, VA.

This town is an excellent destination not just for history buffs but also for foodies and wine connoisseurs.

If Gordonsville is on your list of places to visit, it would be great to bookmark this post as your itinerary when you get there.

You can also share this post with your fellow travelers or loved ones planning to visit this place.