Southwestern Virginia is a beautiful destination year-round because of its geography and changing seasons, providing visitors with dozens of exciting activities to enjoy.
This region nestled on the Blue Ridge Mountains provides everyone exciting outdoor adventure that includes hiking, climbing, fishing, and camping.
However, a town in Carroll County offers visitors a unique experience that you won't find in other places in Southwestern Virginia.
Hillsville, a quaint but charming town, boasts rich history and heritage that won't just excite history buffs but also casual tourists.
Instead of the usual outdoor activities, Hillsville will take you back in time, where you'll be amazed to learn interesting and significant history that will surely bring your curious side.
Explore Hillsville's designated two-block historical district teeming with museums, old architectures, and historical sites.
On the other hand, its townspeople are known across Southwestern Virginia as hospitable and festive.
Since Hillsville is nestled near the Blue Ridge Mountains, visitors also have the chance to explore nature and the outdoors from its nearby parks and trails.
So, are you ready to visit this hidden charm in Southwestern Virginia?
Read on to learn about the 15 best things to do in Hillsville, VA.
Walk along the Main Street of Old Downtown Hillsville
The Main Street of old Downtown Hillsville represents the past, present, and future.
Aside from being the home to several important historical sites of the town, it is also a booming local business district.
From a visitor's perspective, it's the best opportunity to get acquainted with the town's vibes.
At the same time, it's also the best opportunity to have quality leisure time by visiting its shops and restaurants.
The Main Street of old Downtown Hillsville is filled with restaurants, services, shops, and art galleries, all worthy of checking out.
The entire downtown was listed in 2002 as part of the National Register of Historic Places, making it an important place in the entire town and Carroll County.
The Main Street of old Downtown Hillsville is also where you'll find the Carroll County Courthouse, Hale-Wilkinson-Carter Home, Hillsville Diner, old banks, and many 19th-century buildings.
Visit the Carroll County Historical Society and Museum
There's no better way to start your travel adventure in Hillsville but to visit first its local museum.
The Carroll County Historical Society and Museum take visitors back during the early days of Carroll County through its interactive exhibits teeming with fascinating artifacts used by townsfolks for their daily lives.
Visiting the museum also lets you look at archaeological displays from the early Native Americans that once dominated the lands of Southwestern Virginia.
You can explore the Carroll County Historical Society and Museum on your own or perhaps join its guided tours that will take you outside to Hillsville's historical sites.
Enjoy the Outdoors at the Beaver Dam Creek Trail
The Beaver Dam Creek Walking Trail is a nice outdoor and natural attraction in Hillsville.
It is nestled along a creek ridge, providing visitors a scenic view of the open fields on the opposite side.
Meanwhile, the creek trail meanders through a tranquil canopy of trees.
It is a nice place to hike and enjoy nature.
Since the Beaver Dam Creek Trail is on the Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail System list, you will likely encounter local wildlife and plant species.
So, whenever you're looking for the best place to hike in Hillsville, you can head to the Beaver Dam Creek Trail.
Check Out the Town of Hillsville Visitor's Center
Like most visitor's centers, this one in Hillsville offers everyone a convenient and fun-filled experience.
The Town of Hillsville Visitor's Center situated along Main Street offers everyone easy access to information such as itineraries, maps, and other relevant stuff about the town's tourist attractions.
Furthermore, this visitor's center is open 24/7 to serve everyone looking for a recommended place to visit and fun things to do in Hillsville.
They have staff who will accommodate you in the center and provide you with information from the Virginia Tourism Corporation, Blue Ridge Travel Council, and the Carroll County Office of Tourism.
Travel Back to the Past at the Hale-Wilkinson-Carter Home
The Hale-Wilkson-Carter Home is a wonderful place to learn interesting stuff about history.
Aside from being on the National Register of Historic Places list, this historical attraction in Hillsville will take you back to Carroll County's early days.
The house's interiors, wares, furniture, and other antiquities perfectly recaptured how people lived their daily lives back in the day.
The Hale-Wilkinson-Carter Home got built back in 1845, and it underwent modification in 1924.
The entire house features a three-story federalist design that comes with 13 rooms.
Aside from being a historical site, the house is also being renovated to host social events in town.
Buy Fresh Produce and Delicious Food at the Town of Hillsville Farmers Market
Behind the Hale-Wilkinson-Carter Home is where you'll find the Town of Hillsville Farmers Market.
It's one of Hillsville's best places to buy freshly harvested fruits and vegetables along with delicious homemade gourmet foods.
You can buy baked pastries, pickled food, jellies, jams, artisanal soaps, lotions, meat, and seafood.
Furthermore, the farmers' market also features a food truck that offers delicious street food.
However, the farmers market only runs from June to October; it would be best to schedule your travel in Hillsville during these months if you want to commune with locals in this attraction.
Go Inside the J. Sidna Allen House
The J. Sidna Allen House is famous in Hillsville not entirely because of its beautiful Queen Anne-style architecture but its notorious past.
The house was known to be the home of Sidna Allen, one of the leaders of the infamous Allen Gang.
They were involved in the 1912 bloody shooting incident at the Carroll County Courthouse that claimed five lives.
However, the house finished construction a year before that incident.
It is also fascinating that Allen and his wife designed the house and constructed it by a local carpenter named Preston Dickens.
However, Allen's house got confiscated by Virginia State after being convicted for the shooting incident.
Today, the J. Sidna Allen House is on the National Register of Historic Places list.
You can visit the house and explore its interior, where you'll come across heirlooms of the house's original owners along with significant antiquities that tell the backstory of Sidna Allen.
Score Great Finds During the Labor Day Flea Market & Gun Show
The Labor Day Flea Market and Gun Show in Hillsville are considered one of the most extensive flea markets in the southeast region of the United States.
Each year, it draws more than half a million people across Virginia to sell, buy, or celebrate this festive activity during Labor Day weekend.
You can score great finds from gun dealers, food vendors, artisans, and many more.
It's a very fun experience you shouldn't miss and see how people set up their tents and display different kinds of products that will surely tempt you to buy some.
If you're looking for a place to find great deals, the Labor Day Flea Market and Gun Show is the best place to go.
Aside from guns, you can buy collectible cards, antiques, books, clothes, toys, furniture, gadgets, and more.
Dine at the Mason Jar
If you're looking for good food in Hillsville, you can check out the Mason Jar.
The restaurant/bar offers classic American comfort food that will surely fill hungry tummies after an entire day of exploring the town's attractions.
The Mason Jar's menu mainly focuses on seafood, steaks, sandwiches, and burgers.
The restaurant and bar are divided into different sections, making it a family-friendly place to dine.
Every Saturday, there are musical performances from local bands and musicians at the bar, making it a nice place to unwind and rub elbows with locals.
Furthermore, you can see traces of history there, as the restaurant's walls are filled with old framed prints from the town.
Appreciate the Past at the Old Carroll County Jail
Currently called the Carrol County Jail- Second Site, this historical attraction in Hillsville is now being preserved as the town's 'archaeological footprint.'
The old county jail served from 1866 and got replaced with a newer facility in 1938.
Historically, the old county jail witnessed numerous public hangings.
However, the entire structure got demolished in the 1960s.
Through the efforts of local historians, they preserved the remaining structure of the old county jail.
They then declared it as the town's 'archeological footprint' so the present and future generations would know its purpose back in the day.
You're welcomed by interpretative signage detailing its history and other important information when you visit the site.
Enjoy Comfort Food at the Historic Hillsville Diner
One of the best attractions in Hillsville you shouldn't miss visiting is the oldest streetcar diner in Virginia.
Hillsville Diner remains the oldest running streetcar diner or restaurant in Virginia.
As proof, it's already been listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Mahoney Streetcar Company opened this iconic streetcar diner back in the 1920s and first arrived in Hillsville in 1946.
The diner moved from various parts across Virginia and North Carolina, serving delicious short order foods from breakfast to lunch.
Today, it's permanently nestled in Hillsville and continuously serving classic American comfort food to everyone.
Dining at this iconic restaurant is like stepping back into time because of its vintage design, architecture, and interior that are well-preserved, while its food remains affordable.
Tour the Blue Ridge Plateau Regional Visitor Center
The Blue Ridge Plateau Regional Visitor Center is the best place to get your itinerary for your Blue Ridge Mountain adventure.
This visitor center in Hillsville is where most visitors stop to get their maps, itineraries, and other useful information before setting out on their outdoor adventure in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Aside from being a visitor center, it also features an artisan center that displays local and regional artworks, which you can buy as souvenirs.
Remembering the Past at the Hillsville Confederate Monument
First unveiled in July 1907, the confederate monument in Hillsville features a 21-feet tall sculpture made from zinc alloy with marble and bronze granite.
The monument originally stood in Hillsville's main street and got transferred in front of the Carroll County Courthouse in 1930.
The monument is particularly a statue of a confederate soldier holding his rifle.
Visiting this monument lets you further understand the history of the American Civil War, especially the Confederate Army's side.
See the Last Remaining Carter Hydraulic Rams
It may sound unfamiliar to many, but these remnants of the old water system in Hillsville were listed in 2002 on the National Register of Historic Places.
George L. Carter used the Carter Hydraulic Rams to transport his water back in 1924.
However, since these kinds of hydraulic rams aren't used these days anymore, the town of Hillsville decided to preserve them.
Overall, there are only two such resources found in the United States.
The one in Hillsville is found in a portion of the Pines Community Park.
Try Aunt Bea's Barbecue
This restaurant in Hillsville has been running since 1984 and is popularly known for its delicious home-cooked meals, barbeque, and classic American comfort food.
Aunt Bea's is also known for its rotating menu, which serves different courses each day.
Today, Aunt Bea's has three other locations found in Mount Airy, Pilot Mountain, and Galax.
When you dine there, you should try their barbeque, turkey, chicken casserole, fried steak, chicken Philly, spinach salad, and their all-beef fried bologna sandwich.
To sum it all up, Hillsville is a perfect place for history buffs.
However, that doesn't mean casual tourists have nothing in store for them there.
Its main street and historic downtown aren't just well-known historical sites.
It's also the town's premier business district, where you can do quality leisure time from the dozens of shops, restaurants, and services.
Lastly, Hillsville is a perfect jump-off point to explore the vast and scenic Blue Ridge Mountains or perhaps traverse the beautiful Blue Ridge Parkway.