Blake Walsh

25 Best Things to Do in Lexington, VA

  • Published 2023/03/02

Lexington is a historically rich city that serves as the county seat of Virginia’s Rockbridge County.

This modern city is especially important from a historical point of view, as it is home to many famous monuments honoring those that served the country.

For those who are fascinated by the armed forces and want to learn more about them, Lexington serves as an excellent place to visit.

The Maury River passes through this beautiful city, and there are some fun gardens to check out if you want to visit with the whole family.

What also makes Lexington a favorable place to visit is that the climate remains humid and subtropical throughout the year, with hot summers and cold winters.

The weather is perfect for exploring the city and its landmarks.

Want to know what else the city has to offer besides an eclectic mix of gardens and historical monuments?

These are the best things to do in Lexington, Virginia:

Pay Homage to General Robert E. Lee at Lee Chapel and Museum

Exterior of Lee Chapel

Joseph K Fuller /

General Robert E. Lee is a very famous name in all American households.

The beautiful Lee Chapel and Museum became a national historic landmark since this was the place where Lee and his family attended church.

This was during the time when Lee was pursuing his presidency at the Washington College, which is now called Washington and Lee University.

Another fun fact is that the Lee family’s favorite horse called Traveller is also buried right here.

Pay homage to this great general and his family at his burial place.

The museum looks at the history of the university and preserves Lee’s office in all its grandeur.

This Victorian-style building is also an architectural marvel.

The beautiful Chapel completed its construction from 1867 to 1868 at the request of Robert Lee himself.

Another special place to visit is the centerpiece inside the sanctuary of the Chapel.

There, you’ll find the Recumbent Statue, a sculpture of Robert E. Lee asleep on a battlefield.

It showcases and honors his immense courage when at war.

Visit the Washington and Lee University Campus

Exterior of a building at Washington and Lee University

Kristi Blokhin /

Washington and Lee University was founded in 1749 and was called Augusta Academy during its inception.

Since then, after changing names at least four times, it today stands proudly and is named as the Washington and Lee University, honoring the two great men who contributed immensely to it.

Hallway at Washington and Lee University

Joseph K Fuller /

The university is also one of the only three colleges in the entire United States of America that received the distinction of being a historical landmark in 1972.

Visitors who visit the college can also look at the Lee Chapel and Museum and Robert E. Lee’s home, both located nearby.

These structures are spread over a divine area of 325 acres and make this university a great place to visit.

The grounds of Washington and Lee University

Bryan Pollard /

Explore the Stonewall Jackson House

Exterior of Stonewall Jackson House

William Silver /

The Stonewall Jackson House is one of many historically significant landmarks in Lexington.

After being carefully restored to its original appearance, the Stonewall Jackson House found a place for itself on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.

Also known as the Jackson House Museum, it was the house of the great General Thomas Stonewall Jackson between 1858 and 1861.

It is also considered an architectural beauty, with its two-story building and a brick-laid structure.

There is a beautiful lush green garden located around the house, which is well-maintained and manicured.

Guided tours are available here every day.

You can opt for hour-long or half-hour tours, depending on the time you have.

Learn about Military Life at Virginia Military Institute

Exterior of Virginia Military Institute

Andriy Blokhin /

Virginia Military Institute is the first military school to have been supported by the state.

Since its inception in 1839, many famous generals have walked its grounds, including Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson, whose former home is considered one of Lexington’s most popular attractions.

Jackson was a teacher at this school before the Civil War.

Today, students of this institute can pursue a degree in liberal arts while also training for service.

A statue in front of Virginia Military Institute's building

The Old Major /

The library houses as many as 15,000 artifacts and showcases pieces that show the rich history of the military.

There are guided tours of the institute that are usually led by the student cadets, who are warm and provide great information.

The institute houses a museum dedicated to the rich history of the students and the alumni of the VMI Institute.

It also provides a kaleidoscopic vision of the challenges that all candidates undergo while training.

The grounds of Virginia Military Institute

Katherine Welles /

Go on a Peaceful Stroll at Boxerwood Nature Center and Woodland Garden

Boxerwood Nature Center and Woodland Garden has one of the best arboretums in the city.

It is home to many exotic and endemic species of plants and trees.

The 15-acre area has been constructed well, with a lot of trees and greenery, which makes for a relaxing and beautiful stroll to calm those frayed nerves.

The nature center showcases how people come together as a community and contribute to preserving the environment, since the people at Boxerwood have carried out various restoration projects to help animals and manage water.

Moreover, there is a workshop and symposium where adults can spend their time while the kids play in the gardens or playgrounds.

Sample Local Beers at the Devils Backbone Brewing Company

Signage of Devil’s Backbone Brewing Company

Kristi Blokhin /

Inspired by a trip to the Swiss Alps, Steve and Heidi Crandall established the Devils Backbone Brewing Company to manufacture slow and well-made beers.

Their breweries have the slogan “Slow by nature,” emphasizing that all their beers are perfectly brewed slowly and consistently.

For those looking for some proof that they might have one of the best beers in the world, the Devils Backbone Brewing Company has won the World Beer Cup and the prestigious Great American Beer Festival.

They have some homemade beer specialties which are available seasonally.

For those interested in having the complete package of fun at this brewery, the best time to visit this place is during Oktoberfest.

Hike across the Chessie Nature Trail

A six-mile-long trail, the Chessie Nature Trail was originally a rail trail linking Buena Vista with Lexington while crossing the Maury River.

As you trek the path, you’ll spot various quaint geographical features, including differential water levels, fields, pastures, and woods.

There are inbuilt railroad structures and canals along the path, too.

Biking has officially been allowed since 2011, making for another enjoyable experience you can have on this trail.

This public walking trail is frequented by locals and visitors alike, for it offers a challenging yet fun hiking experience.

Watch a Theatrical Performance at Lime Kiln Theater

Lime Kiln Theater is a famous hotspot for the public of Lexington.

The theater offers a variety of theatrical performances that you can choose from, including plays, concerts, and dramas.

Their shows span a wide range of genres, featuring a mix of performances that include Shakespearean plays and those loved by children, like Sleeping Beauty.

The artists that perform here include famous bands and up-and-coming local talents.

Tickets are available for pre-purchase, so you can pre-book your slots in advance if you are interested.

Another great thing to know about Lime Kiln Theater is that it is a nonprofit organization.

So, the funds raised from ticket sales go to charity and to the maintenance of this beautiful outdoor theater.

Bring Your Children to Kids Playce

This wonderful children’s attraction was constructed in just five days by a bunch of great volunteers.

Kids Playce is a hot favorite among toddlers because it has the typical slides and rides you’ll find in a children’s playground, making it a fun place to visit.

Some of the slides include a climbing web, zip line, hand over hand, and shaky stairs.

American Ninja obstacles are also enjoyed by the kids.

Adults can relax on the benches as the kids slide around.

They can also spend some quality family bonding time by having a small picnic here.

Take a Tour of the Oak Grove Cemetery

A statue at Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery

Andriy Blokhin /

The burial place of the great Stonewall Jackson, this cemetery was formerly called the Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery.

It is located near the Virginia Military Institute Museum.

Headstones at Oak Grove Cemetery

Muhranoff, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

These grounds are the resting place for a lot of famous personalities, including governors and family members of Jackson.

Pay your homage to the great general Stonewall Jackson by visiting this well-constructed cemetery.

There are also various trees planted around, and the lush green lawn is a tranquil place to sit and relax for some time.

Visit the Historic Stono

Stono, also known as Jordan’s Point Park, was built in 1818.

It’s considered a structural marvel due to its cruciform-shaped building.

Stono is a two-story structure made of brick dwelling and has a Roman portico.

Those who love architecture will want to visit this place and see the summer kitchen, the Ice House, and the gallery alongside the main manor.

Stono has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1975.

The water body flowing through Jordan’s Point Park is very pretty and has a bridge-like structure, making it a great photography point.

Admire Contemporary Art at Cabell Gallery of Virginia Art

This contemporary art gallery showcases beautiful works of art by Virginia-based artists, both up-and-coming and established.

A variety of art pieces are showcased at Cabell Gallery of Virginia Art, including those made with different types of paints such as watercolors and oil.

Showpieces and other artistic objects like clay works, which are painted using acrylics and pastels, are also on display at this gallery.

Have a Delightful Meal at the Southern Inn

American Food with wine

Savchenko /

With an extravagant list of cuisines to choose from, including American, vegan and contemporary, this is the perfect place to have lunch or dinner.

You can choose from a wide range of menu items, from appetizers to main course dishes.

Starters include lamb meatballs, and Salmon.

Signage of Southern Inn

Kristi Blokhin /

For your main course, you can have duck and scallops, which are excellently prepared and well-cooked.

For those opting for the restaurant’s vegan or vegetarian offerings, the salads and dressings are very tasty.

Pair your dishes with one of the many local wines to have the perfect date night with your significant other.

Step Back in Time at Miller’s House Museum

Lexington has a rich industrial and transportation heritage that is undeniable.

Once the site of a large industrial complex on Jordan’s Point, Lexington has a lot to offer history buffs.

It is the mission of the Miller’s House Museum to preserve this heritage by showcasing and honoring the many old roads, rivers, and train lines that run through the region.

The museum is situated in a modest house constructed in the early 1800s and is open to the public.

John Jordan’s once-thriving complex has been reduced to a single building.

The museum’s dioramas and other displays will teach you about the historic Rockbridge neighborhood and Jordan’s Point.

Meet Wooly Animals at Cabin Spring Farm

The Cabin Spring Farm produces wool and fiber in Lexington.

It is a must-see destination, especially if you’re traveling with kids.

Cabin Spring’s commitment to growing healthy fiber-producing animals and spinning their own specialized yarns means that even though the farm’s operations are small, there is a lot to learn and experience there.

They have five sheep, eight geese having a great time on the farm, and several other wild creatures.

When you visit the Cabin Spring Farm, you may learn all about how wool is made, how to raise healthy animals, and even how to spin your own yarn.

Stroll around Downtown Lexington

Buildings at Downtown Lexington

Kristi Blokhin /

There is no need to be an avid history geek to have a good time in Lexington, Virginia, although it certainly helps.

Virginia and the National Registers of Historic Places include Lexington’s downtown area.

There is a lot of commercial and social activity in the county seat of Rockbridge.

Street clock of Downtown Lexington

Andriy Blokhin /

As a tourist attraction, the architecture of the downtown area and the surrounding residential area is a treat to see.

Lexington’s downtown area is home to many businesses, from locally owned boutiques to gourmet ice cream and chocolate shops to specialty coffee roasteries and a slew of independent bookshops, boutiques, and restaurants.

Shops along Downtown Lexington

Kristi Blokhin /

Experience the City on a Carriage Lexington Carriage Company

A mere 2.5 square miles of land occupy Lexington, the majority of which is devoted to Historic Downtown Lexington’s 16 square block core.

Even though Lexington is a walkable town, Lexington Carriage Company‘s Historical Tours are an excellent opportunity to learn about the town’s 350-year history.

Daily tours depart from the Lexington Visitor Center from April through October at 106 E. Washington St. across the street.

If you’re looking for advice or a map of the downtown area, here is the location.

As your guide tells you tales of the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, and the early years of the twentieth century, you’ll be transported in time by the gentle clip-clop of the horses’ feet.

Grab Sweet Treats at Cocoa Mill

Who says chocolates are just for Valentine’s?

A visit to the Cocoa Mill Chocolate Company in Lexington, Virginia, is a must for chocolate lovers.

The chocolates made by the neighborhood chocolatier are delectable and suitable for people of all tastes.

Assortment boxes and truffles are only two of the many types of confections available at this shop.

The Cocoa Mill Chocolate Company is a great location to buy gifts and splurge on a sweet treat.

Find Artistic Pieces at Earth, Fire & Spirit Pottery

Come and find an array of uniquely crafted pieces at Earth, Fire & Spirit Pottery.

You’ll find this family-owned shop right on West Washington Street.

And you’ll also get to meet owners Daniel Caruthers, and Jessy Poole-Caruthers busy working on some decorative pieces.

Choose from rows of functional and decorative pottery, all handmade and made through high-fire reduction techniques.

Their distinct slip trail decorations, copper red, and rutile blue-glazed designs are made from traditional methods handed down from generations, so each item is truly a rare masterpiece.

Shop for one-of-a-kind decorations and stonewares at Earth, Fire & Spirit Pottery.

Get Artisan Cheeses at Cheese To You

If you love quality artisan cheeses, drop by Cheese To You located on South Main in downtown Lexington.

Owner Meg Hall welcomes guests to her shop for cheese events from Tuesday to Saturday.

You’ll get to hand-select from the cheese selections, ask about cheeses, get food and wine pairing suggestions, and have your cheese cut and wrapped.

Take your pick of artisan cheeses from soft-ripened cheese, blue cheese, aged, fresh, to semi-soft cheeses.

The shop also sells extra virgin olive oil varieties you can purchase by bottle and enjoy at home.

Choose from the mild Pendolino, medium-intensity flavors like Picual, Frantoio, and Arbequina, or the robust Don Carlo extra virgin olive oil.

Enjoy the cheese selections at Cheese To You.

Play Classic Games at Tommy’s Arcade

Who doesn’t love arcade games?

If you’re a classic arcade gamer, you’ll surely have lots of fun at Tommy’s Arcade.

This amusement stop is on West Nelson Street and is open on Fridays and Saturdays.

They have plenty of games and activities for all ages your family can enjoy for half an hour, one hour, or even all day.

Play the classic Donkey Kong or go head to head with the 4-player Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

See if you still have the skills for Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3, House of the Dead 2, the “Big Red” or Guitar Hero Arcade.

Likewise, the Pac-Man’s Pixel Bash and the 18 Wheeler: American Pro Trucker still brings out the fun.

Try other sit-down machines like Tekken 7, Marvel vs. Capcom 2, or Street Fighter Fighter Alpha 3, along with all-time favorite pinball games like Attack From Mars Remake, Iron Maiden, and Star Wars.

Show your arcade skills and have a fun time at Tommy’s Arcade.

Grab Delicious Food and Drinks at Pronto Caffé & Gelateria

For some unique coffee brews and snacks, drop byPronto Caffé & Gelateria.

This modern Italian-themed coffee stop on South Main Street serves special LavAzza coffee, homemade gelato, delicious pastries, and filling grab-and-go sandwiches.

Aside from good food, the caffé features a cozy and relaxing ambiance you can enjoy over a cup of coffee.

Husband and wife, Franky and Meredith, made sure that visitors would have a Southern Italian caffé experience when they come and dine in.

Try their in-house LavAzza Coffee or LavAzza Espresso and other coffee varieties like Macchiato, Cappuccino, Latte, and Mocha.

They also serve non-coffee selections like Matcha and Chai Lattes, Hot Chocolate, Numi Hot Teas, and Matcha Frappé.

Get your Gelato treats in assorted cup sizes, served with sugar or cake scone, or scooped in a waffle cone; you can also give your gelato a little twist and have them drowned in Espresso or Moscato wine.

Enjoy bites of hearty sandwiches like Caprese, Turkey & Brie, Turkey, Bacon, & Havarti, Prosciutto & Provolone.

And if you prefer breads and pastries, Pronto Caffé & Gelateria also serves baguettes, croissants, almond croissants, scones, and cinnamon buns.

Shop for Fresh Local Goods at the Lexington Farmers Market

You’ll enjoy shopping for fresh local goods on Wednesday mornings at the Lexington Farmers Market.

This seasonal market is held inside the Lexington Presbyterian Church on McCrums Lot.

You’ll find an array of vegetable varieties throughout the summer like tomatoes, snap and shell peas, green beans, and peppers, along with crops that grow in October like beets, cabbage, okra, and much more.

Watermelons, cantaloupes, strawberries, blackberries, and assorted fruits in season are also available at the market.

Browse different products from local, farmers, growers, and food artisans like Paradox Farm, Rockbridge Cider, Kelly’s Persian Foods, and Whistle Creek Pet Nutrition, to name a few.

You’re sure that goods are high quality and fresh at Lexington Farmers Market.

Enjoy a Movie Night at Hull’s Drive-In Theatre

The grounds of Hull’s Drive-In Theatre

Joseph Sohm /

Enjoy a night of movies under the stars atHull’s Drive-In Theatre, the country’s only non-profit and community-owned theater.

The theatre operates from mid to late March until October.

Drop by the weekend after sunset on North Lee Highway and enjoy the double features every night.

They’ll provide nostalgic speakers you can put on your door jab or get an FM broadcast on 88.1FM for the audio.

For more outdoor feels, you can set up chairs or blankets on the ground, too.

Want to watch and bring your furry family member? The theatre is pet-friendly and welcomes pets on a leash.

Everyone in the family is sure to enjoy watching at Hull’s Drive-In Theatre.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Pay a Visit to the Cyrus McCormick Farm and Workshop

Exterior of a blacksmith shop at Cyrus McCormick Farm

Morgan Riley, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The famous inventor who made the mechanical reaper, Cyrus McCormick used to live and work at this specific place.

His home became a national historic landmark in 1954, after the McCormick family donated it to the Virginia Polytechnic Institute.

Grist mill at Cyrus McCormick Farm and Workshop

Morgan Riley, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The entire farm is spread over 532 acres of land and also houses a vast workshop, a blacksmith shop, a schoolroom, a slave quarter, a carriage house, and a smokehouse.

Learn about the interesting history of farm life and how McCormick became the inventor of such an important machine.

Final Thoughts

Lexington, Virginia, is a charming destination in Shenandoah Valley.

With its historical importance, magnificent university campuses, and locally owned businesses, Lexington offers enough activities to keep you entertained.

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