Blake Walsh

15 Free Things to Do in Lynchburg, VA

  • Published 2022/12/30

Known as the City of Seven Hills or Hill City, Lynchburg in Campbell County is located along the banks of the James River in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

It’s one of the independent cities in the Commonwealth of Virginia, with a population of 79,009 as of the 2020 census.

The city is home to many colleges and universities, contributing to its progressive economy since its founding.

Ferry owner John Lynch founded the city, which was named for him after he started a ferry service across the James River.

It was incorporated as a town in 1786 and as a city in 1852, respectively.

The city is known for its historic sites, beautiful parks, nature trails, and vibrant district, which you can explore without spending a cent.

Here’s a round-up of the free things to do in Lynchburg, Virginia:

Drop by the Lynchburg Visitor Services

If there’s anything that helps you to get around the city, it’s the Lynchburg Visitor Services.

Drop by the visitor center first before starting your adventure to find helpful information on getting around the city.

The center has lots of brochures, which contain lots of details and guides about the city.

A visitor guide is also available for download on your smartphone, or you can simply ask a travel staff for assistance.

A souvenir shop is also available at the center.

The Lynchburg Visitor Services is located along Court Street.

Learn about the Past at the Lynchburg Museum

View of Lynchburg Museum

The Old Major /

After checking out the visitor center, you should also ask the staff for a self-guided tour of the Old Courthouse Galleries in the Lynchburg Museum.

From there, you’ll learn more about the history of Lynchburg and its surrounding areas, featured exhibits, archives, memorabilia, furnishings, and more.

The courthouse was built in 1855 and is considered a Greek temple above the James River.

Entrance to Lynchburg Museum

Rosemarie Mosteller /

This would be a great first stop after the visitor center as it’s located on the same site on Court Street.

Learn about what life was like in the past in the City of Seven Hills and its region and its notable people who helped shape the city today.

The City of Lynchburg and the Lynchburg Museum Foundation manage the Lynchburg Museum.

Check Out the Old City Cemetery

Memorial at Old City Cemetery

James Stringfellow /

It may seem weird to say to explore a cemetery, but in Lynchburg, the Old City Cemetery is the most-visited historical site in the city, with a garden that houses antique roses, the largest public collection in the Commonwealth.

The Old City Cemetery is the oldest municipal cemetery in Virginia, which is still active to this day and also operates as a History Park.

Tombstones lined up at Old City Cemetery

James Stringfellow /

The 24-acre cemetery also houses small house museums, including a Mourning Museum, which features the American mourning customs and rites in the 20th century.

The Old City Cemetery was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.

You can find it off Taylor Street.

Chapel at Old City Cemetery

Jon Marc Lyttle /

Attend the First Fridays Cultural Event

The First Fridays Cultural Event in Lynchburg supports and highlights local artists and regional performers.

Every first Friday of the month, artists and performers gather together to showcase their artworks and talents.

Make a quick stop at many of the art galleries to see the exhibits and make the most of the night in downtown Lynchburg to listen to live music.

The Downtown Lynchburg Association organizes the First Fridays Cultural Event to bring communities together and support the arts and culture in Hill City.

Enjoy the food, music, and culture, and interact with other visitors!

Take Your Dogs to Lynchburg Dog Park

The Lynchburg Dog Park is a dedicated off-leash dog park with two fenced sections for small and large dogs.

If you’re traveling to Lynchburg with your furbabies, this is a great spot for them to play, run freely, and interact with other pets.

When they’re done playing, you can put them again on a leash and take them for a walk at the park’s Blackwater Creek Trail.

There’s also a small picnic area with a few tables to use if you’re bringing packed lunch or snack.

The Lynchburg Dog Park is located in Blackwater Creek Athletic Area on Monticello Avenue.

Go Hiking at the Blackwater Creek Trail

Tunnel along the Blackwater Creek Trail

The Old Major /

The Blackwater Creek Trail is a popular area for those who love hiking, running, or biking.

The three-mile paved trail follows the meandering Blackwater Creek along an abandoned railway bed with many beautiful forests and wooded areas.

Along the way, you’ll see many plants and pretty wildflowers, as well as different species of local wildlife.

Waterfall at Blackwater Creek Trail

ggsmith /

Explore these natural areas and discover some of Hill City’s best-kept secrets while enjoying the beauty of nature.

The Blackwater Creek Trail can be accessed through four different trailheads, including one in downtown Lynchburg on Jefferson Street and 8th Street.

Take Instagrammable Photos at the Art Alley

Bold and beautiful—these are among the awe-inspiring words you’ll hear from other visitors at the Art Alley in downtown Lynchburg.

At the intersection of 11th Street and Commerce Street, you’ll find amazing artwork by local artists in Central Virginia.

This includes murals, street art, and outdoor galleries, all made by 14 artists who helped turn the alley into a vibrant and attractive spot.

The Art Alley was opened in October 2021 and is sponsored by many private and public entities, including the City of Lynchburg.

Honor Cancer Victims at the Awareness Garden

Considered unique in Lynchburg, the Awareness Garden welcomes visitors who want to reflect on and honor the lives of those who suffered from cancer.

You can visit the garden, sit on the bench, and remember the people who were impacted by cancerthe departed, the survivors, and those who are still fighting.

Then you can ring the garden’s iconic bell located in the center of the garden to honor their lives.

The pathways in the garden are made up of over 11,000 bricks, with the names of the departed and the survivors etched on the bricks.

The small green space is nestled on the Ed Page entrance on Old Langhorne Road, which also leads to the Blackwater Creek Trail.

Enjoy Bird Watching at the Percival’s Island Natural Area

Signage of Percival’s Island Natural Area

Billy Hathorn, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Who would’ve thought that there’s a gem and a beautiful natural area in downtown Lynchburg?

Percival’s Island Natural Area is a popular landmark downtown where visitors can enjoy bird watching.

Don’t miss out on lots of migrating waterfowl and herons everywhere on the island, with an easy paved trail.

There’s also a lot of wildlife that you should keep an eye on, including deer, squirrels, cats, geese, turtles, and more.

Aerial view of Percival’s Island Natural Area

Lucas Hall /

You’ll also see beautiful native plants and wildflowers while birdwatching.

Opened in 1998, Percival’s Island Natural Area is located in downtown Lynchburg on Concord Turnpike.

The gorgeous Blue Ridge Mountains beautifully frame it.

Read a Book at the Lynchburg Public Library

With lots of reading nooks to choose from, the Lynchburg Public Library makes your reading sessions easier.

The library stores a huge collection of books for kids, teens, and adults of all ages, which you can borrow for free.

There’s also an e-library, computers, printers, scanners, and many other available resources.

The library hosts free events and programs for adults and kids every week, such as book clubs, kids reading, computer lessons, bingo, and more.

If you’re a traveling bookworm or want to spend a peaceful morning or afternoon reading a book, the Lynchburg Public Library is the ideal place.

The main library is located at Memorial Avenue, while the downtown library is nestled in the City Hall on Church Street.

Stroll around Downtown Lynchburg

Skyline of Downtown Lynchburg

Sean Pavone /

From quaint shops to historic spots, there’s everything in Downtown Lynchburg.

Main Street is adjacent to the James River, which makes it easier for visitors to transition from the urban jungle to a quiet and serene nature setting.

It’s also where John Lynch started a ferry service in the late 1780s when the city was founded.

View of Downtown Lynchburg

Flickr user: Mark Mrwizard, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Many century-old buildings are still in use to this day and are occupied by local small businesses like coffee shops, restaurants, boutiques, and more.

You can also find the iconic Beaux Arts theater and the grand Virginian Hotel here.

Catch a Breathtaking Sunset at the Lower Bluffwalk

There’s nothing more relaxing and satisfying than watching a gorgeous sunset while enjoying sweeping river views.

This is possible at the Lower Bluffwalk, which has amazing walkways, trails, and staircases and overlooks between the streets of Jefferson and Commerce.

Sunsets in Lynchburg, especially during the fall and summer seasons, are unmatched at this vantage point.

The river adds to the sunset’s panoramic view, creating one of the world’s best silhouettes.

The Lower Bluffwalk was opened in 2015.

Have a Picnic at Hollins Mill Park

Scenic waterfall at Hollins Mill Park

Johnny Lynch, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Imagine having a picnic with sweeping views of the historic Hollins Mill Dam and Blackwater Creek.

The cascading water of the dam, which is an old stonework, is a sight to behold at Hollins Mill Park.

You can use the picnic tables with grills or bring your own blanket if you prefer sitting down along the edge of the dam.

There’s also a catch-and-release fishing area at the park if you’re up for a fun fishing session.

The large shade trees and open green space add to the park’s calming and relaxing atmosphere.

Hollins Mill Park was named after William Hollins, who owned a water-powered mill in the 1860s.

You can find it off Hollins Mill Road.

Drop Your Fishing Line at the James River’s Clemmons Lake

Nestled along the banks of the James River, Lynchburg offers one of the best fishing spots in the region.

If you’re into fishing with a license and are visiting the city for recreation, you can drop your fishing line at the river’s tributary, Clemmons Lake.

The six-acre lake in Ivy Creek Park serves as one of the park’s green oases for those who want to make a stop to relax from the big city’s modern metropolis noise.

You’ll be able to catch and keep the trout and catfish you may get from the lake while other fish must be released.

Clemmons Lake is located on Clemmons Lake Place.

Relax at Riverfront Park

Information plaque at Riverfront Park

Rosemarie Mosteller /

To kickstart your morning, head to Riverfront Park to chill out.

It’s home to amazing river views, with a boat ramp for those who want to paddle in the water down the river.

You can either sit on one of the benches or under the shade trees and enjoy the relaxing atmosphere.

You can also explore the boardwalk to see native plants, wildflowers, and beautiful rain gardens.

The park features a huge open field, which hosts many Lynchburg festivals and other special events for the community.

Who knows?

There could be a free concert at the park once you get there!

Riverfront Park is located off Jefferson Street in downtown Lynchburg.

Final Thoughts

Lynchburg, Virginia, is an oasis for both urban and rural recreations, from the quaint, historic downtown to the Blue Ridge Mountains and James River.

There’s no tourist attraction here that’s not worth the long drives.

Include these free things to do in Lynchburg, Virginia, in your itinerary to make the most of your trip!

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