Your getaway possibilities in the Southwest Virginia Blue Ridge Highlands are as diverse as its communities. Hole up in village hotel with superb room service, set off on a sporting outing, retreat into a railcar, enjoy a wellness vacation, or settle in for a weekend of bluegrass and art — the choices are truly enticing.
Set high in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, this 14,000-acre sportsman’s retreat specializes in bird hunting and sporting clays, with guided fishing, deer hunting, and ATV trail riding thrown into the mix – a great guy vacation. A Donald Steel golf course perches on the resort mountaintop featuring vistas of the rugged Dan River Gorge; it was immediately named a top course in the U.S. by Travel and Leisure Golf magazine. Primland is a great getaway with an active outdoor emphasis, whether one stays in an upscale villa on the course, the lodge, or in a ridgetop cottage.
Primland Resort, Meadows of Dan, 276-251-8012; www.primland.com
The Chocolate Moose in the Blue Ridge ‘burg of Stuart is the perfect place to recharge – as warm and soothing as a soup of local vegetables and a slow massage. The Chocolate Moose can now go a step further with its wellness cottage, where guests can consult with a naturopath or experience the Migun bed, a high-tech massage table that applies heat, pressure, and jade-stone massage to acupuncture points. It feels like doing something good without doing a thing. The Patrick County scenery, nearby Christmas tree farms, and Blue Ridge Parkway wineries make for a nice road trip.
Chocolate Moose, Stuart, (276) 694-3745; www.chocolatemoosebb.com
High on a ridge above the Blue Ridge Parkway, far from any railroad, sit the Grassy Creek Cabooses. As owner Donnie Yow will tell anyone, getting the 27-ton, nickel-plated railroad cars to the mountain wasn’t easy – but folks coming to the mountain appreciate these unique, self-contained getaways with spectacular sunsets and superb stargazing potential. The authentic 1950s and 1960s cabooses now feature queen-sized beds, Jacuzzis, refrigerators, microwaves, satellite TV, heat, and air conditioning. One model includes a full kitchen and a sleep sofa for the kids. But most are for two only. For those who want to wander, nearby attractions include Levering fruit orchard, Cherry Orchard Theatre, Andy Griffith Museum and Playhouse, and Chateau Morrisette Winery.
Grassy Creek Cabooses, Fancy Gap, (276) 398-1100; www.grassycreekcabooses.com
Marion is a getaway treat waiting to be fully discovered. It’s the birthplace of Mountain Dew, the last home of Sherwood Anderson, and boasts a sophisticated, five-story downtown hotel, General Francis Marion, with its own lounge, art gallery, and upscale restaurant. Yet it’s only four blocks from a splashing trout stream. Hungry Mother State Park’s lake and trails lie a few minutes up the mountain. Just steps from the General Marion Hotel, the stunning Mayan Revival Lincoln Theatre stages concerts, including the Public Broadcasting Service bluegrass series “Song of the Mountains.” On second Friday evenings Marion’s Appalachian Spirit art gallery spreads to storefronts all over town, with food and entertainment. The elegant General Marion itself is a delightful trip back into the hospitality of the Roaring Twenties, where hotel employees pamper you with ice delivery, room service and 24-hour coffee.
General Francis Marion Hotel, Marion; (877) 783-4802, www.gfmhotel.com
Known as the World Capital of Old-time Music, the village of Galax plays host to the international Old Fiddler’s Convention as well as smaller festivals and weekly bluegrass concerts broadcast from its downtown Rex Theatre. The elegant 1913 Doctor’s Inn bed and breakfast is the perfect base for explorations, within walking distance of Rex Theatre, Barr’s Fiddle Shop, and the 57-mile New River Trail. Also nearby, the Chestnut Creek School of the Arts hosts creative workshops and classes in painting, drawing, quilting, wreath-making, and other arts; Chestnut Creek School has teamed up with the Doctor’s Inn for special accommodation packages. But simply relaxing at this National Historic Register home is always an option.
Doctor’s Inn, 406 W. Stuart Drive, Galax; (276) 238-9998 http://thedoctorsinnvirginia.com