Lexington & Shenandoah Valley Activities
Free Shenandoah Valley Activities
who doesn’t love free.
VMI and W&L.
With ancient oaks and grand historic buildings, the campuses of the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) and Washington & Lee University (W&L) are great places to enjoy an antebellum stroll. The VMI campus also offers The VMI Museum, which chronicles the creation and development of VMI and the contributions of its alumni to American history.
Virginia Horse Center.
One of the finest equestrian centers in the United States. The 600-acre Virginia Horse Center is a beautiful facility for state, national, and international horse competitions and events. Visitors can tour the stables, show rings, and view steeplechase, timber, and carriage courses. Note: Entrance is free, but some events may have a minimal charge. (540) 464-2950.
Most Friday afternoons in spring and fall, the cadets at the Virginia Military Institute march in full dress uniform on the school’s parade grounds. This much-loved tradition of patriotic pomp and circumstance is a great spectacle and a truly unique Lexington experience.
George Marshall Museum.
Adjacent to the Virginia Military Institute, the fascinating George C. Marshall Museum chronicles the life and achievements of George C. Marshall, organizer of victory in World War II and author of the Marshall Plan. Note: The museum does ask for a donation. (540) 463-7103.
Lee Chapel & Museum.
The great Confederate general, much of his family, and even his trusted horse, Traveler, are all buried here in this lovely little chapel on the Washington and Lee campus. The chapel museum houses many items that belonged to Lee and his family, as well as the famous Edward Valentine statue portraying General Lee resting on the battlefield. (540) 458-8768.
Tour Rockbridge Vineyard.
Just 20 minutes north of town is beautiful Rockbridge Vineyard, home to many fine, award-winning Virginia wines. Open May through October, the vineyard’s tour takes you through the fermenting area, barrel cellar, and, of course, the tasting room. (888) 511-9463.
Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery.
Buried in this historic cemetery on the south side of town are Stonewall Jackson, 144 Confederate veterans, two Virginia governors, and Margaret Junkin Preston, the Confederate’s Poet Laureate.
Hike the Chessie Nature Trail.
Six miles of wildlife and wildflowers await you along this former railroad bed of the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad. Glorious limestone formations mark the path along the scenic Maury River.
Tour Wade’s Mill.
Just a quick drive down the highway, this historic site is well worth a visit. Wade’s Mill, a historical 1750s grist mill, still produces flour today and offers a truly unusual outing. You can see the behind-the-scenes workings of a mill — and shop for gifts all in one spot. (800) 290-1400.
Stroll downtown Lexington, VA.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Lexington is a small, bustling city full of history and commerce. With period architecture, historical buildings, and exceptional shops, it’s a great place to stroll the day away. Don’t miss the many wonderful antique shops and Cocoa Mill Chocolate Co., our award-winning chocolate shop.
Paid Shenandoah Valley Activities
Lexington Carriage Ride.
A fascinating foray back in time, the Lexington carriage ride is 40 minutes of Civil War history and heartbreak. Learn of Stonewall Jackson’s many life tragedies and the struggles and triumphs of Robert E. Lee as you journey through town behind two trusty steeds. (540) 463-5647.
Stonewall Jackson House & Museum.
Up the hill from the visitor’s center is the only home ever owned by Stonewall Jackson in his short 39-year life. The Stonewall Jackson House and Museum is furnished with many of Jackson’s own possessions, as well as appropriate period pieces, and offers informative guided tours on the hour and on the half hour. (540) 463-2552.
Blue Ridge on a Gentle Mount.
New Meadow Farm offers guided horseback riding, riding lessons and cross-country jumping (September – May), (540) 377-6169.
Catch a Fish (or Two).
Take A Shenandoah Valley Virginia Fly Fishing Adventure?Professional Guide John Roberts at Shenandoah Valley Virginia Fly Fishing Adventures provides expert fishing instruction and a fun experience for all levels of fly fishers. (540) 463-3235.
Trek the Trails on a Llama.
Lead one of these gentle beasts on a guided tour of local wildlife trails. A water canteen, bird-watching book, and lunch are included in the price. (540) 463-1962.
This 90-foot-long bridge of rock is one of Virginia’s most cherished natural wonders and quite something to behold. The Natural Bridge contains 450,000 cubic feet of rock and is estimated to weigh approximately 36,000 tons. A bit of trivia: Rockbridge County is named for this formidable formation. The Natural Bridge area also offers a zoo, a wax museum, a drag-strip speedway, and a toy museum with a collection of 1,700 toys from past and present. (800) 533-1410.
Paddle the James or Maury Rivers.
Whether you want the thrill of fast water or the relaxation of slow, lazy paddling, the James River Basin Canoe Livery offers options to fit your needs. All prices include instruction, a detailed trip map, and shuttle service to and from the trip of your choice. (540) 261-7334.
Attend an Event at the Lenfest Center.
The Lenfest Center for the Performing Arts, located on the Washington and Lee University campus, presents artistic events and performances throughout the year, including university theater productions, operas, professional theatrical plays, and musical concerts. (540) 458-8000.
Lexington Virginia Day Trips
Enjoy lovely, historical Charlottesville and the homesteads of two early-American presidents — Monticello (Thomas Jefferson) and Ash Lawn-Highland (James Monroe). Charlottesville features terrific Revolutionary War-era architecture and is home to the University of Virginia.
Located in the middle of an 1,800-acre national park, the village of Appomattox Court House is the site of the McLean House where General Lee surrendered to General Grant to end the Civil War.
New Market Battlefield & Museum.
Housing the largest collection of antique military memorabilia on display anywhere, the New Market Battlefield Military Museum serves as a repository for more than 2,500 military artifacts arranged in 125 displays. A section of the museum (and the surrounding battlefields) tell the story of the Civil War’s Battle of New Market, which took place in May 1864.
Cruise Skyline Drive.
Stretching from one end of the Shenandoah National Park to the other, the Skyline Drive portion of the Blue Ridge Parkway is one of the most scenic drives in the country. No matter what the season, the surrounding vistas are magnificent as the 105-mile road winds you along the crest of the mountains.
Cave or Cavern.
Luray Caverns (60 minutes north on I-81) provides tours of underground wonders, such as enormous stalactites and stalagmites, and natural spring-water pools. Organ Cave (just over the border in West Virginia) is the second longest cave on the East Coast with more than 40 miles of mapped passageways.