A Day Off in Lynchburg

Editors’ picks for 24 hours in the ‘Burg.

Downtown Lynchburg.

Photo courtesy of the City of Lynchburg.

You may not know this, but there is something uncanny about Lynchburg. If you’ve lived there, you know you can go almost anywhere in the state (and beyond) and find someone with a connection to the small, but charmingly sophisticated city on the James that was once a shoe-manufacturing hub. Forget six degrees of separation, when it comes to Lynchburg, you can count on more like two.

In recent years, the downtown, which endured a lengthy fallow period after manufacturing moved out, has undergone a renaissance, making it a pleasantly quirky destination for dining, shopping and playing.

If you’re looking for a casual day of a little of this and a little of that, Lynchburg fits the bill.

10:00 a.m. Not Just Kid Stuff

Begin the day at Amazement Square on 9th Street, a 4-story children’s museum housed in a 150-year-old brick building that once served as a Confederate infirmary during the Civil War. You don’t have to be a kid to play here: an adult can have just as much fun seeing Newton’s laws in action as balls race through a series of suspended mazes in Voltageville; investigating the artist’s life slapping paint on all four glass walls in the Kaleidoscope Gallery’s paint box; and navigating a real batteau boat down the James in the Board a Batteau exhibit. Not to miss: Amazement Tower, four stories of interconnected tunnels, slides, ladders and even a zipline. AmazementSquare.org

The 150-year-old brick building once served as a Confederate infirmary during the Civil War.

11:30 a.m. Take a Walk

After the museum, walk along the river and catch Blackwater Creek Trail at Jefferson Street in Riverfront Park. From there, it’s about a 3-mile walk to the Ed Page entrance at Langhorne Road. Built along an abandoned railway bed, the trail will guide you along the gently whispering creek—great background noise for daydreaming while you bike, walk or join the many runners who use the trail. Not to miss: Stop at the train trestle and scoot down the red clay hillside to dip your toes in the water. LynchburgParksAndRec.com/Trails

Bicyclists and pedestrian on the Blackwater Creek Trail.

Photo by Lynchburg Parks and Recreation

1:00 Bag It

Magnolia Foods on Rivermont Avenue is a great place for a good old-fashioned bag lunch. Pick from sandwiches like the dilled tuna salad with sliced cucumbers or smoked turkey, apples and cheddar with spicy honey mustard. We recommend the #11, the best creamy peanut butter and strawberry jelly on Pepperidge Farm white sandwich you’ve had in a long time. Finish it with a side of red skin potato salad and a cappuccino brownie or slice of lemon cake. MagnoliaFoods.com

2:00 p.m. Shopping Chic

Next, head to Langhorne Road, where you’ll find the farmbasket, a rambling spot along Blackwater Creek that began as a fruit stand in 1964 and is today Lynchburg’s mainstay gourmet grocery and gift stop. Here, you’ll find specialty food items like gourmet cheese straws and candies, and gifts from fine china and silver to linens, stationery and kitchen tools. The café serves seasonal homemade apple butternut squash soup, hot cider, sandwiches and salads, which you can eat on their pleasant open-air deck overlooking the creek. On the way out, pick up a bunch of fresh-cut flowers from nearby farms. When in season, the peonies are particularly glorious. TheFarmBasket.com

5:00 p.m. Art Walk

Riverviews Artspace facing the James on Jefferson Street was once just another downtown riverfront warehouse left to molder. That is, until 2003, when Lynchburg’s arts community adopted the imposing 3-floor space and transformed it into an artist’s collective featuring galleries, individual studios, meeting spaces and even a theater. Hosting concerts, art shows, movies and other events, Riverviews is the go-to spot to meet artists on the city’s cutting edge. Not to miss: During First Fridays, artists open their studios to visitors and a trolley takes art-walkers from Riverviews to other downtown arts destinations. Riverviews.net

Craddock Terry Gallery.

Photo courtesy of Riverviews Artspace.

7:00 p.m. Hit the Tea Room

Finish the day at the Texas Tavern, or as it is more commonly known, the Tea Room, at the corner of Main and Fifth Streets. Family-owned since 1930 (the first outpost opened that year in Roanoke), Lynchburgers of all stripes come here for its signature Cheesy Western, a gooey combination of fried hamburger patty, American cheese and a fried egg. TexasTavern-Inc.com

For more ideas about things to do in Lynchburg, go to LynchburgVirginia.org

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