Romantic Escapes

Plan a dreamy weekend à deux at these gorgeous guesthouses.

Inn at Riverbend

Mountain hideaways are often considered among the most romantic reprieves; adding water simply perfects the recipe. Carve out time for an amorous escape to a waterside inn or lodge in Virginia.

Inn at Riverbend

Seemingly perched on the side of a bluff in Pearisburg is the Inn at Riverbend, a two-story bed and breakfast with wraparound porches and incredible views of the New River. Each room at Riverbend brings the outside in with large windows and sweeping views. However, the plum-shaded “Palisades” room has been dubbed the most romantic by previous guests. Posh bath amenities, cushy robes, and an oversized whirlpool tub provide a luxurious, restful experience.

Connect with Tangent Outfitters to plan an aquatic adventure of fishing, canoeing, kayaking, tubing, or stand-up paddle boarding. Trips can last a couple hours or all day, depending on your pace and whether you abandon ship for a swim. Should the weather disagree, there are small town shopping opportunities, artisans to discover, and historical sites to explore, like Historic Smithfield Plantation in Blacksburg.

A farm-fresh meal awaits at The Palisades Restaurant in Eggleston. Local trout from Brackens Trout Hatchery in Wytheville is a top menu choice, but all of the ingredients are sourced from within the New RiverValley. Whatever you choose, leave room for the cherry pudding; it’s divine. InnAtRiverbend.com

Osceola Mill

Osceola Mill

Below the Blue Ridge Parkway along Route 56 in Steeles Tavern sits Osceola Mill. Originally part of the historic Cyrus McCormick Farm, the circa-1849 mill offered stone-ground grains until Hurricane Camille unleashed its wrath in 1969, devastating several communities on either side of the Blue Ridge Mountains and ending the mill’s production.

Today’s guests are drawn to Osceola Mill to see the historic Fitz Overshoot Water Wheel and its mill race, see the massive hand-hewn chestnut beams inside the mill, taste the unexpected flavors of The Mill Stone Dining Room, and rest well in the charming overnight quarters. The lack of cellular service is a bonus for most visitors.

The Mill Store Cabin is a cozy, private space independent of the main lodge. Its woodburning fireplace and adjacent whirlpool tub make it easy to achieve both rest and romance. Coffee on the deck overlooking Marl Creek is a peaceful way to start the day. 

Two popular waterfall hikes are nearby. St. Mary’s Falls are within St. Mary’s Wilderness, Virginia’s largest wilderness area. Fishermen enjoy casting their lines for brown trout in St. Mary’s River, which also boasts fun swimming holes and natural slides. Across the Blue Ridge Parkway is Virginia’s most popular waterfall, Crabtree Falls. It’s the highest cascading falls east of the Mississippi River. Follow the path to reach the top, but do not step out onto the rocks. 

Additional explorations are minutes away. Sample award-winning wine at Rockbridge Vineyard, and visit Wade’s Mill (circa 1750) to take home freshly ground grits, cornmeal, and more. OsceolaMill.com

Peaks of Otter Lodge

Peaks of Otter Lodge

Nestled in a valley at the base of Virginia’s most popular trio of summits is Peaks of Otter Lodge. Reflected in Abbott Lake at milepost 86 on the Blue Ridge Parkway, the lodge is a rustic getaway with modest, comfortable lakefront rooms. Connection to the outside world is limited, so your attention on the pristine surroundings and each other is undivided. Sate your appetite with waterfront dining at Lake View Dining Room. The Half Peaks Chicken is a favorite traditional choice, while the Eggplant Timbale is a hearty pick for veggie lovers.

Adrenaline-fueled explorers will be tempted to conquer Sharp Top, Harkening Hill, or Flat Top, while those who enjoy steady hand-in-hand walks may be satisfied with a mile walk around the lake. A day on the Upper James River Water Trail is easy to arrange. Only 10 miles west in Buchanan is Twin River Outfitters, which equips canoe, kayak, and tubing trips. 

Should shifting weather patterns dampen your day, head to Peaks of Otter Winery for a refreshing flight of fruit wines or to Bedford for antiquing. Add a dose of presidential history by visiting Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest, a historic treasure and active archaeological site. PeaksOfOtter.com


This article originally appeared in our WaterLife 2019 issue.

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