Homegrown Attractions: 6 Unique Experiences In Wytheville, Va.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019 - by Katie Reeder
Big Walker Tower
Big Walker Tower
- photo by Laurie Rowe (LRC)

Wytheville, Va., is unique, not only in name. It’s true, no other town in the world shares this name. But, what’s special about this Southwest Virginia town goes far beyond its name. Located at the crossroads of two major Interstates (I-77 and I-81), Wytheville has long been known as a convenient and welcoming stop for travelers.

Beyond the Interstates, the attractions here are unique, as well, and beckon travelers looking for authentic experiences to stop and stay a while.

They call them homegrown attractions because they were grown from a local entrepreneur’s passion and they can only be found here. They are born of the landscape and soil of the region and of the ingenuity of its people. These top six homegrown attractions in Wytheville offer must-see adventures.

Big Walker Lookout (8711 Stoney Fork Road, Wytheville, Va. 24382) is the oldest and highest private attraction in Virginia. At an elevation of 3,405 feet, Big Walker Lookout offers a spectacular view of the Appalachian Mountains. Mountain landscapes are joined by Virginia farmlands to form an amazing panoramic vista. Big Walker Lookout also features a 100-foot observation tower for an even more awesome view. It’s said that on a clear day, you’ll even be able to see five states. Back on firm ground, the Big Walker Country Store is a Round the Mountain craft venue, featuring the work of more than 25 artisans from the region. There is also an extensive display of locally made jams, jellies, fudge, ice cream and more. This location serves as a Crooked Road Heritage Music Trail venue, too. The attraction has been in business since 1947 and is owned and operated by the Kime family. Second and third generation family members are welcoming guests today. 

Fort Chiswell Animal Park (569 Red Hollow Road, Max Meadows, Va. 24360) is an adventure that offers a (sometimes surprisingly) interactive experience. The park’s first iteration was as a mobile petting zoo, the hobby of a local entrepreneur. Now the 45-acre park is the largest zoo in Southwest Virginia and is home to animals from six continents. From the now-expanded petting zoo to the giraffe enclosure, the park’s animals are comfortable getting up-close and personal. Then, the Safari Bus Tour takes patrons for an unforgettable interaction with camels, zebra, antelope and buffalo. Many of the more than 200 animals who call the park home are happy to eat right from visitors’ hands. And some, like a friendly camel or zebra, don’t mind invading your personal space to do so.

Beagle Ridge Herb Farm (1934 Matney Flats Road, Wytheville, Va. 24382) comes alive with colors that change with the seasons. Southwest Virginia’s premiere lavender farm has 14 themed display gardens to showcase its herb and perennial collections. The gardens are abuzz with butterflies and birds but a walk through the Flying Flowers butterfly house is a special treat. It’s the only one of its kind in Southwest Virginia. Owners Ellen and Gregg Reynolds are now in their 18th year of operation and are still expanding their offerings. From tagging migrating butterflies to participating in a two-day Lavender Academy, visitors of all ages will find joy at this combination herb farm, butterfly garden and education center. 

West Wind Farm Vineyard & Winery (180 W Wind Drive, Max Meadows, Va. 24360), invites guests to drink in not only its wines, but also its views and its slower pace. Admittedly smaller than most Virginia wineries, this is a family business with a loyal local following. So loyal, in fact, locals help with the harvest once a year, investing their time and energy to ensure the current crop of Riesling and Gewürztraminer grapes, grown onsite, make their way into the next vintage, which will consist of 1,500 to 1,700 cases. Located on a fourth-generation homestead, the business is owned by Paul and Brenda Hric. West Wind started as Mount Zephyr Farm (Zephyr means “west wind”) in the mid-19th century and has been run by Brenda’s family beginning in 1914. Brenda and Paul were able to keep it in the family by establishing West Wind Farm Vineyard & Winery. Today, their small batch wines are hand-tended from harvest to bottle each season. The winery’s tasting room and gift shop offer gourmet snacks, unique gifts and custom gift baskets.

Wohlfahrt Haus Dinner Theatre (170 Malin Drive, Wytheville, Va. 24382) is a locally owned dinner theatre like no other in Virginia. The 200-seat, German-themed venue presents Broadway style professional musical productions year-round. Visitors enjoy both classic and contemporary shows and there’s not a bad seat in the house. A four-course, themed, plated meal is served before each performance. The theatre is also home to the Matterhorn Lounge and Bier Garten, a full-service restaurant specializing in German favorites as well as American fare. Edelweiss gift shop offers a variety of European collectibles and theatre memorabilia.

The Log House Restaurant (520 East Main Street, Wytheville, Va. 24382) is located in the heart of downtown Wytheville and is a fine dining experience in an eighteenth-century atmosphere. The Log House is actually a two-story cabin built in 1776. Today, it is home to unique dining areas with early American décor and an extensive menu which pays homage to traditional favorites. Its Christopher’s Lounge is a favorite night spot and no visit is complete with a stroll through the massive country garden and eclectic, sprawling gift shop.

These attractions are only the beginning. Downtown Wytheville has a whole host of one-of-a-kind spots. Five historic museums, the “biggest pencil in Virginia” and the Crepe House & Creamery are all within walking distance. This is also home to the birthplace of First Lady Edith Bolling Wilson, the second wife of Virginia-born President Woodrow Wilson. She has been called the “secret president” and the “first woman president” by historians. 

There are two craft breweries and a host of local eateries to round out any visit. To begin the journey, check out VisitWytheville.com and plan a visit to this unique slate of homegrown attractions. They make for an entertaining getaway and prove, once again, that there’s only one Wytheville

Where to stay

These homegrown attractions are joined by unique lodging options in Wytheville. The Bolling Wilson Hotel (170 E. Main Street, Wytheville, Va. 24382) is part of the Ascend Hotel Collection and offers 30 luxurious guest rooms, Graze On Main restaurant and a rooftop lounge. Nearby, the Trinkle Mansion Bed and Breakfast (525 West Main Street, Wytheville, Va. 24382), was named in the top 10 in the country in 2019 Trip Advisor reviews. This beautiful historic home features four guest rooms and a garden cottage. For a more rustic stay, one of the many nearby cabin and cottage rentals is the perfect solution but Wytheville has a full range of hotel properties in every price range. For a full list of local lodging options, check the VisitWytheville lodging pages.

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