Gear Up for an Unforgettable Adventure
Your Weekend Trip to Virginia's Heart of Appalachia Awaits
It’s time to escape the daily grind with a weekend getaway to Virginia’s Heart of Appalachia. When you’re needing to recharge your batteries, there’s nothing more relaxing or as invigorating as an adventure trip to the mountains.
Just five to six hours from Washington, D.C., it’s too far away to get shepherded back for weekend work emergencies, yet close enough for a short weekend to unwind.
Whether you’re on board for the full adventure or prefer to handpick your experience for a bite-sized escape, there’s always something new to see and do around the region. With a wide array of activities, sights, eateries, and stays, there’s something for everyone. So, are you the adventurous type, looking for excitement? Or are you more chill, seeking a little R&R? Don’t worry. No matter your vibe, we’ve got you.
Off-road excitement awaits…
Warning: One of the area’s most thrilling and exciting experiences might require a change of clothes. Let’s head over to the Spearhead Trails’ Original Pocahontas OHV trail system!
With approximately 94 miles of trails spread out across 2,100 acres of dense Southwestern Virginia forests, the OP trail has a unique blend of both worlds.
On the surface, you might think it’s all mud-splashin’, turn-twistin’, excitement-around-every-corner kind of fun. And you’d be right. It is one heck of a ride, satisfying the thirst for exploration you never knew you had. Yet, it’s also serene and peaceful, being that deep in the mountains. With spectacular vistas and breathtaking views, where you can pull off and take a breather, the OP trail will leave its mark on you – mind, body, and soul.
The same excitement of being in the back of your grandpa’s truck – wind taking your breath away, every bump a thrill jumping you out of your seat. And then, there you are at the top of a mountain, looking out at the blue-tinted peaks in the distance, perfectly at peace with the world below. Can’t you just hear the swooshing of the breeze and the birds in the distance? There’s nothing like that combination of adrenaline rush followed by a swell of tranquility.
And yes, rentals are available.
This one-of-a-kind adventure begins either in the little town of Pocahontas or just outside the community of Boissevain. Both trailheads offer distinctive lodging, sights, and restaurants. The Pocahontas Mine Exhibition & Museum, for example, is one stop you won’t want to miss.
Take a walk back in time…
The first of its kind in the world, the Pocahontas Mine Exhibition & Museum was first opened to the public in 1938. Today, it invites you deep into the belly of a 140-year-old mine that once fueled the American Navy, as well as homes across the U.S. Explore a 13-foot coal seam first mined in 1882 and learn how the industry operated in those early days of the 19th century.
Take a bite out of it…
Then, swing by the Ole No. 3 Restaurant & Bar for one of their gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches. Take the Diablo Grilled Cheese, for instance. Sourdough bread topped with blackberry jam, bacon, provolone cheese, jalapeños, mayo, and caramelized onions offers the perfect mixture of heat and flavor that even non-spicy food lovers will enjoy.
For those who don’t typically go for grilled cheese, there are plenty of other options – from salads, burgers, and steak to seafood and pasta. Plus, try one of their signature cocktails, like the Miners Marg, the Dust ‘N Dirt martini, or the Black Hatter sangria.
Not only do they have excellent eats, as well as specialty drinks and brews, but they regularly host talented local musicians, open mic karaoke, and Jeep and bike nights.
Stroll along Main Street…
If you’re looking for some retail therapy, let’s ride over to the picturesque Town of Tazewell, where you’ll find exceptional shopping amongst the coziest of small businesses. Gift shops, clothing stores, and boutiques abound in one of the oldest communities in Southwest Virginia.
Just a walk down Main Street Tazewell has the power to evoke a serious Hallmark Movie Moment that’ll have you feeling like the main character.
Hit the Dragon…
After a quick stop to drop off your treasures, it’s time for a wild ride on the Back of the Dragon. Whether you’re looking to cruise your sweet, little sports car with ease or whip around some of the most exhilarating curves of your lifetime, you won’t want to miss the views at an elevation of 3,500-feet. One of our favorites is a pull-off stop that surveys the entire valley below.
What’s more, there’s nothing like following a serious motorbike hanging a deliciously deep lean into a hairpin curve. Or, if you’re no rider but you’re looking for as close to the experience as possible, rent a Polaris Slingshot – a three-wheeled motorcycle – and feel the titillating energy of this 32-mile route in a whole new way. With 428 curves to tackle, the Back of the Dragon delivers in a big way.
Stop off at the Back of the Dragon Welcome Center. Inside, dragon enthusiasts can find over 5,000 square feet of retail and lounge space, featuring a coffee bar, frozen yogurt, microbrewery and self-pouring beer taps.
Outside, the Bearded Dragon gourmet food truck serves up some of the best burgers and sandwiches in the region. Don’t miss their Dragon Track Fries – crinkle-cut fries topped with their signature house-made ranch, bacon, and parmesan cheese. One of our personal favorites is the Big Kahuna Burger – a juicy, locally sourced Angus chuck burger with grilled pineapple, bacon, Swiss American cheese, sautéed onions, and sweet onion dressing. Finish it all up with their “almost famous” White Chocolate Bread Pudding.
Additionally, live music, cornhole, giant Jenga, and trivia nights make this a hotspot you’ll want to come back to time and time again.
Take it easy…
Of course, no weekend trip could be complete without the perfect place to rest your head. Luckily for you, we’ve got an unlimited variety of cabins, cottages, and retreats to make you feel right at home. From luxury cabins to quaint, country inns, Virginia’s Heart of Appalachia has accommodations for nearly every style and budget. And it’s all right at your fingertips, with many stays available through various online booking platforms.
Find your perfect match.
There’s no better time than now to take advantage of the limitless experiences that can be found in the Heart of Appalachia. For more trip ideas, don’t forget to request our Heart of Appalachia Travel Guide. Inside, you’ll find a wealth of itineraries, hidden gem locations, and activity-focused options to choose from, all scattered throughout Southwestern Virginia.