There’s only one Wytheville (pronounced WITH-vill). You can search all over the world but you will not find another town with the name of Wytheville. In addition to the unique name, there are lots of special things to do in Wytheville VA, a charming small town in Southwest Virginia.
Majestic mountains, rolling hills, lush forests, sparkling lakes, small-town charm, rich history, and diverse culinary experiences all keep visitors coming back for more. The location close to the Blue Ridge Mountains is popular with visitors who desire to escape the heat of the deeper south for the cool, fresh mountain air.
Wytheville at a Glance
- Established: 1789
- Elevation: 2,287′
- Population: 7,941
Wythe County was created in 1789 and named for George Wythe, a respected Virginia lawyer, the “father of American Jurisprudence,” and signer of the Declaration of Independence.
During the American Civil War, Wytheville had strategic importance. It was attacked in 1863 (Toland’s Raid) and 1865 (Stoneman’s 1865 Raid).
Wytheville is the birthplace of Edith Bolling Wilson, second wife of President Woodrow Wilson.
The town has not been immune to tragedy. Two noteworthy fires, in 1839 and 1924, destroyed large portions of the downtown.
In the summer of 1950, the community gained unwelcomed national recognition as having the highest per capita outbreak of polio. The community’s resilience and spirit in dealing with the epidemic left a lasting impression for generations to come.
Here are the 10 best things to do in Wytheville VA:
10 Thomas J. Boyd Museum
Thomas Jefferson Boyd’s home in Wytheville opened as a museum in 1983. Nicknamed the “father of Wytheville,” he was the town’s mayor, surveyor, lawyer, hotel builder, and member of the Virginia legislature. Boyd’s namesake museum is the go-to place to study local history.
Highlights of the Boyd Museum include the town’s first fire truck, artifacts from the mining industry, documentation as the only Civil War battle to happen in this town, an old telephone operator’s station, and a wing dedicated to the gruesome history of the 1950s polio outbreak.
9 West Wind Winery
West Wind Farm Vineyard & Winery is located on a fourth-generation homestead close to the New River. Overlooking the magnificent Blue Ridge Mountains, visitors can enjoy a tasting of their hand-crafted wines and gourmet snacks or bring your own picnic. The gift store has a variety of unique boutique-style souvenirs, gift baskets, luxurious soaps, candles, and more.
8 Shot Tower
Overlooking the New River, and looking more like a fortress than a factory, the Shot Tower was built more than 200 years ago by local businessman Tomas Jackson. Completed in 1807, the tower was used to make ammunition for the firearms of the early settlers. Shot Tower is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Lead from the nearby Austinville Mines was melted in a kettle atop the 75-foot tower and poured through a sieve, dropping 75 feet down through a shaft into a kettle of water. Guests can climb the tower; however, please check ahead as temporary COVID closings have been initiated.
7 Wohlfahrt Haus Dinner Theatre
Wohlfahrt Haus Dinner Theatre is a 200-seat state-of-the-art German-themed dinner theatre that promises visitors a fun dinner theatre experience. During the four-course plated meal prepared by the in-house chef, audiences enjoy live Broadway-style performances, plays, and musicals which feature a variety of music from classic to contemporary, as well as huge production numbers with exceptional dancing.
In addition to the dinner theater, the German-themed restaurant offers the Matterhorn Bier Garten with café-style dining, and fine German wines and beers. The Wohlfahrt Haus honors the early pioneer, Wilhelm Ludwig Wohlfahrt, who settled in this area of Virginia from Germany in the late 1700s.
6 Edith Bolling Wilson Birthplace
Born and raised in Wytheville, Edith Bolling Wilson, a descendent of Pocahontas, was the second wife of President Woodrow Wilson, and America’s First Lady from 1914 to 1919. A forward-thinking woman, she was the first woman in Washington DC to own and drive an electric car and own a business.
She is sometimes referred to as “the first woman president” because after President Wilson suffered a stroke in 1919, the First Lady took stewardship of the presidency for 17 months, until the end of his term.
The Edith Bolling Wilson Birthplace Museum, located in two small buildings on Main Street, is the only museum in the country dedicated to the birthplace of a first lady. Exhibits include photographs, artifacts, books, and information about the early childhood of Edith Wilson, her marriage to Woodrow Wilson, and her time as the first lady of the United States.
5 The Log House
The Log House 1776 restaurant was my favorite place to eat, both for aesthetics and quality of food. It’s beyond a doubt the most interesting eatery in Wytheville. What began as a single lob cabin on Main Street has expanded over the years with additions, courtyards, and boutique artisan shops spanning almost a block. We ate in the original historic log cabin, the epitome of cozy with a roaring fireplace and exposed log beams overhead.
Corn fritters dripping with honey and stuffed squash casserole are their signature specialties. My Blue Ribbon steak cooked perfectly and served with warm savory blue cheese on top was delicious.
4 New River Trail Park
New River Trail is a 57-mile linear park that follows an abandoned railroad track. The park parallels the scenic and historic New River for 39 miles and passes through four counties. The trail’s gentle slope makes it great for visitors of all ages to hike, bike, and ride horseback.
The park’s Foster Falls area offers guided horseback trips; canoe and bike rentals; boat launches; gift shops; and a horse arena. There are access points to the trails at Allisonia, Chestnut Yard, Cliffview, Dannelly Park, Draper, Dora Junction, Foster Falls, Fries, Galax, Gambetta, Hiwassee, and Ivanhoe.
The park includes:
- Two tunnels: 135 feet and 193 feet long
- Three major bridges: Hiwassee – 951 feet; Ivanhoe – 670 feet; Fries Junction – 1,089 feet
- Nearly 30 smaller bridges and trestles
3 Downtown Wytheville
You’ll want to spend an afternoon exploring the charming downtown of Wytheville. Explore Main Street and surrounds on your own, or grab a walking map at the visitor’s center and hit as many of the historic sites as may interest you like, as well as a number of antique shops, unique stores, cafés, and restaurants.
2 Love Signs
Arguably the most well-known of all the state mottos, “Virginia is for Lovers” signs are sprinkled throughout the area. Each of the one-of-a-kind sign is colorful, playful, and creative. Try a scavenger hunt to find as many as you can!
1 Big Walker Lookout
Big Walker Lookout was my favorite photo op during my visit to Wytheville! The 100-foot tall observation tower protrudes from the 3,405-foot summit of Big Walker Mountain in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Highlands.
If you climb to the top of the tower, on a clear day you can see the spectacular mountain peaks of five different states (Virginia, West Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Kentucky).
Constructed in 1947, the tower is the oldest and highest private scenic attraction in Virginia, continuously operated by the Kime family. The tower hosts weekend art demonstrations and is the first stop of the driving tour on the Virginia Civil War Trails.
Where to Stay
I stayed at the Bolling Wilson Hotel, named after first lady Edith Bolling Wilson. The jewel of hotel lodging in Wytheville, the hotel has an amazing rooftop deck and bar called “The Perch” which offers stunning 360-degree sunset views of the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains that can be taken in while seated on cozy cushioned couches circling a fire pit.
Note: the hotel is very proud of the high-quality mattresses in the lovely appointed rooms, with good reason.
Where to Eat
In addition to the Log House mentioned above, a stop at Skeeter’s World Famous Hot Dogs is a must-do. Originally opened in 1925, the restaurant is among the oldest continuously operating establishments in Virginia. It moved to its current location in 1940, where it sold hot dogs for a nickel. Grab a nostalgic hot dog served on a white napkin at the vintage lunch counter.
Here are some other places for food in Wytheville.
- Graze on Main
- 7 Dogs Brewpub
- Seven Sisters Brewery
- Grayson Restaurant
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Disclosure: The author was honored to be the guest of Wytheville Convention & Visitors Bureau, but as always, the opinions, reviews, and experiences are her own.
About the Author
Patti Morrow is a freelance travel writer and founder of the award-winning international blog Luggage and Lipstick and southern travel blog Gone to Carolinas. TripAdvisor called her one of “20 Baby Boomer Travel Bloggers Having More Fun Than Millennials.” Patti is the author of the book “Girls Go Solo: Tips for Women Traveling Alone,” and has over 150 bylines in 40 print and online publications, including The Huffington Post, International Living Magazine, Washington Post Sunday Travel, Travel Girl, Travel Play Live Magazine, and Ladies Home Journal. She has traveled six continents looking for fabulous places and adventure activities for her Baby Boomer (and Gen X!) tribe.