When I told people I was going to Lynchburg, Virginia, they asked me why I was going there or where it was even. I went to visit my bf’s sister there and for sightseeing tried to figure out what there was to do. Luckily things were already planned for us in terms of where to eat and what to see.
Not to bore you with the many details of what we didn’t see, but here are some highlights of points of interest in Virginia and my review of each:
Cracker Barrel Old Country store & restaurant – Supposedly a chain restaurant, serves country style cooking. Tried the chicken fried steak and dumplings. Has a kids meal for all age groups (great for those with small appetites). We went before closing so they ran out of some of the side dishes we had wanted to try. They have a large general store at the front selling retro candies and lots of stuff you would find in Grandma’s kitchen for sale. They even sell outdoor rocking chairs for the porch/patio. Definitely a neat experience although food was just ok.
Mister Goodies – Definitely busy in the summer time in Lynchburg, but a must have, is a visit to Mister Goodies – an ice cream truck located in a parking lot behind CVS on Timberlake Road. Serving up soft-serve cones and other specialty treats, this place serves up large portions. A small ice cream cone towered 5-6 inches! I never went back to figure out how big the large was, but still quite curious about that. They ran out of the apple dumpling the day I went, but heard that was a delicious treat as well.
Silver Pig BBQ– Small BBQ joint that serves North Carolina styled BBQ, chopped pork BBQed and either in a sandwich or on a plate served with greasy deep fried Hush Puppies and Cole Slaw. Also has Brunswick stew, baked beans, and homestyle peach cobbler for dessert. The menu is small, the food is greasy, but well done for a place in Lynchburg. Love the pig decor they have at this place!
The Villa Diner – This restaurant serves Italian, Greek and American food, but we came here in Charlottesville, VA, specifically for the pizza! Located near the University of Virginia, The Villa Diner serves up delicious pan pizza. We tried the Villa Special – their supreme pizza with pepperoni, onions, ham, green peppers, italian sausage, hamburger, bacon, black olives, mushrooms and anchovies (we asked for no anchovies but still ended up with it!). The ingredients were fresh and the pizza was delicious. We also ordered an order of Buffalo Wings, nice big pieces of juicy chicken, and their Ultimate Baked Spaghetti – my fave! It had large meatballs, sausage and mushrooms baked into the cheesy spaghetti. Large enough for 2 people to share as a meal. We definitely had more than enough food for 4 people at the table.
Natural Bridge Caverns – Explore the underground caverns located near the Natural Bridge in Virginia, more than 34 stories deep. In the summer this is a great indoor activity to escape the heat, as you are so far down that it is nice and cool. We got to see interesting rock formations and caves, natural formations with minerals, stalactites and stalagmites. Fun for families, but note: it is a guided tour only attraction so need to pay. Admissions range from $9 – 28 per person depending on age and if buy in package with the Natural Bridge tour or not. They also have a student rate with ID.
Virginia Safari Park – This was by far my favorite attraction and highlight of my trip to Virginia. We came across this park while visiting the Natural Bridge Caverns when a tourist mentioned how amazing and fun it was. A short 10-15 minute drive from the caverns, it’s pass the zoo. Don’t confuse the zoo for the safari park. This safari allows you to drive your own car through the park. Note: drive real slow so you don’t run over any small animals you might not see over your dashboard! It was like driving through an African safari minus the predators. We saw gazelles, watuzis (African cow with giant horns), camels, llamas, ostriches, emus, deer, zebras, and more! Plus there’s a walking part of the safari where you can see the predators (tigers, monkeys, and even kangaroos). You have the option to buy feed to feed the animals while you are driving (I recommend not doing so unless you risk wanting to have your hands pecked at by hungry animals), and also have an area to feed the giraffes. A must if you are in Virginia! Admission is by person not by car, $10-15 per person depending on age.
Poplar Forest – Thomas Jefferson’s summer home is located in Forest, Virginia, a short drive outside Lynchburg. This was where I learned more about the personal history of Thomas Jefferson and how he made this location his place to go for peace and quiet away from his main residence – Montecito, located in Charlottesvilla, VA. It is currently still being reconstructed and restored to its natural state when Thomas Jefferson lived there, as it succumbed to a fire in the late 1800s. Previously is also had a large plantation that Jefferson oversaw. Great historical significance to visit Jefferson’s summer home. Admission includes guided tours and self-guided tours of the house and the plantation grounds, ranges from $2-14 per person depending on age.