Photograph by Becki Falwell
GPS: 37°23'N 79°11'W
On the James River in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the vibrant community of Lynchburg's recreational options are plenty: hiking in the Blue Ridge Mountains or on the Appalachian Trail, swimming and boating on Smith Mountain Lake, and skiing at the nearby Wintergreen Resort (www.wintergreenresort.com), to name a few.
Consider climbing the unique Trestles: three abandoned sandstone towers constructed as the foundation of an 1850s railroad bridge. They reach as high as 70 feet (21 meters), with a 5.11b difficulty grade—and are right next to a relaxing swimming hole for post-scrambling cool-offs. Lynchburg is also a hiker's paradise. Drive just two hours north, and you'll find yourself in Shenandoah National Park. Check out the steep Beecher Ridge Trail, which follows part of the AT through dogwoods and past waterfalls (www.nps.gov/shen).
Take a scenic drive to Bedford, and visit the intimate Millstone Tea Room. They grow their own greens out back, raise their own egg-laying hens, and rotate the menu daily to match seasonal availability. Try their jumbo lump crab cakes, collards with smoked sausage, and heavenly key lime pie (www.millstonetearoom.com).
Ivy Creek Farm B&B offers breakfast on a veranda, afternoon wine and hors d'oeurves, and amenities including an extensive library and an indoor heated swimming pool (doubles from $149; www.ivycreekfarm.com).