Travel like a local.


Barter Theatre, Virginia Creeper Trail & Muster Grounds in Abingdon, Virginia

Best things to do in Abingdon Virginia - Kim Jarrett

A bridge crosses a deep gorge along the Virginia Creeper Trail, a 34-mile bicycling, jogging, and walking trail along an old railroad line from Abingdon through Damascus to White Top Mountain, in Abingdon, VA. Copyright 2012 Jason Barnette. Photo courtesy of

I’m really excited to interview Kim Jarrett of Southern Places and Faces about Abingdon, Virginia. Kim’s tips for the best things to do in Abingdon are awesome because she is a local travel writer who helps readers discover the charm of small cities across the Southern United States. She learned about Abingdon 15 years ago and it has been a dream to visit ever since. She loves the local theater, the outdoors, and, of course, the hometown cooking.

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Best things to do in Abingdon Virginia - Kim Jarrett - Barter Theatre at Christmas 944w

The Barter Theatre at Christmas. Photo courtesy of

Abingdon, Virginia

Abingdon is a small town located in the southwest corner of Virginia. While it has a small population, there is a lot of character, history, and fun for travelers to enjoy when they visit. It’s been named one of the “Coolest Small Towns in America” by Budget Travel and the best small town food scene by USA Today’s 10Best.

The city is probably best known for The Barter Theatre (the nation’s longest-running professional theater), its 34 miles of pathways along the Virginia Creeper Trail, and The Muster Grounds Revolutionary War museum. If you love exploring the outdoors, you should check out Backbone Rock, the 60-acre lake on top of a mountain at Hidden Valley, and Channels State Natural Area. Stop by the Southwest Virginia Cultural Center for a sample of the local crafts and food options. It has the area’s largest eclectic collection of art and crafts.

When you visit, the weather is pretty typical for the South. It can be hot and humid during the summer, but spring and fall are very temperate. The fall is one of the best times to visit because of the colorful leaves you’ll see around town and in the local woods. Hikers from around the world come to Abingdon to walk the Virginia Creeper Trail and embrace the fall colors. The Crooked Road Youth Music Festival and Virginia Highlands Festival are two popular local events that you don’t want to miss.

We share a lot of resources and local suggestions in today’s podcast, but you should also check out the Abingdon Virginia Visitor’s Center page, the local visitor’s bureau. They are a wealth of information and can help you plan an itinerary based on your time, budget, and interests.

If you’d like to learn how to travel for free using airline miles and hotel points, check out my free 7-day email course.

Best things to do in Abingdon, Virginia - Kim Jarrett

A clear blue sky contrasts the deep fall time colors along Main Street. Copyright 2012 Jason Barnette. Photo courtesy of

Getting around Abingdon

The local airport is Tri-Cities Airport (TRI), which is about a 35-minute drive to Abingdon. Because TRI is a smaller airport, you can look at flights through Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport (ROA) or McGhee Tyson Airport (TYS), both of which are about a 2-hour drive and are serviced by more airlines.

Kim says that, if you’re staying downtown, it’s a good idea to rent a car. The area is easy to navigate and public transportation is not an option. For the best offers, visit Avis, Budget, or Hertz.

Uber and Lyft are excellent ways to get around.

When you only need a car for a couple of hours, you can rent by the hour with Zipcar. Join now to get $25 loaded into your account.

Best things to do in Abingdon, Virginia - Kim Jarrett- Exhibit at The Muster Grounds

Displays set up inside the information building at The Muster Grounds. Copyright 2012 Jason Barnette. Photo courtesy of

Places we talked about on the podcast

Here is a map of all of the places we talked about on the podcast episode with Kim Jarrett about Abingdon, Virginia. You can zoom into the map and click on each dot to explore the city.

  • Red dots = best places to eat in Abingdon, Virginia
  • Green dots = best things to do in Abingdon, Virginia
  • Yellow dots = best places to stay in Abingdon, Virginia

Who is Kim Jarrett?

Kim Jarrett is a freelance writer and owner of the blog Southern Places and Faces. She and her husband, Steve, are traveling through the South exploring the small towns and out-of-way places. Before becoming a full-time freelance writer, Kim was an award-winning journalist and was honored by the Georgia Press Association and the Georgia Association of Broadcasters.

Best things to do in Abingdon Virgina - Kim Jarrett with husband -landscape

Kim and her husband love to explore local communities.

Kim has written numerous articles about small towns in the South and here are a few examples:

You can connect with Kim on her website and on Facebook and Instagram.

Best things to do in Abingdon, Virginia - Kim Jarrett - Abingdon Winery

The vineyard stretches along a hillside at the Abingdon Vineyard and Winery. Copyright 2013 Jason Barnette. Photo courtesy of

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Best things to do in Abingdon, Virginia - Kim Jarrett - Virginia Highlands Festival

People enjoy live music at the Street Dance Party during the 2012 Virginia Highlands Festival. Copyright 2012 Jason Barnette. Photo courtesy of

Stay tuned for our next episode

Listen to the next episode when Chantal Patton of Growing Up Without Borders shares the best things to do in Rotorua, New Zealand. In this episode, Chantal and I talk about the natural wonders of the Pink Terraces, visiting a buried village, and taking a treetop walkway in the redwoods. We hope you’ll join us when We Travel There.

What’s your favorite part of Abingdon? Send us a Tweet, let us know in the comment section below, or continue the discussion in our Facebook group!

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Related episodes

If you’re interested in visiting the South, here are a few more episodes of cities near Abingdon:


  1. Don’t forget the Historical Society on Main Street in Abingdon! We have one of the largest collections of historical and genealogical research material in Southwest Virginia.

  2. Southern transplant

    We moved to Abingdon 17 years ago from the rat race in NoVa and never looked back. The review missed one of the greatest local features – 22 mile long South Holston Lake nestled up against the mountains (highest peak in Va. is 30 miles from town) and over half the leake’s shoreline is never-to-be-built-on National Forest. Also, high humidity in the summertime is overstated. We are at 2000 ft elevation and have lovely summers.

    • Comment by post author


      Thanks for sharing about South Holston Lake. Sounds like a beautiful spot to hike and swim. We have limited time during the interviews and can never explore all of the wonderful attractions of our cities. Tips from listeners like you certainly help to fill in the gaps with your local knowledge. Have a great weekend.

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