Abingdon Press Room
Visitors who come to this picturesque Blue Ridge Mountain town are typically looking for some serious play time. Whether the play is on stage at Barter Theatre, the state theatre of Virginia, or in the great outdoor playground of the Blue Ridge Mountains, it’s always play time somewhere in town.
Starting in downtown Abingdon, the Virginia Creeper Trail owes its unusual name to the old steam engines that slowly labored up the steep mountain grades with heavy loads of lumber and iron ore. The multi-purpose trail runs along a railroad right-of-way that dates back to the 1880s. Today, it is widely considered one of the finest rails-to-trails examples in the east. The trail is used by walkers, runners, horseback riders and lots of bikers. Access is easy: numerous bike rental shops will shuttle riders to the highest point on the trail for a modest fee. The easy downhill ride and awesome views of the Mount Rogers area make The Virginia Creeper Trail a family favorite.
Biking or hiking the Creeper Trail is just one of many ways to play in the outdoors in the Abingdon area. The Appalachian Trail through the nearby Mount Rogers National Recreation Area offers some of the most unique terrain in Virginia with wild ponies grazing on the grassy bald knobs and views that extend all the way into North Carolina. In the area, you’ll also find world class fly fishing, rock climbing, and enchanting natural beauty.
People come from all over the United States to see a performance at the famous Barter Theatre. When it first opened its doors during the Great Depression, patrons could buy a ticket by bartering produce or livestock. The theatre became known as a launching pad for rising stars like Gregory Peck, Patricia Neal, Ernest Borgnine, or Ned Beatty. Eight decades later, this professional theatre performs year-round in two unique venues, and is still the epicenter of Abingdon’s cultural life.
For those whose idea of play time includes shopping, nightlife or live music, fun is always on tap. Main Street and the historic downtown district are filled with unique shops and galleries. A craft beer brewery and winery are nearby. Abingdon offers culinary adventures as well, with a food scene that is rooted in Appalachian traditions. Mountain trout, stone ground grits, heirloom apples and pastured pork products are all on the menu at Abingdon’s restaurants.
With only 8,000 residents, Abingdon packs a lot of culture and recreation in to a small town.
Barter Theatre is the State Theatre of Virginia, and one of the oldest continuously operating professional theatres in the nation. With two venues, and multiple plays performing in repertory, Barter puts on over 25 plays each year.
The Virginia Creeper Trail was just inducted in to the Rail-to-Trail Hall of Fame. This former railroad bed begins in Abingdon, and winds its way over 34 miles through Damascus, VA to Whitetop Mountain, near the North Carolina border. Over 100,000 people use the multi-use trail each year. WIth its gentle, even grade, The Virginia Creeper Trail is fun for the whole family.
Craft and visual arts are thriving in Abingdon, with a variety of small galleries and larger arts venues. William King Museum of Art features rotating art exhibits of world art, contemporary Appalachian art, and Appalachian cultural heritage. Watch artists showcase their skills as they work in their studios at the Arts Depot. One of the oldest craft cooperatives in the country, Holston Mountain Artisans has been featuring locally-made
crafts since 1971.
Visit Heartwood: Southwest Virginia’s Artisan Gateway, to begin your exploration of the region’s rich music, craft, and food. Heartwood is the hub of The Crooked Road, a 333-mile driving trail highlighting traditional music, as well as Round the Mountain, an artisan trail.
Recent Press and Accolades
Abingdon named one of the 10 Best Southern Small Towns by USA Today, ranking #2 of 10. June 2015.
The cultural documentary “Barter Theatre: Trading Ham for Hamlet,” produced by Blue Ridge PBS, has received a 2014 regional Emmy Award.
The Virginia Creeper Trail was inducted in to the National Rail-Trail Hall of Fame in April 2014.
Amanda Leslie Livingston