November 28, 2021

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Southwest Virginia: Best Living and Recreation Winners 2021

Entertainment & Events

Annual Charity Event

1st: Rooster Walk Music & Arts Festival

675 Hobson Rd., Martinsville, 276-650-1583

Since 2009, Rooster Walk has been held on Pop’s Farm, outside Martinsville. Set for May 27-30, 2021, the lineup includes The Infamous Stringdusters, The Floozies, Chamomile and Whiskey, and more. Enjoy the music, food, and craft beer vendors and kids’ activities. As of 2020, the festival has raised more than $210,000 for local and regional charities.

2nd: Community School Strawberry Festival

Roanoke, 540-563-5036

3rd: Guns and Hoses

Roanoke, 540-853-2241

Art Event

1st: Virginia Highlands Festival

Downtown Abingdon, 276-623-5266

The first Virginia Highlands Festival was held in 1949 to preserve and celebrate the cultural heritage of the area. Over the decades, it has grown to include even more artists, craftsmen, and performers from Virginia’s Southwest. Organizers take pride in the worldly cultural and creative exchange it provides.

2nd: Hungry Mother Arts and Crafts Festival

Marion, 276-200-4095

3rd: Expressions at Piedmont Arts

Martinsville, 276-632-3221

Art Gallery

1st: Piedmont Arts

215 Starling Ave., Martinsville, 276-632-3221

In 2021, this award-winning gallery in the heart of Martinsville’s Arts and Cultural District celebrates its 60th anniversary of connecting the community through visual arts, performing arts, and arts education. In addition to curated exhibitions by regional, national, and international artists, the gallery also offers concerts, plays, children’s performances, and art classes for all ages.

2nd: Floyd Center for the Arts

Floyd, 540-745-2784

3rd: The Arts Depot

Abingdon, 276-628-9091


1st: Taubman Museum of Art

110 Salem Ave. SE, Roanoke, 540-342-5760

The Taubman Museum of Art offers a lively mountain mix of arts, culture, and outdoor fun in the heart of downtown Roanoke. The museum consists of 11 galleries and originates 15 to 20 exhibitions per year. Featured artists have ranged from John James Audubon to Kehinde Wiley.

2nd: Virginia Museum of Natural History

Martinsville, 276-634-4141

3rd: Birthplace of Country Music Museum

Bristol, 423-573-1927

Historic Site

1st: Barter Theatre

127 W. Main St., Abingdon, 276-628-3991

The Barter Theatre opened its doors in 1933, proclaiming “with vegetables you cannot sell, you can buy a good laugh,” referring to the ticket price being equivalent to a piece of produce. It has a long history of innovation, big dreams, and the Appalachian culture of tenacity that has ensured the theater’s survival and prosperity for more than 87 years.

2nd: Mabry Mill

Meadows of Dan

3rd: Mill Mountain Star

Roanoke,, 540-853-2000

Tourist Attraction

1st: Blue Ridge Parkway, 828-670-1924

The majestic highland boulevard of the Blue Ridge Parkway winds through the Appalachian mountains and sees about 15 million annual visitors. Along with providing scenic corridors of the tri-state region of Virginia, North Carolina, and Tennessee, the Blue Ridge Parkway also offers a broad range of recreation, shopping, lodging, dining, and support services to the community.

2nd: Barter Theatre

Abingdon, 276-628-3991

3rd: George Washington and Jefferson National Forests

Pembroke, 540-552-4641


1st: LOVEwork at Black Dog Salvage

902 13th St. SW, Roanoke, 540-343-6200

Each LOVE sign installation is a reflection of the community in which it stands and the LOVEwork at Black Dog Salvage is no different. This sign was created at the custom fabrication shop using a mix of industrial and musical elements, hand-hewn pine beams, and German stainless steel brewing piping. It can be seen on two episodes of Salvage Dawgs.

2nd: LOVEwork in Martinsville-Henry County

Martinsville, 276-632-8006

3rd: LOVEwork in the Town of Rocky Mount, 540-483-0907

Food or Drink Festival

1st: Martinsville Uptown Oktoberfest

2 W. Church St., Martinsville, 276-632-6401

The Martinsville Uptown Oktoberfest first began in 1979 as a fundraiser for the local Christmas parade and was continued by the Martinsville Uptown Revitalization Association to stimulate economic growth and business development. The festive event attracts more than 200 vendors and offers attendees children’s rides, bouncy houses, family entertainment, a beer garden, and more.

2nd: Roanoke Greek Festival

Roanoke,, 540-362-3601

3rd: Blacksburg Fork & Cork, 540-443-200

Non-Food Festival

1st: FloydFest

894 Rock Castle Gorge Rd., Floyd, 888-823-3787

FloydFest is five days of music, magic, and mountains, featuring outdoor adventures, vibrant vendors, quality brews and chews, workshops and whimsy, children’s activities, camping and community, art installations, and a lineup featuring more than 100 performing artists. Its mission is to provide the best music festival experience of our time in a visually stunning environment of mountainous Southwest Virginia.

2nd: Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion, 423-573-1927

3rd: Blue Ridge Folklife Festival

Ferrum, 540-365-4412

Historic Theater

1st: Barter Theatre

127 W. Main St., Abingdon, 276-628-3991

The Barter Theatre, established in the midst of the Great Depression, has a long and acclaimed history of theatrical excellence. It is the nation’s longest-running professional theater and has served as the launching pad for many golden-age actors and actresses. Today, it is recognized as the State Theatre of Virginia and offers extraordinary live experiences to rural Virginia.

2nd: The Grandin Theatre

Roanoke,, 540-345-6377

3rd: The Lyric

Blacksburg, 540-951-0604

Music Venue

1st: Harvester Performance Center

450 Franklin St., Rocky Mount, 540-484-8277

Harvester Performance Center opened in April 2014 with the mission of bringing people to Rocky Mount to enjoy live music and experience the town’s charm. Its first national act to perform was The Indigo Girls and it has since had stars like Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, and Brandi Carlile grace its stage.

2nd: Floyd Country Store

Floyd,, 540-745-4563

3rd: Elmwood Park

Roanoke, 540-853-2236

Sports Venue

1st: Lane Stadium

185 Beamer Way, Blacksburg, 540-231-6731

Beloved by Hokies and billed as the toughest place in college football for opponents, Virginia Tech’s Lane Stadium is part of the New River Valley’s mountainous skyline and in 2021 will celebrate its 57th year in Blacksburg. Rising roughly 2,057 feet above sea level and seating more than 66,000 people, Lane is one of America’s most well-known collegiate stadiums.

2nd: Calfee Park Baseball Inc.

Pulaski, 540-980-1070

3rd: Cassell Coliseum

Blacksburg, 540-231-6731

Wedding or Special Event Venue

1st: Mountain Lake Lodge

115 Hotel Cir., Pembroke, 540-626-7121

Imagine exchanging vows where a beloved romantic movie was filmed. Mountain Lake Lodge is a rustic, historic hotel that sits on 2,600 acres of Giles County, and it’s known as the setting for the 1987 hit Dirty Dancing. A popular venue for weddings and other celebrations, you’ll have the time of your life there.

2nd: Hotel Roanoke, 540-985-5900

3rd: The Barns at Chip Ridge

Abingdon, 276-356-2216

Professional/Regional Performing Arts Company

1st: Barter Theatre

127 W. Main St., Abingdon, 276-628-3991

Since 1933, the Barter Theatre has merged the big city theater experience with the charm of small-town Abingdon. With performances of plays and musicals scheduled throughout the year, this truly one-of-a-kind historic theater has been offering Moonlite Drive-In movies throughout the pandemic and is excited to showcase its live, in-person 2021 season starting in April.

2nd: Mill Mountain Theatre

Roanoke,, 540-342-5740

3rd: Wohlfahrt Haus Dinner Theatre

Wytheville,, 888-950-3382

Entertainment Center for Adults

1st: Wine & Design

438 Peppers Ferry Rd. NW, Christiansburg, 540-381-6964

Unleash your inner artist at Wine & Design and enjoy a painting party accompanied by your favorite beer or wine. Wine & Design is the perfect destination for bachelorette parties, baby showers, girls’ night out, team building, and so much more. The studio now offers “free paint” Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 10 a.m.-1 p.m.

2nd: Blue Ridge Axe Throwing

Roanoke,, 540-309-5222

3rd: Uptown Pinball

Martinsville, 276-224-7139


Bed & Breakfast

1st: Early Inn at the Grove

50 Floyd Ave., Rocky Mount, 540-524-2525

Tucked behind the pines, the Early Inn at the Grove is an 1854 Greek-revival boutique hotel that rests on 10 scenic acres. Take a stroll through the wildflower-covered property, settle into the historic library with a good book, or enjoy drinks on the patio from the Breezeway Bar. Every guest leaves feeling pampered and well-rested.

2nd: Clay Corner Inn

Blacksburg, 540-552-4030

3rd: Black Dog Inn and A Tailor’s Lodging

Abingdon, 276-628-7119


1st: Hotel Roanoke

110 Shenandoah Ave., Roanoke, 540-985-5900

Built in 1882, the Tudor-style Hotel Roanoke features 329 luxuriously appointed guest rooms and a 63,000-square-foot high-tech conference room. Once the site of a major railroad junction, this luxurious building received a multi-million dollar restoration in 1993 and remains the grand centerpiece of the City of Roanoke.

2nd: The Martha Washington Inn & Spa

Abingdon, 276-628-3161

3rd: Mountain Lake Lodge

Pembroke, 540-626-7121


1st: Mountain Lake Lodge

115 Hotel Cir., Pembroke, 540-626-7121

The newly renovated Mountain Lake Lodge has a century-long reputation for extending excellent hospitality. Located at the peak of Salt Pond Mountain and offering panoramic views, the resort is a nature reserve, enjoyed annually by not only brides and grooms, but also birders, hikers, and adventure seekers. This Giles County getaway will leave guests feeling refreshed.

2nd: Primland

Meadows of Dan, 866-735-4077

3rd: The Martha Washington Inn & Spa

Abingdon, 276-628-3161


Dog Groomer

1st: Rufflections Pet Grooming

207 Broad St., Marion, 276-378-0780 Founded in December 2012, Rufflections Pet Grooming was the first pet salon of its kind to open in Smyth County. Its mission is to show love and respect to all pets in its care and strive to grow its skills, knowledge, and techniques by attending workshops and seminars on pet grooming.

2nd: Little Wet Noses Dog Grooming

Rocky Mount, Facebook: Little Wet Noses, LLC, 540-243-9247

3rd: Pampered Pets Grooming LLC

Blacksburg, 540-961-5621

Dog Park

1st: Abingdon Dog Park

300 Stanley St., Abingdon, 276-623-5279

Abingdon Dog Park is a one-acre park surrounded by five-foot fencing, accessed through a double-gated transition area. Amenities include a small dog running area, benches for pet parents, waste supply stations, covered garbage cans, and two on-site water fountains: one human-sized and one for furry friends.

2nd: Highland Park

Roanoke, 540-853-2236

3rd: Salem Rotary Club Dog Park

Salem, 540-375-3057

Dog Training Company

1st: Off Leash K9 Training

300-B Roanoke St., Christiansburg & 2445 E. Washington Ave., Suite 102, Vinton, 540-750-1955

Off Leash K9 Training is an independent and woman-owned business dedicated to providing obedience and behavioral modification services for household pets throughout the region. Off Leash offers training for the real world, providing a baseline so owners can focus on creating the healthiest relationships with their pets.

2nd: High Hopes Dog Training

Roanoke, 540-343-3849

3rd: Beyond Sit and Stay Professional Dog Training

Chilhowie, 276-685-1154

Pet Boarding/Day Care

1st: Kut & Fluff Pet Grooming & Lodging

16352 Lee Hwy., Bristol, 276-669-4430

Kut & Fluff Pet Grooming & Lodge owners Boyd and Teri Hodgson have more than 20 years of experience in animal health care and grooming, and strive to provide only the best services. Their facility includes a geriatric ward, a separate three-story area for cats, and a camera system for monitoring your pets from your smartphone.

2nd: Flying Fur!

Newport, 540-544-9663

3rd: Canine Cottage

Roanoke, 540-206-3647

Veterinary Hospital

1st: King’s Mountain Animal Clinic

5086 King’s Mountain Rd., Collinsville, 276-647-3714

Since 1977, King’s Mountain Animal Clinic has been serving the Collinsville community with a progressive, highly skilled staff that are passionate about animal health care. Their full-service veterinary services offer state-of-the-art technology to diagnose and treat your beloved pets. Compassion, affordable cost, and quality care are their priority pillars of business.

2nd: Tipton Ridge Veterinary Medical Center

Pulaski, 540-980-0186

3rd: Roanoke Animal Hospital, 540-343-8021


Day Care or Preschool

1st: Carlisle School

300 Carlisle Rd., Axton, 276-632-7288

Founded in 1968, the Carlisle School offers a transformative learning experience with a balanced curriculum that promotes kindergarten readiness through language, literacy, mathematics, science, creative art, and more. Dedicated to nurturing the development of every pre-k child, the program is enhanced by project-based learning, an outside discovery center, and Tucker Signing Strategies for Reading.

2nd: Second Presbyterian Preschool

Roanoke, 540-342-6405

3rd: Rainbow Riders Childcare Center

Blacksburg, 540-552-3636

K-12 Independent School

1st: Carlisle School

300 Carlisle Rd., Axton, 276-632-7288

Nurturing students from pre-kindergarten to high school, the Carlisle School is a family-oriented institution that strives to enrich and diversify the lives of its students. This independent college preparatory academy provides a positive, safe environment for academic excellence and character development while preparing students to become leaders of a global society.

2nd: Blacksburg New School, 540-552-6693

3rd: Cornerstone Christian Academy

Abingdon, 276-623-7164

Summer Camp

1st: Southwest Virginia 4-H Educational Center

25236 Hillman Hwy., Abingdon, 276-676-6180

Located in Washington County, the Southwest Virginia 4-H Educational Center has been serving the community at its historic 79-acre facility since 1960. Located on a property of rolling meadows and woodlands, the center provides affordable, accessible day and residential camping programs that focus on educational and cultural enrichment and outreach.

2nd: Camp Carysbrook

Riner, 540-382-1670

3rd: Camp Bethel Ministries

Wise, 276-328-6876

Family Entertainment

1st: Hungry Mother State Park

2854 Park Blvd., Marion, 276-781-7400

Hungry Mother State Park has something for everyone, serving as an outstanding basecamp for your family’s adventures. With more than 3,000 acres of land, you can hike, go on a 17-mile bike ride, or try water sports on their 108-acre lake with a swim beach and boat rentals. The dedicated staff is committed to making every experience memorable.

2nd: Barter Theatre

Abingdon, 276-628-3991

3rd: Floyd Country Store

Floyd, 540-745-4563


1st: Hungry Mother State Park

2854 Park Blvd., Marion, 276-781-7400

The playgrounds at Hungry Mother State Park are places where children can enjoy nature and explore the outdoors. The playgrounds are conveniently located around campgrounds, picnic shelters, an amphitheater, and a snack bar.

2nd: Randolph Park

Dublin, 540-674-1513

3rd: Explore Park

Roanoke, 540-427-1800

Outdoors & Active

Golf Course

1st: Primland

2000 Busted Rock Rd., Meadows of Dan, 866-735-4077

In 1977, Dider Primat purchased the 10,000 acres that would become Primland with the vision of creating an immensely beautiful place that offered guests a return to simple human pleasures. Primland’s environment is eco-conscious and thoughtfully designed, the ultimate retreat for world-class golf, refined dining, and other outdoor activities.

2nd: Pete Dye River Course of Virginia Tech

Radford, 540-633-6732

3rd: Chatmoss Country Club

Martinsville, 276-638-2484

Gym or Fitness Studio

1st: Carilion Wellness

Locations in Blacksburg Roanoke, 540-853-0000

The Carilion Wellness Center has helped people find their strength and confidence for more than 40 years. The team at Carilion Wellness is proud to help members of the community reach their goals by providing all ages with the best athletic opportunities and fitness classes in the area.

2nd: The Weight Club

Blacksburg, 540-951-2949

3rd: Blacksburg Boxing and Fitness, 540-315-3231

Hiking or Biking Trail

1st: Virginia Creeper Trail

300 Green Spring Rd., Abingdon

The Virginia Creeper Trail stands out from others due in part to its long, storied history and uniquely beautiful landscape. The alpine-forested scapes near Whitetop roll through the agricultural area of Damascus all the way to the more suburban Abingdon—the trail sees more than 225,000 outdoor adventure seekers annually.

2nd: Cascade Falls

Pembroke, 540-921-2079

3rd: Dick & Willie Passage Rail Trail

Martinsville, 276-634-4640


1st: Hungry Mother State Park

2854 Park Blvd., Marion, 276-781-7400

Built by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression, Hungry Mother State Park is one of Virginia’s original six state parks. Located in Smyth County, the park has a mission to conserve the natural, scenic, historic, and cultural resources of the Commonwealth and to provide recreational and educational opportunities for future generations.

2nd: Fairy Stone State Park

Stuart, 276-930-2424

3rd: Breaks Interstate Park, 276-865-4413