United States Route 58 is a scenic stretch of road coursing east to west across southern Virginia. One can reach Virginia Beach from Cumberland Gap on the KY/TN/VA border in 10 hours. Not the fastest route for eager beach-bounders, to be sure, but worthy of being the trip when you stretch it over a couple of days and take in these sites along the way.
In part one, we offered 213 miles worth of beautiful scenery, culture, music and more. Now, let’s check out part two: 154 miles from Hillsville to Clarksville.
Don’t miss the map at the end.
— HILLSVILLE DINER —
Virginia’s oldest continuously operating streetcar diner is Hillsville Diner in Hillsville. It was built in the 1920’s and has been operating in Hillsville since 1946. It’s the perfect nostalgic stop for cheap, short order food and an authentic diner experience.
— BLUE RIDGE PARKWAY DETOUR —
Groundhog Mountain Lookout
This detour is worth it! Take Route 52 south of Hillsville to pick up the Blue Ridge Parkway at Fancy Gap.
- Milepost 189.9: Orlean Hawks Puckett Cabin – See a preserved log cabin with rail fencing, the home of Orlean Hawks Puckett, a mid-wife who assisted with more than 1,000 deliveries from 1890 to 1939.
- Milepost 189: Doe Run Lodging – If you need a place to stay, these chalets, villas and log homes have beautiful views from their perches atop Groundhog Mountain.
- Milepost 189.1: Pilot Mountain Scenic Overlook – Check out the Carolina Piedmont below Pilot Mountain.
- Milepost 188.8: Groundhog Mountain Overlook – Here you’ll find a picnic area with grills and tables, not to mention an observation tour to take in the views.
- Exit the Parkway at Meadows of Dan to pick up Route 58
— FRESH GOODIES AT POOR FARMER’S, MEADOWS OF DAN —
Don’t pass by Poor Farmer’s, a country store dishing out homemade fudge and pies, fresh produce, hoop cheese, old fashioned candy, and plenty more. Rock a bit on the front porch while you’re there.
— SPEED IN STUART —
No, don’t speed in Stuart, but definitely find speedy things in Stuart, like NASCAR Sprint Cup stock cars at the Wood Brothers Racing Museum! The Wood Brothers have been involved with NASCAR from nearly the begining of NASCAR’s inception. Their biggest, recent claims to fame were the 2011 Daytona 500 win by driver Trevor Bayne, Glenn Wood’s induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2012, Leonard Wood’s induction in 2013, and Wood Brothers Racing’s 2014 distinction by Guinness Book of World Records for being the Longest Active NASCAR Team (64 years then, 65 now [Happy Anniversary!]). You can see the iconic number 21 car on the next track scheduled for competition, and of course, at Virginia’s tracks: Martinsville Speedway and Richmond International Raceway.
If a visit to WBR Museum isn’t enough, check out the Virginia Motorsports Museum and Hall of Fame, detailing moonshine’s contribution to the birth of NASCAR, and showcasing various cars.
— FARM STOPS FROM STUART TO MARTINSVILLE —
Take a short detour off of 58 down Route 680 to Stanburn Winery, an 11-acre family vineyard and winery. Try their Traminette, Highfly, or Cabernet Franc, all gold medal winners in the 2014 Mid-Atlantic Southeastern Wine Competition.
Seventeen miles away and continuing on Route 58 is Stonehaus Farms, a petting ranch offering one-hour farm tours featuring Nigerian dwarf milking goats, llamas, donkeys, and more. Take home a bit of the farm with soy and beeswax candles or hard cheeses.
— MORE IN MARTINSVILLE-HENRY COUNTY —
Virginia Museum of Natural History
Pay a visit to Piedmont Arts, a museum displaying beautiful, varying media from international, national and regional artists. Children have a home here, too. The Discovery Room is just for them. It’s a mini art studio!
The Virginia Museum of Natural History is also a place to play. This world-class facility is associated with the Smithsonian Institute and has many events and programs offered year round. Their exhibits include ancient life, discoveries found in Virginia, Native American life, and much more. If your visit coincides with one of their “Night at the Museum” sleepovers, you are in luck!
When considering food, there are a few places that should be on your radar:
- Rania’s Italian Restaurant – Diverse menu using fresh ingredients; homemade desserts
- Mtn’ Jax Restaurant & Pub – Salads and sandwiches for lunch; handcut steaks for dinner
- Rising Sun Breads – Organic artisan bakery offering lunch sandwiches with pasta salad and a cookie
- Wild Magnolia – “Eclectic southern cuisine” and nightlife
ALSO SEE: Murals of Virginia
Do you have have a rough and tumble child in your midst? Perhaps he or she would get a kick out of seeing a motorcross race or practice session at Lake Sugar Tree Motorsports Park in Axton.
— DANVILLE: SOUTHERN MILLIONAIRES —
No visit to Danville is complete without a drive (or walk) down Millionaires Row (Main Street). This stretch of homes is “one of the preeminent collections of Victorian and Edwardian architecture in the South.” Tobacco and textiles were the cash engines of Southern Virginia, and these homes reflect those prosperous times.
Within Millionaires Row is the Danville Museum of Fine Arts and History, which happens to find itself in storied Sutherlin Mansion, the place from which Confederate President Jefferson Davis wrote his final proclamation and met with his cabinet for the last time. It is with this history that Suthernlin Mansion is known as “The Last Capitol of the Confederacy.”
The first woman seated in the British House of Commons as a Member of Parliament was born in Danville, Virginia. Nancy Langhorne is better known as Lady Astor, and you might have also unknowingly heard of her sister Irene, the “Gibson Girl.” Visit The Langhorne House to see Lady Astor’s coronation ensemble worn to the coronations of both King George VI (1936) and Queen Elizabeth II (1952). It’s on loan from the Valentine Museum through October 2015.
In the Tobacco Warehouse District of Danville you’ll find none other than the Golden Leaf Bistro, an upscale dining option that sources local ingredients to craft seasonal specialties. They’re open for brunch, lunch and dinner, and offer a tapas menu and full bar.
Work in a fun stop for the kids at the Danville Science Center. Running off some steam and getting hands-on will do a family good.
After leaving Danville, travel east along Route 58 about 20 miles to get to the Virginia International Raceway in Alton, which is known as “America’s Motorsport Resort”. The raceway has a full calendar of events, but some of the biggest racing events this year include the Oak Tree Grand Prix, the MotoAmerica Mid-Atlantic Superbike Doubleheader, and Hyperfest, a festival that showcases a variety of car racing contests.
— SOUTH BOSTON —
Downtown South Boston
Much like Danville, South Boston has a rich tobacco heritage and a Tobacco Warehouse District. Within the district is The Prizery, an arts and cultural center. The building itself is on the National Register of Historic Places. It is so named because of its tobacco past. Tobacco was “prized” (pressed) for shipping. The leaves were pressed by the layer into barrels and those barrels were shipped for sale via the railroad or the Dan River. A visit to The Prizery today includes an art gallery, a Revolutionary War exhibit called “Crossing of the Dan,” and perhaps entertainment in the 250-seat theatre.
If you skipped Danville dining, take a look at either Smokin’ Jakes House of BBQ or BISTRO 1888. You’ll also want to take a photo with the LOVEwork at the visitor center. It captures everything that South Boston is known for, including stock car racing. If your timing is right and you have the interest, feel the thunder of roaring engines at South Boston Speedway, a NASCAR-sanctioned “Home Track” that cultivated talent like Ward and Jeff Burton, Elliott and Hermie Sadler, and Denny Hamlin.
Turn in for the night at Berry Hill Resort, a 1728 650-acre historic treasure complete with golf, spa and recreation.
— CLARKSVILLE: VIRGINIA’S ONLY LAKEFRONT TOWN —
Fishing in Buggs Island Lake
As you head into Clarksville, take Route 58 business to experience downtown. If you’re a water sports enthusiast, this is an awesome place to spend some time. Buggs Island Lake / Kerr Reservoir is Virginia’s largest lake and boasts the IGFA World Record for a blue catfish catch. Additionally, In-Fisherman named it the number one crappie fishing lake in the United States. Rent a pontoon for the day at Clarksville Marina.
Continue the journey with us on leg three of Route 58, coming soon! If you missed part one, check it out!