48 perfect hours in Montgomery County: We’ll help you plan it -- all you have to do is pack a bag

Ready to fall in love with the 'Burgs of Virginia’s New River Valley?

Montgomery County is beyond beautiful this time of year. (Christina O'Connor, 2015 Random Found Objects Photography/Photo provided by Montgomery County Regional Tourism)

Did you realize Montgomery County is home to two of the largest towns in Virginia, Blacksburg and Christiansburg? This beautiful mountain valley lies just a hop, skip, and a jump over the North Carolina line.

If you’ve ever thought about visiting, or even if you’ve been to this region but perhaps you’d like to view it with fresh eyes, or really soak up a day trip, we have all the best recommendations for you.

Lisa Bleakley, the executive director of Montgomery County Regional Tourism, helped provide the following:

How to hit the open road

Your trip will be about the journey and the destination when you take Virginia State Route 8 for a scenic drive through the cradling Blue Ridge Mountains to the rolling hills and pastures of Montgomery County.

Skip the interstate and opt for the back roads. It’ll be a fun adventure, plus, this is the perfect time of year for it.

Pro tip: Grab a bite and take in some awe-inspiring surroundings when you stop at Tuggles Gap at Mile Post 165.2 in the town of Floyd. Route 8, by the way, parallels the Blue Ridge Parkway, which you can see below. Stunning, right?

Blue Ridge Parkway is iconic, and known for attracting travelers, leaf-peeping opportunities and more. (Photo provided by Montgomery County Regional Tourism)

The views at Tuggles Gap are spectacular -- especially lately, as the leaves turn from summer green to majestic gold and crimson, Bleakley said. And while the the fall foliage might be fleeting, the positive Virginia vibes are here to stay, she added.

Psst: Can you identify all four “Virginia LOVE” signs between Floyd and Blacksburg?

Keep in mind the active music scene

In Southwest Virginia, not only do the motorcycle riders and car enthusiasts appreciate the crooked road to Christiansburg from Route 8, but so do music aficionados.

The Crooked Road; Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail is dotted with music venues along the route, all the way to Montgomery County. And while it’s true that 2020 has caused many indoor live music events to go on hiatus, you still might want to start planning now if you’d like to see nationally known bluegrass bands in-person in venues around Montgomery County in the future.

We’re thinking you’ll want to hit up the Floyd Country Store or the Little River Bluegrass Barn, sometime in 2021. Mark your calendars now! Get a taste for it.

But in the meantime ...

Thankfully, the region has plenty to do right here, right now, in the great outdoors, considering where the world still stands when it comes to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A look at Sinkland Farms (Sarah Hauser, Virginia Tourism Corporation/Provided by Montgomery County Regional Tourism)

You’ll definitely want to stop by the local-favorite Sinkland Farms, which is known to host a six-week-long Pumpkin Festival, complete with a corn maze, pick-your-own pumpkins and plenty of children’s activities. As the sun sets, the bonfires, music and Sinkland’s own craft beer comes out for some adult fun, Bleakley said.

Plan for a stop in downtown Christiansburg

You can’t miss a stroll through the county seat.

Stop into Great Road on Main for expertly made coffees, pastries and sandwiches.

Mockingbird Café and Bakery is a few blocks away for more locally made goodies.

Love antiques? Antiques on Main is wonderful little stop with 16 dealers.

Further down into adjacent Cambria is Charlottes Web II. The 1908 three-story historical General Store sits across from the Train Depot. You may even get to see a passing train up close if you shop long enough.

Even more local fun can be found at the nearby Christiansburg Aquatic Center, a state-of-the-art facility that serves as a recreational amenity and the home pool for Virginia Tech Swimming & Diving. Pretty cool, huh? There’s something for everyone in Christiansburg, Bleakley said.

Next up? A farm

Beliveau Farm Winery is just 9 miles from downtown Blacksburg, and it’s here you’ll taste award-winning wines and gluten-free beer.

The farm is incredibly expansive, family friendly, and again -- there are just so many options. You can hit the hiking trails, explore a lavender farm or pick the perfect picnic spot to relax and sip the day away.

One more pro tip: The LOVE sign on the farm would make for a picturesque Instagram post, Bleakley said.

Need some more outdoorsy ideas?

The Jefferson National Forest sits a few miles outside of downtown Blacksburg.

Pandapas Pond and Poverty Creek Trails offer daytime recreation, such as fishing, hiking, and mountain biking.

And once you’re done with nature for the day, mosey on over to downtown Blacksburg, where you can find a plethora of boutiques and eateries.

Some foodie plans and beyond

Before you nail down the dinner situation, take a few minutes to scope all your options.

On Draper Road, very close to the newly expanded outdoor dining area, you’ll want to explore eateries such as Gillie’s, known for its creative vegetarian dishes, to the Black Hen and Bar Blue, where Chef T, a former “Hell’s Kitchen” contestant, connects the farmer-to-restaurant-to-customer, for a full-circle culinary offering.

Speaking of farms, local farmers and artisans bring their products to the Blacksburg Farmers Market each week, all year round, Bleakley said.

If you’re in a nostalgic mood, pop over to John’s Vintage Records. It’s small but mighty, with a wide selection of quality material. The Moss Arts Center is within a short walk of Draper Road and hosts rotating art exhibits in its gallery spaces. Although live performances have not yet resumed, tickets are available for a virtual series called HomeStage.

And now, let’s rest

After all that recreation, let’s take a deep breath.

There are plenty of lodging accommodations throughout the county.

Clay Corner Inn (Photo provided by Montgomery County Regional Tourism)

You’ll find nationally known hotel brands to independents such as Clay Corner Inn -- complete with a view of Lane Stadium, home of the Virginia Tech Hokie football team -- and Main Street Inn, a 34-room boutique hotel in the heart of downtown Blacksburg.

If you need retail therapy before a good night’s sleep, check out Uptown Christiansburg. The new Christiansburg Marketplace and the New River Valley Mall might hit the spot, Bleakley said. There are more lodging options on this end of the county, where you can also hop on the Huckleberry Trail, a “rails to trail” greenway that connects Blacksburg and Christiansburg.

This trail now approaches 11 miles with one terminus ending in the Jefferson National Forest and the other at Christiansburg Recreation Center.

You can also find ROAM bike rental stations at a few locations along the way, just in case you didn’t arrive on two un-motorized wheels.

It might be worth visiting these businesses' social media pages and checking on things like hours and any changes or tweaks they’ve made due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. But otherwise, let’s venture out, support local businesses and see what new experiences might be just a few hours from home.

And there you have it: All the best tips from a local expert. Now, who’s up for a little weekend adventure?

If you’ve heard of wanderlust, you might have heard it represents a strong desire to travel, but in Virginia, we call that feeling #WanderLove. Though travel hasn’t looked quite the same this year as previous years, you can still fulfill your #WanderLove by exploring Virginia’s beauty with an epic road trip, in just a day’s drive.