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Explore the Hills of Virginia

Take the Crooked Road and cruise your way through American-music history

concert at the Blue Ridge Music Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia

rabh images / Alamy Stock Photo

The Blue Ridge Music Center is one stop along the zigzagging byways that are Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail.

Day 1: Rocky Mount to Floyd (40 miles)

En español | Head out from Rocky Mount, where The Artisan Center Along the Crooked Road offers one-stop shopping for regional crafts. Cruise to tiny Floyd at Milepost 213 on the beautiful Blue Ridge Parkway, where the Blue Ridge Music Center hosts free afternoon concerts from May through October and a “Roots of American Music” exhibit. The iconic Floyd Country Store’s Friday Night Jamboree is a magnet for lovers of bluegrass, mountain and gospel music. Enjoy homemade soup and hand-dipped ice cream at the lunch counter, or get footloose on the dance floor.

Where to stay: The rustic Ambrosia Farm Bed and Breakfast, a restored 200-year-old farmhouse, is about three miles from Floyd. 

banjos and guitars standing up on stage

NSADCO Photography / Alamy Stock Photo

Catch a performance at one of the many music venues along the Crooked Road.

Day 2: Floyd to Nickelsville (167 miles)

If it's a Saturday, you may want to stay for the Floyd Country Store's Americana music jam at noon. Allow 2.5 hours to reach the small community of Hiltons (maybe stop for delicious barbecue in Galax at the Galax Smokehouse) for the Saturday-night show the Carter Family Fold, which is part of the Carter Family Memorial Music Center, a nonprofit performance and preservation center for traditional music. Music icons Maybelle Carter and daughter June, talented wife of Johnny Cash, have passed on, but other family members host the 7:30 p.m. weekly performances of old-time mountain music in a large rustic wooden shed. Alcohol and electronic instruments aren’t allowed, but Appalachian clogging is. Before the show, tour the Carter Family Museum.

Where to stay: The Sugar Maple Inn, a B&B a half hour from the Carter Family Fold, is in the tiny town of Nickelsville

two cows in a field

Alamy Stock Photo

Wind through country roads before enjoying a wine tasting or trail walk.

Day 3: Nickelsville to Abingdon (34 miles)

Enjoy back-road scenery — ambling cows, ancient barns — on your way to Abingdon. Allow time to inspect local crafts, quilts, jams and art at the Heartwood complex, a cultural center with information on regional history and arts that also hosts a bountiful Sunday brunch. Visit the Abingdon Vineyard and Winery for a tasting, or walk or bike a segment of the 34.3 mile Virginia Creeper Trail. Catch a musical act or a play at the historic Barter Theatre in Abington, where cash-strapped patrons once paid for their tickets with produce.

Where to stay: The Martha Washington Inn & Spa, one of America’s classic grande-dame establishments, is where you can end your day in a white wicker chair on the sweeping porch. 

Birthplace of Country Music Museum at night

John Cornelius / Alamy Stock Photo

The Birthplace of Country Music Museum dives into the region's rich musical traditions.

Day 4: Abingdon to Bristol (16 miles)

Congress proclaimed Bristol the birthplace of country music, citing 1,927 recording sessions involving the Carter Family, Jimmie Rodgers and others. The Birthplace of Country Music Museum tells that story and includes fascinating exhibits. You'll also hear tunes spilling from clubs along State Street (one side is in Virginia; the other, in Tennessee). Thousands flock to September’s three-day music festival in Bristol, Rhythm & Roots Reunion, with performances on multiple outdoor stages — hog heaven for music lovers. 

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