Drive Time from NoVA: 3 hours
Small Town Charm
Thanks to its picture-perfect Main Street and low-key vibe, this college town (it’s home to Longwood University) epitomizes the quintessential American hamlet. You’ll find a quaint bakery, a discount furniture empire, several opportunities for outdoor adventures, avant garde and African art, a civil rights museum and several tasty restaurants where you can take a load off and refuel after a day of taking it all in. It’s the kind of place you grow up in, leave in search of something more exciting—and then end up returning to when it’s time to settle down and raise a family. And while it’s definitely family-friendly, Farmville now features a trendy boutique hotel that’s perfect for a romantic getaway when you need a break from the hustle and bustle.
Main Street is really the heartbeat of Farmville, and a visit here is incomplete without an afternoon ambling through the business district. Start with a coffee from Uptown Coffee Cafe and maybe a cookie or other pastry from Mill Street Sweets. As with any bakery, you’ll want to get there early for the best selection. Design fanatics know that Farmville is the home of Green Front Furniture, a sprawling home goods and discount furniture store that takes up several warehouses and showrooms downtown. It’s so large, you should pick up a map to help you figure out which of the 16 buildings house whichever brand or style of furniture you’re in search of. Other notable stops downtown include the Longwood Center for the Visual Arts, which features two floors of gallery space, and the Moton Museum, a former high school that showcases the state’s civil rights struggles.
Just a few blocks from the center of downtown is an access point to High Bridge Trail State Park, a 31-mile trail for hiking, cycling and horseback riding that features a stunning stretch that takes you over the historic 2,400-foot-long High Bridge, which offers nature lovers a view of the Appomattox River from 125 feet above. Be sure to read the placards about its significance during the Civil War. The Outdoor Adventure Store, conveniently located next to the trail, caters to those in need of a bike rental, proper clothing or outdoor gear. Bring plenty of water while exploring the trail, and plan to stop into Three Roads Brewing Company or The Virginia Tasting Cellar when you get back into town for something a bit stronger.
When hunger strikes, try the popular and fairly new North Street Press Club for sandwiches and globally inspired dishes like Thai rice noodle salad and chicken tikka tacos from the owner of The Fishin’ Pig, which features American comfort foods. One19 is another popular newcomer, serving outstanding cocktails, Tex-Mex and Southwestern-inspired dishes alongside excellent house-made salsas. Walker’s Diner is a longtime favorite for breakfast fare.
After downtown has been thoroughly explored, hop in the car for a drive over to Hampden-Sydney College in the next town over to peep at the grounds and historic buildings that date back to when the college was founded in 1775. Get the heart pumping again with a visit to Sandy River Outdoor Adventures in nearby Rice, Virginia, for a three-hour ropes course excursion in the treetops for ages 7 and older. Not far from downtown, you’ll also find Wilck’s Lake Park, a 150-acre park that encompasses a 55-acre lake stocked with fish and a playground.
Make it a Weekend
The boutique hotel, Hotel Weyanoke, opened a block away from Main Street and across the street from Longwood University less than two years ago, lending this tiny town a cool, new vibe. The hotel features the aesthetic of midcentury modern fused with industrial chic. For something a little more rustic, book a glamping teepee or log cabin at the aforementioned Sandy River Outdoor Adventures. Each features a fully equipped kitchen, full bathroom, Wi-Fi and linens—but also access to a grill, fire pit, a garden and fresh eggs, and a discount on all adventure activities on the property.
What the Locals Know
Beverley Roberts moved to Farmville seven years ago when she took the job as director of operations at the Longwood Center for the Visual Arts, and it didn’t take long for her to fall for her new community. “I didn’t grow up in a small town, but it’s a welcoming atmosphere, and everyone is so friendly,” she says. When family comes to visit, she starts with art. “People always want to tour Longwood,” she says. “A lot of our collection is on display on Longwood’s campus. Our downtown is a place I take people. There’s just really wonderful restaurants and businesses, and it’s just fun to walk up and down Main Street. If the weather’s nice, I’d say High Bridge Trail. The view from the bridge is amazing. It’s nice to have a trail that connects to downtown, and you can hop on it and walk as much of it as you want to.”