Spring is here and after the wild winter of 2014 you deserve a break! Leave the winter blues behind and escape your day-to-day routine with a relaxing long weekend to renew your spirit, recharge your body, and reconnect with loved ones. Grab the special people in your life and break away to Martinsville-Henry County, Virginia this spring. Here’s a suggested three-day itinerary to help you get started.
Friday – A Day to Explore
Arrive in the morning and start your trip with a visit to the Martinsville-Henry County Visitor Center. There you’ll find maps, coupons, information on area attractions and lots of helpful advice. Be sure to pick up a walking map of the Martinsville Uptown Retail & Dining District while there.
Using the Uptown map and convenient community-wayfinding signage as a reference, you can navigate your way around Uptown on foot to explore a variety of museums, galleries, and shops. Parking is free, so take your time! Be sure to stop in at Studio 107, where you can see local artisans working in a variety of mediums such as wood turning, stained glass, jewelry making, and fiber art. Taking home a unique gift is extra special when you’ve actually met the person that created it.
While exploring Uptown Martinsville, be on the lookout for public art installments. There are several murals throughout the district that you can visit including the Circus Mural, depicting a 1920’s scene when circus elephants paraded through town announcing their upcoming performance. Another mural titled “Old Glory” features a 38-foot-wide American Flag painted by the renowned artist Scott LoBaido. An interesting fact is that this particular work was painted in just one day by LoBaido, who is known for his talent at speed painting.
By now, you should have worked up an appetite and are ready to eat lunch. Enjoy dining at one of the nearby restaurants in Uptown, but save room for desert. No trip to Church Street is complete without a visit to Uptown Sweets for a freshly made gourmet cupcake. Owner, Colleen Butker and her staff prepare a variety of flavors each day that include peanut butter, thin mint, orange creamsicle, and cheesecake, just to name a few. A quick stop at this cheerful pink storefront will have you smiling for the rest of the afternoon.
For the afternoon, take a short drive to the village of Fieldale. This community was built in the early 1900s by Marshall Field and Company for employees of their textile mill. Visitors can discover the rich history of textiles in Martinsville-Henry County by visiting the Textile Heritage Trail in Fieldale. This quarter-mile looping trail tells the story of textiles from the very first mill, Martinsville Cotton Mill in 1909, all the way to the present day companies such as Solid Stone Fabrics which continue to grow and thrive in the community. For those wanting a longer walk, the Textile Heritage Trail connects to the Fieldale Trail allowing you to enjoy three more miles of nature along the scenic Smith River.
Venturing further into the community of Fieldale you’ll come across a very bright and colorful 1950’s prototype Shell Service Station that has been carefully restored by collector, R.B. Hundley. No longer a functional service station, Fieldale Antiques carries a variety of antiques and collectibles for sale as well as an impressive collection of automotive and service station memorabilia. Aside from the eye candy for car buffs, a major draw to this destination is the weekly Mountain Music Jam held every Friday afternoon at 1 pm. Join the fun by singing and clapping along to the music.
For dinner, a variety of dining options await you, but if you want to get the taste of Martinsville, head over to Checkered Pig BBQ (also known as Pigs R Us) for its award-winning BBQ, brisket, and ribs. This hometown hero has been featured nationally on the Food Network and Destination America for its champion recipes.
They say that you can’t spell Martinsville without “art” and by night the community comes alive with music and performing arts. Catch a theatrical performance, improv show, concert or open mic night. Several options are offered throughout the community each week. TheatreWorks’ Black Box located in Martinsville Uptown offers a season full of top-notch productions for visitors to enjoy throughout the year.
Saturday – A Day to Unwind
After a rejuvenating night of sleep, head out to take in the beauty of nature at Philpott Lake. The breathtaking view from the lake’s overlook showcases the pristine serenity of this 3,000 acre lake. While there you can hike along nearby trails, visit the Philpott Dam Museum, or just enjoy reading a book and relaxing at this scenic vantage point.
Be sure to plan ahead and schedule yourself some “me time” at the Village Spa for pampering. Tranquil fountains in a stone courtyard welcome guests to this day spa where you can enjoy a couples’ massage, facials, relaxing spa pedicures, and more.
After being pampered and perhaps taking a nap back at the hotel or B&B, take a leisurely bike ride along the Dick & Willie Passage Rail Trail (D&W). Simply visit The Bike Barn and show your photo ID for complimentary use of a bicycle and helmet. Along the 4.5-mile-long linear trail you’ll find a series of signs telling the story of the railroad in Martinsville-Henry County and fascinating points of interest along the way. Several spur trails off of the D&W lead to nearby restaurants and attractions. Sip a cup of coffee, explore an area museum, shop, and enjoy the day.
For dinner, be sure to visit Wild Magnolia, one of Martinsville’s hidden gems…literally. Tucked behind Patrick Henry Mall, the casual dining atmosphere offers southern eclectic cuisine, unique craft brews, and is home to the $5 martini. Dine inside or out on the patio overlooking the Blue Ridge Mountains. An insider’s tip: be sure to check out the sweet potato fries with wasabi dipping sauce.
Sunday – A Day to Remember
For your final day in the area to round out the experience, plan to sightsee on the water. You can book a 1-6 hour guided canoe or kayak trip on the Smith River with Smith River Outfitters. Many options are available, depending on current river conditions, ranging from exciting class II/III rapids to more calm paddles on still water. The scenery of rock outcrops, riverside flowers, and wildlife while relaxing on the river will have you begging to come back for more.