Damascus, Virginia, is a captivating town amidst the majestic Appalachian Mountains. The city beckons travelers with its enchanting natural beauty and rich history.
Damascus has an annual influx of over 20,000 visitors and firmly established itself as a popular tourist destination. The city can be enjoyed by outdoor enthusiasts, history buffs, and those seeking a serene escape from the urban clamor.
Damascus was originally established as a trading post in the mid-19th century that boasts a rich history deeply intertwined with the growth of the Appalachian region. It played a pivotal role during the Civil War, serving as a transportation hub and supply center for Confederate forces.
Damascus is known as the “Trail Town USA,” and is renowned for its proximity to both the Appalachian Trail and the Virginia Creeper Trail. It draws hikers and cyclists from far and wide. The town’s welcoming atmosphere earned it the moniker “Friendliest Town on the Appalachian Trail.”
Damascus appeals to a diverse range of interests with its unique blend of history, outdoor adventure, and cultural events like the Trail Days Festival. The town’s community spirit and warm hospitality contribute to its enduring popularity.
Damascus experiences four distinct seasons that makes it a year-round destination. Spring and fall offer mild temperatures and picturesque foliage, making them the best times to explore the trails.
Summer is ideal for water activities, while winter transforms the area into a serene wonderland for those seeking a peaceful retreat.
We will delve deeper in this article into the 16 most fun things to do in Damascus, VA. Find out the irresistible charm of the destination for travelers of all backgrounds and interests.
Whether you’re an outdoor adventurer, history enthusiast, or simply someone looking to unwind in a tranquil setting, Damascus promises a memorable experience you won’t soon forget.
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1) Virginia Creeper Trail
The Virginia Creeper Trail is a famous outdoor destination, is a 34-mile-long pathway located in southwestern Virginia, USA. It was created from an old railroad line that was once used for timber and coal transportation.
The trail got its name from the steam locomotive called the “Virginia Creeper” that used to chug along this route in the early 1900s. It played a crucial role in connecting rural communities and transporting goods.
Nowadays, it’s a renowned trail for hiking and biking that offers stunning views of the Appalachian Mountains, meandering streams, and dense forests.
Whitetop, Damascus, Abingdon, and Alvarado caters to various starting and ending points for outdoor enthusiasts and offers them some unique things to do in Damascus.
Whether you visit during the colorful fall foliage or the vibrant spring blooms, the Virginia Creeper Trail promises a breathtaking experience year-round.
Keep an eye out for wildlife such as deer, rabbits, and various bird species while enjoying your journey along this scenic trail. It’s an outdoor adventure you won’t want to miss!
301 S Beaver Dam Ave, Damascus, VA 24236, United States
2) Appalachian Trail
Damascus is known as the “Friendliest Town on the Appalachian Trail,” making it the perfect starting point for a hike along this iconic trail.
The Appalachian Trail is one of the most famous long-distance hiking trails in the world. The trail stretches over 2,190 miles through the eastern United States and offers a remarkable journey for outdoor enthusiasts.
The idea for the AT was conceived in the early 1920s and it was officially completed in 1937. One of the key visionaries behind the trail was Benton MacKaye who was a forester.
This incredible trail spans across 14 states, from Georgia’s Springer Mountain to Maine’s Mount Katahdin. Hikers encounter a variety of landscapes, including mountains, forests, meadows, and even farmland, making it an adventurous and ever-changing trek.
Some hikers take on the challenge of thru-hiking which means they hike the entire trail in one go. It usually takes several months to complete and only a few thousand succeed each year.
Hikers are treated to breathtaking views, wildlife sightings, and encounters with fellow adventurers on the trail. It’s a chance to connect with nature and find inner strength.
Trail towns, volunteers, and organizations provide support to hikers that makes the AT not just a physical journey but also a community experience. The trail has a rich history and continues to be a source of inspiration for those seeking adventure and a deep connection with the great outdoors.
208 West Laurel Avenue Damascus, VA 24236, United States
3) Trail Days Festival
Trail Days Festival is an annual event that takes place in Damascus, Virginia. The festival celebrates the Appalachian Trail and the hiking community.
This festival began in 1987 as a way to bring hikers together to share stories and experiences. It has since grown into one of the most famous gatherings for hikers in the world.
One of the festival’s highlights is the Hiker Parade. In this parade the thru-hikers dress up in creative costumes and share their trail names and unique stories.
It’s a fun and colorful event that showcases the diversity of the hiking community and offer a place to enjoy fun things to do in Damascus.
Trail Days offers something for everyone, including live music, food vendors, outdoor gear exhibitions, and even a hiker talent show. It’s a great opportunity for visitors to immerse themselves in Appalachian Trail culture.
The festival brings together hikers, locals, and outdoor enthusiasts that fosters a strong sense of community and camaraderie. It’s a place where lifelong friendships are formed and cherished.
Trail Days typically takes place during the third weekend in May. The festival attracts thousands of visitors from all over the world. It’s a vibrant celebration of the Appalachian Trail and the incredible individuals who embark on this challenging adventure.
1011 S Shady Ave, Damascus, VA 24236, United States
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4) Damascus Farmers Market
The Damascus Farmers Market is a beloved fixture in the town of Damascus, Virginia. It is known for its fresh produce and vibrant community spirit.
This market was founded in 2007 and has deep historical roots in the agricultural heritage of the region. It was created to provide local farmers and artisans with a platform to showcase their products.
The market operates from May to October and aligns with the growing season in the area. Visitors can find a wide variety of seasonal fruits, vegetables, herbs, and flowers.
In addition to fresh produce, the market features a selection of handmade crafts and artisanal goods. This includes items such as pottery, jewelry, woodwork, and more, all created by local artists and craftspeople.
The Damascus Farmers Market serves as a hub for the community. It’s a spot where locals and visitors come together to enjoy live music, engage in conversations, and celebrate the town’s warm hospitality.
By shopping at the market visitors not only access high-quality, locally grown products but also contribute to the sustainability of the region’s agriculture and the livelihood of local farmers and artisans. It’s a win-win for both visitors and the community.
127 W Imboden St, Damascus, VA 24236, United States
5) Channels Natural Area Preserve
Channels Natural Area Preserve is a geological wonder known for its unique sandstone formations and captivating natural beauty.
These sandstone formations were shaped over millions of years by natural forces that includes the freeze-thaw cycle and erosion. The result is a labyrinthine network of crevices and canyons.
The Channels provide a habitat for a variety of plant and animal species, some of which are rare or endangered. It’s a hotspot for biodiversity in the region, offering visitors to explore new things to do in Damascus.
The Channels Trail is approximately 6.6 miles long and allows visitors to explore this remarkable landscape. Hikers can venture through narrow passageways, climb rocky outcrops, and marvel at the intricate formations.
There are several scenic overlooks along the trail that offer breathtaking views of the surrounding Appalachian Mountains and the unique sandstone features below.
The area was designated as a Natural Area Preserve to protect its geological and ecological significance. Visitors are encouraged to tread lightly and help preserve this natural treasure for future generations.
The Channels Natural Area Preserve is open to the public and accessible year-round, making it a must-visit destination for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts seeking a one-of-a-kind adventure in the heart of the Appalachians.
4250 Hayters Gap Rd, Saltville, VA 24370, United States
6) Laurel Creek
Laurel Creek boasts a rich history and fascinating characteristics that make it a popular destination for anglers and nature enthusiasts.
Laurel Creek’s history is intertwined with the region’s development and it served as a vital source of water for early settlers and industries.
The creek is renowned for its fishing opportunities with a variety of fish species, including trout, inhabiting its waters. Anglers flock to Laurel Creek for a chance to reel in a prized catch.
Laurel Creek is surrounded by lush forests and rolling hills and offers a tranquil escape into nature. The peaceful sound of running water and the verdant landscape make it an ideal spot for relaxation and photography.
Laurel Creek is easily accessible that makes it a convenient destination for day trips or extended outdoor adventures. Its proximity to Damascus and other nearby attractions adds to its appeal, adding charm to the list of things to do in Damascus.
The creek’s beauty changes with the seasons and offers visitors a different experience throughout the year. Whether it’s the vibrant foliage of fall or the lush greenery of summer, Laurel Creek never ceases to captivate those who explore its waters.
812 Orchard Hill Rd, Damascus, VA 24236, United States
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7) Damascus Brewery
Damascus Brewery is a popular craft beer destination known for its rich history and unique offerings. Damascus Brewery was founded in 2009 and has quickly become a beloved fixture in the community. It was established by a local family with a passion for brewing.
The brewery takes pride in producing a wide range of craft beers, including ales, stouts, and IPAs. Their creations often pay homage to the Appalachian Trail and the town’s outdoor spirit.
The brewery’s location along Laurel Creek provides a serene and picturesque backdrop. Visitors can enjoy their beer on the outdoor patio while soaking in the natural beauty of the region.
Damascus Brewery has become a hub for locals and visitors alike that fosters a sense of community. It’s a place where friends gather, and newcomers are welcomed with open arms.
The brewery frequently hosts live music events and gatherings that adds to its vibrant atmosphere while offering visitors a place to enjoy new things to do in Damascus.
Damascus Brewery has a rotating selection of seasonal and experimental brews and offers beer enthusiasts a chance to try unique and exciting flavors. It’s a must-visit for those looking to explore the local craft beer scene in Virginia’s Appalachian region.
32173 Government Rd, Damascus, VA 24236, United States
8) Holston Mountain Artisans
Holston Mountain Artisans is located in Abingdon, Virginia. It is a thriving artisan cooperative that has played a significant role in preserving and promoting Appalachian arts and crafts.
Holston Mountain Artisans was founded in 1971. It was created as a response to the increasing interest in Appalachian traditional crafts and the need to provide a platform for local artisans to showcase their work.
It operates as a cooperative which means that the artisans themselves are involved in the management and operation of the organization. This collaborative approach allows artisans to support each other and share their expertise.
The cooperative showcases a wide range of Appalachian arts and crafts, including pottery, textiles, woodworking, and jewelry. Visitors can purchase these handcrafted items, each reflecting the rich cultural heritage of the region.
Holston Mountain Artisans is committed to preserving the traditions and skills of the Appalachian people and ensures that these art forms continue to thrive for generations to come.
The cooperative hosts workshops, demonstrations, and cultural events, providing opportunities for the community to learn and engage with Appalachian culture and craftsmanship.
Holston Mountain Artisans offers a unique and enriching experience and showcases the artistic talents and cultural heritage of the Appalachian region. It’s a place where creativity and tradition come together to create something truly special.
214 Park St SE, Abingdon, VA 24210, United States
9) Beartree Recreation Area
Beartree Recreation Area is a beloved destination known for its scenic beauty and outdoor activities. Beartree Recreation Area was established in the early 1930s as part of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) efforts during the Great Depression. The CCC built many of the park’s facilities, including picnic areas and trails.
The recreation area encompasses 625 acres of lush forests and offers visitors a chance to immerse themselves in the beauty of the Appalachian Mountains. It’s an ideal spot for hiking, picnicking, and wildlife viewing, offering unique things to do in Damascus.
Beartree offers well-maintained campgrounds with a variety of camping options and includes tent sites and RV sites. Camping here allows visitors to experience the great outdoors in a serene and peaceful setting.
The area is home to several hiking trails and includes the popular Beartree Gap Trail and Little Dry Run Trail. These trails lead to stunning vistas and provide opportunities for both novice and experienced hikers.
Beartree Recreation Area has a family-friendly atmosphere and is a great place for a day trip or a weekend getaway. It offers a chance to relax and reconnect with nature in the heart of the Appalachian wilderness.
20993 Beartree Gap Road Damascus, VA 24236, United States
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10) Sun Dog Outfitters
Sun Dog Outfitters is a well-established outdoor gear and adventure store known for its rich history and dedication to serving outdoor enthusiasts.
Sun Dog Outfitters was founded in 1992. It is a longstanding presence in the outdoor retail industry. It was created by a passionate group of individuals who shared a love for outdoor adventures.
The store specializes in providing gear and equipment for hikers, cyclists, and outdoor enthusiasts of all kinds. It’s a one-stop-shop for those embarking on adventures along the Appalachian Trail and the Virginia Creeper Trail.
Sun Dog Outfitters has played an active role in the outdoor community in Damascus and beyond. It’s a place where hikers, cyclists, and travelers come together to share stories, gather information, and connect with like-minded individuals.
The store is known for its “trail magic,” a tradition on the Appalachian Trail where hikers receive unexpected acts of kindness. Sun Dog Outfitters often participates in this tradition by offering snacks, supplies, and assistance to thru-hikers passing through Damascus.
The store also carries a range of locally made and Appalachian Trail-themed products, supporting local artisans and celebrating the region’s culture and heritage.
With its friendly and knowledgeable staff, Sun Dog Outfitters is not just a store but a valuable resource for outdoor enthusiasts exploring the Appalachian region. It continues to be a favorite stop for those seeking adventure in the area.
331 Douglas Dr, Damascus, VA 24236, United States
11) Virginia Highlands Festival
The Virginia Highlands Festival is an annual event that is a cultural celebration with a rich history and exciting attractions.
This festival was first held in 1949 which makes it a cherished tradition with a history spanning over seven decades. It was conceived as a way to celebrate the diverse cultural heritage of the region.
The Virginia Highlands Festival is a multifaceted event that encompasses a wide range of activities and interests, including art, music, literature, and crafts, offering unique things to do in Damascus.
One of its central features is the juried arts and crafts show, where artisans from all over the country display and sell their handcrafted goods.
The festival has a strong literary component, hosting book signings, readings, and discussions with renowned authors. Live music performances, theatrical shows, and dance performances add to the festival’s vibrant atmosphere.
From fine arts to food vendors and children’s activities, the Virginia Highlands Festival is a must-visit event that brings the community together to celebrate the rich cultural heritage of the region.
Virginia Creeper Trail Trailhead 300 Green Spring Road, Abingdon, VA 24210, United States
12) Grayson Highlands State Park
Grayson Highlands State Park is situated in southwestern Virginia. It is a natural wonderland known for its stunning landscapes and recreational opportunities.
The park was established in 1965 and has since become a beloved outdoor destination for nature enthusiasts and hikers.
Grayson Highlands is known for its high-elevation terrain and with some peaks reaching over 5,000 feet, offering visitors breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding mountains.
The park is home to a unique ecosystem known as a “bald,” which consists of grassy meadows and rock outcrops. This environment supports a variety of plant and animal species, including the iconic wild ponies that roam freely.
The park features an extensive network of hiking trails that includes a section of the famous Appalachian Trail. Hikers can explore lush forests, encounter wild ponies, and marvel at the unique geological formations.
There are numerous picnic areas throughout the park that makes it an excellent spot for a family outing or a relaxing meal amidst the natural beauty, offering charming things to do in Damascus.
Grayson Highlands offers both tent and RV camping and allows visitors to extend their stay and fully immerse themselves in the park’s serene wilderness.
The park is renowned for its population of wild ponies which are believed to be descendants of horses brought by early settlers. These ponies are a beloved and iconic feature of Grayson Highlands.
The park’s visitor center provides valuable information about the park’s history, wildlife, and hiking trails, helping visitors make the most of their experience.
Grayson Highlands is a year-round destination where each season offers a unique charm. Whether it’s the colorful wildflowers of spring, the cool mountain breezes of summer, or the crisp air and fall foliage, the park never fails to captivate visitors with its natural beauty.
Whether you’re a hiker, photographer, wildlife enthusiast, or simply seeking a peaceful escape into nature, Grayson Highlands State Park offers a wealth of outdoor adventures and a chance to connect with the Appalachian wilderness.
829 Grayson Highland Ln, Mouth of Wilson, VA 24363, United States
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13) Damascus Old Mill
Damascus Old Mill is a historic landmark with a captivating history and unique characteristics. The Damascus Old Mill dates back to the early 20th century and serves as a vital center for the local community’s economic and social activities.
It initially operated as a grist mill where grains were ground into flour and provided a crucial service for the area’s agricultural needs.
Over the years, the mill underwent extensive renovations to preserve its historical charm. Today, it stands as a testament to the town’s commitment to preserving its heritage.
The Damascus Old Mill has been repurposed into a versatile space that features a restaurant, event venue, and artisan market, making it a hub for both locals and visitors.
The mill hosts various live music performances and events that adds to its vibrant atmosphere and offering a platform for local and regional artists.
The mill is nestled along Laurel Creek. It offers a picturesque backdrop, making it a popular spot for photography and a serene place to enjoy new things to do in Damascus, VA.
The Damascus Old Mill is a must-visit destination that combines history, culture, and entertainment in the heart of Damascus, Virginia.
215 W Imboden St, Damascus, VA 24236, United States
14) Mount Rogers Appalachian Trail Club
The Mount Rogers Appalachian Trail Club has a rich history and plays a crucial role in maintaining and preserving the Appalachian Trail and its surrounding areas.
The club was founded in 1930 and has a long and storied history of dedicated service to the Appalachian Trail and the outdoor community, offering adventurous things to do in Damascus.
The club’s primary mission is trail maintenance that ensures that the Appalachian Trail remains accessible and safe for hikers. Its volunteers work tirelessly to repair and maintain the trail, including its footpaths, shelters, and facilities.
In addition to trail maintenance, the club is actively involved in educating the public about the Appalachian Trail and the importance of conservation efforts.
The Appalachian region is rich in cultural and natural heritage and the Mount Rogers Appalachian Trail Club plays a pivotal role in preserving and celebrating this heritage.
The club welcomes members and volunteers who share a passion for the outdoors and a commitment to the preservation of this iconic trail.
The club also organizes recreational activities, hikes, and events that allow members and the community to explore the beauty of the Appalachian region.
The Mount Rogers Appalachian Trail Club is a valuable resource and a hub for those who wish to engage with the Appalachian Trail and the natural wonders of this region.
789 Damascus, VA 24236, United States
15) Crooked Road Trail
The Crooked Road, a cultural heritage trail in southwestern Virginia. It has a rich history and offers fascinating insights into the region’s musical traditions and heritage.
The Crooked Road was established in 2004 as a way to celebrate and preserve the rich musical heritage of the Appalachian region.
This trail is renowned for its connection to American roots music, including bluegrass, old-time, and gospel. It showcases the contributions of legendary musicians from the area.
The Crooked Road stretches for over 300 miles that winds through the picturesque landscapes of southwest Virginia. It passes through small towns, offering visitors a chance to explore the region’s culture and history.
Along the trail, you’ll find venues, museums, and festivals dedicated to Appalachian music, providing immersive experiences for music enthusiasts.
The Crooked Road hosts live music performances, jam sessions, and cultural events, making it a dynamic and engaging trail for visitors to enjoy new things to do in Damascus.
The trail plays a vital role in preserving the cultural heritage of the region and ensures that these musical traditions continue to thrive for generations to come.
The Crooked Road offers a journey through the heart of Appalachian music and culture that is both educational and entertaining.
1 Heartwood Circle Abingdon, VA 24210, United States
16) Damascus Town Park
Damascus Town Park has a rich history and offers various recreational opportunities for residents and visitors. The park was established in 1961 and has served as a central gathering place for the community for over half a century.
It was initially created to provide a space for outdoor activities and community events and reflects the town’s commitment to its residents’ well-being.
Damascus Town Park boasts several amenities and includes playgrounds, picnic areas, a pavilion, and walking trails, catering to a wide range of recreational things to do in Damascus.
The park is a hub for local events and activities, such as outdoor concerts, festivals, and cultural gatherings that bring residents and visitors together.
Damascus Town Park has a family-friendly atmosphere and serene surroundings and is a great place for picnics, playtime, and relaxation amidst the natural beauty of the region.
The park is nestled near Laurel Creek and offers a scenic backdrop and opportunities for birdwatching, making it a peaceful retreat in the heart of Damascus.
Whether you’re a local looking for a serene escape or a tourist exploring the town’s attractions, Damascus Town Park provides a welcoming and tranquil environment for all to enjoy.
Damascus, VA 24236, United States
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Damascus, VA, is a hidden gem for outdoor enthusiasts and those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of city life. With its breathtaking natural beauty, friendly community, and a wide range of activities, it’s no wonder this town is a beloved destination for adventurers and nature lovers alike.
So, pack your bags and head to Damascus to experience the 16 most fun things this charming town has to offer.