Need a weekend away? Hit the rails to enjoy these 5 charming Virginia destinations

Peter Watson

Whether you're looking for a weekend in the hills, a mooch around an art gallery, or just some time to unwind, here are five delightful Virginia getaways all easily reached by rail.

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Lynchburg in Virginia is perfect for a weekend awaySean Pavone/Shutterstock

Located midway between New York and Florida, Virginia is in the Mid-Atlantic region. One of the most fun and exciting parts about exploring Virginia is just how much variety you’ll find in the Old Dominion.

The Commonwealth takes you from the beach to the mountains, with bustling cities and charming small towns.

Whether you like to slow down and relax when you travel, or you like your vacations action-packed and heart-pumping, you’ll find so much to love here.

Find Your WanderLove in Virginia (Video: Virginia is for Lovers)

Even better, you can skip the drive and take the train to many of Virginia’s wonderful vacation destinations. Amtrak’s nine-passenger rail routes and 23 stations offer a wide array of options.

Stretch out and enjoy the journey in wide, comfortable reclining seats with plenty of legroom. Break out your devices and take advantage of the complimentary Wi-Fi service and in-seat power outlets.

And, if you need a little refreshment, visit the café car, where sandwiches, salads, snacks and hot and cold beverages are available for purchase.

Ready to head out on a little getaway? Here are five inspiring destinations all best visited by rail. Take a look and see how you’d make them your own!

Hilly getaway – Lynchburg

Amtrak Station: Lynchburg, Virginia (LYH)

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Lynchburg is ideal for accessing the Blue Ridge MountainsVirginia Tourism

The Blue Ridge Mountains are stunning, but their beautiful foothills also offer many charms – like Lynchburg, the “City of Seven Hills.”

It’s a vibrant and historic city that keeps getting better with time, offering new forms of adventure, entertainment, amusement and relaxation.

Lynchburg is the home of Randolph College, Lynchburg College, Virginia University of Lynchburg and Liberty University, and is a center of cultural activities such as concerts, plays, lecture series and art shows.

200+ years a city! Lynchburg, Virginia (Image: lynchburgvirginia)

Thomas Jefferson's Poplar Forest is in Lynchburg, the home of Anne Spencer - the Harlem Rennaissance poet - and Dr. Jerry Falwell's Thomas Road Baptist Church.

Lynchburg is the launch site for the Batteaux Festival every summer, where crews dressed in period clothing use poles to navigate their batteaux down to Richmond on the James River.

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Relaxing getaway – Ashland

Amtrak Station: Ashland, Virginia (ASD)

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Ashland is located in the center of VirginiaVirginia Tourism

Ashland is full of small-town charm and friendly hospitality. Located right in the center of Virginia, it’s affectionately known as the “Center of the Universe” by residents for its central location within the state.

Make your first stop at the Ashland/Hanover Visitor Center on the tracks. The historic building was built in 1923 and was originally the RF&P Train Station. Make sure to grab a Self-Guided Walking Tour of Ashland brochure.

Dine at Caboose Market & Cafe in Ashland (Image: ashlandvirginia)

Stroll down tree-lined streets, explore historic sites and enjoy unique shops and restaurants. Or, if you do want a few thrills, check out the nearby amusement park Kings Dominion.

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Artsy getaway – Staunton

Amtrak Station: Staunton, Virginia (STA)

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Staunton is a walkable cityVirginia Tourism

Staunton is conveniently located in the heart of Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley.

Named “One of a Dozen Distinctive Destinations in the United States” by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Staunton was also the first Virginia community to receive a “Great American Main Street Award.”

Known for its magnificently preserved architecture, Staunton is best explored by foot. It’s an extremely walkable city, with a compact downtown featuring stunning, carefully preserved architecture and over 100 unique shops, art galleries and restaurants.

Explore the Shenandoah Valley from Staunton (Video: Virginia is for Lovers)

For all things arts and culture, you can’t miss the charming city of Staunton. Added to the area’s museums, historic sites and theatres, you’ll stay busy on your visit.

Staunton also offers nine Bed and Breakfasts housed within beautifully restored buildings.

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Get-outside getaway – Culpeper

Amtrak Station: Culpeper, Virginia (CLP)

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Culpeper is a great base for outdoor activitiesVirginia Tourism

The scenic Culpeper countryside offers stunning views – and a plethora of opportunities to hike, bike, canoe, fish and ride horses.

Or, take in some fresh air and walk around the revitalized downtown area, filled with art and antiques, quaint shops, country stores and foodie-friendly restaurants.

A stellar example of the Virginia Main Street program, the Town of Culpeper has rejuvenated its downtown with extraordinary shopping and dining.

Flavor on Main restaurant in Culpeper (Image: visitculpeperva)

Downtown is filled with art and antiques, unique shops, and more. World-class restaurants and classic diners cater to every taste in food and atmosphere.

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One-day getaway – Manassas

Amtrak Station: Manassas, Virginia (MSS)

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Manassas is known for its Civil War historyVirginia Tourism

If you only have time for a quick trip, you can’t miss Manassas.

Known for Civil War history, Manassas originated in 1852 at the junction of two railroads that linked Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C. with the Shenandoah Valley and Richmond.

Manassas battlefield (Image: thespookystuff)

Manassas features wonderful museums and a charming historic district, perfect to explore on a day trip. Explore Old Town Manassas where family-owned shops and restaurants line picturesque streets.

You’ll learn a little, shop a little, meander a little – and definitely eat a little.

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How to plan your weekend getaway

  1. Head to Virginia.Amtrak.com to book your tickets for a comfortable and convenient travel experience.
  2. Book at least 14 days in advance to save up to 25%, or check out their everyday discounts on offer.
  3. Amtrak is happy to be part of your adventures in Virginia!

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Peter Watson is a writer, photographer and adventurer. A keen trekker and climber he can usually be found on the trails of the Greater Ranges. He’s visited over 80 countries and is currently focused on climbing the seven summits – the highest mountain on every continent. Four down, three to go... He has also travelled extensively around the US developing a penchant for American backcountry, abandoned buildings and natural wonders en route.

Phoenix, AZ
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