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Abingdon Area Guide

History, Arts, Outdoors, Theater, and More! The historic town of Abingdon, Virginia in the Blue Ridge Mountains is the perfect escape from your day-to-day. There is something for everyone to experience and enjoy in this beautiful area and at The Martha.

Explore below some of the local gems that you'll be sure to want to get out and experience while staying at The Martha. 

Abingdon, VA

Nestled in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, the historic town of Abingdon, Virginia, was incorporated in 1778. Since its inception Abingdon has been known not only for its breathtaking views, but also for a love of the arts.

Barter Theatre

It was through a local actor's love of theatre that Abingdon's most well known attraction was born. The Barter Theatre originally opened in the 1930's when Robert Porterfield, an unemployed actor and native of Southwest Virginia, brought a troupe of actors to Abingdon. The ticket price was 35 cents but as the country was in the grips of the Great Depression not all patrons could afford the price. Porterfield's desire to allow everyone the opportunity to attend the show gave rise to the theatre's name. Porterfield would accept the equivalent of the ticket price in produce thus, the playhouse became known as the “Barter Theater”. Today the Barter Theatre is honored as the State Theatre of Virginia.
Check out the latest news of their re-opening plans at www.bartertheatre.com 

The Arts Depot

The Arts Depot is located in a former railroad freight station that was purchased by the town of Abingdon and later turned into a gallery. The Arts Depot offers a Spotlight Gallery with eight visiting exhibits annually as well as the members' gallery where members of the Arts Depot Association can display and sell their work. The gallery is also a working art studio in which visitors can view artist demonstrations.

The White Mill

One of the oldest structures in Abingdon is White's Mill, constructed in 1790. The Mill is a Virginia Historic Landmark and is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Restoration is currently in progress, but visitors can still tour the mill and purchase corn meal, grits, buckwheat and whole wheat.

At The White Mill, you'll find the following merchandise: 

  • White's Mill stone ground corn meal and grits
  • Handmade quilts, fabric art, and wall decorations
  • Artwork of various styles depicting White's Mill and the southern Appalachian region
  • Books of Appalachian writing
  • CDs of local and regional music
  • Much, much more from many local artisans
Visit The White Mill's Site for More Info!

Heartwood

Entertainment, Arts & Crafts just minutes from The Martha!

The Southwest Virginia Cultural Center & Marketplace {formerly Heartwood} is a 29,000 center that introduces Southwest Virginia (SWVA) to the world and serves as a visitor center, retail center for local crafts, music venue and community space. Heartwood is a vibrant culture of tradition, food, music and craft. It's a region of spectacular views, abundant outdoor recreation, and rich natural resources. Rooted deep in history, this culture is authentic… distinctive… alive.

Visit Heartwood Website

William King Museum

William King Museum of Art is an ever-changing gallery and gathering space in the vibrant arts and cultural community of Abingdon, VA. Our exhibitions range from contemporary art made right here in our Appalachian region to fine art from all around the world.

WKMA is also home to the Betsy K. White Cultural Heritage Research Archive, one of the most thorough documentations of the rich decorative arts legacy of Southwest Virginia and Northeast Tennessee in existence. This research is reflected in our two cultural heritage galleries, which celebrate that legacy.

Visit Website

South Holston Lake

7800 acres of beautiful vistas, rent a boat, fish swim and enjoy the aqua park! 

Lakes are scarce in the Old Dominion state, making watery expanses like Southwest Virginia's South Holston Lake particularly precious. Spreading along the western edge of the Appalachian Mountains, the 7,850-acre lake is shared by Virginia and Tennessee, and is easily accessible from towns throughout Southwest Virginia, including Abingdonand Bristol.

Besides being among Virginia's more sizeable reservoirs, South Holston Lake is also one of the most picturesque. Almost two-thirds of the lake is fringed by the Cherokee National Forest, providing boaters and paddlers a serene natural backdrop. South Holston Lake is also a hotspot for wildlife, from rare songbirds to largemouth bass. There are plenty of ways to enjoy stunning South Holston Lake, so here's the complete guide to recreational opportunities on the water.

Bristol Caverns

Far below the earth's surface, in the timeless beauty of Bristol Caverns, a strange and exciting experience awaits you.

Paved, well lighted walkways wind through the vaulted chambers and along the banks of the ancient Underground River that carved these remarkable caverns from the hard core of the earth 200 to 400 million years ago. In the frontier days, Indians used the Underground River as an attack and escape route in their raids on settlers. Stealing into the area by way of the Underground River and the caverns, they swooped down on unsuspecting families, then disappeared as if swallowed up by the earth.

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Birthplace of Country Music Museum

For the real music lovers, a must-visit to this Smithsonian affiliate just 20 minutes away with interactive exhibits and live music! 

The Birthplace of Country Music Museum, an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, tells the story of the 1927 Bristol Sessions recordings, explores how evolving sound technology shaped their success, and highlights how this rich musical heritage lives on in today's music. Through text and artifacts, multiple theater experiences, and interactive displays – along with a variety of educational programs, music performances, and community events – the exciting story of these recording sessions and their far-reaching influence comes alive. Rotating exhibitions from guest curators and other institutions, including the Smithsonian, are featured throughout the year in the Special Exhibits Gallery. The museum also houses a collection of related objects, photographs and paper ephemera, and digital items.

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