A Weekend Excursion to St. Paul and Norton Part 1
When looking for fun things to do, you don’t have to look far in Southwest Virginia. When I was searching for something fun and new, I came across a lot of exciting options in St. Paul and Norton. I decided to plan a two-day weekend excursion to the area, and today I want to share that journey with you. Because I had a lot of options, I chose to spend one day in each location to soak in as much as I could. I didn’t get to do everything I wanted, but that is all the more reason to visit again!
Day 1: St. Paul, Virginia
My drive to St. Paul begins on a beautiful ride across Route 19 from Abingdon to Hansonville. Along the way, you can expect to enjoy beautiful Southwest Virginia scenery and a great time with your companion(s). When arriving in Hansonville, a simple turn onto US 58 Alt W will send you straight to your destination. I enjoy simple directions because getting lost is often my specialty on these adventures!
I didn’t know everything the day would have in store for me, but I knew I was in for some adventure!
When arriving in St. Paul, I was immediately filled with joy for the quaint and welcoming atmosphere. As I walked down the sidewalks, I was happily greeted by various people sitting outside shops. That small-town hospitality is something I’ll never get enough of. The town has also done a great job of laying out sidewalks and crosswalks. It made it easy to explore all of downtown on foot. My downtown adventure came to a halt when I arrived at my first destination.
Tubing Down the Clinch River
One thing on my to-do list was to either tube or kayak on the Clinch River. I had heard so many great things about it and I had never done either of those things before. Luckily for me, Clinch Life Outfitters is located just downtown and they were happy to accommodate me. I ordered a couple of tubes and transportation to the drop-off location and we were off!
This two-hour tubing adventure was pure fun and relaxing. My only job was to just sit back and soak in the sites and sounds along the Clinch River. The river was mostly calm and cool aside from a couple of minor rapids (which only added to the fun). Along the ride, I came across other tubers and kayakers who were also enjoying their day. I even saw a group of locals meet an individual from New York. They chatted as we all floated down the river and even made friends. It was a great experience getting to see these strangers come together and engage in a conversation.
At the end of the tubing experience, I was greeted at the pickup point by our guides. They helped us out of the river and took our tubes back to the outpost for us. This was truly a great experience and if you have never tried it, I highly recommend it.
Checking in at the Western Front Hotel
After soaking up the sun (and maybe a bit too much) it was time to check-in at the Western Front Hotel. I chose this spot because I love to support as much local business as I can. The hotel is also located right on the main strip of downtown St. Paul which made it quite convenient for this trip. I was very pleased with my stay and highly enjoyed the atmosphere of the hotel. The staff was extremely helpful and polite, and they made me feel right at home.
The Western Front is a boutique hotel that is well themed according to the Clinch River experience. Behind the check-in desk is a wall of neat fishing reels and lures, which fit in perfectly. The rooms were numbered with oars and rustic lamps outside each of the doors, which only added to the aesthetics. Finally, the rooms were the perfect accommodation. My room had a cool retro-looking mini-fridge, rustic lamps by the bed, an incredible bathroom, and even a sitting area.
My room wasn’t the only great impression I got from my stay. Completing the hotel is a gift shop, two outdoor terrace spaces, a back lawn area with a stage, and a fire pit, as well as a wonderful restaurant, ina+forbes. We wanted to try and eat at least a couple of locations in St. Paul, so we left the hotel as our dinner option. I was pleased with this option as we had great meals from Chef T, who I also had the opportunity to meet!
The dining experience was outstanding. There was live music being performed, great menu options, and the atmosphere was friendly and social. It was charming to see so many local friends and business owners coming together at the end of a long day and rejoice with one another.
Sugar Hill Brewing Company
Backing up from dinner (I tend to get ahead of myself), I had an afternoon lunch at Sugar Hill Brewing Company. I had seen a lot of fantastic food images of theirs on social media, and I knew it was something I had to try. Aside from the food, I’m also a fan of craft breweries, and I wanted to try some of their brews. Because I knew I had to save some room for dinner, I opted into ordering a couple of appetizers and a dessert instead of a full meal.
I love fried pickles, so that was definitely my first choice. It was also suggested to me to try the pimento cheese balls which were placed atop a sweet and spicy sauce. I’ll be the first to admit that I am no pimento cheese fan, but I will be ordering these pimento cheese balls on every visit to the brewery in the future. They were packed full of delicious complimentary flavor and fried to perfection. The same can be said about the fried pickles as well. While enjoying my appetizers, I really got to soak in the atmosphere of the brewery. I really enjoyed it here. The music was great, the air was cool, and the overall look of the brewery was industrial and fun.
The icing on the cake (or the caramel on the cheesecake) was perhaps one of the best highlights. My server suggested trying this caramel glazed cheesecake and I am glad she did. I typically don’t save room for dessert, but if all desert is this good, I’m going to save room for it in the future.
Lastly, I might add that Sugar Hill Brewing recently added a game room to their downstairs area which is accessible just outside the main entrance. The game room was a nice touch. It had plenty of pool tables, a couple of arcade games, and a television. It was definitely a fun place to hang out before heading back to the hotel.
I Cannot Wait to Go Back
Excitement to head back to St. Paul is an understatement. Although I got to do so many exciting things, there is so much more I want to try out. Around the area, there are walking trails and parks I wish to visit, and even ATV rentals and trails to ride them. The ATV rentals are through the Western Front Hotel and they even have package deals pairing the ATV rental with your stay.
If you’re looking for a lot of fun and excitement, I highly recommend visiting St. Paul and exploring the many options you have there. While you’re visiting you can also travel to the city of Norton, which is only about a 20-minute drive away. That’s how I planned out my trip and it worked out perfectly! I invite you to stay tuned for my next post about my travels in Norton. I visited two wonderful outdoor locations just outside of the city, Flag Rock and High Knob. Two very beautiful scenic overlooks you must visit!