Some time ago, someone remarked to me that Wytheville is one of the most delightful towns in Southwest Virginia to spend a day but it never gets the recognition it deserves. I set out to spend some time in there and discover what enriching or fun activities it might hide.
I was surprised with what I found. Even a simple stroll down the historic Main Street proved to be enjoyable. You can see history written in the architecture of aging buildings and if that wasn’t enough, there are several historical markers to educate you on topics that might surprise you.
As its name would suggest, Wytheville is named after “the father of American Jurisprudence” George Wythe. However it was not always known by this name. The first official name of the Wythe County seat was Evansham after a powerful local resident. Nearly half a decade after it adopted this name, a fire devastated the town and it was renamed to Wytheville.
However, its name might lead you to believe that the most powerful figure associated with the town is George Wythe but what might surprise you is that that’s not true. A much more recent and revered character called Wytheville her home for some time. Edith Bolling Wilson was born in Wytheville. You can find the only museum in Virginia dedicated to the birthplace of a former first lady there today. She was a remarkable and influential woman. Coming from a powerful family and being a direct descendant of Pocahontas, she later married Woodrow Wilson and served as first lady during his time in office. She is known as “the first woman president” or the “secret president” because of the responsibilities that fell upon her shoulders after Woodrow suffered a stroke while in office. From her museum to the Bolling Wilson Hotel to a mural dedicated to her honor; you can see the influence today she still casts over the community.
Which is only one of the many stories you might learn by exploring Wytheville. Virginia is a state especially concerned with its history and Wytheville is no exception. The town has a vibrant collection of Museums to boast.
Edith Bolling Wilson Birthplace Museum – You can learn of the fascinating life and legacy on one of the most influential women in American history. Its often overlooked that such an individual was a Southwest Virginia resident and it is certainly worth stopping by to learn about her life.
Haller-Gibboney Rock House Museum – A must see if you are a fan of museums. This house listed as a Registered Historical Landmark served as the home of Wytheville’s first resident physician. Dr. John Haller created a legacy that the Haller-Gibboney house has embodied ever since. The house has served as a center of education, an infirmary, and a boarding house. Today it is preserved in a means of recreating what it might have represented in past centuries. Giving visitors an appreciation of how life in Wytheville might have looked in years long past.
Thomas J. Boyd Museum – Another great museum to learn about the history of Wytheville and Wythe County. It includes a wealth of knowledge on civil war era Wytheville and the polio epidemic that shook the town.
Great Lakes to Florida Highway Museum – The original route that ran from Ohio all the way to Florida passed through Wytheville. Route 21 is a classic American roadway that you can learn about at this museum through old memorabilia and newspaper clippings.
African American Heritage Museum – This museum tells stories and displays memorabilia showcasing the African American history in Wythe County. It is a great place to learn about a different side of history in the region and is very informative about what education looked like prior to desegregation.
There are many other historical places to visit in Wytheville but if history isn’t your forte then fret not. Here are some other great places to check out while in town.
7 Dogs Brew Pub – Southwest Virginia is home to a blossoming and vibrant brewery scene. Wytheville has not been excluded from this boom. 7 Dogs is an excellent place to relax and unwind. It offers live music alongside an extensive craft beer menu.
Seven Sisters Brewery – Seven Sisters is a reason to visit Wytheville in itself. Not only does it offer a great menu alongside live music but it captures the Southwest Virginia experience in a building, in a glass. There is no lack of fun to be had or memories to be made.
Crepe House and Creamery – If you’ve ever visited a crepe house before then you know just how much of a treat they can be. Here you can satisfy your taste buds whether they long for something sweet or savory without breaking the bank. I cannot recommend stopping here enough.
Jojo’s Attic – I never visit downtown Wytheville without shopping here. Jojo’s sells a mindblowing variety of antiques and other miscellaneous items. Everyone in the family is bound to find something to take home after stopping by Jojo’s.
Local Artists and Sellers – An enchanting art gallery featuring local artists and an inspiring story. Opened by a local artist at the age of 18, it stands as a beautiful collection of art representing the creative minds of the area and the fruits of determination and courage in the face of youth.
Log House Restaurant – Another definitive stop in Wytheville. Not many places can offer you fine dining and far fewer can offer you an 18th century fine dining experience. It is housed in a house originally built in 1776 and later converted into a dining space. Featuring transportative decor, a gift shop, an amazing menu, and a truly colonial experience, this is a restaurant you do not want to pass up.
Moon Dog Brick Oven – You might recognize this name from its other locations throughout the area. If you do then you know just how extraordinary their pizza is. Wytheville has its own Moon Dog in the heart of downtown.
Open Door Cafe – An incredible restaurant that is one of the few non-profit restaurants in the country. In a push to address food insecurity, Open Door Cafe has a pay what you can policy alongside a pay it forward program. Customers become donors and a cafe becomes a beacon of light and good deeds in the community.
Dutch Boy Furniture – Your one stop shop for all your furniture needs. Featuring quality furniture constructed in the USA, Dutch Boy is one of the premier furniture stores in the region. Even if you’re not in the market for new furniture, browsing their collection of beautiful pieces is a fun way to pass the time.
- R. Sturgill Fine Jewelry – One of the best jewelry stores in the state sits just off the street in downtown Wytheville. Continuing a long line of high quality passion and craftsmanship that started in 1961, P. R. Sturgill’s is hard to beat.
Wiffle Pops – Perhaps the funnest stop if all of Wytheville, Wiffle Pops get their name from the mispronunciation of their hometown. A special treat on a hot summer day, Wiffle Pops has some of the best artisan popsicles and gelato around
Rose Cottage School of Art – A delightful staple in the Wytheville community, Rose Garden is the perfect place to journey through your creative side. Hosting fun events for the community in addition to classes of many different kinds, Rose Cottage is the perfect place to explore your creativity
Skeeter’s – Any list of places to visit in Wytheville would be amiss without mention of Skeeter’s World Famous Hot Dogs. Skeeter’s has had a presence in the town dating back to 1925 and has sold millions of hot dogs since. It even made the list of top 64 Hot Dogs in America in Every Day Magazine
This list is only a beginning. An introduction into the beauty and fun Wytheville has to offer. Go out and enjoy what caught your mind’s eye here. Go out and find something that I missed. Go out and enjoy one of Southwest Virginia’s hidden gems.