Cheré Dastugue Coen
Weird and Lovely Wytheville
There’s plenty of the delightfully unusual to love in the historic Virginia town of Wytheville (pronounced With-ville), nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains southwest of Roanoke. With a boutique hotel, several wonderful dining options and the top-notch Wohlfahrt Haus Dinner Theater, Wytheville also makes for an ideal weekend getaway.
But here’s what we love about Wytheville:
Spread it on thick
We started the day with hot coffee, eggs, grits and biscuits and gravy at Grayson Restaurant, a homespun diner where breakfast is served all day. We knew the food would be delicious when we spotted the town’s residents (i.e. cops) enjoying coffee and eggs.
Bolling for Wilson
Edith Bolling Wilson, second wife to President Woodrow Wilson, was born in Wytheville, and there’s a museum that tells visitors all about her fascinating life. She’s related to Thomas Jefferson and Martha Washington, a direct descendant of Pocahontas, and was the first woman in Washington, D.C., to obtain a driver’s license and drive a car. She became president of the Girls Scouts, starting a tradition, and assisted her husband after his stroke in office, primarily carrying on the duties of president as a woman who wasn’t allowed to vote at the time.
“Edith grew up to be one of the most influential women in American politics,” said Morgan Herbert, executive director of the Edith Bolling Wilson Birthplace Museum on Main Street. “And controversial.”
The museum is located across from the Bolling Wilson Hotel, a boutique property that includes a lounge and café, rocking chair porch and stylish guest rooms.
The 100-foot observation tower at Big Walker Lookout appears imposing but the walk up wasn’t as bad as we expected. The payoff makes it worth the sweat. At its top on a clear day visitors may see five states, owners insist, making Virginia’s oldest privately-owned attraction a view where “only the birds see more.” Owned by the Kime family, the attraction includes an old-time store where visitors can buy locally produced items, enjoy ice cream from a Roanoke creamery (get the lemon crunch!) and listen to authors read from their books and musicians play.
Something for everyone
Enjoy dinner at the Log House 1776 Restaurant, which lives up to its name for the original building dates back two centuries. That log house has been swallowed up by numerous other buildings — but you can still eat in the original section, — resulting in a maze of rooms filled with nooks and crannies that seem to go on forever. And that’s not all. There’s a garden, an aviary of doves, gift shop with many of its items for sale in every corner of the massive restaurant and bunnies! Go for the food, but take time — lots! — to explore.
A few other odd things include:
Outside of Wytheville Office Supply lies a pencil of enormous proportions. How do they sharpen that thing? If the oversized art piece inspires you, check out Oracle Books across the street.
There are seven dog paintings on the walls of 7 Dogs Brew Pub, located in a historic building downtown. But cat lovers don’t dismay, there’s a kitty in there as well.
Feed wild animals at Fort Chiswell Animal Park, featuring animals from six continents running free in nearby Max Meadows. The Safari Bus takes visitors into the animal zone where Cheeto the Giraffe and Puff the Camel greet visitors up close and really personal.
For more information about Wytheville, go to www.VisitWytheville.com.