There is something for everyone in the greater Washington County area.
Washington County is in Southwest Virginia near the Blue Ridge Mountains, which surround Abingdon and provide residents and visitors with great scenery. A majority of Washington County is also in the Great Valley region of Virginia, which includes lakes, rivers and streams for fishing and boating, and also accessible to adventurers are the Appalachian Trail and the Virginia Creeper Trail.
Washington County residents don’t need to travel 130 miles to Knoxville or Roanoke anymore to enjoy a shopping mall experience. It’s a short drive from just about anywhere in the county to reach The Pinnacle in Bristol, a premier shopping, dining and entertainment destination. The Pinnacle includes 1 million square feet of retail space, numerous restaurants and a 12-screen movie theater. Abingdon recently became home to a new development called The Meadows, which has Food City as its first tenant.
Here’s the Plan
Each year, a Washington County Business Plan Challenge occurs for startups and existing small businesses looking to expand in the region. Competitors attend classes that take place on a weekly basis from late January through late February at the Virginia Highlands Small Business Incubator, and all contestants are provided a list of mentors. The challenge ends with contestants presenting their individual business plans before a jury of business experts, with winners in the Startup and Existing Business categories each winning $5,000.
The Write Stuff
In mid-April, Washington County Public Library hosts a Highlands Writers Fair that features workshops throughout the day, and participants can meet more than 20 authors from around the Appalachian Highlands region. Then in late July, an annual Writers’ Day is part of the Virginia Highlands Festival, with writers and published authors meeting all day on the campus of Virginia Highlands Community College.
Going Big With Heritage
The Virginia Highlands Festival will celebrate the cultural heritage of southwest Virginia each summer as an event Livability.com ranks among the Top 10 Summer Festivals in America. The community celebrated the event for the 72nd year in 2020. The first festival occurred at The Martha Washington Inn & Spa, and today, more than 100 volunteers work year-round to prepare for the 10 days of arts, music, food and fun. The event is highlighted by an antique market and a juried arts and crafts show.
More Than a Fair Deal
For six days every September, Abingdon welcomes the Washington County Fair, which takes place at the Washington County Fairgrounds and features livestock shows, horse shows, a demolition derby, lawnmower races, a parade, a rodeo, truck pulls, School Day, Senior Day and an Old McDonald’s Petting Zoo. There are also nightly concerts. Performers at the 2019 fair included Restless Heart, Confederate Railroad, James Barker Band and The Church Sisters.
The 4-1-1 on Washington County
Huge on History: As the county seat of Washington County, Abingdon is one of Virginia’s most historic towns, with 19th-century homes, many cultural attractions and a 20-block downtown historic district.
Excellent Hiking: The Channels Natural Area Preserve on the southern slope of Clinch Mountain features a challenging 6.2-mile trail, and experienced hikers enjoy its elevation gain from 1,800 to 4,200 feet.
Peaks & Valleys: Washington County is in southwest Virginia near the Blue Ridge Mountains, and a majority of Washington County is also in the Great Valley region of Virginia, which includes lakes, rivers, streams, the Appalachian Trail and the Virginia Creeper Trail.
County’s Communities: Besides the county seat of Abingdon, Washington County includes the picturesque towns and census-designated places of Damascus, Emory, Glade Spring, Meadowview and Saltville.
Open for Business: Oak Park Center for Business & Industry is an industrial park near Interstate 81 and U.S. Route 11, and it’s ideal for companies wanting to do business between Abingdon and Bristol.
Deep Roots in Agriculture: Washington County has 1,600 farms (the third-most in Virginia) and about 1,000 ag workers, and the industry annually accounts for more than $75 million in market value for products sold.
Plant Roots: 20% of the county’s population is 65 or older. Both Where to Retire and The Wall Street Journal recognize Abingdon as a top retirement destination for seniors.
If you’d like to learn more about the Washington County area, check out the latest edition of Livability: Washington County.