Three Days in Southern Virginia: Martinsville – Henry County

By Nancy Bauer

Three Days in Southern Virginia: Martinsville – Henry County

You already know way more than you think about southern Virginia’s Martinsville–Henry County. The region is known as the home of many household names: Bassett, Fieldcrest, NASCAR, Marshall Fields. Today, it’s also home to locally-crafted libations, plenty of culture, and lots of options for romping in the great outdoors.

This three-day itinerary will have you shaking off the Beltway and I95 blues in no time.

DAY ONE

Check into Stuart Hill Bed and Breakfast (228 Spencer-Preston Rd, Martinsville) for the weekend; the Colonial Revival home built ca. 1910 is located between Martinsville and Stuart. There are just three rooms at the popular little inn, so book early.

Hi/Lo Lodging Options

·      Planning a milestone celebration for a group of family or friends? Book the Stoneleigh Historical Country Estate (375 Edgewood Dr, Stanleytown). Starting at $800/nite, this 1926 Tudor mansion was the home of an early Governor. Chef, butler and bartender are extra.

·      Looking to go off-grid? Rent a yurt, a cross between a tent and a cabin, at nearby Fairy Stone State Park (967 Fairystone Lake Dr, Stuart; $75/nite).

Stop at the Martinsville-Henry County Visitor Center downtown for maps and info, and then walk a few blocks toward “uptown” for local fine art and handmade crafts, thrift store finds, and more.

Grab a casual dinner at Hugo’s Uptown Restaurant and Sports Bar (25 Bridge St., Martinsville) before heading out to Mountain Valley Brewing (4220 Mountain Valley Rd, Axton) for the evening. Mountain Valley is one of the few Virginia breweries actually farming their own hops. And the only place you can sample these intriguing brews is at the taproom, they don’t bottle or can anything. Live music starts around 7pm.

DAY TWO

After breakfast, take a drive into town to experience Piedmont Arts (215 Starling Ave, Martinsville; open Saturday 10-3, closed Sunday), a gallery with changing exhibits, performing arts (check schedule for evening events) and art garden with two unique attractions: the Remarkable Tree of Virginia, and the Historic Little Post Office.

Next, head back toward your inn for lunch. We recommend a location that will surprise you:  the regional airport. Simply Suzanne’s (525 Airport Rd, Martinsville) is a hidden gem, with from-scratch sandwiches piled high and homemade desserts like yummy Chocolate Chess Pie. Sit inside, or watch the planes arrive while you dine outside.

Another 20 minutes west brings you to Patrick County and Stanburn Winery (158 Conner Dr, Stuart), owned by the Stanley family, longtime residents and winegrowers. Each step in the winery’s growth is taken by family and friends – a new roof to cover a patio for guests, renovating an old barn into a tasting room, planting, pruning, picking. Stanburn is the epitome of a farm winery. The family prefers making serious wines (i.e. dry) from their barbera, chambourcin, cabernet franc and other grapes, but semi-sweets are available as well.

Attention Racing Fans!

·      Martinsville Speedway (340 Speedway Rd, Ridgeway) roars to life in March and October for exciting NASCAR racing. You’ll be up close and personal with all the action as this is the shortest of tracks, only .526 miles in length – you can’t get any closer. Other times of the year, you may be allowed to drive your own car on the famous track. Call for details.

Take a rest at the inn before heading back into town for dinner, where fresh ingredients and locally-sourced produce are on the menu at Third Bay (1163 Spruce St, Martinsville). This former filling station (yes, the third bay refers to a garage) is known for good service and simply grilled or blackened ribeye, chops, fish and more.

If you visit on a second Saturday, check out the local talent at open mic night at Daily Grind Coffee House and Café (303 E Church St, Martinsville). Local beers and wine available.

DAY THREE

Wake up early and enjoy the great outdoors. Philpott Lake Visitors Center (1058 Philpott Dam Road, Bassett) has exhibits on wildlife as well as the story of the Philpott Dam, built by the Army Corps of Engineers.

Hamlet Vineyards (405 Riverside Dr, Bassett; opens at 1:00 Sundays only), and its spacious rustic-chic tasting room, lounge and deck will call you to sit and relax. One of Virginia’s best winemakers, Michael Shaps, crafts a variety of single varietals and blends from Hamlet-grown grapes. You can easily make lunch out of Hamlet’s light fare and Sunday Specials. TIP: Hamlet Vineyard’s 2016 Eltham, a blend of Merlot and Petit Verdot, was included as 1 of 12 wines in the state’s top wine competition in 2019, the Virginia Governor’s Cup.

Between Philpott Lake and Hamlet Vineyards, pass through the town of Bassett. In the late 1800’s, the Bassett family had a sawmill here that eventually grew into the million-dollar furniture company Bassett. The furniture trade was a key factor in Martinsville–Henry County development and this legacy continues with the trove of furniture outlets operating today in Martinsville Uptown.

See more Virginia Wine Country Getaway itineraries in the book Virginia Wine Travel Journal 2019 by Nancy Bauer, $15 on Amazon.

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