The Region

Southwest Virginia is a region steeped in tradition and rich in cultural heritage.  Nestled in the heart of the Jefferson National Forest and less than an hour's drive from Tri-Cities Tennessee and Virginia, area residents and visitors alike enjoy the contrast of nature and innovaton.  Consider some of the many treasures the area has to offer:


Located in historic Abingdon, Barter Theatre, the State Theatre of Virginia, is a regional treasure and nationally recognized professional theatre. Enjoy up to four shows in two days. Two theatres bring audiences a great selection of comedies, musicals, dramas and new works year-round.


Since 1946 Symphony of the Mountains has been at the center of artistic life in the Southwest Virginia and East Tennessee region. Symphony of the Mountains is the only fully-professional orchestra to serve the region. Under the direction of Cornelia Laemmli, the 70 member orchestra performs repertoire representative of many regions and nationalities – European Classical, American Popular and Jazz, Appalachian Folk and varieties of World Music.


William King Museum is the only facility of its kind serving Southwest Virginia, Northeast Tennessee, Western North Carolina and South Eastern Kentucky. Located in Abingdon, the non-profit regional art museum and arts education center is Virginia’s only nationally accredited museum west of Roanoke. The museum is a partner of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and is a member of the Virginia Association of Museums.


Virginia’s Music Heritage Trail was created to highlight the unique musical and cultural heritage of the region. The 330-mile route encompasses a number of music venues where traditional mountain music may be experienced along the way including the Carter Family Fold, Lays Hardware, Ralph Stanley Museum and the Blue Ridge Music Center.  A variety of handcrafted arts can be found in many of the country stores and workshops along the route as well as countless outdoor activities.


The Heartwood Center, located in Abingdon, offers a comprehensive view of the region’s crafts, music, food and culture. Heartwood showcases the region’s cultural and natural assets.


’Round the Mountain: Southwest Virginia’s Artisan Network is a non-profit organization whose mission is to promote sustainable economic development of the region’s communities by assisting local artisans with marketing, educational and entrepreneurial opportunities. Serving the 19 counties and four cities of Southwest Virginia, this craft advocacy organization seeks to help the region fulfill its potential as a nationally recognized arts and crafts tourism destination.


Natural Tunnel, Southwest Virginia Museum and the Breaks Interstate Park offer a variety of historical, cultural and outdoor experiences for all ages.

Breaks Interstate Park offers a five-mile gorge, which plunges 1650 feet in this “Grand Canyon of the South.” The park offers, hiking, camping, swimming, horseback riding, pedal boat rentals, cabins, dining services, motel and other amenities.

Natural Tunnel State Park features a natural tunnel that was dubbed the Eighth Wonder of the World by William Jennings Bryan. The park has been attracting sightseers to the mountains of southwestern Virginia for more than 100 years. The park offers swimming, camping, picnicking, a chairlift, hiking, a visitor center, an amphitheater and interpretive programs.

The Wilderness Road State Park is about 310 acres located on the Wilderness Road, a route carved by Daniel Boone in 1775. The route, which followed a buffalo trace, opened America’s first western frontier. Most notable in the park are the Karlan Mansion built in 1877, a state-of-the-art visitor center and Martin's Station, a replica of a colonial frontier fort that was near this site in 1775.

The Southwest Virginia Museum Historical State Park is housed in a mansion built in the 1880s by Rufus Ayers, a Virginia attorney general. It features a collection comprised of more than 20,000 pieces, about one-third of which is on display at any given time. The museum chronicles the exploration and development of the region during the 1890s coal boom, as well as the pioneer period. It offers activities for kids, scout and school programs, workshops, an annual Festival of Trees program, a quilt show, a music festival and outdoor exhibits.


Our forests stretch from one end of Virginia to the other, as well as extending into West Virginia, along the ruggedly beautiful Appalachians. Virtually every type of outdoor recreation activity you can imagine is available. Of course hiking, fishing, mountain bicycling and camping lead the way, but don't forget hawk watching, cross-country skiing, horseback riding, nature photography, and orienteering. Whether you are driving a back-country road, enjoying our glorious fall colors, using binoculars to spot colorful neo tropical birds, or savoring the peacefulness of wilderness, remember that national forests are special places.


Wise County Chamber of Commerce -

Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority -

Appalachian Prosperity Project -

Lenowisco Planning District -

Cumberland Planning District -


Town of Wise -

City of Norton -


Below is a list of important links relevant to Wise and surrounding areas:


Wise County Tourism -

Pro Art -

Lays Hardware Center for the Arts -

Tri-Cities Airport -

Area attractions

The Wise Inn

The Wise Inn

Flag Rock

Overlook of Norton from Flag Rock

Flag Rock dragon

Flag Rock's dragon


Southwest Virginia Museum

Southwest Virginia Museum

Holston River

Holston River

Powell Valley

Powell Valley