Travelers have been trading in their long vacations for shorter day trips during these unprecedented times. A short, but sweet vacation offers all the wonder and relaxation of a longer holiday. Nelson’s beautiful forests, streams, and interesting attractions make for the perfect day trip. Visitors should travel peaceful Nelson County roads to the Massies Mill and Tyro areas. This picturesque, historic location is seriously charming any time of the year, and the location is conveniently located near Charlottesville, Lynchburg, and Waynesboro; Tyro and Massies Mill are located near State Route 56, adjacent to the headwaters of the Tye River.
Springtime in Nelson County is all blue skies, pastel flowers budding, and warming sunshine. Enjoy spring beauty at Hill Top Berry Farm and Winery. Hill Top’s “True to the Fruit” wines and meads are perfect for enjoying the picturesque farm, which includes a small herd of Sottish Highland Cattle. Enjoy the gorgeous stain-glass art in the tasting room and watch the busy bees work in the indoor beehive (all behind glass, of course)!
If you’re hungry, select local artisan cheeses and snacks in the winery’s gift shop. If you’re hungrier, stop by The Blue Ridge Pig in nearby Nellysford for mouth-watering BBQ. If hiking’s your game, springtime is a perfect time to explore the Three Ridges Wilderness in the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests. It’s one of Virginia’s most popular hiking destinations.
Because everyone’s so excited about the spring thaw, there are many annual events in Nelson to celebrate the arrival of spring. One such event is the Annual Rockfish Valley Foundation Kite Festival, which is held every second Sunday in April. Free kite materials are available for kids, and there are games, the Rockfish River Duck Race, and a Rockfish Valley Natural History Center display.
If you still feel like adventuring after the Kite Festival, enjoy a jaunt over to Seamans’ Orchard and get some pick-your-own strawberries from the fourth-generation farm. Before you head home, check out The Nelson Scenic Loop, a 50-mile road circuit that begins at Spruce Creek Park and the Rockfish Valley Foundation Natural History Center.
Can’t tear yourself away from Nelson? It happens a lot. Places to stay near Massies Mill & Tyro include the Fenton Inn, a Bavarian Village with delicious breakfast options. If you want to stay on Route 29, stay at the Village Inn, a ground-level and convenient place to spend the night.
Summer shimmers in Nelson County. Hiking, great food, and interesting people make Nelson’s Massies Mill & Tyro areas a Central Virginia hidden gem. When it comes down to it, Nelson is the perfect place to explore for a day or two- or three. The perfect day begins with a hike at nearby Humpback Rocks, an outcropping near the top of Humpback Mountain at an elevation of 3,080 feet. The hike is moderate and suitable for all ages and fitness levels and is about .8 miles of 1.25 miles long depending on the route you choose. From the top, you’ll wonder at the view of azure skies and the deep forest greens of the Blue Ridge. If you’re looking for a more low-key outdoor experience, take a picnic lunch to Tye River Park, a nice little picnic spot with tables that is maintained by local volunteers. Visitors enjoy fishing in the Tye River in this spot, too. Travel to Seamans’ Orchard in June for pick-your-own cherries and blueberries, all with amazing mountain views.
One of Nelson’s most popular destinations is Crabtree Falls, the highest cascading waterfall east of the Mississippi River. As higher elevations tend to have lower temperatures in the summer, a hike near the Blue Ridge Mountains is refreshing when the temperatures rise. Wildlife abounds at Crabtree Falls during the summer months, and rhododendron sprinkles the woods with pink flowers. Forest birds call as you wind your way up the trail with waterfall views the entire way. If you’re looking for a camping spot, stay at Crabtree Falls Campground after your hike.
Did you bring the kids? That’s awesome! Take them to the Kids in Parks TRACK Trail at the Virginia Blue Ridge Railway Trail. Kids and their families can learn more about birds, trees, insects, and other nature along the 1.8 mile trail (but no worries, there is a longer trail ahead if you need to get their energy out before hopping back in the car).
If you’re enjoying a girls’ weekend or outing, visit Pharsalia. Once a plantation, it is now a private residence on the historic registry that offers special events, parties, weddings, tours and workshops. Pharsalia’s flower-arranging workshops are famous, and you’ll get to make arrangements with flowers from Pharsalia’s impressive gardens.
You’re bound to get hungry during your day in the Massies Mill & Tyro area. If you want a sit-down meal, head to Stoney Creek Bar & Grill in nearby Nellysford for a fine dining experience- and wonderful mimosas. If you’ve brought Fido along for the day, stop by Bold Rock Hard Cider, which offers river views, music, and even special events for the family dogs, like Bold’s Rock’s Barks at the Barn. In fact, there are over a dozen pet-friendly restaurants within 20 miles of Tyro. However, If you’re in a hurry to get back, grab a pizza from Chirios or Giuseppes Italian Restaurant to take home.
Historically, late summer is bittersweet for longtime Nelson residents, and if you are in the county in August, you may want to learn more about the flooding from Hurricane Camille in 1969. Tyro & Massies Mill were the most severely affected by the storm. An unprecedented amount of rain fell at once during the night of August 19, 2020. So much so, that survivors recount that to survive simple being out in the rain, they had to cup their hands over their noses and mouths in order to breathe through the downpours. Learn about the tragedy at the Oakland Museum in Arrington and take the self-guided tour of landmarks associated with the Flood of ’69.
When the leaves start to change in the fall, visitors take a trip to Nelson County’s Massies Mill & Tyro areas for autumn beauty, orchard fun, good food, and craft brews. Start with a scenic drive along the North Fork of the Piney River, which gifts tourists with views of the Piney River washing over large rocky formations. If you decide to get up-close-and-personal with the Tye, check out its swimming holes or fish the stocked mountain streams.
For the outdoor sportsperson, there is Priestview Hunting Preserve, which offers stocked pheasant. The preserve owners also raise Brittanys and quail. Relaxed and safe, Priestview hunting Preserve is a beautiful experience. Visitors may use their own dogs or those provided by Priestview to hunt quail, pheasant, and chukar.
If you’ve brought a railroad enthusiast with you on your trip, check out the Virginia Blue Ridge Railroad, a short line that connected Massies Mill to the larger Southern Railway at Tye River Depot. The line was abandoned in the 1980s but has been developed as part of a “rails-to-trails” project. In fact, part of the old line is now part of Kids in Parks TRACK Trails, which is an interactive nature experience for kids. Take a walk along the trail, and bring your camera! Visitors to Nelson have been immortalizing Nelson’s autumn beauty for decades, so why should you be any different?
Speaking of photo opportunities, check out Crabtree Falls, which fills the forest with the sound of rushing water after fall rains, or Humpback Rocks, which offers an incredible, birds-eye view of Nelson’s fall splendor- the Blue Ridge Mountains overlayed with bright autumn leaves. Another gorgeous view is waiting for you at Silver Creek & Seamans’ Orchards. What is fall without an orchard visit? Silver Creek & Seamans’ packing shed offers many types of delicious, crisp apples, along with apple butter, cider, honey, and jelly. The orchard offers pick-your-own apples and pick-your-own pumpkins, too.
When the evenings get chilly, warm up with some spicy fare from Margarita’s the Flavor of Mexico. If you’re in a hurry to get back and watch the game, grab a pizza from Chirio’s to take home. If you need a relaxing drive, check out the Nelson Scenic Loop, a 50-mile road circuit that begins at Spruce Creek Park and the Rockfish Valley Foundation Natural History Center.
Winter is a great time to cozy up indoors, but no one can do that all season! If you’re looking to get out of the neighborhood and away from the crowds this winter, take a drive over to Nelson County, where everyone has a little more breathing room. Take a drive on the Nelson Scenic Loop, where you’ll marvel at the ice slicked along the rock walls. The 50-mile loop offers great views around Nelson, and you’ll never have to get out of the car.
However, you might enjoy hiking this winter, especially since you’ll enjoy scenery without crowds. A hike to Crabtree Falls is often a sweet surprise in the winter, as there are uninterrupted views of the falls, and without leaves to dull the sounds, the roar of the water is easier hear during the entire trek. If it’s an unseasonably warm day this winter break and the kids need to burn off some energy, check out Nelson’s Kids in Parks TRACK Trail at the Virginia Blue Ridge Railway Trail. Once a short-line railroad, the trail is now part of The Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation’s program to get kids and their families out in nature. Visit the Kids in Parks website ahead of time to become trail members!
If you’re looking for a new holiday tradition, check out Pharsalia, a once-thriving plantation that is now a private residence offering tours, event spaces, and workshops. Tour the historic home, which was built by Major Thomas Massie for his son William. Interestingly enough, a descendant of William’s still owns the property! Every winter, Pharsalia hosts several holiday-themed events, such as a holiday wreaths and décor workshop and a day with Mr. and Mrs. Claus for the kids. If you’re looking for a place to eat, try Basic Necessities Wine and Cheese Shop, which serves French café items like salads & sandwiches.