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Vacation in Nelson County - Virginia

Jump to: Overview, Things To Do, Transportation, Climate, Accommodations, Cost

Area Overview

Nelson County is located in Central Virginia midway between the metropolitan areas of Charlottesville and Lynchburg. The county has a total area of 471 square miles. It is bordered on the south and east by the James River and on the north and west by the Blue Ridge Mountains. A large portion of the western section of the county is in the George Washington National Forest.

Nelson County was formed in 1807 from Amherst County, and named in honor of Thomas Nelson, Jr., third governor of Virginia. Originally the home of the Monocan tribe of Native Americans, a settlement along the James River was established by English colonists in the early 1700s. Another stream of settlers, of Scotch-Irish and German descent, came into the western sections of the county from the Shenandoah Valley. By the end of the 1800s, Nelson’s agricultural products included tobacco, apples and chestnut trees; the produce and lumber were carried to market by canal and railroad.

During the 1930s Earl Hamner, Jr. began writing of his experiences growing up in Nelson County during the Depression. Those writings eventually provided the substance for the The Waltons TV series. In 1969, Hurricane Camille caused a flood, devastating Nelson County. Since Camille, Nelson County has slowly recovered its land, its infrastructure and the will to grow and prosper again. Events that have aided in this recovery include: the 1972 development of Wintergreen Resort, the restoration in progress at Oak Ridge Estate, development of Walton’s Mountain Museum, the resurgence of the apple industry, the maturation of new vineyards, and the steady growth in Nelson County’s tourism industry.

Includes Cities/Towns: Afton, Arrington, Faber, Gladstone, Lovingston, Montebello, Nellysford, Norwood, Piney River, Roseland, Schuyler, Shipman, Tyro, Wingina.

Things to Do

Recreation & Fitness

Nelson County strives to retain its rich rural heritage while developing businesses and services that complement the natural beauty and enhance the quality of life for those who live in it.

There are abundant opportunities for outdoor recreation available in all parts of the county, from the top of the weathered Blue Ridge peaks down to the wide bends of the James River. These options include hiking along the Appalachian Trail or to the top of Crabtree Falls (the highest cascading waterfall east of the Mississippi River) and excellent canoeing or fishing on the James or Tye Rivers; and cycling on U.S. Bicycle Route 76 or one of the many Virginia Scenic Byways. Additionally, one of the boundaries of Nelson County is milepost zero of the Blue Ridge Parkway which closely mirrors Nelson County’s northwestern border for 30 miles.

Wintergreen Resort is a four season resort with many amenities. For the golfer, there are two golf courses: a mountain course (Devil’s Knob – residents & guests only) and a valley course (Stoney Creek). Skiing and snowtubing are popular in the winter with 26 slopes and trails. Several restaurants and lodging choices are available along with conference facilities. The Nature Foundation at Wintergreen offers many programs and, during the summer, the Wintergreen Performing Arts series provides a variety of musical programs.

Places to Stay, Eat and Shop

The Monticello Artisan’s Trail (Nelson and Albemarle Counties) links the many varied arts under a unique umbrella for marketing their products. The organization connects the studios, galleries, and retail shops selling art with points of interest, restaurants and lodging in the area.

Many country stores provide a variety of deli foods, fishing and hunting licenses and other services to their communities. Visitors can also peruse eclectic antique stores that are located throughout the county.

Cultural Activities

From the Wintergreen Summer Music Festival in July and August, with full-orchestra and chamber music performances, annual music festivals like the 4-day Lockn' Festival, to private performing venues at breweries, and other locations through the county, Nelson County features music experiences of all kinds on an ongoing basis. Art galleries in Nellysford and Afton show local artisan works, and the Monticello Artisan Trail showcases works by both Nelson County and nearby Albemarle County artisans.


Red, White and Brew

Nelson County offers a variety of locally produced wines and beers. With easy access to the Route 29 corridor, the following wineries are open to visitors: Lovingston Winery, Delfosse Vineyards and Winery, Democracy Vineyards, Brent Manor Vineyards and Mountain Cove Winery. Along the Route 151 Rockfish Valley Highway are Veritas Vineyard and Winery, Cardinal Point Winery, Afton Mountain Vineyards, Flying Fox Vineyard and Hill Top Berry Farm and Winery. Most of the wineries have special events on selected weekends and usually include music and food along with wine tasting.

The Brew Ridge Trail has taken the craft brewing world by storm and has become extremely popular in Central Virginia. Nelson County is proud to be the home of Blue Mountain Brewery, Devils Backbone Brewing Company, Blue Mountain Barrel House and Wild Wolf Brewing Company. All four breweries have been producing celebrated craft beers that are critically acclaimed and celebrated far beyond our region’s borders. And opening soon: Woodridge Farm Brewery in Lovingston.

Bold Rock Cidery in the Nellysford area features various hard cider varieties made from Virginia apples. In Wintergreen, you can also taste a variety of ciders at Blue Toad Hard Cider at High View Farm. Silverback Distillery in Afton produces ultra premium vodka, gin, whiskey and bourbon. Also try the American Single Malt Whiskey from Virginia Distillery in Lovingston and opening soon – Woods Mill Distillery in Faber.

Local Orchards and Farms

Long established family orchards such as Dickie Brothers, Saunders Brothers, Drumhellers, Seamans’ and Fitzgerald’s provide apples in the fall and hold fall festivals on the weekends. Other seasonal fruits available are peaches, strawberries and blackberries. Many smaller farms provide produce to local farmers markets and restaurants with many of them growing organic products, including meats and cheeses.

Visit the Walton’s Mountain Museum in Schuyler, boyhood home of Earl Hamner, Jr., creator of The Waltons TV show. Oakland-Nelson County Museum of Rural History is located in an old tavern; it houses exhibits on Rural Electrification, Nelson County’s Schools and Hurricane Camille, a Category 5 hurricane that devastated Nelson County in 1969. The Rockfish Valley Foundation Natural History Center works hard to preserve the natural, historical, ecological and agricultural resources of the Rockfish Valley

Take a drive through the historic districts of Lovingston, Schuyler, Afton-Greenwood, South Rockfish or Norwood-Wingina, or meander along the James River and view some of the historical homes and scenery in Nelson County.


Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport and Lynchburg Regional Airport are each about an hour away, and rental cars are available. Many other transportation companies (limousines, taxis etc.) service the Charlottesville and Nelson County areas.


Monthly Temperatures / Rainfall

 Month  Low  Avg  High  Rain
 January  24.1  34.8  45.4  3.7 "
 February  26.2  37.8  49.5  3.3 "
 March  33.0  45.6  58.2  4.1 "
 April  41.5  55.1  68.8  3.5 "
 May  50.5  63.1  75.6  4.8 "
 June  59.3  71.0  82.8  3.7 "
 July  64.1  75.4  86.7  4.3 "
 August  62.3  73.9  85.5  3.6 "
 September  55.4  67.3  79.1  4.4 "
 October  42.7  56.2  69.8  4.0 "
 November  34.3  47.1  59.9  3.5 "
 December  27.1  38.3  49.4  3.4 "

Best Time To Go:

Fall and summer.

Located in the geographic center of the state, Nelson County is approximately two hours from Richmond, three hours from Washington, D.C. and four hours from Charlotte, North Carolina. The elevation ranges from about 500 feet above sea level near the James River to more than 4,000 feet in the Blue Ridge. The climate is moderately warm in the summers, with temperatures averaging about 77 degrees in July. Winters are moderately cool, with temperatures in January averaging about 38 degrees. Average annual precipitation is about 42 inches.

Nelson County is located on the Sunrise Side of the Blue Ridge Mountains, with views of the mountains throughout the county's valleys and communities. Fall is a great time to see the fall colors on the Blue Ridge Parkway, Nelson County's western border, and to visit local orchards. Winter is ski season at Wintergreen Resort, and Spring and Summer are great times for local farm produce at the Nelson County Farmers Market.


The lodging establishments in the county are primarily bed and breakfasts, or mountain cabins and cottages, locally-owned and operated. Nelson County is also home to Wintergreen Resort, a 4 season resort offering vacation home and condo rentals. Other vacation homes and guest homes are available throughout the county. Lodging options can be found at:


Cost Information Is Unavailable

Additional Information

Visitor Information

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