Weekend Cultural Adventure

Photo of Downtown Norton historical marker

Weekend Cultural Adventure

Searching for a weekend exploration of cultural and historic attractions near Norton? We've got you covered! See suggested trip itineraries below. Check out the Area Attractions page for more ideas.

Weekend Warrior: Day One: Museum Bliss

Early Exploration: Southwest Virginia Museum Historical State Park

SWVA Museum.jpgSouthwest Virginia Museum Historical State Park, Big Stone Gap

Spend the morning exploring some of Southwest Virginia's rich history.

  • Take an abbreviated tour of the Southwest Virginia region's history by visiting Southwest Virginia Museum Historical State Park. Open most days March through December. See the museum website for more details, including admission fees and hours of operation.
  • Also visit the John Fox, Jr. Museum, which was the home of author John Fox Jr. and where he wrote Trail of the Lonesome Pine, 14 other novels, and more than 500 short stories. See the website link above for more details, including admission fees and hours of operation. Click Driving Directions from Norton.
  • There is also the Harry W. Meador Jr. Coal Museum, which offers a look at coal mining and how the industry has influenced local communities and culture. See the website link above for more details, including location and hours of operation.
  • Eat lunch in downtown Norton at one of these Local Restaurants
  • After lunch, take a stroll through downtown Norton to the Wise County Chamber of Commerce where a roadside plaque outside the office offers an abbreviated version of Norton's history. Also, walk past Norton City Hall where a Cannon said to be from the U.S.S. Constitution, "Old Ironsides," sits. It's dedicated to those from Wise County who died fighting in World War I.

Afternoon Adventure: History, Wine, and Art

MountainRose.JPGMountainRose Vineyard, Wise

Spend the day exploring several attractions in the neighboring town of Wise. 

  • Take a stroll across the University of Virginia's College at Wise campus. The land where the college sits has a long History. Walk the campus grounds using one of these Suggested Routes. Driving Directions to the college from downtown Norton.
  • Visit MountainRose Vineyard, located about five miles from the college and pictured above. Driving Directions from UVa-Wise. The vineyard is located on a reclaimed surface mine. Vineyard tours and wine tastings are available, and MountainRose also hosts several monthly special events.
  • Stop by the Inn at Wise. The century-old Inn was recently restored and, in addition to offering overnight accommodations, the building is a mini-art gallery, featuring photographs and other artwork by local artisans. Driving Directions from MountainRose Vineyard.
  • Eat at the Inn's Pub & Tap Room or Return to downtown Norton for dinner.

Evening Entertainment: Artistic Performance

Crooked Road Logo.jpg

Overnight Accommodations

3.jpgView of Downtown Norton

Downtown Norton offers several lodging options, depending on your preference. 

  • If seeking the great indoors, check out these Hotels.
  • If wanting to camp, Flag Rock Recreation Area has an 18-site campground open April 1-Oct. 30. See the Campground Page for details. Also check out these other Area Campgrounds.

Weekend Warrior: Day Two: Branching Out

Early Exploration: Ralph Stanley Museum and Birch Knob

birch knob.jpgView from Birch Knob, Dickenson County

  • The Ralph Stanley Museum is located 24 miles from downtown Norton in Clintwood and highlights the career of the late bluegrass legend Dr. Ralph Stanley. The museum also explores the history of traditional mountain music. Visit the Museum Website for more information, including admission fees and hours of operation. The museum opens annually in mid-March and remains open through Dec. 1.
  • Birch Knob Observation Tower, located 10.5 miles from the museum and on the Virginia/Kentucky border, offers sweeping views of both states, as well as West Virginia, North Carolina and Tennessee. Pictured above is one vantage from the observation deck. Driving Directions from the Ralph Stanley Museum. Note: The gravel road leading up to the summit may be gated in winter months.

Afternoon Adventure: Breaks Interstate Park

breaks.jpgBreaks Interstate Park

  • Breaks Interstate Park offers a mix of both cultural, historic, and natural opportunities to explore. Located about 27 miles from Clintwood, the 4,500-acre park - one of only two interstate parks nationwide - is located in Kentucky and Virginia. Activities include hiking, mountain biking, birding, geocaching, and whitewater rafting, elk tours, a variety of music events, and interpretive programs. Visit the Park Website for more information about these and other activities.

Evening Exploration: Southwest Virginia Sunset

flag rock sunset.jpgView from Flag Rock Recreation Area

Check out these overlooks for exceptional sunsets.

  • Powell Valley Overlook: Located on U.S. 23 North between Big Stone Gap and Norton, this overlook offers sweeping views of Powell Valley and surrounding mountains. Driving Directions.
  • High Knob Observation Tower: Standing atop the 4,230-foot summit offers a great vantage of Southwest Virginia's spectacular sunsets, as pictured above. Driving Directions from downtown Norton.
  • Flag Rock Overlook: Resting at 3,200 feet in elevation, the overlook also provides a great vantage to watch the sun slip below the horizon as the lights in downtown Norton illuminate the surrounding hillsides. Driving Directions from downtown Norton.