By Jodi Helmer
New Orleans has Bourbon Street; Memphis has Beale Street; Beverly Hills has Rodeo Drive; and Lynchburg has Jefferson Street!
The iconic Downtown street is home to top attractions, Instagrammable sights and some of the best restaurants in town—some with views of the James River and iconic Bluffwalk.
Start the day by showing LYH a little love by posing for a selfie in front of the LOVE sculpture. The large scale art project was installed in 2013 and has become a favorite photo spot—be sure to tag #loveVA on social media.
Rent a bike from Bikes Unlimited and ride along the Riverwalk Trail. The urban trail passes Riverfront Park and connects the Riverwalk Trail to the Blackwater Creek and Point of Honor trails. Along the way, stop for a latte from Dublin 3 Coffeehouse and takeout from Depot Grille. The restaurant is located in an historic freight train station alongside the James River and serves up sandwiches and sides that are perfect for a picnic lunch.
Pedal to Rotary Centennial Riverfront Skatepark and enjoy a picnic lunch. The park, located on the banks of Blackwater Creek, is home to a popular skatepark. Eat lunch and watch the skateboarders navigating the quarter pipes and kicker ramps on wheels.
Look for the Langley Fountain in the river. The fountain marks the spot where the Lynch Ferry used to land when Lynchburg was a budding town. Local businessman John Lynch started a ferry service to move tobacco across the James River; the service transformed the city into a bustling commercial hub for tobacco shipping (and many of the warehouses that once stored tobacco are now residential lofts with magnificent views of the river and downtown Lynchburg).
This end of Jefferson Street is also home to several public arts installations.
A metal sculpture across from Amazement Square that is affectionately known as the “Lynchbug” was one of the first pieces completed with local arts funding. The CityArts Mosaic Mural across from the children’s museum contains 4,800 square feet of colorful mosaic tiles artfully arranged to create a mural of Downtown LYH. These creative projects are among the reasons Jefferson Street is known as the epicenter of arts and culture in Lynchburg.
Visual arts enthusiasts should check out Riverviews Artspace. Their Craddock Terry Gallery showcases contemporary works from established and emerging artists and hosts dance performances, poetry slams and live music. For an immersive arts experience, check out Lynchburg’s National Medal winning children’s museum, Amazement Square. The museum invites you and the kids to draw on the walls, harvest crops, hang out with bees and ride a zipline.
For great views of Downtown, stop at Riverfront Park. Thanks to the zero gravity fountain and lush gardens, the urban park has been transformed into a Downtown oasis.
Exploring Jefferson street is sure to work up an appetite. End the day with dinner at The Water Dog or Waterstone Pizza, local hotspots serving up casual fare and amazing views. Still hungry? Satisfy your sweet tooth with a scoop from MayLynn’s Creamery where soft serve and hand-dipped ice cream looks—and taste—like a work of art.
Spending the day taking in the sights and attractions on Jefferson Street is a great way to get to know—and fall in love with—Lynchburg.
Jodi Helmer writes about food, drink and travel for National Geographic Traveler, Hemispheres, Huffington Post, AARP and Our State. She lives and works on a hobby farm near Charlotte, North Carolina.
Learn more about Jodi HERE