By Jodi Helmer
The 2021 summer solstice falls on June 20. As the sunbeam over the Tropic of Cancer and the Earth’s axis is tilted toward the sun, we’ll have more daylight hours than any other time of the year—and that means more time to have fun in the sun.
Not sure what to do on the longest day of the year? Spend it exploring LYH, of course.
Watch the sunrise from Liberty Mountain Snowflex Centre and then fuel up for a summer solstice adventure with stuffed French toast, a flight of pancakes for chicken, and waffles from at Market at Main. The historic building in the heart of downtown is the perfect spot to pull out a map and plan a day of exploring.
After breakfast, walk over to the Lynchburg Museum where exhibits like Seven Hills of History provide a better understanding of the people and events that helped shape Lynchburg. Walk down the stairs at Monument Terrace and head toward Riverfront Park.
Rent a bike from Bikes Unlimited and ride along the Riverwalk Trail. In addition to great views of the James River, the trail passes the iconic LOVE sign and runs through Percival’s Island Nature Area, a former train yard turned wildlife preserve that is home to native flora, fauna, and animals.
Pedaling along the riverfront works up an appetite and a table on the patio at The Water Dog is the perfect spot for a break. Order steamed clams or fried oysters or try one of “the dogs” like a river dog served with beer cheese, Baja slaw and shaved red onions. Yum.
Room for dessert? Satisfy your sweet tooth with a scoop of ice cream from MayLynn’s Creamery before spending the afternoon checking out LYH’s artsy side.
For a different kind of artistic expression, spend the rest of the afternoon touring the gardens at the Old City Cemetery. Dubbed the “Grave Garden,” it’s both the oldest municipal cemetery still in use and the site of a 27-acre public garden brimming with native plants and the largest public collection of antique roses in Virginia. Many of the 425 different varieties will be in full bloom in June.
Pick a bouquet of colorful blooms at Irvington Spring Farm, a three-acre cut flower farm in the heart of LYH. Sweet peas, bells of Ireland, bachelor button, larkspur, and snapdragons create riotous color in the gardens (and the backdrop for Insta-worthy snaps).
After dinner, head to Shoemakers American Grille for a nightcap. The upscale eatery (with a casual outdoor patio) is located at the historic Craddock Terry Hotel, which serves up craft cocktails, beer and wine to toast the end of the longest day of the year.
Spend the night in one of the beautifully appointed rooms at The Virginian.
The 115-room boutique hotel was built in 1913 and retains many of its original Beaux-Arts style features, including a grand marble staircase, arched windows, and decorative.
It’s the perfect spot to end the longest—and most memorable—day of the year.
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