If you love getting back to nature, a visit to Clarke County, VA, will definitely be right up your street. The county is filled with gorgeous views, scenic drives, and adorable animals. And when it comes to dining, there’s no loss there, either. From animal farms to wildlife education centers and old school general stores, here are the best things to do in Clarke County, VA!
Disclosure: I was hosted by the fine folks at Visit Clarke County, VA, to give to the scoop on what to do when you’re in town. All opinions are my own!
If you’ve looked around the website (thank you!), you know I’m absolutely bananas over animals of all kind. I mean, give me a farm with baby animals and you’ll be hard pressed to get me to leave. So, when we visited Clarke County, I couldn’t resist checking out the animal hot spots. Here are my top picks.
Smithfield Farm B&B
If I had to choose only one place to rest my head in Clarke County, it’s Smithfield Farm B&B. A true working farm, I had the chance to drive around with the owner’s son and see plenty of animals. I walked in the pasture and was surrounded by cows (you wouldn’t believe how quiet they were!), petted some chickens, talked to pigs, and spied newborn lambs.
As for the B&B at the farm, it’s historically luxurious. Our room was very spacious with a king bed and bathroom and it was so peaceful to walk around the property and learn about its history. Every morning, a from-scratch breakfast is prepared for guests and ours was absolutely delicious.
We sat in the dining room and chatted with Betsy, one of the owners, and it really was a true pleasure.
An (Alpaca) Face Only a Mother Could Love
Alpacas, to me, look like they either want to give you a kiss or are plotting my demise. Either way, I’m down for interacting. At Nimbus Farm Alpacas you’ll find award-winning Huacaya alpaca, a llama, ducks, and chickens. But it’s the owners that are truly impressive. The ladies take the alpaca fleece and turn it into yarn and useable products that can be purchased.
On our visit, I really did learn a ton about what makes winning fleece and how the fleece is allergy-friendly. The ladies make everything from wearables to dryer balls (they work beautifully!) and, considering the farm has been running for only a couple of years, have made their mark on the alpaca industry.
The Birds and The Bees
Blandy Experimental Farm, State Arboretum of Virginia a super cool place to learn about bees, birds, and the effect humans have on their natural surroundings. We visited on a gorgeous afternoon and were shown around the county’s hidden gem. Open everyday from dawn to dusk and with free admission, it’s a haven for outdoor lovers and folks that want to learn how to protect nature.
Must see – The Bee Wall. Made from cob, bees soften the material with water and then build tunnels to live in.
If you could only make one retro stop in Clarke County, make it Dinosaur Land. On a quirk factor scale of 1 to 10, this one gets a 50 for sheer awesomeness.
It’s been around since the 1960’s and is a photographer lover’s dream, especially the massive King Kong (complete with hand seat) and a 60-foot long shark that you can walk right in.
Living the (Wild) Life
Our last stop on our visit to Clarke County, Blue Ridge Wildlife Center was the perfect way to end our trip. A wildlife hospital and rehab center, constant calls come in from locals that have found wild animals and aren’t sure how to handle them. Happily, the center can provide advice to properly care for each species.
When visiting, make sure to take the Wildlife Walk. With 10 stops on the trail, we were able to get close to the center’s animal ambassadors and learn about why each is unable to be released.
Where to Eat in Clarke County, VA
Okay, with a name like Locke Store, there’s no way we weren’t stopping to check it out. And it turns out it’s one of the coolest places in the county. Located in quaint, historic Millwood Village, the store has scratch made meals and desserts, wine, international food – you name it.
Famous for its chicken pot pies, you can grab one to go. There are also freshly-made sandwiches and sides to take outside to the porch and enjoy.