Day Trip: Madison County

Images and editorial from Madison County

With thousands of beautiful acres of land, scenic hiking trails, unique shops, restaurants, exquisite lodging options, several wineries, an amazing brewery and debuting in the spring a Winery/Brewery/Cidery and rich history, Madison County is truly a special place to—as the locals say— “ride, hike, taste, stay and shop.”

History of Madison County

The county is named after the Madison family that owned a large territory of land along the Rapidan River. One of the descendants from this family is none other than James Madison, one of our nation’s earliest presidents, whose estate, known as Montpelier, still resides in the neighboring Orange County. 

Along with President Madison, several other historical figures have spent time in Madison County, such as the Paleo-Indians, General Stonewall Jackson and the royal governor Alexander Spotswood. But that’s not all the history that occurred in the county. President Herbert Hoover once purchased land in the mountain area of Madison where he built his summer camp.

The reason so many significant people have made their mark in Madison is because of its convenient location. Trails and roads are placed throughout the Piedmont area of the county leading up to the famous Blue Ridge Mountains, which led 18th and 19th century travelers to the Shenandoah Valley. At the time, this area was known as the breadbasket of the Confederacy during the Civil War and was used as a back door for Confederate raids.

Historic Attractions in Madison County

Because so much history has taken place in Madison, there are plenty of destinations throughout the area that share, preserve and portray all that has occurred over the decades. Both walking and driving tours are offered in Madison, giving a special insight on the town and its place in history while strolling down Main Street or driving through the scenic Route 231. You will also find several historical buildings, many of which are found in Downtown, that you can journey through during a self-guided tour. Or take an afternoon to discover all there is to know about the history behind the Madison County Court House building.

Located just a few miles from Madison County is The Graves Mill Historical Park, which offers a unique glimpse into the past, commemorating the significance and history of the Village of Graves Mill. The park is home to a stone memorial and bronze plaque honoring the 40 Virginian men who served during the War Between the States. You will also find a replica of the county’s 1900s post office building and some of the earliest history of Graves Mill and its nearby areas.

Outdoor Attractions and Activities in Madison County

While in Madison County, there are plenty of outdoor activities to participate in while witnessing the breathtaking view of the surrounding mountains and foothills. From trout fishing and hunting to horseback riding and bird watching, you can always find something to do in the midst of beautiful scenery.

Explore a few of the 33,000 acres of the Shenandoah National Park in Madison, where you’ll find popular hiking trails, such as Old Rag and the gorgeous White Oak Canyon Falls. Or explore the Blue Ridge Mountains by foot or car and you will quickly become accustomed to the gorgeous culture and atmosphere of Madison County. For an up close and personal look at the Blue Ridge Mountains, take a guided hiking adventure with a local expert who knows all the ins and outs of these breathtaking mountains.

Fishing is a popular activity in Madison County due to its close proximity to multiple rivers and ponds. But that’s not the only outdoor activity that draws people to Madison. Take part in local traditions such as apple picking in the fall with over 27 different varieties of apples, or take a moonlight hayride.

Wine Tasting in Madison County

A great way to experience the outdoors is by “tasting” it too. There are now five wineries located in Madison County that produce quality wines known both nationally and internationally. Madison is host to the one of the oldest and greatest, Prince Michel (with an exciting addition to the winery being announced soon); DuCard, the first solar-powered winery in Virginia; Early Mountain Vineyards, voted the #1 Tasting Room in America by USA Today; Revalation Vineyards, offering a panoramic view of the Hebron Valley; and Blue Quartz Winery opening in the spring. Each winery offers exclusive tours of their facilities and will certainly be a delightful experience all the way down to the last sip.

Dining in Madison County

For more delicious beverages and eats, stop by one of the local restaurants in the area for a fine-dining experience or have a casual lunch at a local hang out spot offering tasty, fresh food that will satisfy everyone’s taste buds!

Shopping in Madison County

After some delicious eats, be sure to browse the local shops where you will find handcrafted early American furniture and accessories for both indoor and outdoor living, yard and garden supplies, local goods, footwear, fashionable apparel and much more. Many new shops have opened on Main Street including She-She on Main and The Market on Main.

Madison County Accommodations

If you are exhausted after a day of shopping, outdoor activities or simply exploring the county, there are plenty of ways to stay overnight in Madison. Whether you make yourself at home in a cozy cabin, treat yourself at a bed and breakfast or even step outside of your comfort zone in a Yurt for the night, you won’t be disappointed with your stay in Madison County.

Madison County Events

The County is known for many festivals, such as the Festival of Music, Apple Harvest Festival and the annual Taste of the Mountains Festival. Taste of the Mountains will be celebrating its 27th year on August 31, 2019. Many events happen at Hoover Ridge, including the annual Hops Festival, movie nights and Wine and Wool Festival. Our wineries and brewery offer great events every weekend.

Come celebrate 50 Years of Virginia is for Lovers in Madison County! Check out our website or come see us at the Madison County Visitor Center, 110 N Main St., Madison.