Explore The Crooked Road – Check Out Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail

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Music, art and history await on Virginia’s Music Heritage Trail. Explore The Crooked Road and learn about the music legends that shaped the sounds of Appalachia, from Ralph Stanley to the Carter Family, at these nine stops!

Ralph Stanley Museum

In Clintwood, the Ralph Stanley Museum invites visitors to learn more about Bluegrass icon Ralph Edmond Stanley. Step inside the 100-year-old mansion and immerse yourself in Ralph’s world, taking in the star’s many awards (including the Living Legend Medallion given to him by the Library of Congress and Grammy for his famous song, “O Death”). Check out his collection of vintage banjos, fiddles, and record plaques. Be sure to grab a pair of headphones for the self-guided audio tour and learn insights about this country legend’s life.

Carter Family Fold

The Carter Family Fold is a museum and music venue in Hiltons, just 35 minutes outside Bristol. Dedicated to the legendary first family of country music who pioneered the genre in the 1920s, this must-visit attraction features exhibits highlighting their lives and careers. See old family photos, check out the trio’s costumes, book collections, recordings and instruments, and snap a photo of the restored cabin where A.P. Carter was born. The venue also hosts live music in its auditorium!

Birthplace of Country Music Museum

Located in the heart of Bristol, this Smithsonian-affiliated museum celebrates the legendary 1927 Bristol Sessions, often called the “Big Bang of Country Music.” Explore interactive exhibits, rare recordings, and vintage instruments that bring history to life (Johnny Cash’s guitar is on display here). See if you have the chops to be the next country music superstar in the recording studio. Or, get a behind-the-scenes look at Radio Bristol, a local radio show broadcast.

The Floyd Country Store

Enjoy a total blast from the past at The Floyd Country Store. Tucked away in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, this charming store is home to an old-fashioned soda fountain, cafe and toe-tapping live music performances. Indulge in a bowl of chili and skillet cornbread (all made from locally sourced ingredients). Sip on a birch beer soda and shop for vintage vinyl records. And experience music and dancing, Friday through Sunday, with gospel performances, dance troupes and good ‘ole Appalachian tunes.

Blue Ridge Music Center

At the Blue Ridge Music Center in Galax, it’s all about the three M’s – music, a museum and the mountains. Dedicated to preserving and presenting Blue Ridge Mountain music heritage, the center offers visitors a variety of experiences every May through October. Groove to the sounds of Appalachia at the outdoor amphitheater’s summer concert series. Explore the Roots of American Music Museum and its exhibits featuring interactive displays and antique musical instruments. Or, head outside and hike the trails on the center grounds.

Blue Ridge Institute & Museum

Discover the rich history and heritage of Blue Ridge folklore and folklife at this institute and museum at Ferrum College. Learn about music traditions, crafts and customs through rotating exhibitions. Explore the Blue Ridge Heritage Archive, which is home to thousands of photographs, documents and vintage audio recordings – some dating back to 1780. Across the street, check out the 1800 Virginia-German farmstead and watch living history demonstrations!

Rex Theater

Experience the charm of the historic Rex Theater in Galax, VA! Since 1940, this iconic venue has been a cornerstone of local entertainment, hosting everything from classic films to vibrant live music. Today, the Rex is renowned for its bluegrass and old-time music shows, often broadcast live. Its intimate setting and rich history make every event a trip to the past!

Southwest Virginia Cultural Center

Welcome to the Southwest Virginia Cultural Center in Abingdon, the official headquarters of The Crooked Road – Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail! Check out exhibits highlighting Virginia’s musical roots. Listen to collections of gospel, bluegrass and old-time music by local artists. Visit the marketplace where artisans sell wares like handmade jewelry and pottery. Stop by on Thursday nights for live performances of traditional and mountain music!

Bonus Stop: Country Cabin

Head to Norton to get the quintessential Appalachian music experience at the Country Cabin, a historic log cabin/community center that hosts local musical acts of all genres, from bluegrass to country and more. Head into the no-frills gathering hall, grab a comfy seat and listen to the musical stylings of bands like Country Troubadours and James Stiltner and his crew. Or, brush up on your two-step, grab your sweetheart and hit the dance floor for some slow dancing, square dancing, and line dancing!

Take this guide on the go with Apple Maps on your iPhone!

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