Short on Days: 10 Fantastic Things to Do in Castlewood & St. Paul Virginia

With rich history and nature’s beauty all around, there are plenty of activities to keep you busy while visiting Castlewood and St. Paul Virginia. Early pioneers, like Daniel Boone, made their homes in Castlewood while exploring new territory across the Cumberland Gap, and robber barons of the Gilded Age like, Jay Gould and the Vanderbilts, came seeking opportunities in timber, coal, and rail.

Filled with natural wonders and an ongoing downtown revitalization, you’ll soon come to understand the allure of Castlewood & St. Paul. Discover for yourself all there is to see and do. Here are some of our local favorites to make for a memorable escape into Southwest Virginia.

Old Russell County Courthouse

Old Russell County CourthouseThis is the location of the second court house in Russell county and one of the oldest public buildings in all of Southwest Virginia. Built in 1799, it served the county until 1818 when the county seat was moved to Lebanon. Russell County was formed in 1786 when Washington County was divided. In fact, much of Lee, Scott, Wise, Dickenson, Buchanan and Tazewell Counties were once part of Russell County.

The Old Russell County Courthouse is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and in the Virginia Landmark Register. The courthouse is now open Tuesday – Saturday 10am – 4pm; Sunday 12:30pm – 4pm. You can find out more about the Old Russell County Courthouse on their FaceBook page.

St. Paul Railroad Museum

The building housing the St. Paul Railroad Museum was constructed in the 1890’s by the Norfolk & Western Railway. This was a multi-use building that served as the office for the railroad superintendent and dormitory space for railroad workers. The Town of St. Paul restored the building, and it is now home to the St. Paul Railroad Museum.

The St. Paul Railroad Museum is open each Saturday morning from 10:00 until 12:00 noon, or at other times by appointment. For more information, please call the St. Paul Town Hall at 276-762-5297 or visit the St. Paul Railroad’s Facebook page. Admission is free.

Oxbow and Sugar Hill Loop Trails

Located within a half mile of downtown St. Paul, the Sugar Hill Trail System boasts some of the best trails in Southwest Virginia. With over eight miles of Trails that follow along the Clinch River, Oxbow Lake, and the historic 1791 French settlement on top of Sugar Hill, you’ll be wowed by the natural beauty of the trail system. Trails are clearly marked and offer options for all skill levels.

If you are looking for a relaxing walk with a measured mile, the Oxbow lake is one anyone can enjoy. The lake also offers great fishing opportunities (be sure and stop by Town Hall to get your Oxbow Fishing Permit). If you are feeling more adventurous, the 4-mile round trip to the St. Paul Falls runs along the Clinch River and gives nature lovers the occasion to see wildlife and a wide range of flora and fauna. If you want to do a little planning, check out the Sugar Hill Loop’s website.

Fat Boy’s BBQ

Many locals looked forward to festivals and county fairs to get a “Heart attack in a bowl” or some of owner Jeff Boothe’s great tasting ribs. Now operating inside an old St. Paul National Bank building, Fat Boy’s BBQ opened in January of 2015. You’ll see the smoker in action in a back parking lot smoking up a full menu of BBQ delight.

Open on Thursday 11-8 Friday and Saturday 11-9 Sunday 11-8. Be sure and check their Facebook page for any specials.

Mountain Heritage Museum

In 2016, local lawyer and author Frank Kilgore, opened up his collection to the public in the new Mountain Heritage Museum. This collection includes coal mining, logging, railroad, farming, Civil War, Native American and Appalachian artifacts. You’ll be sure to find something of interest from all across the regions with the many exhibits on display.

Their Winter Hours: 10 – 4 Fridays only. Returning to regular Saturday hours on April 8.

Ma & Pa’s Restaurant

This family-run restaurant in Castlewood has been open for over 50 years, serving up some of the best burgers and milkshakes in Southwest Virginia. They also have a full menu of Southern home-cooked meals just like grandma use to make. When you visit Ma & Pa’s come for the food, but stay for the entertainment. Ma & Pa’s is part of The Crooked Road music trail. Many nights during the week, you’ll find some of the best local bands playing on the stage at Ma & Pa’s.

Ma & Pa’s is part of The Crooked Road music trail. Many nights during the weeks you’ll find some of the best local bands playing on the stage at Ma & Pa’s.

Wetlands Estonoa

Legend has it that some kids stopped up a stream in a cave and flooded an old cornfield to make a local swimming hole. Fast forward to 1999 and some high school students recovered what would eventually become a nationally-recognized wetland. With the hard work of Team Estonoa a walking trail, learning center, rain garden, floating dock, and many other improvements have been installed. It is rare to find a mountain wetland, so this is a great learning opportunity for all ages.

Find more information and directions on the Virginia DGIF website.

Sugar Hill Brewery

The newest eatery in St. Paul opened in August 2016, by turning a former hardware store into a small town brewery and restaurant. There is always a wide range of in-house crafted beer on tap, along with some regional wines. Many locals leave thinking they have taken the trip over the mountains to Asheville after enjoying such a great meal and a nice cold beverage. Sugar Hill Brewery is located downtown and is ATV friendly.

So after a long day on the trail, there is no better place to come and unwind.

Spearhead Trails

Come stay in St. Paul, Virginia and have over 60 miles of ATV trails that you can access right from downtown. The Mountain View Trail of the Spearhead Trail system offers ATV riders of all levels an adventurous trip back into the mountains. Before taking off on the trail, riders will need to get a permit which you can find at many locations in town or from the Spearhead website.

If you are coming into town and need a place to stay, there are a couple of options that cater ATV riders.

The Clinch River

The jewel of Southwest Virginia runs through both Castlewood and St. Paul. The Clinch River is one of the most biodiverse freshwater ways in North America. Home to many endangered freshwater mussels and darters, the Clinch offers the sportsman many species for fishing, from smallmouth bass, muskies, and walleyes. The Virginia state record for sauger was landed in the Clinch in 2010.

If you are not up for fishing, but still want to get on the water, the Clinch is a perfect river for a canoe, kayak, and tubing trip. Clinch River Adventures in St. Paul offers shuttle services and tube & kayak rentals.

Seasonal Events & Locations Coming Soon:

Russell County Fair

The first week in September, Castlewood becomes home to one of the best fairs in Virginia. Check their website for dates and events.

Clinch River Days Festival

Each year St. Paul hosts the Clinch River Days Festival, which celebrates the Clinch River and the surrounding towns. This will be the 19th year of the festival on June 1-3.

Kim’s Crazy Corn Maze

Open September 16 through October 30, Kim’s Crazy Corn Maze has become a local staple to celebrate Fall. Along with a corn maze, they offer a pumpkin patch and hay rides.

Lyric Theater (coming soon)

Western Front Hotel (coming soon)

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