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Travelers to the Ozarks know about Hot Springs, Arkansas, but there’s another one farther east. This other Hot Springs in Virginia probably isn’t as famous, but it’s surely worth a visit.
This is a place whose waters put it on the map. We’ll give you our suggestions on how to best spend your leisure time in this inviting little hotspot near the mountains.
Are you ready to explore Hot Springs, Virginia? Let’s go!
Where Is Hot Springs, Virginia?
Hot Springs is in western Virginia, in the Allegheny Highlands. It’s just across the West Virginia line, in the aptly named Bath County.
This tiny town of just a few hundred people is basically next door to both Warm Springs and Healing Springs (do you recognize a theme here?). That places it about 85 miles north of Roanoke and 96 miles west of Charlottesville. The city of Harrisonburg is about 77 miles to its northeast.
We’ll get more than our feet wet as we explore this area. The spring-fed pools are the main attraction, but there are many other fun things to see and do.
When Is the Best Time of Year to Visit Hot Springs, Virginia?
The climate is mild enough in this area to enjoy it year-round.
There’s usually enough snow in the winter to slip down the nearby slopes but not enough to spell disaster. Summers get hot, but not too hot – rarely above the low 80s, in fact.
But you may find the hot springs more soothing when the temperatures dip just a bit. Overall, autumn is the best time to visit Hot Springs, Virginia. The crowds are smaller then, and as a bonus, you can also enjoy the vivid changing colors of the trees.
Does Hot Springs, Virginia, Actually Have Hot Springs?
Yes, Virginia does have hot springs. And it’s one of few places in the eastern U.S. that can make such a claim.
Going back to the 1700s, the area has been a popular destination for tourists seeing a soak in “medicinal” waters. One of the best-known sites is Jefferson Pools, named for an early visitor who happened to be the nation’s third president.
There’s evidence that there has been an attraction to these mineral-rich waters for centuries. Whether they actually have healing properties is often debated, but there’s no question that they are relaxing and rejuvenating.
How Many Hot Springs Are in Virginia?
Though there are other thermal springs around the state, Virginia has two that are longtime tourist destinations.
We’ve already mentioned the celebrated Jefferson Pools in Warm Springs. The other is just 5 miles away in Hot Springs, Virginia and it has a long and illustrious history of its own.
By the way, don’t plan your trip expecting to encounter super-hot waters like you often find out west. The hot springs in Virginia aren’t heated from any kind of volcanic activity, so they’re consistently at a much more comfortable temperature. These naturally warmed waters are around 98 degrees or so, about the same as a person’s natural body temperature.
Best Things to Do in Hot Springs, Virginia, to Have a Great Trip
When you’re not relaxing in a pool, there are many reasons in and around Hot Springs to get back on your feet. With such amenable weather, you can get outdoors in all four seasons and not get bored. Here are our recommendations for making the most of your time here.
Go on an Appalachian Horse Adventure
One of the best ways to enjoy the beautiful countryside is on horseback. For over 30 years, owner Kenton Dull has led thousands of riders on trails in and around his beloved mountains.
You can saddle up for a one-hour, two-hour, or three-hour ride, either by yourself or with a group. They take place in the George Washington National Forest and include river crossings and rides along mountain slopes.
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Soak Your Bones at the Omni Homestead Resort
A luxurious resort occupies the site of America’s first European-style bathhouse, an octagonal structure built in 1761. Modern amenities include nearly 500 rooms and suites, a spa and salon, and a lazy river and two water slides.
Besides the relaxing waters, the Omni Homestead offers Southern elegance with a gorgeous 2,000-acre landscape that includes two golf courses. It’s ground zero for the hot springs in Virginia and a fantastic home base for enjoying the area’s attractions.
Learn to Ski at the Homestead Ski Area
Avid skiers won’t find it very challenging, but many generations have learned to ski with this easy but classic downhill run. It’s just a mile from the resort and offers a nice view of surrounding mountains.
There are nine different trails, some also set up for snowboarding, snow tubing, and snowmobiling. In the warmer months, they employ this same area for zip lining.
Snap a Picture at Falling Spring Falls
If you love waterfalls like we do, you’re in luck. This one’s just a few miles away along U.S. Route 220. If you’ve seen many photos of the area, you may recognize these striking 80-foot falls.
You can see the cascading waters from the highway, but they’re well worth a closer view from the overlook. This is also the best spot to snap a picture of your own for posterity.
Eat at the Highest Rated Restaurant in Hot Springs, Va.
Calling Les Cochons d’Ohr the highest-rated restaurant in Hot Springs is certainly accurate, but it may be selling it short. Visitors from all over the world rave about the LCdO, as the locals know it, and the adjacent Jackson River Café.
The name translates from French as “the golden pig,” indicating the value they place on fresh, local ingredients. Expect elevated classic American flavors with a bit of a French accent.
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Add Hot Springs, Virginia, to Your Bucket List
You didn’t know Virginia had hot springs? Well now you do! And you can experience them for yourself just across the state line from West Virginia in the Allegheny Mountains.
Virginia isn’t as well known for its hot springs as other places in America, and that’s part of this area’s charm. That joy of discovery is one of the things we love best about traveling.
Not knowing exactly what you’re going to encounter is refreshing, but it’s sometimes reassuring to have a basic roadmap. They often lead us down new roads to what might become one of our favorite getaways.
Have you ever visited the hot springs in Virginia?