The best ice cream in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains can be found in a historic railroad caboose by The New River in Fries, VA. Sweet Lily’s, named in honor of the proprietor’s granddaughter, serves up classic ice cream shop items such as hot fudge sundaes and banana splits. However, their signature sundae, which consists of chocolate ice cream, brownie, nuts, waffle cone, pineapple, caramel, chocolate, blueberry, blackberry, whipped cream, and a cherry, is a customer favorite.
Special features offered by Sweet Lily’s include hosting opportunities for small birthday parties, tasting parties, and a monthly ice cream social offering all-you-can-eat sweet treats for a flat fee. Sweet Lily’s also serves regular and decaf coffee, teas, slushies, and lemonade.
Sweet Lily’s is located at 321 Firehouse Drive, Fries, VA 24330. Their hours are Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 12:00 pm to 8:00 pm and Sunday from 12:00 pm to 6:00 pm.
New River Outdoor Adventures, located in Galax, VA is the one stop shop for all your outdoor recreational needs! Enjoy some of their scenic floats down the beautiful New River from canoe, kayak, tandem kayak, or river tube. River floats are tailored for the beginner, family, first-time boater, or the experienced thrill-seeker. If biking is your preference, NROA provides great trail bikes for rent so you can cover all 57 miles of the New River Trail. Shuttle service is provided for boats and bikes as well. Delivery service to local vacation rental homes is provided. Many guests at River Mist Retreat have taken advantage of this service. The NROA shop also has lots of merchandise for sale to help make your adventure an enjoyable experience. They’re also a point of sale for Virginia hunting and fishing licenses. Make sure to speak with one of the owners, Tim Dixon, for expert fishing advice and assistance choosing the best bait to catch the “big one!” Tim, a lifelong resident of neighboring Fries, VA has spent his entire life fishing and navigating the New River. For additional information, please visit their website: https://www.newriveroutdooradventures.com/
Flowing 160 miles through Virginia, the New River is a true recreation destination for outdoor enthusiasts. The New River is recognized as the second oldest river in the world, (the Nile in Egypt is the first). Its headwaters begin near Blowing Rock, NC and is one of the few rivers in North America that flows northerly. If you’re looking for a peaceful float trip on the water, plan a trip to the New River to venture into some of Virginia’s most beautiful waterfront acreage. The warm waters of the New River offers resourceful anglers the opportunity to catch the smallmouth bass of a lifetime. Fast water and large rock outcroppings are a feature of the New River, creating the perfect habitat for big smallmouth bass and flathead catfish. Several lazy, slow stretches also abound, where you can fish for rock bass near grass beds. The slow waters near the dams along the river will yield big flathead and channel catfish, as well as walleye and smallmouth bass.
2) Go for a Bike Ride
The New River Trail parallels 39 miles of the New River. Bikers will experience miles of beautiful scenery along the trail. The trail contains two tunnels: 135 feet and 193 feet long, and three major bridges, Hiawasee-951 feet, Ivanhoe-670 feet, and Fries Junction-1,089 feet. The trail is relatively flat and appropriate for all skill levels. Visit New River Trail State Park for additional information.
3) Climb a Mountain
Mount Rogers is the highest natural point in Virginia, with a summit elevation of 5,729 feet above mean sea level. The Appalachian Trail passes within a half mile of the summit, making it especially popular with hikers. You may come upon the residents of Mt. Rogers, a herd of more than 100 wild ponies that roam free.
4) Take in a Show
Grayson County VA is rich in musical history and the legacy continues today. Fries is a proud affiliate of The Crooked Road, a 330 mile driving trail through the mountains of Southwest Virginia that connects nine major venues and over 60 affiliated venues and festivals that visitors can enjoy every day of the year. Jam sessions can be enjoyed at The Fries Community Center every Thursday night from 6:30 to 9:00 PM. The world’s oldest and largest Old Fiddler’s Convention is held in Galax, VA the second week of August annually. Numerous other towns and communities also have music festivals throughout the year.
Winding its way through the heart of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, The Blue Ridge Parkway offers visitors breathtaking views. The Blue Ridge Mountains, famous for their bluish color when seen from a distance, are a nature photographer’s paradise. Mabry Mill, located at mile 176.1, is one of the most photographed spots on the parkway.
Grayson Highlands State Park
Located in the Jefferson National Forest and near the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area, Grayson Highlands State Park offers stunning mountain views and many hiking trails to explore. The park’s most popular residents, a heard of wild ponies, provide plenty of photo opportunities.
The New River, which is actually an ancient river, flows generally northeastward across the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. Whether you choose to bike or hike the New River Trail or spend a lazy day boating on the New, you’ll find yourself surrounded by magnificent scenery. During a float trip a few years ago, I was lucky enough to capture a photo of a black bear club splashing in the river. The historic dam in Fries, Virginia, built in 1901, provides a beautiful backdrop when the red buds are in bloom in the early spring.