Driving through the state of Virginia, I picked up a handful of brochures from a rest area as I usually do in all visitor centers. One, in particular, really caught my eye. I loved the charming pictures of Bath County, home to both Warm and Hot Springs, Virginia.
A few weeks later, my daughter, Peyton, and I set off to explore that stately countryside.
Peyton and I drove to Warm Springs, Virginia, from Charleston, West Virginia, and were taken back to a time when the simple things in life were all that mattered; where the windy country roads provided something beautiful to look at, with farms and livestock around every twist and turn.
Huge trees swayed from the fresh air blowing their leaves, while flowers looked like they were posing for portraits along the drive. We came across majestic deer eating apples beside the roads, country cafes, antique stores aplenty, and fat, happy cows grazing in the lush fields.
The vague familiarity of this town, like so many other historic country towns in America, beckons travelers to stop, smell the flowers, and enjoy their offerings.
The Historic Springs of Virginia
Warm Springs, Hot Springs, Virginia; they are a bit confusing to keep straight and we will not even mention Boiling Springs, which we ventured into as lost tourists. Hot Springs is the jewel of Bath Country, housing the 18th-century historic Omni Homestead Resort. I have stayed at the resort before and it is nothing short of spectacular.
My favorite Omni Homestead activities are afternoon tea, the front patio rocking chairs, and swimming in their indoor pool, which is fed by the local warm mineral springs water. Though the greatest pleasure of all is to enjoy afternoon tea in the Great Hall with guests and visitors between 3 and 4 PM.
The Homestead is unique in that it truly looks like a massive hospital from the days of yore when you first drive up and see it poking through the mountains. However, as you snake you way to the hidden entrance, you will be impressed by the beauty and simplicity of this National Historic Landmark. Twenty-two American Presidents have stayed at the resort.
Omni Homestead’s championship golf courses are within a short drive as well as the jewel in their crown, the Jefferson Pools.
Taking the Waters at the Jefferson Pools
The main reason I wanted to visit Bath County, or Hot Springs, Virginia was for the Jefferson Pools. These crystal clear waters have drawn visitors across the Allegheny Mountains for centuries. Even Thomas Jefferson spent weeks there enjoying the rest and relaxation.
The Jefferson Pools are supplied by mineral springs from a source at the Homestead. Best of all, they do not require chemical treatments and are naturally heated. The price to soak is $17, which they refer to as “taking in the waters”. I will warn you that the building housing the Jefferson Pools is in shambles with paint peeling off the walls and the floors looking as if they could cave in at any minute.
Peyton and I were there after 1 PM, referred to as adult time, in which talking is not permitted to enhance the guest relaxation factor. Men and women’s pools are separate and during adult time, bathing suits are optional.
The river rocks on the bottom of the pool are slippery, but floats are provided so you can float around the serene waters. There is also a place you can sit for an energizing massage of rushing waters splashing against your body.
We both enjoyed exploring Hot and Warm Springs and found the town and its people lovely. This is definitely a great option for a weekend getaway, family holiday option, or a girls’ trip. We stayed in a lovely bed & breakfast and dined on amazing food.
Things to Do in Warm/Hot Springs, VA
- River rainbow trout and bass fishing
- Visit a swimming hole; some offer inner tubes and rafts
- Hiking and biking are both popular choices
- Explore a Civil War cemetery and admire the antique headstones
- Visit the Garth Newel Music Center; a concert venue for chamber music, jazz, and classical
- Shop at the local antique stores and art galleries
- Pamper yourself with a spa treatment at the Warm Spirit Spa
5 Places to Dine in Warm/Hot Springs, VA
At the Fort Lewis Lodge (reservations required), join guests of the lodge for a home-cooked and grilled buffet style dinner in a gorgeous country setting. Fort Lewis is 25 minutes from town.
Milk House Market at the Old Dairy is an upscale market where you can pick up gourmet food items, grab-n-go sandwiches, picnic lunches, and sodas. Peyton and I picked up Hammond’s chocolate bars, gourmet potato chips, and cinnamon apple chips for our road trip.
Sam Snead’s Tavern is one of the Homestead restaurants in downtown Hot Springs. It offers pricey, but quality, delicious dishes. The dark wood decor is perfectly romantic; reservations are recommended.
A local cafe serving home cooked basic meals with a small salad bar option is the Country Cafe.
The Waterwheel Restaurant is a historic restaurant at the Inn at Gristmill Square. It has the perfect balance of relaxed ambiance, attentive service, and unbeatable dishes. Foodies will appreciate the artistic flair and creative cuisine.
Places to Stay in Warm/Hot Springs
The Omni Homestead is a historic icon featuring 483 guest rooms decorated with rich fabrics, stately furniture, and an attentive staff. The Homestead features photographic surroundings, award-winning restaurants, and activities galore. The gorgeous outdoor pool and water slides will leave your mouth agape upon seeing them.
Warm Springs Inn offers 20 rooms located within three buildings on the property. The Inn dates back to 1802 and features an eclectic style in a charming country setting. Enjoy the wrap-around porches and on-site restaurant.
The Inn at Gristmill Square is a B&B comprised of five 19th-century buildings (Blacksmith shop, waterwheel, Steele house, hardware store, and the miller’s home) with rustic charm and elegance. I recommend staying in the Silo Room, a round bedroom with an enormous whirlpool tub, separate shower, and fireplace. The inn delivers adorable and yummy complimentary breakfast to your door in a cute picnic basket.
Fort Lewis Lodge is a resort in Millboro, 25 minutes across the mountains. Its plantation style setting on rolling hills of Virginia offers a variety of lodging choices including hand-hewn log cabins, silo bedrooms, or typical rooms in the main lodge.
Trivia: Bath County, Virginia is filled with lawn jockeys. Houses are decorated with them, lawns, buildings and stores in downtown Hot Springs, Virginia; they just seem to pop up everywhere. Created in 1776 and called a groomsman jockey, the statue represents a hero of black history and culture. The term groomsman was changed to lawn jockey over the past 100 years.
The original jockeys were used to tie up horses and were made of iron or zinc, but now are more commonly made of aluminum or concrete. They jockeys are now strictly ornamental and cute as can be.