Waynesboro Water(ing) Holes
Summer is the time to take advantage of the wonderful sunlight and outdoor fun, but the Shenandoah Valley can get pretty hot and muggy. With all the hiking, camping, biking, motorcycle riding, and more that you’ll be doing, you’ll want to make plans to chill afterwards. Fortunately, we’ve got plenty of swimming holes and watering holes, so you can cool off your body inside and out.
Water Access and Places to Swim
Waynesboro Water Trail is part of Waynesboro’s park system. It’s a 4-mile section of the South River Stretching from Ridgeview Park to Basic Park that winds right through the city’s downtown and has multiple access points. Open to kayakers, canoers, waders, and fishermen, and offering views of the mountains and the urban landscape, the water trail is also home to many species of fish and birds. Paddlers who don’t have their own boats can rent kayaks, canoes, and stand-up paddleboards from Rockfish Gap Outfitters. Those wishing to extend their journey can continue on the South River to takeout points in Crimora, Grottos, and Port Republic. Fishermen should refer to state regulations.
Sherando Lake, known as the “Jewel of the Blue Ridge,” is a short drive from Waynesboro, but it’s worth it for the 25-acre lake and large, sandy beach. While there’s no lifeguard, the cool, spring-fed lake has a clearly marked swimming area, and the water gets deep only gradually. An $8 per car fee applies for day use. Camping costs are additional, but visitors can access restrooms, showers, and hiking trails.
War Memorial Pool in Ridgeview Park is a wonderful way to cool off, get some exercise, and see friends from the community. This olympic-sized pool is 50 meters long and stays open from Memorial Day to the middle of August. Make a day of it: Ridgeview Park has all kinds of fun activities for you to enjoy. There’s a playground, fishing pier, walking trails through the woods, ball fields, a serenity garden, picnic pavilions, and a footbridge over the South River. You can also access the river by foot or launch your canoe or kayak on the Waynesboro Water Trail. Pool Fees apply for adults ($4) and youth ages 3-15 ($2). You can also purchase summer passes for individuals ($65) and families ($125).
Sometimes it’s best to delay the gratification of splashing into the cold water until after you’ve worked for it. Consider a drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway to the trailhead for the 4.5-mile White Rock Falls hike. While there’s not much of a swimming hole here, families can splash in the pools below the scenic 40-foot falls. Hikers who want to make a day out of it should drive north on the Skyline Drive to the 9.5-mile Riprap Trail circuit hike. Fed by an icy mountain stream, the 50-foot swimming hole will take your breath away. Many people consider this hike one of the best in the southern part of Shenandoah National Park.
Basic City Beer Co.'s location is close to the South River and lots of hiking, so it gets regular after-adventure traffic. The brewery uses a natural spring to supply the water used in its beers. Housed in a large, historic building that was once a foundry, the space gives off cool, warehouse vibes. There’s plenty of room to spread out in the taproom, outside, or in the new Showroom space. Basic City also offers several food options. Choose between Lost Town Billy Pie Pizza in the taproom, or sandwiches and bar foods (as well as wine, cider, and cocktails) in the Showroom. Check the events calendar for chances to hear live music.
Seven Arrows Brewing offers twelve beers on tap in its large taproom and outdoor spaces, which include seating around a firepit. Seven Arrows uses local ingredients like hops and honey when possible, and you’ll always find a variety of fresh lagers, sours, IPAs, stouts, pilsners, infusions, and even local kombucha to choose from. Onsite Nobos Kitchen prepares tasty apps, salads, sandwiches, bowls, tacos, and burgers. There’s even a kids’ menu and house-made beer ice cream in a variety of flavors!
After a day on the water, a visit to a river-themed restaurant and bar is the perfect ending. That’s exactly what you’ll find at The River Burger Bar in downtown Waynesboro. With a wide variety of upscale burgers, salads, wraps, vegetarian and vegan options, plus delicious cocktails and local craft beer, you’re sure to find something to appease your appetite following a fun day in the sun.
Have you tried Blue Ridge Bucha yet? The first of its kind in Virginia, this organic kombucha taproom offers bottles, growler fills, and glasses of hand-crafted kombucha, which is sweetened and fermented tea flavored with ginger, wild pear, black cherry, black raspberry, elderflower, juniper berry, and more. The taproom patio is open for visitors and customers can order onsite or online. Blue Ridge Bucha sells bucha by the glass as well as tasting flights for those who want to try 2 oz. samples of multiple flavors. Seasonal flavors reflect what is seasonally available as well as take advantage of local ingredients.