Abingdon, Virginia

Best Places to Retire in Virginia


Abingdon (population about 8,000) is an historic small community nestled in the mountains of the southwestern part of the state, just west of I-81. It is 20 minutes north of the cities of Bristol, Virginia and Bristol, Tennessee, which are co-located along the state boundary and is situated at a very comfortable elevation of 2,265 feet. Abingdon enjoys a fairly moderate four-season climate with magnificent views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. http://www.abingdon.com/

Daniel Boone who camped there in 1760 named the settlement Wolf Hills. In a short time it was re-named Black’s Fort and in 1778 it was named Abingdon, after the English ancestral home of Martha Washington. Twenty blocks of the downtown contain a mix of Victorian and Federal buildings, which are listed on the National Historical Register. The town’s oldest building dates to 1779 and once served as a tavern. Today it is operating as a restaurant.

Abingdon offers a small community lifestyle yet it has an active arts community, a thriving community college that offers continuing education opportunities for seniors, and a highly regarded professional theater. And there is great local music from the country and bluegrass traditions. There are museums and art classes and plenty of civic pride as evidenced by the festivals and special events held throughout the year. It offers many dining choices, a great history and charm. Abingdon also has its own acute care hospital. There is good specialty shopping, however it does not have a major shopping complex. The two Bristols are only 20 minutes away and Johnson City is a short distance beyond. The Tri-Cities Regional Airport is just 34 miles from town.

Arts & Culture

The historic Barter Theatre is one of the oldest professional theaters in America, dating to 1933. Opening in the depths of the depression, the theater accepted bartered goods as the price of admission. The building itself was constructed in 1831 as a church and can seat 507. The Barter Stage II, which is across the street, seats 167 around a thrust stage. The theater produces a season series, a student matinee program, and special events. http://www.bartertheatre.com/

Nearby Emory & Henry College sponsor a variety of arts events, including exhibitions, art talks, concerts, films, and several theater performances. There are performances by both the theater department and guest companies. http://www.ehc.edu/cgi-bin/MySQLdb?VIEW=/news/

The Depot Artists Association is a non-profit volunteer organization dedicated to promoting the arts in the community. It also features the region’s artists. The association has converted an old train station into classrooms and gallery spaces. http://www.abingdonartsdepot.org/front_page.html

Paramount Center for the Arts in Bristol, Tenn., (20 minutes away) offers a wide variety of arts and entertainment, including music, theater, events, and individual performances. http://www.theparamountcenter.com/

The Virginia Highlands Festival is an annual summer festival that dates back to 1948. Over the years it has grown into a regional event representing all southwest Virginia. It preserves the arts, crafts and skills of the region and also imports talented performers. http://www.vahighlandsfestival.org/

There are a many special events throughout the year. Among them are: Whitetop Mountain Maple Festival, several fiddler’s conventions, Wayne Henderson Festival, Fourth of July celebration, New River Festival, Baywood Fall Festival, Grayson Highlands Fall Festival, and the Mountain Foliage Festival. William King Regional Arts Center features galleries that showcase the art of the region, and of the world. It also offers classes in the performing arts year-round for both children and adults. http://www.wkrac.org/

The Carter Family Fold serves up old-time country and folk music weekly in Hiltons, Va., (just 26 miles to the northeast). The Carter Family Memorial Music Center honors the memory of the first family of country music. http://www.carterfamilyfold.org/

Washington County Fair at Abingdon — http://www.washcofair.com/

Washington County Public Library — http://www.wcpl.net/


Abington is in a beautiful natural setting with vast areas of unspoiled lands that offer scenic beauty and the opportunity to enjoy nature at its best. There are a number of good trout fishing locations, and there is hiking and biking on the Virginia Creeper Trail, the Appalachian Trail or at the Mt. Rogers National Recreation Area. There are six golf courses in the area plus horseback riding.

The Virginia Creeper Trail is a safe and rather level, well-maintained former railroad bed. It is excellent for cycling, horseback riding and hiking. The trail stretches 35 miles from Abingdon through Damascus and to the North Carolina state line. http://www.vacreepertrail.com/

Mount Rogers National Recreation Area, which is a part of the Jefferson National Forest, includes the highest peak in Virginia. Mount Rogers is named for William Barton Rogers, a geologist and university professor. The park includes over 300 trails and supports a wide range of outdoor activities, including mountain biking, fishing, horseback riding, camping, scenic drives and more. http://www.fs.fed.us/r8/gwj/mr/

Washington and Jefferson National Forests were combined in 1995 to contain nearly 1.8 million acres of public land, one of the largest tracts of public land in the eastern U.S. The Jefferson National Forest is comprised of 690,000 acres in Virginia, just over 18,000 acres in West Virginia, and under 1000 acres in Kentucky. George Washington Forest includes 956,000 acres in Virginia and just over 100,000 acres in West Virginia. These massive lands are traversed by the Blue Ridge Parkway and adjoin the Shenandoah National Park. The park offers many recreational opportunities, including over 2,000 miles of trails for horseback riding, hiking, mountain biking and even for all-terrain vehicles. There is camping, fishing, scenic drives and seven shooting range facilities. http://www.fs.fed.us/r8/gwj/index.shtml

Grayson Highlands State Park is adjacent to Mount Rogers National Recreation Area. It features 98 campsites, along with covered and open horse stalls. All campsites have picnic facilities. http://www.dcr.state.va.us/parks/graysonh.htm#General

The famous Appalachian Trail courses down the Blue Ridge Mountains in the area somewhat west of Abingdon. http://www.westernncattractions.com/aptrail.htm

Glenrochie Country Club of Abingdon is a private residential golfing community that offers tennis, swimming and dining, as well as excellent golf. http://www.glenrochie.com/

The Virginian Golf Club in nearby Bristol, Va., is a private residential community which features a highly-rated Tom Fazio-designed course. http://www.thevirginian.com/


Virginia Highlands Community College is a public institution established by the state in 1967. It has a 100-acre campus and serves more than 3,200 students annually. http://www.vhcc.edu/

The Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center is a separate organization located on the campus of Virginia Highlands. Opened in 1998, it offers baccalaureate and graduate programs as well as cultural programs for the community. http://www.swcenter.edu/

Emory & Henry College, which is affiliated with the United Methodist Church, offers a full curriculum of the arts and sciences. Founded in 1836, it is the oldest college in the region. Emory & Henry enrolls just over 1,000 students annually at its beautiful 331-acre campus in Emory. The school competes in NCAA Division III as a member of the Old Dominion Athletic Conference. http://www.ehc.edu/cgi-bin/MySQLdb?FILE=/index1.html

Senior Programs

The Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center, on the campus of Virginia Highlands Community College offers a College for Older Adults. Courses are offered at a nominal fee and typically last for six weeks. Volunteer instructors teach these popular daytime classes. http://www.swcenter.edu/pages/coa.asp


Johnston Memorial Hospital is a full-service, acute care facility with a staff of more than 120 physicians. http://www.jmh.org/


Tri-Cities Regional Airport in Blountville, Tenn., is 34 miles away. Tri-Cities is a full-service airport serving east Tennessee, southwest Virginia and western North Carolina. http://www.triflight.com/

Virginia Highlands Airport, Abingdon, has a 4470-foot X 75-foot asphalt runway and operates from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. year around. http://www.vahighlandsairport.com/


The average temperature in July is a pleasant 73 degrees, and in January it averages 31 degrees. Abingdon receives an average of 15 inches of snowfall. http://www.wunderground.com/US/VA/Abingdon.html


Abingdon News — http://www.topix.net/city/abingdon-va
Bristol Herald-Courier — http://www.tricities.com/tristate/tri/home.html

Property Taxes

Washington County Commissioner of the Revenue–

State Taxes

Virginia Department of Taxation — http://www.tax.virginia.gov/

Chamber of Commerce

Washington County Chamber of Commerce — http://www.washingtonvachamber.org/

State Aging Agency

Virginia Department For The Aging — http://www.vda.virginia.gov/


Emory – 10 miles
Damascus – 14 miles
Bristol, VA – 16 miles
Bristol, TN – 16 miles
Johnson City, TN – 38 miles
Wytheville – 56 miles
Blacksburg – 107 miles
Knoxville, TN – 127 miles
Charlottesville – 240 miles
Roanoke – 134 miles
Winston Salem, NC – 145 miles
Lynchburg – 190 miles
Charlottesville – 240 miles
Washington, DC – 360 miles

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