Buchanan seems to be a town forgotten by time, located in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains in Botetourt County and an easy drive from Roanoke or the Peaks of Otter. If you pronounced the town name Bew-cannon and the county name Bow-ta-torte you would be dead wrong, twice. But that’s okay. Residents of Buck-annon in Bot-te-tot county are friendly and forgiving.
The tiny town on the Upper James River, Water Trail, is filled with Class l and ll rapids. Local outfitters offer half-day floats by tube, canoe and kayak. Take a walk on the only swinging bridge across the James River and grab a burger at the Swinging Bridge Café before strolling the main street lined with antique shops and galleries.
History buffs will enjoy the free walking tour to learn about the impact of the Civil War and Hunter’s Raid. For an afternoon pick-me-up, stop by Ransone’s Pharmacy (also known as the Buchanan Grill). The 50’s-style diner-cum-drugstore serves old-fashioned root beer floats, shakes and sundaes. When happy hour rolls around, head south toward Troutville to the Flying Mouse Brewery for some of the region’s best craft beers.
Grab dinner at Buchanan’s Brink of the James Bistro and then head to the historic movie theater where current films and classic movie snacks are offered at retro prices. For overnighting, try the lovingly restored, vintage 1934 Hiawatha Dining Car that’s been converted into a one-of-a-kind inn.