Bath County has been welcoming visitors for more than 250 years. Travelers made the journey to “take the waters” long before the American Revolution. The Homestead Resort opened in 1766 and the county’s tradition of fine hospitality was born. Even from the perspective of a community with such a long tourism history, 2020 was a year like no other.
People often choose to visit Bath County because it is a respite from our modern hectic world, an opportunity to unwind in a peaceful and scenic place. The global pandemic of 2020, however, left no place in America unaffected. Even during an incredibly challenging time, some wonderful things happened in our community during this past year. The people and businesses here are resilient, optimistic, and most importantly, hard-working.
Here are a few of the developments that happened in 2020 that will make Bath County a better place to visit and live well into the future:
• The county’s first winery opened. Rock Roadhouse Winery is located on Sam Snead Highway in Hot Springs. They began offering tours and tasting by appointment and held a few special events. It may be the most scenic winery in Virginia. A visit to Rock Roadhouse should be on any wine lovers bucket list.
• The music played on. Garth Newel Music Center has been unable to offer live performances, but the musicians quickly adapted and began offering virtual concerts via YouTube. It’s a testament to the indomitable artistic spirit of the Garth Newel team, who instinctively knew that we all needed some music in our lives during this past year.
• Sustainable family farming thrived. A group of local farms collaborated to launch two innovative and successful ventures. Foodlore Provisions allows individuals to order local products directly from the farms through their website. Once a week, orders are available for convenient pickup. It’s an easy way to support local farmers and get fresh, healthy products. A companion program call Foodlore Fridays also launched in 2020. This weekly event ran from July through September at Oakley Farm in Warm Springs. Each Friday, guests bring lawn chairs or blankets and enjoy a celebration of food, farmers and community. There is a pop-up market for fresh products, cider tastings, and usually a different chef each week preparing something spectacular.
• Hot Springs got cooler. On Sam Snead Highway near the entrance to The Omni Homestead sits a beautiful Bed & Breakfast Inn with an inviting wraparound porch. During the summer months, visitors can step up to the window and order delicious ice cream treats and relax on the porch. In a scene worthy of Norman Rockwell, Sweet Treats from the Vine is scooping cones, cups, milkshakes, banana splits and a side of nostalgia.
• Restaurants got even more creative. As restrictions limited how dining establishments could operate, restaurants adapted quickly to ensure that their customers were served. Some quickly developed outdoor dining options, others offered curbside carryout or delivery and one actually built a drive-up window. Loyal customers appreciated the hard work and responded by ordering carryout whenever possible and even purchasing gift cards to support the local businesses throughout the pandemic. It looks like the food scene in Bath County will be better than ever in 2021. Bacova Beer added a kitchen that serves a variety of sandwiches and appetizers. Snead’s 1912, already an institution in Hot Springs, updated its menu and is now serving out-of-this-world barbecue and sides.
When encouraging developments like these emerge during a challenging year like the one we’re joyfully putting in the rearview mirror, we can’t help feeling hopeful about 2021. We wish everyone a happy new year and look forward to welcoming you to Bath County soon.
For information on Bath County, visit DiscoverBath.com