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Arriving in Charlottesville, Virginia, from the south, you’re likely to pass through the small town of Scottsville, Virginia. This village makes for a perfect day trip from Cville or even a stopover on your way to Charlottesville. This historic James River town is an exciting mix of historical and creative types. Let’s explore spending the day in Scottsville VA.

In 2016, Scottsville became the first Bee City USA in Virginia. What does that mean? It means that the community has declared a healthy environment for pollinators. A public pollinator garden is located at 137 Main Street, next to Scottsville Supply.

So what is there to do in Scottsville?

Best Things to do in Scottsville VA

people on shore holding tubes to float

1. Go tubing!

One of the most popular things to do in Scottsville VA is to tube on the James River. Several providers, such as James River Runners (at the Hatton Ferry location) and James River Reeling & Rafting, receive high marks for their adventures. James River Reeling & Rafting departs from downtown Scottsville and takes visitors by bus to the opposite side of the river for Hatton’s Ferry. You can even rent a tube for a cooler and spend a beautiful summer day cooling off in the James River.

Hatton Ferry on sand dune
Ooops! Tide is too low to ride out today!

2. Ride the Hatton Ferry

Just five miles outside of town, the Hatton Ferry is the oldest pole ferry in the United States. The ferry takes travelers and their vehicles from one shore of the James River to the other. It is best to check the Facebook page for the ferry to find out if it is operational as it cannot go if the water level is too low or too high or if there are too many tubers in the water. This historical ferry asks for donations to keep its mission going. 

PRO TIP: Check the Hatton Ferry Facebook page ahead of time to make sure that the water is high enough (and safe) for you to ride the ferry!

pint of beer on table with James River Brewery sign in background

3. Visit the local brewery

James River Brewing has been producing hoppy (and other) craft beers since 2012 (2015 with the current owners). Housed inside a historic building formerly serving as a tobacco warehouse, enjoy a beer inside the tap room or in the beer garden adjacent to the Mink Creek. Enjoy local musicians on weekends.

Not a fan of beer? Several wineries are located within a short distance of the town center.

Scottsville Farmers Market sign

4. Scottsville Farmers’ Market

Held at the Scottsville Pavilion at 125 Fleet Street, the market is located just before crossing the bridge if arriving from Charlottesville. The market is held every Saturday morning from April through mid-November. Here, you’ll find local produce and handmade products – something perfect to take home from your Scottville VA visit.

red brick Scottsville VA Museum

5. Learn at the Scottsville Museum

A few centuries ago, Scottsville was a prominent port along the James River when tobacco and other crops were carried on barges. The Scottsville Museum preserves the heritage of this historic James River town. The museum is open on weekends from April to October.

View of James River from boat access spot in Scottsville VA with tubers in water

6. Enjoy the James River

There’s a boat launch off Main Street. Enjoy the James River responsibly. Rent a canoe or kayak from one of the local providers and coast along the James River.

Scottsville historic school building turned into apartments (red brick building)

7. Walk through the Historic District

About 100 buildings and homes dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries have survived. The town has made considerable efforts to renovate and re-use these, creating a revival downtown. The downtown area is easily walkable, so park and stretch your legs.

Scottsville VA crosswalk downtown with red brick buildings

8. Shop at the boutiques along Main Street

Stroll the streets and visit the art galleries, restaurants, or local natural products stores. Or sit down at Baine’s Books & Coffee to start your day with a cup of java while watching the world go by. 

PRO TIP: Like many small towns, the shops are closed on Sunday, so schedule your visit for Saturday if you can!

Scottsville brick building that is Tavern on the James Restaurant

9. Enjoy a meal at Tavern on the James or The Batteau

The local hangout, Tavern on the James, is ideally located at the corner of US 20 and Main Street. While this may seem like a sports bar, the inside is worth exploring. Tin tiles cover the ceiling, adding to the atmosphere. With music on the weekends and plentiful parking, the Tavern is an excellent way to cap off your visit to Scottsville.

The Batteau is perfect for a meal. Save enough room for the Bourbon Street Pecan Bread Pudding. Located on Valley Street, you won’t miss it. The restaurant won a Reader’s Choice Award for a good reason.

Canal Basin Square signs in Scottsville VA

10. Visit the Canal Basin Square by the James River

Located on Main Street, near the intersection with US 20, across from the Scottsville Museum, a city park highlights the importance of Scottsville in prior centuries. The park exhibits such old barges and tells the tale of the importance of river life to the area.

This lively little town is worth visiting, no matter what time of year but particularly in the summer if you want to enjoy some James River activities.

Have you visited? What would you like to try?

Check out these other fun things to do in Virginia:

Happy travels,
Annick, The Common Traveler

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Spending a Day in Scottsville VA | The Common Traveler shares the best things to do while spending a day in Scottsville VA. Don't miss taking a ride on the Hatton Ferry - America's oldest pole powered ferry. And cool off tubing in the James River. Learn so much more!

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