It’s Travel Tuesday! We haven’t traveled together in a few weeks, so hop in the car!
When I think of healthy food, I don’t necessarily think of the mountains. Small towns in the mountains are known for country cookin’ and hospitality as warm as the pie. City folk would say they are much more cosmopolitan and cutting edge. Maybe there are more vegetarian, vegan, locally-sourced, and sustainable restaurants in larger cities, but per capita, I don’t think any city holds a candle to Lexington, Virginia as far as healthy options.
In March, my mother and I visited Lexington as part of her Christmas gift trip. I give her a trip every year for Christmas. I chose Lexington because we are both Civil War buffs. We visited the Lee Chapel & Museum, Virginia Military Institute Cadet Museum, the Stonewall Jackson House, and Stonewall Jackson’s grave.
All of the sites we visited were extremely well done. The museums were first class, the tour at the Stonewall Jackson House was informative, and the Lexington Cemetery was well-maintained. That is high praise coming from me. I am a museum and historic tour snob since I have worked in both fields.
The pleasant surprise of trip was the abundance of healthy options in town. One of those options was Healthy Foods Co-Op Market and Cafe. Healthy Foods is a 2100 square foot grocery store located at 110 W. Washington Street. You will find everything you can find at a grocery store, just healthier.
In the back of Healthy Foods is the Counter Culture Cafe, which serves local, organic, vegan, and vegetarian fare for lunch Monday through Friday. Unfortunately, we were there late on Friday and left on Saturday, so I wasn’t able to sample the food. Check out their spring menu online.
What I like most about Healthy Foods Co-Op and Counter Culture Cafe is that they are literally right across the street from Washington & Lee University and a few blocks from Virginia Military Institute (VMI). This gives the college students access to healthier options. A vegan or vegetarian student or a student with gluten sensitivities could easily meet their daily needs at this location. Healthy lifestyle parents could feel comfortable sending their children to one of these schools because of this conveniently-located resource.
The other awesome place we stopped was Cool Spring Organic Market & Cafe at 30 Greenhouse Road. It’s outside of the town proper, but was right near our hotel. It is right off of Exit 55 of I-64, just one exit off of I-81, so it’s a great option for through-travelers who want a healthy alternative to fast food. We happened upon this store right before close. I wandered the aisles quickly. Great selection of groceries, including home baked goodies like cookies and brownies. Once again, the cafe was closed, but I would love to check it out next time I am in the area.
The third location, which I did not get a chance to visit, is Kind Roots Cafe, at 790 Lee Highway. This is at the same exit as Cool Spring Organic Market, so it’s another option for weary travelers. Let’s just put it this way, I shouldn’t have read their online menu while I was hungry! I want to drive out to Lexington right now and have one of their crab cakes. They, too, have gluten-free, vegan, and vegetarian options.
I’d say that for a town of 7,000 people, three cafes and two large grocery stores that provide healthy alternatives including gluten-free, vegan, and vegetarian options is not a bad ratio. I encourage you to make Lexington a pit stop when traveling I-64 or I-81.
It’s also a great weekend travel destination for anyone in Virginia, the Washington, D.C. area, or the surrounding states. If you are a lover of history, it’s a must see if you are planning a Civil War vacation. For those who prefer eco-tourism, Lexington is not far from the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Appalachian Trail. So, there really is something for everyone!
Mom and I a blast and I already can’t wait for next year’s trip. Until the next Travel Tuesday, may you have safe, healthy travels!
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