A Quick Lunch Day Trip to Lynchburg

One of my favorite things to do is travel, in particular, to travel the beautiful Commonwealth of Virginia. I have the great privilege to do this as part of my job and have seen some of the most beautiful places in the country, right here in Virginia. The birthplace of many of America’s founding fathers and the model for many government structures, Virginia has so much to take in and see.

One of the key things that you’ll start to see in our future travel posts is the experience in the destination through the eyes of a gay couple. Why is this important to our audience collectively? It will hopefully provide a resource to the LGBTQ community to identify a destination’s diversity and inclusivity practices, and also bring awareness to our allies and other folks interested in understanding why and how a destination that is not welcoming can affect the LGBTQ traveler. Lastly, we hope to provide constructive feedback to the destinations we feature.

Ok, now back to the featured destination, Lynchburg, Virginia. This particular trip was for a team meeting/lunch for work. Lynchburg is a historic city on the east side of the Blue Ridge Mountains and sits along the beautiful James River. There has been tremendous commercial growth, revitalization, and enhancements to the historic charm of the city, likely accredited to the expansion of the university that is my alma mater and shall remain unnamed for many reasons.

Speaking of charm, one of my all-time favorite restaurants is the Depot Grille, along Lynchburg’s historic riverfront. It’s a tavern-style restaurant located in a historic rail depot, offering classic American fare. I’ve been here many times for lunch meetings and for dinner when conferences were held here.

You will likely get a giggle when I share that I’ll travel many miles to eat here, for one dish in particular - the Chicken Tender Salad! Yep, that’s what I said! You can order it traditional or buffalo style. I’ve had both, and the traditional is my favorite. You get four enormous tempura-fried tenders nestled on a bed of leaf lettuce, cheddar cheese, crumbled bacon, and tomatoes. Their ranch dressing is homemade and is the pièce de ré·sis·tance! When my order arrived at the table, there were gasps at the chicken portion. Needless to say, I brought half of the salad home with me.

I’m a sucker for destinations with historic charm, and Lynchburg does not fail in that category. According to the Lynchburg government website, Lynchburg was named for its founder, John Lynch, who at the age of 17 started a ferry service across the James River in 1757. The city features scenic views, trendy restaurants and coffee shops, local shopping venues and is a culture and art lover’s dream. With an in-depth review of the destination’s tourism website, you’ll find all of the necessary information you need to navigate your stay, also highlighting their love for your pets, with a special section on the site called “Pet-Friendly LYH”.

I was certainly not surprised when I did not find any LGBTQ-friendly travel information, as the area is quite conservative with the unnamed university that I mentioned earlier being located there. A quick Google search will confirm that there are not many places in Lynchburg that are affirming to the queer community. From what I understand, there are no bars/restaurants that specifically cater to the queer community. The only exception is Dish, which does open its doors to the LGBTQ community every Sunday night, and hosts a drag show once a month.

So I’ll give you my honest opinion here. When I’ve traveled to Lynchburg, it was always for work or school. I’ve never really had to navigate the destination as a queer person, as I’ve been with other affirming friends/colleagues for business or visited the university when I was buried deep in the closet. As a queer person, you’re always aware of your surroundings, looking for signs of acceptance or commonality. I certainly would not discourage anyone in the LGBTQ community from traveling to Lynchburg, but if you’re looking for an outwardly affirming destination with activities catering to the queer community, you’ll not find that here. I’ve never really felt unsafe here; however, I’ve not been on a romantic date with my husband or I’ve not been walking around the destination holding his hand like heterosexual couples I’ve seen, so there’s that. According to the HRC Municipality Index Report for 2020, you’ll not even find Lynchburg listed. For perspective, the closest destination, Roanoke, sadly scored a 54 out of 100. All of this to say, I would still like to bring Joey here one day, either for a quick day trip or a short stay.

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