On our recent visit to Lynchburg, VA. I was surprised to find a variety of crowd-pleasing dining options within a short walk from our room at the Holiday Inn Downtown. Not only does a walk through downtown Lynchburg provide ample opportunity to explore historical locations, monuments, boutique shops and even stop for an old fashioned shave or trim, but it also provides a variety of culinary options to tempt your palate. Of course, when your palate is traveling with the palates of four very different young boys, finding something to please everyone can sometimes be a challenge.
The Depot Grille
Lynchburg is often called Hill City. The reason for this nickname becomes apparent as you stroll the streets of downtown. If you don’t mind a bit of a descent and climb back up though, take a stroll down to The Depot Grille. Located in an old N&W depot building along Lynchburg’s historic riverfront, it offers authentic American food favorites in a setting that is sure to stir the imagination of children. Take in antique railroad memorabilia while you enjoy a delicious meal in this affordable Lynchburg family restaurant.
I enjoyed a meal of hand battered chicken fingers with homemade ranch sauce here. The homemade ranch is the restaurant’s signature recipe, and will definitely leave you coming back for more. My oldest son tried the unconventionally prepared chicken Parmesan and loved it, but had trouble finishing the large portion on his own, so sharing is definitely an option for those who eat light.
Kids meal options include items outside the norm such as the BBQ drenched ribs that my other boys enjoyed, just be sure to ask for plenty of napkins. After enjoying your meal, take a stroll down the nearby Blackwater Creek Bikeway.
There aren’t many kids who don’t like pizza, which is what makes Waterstone Pizza such a family-friendly option in downtown Lynchburg. Take a stroll from your hotel down along the James River Heritage Trail, and you’ll come to the time weathered brick building that used to be home to a shoe factory. Now, this building houses a pizzaria with a modern flare. Hand tossed pizzas, pastas and crisp salads round out the menu at this delightful casual dining option located in the heart of downtown Lynchburg.
The kids and I enjoyed a variety of delicious classics at Waterstone Pizza, including the penne chicken alfredo, classic Waterstone white pizza, and the children’s pepperoni pizzas. All the pizzas at Waterstone come with a crispy, thin hand-tossed crust, loaded down with toppings like thick cut pepperoni slices or creamy rich ricotta. No matter what you choose from their extensive menu, it is sure to be good. Don’t forget dessert, even with a rather bad cold I could taste the deliciousness that was their pecan crusted cheesecake with caramel sauce.
Market at Main
Perhaps my own personal favorite family-friendly restaurant option in downtown Lynchburg is the Market at Main. Who doesn’t love a place that serves breakfast all day long? Located in a building on Main Street that was originally built in 1886, and served as a Woolworth’s and General Store, the Market at Main features 25 foot tin ceilings, an open kitchen area with a bar, and other features that give it that “old time” charm. With classic “diner food” favorites, the menu is a traditional mix of delicious items with the unique flavor of Lynchburg. Many of the menu items are named after historic figures or places from the city’s history.
If you can choose only one thing to eat when you visit Market at Main, do not miss out on the Fried Green Tomatoes, they are done so well here. Our personal preference for our dinner seating was the breakfast menu, but we are huge fans of breakfast food done right. If you are looking for an affordable family dining option, this is going to be your best bet. I had the two eggs your way served with sausage, two sides and toast for only $6.99!
Kids menu options include crowd pleasers like chocolate chip pancakes too. Don’t forget dessert at this charming diner, the milkshakes, floats and sundaes are all to die for!
Cao Artisan Chocolates
Not technically a full fledged restaurant, Cao Artisan Chocolates is still a culinary experience for families that should not be missed when you visit downtown Lynchburg. Located right down from the Market at Main, this chocolate factory specializes in bean-to-bar handmade chocolates, and let me assure you, they are incredible. Mixed with the modern sparkle of this shop’s interior, there is ample seating for relaxing or just escaping the summer heat for a bit.
What makes Cao Artisan Chocolates so family friendly though? The owner Mary Matice goes a long way to make visiting families feel welcome. She is a true delight, and her passion for chocolate and the product she creates is contagious. More than that though, Cao Artisan Chocolates provides a great learning opportunity for children through their Children’s Tours and Tasting.
For just $5 per person, children are led through the history of where chocolate comes from, how it is made, and end with the opportunity to sample various types of chocolate from around the world. Don’t forget to pick up some of their tasty truffles before you leave too.
For more information on planning a visit to historic Lynchburg, check out VisitLynchburg.org.