Lynchburg Virginia is located in the west-central part of the state about halfway between Charlottesville and Roanoke. In 1757 a teenage John Lynch began a ferry service over a ford in the James River to make it easier to transport goods between Charlottesville and the town of New London, about twelve miles to the south. Soon a settlement grew up around Lynch's Ferry. In 1784, Lynch established a town on a hill overlooking the ferry and it was named after him. Lynchburg is an independent city, part of no county. For this reason, it sometimes referred to as "A City Unto Itself." It did not fall to the Union during the Civil War—the only major Virginia city that did not do so.
More than 40 sites in Lynchburg Virginia are on the National Register of Historic Places, and several of these are important tourist attractions. Poplar Forest was Thomas Jefferson's plantation; this was where he came to retreat from the hordes of visitors who flocked to his other home Monticello in Charlottesville. Jefferson designed both these homes, as he did many of the buildings on the University of Virginia campus.
Today, millions of visitors continue to flock to the internationally famous Monticello. If you want to beat the crowds, visit Poplar Forest. Only twenty miles away is famous Appomattox Court House and the battlefield that surrounds it. This is where Robert E. Lee surrendered the Confederate Army to the Union and Ulysses S. Grant on April 9, 1865, ending the Civil War. Some of the larger Civil War reenactments in Virginia are held here (usually in April).
One of the more fascinating Lynchburg attractions (and its most visited) is the Old City Cemetery, one of the oldest operating public cemeteries in the country. More than 20,000 people are buried here, including slaves and freed slaves, Revolutionary War soldiers, notorious "sporting ladies" (prostitutes), pillars of the community, and town drunks. There is Potter's Field, the grave of one of the first black women to vote and the grave of the first black school principal. The cemetery is a horticulturalist's and birder's paradise, and there are guided bird walks.
Lynchburg VA is set in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, which provide many of the outdoor activities for visitors, including hiking and backpacking, fishing and hunting, cycling and mountain biking. Additionally, the spectacularly scenic Blue Ridge Parkway can be easily accessed from the city. You can spend days driving its 469-mile length, but you can also just enjoy a day's excursion.
There are regularly scheduled flights into Lynchburg Virginia from the major international airport of Charlotte, North Carolina. This means you can fly in from most anywhere in the world. Once you get here, a car is important as the surrounding area is so beautiful and some major attractions are outside of the city. Lynchburg is an Amtrak train stop on two routes—the Crescent between New York City and New Orleans and the Northeast Regional from Boston and Springfield, Massachusetts; Lynchburg is the terminus of this route.