Life in Lexington

The Lexington Area

Lexington, Virginia is a beautiful and historic hamlet located in the Shenandoah Valley just three hours southwest of Washington, D.C. and a forty-five minute interstate drive from Roanoke, Virginia.

A town of roughly 7,000 residents, Lexington is home to Washington and Lee University and the Virginia Military Institute. There are more than 100 culturally and historically significant sites in the Rockbridge County area, and the historic core of the City of Lexington is a Nationally Registered Historic District, as are the Washington and Lee Colonnade and the Virginia Military Institute Post. Lexington and the surrounding area has been the filming location for at least six movies, including, most recently, scenes for Steven Spielberg's War of the Worlds.

Moving to Lexington with Family/Significant Other

Lexington's small town charm, low cost of living, good schools and strong sense of community provide a high quality of life for those law students relocating to Lexington with spouses, significant others, fiances or families. W&L Law even offers a student organization, Law Families, which allows law students, as well as their spouses, significant others or families, to connect with others who are similarly situated. Please visit our Students with Families page for information about this group, as well as resources for job seekers and information regarding school and childcare for those students relocating to Lexington with children.

Campus Recreation

There is a Fitness Center on-campus to which law students have access, as well as regular Yoga, Hip-Hop, Spin and other group exercise classes. For more information regarding group exercise courses, please see the University's webpage for group fitness. The Washington and Lee University fitness center is available for use by W&L students, faculty and staff, spouses and children of W&L employees and W&L alumni living in Rockbridge County. Eligible parties may bring one guest with them, but the eligible person must be present.For other Campus Recreation opportunities, including intramurals, please see the University's Campus Recreation webpage.Intramural sports are also a big part of law school life. In fact, the law school has its own intramural league, run by third year law students affectionately known as Sport Czars. Students play a variety of sports throughout the year - football in the fall, floor hockey and basketball in the winter and soccer and softball (the annual Dean's Cup softball tournament is a popular campus event) in the spring. These games are a great way to get to know your classmates and a great outlet during law school. Visitors to our campus in the fall are likely to find most of the student body on the law school lawn watching the glory, the majesty the passion that is the Law School Football League. The individual law classes often field teams to compete in the campus-wide intramural competitions. For more information regarding intramurals, please the University intramurals webpage.

Interested in playing a club sport? See the University's webpage for Sport Clubs.

There are also a number of outdoor activities available in the Lexington area. Lexington is situated a short fifteen minute drive from the Blue Ridge Parkway; outdoor activities in the area abound. Whether they're sitting by the river at Goshen, swimming at Panther Falls, cycling on one of Rockbridge County's scenic by-ways, hiking House Mountain, running on one of Lexington's many trails, golfing at one of the area's two golf courses, skiing at one of the four nearby resorts or simply working out at the University Fitness Center, our law students are an active group.And for those considering a hobby during their time in law school, might we suggest spelunking. There are a number of caves throughout the area, many of which (Endless Caverns, Luray Caverns and Natural Bridge Caverns) are popular tourist destinations. Our law school's unique location affords students the opportunity to experience a variety of activities, outdoor and otherwise, they may find a very hard time doing in the cities in which they aspire to live and practice. 

Dining and Shopping in Lexington

Lexington is home to a great many local restaurants. At lunchtime, law students can often be found at the Blue Sky Bakery, Bistro on Main (according to Southern Living, home to the Commonwealth's finest hamburger) and Salerno's. For traditionalists interested in a time-honored Lexington dining experience, there is the Palms, a Lexington institution since, well, who really knows. Let's just say it's been around a pretty long time. 

For vegetarians, there is the Counter Culture cafe at the Healthy Foods Co-op which regularly features both vegetarian and vegan fare that is often locally grown yet distinctly global in flavor. Macado's, the most recent addition to Lexington's gastronomic landscape, has become a favorite dinner and social destination for law students. For those seeking slightly more upscale fare, there is the Southern Inn, Cafe Michel and House Mountain Inn. For more information about dining options in the Lexington area, please feel free to consult the Lexington Visitors Center's compendium of local restaurants.

Downtown Lexington also has a number of great coffee shops including Lexington Coffee which sponsors a regular musical "drop-in" on Wednesday mornings that is free and open to anyone who wishes to participate. There is also a great ice cream shop that serves a variety of homemade ice cream flavors (we recommend the Mocha Chip and Oreo), not to mention a host of bakeries (we challenge you to correctly identify all the downtown businesses that incorporate "Sweet," in some form or fashion, into their respective names).

And after you've dined, there are also a number of great shops, boutiques and art galleries throughout the downtown area. In fact, in recent years Lexington has attracted a sizeable community of artists whose work is regularly displayed in a great many of the downtown galleries. There is a chocolate shop once recognized by the Wall Street Journal for purveying the nation's best truffle (an honor earned despite competition from industry heavyweights such as Godiva and Harry & David). For those seeking a few items of a more sartorial bend, there are a number of downtown shops that are popular with law students, including Pumpkinseeds, Molly Gilbride, Alvin-Dennis and Lexington's Pappagallo. For a full list of downtown stores, please consult the Lexington Visitor Center's listing of downtown shopping

Activities in the Lexington Area

Washington and Lee law students attend a variety of events on and off campus. From flag football to casual and formal events sponsored by the Student Bar Association and other student organizations, students find opportunities to relax and to enjoy their time in Lexington.

Located a fifteen minute drive from the Blue Ridge Parkway, Lexington also has a great deal to offer the outdoor enthusiast. Our students enjoy the natural splendor of our location and the many outdoor activities available in the area both independently and through W&L's Outing Club. The Maury River provides excellent opportunities for swimming, canoeing and fishing. Lake Robertson, owned by the Virginia Game Commission, is operated by Rockbridge County as a recreation facility. The secondary roads in the County, the Blue Ridge Parkway and the trails in the National Forests, provide excellent biking.

In addition to outdoor activities, there are a number of cultural opportunities in the area, including a wealth of monuments, sites and places of historical interest. The Lenfest Center for the Performing Arts is located right on campus and regularly holds symphonies, plays and art showings. For movie buffs, the State Movie Theater is right downtown, and Hull's Drive-In is only a few minutes down the road - perfect for watching movies under the stars during the warm Virginia spring and fall. There are also art-house theaters inRoanokeStaunton and Charlottesville. For those who prefer classic theater, there is the Blackfriars Playhouse in Staunton, which regularly features productions of works by William Shakespeare. The newly constructed and visually arresting Taubman Museum of Art in Roanoke, with its more than 16,000 square feet of gallery space, has also become a new favorite attraction. And for music buffs, there are many clubs and concert venues in Charlottesville and Richmond that regularly feature local, independent and national recording artists ranging from the Police, Jay-Z and Bruce Springsteen to the National, the Hold Steady and Broken Social Scene.

For a more comprehensive listing of things to do in the Lexington area, please follow this link!

See for yourself!

Our unique location is one of the many reasons for our collegial atmosphere. At W&L Law, you get to know your fellow classmates as friends; these friendships preclude the cutthroat competitive culture so often associated with law school. Plus, where else can you find a foam rendering of Stonehenge, America's only community owned drive-in movie theater, a 38,000 slab of pink granite dedicated to Lexington-born statesman, politician and soldier, Sam Houston, a Dairy Queen once frequented by Tom Cruise and the best hamburger in Virginia?

We believe that Lexington is a place like no other, but don't take our word for it. We encourage all interested students to come visit our campus and to see for themselves just what makes W&L Law distinctive.

If you would like to schedule a visit, please consult our Visit Page.

Lodging is readily available in many forms for those visiting Lexington, including hotels, bed and breakfasts and cabins. Portions of this summary were taken from the City of Lexington's website (