Abandoned Buildings and Autumn Scenic Drive

The Nature Bus Tours Abandoned Buildings Tour Group Tours Autumn Leaf Peeping

TOUR NAME: Abandoned Buildings and Autumn Scenic Drive 

DATE: Saturday, November 18 – Sunday, November 19, 2023

DURATION: 2-day tour departs on Sat, Nov 18 at 9:00 am. Returns on Sun, Nov 19 at aprox 7:00 pm (traffic dependent; flexible return time) 

Please arrive at 8:30 am to board the bus. (REI 350 Independence Blvd, Virginia Beach) 

PRICE: $185/person (includes guided tour of Swannanoa!) 

DESCRIPTION: Join The Nature Bus on an autumn adventure! If you have a love of history, abandoned structures, photography, and/or beautiful fall mountain scenery, then this tour is not to be missed! Our inaugural “Abandoned Scenic” adventure is a new one for The Nature Bus. Our guide has been photographing timeless structures for years, and will share some photography tips to help you capture that perfect moment. We will be visiting the beautiful Swannanoa Place with a private guided tour. Swannanoa is an Italian Renaissance Revival villa built in 1912 by millionaire and philanthropist James H. Dooley, above Rockfish Gap near Afton Mountain. Abandoned many years ago, it is still a piece of history to be admired. Another stop on our adventure includes an abandoned truck graveyard filled with unique trucks of our past, creating a stroll through memory lane. Photography is permitted, so capture your own memories with us!

Stay overnight at the historic and scenic Graves Mountain Lodge (GML) located in Syria, VA, which is still a working farm today. Take in their mountain scenery as our adventure allows time to enjoy the many activities the lodge has to offer.

Our trip will make some unique food stops! We will be going to Tanglewood Ordinary, Blue Mountain Brewery, and the Graves Mountain Lodge dining room. ITINERARY SATURDAY 8:30 am arrive at REI. Seat selection is based on the order you check-in, so arrive early! The check-in process takes a bit of time. Bring your printed, signed waiver form; it is your ticket to board the bus. 9am departure. During our 4 hour drive, our guide, John, will provide a power point presentation and history about abandoned buildings along our route! We will stop at the halfway point for a restroom break/stretch legs/snack (please snack when you step off of the bus). 1:30 lunch at Blue Mountain Brewery in Afton, VA. 3:30 guided tour of Swannanoa. Then we will drive one hour to Graves Mountain Lodge (GML) – checkin to our rooms. ACCOMMODATIONS: Graves Mountain Lodge. We have a GROUP RESERVATION. Rooms have two (2) queen beds. $140 private room. You will call them directly to book your room and breakfast/dinner reservations. (Side note: IF you are interested in possibly sharing a room, you’d need to communicate your preference to Suzanne via text after you have registered. We will “try” to help you find a room-mate, but we cannot promise that others will want to share a room. Just let us know and we will do our best. $70 shared room or $35 if you have 4 people/room). 7:30 pm group dinner reservations at GML restaurant (aprox $30/person includes tax and gratuity). We must enter the dining area at one time, and we are seated together. Evening socialize with new friends! Or retire to your room for an earlier much needed sleep. SUNDAY 8:00 am breakfast in the GML restaurant (aprox $30/person includes tax and gratuity). Again, we must enter the dining area at one time, and are seated together. After breakfast you’re on your own for a variety of optional activities offered by GML (not included in your tour ticket) – horseback riding, massage, group guided nature walk, visit the barn, and more. Call GML ahead of time to arrange these special opportunities. 11:00 am departure. Please don’t miss the bus! 11:00 – 12:30 drive 1.5 hours to the “Truck Graveyard” in Columbia, VA. Spend 45 min here. Snack off of the bus since lunch won’t be until 2-2:30ish). 2:15 pm Late lunch at Tanglewood Ordinary restaurant (Southern comfort food, family style – “home of Grandmother’s Sunday Dinner”). Then we will drive back to REI in Virginia Beach. We hope to arrive back sometime between 5:30 – 7:30ish depending on the traffic and the tunnels. Sundown will be at 4:45 on this day. 


– Air conditioned/heated new vehicle
– Transportation all weekend on The Nature Bus!
– Guided tour of Swannanoa
– Knowledgable tour guide on board the bus (history presentation) *please tip your guide
– All fees (including admission/permit/gasoline, highway tolls,  excluding food/drink and accommodations)
– Expert pre-planning services

– Bring $ for all of your meals at the restaurant establishments we will be going to. Most will take credit cards, except Tanglewood Ordinary (bring $35 CASH for this meal).
– Optional BBYO for Sat evening socializing and your favorite board games/card games
– Printed/signed waiver (please print and sign at home; this is your ticket to board the bus!)
– Photo ID
– Cash (it is customary to tip 15%+ to the guide)
– Water bottle, sunscreen, sunhat if it is a hot day
– insect repellant or bug suit if preferred (mostly recommended for forested tours)
– Rain jacket/umbrella if needed (we go in light rain)
– Closed-toed/tennis shoes/boots (if could be muddy if it rained the day before)
– Snacks for your pocket when walking outdoors (please no eating on the bus)
– $20 cash if you’d like to purchase The Nature Bus t-shirt! You’ll love it. (adult S, M, L, XL available in light blue or grey; children’s sizes in lime green). Can only be purchased on board the bus. Also, GML has a farm store in case you want to shop. 

Important NOTES  “Know before you go” ~

*We go “light rain” or shine. See our weather policy FAQs  page. Please dress for the weather. In the case of light rain, we simply take cover and wait it out. In the case of very heavy rain and wind, we move the experience to our rain-date. Be sure both dates will work for you (the original date and the rain-date). This weekend tour does not have a rain-date; the tour will go rain or shine.  ALL SALES FINAL/NO REFUNDS unless WE cancel the tour. 

*PLEASE: Eating, drinking, chewing gum is not permitted on the bus. Water is ok. Please stow away your snacks and enjoy them OFF of the bus. Please arrive 15-30 min before departure. Save time at check-in by bringing your signed waiver. No restroom on board the bus; arrive early enough to use the rr at REI/Fresh Market grocery store. We will make rr stops throughout the tour. We cannot wait for latecomers because we must adhere to our planned itinerary. Therefore we must pull away at the exact departure time. We cannot receive telephone/text calls to let us know your are running late because we will driving and using the phone as a GPS.
*ALL OUR TOURS INVOLVE WALKING; GUESTS SHOULD EXPECT VARYING DEGREES OF PHYSICAL ACTIVITY. Due to lack of storage space, the bus cannot accommodate wheelchairs or walkers.

  • Eco tours/Nature tours cannot guarantee good weather or specific species we may or may not see, or if the fall foliage is at its peek or not. Outdoor nature excursions are at the mercy of Mother Nature. Expect the unexpected!

COVID SAFETY MEASURES: We care about the health and safety of those participating in our nature experiences. The bus is sanitized between each tour. Feel free to open your window if you prefer. Please stay home if you are not feeling well or have a fever. Federal Law no longer “requires” masks be worn on airplanes, trains and buses; masks are optional.

    • We look forward to seeing you on the tour! Check out all of the 5-star reviews, so you will be super confident that you will have an amazing experience! You can read these reviews at TheNatureBus.com > click the REVIEWS tab. See you soon!
  • Please help fill up this tour! Share on your social media and with everyone you know! We need a minimum of 10 seats, maximum of 16 seats for each tour to go. Spread the word! For this particular tour sales will END on October 8th. If we do not meet the minimum participants, we will cancel the tour and give a full refund. You will also be able to cancel your accommodations with GML. Please share with others who may enjoy this tour; help fill up the bus so YOU and others can have this unique experience. 
  • If you have any questions, please text/call the owner. Suzanne 757-288-9595


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show details + $185.00 (USD)   Sold Out


350 Independence Boulevard, Virginia Beach, Virginia, 23462, United States

  • November 18, 2023 - November 19, 2023
    9:00 am - 7:00 pm