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The Inn at Forest Oaks

The Inn at Forest Oaks is a historic inn that is located in the city of Natural Bridge in Virginia and is found a few minutes to the west of Natural Bridge State Park. The Inn at Forest Oaks is found on about 50 acres of land and consists of a four-story building that has six available bedrooms and one large cottage that can be rented out for much larger groups and sleeps up to 10 people. The main building has been around for over two centuries and has seen many years of renovations to maintain it. Natural Bridge State Park is about five minutes away by car and offers several hikes as well as tours of the caverns underneath the state park. For those who talk to one of the owners, they are also able to cater to guests who would like to host events, including weddings, birthdays, and more.


The property consists of two buildings. The first one is the main building which is four stories tall and has six individual bedrooms, as well as the dining room where breakfast is served to guests. There is also a billiards room, sitting room, living room, and a sunroom. Additionally, the building contains an antique store and bakery that guests are able to buy souvenirs and fresh baked goods. The second building is called The Vine Cottage and is available for guests to rent out if they plan on having a large group of people. Capable of sleeping up to 10 visitors, The Vine Cottage has its own kitchen and dining area.

The six rooms in the main building are on the second floor and are each individually decorated. All six of the available guest rooms have a private bathroom, a queen-sized bed, a hairdryer, heating and air conditioning, bottled water, an iron with an ironing board, and access to free Wi-Fi. Guests also have access to private, off-street parking while they are staying at The Inn at Forest Oaks. The Vine Cottage offers the same sort of amenities as the other units in addition to others. Due to the fact that it has its own kitchen, guests who stay at The Vine Cottage are also given complimentary snacks and coffee. Bathroom supplies, like soap, shampoo, lotion, and towels, are provided as well. Outside of The Vine Cottage, guests have access to an outdoor fire pit, gas-fueled barbeque, and a private screened porch.

Breakfast is served in the mornings, usually at 8:30 AM. One of the owners, whose name is Chris, is the baker and typically is the chef for the morning meal. Breakfasts that they have served in the past include dishes like quiche, French toast, frittatas, as well as southern dishes like chicken and waffles. Chris explains that they do their best to cater to their guests' dietary needs. He's capable of making dishes for those that need gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, vegetarian, or other diets. In Chris' words, regarding what they are able to serve for people who have dietary restrictions, "we can serve pretty much 'anything-free.'"

The Inn at Forest Oaks is a grand total of 50 acres. There are an abundant amount of places for people to go for leisurely walks or early morning jogs. On one portion of the property, one can find several active farmlands that grow grass and hay, which is also accessible for guests to go see. Other activities available to do on the property include hiking, bird watching, billiards, and outdoor games and sports like volleyball.

The area that surrounds The Inn at Forest Oaks is very rural, as there are not many buildings in the vicinity. A majority of the nearby land is very green and has a number of large, mature trees. There are many hills and even a small pond. Not very distant from the property, only about a five-minute drive, guests can visit a state park called Natural Bridge State Park. There, guests can hike and find the Natural Bridge, which is a "limestone gorge carved out by Cedar Creek," according to the inn's website. Also in the Natural Bridge area are caverns that descend over 30 stories into the ground. A 45-minute tour is available for guests to explore the caverns and learn about the history of the area.


Chris explains that the goal for The Inn at Forest Oaks is to create an environment that is friendly and welcoming to anyone and everyone that comes for a visit. To do that, they continue to spend time developing the area and seek to make it more comfortable and enjoyable for people during their stay.

Several policies are in place that the owners of The Inn at Forest Oaks ask guests to abide by to help keep the establishment clean and well-kept. One of these policies is their no-smoking policy. They ask that everyone avoid smoking inside either of the buildings. They also have a policy against bringing pets into the main building, although The Vine Cottage is exempt from this rule, so guests that rent out the cottage are allowed to bring along their pet. Chris also asks that guests do not eat or drink on the first floor common area, with breakfast being the only exception. Instead, he tells guests that they are allowed to take their meals outside to the patio, where they have rocking chairs and tables for outdoor use.

The culture of the property intentionally plays into the historical background that is attached to the building and is decorated to enhance it. Chris describes it by saying, "It looks like a museum, but it is a museum that you can live in. It is like you're walking back in time." The owners take pride in the historical aspects of the building and enjoy talking to people and explaining the history of the place. He emphasizes that he wants it to be a place where people are able to explore without being afraid of touching things.

Many previous guests have left reviews on The Inn at Forest Oaks. A number of them mention the quality of hospitality that they received. Also mentioned often are the interior and exterior designs of the buildings and the grounds, as well as the breakfast and food that they had while they were staying there. One person who recently stayed at The Inn at Forest Oaks says, "I spent two nights here with my wife for an anniversary getaway, and we loved it. This is a beautiful old house with great views of the mountains. The woodwork and antiques inside are amazing. The food was very good, and you are only about a twenty-minute drive from Lexington." The typical demographic of guests that visit The Inn at Forest Oak tends to be between the ages of 30 and 70 years old. Chris explains that they don't often get a lot of younger people staying at the inn, but they have been seeing more and more of them over the years.


The Inn at Forest Oaks has been a bed and breakfast for about four years, with its first time opening under that name being in around 2017. The cottage has been available for rent for almost six years. Chris and Cliff are the original owners of The Inn at Forest Oaks and decided to do more with the property than only renting the cottage to vacationers. That's when they added rooms and began making breakfast for their guests as well.

Though The Inn at Forest Oaks hasn't been around for very long, the main building is one of the oldest buildings in the city of Natural Bridge. The age of the building spans over 200 years. The completed construction of the building was in 1806 and was built by a man named Matthew Houston—first cousin to Sam Houston—who was born in the area and later on became one of the first senators to represent the state of Texas in the United States. When the construction finished, it was initially built on a plantation that also functioned as a dry-goods store and a tavern. Due to the longevity of the structure, it has earned a spot on both State Historic Register as well as the National Historic Register.

The building has undergone many years of renovation to maintain the quality of the building. Chris explains that most of the upgrades that he and his partner have made to the property have been to recreate and maintain the building how it looked in 1920 while still putting in all of the modern amenities to make living in it more comfortable. Evers since they took over the property, they have completely renovated it and done things like installing a backup generator, putting in new heating and cooling units, and adding new electrical and plumbing equipment.

Some interesting facts about the main building, in particular, is that it has been visited by a number of noteworthy people. Several people that have visited include well-known figures like Thomas Jefferson, Meriwether Lewis, and Daniel Boone. During the era of the Civil War, the land that surrounded the property had erupted into combat, and there were many buildings and much land that was destroyed, but this building still stood. The reason for that is because the owner of the building at the time was a doctor and physician that treated soldiers and people from both the north and the south.

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Natural Bridge, Virginia
United States


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Chris Walker & Cliff DeVito

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