Our Setting


Washington and Lee is located in Lexington, Virginia, a historic city of about 7,000 people in the central part of the Great Valley of Virginia. The city is some 50 miles northeast of Roanoke, 50 miles northwest of Lynchburg, and 36 miles southwest of Staunton. Lexington is just off Interstates 81 and 64 and at the intersection of U.S. Highways 11 and 60.

Beautiful, livable, comfortable

In 1805, a Washington Academy professor, surveying the countryside from atop the college building, exclaimed: "If this scene were set down in the middle of Europe, the whole continent would flock to see it!" The English poet John Drinkwater said Washington and Lee's setting was the most beautiful of any college in America.

Picturesque yet vital, Lexington combines the energy of a college town with historic charm. Fine restaurants, country inns, charming shops and lively galleries dot the area. The center of the W&L campus and the heart of Lexington are separated by a five-minute walk. Students and faculty from both W&L and neighboring Virginia Military Institute make up a good portion of daily foot traffic.

Outdoor recreation

The beauty of the southern Appalachians is legendary, and students regard the town of Lexington and its surrounding natural environment as one of the most memorable aspects of their years at Washington and Lee. The abundant natural resources of the Allegheny and Blue Ridge mountains and the Shenandoah Valley provide opportunities for mountain biking, canoeing, kayaking, climbing, fly fishing, white water rafting, tubing, hiking, skiing or even spelunking. The Virginia Horse Center draws equestrians from around the state and the country for events nearly every week. Within a two-hour drive, we have access to over four million acres of national and state forests, and to treasures like Shenandoah National Park and the Appalachian Trail.

A rich history

W&L is a living museum; both the Colonnade and Lee Chapel are on the National Register of Historic Places. The Lee Chapel Museum features Robert E. Lee's office, preserved as he left it, and the Lee family crypt. Lee's horse, Traveller, is buried just outside the museum. Other notable historic sites in Lexington include Stonewall Jackson's home and grave, the George C. Marshall Museum on the VMI campus, and Sam Houston's birthplace.