Trader Joe’s, Cheesecake Factory, an indoor water park, a casino. These were but a few of the responses we received after polling our newsroom staffers about what they would like to see in Lynchburg.
Then we opened it up to readers, and you all came through. Among the suggestions we received: A beach at the foot of the Percival’s Island bridge downtown, an outdoor amphitheater or concert venue, dockless scooters and bike shares, and businesses ranging from Alamo Drafthouse to Lidl to Duck Donuts.
Another suggestion that piqued our interest was a “container park like in Vegas.” After some Googling, we discovered the city’s Downtown Container Park, an open-air shopping center that’s made from repurposed shipping containers and is home to boutiques, restaurants, a playground with a giant treehouse and an “immersive, 4K-visual dome entertainment experience” featuring reclining seats. It also hosts live music events. Count us as on board with that one!
Here are some of your suggestions, and keep scrolling through the gallery to see our original newsroom picks.
Adventure on the James
Adventure on the James River: One reader suggested more adventure activities on the James River, in the form of a zip line and/or an artificial dam for whitewater rafting, while another proposed a beach at the foot of the Percival's Island bridge.
Alamo Drafthouse: This chain of dine-in theaters is known for its beer and food service, as well as "strictly-enforced policies against talking and texting," according to a Los Angeles Times story, "beloved by cinephiles because of its mix of art house movies, Hollywood blockbusters and programming highlighting classic cinema and cult favorites."
An arena football team
An arena football team: Indoor football? Sure, why not.
An Apple Store, like this one at the Short Pump Town Center, would be a nice addition to our mall.
nline and in brick-and-mortar locations. For every $10 spent, the company donates the cost of a meal to a person in need through Feeding America. Described as a civic-minded retailer, Boxlunch sells "a curated collection" of pop culture merchandise (including Funko products like the ones pictured) o Boxlunch:
Baja Fresh: A chain of fast casual Tex-Mex restaurants, known for using fresh ingredients, that got its start in California.
Beamers 25: Former Virginia Tech football coach Frank Beamer is honored at this Roanoke restaurant, known for its burgers and craft beer.
A bike share system allows users to borrow a bicycle, often from a dock like the one pictured, for a fee, usually to be returned at another dock set up somewhere else in the city. Some also offer memberships with monthly fees.
Cabo Fish Taco
Cabo Fish Taco: Owned by three Virginia Tech graduates, the restaurant chain has locations in Blacksburg, Roanoke (pictured), and Charlotte, North Carolina, and is known for its specialty tacos, Mexican dishes and margaritas.
Cheddars Scratch Kitchen
Cheddars Scratch Kitchen: The Texas-based chain serves up homestyle, made-from-scratch food, with specialties that include house-smoked ribs and hand-breaded chicken tenders.
Chuck E. Cheese
Chuck E. Cheese: Embrace your inner child at the restaurant/entertainment center, home to games, amusement rides, performances by a band full of animatronic creatures and appearances by Chuck E. Cheese himself.
Las Vegas' Downtown Container Park is an open-air shopping center made from repurposed shipping containers and home to boutiques, restaurants, a playground with a giant treehouse and an "immersive, 4K-visual dome entertainment experience" featuring reclining seats.
Country-themed bar with line dancing
A country-themed bar with line dancing, like Sidewinders in Roanoke (pictured). Or perhaps someone could return Phase 2 — which recently was listed for sale — to its former identity, Cattle Annie's.
Crate & Barrel
Crate & Barrel: The upscale home retailer was a popular suggestion among readers.
Dillard's: The department store chain could fill the void left when we lost Macy's.
Disney Store : Wouldn't it be nice to stock up on merch from all your favorite movies right here at home?
Dockless scooters, like these pictured in San Diego, also were on the minds of readers looking for alternative forms of transportation in downtown Lynchburg. They work similarly to the bike shares mentioned above; for a fee, you can rent a scooter to zip around on.
Duck Donuts: Roanoke, Charlottesville and Richmond all have storefronts of the popular North Carolina-based chain, a must-stop for vacationers before it migrated beyond the beach town it's named after. We agree with readers that it's time for Lynchburg to join that list.
Freddy's Frozen Custard & Steakburgers
Freddy's Frozen Custard & Steakburgers: A fast-casual chain known for its steakburgers and custards.
Food truck park
Food truck park: Now that Food Truck Thursdays have become a once-a-month occurrence, one reader suggested a permanent food truck park somewhere in the city.
Fuddruckers: Another fast-casual chain, this one known for its burgers.
H&M: The Swedish retailer sells trendy clothes for men, women and children at affordable prices.
Half Price Books
Half Price Books: The family-owned chain, which began in an old laundromat in Dallas, Texas, in 1972, sells new and used books.
Hollister: Owned by Abercrombie & Fitch, the brand was created to attract younger customers and offers clothing at a lower price point.
IKEA: The furniture giant sells ready-to-assemble furniture, appliances and home goods and is known for its, well, giant stores, which the website How Stuff Works reports are usually about 300,000 square feet — about the size of five football fields.
Kirkland's: The retailer sells home decor, furniture, textiles, accessories and gifts.
and sell Lego bricks in a variety of colors that can be bought in bulk. Lego Store: The specialty stores typically feature interactive play areas, model displays
Lidl: The German discount grocer is a direct competitor to Aldi.
Longhorn Steakhouse: The Western-themed restaurants are known for serving up a variety of steaks.
Marshalls: A sister company to TJ Maxx and HomeGoods, the retailer sells clothing, some home decor, toys and more.
New Yorker Deli
New Yorker Deli: The Roanoke institution, which has been around since the 1950s, serves up stuffed submarine sandwiches, sides and desserts that include New York-style cheesecake.
Outdoor concert venue
An outdoor concert venue or amphitheater also was among reader suggestions.
More pocket parks
More pocket parks: One reader suggested "a pocket park on every corner downtown," like this one recently opened at the corner of Church and Eleventh streets. Also known as parklets or mini-parks, the small public spaces offer greenery and outdoor seating and are "ideal solutions for transforming vacant building lots or irregular pieces of land," according to the Downtown Lynchburg Association.
A self-pour taproom: No more waiting on bartenders; serve yourself at these specialty taprooms, which are becoming a thing in bigger cities.
"Zipporah," the name of Moses' wife, who was known for her beauty. Sephora: The Paris-based chain of beauty stores dates back to the 1960s and, according to Woman's Day, gets its name from a blend of two words: "sephos," the Greek word for pretty, and
Skyline Chili: This Ohio-based chain of diner-style restaurants is famous for its secret-recipe Cincinnati chili, a Mediterranean-spiced meat sauce typically served over spaghetti or hot dogs.
common one they hit golf balls with a microchip inside to measure the distance it travels into a field of roughly five targets," according to The Washington Post, while their friends "can carouse at a table just behind the tee box, ordering food and drinks from wait staff." Topgolf: Think Dave & Busters, but with golf. Customers can choose from several games "but in the most
Tim Hortons: The chain sells coffee and doughnuts.
Ulta : This Illinois-based chain of stores offers cosmetics and other beauty products.
Wawa: Similar to Sheetz, Pennsylvania-based Wawa gas stations and convenience stores are known for their coffee and ready-made food.
White Castle: This chain is famous for its small, square "slider" burgers.
Better airline access
Better airline access, to cities other than Charlotte: If you fly Lynchburg first, you go to Charlotte next. Some other choices might be nice.
Better river access
Better access/activities on the Lynchburg side of the James River: A pedestrian bridge would be great, too.
A trolley pub/bike bar:Think a pub crawl where the bar travels with you. Riders pedal their way around town while enjoying a cold beverage or two.
(Pictured: The Tulsa Bike Bar in Oklahoma prepares to head out for a trip in May 2016)
Build-A-Bear Workshop: A hit with children everywhere, the workshop gives them the chance to make their own stuffed animals.
Carnival: Why should funnel cake, rickety rides and Ferris wheels only be an annual occasion?
A casino: Danville is considering getting one, although it's not without controversy. Could bringing some of that revenue here give Lynchburg a boost?
Carrabba's Italian Grill: This Florida-based restaurant chain serving Italian-American cuisine would be another dining option for hungry Lynchburgers.
The Cheesecake Factory: Long rumored to be coming, but yet to materialize, this eatery advertises its signature dish in its name and boasts three dozen varieties.
A civic center
Civic center: It's been on the Hill City's wish list for years. Right now, we have to make the trek to the Berglund Center in Roanoke (pictured) or Charlottesville's John Paul Jones Arena.
Container Store: This retail chain sells storage and organization products.
Costco Wholesale: A chain of membership-only warehouse clubs, where you can buy items in bulk (think Sam's Club).
Dave & Buster's
Dave & Buster's: A full-service restaurant and arcade. Fun for the whole family!
A drive-in theater: Outdoor movie screenings are all the rage right now, so why not take it one step further and revive the drive-in theater?
A dueling pianos bar: Two piano players sit across from each other and take turns performing songs, often by request from the audience. It's part concert, part comedy show and can get quite raucous.
Einstein Bros. Bagels
Einstein Bros. Bagels: A bagel and coffee chain.
A gay bar: The Hill City's first Pride event (pictured) would pair well with a permanent haven for Lynchburg’s LGBTQ+ community.
(Pictured: Pride merchandise at Hill City Pride in Lynchburg on Sat., April 13, 2019.)
Go-kart track: An indoor or outdoor track that's high-speed and competitive.
(Pictured: The Dan River Grand Prix in Danville in 2012.)
HomeGoods: A retail store that sells home furnishings and is a sister company to TJ Maxx and Marshalls.
Hooters: Offering a uniquely marketed combination of sex appeal and chicken wings, this restaurant chain has yet to come to Lynchburg.
Hy-Vee: A Midwestern supermarket chain.
An IMAX theater: What's bigger than the big screen? An IMAX.
Indoor water park
An indoor water park, like this one at the Great Wolf Lodge in Williamsburg. In fact, we wouldn't mind seeing the family-friendly resort set up shop in Lynchburg as well.
In-N-Out Burger: This California-based fast-food chain has a highly loyal fan base — and a "secret" menu that only In-N-Out insiders (or anyone who Googles it) know about.
(Pictured: Cars exit the drive-thru at In-N-Out Burger on Friday, June 11, 2010, in the Hollywood area of Los Angeles.)
Krispy Kreme: There used to be one on Candlers Mountain Road, and we think it's time for a comeback.
Lush Cosmetics: A cosmetics company that originated in the U.K. and has since moved stateside, Lush sells hair and beauty products made using vegetarian and vegan recipes.
Meijer: A grocery store chain one of our reporters compared to Walmart "but better."
More dog-friendly establishments
More dog-friendly establishments: We'll let reporter Rachel Mahoney explain: "There’s nothing that indicates a community is walker-friendly, family-friendly and leisure-friendly more than seeing people walking their dogs around. Any festival that allows dogs is instantly more fun and any store or casual restaurant is made friendlier and homier when customers can bring their furry best friends inside."
More locally owned restaurants
More locally owned restaurants: The Lynchburg restaurant scene is constantly growing, and we want to see that continue.
(Pictured: This June 2015 file photo shows Brauburgers' signature burger, served with a side of fries and coleslaw.)
More restaurants on Old Forest Road
More restaurants on Old Forest Road and Boonsboro Road: This meal came from the Old Forest BBQ restaurant that's no longer open. More choices in these parts of town would be welcome.
More street festivals
More street music festivals: Get Downtown, pictured, is hugely popular every fall. Why not find a few more reasons to enjoy all that Main Street has to offer?
Noodles & Company
Noodles & Company: A fast-casual restaurant that specializes in international and American noodle dishes and pasta.
PF Chang's: A restaurant chain that offers Chinese and Asian dishes.
Plow and Hearth
Plow and Hearth: A home goods store specializing in furnishings and lawn and garden accessories.
Portillo's: A Chicago-based restaurant chain known for its hot dogs, Italian beef and chocolate cake
Publix: Between its Southern hospitality and its famous "Pub Subs," fans of this Florida-based grocery chain find it hard to beat.
(Pictured: This May 19, 2013 file photo shows the Publix supermarket in Zephyrhills, Florida.)
Red Robin: A chain known for its gourmet burgers and bottomless fries.
(Pictured: the Red Robin in Charlottesville on May 21, 2019.)
REI (Recreational Equipment, Inc.): A retail and outdoor recreation company that sells sporting goods, camping gear, travel equipment, and clothes.
Trader Joe's: Many locals drive to Charlottesville just to visit this California-based grocery store that has a tantalizing selection of cheese and value wines along with specialty products like everything-bagel seasoning and cookie butter.
A water park: An indoor water park and an outdoor one? Yes, we are that greedy.
Wegmans: The supermarket has been expanding its presence in Virginia; maybe it's time for them to give Lynchburg a look?
Whole Foods Market: It may have earned the nickname "Whole Paycheck" for its higher prices, but this USDA-certified organic grocer also has a reputation for focusing on high-quality, minimally processed foods.
World Market: A specialty store that sells furniture, decor, gifts, clothing, wine and craft beer and international food products.