Get off the beaten path to see the lesser-known attractions from Richmond to Danville and Bedford and Petersburg. You’ll be delightfully surprised to find these “hidden” gems!
1. Bear Path Acres in Franklin is a non-profit animal sanctuary and the only place in Virginia where you’ll see a grizzly bear up close and personal (aside from your own mountain run-in). Not exotic enough for you? Leonard the Black Leopard is a beautiful, unexpected gentleman who also calls Bear Path home. This animal education center is open March through November, weather permitting. $10 per adult; $5 per child age 4 to 12. Group rates available.
2. Visit the 100-acre Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Territory in Courtland to see Cattashowrock Town, a replica of the Native Palisade Fort/Village that William Byrd I of Westover documented during his visit in 1728. The Cheroenhaka (“People at the Fork of the Stream”) were the first to make contact with the English settlers in 1607/1608 in what is now Nottoway County, and are a state recognized Iroquoian Speaking Tribe. Walk the tribal interpretive trails, powwow grounds, and see the native sweat lodge. Cattashowrock Town is open Fridays and Saturdays from March 20 through November 15, 2014, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- July 26, 2014 – Cattashowrock Town “Green Corn Dance” Powwow
- November 15 – Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Inter-Tribal Fall Festival
3. It’s a simple thing, really, but will bring much joy to those who haven’t experienced it. The last hand-poled ferry in the United States operates Saturdays and Sundays, April through October in Scottsville. It’s the Hatton Ferry and it crosses the James River south of Charlottesville every Saturday and Sunday, so long as water levels permit. Free to cross, but donations are encouraged. See the video below!
4. Boys big and small, young and old will fall in love with the American Armoured Foundation, Inc. Tank Museum in Danville. It’s the most extensive collection of tank and cavalry artifacts in the world with more than 115 tanks and artillery pieces, 15o mid-size weapons, and more than 1,800 uniforms, headgear, pins, patches, and more. The collection dates from 1509 to present day with all nations represented. Open Saturdays only through March, and then Wednesdays through Saturdays April through December. $12 per adult and $10 for ages 5 to 12.
5. MacCallum More Museum and Gardens in Chase City is listed on both the Virginia Landmark Registry and National Historic Register. Statues and plaques from around the world are found within the gardens – the rose garden, pink garden, herb & wildflower garden, joy garden, and a future children’s garden. The museum is home to five permanent exhibits including the Arthur Robertson Arrowhead Collection, the largest public display of arrowheads in the United States. Pieces date from the Archaic to Woodland Period; the collection is approximately 50,000 pieces strong.
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© Casey for Virginia’s Travel Blog, 2014