Everyone knows that Virginia is a state steeped in a rich history. After all, the Commonwealth is home to Jamestown, Williamsburg, Revolutionary and Civil War battlefields, and is known as the “Mother of Presidents,” as eight United States presidents were born right here in Virginia.
You probably learned all about Virginia’s history through textbooks and in the classroom – you may have even visited a site or two before. However, Virginia isn’t all Colonial garb and historic homes—if you look closely, you just might find that historic Virginia has an edgy – dare we say it?—cool side that you might never have suspected.
Here’s our guide to experiencing Virginia’s history in an unexpected, fresh, and new way:
Sip Virginia wine…on a national battlefield at the Winery at Bull Run. Enjoy a taste of Virginia past and present at this Fairfax County winery, which adjoins over 5,000 countryside acres of the historic Manassas National Battlefield Park, providing you with a beautiful vista of preserved 19th century farmland. Not only will you get to sip on delicious Virginia wine, but you’ll also get a glimpse into Virginia’s rich heritage with winemaking techniques from the Civil War-era, historical buildings and artifacts.
Play a Revolutionary War spy game – just like on AMC’s TURN—by visiting RevQuest in Williamsburg, Virginia. The thirteen colonies are on the verge of declaring their independence from Great Britain, and fighting has already begun. The fledgling American nation has no professional army or navy while the British have the greatest military force in the world. We must have a strong ally! Does the old saying, that “the enemy of our enemy is our friend” hold true?
Channel your inner Johnny Cash at the Carter Family Fold in Hiltons. The Carter Fold is a rustic, 1,000 seat music shed offering traditional music every Saturday night. Johnny Cash (who married Carter family member and country music darling June Carter) played at the Fold many times – in fact, he played his very last concert there in 2003. The Carter Family was discovered in 1927 by Victor Recording Studio in Bristol and recorded 300 songs between 1927 and 1942. Playing traditional Appalachian music, the family has often been credited as forerunners of modern-day country music. Today, A.P. Carter’s old general store acts as a museum. Recent additions include the newly moved and reconstructed original A.P. Carter Homeplace.
Are you a fan of The Following? See where it all began in Richmond. Though the FOX television hit series was not filmed in Richmond, the show’s first season took place in downtown Richmond and featured all things Edgar Allen Poe, the muse of the show’s villain, Joe Carroll. Visit the Edgar Allen Poe Museum in downtown Richmond if you’re looking for a sinister way to explore Virginia’s capital city.
Drive by the home of the REAL Scarlett O’Hara in Mecklenburg County. Civil War-era author Myrta Lockett Avary penned two books: A Virginia Girl in the Civil War and Dixie after the War, and was one of the major influences for Margaret Mitchell when she wrote Gone with the Wind. This sassy antebellum belle resided at Lombardy Grove just off Route 58 in Mecklenburg County.
See the hoof print of the real Misty of Chincoteague. Remember reading Misty of Chincoteague when you were little? Well, Misty was a real horse, and you can see her actual hoof print in front of the Island Theater in Chincoteague! The premiere of the movie “Misty” on Chincoteague was in 1961, and Misty was led down Main Street by her owner Ralph Beebe. In front of the Island Theater, Misty put her front hoof prints in the cement, and author Marguerite Henry wrote Misty’s name in the cement underneath. Misty’s hoof prints can still be found in the sidewalk in front of the newly renovated Island Theater. A bronze statue of Misty is located at Robert Reed Waterfront Park in downtown Chincoteague. Today, you can find direct descendants of Misty at the Chincoteague Pony Center.
Enjoy modern cuisine in Old Town Alexandria: The historic district known as Old Town Alexandria takes you back to the time when our nation’s early leaders strolled the streets and partook of grog at pubs and taverns. Today, Alexandria is known for its exquisite culinary scene and its chefs are getting national recognition. Chef Cathal Armstrong of Restaurant Eve has become a foodie darling, earning a nod from the James Beard Foundation earlier this year.
© clogan for Virginia’s Travel Blog, 2014