Anywhere you go in Virginia, you’ll find historic tours that teach you all you need to know about the Commonwealth’s extensive past. These are a great way to get information on an unfamiliar location, but if you prefer a little extra “pizzazz” when it comes to your travel plans, consider booking one of these unusual tours of Virginia. You’ll discover a fresh, interesting perspective and get to see these regions in a whole new light.
Smith Mountain Lake Alpaca Farm Tour—Hardy
You don’t have to be an alpaca enthusiast to enjoy this tour. Visitors spend 90 minutes at Smith Mountain Lake Alpaca Farm learning about the animals, including their behaviors and history, but the really amazing part of this tour comes when you get to hug and feed the alpacas, followed by a chance to hold the babies. The owners shear the soft animals on-site and during the tours, they will show visitors how they turn the discarded fleece into high quality garments and hypoallergenic bed pillows. Afterwards, stop by the gift shop to purchase a few of these goods.
Candy Factory Tour—Troy
Ever wonder how candy is made? Or do you just have a sweet tooth? At Red Rocker Candy, you can get a front row seat to the process as you watch through the factory windows. The factory sits right beside the candy shop, where you can stop in to sample and buy a few of their decadent goodies.
Bluestone Bike & Run—Harrisonburg
There are plenty of bike tours around the Commonwealth, so really standing out requires a little more imagination when it comes to the itinerary. At Bluestone Bike & Run, they reward your strenuous 30 or 50 mile bike with excellent Virginia wine. You’ll start and end your bike adventure from Bluestone Vineyard, exploring Harrisonburg, Dayton, Bridgewater, and Stokesville as you cruise down scenic country roads. Return to the vineyard for a private tasting, vineyard tour, and an appetizing lunch spread.
Wild Horse Sanctuary Tours—Scottsville
Wild horses roam the more than 250 acres at Legacy Mustang Preservation, and this private horse sanctuary invites you to come see these majestic creatures as they graze in the secluded, peaceful grounds. Hundreds of years ago, these mustangs used to be found throughout Virginia, but with permanent settlements and populations expanding, the wild horses were largely tamed or driven out into more remote regions. Take a tour of this sanctuary to see the wild herds running across the property dam, or plan a sunset tour to watch the mustangs move to their evening habitat, where you’ll view a breathtaking Virginia sunset against the backdrop of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Walking Food Tour with River City Food Tours—Richmond
While a walking tour of Richmond is a pretty standard way to experience the capital, adding some of the best dining destinations to the itinerary sweetens the deal. Visit several different restaurants, cafés, bakeries, and more when you walk the city with River City Food Tour. At each stop, you’ll sample something delicious and noteworthy, and at many of the restaurants the chefs and owners will share their stories with you, providing the full culinary experience. There are tours for every appetite, from sweet and sugary tours of the Carytown dessert scene to more savory stops in the Arts District of Richmond.
Secretariat’s Birthplace Tours—Doswell
Tour the stables and grounds where Triple Crown Winner, Secretariat, was born and raised at the Meadow Event Park in Doswell. Previously a working thoroughbred farm from the 1930’s, many of the original barns and buildings have been preserved, including the foaling shed where the famous horse was born in 1970. The “Hoofprints of History” tour gives visitors a peek at what went into running a thoroughbred horse farm, and as you walk through the barn and expansive mansion, you’ll pass photo galleries and rare Meadow Stable memorabilia, and outside you get an idea of just how incredible Secretariat really was when you check out the stride markers that demonstrate the horse’s 25 foot racing stride! Finish the tour with your own historic photo in front of the site’s race-themed LOVEwork.
Air, Sea, and B&B Kayak, Hangliding Package on the Eastern Shore—Onancock
For the outdoor enthusiasts interested in experiencing Virginia in a whole new way, book the Air, Sea, & B&B Package on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. This two-day tour begins with a kayak adventure through the untouched creeks that lead out to the Chesapeake Bay or the wild Barrier Island, led by the experts at Burnham Guides. After swimming and bird-watching at your final kayaking destination, you’ll head back to the Spinning Wheel B&B, your “base camp” for this 48 hour tour. Stay the night at this romantic and historic bed and breakfast, then spend the second day experiencing the Eastern Shore from above, as you fly tandem in a hang glider high above the coastal region.
Wine Trolley Tour—Spontsylvania County & Fredericksburg
Virginia wine and history join forces to take you on a tour of a lifetime in Spotsylvania County and Fredericksburg. Four Spostylvania wineries have teamed up with Trolley Tours of Fredericksburg to create the epic Wine Trolley Tour, allowing you to go wine tasting without having to worry about who will be the designated driver. The five-hour tour takes you to each vineyard stop and includes the trolley ride, tasting fees, a history of the region explained by your guide, and a light snack box with food items handpicked to complement the wines. Must be 21 or over to attend.
Pleasure House Oyster Farm Tours—Virginia Beach
Attention, oyster lovers in Virginia: This is the tour for you! Pleasure House Oyster Farm offers three unique boat tours that are both entertaining and educational, giving you a behind-the-scenes look at a variety of oyster farms on the Lynnhaven River. Take the “Chef’s Table Tour”, where you’ll eat oysters right out of the oyster farm waters as you stand at a table in the river waters (wearing waders, of course). If getting that hands-on doesn’t sound appealing, the “Tasting Tour” lets you dine on the oysters and tour the farm without the waders. Combine both of these and sign up for the full “Waterman Tour”, where you can taste, tour, and get in the Lynnhaven to learn about the oysters up close.
Historical Scavenger Hunt Bike Tour at Fort Monroe—Hampton
Who doesn’t love a good scavenger hunt? Fort Monroe Community Center hosts a Historical Scavenger Hunt Tour to bring history to life in a modern way. This tour gives you exercise, Virginia history, scenic views, and a chance to get outside in beautiful weather (and if you’re a Pokemon Go fan, you’ll spot many of these, as well.) Three different routes with varying lengths allow you to choose the difficulty of your tour as you follow the route and clue maps to solve the scavenger hunts. Choose the “Fast & Active” option if your goal is to burn some calories or get in your daily steps, or opt for the “Leisure & Creative” choice for more scenery and wildlife. For the cyclists, bring your bike or rent one at the community center to experience Fort Monroe from behind the handlebars.
Mercy Street in Alexandria Tour—Alexandria
Mercy Street on PBS tells the story of a Civil War hospital in Alexandria that forced Northerners and Southerners together during a time when heritage was of the utmost importance and divisiveness threatened to destroy the country. Fans of the show can get inside access during the Mercy Street Tour, where a trained military historian walks you through the Civil War era in Alexandria and tells the true stories behind the TV show. Go behind the scenes at locations where Mercy Street characters lived, worked, and played, including a visit to an actual Civil War hospital and tavern. Private and public tours are available to groups of varying sizes.
Highlights of Hollywood Cemetery Tour—Richmond
A tour through a cemetery may sound a little macabre, but Hollywood Cemetery’s rural garden-style layout is full of beauty and history. Established in 1847, Hollywood Cemetery was actually one of America’s first parks. On the Highlights of Hollywood Cemetery Tour, you’ll learn about the history, artwork, symbolism, and some of the more famous of the over 80,000 residents. Two U.S. Presidents, Confederate President Jefferson Davis, and several well-known writers and politicians are buried here, and as you walk the almost two miles of paved roads that wind through the cemetery, you’ll experience first-hand the moving stories behind these final resting places.
Booth Escape Tour—Alexandria
Go back in time over 150 years and chase John Wilkes Booth and his accomplice, David Herold, as they attempt to escape the Federal Army after Lincoln’s assassination. The Booth Escape Tour starts at the Ford Theatre, where you’ll see the site of the famous President’s last moments. After fleeing the theatre, Booth headed to the Surratt Tavern and hurried south to several of the homes, churches, and farms where the men stopped as they attempted to escape. Your civil war historian guide tells you the complete story, from the assassination to the eventual capture of one of the world’s most notorious assassins.
Honeybee Sanctuary Tour—Floyd
Located in Floyd in the Southwest corner of Virginia, Spikenard Farm Honeybee Sanctuary is the first honeybee sanctuary in the nation, and the grounds are filled with fragrant flowers, rolling meadows, and the hum of the beehives. The breathtaking natural beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the background completes the bucolic atmosphere. You’re invited to tour the 25 acre farm and attend classes and workshops to explore the magical world of honeybees at this peaceful preserve.
Nelson’s Craft Adventure Tour—Charlottesville
Virginia’s winery and craft brewery scenes are already firmly established, but two bourgeoning industries for adult beverages, cideries and distilleries, also provide tours in the Charlottesville region. Combine all four into one awesome trip on the Nelson’s Craft Adventure Tour. Each Saturday between and November, board the bus for an all-inclusive public tour and tasting of some of the best beverages crafted in Nelson County led by an expert guide. You’ll meet other craft beverage enthusiasts as you tour a distillery, winery, brewery and cidery within Nelson County. Must be 21 years of age to attend this tour.
No matter where you travel around the Commonwealth, there is always an untold story waiting to be discovered. Experience a whole new side of Virginia when you attend one of these interesting tours.
© pkeppel for Virginia’s Travel Blog, 2016. |