Lake Living Articles
Virginia's Splendors Abound All Around Lake Anna
by Ken Perrotte
Boredom is a self-inflicted lifestyle option
for residents and visitors to the Lake Anna area. With so many of the
finest splendors of Virginia within an hour or two, getting bored is
simply your own fault.
In any direction you look, the region is a day-tripper's dream.
Less than an hour to the Northeast is Fredericksburg, one of America's
most historic small cities.
The downtown district, with its impressive
array of antique and specialty shops, superb restaurants, and unique
buildings dating to America's colonial period make it a must-visit destination.
Walking tour brochures are available at the Fredericksburg City Visitor
Center, 706 Caroline St. You can also hop a trolley and take a narrated
It is safe to say, "George slept
here." Just east of downtown is Ferry Farm, (540-373-3381) Washington's
boyhood home and site of such legendary tales as chopping down the cherry
tree and throwing the silver dollar across the Rappahannock River. In
town, visit the home of George Washington's mother, walk along the stonewall
and Sunken Road at Marye's Heights, scene of some of the fiercest fighting
of the Civil war in 1862.
There's no escaping the Civil War in this part of Virginia. So many
of the pivotal moments and struggles in our nation's history took place
within the sound of cannon shot from Lake Anna. Begin your stroll through
history with the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park,
spanning more than 5,500 acres and encompassing such battles as Fredericksburg
(1862), Chancellorsville (1863), Wilderness and Spotsylvania (1864 Overland
A visitor center is located in Fredericksburg and another visitor center
is located on Route 3 on the Chancellorsville battlefield, 10 miles
west. Other sites in the vast military park are Old Salem Church, site
of fighting during the Chancellorsville campaign, and the Stonewall
Jackson Shrine (Guinea Station), where the general died on May 10, 1863.
Call 540-371-0802 or visit www.nps.gov/frsp for more information.
The nearby town of Gordonsville was an important stop along a major
rail artery in the 19th Century. The town's Exchange Hotel, quite a
large facility for such a small town in its time was converted to a
military hospital in 1862. Now restored, the building houses a museum.
At one time the Virginia town of Staunton, west of our area, was the
edge of the American frontier. Staunton is home to the Frontier Culture
Museum, a living history program that takes visitors to four countries
through 300 years of history. It's comprised of four historic farms
and a working blacksmith's forge.
Period furnishings, gardens, livestock, crops, and a knowledgeable staff
illustrate life in Europe before immigration to America. The cultures
that came together to help shape the American frontier and eventually
blend into the American spirit are on display. Time periods include
Germany early-1700s; Northern Ireland early-1700s; England late-1600s;
and mid-1800s (pre-Civil War) Shenandoah Valley. Call 540-332-7850.
Virginia has been called the "Mother of Presidents" - at least
presidents from America's earliest years.
Besides Washington's roots bear Fredericksburg, you can take a quick
trip south to Montpelier, the home of fourth President James Madison
and the man often referred to as the "Father of the Constitution."
He is said to have referred to his magnificent home as "a squirrel's
jump from Heaven."
The 2,700-acre estate is the setting for numerous events including wine
and music festivals, and the Montpelier Hunt Races, a mix of flat-track
and steeplechase races held in early November. Besides touring the home,
visitors can hike through an old growth forest, check out the latest
archeological digs, or visit the formal gardens. Call 540-672-2728 for
general information about Montpelier.
The rolling hills of Albemarle County are almost due west of Lake Anna.
Two more presidential homes are open to visitors. James Monroe's Ash
lawn is still a 535-acre working farm. Get more information about our
fifth president's home at 434-293-9539.
Thomas Jefferson built his famous Monticello on one particularly beautiful
summit near Charlottesville. Jefferson, the author of the Declaration
of Independence, loved the scenic countryside and peaceful respite his
beloved home provided when he wasn't away leading our young nation or
serving as a statesman abroad.
Monticello is maintained in impeccable historic state and is a must-stop
for any American history buff. Call 434-984-9822 for more about this
Jefferson was also a wine enthusiast and one of America's first winemakers.
He'd likely be impressed at how Virginia has become one of the top winemaking
states in America and how the quality of Virginia wines has soared in
the last decade.
Who needs Napa Valley when you've got dozens of superb wineries all
within a couple hours of Lake Anna?
The Lake Anna Winery is nearby in Spotsylvania while Windy River Winery
is just south in Hanover County. Looking in all directions from southwest
to northwest, wine aficionados can have a sensory feast visiting such
wineries as Barboursville Vineyards, Burnley Vineyards, Dominion Wine
Cellars, Horton Cellars, Misty Mountain, Oakencroft and Prince Michel.
Map out a route and get going. Many wineries have a seasonal array of
special tastings, dinners, musical events and more. For the full rundown
on Virginia's burgeoning blend of bacchanalian delights, go to www.virginiawines.org.
Virginia's Shenandoah Valley and Blue Ridge Mountains are famous worldwide
for spectacular vistas, beautiful forests and farms.
Shenandoah National Park, 540-999-3500, is truly a national gem. The
park includes the crest of the Blue Ridge for more than 75 miles. The
105-mile long Skyline Drive also traverses the park with gorgeous views
on each side of the road and the opportunity to view abundant wildlife.
Experience the natural world outside of your automobile and take a hike.
There are more than 500 miles of hiking trails, and the Appalachian
Trail roughly parallels the Skyline Drive. Wade in a rippling, clear
mountain stream. Select a vantage point and watch the sunrise or set
over Virginia. It'll cleanse the soul.
Camping, lodging and Park Ranger programs are offered.
North of the lake is another popular destination: Sky Meadows State
Park in Delaplane. This park features rolling pastures and woodlands,
scenic vistas and a glimpse into the history of the land and the region.
Visitors can tour Mount Bleak House and see how a middle-class Virginia
family of the 1850s lived. Nature and history programs are offered during
the spring, summer, and fall seasons. Among other favorite activities
are primitive hike-in camping, picnicking and hiking.
Located on the eastern side of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the park also
offers a bridle trail and serves as an access point to the Appalachian
Trail. Call 540-592-3556 to get more details.
Finally, if you haven't seen enough of Virginia and the area around
Lake Anna from the roadsides and mountaintops, there is one sure way
to get a more unique birds eye view: You can jump out of an airplane
and freefall parachute.
That's right, just next-door in Orange County hundreds of daring jumpers
step out into the air for the first time and experience parachuting.
The Skydive Orange parachute club is a US Parachute Association affiliated
parachute center open since the late 1970's. More than 14,000 freefall
parachute jumps are made every year there.
This is just a small sampler of the opportunities available in all directions.
There's so much more, from skiing at Massanutten and Wintergreen resorts,
visiting Luray and Shenandoah Caverns, or heading to a county fair on
a late summer weekend. So, dive in (or in the case of parachuting -
dive out) and experience all that Virginia offers.