Take a weekend getaway to Charles City

The area’s plantations give visitors even more to tour.

westover plantation
Photo by Don Williamson Photography, courtesy of Westover Plantation

On Nov. 5, Berkeley Plantation in Charles City hosted their Virginia Thanksgiving Festival with a parade, horse-drawn carriages, musicians, magicians and the Chickahominy Tribal Dancers. But the fun doesn’t end there. Starting Dec. 2, the historic plantation, circa 1726, will offer a Centuries of Christmas tour led by costumed guides, workshops (wreath making among them), candlelit tours, holiday tea parties and other special events.

Once the world thaws come spring, Westover Plantation will celebrate Virginia Garden Week April 21-28.

The Allure

The entire county of Charles City is steeped in our nation’s and the commonwealth’s history, having been a site for explorers and settlers as well as the American Revolution and the Civil War. And the homes of the early centuries still stand today as monuments to their time. There are eight plantations that are open for the public to explore such as Berkeley Plantation, birthplace of Benjamin Harrison V, signer of the Declaration of Independence; Sherwood Forest Plantation, home of  10th president John Tyler; Shirley Plantation, the commonwealth’s first plantation and the oldest family-owned business in North America; and Westover, built by William Byrd II, the founder of Richmond and Petersburg.

berkeley plantation
Photo courtesy of Berkeley Plantation

One spot in the area that was a major point for all of the nation’s history was Fort Pocahontas at Wilson’s Wharf. A major thoroughfare for Native Americans and colonists, the port was used to export crops to England and later took in 1,000 British troops led by Benedict Arnold during the Revolutionary War. Later it was a point used by Union troops during Ulysses S. Grant’s Overland campaign. During that time it was also a refuge for slaves who had escaped their masters.

Though set in historical Virginia, an excursion to the Lazare Gallery set along the bank of the James River brings you into the heart of Russian artistry. With a focus on 20th century realism from the Moscow School of Russian Realism, the gallery has more than 1,100 paintings that have been curated by the Wurdemans, the owners of the gallery. Guests can peruse the pieces at select events and exhibits or schedule a private tour.