The White House of the Confederacy constituted the social, political, and military headquarters of Confederate States of America President Jefferson Davis during the Civil War. Later named a National Historic Landmark, the building still stands today. Daily guided tours lead guests through the grand 19th-century structure, which houses more than half its original wartime furnishings.
The White House is only steps away from The Museum of the Confederacy's Richmond location, where a core exhibit chronicles the Confederacy from its beginnings to General Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox. Opened 25 years after that fateful event, the nonprofit museum displays artifacts from a collection of more than 15,000 items. They include Stonewall Jackson's sword, a letter from Pope Pius IX, and all the pennies Jefferson Davis etched his face onto in his spare time.
Meanwhile, another 400 artifacts adorn the permanent exhibit at the museum's Appomattox location. Here, a dozen audiovisual stations, parole lists, and the uniform coat worn by Lee illustrate the event that brought the Civil War to a close.
Edgar Allan Poe holds a distinguished reputation in American literature, given his proclivity for dark work, such as “The Raven” and “The Tell-Tale Heart.” But the Poe of legend is often at odds with the real Poe: the student who had to gamble and burn his furniture to make it through college; the career man who traveled extensively to find better opportunities; and the devoted husband who never recovered from the death of his wife. He even enrolled at West Point … though he was thrown out eight months later.
The Poe Museum educates guests on the writer's life, helping them reconcile the reputed Poe with the real Poe. Located within the Old Stone House that lies just blocks from Poe's first Richmond home and his first employer, the Southern Literary Messenger, the museum showcases exhibits and significant artifacts, such as Poe's walking stick, his boyhood bed, and even a lock of his hair. This collection reveals his journey, showing what drove him to become a master writer of short stories, lyric poetry, action-movie screenplays, and, of course, horror stories.
One of the Science Museum of Virginia’s current exhibits includes a few basketball players—just don’t expect LeBron James or Kobe Bryant. These basketball players are two rats, playing a live one-on-one game to demonstrate operant and classical conditioning. Throughout the three-story museum, more hands-on examples of science await at five permanent exhibits. Inspect a rock from the moon, explore a life-size space capsule, and generate energy by pedaling a stationary bike. Kids can even build their own playground with materials such as mats and foam blocks.
Inside the IMAX Dome, a screen 10 times the size of a typical 35 mm screen shows a wide range of educational films. Outside the museum, plants in the BayScapes Garden thrive without pesticide, fertilizer, or the encouragement of a motivational speaker, and an onsite greenhouse offers free planting areas for visitors to contribute greenery and learn about sustainable farming.
As they speed by, the drivers racing across American Indoor Karting's track resemble professional racecar drivers. The souped-up European go-karts allow speedsters as young as 8 to swerve through turns at nearly 1.5 lateral G's. The milieu is carefully cultivated to create the feeling of actual competitive auto racing. Helmets and safety briefing sessions are mandatory before racers take to the winding, professionally designed track. After each race, competitors scrutinize comprehensive race reports of their lap times and other statistics. Two breeds of go-kart reside on the premises and are maintained by a full-time mechanic. While younger kids drive less ferocious Junior Karts, adults qualify to operate Super Karts. The Super Kart is loaded up with a 9 hp Honda engine and travels 40 m.p.h. To race a Super Kart, drivers must prove they can handle the powerful hot rod by putting up a qualifying lap time and convincing the vehicle to eat a carrot directly from their hands.
If they're in the right place at the right time, visitors to Monkey Joe's indoor playground might actually meet Monkey Joe—a monkey mascot in a yellow T-shirt whose fuzzy face flashes a constant smile. He and a team of expert staffers keep watch over children aged 12 and younger as they glide down wall-to-wall inflated slides, jump in bright-red and yellow bounce castles, and navigate inflated obstacle courses. Small explorers race through padded walls and swinging inflatable pillars, while toddlers 3 years old and younger frolic safely in a separate play area where they gather to devise new ways of pretending to eat all their vegetables, and adults recline in a separate lounge in front of flat-screen TVs and computer stations. At the end of each day, Monkey Joe's staffers sanitize all playground surfaces using Swisher hygiene products.
Having stood its ground against those who wanted to tear it down, Wilton House serves as a symbol of the Colonial American spirit in more ways than one. Built in 1753 as the main house on a 2,000-acre plantation, the structure serves as a steadfast example of Georgian architecture. It’s the home of more than 1,400 17th-, 18th-, and 19th-century objects and artifacts, including documents signed by founding fathers and US presidents. Wilton even played host to the likes of Thomas Jefferson, the Marquis de Lafayette, George Washington, and George Washington’s white-wig-wearing foxhound. In addition to daily tours, the museum staff hosts events, such as lecture series, concerts, and seasonal exhibits.