Rivermen's New River rafting trips guide amateurs and avid aquanauts alike through some of the most scenic whitewater rapids of New River Gorge National River. Reverential rafters can drink up hearty eyefuls of the gorge and its abundant wildlife, weathered bluffs, and recognizable bridge, as seen on the West Virginia state Pog and quarter. The upper river excursion (4–6 hours, $124) traverses canyons on relatively mild waters punctuated by a few easy rapids. Easily navigable by group raft or inflatable duck (a kayak-like vessel that holds 1–2 people), the upper trip makes an enjoyable introduction to whitewater for families, beginner to intermediate rafters, and adolescent Loch Ness monsters. The lower route (4–6 hours, $134) quickens the pulse with more than 25 rapids, as well as tranquil pools and the requisite breathtaking scenery. Both tours will stop to provide lunch.
As the James and Maury Rivers wind through the Blue Ridge Mountains, they carry kayakers, canoeists, and inner-tube riders past sheer rock walls, boulder-studded rapids, and tree-blanketed mountain peaks. For more than 30 years, the outdoorsmen at Twin River Outfitters have facilitated adventures for explorers of all experience levels on the nearly 100 miles of these rivers in the upper James River Basin. In addition to renting watercraft for independent exploration, Twin River's team leads guided outings, including overnight excursions. The headquarters also encompass a paddle shop, where a knowledgeable staff advises outdoorsmen on gear such as boats, life jackets, and oars autographed by local salmon.
Initially planting vines for neighboring wineries, Virginia Mountain Vineyards' staff slowly began to dabble in the art and science of winemaking. Then, in 2006, they began crafting their own varietals on-site. Today, staffers tend to more than 5,000 vines across nearly 10 acres of picturesque land, plucking ripe grapes to transform into red, white, sweet, and specialty wines. Events are regularly held at the vineyards, including a summer concert series, special tastings, and trying wines straight from their barrels.
Found right on the cusp of the scenic Shenandoah Valley, Blue Ridge Vineyard opens up its family farm during the warm weather months for musical and social gatherings. Melody mavens can park on the plush lawn or in the cozy barn, where they'll swim in the eighth notes of a lineup of lively acoustic bands, with styles ranging from the blues, country, and classic-rock tunes of Exit 162 (April 2, September 4, and October 15) to the rousing fiddles of the Blinky Moon Boys (May 21 and October 22).
Inspired by the rustic cuisine of the South, the menu at Chateau Morrisette is home to hand-made, savory beignets; a house take on surf and turf; and boards piled with cheese and charcuterie. Tucked away in the Blue Ridge Mountains, the restaurant and winery invites guests to experience a taste of old-world elegance with a bottle of one of its many varietals, ranging from summery Blackberry Wine to classic Merlot.
A National Historic Landmark and home to one of two homes Thomas Jefferson designed and created for his own personal use, Poplar Forest provides a unique insight into the private life of one of American history’s biggest shapers. Owners of a Scholar’s Society Family Membership card get a year’s worth of unlimited admission to the grounds for two adults and their children, a subscription to Poplar Forest’s semi-annual newsletter, a monthly e-newsletter, a Founding Fathers powdered wig, and 10% off at the museum shop. History buffs can tour the house during its ongoing meticulous restoration while learning about the building's architecture, preservation, and early 19th-century life in addition to learning about Jefferson’s vision for his gardens and farm. Forty-minute guided tours provide information about the facility's numerous exhibits—including the restoration workshop, slave quarter site, and archaeology laboratory; free-spirited visitors can wander the grounds with GPS-guided audio-visual handheld units or a sundial.