Virginia Discovery Museum delights kids with interactive exhibits. For example, at a miniature Panera Bread stocked with toy food, tots can don real Panera aprons and take orders. They also pick fruit in an interactive play orchard, and go back in time and play in a log cabin from the 1700?s. For a brush with real nature, they can even observe bee behavior at the museum's enclosed hive.
Thomas Jefferson's home, Monticello, evolved with him as he followed his storied career path, from author of the Declaration of Independence to third president of the United States. The home's evolution was quite literal: Jefferson had it constantly redesigned and rebuilt over the course of more than four decades. Today, the neoclassical mansion and its lush gardens, situated on 2,500 acres of Jefferson's plantation, remain perfectly preserved and open to the public. As they tour the premises, visitors learn about Jefferson's role in history, from his early days in Virginia's government to his key role in the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Along the way, they pick up fun historical factoids, too, such as Jefferson's preferred dinnertime?3 p.m.
A bugle boomed with a brash moan that bordered on shrill, as if the metal it was made of were on the verge of shattering like glass. Its player drew a sideward glance to his wife, whose neck was contorted in the throes of a visceral shriek as she slammed a wooden spoon against the tin washbasin. Darkness was giving way to the orange of morning on June 18, 1864, and the Union's Major General David Hunter was presumably within earshot. The clamor of Lynchburg's citizens was their first defense, making the Confederate forces sound larger and stronger than they actually were. It was a smart move, as Hunter eventually retreated because he believed he was outnumbered.
The concise Confederate victory preserved many historical sites in Lynchburg, which had been the United States’ second wealthiest city per capita before the Civil War devastated the economy. Today, the Lynchburg Museum traces the stories of the region, from the cannons and flags of the Civil War to a flight suit worn by hometown astronaut Leland Melvin. More than 20,000 artifacts are housed within the former Lynchburg courthouse, which was built in the Greek Revival style in 1855, replete with architectural details including fluted Doric columns and a pedimented portico inspired by the Parthenon.
Less than a mile away, Point of Honor accommodates guests within the re-created plantation kitchen of the restored Federal-period mansion built in 1815 by Dr. George Cabell Sr., friend to both Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson. Guests can peer out at a vista of the James River before exploring the Medicine in Early Virginia exhibit, which highlights tools and methods practiced by Dr. Cabell such as giving patients colds in order to cure their rickets.
The Cultural Arts Center devotes its 50,300-square-foot facility to preserving and kindling the artistic flame, bringing in unique performers, conducting one-of-a-kind workshops, and purveying local and specialty goods. Experience the Fab Four infused with bluegrass, jazz, and classical with April 8 tickets to beatlegras ($25 per ticket), a string-picking Beatles-covering trio that proves that John and Paul's differences would have been best resolved with dueling banjos. Bring the family on May 14 to listen to ventriloquist comedian Lynn Trefzger throw her voice around the spacious, resonant theater with her madcap, audience-interactive lip-schtick ($15 per ticket). The gift card can also be used toward facility rentals for anything from a royal wedding reception in the cardinal ballroom to the rehearsal studio where Dirty Dancing and tumbling routines are perfected (price and availability vary).
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.