Jimmy Crews, Roger Nelson, and Stephanie Tyson grew up on the James River, paddling along its tree-lined banks to find the most scenic spots and best fishing holes. Now the masterminds behind Howardsville Canoe Livery, the trio outfits outdoorsmen for their own explorations by renting tubes, 10’ Perception Pescador kayaks, and 16’ Old Town Camper canoes. Most trips go down the James River, though adventurers can also explore the Rockfish and Tye Rivers when water levels permit. Abundant wildlife roams the banks, including the occasional bald eagle. Though trips are self-guided, one of the livery’s team members can join groups for a guided tour, narrating in the group’s choice of accent about the rivers’ rich history, geography, geology, and fishing spots. Though all trips include shuttle service, staff can also give a lift to those who already own a tube, kayak, or canoe.
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.
Discover Virginia hosts a variety of outdoor events that celebrate local wines, foods, and retailers in a family-friendly environment. During the annual food and wine festival, local vendors flock to Greene County to pour samples of Virginia-made wines and fresh bites as families enjoy activities such as live music and face painting. Especially popular is the yearly chili cook-off, which sets chefs against each other as they compete to see which recipes can set off the most fire sprinklers.
The state- and NRA-certified instructors at MMTA Firearms Training Academy put safety above all else. In accommodating students, they facilitate both mobile and onsite training in classes and private lessons. These gatherings take place at locales such as nearby ranges and hotel conference rooms, where the instructors lead courses such as the NRA FIRST Steps Pistol Orientation along with lessons in specialized topics such as rifle shooting, personal protection, and training to become a range safety officer.
On brisk mornings, a blanket of fog descends on the valley of Monticello, covering rows of grapevines in a picturesque mist that creates compelling flavors within the grapes soon to be transformed into wine. Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Wisdom Oak Winery utilizes every inch of its 4-acre vineyard, which is situated on a sprawling 126-acre estate. Since 2001, the fertile pastureland has been the site of intense dedication and experimentation, resulting in high-quality varietals such as cabernet franc, chardonnay, rosé, and custom blends.
The subaquatic scholars at Dive Connections sate scuba sweet teeth with scuba gear, classes taught by experienced instructors, and seafaring travel adventures. With the individual scuba experience, set sail on the solo sea sojourn by viewing a DVD from the Professional Association of Diving Instructors, which contains panoramic video seen through the diver's goggles and a full academic module, followed by a 45-minute orientation during which sea-legged trainers answer all questions. Then, don scuba gear and head to the pool for a one-hour underwater tango with buoyant fettuccini noodles and schools of cracker goldfish under the tutelage of the instructors. In addition, a $50 coupon is included toward a certification class if used within two weeks of your scuba experience. Call to sign up for the individual scuba experience during open-pool hours, usually held Saturday and Sunday afternoons.