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.
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.
James River Cellars' picturesque vineyard welcomes guests to seasonal events throughout the year and yields 15 varieties of wines, including the Winner of the Governor’s Cup for the best Virginia wine of 2005. The 6th annual Harvest Wine Festival turns wine keys on Saturday, September 3, from noon to 5 p.m., come rain, shine, or eclipses that make the sun look like a dilated trout eye. Imbibers can sip flights from four wineries, tour the grounds, or expand their knowledge of fermented grape potables during wine 101 seminars. Live music dances in the air, as oenophiles examine wares from local craftspeople and check out treats from food vendors. Alternatively, festival-goers can pack picnics for groups and discerning family pets ($2 admission fee) for an afternoon on the vineyard grounds. To maintain an open festival ambiance, there is no seating, but visitors can tote picnic blankets or sectional sofas.
Heart of Virginia Wine Trail honors its home state by guiding guests through four wineries—James River Cellars, Cooper Vineyards, Lake Anna Winery, and Grayhaven Winery. The wine ambassadors proffer passports that award patrons tastings at each of the wineries and encourage them to enjoy the scenic countryside while navigating the path in between. Both regular tastings and special events typically include food pairings and a chance to talk to knowledgeable enophiles.
In an annual event hosted by the Thomas Jefferson Foundation and the Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, community members gather to listen to lectures on gardening, view cooking demonstrations, swap seeds, and taste local heirloom produce.
Monticello's columns and two-story windows form the backdrop as vendors and gardening experts discuss sustainable farming and healthy-food preparation throughout the estate’s West Lawn, vegetable garden, and LEED-certified visitor center. The master gardeners and chefs share sustainable gardening tips with a full day of workshops, while patrons sample fresh produce at the tasting tent and munch on barbecue, crêpes, and donuts at vendor tents. Throughout the day, local musicians strum guitars, and kids' programs keep miniature gardeners occupied with old-fashioned hoop-rolling games and a garden scavenger hunt.
Shattered glass broken across a sidewalk is often the last witness to an act of destruction. But for Jenni Kirby, the founder of Tile One On Mosaics, these pieces of glass are the building blocks of mosaic art. She uses colorful chunks and chips of tile, stone, or glass to transform mundane, everyday surfaces. A simple table pops with the kaleidoscopic texture of marbles or shells. A fireplace is more than just a place to dispose of unpaid parking tickets when it’s framed with intricate, geometric patterns laid with coarse rocks or bottle caps.
A working mosaic artist herself, she has taught at the University of Richmond, among other institutions. In the decade since she co-founded the Crossroads Art Center, the 20,000-square-foot space has showcased work from emerging and established Mid-Atlantic artists. Ranked as one of the top independent galleries in Richmond by Style Weekly magazine, the venue hosts special exhibitions and displays pieces from more than 225 artists. Showcases are coupled with classes for students aged 5 through adult, and span painting, drawing, and jewelry-making along with less-common crafts such as calligraphy, shell art, and house carving.