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.
For more than 25 years, pottery guru Robin Cage has nurtured the creativity of local artisans by arranging a warm and loving home for their handcrafted beauties at 43rd Street Gallery. Amidst the welcoming atmosphere, jewelry items ($12+) and pieces of fine art ($50+) adorn the gallery's baby blue walls. Inside the on-site pottery studio, Robin shapes lumps of clay into functional pottery items such as teapots, sugar bowls, and casserole dishes ($10–$100). Glazed and fired in color combinations like blue and white, black and gold, or copper and green, once boring pie plates, platters, and place settings make excellent conversation pieces for those who have heard everything their old coffee mugs have to say. 43rd Street Gallery also enlightens aspiring clayshapers with pottery classes, as well tours of the studio, kiln room, and violin shop on premises.
By the time Blue Bee Cider's signature drink is ready in the spring, it's been three seasons in the making. The process begins in the fall and winter pressing season, when baskets upon baskets of Virginia apples, their ripe red skins shocked with gold, are crushed to loose their sweet juice. The juice lies dormant for the winter, undisturbed by the needless addition of sugar or water, slowly fermenting. Finally, come the break of spring, it takes on the fizzy character of carbonation and is bottled, ready to take its place on the shelves behind the tasting bar. Each of the three varieties takes on a different characteristic from its different blend of apples and ingredients, from the Charred Ordinary's dryness lent by heirloom apples, to the Harvest Ration's surprising kick supplied by fortification with brandy.
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.
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.
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.