History, antiques, and Southern small-town charm await you in the heart of Virginia at Appomattox.
Begin your visit in the Appomattox Visitor Information Center at 214 Main Street. The friendly staff will help orient you to the attractions, shops, and restaurants in the area, many of which are within a block of the center! After getting your bearings, browse through the nearby shops in search of that perfect antique, a souvenir for someone at home, or a really good book. Speaking of books, Baine’s Books and Coffee is just across the street from the visitor center and is a great spot to grab a sandwich or coffee to fuel the rest of your day.
Let’s face it; you probably came to Appomattox for the history. Fans of Victorian architecture will want to take the self-guided “Turn of the Century Walking Tour,” which starts at the visitor center and leads you past historic homes and sites near the center of town. If the Civil War is your thing, head straight to the American Civil War Museum – Appomattox. The Museum uses original artifacts and documents to give an overview of the Civil War, focusing on the historic events at Appomattox Court House. Check the Museum’s calendar to see if a special lecture, tour, or demonstration in the log cabin is happening. A visit to the Museum is the perfect primer before venturing to the National Park surrender grounds.
If there’s still time in the day, and you’re not worn out, you can travel the two miles up Rt. 24 to the Appomattox Court House National Historical Park. Odds are though, it’s about dinner time, so you can save the park for your second day. There’s nothing like a quiet morning to experience the “stillness at Appomattox.”
When choosing your place to stay in Appomattox, you can either go historic, rustic, or brand new. The Appomattox Inn and Suites just opened down the street from the Museum, and offers all the modern amenities in their standard or suite-style rooms. If camping is more your style, check out Holliday Lake State Park, which offers cabins, RV sites, and tent camping. For the historic option, check out the Babcock House B&B, which was built in 1884. The Babcock House’s restaurant, open to all, also has some of the best food in town, so try to have dinner there even if you aren’t staying the night with them. You may end up coming back for lunch the next day!
The Appomattox Court House National Historical Park, run by the National Park Service, opens at 9am daily. Get there early to beat the crowds and amble around the historic village. Check in at the welcome center in the court house building to see when any living history programs are taking place. Don’t miss a trip through the reconstructed McLean House, where Lee surrendered to Grant on April 9, 1865. The extensive park grounds cover much more than the village. Take a drive through the park to see where the armies actually camped prior to the surrender.
You can grab lunch at Granny Bee’s or one of the other local establishments back in the center of town. Then, if you haven’t gotten your fill of history, visit the Appomattox County Historical Society’s museum in the old jail building, or their living history village, Clover Hill. The Carver Price Legacy Museum examines education during the Civil Rights era and is open on weekends. You can also get some outdoor recreation in over at one of the area parks, back at Holliday Lake, or the Appomattox/Buckingham State Forest just next to the lake.
Appomattox is a prime example of a place where you can “Come for the History, Stay for the Fun!”