Find antiques, adventure, and more in this Central Virginia charmer.
Stop by the Heartland Regional Visitor Center at 121 E. Third Street in downtown Farmville for directions and to get your bearings. Then, arrive at Sandy River Retreat to check into your cabin off of Rt. 460 in Rice, Virginia. These cabins are built as replicas of a by-gone era, but inside they are contemporary, rustic, and comfy! Bring your own victuals for the fully equipped gourmet kitchen! After you get settled in, come outside to collect some greens or vegetables – right out of the garden. After lunch in your cabin, walk about this 11-acre haven. Listen for the rustling high up in the trees. You might even hear a shout or two, as the largest aerial obstacle course and zip line in Virginia is on these grounds. Wander over to check in for your training, and then spend the next three hours challenging yourself to new heights 40 feet above the ground. “Scream like a little kid” as you swing through the trees, or ride across to the next obstacle.
Finished with the zip line? Flushed and excited about your afternoon in the trees? Feeling more than a little hungry? Time to drive into Farmville to enjoy supper on the deck at Charlie’s Waterfront Café which offers full service dining while overlooking the Appomattox River. If it’s Thursday it is “Open Mike Night” at Uptown Coffee Café right on Main Street, where locals and visitors play to a full house in this alcohol-free sandwich and coffee shop. Afterwards, wander through Downtown Farmville for a little window shopping at Amish Furniture, The Sleeping Bee, or several of the Green Front Furniture storefronts, before driving back to your cabin at Sandy River Retreat. You’re going to be up early tomorrow, so get a good night’s sleep!
After breakfast with eggs fresh from the hen house at Sandy River Retreat, it’s time to head out to Sailor’s Creek Battlefield Historical State Park. The folks at Sandy River Retreat will gladly give you directions. Meet with park staff at 9 a.m. for a tour of the brand new Visitor Center, which overlooks the site of the last major battle of the American Civil War in Virginia. They will guide you to The Overton-Hillsman House which still stands in its original form. This farmstead was overwhelmed when thousands of soldiers engaged in a desperate fight, while the family huddled in the basement. The house was commandeered and converted into a surgical hospital treating casualties of both armies.
About 11 a.m., drive into Farmville to rent your bicycles at The Outdoor Adventure Store for your 4-mile leisurely ride out to High Bridge. Stop along the way, taking pictures of the flora and fauna. Upon arrival, meet with park staff who will walk you through the battles that raged for control of this strategic bridge, resulting in its partial destruction when the Confederates burned four spans attempting to keep the Union at bay until they could refit in Farmville. High Bridge staff will bring this to life for you at the overlook 125 ft. above the Appomattox River and the small wagon bridge, whose capture had disastrous consequences for Lee’s army.
It will be about 1 p.m. when you return your bicycle to The Outdoor Adventure Store, and you are hungry! Well, right across the street – you likely noticed it last night – is Walker’s Diner. Not only is this diner an original from 1952, but it was recently renovated on Ty Pennington’s new show, American Diner Revival on The Food Network! “Don’t be a fool sit on a stool!” is their motto – and you can even buy the t-shirt. Enjoy your lunch and meet with the locals who come there every day.
It’s mid-afternoon, and you want to spend some time getting to know downtown Farmville. Because the light is about the most perfect at this time of day, stroll over to the High Bridge Plaza in front of Green Front Furniture to take pictures of you with the huge LOVE sign. This sign was designed and built by a local artist, and the wood is even from the region. Then, wander through the several antique stores all along Main Street. You may find that one treasure you didn’t even know you were looking for!
Early evening and you are looking for another intriguing restaurant – we recommend The Fishin’ Pig, about 4 miles south of Farmville on Rt. 15. The food is terrific, inexpensive and the ambiance is definitely local! If it is Friday or Saturday night, there will be great music on tap! Spend your evening with visitors and locals where you can “eat like a pig and drink like a fish!” Then, it’s back to your cabin for another good night’s sleep.
You had breakfast at Riverside Café in downtown Farmville, and now it’s time for the other major historic story of the area – where the birth of the Civil Rights Movement began; not in Selma, not in Birmingham, but in Farmville, where the 1959 Prince Edward County Board of Supervisors voted to “not fund” public education rather than allow integration to occur. That story is best told at the Moton Museum located at 900 Griffin Blvd, about ½ mile up Main Street. Here you will see a marvelous interpretation of the events leading up to and throughout the five years that public education was banned in Prince Edward County. You will meet with docents who are survivors of this era – actual living history – talking to you about what they went through and how they did receive education.
When your visit to the Moton Museum is complete, you will want to take the short drive out of town to Twin Lakes State Park for another aspect of the civil rights story – and some great outdoor recreation. Twin Lakes used to be two separate state parks – Goodwin Lake State Park and Prince Edward State Park. One was the only state park in the state of Virginia where African-Americans were allowed. Since integration, they have been joined into one state park now interpreting this story. With two lakes, there is plenty of room for fishing, boating, kayaking, paddle-boating or swimming. They also have a fantastic conference center for group meetings if that’s in your future. Finally, if you are there on a weekend, you will likely see a wedding taking place – this park is booked solid a whole year in advance!
You’ve had a relaxing time at Twin Lakes State Park, and now it’s time to head back to your cabin. Tonight you plan to “eat in” so you can get your laundry done and pack up to start your ride home tomorrow morning. This has been a wonderful visit – you’ve seen and done a lot. Now it’s time to start sharing your visit so everyone you know will want to come here, too. While you’re at it, start planning your next visit to Farmville – we’ve just begun to show you what’s available!