By Laura Drummond
If you’re looking for the perfect destination for a day trip with your sweetheart or a weekend excursion with the family, look no further than Fluvanna County.
Parks & Preserves, and Three Rivers Run Through It
With three rivers flowing through it—the James, the Rivanna, and the Hardware—Fluvanna is a fantastic spot for water recreation, from fishing and floating to canoeing and kayaking. Consider booking a guided paddling tour with Rivanna River Company. Available on Saturdays during the warmer months, the 6.5-mile-long Fluvanna Scenic Cruise is perfect for beginners and offers an opportunity to take in the sights and sounds of the river and its wildlife. Kayaks are available to rent from Fluvanna County Parks and Recreation, whose kayak livery is at the Pleasant Grove House.
Pleasant Grove Park boasts 21 miles of multi-use horse riding, mountain biking, and hiking trails. For a slower pace, walk along the scenic meadows and pack a picnic to enjoy at the site’s shelters. Avid golfers will love the 18-hole PGA Championship Golf Course at Lake Monticello. While the lake’s other amenities are reserved for homeowners and their guests, the golf course is open to the public. If cycling is more your speed, you can take in the area’s scenic views while completing part of the TransAmerica trail, which runs from Missouri to Yorktown. Mark off 22 of the 533 miles that make up Bicycle Route 76 without leaving the county!
For birdwatchers, Fluvanna is home to two must-visit spots—Fluvanna Ruritan Lake and Scheier Natural Area. Keen eyes are sure to spy a number of different waterfowl at the lake, like great blue herons, ospreys, northern shovelers, and more. Just a short drive away, the 100-acre wildlife preserve is home to Carolina chickadees, tufted titmice, and countless more avifauna.
Mark your calendar for the annual Art Studio Tour event, which is held by ARTS of Fluvanna County every October. This year, the event will be held on October 14 from 10 am to 5 pm, during which time you can tour the private studios of over 30 creators, with opportunities to meet the artists, learn about their processes, and observe—with a chance to purchase—their finished works.
Visit Sweet Art Emporium, a gift shop showcasing locally crafted items and Virginia-made sweets, to shop the works of over 80 local artists and artisans. Sweet Art Emporium also offers art workshops, seasonal markets and arts festivals, and other events throughout the year.
The Carysbrook Performing Arts Center is home to the Fluvanna County Arts Council, which hosts art, musical, film, youth, and comedic performances throughout the year. Check their calendar, purchase a ticket, and prepare to be wowed!
Food & Drink, Alpacas to Meet
Find the freshest foods when you visit one of Fluvanna’s many farms, farm stands, or markets. For locally grown produce, visit Fruit Hill Orchard and Crossing Brook Farmstand. For pasture-raised meats, local honey, and other food products, there are many farms in the area to visit, including Salt and Pepper Farm, Modesto Farm, and Chevy Chase Farm.
The Fluvanna Farm Heritage Museum, located at Pleasant Grove Park, pays tribute to the importance of agriculture to Fluvanna’s livelihood, providing a look at the evolution of the area’s agriculture from 1865 through 1965. The museum is filled with antique farming equipment from local collectors.
The doors are always open at two award-winning wineries in the county. A lovely gathering spot for friends or romantic rendezvous for two, Cunningham Creek Winery creates small-batch French varietals and blends. The family owned and operated boutique winery is welcoming to families of all ages—and dogs are encouraged, as they have a dog park on premises. Stop by on Saturdays to enjoy live music and check their events calendar for fun festivities throughout the year.
Be sure to visit Hardware Hills Vineyard, where you can listen to live music, try snacks from their light fare menu, and sample from their extensive wine selection. Don’t forget to try the renowned sangria, made fresh on-premises from estate grown grapes and assorted fruit juices. Feel like you could relax here forever? No problem—there’s an adorable cottage on the property you can reserve for an overnight stay.
For a unique experience, visit Sacred Acres Farm to commune with the friendly alpacas who live there. Hand-feed them—or even take an alpaca for a walk!
A Walk Through Time
With a heap of Virginia history and a side of small town charm, the Palmyra Self-Guided Walking Tour features both original and recreated buildings and landmarks. Highlights include the former Fluvanna County Courthouse, Maggie’s House, the Rail Trail, and the Village Park.
In addition to the walking tour, visitors can also tour the interiors of some of the buildings maintained by the Fluvanna Historical Society, such as the Old Stone Jail, which was built in 1828 and operated for over 100 years. It now lives on as a museum, telling the stories of the county through artifacts and displays of historical interest.
Laura Drummond is a professional travel and hospitality writer based in Charlottesville, Virginia. A native of the area, she is an expert in all the things to see and do, eat and drink, explore and learn in Charlottesville and the surrounding counties. Her work has appeared in Garden & Gun, Virginia Living, and Good Grit. www.bylauradrummond.com