Tours

Patrick County, Virginia

For history lovers who want to get away and experience the simple life with a variety of historical points of interest from the Victorian, Civil War, and Industrial eras, surround yourself in abundant natural beauty, and find treasures along the way like wine tastings and luxury treatments, Patrick County, Virginia is your perfect destination. Here are all the must-see places to help you unplug, unwind, and step back in time.

High Activity

3 days | 19 stops

Day 1

STOP 1: Reynolds Homestead

Step back into the Victorian era at the historic Reynolds Homestead, built-in 1814. This tobacco plantation, named the Rock Spring Plantation, was home to R. J. Reynolds, founder of the R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company. Here you can take a tour of the main house and other buildings around the homestead, learn the history of the Reynolds Tobacco Company, and of the enslaved men & women that lived and worked on the plantation & visit their cemetery. Take a self-guided tour around the property or sign-up in advance for a guided tour by one of the Homestead’s knowledgeable guides. While you are there enjoy the one-mile walk on their self-guided L.E.A.F. trail loop to learn about the flora & fauna native to the area and see one of the Trail HANDS hand sculptures. Visitors on the third weekend of June will be able to enjoy the annual Bushels & Barrels: Local Food, Wine & Beer Festival.

STOP 2: WPA New Deal Post Office Mural

Past of the Appalachian Mural Trail, John E. Costigan's "Receiving the Mail on the Farm" was installed in the Stuart, Virginia Post Office in 1942. This mural is the third of three very similar post office murals completed by Costigan and commissioned by the Section of Fine Arts of the U.S. Department of the Treasury as part of the New Deal public works. The other two were installed in Rensselaer, Indiana in 1939 (with the mural having the same title) and in Girard, Ohio in 1938 which has since been inadvertently destroyed in 1962 and was titled Workers of the Soil. All three post office murals depict a similar scene of a farming family pausing their work to read the mail they had received.

The Stuart and Rensselaer murals portray a father reading to his wife and children what could be an invoice for the bags of seed pictured while draft horses wait patiently for the work to continue. In both paintings, the mother is holding a small child. There is an obvious contrast between the Stuart and Rensselaer murals. The Stuart mural is brightly colored and draws your eyes right to the feminine mother. Rensselaer s mural is quite the opposite. Costigan uses very dark colors and draws your eyes to the masculine father. It is said that Costigan used his family as muses for the figures in his art and often likened the female figures to his wife, Ida.

The subject of many of Costigan's works have been centered on landscapes and family, two things Stuart and Patrick County have a great abundance of, making this community a fitting location for the mural.

STOP 3: Patrick County Historical Museum

In the museum of the Patrick County Historical Society, visitors can learn all about the history of Patrick County. This museum houses many interesting exhibits like a rare three-seat horse-drawn buggy called a “drummers hack” (aka the "Penn Carriage"), an original moonshine still owned by a Patrick County moonshiner, historical artifacts, vintage memorabilia, and genealogical research assistance. Talk to a historian about where you’ve been and they can tell you where to go next!

Family files are available for research.

STOP 4: Wood Brothers Racing Museum

One of the most successful racing teams in NASCAR history has a museum located in their hometown of Patrick County! The Wood Brothers Racing Museum is located just 30 minutes from the NASCAR Martinsville Speedway. Wood Brothers Racing is the oldest continuously operating team in NASCAR. The museum is open weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. with free admission. You can find displays of multiple race cars, photographs, and memorabilia from their many years of racing.

STOP 5: Virginia Motorsports Museum & Hall of Fame

Preserving and chronicling Patrick County's rich racing history. See multiple racecars, pictures, and memorabilia from local and state-wide motorsports history!

See an actual moonshine still. Learn how moonshine was made and hear the fascinating story of how this industry directly led to the birth of NASCAR racing. Home to the famous Wood Brothers Racing Team, their museum sits adjacent to this Hall of Fame.

STOP 6: Stanburn Winery

Stanburn Winery offers delicious Blue Ridge wines with locally inspired names such as “Highfly,” a semi-sweet white wine named after J.E.B. Stuart’s battle horse, or "Poorhouse," a semi-sweet red named after the local Poor House Farm Road. Enjoy a tasting inside, then take a glass or a whole bottle outside to sit and enjoy the beauty of the vineyard on their covered patio. Look for their monthly wine festivals in the summer!

Day 2

STOP 7: Blue Ridge Parkway

Breaking ground in 1935, the Blue Ridge Parkway was built by order of President Franklin D. Roosevelt to connect Shenandoah National Park in Virginia to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park at the edge of North Carolina. Spanning 469 miles, this famous scenic drive was constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps camp which created much-needed jobs during and after the Great Depression. No commercial vehicles, billboards, or other non-essential signage are allowed, leaving the Parkway to show off the natural beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains. A smooth 45 mph drive down the Parkway will offer breathtaking overlooks, recreation areas with camping and picnicking, hiking trails, and abundant wildlife.

STOP 8: Grist Mills

Patrick County is home to two -public- historic grist mills. The oldest is Cockram’s Mill. Built in 1885, this grist mill sits on the banks of the Dan River headwaters. The mill was also once the home of the Dan River Queen, a passenger River Boat the offered tours along the water. The Queen can still be seen today, laid to rest beside the mill. The second mill is the famous Mabry Mill, located North on the Blue Ridge Parkway. This grist mill, built in 1908, is the most photographed spot on the Parkway. In the warm months, the property offers visitors the opportunity to go inside the mill and also tour the other buildings on the property to learn about the skills and trades of the time. There is also a restaurant and gift shop on the property. In the Winter months the grounds are still open to visitors without tours or restaurant hours.

STOP 9: Rock Churches of the Blue Ridge

Made famous by the book “The Man Who Moved A Mountain” by Richard C. Davids, Patrick County is home to two of the five beautiful Rock Churches in the area. Mayberry Presbyterian Church (1925) and Slate Mountain Presbyterian Church (1932), both in Meadows of Dan, were built by Rev. Robert Childress from the stone of the Blue Ridge Mountains. You can take a three-hour “Backroads Tours” of all five churches.

STOP 10: Mayberry Trading Post

From Meadows of Dan, drive South on the Blue Ridge Parkway to visit the Mayberry Trading Post. This general store built in 1892 was once the only place of commerce in the mountain community and originally served as the local post office. The store is still open to this day and offers visitors much of what was offered in its heyday. In the Fall, apple butter is made right outside the building. You can purchase homemade goods like Wild Elderberry Jam or Mayberry souvenirs. On the Andy Griffith Show, Andy talked about “the real Mayberry up on the mountain”. Many believe this area was what the character was referring to, as the show was based on the neighboring town of Mount Airy, NC.

STOP 11: Puckett Cabin

South of Meadows of Dan on the Blue Ridge Parkway is Puckett Cabin. This Parkway exhibit is the home of celebrated mountain midwife Orlean Hawks Puckett. She is known for delivering over 1,000 babies in the surrounding mountain area and never once lost a mother or child. Puckett started her midwife career at the age of 52 after losing 24 of her own infants. She lived to the age of 102. Visitors can pull just off the Parkway to view her cabin home and read about her remarkable life. Want to know more? Read Orlean Puckett: The Life of a Mountain Midwife, 1844-1939 by Karen Cecil Smith. You can also ask about her at the Hollow History Center, land still owned by her husband’s family.

STOP 12: Blue Ridge Wineries

Along the parkway, you will find Villa Appalaccia. This Italian inspired winery offers many varieties of their European-styled wines as well as cheese plates and the occasional live music performance all in a gorgeous Italian villa setting. Just down the parkway is Chateau Morrisette Winery & Restaurant. The Morrisette family has been in business since 1978, building the largest producing winery in Virginia. Have a tasting in their expansive tasting room, take a tour behind the scenes of their large operation or have a nice lunch, dinner, or Sunday brunch at their elegant restaurant with beautiful views.

STOP 13: Meadows of Dan Village

On top of the mountain lies the charming village of Meadows of Dan. Here, you will find local home-style cooking as well as many unique places to shop. Poor Farmers Market offers a variety of quirky treasures and gifts as well as locally produced honey, jams, produce, and more. Concord Corner Store offers an expanse of high quality, local artisan crafts such as large quilts, household woodworks, local wines, jewelry, Moroccan lamps, lace dream catchers, and more. Nancy’s Candy Company is a working candy factory with its own delightful storefront. Inside, you can look through the windows and watch your candy being made. Indulge in a variety of fudge, chocolates, gummies, and more. The Blue Ridge Parkway runs right through Meadows of Dan and is an easy hop on or off.

Day 3

STOP 14: Jack's Creek Covered Bridge

Walk through the historic Jack’s Creek Covered Bridge in Woolwine. It was built in 1914 to gain access across the Smith River to the neighboring Jack’s Creek Primitive Baptist Church, the bridge’s namesake. Now substituted by an adjacent modern-day steel beam bridge, Jack’s Creek Covered Bridge is still open to visitors to walk through and sign the guest book. The site of the bridge is a wonderful spot for a picnic or getting your feet wet in the river on a hot summer’s day. Visitors on the third Saturday in June will be able to catch the annual Virginia Covered Bridge Festival just across the road. The festival was originally designed to celebrate two of Patrick County’s covered bridges, the second being Bob White Covered Bridge which was tragically swept away by floodwaters in 2015.

STOP 15: Philpott Dam & Lake

Built in 1942, Philpott Dam was constructed to relieve constant flooding by the Smith River into nearby towns and residential areas and to also generate hydroelectric power. Divers under the water will find the lost town of Fayerdale which was flooded to complete the project. Visitors can view the dam and the beautiful lake from the Philpott Overlook. The Visitors Center houses a small museum where guests can learn about the history of the dam and the local flora and fauna. Philpott Lake offers an array of outdoor recreation opportunities to enjoy while you are there such as camping, hiking, paddling, boating, fishing, and swimming. You can also visit neighboring Fairy Stone State Park, the second-largest state park in Virginia. Here you can find outdoor adventures as well as rare staurolite crystals, locally called “fairy stones.” Pro tip: Head to the Fairy Stone Pit Stop just outside of the park for one of the best fairy stone hunt sites around.

STOP 16: Laurel Hill

Laurel Hill is the birthplace and childhood home of Civil War General J.E.B. Stuart. Upon arrival, visitors can pick up a self-guided tour brochure at the entrance and proceed onto the grounds where they can walk the trails and read about Stuart's life and about Laurel Hill. Don't miss the beautiful overlook at the back of the property! Visitors on the first weekend in October can enjoy the Civil War Encampment & Living History Weekend that takes place on the property every year.

STOP 17: Patrick County's Oldest Grave

Neighboring Laurel Hill is the oldest grave in Patrick County belonging to J.E.B. Stuart’s great-grandfather William Letcher who was a member of the local militia during the Revolutionary War. Letcher met a tragic end, murdered in front of his family on his own doorstep by British Loyalists in 1780.

STOP 18: Hollow History Center

Schedule your visit ahead of time and be treated to a walk through the history of the Patrick County “Hollow” in Ararat at no charge. There you will find exhibits such as the Riley Puckett Cabin, the Library Cabin, a Log Tobacco Barn with farm equipment and a section of the Mount Airy and Eastern, or “Dinky,” Railroad. You will also find a collection of local history, photos, and genealogy. Bring your lunch to enjoy the picnic shelter on site.

STOP 19: Primland Resort

This 5-star luxury mountain resort hosts a plethora of activities for history lovers. Visit an authentic Appalachian tobacco barn. Have a tasting of regionally-made moonshine right beside a moonshine still. Hike a forgotten branch of the Appalachian Trail. Peer into the stars at the largest east coast observatory. Have dinner at one of their three restaurants, try their numerous other activities, and rest your head in one of their suites in the lodge.