There’s a lot to see and do in and near the Northern Neck of Virginia and we’ve enjoyed visiting and revisiting several spots. I’ve already done sightseeing reviews of the George Washington Birthplace and the Museum of the Bible. I’m doing this post as a sort of wrap-up of the other places we visited. Some of these are big, well known places and others have more local flavor, like the nice beach in the town of Colonial Beach and the local Ice Cream stand.
It is amazing to realize that eight Presidents of the United States were born in Virginia and that of those eight, two: Washington and Monroe were born just a few miles apart near here. We visited both birthplaces. Then, the Confederate General, Robert E. Lee, who was first offered command of the Union Army by Abraham Lincoln was also born nearby.
Robert E. Lee’s birthplace is Stratford Hall. This was the home of his ancestors, two of them signers of the Declaration of Independence: Richard Henry Lee and Francis Lightfoot Lee. We enjoyed an audio tour as we walked through the two story mansion. The grounds are extensive with many outbuildings including an outdoor kitchen and smokehouse. We drove out to the Potomac overlook with its cliffs and beach below. The River is an impressive 5 miles wide at that point. We also drove to the grist mill and saw where the wharf for merchant ships that traveled the Potomac brought the wares of the world right to this majestic plantation.
Westmoreland Berry Farm
Another sightseeing trip we took was a short drive to Westmoreland Berry Farm. There were more people there than I expected on a Friday morning. The store has in-season produce. At the time of our June visit they had blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries. There are also a variety of jams and fruit salsas available along with BBQ sauces. We picked a small batch of blueberries to take home. Beside the store is a large lawn with a huge chair for photo ops, corn hole games, a swing set, and a long downhill slide using sacks. I think the main draw is the climbing goats who climb up a ladder, across the walkway over the road, and then pull a rope to get a cup of goat feed. There are also goats that people pet and hand feed. We had a fun time in the place with lots of local flavor.
In December of 1862 the Union Army attacked Fredericksburg, VA and crossed the river to meet Robert E. Lee’s troops who were holding Marie’s Height with its high ground and sunken road with a rock wall in front of it. The Confederate Army used that wall for cover and the hill above it for canon emplacements. The Union Army had to come across a wide open field. Although they had more men and sent seven waves of attackers they could not overcome the Confederacy that day. The Visitors Center has many displays and artifacts from the battle. It gives an idea of the people who lived there and how they felt about the war. It also gave us a glimpse into their lives and how the war impacted them. The National Parks Service Ranger was an excellent guide who gave us an overview of the battle as we walked along that sunken road. One house from that battle is still standing and is undergoing renovation to keep it available. We could see bullet holes in the walls from the battle. The nearby National Cemetery is where many Union soldiers are buried, many of them give up their lives trying to take that very hill in the battle of Frederiksberg. We were humbled to be on, what the Ranger said, was the most fought over ground in the entire country.
Father’s Day Colonial Beach Car Show
We just happened onto a great car show. We went into Colonial Beach for church on Sunday morning and just a few blocks from the church a big car show was going on. We had fun walking around, checking out all the cars that were on display. People come from miles around to see this car show, we just happened to be at the right place at the right time to see it.
As you can see the Northern Neck of Virginia has a lot to offer. We’ve enjoyed our time here.
Click this for full screen photos