You thought Virginia State Parks were all about camping and being outdoorsy, didn’t you? Well, they are, but there are historical features that might not have made it on your radar before. Like mansions. Come explore!
Chippokes Plantation State Park is located opposite Historic Jamestowne on the James River, so it should be no surprise that this plot of land has been farmed since 1619. Actually, it’s one of the oldest continually farmed plantations in the country.
The antebellum Jones-Stewart mansion is the centerpiece of the historic area at Chippokes, which also includes outbuildings and a Farm and Forestry Museum. The mansion is open for tours on weekends April through October and other select dates.
The Karlan Mansion at Wilderness Road State Park in Ewing is an 1870s beauty available for special event rentals. The home was constructed from bricks made on the property. A museum room inside contains letters between Robert Ely and his wife Susan, concerning the construction of the home. Karlan has undergone several renovations over the years. The fireplaces and a pie safe are all that are original to this grand estate.
Bel Air Mansion at Belle Isle State Park in Lancaster is the only state park mansion visitors can sleep in. The Colonial style Bel Air was built in 1942 by an architectural historian with Colonial Williamsburg. The home is available for event rentals as well as overnight accommodation, but is only open for tours by appointment.
~ Bay Seafood Festival, September 6
The Southwest Virginia Museum at the Southwest Virginia Museum Historical State Park in Big Stone Gap is actually an 1890s Victorian stone mansion. The museum exhibits tell the tales of the region from 1700s pioneering to 1800s mining.
~ Gathering in the Gap Music Festival, May 25
See what other secrets and special events Virginia State Parks have in store at Virginia.org.