Petersburg, Smithfield & Newport News

Welcome to our Appomattox Road Trip series! This one holds a special place in my heart because it involves visiting family! A chance to visit my brother, his wife and beautiful children is always welcome and there is so much to see and do along the way.

I love Farmville, but that’s a short drive for any day of the week. First, we head to Petersburg. The siege that took place here in 1865 was the longest engagement of the American Civil War. For nine and a half months, General Robert E. Lee’s position weakened until he was no longer able to get supplies for his troops. After Richmond fell, he surrendered to General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox. Petersburg National Battlefield Park lies south of Richmond and includes self-guided nature trails as well as a tour of Grant’s Headquarters. There is much for history lovers to enjoy in the area, including the Pocahontas Island Black History Museum and National Museum of the Civil War Soldier. Stop by Trapezium Brewing Company for a brew and a bite to eat before getting back on the road.

Smithfield is famously known for its ham. You might have some of their bacon sitting in your refrigerator right now! Everywhere you go , you can see pig figurines sitting on countertops and on sidewalks. (My brother and his wife have quite a few.) Just outside of town, though, the land rolls out flat and you know the beach isn’t far away. Fields are dotted with cotton and little inlets as well as larger marinas like the one at Smithfield Station. The downtown area is full of gift shops and antique stores as well as cafes and great restaurants! We try not to miss a stroll along the brick sidewalks whenever we visit.

After leaving Smithfield, we found a host of attractions on our way toward Virginia Beach. The Mariner’s Museum is truly a treasure, and the kids loved it. Walking through the history of shipbuilding, learning about all the different ways they were used, was so interesting, and the models were exquisite! Seeing the amazing artifact recovered from the USS Monitor and learning about its role in the Civil War opposite the CSS Virginia was the highlight of our day. I know I could spend several days there and still probably not see it all.

We traveled on to the Norfolk Botanical Gardens. With gardens to enjoy in every season, art and history, there’s a little something here for the whole family. My personal favorite was the Tropical Display House.

I knew our kids would love the Cape Henry Lighthouses. The first was build in 1792 and is the third oldest in the country still standing. On the same peninsula, you’ll find First Landing State Park a nice place to picnic and stretch your legs.

My favorite type of food is seafood. As you can imagine, there is a wealth of great restaurants to choose from when you get this close to the beach. I just couldn’t choose one to recommend, so I’ll leave that choice up to you!

Gosh, we probably could have filled a week with this trip, but luckily we had a savvy guide to get us around the area quickly. Can’t wait for you to join us on our next trip….travel well!

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