History, Tradition, And Thrills
Central Virginia holds the span of Virginia’s rich history. Between Tidewater and the Blue Ridge Mountains lies a diverse world of presidential homes, horse-country estates, quiet battlefields, and where America’s great leaders and activists made their imprint.
The legacies of Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, Maggie L. Walker are maintained inside accessible historic homes while unique museums, historic attractions, entertainment centers and amusement parks make this a region filled with delightful discoveries.
Have a first-hand look at the genius of Thomas Jefferson. His magnificent estate, Monticello, is a testimony to his varied interests and to his ingenuity and creativity.
Visitors using wheelchairs may access the main house, filled with Jefferson’s personal effects and the original furnishings, by using a motorized lift. A written script and braille tour guide are available, and a hands-on tour or a tour with a signing interpreter can be arranged with advance notice.
Mr. Jefferson was also the “father” of American vineyards, having brought a viniculturist from Italy to establish wine making at Monticello. Although he was unsuccessful in establishing a thriving vineyard at Monticello, his legacy lives on today at Mountain Cove Vineyards in Lovingston and Stonewall Vineyards in Concord, both of which are wheelchair-accessible.
Wines from Virginia's small, family-run vineyards are winning accolades the world over.
Step back into history at the Virginia Historical Society and travel the breadth of the Old Dominion’s history. This museum offers wheelchair access plus abundant “please touch” objects for visitors who are blind or have low vision. Richmond’s life and history is showcased at the Valentine Richmond History Center with an outstanding collection of costumes, the largest in the South, and exhibits detailing three centuries of Richmond's history.
America was torn apart during the Civil War, the silent witnesses of hundreds of thousands of soldiers now buried in Virginia’s soil. South of Richmond lies Petersburg, the site of the longest military siege in history. As a memorial to honor the 30,000 Confederate soldiers buried on the grounds, Old Blandford Church, the site of the first Memorial Day commemoration, had Louis Comfort Tiffany create 15 stained glass windows. This 18th-century church has a wheelchair-accessible entrance to the reception center and the church. Pamplin Park, the Museum of the Civil War Soldier, combines modern technology with the drama of the conflict with interactive games.
Civil War Weekend at Pamplin Historical Park
Two hours drive west of Petersburg, the Appomattox National Battlefield Park, site of the Confederacy’s surrender, gives insight into the final days of this terrible conflict in an authentically preserved and accessible town.
Outside this house, Generals Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant negotiated the terms of surrender which led to the end of the war between the states.
For a change of pace, spend the day at one of Virginia’s two premier theme parks, Paramount’s Kings Dominion. Excited screams and laughter fill the air at this large family entertainment center 20 miles north of the capital. Annually, in late spring, the theme park hosts “Deaf Awareness Day” with special signing entertainers for the visitors with hearing disabilities, and in the summer “Blind Awareness Day.”
If you want to go jump in a lake, then head to Bedford, the location of Liberty Lake Park. The 61-acre municipal park features award-winning nature trails, fishing docks and other facilities to accommodate persons with disabilities.
Additional fishing and swimming facilities are also available at Smith Mountain Lake, which has an accessible beach.
For art lovers, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond displays paintings and artifacts from ancient Greece to modern times. It also houses the largest public collection of Fabergé eggs outside of Russia. For visitors with hearing or visual disabilities, written scripts and portable audio cassette players describe the collections.
Peter Carl Fabergé designed these gold, enameled and jewel-encrused eggs for the Russian Imperial Family.
Photo Courtesy of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
Near Charlottesville in Schuyler is the Walton’s Mountain Museum, a tribute to the popular TV show “The Waltons,” created by Earl Hamner, Jr. Housed in Hamner’s former elementary school, the museum is wheelchair-accessible and offers sign language or tactile tours.
History and fun-filled entertainment make Central Virginia a destination for many different diversions.
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