There are no shortage of places to see or things to do in New Kent County this summer. Whether you're a historian, a visitor or just a modern-day adventurer, the Tidewater Review has found plenty of attractions to keep your weekends here busy. To build wholesome memories and collect experiences that are exclusively available in New Kent County, hop in the car and set your GPS for these landmarks.
1) Vineyards and wineries
If you've spent any time in New Kent County, you've certainly noticed its many beautiful vineyards. Not only are they pleasing to the eye, those grapes go into making fine wines at New Kent Winery and Vineyards, Saude Creek Winery and Vineyards and Gauthier Vineyard. All three of these companies offer wine tastings for $10, and for that price, the New Kent Winery also includes a tour. For a relaxing taste of New Kent, stop by and admire the historical woodwork at New Kent Winery at 8400 Old Church Road, drink where George Washington and Rochambeau dined at Saude Creek Winery at 16320 Cooks Mill Road in Lanexa or visit a family-owned vineyard, farm and equestrian center at Gauthier Vineyard at 5000 Farmers Drive in Barhamsville.
2) Site of Captain John Smith's Capture
There are very few events that historians are sure changed the entire course of American history, but the capture of Captain John Smith by Virginia Native Americans certainly qualifies for that distinction. This infamous event happened right in New Kent, and you can visit the spot on Route 60 near White Oak Road that historians believe Smith was taken by Paspaheghs, Chickahominies, Youghtanunds, Pamunkeys, Mattaponis and Chiskiacks. Common through all variations of Smith's story is the fact that his ensuing relationship with the Powhatan Confederation (most of those tribes were involved) guaranteed that the English settlement had food during their first winter in Virginia, which allowed for their otherwise-unlikely survival. Come stand at this spot in New Kent, where history was written.
3) Cedar Grove Stables
Colonial Downs may be out of commission, but don't worry, New Kent County equestrians still have a horse in this county's race. Cedar Grove Stables on Emmaus Church Road is one of the county's more unique attractions, where guests can rent a horse and ride it around the plantation of Letitia Tyler, wife of 10th President John Tyler. Guides will lead you around the trails for a tour of the breathtaking 200 acre grounds. The horses at Cedar Grove are specially trained to be gentle and fit for children, so feel free to bring your little ones along on the adventure. Don't know how to ride a horse? No problem. Contact them about riding lessons for you or your child this summer. Visit cedargrovestables.com for more information.
4) Viniterra Golf Course
After wrapping up your day at the New Kent Winery, take advantage of a warm afternoon by walking over to the Viniterra Golf Club for a picturesque set of 18 holes. While New Kent has many golfing options, Viniterra is known for balancing a top quality course with some of the area's lowest prices. Viniterra provides packages starting at $35 for 18 holes. While you're swinging for the green, enjoy peacefully secluded holes with beautiful forested edges, or take a stroll on the bridge over Viniterra's pond.
5) Holly Fork Farm
Sometimes, a day at the farm is just what you need to reconnect with your community. Come spend a day feeding or socializing with animals, picnicking or admiring the scenery with the friendly staff at Holly Fork Farm this summer in Barhamsville. Holly Fork Farm has been in operation since 1920 and offers seasonal specialties like strawberry and blackberry picking, produce markets, and a pumpkin patch. Currently, the farm is open to visitors on Thursdays from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m., and on Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m, but their hours adjust seasonally. Admission to the farm is free, but once on site, guests have the option to buy fresh produce or tickets for children to use the farm's jumping pad. Visit hollyforkfarm.com for more information.
6) The Wahrani Nature Trails
At first glance, the Wahrani Nature Trails on Eltham Road are beautiful paths through the woods of New Kent, culminating near the site of Warreneye Church, an 18th century building long since gone. As the perfect secluded route for runners and one of the only places in New Kent to accommodate mountain bikers, these trails should be of special interest to all serious athletes. Not only is this a great place to exercise, though, it's also a great place for a treasure hunt. Geocachers are welcome to come explore the trails for caches, or leave some themselves. Before you head out, though, be sure to download a color-coded trail map to prevent any confusion by visiting co.new-kent.va.us and clicking on the "visitors" tab.
7) New Kent History Museum
Established in 1654, New Kent has plenty of stories to tell, ranging from the experiences of the Eastern Chickahominy Indian Tribe, to first ladies Martha Washington and Letitia Tyler and a court case involving school integration. The New Kent Historical Society just finished moving their museum from the old jail in New Kent Courthouse to a historic two-room school building at 11740 New Kent Highway. If you haven't visited the museum since its grand opening in June, take a weekend afternoon to explore your county's history in this new setting.
8) St. Peter's Episcopal Church
This church was built in 1703, and while it still holds services today, it is widely known for its historical significance. Reverends of this church married George and Martha Washington, and it is widely speculated that this church also held the baptism service of Letitia Tyler, wife of President John Tyler. Lovingly called "the first church of the first first lady," this church sits at the end of St. Peter's Lane, and offers tours for people who schedule ahead by calling their office at 804-932-4846. If you're looking to admire the building, but you don't need a full tour, stop by to collect your thoughts in the church's serene meditation garden.
9) Quinton Community Park
Do you enjoy playing games and soaking up the summer sunshine? For people who like to spend time outside, especially those with children, Quinton Community Park off of North Henpeck Road should be on your list of places to visit every week of the summer. This complex has everything you could possibly need – ball fields where children can practice their home run derby skills, a walking path, a tennis court, a playground for little ones and even a covered pavilion where guests can picnic. Pack up a basket of chips and sandwiches, and spend the day gamboling around at Quinton Community Park.
10) Eltham Battlefields
On May 7, 1862, Union and Confederate soldiers fought for control of the road to Barhamsville, as the Confederates made their way up toward Richmond. This battle incurred 194 Union casualties and 48 Confederate casualties, according to National Park Services. Although this specific battle proved inconclusive, it was a part of the larger Peninsula Campaign, during which, Confederate Gen. Joseph Johnston was injured and replaced by Gen. Robert E. Lee. Step back in time and imagine what life must have been like for these soldiers by visiting the site of the Battle of Eltham's Landing, a mile off of Route 33 on Farmers Drive.
Williams can be reached at 804-824-8289