Itinerary: Fall Fling
As the Summer heat begins to dissipate and cool breezes usher in sweater weather and pumpkin spice lattes, people begin looking for different things to do. If you are looking for things to do indoors to avoid rain or outdoor spaces to bask in the amber glow of Autumnal golden hour and changing leaves, read on to find your Fall Fling.
- Tree Time Adventures
- James River Wildlife Refuge
- Appomattox River Regional Park
- City Point
- Music at the Beacon Theatre
- Fall Concert Series at Weston Manor
- Hopewell Bluegrass Jamboree
- Guncotton Coffee
- Room ESC
Summers in Virginia can be unbearably hot for many. So, the cooler temperatures in Autumn create the perfect opportunity to get outside and enjoy better air. Tree Time Adventures is an ideal experience when temperatures drop. Nestled in the woods of Prince George County, Tree Time is hot and muggy in Summer with plenty of bugs. Navigating this tree top high-ropes course in a safety harness is less laborious in the Fall. Challenge yourself on one of three separate courses ranging in difficulty from easy to advanced. Ziplining through the trees is also a great way to get up close and personal with the changing leaves.
Nearby James River Wildlife Refuge is also less, well, summer-y this time of year. Located in wetlands connecting to the mighty James River, the refuge has several miles of trail loops perfect for an Autumn stroll. It is a wildlife refuge, so you may encounter deer, foxes, turtles, eagles, great blue heron, and ospreys, among other critters. Be sure to respect the wildlife! After all, that is the point of a wildlife refuge. To protect the habitat of the animals calling this place home, dogs are not allowed, an important note to consider. If colder water is no deterrent, there is a canoe/kayak launch on site.
On the opposite end of Prince George County is another hidden gem for those seeking to get outside. Appomattox River Regional Park also has several miles of trail loops along the banks of the Appomattox River. While you can see a lot of wildlife here, it is not a National refuge and thus, less strict concerning what you can and cannot do. You can bike, hike, or run these trails, and there are also grills available for a BBQ. The canoe/kayak launch is top notch, so bring your boat and paddle to explore a more narrow section of river.
Historic sites are also ideal places to explore when things cool down and there is a constant threat of rain. Appomattox Manor at City Point was the site of Ulysses S. Grant’s headquarters during the Siege of Petersburg. The house is managed by the National Park Service and part of Petersburg National Battlefield. The house is open for tours, but you may want to check the Park Service website for updated hours. In any case, the grounds are open to the public from dawn till dusk and provide view overlooking the James and Appomattox Rivers. Picnic baskets highly recommended!
There’s just something about Fall that screams live music and we’ve got plenty of it. One of the main draws to our region is the historic Beacon Theatre, which draws global talent and some big names you’d likely recognize. Johnny Rodriguez, Graham Nash, Roger McGuinn, and the Commodores are merely a few of the famous acts to grace the stage at the Beacon Theatre, with multiple shows every month, the Beacon Theatre is a must-visit attraction for locals and visitors alike.
Weston Manor is not only a beautiful historic home with lovely grounds. It’s also home to Historic Hopewell Foundations concert series overlooking the Appomattox River. Every Sunday in September, Weston hosts live music on the lawn ranging from country and R&B to rock n’ roll. It’s a great time to be outside for a show, so bring your lawn chair or blanket and a cooler full of your favorite beverages and enjoy the music.
Saucy’s BBQ has also turned into a live music destination thanks to the Hopewell Bluegrass Jamboree, a monthly event with a jam open to the public after the show. Regional Bluegrass acts, like Josh Grigsby & County Line and Mill Run whip up some old timey sounds at the hottest BBQ joint in town. Grab a pulled pork sandwich and a craft beer while tapping your feet to some classic bluegrass. Don’t forget to bring your instrument so you can jam with the band and other guests. You never know who’s going to show up.
What’s more perfect on a cool, rainy day than enjoying your favorite warm beverage in a cozy space? Probably nothing. Guncotton Coffee in Hopewell is the place to do just that. Serving all your traditional coffee based beverages, Guncotton is a warm and friendly coffee shop located in the heart of Downtown Hopewell merely a few blocks from the Beacon Theatre. Sit and watch the rain bead up on the large storefront windows as the steam rolls of your hot mug of liquid comfort. Guncotton serves locally roasted beans from Legacy Roasting Company, right here in Hopewell.
After warming your bones for a spell, walk next door and put your brain to the test at the best escape room in the area: Room ESC. Don’t take my word for it, ask John Heder (Napoleon Dynamite) how he liked it. Yes, Room ESC is one of the top attractions in the area. Co-owner of Guncotton Coffee, Crisman White, has a real knack from creating intricate stories for his themed rooms, such as the Till Death Do Us Part and The Curse of Boar Tavern. The rooms and puzzles change constantly, so book your ticket to a world of brain twisters and imagination. But, don’t forget that jolt of caffeine first to get those juices flowing!