Spend a Picture-Perfect Fall Day in Surry, Virginia
Original article publishes in Only in Your State - Virginia on September 2, 2021.
Spend A Picture-Perfect Fall Day In Surry, Virginia
Autumn in Virginia is a magical season. As the leaves change and the air becomes crisp and cool, we’re inspired to explore all that the Old Dominion has to offer. If you’re looking for a destination that promises history, natural beauty, delicious food, and endless charm, we would recommend planning a visit to Surry, Virginia. This impressive destination has all the makings of a great adventure: a local winery, mouthwatering seafood, historic attractions, and plenty of hidden places to discover along the way. Without further ado, here are several ways to spend a picture-perfect fall day in Surry.
Chippokes Plantation State Park
Plan an outdoor adventure at Chippokes Plantation State Park, which offers over 12 miles of trails for hiking, biking, and horseback riding. Follow the Chippoax Trace Trail along the path of one of the earliest documented roads in Colonial Virginia. The trail terminates at College Run Creek where you’ll want to spend a moment taking in the unspoiled beauty of the woods and marshes.
Next, stop by the Farm & Forestry Museum for some barnyard fun on your way to a leisurely stroll along the banks of the historic James River where kids of all ages can search for the ever-elusive fossils and shark’s teeth. Guests can enter the park for day use (per day parking fee applies) or can plan to stay overnight at one of the park's lodging options. The campground includes 50 designated sites for tent and RV camping. Three yurts, as well as four Colonial-style cottages accommodate up to eight guests in a single cottage.
Chippokes Plantation State Park continues to operate as a working farm, as it has since the first land grant in 1619. Guests are able to experience planting and harvesting first-hand as it takes place seasonally within the park. The park offers additional amenities and activities including historical interpretation and education programs at the Jones-Stewart Mansion, the River House, and the Farm & Forestry Museum. Planned Fall events include a Colonial Re-Enactment Weekend on September 25 and 26, and the Chippokes Harvest Festival on Saturday, October 16.
Disc Golf at the Surry County Community Center
Ready for a bit of a challenge? Disc golf is one of the newest outdoor crazes! Take in a round of disc golf on the grounds of the Surry County Community Center, located on a (soon to be) 18-hole, par 3 course. Bring your own discs or use those provided by Surry County Parks & Recreation during regular business hours. Bring a picnic lunch or stop in at Anna’s Italian Restaurant for pizza, subs, or a salad.
College Run Farms
During the month of October, guests from miles around flock to Surry to pick their pumpkins at College Run Farms, a small family-run farming operation in business since 1999. Their fields will be planted with pumpkins and gourds galore! In addition to pumpkin picking, children of all ages can enjoy the corn maze, pumpkin ice cream (additional flavors may be available as well), and other treats from the farm shop. We think ice cream should be eaten any time of the day, so no harm if you have a treat before lunch!
Hampton Roads Winery
When the day’s activities begin to wind down, make the short drive to the Hampton Roads Winery where you can relax on the patio with a glass of locally made wine or a delicious wine slushie. Watch the sun begin to set over the pond, or spend some time being entertained by the gravity-defying antics of the resident goats on the World’s Tallest Goat Tower. Guests can take the self-guided farm tour and discover all the secrets of this beautiful property.
Strap the kayak on your vehicle and head down to Gray’s Creek Marina adjacent to the Surry Seafood Company. The creek is a 6-mile-long tributary of the James River. It was first navigated by the Indigenous People of the coastal region and later explored by Capt. John Smith in 1607. Although never completed, a second colonial fort was attempted on the banks of the creek at Smith’s Fort Plantation to provide a fallback position for the Jamestown settlers. Today, only the raised earthworks remain.
One of the best parts about exploring the waterway is the breathtaking scenery. In 2020, Gray’s Creek was designated as part of Virginia’s Scenic Rivers Program. The Virginia Scenic Rivers Program’s intent is “to identify, designate and help protect rivers and streams that possess outstanding scenic, recreational, historic and natural characteristics of statewide significance for future generations.” Sheltered from strong coastal winds and currents, paddling on the creek allows guests access to marshes that support various species of wildlife and waterfowl. The marina includes a well-maintained boat ramp, kayak and canoe launch, 45 floating docks, a fishing pier, and a public bathhouse.
Surry Seafood Company
Once you’re done paddling and have worked up an appetite, you won’t be able to resist a delicious meal at the Surry Seafood Company. Dine on the deck and enjoy the fresh air and views of the creek and marina. Menu items include fresh seafood dishes, steaks, salads, burgers, and sandwiches. Add one of their signature drinks for an added note of festivity.
Open Friday through Sunday are two historically significant homes: Smith’s Fort and Bacon’s Castle. You can quite literally hike into history at Smith’s Fort. A short, half-mile hike from the house will lead you back in history to the site of a second fort begun by Captain John Smith in 1609. Smith was encouraged to establish a fallback position on the south side of the James River to protect the Jamestown colonists from attack by Spanish explorers. Although never completed due to the harsh conditions of the “starving time," raised earthworks still remain on the property. The property is also part of a dowery gift to John Rolfe from Chief Powhatan on his marriage to the Chief’s favorite daughter, Pocahontas. The house located on the property was built in 1761 and remains in its original condition.
Just For Kicks Cupcakes
Need a quick pick-me-up? The route from Smith’s Fort to Bacon’s Castle will lead you through the Town of Surry where you will find Just for Kicks Cupcakes and More. Delicious cupcakes are Oz-themed. We recommend that you follow the Yellow Brick Road – and take Toto with you! The shop also offers to-go lunch items, Richlands Dairy ice cream, as well as art and craft items created by local artists.
Plan to spend some time exploring both the house and grounds at Bacon’s Castle, the oldest brick dwelling in Virginia and the only surviving example of Jacobean architecture in North America. Although neither a castle nor made of bacon, its name is derived from the fortified role it played in Nathaniel Bacon’s Rebellion of 1676.
Rumored to be haunted, the house is full of interesting stories of the people who lived there. According to African-American historian and genealogist Peighton Young, this includes the “stories of the families that were built under enslavement, the experiences of those who risked their lives to fight against the institution of slavery, and the people who created new lives and tight family units, which grew during the Reconstruction era and into the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.” The grounds feature a reconstructed 17th-century English formal garden, a restored smokehouse, and an 1830s slave dwelling.
The Jamestown-Scotland Ferry
The best way to get to Surry or to return home is always by way of the Jamestown-Scotland Ferry. The ferry has been in this location for over 95 years and is now operated by the Virginia Department of Transportation, at no charge to travelers who use the ferry system. Crossing the historic James River by ferry usually takes about 20-30 minutes and allows guests a unique experience to capture the beauty of the river and imagine what the land might have looked like to the settlers of Jamestown when they arrived in 1607.