Charles City Travel Guide

  • BAKED  VIRGINIA  HAM
    BAKED VIRGINIA HAM
    by matcrazy1
  • James River Plantation country
    James River Plantation country
    by b1bob
  • one of many basement photo opportunities
    one of many basement photo opportunities
    by b1bob

Charles City Things to Do

  • Shirley: More Outbuildings and the...

    6. Laundry Only the building where the laundry operated survives to this day. There is no preserved exhibit like at Mount Vernon. The second floor was used as a school for the Carter children (at one time, there were as many as 15- it's some wonder the Great House is so great anymore). In the 20th century, it was used as a guesthouse. Now, the gift...

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  • Shirley: Great House

    Shirley Plantation is Virginia's first plantation (1613). Shirley Plantation has survived the Indian Uprising, Bacon's Rebellion, the Revolutionary War, the War for Southern Independence, and the Great Depression. Shirley Plantation is the oldest family-owned business in North America dating back to 1638. Construction of this house began in 1723...

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  • Shirley: Outbuildings

    If you have a long wait before your tour of the great house begins or after that tour, the Carter family preserved all of the outbuildings on the property they currently own.1. Dovecote Squab was a real delicacy back in the day. The doves and pigeons raised their young in the small holes within the walls of the dovecote.2. Ice House In the 18th and...

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  • Berkeley Plantation

    After you buy your tickets in the gift shop, they direct you to the basement (food was once stored here before modern appliances) where the guide shows a short film to give you an overview of the plantation's history. (Be sure you mind the step on the way down.) As you wait for the guide to show the film, you will note that it also contains a...

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  • Berkeley Plantation grounds tour

    The boxwood-terraced gardens at Berkeley Plantation reflect careful attention to the garden fashions of the 18th and 19th century. The gardens lead from the gazebo almost to the river bank.The bell roof gazebo with Chippendale railings is a short walk behind the Georgian mansion. When you finish the guided mansion tour, don't forget to take plenty...

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  • Berkeley Plantation

    Of the many plantations in the Charles City area along the James River, Berkeley is considered to be the one (or at least one of the ones) to see. What separates Berkeley from the others - and what makes it ultimately worth visiting - is the history here. The second owner - and son of the plantation's builder - Benjamin Harrison (who signed the...

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Charles City Hotels

  • The Bed and Breakfast at Peace Hill

    18401 Glebe Lane, Charles City, Virginia, 23030, United States

    Satisfaction: Excellent

    Good for: Couples

  • Edgewood Plantation

    4800 John Tyler Memorial Highway (Route 5), Charles City, Virginia, 23030, United States

    Satisfaction: Excellent

    Good for: Couples

  • North Bend Plantation

    12200 Weyanoke Road, Charles City, Virginia, 23030, United States

    Satisfaction: Excellent

    Good for: Couples

Charles City Restaurants

  • Formerly the Indian Fields Tavern

    When Matt, Urszula, and I were taking a plantation and Colonial Williamsburg tour, we could have either given into their temptation of the omnipresent fast food places or dined at Colonial Williamsburg at either a colonial tavern to which I had been many times before or the prepackaged cuisine de theme park, but I wanted them to sample real...

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  • Real Virginia cooking

    Nat (b1bob) wanted we to sample real Virginia cooking and that's why he chose just this restaurant for our early lunch. It was right place for delicious southern food.The restaurant was placed in nice looking 2-store southern style house, mostly hidden by numerous decorative trees and bushes. The interior design was simple but nice and decorated...

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  • The first Thanksgiving

    Berkeley Plantation was the site of the first Thanksgiving. This fact might be disputed by some history books, but that does not negate the fact that the Thanksgiving meal at Berkeley came years before its Massachusetts counterpart.

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Charles City Nightlife

  • acemj's Profile Photo

    by acemj Written Oct 16, 2002

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Nope. If you want nightlife, this is NOT the place. In fact, the plantations are not even open to the public at night. This is a picture of a pathway that leads from the Berkeley house down to the river and the site of the first Thanksgiving.

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Charles City Transportation

  • If you don't have a car...

    If you don't have a car and want to get to Charles City from, say, Richmond... you have a problem. There is no public transportation, no bus stops along SR-5, no railway track - you are in the USA, not in Europe. I didn't see any tour buses full of visitors as well. Taxis are too expensive, it's always better to rent a car, like I did a day before...

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  • By car to scenic route 5

    Charles City is located in central-east Virginia, 37 miles east of Richmond, 25 miles west of Williamsburg and 140 miles south of Washington D.C. My recommendation is to drive scenic Virginia Route 5 from Richmond to Charles City and futher east to Williamsburg. How to get to the route?From downtown Richmond:Drive East Main Street eastward, you are...

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  • Few bridges over the James River

    There are right many bridges over the James River in Richmond, but whenever you drive east of Richmond, only two bridges connect the northern and southern shores of the James River. This one, seen on my picture, is put just west of Charles City and the Berkeley Plantation (SR-156). Keep in mind that the next bridge to the east, called James River...

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Charles City Shopping

  • plantation gift shops

    The gift shop at Berkeley and Shirley plantation (and previously at Evelynton) is the first thing visitor's see as this is old building where you buy your tickets for admission. The gift shops are located in a restored out building a short distance from the mansion. Besides admission tickets, the gift shop sells postcards, books, key chains,...

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  • At Berkeley Plantation

    This charming, pink building, on my picture, housed the ticket office and gift shop of the Berkeley Plantation. The costumed lady welcomed us to visit the plantation, sold us tickets which costed $10.50 (Oct. 2004) and informed us about guided tour around the mansion.The store sells postcards, various "old" pictures and photographs, historical...

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  • Charles City Hotels

    4 Hotels in Charles City

Charles City Local Customs

  • Daughters of the American Colonists

    The first official Thanksgiving Day occured on December 4, 1619 on what would become Berkeley Plantation. This commemorating plaque on my picture was put on the mansion of the Berkeley Plantation in 1969 that was in the 350th anniversary of this event. Nothing very special but at the bottom I found the writing: "Erected by The National Society...

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  • Cats

    Cats are part of country life in Charles City. I found two of them in Indian Field Tavern restaurant. They ignored us and didn't want to pose. They were not allowed to enter the restaurant but they added some southern country charm to this great restaurant.

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  • Window and pastel colours

    The window of the administrative house of the Berkeley Plantation, on my picture, had wooden shutters painted in light, soft, delicate blue colour. The house was painted in pastel, pink colour. Hmm... I thought that soft, pastel colours are unique to some Mediterranean areas in, say, Italy or France. The plantations of Virginia were settled by...

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Charles City Warnings and Dangers

  • Mind the step

    At the time the Berkeley Plantation was designed, many people were smaller than today. That includes the size of their feet. The steps leading down to the cellar where the guides show the introductory film and where there are many other things to see are size 9 steps and a hazard for those like me with size 12 feet. Tread carefully down there. In...

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  • Wake up, my friend!

    Look at this poor, sleepy guy in my car. Nat, awake please, the Berkeley plantation is just ahead! Did you prepare our trip long hours last night or we just started our trip too early? Yes, we (my wife and I) were more lucky than you. With our jetlag in the second day after coming from Europe we got up... 6 hours later than you :-). Poor visitors...

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  • Did I commit a traffic crime?

    The scenic route 5 from Richmond to Williamsburg passes through pretty forests but there are no parking lots or rest areas there. Instead I could always stop by a gas station.I can't complain, I stopped in the middle of a forest first on the gravel and then on an asphalt shoulder. Hmm... was it allowed to cross this white solid line on my picture...

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Charles City Tourist Traps

  • Closed restaurant

    Coach House Tavern is a restaurant located in a restored outbuilding on Berkeley Plantation. The first 10 United States presidents dined with the Harrisons just 100 yards off, at the manor house.The restaurant, which was run by an independant operator, has closed. I hope they reopen as soon as possible. Hmm... no way to eat there but you can enjoy...

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  • Wrong map and no ship!

    There was the map of the Berkeley Plantation put in front of the main entrance. First, I noticed that there is "1619 Ship (Replica)" displayed in the Amphiteater Stage on the James River bank. The identical map was printed in my ticket. Surely I went there and... there was NO SHIP! Hmm... was it the old map (where is the ship now?), future map or...

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Charles City What to Pack

  • matcrazy1's Profile Photo

    by matcrazy1 Updated Dec 20, 2004

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Luggage and bags: For walking around the James River plantations, small, city backpack and surely bag for your camera - both better water-proof.

    Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: Comfortable walking shoes preferrably water-resistant: like good trainers or better special walking shoes (one example: Danish Ecco are very comfortable and... expensive but worth the cost).
    Sun-glasses esp. in summer and always a rain coat/jacket, eventually less comfortable umbrella.

    Read info on climate in Richmond (some 30 miles west of Charles City):
    Climate of Richmond

    Check weather (10-day forecast) for Charles City:
    Weather forecast for Charles City.

    Photo Equipment: Take as much film as you can or as large a memory card as you can. Any of the plantations offer a lot for photography lovers :-).

    For pictures at bad light (weather) and especially pictures of interiors take a tripod.

    Miscellaneous: Do not forget to take BIG SMILE :-) Enjoy!

    DO  NOT  FORGET  TO  PACK  A  SMILE :-)
    Related to:
    • Budget Travel
    • Family Travel
    • Road Trip

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Charles City Off The Beaten Path

  • To unknown Indians

    I found this stone with writing: "In memory of the unknown Indian" in the grounds of the Berkeley Plantation. Indians lived in this area in peace and quiet by 1607 when the first English settlers came. Approximately 14,000 Powhatan Indians inhabited coastal areas of Virginia that time. The conflict between the settlers and the Indians lasted many...

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  • Forest before fall colours' peak

    We stopped in the middle of a pretty broadleaved forest when we drove along scenic route 5 from Richmond to Charles City. I didn't want to get bogged down after the rains a day before, so I only took a picture there. It was in the middle of October, unfortunately about 2 weeks before the peak fall colours of leaves. I caught it later in Great Smoky...

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  • Old-fashioned southern gas station

    Driving SR-5 from Richmond to Williamsburg I turned right towards the Berkeley Plantation in Charles City just before this gas station on my picture. It looked like say 20 or more years ago, I think. It advertised unleaded gas. Is there still any leaded gas in the US market?Do not change it please. It's pretty nice to feel old times at least from...

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Charles City Favorites

  • War Between the States

    During the War Between the States, the plantations were treated differently by advancing federal troops. Federal troops occupied Berkeley Plantation, and President Abraham Lincoln twice visited there in the summer of 1862 to confer with Gen. George B. McClellan. Even after the war, the Harrisons were never able to buy back the plantation.Evelynton...

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  • Evelynton Plantation GBNF

    The good news is, Evelynton Plantation didn't burn down as too many historical places do. The bad news is, the owners have decided to discontinue the tours. However, Evelynton Plantation has too much history and beauty for me to remove from the page altogether. Due to its prime location on the James River, it was a popular venue for weddings. My...

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  • Shirley Plantation as a working farm

    As my photos of the outbuildings suggest, Shirley Plantation was an honest-to-goodness farm. It still operates as such today. Tobacco was raised here from 1638 until 1816 when the nutrient-depleting crop became less profitable to raise. Hill Carter decided to replace tobacco with wheat, cotton, soybeans and corn. With irrigation and crop rotation...

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Explore Deeper into Charles City
View of the James River
Favorites
Matt and Urszula's visit to Charles City
Favorites
Shirley Plantation
Things to Do
Sherwood Forest Plantation Highway Marker
Favorites
Visit "Sherwood Forest" Plantation
Things to Do
Taps monument
Things to Do
Like at home :-)
Off The Beaten Path
Jumping squirrel
Off The Beaten Path
Plantations - plan your trip
Favorites
Plantations along scenic Route 5
Favorites
American Thanksgiving Day was born here
Things to Do
Where U.S. presidents were conceived
Things to Do
Charming pink building
Things to Do
James River
Things to Do
French garden and order
Off The Beaten Path
White fence and mailbox
Off The Beaten Path
Treasures of the basement
Things to Do
Suggested Improvements
Warnings and Dangers
Hidden by decorative plants
Off The Beaten Path
Orientation sign
Transportation
To Indian Fields Tavern
Transportation
Colorful meadows
Off The Beaten Path
Pretty lake
Off The Beaten Path
Lack of information
Warnings and Dangers
First whiskey destillery in America
Things to Do
The Berkeley Plantation - general info
Favorites
There's no place as beautiful as Virginia
Off The Beaten Path
More dont's
Warnings and Dangers
Like on an old painting
Off The Beaten Path
The grounds
Things to Do
Thanksgiving Day
Things to Do
English garden and mess
Off The Beaten Path
Strange trees
Off The Beaten Path
Magnolias of Berkeley
Off The Beaten Path
Dos and Don'ts
Warnings and Dangers
Cannonball
Things to Do
Gazebo
Things to Do
The first pediment roof
Things to Do
The oldest 3-store brick house
Things to Do
Good introduction
Favorites
Map of Charles City

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