Last fall, I went on a lovely little rural Virginia day trip while I was attending a travel journalism conference hosted by Visit Richmond. I love an excuse to discover a new area for just a day and one of the hallmarks of a great day trip is that it hits a variety of activities.
On this particular day, we started with a tour of an orchid farm, made our way to a distillery, and then ended with a bit of shopping. The distillery and shopping part are old hat for me, but throwing in something totally unusual with the orchid farm was SO much fun and so out of my normal routine — I definitely want to make an effort to include more out-of-the-box experiences on future trips.
A RURAL VIRGINIA DAY TRIP
Similar to my Fredericksburg trip last summer, this rural Virginia day trip through Powhatan was a great way to see an area of the state that I typically only pass through when going from Point A to Point B. It’s so important to explore more of the small towns and rural areas that dot the Virginia landscape and often don’t get as much attention as the cities that are known tourist destinations.
These places have so much history and such vibrant communities that can fall under the radar for those of us in our urban bubbles — seeing there’s a world outside the city is a good reminder that life doesn’t have to revolve around metro commutes and politics.
That being said, let’s get into it…
STOP ONE: CHADWICK & SON ORCHIDS
So, as I mentioned, our first stop was an orchid farm…or greenhouse or boarding room…it’s really a bizarre, magical place. Chadwick & Son Orchids operates their greenhouse in Powhatan while maintaining a storefront in Richmond’s Museum District.
Family-run and founded in 1989, Chadwick & Sons sells gorgeous varietals of orchids, breeds new species of orchids, and, in the part that stunned me the most, they board orchids during the re-blooming period. Yes, people pay them to board their orchids and watch over them with tender loving care during the months or years that they are waiting for the orchid to bloom again.
There are more than 13,000 orchids living in their greenhouse and people from all over the state of Virginia trust them with the care of their favorite plants. Orchids are a crazy business and I feel confident saying that every single one of us on this tour stood somewhere between humorous disbelief that people board plants and total awe at the incredible flowers that are blooming at every turn. This is somewhere I never would have discovered on my own and, while I’m not an avid orchid enthusiast, I had to appreciate the enthusiasm and dedication that the employees have in caring for the plants.
STOP TWO: THREE CROSSES DISTILLING, CO.
From orchids to spirits, our next stop was Three Crosses Distilling, the first legal distillery in Powhatan County and the home of one of the few female distillers in Virginia. John and Michelle Davenport founded Three Crosses Distillery out of a dual love of Appalachian culture and whiskey and they’ve now expanded their offerings to include rum and gin.
Their tasting room is a cozy spot where the bartender will guide you through their spirit offerings while telling you a bit about the history of how the distillery came to be. Three Crosses is rich in connection to their Powhatan community and uses local ingredients in their distilling process whenever possible, while also offering bites on their shelves from local food makers.
If you’re lucky, Michelle may be in on the day you stop by for a tasting — there’s not much better than hearing the story of a built from the ground up distillery from the female owner who had a dream and made it happen.
STOP THREE: VINTAGE ANTIQUE SHACK
Because all good drinks are followed by a bit of shopping, we stopped by the Vintage Antique Shack on our way out of town. The Vintage Antique Shack carries both antiques, as well as homemade decor items, and requires a bit less digging than many of the antique stores I frequent.
Each booth is well curated and I found myself quickly honing in on the two sections that are right in line with my decor style: the mid-century furniture and the vintage dog and horse prints. That’s my aesthetic in a nutshell: modern lines and traditional Virginia-inspired accessories. I left with a $15 gold frame that I featured in this blog post and this awesome amber colored pen holder that I snagged for just $3. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say almost everyone in our group walked away with some sort of goodies — and, with that, we boarded back on the bus and left our 4-hour rural Virginia day trip behind.