How will you spend the day after Thanksgiving (AKA Black Friday)?
Black Friday Shopping - photo by Jennifer Carole
Hiking at York River State Park
After the large meal consumed on Thanksgiving, some exercise in the fresh air at a Virginia State Park near you is just what the Doctor ordered. Hike our many trails; do some geocaching, or some of the self-guided scavenger hunts we have (we even have the units available for rent); or take your camera and search for wildlife.
Several parks have some special programming you won't want to miss on Nov. 29:
At Caledon State Park, enjoy their annual Black Friday hayrides. Bare trees make it easier to see the wildlife living in the forest. Meet at the Visitor Center and join staff on the hay wagon decked out for the holiday season for a ride to the Potomac Shoreline to see what the eagles are doing. $3 per person $8 per family. Call the park at (540) 663-3861 for more info and to make the required reservations.
Bare trees make wildlife viewing easier
Chippokes Plantation State Park will have its Brick Kitchen open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Watch as costumed interpreters prepare a meal as it would have been done in the 1800's. This "come and go" event is sure to spark excitement in the whole family! Just like the kitchen in our homes today, the brick kitchen at Chippokes is full of science, folklore, facts, and storytelling. Perhaps an old recipe, game, song or story will travel with you as you find your way during this time traveling experience.
Brick Kitchen at Chippokes Plantation
Visit each of the houses in Sky Meadows State Park's Historic Area and discover how the holidays were celebrated in the past by the people who called Sky Meadows "home." Stop at the Log Cabin to see the Colonial Christmas of John Edmonds; tour Historic Mount Bleak House and experience the pre- and post-Civil War Christmas of Abner Settle, the 1920's Christmas of George Slater, and the 1940's Christmas of Sir Robert Hadow; and drop in to the Wash House to learn how the enslaved workers celebrated the holidays. Tours will depart on the hour from the Visitor Center beginning at noon and the last tour leaves at 3 p.m.
Sky Meadows Holiday House Tours
In far southwestern Virginia, we have two always popular Christmas-themed events that you just cannot miss.
Natural Tunnel State Park has been providing their Lighting of the Tunnel for the community and region over the last 14 years. Every Friday and Saturday night starting Nov. 29 and through Dec. 21 several local performers and church choirs will provide Christmas entertainment at the mouth of the tunnel starting at 6 p.m. As you listen to the entertainment, snuggle up to a cozy campfire, sipping hot cocoa, while you enjoy being with friends and family. You can visit Santa in the Visitor Center too. Parking is $3 per vehicle and the chairlift is $3 per person. On Nov. 29 it's "Give a Friend a Lift" Night. Each person that brings in non-perishable food items will receive a free chairlift ride. Donations will be given to a local food bank.
Lighting of the Tunnel
Nearby Southwest Virginia Museum Historical State Park celebrates their 18th annual Festival of Trees beginning Nov. 10 and through the end of the year. The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday. Three night viewings are offered on Dec. 7, 14 and 21 from 5-8:30 p.m. There is something special about seeing over 80 trees decorated by area businesses, schools, churches, civic groups and individuals in this Victorian era mansion. The last owner of the mansion was C. Bascom Slemp, personal secretary to President Calvin Coolidge, brought the idea of having a national Christmas Tree at the White House to the First Lady. Read more here.
Festival of Trees
If your plan is to enjoy one of our parks on your own, be sure and check out the virtual tours we have of our trails on our Virginia Outdoors site. Click here and find the park and trail details. We also have a free Virginia State Parks app for Apple and Android devices. The maps can be cached on your device so they work in our parks even without cell service as long as you plan ahead. Don't forget you can get information on the park at our electronic kiosks as well.
And, if you just can't help yourself, stop by the park's gift shop and pick up some great gifts!