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Virginia's Splendors Abound All Around Lake Anna
by Ken Perrotte

Boredom is a self-inflicted lifestyle option for residents and visitors to the Lake Anna area. With so many of the finest splendors of Virginia within an hour or two, getting bored is simply your own fault.
In any direction you look, the region is a day-tripper's dream.
Less than an hour to the Northeast is Fredericksburg, one of America's most historic small cities.

The downtown district, with its impressive array of antique and specialty shops, superb restaurants, and unique buildings dating to America's colonial period make it a must-visit destination. Walking tour brochures are available at the Fredericksburg City Visitor Center, 706 Caroline St. You can also hop a trolley and take a narrated riding tour.

It is safe to say, "George slept here." Just east of downtown is Ferry Farm, (540-373-3381) Washington's boyhood home and site of such legendary tales as chopping down the cherry tree and throwing the silver dollar across the Rappahannock River. In town, visit the home of George Washington's mother, walk along the stonewall and Sunken Road at Marye's Heights, scene of some of the fiercest fighting of the Civil war in 1862.
There's no escaping the Civil War in this part of Virginia. So many of the pivotal moments and struggles in our nation's history took place within the sound of cannon shot from Lake Anna. Begin your stroll through history with the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park, spanning more than 5,500 acres and encompassing such battles as Fredericksburg (1862), Chancellorsville (1863), Wilderness and Spotsylvania (1864 Overland Campaign).
A visitor center is located in Fredericksburg and another visitor center is located on Route 3 on the Chancellorsville battlefield, 10 miles west. Other sites in the vast military park are Old Salem Church, site of fighting during the Chancellorsville campaign, and the Stonewall Jackson Shrine (Guinea Station), where the general died on May 10, 1863.
Call 540-371-0802 or visit www.nps.gov/frsp for more information.
The nearby town of Gordonsville was an important stop along a major rail artery in the 19th Century. The town's Exchange Hotel, quite a large facility for such a small town in its time was converted to a military hospital in 1862. Now restored, the building houses a museum.
At one time the Virginia town of Staunton, west of our area, was the edge of the American frontier. Staunton is home to the Frontier Culture Museum, a living history program that takes visitors to four countries through 300 years of history. It's comprised of four historic farms and a working blacksmith's forge.
Period furnishings, gardens, livestock, crops, and a knowledgeable staff illustrate life in Europe before immigration to America. The cultures that came together to help shape the American frontier and eventually blend into the American spirit are on display. Time periods include Germany early-1700s; Northern Ireland early-1700s; England late-1600s; and mid-1800s (pre-Civil War) Shenandoah Valley. Call 540-332-7850.
Virginia has been called the "Mother of Presidents" - at least presidents from America's earliest years.
Besides Washington's roots bear Fredericksburg, you can take a quick trip south to Montpelier, the home of fourth President James Madison and the man often referred to as the "Father of the Constitution." He is said to have referred to his magnificent home as "a squirrel's jump from Heaven."
The 2,700-acre estate is the setting for numerous events including wine and music festivals, and the Montpelier Hunt Races, a mix of flat-track and steeplechase races held in early November. Besides touring the home, visitors can hike through an old growth forest, check out the latest archeological digs, or visit the formal gardens. Call 540-672-2728 for general information about Montpelier.
The rolling hills of Albemarle County are almost due west of Lake Anna. Two more presidential homes are open to visitors. James Monroe's Ash lawn is still a 535-acre working farm. Get more information about our fifth president's home at 434-293-9539.
Thomas Jefferson built his famous Monticello on one particularly beautiful summit near Charlottesville. Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence, loved the scenic countryside and peaceful respite his beloved home provided when he wasn't away leading our young nation or serving as a statesman abroad.
Monticello is maintained in impeccable historic state and is a must-stop for any American history buff. Call 434-984-9822 for more about this important estate.
Jefferson was also a wine enthusiast and one of America's first winemakers. He'd likely be impressed at how Virginia has become one of the top winemaking states in America and how the quality of Virginia wines has soared in the last decade.
Who needs Napa Valley when you've got dozens of superb wineries all within a couple hours of Lake Anna?
The Lake Anna Winery is nearby in Spotsylvania while Windy River Winery is just south in Hanover County. Looking in all directions from southwest to northwest, wine aficionados can have a sensory feast visiting such wineries as Barboursville Vineyards, Burnley Vineyards, Dominion Wine Cellars, Horton Cellars, Misty Mountain, Oakencroft and Prince Michel.
Map out a route and get going. Many wineries have a seasonal array of special tastings, dinners, musical events and more. For the full rundown on Virginia's burgeoning blend of bacchanalian delights, go to www.virginiawines.org.
Virginia's Shenandoah Valley and Blue Ridge Mountains are famous worldwide for spectacular vistas, beautiful forests and farms.
Shenandoah National Park, 540-999-3500, is truly a national gem. The park includes the crest of the Blue Ridge for more than 75 miles. The 105-mile long Skyline Drive also traverses the park with gorgeous views on each side of the road and the opportunity to view abundant wildlife. Experience the natural world outside of your automobile and take a hike. There are more than 500 miles of hiking trails, and the Appalachian Trail roughly parallels the Skyline Drive. Wade in a rippling, clear mountain stream. Select a vantage point and watch the sunrise or set over Virginia. It'll cleanse the soul.
Camping, lodging and Park Ranger programs are offered.
North of the lake is another popular destination: Sky Meadows State Park in Delaplane. This park features rolling pastures and woodlands, scenic vistas and a glimpse into the history of the land and the region.
Visitors can tour Mount Bleak House and see how a middle-class Virginia family of the 1850s lived. Nature and history programs are offered during the spring, summer, and fall seasons. Among other favorite activities are primitive hike-in camping, picnicking and hiking.
Located on the eastern side of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the park also offers a bridle trail and serves as an access point to the Appalachian Trail. Call 540-592-3556 to get more details.
Finally, if you haven't seen enough of Virginia and the area around Lake Anna from the roadsides and mountaintops, there is one sure way to get a more unique birds eye view: You can jump out of an airplane and freefall parachute.
That's right, just next-door in Orange County hundreds of daring jumpers step out into the air for the first time and experience parachuting. The Skydive Orange parachute club is a US Parachute Association affiliated parachute center open since the late 1970's. More than 14,000 freefall parachute jumps are made every year there.
This is just a small sampler of the opportunities available in all directions. There's so much more, from skiing at Massanutten and Wintergreen resorts, visiting Luray and Shenandoah Caverns, or heading to a county fair on a late summer weekend. So, dive in (or in the case of parachuting - dive out) and experience all that Virginia offers.

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Area History at Lake Anna, Virginia
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Community Guide at Lake Anna, Virginia
Directions to Lake Anna, Virginia
Events at Lake Anna, Virginia
Fishing at Lake Anna, Virginia
Food & Lodging at Lake Anna, Virginia
Golfing at Lake Anna, Virginia
Lake Living at Lake Anna, Virginia
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Photo Gallery at Lake Anna, Virginia
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State Park at Lake Anna, Virginia
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