Nelson County Scenic Loop, The Nature Foundation, the Rockfish Valley History Center, and more!
Nelson County, located in the center of Virginia, offers great learning opportunities for home-schooling and online schooling in the state. It’s located a short drive away from Lynchburg, Waynesboro, Staunton, and Charlottesville, and the drive to Nelson is scenic and enjoyable.
The Nelson County Scenic Loop offers great opportunities for road-schooling. The 50-mile long loop is comprised of Route 151, Route 664, the Blue Ridge Parkway, and Route 56. The loop boasts several stops to enhance learning in many school subjects. Enjoy views and attractions along the Rockfish and Tye River Valleys. Begin with a ride along the Blue Ridge Parkway to study the ancient geologic formations of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Enjoy the views of the mountains from the overlooks. Geologic formations are easier to see in the winter months when the leaves have fallen from the trees Kids will be surprised to learn that the Blue Ridge is one of the oldest mountain ranges in the world and at one time were taller than the Rocky Mountains in the West. Tell the kids about how chemical isoprenes from the tress cause the hazy blue color that surround the peaks. View towns, villages, and farmland from above.
Enjoy a more structured learning experience at The Nature Foundation at Wintergreen, which offers field trip opportunities to study natural wildlife both outdoors along the trail and indoors in their impressive learning center. To get a hands-on experience of the Fall Line that hampered the initial settlements to the West, visit Crab Tree Falls, the highest group of cascading waterfalls east of the Mississippi River. A visit to White Rock Falls will impress your future geologist- the attraction gets its name from the abundance of quartz in the area. Stop at the Montebello State Fish Hatchery to learn more about local fish and their life cycles. The kids can feed the fish while they’re there!
Kids will enjoy the Rockfish Valley Natural History Center, which is on the National Registry of Historic Places. It currently showcases exhibits from the Virginia Museum of Natural History and is open from April to December. Stop at the Rockfish Valley Community Center to view local art and grab some coffee from Trager Brothers.
Young architects and horticulturists will enjoy stopping at Pharsalia. This former plantation is now a venue for special events and workshops. Tour the historic home as well as the outbuildings and extensive flowering gardens. Pharsalia is on the Virginia Historic Registry. Another amazing garden experience can be found at The Quarry Gardens at Schuyler, one of Nelson’s most unique attractions. Teach a history lesson about past industry as your student takes a look around the abandoned soapstone quarry, The Quarry Gardens at Schuyler which is now a botanical garden. Work in minerology with the fact that plants grow well in the soil due to the abundance of minerals deposited by one of the largest soapstone veins in the world. Tell them to be on the lookout for the sardine can, which was left behind by a soapstone worker decades ago and is now high off the ground – a tree grew around it and has been lifting it skyward for a long time!
Afterward, visit the Walton’s Mountain Museum to learn more about television history, as the attraction centers around the written works for Earl Hamner, Jr. and houses iconic TV exhibits from the hit TV show, The Waltons. Lessons about The Great Depression are there, too. Earl Hamner, Sr. used to work in Waynesboro and walk six miles back in the last leg of his journey home to see his family on the weekends.
The world itself is a learning opportunity, and this is no different in Nelson County, where people can learn about history, community, literature, art, and science in a peaceful location.