Nelson County’s Schuyler has been a must-visit for nature-lovers, history buffs, and fans of “The Waltons” television show. The Schuyler Historic District is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and there’s a lot of interesting things to learn, see, and do in the former company town. “The Waltons” certainly put Schuyler on the map with Earl Hamner Jr’s retelling of a large, rural family’s experiences during the Great Depression.
Schuyler’s forests bloom in the springtime; the rural roadways make for a gorgeous spring drive. If you’re traveling through Schuyler or want to plan a full day, start with The Walton’s Mountain Museum. The museum itself is in Hamner’s boyhood school. Displays include replicas of “The Walton’s” sets, hundreds of memorabilia items, and photographs. Grab a souvenir or five at Ike’s Market & Deli, which serves as the museum’s gift shop. Next, check out Walton Hamner House, located across from the museum. Join the guided tour inside John-Boy Walton’s childhood home. The house has been listed in the Virginia Landmarks Register since 2004.
Many visitors to Nelson decide to visit one of the county’s nearby wineries. Delfosse Vineyards and Winery offers blends and creative wines, all on the picturesque property. If you’re lucky, you’ll arrive on one of Delfosse’s “Crepe Days.” Guests can delight at a selection of homemade savory or sweet crepes paired with Delfosse wine! Another Nelson winery, Brent Manor Vineyards, produces both New- and Old-World Portuguese wines.
If you happened to miss Crepe Days and need to grab a bite to eat, order up some authentic soul food from Smokeez BBQ in nearby Shipman. Travel a little further up the road to Lovingston for delicious, inventive entrees. If you’d like to wrap up your Walton’s springtime tour, you may want to stay the night at the new five-bedroom, five-bathroom John & Olivia’s Bed & Breakfast, which boasts a genuine 1931 Model A Ford Coupe in working condition.
Beat the heat this summer with a day trip to cool, forested Schuyler in Nelson County. Warm weather season is the perfect time to visit The Quarry Gardens at Schuyler, a 40-acre garden featuring native plant species. The gardens themselves are in a soapstone quarry that had been long abandoned. The soapstone provides fertile soil, so visitors will have plenty of opportunities to view beautiful plant species. The vertical wall and viewing platform add uniqueness to the nearly two miles of trails. See if you can spot the sardine can a soapstone worker left behind decades ago- it’s part of one of the trees now!
If you’d like to learn more about the history of Nelson County, check out The Walton’s Mountain Museum to learn more about the hit show, “The Waltons.” Another option for a history lesson stands in Arrington off Route 29. At the Oakland Museum, you can view an exhibit on The Rural Electrification Act, part of Roosevelt’s New Deal. Traveling teachers and students will enjoy the exhibit depicting the history of the area schools. The museum also has an impressive exhibit detailing the destruction from Hurricane Camille in 1969.
If you feel like stretching your legs, go for a walk on the trail at Delfosse Vineyards and Winery. After your hike, enjoy the scenery and some of Delfosse’s wonderful wines. You are welcome to bring your own picnic lunch to Delfosse, or you can enjoy savory BBQ at Smokeez BBQ in Shipman. If fried chicken is your thing, head over to The Chicken Coop in Lovingston for award-winning, mouth-watering fried chicken!
Tired after your long day? Stay a night at The Orchard House Bed & Breakfast. You’ll enjoy relaxed southern hospitality as you lean back in an Adirondack chair and enjoy the amazing views of the Blue Ridge. If it’s too hot, you’ll probably want to take a dip in the pool.
Every fall, visitors travel to Nelson County to take in the sight of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The gorgeous autumn colors reach their peak mid- to late October each year. Fall’s crisp mornings, pleasant daytime temperatures, and nearly-chilly nights make Nelson a perfect outdoor destination, but there are plenty of cozy indoor amenities as well.
A fall day trip to the Schuyler area proves rewarding to the amateur geologist. Alberene Soapstone Company quarries soapstone, and is the oldest (and only) soapstone supplier in the US. Schuyler is located on one of the world’s largest veins of the metamorphic rock. One curious effect of being located atop a soapstone vein is that plant life flourishes in Schuyler. The owners of The Quarry Gardens at Schuyler in Nelson are aware of this. The abandoned soapstone quarries have been renovated with hundreds of species of native plants and trees. The rich soil of the gardens is due in part to the minerals the land absorbs from this stone. Nearly 600 species of plant life can be found at The Quarry Gardens at Schuyler. As you look up at the colorful leaves, you’ll note White Ash, Dwarf Hackberry, and Pine.
If you need a place to stay the night, look no further than John & Olivia’s Bed & Breakfast, a Walton’s-themed B&B. If you’re looking for a bite to eat, enjoy snacks and quick meals from nearby Ike’s Market and Deli. At Ike’s you can purchase “The Waltons” books, DVDs, clothing, local crafts and more.
Nelson County is the epitome of peace during the winter months. Spend a day in Nelson this winter for warm, cozy amenities, holiday shopping, and unique experiences. Railroad enthusiasts will love visiting The Quarry Gardens at Schuyler for its model of the Nelson and Albemarle Railroad. The working model represents the rail from when the soapstone quarry was actively mined over fifty years ago. The Quarry Gardens Foundation also has a small library and a gift shop for visitors to peruse. Afterwards, check out the Walton Hamner House, which is listed in the Virginia Landmarks Register. You’ll be part of a guided tour inside the real childhood home of the “real” John-Boy Walton, author and show creator, Earl Hamner Jr.
If you plan to look for unique gifts in the Schuyler area, Ike’s Market & Deli offers “The Walton’s” themed gifts, as well as hamburgers, hot dogs, pizza, chicken, and salads for you to choose from if you get hungry. Purchase a bottle of Courage & Conviction from the Virginia Distillery Company if you’re looking for the perfect gift for the whisky-lover in your life, or peruse their gift shop for everything from sweatshirts to books to dog leashes featuring the Virginia Distillery Company logo. If you need a place to lay your head for the night, stay at “The Walton’s” themed John & Olivia’s Bed & Breakfast, or stay in Lovingston at Harmony Hill B&B, which offers a variety of cabin-luxurious rooms and amenities such as fireplaces, WiFi, and a coffee bar.