Experience Jefferson Poplar Forest This Christmas – Thomas Jefferson’s Estate You Never Knew About
There is a long list of reasons to visit the inviting state of Virginia. This southeastern destination hosts dynamic and diverse landscapes including the Appalachian Mountains, lush forests and a captivating coastline that stretches along the blue Atlantic. Seasonal festivals, regional wineries and enchanting views of the Blue Ridge Mountains are all reason enough to make your way this direction in the name of a rejuvenating escape from the grind of daily life. While it’s a year-round hot spot to enjoy, when it comes to celebrating Christmas in Virginia, there’s something undeniably special about a stop in at this Bedford county locale of Poplar Forest. For history buffs everywhere, the combination of holiday fun and historical relevance makes this stop an absolutely essential stop for the holidays. Here are just a few of the many reasons to experience Jefferson Poplar Forest this Christmas.
The History of Thomas Jefferson’s Private Poplar Forest Estate
Guests can expect to step back in time when they make a Christmas visit to Poplar Forest a priority on the itinerary this year. This historic plantation and villa was Thomas Jefferson’s private retreat which he inherited in 1773. It is thought that Jefferson cherished this destination as a place where he felt he could escape some of the pressures of political life. A visit to Poplar Forest is bound to give guests an intimate look into the life of a man known for his political achievements that prove to be much more complex when one commits to digging a little deeper into his history.
A visit to Poplar Forest invites guests to take some time to evaluate the talents, interests and personal aspirations of a man history has held up in high esteem. A stop at Poplar Forest also includes a moving look at the slave community that called this plantation home and works to highlight all they contributed to history as well. When you visit Poplar Forest, you most literally walk in the footsteps of one of history’s most renowned figures, making it a meaningful and insightful way to spend a holiday in Virginia.
One of Thomas Jefferson’s personal passions was architecture, so it comes as no surprise that those with a passion for architecture and design themselves make their way to this one-of-a-kind destination to witness a place where historical and modern approaches to both collide. Jefferson began designing the main villa on his plantation in 1806 which became an intricate combination of structural and natural influences. After his death, the plantation fell into disrepair but since that time, tremendous efforts have been made to not only restore the Poplar Forest but interpret its design in relationship to Jefferson himself. Guests who visit are treated to not only the extraordinary architectural efforts of the past but get a glimpse into the process of restoration and the dedication it requires.
While Poplar Forest isn’t open on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, planning a pre-holiday tour is the perfect way to enjoy a combination of insightful moments in a place that’s packed with history waiting to be discovered. Poplar Forest is open daily between 10:00 am and 5:00 pm with the last guided tour leaving promptly at 4:00 pm. The plantation can be accessed at 1542 Bateman Bridge Road and guided tours provide guests with the opportunity to experience and learn about the main and upper levels of the home. During a tour, guests are invited to browse the many exhibits which highlight the restoration process. Helpful and knowledgeable guides are always willing to answer questions that come up along the way about Jefferson, Poplar Forest or the slave community that inhabited the land during Jefferson’s life.
While a holiday experience at Poplar Forest is sure to inspire those looking to connect with history through architecture, it’s also a place known for its incredible landscape. Guests looking to enjoy a scenic visit will be thrilled with a tour of the grounds at Poplar Forest as well. A combination of woodland, fields, and streams make up Poplar Forest and the surrounding areas and nearly all of it is connected by a maze of hiking trails, designed for guests to wander leisurely. During a Christmas visit, it’s likely that the branches will be dusted in frost or snow, turning a visit into a winter wonderland of possibilities.
The Holiday Fun
An experience at Jefferson’s Poplar Forest at Christmas is sure to come with a bit of magical wonder as well. Between December 5th and December 21st, the site hosts beautiful and intriguing Holiday Candlelight Tours that last an hour and begin at $20 per participant. Reservations are required for this one-of-a-kind villa tour that takes guests through Jefferson’s personal chambers by candlelight. Tour guides are excited to share insight on Jefferson that comes directly from letters, journals and other writings he left behind. This unique holiday experience makes Poplar Forest well worth a visit when Christmas rolls around.
About The Author: Caitlyn Knuth is a travel writer whose own adventures have inspired her to write about everything from the most delicious cafés in Paris, France to the breathtaking salmon runs in Juneau, Alaska. Working in association with Premier Vacation Rentals @ Smith Mountain Lake, she enjoys writing and sharing about Smith Mountain Lake and the surrounding area in the hope others will pack up and head out on Virginia-bound adventures of their very own.