Central Virginia - a Seven Day Itinerary
If Virginia is off the beaten path, then Central Virginia requires some bushwhacking. It's not a difficult place to travel - that's just a metaphor for how little tourism traffic the area gets. I have a goal to Experience All of Virginia, having an experience in every county in the state. After seeing a lot of what Central Virginia has to offer, I have pulled together my favorite five experiences in the area which fit nicely into a seven-day itinerary. If you don't have time to do the whole itinerary - keep in mind that all of the destinations listed here are less than two hours from Richmond. So if you are in Richmond and get the bushwhacking urge, you could easily fit in one of these destinations as a day trip.
Days 1- 3: Yogaville
Yogaville is an Ashram in Buckingham, Virginia. They offer a wide array of yoga and meditation retreats for serious and professional yogis. But if you are a beginner or less enthusiastic yogi, you can visit for a day or a weekend. We took advantage of their Welcome Weekend program which included unlimited yoga and meditation classes, three vegetarian meals a day, and lodging in a double room. This cost me and my husband $235 which is a steal considering we could have spent more just for the yoga classes alone. They also offer camping and dorm room options for those on a budget. My favorite class of the weekend was the Laugha Yoga class which was an hour of non-stop laughing exercises. It was a ton of fun but also left me feeling amazing afterwards. There were some activities like the evening chanting which were a little too cultish for me, but with lots of activities to choose from you can design your own Yogaville adventure. There are also extensive walking paths leading to various shrines which are fun to explore if you want a break from organized activities.
While we visited Yogaville without kids, there are many kids that actually live here full time. They seemed to be included in all activities, so I am sure they welcome kids for the weekend as well.
After your Yogaville Welcome Weekend, you can stay an extra night at Yogaville or head to Farmville to get set up for the next day's adventure.
Day 4 - High Bridge Trail State Park and Nottoway Falls
After some breakfast, head to High Bridge Trail State Park which is about 45 minutes south of Yogaville. The park includes 31 miles of converted rail bed, offering a flat surface ideal for a leisurely and kid-friendly bike ride. The highlight of the trail is a 2,400 foot long bridge perched 125 feet above the Appomatox River. Bike rentals are available in the area if you don't have your own.
After your bike ride, you can grab some lunch in Farmville and head another 45 minutes south to Nottoway Falls in Victoria Virginia. It's an easy 0.8 mile out and back hike to reach Nottoway Falls. This is a popular fishing spot, but there are also several small waterfalls and swimming holes for relaxing in if that is more your style.
From Nottoway Falls you can drive another hour south Gasburg, VA for a couple of days on Lake Gaston.
Day 5 - 6 - Lake Gaston
We found Lake Gaston to be a really tranquil place to hang out for a couple days with family. Because there isn't a ton of traffic on this lake, it's a great spot for kids to practice or perfect lake sports such as kayaking or wake-boarding. Our lake house included a couple of kayaks which meant that my 6 and 8 year old nieces were practically kayaking experts by the time we left Lake Gaston. This area is also incredibly inexpensive. Our lake house for our group of 11 only cost us $200/night. Note, Gasburg does not have many amenities. It's a good idea to get some groceries before heading to your lakehouse and plan on self-catering while at your lakehouse (this of course saves you money too!). You shouldn't count on having any cellphone service either.
Day 7 - Kayaking on the Nottoway River
In the morning you can head one hour east to Blackwater Outfitters for a kayak rental and a shuttle to the Nottoway River. Our group kayaked for about 2 hours downriver through a bald cypress and tupelo swamp which was dotted with rose mallow flowers throughout. It's a really unique ecosystem with some ancient trees, and it was a really easy float for the kids and inexperienced kayakers in our group too.
From there, you are an hour and 15 minutes from Richmond or Virginia Beach or 2 hours and 15 minutes from the Outer Banks in North Carolina. Hopefully you are lucky enough to be continuing your adventures to one of those places.
Below is a budget of what a couple can expect to pay for this trip:
Activities - $322, includes whole Yogaville stay, bike rentals, entrance fee to High Bridge Trail State Park, and kayak rentals
Lodging - $189, includes one night in Farmville, VA at a budget hotel and 3 nights in a shared lake house rental in Gasburg
Food - $90, most meals are either included in the Yogaville stay or self-catered at a lake house
Gas - $8 to get to all these spots in our Prius
Total - $609. That's only $43.50 / person / day