“I had rather be on my farm than be emperor of the world.” –George Washington
As a native Virginian and in my humble opinion, Virginia has great State Parks which highlight all of the features that make Virginia a great place to live, work, and play. Virginia has so much to offer. At sea level, we have long stretches of open beaches along the Atlantic Ocean and along the Chesapeake Bay. A few hours away, we have the Blue Ridge Mountains that offer epic views, apples, hiking, mountain climbing, and ample opportunities for checking out local wineries and breweries of all sizes.
As one of the original 13 Colonies, our state is full of history. From Jamestown and the first settlements, Yorktown and the end of the Revolutionary War, to Colonial Williamsburg and all of its charms. Our history even extends to the names of our towns that stem from the history brought to the United States from England such as Portsmouth, Suffolk, Isle of Wight, and Norfolk, to name a few.
With our new RV up and running, we have taken it out twice and have fallen in love anew with our State’s parks. Our intention is to explore as many of them in our RV as possible. I hope to bring you along and share our adventures in the parks we visit.
Chippokes Plantation State Park
Just under an hour from home, Chippokes Plantation State Park is one of the closest parks and best known to us of all the parks. When we bought our RV in March, we took it straight to Chippokes for our very first camping trip and despite the Pandemic interrupting our fun, we have restarted our camping adventures at Chippokes again this month. With Chippokes being so close to home, it has been a great spot for us to test our camping ability in our new equipment before venturing too far. My husband has called these our “Shakedown” trips.
What is now Chippokes Plantation State Park was founded in 1619 by Captain William Powell, Lieutenant Governor of Jamestown, who lived in Jamestown settlement for 10 years. The property changed hands many times and was willed to the State of Virginia upon the death of its last owners in 1967.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Chippokes is noted for its continued agricultural production. In fact, it is one of the oldest continuously farmed properties in the Nation and is home to Chippokes Plantation Farm and Forestry Museum.
Situated on the tidal creeks and the banks of the historic James River, Chippokes Plantation State Park has a lot to offer Virginians and our guests from out of state.
Located in Surry, Virginia, and at currently 1,403 acres, the Park offers camping, cabin rentals, a swimming pool, a visitor’s center, trails, a beach, gardens, and a museum. Also offered are costumed interpretations, guided hikes, workshops, and ranger-led tours of the historic Jones-Stewart Mansion. An active community park, there are annual festivals, canoe tours, hiking trails, fishing programs, and equestrian facilities.
The Park is easily reached from the Historic Triangle by the Jamestown-Scotland ferry or the James River Bridge. We like it because of its close proximity to the Williamsburg area and the abundance of activities in that area.
If you plan to visit the park for the day only, you should be aware that there is a parking fee charged year-round at all Virginia State Parks and self-pay parking information is available at the contact stations.
The Chippokes Plantation State Park campground offers two rings of sites. S1 through S18 have blacktop pads, offering water and electricity. These are “site-specific” sites and require a reservation. Sites S19, S21, S23, S25, and S27 are also site-specific but do not have blacktop pads. All other sites are first-come, first-served, and can be very uneven. The park also offers three yurts by reservation.
The park is quiet, clean, well maintained, and a friendly Camp host has checked on us as we have checked in each time. Park representatives are available and make regular rounds. While we don’t need to use the bathhouse, we did check them and they are clean and well maintained. Laundry facilities are also available.
Be sure to check the website at firstname.lastname@example.org for additional information regarding fishing, swimming, fires, drone use, camping or cabin reservations, and a list of festivals and events in the park.
You can also visit the Virginia State Park’s website at www.virginiastateparks.gov.
Local nearby attractions linked by the Colonial Parkway and the Colonial National Historic Park
From Chippokes, a short Ferry ride drops you just short of the Historic Jamestown.
The Colonial National Historical Park encompasses the Jamestown Festival Park and the Yorktown Battlefield, two of the points of the Historic Triangle in our area and connected by the Colonial Parkway.
Jamestown is the first permanent English settlement in North America, founded in May 1607.
Yorktown is most famous as the site of the surrender of British General Charles Cornwallis to General George Washington and the French fleet that ended the American Revolutionary War in October 1781.
The third point of the Historic Triangle, and also along the Colonial Parkway is Colonial Williamsburg. Williamsburg was the capital of the Virginia Colony from 1699 to 1780 when it was moved to Richmond. This is where General George Washington assembled the Continental Army in 1781 for the siege of Yorktown. It is also home to the College of William and Mary. The Colonial area and its buildings are worth at least a day’s visit with costumed interpretations of life during the time of George Washington. Read more about Colonial Williamsburg at www.colonialwilliamsburg.org
Other attractions of note
Busch Gardens, Williamsburg
Water Country USA, Williamsburg
Sweethaven Lavender Farm, Williamsburg (plan your visit for the lavender bloom in May and June)
Great Wolf Lodge, Williamsburg
Yorktown Battlefield, Yorktown
Yorktown Victory Center, Yorktown
Pierce’s Pitt Bar-B-Que, Williamsburg
And don’t forget to try local breweries and wineries in the area.
Chippokes Plantation State Park is a great home base for campers who would like to be near the Colonial attractions without staying in the hustle and bustle of town and for a much more reasonable cost.
We love the area and plan to be back again and again.
We hope to see you there or in one of the other Virginia State Parks soon!