Day Trip: Orange County

Images provided by Orange County Tourism and Visitors Bureau

Rich in History, Natural Beauty and Adventure

Established in 1734, Orange County was named in honor of William IV, Prince of Orange of the Netherlands. Nestled in the foothills, with sweeping views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Orange County offers fascinating historical sites and museums, picturesque vineyards, festivities and events throughout the year, cozy bed and breakfasts, award-winning inns and hotels, quaint shops, and culinary experiences ranging from down-home cooking to fine dining.

Orange County History and Heritage

Montpelier is the lifelong home of James Madison, fourth President of the United States, Father of the Constitution, and architect of the Bill of Rights; and his wife, Dolley, America’s first “First Lady.” Boasting spectacular views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the historic home and grounds on 2,650 acres are open to visitors year-round. House tours are complemented by the nationally-acclaimed exhibition “The Mere Distinction of Colour,” walking tours, galleries, the Museum Shop, the Madison family and slave cemeteries, an archaeology lab and active archaeological dig sites, beautifully landscaped formal gardens, and award-winning food at the David M. Rubenstein Visitor Center’s Exchange Cafe. Montpelier’s eight-plus miles of walking trails wind through wildflower meadows, horse pastures and old-growth forests, affording visitors unparalleled views and intimate encounters with native plants and wildlife.  


Historic Attractions in Orange County

Orange County’s Civil War sites include Wilderness Battlefield. Fought in May of 1864 with heavy casualties, the Battle of the Wilderness was the start of General Grant’s Overland Campaign and a turning point of the war. Fort Germanna Visitor Center complex which includes a museum, Genealogy Library, the Hitt Archaeology Center and the Germanna Memorial Garden, tells America’s story of liberty through the frontier experience of their settlers and descendants using archaeological, historical and genealogical research and interpretation. Additional historic sites and museums include the Barboursville Ruins, Ellwood Manor in Locust Grove, Gilmore Cabin just South of Orange, The James Madison Museum of Orange County Heritage, The Exchange Hotel and Civil War Medical Museum in Gordonsville, the Historic Orange Train Station and the Montpelier Train Depot.

Wine and Brew in Orange County

As many wine enthusiasts know, Orange County is a premier East Coast wine tour destination and is home to six unique wineries, including the world-famous Barboursville Vineyards, Chateau Merrillanne Vineyard, Hammerstone Cellars, Honah Lee Vineyard, Horton Vineyards and Reynard Florence Vineyard. Come enjoy our friendly tasting rooms and meet our passionate wine makers. If you are looking to sample our locally crafted beer scene, check out Willow Spring Brewery located in the heart of the historic district in the Town of Orange. Our locally crafted brewery scene is growing rapidly in Orange County, stay tuned for new additions coming in 2019.

Outdoor Adventure in Orange County

The area offers many outdoor adventures for all ages. Discover miles of hiking trails at James Madison’s Montpelier, Market at Grelen and Fort Germanna.  Appreciate the rural vistas and foothills by horseback, pick a pale full of locally grown fruits and vegetables of the season on our many farms, snag you’re your biggest catch at Lake Orange, kayak down the Rapidan River, play the longest hole in the US at Meadows Farms Golf Course, explore the largest corn maze this side of the Mississippi at Liberty Mills Farm, and jump out of a perfectly good airplane at Skydive Orange!

Liberty Mills maze

Orange County Annual Events

Don’t miss out on the many annual events happening throughout the year that celebrate our community and its many traditions, including: The Orange Uncorked Wine Festival, Somerset Steam and Gas Pasture Party, Constitution Day, Liberty Ride, Fall Fiber Festival, The Famous Fried Chicken Festival, Bull Riding Rodeos, Chili and Brew Festival, and this year’s 85th Anniversary of the Montpelier Steeplechase Races, just to name a few. There is plenty to keep the whole family “unplugged” on your next getaway to Orange County, Virginia.

Come explore our historic sites and museums, outdoor recreation, quaint main street shops, art galleries and storybook views in Orange County, Virginia, where hospitality and heritage live.