Charles City County is a historic county in Virginia located between Richmond and Jamestown. It is bounded on the south by the James River and on the east by the Chickahominy River. Charles City County is home to some of the older and larger of the still existing plantations along James River and State Route 5 that were established in the Virginia Colony. All plantations are privately owned and many of the houses and grounds are open to visitors. Shirley Plantation, established in 1614 is the oldest working plantation in Virginia. Upper Shirley is now part of the Shirley Vineyards Estate. Edgewood Plantation is a popular bed and breakfast.


1.Berkeley Plantation

Berkeley Plantation
© Berkeley Plantation

Located on the banks of the James River in Charles City, Virginia, 1,000-acre Berkeley Plantation is one of the oldest plantations in America. The magnificent 1726 Georgian mansion is the oldest three-story brick mansion in Virginia. Originally called Berkeley Hundred after the Berkeley Company, the plantation was built by Benjamin Harrison IV and was the ancestral home to two Presidents of the United States: William Henry Harrison, his grandson, and Benjamin Harrison, his great-great-grandson. The plantation is now a museum open to the public. Knowledgeable guides in period costumes offer tours of the mansion. The mansion is furnished by lovely original 18th century antiques and artifacts. Grounds include boxwood terraces and flowering gardens ending at the James River.

12602 Harrison Landing Rd, Charles City, VA 23030

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2.Shirley Plantation

Shirley Plantation
© Shirley Plantation


Dating back to 1614 and operating since 1638, Shirley Plantation is the oldest working plantation in Virginia and is the oldest North American family-owned business. It is located on a bluff on the north bank of the Japes River in Charles City, Virginia and it includes more than 700 riverfront acres. Plantation and farmare still lived in and managed by direct descendants of the original builders. Plantation home is considered an architectural treasure for its “flying staircase”, hand-carved woodwork and authentic structures. Visitors are welcome and tours of this National Historic Landmark include a visit to the Shirley Gift Shop with many items relating to the plantation. Shirley Plantation is an idyllic destination for a family picnic or a walk through the grounds. It is very popular for weddings and other special celebrations.

501 Shirley Plantation Rd, Charles City, VA 23030

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3.Westover Plantation

Westover Plantation
© Westover Plantation

Westover Plantation is a 1730s historic tidewater colonial plantation on the north bank of the James River in Charles City County, Virginia. The plantation is the homestead of the Byrd family. Scenic State Route 5 runs to the north of the plantation between Richmond and Williamsburg. The plantation is listed as a National Historic Landmark for the architecture of its early Georgian mansion and the rich family history. Of special note are the steep roof, the tall chimneys and the elaborate doorway called "the Westover doorway" that was copied in many other mansions. During the early years of the Virginia colony, the plantation was used as one of the courts of Charles City County. Beautiful plantation lawn is shaded by 150-year old tulip poplar trees, with magnificent view of the James River.

7000 Westover Rd, Charles City, VA 23030

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4.Upper Shirley

Upper Shirley
© Upper Shirley


Located near Charles City, Virginia, Upper Shirley is a historic plantation house built in 1868-1870 and enlarged in 1890. It is a two-story, 42 feet by 47 feet almost square stucco covered brick home with an overhanging hipped roof. The front facade has a portico with imposing Doric columns. The house was built by Hill Carter for his son William Fitzhugh Carter. He used materials salvaged from an 18th-century structure that was demolished at the neighboring Shirley Plantation. Added to the National Register of Historic Places, the plantation house is now part of the Upper Shirley Vineyards estate. Shirley Vineyards is a state-of-the-art winery located along the banks of the James River, offering breathtaking views of the Presquile National Wildlife Refuge, an island bird sanctuary.

600 Shirley Plantation Rd, Charles City, VA 23030, Phone: 804-829-9463

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5.Edgewood Plantation

Edgewood Plantation
© Edgewood Plantation


Edgewood Plantation is a historic estate north of the James River in Charles City County, Virginia. The plantation was established circa 1849, and the house, built around 1854 for Richard S Rowland family, is a beautiful 7,000-square foot example of Gothic Revival architecture, the only one built in that style along the James River. The traditional central hall has a three-story stairway beneath four steeply-pitched gables. Richard S. Rowland moved to Charles City County to operate the historic gristmill that still exists on the property. In the early 1900s, Edgewood was home to The Blue Tea Pot, Charles City County's first restaurant. Edgewood is currently a popular bed and breakfast, renting beautifully decorated rooms and offering Victorian high teas and special themed tours.

4800 John Tyler Memorial Hwy, Charles City, VA 23030

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6.Sherwood Forest Plantation

Sherwood Forest Plantation
© Sherwood Forest Plantation


Sherwood Forest Plantation is a historic plantation located on the north bank of the James River in Charles City County, Virginia, about mile and half from the river. The main plantation house, built in 1730, was the home of John Tyler , the 10th American President, for the last twenty years of his life. Sherwood Forest was owned by two unrelated United States Presidents. William Henry Harrison inherited the plantation in 1790 and sold it in 1793. His Vice President and successor John Tyler purchased the plantation in 1842 and lived on it after leaving the White House. The house is still owned by the Tyler family. Harrison Ruffin Tyler, President Tyler's grandson and his wife, Frances Payne Bouknight Tyler, used letters describing the house to restore the home and grounds, including the decor, furnishings, and landscape. The plantation is open to the public and tours are offered by appointment.

14501 John Tyler Memorial Hwy, Charles City, VA 23030-3644

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7.Piney Grove at Southall Plantation

Piney Grove at Southall Plantation
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Piney Grove at Southall's Plantation is a property in Charles City County, Virginia that houses a collection of domestic buildings that present a great example of architectural traditions of the eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries along the James River. These frame structures, homes of the common planters, were very different from the elaborate brick mansions of the wealthy families that were built along the James River. Piney Grove at Southall's Plantation is located on the ridge to the north of the river, in an area were plantations were smaller and homes more modest. Daily tours of the gardens and grounds include Piney Grove-1790, Ashland-1835, Dower Quarter-1835, Ladysmith-1857 and Duck Church-1917. There are also special exhibits and a nature trail.

16920 Southall Plantation Ln, Charles City, VA 23030, Phone: 804-829-2480

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8.Westover Episcopal Church

Westover Episcopal Church
© Westover Episcopal Church

Located about five miles from Charles City, Virginia, off Virginia State Route 5, Westover Church is a historic church built in 1731. It is listed at the National Register of Historic Places. In 1625, several small parishes formed by the colonists merged to form Westover Parish. The original Westover Church was completed in 1637 on the grounds at Westover. The present church was built circa 1730 at its current site on Herring Creek, about mile and half from the Westover mansion. The church was badly damaged during the Civil War by Federal troops, who used the church as a stable. The services were restored after the war in 1867 and Westover Church has been used ever since.

6401 John Tyler Memorial Hwy, Charles City, VA 23030, Phone: 804-829-2488

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9.Lawrence Lewis Jr. Park

Lawrence Lewis Jr. Park
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Lawrence Lewis, Jr. Park is a 24-acre green area on the James River. It includes three shelters, picnic tables, restroom area, fishing pier, a boat ramp and a scenic trail. The park is a great place for fishing, bird watching and picnicking. There is a short boardwalk across the swamp leading to a trail through the woods. The park is home to eagles, blue heron and many other waterfowl. The park is part of a Virginia Civil War Trails. Its exhibit tells the story of Union army crossing the river in 1864. Six more historical exhibits, related to the 1600s, connect the park to the John Smith Adventures. The park is also a site of Chesapeake Bay Gateways and a stop on the Virginia Birding and Wildlife tour.

12580 Wilcox Wharf Rd, Charles City, VA 23030, Phone: 804-652-1601

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10.Cul's Courthouse Grille

Cul's Courthouse Grille
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Cul's Courthouse Grille is a homey, pleasant restaurant established in 2009 in a renovated 1872 country store in Charles City, Virginia. Many original details, such as the heart-pine floors, original doors and wavy glass panes, were preserved and give the Grille a historic, unique atmosphere. Cul's specializes in home cooking of comfort food and everyone’s favorites, sold at reasonable prices. It is open for lunch and dinner. Lunch includes salads and elaborate sandwiches and entres, which include Grilled Chops, NY Strip and Crab Cakes are only available for dinner. Cul’s has a nice outdoor space for warm summer days.

10801 Courthouse Rd, Charles City, VA 23030, Phone: 804-829-2205

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10 Best Things to Do in Charles City, Virginia