The work culture in America is getting out of hand, with a total of 662 million paid vacation days going unused in 2016. We are effectively turning into the worst kind of work martyrs, sacrificing our own well-being (and let’s face it, sanity) to seem like more productive employees. However, the tide may finally be turning!
The latest Project Time Off survey performed in 2017 shows that American employees are using more vacation days, trending in a positive direction for the first time in 15 years. We like to think that our monthly treks around Virginia have something to do with those results, but don’t let this good news fool you; you still need to make an effort to plan and implement your paid vacation days.
We’ve heard all the excuses for wasting paid vacation days, and we are here to tell you that they are 100% wrong. Here are the real facts:
Common Excuse: “My boss will think I’m lazy”
Actually, the opposite is true. Employers typically notice that their employees come back well-rested and ready to work, leading to better overall performance. What does that mean for you? A potential raise in your future!
Common Excuse: “No one else can do my job.”
If that’s the case, then how can you ever expect to use your PTO? Plan ahead to ensure that your coworkers and your boss understand that you will be in vacation mode and you won’t be answering emails.
Common Excuse: “I’ll return to a pile of work that I won’t be able to catch up on.”
You know what happens when you take a Friday off? You allow that workplace burn-out to fade, and return on Monday as a more productive worker. Try it out…you’ll notice that when you Crush a Friday in Virginia, you’ll crush that stack of work on your desk Monday, no problem.
So now that we are done with the excuses, let’s move on to this month’s solution; hit the road to Farmville and Appomattox, located about an hour and 1.5 hours from Richmond, respectively. Follow the detailed itinerary that our Virginia is for Lovers team traveled for an easy (and of course super fun!) three-day getaway to this charming region in Central Virginia.
—TRIP PLANNING OVERVIEW—
Stay at: Weyanoke Hotel, starting at $149 per night
Recently opened across from the Longwood University campus in downtown Farmville, the Weyanoke Hotel is within walking distance of much of the Crush Friday Farmville itinerary. The rooms are upscale and spacious, and many even have their own private balconies with patio furniture. Luxuriously comfortable bath robes, massive walk-in showers, and plush mattresses made exclusively for the Weyanoke are just a few of the small touches that make the hotel an excellent choice for guests staying in Farmville. Additionally, there is a coffee shop, rooftop bar, and two on-site restaurants all located within the hotel. The staff are helpful and friendly, and go above and beyond to make certain that every guest is having the best stay possible.
If you’re looking for an outdoor-focused overnight option, consider staying at the Sandy River Outdoor Adventure Resort for at least one of the nights during your stay. They have a cottage and log cabins available that range from $119 per night to $249 and sleep anywhere from one to eight people, but we recommend checking out the luxury tipis. These unique glamping accommodations look fairly simplistic (albeit large) from the outside, but as soon as you walk through the door, it is safe to say your expectations will be shattered. The tipis each have a different setup, holding up to six people in the largest glamping tipi, and range in price from $169 to $239 per night. Inside, you’ll find separate bedrooms, full bathrooms with showers, kitchens, and even living room areas complete with TVs and couches. While you’ll have a campfire area right outside your tipi, you’re definitely not “roughing it” when staying at these swanky structures.
Suggested Prior Reservations: Lodging at both Weyanoke Hotel and Sandy River Outdoor Adventure Resort, Sandy River Adventure Park
Head into downtown Appomattox early Friday morning (around 9am if possible. Noon is not early, people). We stopped by the Appomattox Visitor’s Center to get some information on the sites we were planning to see in the area, and then headed across the street to Baine’s Books and Coffee at the recommendation of a Visitor’s Center employee.
A quaint but cute spot on Appomattox’s Main Street, you could spend hours flipping through vintage records, perusing their selection of used books, and just generally soaking in the relaxed atmosphere of the coffee shop. However, bear in mind that you have a pretty full morning, so unless you manage to come the night before (and stay at the Appomattox Inn and Suites just down the road), order an extra-caffeinated beverage, walk through the magnificent shop for a few souvenirs, and be on your way.
Get back on the road and travel to Appomattox Court House and National Historical Park, where you’ll count license plates from a variety of states in the parking lot. During our visit, Alaska, California, Arkansas, Maine, and Iowa were just a few of the plates in attendance. This tranquil park contains the village where Confederate General Robert E. Lee met with Union General Ulysses S. Grant to discuss terms of surrender, eventually leading to the end of the American Civil War. Start your tour with a short video on the history of the property and the significance of the surrender that occurred on the grounds. After finishing the video, chat with the Visitor’s Center staff to see what special exhibits are available, such as living history experts that tell the stories of local figures from 1865. Stop to hear their stories if these actors are around, as their attention to detail make the iconic history of the park come alive. Finally, take a tour of the McLean House, where the Generals sat together and finalized the terms of surrender from the Confederate Army.
The next destination on our itinerary is the American Civil War Museum, where General Lee’s sword and uniform are on display. While major figures like Lee are discussed, the museum also shares the history of the average soldiers, telling individual stories and their ultimate fates. Some are soberly heartbreaking, such as a torn uniform on display next to a picture of the soldier, complete with the bullet that ended his life. With these painstakingly detained stories in front of you, it is easy to imagine the turmoil and hardships that both sides faced during the Civil War. Before leaving, drop by the gift shop to browse locally made pottery, Civil War reproduction items, and books that cover every aspect of the war, from true historic accounts to late 19th century cookbooks.
Drive back into town for lunch at the Babcock House, a charming bed and breakfast and restaurant that utilizes local, seasonal ingredients to craft fresh Southern fare. Delicious and hearty offerings such as the Shrimp N’ Grits, cornmeal-fried catfish, and a wide array of sandwiches and salads make it hard to choose, but be sure to leave room for dessert, as their sweets are overwhelmingly praised by the local residents.
After lunch, get back on the road towards Farmville and head to Sandy River Outdoor Adventure Zipline Park. The course takes up to three hours to complete, and will definitely work off any extra calories from your lunch, so be prepared to expend some energy on the course. When you arrive, staff will explain the course and walk you through the gear that you will need for your climb. Once you’ve mastered your harness and safety equipment, it’s time to take to the trees. The park offers several different courses for you to explore, each made up of different obstacles and zip line sections and ranging in difficulty from beginner to expert. Test your skills on the varying courses, but don’t miss out on the thrill of the longest zip line, which runs above an expansive meadow and moves at surprisingly swift speeds.
Make your way into downtown Farmville and check into the Weyanoke Hotel. Take a few minutes to admire your spacious, beautifully decorated room and even lounge around in the comfy bathrobe for a bit. Open the balcony doors and enjoy the view from your private patio. Check out the massive walk-in showers…you’ll never want to leave your ultra-lux room, but you still have a few more activities left in the day, so soak it all in before heading out again.
A few miles up the road, the Robert Russa Moton Museum is an iconic site for Civil Rights history buffs. This preserved schoolhouse holds exhibits that tell the story of the Prince Edward County school district and how a few brave African American students stood up for their right to a quality education. Many of these students would become plaintiffs in the historic Brown vs. Education case that would lead to the integration of American school systems. Walk through the museum to learn about the conditions that the students faced and the hardships they would endure before emerging as the victors in a long and difficult struggle.
Finish your Friday with dinner at Effingham’s inside the Weyanoke Hotel lobby. The restaurant specializes in coal-fired pizzas made to order. Stick with one of the specialty pizzas on the menu, or build your own from their unique list of toppings, including foraged mushrooms, Brussel sprouts, Surryano ham, and chili oil. Pair your meal with a glass of the House Sangria or a refreshing Ballad’s craft beer from the draft list.
To start off Day 2 of your Farmville adventures, rent a bike from The Outdoor Adventure Shop located at the downtown trailhead of High Bridge Trail State Park. Owned by the same couple that runs Sandy River Adventure Park, the shop rents bicycles and sells all sorts of outdoor gear, from rock climbing accessories to lightweight hammocks and clothing from some of the most popular outdoor brands.
Before hitting the trail, snap a picture in front of the LOVEwork right across the street from the shop. Made from wooden beams previously used in the railroad that was removed to create High Bridge Trail, the massive LOVEwork sets the scene for a great Instagram pic.
While the High Bridge Trail runs for about 31 miles, it is only a 4.5 mile bike to the most scenic part of the trail, the bridge for which the trail is named. Towering 125 feet above the Appomattox River, the nearly half-mile long bridge affords stunning views of the countryside surrounding the trail.
After returning to downtown Farmville, walk across the bridge to Appomattox River Company, the largest kayak and canoe outfitter on the East Coast. Whether you’re in the market to buy new paddling equipment or just browse their selection of over 3,000 kayaks, this is the place to go to learn more about outdoor water sports. Take a photo of Farmville’s second LOVEwork before leaving; on the outer wall of the shop, this creative LOVEwork is made from used kayaks.
If you’ve worked up an appetite, walk back into downtown and stop by Uptown Coffee Café for lunch. The small-town restaurant serves up huge sandwiches and salads that will tide you over until dinner. Check out their selection of bottled sodas and made-to-order smoothies, and top off your meal with a few scoops of ice cream or a freshly-baked cronut, a sweet croissant/donut creation cooked in-house daily.
Do a little shopping at a few of the local antique shops along Main Street in Farmville’s Historic District. The largest and most impressive of these is Green Front Furniture Company. Housed within 16 shops and warehouses in downtown Farmville, the furniture company has something for every taste and budget. Love modern furniture? There are several buildings devoted to just that style. You’ll find eclectic accents, Oriental rugs in all sizes, and handsomely handcrafted furniture sets as you tour the different stores. And with the Green Front stores totaling almost 1 million square feet, you’ll work off your lunch in no time. Snag a map before exploring the shops and find furniture within your price point. We found 4×6 Oriental rugs for less than $100, handwoven throw pillows made in Turkey starting around $30, and many other great deals that were unexpected at such a fashionable furniture shop, but you can definitely find warehouses filled with the more pricey items if that’s in your budget. Even if you aren’t looking to buy, the staff at Green Front are helpful without hovering, giving you space to browse without pressuring you to purchase.
Wrap up your shopping and walk behind Green Front’s Building 7 to visit The Virginia Tasting Cellar. For just $12, this Virginia-only wine tasting bar lets you try any ten wines. They work with Virginia wineries to serve their products at one of the twelve tasting bar stations, pouring over 40 wines from these wineries at any given time. After sampling your chosen wines, pick your favorite for a full pour and wander out to the gorgeous outdoor patio, an open deck space that overlooks the Appomattox River.
Around the corner from the Virginia Tasting Cellar is Third Street Brewing, Farmville’s first craft brewery. On most Saturday evenings, the brewery hosts local musical acts and food trucks, providing entertainment and snacks while you try a flight of the latest craft beer offerings. If the weather allows, order a pint and take a seat in the outdoor patio space.
After your brews, have dinner at the Weyanoke Hotel’s upscale Italian restaurant, Campagna. Full disclosure, it was not yet open during our visit as the hotel had just reopened a week prior, but if the other dining options at the Weyanoke are any indication, Campagna is sure to be one of the best restaurants in town.
Finish the evening with a nightcap at Catbird, the Weyanoke’s rooftop bar. We managed to catch a sunset before anyone else had arrived, and the memorable moment was the perfect way to end our second night in Farmville.
Stay another night at the Weyanoke, or if you have a clear evening, consider booking one of the luxury glamping tipis at Sandy River Outdoor Adventure Resort, where you can light a campfire and sit out under a bright expanse of stars free from city lights before bed.
Sleep in a bit on Sunday before getting breakfast at Sassafras Coffee Bar inside the Weyanoke. In addition to specialty coffees and teas, the hotel bistro bakes fresh breakfast treats, including some truly tasty cinnamon rolls.
Grab a quick bite before strolling across the street to check out the Longwood University campus. Although right in the downtown area of Farmville, the campus is quiet and charming, with plenty of lush green landscapes encompassing the classic architecture of the college buildings.
A few miles outside of Farmville, Hampden-Sydney College is an all-male private college with another beautiful campus worth seeing. Walk the school’s idyllic property or just take a quick drive through the campus to get a peek at the pastoral grounds.
Before wrapping up your three-day getaway, stop at The Fishin’ Pig right outside of Hampden-Sydney’s campus for lunch. Known for their smoked meats, the restaurant is a must for any fans of Virginia barbecue. Top with their homemade barbecue sauces and add a few of their Southern-style sides for a fantastic last meal in Farmville, at least for this trip.
Keep an eye out for the next Crush Friday trip, where we’ll ditch work on a Friday and spend a three-day exploring the Great Outdoors around Roanoke!
Previous Crush Friday Virginia Destinations:
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