Farmville, Virginia is a small town with lots of history. It was on the path of Gen. Lee’s retreat during the last days of the Civil War and is the site of a historic Civil Rights protest in the 1950s. It’s small downtown feels like you are stepping back into time but it’s modern amenities make it a great place to visit with your family!
Farmville is just one hour southwest of Richmond and an easy day trip from the city. Check out the Farmville tourism site here.
Some of our favorite historical things to see or do in the city are:
This state park encompasses a 31-mile long trail on a former rail line that is perfect for bikers and walkers. Even a novice biker like me enjoys this relatively flat and easy-to-ride trail. While the entire trail traverses three counties, the most popular part of the trail runs from downtown Farmville to the High Bridge, built in 1853. This bridge was one of the tallest and longest of its time and is still very impressive!
It played an important role in Gen. Lee’s retreat in April of 1865 during the final days of the Civil War. The Confederate Army crossed the bridge and attempted to burn it so the Union Army couldn’t follow. They were unsuccessful, and the Union Army’s pursuit ended at the surrender in Appomattox just days later.
The trail is picturesque and so easy that most children can bike the 4.4 miles from downtown Farmville to the bridge (just remember that you also have to bike those miles back!).
Keep an eye open for historical markers along the way!
The bridge itself has a very high railing so it is perfectly safe to bike across. However, I felt uncomfortable doing this so I walked my bike across the .5 mile long bridge.
The views from its expanse are breathtaking!
Watch this video for a visual of the trail and the bridge.
If you don’t want to bring your bike, there is a bike rental shop directly beside the trail in Farmville. We used The Outdoor Adventure Store, and it was so easy! Be sure to reserve your bikes in advance, particularly if you want the child trailer. Don’t miss getting your family’s picture in front of the LOVE sign here!
View the trail brochure to plan your trip here!
This museum, housed in the former Moton High School, is the birthplace of the student-led Civil Rights movement in the United States. It was here in 1951 – before the bus boycott in Montgomery and before the march in Selma – that a young 16-year-old girl, Barbara Johns, led a student walkout by the Black students at Moton in protest of the unequal facilities and education they were receiving. After the 1954 landmark Brown vs. Board of Education ruling at the Supreme Court, the Prince Edward County Schools decided to close rather than desegregate. The schools were closed for five years, resulting in many Black students leaving the county or attending schools in church basements. The museum and the other sites on the Civil Rights in Education Heritage Trail in Farmville tell the stories of determination, courage, and resilience by the students and their parents. Read my review of the museum!
Sailor’s Creek Battlefield State Park
Also a part of the Lee’s Retreat trail, this battlefield just east of Farmville was the site of one of the last battles of the Civil War. The major sites, including a visitor center and historic home, are along the road but there are several hiking trails here as well. For more information on Lee’s Retreat and the nearby Appomattox Courthouse, check out my blog article on the last week of the Civil War here.
Farmville also has a lot for outdoors enthusiasts. From zip lines to water sports, the county has a lot to choose from – see the tourism site for more ideas! It is also well-known as the location of the nationally known Greenfront Furniture, housed in the town’s 19th century tobacco warehouses. You can actually shop in history here!
Places to Eat:
We’ve been to Farmville dozens of times and have a few favorite restaurants. For more ideas, see the Farmville tourism website here.
- Charley’s Waterfront Cafe – most convenient to the downtown attractions
- Macado’s – great sandwiches and burgers
- The Fishin’ Pig – BBQ and all of the fixins
Places to Stay:
We live close enough that we’ve never had to stay overnight in Farmville. I’ve heard great things about one of the newer hotels in the city, the Hotel Weyanoke.
Books to Read:
There are several books that I recommend for anyone wanting to learn more about Farmville’s history (links are Amazon affiliate links).
- Guidebook: Virginia Rail Trails: Crossing the Commonwealth
- 14 and up: Something Must Be Done About Prince Edward County: A Family, a Virginia Town, a Civil Rights Battle
- 10 and up: Pictures at the Protest (check out my interview with the author in my Travel with Books video series!)
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