Belle Grove Plantation at Port Conway, Virginia is a beautiful, historic property situated on the banks of the pristine Rappahannock River in King George County. Belle Grove consists of nearly 700 acres that started as a land grant in 1670 and has witnessed significant events in the history of the United States, including the birth of the fourth President, and Father of the Constitution, James Madison in 1751. Today, Belle Grove Plantation is the home of Belle Grove Plantation Bed & Breakfast. The stunning, architecturally unique 1791 mansion houses the historic, luxury Bed & Breakfast featuring four exquisite guest suites that take guests back in time, while offering the best of modern conveniences. Innkeepers Michelle and Brett Darnell opened the Bed & Breakfast in August 2013 and have worked tirelessly to get the word out about Belle Grove Plantation, while establishing and maintaining impeccable standards for quality and customer service that has earned it recognition by Trip Advisor as one of the top ten Bed & Breakfasts in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Here is our list of the top 12 reasons to visit Belle Grove Plantation:
1. Presidential Birthplace
On March 16, 1751, James Madison, future President of the United States was born at the home of his grandmother on this historic plantation. “Where else can you go and stay at a Presidential Home or Birthplace?” is stated by many of the overnight guests.
2. Architecture and Furnishings
Built in 1791, expanded in 1839 and restored in 1997, Belle Grove Plantation’s historic mansion was named one of the Top 100 Architecturally Significant Structures in Virginia by the Virginia Architects Association and the Virginia Center of Architecture. Belle Grove’s Mansion is ranked #29 on the list of top 100.
“Come see our antiques in their natural habitat”
Each room in the mansion has been appointed with period antiques that reflect the truest of Southern Plantations. Fine linens on converted queen size antique beds and bathrooms that are swoon worthy give overnight guests the feeling of living in the past with all the comforts of modern day.
3. A Place to Escape to
As you drive down the tree lined lane, you are transported back in time to a haven of peace and relaxation. Porches and balconies offer views of the Rappahannock River as well as some of the most amazing sunsets anywhere. Relax with a glass of wine and enjoy seeing dozens of bird species including the resident osprey, James and Dolley. Stroll the property and watch deer graze in the fields and bald eagles soar overhead.
4. Hosts and Great Cuisine
One of the reasons people return to Belle Grove Plantation is the hosts, Brett and Michelle Darnell. Their knowledge of the history of Belle Grove as well as the surrounding area assists guests in planning their stay as well as getting to know the plantation. These very down to earth people treat you like royalty from the moment you arrive and demonstrate the meaning of true Southern Hospitality. Overnight guests may arrive as a guest, but they leave as treasured friends.
One of the highlights of staying at Belle Grove Plantation is the gourmet breakfast. No cold cereal or continental breakfast here. Michelle, the chef at Belle Grove, creates some of the most unique and delicious dishes that you have ever eaten.
Location, location, location. Belle Grove Plantation is situated in northeastern Virginia between Washington DC and Richmond, and is convenient to Baltimore and the Tidewater areas of Virginia. Just 90 minutes from DC and Baltimore and 50 minutes from Richmond, Belle Grove Plantation remote, yet still close to a myriad of popular attractions. Sightseeing and restaurants in Fredericksburg or in the Northern Neck are 30 minutes or less away.
Is Belle Grove Plantation haunted? Many people have come to find out for themselves. Boasting a grand total of 80 ghosts, both inside and out, Michelle has witness 17 full body spirits of past guests and residents. From the lady in white on the balcony, to the slave woman exiting the 1720s Summer Kitchen to the Union Civil War soldiers that hang around outside, all the ghosts are friendly and enjoy being around guests of the plantation.
Paranormal teams, including the TAPS team from Syfy Channel’s Ghost Hunters have come to Belle Grove to investigate. In October, the general public is invited to be a Ghost Hunter for the night during their annual Paranormal Nights Investigations. Is Belle Grove Plantation haunted? Most people who come to investigate leave with at least one experience.
7. Wedding Venue
One of the most beautiful backdrops for the wedding of your dreams. Many weddings have taken placed in the past two years that Belle Grove Plantation has been open to the public. Wedding and Event Specialist, Tammy Anderson, ensures that every detail of your special event is done according to your wishes.
Weddings as small as a simple elopement to as many as 200 people have been performed at Belle Grove. It is also a great location for a surprise proposal. Belle Grove Plantation was voted “Most Romantic Location to Propose” in 2015 by the Virginia Wedding and Events Network.
8. Special Public Events
Belle Grove Plantation offers many unique public activities for the whole family. History is alive and well at the plantation. Come see James and Dolley Madison for President Madison’s Birthday Dinner in March. Visit the Civil War Encampment Weekend with soldiers and civilians sharing their “experiences” during the war. Come slip tea during the Titanic Tea in April with the First Class Ladies of the Titanic. Join the plantation as they kick off the Christmas season with their Colonial Christmas Candlelight Tour in December.
There are weekly tours available for just about everyone. Tour the mansion and grounds to learn of the history of the plantation and see its antiques and architecture. Join in the Ghost Walk Tour on Friday and Saturday as you are escorted around the grounds and told of the ghostly experiences. Chauffeured VIP Wine Tasting and Brewery tours take you and a group to the local award-winning wineries and breweries for a safe and stress-free day of tasting some of Virginia’s finest.
9. Photography Opportunity
Belle Grove Plantation is one of the most beautiful locations to use for backdrops for Bridal, Engagement or Senior Pictures. Photographers and Videographers find spectacular settings to capture their subjects. Filming at Belle Grove for documentaries has included Belle Grove’s mansion as the stand in for Mount Vernon. Great for period photography such as the Civil War period yet elegant for modern photography such as an automobile owner’s club.
10. Great to Follow on Social Media and As Seen on TV
Belle Grove Plantation has appeared on two national television shows; Syfy Channel’s Ghost Hunters (2014) and National Geographic’s Diggers (2015).
Belle Grove Plantation has a very interactive Social Media presence on many outlets such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. Belle Grove has its own blog dating back to May 2012, when Brett and Michelle started their journey in opening Belle Grove as a bed and breakfast. Visit their Facebook page “Belle Grove Plantation at Port Conway” and see events as they happen at the plantation. Follow along with Michelle as she shops for antiques, enjoys new places to eat and see, and play “Where in the World is Michelle?” as she travels around looking for new places to visit.
11. Archaeology and Preservation
Belle Grove Plantation is not only a commercial business, but a historic landmark of Virginia. With this in mind, Brett and Michelle continue to restore, preserve, maintain and educate the general public about Belle Grove Plantation. Their current project is the restoration of the 1720s Summer Kitchen, Ice House and Smokehouse. Once completed, the Summer Kitchen will become a small museum to house the history and artifacts found at the plantation. Brett and Michelle are currently in the last stages of creating the James Madison Belle Grove Foundation. Through this foundation they hope to continue to restore, preserve, maintain and educate.
Artifacts abound at the plantation. Many pieces were found through archaeological surveys completed by the University of Mary Washington while others were found while working the landscape. All artifacts are preserved and cataloged for future reference. These references help recreate the past settlements including the birthplace of James Madison and the prehistoric occupation of the land.
12. Local Attractions
While remote, Belle Grove Plantation is not far from many exciting and popular local attractions. While staying at Belle Grove Plantation, visit the Northern Neck, Stratford Hall, George Washington’s Birthplace and Boyhood Home, Menokin, several award-winning wineries and antique stores.
Activities include fishing, boating, bird watching, geocaching, golfing, biking and hiking.
Belle Grove Plantation at Port Conway, Virginia is a national historic treasure that invites you to come and experience its tranquil, picturesque setting along the Rappahannock River, and the elegant, regal comfort of one of its four guest suites that includes warm Southern hospitality, and a delectable, full gourmet breakfast each morning. But please, don’t take our word for it. You must come and experience Belle Grove Plantation for yourself. You will be glad you did. In fact, you might not want to leave.
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There are reservations available for the 8pm “Duel” seating. Call 434-202-8387 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to book your reservations for Monday, August 22! Don’t Miss The “Duel Pop-Up” Restaurant, featuring Head Chef Chris Humphrey of Rapture Restaurant and Head Chef Michael Berry of Tastings Restaurant, on August 31 At Tin Whistle Irish Pub on Market St.
1. Contender #1: Chef Chris Humphrey, Rapture Restaurant
609 East Market St, Charlottesville, Virginia
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Humphrey is the executive chef at Rapture. We are excited to see how he will use his experience preparing Southern-inspired cuisine! Keep Reading
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