Hanover County, VA may not ring a bell for most people outside of Virginia, but this area has a lot to offer. Located about 90 miles south of Washington, D.C., it’s a popular place to visit for those who know about it. With rich history, beautiful parks and rivers, and fun local events, Hanover offers something for everyone.
Whether you’re a seasoned local, new to the area, or planning a visit, it can sometimes be hard to narrow down the many choices. To help, we’ve put together a list of sites to see, events to partake in, and things to do in Hanover County, VA. Read on to learn more, starting with the county’s fascinating history.
Hanover County’s 300 + Years of History & How to Experience It
Hanover County will celebrate its 300th birthday in 2020, but the area boasts more than 400 years of history. Plantation owners and others in the tobacco industry first settled the area in the late 1600s. Before them, the Pamunkey and Chickahominty Native American tribes used the area as hunting grounds.
Because of its location between Richmond and northern Virginia, Hanover County was the site of Civil War battles. The Seven Days Battles and the Battle of Cold Harbor are two of the most well-known battles fought in this area. Hanover County was officially formed in 1720 and named in honor of King George I, who was the Electorate of Hanover in Germany at the time.
When it comes to local heroes, Patrick Henry is most most well-known. He was born in Hanover County and made the final argument in the Parsons’ Cause case in 1763 at the Hanover Court House. Many believe this was the starting point of the American Revolution in Virginia.
So what are the things to do in Hanover County if you’re a history buff? You can visit the Historic Hanover Courthouse and the 225-year-old Hanover Tavern that hosted both Patrick Henry and George Washington. The Polegreen Tavern also predates the Revolution.
Special Events to Attend in Hanover County, VA
Virginians enjoy four seasons each year, with hot summers and relatively mild but crisp winters. This type of weather lends itself to a variety of seasonal events, many of which you can experience in Hanover County. No matter the time of year, there’s sure to be something fun going on in the area.
One of the biggest and most unique events in the area is the Hanover Tomato Festival. Held each summer since 1978, this festival shows off more than the area’s delicious tomatoes, and now includes up to 150 vendors. Enjoy delicious tomato-based foods, live music, face painting, rides, and more at this family and pet-friendly event.
And while this the tomato festival is one of the largest and longest-running, there are plenty of other events to enjoy as well. Enjoy the regular concert series at James River Cellars Winery, or catch a craft beer festival. You can even enjoy a food tour in Richmond.
Speaking of Richmond, The Richmond International Raceway is nearby, so you can also enjoy NASCAR races. There’s also Ashland Train Day, which takes place in the fall and is great for families with children. For more history-focused events, try one of the reenactments of Patrick Henry’s famous closing speech.
Other Places to Visit and Things to Do in Hanover, VA
Beyond the historic landmarks and fun events, there’s so much more to experience in Hanover County. There are great opportunities for sports and outdoor activities, fascinating museums, national parks, and more. Hanover VA offers sights and activities to suit any and all interests.
For nature-lovers, Hanover offers countless options. The natural caverns are especially impressive, and there are plenty in Hanover and surrounding areas. Several national parks offer beautiful views and hiking trails.
Along with hiking, there are many other outdoor activities to enjoy in and around Hanover County. You can kayak, camp, bike, and go horseback riding. If you love the outdoors, this is the place to be.
Other popular attractions include Kings Dominion theme park and Soak City water park, both located in Doswell. For something more relaxing, visit the Ashland Berry Farm or the James River Cellars Winery. The Ashland Museum offers unique historical and cultural exhibits.
Sometime between all visiting all the great attractions, you’re going to have to eat, and Hanover County has great options for all your dining needs. You can find casual and fine dining, including Italian restaurants, Mexican fare, traditional pubs, diners, and more. Whether you’re local or visiting, you’re sure to find something delicious to suit your preferences.
Looking for shopping options? Hanover has unique stores with handcrafted art and decor, as well as farmers markets where you can find gems from local farmers. There’s an antique store and Bass Pro Shop in Ashland, and more modern shopping centers in nearby Richmond.
Enjoy All Hanover County, VA Has to Offer for Locals and Visitors
You’re not likely to run out of things to do in Hanover County, Virginia. With its special history and landmarks, pleasant seasonal weather, and natural beauty, Hanover is a great area to live in or to visit. Whether you’re exploring on your own on a fall weekend or visiting with family for an entire week in Summer, you’re sure to enjoy yourself.
So the next time you’re in the mood for a history lesson, visit the Ashland Museum or Historic Hanover Courthouse. If you need to get out and move, hike the trails at a local park. And don’t forget to check the local calendars for fun events like the Hanover Tomato Festival and outdoor concert series.