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Time spent in nature is peaceful, but it’s also patriotic. James Madison was a founding father of America and a founder of conservationism. He saw soil as essential to American independence since it gave us food and freedom as a nation. With the Fourth of July up ahead, we’ve come up with a few ways to nurture nature, Madison-style.

Fun with Flora and Fauna

Orange County’s plants are on parade in woodlands and meadows across the county. Seigen Forest’s 170-acre spread is the perfect place to peep at the Lady’s Slippers and Wild Geraniums dotting the ground. Grelen’s five-mile trail winds around their native tree nursery, rewarding you with views of the Blue Ridge and Southwest Mountains. Sections of the trail are equipped with QR codes—fun to scan with little hands—informing you of flora and fauna along the way. The Market at Grelen’s farm-to-table sandwiches, salads, and ice cream celebrate the best of local agriculture, so stop for a bite on the patio before heading out. Or, schedule strawberry picking at Liberty Mills Farm!

PC: Capturing Joy Photography at Liberty Mills Farm

Trot with the Tots

A family horseback ride at Oakland Heights Farm trots you down trails frequented by Madison and Jefferson. The trail wanders through the countryside, traveling past battlefields and over bucolic bridges. Trail guides, seasoned in kid speak, keep history engaging for the littlest of ears.

Lodge at Lake Anna

To commune with nature under the stars, lock in your lodging at the Campground at Lake Anna. Sites, cabins, and lodges with lake views spotlight the wonders Madison loved. Hiking and biking trails and a two-acre fishing pond for kids provide hours of old-fashioned entertainment.

From Our Garden to Your Home

Before you hit the road, pop by Darnell’s Garden Patch to bring Orange County back home. Darnell’s roses, azaleas, and magnolias celebrate our agrarian spirit. Homegrown vegetables and local salsas are must-haves in the garden shop.


Nature explorations showcase the best of our summer season. Glimpse nature’s bounty through your children’s eyes for an adventure to remember.

For more information about the status of our outdoor recreation opportunities, click here.