Just a short drive from the serenity of Smith Mountain Lake is a historical attraction that pays tribute to one of the most inspirational and impressive figures in American history. The Booker T. Washington National Monument is located at the birthplace of Booker T. Washington in Hardy, VA, 30 minutes from the lake. During your visit, you’ll learn about the life of this trailblazing American educator, author, lecturer, and presidential advisor. The grounds also feature hiking trails and a farm that demonstrates life in the 1850s. This is a great attraction for history buffs, families, and nature lovers looking for a day trip. Find why you should visit this fun attraction!
Once you’ve explored the Booker T. Washington National Monument, pay a visit to some of our favorite restaurants in the area. Download our free Vacation Guide to read our recommendations for great places to visit in Smith Mountain Lake and the surrounding area.
A Brief Biography of Booker T. Washington
The Booker T. Washington National Monument is located at what was once the Burroughs Plantation, where Washington was born in April 1856. He was the child of slaves and served the Burroughs family. After he and his family learned of their emancipation, they moved to West Virginia, where young Booker taught himself to read and became passionate about education. During his life, Washington served as the leader of the Tuskegee Institute, a teacher’s college in Alabama. He gained national notoriety after his famous Atlanta Address of 1895 and served as political advisor to Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft. Booker T. Washington’s significance to American history cannot be overstated.
Visit the Booker T. Washington National Monument
There are so many exciting and interesting things to see during your visit to this incredible monument. Find out a couple of our favorite parts!
Tour the Trails
There are two trails on the site: the Plantation Trail and the Jack-O-Lantern Branch Heritage Trail. The Plantation Trail is easy to hike and is the best way to explore the park. This path begins at the back of the Visitor Center and leads past many of the park’s attractions, including the tobacco barn, the site of Washington’s birthplace, the reconstructed kitchen cabin, the horse barn, and the big house. Each site is open to visitors and gives guests an authentic glimpse of life in the mid-19th century. The Jack-O-Lantern Branch Heritage Trail is the longer of the two and winds through fields and forests on the site. This hike is a little more difficult, so if you’re traveling with children, the Plantation Trail is the better option. You’ll wind up at the most popular exhibit at the monument: the Burroughs Farm.
Explore the Burroughs Farm
Once you reach the end of the Plantation trail, you’ll find yourself at the Burroughs Farm. This site is an authentic peek into the past. You’ll love strolling through the smokehouse, blacksmith shed, horse barn, chicken coop, and hog pen, all while learning about Washington’s life on a farm. Visitors are encouraged to explore the farm at their leisure, though there are tours available for groups of 10 or more.
Attend a Special Event
Each year, the Booker T. Washington National Monument celebrates Juneteeth, the day General Order #3 was issued which freed all the enslaved people. Juneteeth is a fantastic event to attend at the monument; it features a free gospel concert, children’s activities, food vendors, and a Living History Guild presentation that recreates the moment Booker T. Washington experienced emancipation. Check the calendar before your visit to see if any other great events are occurring during your visit.
Return to a Beautiful Home on Smith Mountain Lake
After your trip to the Booker T. Washington National Monument, return to your beautiful rental provided by Premier Vacation Rentals. Our diverse selection of homes makes it easy to find the perfect property to suit your needs. Are you looking for something budget-friendly? With The Lakefront Condo, you’ll stay in a quiet, spacious condo on the lake’s edge. This two-bedroom, two-bathroom property is just located five minutes from Smith Mountain Lake State Park and includes a boat ramp on the property. Browse the rest of our properties and book your stay today!