Get Away: Belle Grove Plantation

The birthplace of James Madison is now a bed-and-breakfast.

Photo by Morgan Hockensmith

Set on the banks of the Rappahannock River, Belle Grove Plantation Bed & Breakfast—the birthplace of President James Madison—is a haven for history buffs and antiques aficionados. Michelle Darnell and her husband, Brett, opened the plantation home as a B&B in 2013, meticulously decorating the public rooms and four suites in period antiques that reflect the eras of the mansion’s former occupants, beginning with James Madison’s mother’s family, the Conways, who owned the property for most of the 1700s.

Interior gems are numerous, including a 1720 highboy with a secret drawer that former owners might have used to hide valuables from the redcoats, an 1854 Chickering piano, and four 1800s settees that were used in the movie Lincoln. The home’s second-story balconies and outdoor gardens look out over the river or the 694-acre property’s wheat, soy and corn fields.

Belle Grove offers 45-minute mansion tours, antebellum afternoon teas and Civil War reenactments to both guests and day-trippers. Room rates begin at $150 per night and include breakfast in the formal dining room or on the riverside balcony. Note: Another Belle Grove Plantation, the former home of James Madison’s sister, is located in Middletown, Virginia, and is not a B&B.

Belle Grove Plantation Bed & Breakfast, 9221 Belle Grove Drive, King George, Virginia; 540-621-7340,

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Categories: Travel