Statesman, architect, author, naturalist . . . all these descriptions fit Thomas Jefferson, one of our nation’s Founding Fathers and a native Virginian. Though Jefferson made his permanent home in Monticello, his beautiful estate in Charlottesville, he also maintained a retreat home in Bedford County called Poplar Forest. Designed by Jefferson himself, this unique residence makes for a great historical day trip for Smith Mountain Lake residents since it can easily be reached in under an hour from most parts of the lake. During the summer, the grounds of Poplar Forest are open and guided tours are available. The most fascinating thing to see at Poplar Forest is the house itself, an eight-sided country villa with Italian and French architectural influences. Jefferson also planned the design of the landscaping to blend with the house itself, creating a truly unique sight for modern visitors. In addition to the architecture, the grounds house exhibits on the history of Poplar Forest and the ongoing restoration efforts. For directions from the Smith Mountain Lake area or more information, call (434) 525-1806 or visit the Poplar Forest website here.