ST. THOMAS

Nestled within a natural valley that opens to the stunning blue waters of John Brewers Bay, the Reichhold Center for the Arts is a striking outdoor amphitheater made of stone and wood, located on the campus of the University of the Virgin Islands. Top-name performers, ranging from Roberta Flack to Jimmy Cliff and the Dance Theater of Harlem, have all graced its stage. As repairs continue from a destructive 2017 hurricane, so do community outreach programs, with events such as fashion shows, golf tournaments and film festivals.

Located in the town of Charlotte Amalie, near the ferry pier and Fort Christian, 99 Steps is one of St. Thomas’ most recognizable landmarks. Built from the ballast bricks of the tall ships that came from the Old World, these steps make up one of several ‘step-streets’ created to aid in getting around the area’s steep terrain. Fringed with beautiful flowers and palm trees on either side, the steps provide a one-of-a-kind workout, as well as a reward at the end: Blackbeard’s Castle, one of the island’s three National Historic Landmarks (currently closed). 

A bronze bust of a freed slave blowing a conch shell, a commemorative plaque and a replica of the Liberty Bell can all be found at Emancipation Garden, located near the waterfront in Charlotte Amalie. Built to commemorate the freeing of the slaves on July 3, 1848, the park is surrounded by historic buildings. Emancipation Garden also hosts important events year-round, including inauguration ceremonies. Not far away is Vendor’s Plaza, an outdoor marketplace featuring locally made goods and souvenirs.

Named after a Creole word meaning “boisterous commotion,” Pistarckle Theater is a professional performing arts theater located in Tillett Gardens, an outdoor garden and community center for local and traveling artists. Founded in 1991, Pistarckle produces a variety of shows, ranging from interactive murder mysteries to an all-youth rendition of The Lion King

ST. CROIX

A Danish colonial fort built in 1749 to protect the colony from pirates and foreign invaders, Fort Christiansvaern is now a National Historic Site. The best-preserved of the five remaining Danish-built forts in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Fort Christiansvaern is a wonderful example of Danish colonial military architecture. Built in a star shape around a small courtyard, with corner bastions and small dark dungeons, Fort Christiansvaern commands the Christiansted Harbor entrance to the north. Featuring a light-lemon hue, it served as the focal point of the Danish presence and control of the island, at one time serving as a courthouse and prison. Today, it features exhibits on the history of Christiansted and life on St. Croix. Get a first-hand experience with a self-guided tour.

There’s more to the St. George Village Botanical Garden beyond its lush 1,000 Caribbean and pan-tropical plants and trees. Spread out over 16 acres, the site also serves as a center for education to better understand the island’s botanical heritage. Stroll amid the ruins and repurposed buildings of an 18th-century Danish colonial sugar cane planation as you view the varied ecosystems, ranging from semi-arid cactus to green rainforest.

Located on the west end of the island, Estate Whim Museum is a 1760 sugar plantation that provides a glimpse of what everyday life was like for the enslaved laborers who lived and worked there. Start with a guided tour of the Great House, including a furnished bedroom, dining room and salon containing original artwork, historic furniture and household items. Follow with a self-guided tour of the 12-acre, plant-filled grounds, which feature a restored windmill and ruins of the sugar factory. Rotating and permanent exhibits further tell the plantation’s story, as does The Living Museum, where you can learn about cultural traditions from local Crucians.

Rooted in the community it calls home, the Caribbean Community Theatre is a nonprofit, volunteer-based organization dedicated to creating quality theatrical productions for locals and visitors alike. Founded in 1985, the theater offers five plays each year in its theater, including comedies and musicals. Past productions have included Harold and MaudeSister Act and Rent.

ST. JOHN

One of USVI’s finest remaining examples of Danish colonial era industrial agriculture, the Annaberg Sugar Plantation was established in 1722. The ruins of the one-time sugar plantation offer a glimpse of the daily lives of enslaved people and track their resistance to slavery. The ruins include the enslaved laborers’ village and factory site, as well as the guardhouse. Run by the National Park Service, the Annaberg Sugar Plantation is open daily, and entry is free.

Located at the upper waterfall in the Reef Bay valley of Virgin Islands National Park, the Reef Bay Valley petroglyphs are a group of rock carvings made by Taino Indians as early as 500 A.D. Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982, the St. John petroglyphs are a symbol of island history. The carvings depict faces and symbols, and can be found along the edge of a spring-fed pool.

A quick drive from Cruz Bay, the Peace Hill Sugar Mill ruins sit amid a grassy clearing just off North Shore Road. Surrounded by awe-inspiring views, an easy hike leads to the Peace Hill Windmill. On Sundays, this aptly named site features free meditation sessions starting at 5:45 p.m., coordinated by Unity of St. John Virgin Islands. Free shuttles run from the Cruz Bay ferry dock and the Hawksnest parking lot.

Bajo El Sol Gallery, Art Bar & Rum Room is part art gallery, bookstore, cafe, and rum and cocktail bar. Located at Mongoose Junction, this unique St. John spot dedicates itself to showcasing the best of USVI’s fine art and cultural expression. From exhibits by local artists and poetry readings to handmade crafts and one of the largest collections of aged rums in Cruz Bay, this creative hybrid truly offers something for everyone. Established in 1993, Bajo El Sol is a short walk from the Cruz Bay ferry dock.

Learn more about USVI’s history, heritage and culture.

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