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Archive for November, 2010

Adieu to One 75th; Howdy to Another

by Casey | Posted on November 30th, 2010

Wow, where did 2010 go? It’s hard to believe that another year is nearly gone.

Horseback riding in Shenandoah National Park

Horseback riding in Shenandoah National Park

As the Blue Ridge Parkway 75th Anniversary wraps up, the Shenandoah National Park 75th Anniversary kicks off.

While other large tracts of land competed for National Park designation in the 1920s, the 197,438-acre Virginia tract was selected for its fulfillment of the planners’ desire for the space to be “within a day’s drive of millions”. Having that in mind, President Franklin Roosevelt seemed as though he was ready for an escape of his own when at the Park’s dedication he said, “‚Ķwith the smell of the woods, and the wind in the trees, they will forget the rush and strain of all the other long weeks of the year, and for a short time at least, the days will be good for their hearts and for their souls.”

Traversed via Skyline Drive, Shenandoah National Park is alive with hiking, biking, climbing, wildlife watching, photography and horseback riding opportunities. Choose primitive camping or modern amenities at Big Meadows Lodge or Skyland Resort.

While the natural beauty will hold your attention and inspire you, so will the treasure that awaits in the valley below. Luray Caverns, the largest on America’s east coast, is a National Landmark and is noted for the world’s only Stalacpipe Organ.

As your mind wanders past this season and into the new beginnings of the next, give great consideration to a refreshing stay in the mountains. For more information on planning your Virginia vacation, go to or call 1-800-Visit-VA to request a Travel Guide. For detailed information on Shenandoah National Park, see

Travel Ideas, Virginia Destinations | 2 Comments

Garth Brooks Brings “Unanswered Prayers” to Virginia

by Casey | Posted on November 23rd, 2010

Virginia loves movies and another has come to the Commonwealth for filming.

Samantha Mathis and Alex Frnka star in the Lifetime Original Movie Unanswered Prayers.

Samantha Mathis and Alex Frnka star in the Lifetime Original Movie Unanswered Prayers. Photo Credit: Kent Eanes © 2010 Lifetime Entertainment Services, LLC, All Rights Reserved.

Unanswered Prayers, a  made-for-television movie shot in Richmond, will premiere on the Lifetime Television network on Monday, November 29th at 9 pm.

Executive Produced by Garth Brooks, and based on his song “Unanswered Prayers,” the film explores the themes of marriage, family, community and second chances with love, asking, ‚ÄúDid I let the one I loved get away, or is she right in front of me?‚ÄĚ

Unanswered Prayers is the story of a happily married father (Eric Close) living the American dream. When the woman (Mädchen Amick) of his high school fantasies returns home, he has to face his past and will be presented with a choice that could change his future forever.

Richmonders were cast as extras for the scene captured on the right, the Homecoming football game Garth Brooks sings about in his song, Unanswered Prayers. The scene was filmed just miles from downtown Richmond at Varina High School.

For more information about Virginia’s film industry, visit For more interesting “Filmed in Virginia” tidbits, see the article on

Filmed in Virginia | 2 Comments

Holiday Cheer is Near

by Casey | Posted on November 22nd, 2010

Nothing says “Christmas” like lights, and Virginia is about to be¬†glowing.

Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden GardenFest of Lights

Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden's GardenFest of Lights

In Hayes (Gloucester County), a Christmas Holiday Light Show synchronized to music will kick off November 26 and run every weekend through January 2. Local food banks and the humane society will benefit from your donated food items.

Richmond’s Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden presents its annual GardenFest of Lights November 26 through January 10. The kids will marvel at more than half a million¬†twinklers as they wander through this spectacular setting.

If you’re available Saturday, November 27, travel to Smith Mountain Lake State Park for a good¬†view of¬†the Virginia Dare Flotilla for Toys Christmas Boat Parade. It includes a parade of¬†festively lit¬†boats and benefits a local toy drive.

Where¬†two states share a city and NASCAR’s five-time champion¬†scored a 2010 win, a speedway is lit. Bristol Motor Speedway, located in Bristol,¬†TN/VA,¬†switched on 1.5 million lights on November 12.¬†Drive the special four-mile course to take it all in, and¬†be sure to enjoy the ice skating rink, too! The lights will be on until January 2.

Just outside Washington, DC is Centreville¬†- home to Bull Run Regional Park’s Festival of Lights. This year the lights will be dancing to the music, but that’s only part of the show. Mosey out between November 24 and January 9 for this 2.5-mile smile-filled ride.

Many know of the 100 Miles of Lights, that is, the 100 miles between Richmond and Virginia Beach that feature sparkling skylines, beaming gardens, and twinkling parades, but lucky for us Virginians (and those of you who call Virginia a second home), cities and towns across the Commonwealth deck their Main Streets and plazas to usher in an exciting holiday season, too. For more high-watt fun, see Parades and Tree Lighting Ceremonies on

Events, The Holidays, Travel Ideas | 2 Comments

Thanksgiving Weekend. For Shopping Only?

by Casey | Posted on November 15th, 2010

“Black Friday shopping is overrated.”

Thomas Jefferson's Poplar Forest

Don't miss the Holiday Tours at Thomas Jefferson's Poplar Forest, November 28, 2010.

If that’s your mantra, try some of this action instead.

  • Museum hopping in Portsmouth is affordable with the Key Pass. For $9 you can visit the Children’s Museum of Virginia, the Naval Shipyard Museum, the Lightship PORTSMOUTH, and the Courthouse Galleries. The pass is good for 90 days, so you can stretch the fun through Christmas, New Year’s and beyond.
  • Alexandria has a Key Pass, too, that can be secured for $11 (regularly $22). This pass covers a slew of fun, including sites like the¬†Alexandria Archaeology Museum, Gadsby‚Äôs Tavern Museum, Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum, Carlyle House, Lee-Fendall House Museum & Garden, Fort Ward Museum & Historic Site, Alexandria Black History Museum, Friendship Firehouse and The Lyceum. Plus, 60 special offers for shopping, dining and attractions.
  • When traveling in and around Roanoke, the RED (Roanoke Entertainment Discount) Card might come in handy. With this FREE card in hand, you’ll receive discounts from participating partners, which continues to evolve over time. The current participants list is extensive, but includes accommodations like the Claiborne House B&B, Hotel Floyd, The Hotel Roanoke & Conference Center, Sheraton Roanoke Hotel & Conference Center; and attractions like Blue Ridge Dinner Theatre, Dixie Caverns & Pottery, ¬†Mill Mountain Zoo, and Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest. See the complete list

However you choose to spend Thanksgiving in Virginia, may it be joyfully spirited!

Deals & Discounts, The Holidays | 1 Comment

Create a “Polar Express” Weekend

by Casey | Posted on November 12th, 2010

The Polar Express has become a modern-age family tradition, and you can experience it in a number of ways in Virginia.

Based on the classic Caldecott¬†Medal-winning children‚Äôs book by Chris Van Allsburg, The Polar Express is an Academy Award¬ģ-winning movie about a boy who anxiously awaits Santa Claus on Christmas Eve. As he finally nods off, a thunderous roar awakens him – The Polar Express – bound for the North Pole.

Santa arrives by rail at the O. Winston Link Museum in Roanoke

Santa arrives by rail at the O. Winston Link Museum in Roanoke

The Science Museum of Virginia, located in Richmond,¬†will be showing The Polar Express in the IMAX¬ģDOME every afternoon at 2 p.m. from November 26 through January 7.
- Nearby Accommodations

In Clifton Forge, you’re invited to climb aboard a 1932¬†dining car to enjoy hot cocoa, singing, the reading of The Polar Express, and a ride on the miniature train. PJs and robes encouraged! This exclusive event is offered December 10 at 7 p.m., December 11 at 2 and 7 p.m., and December 12 at 2 p.m. Reservations required.
- Nearby Accommodations

Each year the Norfolk Botanical Garden welcomes families at 5 and 5:30 for a one-hour treat, a reading of The Polar Express, hot chocolate, cookies, and a tram ride through the Garden of Lights holiday display. Several dates are already sold out, so reserve your date and time soon!
- Nearby Accommodations

Now in his seventh year of traveling the Norfolk & Southern rails, Santa will once again be arriving by train in Roanoke! The big day is December 4 and you’re invited to join in the festivities – snacks, crafts, stories, and more. Reservations are required for this 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. special time with Santa.
- Book the Train Lover’s Package at nearby Hotel Roanoke.

Treat the kids to a real train ride in Virginia aboard Amtrak. With 22 stations, there’s sure to be one near you. In many instances, you can hop a train¬†and take a one-day round trip. I tried it out to see! My example included departing Staunton bound for the station in Clifton Forge.¬†A one-day round trip is offered and takes¬†just a little over an hour each way. A short jaunt like that¬†will surely be a most memorable experience for your family.

Hopefully this has sparked your imagination on ways to make new memories with your family. Have a fun-filled season in Virginia!

Events, The Holidays, Travel Ideas, Virginia Destinations | 1 Comment