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Archive for April, 2012

LOVE on a Mountain

by Casey | Posted on April 18th, 2012

Spring is popping up all over Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park, and here are five reasons why this is a great weekend to get out and enjoy the views on high.

Butterfly in Shenandoah National Park1. Shenandoah National Park and Skyline Drive are FREE beginning this weekend through April 29. Entrance at any other time costs $15 per car.

2. The Virginia is for Lovers LOVE artwork will be displayed at Skyland Lodge beginning April 20 and will remain in place for your photo-shooting pleasure through April 30.

3. There are events for the whole family on Saturday, April 21.
* Bear Necessities is a 20 minute talk at the Skyland Amphitheater at 10 am.
* Birds of Prey is a one hour encounter at the Big Meadows Amphitheater at 10 am.
* Take an Appalachian Trail Hike (2.1 miles) at 10 am from the Milam Gap Parking Area (milepost 52.8).
* Discover Where the Wild Things Are in a 20 minute talk at the Byrd Visitor Center at 2 pm.
* Take a Discovery Walk from the Skyland Amphitheater at 3 pm.
* At 4 pm, you’re invited to join in the Massanutten Lodge Celebrates 100 Years festivities. Meet at the Skyland Conference Hall.

National Junior Ranger Day. Photo by John F. Mitchell

National Junior Ranger Day. Photo by John F. Mitchell, National Park Service

4. Looking for more events? Saturday is also National Junior Ranger Day and there are a slew of special activities that aren’t typically available.
* Touch Table at Dickey Ridge and Byrd Visitor Centers, 9 – 3:30
* Uniform Try-On Station at Dickey Ridge and Byrd Visitor Centers, 9 – 3:30
* Indoor Scavenger Hunt at Dickey Ridge and Byrd Visitor Centers, 9 – 3:30
* Bells & Whistles Firetruck Display and Law Enforcement at Byrd Visitor Center, 10-12:30 and 1-3:30

5. Just 75 miles away, SNP feels like it’s a world away … from DC, that is. If you’re in the city, this is the perfect, close getaway for your last-minute weekend.

Learn more about Shenandoah National Park
Stay at Skyland Resort
Skyland Resort Restaurant
Skyland Resort Stables

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Earth Day Weekend

by Tom | Posted on April 17th, 2012

It’s hard to believe Earth Day is over 40 years old, but since 1970 people all around the country have been celebrating the environment and inspiring others to conserve and recycle.

Museum of Natural HistoryVirginia has such a great variety of outdoor assets, it’s no surprise that we celebrate Earth Day with gusto. Visitors and locals will find this year’s Earth Day weekend (April 21-22) honored in every kind of environment, from beach to river to lake to mountain.

No one does outdoor better than our Virginia State Parks, and this year every state park in the Commonwealth will host special activities and programs, including shore-line clean-ups, wagon rides, educational opportunities and more. Find the closest state park to you on our state park page.

For a more commercial but still festive atmosphere, there are any number of celebrations, festivals, and events designed to support our environment while also giving families a great weekend of fun and entertainment. Here are a few:

• Newport News – Apr 21 – Earth Day Celebration at the Virginia Living Museum
• Broadlands – Apr 22 – EarthDay@ Loudoun Family Festival
• Virginia Beach – Apr 22 – Earth Day Celebration at Mount Trashmore
• Richmond – Apr 21 – Richmond Earth Day Festival
• Abingdon – Apr 21 – Abingdon Earth Day Celebration
• Martinsville – Apr 28 – Earth Day Celebration

Earth Day LogosAttending an Earth Day event will hopefully inspire you to think green more often in the coming year too. And if you want to be a great earth-friendly traveler, Virginia has taken up the cause with its innovative Virginia Green program. From hotels to restaurants, golf Virginia-Green Logocourses to wineries, engaged travel-related businesses are signing up to track their carbon footprint, increase their recycling, better manage their energy usage and generally become better stewards of the environment. If you’re looking to get green or greener as you travel, check out the Virginia Green page with links to earth-friendly lodging, dining, attractions, events, and even meeting space.


Events, Family, Outdoors | 1 Comment

Virginia’s 79th Annual Historic Garden Week

by Casey | Posted on April 16th, 2012

Elaborate homes and gardens are preparing for what is often called “America’s Largest Open House” – Virginia’s Historic Garden Week.

From the shore to the mountains, private estates, historic homes, gardens, and churches are open to the public from April 21-28, 2012. See the schedule below and one key highlight of each tour. Click through for more details about each tour.

Albemarle / Charlottesville Tour

Albemarle / Charlottesville Tour

Saturday, April 21

Ashland – A re-vamped tour in light of a 2011 earthquake. See private homes not originally scheduled for viewing.
Winchester – Fairhill, circa 1882
Franklin – The Maples and The Elms, circa 1895 and 1897
Lake Gaston – Bracey & Ebony – A man-made lake straddling VA and NC; additional fee lets you see the homes from the water.
Old Town Alexandria – A home built in 1782
Portsmouth – 1800s home with its original furnishings and a great story, too.
Staunton – The architecture you know – Greek and Gothic Revival, Queen Anne, and Colonial Revival

Sunday, April 22

Albemarle County (and April 23) – Keswick Hall
Chatham – Tobacco country
Middleburg and Upperville (and April 23) – Piedmont landscape

Williamsburg Tour

Williamsburg Tour

Tuesday, April 24

Arlington – A home used during the filming of Hoover, staring Leonardo DiCaprio
Fredericksburg – Tea at Kenmore, home of George Washington’s sister
Lynchburg – Point of Honor and Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest
Richmond – Ampthill/Wilton – One of the original “suburbs” of Richmond
Williamsburg – Civil War properties within the Colonial Williamsburg area, and an author available for Q&A, too.

Wednesday, April 25

Harrisonburg – The quaint village of Port Republic
Martinsville – The Carriage House, home of the cheese straw maker.
Richmond – The Boulevard – Ten locations along the grand avenue of Richmond
Newport News – Homes that span 100 years of history
Northern Neck – Lancaster County – Quiet beauty of a farm in the same family since 1721.
Virginia Beach – Shirley Hall, circa 1939, inspired by and designed with the assistance of Colonial Williamsburg

Thursday, April 26

Danville – Averett University
Norfolk – 75th Anniversary of the Hermitage Museum and Gardens
Petersburg – Extensively restored 19th century Italianate clapboard home
Richmond – Three Chopt/Westhampton – Homes span 100 years of art and architecture

Friday, April 27

Middlesex County – The Middle Penninsula – A lighthouse home built in 2005 includes a Fresnel lens once used in Australia’s Perth Harbor.

Saturday, April 28

Brownsburg - Five log homes and all new to the tour
Eastern Shore – Eyre Hall has been in the same family for 250 years; the garden is considered to be the oldest in Virginia.
Gloucester-Mathews – Daffodil Capitol of the Country
Orange County – Somerset Plantation, circa 1803, home of James Madison’s sister, Sarah Catlett Madison.
Roanoke – A 1933 garden that was the lily test garden for the Garden Club of Virginia for many years

Learn more about Virginia’s Historic Garden Week
See the Guidebook

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We Welcome Discovery to Virginia

by Casey | Posted on April 12th, 2012

All the world’s a stage and Space Shuttle Discovery is in the spotlight next week as she makes her final voyage.

Space Shuttle Discovery Flies Atop 747. Photo courtesy of Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.NASA has announced Space Shuttle Discovery will fly over the Washington, DC metro area Tuesday, April 17. The fly-over is scheduled to occur between 10:00 and 11:00 am and will fly near a variety of landmarks such as the National Mall, Reagan National Airport, National Harbor, and the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center.

Everyone will want to sneak a peek at this once-in-a-lifetime arrival and here’s how you can get in on the action.


Spot the Shuttle

Discovery will depart NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft, a modified Boeing 747, in the early morning of Tuesday, April 17. It is expected to fly over the Washington, D.C. area between 10:00 and 11:00 am and will then land at Washington Dulles International Airport. The exact path and timing of the flight depend on weather and operational constraints.

  • Follow the hashtag #SpotTheShuttle on Twitter to find a Spot the Shuttle gathering or to learn of sightings. A coffee break outside for a shuttle sighting sounds like a grand idea, yes?
  • When you pull over and look up, check in to your location with Fousquare and use the #SpotTheShuttle hashtag.
  • Take a photo or video of Discovery overhead and share it online. Remember to use the hashtag #SpotTheShuttle when sharing on Twitter so everyone can see!
  • Also consider sharing your photos and videos on the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center Facebook page.
  • The best vantage point for seeing Discovery approach and land at at Dulles International Airport is the parking lot of the Udvar-Hazy Center. The lot will be open at 8 am and requires a $15 parking fee. Join up with other spotters and grab breakfast at the nearby McDonald’s. While the actual touchdown will not be visible, arrangements are being made to televise the touchdown on NASA TV and through additional media coverage.
  • Other locations where the shuttle fly-in should be visible:
    • Long Bridge Park – 475 Long Bridge Drive in Arlington
    • Old Town Alexandria Waterfront
    • Gravelly Point, just off the George Washington Parkway near National Airport

It will take two days to de-mate Discovery from its modified Boeing 747 chauffeur and prepare it for transport to the Udvar-Hazy Center.

Welcome Discovery Celebration

Welcome Discovery Commemorative PosterDiscovery will arrive at the Udvar-Hazy Center for a transfer ceremony on Thursday, April 19. The ceremony will include the U.S. Marine Drum and Bugle Corps, the Discovery crew members, and a nose-to-nose meeting of the Space Shuttles Discovery and Enterprise.

Special guest speakers will include NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, Smithsonian Secretary Wayne Clough, National Air and Space Museum Director Gen. J.R. “Jack” Dailey, and Former Senator and Astronaut John Glenn.

From noon until 4:30 pm there are a plethora of events. See the schedule.

At 4 pm the shuttles will be moved. Enterprise will be moved into position beside the James S. McDonnell Space Hangar. Having been on display at the Udvar-Hazy Center since it opened in 2003, Enterprise will find a new home at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York, arriving at JFK Airport on April 23. Discovery will then be moved into the James S. McDonnell Space Hangar for permanent display.

The Welcome Discovery Celebration is free; parking is $15.

Stay Awhile

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16th Annual Virginia Arts Festival

by Casey | Posted on April 5th, 2012

Incredible artists, commissioned works, extraordinary collaborations, and unforgettable performances … it’s all waiting for you at the 16th Annual Virginia Arts Festival, April 16-June 6.

For 16 years, this acclaimed festival has brought the world’s great artists to performance venues throughout the Hampton Roads area, making this beautiful region – already beloved for its beaches, pristine waterways, wildlife, and historical attractions that date back to the earliest days of our country – a cultural destination for travelers from around the world.


Bela Fleck & The Flecktones

Bela Fleck & The Flecktones

Key Events:

April 16: Renée Fleming

April 24: Béla Fleck & The Flecktones – The Original Line-Up

April 27-29: Virginia International Tattoo

May 5: Flying Proms Symphonic Air Show Spectacular

May 12: Al Pacino: One Night Only

Flying Proms Symphonic Air Show Spectacular

Flying Proms Symphonic Air Show Spectacular

May 19: Virginia Beer Festival

May 25: Harlem Renaissance Orchestra

June 6: Virginia Arts Festival Finale & OpSail 2012 Opening Night Gala


See the full schedule of events, preferred lodging partners, dining options, and more at



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