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    #HappyBirthday to #NASA, launched 51 years ago in 1958. This is an awesome shot of the Minotaur V launch from #WallopsIsland, #Virginia last September by @_miancab. If you're interested in watching their next #launch, the Antares is scheduled for October of this year (date TBD). You can view from bleachers or the rooftop observation deck at the Wallops Island Flight Facility Visitor Center OR you can watch from Chincoteague or the Assateague Island beach. #rocket #loveva #space #stars #photooftheday #blastoff @nasa
    Is everyone excited for #Virginia #CraftBeer Month next month? It's time to put your game face on and visit a new local #brewery or get adventuresome on a #VA #beer trail. Find your way at Virginia.org/craftbeer and tag your photos with #vacraftbeermonth! This is glass of @ardentcraftales' #IPA, found on tap in Richmond. #rva #vabeer #drinklocal #locavore #ardentcraftales
    Spend a day at Buckroe #Beach in Hampton, #Virginia. You'll find a popular cobia fishing #pier and kayak, paddleboat, chair and umbrella rentals. If you time your visit right, you'll even get to hear some live music in the beachside pavilion. Photo props to @jennaevelyndill. Post your #VA photos with #LoveVA for a chance to be featured here! #repost #ocean #howisummer #sand #photooftheday
    This is the #sunset from the #dock at #Merroir restaurant in Topping, VA last Friday evening. #Tranquility on #Virginia's #ChesapeakeBay. Swing by this weekend and get some #VAoysters in your belly! And tag your VA #oyster photos with #LoveVA for a chance to be featured here. #photooftheday #latergram #eatlocal
  • Archive for November, 2012

    Venture Off the Beaten Path

    by Casey | Posted on November 30th, 2012

    Sometimes the most fun you can have in Virginia is found off the main arteries. Hop off the highways and hit the byways for fun, quirky amusements the whole family will enjoy.

    Keystone Tractorworks Museum

    Keystone Tractorworks Museum

    American Armoured Foundation, Inc., otherwise known as the Tank Museum, is located in Danville and boasts an impressive military fleet. More than 115 tanks and artillery pieces, 150 mid-size weapons and tons of memorabilia dating from 1509 can be seen here. Open Wednesday through Saturday 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Open Saturdays only for winter hours beginning January 1. $10 per adult; children 4 and under are free.

    NASCAR fans? Wood Brothers Racing, one of the oldest continually operating teams in NASCAR, has a Racing Museum in Stuart.

    Care to take a ride on my big green tractor? While you won’t really take any of them out to go slow or faster, the fine private collection of pre-1960 tractors you’ll find at Keystone Tractorworks Museum in Colonial Heights will surely delight all the menfolk in your family and maybe the ladies, too. $8 per adult; $5 per child aged 6 to 17. Open daily.

    Find the National Firearms Museum in Fairfax, Virginia, displaying more than 2,000 historic firearms from a 600-year period. Of note, see the oldest gun in America – a wheel lock musket from aboard the Mayflower, those of Dwight Eisenhower, Theodore Roosevelt, Annie Oakley, Buffalo Bill Cody, Napoleon, Chuck Yeager, Jesse James and more.  Hollywood guns like those from “No Country for Old Men” and “Dirty Harry” are on display, too. The museum is open daily from 9:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. and is free.

    Steamboat Era Museum

    Steamboat Era Museum

    American Celebration on Parade is a must-see for parade enthusiasts. Just off I-81 in the Shenandoah Valley near Shenandoah Caverns, the huge facility is home to floats from the Rose Parade, Presidential Inaugurations and many more national celebrations.

    The romantic steamboat period of the 1800-and early 1900s is captured at the Steamboat Era Museum in Irvington along the Chesapeake Bay. Models and artifacts bring the photographs to life. Open Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

    For those who’d rather not shiver in the cold, planetariums are great places to explore the night sky during winter.

    Another warm-up idea is the Harrisonburg Fire Department Museum. See uniforms, medals, photographs and of course, equipment. Open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. Free.

    In Big Stone Gap, deep in coal country, is the Harry W. Meador Coal Museum. A visit here provides a step back in time. See coal company items, equipment, photographs and more. Open Wednesday through Sunday. Free.

    The vault of fun has in no way been emptied with this list. Hit up Virginia.org to explore more museums and attractions.

    LOVE is at the heart of every Virginia vacation. Virginia is for Lovers.



    Family | 1 Comment

    Handcrafted Holiday Gifts

    by Casey | Posted on November 29th, 2012

    Everyone on your list deserves something special, so why not give them an original creation from one of Virginia’s talented artisans? From art galleries and studios to craft shows and bazaars, beautiful baubles, sculptures, stained glass, paintings, jewelry and photography are available for purchase. Let the hunt for your perfect heartfelt gift begin!

    The Artisan Center, Martinsville

    The Artisan Center, Martinsville

    At Heartwood in Abingdon shoppers will find a wide selection of handmade gifts – all juried to be the best of the best. Soaps, quilts, instruments, pottery, glass and wood works touch the creative side of things while coffee, tea, wine, jams, jellies, apparel and CDs round out the immense gift selection.

    Not far from Breaks Interstate Park and the Virginia/Kentucky border is Haysi, where you’ll find Mountain Art Works – a treasure trove of locally made items. Woodwork, paintings, quilts, afghans, candles and even the occasional  guitar, mandolin, fiddle or banjo handcrafted by one of the nearby luthiers are all available for purchase. If you’re seeking authentic Appalachian gifts, this is your place.

    The Artisan Center in Martinsville’s Historic Uptown District is the creative hub for the community, offering the works of 66 artists in their retail store as well as workshops for aspiring artisans, all thanks to Patrick Henry Community College. Should your handmade gift search lead you here, you’ll find ceramics, paintings, fabric creations, metal, wood and glass works, jewelry, furniture and quite a bit more.

    Just off Interstate 81 in the Shenandoah Valley is Crafty Hands, located inside The Shops at Dayton Farmers Market in Dayton. Here you’ll find the works of famed artist P. Buckley Moss as well as jewelry, burnt wood pieces, wind chimes and baskets.

    Buck Island Bay Decoys

    Buck Island Bay Decoys

    For the duck hunter or nature lover on your list, check out Buck Island Bay Decoys in Montebello. Richard Christy’s award-winning, authentic waterfowl carvings are known throughout the States and abroad. Each piece is carved from native white cedar and tupelo gum; no two pieces are alike. While you have Mr. Christy’s ear, ask him about his time as President Gerald Ford’s Chef and maybe even ask if his Rock-N-Creek Cabin is available for the night.

    See art in progress when you visit Alexandria and shop the Torpedo Factory Art Center. Eighty-two studios for 165 artisans give artsy shoppers a plethora of gift-buying options.

    Take a bit of the water home with you when you shop the Aft Gallery at Skipjack Nautical Wares in Portsmouth – a premier marine art gallery of original works by regional, national and international artists. Expect to find nautical jewelry, seascape paintings, carvings, decoys, ships in bottles, naval and military paintings and prints, and nearly anything else marine-art worthy you can think of. Nearly 30 artists are represented at Aft Gallery.

    Specializing in acrylic and pastel landscapes of the Chesapeake Bay, Gayle N. Mandell opens her Moran Creek Studio in Weems to you for shopping Wednesday through Saturday. Commission requests are welcome!

    Hidden Treasures Craft Gallery in Parksley on Virginia’s Eastern Shore may be the home of Laughing Dog Jewelry, but shoppers will also find homemade soaps, lotions, candles and a bundle more. The artists here are members of the more than 20-strong Eastern Shore Art League. To see more artists’ work , visit the ESAL Art Gallery in Onancock.

    Which direction will you head for your perfect handcrafted gift? Find more galleries as well as a list of craft shows at Virginia.org/HandmadeHolidays.

    LOVE is at the heart of every Virginia vacation. Virginia is for Lovers.



    Arts | 1 Comment

    Winter Break, Here We Come!

    by Casey | Posted on November 26th, 2012

    It won’t be long now. Schools will break for winter and you’ll have a little bit more time together as a family. What will you do?

    In Virginia the opportunities for winter fun are plentiful. The outdoor-loving family will find the powdery slopes of one of the mountain resorts to be a perfect fit. Learn-to programs, indoor waterparks, a wealth of dining options and extreme sports provide something for everyone.

    Hub-and-spoke from an urban center like Richmond, Norfolk or Fairfax to enjoy great after-Christmas shopping deals as well as ice skating and museums. From Richmond and Williamsburg to the cities of Coastal Virginia you can jump from city to city for the “100 Miles of Lights” displays, while in Northern Virginia there are awesome displays like The Bull Run Festival of Lights in Centreville – available through January 6, 2013.

    Chilhuly

    Chilhuly

    Current & Upcoming Family-Cool To-Do’s:

    • Chilhuly at the Virginia Museum of Fine Art, Richmond – Dale Chihuly is credited with revolutionizing the Studio Glass movement and elevating the medium of glass from the realm of craft to fine art. $20 per person; $16 for students and seniors with valid ID. On exhibit through February 10, 2013.
    • Seals Behind the Scenes at Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center, Virginia Beach - Go inside the habitat of the harbor seals get an up-close view.  Observe the animal care staff as they conduct a behavioral training session. $55 per person. Available select dates through June 2013.
    • Virginia Ballet Company presents Nutcracker, Annandale – It’s the 63rd season of Virginia Ballet Company’s performance of the classic Nutcracker. $30 per adult; $20 per child. December 26-29, 2012.
    • Christmas at Mount Vernon – Twelve Christmas trees and a very special gingerbread rendition of Mount Vernon await your family now through January 6, 2013 as George Washington’s estate is decked for the holidays. The rarely-opened third floor will be available for tours. $15 per adult; $7 per child.
    • Fantasyland, Roanoke – The children will appreciate a visit with Saint Nicholas while he tells tales, sings, plays the piano and spreads joy at The Dumas Center for Artistic and Cultural Development. Join in through December 23, 2012.
    • Christmas Town: A Busch Gardens Celebration, Williamsburg – Each year there’s something new to see! Get your peppermint fudge hot chocolate and enjoy the twinkles, smells and sights that speak to the child in all of us. $27 per person. Available through December 31, 2012.
    • First Night Events, Statewide – Find the perfect celebration to ring in the New Year with your family.
    • Annual Running of the Trains, Blackstone – It only happens once a year – Bobby and Lynn Daniels fire up the O-Gauge trains to puff through the realistic miniature villages and snow animations. Free. January 5, 2013.
    • MORE EVENTS
    LOVE is at the heart of every Virginia vacation. Virginia is for Lovers.



    Family, Winter | 1 Comment

    10 Tips for Hosting Family this Holiday

    by Casey | Posted on November 15th, 2012

    So your family is coming to enjoy one of the season’s holidays with you. What’s your game plan?

    First, start with LOVE. They’re visiting because they love you, they want to make memories with you, and they know the value of togetherness. After that, we’re here to help!

    10 WAYS TO LOVE A FAMILY HOLIDAY

    Bryce Resort

    Bryce Resort

    1. Chill OutVirginia’s mountain resorts have something fun for every member of the family – EVERY member. Little kids can learn to ski or play it safe on the snow tubes while the big kids work the slopes. Fireside dining, spas and even indoor waterparks will entertain those who’d rather not get their adrenaline pumping in the chill of December.

    2. Shine On – The lights that radiate along skylines and neighborhoods are a draw for families. Get everyone situated with hot cocoa and then go for a ride to see the night aglow. Sites like Elks National Home in Bedford create festive displays to drive through, not to mention the famed 100 Miles of Lights that encompasses the coastal cities, Virginia Beach Boardwalk and Richmond. To truly go over the top, splurge on a trip to Busch Gardens for Christmas Town!

    3. Presidential Escapades – Since you’re in the state dubbed “Mother of Presidents,” why not take in a little history? The homes of Jefferson, Madison, Washington and Wilson are decorated and awaiting guests – your guests.

    4. Get Crafty – One more gift couldn’t hurt anything, especially if it’s handmade and keeping the family occupied. Visit a place like You Made It! in Harrisonburg, Color Me Mine in Norfolk or A Glass Expression Stained Glass Studio in Pound to make a one-of-a-kind original treasure.

    Tree Hunting

    Find your perfect tree.

    5. Tree Hunt – If you need a tree and haven’t already completed the set-up and decorating, make a new family memory by hunting for the perfect one together. Some Virginia tree farms offer a wagon ride to their tree thicket and have a gift shop with fresh wreaths and more.

    6. Run Off Steam – Usually the kids get a little more antsy than the parents when it comes to spending time together inside. Find a children’s museum like Amazement Square in Lynchburg or Children’s Museum of Virginia in Portsmouth to let them run off their energy while you chit chat amongst yourselves.

    7. Go Below – Since you’re chilly anyway, why not check out one of Virginia’s eight caverns? From the East Coast’s largest to one with an elevator and even one without an end, a day in a cavern is one that the family will talk about and remember for a while to come.

    8. Cheers – Virginia has more than 230 wineries, 60+ craft breweries and a growing number of distilleries and cideries. Designate a driver (and a babysitter, if necessary) to head out and sample some of Virginia’s best adult handmade beverages.

    9. Say Cheese – Pick a beautiful backdrop for a family photo and then go have fun with silly faces and fun Christmas sweaters. Our favorites are covered bridges, any of the lookouts along the Blue Ridge Parkway and of course, our LOVEworks were made for opportunities like yours. Not only will it be an excellent adventure, but you’ll have proof of the fun, too.

    10. Skate Away – Choose your venue – indoors or out? Do you prefer blades or wheels? Virginia has great ice skating opportunities and quite a few roller skating rinks, too. Either sport is a great pastime for adults and a fun new sport for the next generation. If you’d rather just see a giant skate, we have that, too.

    We wish you a love-filled season as you celebrate your Hanukkah, Christmas or Kwanzaa with those closest to you.

    Virginia is for Lovers.
    Request a free Travel Guide

    * Post updated December 11, 2013.



    Family, The Holidays | 1 Comment

    Great Shopping Deals in Virginia

    by Casey | Posted on November 15th, 2012

    ‘Tis the season for gift-giving and Virginia has you covered with great outlet shopping.

    Williamsburg Premium Outlets

    Williamsburg Premium Outlets

    Virginia’s Premium Outlets are located in Leesburg and Williamsburg. Sign up to be a VIP Shopper (for free) and receive access to online coupons, the VIP Coupon Book and advance notification of sales events.

    In Leesburg, the outlet includes 110 high-end stores like Michael Kors, Coach, Burberry, Juicy Couture and Barneys New York.

    In Williamsburg you’ll find 135 stores with some of the above plus Dooney & Bourke and Calvin Klein.

    Both outlets will be “Black Friday” havens as several stores are opening at midnight on November 23 and will entertain extended hours all weekend. Better yet, quite a few are opening Thanksgiving night at 9 p.m.

    Woodbridge is home to Potomac Mills Mall – Virginia’s largest mall with more than 200 retailers, including Bloomingdales – The Outlet Store, DKNY and The LEGO Store. When you need a break, take the bags to the car and enjoy a movie at one of the 18 AMC Theatres. Stores open at midnight on the 23rd and have extended hours all weekend.

    Find more great shopping locations at Virginia.org and don’t forget “Shop Small Saturday” (November 24) for great local deals in Virginia’s charming downtowns.

    LOVE is at the heart of every Virginia vacation. Virginia is for Lovers.
    Request a free Travel Guide.



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