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    Where is the LOVE?

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    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
    @rbuck65 recently hiked Bearfence #Mountain off of #SkylineDrive, and this was the reward! This #hike is fairly short with a nice payoff. The trail head is near mile marker 56.4 on the Skyline Drive. #photooftheday #repost #epic #hiking #mountaintop #sunset #blueridgemountains #vaoutdoors Don't forget to tag your #Virginia photos with #LoveVA for a chance to be featured here!
  • Archive for December, 2012

    Warm Smiles and Freebies, Too

    by Casey | Posted on December 18th, 2012

    The best recommendations and directions always come from “the locals.” Why not utilize them when you’re passing through Virginia?

    Virginia’s Welcome Centers are staffed with courteous, knowledgeable folks who are not only happy to, but eager to help you find a great place to eat, make a room reservation or map a route. Additionally, free crayons and coloring books await your children when you stop by.

    Virginia Welcome Center Resources:

    Alexandra Veatch represents Heartwood: Southwest Virginia’s Artisan Gateway at the Bristol Welcome Center December 21 and 28, offering coupons good for a free 2013 Heartwood calendar.

    Through December, stop into the Lambsburg location for discounts at the Red Hill General Store in Hillsville. Offers include coupons for $1 off a purchase, free soda, $5 off a $30 purchase or $10 off a $60 purchase.

    Through December at the Fredericksburg location the Hilton Garden Inn is offering an $84 per night flat rate; just pick up the flier or coupon book.

    One last request for toys from Santa? Find him at New Church December 21. Passing through the day before? The Center is delighted to host Smokey Bear. Bring your camera in to capture these moments!

     

    Virginia Welcome Centers

    1 Clear Brook 7 Bristol
    2 Fredericksburg 8 Rocky Gap
    3 New Church 9Covington
    4Skippers 10Bell Tower
    5Bracey 11East Coast Gateway
    6Lambsburg 11Manassas

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



    The Holidays | 2 Comments

    Give the Gift of Travel

    by Casey | Posted on December 14th, 2012

    If you’re last-minute gift shopping or just now getting into the spirit of the season, we have a few unique ideas for you.

    Bed & Breakfast Getaway

    Purchase a Bed and Breakfast Association of Virginia gift card. This alleviates the fuss of which B&B to book and when. The cards can be purchased in increments of $25, never lose their value and never expire. The gift card is only accepted at BBAV member B&Bs, but there are more than 200 to choose from.

    Season Passes or Just a Night

    Aspen Santa Fe Ballet. Courtesy of Wolf Trap.

    Aspen Santa Fe Ballet. Courtesy of Wolf Trap.

    Is music, performing arts or sports one of the things your recipient loves? Treat them to a ticket package, gift certificate or season pass to a venue.

    Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts is known for the amazing artists they bring to the stage every year, as well as their Children’s Theatre-in-the-Woods. While the 2013 schedules continue to unfold, go ahead and give your music and art lovers a gift certificate that they can apply to the event of their choice. Available in values of $10 to $100.

    Invite the adrenaline to flow when you give the gift of racing. American Indoor Karting in Virginia Beach  is offering 50% off gift cards when purchased between now and Christmas Day. Annual memberships are available, too.

    The Castleton Festival in Rappahannock County doesn’t kick off until July 2013, which means you can treat someone to a ticket package they can look forward to. From three opera performances (starting at $67.50) to five theatre performances (starting at $97.50), your recipient can enjoy world-class art under the direction of former New York Philharmonic Music Director, Maestro Lorin Maazel.

    SplatBrothers® Paintball, Hopewell

    SplatBrothers® Paintball, Hopewell

    Paintballers are dedicated and will hit the scenario field any time of year. Give the gift of strategy with a gift certificate to SplatBrothers® Paintball Park in Hopewell – Virginia’s largest and longest running paintball park. Available for $25, $50 and $100 and they never expire.

    The American Shakespeare Center’s Blackfriars Playhouse in Staunton offers a $400 annual pass that provides 16 tickets for your choice of productions plus 25% off additional tickets. Their $198 Pick 6 package provides six tickets for your choice of productions plus 10% off additional tickets. For either package, the provided tickets are good for productions through June 16, 2013.

    The Barter Theatre in Abingdon has a few ticket packages, all including two tickets to a production of your choice and then adding on either meals at the Barter Cafejust desserts or three-course dinners at The Martha. The prices range from $70 to $155.

    Museum Memberships

    The fun of a museum membership is that you’ll often get an advanced viewing of the newest exhibits, be invited to special members-only events and enjoy discounted museum store shopping.

    Through the Virginia Historical Society the purchaser AND the membership recipient receive a keepsake Dogwood ornament. Membership levels range from teacher ($48) to family ($72).

    Explore More Discovery Museum, Harrisonburg.

    Explore More Discovery Museum, Harrisonburg.

    Museum memberships are awesome for kids. The Explore More Discovery Museum in Harrisonburg offers weekday drop-in programs that are free to members, as well as discounts for birthday parties. Membership levels range from One Plus One (one named adult and child; $65) to Explorer (two named adults and all their children; $125).

    Kids of any age (and their parents) would enjoy membership to the Virginia Air & Space Center in Hampton where benefits include unlimited free visits, free and discounted IMAX tickets, special camp and party rates and quite a bit more. The list is long! Membership levels range from Commuter (one individual and a guest; $65) to Million Miler (one individual and up to 9 guests; $500).

    Hopefully this has given you some “outside-the-box” ideas for gift-giving. Make it a merry and bright season to remember with the gift of travel!

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



    Arts, Events, Family, Outdoors, The Holidays, Travel Ideas | Comments Off

    12 Classic Virginia Experiences

    by Casey | Posted on December 12th, 2012

    In honor of 12/12/12 we’ve put together a list of 12 classic, not to miss experiences in Virginia. If you’re following the Mayan calendar, you’ll need to fit them in by December 21. Good luck!

    Humpback Rocks, milepost 5.8 on the Blue Ridge Parkway

    Humpback Rocks, milepost 5.8 on the Blue Ridge Parkway

    1. Hike the Appalachian Trail. No, not the whole thing, but a chunk of it would make you feel good. Start in Shenandoah National Park or the Blue Ridge Parkway. Hey, did you know Virginia has more miles of the AT than any other state? Trivia and exercise. You’re welcome.

    2. Find your way through the Triangle. Not the spooky Bermuda Triangle, but America’s Historic Triangle – Jamestown, Williamsburg and Yorktown. All of America is rooted in the happenings of this area, from the 1607 landing at Jamestowne to the new nation ideas bred at Williamsburg and the conclusion of the Revolutionary War at Yorktown. That’s a lot of historical action in a pretty tight radius.

    3. If seeing sites that include words like biggest, endless, deepest or tallest are on your bucket list, we can help you mark them off. Virginia has eight caverns, including the largest in the eastern United States (Luray), one that has no end (New Market), the deepest (Natural Bridge) and one that has the tallest stalagmite in the world (Middlesboro).

    McDonald's Holiday Lights at the Beach

    McDonald's Holiday Lights at the Beach

    4. For one key annual event, you’re welcome to drive the longest boardwalk in the country - the Virginia Beach Boardwalk. It’s the McDonald’s Holiday Lights on the Beach, part of Virginia’s 100 Miles of Lights connecting seven twinkling cities.

    5. Walk on cobblestones! There’s nothing neater than cobblestone streets and you can still find them across Virginia. Check out Virginia’s Main Streets and then look in places you wouldn’t suspect, like Richmond‘s Shockoe Slip, the Freemason District of Norfolk and Old Town Alexandria.

    6. Have a whale of a time on board a boat bound for winter wildlife viewing off the coast of Virginia. The team at the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center in Virginia Beach is happy to take you into the Atlantic for a chance to see the fin and humpback whales migrating this time of year. Of course, no one controls the whales and where they swim, so don’t get too upset if you don’t happen to spot one.

    7. Visit the Mother of Presidents when you visit Virginia. Eight United States Presidents have hailed from the Commonwealth and you can visit their homes and libraries as well as the places they dined, studied and enjoyed the social scene.

    8. Drink life in at your choice of more than 200 wineries, more than 40 craft breweries or a quickly growing number of cideries and distilleries. Designated drivers are mandatory, we said so.

    9. Strike a chord in the birthplace of country music – Bristol - and travel The Crooked Road to see and hear music history and tradition at places like Carter Family Fold and the Ralph Stanley Museum.

    F. Chan, Luray

    Luray, VA

    10. Walk in Steven Spielberg’s footsteps when you check out Lincoln – The Movie Trail. The cast and crew were on set in Virginia for 53 days filming the new movie LINCOLN. Go eat where they ate, see the film sites and enter for a chance to win a three-night Lincoln-themed vacation.

    11. Zip line through a snowy winter wonderland at Wintergreen Resort. It’s 900 feet at speeds of up to 40 miles per hour. Don’t forget to wear a ski mask. Brrr!

    12. At the end of everything, what really matters? We’d argue and bet many would agree that LOVE is the answer. Find the LOVEworks location nearest you and take a family photo for posterity’s sake.

    So, what would be your 12 Virginia travel experiences not to miss before the end of the world?

    We wish you the best and when the end doesn’t come on December 21, 2012, well, you’ll still be able to put LOVE at the heart of every Virginia vacation you ever take!  Go ahead and order a Virginia Travel Guide just in case we do make it to New Year’s Day.



    Beaches, Beer, Destinations, Family, Filmed in Virginia, History, Outdoors, The Holidays, Winter | 3 Comments

    Holiday Food Shopping Excursions

    by Casey | Posted on December 6th, 2012

    Sure, the grocery store might have what you need for the holiday dinner, but what fun is that? Get out of town or at least support the local shops for some great Virginia-made products.

    Is ham on your list? There’s no place to go but Smithfield for the real deal. Right on Main Street you’ll find Taste of Smithfield, a restaurant and store. Sample the wares, enjoy a nice lunch and bring home the bacon. Yep, they have that, too.

    Woodson's Mill

    Woodson's Mill white cornmeal

    Flours are a necessity for baking and you can purchase it freshly ground from local millers like Jim Young at Wade’s Mill in Raphine or Steve Roberts at Woodson’s Mill in Roseland. Gift sets are available from each mill as well.

    Virginia peanuts are renowned and you can get them from a few places. They’re perfect for gift-giving and pre-dinner munching.

    Virginia is experiencing an explosive re-birth of its oyster industry and has been dubbed the Oyster Capital of the East Coast thanks to being the largest farm-raised oyster producing state in the country. Lovers of the succulent delicacy can choose from seven salinity regions and get their take fresh from the water.

    If you find yourself expanding the menu for more seafood than just oysters, let it be known that Wachapreague is the Flounder Capital of the World.

    Foggy Ridge Cider apples

    Foggy Ridge Cider apples

    On to the beverages!

    Apple cider is a favorite holiday treat and Virginia has a burgeoning cider industry – both hard and not.

    In the Blue Ridge Highlands you can visit Foggy Ridge Cider, the 2012 Cooking Light Taste Test Award Winner. Growing American heirloom apples as well as French and English cider apples, the cidermaker, Diane Flynt, manipulates the harvest as little as possible to create three ciders and a cider + apple brandy blend.

    Additional Cideries and Orchards:

    Wine? Yes, Virginia has plenty of that. Take your pick of more than 200 wineries statewide. Beer? Oh yes, the craft beer industry is thriving in Virginia, too.

    Enjoy the season of cooking and travel!

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



    Food and Wine, The Holidays | Comments Off

    Historic Holiday Home Tours

    by Casey | Posted on December 4th, 2012

    It might not be exactly what you’re thinking it will be. In fact, it’s probably better. Take time to tour Virginia’s historic homes this season and you’ll walk into various centuries of decor and celebration.

    Maymont
    Maymont

    Renowned Historic Homes

    Endview Plantation, c. 1769, will be decorated for the 1861 holidays this month. Learn about this home’s Civil War history when you tour daily between 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Newport News. $6 per adult; $4 per child aged 7-18.

    Oatlands Plantation in Leesburg dates from 1798 with construction of the Federal-style mansion following establishment in 1804. Experience Christmas at Oatlands all month long with grand decorations, but don’t miss the special candlelight tours available from 5 to 7 p.m. December 16, 21-23 and 26. $12 per adult; $8 per child aged 6-16.

    The finest Federal home on the Eastern Shore is Ker Place in Onancock, built between 1799 and 1803. Ker Place is now the home of the Eastern Shore of Virginia Historical Society, but its previous occupiers consisted of only two families (1801-1960). Join in for a Holiday Open House this Saturday, December 8 from 2 to 6 p.m. and enjoy entertainment, games, homemade sweets, carols and a visit with Santa Claus. Free.

    An 1893 Victorian Christmas awaits you this Sunday, December 8. Make time for an Old-Fashioned Christmas at Maymont (noon to 5 p.m.) where the formal rooms are decorated in grand style with ladies and gentlemen to welcome you. Horse-drawn carriage rides, food, drink, music and even St. Nick make this one merry occasion in Richmond. $5 per adult; $3 per child up to age 12. Carriage rides additional $5 and $3, respectively.

    A variety of eras are represented at Agecroft Hall in Richmond this Sunday from 12:30 to 5 p.m. Move from 1640s England to 1850s London and of course, 1940s Richmond as you encounter interpreters like Charles Dickens reading his A Christmas Carol. $8 per adult; $5 per child 6-18.

    Presidential Homes

    George Washington’s Mount Vernon will be open for candlelight tours this weekend and next, December 8-9, 15-16 from 5 until 8:30 p.m. Mount Vernon has a storied history. The mansion actually began as a modest farmhouse in the 1740′s and was twice re-built and expanded from the foundation up. Today’s Mount Vernon reflects its 1799 appearance. Candlelight tours include fireside caroling with hot cider and ginger cookies, as well as a walk through the first and second floors of the authentically decorated mansion. $20 per adult; $14 per child

    Monticello

    Monticello

    Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello dates to 1769 (when construction began) and  is open for an intimate evening tour and reception to show you how that presidential family celebrated the season. Enjoy period culinary delights and take home a recipe, too, after you tour the home and the rarely-seen dome room. December 14 and 16 from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. $75 per person. Monticello is the only home in the United States recognized by the United Nations as a World Heritage Site.

    James Monroe’s home, Ash Lawn-Highland, is decorated all month long with fresh boxwood, fruits and holly to bring a special holiday emphasis to the early 19th century dwelling of the fifth President of the United States. The home Monroe called his “cabin castle” became his primary residence in 1799 though the home conveyed with his land purchase in 1793. Visit daily (closed Christmas Day) between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. $12 per adult; $6 per child aged 6 to 11.

    Did you know Monticello wasn’t Thomas Jefferson’s only home? Visit his retreat, Poplar Forest (built between 1806 and 1821) for a free tour this Sunday between noon and 4 p.m. Bring a non-perishable food donation and enjoy period decorations, music and living history interpretations, children’s activities and fun storytelling.

    Montpelier

    Montpelier

    The Father of the Constitution and fourth President of the United States, James Madison, grew up in and made his adult home Montpelier. His father, James Madison, Sr., completed the original portion of today’s mansion in 1764. In 1797 the second portion of the mansion was began by the younger Madison – an “townhouse” style addition to the abode his father still resided in. Upon his father’s death in 1801, Madison inherited the other half and worked to unify the structure. Tour Montpelier by candlelight this weekend, December 7-9, from 4:30 to 8 p.m. Be greeted by Dolley Madison for a tour and enjoy carolers on the front lawn. Period-dressed waltzers will delight guests in the Salon while refreshments and wine await you in the duPont Gallery. $30 at the door

    Tour Several Historic Homes at One Price

    Homes dating from 1796 to 1888 are on tour in Fincastle this Saturday between 9:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. Additionally, a marketplace of 30 local and regional artists can alleviate some of your shopping stress. $15 per person.

    Mark your calendars with more Holiday Home Tours.

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



    Events, History, The Holidays | 1 Comment