Travel Ideas and Stories - Virginia's Travel Blog
ShareRSS  

Archive for April, 2013

The Destination is Worth the Journey

by Casey | Posted on April 25th, 2013

Hikers know the pay-off to a tough climb is sometimes what you find at the end. If you’re new to hiking or just looking for a great view to photograph, enjoy with a loved one or bask in, these are for you.

Spy Rock

Spy Rock

Noted as possibly the best viewpoint in the central portion of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Spy Rock is a rock outcrop at 3,980 feet with 360 degree panoramic views. It’s a two mile hike from Montebello Fish Hatchery in Montebello up to the Appalachian Trail and onto Spy Rock.

From atop Birch Knob Towers on Pine Mountain in Clintwood one can see Kentucky, West Virginia, North Carolina and Tennessee. On a clear day, Ohio is even in view. Get there by climbing 183 stairs for an elevation of 3,144 feet. While it’s not a true hike, it is an incredible reward for climbing stairs. Additionally, a two-mile trek from the parking lot leads to Jenny Falls.

Fifty miles on a clear day. That’s how far you can see from Buffalo Mountain Natural Area Preserve in Floyd County. The elevation is 3,971 feet but you can reach the summit with a half-mile hike. More unique than the views it yields are the rare plant and animal species in the natural area. The treeless summit is home to subalpine vegetation.

Fern Lake from Pinnacle Overlook. Photo by Scott Teodorski.

Fern Lake from Pinnacle Overlook. Photo by Scott Teodorski.

Pinnacle Overlook affords quite a view. Take a peek when you visit Cumberland Gap National Historical Park in Ewing. The view of Fern Lake in Kentucky (left) isn’t the only awesome thing about these 24,000 acres. Check out the waterfalls, Skylight Cave, Gap Cave and unique rock formations, too.

Peaks of more than 5,000 feet have an alpine feel to them, not to mention breathtaking vistas. Where are they? Mount Rogers (5,728 feet) in Marion and Whitetop Mountain (5,520 feet) in Mouth of Wilson. They’re the highest and second highest points in Virginia, respectively.

Serious hikers might be interested in tackling The Priest Mountain (4.063 feet) or Three Ridges, a rugged area with rewarding views. Both areas are deemed wilderness and are accessible by the Appalachian Trail in Nelson County.

A different type of view is just as rewarding as the scenic views that are mentioned above, and that is of The Channels Natural Area Preserve. The Channels are a series of giant sandstone boulders with eroded crevices. As avid outdoorswoman and Virginia Tourism Corporation staffer Danielle Emerson puts it, “it’s the ultimate game of hide-and-seek.”

What are your favorite Virginia hikes? See a list others have suggested at Virginia.org/Hiking.

Related:

LOVE is at the heart of every Virginia vacation. Virginia is for Lovers.
Request a free Travel Guide or sign up for our e-newsletter.

 



Outdoors | 1 Comment

10 Acclaimed Virginia Inns

by Casey | Posted on April 25th, 2013

Virginia innkeepers have hospitality nailed, and they have bragging rights to prove it. Consider this your list for Virginia bed and breakfasts, then start marking them off in 2013.

1. L’Auberge Provençale is a french country inn located in White Post, just one hour from Washington, DC. On site is La Table Provençale offering a three-course and five-course menu prifix or the seven-course tasting menu. The inn’s claims to fame include acknowledgements by USA Today, Wine Spectator, Fodor’s, TripAdvisor, OpenTable and Zagat. Book Now

2. The Hope and Glory Inn in Irvington on the Chesapeake Bay has been hailed among the “30 Great Inns in the US” by Travel + Leisure, and one of the “Top 10 Coastal Inns in the US” by Coastal Living Magazine.  Why so great? The Hope and Glory Inn was an 1890s schoolhouse that has been transformed into six amazing rooms. Add on six garden cottages and four vineyard cottages (called tents) at The Dog and Oyster, plus an oyster boat for cocktail cruises, a garden bath, a bar, a spa … the list goes on and on. Book Now

3. Located in Locust Dale, The Inn at Meander Plantation is featured in Fodor’s as “One of the South’s Best Bed and Breakfast Inns” and included among the “Most Elegant Bed and Breakfasts” by Arrington’s Book of Lists. The Inn is a 1776 reprieve surrounded by 80 acres of beautifully rolling hills, and features an on-site restaurant and vineyard. Book Now

4. The Inn at Willow Grove in Orange has been described as “urban meets plantation” by Southern Living Magazine in their “Best of the South” article (April 2013), thanks to the fine linens and heated marble floors in the bathrooms. The Inn has also been mentioned by Travel + Leisure in their travel segments on The Weather Channel and CNN. Book Now

5. Southern Living and Conde Nast Traveler have recognized Middleton Inn Bed and Breakfast, and so should you. Located in pastoral Washington, this historic estate is within walking distance of the famed Inn at Little Washington’s culinary delights. Middleton Inn is one of five Virginia bed and breakfasts honored with AAA’s 4-Diamond Award. Book Now

6. Another AAA 4-Diamond Award winner is The Oaks Victorian Inn in Christiansburg. This 1889 Queen Anne Victorian is on the National Register of Historic Places and offers gracious warmth and elegance. So much so, it has graced the cover of three books, including The Travel Guide to Inns, published by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The Inn was also featured in an episode of “Inn Country USA.” Inquire about the sweet garden cottage with loft and attached gazebo for a more intimate getaway. Book Now

7. Clifton Inn is located in Charlottesville and has been garnering media attention for nearly a decade. Of note are Southern Living, Travel + Leisure and Food and Wine, along with nuptial nods from Modern Bride, Weddings Unveiled and The Knot. Known for the fine dining as much as the 17 stunning rooms and suites, Clifton Inn is a place you’ll want to enjoy again and again. Book Now

8. The Inn at Warner Hall in Gloucester is a place you’d have trouble leaving the next day, just as Becky Krystal wrote in her Washington Post travel article in 2011. Steeped in American history, Warner Hall is named for George Washington’s great-great grandfather, Augustine Warner, the 1642 land grantee of the former plantation on which Warner Hall sits. Warner’s other descendants include Robert E. Lee, Meriwether Lewis and Queen Elizabeth II (no fooling!). The grounds at Warner Hall are astoundingly beautiful with the Severn River as a backdrop, and the food is great, too. Chef Eric Garcia was recently tapped as one of the Best Chefs of America 2013. Book Now

9. Situated right in the heart of historic Old Town Fredericksburg is The Richard Johnston Inn. Accolades includes “One of the Best Bed and Breakfasts in the South” by Southern Living and one of the Best 15 Inns in the U.S. by Inn Traveler Magazine. Families with their pets are welcome here! Book Now

10. Berryville’s Smithfield Farm Bed & Breakfast is in the hands of eighth generation beef cattle farmers. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that the meals you enjoy at the 1824 Federal manor house are farm-fresh and gaining attention by the likes of Gourmet and Southern Living. These 400 acres provide a serene escape to clear your mind. Book Now

With so many amazing inns and bed and breakfasts in Virginia, there’s no way a list of ten sums up the best of the best. Therefore, watch for another edition of great places to stay in Virginia. Let us show you the true hospitality and charm we have to offer. See more at Virginia.org.

LOVE is at the heart of every Virginia vacation. Virginia is for Lovers.
Request a free Travel Guide or sign up for our e-newsletter.



Couples | Comments Off

Beautiful Virginia Neighborhoods

by Casey | Posted on April 23rd, 2013

Virginia is a treasure trove of beautiful architecture, historic villages, thriving arts districts and culinary hot spots. If you’ve never visited, you’re going to LOVE it.

Portsmouth Lightship Museum

Portsmouth Lightship Museum

There’s only one way to explore a town and that’s on foot. Charlottesville‘s downtown mall is a great place to spend the day.  This open air pedestrian mall is home to more than 120 shops and 30 restaurants, settled into historic buildings. Patio dining is plentiful, as are the arts with the nTelos Wireless Pavilion and the Paramount Theater on either end.

The Elizabeth River is a beautiful highlight to the waterfront town of Portsmouth. Families enjoy Portsmouth for the many museums - Naval ShipyardLightship PortsmouthChildren’s Museum of VirginiaVirginia Sports Hall of Fame and others. Find plenty of dining options in Olde Towne along the 12 Historic Squares of High Street.

If you’re going to Southern Virginia, make sure South Boston and Danville are on your list. You’ll love the upscale dining of Bistro 1888 and the beautiful architecture of Millionaire’s Row. Danville is dubbed “City of Churches” – go see why.

Richmond’s Church Hill neighborhood is where you’ll find beautiful architecture and historic St. John’s Church, the site of Patrick Henry’s “Give me liberty or give me death” oration. See that site and a great deal more when you walk the 6.2-mile Richmond Liberty Trail, but not before you enjoy lunch at The Roosevelt where the food is “an untraditional celebration of the food of the south.”

May is the perfect time to get away to Waynesboro if you love the old school flavor of Virginia. The Waynesboro Motorsports Show features classic muscle cars, as well as the Rolling Thunder motorcycles. Conway Twitty’s ’56 T-bird, Austin Powers’ Shaguar and Alice Cooper’s ’57 Chevy will be on display. It’s happening May 11 and Basic City Luncheonette is the perfect ’50′s style hangout for lunch.

Newport News has a great deal to offer families and couples alike. Do a little shopping, get your arts fill at Yoder Barn, Peninsula Community Theatre or the Ferguson Center, and take in some history, too. Huntington Park‘s 60 acres includes a public beach on the James River. You can easily spend a weekend or more in Newport News.

Watch for our next installment of Beautiful Virginia Neighborhoods for more travel ideas, or go to Virginia.org to plan your trip today.

LOVE is at the heart of every Virginia vacation. Virginia is for Lovers.
Request a free Travel Guide or sign up for our e-newsletter.



Virginia Destinations | Comments Off

It’s Easy to be a ‘Tween in Virginia

by Casey | Posted on April 22nd, 2013

Not too little and not too big, ‘tweens are living what are perhaps the best years of childhood.  Bring them to Virginia where adventures perfect for them await.

Offer a taste of freedom and adrenaline when you take your big kid on a go-kart racing spree.

Swaders Sports Park~ Check out Swaders Sports Park in Prince George. Two tracks with four types of cars to choose from allow rookies to get the hang of driving or parents to take wheel to give them the ride of their life.

Go-Karts Plus in Williamsburg offers four tracks (super stockart, figure eight, euro and rookie) with some of their go-karts formed in the style of NASCAR stock cars.

~ In Martinsville (home of NASCAR’s oldest track), is the Martinsville Grand Prix Go Karts. Here racers can climb into a single- or double-seat kart for 15 to 20 laps on the track.

~ American Indoor Karting in Virginia Beach takes the fun inside, which means rain or shine, the fun is non-stop. The 1/4-mile course is euro style and includes machines built for kids and adults. Also try G-Force Karts in Richmond.

USS Wisconsin is berthed at NauticusIs your child showing indications he or she might be interested in a military career? Show them around the heavy equipment to see if it sticks.

~ Head to Norfolk to board the Battleship Wisconsin at Nauticus. It’s one of the biggest and last ships built by the United States Navy. Take a self-guided tour or let someone else guide you for the full history experience.

~ The American Armoured Foundation, Inc. is lovingly known as the Tank Museum. Why? You’ll find more than 115 tanks on display at this Danville museum, in addition to weapons, artillery pieces, and other tank and cavalry memorabilia.

~ The interactive National Museum of the Marine Corps is located in Triangle, adjacent to the Quantico Marine Corps Base. Aircraft, boot camp and Iwo Jima D-Day landing experiences heighten your child’s awareness. Don’t overlook the treasure of the museum – the flag raised on Mt. Suribachi, Iwo Jima, Japan.

Historic JamestowneWho doesn’t love a treasure hunt? Kids into digging will love seeing active archaeological dig sites.

~ Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello is an active dig site. Tag along on select dates to learn the basics of archaeological research and what has recently been unearthed at this historic destination.

~ James Madison’s Montpelier also offers archaeological expeditions on select dates. Montpelier.org encourages, “For students under 16 years of age, we require that a parent or guardian attend with the students, with many parents making it a memorable one-week experience with their son or daughter.”

~ Excavations are under way April through October at the 1607 James Fort site at Historic Jamestowne. See the dig in action and then visit the Voorhees Archaearium to see what has already been recovered.

This is part 3 of a 4 part series, but if you can’t wait, go see dozens more places for your kids to learn, have fun and thrive in Virginia at Virginia.org/CoolPlacesforKids. See part 1 – Your Teen is Going to LOVE Virginia and part 2 – Virginia Fun Made Just for Kids.

LOVE is at the heart of every Virginia vacation. Virginia is for Lovers.
Request a free Travel Guide or sign up for our e-newsletter.



Family | 1 Comment

Virginia Fun Made Just for Kids

by Casey | Posted on April 18th, 2013

Your baby isn’t a baby anymore, but she’s not a teen (or a ‘tween) either. What to do, what to do … Believe it or not, we have suggestions sure to spark your child’s creativity and pique her curiosity while serving up heavy doses of fun. Print, highlight and share this list for a memorable summer in Virginia.

National Air and Space Museum, Steven F. Udvar Hazy CenterDo you have a budding pilot or astronaut in your midst? Virginia’s two hottest destinations for those who love wings and heights are the Virginia Air & Space Center in Hampton and the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum, Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly.

The Virginia Air & Space Center is the official visitor center for the NASA Langley Research Center, the home of America’s space program. The Apollo 12 Command Capsule is on display, a perfect highlight for the moongazer in your house.
Also:
~ Wing Walk at Jenny bi-plane
~ Ride in a WWII bomber
~ Pilot an F/A-22 fighter jet
~ Explore the AirTran Airways DC-9
~ Simulate a lunar landing
~ Riverside IMAX 3D Theater (the first museum IMAX theater in the world to go 3D)

The Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center is an extension of the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum, but do not read that as “small, off-site gallery.” In fact, the Udvar-Hazy Center is an enormous Boeing hangar filled with important icons of aviation and space history. You’ll want to have your camera ready for this trip.
See:
~ Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird (the fastest jet in the world)
~ Boeing B-29 Superfortress Enola Gay (the bomber that dropped the atomic bomb)
~ Space Shuttle Discovery
~ Donald D. Engen Observation Tower (go up and watch air traffic in and out of Dulles Airport)
~ Airbus IMAX Theater

Virginia Living MuseumIf your child has a love for animals, head to a destination with plenty of mouths to feed. A trip to the Virginia Living Museum in Newport News may help to develop your animal lover into a veterinarian, marine biologist or park ranger.
Enjoy:
~ Frogs, salamanders (endangered and the largest of each in Virginia)
~ Fish a’plenty (prehistoric paddlefish, longnose gar, moon jelly, eels …)
~ Many mammals (beavers, otters, coyotes, foxes, bobcats, red wolves, deer …)
~ A variety of birds (vultures, owls, songbirds, raptors, turkeys …)
~ Spine-tingling reptiles (venomous cottonmouths, copperheads and timber rattlers, as well as alligators, loggerhead sea turtles, and lizards)

Virginia Safari ParkTwelve hundred animals roam free at the 180-acre Virginia Safari Park in Natural Bridge as you drive through in your own vehicle or climb aboard a tractor-drawn wagon for a narrated tour. We recommend the wagon tour for its educational value as well as for the sake of your car’s cleanliness. Your three-mile meander rewards with camels, zebras, elk, bison, watusi, yaks, antelopes and more. Of course, they’re looking for a reward, too: your bucket of grain.

In addition to the drive-thru portion of the park, a Safari Village walk-thru is full of interactive habitats.
Meet:
~ Giraffes (feed them at their height!)
~ Bengal tigers and cheetahs (don’t feed them)
~ Budgies in the aviary (those are safe to feed)
~ Kangaroos, reptiles, monkeys, warthogs, giant tortoises, flamingos and more

The Science Museum of Virginia in Richmond lets your child get hands-on with circuits, machines and in labs of all kinds. Learn about the human body, weather, gravity, how rats play basketball and if a rainbow can be created in a tube.
Surprise:
~ Virginia’s largest IMAX screen (the IMAX®DOME) wraps around you
~ Overnight adventures (yes, “Night at the Museum” is possible!)
~ Summer camps

This is part 2 of a 4 part series, but if you can’t wait, go see dozens more places for your kids to learn, have fun and thrive in Virginia at Virginia.org/CoolPlacesforKids. See part 1 – Your Teen is Going to LOVE Virginia.

LOVE is at the heart of every Virginia vacation. Virginia is for Lovers.
Request a free Travel Guide or sign up for our e-newsletter.



Family | Comments Off