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    #Goodmorning from the #VirginiaBeach Fishing #Pier. It looks like another beautiful day is in store for #Virginia. #LoveVA #sunrise #photooftheday #todaysunrise #vatravel #bigsky @visitvabeach #vaoutdoors
    Behind-the-scenes on today's photo shoot in #VirginiaBeach with photographer @meatkinson. We're #paddleboarding in front of the Cape Henry Lighthouse with Tula Adventure Sports. @tulasports #loveva #photoshoot #behindthescenes #photooftheday @visitvabeach
    Today's the day of the annual Pony Swim made famous by Marguerite Henry's "Misty of Chincoteague." Every year thousands of spectators gather from around the world to watch the #saltwatercowboys heard the wild ponies from #Assateague to #Chincoteague Island. This event is totally #bucketlist worthy! Photo props go to @cohennic. Tag your #VA photos with #LoveVA for a chance to be featured here! #repost #virginia #vatravel #wildponies #beach #photooftheday #cowboys #chincoteagueponyswim
    Do you recognize one of the oldest tourist destinations in the US? This beauty has been included on several "Seven Natural Wonders of the World" lists, was surveyed by George Washington in 1750 and was once owned by Thomas Jefferson as a personal retreat. While you're visiting don't forget to swing by the legendary Foamhenge, explore the Natural Bridge Caverns and get your photo taken with a baby tiger at the Natural Bridge Zoo. Photo credit: @takeiteasybee #loveva #virginia #vaoutdoors #naturalwonder #naturalbridge #howisummer #vatravel #virginiaisforlovers #photooftheday #fatherson
  • Archive for April, 2013

    The Mansions of Virginia State Parks

    by Casey | Posted on April 17th, 2013

    You thought Virginia State Parks were all about camping and being outdoorsy, didn’t you? Well, they are, but there are historical features that might not have made it on your radar before. Like mansions. Come explore!

    Jones-Stewart Mansion at Chippokes Plantation State Park

    Jones-Stewart Mansion at Chippokes Plantation State Park

    Chippokes Plantation State Park is located opposite Historic Jamestowne on the James River, so it should be no surprise that this plot of land has been farmed since 1619. Actually, it’s one of the oldest continually farmed plantations in the country.

    The antebellum Jones-Stewart mansion is the centerpiece of the historic area at Chippokes, which also includes outbuildings and a Farm and Forestry Museum. The mansion is open for tours on weekends April through October and other select dates.

    Special Events:
    Steam and Gas Engine Show, June 1
    Pork, Peanut and Pine Festival, July 20-21

    The Karlan Mansion at Wilderness Road State Park in Ewing is an 1870s beauty available for special event rentals. The home was constructed from bricks made on the property. A museum room inside contains letters between Robert Ely and his wife Susan, concerning the construction of the home. Karlan has undergone several renovations over the years. The fireplaces and a pie safe are all that are original to this grand estate.

    Southwest Virginia Museum Historical State Park

    Interior of the Southwest Virginia Museum.

    Special Events:
    Raid at Martin’s Station, May 10-12
    Fall Encampment at Martin’s Station, October 11-13
    Wilderness Road Heritage Festival, October 12
    Pumpkins in the Park, October 25-26

    Bel Air Mansion at Belle Isle State Park in Lancaster is the only state park mansion visitors can sleep in. The Colonial style Bel Air was built in 1942 by an architectural historian with Colonial Williamsburg. The home is available for event rentals as well as overnight accommodation, but is only open for tours by appointment.

    Special Events:
    Bay Seafood Festival, September 6

    The Southwest Virginia Museum at the Southwest Virginia Museum Historical State Park in Big Stone Gap is actually an 1890s Victorian stone mansion. The museum exhibits tell the tales of the region from 1700s pioneering to 1800s mining.

    Special Events:
    Gathering in the Gap Music Festival, May 25

    See what other secrets and special events Virginia State Parks have in store at Virginia.org.

     

    LOVE is at the heart of every Virginia vacation. Virginia is for Lovers.
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    Virginia Destinations | Comments Off

    Virginia Canopy Adventures

    by Casey | Posted on April 16th, 2013

    Whether swinging from the trees is on your bucket list or you’re a true adventurer, Virginia has quite a few canopy opportunities you’re sure to LOVE this spring and summer.

    Riverside Outfitters, RichmondVertical climbs, limb walks, rope bridges, tree swings and high-elevation zip lines are just a portion of the fun you’ll find with Riverside Outfitters in Richmond.

    Go Ape Treetop Adventure and Treetop Junior were created to be highly interactive with multiple zip lines and varying heights, cargo nets, rope bridges and more. Located in Williamsburg, it’s a great addition to Colonial Williamsburg and Busch Gardens for a weekend or more of fun.

    The Appalachian Wilderness Adventure Program is associated with Camp Bethel in Fincastle. It was developed in 1986 and is comprised of group initiative games and low and high ropes course activities.

    A 900-foot zip line is the centerpiece of Wilderness Adventure at Eagle Landing in New Castle, but visitors will also find a 50-foot climbing wall, ropes courses and more. It’s easy to spend a day or more at Wilderness Adventure.

    Fifty-two obstacles and 13 zip lines make the canopy at the Adventure Park at Sandy River Retreat pretty awesome. Located in Rice, this park is the largest and first of its kind in Central Virginia.

    Bear Mountain Ziplines is located in Luray. Zipliners are given the safety and usage instructions before descending 2700 feet down “Mama Bear.” It’s doubtful the ziplining will get old, but if it does, there’s a three-story Bear Scramble climbing wall waiting to be conquered.

    The Discovery Ridge Adventure Center is located at Wintergreen Resort, which is easily accessed from the Valley, Northern Virginia and Central Virginia. There you’ll find a 900-foot zip line and climbing tower.

    Nearby Bryce Resort in Basye also has zip lining for summer fun – ten platforms totaling 3500 feet of cable! Check the schedule for days and hours of operation.

    Ready to go swinging, climbing and ziplining? Plan your canopy adventure at Virginia.org.

    LOVE is at the heart of every Virginia vacation. Virginia is for Lovers.
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    Outdoors | 3 Comments

    Spring Wine and Beer Festivals in Virginia

    by Casey | Posted on April 11th, 2013

    Warm spring breezes call us to the patios and porches, but wine and beer festivals pull us out to the festivals. Take time to sample the latest vintages and meet the newest brewers at one of these upcoming events in Virginia.

    Bloomin' Wine FestDowntown Farmville is known for great home decor shopping, but Saturday, April 20 at Riverside Park, Farmville Wine Festival takes the spotlight. It’s a rain or shine event with ten Virginia wineries pouring their best bottles.

    • Day-Of Tasting: $25
    • Day-Of Non-Tasting: $20
    • Ages 10-20: $10

    Additional April 20-21 Festivals

    The Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival in Winchester is a long-standing tradition in Virginia and it only gets better as the years go by. Check out the Bloomin’ Wine Festival April 26-27 where unopened bottles and cases of wine will be available in addition to the tastings offered by 20 Virginia wineries. The wine festival is the kick-off for the 86th year of the Apple Blossom Festival.

    • Advance One-Day Tasting: $15
    • Advance Two-Day Tasting: $25
    • Wine Garden Non-Tasting: $5/day
    • Purchase Online

    More than 200 wines will be poured by over 20 Virginia wineries at the Great Grapes Wine Festival in Reston April 27-28. Sample wines with your souvenir wine glass and enjoy the arts and food vendors on site, including the kids’ area.

    Wine Festival at Monticello

    The BrewRidge Music & Microbrew Festival will be held in Pembroke May 4. Expect to sample from Virginia’s craft brewers and/or check out the Beer Pairing Dinner & Porch Jam on May 3.

    The Annual AT&T Spring Town Point Virginia Wine Festival is back in Norfolk for the seventh year. Come enjoy two days (May 4 & 5) of tastings from 25 Virginia wineries.

    • Advance Tasting: $25-$30
    • Non-Tasting: $15-$20
    • Reserved Table: $150-$350
    • Purchase Online

    Additional May 4-5 Festivals

    Sample Virginia wine on the grounds of the man who passionately pursued its growth in the 1800s. Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello hosts the Wine Festival at Monticello on May 11 from 6 to 9 p.m. Along with the wine, enjoy a sunset tour of Monticello and the restored vineyards, as well as conversation with Thomas Jefferson as portrayed by Bill Barker and renowned winemaker Gabriele Rausse.

    Additional May 11 Festivals

    Looking for a wine festival later in spring? Find them all here. Who knows, you just might find a new Virginia wine or craft beer to LOVE.

    LOVE is at the heart of every Virginia vacation. Virginia is for Lovers.
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    Couples, Events, Wine | Comments Off

    Your Teen is Going to LOVE Virginia

    by Casey | Posted on April 10th, 2013

    Teens are the toughest crowd to please, but when you’re armed with these nuggets of fun, it’s quite possible you’ll see a smile sneak through.

    Intimidator305 at Kings DominionThe obvious top contenders for teen fun are theme parks and Virginia has two major players in that arena: Busch Gardens in Williamsburg and Kings Dominion in Doswell. Which to choose? There are a number of factors, but go with location first.

    Families vacationing along the coast or in Colonial Williamsburg will appreciate Busch Gardens’ location. Families visiting the Richmond area or looking to escape the busyness of the metro DC area will encounter Kings Dominion first. For those west and south of these locations, we suggest you make the parks themselves your destination.

    If location is less of an issue, consider the value of each park. Will you come back again or is this a one-time round of fun? See the cost break down in our New at Busch Gardens and Kings Dominion for 2013 post.

    Adrenaline doesn’t stop when the roller coaster pulls into the station. Let your adventure seekers try their hands at hang gliding. The Eastern Shore Hang Gliding Center in Weirwood is surprisingly able to accommodate nearly every member of the family, should the teen in question need moral support.

    Not quite ready to glide mile-high? Perhaps a zip line is a good starting place for those new at pulling their feet off the ground. Virginia has several zip line opportunities to choose from, so again, let their locations guide you.

    Summer Tubing at Wintergreen ResortThe Discovery Ridge Adventure Center is located at Wintergreen Resort, which is easily accessed from the Valley, Northern Virginia and Central Virginia. Not to mention, the zip line is accompanied by mini golf, arcade, mechanical bull, climbing tower, summer tubing and more.

    Nearby Bryce Resort in Basye also has zip lining for summer fun – ten platforms totaling 3500′ of cable! Check the schedule for days and hours of operation.

    Fifty-two obstacles and 13 zip lines make the canopy at the Adventure Park at Sandy River Retreat pretty awesome. This park is the largest and first of its kind in Central Virginia (it’s in Rice, VA) and offers an advanced, state-of-the-art safety system.

    Bear Mountain Ziplines is located in Luray and your adventure starts with a tractor-drawn wagon ride up the mountain. ‘Liners are given the safety and usage instructions before descending 2700 feet down “Mama Bear.” It’s doubtful the ziplining will get old, but if it does, there’s a three-story Bear Scramble climbing wall waiting to be conquered.

    A 900′ zip line is the centerpiece of Wilderness Adventure at Eagle Landing in New Castle, but visitors will also find a 50′ climbing wall, canoeing on Craig Creek, bike trails, ropes courses and more. It’s easy to spend a day or more at Wilderness Adventure.

    Once teens get the hang of driving, they might be tempted to put the pedal to the metal. At Martinsville Grand Prix Go Karts, they can do just that and get a taste of what NASCAR is all about. Fifteen to 20 laps around the oval track with banked turns will give them all the speed they can handle.

    The XZone in Chesterfield was built especially with teens in mind. Join in the fun of paintball with all of the equipment and supplies available on-site.

    Ever tried kiteboarding or paddleboarding? SouthEast Expeditions offers lessons in both sports and in multiple locations. Try either of those or take out a kayak or hang glider from Cape Charles, Onancock or Sunset Beach.

    Is this inspiration enough for your active teen or do you need more? Click over to Virginia.org/CoolPlacesforTeens for more ideas.

    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, Outdoors | Comments Off

    Favorite Virginia Spring Hikes

    by Casey | Posted on April 9th, 2013

    Warm spring breezes have returned to Virginia and it’s the perfect time for a spring hike. Pear and redbud trees have already bloomed in some parts of the Commonwealth while dogwood trees are right on their heels. Try one of these treasured paths to go enjoy the new blooms.

    Cascades National Recreation Trail

    Cascades National Recreation Trail in Pembroke leads to a 66′ waterfall within Jefferson National Forest. The hike is low to moderate difficulty and four miles ’round trip. Restroom, picnic area and water available. Day use only. $3 per vehicle.

    If you love wildflowers, the 6.3-mile easy loop of the G. Richard Thompson Wildlife Management Area in Fauquier County is one very rewarding hike. The area is on Virginia’s Native Plant Society register as an important native plant site. It’s here that you’ll find the largest population of large-flowered trillium in North America, and this wildflower blooms between April and early June.

    The Henry Lanum Trail in the Mount Pleasant National Scenic Area of Rockbridge and Amherst Counties is a 4.69-mile moderate loop that yields spectacular summit views. Rare peregrine falcons are known to inhabit the area, making it an additional reward for wildlife lovers.

    Love butterflies? Occoneechee State Park has an abundant population of American Lady. Walk The Old Plantation Interpretive Trail to chance an encounter. It’s an easy 1.2-mile loop that winds through the woods. Highlights include plantation structural remains, a family cemetery and what’s left of the five-terraced garden.

    The 45-acre Bark Camp Lake is the centerpiece of the Bark Camp Recreation Area in Coeburn, but the trails are an attractive draw, too. Those who love the shimmer of the sun on the water will want to try the 3.25-mile shoreline trail.  ”Kitchen Rock” is an interesting geological formation – a sandstone rock shelter that resembles an oven – that a separate, .5-mile hike delivers. Camping is available. Day use fee is $3/vehicle.

    On Virginia’s Eastern Shore is Savage Neck Dunes Natural Area Preserve, a 298-acre protected habitat for migratory songbirds and the threatened northeastern beach tiger beetle. Take the .75-mile trail through some of the highest sand dunes on the Shore for amazing Chesapeake Bay views and breezes.

    See more great Virginia hikes as suggested by our Facebook and Twitter followers: Virginia.org/Hiking.

    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