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    #Downtown #Staunton is filled with amazing #architecture including the Romanesque-Revival Marquis Building seen here. It was designed by T.J. Collins in 1895 (he designed nearly 200 buildings throughout the city in various styles during the #Victorian Era). Note the large umbrella fixed to the corner of the turret! #loveva #virginia #vatravel #mainstreet #vais4lovers #oldschoolva
    Check out this awesome #aerial of the CSX A-Line #Train #Bridge (circa 1919) you've probably seen when driving on the Powhite Parkway crossing #JamesRiver! Props to @vintage_rva for the incredible capture. Tag your #VA photos with #LoveVa for a chance to be featured here! #trainbridge #drone #flyinghigh #rva
    Sip away the end of #summer at North Gate #Vineyard in Pucellville before the crush begins! They have live music every Friday evening (TGIF: Thank Grape It's Friday), making it an ideal time to stop by for a taste. Next month is #Virginia #Wine Month, when a lot of vineyards across the state will be harvesting their #grapes. Photo props to @emkittie! #VAwine #howisummer #winetime Tag your #VA photos with #LoveVA for a chance to get featured here.
    Here's a beautiful shot of @castlehillcider in Keswick posted by @merchcolony_cville. This is currently the only #cidery in the world to be fermenting and aging in buried terra cotta amphorae called kvevri. Plan a trip to try some of the world's finest right here in #Virginia. #loveva #vacider #drinklocal #cville #vatravel #castlehillcider #vaweddings
  • Archive for June, 2013

    4 Ideas for Foodies Who LOVE the Outdoors

    by Casey | Posted on June 28th, 2013

    You love food. You love the outdoors. Marry the two in Virginia, where we deliver both equally well.

    Kayak to wine, clams and oysters.

    Kayak to wine, clams and oysters.

    1. Take to the Atlantic or Chesapeake Bay and catch your own dinner, but leave the cooking to one of Virginia Beach’s fine establishments. They’ll prepare it any way you like while you enjoy a little time with the ones you love.

    2. Paddle away in a kayak for oysters, clams or even wine, if you like, from Virginia’s Eastern Shore. Find littleneck clams buried in the mud of Cherrystone Creek when you sign up for a kayak clamming tour with SouthEast Expeditions. SEE also offers a kayak winery tour to award-winning Chatham Vineyards or Holly Grove Vineyards. Check the calendar at Chatham to look for special oyster and Chardonnay pairings.

    Morel found by Steve Haas Mushrooms

    Morel found by Steve Haas Mushrooms

    3. Take a guided hunt for wild mushrooms! Really, take a guided hunt. I can’t overemphasize the need to hunt mushrooms with someone who KNOWS mushrooms. Connect with Steve Haas Mushrooms – HaaShrooms – in Richmond. He has the connections to lead you on “Wild Food Forays” in Virginia. After you reap the rewards of the hunt, ask for his HaaShrooms White Sauce recipe (goes great with Chicken of the Woods, he says).

    4. Hollin Farms in Delaplane is the only farm in Virginia (that I found) that allows you to dig your own peanuts (call to verify hours). What do you do with raw peanuts? See this Pinterest board of recipes or this previous post that includes Hotel Roanoke’s peanut soup!

    Of note is that Hollin Farms is located along the Fauquier County Wine Trail. Maybe you want to pair your dig with the pop of a cork or special pairing?

    5. So I said four in the title, but I have to give you a fifth …

    The season may have passed, but I have to include the capture-and-cook notion dreamed up by bon appétit: CICADAS. Yes, the plague that was hit-or-miss this spring in Virginia found its way into Richmond by way of three local chefs – Jason Alley of Comfort and Pasture, Will Wienckowski of Ipanema, and John Seymore of Lunch. and Supper! Cicadas were caught and the trio of chefs developed recipes like Charleston Cheese Grits and Blackened Cicadas with Grilled Onions and Peppers. In the end, everyone agreed that the little (big) buggers will not be added to the menus. Try them at home? Recipe.

    As a foodie or outdoor adventurer, what would you like to do in Virginia? Do you have any thoughts on marrying the two? Comment below to let us know!

    Food and Wine, Outdoors | 1 Comment

    Favorite Virginia Ice Cream

    by Casey | Posted on June 26th, 2013

    It’s summertime and that means, well, quite a few things, but today it means ICE CREAM! We asked our Virginia travel and tourism partners to name their favorite ice cream parlor (for the benefit of our readers, of course), and nearly 40 recommendations rolled in. To get you started on your summer brain freeze tour, we’ve compiled a list of the parlors most frequently mentioned by locals in the know.

    Kline's Dairy Bar

    Kline’s Dairy Bar

    Kline’s Dairy Bar rose to the top with local ice cream lovers, and it doesn’t hurt that this homegrown establishment dating to 1943 has several locations:

    Doumar’s Cones & Barbecue is located in Norfolk, and is the home of the world’s first ice cream cone (1904). Those traveling through Coastal Virginia will want to make a bee-line to 1919 Monticello Avenue for homemade ice cream and cones.

    Carl's Frozen Custard

    Carl’s Frozen Custard

    Carl’s Frozen Custard is a Fredericksburg mainstay, serving fresh, made-today custard for more than 50 years. Food Network has acknowledged that Carl’s has some of America’s Best Ice Cream.

    Island Creamery on Chincoteague Island handcrafts their small batches of ice cream daily to ensure the best products possible. The staff has been creating fresh waffle cones, ice cream, sorbet, frozen yogurt and more since 1975. A true labor of summertime love!

    Muller’s Old Fashioned Ice Cream Parlor is also located on Chincoteague Island and serves Bassett’s ice cream, America’s oldest ice cream. Their claim to fame, however, is the fresh, homemade Belgian waffles with ice cream, fruit and homemade whipped cream.

    Moo Thru in Remington offers ice cream that really doesn’t get any more fresh or homemade. The milk comes from their own grass-fed Holsteins and the rest of the ingredients are sourced as close to home as possible.

    The Split Banana in Staunton is known for its homemade, fresh-daily ice cream, sorbet and gelato. Split prides itself on all natural ingredients – fruit, milk, sugar and cream. Why complicate what isn’t complicated?

    Short Lane Ice Cream Company in Gloucester is celebrating their tenth anniversary this summer! Celebrate with them by enjoying homemade ice cream, cookies, gelato, custard, coffees, sundaes, floats, shakes …

    Pop's Old Fashioned Ice Cream Company

    Pop’s Old Fashioned Ice Cream Company

    Pop’s Old Fashioned Ice Cream in Alexandria boasts 63 homemade flavors of ice cream. Located in Old Town, it’s the perfect destination for lovers of cobblestones and nostalgia.

    Additional shops and parlors receiving nods from the locals for their chilly treats:

    Don’t see your favorite ice cream shop on this list? Chime in by commenting below!


    Food, Locals | 16 Comments

    A.T. Hikers Find Warm Welcome in Virginia Communities

    by Casey | Posted on June 25th, 2013

    Hiking the Appalachian Trail is a bucket list item for many people, but it’s a long journey that tests stamina and perseverance. With a literal uphill challenge like the A.T., communities that embrace hikers are a welcome and much-needed resource. To recognize those communities that promote and protect the A.T., the Appalachian Trail Conservancy has established the Appalachian Trail Community™ designation program.

    An Appalachian Trail Community™ promises to meet certain criteria, which may include hosting an annual Trail event or celebration, providing a Trail education or service-learning project, or incorporating language that will protect the Trail in land-use plans and ordinances, etc. Communities are asked why they should be selected and how the town embraces and supports the Trail. An opportunity to recognize hiker-friendly services is provided as well. With the knowledge that each community has been properly vetted by the Conservancy, hikers can rest assured they will be warmly received and the community serves as an active steward of the Trail.

    Get to Know Each Virginia Appalachian Trail Community™

     Appalachian Trail Community logoFront Royal / Warren County

    • 30 miles of Trail runs through the county.
    • Front Royal is three miles west of the Trail crossing at Route 522.
    • Free showers available at the 4-H Center.
    • Free internet at Samuels Public Library and Daily Grind.
    • Limited hiking supplies at The Apple House and Stokes General Store.
    • Various hotels, a B&B, laundromat and Raymond R. “Andy” Guest Jr. State Park offer additional lodging and service.

    Harrisonburg / Rockingham County

    • 18 miles west of the Trail.
    • Hailed as a top spot for families to “beat nature deficit disorder” by Backpacker Magazine.
    • Hikers are invited to participate in the Valley Fourth parade each year.

    Waynesboro / Augusta County

    • Two miles west of the Trail.
    • Grocery, library and post office are easily accessible from the Trail.
    • Shower and overnight camping at the YMCA.
    • Free internet at the Waynesboro Area Learning Tree.
    • Rockfish Gap Visitors Center offers maps and local information.
    • Community volunteers available to shuttle hikers around town.
    • The Waynesboro Circulator (bus service) welcomes A.T. hikers for 50 cents each way.
    • Download “Out and About in Waynesboro,” a guide created specifically for A.T. visitors.

    Nelson County

    • 40 miles of the Trail follow the Blue Ridge Parkway through Nelson County.
    • Access Nelson County from three points – Afton (BRP MP 0), Reeds Gap (BRP MP 13.5) and Route 56 (BRP MP 27.5)
    • Post office access at Montebello.
    • Supplies and groceries available at Montebello Country Store.
    • Laundry service at Dutch Haus Bed and Breakfast in Montebello (plus the owners are Trail Angels [community volunteers])
    • Three craft breweries are a good side trip between Afton and Reeds Gap.

    Buena Vista / Rockbridge County

    • Nine miles west of the Trail crossing at Route 60.
    • Trail Angels available for shuttling to/from the Trail.
    • Find a hiker’s box in the lobby of the post office where community members leave bags of food, free for your taking.
    • Free showers and heavily discounted rates available at Glen Maury Park.
    • Computer access at Maury River Senior Center.
    • Mountain Day, the second Saturday of each October, celebrates the mountain heritage of the area, including the Trail.

    Glasgow / Rockbridge County

    • Hiker’s shelter was built in 2010 by a local Eagle Scout.
      • A fire pit, wood, hot shower and port-a-johns are free to hikers.
      • New in 2013: electrical receptacles for cell phone charging, etc.
    • Bathroom and concessions available at Knick Field spring through fall.
    • Laundromat near the hiker shelter.
    • Free computer usage, book exchange and cheap books available at the library.

    Troutville / Botetourt County

    • Free showers and laundry at the Troutville Fire Department.
    • Free camping and large restroom facilities available at Town Park.
    • Troutville Trail Days is a major annual event held the second Friday and Saturday of June.
    • Post office nearby.
    • Good midway point for hikers with major thoroughfares like Interstate 81, Route 11 and Route 220.
    Woods Hole Hostel

    Woods Hole Hostel

    Pearisburg / Giles County

    • More than 50 miles of A.T. runs through Giles County.
    • Two hiker hostels available – Woods Hole Hostel and Holy Family Hostel.
    • Download the Local Hikers Guide for a list of hiker-friendly services, food and lodging.

    Bland County

    • 56 miles of the Trail winds through the county.
    • Trail Angels available for shuttling hikers to/from the Trail.
    • Two major annual festivals incorporate the importance of the Trail to the community: Festival of Trails and Festival of Leaves.

    Damascus / Washington County

    • Widely known as “Trail Town USA,” the A.T. courses right through downtown Damascus.
    • Trail Days is a major annual event that celebrates the A.T., as well as the Virginia Creeper Trail, Trans-America National Bicycle Trail and several others, with workshops, gear vendors, entertainment and more.
    • A kiosk is located in Town Park to direct hikers to services. Download the printable version.

    Abingdon / Washington County

    • 12 miles west of the Trail.
    • Take the Virginia Creeper Trail – #1 rated Rail Trail (Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine) – into Abingdon.
    • Shuttle services provided by local outfitters.

    Explore and enjoy Virginia’s portion of the Appalachian Trail soon!

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

    *Updated 6/27/13 to include Nelson County, the newest A.T. Community. -ch

    Outdoors | 1 Comment

    5 Urban Virginia Outdoor Hot Spots

    by Casey | Posted on June 24th, 2013

    If you’re a city dweller looking for exciting outdoor adventure in the midst of great culture, this list is a great starting point. Discover the outdoor fun that exists in five urban Virginia destinations.

    Belle Isle Historic Park

    Belle Isle Historic Park

    1. Richmond was named the “Best Town Ever” by Outside magazine in 2012 based on the quality of living, active recreational engagement with the James River, walking and biking paths, and positive environmental stewardship.

    When you visit, check out …

    Belle Isle Historic Park – Belle Isle is a 54-acre island in the James River that features massive cliffs, crashing rapids and stone ruins. Hit the wooded trails for walking or mountain biking, or the flat rocks for sunbathing. This area is not suitable for swimming. Accessible by footbridge.

    Pony Pasture – This local park includes trails and great riverfront access for canoeing, kayaking, swimming and sunning. It’s also a great location for birdwatching.

    River City Rafting – Take a guided whitewater rafting or tubing trips down the James River with this outfitter.

    Mount Vernon Trail, Arlilngton

    Mount Vernon Trail, Arlilngton

    2. Arlington sits just across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C., but feels a world away if you know where to find the outdoor treasures.

    When you visit, check out …

    Arlington’s Bikeshare – More than 175 bikeshare stops throughout Arlington and D.C. offer nearly 1,700 bikes for short term rentals. Take advantage of Arlington’s 36 miles of off-street, multi-use trails plus 49 miles of marked, on-street bicycle routes.

    Potomac Overlook Regional Park – This park is the “Hundred Acre Wood” of the greater D.C. area and includes a nature center, trails, gardens, educational programs and a summer concert series.

    Bike and Roll, Alexandria

    Bike and Roll, Alexandria

    3. Alexandria is also a suburb of Washington, D.C. and is also a booming bicycling destination.

    When you visit, check out …

    Bike and Roll – Alexandria’s bike rental company includes helmets, a lock and trail map to help you explore downtown and traverse the Mount Vernon Trail. Rental includes a ticket to George Washington’s Mount Vernon and a river boat ride back to Old Town.

    National Bass Service Guide – Spend the day on the Potomac River and pull in a few largemouth bass. The views are great and presidential!

    Huntley Meadows Park – One of the larger parks in the D.C. area at 1,554 acres, Huntley Meadows offers a wide variety of habitats – wetlands, marsh, forest, streams and a pond. Expect to find the unexpected in such a populated urban center, with more than 200 species of birds, as well as deer, beavers, herons and more calling this place home.

    Surf & Adventure Co.

    Surf & Adventure Co.

    4. Virginia Beach – A bustling summer resort town, Virginia Beach offers plenty of family entertainment, great food and opportunities to do more than lay on the beach.

    When you visit, check out …

    Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge – More than 8,000 acres serve as a sanctuary for waterfowl, loggerhead sea turtles, peregrine falcons and bald eagles. The beach dunes, woodlands, marsh and farm fields provide a diverse eco system. Kayak, hike or bike your way through this treasure.

    False Cape State Park – Just south of and connected to Back Bay is False Cape. You can only get there by foot, bicycle, boat or park service, so it’s the perfect destination for true outdoor junkies.

    Surf & Adventure Co. – Learn to surf, SUP (stand up paddleboard), kayak, kiteboard and more with this outfitter just south of the resort area.

    Outfitters, Guides and Charter Boats of Virginia Beach

    Read Mountain Preserve

    Read Mountain Preserve

    5. Roanoke is a major city along the Blue Ridge Parkway, a 469-mile gem that meanders south from Shenandoah National Park to North Carolina.

    When you visit, check out …

    Roanoke Valley Greenways – Bike or walk 26 miles of trails to destinations like the Mill Mountain Zoo and Roanoke Star.

    Read Mountain Preserve – One of the best views of the Roanoke Valley comes from Buzzards Rock, the summit of Read Mountain. Hike the moderate to strenuous 1.9-mile trail and sit a spell.

    Leave a comment below to tell us your favorite urban outdoor hot spot, or check out our Facebook page to share photos!




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    Request a free Travel Guide or sign up for our e-newsletter.

    Outdoors | 1 Comment

    10 Can’t-Miss Dirty, Muddy, Fun Runs

    by Casey | Posted on June 21st, 2013

    Dedicated runners and those who are new to the sport are loving the latest crazes designed to get you off your tush and get active. Mud runs and color runs are popping up all over the place, and Virginia is no exception. It’s “game on” with these and other unique upcoming races.

    Make a mud run a family affair when you register for the Henricus Dauber Dash in Chester on June 29. A muddy one-miler is designed with short legs in mind, while grown-ups tackle messy obstacles of their own. The Dauber Dash combines history and nature, plus throws in a post-race party. Dash away all!

    Helgamite Hustle Mud Run

    Helgamite Hustle Mud Run

    Following up on the mud bug theme, Axton is hosting the Helgamite Hustle Mud Run on August 10. It’s a cross-country style course featuring natural and man-made obstacles, including mud pits.

    While there’s no mud planned for the Obstacle Course Run at Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest on August 17, we all know that well-worn paths can sometimes equal mud. Ready to beat it down and stir it up on historic grounds?

    Evening runs afford the sounds of cricket chirps and frog songs, not to mention cooler temperatures. Add the harvest moon to the equation, and you’ve got none other than the Harvest Moon Run 10K in Martinsville on September 6. A TGIF party will follow.

    Start with white – all white – clothing. Then pound the pavement! The Color Run in Richmond on September 14 will be the most fun you’ve ever had while running, and it’s the perfect starter 5K for those who are new to running. The Color Run is the “Happiest 5K on the Planet.”

    The Color Run

    The Color Run

    Think you’re hot stuff? We’ll see how hot you are when you run over hot coals. But don’t worry, the mud will cool your toes. Do be on guard for other obstacle mischief, as there should be plenty of barbed wire included in the Warrior Dash at Colonial Downs in New Kent on September 28. Go. Conquer the beast.

    The short and not-so-sweet Roanoke Zombie 5K will have your skin crawling and your adrenaline pumping on October 5. Launch from the start line with a set number of flags on your belt (think flag football), and try to keep at least one. Zombies lay in wait to chase you down and eat your flesh, er, flags. Consider yourself “undead” if you make it to the finish without any flags. As the organizers put it, “there will be a start line, and a finish line, but what happens in between is up to you.” Zoinks!

    Looking to run for a purpose? And maybe to find a little joy as well? Register for the Color Me Rad 5K at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg on October 20. A portion of the proceeds benefit Special Olympics, so you can feel good about raising money and getting color bombed.

    Launch a preemptive turkey day calorie strike when you join the ranks of the Turkey Trot 10K in Quantico on November 23 or the Turkey Day 5K and Family Fun Run in Martinsville on November 28. So what’s it going to be? Marines barking orders or “fabulous” Thanksgiving-themed prizes (read: turkey basters)? It’s all in great fun (and there really aren’t Marines barking orders … at least not for this race).

    That’s a lot to choose from and it’s not even all of them. Find more great 5Ks, 10Ks, half marathons, marathons, duathlons and triathlons at Comment below to tell the world which races you plan to conquer.

    Outdoors | 1 Comment