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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 August, 2013

    Hikes, Bikes & Brews

    by Casey | Posted on August 29th, 2013

    Many of Virginia’s craft breweries happen to be located near great hiking and biking trails. Head out with the ones you love, then come back and settle in for an ice cold beverage and great local hospitality.

    The Priest Overlook

    The Priest Overlook

    The Appalachian Trail

    Around the Waynesboro entrance to the Blue Ridge Parkway:

    On the Buena Vista/Lexington side of the Blue Ridge Parkway:

    Into Roanoke off of the Blue Ridge Parkway:

    The Virginia Creeper Trail

    On the western end of the trail, in Abingdon, visit Wolf Hills Brewing Company. To the east and in the middle of the trail sits The Damascus Brewery in none other than Damascus.

    The Virginia Capital Trail

    Bridging the Colonial Capital to today’s Richmond Capital, the “Cap to Cap” runs near Route 5 from Richmond to Williamsburg and you can find these breweries not too far off the beaten path.

    Mount Vernon Trail

    This trail runs from George Washington’s Mount Vernon, along the Potomac River north to Arlington. Concentrate on the Alexandria to Arlington portions  of the trail and find that there are four breweries not too far away.

    Washington &  Old Dominion Trail

    Also in Arlington, if you venture along the W&OD Trail the 44.5 miles to Purcellville, you could encounter six breweries without veering too far out of the way.

    What’s your reward for a day in Virginia’s great outdoors? Find out more about Virginia’s craft breweries and the trails, too, to plan your next excursion.

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



    Beer, Fall in Virginia, Outdoors | Comments Off

    Antiquing in Virginia

    by Casey | Posted on August 26th, 2013

    Looking for something old, sweet and pretty? Antique and trash-to-treasure shops are havens for DIYers and collectors alike.

    Northern Virginia

    ManassasSouthern Living issued The Ultimate Antiquing Tour in their November 2011 edition and those gems are still shining brightly in Virginia. Writer Paula Disbrowe plotted her way from Maryland into Virginia, even including suggested places to eat.

    Highlights:

    Also See:

    Shenandoah Valley

    Cabin Creekwood in Lyndhurst offers local shopping suggestions to their guests just as any good cabin owner would. I came across their blog and an entry entitled Antiquing in Virginia: 4 Shops Worth Visiting caught my attention. Who knows best? Locals know best. If you’re in the Staunton area, check out Valley of Virginia Antiques in Fairfield, the Stuarts Draft Antique Mall, The Factory Antique Mall in Verona, or Memory Makers in downtown Staunton.

    Also See:

    Coastal Virginia

    Take your hunt for antiques to the Eastern Shore of Virginia. That’s just what writer Krys Stefansky of The Virginian-Pilot did in her article Road Trip: Find Antique Heaven on the Eastern Shore. Her recommended stops include Blue Crow Antique Mall in Keller, Exmore’s Antique Emporium, and two dining destinations as well: Big’s Place – The Gaskill Family Restaurant in Painter and Yellow Duck Bakery Cafe in Exmore. Read her article to see why she ends it, “We’re coming back.”

    Petersburg Pickers

    Petersburg Pickers

    More to Consider:

    Where will you find your next treasure? Leave a comment to share your favorite antique picking place.



    Destinations | Comments Off

    Virginia’s Craft Beer History

    by Casey | Posted on August 22nd, 2013

    In recent years Virginia’s craft beer industry has seen a major resurgence. August Virginia Craft Beer Month was born in 2012 with nearly 40 breweries. It’s now a year later and that number has jumped to over 60. Plus, we know of at least two more opening this fall. So when did this craft beer movement start in Virginia?

    All the way back at the beginning of exploration …

    According to BeerAdvocate.com, the History of American Beer begins in 1587 as “Virginia colonists brew ale using corn,” and then in 1607 the “first shipment of beer arrives in the Virginia colony from England.” Apparently the English beer didn’t last long, as the history goes on to reflect “American ‘Help Wanted’ advertisements appear in London seeking brewers for the Virginia Colony” in 1609.

    Beer & Founding Fathers

    George Washington's Gristmill

    George Washington’s Gristmill

    Beer can be traced through Virginia’s history with asterisk moments like George Washington’s beer recipe[1] and evidence that beer and ingredients to produce it were forms of payment to his Mount Vernon employees.[2]

    Or how about Thomas Jefferson? In 1812, a retired Jefferson successfully crafted his first home brew from local hops and malt. He had a fine teacher in his wife, Martha, a small-batch brewmaster during their early years of marriage. By 1814 Jefferson was malting his own grain in his own brewhouse at Monticello. Others, including James Madison, began to take notice and sent their staff to Monticello to learn the trade.[3]

    Shop Local

    Today we’re all about buying and shopping locally. That’s not a new concept, as George Washington wrote to the Marquis de Lafayette on January 29, 1789, “I use no porter or cheese in my family, but such as is made in America; both these articles may now be purchased of an excellent quality.”[4]

    Legends Brewing Co. Brewery

    Legends Brewing Co. Brewery

    Handcrafted beer has been in Virginia since the beginning, though breweries have come and gone along the way. Virginia’s first modern day microbrewery was Chesbay – Chesapeake Bay Brewing Company – in Virginia Beach (no longer operational). Chesbay Double Bock won gold at the very first Great American Beer Festival in 1987. That’s quite an acclaim and a legacy for Virginia craft beer.

    Though not old by my standards, Virginia’s oldest craft brewery is Legend Brewing Company in Richmond, which was established in 1994. If you’re quick on your math, you’ll note that 2014 will be Legend’s 20th anniversary. Mark that down and plan to pay a celebratory visit.

    Suds on the Rise

    Virginia is making frothy waves across the beer industry with acknowledgements from the likes of Travel Channel as one of the “Top 7 Beer Destinations.” Explore for yourself with our handy Beer Map, or check out our recent articles for inspiration:

    LOVE is at the heart of every Virginia vacation. Virginia is for Lovers.
    Get your free Travel Guide!

    [1] Washington, George. “To Make Small Beer.” 1757.
    [2] Thompson, Mary V. Research Historian, Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens.
    [3] Lucas, Ann. 1995. Adapted from an essay originally published in Spring Dinner at Monticello, April 12, 1995, in Memory of Thomas Jefferson (Charlottesville, Va.: Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation, 1995).  References added by Kristen Lochrie, May 2012.
    [4] “George Washington to Marquis de LaFayette, 29 January 1789“ The Writings of George Washington Vol. 30:154.



    Beer, History | Comments Off

    13 Fall Early Bird Deals

    by Casey | Posted on August 19th, 2013

    Fall is one of the most – if not THE most – beautiful seasons in Virginia. The air turns cool and the leaves turn vibrant shades of orange, red and yellow. The Blue Ridge and Appalachian Mountains are a stunning tapestry of color, beckoning weary souls to come and relax.

    Skyland Resort

    Skyland Resort

    Don’t miss out on your chance to steal away. Accommodations book quickly and now’s your chance.

    Blue Ridge Highlands

    The Main Street Inn in Blacksburg is offering 10% off a Tuesday night stay. If you can escape mid-week, this is a beautiful location and a savings for your wallet. Thirty-two guest suites include modern amenities while downtown Blacksburg’s dining, shopping and theater are just a stroll away. Offer valid through October.

    How does a picnic on the Blue Ridge Parkway sound? Stay at Claiborne House Bed and Breakfast in Rocky Mount any two nights between now and November 9th and you can add on a picnic package for just $30. Book Now

    Shenandoah Valley

    Head to Stephens City where you can “find peace in the valley (Shenandoah Valley, that is)” during the week. Travel to The Inn at Vaucluse Spring any Sunday through Thursday and receive 20% off your room rate. Spin that savings into a date when you also book the Dinner with the Chef on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday night. Offer valid through December 19.

    Inn at Vaucluse Spring

    Inn at Vaucluse Spring

    Shenandoah National Park ranks as one of Virginia’s best fall destinations. Head to Skyland Resort or Big Meadows Lodge, stay two nights and purchase a $50 meal voucher to be rewarded with a third consecutive night for FREE. Offer valid through November 23.  Book Now

    Bordering Shenandoah National Park is Shadow Mountain Escape in Luray. Book their Mountains, Nature and Lake Getaway to save $25 on your stay, plus be reward with a special welcome basket of homemade goodies. $270 for two nights mid-week; $420 for two nights weekend. Offer valid through September 26. Book Now

    In the Appalachians, Meadow Villas at Warm Springs is quietly tucked away. Call and ask to book the Hiker’s Mountain Quiet Waters Special and pay just $199 for two nights. Offer valid through December 31.

    Book the Natural Bridge Fall Escape for a stay between September 2 and November 30 and save $80. The deal is one night for two at the Natural Bridge Hotel with breakfast and the Natural Bridge attraction passes included for $99. Or a family of four starts at just $149 per night. Book Now

    Central Virginia

    Try an extended stay in Crozet at Montfair Resort Farm. Stay three weekday nights for the price of two or stay a while longer, getting four weekday nights for the price of three. The choice is yours! Offer valid through November 1.

    Wintergreen Resort is splendid anytime of year, but is especially beautiful when covered in fall’s glory. Stay two nights and get the third night free anytime between now and December 15. Book Now

    Southern Virginia

    Williamsburg KOA

    Williamsburg KOA

    Clarksville is Virginia’s only lakeside town and your stay at Cooper’s Landing Inn is reduced by 50% if you stay on a Wednesday or Thursday night. Add to that dinner at Traveler’s Tavern, breakfast and the beautiful sunrise of Kerr Lake and you have one really beautiful getaway. Offer valid through December 23.

    Northern Virginia

    How about a little fun on the farm? Stay at Comfort Suites Leesburg and your family will enjoy a studio suite, four tickets to Great Country Farms and guest passes to Bluemont Vineyards. While at Great Country Farms, you’ll receive four feed cups for the barnyard animals, a family-sized bag of kettle corn and four slushies. Wine tasting for the adults is included with the farm passes at Bluemont Vineyards. Offer valid through November 23.

    Chesapeake Bay

    The Inn at Tabbs Creek is a waterfront bed and breakfast in Port Haywood. Go ahead and book two consecutive nights (Sunday through Thursday) and receive the third night for 50% off. Offer valid through October 31.

    Coastal Virginia

    Enjoy camping? Head to Williamsburg KOA sometime between September 26 and October 31 to get your Thursday night free when you book a Friday and Saturday night. Great events are planned every weekend, and this deal includes cabins! Book Now

    >> Find more fantastic fall packages and deals.
    >> See the list and map of Virginia’s fall events.

    LOVE is at the heart of every Virginia vacation. Virginia is for Lovers.
    Request your free Travel Guide or begin fall planning at Virginia.org/Fall.



    Couples, Deals & Discounts, Fall in Virginia, Family | Comments Off

    22 Places to Eat Like a Local

    by Casey | Posted on August 16th, 2013

    We’ve asked and received recommendations for the most amazing Virginia breakfasts, highly acclaimed BBQ, comfortable patio dining, best places to enjoy a craft beer and favorite ice cream spots. All of these recommendations came from locals in the know. Yet, there was one more thing we had to ask:

    Where is the best place to eat like a local, regardless of the time of day or menu specialty?

    It turns out that some familiar names popped up. In addition, local pride and loyalty made appearances. Read on.

    Central Virginia

    Millie's Diner

    Millie’s Diner

    By a wide margin, Millie’s Diner in Richmond was the most recommended place to eat like a local. What’s more, Millie’s was also one of the most recommended establishments for a great breakfast. Why so hot? “One word — scallops — the best in the U.S.” Or more words, if you’re not a fan of scallops:

    - “The most delicious place to eat in all of Richmond, hands down. I have ordered things there that I never would have tried anywhere else, just because I know that there is NO WAY it wouldn’t be absolutely delicious coming from Millie’s kitchen.”
    - “I live in Reston, VA and make it a point to eat at Millie’s EVERY time I am in Richmond.”
    - “It was the place I chose to pop the question a couple years ago.”
    - “I ate there every Sunday for two years … they saved a stool for me at the end of the counter. Now THAT is local.”

    So what’s good to eat at Millie’s?

    - “Thai Shrimp! I ordered it every Friday night the first year Millie’s was open, then decided the rest of the menu was probably good as well (and it is). We have been eating there for 25 years.”
    - “Any one of the messes, though my favorite is Castro’s Mess.”
    - “Devil’s Mess, Cajun Mess, or anything really. Especially the Bloody Mary.”
    - “Love their vegetarian selections!”

    Other great places to eat like a local in Central Virginia:

     

    Southern Virginia

    The Horseshoe Restaurant's Pimento Cheeseburger

    The Horseshoe Restaurant’s Pimento Cheeseburger

    The Horseshoe Restaurant in South Hill is a classic diner operating since the 1930s. Southern eats like pimento cheese and fried pickles are daily offerings, as are stories of Roy Kelly (“Second Machine Gun Kelly”) and his arrest at the restaurant. The front page of the South Hill Enterprise dated December 31, 1938 stretches across one wall of the restaurant and features Kelly peering from behind bars. It’s just one of the cool pieces of this historic establishment that feeds the locals and travelers alike.

    What to eat at The Horseshoe?

    - “The Fried Green Tomato BLT is the best sandwich. Peanut Butter Pie and Chocolate Walnut are both out of this world.”
    - “Everything on the menu is awesome.”

     

    Blue Ridge Highlands

    Burger Bar

    Burger Bar

    Wytheville loves their skeeterdogs. What’s a skeeterdog? A “World Famous Hot Dog” from Skeeter’s Restaurant, operating in historic downtown since 1920. Skeeter’s shares space in a building that was also the birthplace of First Lady Edith Bolling Wilson. Presidential hot dogs, perhaps?

    Burger Bar is an authentic Bristol original. A mainstay since 1942, it’s been long-said that Hank Williams enjoyed his last meal here. Pair your country music history with a classic burger and you get menu items like “Hey Good Looking,” in honor of one-time devoted customer Ernie Ford. The locals love “Oh My Cheese!,” two grilled cheese sandwiches with a burger between them.

    Other great places to eat like a local in the Blue Ridge Highlands:

     

    Coastal Virginia

    Ham is a typical Virginia staple and you can enjoy a fresh ham biscuit on the front porch at Edwards Ham Shoppe in Surry. One local suggests you “wash it down with a cold, old-fashioned bottled soda” for a true local experience.

    Smitty’s Better Burger has been a local favorite in Hampton since 1956. A true drive-in with car hops, Smitty’s is a classic Old School experience that one local says is used “to impress visitors from out of town.” We do like to show off the things that are quintessentially “ours,” don’t we? Recommended menu item is the Better Burger, of course, “with cheese, fries and a drink!”

     

    Northern Virginia

    Tim's Rivershore Restaurant & Crabhouse

    Tim’s Rivershore Restaurant & Crabhouse

    It’s a neat little historic tavern, but what you really want to know about Amy’s Cafe in Fredericksburg is what one local said: “The ribs are to die for!” Find Amy on West Cambridge Street and tell her someone really loves chef’s baby back ribs.

    Waterside dining at Tim’s Rivershore Restaurant & Crabhouse is beautiful. Find Tim’s in Dumfries. The restaurant sits at one of the widest points of the Potomac River, offering sweeping views that are incredible from inside or out. The tiki bar is a great place to hang out and enjoy a beer with your seafood, burger or sandwich.

    Don’t be deterred by the name. Old Town Caterers & Deli in Manassas offers a diverse menu with international flair. The local favorite is the shrimp bisque.

     

    Shenandoah Valley

    Texas Tavern

    Texas Tavern

    Have you ever heard of a Liars Table? I had not and so inquired with our local about his recommendation of Hi Neighbor Country Restaurant in Strasburg. He mentioned the Liars Table as one of the main draws and I had to know why. He wrote, “The Liars Table is one of those things that really make a small town local restaurant.” He elaborated, naming names, to tell me that groups of “local characters” keep one particular table full all day long from about 5:30 a.m. until closing. One group coming in after the next, shooting the breeze, talking “local politics, news, etc.”

    I imagine that Hi Neighbor, a community staple since 1949, serves great food along with warm hospitality. What to eat? Our local says the “homemade biscuits with homemade sausage or chipped beef gravy are awesome,” but notes that the burgers and sandwiches are, too.

    In Roanoke, the name Texas Tavern dates to 1930. This love-worn establishment has been in the same family for four generations and is acclaimed for “Best Chili,” “Best Hot Dogs,” “Best Local Hamburgers,” and “Best Late-Night Dinner” by readers of  Roanoker magazine. Saunter up to the counter and enjoy home-cooked food 24 hours a day.

    Sal’s Italian Bistro in Edinburg is best summed up by the local B&B owner who wrote, “Sal, the owner, is the ‘real deal’ from Naples, Italy. The food is authentic and fabulous. Huge portions. We send all our B&B guests there.”

    Staunton’s Mill Street Grill offers a variety of menu items, but the one thing our local raved about was the ribs (look out Amy!). “Ribs are fall off the bone excellent. I’ve yet to have something that wasn’t excellent.”

    Other great places to eat like a local in the Shenandoah Valley:

    Where is your favorite place to eat like a local? Leave a comment to let us know!



    Food, Locals | 6 Comments