Whether your palate makes you a gourmand or not, there are fun food and drink experiences for everyone this year.
1. Slurp up the favorite delicacy of the Chesapeake Bay - Crassostrea virginica (eastern oyster) – during this, the 40th anniversary of its shell being named the official shell of Virginia. Seven oyster regions yield a variety of flavors, pushing Virginia to become the Oyster Capital of the East Coast.
Texas Tavern in Roanoke, VA is famous for their hot dogs. Ask for a “hot, with.”
2. It’s been 20 years since Legend Brewing Co. in Richmond began handcrafting their legendary lagers and ales, making it Central Virginia’s oldest microbrewery. Their patio overlooking the James River boasts a great view of downtown Richmond and is an awesome place to be on a sunny day.
Fresh vegetables create a beautiful primavera at Harvest Table Restaurant in Meadowview, VA.
4. If you’re a connoisseur of fine Virginia wines, you’ll be elated to learn that 2014 potentially ushers in EIGHT new wineries in locations such as Delaplane, North Garden, Orange, Amissville, Barhamsville, Berryville, Lovettsville, and Purcellville. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Wineville!
Ready to travel green in Virginia? There are now more than 1,400 certified Virginia Green travel partners in Virginia that have made commitments to implement green practices in their operations, and you can find them by searching for Virginia Green throughout Virginia.org/green.
But be sure to consider these award-winning Virginia Green Travel partners, all of whom received Virginia Green Travel Star awards in 2013.
The Westin Richmond makes green a central focus of the entire guest and meeting experience; and it implements new projects every year to reduce its environmental footprint, such as energy efficient lighting and air conditioning systems.
The Hilton Garden Inn Downtown Richmond composts all of its food wastes, supports recycling projects in local schools, and collects used soaps for recycling in support for international mission projects.
The sun provides for heating and air-conditioning at Oak Grove Plantation Bed & Breakfast in Cluster Springs; and the new solar panels and monitors offer a chance to learn firsthand about the potential for renewable energy.
Want to plan or attend a green conference or meeting? The Virginia Beach Convention Center is a certified LEED-Gold facility that composts food wastes, recycles and reduces wastes, and has decreased their energy use by 27% since 2008.
Solar panels provide 100% of the power at North Gate Vineyard.
North Gate Vineyard in Purcellville is off the grid! Actually, they are not off the grid, but they do produce more energy than they use from their solar panel roof and sell the rest back to the power company. Monitor how much energy they are producing while you taste award-winning wines.
Maple Avenue Restaurant in Vienna is a small, nine-table restaurant that focuses on local and sustainably-produced food and beverages and is challenging the local businesses and the town council to embrace and implement green practices.
The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center in Virginia Beach composts all of its kitchen food wastes, and it received an EPA grant to coordinate a Restaurant Food Waste Composting Pilot Project that has now diverted more than 53,350 pounds of organics from the landfill.
Green practices are evident everywhere at the Virginia Living Museum in Newport News, especially in the case of the new solar panel system, one of the largest solar panel arrays on a tourist attraction in the state.
The 2013 LPGA Kingsmill Championship in Williamsburg was a “zero waste” event as all food wastes and disposables were either recycled or composted.
The ASAE Foundation’s 31st Annual Springtime DC Invitational Golf & Tennis Tournament made green conferences and meetings the theme of the entire event with recycling and environmental education stressed throughout, including every hole of the golf tournament. Plus, the event was held at Lansdowne Resort, a certified Virginia Green conference center.
Want to recycle and enjoy green amenities while on vacation? Sandbridge Blue Vacation Rentals focuses on its own business operations and encourages their rental properties to recycle and consider additional green practices and upgrades.
Additional Green Travel Choices
The following Virginia Green partners received the Virginia Green Travel Leader Award for 2013.
Our guest blogger today, Tom Griffin, is the Director of Greener Results Consulting, and has been the driving force of the Virginia Green program for Virginia’s tourism and hospitality industry. Industry partners can learn more about the program at VATC.org/VirginiaGreen. Consumers can learn more about Virginia Green travel opportunities at VirginiaGreenTravel.com.
“Does Virginia have a lot of history?” should never be a question. Of course Virginia is loaded with history, and here are a few events for you to experience this year if you’re eager for a fresh look or a different vantage point.
It’s not every day that a 400th wedding anniversary is celebrated, so you might want to mark this one down. Visit Historic Jamestowne the weekend of April 4-6, 2014 to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the marriage of Pocahontas to John Rolfe with a reenactment of the ceremony. Stand at the original church site, uncovered in 2010 by archaeologists, inside James Fort.
Part of the fun is the new exhibit, “The World of Pocahontas,” at the Voorhees Archaearium, which reveals new details about the material world of Virginia’s native people and their adaptation and social interaction with the English colonists.
Allied Forces invaded Normandy in the largest land, sea and air operation in history on June 6, 1944. The D-Day Memorial pays tribute to those fallen during that invasion, but the city of Bedford is home to the Memorial because its loss per capita was the highest in America. During the June weekend events, the new sculpture, “Homage,” will be dedicated, and you will have the chance to meet and thank veterans.
2014 marks 60 years since the decision was handed down by the United States Supreme Court for Brown v. Board of Education (1954), a case that desegregated schools and had a 16-year-old Farmville, Virginia girl at its roots.
Visit the Robert Russa Moton Museumto learn how a leaky, cold, overcrowded Robert Russa Moton High School pushed Barbara Johns and her peers to fight for equality in education (75% of the plaintiffs in Brown v. Board of Education were students in the 1951 Moton Student Strike). The site was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1998 and is called the student birthplace of America’s Civil Rights Movement.
How about some non-traditional history excursions?
The Mill Mountain Star in Roanoke, Virginia turns 65 this year. It’s the reason Roanoke is often called the “Star City of the South,” as its six-story stature and 2,000 feet of red, white and blue neon tubing illuminate Mill Mountain at night.
A view of Mill Mountain Star from Roanoke, Virginia.
Fifty years ago on January 29, 1964 one of the nation’s oldest lighthouses was designated a National Historic Landmark – Cape Henry Lighthouse in Virginia Beach. Celebrate this 1792 octagonal icon authorized by George Washington.
If you’ve ever driven the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, you’ve experienced “one of seven engineering wonders of the world.” The Bridge-Tunnel opened in April 1964 and spans 18 miles across the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay to connect Norfolk with Cape Charles, Virginia. The stretch will take you through two mile-long tunnels and over two high bridges, not to mention across four man-made islands. Stop at one of them to enjoy the view and a bite to eat at Chesapeake Grill.
The arts are alive and thriving this year in Virginia. Here are the top 5 places and things you need to see to round out 2014 – your year of art.
Brock Gallery, pre-expansion, Chrysler Museum of Art
1. After an extensive, 16-month expansion and enhancement campaign, the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk reopens its doors on May 10, 2014. Of note are upgraded heating and cooling to be more green and efficient, a greatly enlarged exhibit hall for glass and contemporary art, new galleries for American and European painting and sculpture, a bigger cafe area, Wi-Fi in every gallery, improved accessibility, traffic flow, and parking.
In the Box – “An intimate first-floor space dedicated to contemporary works in the digital realm,” is brand new to the Chrysler and will welcome four exhibits before the end of 2014.
Weitzer Community Gallery – You be the curator when your votes help to determine the pieces exhibited. Voting occurs online until February 26, 2014. Vote
70 Years of Smokey Bear – This exhibit will go on display in August and will contain 19 works by Virginia artist Rudy Wendelin of Arlington. Wendelin “depicted the friendly firefighting bear with the ranger hat and shovel for four decades, and is often credited with immortalizing him in pop culture history.”
2. In October 2014, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond will welcome nearly 200 pieces from the Palace Museum in Beijing, China entitled, “Forbidden City: Imperial Treasures From the Palace Museum, Beijing”. The exhibition will include pieces from the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties. In exchange, VMFA will be the first museum in the United States to exhibit pieces in the Palace Museum, the most attended museum in the world with more than 11 million visitors annually.
3. From a musical point of view, celebrate 40 years of old time, country, and bluegrass music on stage at Carter Family Fold in Hiltons. Operational as a non-profit since 1974, the Fold acts as a tribute to the original Carter family (A.P. Carter, Sara Carter, and Maybelle Carter). The Carter family’s 1927 recordings are credited with launching the country music industry as we know it today.
If the name Carter sounds familiar to you and the paragraph above is not the reason why, perhaps June Carter Cash rings a bell? June was the daughter of Maybelle Carter and followed in her mother’s footsteps, performing with her sisters as the Carter Sisters, as well as the likes of Elvis Presley and her husband, Johnny Cash. June was a Grammy award-winning musician who passed away in 2003.
To get a feel for performances at Carter Family Fold, check out the Carter Fold Sessions embedded below.
4. Attend an arts festival. Pick one! Here are five good ones that should be on your list of contenders.
The weekend is coming and your kids are tired of being cooped up. Or maybe, you’re tired of them being cooped up with too many hours of technology and gaming systems. Let’s solve that conundrum with a variety of ideas to spark the family fun you’re after.
Great Wolf Lodge
Waterpark. Yes, you read correctly. Water. Park. There are two in Virginia that are perfect for a wintry Saturday or an entire weekend away.
Great Wolf Lodge in Williamsburg is 67,000 square feet of splashing good times. How does a four-story treehouse, 1,000 gallon tipping bucket, four pools, eight slides, two giant hot tubs, and a wave pool sound? Stay the night and enjoy the waterpark all you want; passes are included. Arrive early to maximize your park fun time!
Massanutten Resort in McGaheysville has a 50,000 gallon centerpiece called The Flow Rider – an indoor surfing attraction with a five-foot incline. In addition, an adventure river, eight slides, a frog pond for little swimmers, water cannons, and a giant tipping bucket make this a fun place for any age to hang out. An overnight stay is not required.
Museum hop in Richmond. Located side by side, the Children’s Museum of Richmond and the Science Museum of Virginia are great places to escape and let the kids get hands-on. The little ones will love busying themselves with imaginative play, but then it’s on to discover the wonders of the universe … all in the same day! Have more than a day or want to swap the museums around a bit? The Virginia Aviation Museum is located near the Richmond International Airport and has 30 aircraft on site, including an SR-71 Blackbird.
Kids’ indoor amusement opportunities have came a long way since I was a kid. Take miniature golf, for example. Now you can putt 18 holes indoors, in the dark, with blacklights. Find that a Glow-A-Rama in Buchanan. High energy indoor fun includes laser tag and warehouses filled with things to bounce in, on and off of.
Finally, the obvious places for families to play in winter are Virginia’s four mountain resorts – Bryce, Massanutten, The Omni Homestead, and Wintergreen. Each has its own personality and special offerings (snowtubing, anyone?), so check out Winter Sports for the details on each.
Have a great suggestion for family play during the winter season? Please leave a comment!