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Archive for March, 2014

21 Influential Virginia Women

by Casey | Posted on March 12th, 2014

March is Women’s History Month and we’re proud to shine a light on some of the women who have made huge impressions, leaving¬†their mark on Virginia.

Please note that this list is in no way comprehensive. How could it be? To give us a hand, please leave a comment to honor the Virginia women you find most influential.

Pocahontas 1994 by Mary Ellen Howe

Pocahontas 1994 by Mary Ellen Howe

Pocahontas (1595-1617) daughter of Indian Chief Powhatan; married John Rolfe.

Mary Elizabeth Bowser (1839-unknown) Richmond; Union spy working as a servant for Varina Davis, wife of the President of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis. Inducted into the U.S. Army Military Intelligence Corps Hall of Fame (1995).

Maggie L. Walker (1864-1934) Richmond; First woman bank president in America, Advocate of black women’s rights.

Ellen Glasgow (1873-1945) Richmond; fiction writer in early 1900s, Pulitzer Prize winner (1942).

Nancy Langhorne Astor (1879-1964) Danville; first woman seated in the British House of Commons.

Maggie L. Walker National Historic Site. Image by Casey Higgins.

Maggie L. Walker National Historic Site

Ann Spencer (1882-1975) Henry County; African-American poet of the Harlem Renaissance.

Sara Carter (1898-1979) Copper Creek; country singer.

Maybelle Carter – (1909-1979) Nicklesville; country singer.

Ella Fitzgerald (1917-96) Newport News; “The First Lady of Song;” Grammy Award-winning Jazz singer (13 times).

Maybelle, A.P. and Sara Carter

Maybelle, A.P. and Sara Carter

Pearl Bailey (1918-90) Newport News; Actress, Singer and Author; Tony Award (1967); Medal of Freedom Award (1988).

June Carter Cash (1929-2003) Hiltons; country singer, married to Johnny Cash.

Patsy Cline (1932-1963) Winchester; country singer.

Shirley MacLaine (1934- ) Richmond; stage and screen actress, Academy Award winner.

Barbara Johns (1935-1991) New York City, but grew up in Farmville, Prince Edward County. Sixteen year old junior at Robert Russa Moton High School who organized a student strike for a new school building (1951). The NAACP advised the students to sue for integration. The Farmville case was one of the five eventually rolled into the Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka case that declared segregation unconstitutional (1954).

Kylene Barker (1955 – ) Pipers Gap; 1979 Miss America – Virginia’s first Miss America.

Katie Couric¬†(1957- ) Arlington; television news personality; host of “Katie,” ABC; global anchor, Yahoo News.

Wanda Sykes (1964- ) Portsmouth; Comedienne and actress. Film and television credits include “The Wanda Sykes Show,” “Evan Almighty,” “Monster-in-Law,” “Nutty Professor 2;” Emmy Award Winner (1999, 2002, 2004, 2005).

Missy Elliott (1971- ) Portsmouth; Songwriter, Producer, Arranger, Talent Scout, Record Mogul. Considered the top female hip-hop artist of all time. Four-time Grammy Award Winner (2001, 2002, 2003, 2005).

Whitney Hedgepeth (1971- ) Colonial Heights; Three-time NCAA Champion, Gold and Silver Olympic Medalist (Atlanta 1996).

Caressa Cameron (1987- ) – Fredericksburg; 2010 Miss America.

Gabrielle Douglas (1995- ) Virginia Beach; Gymnast. Olympic Gold Medalist (London 2012). First African-American all-around gymnastics champion.

 

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14 Reasons to Experience Virginia’s Most Iconic Scenic Drives

by Casey | Posted on March 10th, 2014

The Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline Drive are the hands-down, quintessential, most recognized scenic drives in Virginia. Have you driven either one? If not, they must be on your spring and summer to-do list, without question, and here’s why.

Rocky Knob Recreation Area on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Photo by CameronDavidson@CameronDavidson.com.

Rocky Knob Recreation Area on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Photo by CameronDavidson@CameronDavidson.com.

The Blue Ridge Parkway is widely and commonly referred to as “America’s Favorite Scenic Drive,” as it meanders 469 miles from Shenandoah National Park in Virginia to Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina.

7 Reasons to Go:

1. Elevation from 650 to 6,000 feet afford some of the world’s most spectacular views.

2. Mabry Mill is one of the most photographed sites in the nation and the restaurant has the best buckwheat pancakes you will ever get your hands on.

3. The summit of Sharp Top, part of Peaks of Otter, offers 360-degree views. On a clear day you can see for many miles.

4. Blue Ridge Music Center is home to a summer concert series with bands taking the amphitheater stage every Saturday from June until September.

5. History is captured through 19th century interpretive preservation sites like The Trail Cabin at milepost 154 and The Puckett Cabin at milepost 189.

6. If you want to hang out for a few days and enjoy the chill of spring’s air around a campfire, there are four campgrounds to choose from between mileposts 60 and 161.

7. Hiking is a no-brainer with trails leading to spectacular look-outs and waterfalls, too.

View from the Blue Ridge Parkway

View from the Blue Ridge Parkway

The 105-mile Skyline Drive is a National Scenic Byway and your access to Shenandoah National Park. The Drive runs the peak of the Blue Ridge Mountains from Front Royal to Waynesboro, where the Blue Ridge Parkway begins.

7 Reasons to Go:

1. Seventy-five overlooks put the Shenandoah Valley and Piedmont on display from on high.

2. The Appalachian Trail makes up 101 of the 518 miles of trails through Shenandoah National Park. If setting foot on the AT is on your bucket list, here you go.

Dark Hollow Falls, Shenandoah National Park
Dark Hollow Falls, Shenandoah National Park

¬†3. Four Shenandoah National Park¬†trails are¬†included¬†as¬†the most popular, according to¬†Virginia is for Lovers’ Facebook and Twitter fans. You must lace up and see what all the fuss is about (hint: waterfalls).

4. Backcountry camping is welcome on nearly all of the Park’s 196,000 acres. Forty percent, or 79,579 acres of the Park, is Congressionally designated wilderness area, meaning Leave No Trace practices are expected by all who visit.

5. For those who would like to spend time in the mountains but would rather not camp, there are two comfortable lodging options (with on-site dining) for you РBig Meadows Lodge and Skyland Resort.

6. Seventy mountain streams offer great fishing of the vibrant native brook trout population. Fishing Regulations

7. If you’re into geocaching, try EarthCaching at Shenandoah National Park. Rather than finding physical caches, you’ll be searching for natural, geological treasures. Note that placing traditional physical caches is prohibited.

What would you add as your reason to visit either of these treasured drives? Leave a comment to let us and our readers know.

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Outdoors, Travel Ideas, Virginia Destinations | Comments Off

Virginia’s Coastal Spring Drives

by Casey | Posted on March 4th, 2014

If you’re completely over the winter season and long for spring like I do, you’ll love the notion of beautiful spring drives through Virginia. Beginning in Coastal Virginia, these drives include history and beauty,¬†and leave you feeling a little more carefree.

This is the first of a four-part series which will lead you to some of the best destinations in Virginia by way of the slower route.

Colonial Parkway

Colonial Parkway

Colonial Parkway is a 23-mile run through America’s Historic Triangle, connecting Historic Jamestowne, Jamestown Settlement, Colonial Williamsburg, Yorktown Battlefield, and Yorktown Victory Center. The drive is maintained by the National Park Service and is free from commercial development. Dogwood, Redbud, and more bloom along the drive, and¬†the James and York Rivers are additional highlights.

Cross the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel to access Coastal Virginia’s¬†Eastern Shore and then it’s Route 13 all the way to Maryland¬†… with a stop-off or two as you go.¬†Really take your time and enjoy¬†what’s just out of sight:

~ Kiptopeke State Park
~ Cape Charles – the only public bayside beach on the Shore
~ Onancock – “The Coolest Town in the South,”¬†per Budget Travel
~
Historic Railway Museum, Parksley
~ Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge - wild ponies!
~ Asssateague Island National Seashore and Assateague Lighthouse

Westover Plantation

Westover Plantation

Often romanticized (thank you, Gone With the Wind), and ever historic, plantations are plentiful along the James River and Route 5 from Williamsburg to Richmond. Not all are open to the public all the time, so call ahead if visiting one is part of your plan. Or, purchase the Civil War Trace ticket to visit the grounds and tour just a few of them.

Route 10 from Smithfield to Chippokes Plantation State Park¬†runs on the south side of the James River. Enjoy¬†a waterside meal at Smithfield Station and then explore the shops of this historic ham hamlet before heading northwest to Bacon’s Castle, the 1665 Jacobean¬†mansion and oldest brick structure in¬†British North America. Bacon’s Castle is so named¬†for Nathaniel Bacon of¬†”Bacon’s Rebellion” in 1676. Nearly 350 years of history are interpreted¬†at the site by way of tours of the 9,600 square foot mansion and¬†40-acre plantation. Just down the road is Chippokes Plantation State Park, a working farm that dates to 1617. Tour the antebellum mansion and check out the antique farm and forestry equipment, too. If you have time to spend, stay overnight or take to the trails for hiking and biking.

Which coastal route is your favorite to drive at a leisurely pace and enjoy a day or weekend? Leave a comment to let everyone know.

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11 Virginia Hotels That Excel at Being Green

by Guest | Posted on March 3rd, 2014

Do you care about the environment?¬†¬† Do you recycle at home?¬† Well why wouldn‚Äôt you want to support the environment while travelling or on vacation?¬† The Virginia Green program helps you find green tourism attractions throughout Virginia ‚Äď even green certified hotels.¬†¬† Here are 11 great green hotels in Virginia that will help you lower your carbon footprint!

Hotel Floyd, Floyd, Virginia

Hotel Floyd, Floyd, Virginia

The Hotel Floyd (Floyd, VA) was designed to mimic the Southwest Virginia region’s rustic character, artistic roots and appeal.   The hotel features the work of local artisans throughout and it boasts bamboo flooring with geothermal radiant heat and cooling.  Sustainable, no-VOC fabrics and paints throughout.

The Inn at Virginia Tech & Skelton Conference Center (Blacksburg, VA) focuses on the provision of green meetings and conferences, and the Inn strives every day to reduce wastes and be more energy and water efficient.

Lansdowne Resort (Lansdowne, VA) is a full service resort and spa with two golf courses and conference center, and Lansdowne demonstrates its commitment to the environment in all of these areas.  Winner for the 2012 Virginia Green Travel Leader award.

Holiday Inn Oceanside (Virginia Beach, VA) is a Virginia Green partner that fully understands the importance of green practices, including recycling and many upgrades to efficient lighting and water fixtures.  The hotel is also a TripAdvisor Green Leader (bronze).

Courtyard by Marriott UVA Medical Center (Charlottesville, VA) is a Virginia Green partner that fully demonstrates its commitment to green practices in a very green-minded town.

John Cario of Hilton Garden Inn Downtown Richmond with Marshall Hall of Natural Organics Processes Enterprise.

John Cario of Hilton Garden Inn Downtown Richmond with Marshall Hall of Natural Organics Processes Enterprise.

Stonewall Jackson Hotel & Conference Center (Staunton, VA) places great emphasis on recycling, waste reduction, and hosting green meetings and conferences.

The Mason Inn & Conference Center (Fairfax, VA) is part of George Mason University, and it is LEED-Gold certified and is a TripAdvisor Green Leader (silver).

Renaissance Arlington Capital View (Arlington, VA) is LEED-Gold certified and is fully focused on minimizing wastes from its operation in every way, such as composting food wastes.  The Renaissance is a TripAdvisor Green Leader (platinum).

The Westin Richmond (Richmond, VA) makes “green” a central focus of the entire guest and meeting experience; and it implements new projects every year to reduce its environmental footprint.¬† Westin Richmond is a winner of the 2013 Virginia Green Travel Star award.

The Hilton Garden Inn Downtown Richmond (Richmond, VA) composts all of its food wastes, supports recycling projects in local schools, and collects used soaps for recycling in support for international mission projects.   Hilton Garden Inn Downtown Richmond is also a winner of the 2013 Virginia Green Travel Star award.

Richmond Marriott West (Richmond, VA) is LEED-certified and fully committed to support green meetings as well as overnight stays.

Please give customer feedback when you visit Virginia Green certified facilities.  Let them know that you appreciate their efforts to protect the environment, or share ideas on how they might continue to improve.

What do you look for when you travel green? Leave a comment to share your favorite green places, practices and experiences in Virginia.

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Tom Griffin, Director, Greener Results ConsultingOur guest blogger today, Tom Griffin, is the Virginia Green Program Coordinator, 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.



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