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    From late July through early August of 1927, artists such as The Carter Family, Jimmie Rodgers and more made musical recordings in a makeshift studio in downtown Bristol. Those recordings became known as the 1927 Bristol Sessions, and they made Bristol the birthplace of #countrymusic. Tomorrow, 87 years later, a museum dedicated to the history of country music, starting with those 1927 Sessions, opens to the public in downtown #Bristol. This is a must-visit for music fanatics and connoisseurs! Photo props to @amandastrav. #bcmm #birthplaceofcountrymusic #oldschoolva #vatravel #loveva #records #virginia #musiclovers @bcmbristol
    If you're in #VirginiaBeach and looking for a killer #breakfast with local gourmet #coffee, you HAVE to check out Zeke's Beans & Bowls. Their #acai bowls, made-to-order with fresh fruit, will knock your socks off! This is their North Pole Bowl, acai topped with granola, banana, mango, blueberries, cocoanut and almonds. The cafe's eclectic, retro-beach vibe is also a #morning mood lifter. #loveva #vafood #goodmorning #wakeup #getinmybelly #freshfruit @visitvabeach @zekesvb
    #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
  • Archive for June, 2014

    Best places to find an over-the-top hot dog

    by Stefanie | Posted on June 30th, 2014

    The hot dog is one of the quintessential American culinary staples. When you think of these delicious franks, nestled perfectly in their bun, ketchup, mustard and relish follow shortly behind. What about some pineapple or guacamole? Check out any of these hot dog joints, and you’re in a unique meat-lover’s dream.

    City Dogs

    City Dogs

    CITY DOGS, Richmond
    City Dogs, with two locations in Richmond, offers more than 10 unique dogs on its menu. As one frequent patron boasts, “The Santa Fe Dog, with fresh guacamole, fresh jalapeños and tortilla strips keep you coming back for more. The Honolulu Dog, with pineapple and rich BBQ, and the Carolina Dog with BBQ and coleslaw on top of the dog are also awesome picks. Plus the wait staff is friendly and very helpful.” And to wash down the hot dog, great drink specials are always available to enjoy. After getting your hot dog fix, Richmond offers countless historic excursions for visitors, from the Richmond Slave Trail, to breathtaking Maymont, and everything in between.

    DIPDOG, Marion
    A rags to riches and rags to riches again, DipDog Stand in Marion has been in business since 1957, powering through redirection of passing roads, management transition and more. The Stand stood the test of time, thriving off their unique, affordable menu. The family-owned business has hosted a number of events and has also had Aerosmith pass by! DipDog has been listed in Southern Living magazine and has also been voted best overall restaurant, best hotdogs, best service, and more. While you’re in Marion, take in a show at The Lincoln Theatre and spend a weekend at Hungry Mother State Park.

    THE GAP DELI, Fancy Gap
    As you’re making your way through the Blue Ridge Parkway, stop by The Gap Deli and try one of two hot dogs that veer off the beaten path. The General Lee Smack Down Dog is a quarter-pound, all-beef dog, wrapped in cheese and slices of bacon; topped off with chili, red onions, tomatoes, jalapenos, banana peppers, yellow mustard and coleslaw. Feel like a more traditional dog, but with a twist? Try the General Grant Chow Down Dog, topped with tomatoes, dill pickles, sweet relish, banana peppers, red onions, yellow mustard and sprinkled with celery salt. Both are served on a delicious toasted French roll.

    Goochland Drive-In

    Goochland Drive-In

    GOOCHLAND DRIVE-IN, Hadensville
    Have you ever heard of this one? The Gooch Dog, a hotdog topped with mac n’cheese, with a special/secret sauce piled on top. The Goochland Drive-In, a family-oriented, classic drive-in establishment, offers its patrons new release movies and unique American concessions, such as the Gooch Dog. It’s worth a visit for a night of family fun.

    HAUTE DOG & FRIES, Alexandria & Purcellville
    “Keep it simple. Everyone loves a hotdog.” That’s the motto of Haute Dog & Fries, located just outside Washington, D.C., as well as Purcellville. Choose from one of their 15 dogs on the menu, or make your own custom creation (including rainbow sprinkles!). Try out the District “D.C.” Dog, complete with bleu cheese, BBQ sauce, yellow mustard, chopped onions and a dill pickle. Or how about the classic Haute Dog? Dressed with homemade warm house onion relish, yellow mustard, mayo and celery salt. All hotdogs are natural, all-beef franks; as well as gluten, dairy and sugar-free. Pair your hotdog with Haute Dog’s signature fries and you’re good to go!

    DOUG’S HOT DOGS, Norfolk
    Doug’s Hot Dogs, located in Ocean View in Norfolk, is known for its BBQ hot dog, complete with authentic pulled pork BBQ. Arrays of other topping options are available, including the bacon-cheddar dog and their foot-long. 

    Skeeter's, E. N. Umberger Store

    Skeeter’s, E. N. Umberger Store

    SKEETER’S “WORLD FAMOUS” HOTDOGS, Wytheville
    Home of the Skeeterdog, Skeeter’s has served nearly nine million dogs since 1925. As one visitor boasts, “My favorite Skeeterdog is the “All the Way.” The All the Way dog comes buried under chili, mustard and ultra-creamy slaw that’s almost more of a sauce, and super finely diced fresh onions. The buns are steamed behind the counter and arrive at the table nice and soft. Skeeter’s has been named Hot Dog of the Week by seriouseats.com.

    DONKEY DAWGS, Virginia Beach
    If you’re visiting Virginia Beach, you have to take a stop to Donkey Dawgs, just a few miles from the coastline. Serving hot dogs, Carolina BBQ, burgers, salad, homemade soups and daily specials, there’s something that is sure to please any palate.

     



    Food, Locals | 12 Comments

    A Toast to Great Views! 18 Virginia Wineries for Outdoor Sipping

    by Casey | Posted on June 27th, 2014

    Virginia’s vineyards are beautiful, especially this time of year when the vines are heavy with luscious grapes. Savor the view while you also savor the vintage at these wineries boasting impeccable views. Their patios and decks are perfect for summer evening unwinding.

    Early Mountain Vineyards

    Early Mountain Vineyards

    Virginia Tourism staff were asked their favorite wine tasting room and tasting experience, but the responses exited the tasting room in favor of the outdoors …

    “The outside views from Barboursville tasting room are beautiful with the mountains in the distance. We also enjoyed walking the trail to the ruins of the Barboursville Mansion, which are on the vineyard property.” (Barboursville, VA)

    Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards

    Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards

    King Family Vineyards. I love the range of the wines, the beautiful vistas at the winery, and you even catch a polo match on summer Sundays!” (Crozet, VA)

    “King Family not only has an excellent patio/outdoor situation, but on Sundays during spring/summer they host Polo games on-site. I recently went and was blown away by the huge numbers of people out there attending the games. Everyone had lawn chairs, pop-up tents, huge tailgating spreads, dogs, kids, etc. It was a great Sunday afternoon activity. The view is great right next to the mountains and the polo games were really exciting—especially while enjoying some great VA wine!”

    Chateau Morrisette, of course. The setting right off the Blue Ridge Parkway is wonderful … Best scenic ride winery in the western region, in my opinion.” (Floyd, VA)

    Pippin Hill. Their tasting room is really pretty but the lounge areas on the porch are even better.” (North Garden, VA)

    West Wind Farm Vineyard & Winery

    West Wind Farm Vineyard & Winery

    “We went to a winery last Sunday with an incredible view … Pippin Hill.”

    Early Mountain. They have beautiful indoor and outdoor seating.” (Madison, VA)

    Glass House has a tropical conservatory, patio with a view, and they also serve locally made chocolates.” (Free Union, VA)

    Afton Mountain has an outdoor porch with scenic mountain vistas.” (Afton, VA)

    Little Washington Winery

    Little Washington Winery

    “A favorite of mine is the West Wind Farm Vineyard and Winery … a dreamy rural setting in the Wytheville hills, this family owned and operated winery provides a most appreciated respite that includes local foods, their wines and soulful local musicians to further enchant the spirit.” (Max Meadows, VA)

    Little Washington Winery. Great view from their deck. It was raining when we were there but they let us take Lucy, our dog, in too.” (Washington, VA)

    These Wineries Were Also Mentioned:

    With more than 260 wineries to choose from all across Virginia, there are most certainly dozens more wineries with outstanding scenic views. Sound off by leaving a comment! We want to know which one(s) you flock to on a summer evening.

    Virginia is for Lovers.
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    Couples, Outdoors, Wine | 5 Comments

    12 Beautiful Virginia Resorts

    by Casey | Posted on June 24th, 2014

    Looking for luxury? Family fun? Maybe a little of both? Choose from these 12 Virginia resorts that boast plenty of activities to keep families busy or deliver top-notch amenities for couples.

    For Kids to LOVE

    Massanutten Resort

    Massanutten Resort

    Massanutten Resort is a four season mountaintop haven. This time of year is perfect for the waterpark! Line the kids up on Rockingham Racer to see who can make it to the bottom first, ride the waves at White Caps or get your aquatic play skills on at Splash-a-Nutten. After you’ve gotten a good soak, head to the Family Adventure Park for zip lining, summer tubing, and wall climbing. Accommodations

     

    Wintergreen Resort

    Wintergreen Resort

    Wintergreen Resort is situated on 11,000 acres of the eastern slope of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Spaces dedicated to family fun include Discovery Ridge and Ridgely’s Fun Park. The activities included are zip lining, summer tubing, bungee trampoline, a climbing wall, miniature golf, and great indoor arcade and gaming outlets. Archery has been recently been added as a family activity, too!

    Something for Everyone

    Mariners Landing

    Mariners Landing

    Some of the family loves the beach and some love the mountains. Mash those two worlds together when you stay waterside at Mariners Landing on Smith Mountain Lake in Huddleston! The 1,000-acre resort community includes beaches, three pool complexes, gaming center, and of course, water sports for those who wish to rent or bring their own equipment.

    The Tides Inn

    The Tides Inn

     

    Situated along Carter Creek near the Chesapeake Bay in Irvington is The Tides Inn. Families love the swimming pools, beach, and the “learn-to” water sports that the marina affords, while couples can partake of golf, the spa, a Cove Cruise, and the serenity of a peaceful waterside reprieve.

     

    Kingsmill Resort

    Kingsmill Resort

     

    Spanning 2,900 acres along the James River is Kingsmill Resort in Williamsburg. A full-service spa, 54 holes of golf, tennis, various eateries, and a full-service marina are all at your fingertips. Families will enjoy the lazy river at the River Pool and access to paddle boards, sea bikes, kayaks, and fishing poles.

     

    Lansdowne Resort

    Lansdowne Resort

    Lansdowne Resort in Leesburg is a AAA Four-Diamond Award winner, and it’s a great choice for families or couples. Amenities include elegant rooms, a luxurious 12,000 square foot destination spa, and 45 holes of golf, courtesy of designers Robert Trent Jones II and Greg Norman. Families can spread out and splash about in the five-pool aquatic complex or sign the kids up for a day camp.

     

    Cozy for Couples

    Boar's Head

    Boar’s Head

     

    Southern hospitality reigns supreme at Boar’s Head in Charlottesville. Recently renovated, the AAA Four Diamond resort is known for its Old Mill Room dining and spa.

     

     

    Primland Resort

    Primland Resort

     

    High up on the mountain in Meadows of Dan is Primland Resort, boasting truly spectacular views. Outdoor enthusiasts will be especially pleased with the Orvis endorsed wingshooting opportunities, hunting expeditions, ATV tours, and more. Primland also has 18 holes of golf and an American Indian inspired spa. Stargazing is quite romantic, and if you’d like to get a better look, head to the Primland Observatory.

    Keswick Hall

    Keswick Hall

     

    Keswick Hall is a Charlottesville area mainstay that will soon boast a brand new Pete Dye-designed golf course. Fossett’s is the signature restaurant that will certainly be your destination after a relaxing spa treatment. Keswick is a two-time Conde Nast “#1 Small Resort in Mainland U.S.” honoree.

     

    Salamander Resort

    Salamander Resort

     

    Salamander Resort in Middleburg is pure extravagance with lavish suites, an opulent spa with a couples spa suite and poolside cabanas, a full-service 22-stall equestrian center, delectable dining with a nearby cooking studio, and more.

     

    The Omni Homestead Resort

    The Omni Homestead Resort

     

     

    The quintessential Virginia destination for couples is The Omni Homestead in Hot Springs, called “the birthplace of Southern hospitality.” Nestled into the Allegheny Mountains, this National Historic Landmark is enhanced with two championship golf courses, shooting, horseback riding, falconry, Jefferson Pools, spa with exclusive adults-only spa garden, Allegheny Springs water recreation area, and carriage rides.

    The Berry Hill Resort

    The Berry Hill Resort

     

    The 1728 National Historic Landmark known as The Berry Hill Resort is found in South Boston. History, tradition and charm are abundant at this luxury resort. Book one of the mini mansions for ultimate privacy! Blackberry Spa will be a delicious treat for a weary body.

    Which resort destination tops your list? Stay at each one for a different flavor of Virginia hospitality and fun!

     

    Virginia is for Lovers.
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    Couples, Family, Virginia Destinations | 4 Comments

    Helmets On! Virginia Biking Resources to Get You On Your Way

    by Casey | Posted on June 20th, 2014

    Pump up the tires and secure your helmet for great biking around Virginia. Whether you’re into the challenges of mountainous terrain or are more of a bike path easy rider, these resources will help you roll out for the day.

    Dick & Willie Passage Rail Trail, Henry County

    Dick & Willie Passage Rail Trail, Henry County

    Mountain Biking Trails for Everyone – Take it easy with a rental and custom tour or hit it hard on single tracks.

    7 Most Bike Friendly Cities and Towns – Bike lanes and trail rides through scenic cities.

    Hikes, Bikes & Brews – Quench your post-ride thirst with a pint of Virginia craft beer.

    Mountain Biking in Virginia – Get acquainted with various places to ride and the outfitters who can assist you in your quest.

    Bicycling in Virginia – Cycling the Commonwealth – Get the map, ride the roads. Did you know that 838 miles of US Bicycle Routes 1 and 76 run through Virginia?

    Looking to get out on the bike this weekend? Check out the Bike Virginia Tour traveling from Chesterfield to Williamsburg June 20-25. The Tour takes a different route each year, offering you a laid back way to experience the beauty of the Commonwealth. Registration required.

    Virginia is for Lovers.
    Request a free Travel Guide.



    Outdoors | 1 Comment

    Hot? 26 Places to Chill Out with a Great Milkshake

    by Casey | Posted on June 19th, 2014

    It’s hot and getting hotter, so where can you find the best milkshakes in Virginia to help you cool off? Our trusty locals have come through again, this time with 26 appealing shake spots across Virginia.

    Fenderz

    Fenderz

    Have an affection for peanut butter? So do our locals, it seems. When evaluating the favorite flavors and specialty shakes offered across the Commonwealth, peanut butter rose to the top. Here’s what our friends had to say …

    “Chocolate Peanut Butter- Just the right mix of sweet and salt,” wrote Tonya of Abingon’s Ellis Soda Shoppe. She also noted, “The shop is in an old drugstore and much of Abingdon’s history is told on the original oak shelving and on the tables.”

    Stacy’s favorite at Fenderz in Collinsville is the “Peanut Butter Hot Fudge milkshake made with Homestead Creamery chocolate soft serve ice cream and peanut butter hot fudge.”

    Brian gives a word of caution, but this shake from George Bowers Grocery in Staunton sounds like it was made especially for men. Or any bacon lover, for that matter. He writes, “Calorie counters be forewarned … The Heartbreaker! Artisan vanilla gelato is blended with local Polyface bacon and Falling Bark Farm hickory.”

    Hob Nob Drive-In is located in Gate City. Penny gives a nod to the Nob and her favorite shake, “Reese’s … Thick, rich, and good! The Hob Nob has been a locally family owned drive in since the 1950′s. They are one of the oldest drive-ins in our region. The Hob Nob is THE place to go.”

    The Burger Bar in Bristol received several mentions for their milkshakes. Dave, James and Carol all enjoy the Chocolate Peanut Butter shake. Carole wrote, “the almost-sinfully flavorful choices are beyond your imagination and worth every spoonful!”

    Gail let us know of Front Royal’s Facebook vote for their favorite milkshake, writing, “Spleunker’s won hands down. Peanut Butter was the favorite.” If an entire town rallies behind a milkshake, you know it has to be the bomb.

    Summertime calls for fruity shakes. Oranges and berries are the cream of the crop when considering traditional summer milkshake flavors.

    Anne wrote “it tastes like summer,” when describing the strawberry shake at Carl’s Frozen Custard in Fredericksburg.  ’Nough said.

    In Kilmarnock, Stevie’s Ice Cream offers delicious fruit shakes, making it hard to choose just one. Susan wrote, “Black Raspberry gets the nod for its fruity taste. It’s so ultra thick, you’ll pull the straw shut getting it out!”

     Noelle has a favorite at Kline’s Dairy Bar in Harrisonburg. Her recommendation? “The best shake on the menu is the Orange Creamsicle. It tastes just like the old days of an orange cream float.” Thomas picked “Black Raspberry. It’s made with a thicker, creamier ice cream is really just to die for.”

    Doumar's Cones and Barbeque

    Doumar’s Cones and Barbeque

    Wright’s Dairy Rite in Staunton has an orange offering of its own. Sheryl wants you to try a drink freeze, which is “your favorite drink blended with rich vanilla ice cream. It’s much like a milkshake but they use soda instead of milk. The Orange Fanta tastes like a dreamsicle.”

    Along the same lines, Anthony suggests you try the Orange Freeze at Doumar’s in Norfolk, which also tastes like a dreamsicle. He adds, “All the ice cream is handmade and has been for 100 years.”

    Richmond Magazine rated The Dairy Bar as offering the Best Local Milkshake. Julianna wrote, “The Dairy Bar Restaurant uses ice cream from Blue Bell Creameries as the base for their milkshakes, and they offer over 20 different flavors!” Dreamsicle is one tasty flavor, but then also try the Cookies N’ Cream or the Rum-Raisin.

    Adult milkshakes. Have you considered one? These might pique your interest …

    Station 2 in Richmond has a Girl Scout reference on their shake menu, and Juliana recommends it! She wrote, “For the adults: Naughty Girl Scout – made with vanilla ice cream, Irish cream, creme de menthe, creme de cacao and chocolate chips! Station 2 has fantastic regular milkshakes, but they are really known for their popular ‘adult’ milkshakes.”

    Patty had a few recommendations for Lexington’s Sweet Things Ice Cream Shoppe, but the one that caught our eye (a la Station 2, above) was the Chunky Irish Girl Scout, which Patty described as “Thin Mint cookies mixed with Bailey’s Irish Cream.” Sign me up!

    Another suggestion for Kline’s in Harrisonburg is Shami’s favorite, the “Coffee Malt Shake – custard style ice cream without the egg! It’s deliciously good and refreshing on a hot summer day!”

    Maureen wrote to us, “Residents and visitors alike flock to the iconic ice cream cone sign at Colleen Drive-In in Arrington.” One of the favorites is the Mocha milkshake.

    An anonymous tip was received about Bristol’s Blackbird Bakery‘s milkshakes. Our tipster wrote, “Blackbird Bakery’s new milkshakes are made from over 15 ounces of Homestead Creamery ice cream. Blackbird offers six base flavors and two seasonal flavors, all of which can be turned into one of their fantastic milkshakes … wonderful sauces and syrups [are] available [and] Blackbird’s coffees can be added to your shake.”

    Sweet Things Ice Cream Shoppe

    Sweet Things Ice Cream Shoppe

    So what about classic milkshake flavors? Get ‘em here …

    Danelle keeps it simple when mentioning Goolrick’s Pharmacy in Fredericksburg. “Chocolate milkshake. [It] has been around since 1863.”

    Though we’ve mentioned Doumar’s for their Orange Freeze, Julie loves the chocolate shake in particular. She wrote, “Chocolate milkshake: real milk, real ice cream, plenty of chocolate — yummy!”

    Walton & Smoot Pharmacy in Woodstock has a claim to fame, which Barbara pointed out when she wrote, “Jackie O (Onassis) had a chocolate shake there!!” Barbara’s favorite, however is the “Vanilla shake!” Josh also likes Walton & Smoot, but recommends the Strawberry. He adds, “All are good because they come from a vintage fountain.” Heather votes for the Chocolate shake, while Jenna calls it “very nostalgic!!”

    Christina found a nostalgic spot in Mathews – Richardson’s Cafe. She wrote, “The best shake on the menu is the Mint Chip! Sweet, cold and refreshing. I love to enjoy it while sitting at the old soda pop counter watching reruns of ‘I Love Lucy’ in this former Rexall drug store.”

    In Williamsburg you’ll find Shorty’s Diner and Retro’s Good Eats, both serving delicious shakes. Vivian said of Shorty’s, “Chocolate is my favorite. They also offer their old fashioned malts.” She added of Retro’s, “For me, Chocolate is the best! They also offer their real custard milkshakes in Vanilla, Swirl Chocolate Cherry and Dreamsicle.”

    Looking for more great shakes? Consider these as well.

    Virginia is for Lovers.
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    Food, Locals | 3 Comments