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    Road trippers and warriors may recognize the Hampton Roads #Bridge Tunnel at sunset, though it looks different when you're not behind the wheel of a car. Beautiful shot by @slayerlovnhippy! Don't forget to tag your #Virginia photos with #LoveVA for a chance to be featured here. #repost #dusk #photooftheday #bridgetunnel #vatravel #moon #hamptonroads
    Picking #blueberries at Mount Olympus Farm in Ruther Glen. If you visit soon, you'll be able to pick your own blueberries (end of season) AND blackberries (beginning of season). Pull out those homemade #pie and #muffin recipes and get cookin'! Tag your #Virginia photos with #LoveVA for a chance to be featured here. #eatlocal #pickyourown #blueberry #summer #vatravel #locavore #vafood
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    Eat Local! 16 Dishes with Fresh, Local Flavor

    by Casey | Posted on April 18th, 2014

    “Fresh, not frozen” is the mantra of many, but you’re invited to really taste the difference when you dine at some of Virginia’s farm-to-table restaurants. Of note are these 16 locally-sourced dishes that were nominated by locals as their favorite meal. Perhaps one sounds palate-pleasing for your next out-and-about Virginia excursion?

    Braised Shenandoah Lamb Shoulder. BRABO by Robert Wiedmaier.

    Braised Shenandoah Lamb Shoulder. BRABO by Robert Wiedmaier.

    1. Traditions, inside the Williamsburg Lodge in Williamsburg, cooks up a Fennel Dusted Virginia Coast Shrimp and Scallop Dish that utilizes Dave and Dee’s Sedley, Virginia-grown oyster mushrooms, local farmers’ produce, and cured Virginia bourbon bacon.

    2. BRABO by Robert Wiedmaier is located in beautiful Old Town Alexandria. Just as beautiful is their Braised Shenandoah Lamb Shoulder served with hand-rolled pappardelle, dill, pearl onions, glazed parsnip and a natural jus.

    3. In Staunton, try Zynodoa’s locally-sourced Autumn Olive Farm pork entrée, which includes Meadow Creek Dairy’s Mountaineer cheese bruleed cornbread, and Harvest Thyme Herbs’ corn shoot salad.

    4. Shrimp is served atop locally-sourced Andouille sausage and stone-ground grits at Wild Wolf Brewing Company in Nellysford. Pair this dish-with-a-kick with one of their homemade brews for a divine lunch on the patio.

    Gunness Ayrshire Beef Stew. Hunter's Head Tavern.

    Gunness Ayrshire Beef Stew. Hunter’s Head Tavern.

    5. Upperville is home to the English pub,  Hunter’s Head Tavern, where Ayrshire Farm’s certified organic, humane, heritage-bred beef is the main ingredient in their Guinness Ayrshire Beef Stew. It’s slow-simmered with red wine, stock and Guinness stout, and finished with carrots, celery, onion, and potatoes.

    6. New Leaf Pastry Kitchen in Harrisonburg offers a filling Bruschetta that’s perfect for a quick lunch. House-made rosemary focaccia is split and spread with herbed goat cheese before being filled with roasted Portobella mushrooms, onions, Polyface Farms’ sausage, and shredded smoked Gouda. It’s served hot with a Parmesan crisp and Dijon crème fraiche.

    Crispy Skinned Chesapeake Bay Rockfish. Lemaire.

    Crispy Skinned Chesapeake Bay Rockfish. Lemaire.

    7. Inside the famed Jefferson Hotel in Richmond is Lemaire, where a Crispy Skinned Chesapeake Bay Rockfish is a popular local dish. The Rockfish is served with stewed white beans, semi-dried tomatoes, Manakintowne Specialty Growers’ field arugula, smoked Surry County sausage, and truffled mushroom broth.

    8. A historical dessert in honor of Thomas Jefferson, the Jefferson Brandied Peaches & Vanilla Ice Cream dessert that you’ll find at the Old Mill Room at Boar’s Head in Charlottesville includes raspberry sauce, meringue, locally-grown peaches, and Jefferson vanilla ice cream. Dessert first? Yes, please!

    9. More dessert? You betcha! The Heartwood Cobbler at Heartwood in Abingdon is simply sugar, self-rising flour, Duchess Dairy milk, butter and fresh fruit from the farmer’s market topped with Homestead Creamery vanilla ice cream. Which type of cobbler you find on the menu depends on which fruit is fresh and in season.

    10. Created from all local ingredients, the Bratwurst Pizza with Apples and Onions from Blue Mountain Brewery in Afton includes Double H Farms’ bratwurst and local apples. The dough includes Ashland Farms’ whole wheat flour and is infused with herbs, olive oil and Hungry Hill Farm honey.

    The Savory Grain, Richmond.

    The Savory Grain, Richmond.

    11. Roanoke’s Local Roots Restaurant serves a Hollow Hill Farm’s Bison Pastrami sandwich topped with cheddar cheese, house sauerkraut and house barbecue sauce. It’s served atop a Breadcraft Bakery sesame seed bun.

    12. Timbercreek Organics’ beef is slow cooked with whole grain mustard spaetzle, roasted Sharondale Farms’ mushrooms, braised red cabbage, and bleu cheese. You can find this fine dish at Fossett’s at Keswick Hall in Keswick.

    13. The Savory Grain in Richmond serves a Roasted Quail stuffed with a nine-grain cranberry pecan medley and finished with Bold Rock Cider roasted red pepper and ginger jus. Beautiful and delicious.

    14. A perfect farm-fresh egg is served on garlic-rubbed ciabatta and served with mixed baby greens topped in balsamic vinaigrette, Virginia country ham and Parmesan cheese at Foti’s Restaurant in Culpeper.

    15. Fresh catfish is served with creamed farro, Surry County sausage, butter beans, hominy, and mustard cream at The Roosevelt in Richmond.

    16. Also in Richmond is Rappahannock, serving a beautiful dish of braised Border Springs Farm lamb with a crispy cake of Arborio rice, fregola sarda and lentils, fermented vegetables, pea tendrils, and a blood orange vinaigrette.

    What’s your favorite locally-sourced dish? Tell all about it by leaving a comment!

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    Food, Locals | Comments Off

    16 Bed and Breakfasts for Virginia History Explorations

    by Casey | Posted on April 16th, 2014

    Virginia’s most popular history attractions are always within reach, but come a bit closer. Pair your history jaunt with a stay at the closest bed and breakfasts.

    A Williamsburg White House Bed and Breakfast

    A Williamsburg White House Bed and Breakfast

    Historic Jamestowne is the first permanent English settlement in North America. Colonists arrived here in 1607; John Rolfe and Pocahontas were married here in 1614; and the first representative assembly in America met here in 1619. Archaeology walking tours are available daily and the on-site archaeology museum will give you quite the view and understanding of the important ground you tread upon. Within five miles, choose from these four immaculate bed and breakfasts.

    The Powell House Garden at Colonial Williamsburg

    The Powell House Garden at Colonial Williamsburg

    Colonial Williamsburg’s Revolutionary City takes you inside 1775 and the beginning of the Revolution. Meet the townspeople, tradesmen, shopkeepers, political figures, women, and enslaved that call Williamsburg home. As one can imagine when considering the historic nature of the Williamsburg area, bed and breakfasts are plentiful. Here are a few contenders within walking distance of Colonial Williamsburg.

    • Fife & Drum Inn (.6 mile) – Nine distinctive rooms and suites are decorated in the flavor of the 18th century but with a modern twist.
    • Colonial Capital B&B Inn (.8 mile) – Colonial Revival boasts a rich blend of warmth, style, and comfort.
    • Applewood Colonial B&B (.8 mile) – Stately Georgian modeled after early Colonial Williamsburg restoration efforts.
    • The Williamsburg Manor (.8 mile) – Southern hospitality in a fresh and eclectic setting. Recently updated to combine the spirit of Williamsburg with the most modern of amenities.

    Yorktown Victory Center is a museum of the American Revolution chronicling America’s struggles for independence. Exhibits include a rare early broadside printing of the Declaration of Independence dating to July 1776, a predecessor to the handwritten parchment copy signed by members of Congress. Within a mile of the Center are two historic B&Bs to choose from.

    Thomas Jefferson's Monticello

    Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello

    Thomas Jefferson’s mountaintop Monticello in Charlottesville is a must-see historic destination. It’s the only U.S. presidential and private home on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Stay at The Inn at Monticello, just two miles away, to enjoy the home, gardens, and views Jefferson loved so much. It’s an 1850s southern manor with romantic guest rooms and hearty gourmet breakfast.

    Mount Vernon, George Washington’s Estate and Gardens are located in northern Virginia right on the banks of the Potomac River. Visit to see the new Ford Orientation Center, the most famous dentures in the world, heritage animal breeds, Washington’s distillery, and so much more.  Just over six miles away is the charming Gatsby’s House Bed and Breakfast in Old Town Alexandria. The proximity to everything in Old Town is reason enough to stay.

    Montpelier was James Madison’s lifelong home. Take a guided tour of his and Dolley’s house, the expansive gardens, and other points of interest on the 2,650-acre estate. The closest bed and breakfast for your presidential explorations is Inn at Westwood Farm, just 1.3 miles away. Four beautifully appointed rooms are available in the 1910 farmhouse, and the concierge service is renowned.

    James Monroe's Ash Lawn-Highland. Photo by Richard Bronson.

    James Monroe’s Ash Lawn-Highland. Photo by Richard Bronson.

    James Monroe’s Ash Lawn-Highland will catch you by surprise. It’s far more modest than the aforementioned presidential homes. In fact, Monroe called his home his “cabin castle.” Tours are offered daily, and the working farm adds to the attraction. Only two miles away is a very comfortable b&b, the only one in Charlottesville that also has a working vineyard – Arcady Vineyard Bed & Breakfast. While it’s not a historic home as others mentioned in this post, it’s very well-appointed with no detail overlooked. You can even take their local winery tour with dinner transportation provided.

    Of note, Colonial Williamsburg, Yorktown, Monticello, Mount Vernon, Montpelier, and Ash Lawn-Highland are sites along the Road to Revolution Heritage Trail.

    In Ewing, find Wilderness Road State Park, 310 acres that lie astride the Wilderness Road, a route carved by Daniel Boone in 1775. The route, which followed a buffalo trace, opened America’s first western frontier. Most notable in the park is the Karlan Mansion, built in the 1877. Stay seven miles away at the Wilderness Road Bed and Breakfast, and ask for the master suite. The sweeping views from the balcony will leave you breathless. (Author’s Note, 7/9/14: Wilderness Road B&B is now closed.)

    Civil War enthusiasts can visit the location of the war’s end in April 1865 – Appomattox Court House and National Historical Park. The highlight is the McLean House where Generals Lee and Grant crafted and signed the terms of surrender, bringing an end to the bloodiest chapter of United States history. Babcock House Bed & Breakfast Inn is just .2 mile away and includes an on-site restaurant. The B&B is a graceful 1893 manor home with its own historical story to tell.

    Every corner of Virginia seeps history. Find more historic sites and the lovely accommodations near them when planning your next visit.

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    Couples, History, Virginia Destinations | Comments Off

    Celebrate Jazz Appreciation Month

    by Casey | Posted on April 11th, 2014

    If you have a love of jazz, you’ll find a lot to love in Virginia. April is Jazz Appreciation Month and as such, we’re shining a spotlight on our most beloved jazz musician, Ella Fitzgerald.

    Don't miss the upcoming Hampton Jazz Festival in Hampton, Virginia.

    Don’t miss the upcoming Hampton Jazz Festival in Hampton, Virginia.

    Ella Fitzgerald, called “The First Lady of Song,” was born in Newport News, Virginia on April 25, 1917. Shortly after birth, she and her mother moved to Yonkers, New York. In 1934 Ella’s name was drawn to compete in Amateur Night at the Apollo. She planned to dance but changed her mind after seeing the dance act that preceded her. Instead, she sang “Judy” by Hoagy Carmichael and was cheered on to perform an encore. Impressed with the natural talent he saw, saxophonist and arranger Benny Carter helped Ella launch her career. Ella became the singer of the Tiny Bradshaw Band in 1935 before recording her first song, “Love and Kisses” in 1936. In 1938, Ella scored her first number one hit with “A-Tisket, A-Tasket.”

    Highlights:

    • Worked with Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra, Count Basie
    • National Medal of Arts Award by President Ronald Reagan, 1987
    • NAACP Image Award for Lifetime Achievement, 1988
    • Recorded more than 200 albums
    • Thirteen-time Grammy Award winner
    • Gave her last concert in 1991 at Carnegie Hall
    • Presidential Medal of Freedom Award by President George H. W. Bush, 1992

    Celebrate Ella Fitzgerald with a tour through Newport News to see her birthplace, or take in a show at The Hippodrome Theater in Richmond, a venue Ella played early in her career.

    On what would be Ella’s 97th birthday (April 25), The Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra will present A Tribute to Ella Fitzgerald at the Ferguson Center for the Arts in Newport News. Tickets from $29. Buy Now

    Additional Notable Jazz Musicians from Virginia:

    • James Genus of Hampton is a jazz bassist who has played in the Saturday Night Live Band and most recently studio recorded with Grammy Award-winning Daft Punk. His talents are heard on “Giorgio by Moroder,” “Touch,” “Beyond,” “Motherboard,” “Fragments of Time,” and “Contact.”
    • Lonnie Liston Smith of Richmond is a jazz pianist and keyboardist who has recorded with the likes of Pharaoh Sanders and Miles Davis. Smith is noted for mashing jazz with rap in the 1990s.
    • Steve Wilson of Hampton is a jazz instrumentalist best known as a flautist and saxophonist.
    • Don Pullen was a Roanoke native and jazz pianist who was well received in Europe for his avant-garde style.

    Upcoming Jazz Events:

    Did we miss any jazz musicians in Virginia? If so, let us know by leaving a comment.

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    Events, History | 2 Comments

    Nine Beautiful B&Bs for State and National Park Explorations

    by Casey | Posted on April 9th, 2014

    Outdoor adventurers and explorers who enjoy a beautiful place to rest and a delicious breakfast to start their day will want to check out these bed and breakfast options that are in close proximity to state and national parks.

    1848 Island Manor House, Chincoteague Island

    1848 Island Manor House, Chincoteague Island

    Assateague Island National Seashore is 37 miles long and considered one of the best beaches for communing with nature. Unspoiled, this windswept beach is home to wild ponies and many species of migratory birds. The Audubon Society named it a Global Important Bird Area. Relax here, taking in the rarity of it all, and then rest at one of these B&Bs less than four miles away on Chincoteague Island.

    • 1848 Island Manor House – Nine rooms available, each decorated to a high standard; most with private baths. Snack room, game room, beach gear, and concierge service available.
    • Channel Bass Inn Bed and Breakfast – Eight rooms with private baths and sitting area are available. Well-behaved children and pets are welcome. Enjoy afternoon tea with Barbara’s “world-famous” scones.

    Just one mile from Kiptopeke State Park in Cape Charles is The Baywood Bed and Breakfast, a reprieve with a private beach and two beautiful bay view rooms with balconies, and one “woodview” room. Kiptopeke is another well-preserved beach destination known for its migratory bird population.

    Church Point Manor Bed and Breakfast in Virginia Beach is the closest B&B to Virginia’s most popular state park, First Landing State Park. On April 26, 1607, 100 English settlers landed and established the first elective government in English America before pushing up the James River to establish Jamestown. Church Point Manor is an 1860s farmhouse boasting European and American art and antiques. Nine beautifully appointed rooms and a suite are available. Dining is available on-site at The Cellars, an upscale, well-kept secret.

    Cooper's Landing Inn, Clarksville

    Cooper’s Landing Inn, Clarksville

    Bike or hike High Bridge Trail State Park and stay only a mile away at Longwood B&B in the heart of Farmville. Each of the six rooms has a compelling story to accompany it, such as furniture from the Governor’s Mansion in Richmond, and pieces associated with Ulysses S. Grant during the Civil War.

    Just across beautiful Kerr Lake from Occoneechee State Park in Clarksville is Cooper’s Landing Inn, a very comfortable reprieve in Virginia’s only lakeside town.  If you’d care to boat, take a trail ride on horseback or adventure around in other ways, the innkeepers are happy to oblige in making the arrangements. Their pool and hot tub are great places to unwind after a day of exploring.

    Six miles of horse trails and fourteen miles of hiking trails make the beautifully rolling 1,862-acre Sky Meadow State Park in Delaplane an attractive getaway not far from Washington, D.C. The Ashby Inn is less than two miles away in Paris. It’s an 1829 inn with six guest rooms in the main house and four suites in an on-site converted schoolhouse. The property also boasts an on-site farm-to-table restaurant.

    Bedford Landings Bed & Breakfast, Moneta

    Bedford Landings Bed & Breakfast, Moneta

    Smith Mountain Lake State Park is a family favorite for its boating, fishing, and swimming opportunities. At a shade over a mile away, Bedford Landings Bed & Breakfast in Moneta is a brand new timber frame accommodation that just opened in December 2013. It boasts four large guest rooms, some with a fireplace or a jetted tub. Flying in? They’re on the Smith Mountain Lake Airport (W91) and offer tie downs, too.

    The glistening Potomac River and Westmoreland State Park are less than five miles from the Inn at Montross, a 1790s Colonial Inn that has served as a tavern, hotel, restaurant, boarding house, apartments, and even as a school. You’ll find the five guestrooms to be quite comfortable and the fine dining exquisite after spending the day hunting for shark’s teeth and watching the Bald Eagles soar along the river.

     

    Find your own little slice of B&B heaven when you search our directory.

    Locate a state or national park near your destination.

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    Beaches, Outdoors, Virginia Destinations | 1 Comment

    10 Festivals Kids Will LOVE

    by Casey | Posted on April 8th, 2014

    It’s warm and you’re ready to get moving on the weekends. Festivals should be top-of-mind, of course, but when kids are in tow, look to these great opportunities they’re sure to love.

    Annual International Children's Festival, Hampton.

    Annual International Children’s Festival, Hampton.

    April 13 – The Rockfish Valley Foundation Kite Flying Festival in Nellysford includes demos with Richmond Air Force, instruction, games, a duck race, a kite store, and free kites to the first 150 kids. It’s all free and you’re welcome to bring a picnic and stay a while.

    April 19 – The Annual International Children’s Festival in Hampton is like traveling the world, from a kid’s point of view. More than 35 countries will be represented with cultural arts and performances, foods, and activities. Be sure to pick up your passport and have it stamped at each country to be entered to win a prize. Festival Map

    April 26 – RIVERFest is held at Colonial Place in Norfolk and is a free outdoor celebration that promotes the restoration of Lafayette River. Kids will enjoy fireboat rides, and can create treasures with Indian beads, ECO arts, or “build a buoy.” Older kids even might join in the embellished craft race with a parent (requirements).

    Jamestown Day

    Jamestown Day

    May 3 – Waynesboro Riverfest is a day of fun built to reach kids and adults for the purpose of emphasizing commitment and responsibility to conservation. Kids will love the canoe rides, arts and crafts, reptile and animal shows, and the fish and fun rodeo, not to mention the South River duck race!

    May 10 – Jamestown Day is bucket list worthy for kids and their parents. If you’ve never been to Jamestown, you’re in for a real treat. The ships will be sailing and there are demonstrations, music and activities everywhere you turn. Get to know all about the 1607 founding of America’s first permanent English colony.

    May 17 – Fundango Festival is called the #1 family fun festival in Virginia Beach and you’re invited to find out why. Meet Olympians and participate in the Olympic Experience, enjoy amazing entertaining acts, make faces in the photo booth, toss some corn hole, get your crafting on, and tons more.

    May 24 – Delaplane Strawberry Festival in Delaplane is all about strawberries, of course. Bring your little ones out for old fashioned games, petting zoo, arts and crafts, hayrides, and more.

    Celebrate Fairfax!

    Celebrate Fairfax!

    June 6-9 – Celebrate Fairfax! is 25 acres of family fun, including the ExxonMobil Children’s Avenue! Expect to find interactive activities, petting zoo, children’s entertainment stage, Inova Trackless Train, crafts, and so much more. This area is designed for kids 12 and younger.

    June 7 – Manassas Heritage Railway Festival in Manassas offers a children’s stage of entertainment to go with the kids rides and Thomas the Tank Engine Kiddie Train. Load the whole family into the VRE Excursion Train for a ride to Clifton and back for just $6 each.

    June 13-14 – The Annual Massanutten Antique Tractor & Gasoline Engine Club Show is celebrating 25 years. Dads will love checking out the equipment while kids check out the farm toy show, participate in the pedal races, or cheer on the tractor pulls.

    These aren’t even the tip of the iceberg when it comes to festivals in Virginia. See the whole list!

    Related: 10 Spring Festivals You Don’t Want to Miss

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    Events | 1 Comment