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    #Grape harvesting has begun in some parts of #Virginia and will continue through October, Virginia's #Wine Month. @orecul13 gathered this bounty for #canning purposes. Anyone for some locally made juice or jelly? #loveva #vawine #waynesboro #countryliving #photooftheday #jelly #vafood
    Is everyone excited for the Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion next month? Some of the performances will be taking place here, at the Paramount Center for The Arts on State Street. This #theater was built in 1931 and restored to its original splendor in 1991. #oldschoolva #loveva #virginia #vatravel #theatre #photooftheday
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    If you haven't notice, fields of #sunflowers are in bloom throughout the state. This one calls Lickinghole Creek Craft #Brewery it's home in Goochland. This is both an awesome photo and tasting op. 😉 #loveva #virginia #vabeer #vacraftbeermonth #sunflower #photooftheday #drinklocal #craftbeer Photo creds to @lickingholecreekcraftbrewery
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    30 Freshwater Swimming Holes

    by Casey | Posted on July 14th, 2014

    Summer calls for a dip in the water, and we have fresh mountain streams and rivers that you’ll find most refreshing on a hot day. Our list has been compiled through various avenues of research, including tips from local residents. If they love these swimming holes, you’re sure to as well!

    Dismal Falls

    Dismal Falls

    If you are unfamiliar with mountain streams, let me tell you that they’re cold. Pack a picnic and refresh yourself in the Maury River at one of these public access points in Rockbridge County:

    Swim or wade at the base of a waterfall!

    Choosing your James River access point can be tricky, as this gem can roar mightily in certain areas, especially after a heavy rain upstream. Try these locations, but never swim alone.

    Splash around in the oldest river in North America, the New River.

    Blue Hole – many river towns have a special swimming hole they dub “Blue Hole.” Aforementioned Goshen Pass is sometimes known as Blue Hole by locals and here are two more:

    • A site James Madison University students and Harrisonburg locals call “Blue Hole” is located on Dry River off Rawley Pike (Route 33) in Rockingham County. A large boulder makes a fantastic jumping platform into this deep swimming hole.
    • University of Virginia students love their own “Blue Hole” on Moormans River near the Sugar Hollow Reservoir in Crozet. This swimming hole is within the boundaries of Shenandoah National Park.

    Dunlap Creek flows beneath the renowned Humpback Bridge in Alleghany County. When the water’s high enough, it’s a great place for a dip. Otherwise, dipping your toes works, too, at this beautiful, historic site.

    Dunlap Creek flows beneath Humpback Bridge.

    Dunlap Creek flows beneath Humpback Bridge.

    Craig Creek Recreation Area is 130 acres in Botetourt County that’s available for camping, picnics, and of course, swimming! The water is gentle and perfect for families.

    Blackwater Creek at Hollins Mill in Lynchburg is shallow for wading in to cool off on a hot summer day and is also an access point for the Blackwater Creek Natural Area and Trail.

    While there’s no designated swimming area (like a beach) at Shenandoah River Raymond R. “Andy” Guest Jr. State Park on the Shenandoah River in Warren County, you can wade out and splash around or tube to your heart’s content.

    Off the Blue Ridge Parkway in Rockbridge County at Petite’s Gap (milepost 71) is an unmarked gravel road (Petite’s Gap Road). Descend, winding, for several miles until you cross East Fork Elk Creek in Sulphur Spring Hollow. At the second crossing, pull off – your swimming hole is in that vicinity.

    St. Mary’s River is home to St. Mary’s Falls, which can be found in Saint Mary’s Wilderness in Augusta County. This swimming hole includes a rock slide, which can be great fun if the water level is just right.  It’s just south of the falls.

    Please enjoy Virginia’s swimming holes with a friend; never swim alone. Also, follow “leave no trace” practices when experiencing any part of Virginia’s outdoors.

    Which of these have you been to? Which do you love that aren’t listed here? Leave a comment to tell us all about it.

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    Family, Locals, Outdoors, Video clips | 3 Comments

    Virginia’s Craft Beer Pairs Nicely with Summer’s Bounty

    by Casey | Posted on July 7th, 2014

    Fresh fruits and vegetables are the staples of summer in Virginia, as are signature, summer-only, craft beer. Why not pair the best of summer’s bounties?

    Blue Mountain Brewery

    Blue Mountain Brewery

    With the idea of great summer flavors colliding, we reached out to Virginia’s craft brewers to see what’s on tap this season and with which local foods they’d most likely pair their best brews. Here are a few ideas to get you rolling along for a tasty summer weekend. Visit and enjoy!

    A Match Made in Virginia

    The best of what’s around!

    • Rick of Rusty Beaver in Ruther has his summer dishes coming straight from his Beaverdam garden. While that’s cool enough, it’s what he does with those veggies that takes it all over the top. He’s deep frying them in a Rusty Beaver ”Top Down Summer Ale” batter. Expect to find “zucchini, yellow squash, red peppers, onions, okra and fried pickles, based on availability … Wednesdays and Thursdays throughout the summer.”
    Rusty Beaver "Top Down Summer Ale"

    Rusty Beaver “Top Down Summer Ale”

    Something New Every Week

    Menus – both for food and for beer – change weekly at a majority of Virginia’s craft breweries. There’s your encouragement for a return visit! *wink*

    • Blue Mountain in Afton has a new weekly offering called Friday Night Bites. According to Jessica, the evening offers “$5 small plates that are seasonal and created to pair well with our 8-10 beers on tap. We don’t actually pre-select pairings so customers can order whatever they would like to try with each dish. We typically have 5-6 items available from 5-10 pm every Friday night.” One example she offered is the Seared Beef Carpaccio, which is spiced seared beef, roasted garlic aioli, frisée, aged Parmesan and olive oil.

    Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way

    Understandably, not all breweries seek to venture into the restaurant business. However, they will round up some food trucks to keep their patrons fed and steady on their feet.

    • Adventure Brewing in Fredericksburg has a regular group of food trucks that serve high quality food. According to Tim, “our ‘Stiletto Stout’ pairs very well with barbecued meats. With a roasted flavor that releases quickly after it leaves the tongue, it allows easy transitions between bites and drinks. Our ‘Super Power Pale Ale’ works well with Steve-O’s burgers and dogs, Martina’s Cantina’s tacos and Beach Fries’ crab cake sandwich. In another great pairing, the unique mix of ingredients that Smooth (Smooth’s Smoke House) uses on his pulled pork and chicken combine well with the light fruity hop flavorings in our ‘Expedition IPA.’”
    • Steve, a representative of Soaring Ridge Craft Brewers in Roanoke said you can find two exceptional summer beers on tap: “‘Tinker Creek’ is light in body with medium hop notes and a dry finish. This beer pairs well with Primo Pizza’s wood fired veggie mama pizza and their meatball sub. ‘White Top’  is a Belgian White Ale. This light bodied wheat beer spiced with coriander, chamomile and orange peel is very refreshing. ‘White Top’ pairs well with Blues Bar BQ’s BBQ and Smoked Sausage.”
    • Old Bust Head is a brand new brewery in Vint Hill, and their taproom and beer garden is scheduled to open later this summer. Jaimis gave me a few suggestions for enjoying their brews with some of the food trucks that come out. “Crowd favorites include Becky Jordan of Chef Beckles Foods, who recently created a special Santa Maria BBQ menu featuring OBH’s ‘Chinquapin Chestnut Porter’ in a wild mushroom BBQ sauce.”
    • Josh of Starr Hill in Charlottesville touted their new summer beer, ‘Soul Shine,’ described as “a Belgian-style Pale Ale with an American twist,” stating, “We love to drink ‘Soul Shine’ with oysters and grilled fish, but our favorite dish to pair is the Baja Fish Taco plate from Morsel Compass Mobile Kitchen, a local food truck. The thick white meat of the beer-battered cod and spicy chipotle slaw combine deliciously with the Belgian yeast and citrus flavor and aroma that ‘Soul Shine’ delivers.”
    • Center of the Universe in Ashland also offers a brand new summer Belgian Ale called “RVAle.” Chris told me “RVAle” “pairs perfectly with the fare being served by Intergalactic Tacos on Friday nights at the brewery. The beauty with a taco truck is that you can create anything to match well with new beer releases and styles.”
    • Jeremy of Sunken City in Hardy raves of Bruno’s Gastrotruck, “My favorite combination lately is the Naan Fish Taco paired with our summer seasonal, ‘Surfside Wheat,’ a traditional German hefeweizen.”
    Devil's Backbone Brewing Company

    Devil’s Backbone Brewing Company

    Nothin’ Pale About Pale Ale

    Light beers are most common during the summer, with many breweries offering a signature pale ale. These brews pair nicely with flavor-filled smoky or spicy dishes.

    • “Head First” - A strong malt backbone supports the piney, citrusy notes brought on by multiple additions of Cascade and Citra hops. A great beer to pair with weekend burgers or taco night! 6.5% ABV. Midnight, Rockville
    • “There Can Be Only One” – an American pale ale made with black patent malt. 6.3+ ABV. Bad Wolf, Manassas
    • “Gray Ghost American Pale Ale” – crisp, refreshing, summertime beer goes down smooth with a soft, rounded out blend of Crystal, Simcoe, Citra and Cascade hops backed with a slight caramel sweetness. 5.1% ABV. Three Notch’d, Charlottesville
    • “Bust Head English Pale Ale” – Additions of Goldings, Fuggle, and Cascade hops provide the aroma of floral hop tones, as well as imparting a refreshing, clean bitterness. 5.6% ABV. Old Bust Head, Vint Hill
    • “Striped Bass Pale Ale” – This refreshing pale ale was created to be consumed while enjoying the bounty of the Bay and protecting local waters. Gold in color wih a light body & pleasant hop bouquet of traditional noble German hops blended with the intense citrus of American hop varieties. 4.8% ABV. Devils Backbone, Roseland
    Click here for a map of Virginia craft breweries.

    Click here for a map of Virginia craft breweries.

    Brewing: Keep it Local

    Locally sourced ingredients are common with Virginia’s craft brewers, with some even offering spent hops to local farmers to use as livestock feed. It’s a reverse “eat local” mentality, if you will.

    • Dan of Back Bay Brewing in Virginia Beach wrote, I have a beer coming out in a few weeks called “Honey Blue Blue.” It’s a blueberry honey golden ale. The clover honey was sourced from northern Virginia and the blueberries will be locally sourced. At 4.8% its definitely a light refreshing fruit beer.”
    • Hardywood‘s Hardywood Virginia Blackberry is available only in summer, with its next release scheduled for July 12 at 2 p.m. It’s made with local Virginia blackberries, of course!
    • Adam, brewmaster and owner of The Damascus Brewery in Damascus will soon have something brand new for you to try, and even recommends what foods it would would pair well with. “We are getting ready to brew a ‘Fresh Hopped’ beer next week with hops grown by us and by a local hop farmer from Meadowview, VA called Kelley Ridge Farms.  This type of beer uses fresh hops less that 24 hours off the vine.  Because these hops have not had a chance to dry out, they contain several delicate essential oils and aromatics that would normally be lost.  This fresh hopped beer will only be available for a limited time and will fall into the IPA category.  The best pairing with this beer should be things like red meat, red sauce pastas, and Thai food or foods that have lots of curry or cumin.”
    • “Native Son Virginia Ale” can be found at Lost Rhino in Ashburn. It was created using only Virginia ingredients, from the water to the Copperfox Distillery malt and local Ashburn yeast.

    Pairings to Try at Home

    Several of our brewers offered which of their beers might translate well with your dishes at home. Stop by the brewery and take home a growler!

    • Adam at The Damascus Brewery had two suggestions for you to try. “‘Funberry Raspberry Lager is a lighter style of beer that is good for pairing with meals that have vinaigrette dressings or balsamic reductions. ‘Sweet Beaver Apricot Hefeweizen’ — while not actually sweet, the apricot finish to this beer really says summertime and is a great way to refresh yourself after a long hot day.  This beer goes really well with seafood and we personally love this with a Low Country Boil!”
    • Sean of Lickinghole Creek in Goochland offered, “We have Pony Pasture Pilsner available for the summer. It is a classic Bohemian Pilsner that is fantastic for hot Virginia summer days. Goes great with Crab Cakes from Haywood Grill, which is a local Goochland restaurant.” The moral of the story? Fill your growler, order crab cakes to go, and find a place to picnic!
    • Mark at Adroit Theory in Purcellville primarily pairs their brews with cheese, but does offer meal pairing suggestions. “Scorpion 3.0,” an 8.10% ABV Black IPA, pairs will with Bourbon marinated Angus beef tenderloin sliders, for example.

    Which Virginia craft brewery is your favorite for fantastic, palate-pleasing summertime flavor? Leave a comment to tell us the best pairings you’ve experienced.

    MORE VIRGINIA CRAFT BREWERIES

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    Beer, Food | 1 Comment

    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!

     

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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.

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    Outdoors | 1 Comment