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    Is everyone excited for #Virginia #CraftBeer Month next month? It's time to put your game face on and visit a new local #brewery or get adventuresome on a #VA #beer trail. Find your way at Virginia.org/craftbeer and tag your photos with #vacraftbeermonth! This is glass of @ardentcraftales' #IPA, found on tap in Richmond. #rva #vabeer #drinklocal #locavore #ardentcraftales
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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’t you want to support the environment while travelling or on vacation?  The Virginia Green program helps you find green tourism attractions throughout Virginia – 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.

    Virginia is for Lovers.
    Request a free Travel Guide.

    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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    2013 Virginia Green Travel Award Winners

    by Guest | Posted on January 27th, 2014

    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.

    1. Green Hotels

    The Westin Richmond

    The Westin Richmond

    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.

    2. Green B&Bs

    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.

    3. Green Conference / Convention Centers

    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.

    Solar panels provide 100% of the power at North Gate Vineyard.

    4. Green Wineries

    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.

    5. Green Restaurants

    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.

     6. Green Campgrounds

    Williamsburg KOA heats their pool with a converted heat system that uses wood from fallen trees and branches. Green camping education and practices are part of the whole camping experience.

    Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center

    Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center

    7. Green Attractions

    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.

    8. Green Conferences and Events

    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.

    9. Green Vacation Rentals

    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.

    Virginia is for Lovers.
    Request a free Virginia Travel Guide.

    Tom Griffin, Director, Greener Results ConsultingOur 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.



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    10 Southern Comfort Dining Experiences

    by Guest | Posted on March 7th, 2013

    Treat your taste buds to some of Virginia’s local cuisine. The Commonwealth has a range of restaurants to experience, but make sure you do not miss out on one of the things Virginia does best – southern food. Many dishes featured in these southern comfort food restaurants are inspired from recipes that have been passed down for generations. Make the most out of your Virginia dining experience with these sophisticated, down-home southern comfort food dining selections.

    Lee Ann Whippen of Wood Chicks BBQ in Chesapeake

    Lee Ann Whippen of Wood Chicks BBQ in Chesapeake

    Whistlepig BistroGlade Springs
    This restaurant stands by a great name with an even greater philosophy – “Real Food, Ya’ll.” The Whistlepig Bistro offers a variety of dishes with a southern twist. Many have enjoyed the juicy burgers and outstanding cornbread, to name a few of their southern delights.

    The Virginia DinerWakefield
    You may have tried the Virginia Diner’s gourmet peanuts, but have you tried their warm peanut pie? This restaurant has much more to offer than just peanuts, however. Open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner, The Virginia Diner has a wide range of southern delicacies to choose from.

    ComfortRichmond
    This restaurant’s name tells all. Comfort is a place to enjoy traditional southern comfort food prepared from local farm-grown produce and made-from-scratch cooking. Pair any of the southern dishes with an all-American beverage from the fully stocked bar.

    Wood Chicks BBQ - Chesapeake – CLOSED

    Lynne’s Family RestaurantMathews
    Lynne’s Family Restaurant offers down-home cooking in a casual atmosphere. This is a perfect place for the whole family with many homemade dining options. Not only is lunch and dinner prepared, but Lynne’s also provides a wonderful country breakfast spread.

    Smithfield Inn Restaurant and TavernSmithfield
    Offering southern hospitality for over 250 years, Smithfield Inn has been serving up southern dishes to dedicated locals and repeat visitors to the area for years. Not only are the good-eats attractive, but the location is as well. The restaurant provides casual, al fresco, and formal dining experiences.

    Mountain Art WorksHaysi
    Not only does Mountain Art Works serve as a restaurant, but as a gallery as well. Enjoy the homey décor with antiques and memorabilia on display while dining on hand-patted burgers, homemade gravy and biscuits, or your choice of many more southern comfort delights.

    Bistro BethemFredericksburg
    Bistro Bethem has not only been praised for its delicious dishes, but for its dining experience as well. The menu provides seasonal and daily specials, offering an upscale twist on southern comfort foods. The atmosphere is one for the fine diner who desires tastes from the south.

    Local RootsRoanoke
    Local Roots prides itself on having S.O.L.E.—Sustainable, Organic, Local, and Ethical products. This restaurant provides its customers with farm-to-table cuisine, serving dishes created from the best products from the best farms.

    Molasses GrillHalifax
    A blend of southern traditions and modern tastes, Molasses Grill serves up amazing dishes to its satisfied customers. The menu consists of fresh dishes from the sea and land, with many options for vegetarians too. The daily specials, homemade baguettes, and freshly made desserts make this a culinary hot spot.

    There are many more Virginia restaurants that feature southern delicacies. Find them at www.virignia.org.

    LOVE is at the heart of every Virginia vacation. Virginia is for Lovers.
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    Frances Bradshaw is a Public Relations intern at Virginia Tourism Corporation and a senior at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Virginia.



    Food | 1 Comment

    Horsin’ Around This Summer

    by Guest | Posted on June 1st, 2012

    Memories of bugle calls and growing up at the track come to my mind today as I see plenty of social media talk regarding tomorrow’s  Strawberry Hill Races at Colonial Downs. For years now, this has been one of the best events in the Richmond area (probably Virginia), and one that my family has always enjoyed. The networking, tailgating, and thoroughbred action is always awesome.

    Strawberry Hill Races

    Strawberry Hill Races

    This event becomes the “Kentucky Derby” of the state as women show up in their finest dresses, heels, and hats! There are even themes for attire and this year is no different.  I hear that it is 80’s attire since this year marks the 80th running and yes, even the men dress up.  How fun!  The prices are more affordable this year ($9 in advance, $12 at the door) and the gates open at 10am.  There are steeplechase races, and my favorite, the flat dirt track racing.  The weather looks great and I know that people are excited to eat, drink, and dress up!

    Colonial Downs also hosts Virginia Derby Day.  This is the richest and most important event to the legitimate racing world.  This is always the third weekend in July (Saturday, July 21, 2012) and so it is always a scorcher! However, it is tons of fun and brings the best horses to the track.  Last year there were bands playing, people dancing, a delicious BBQ dinner, and drinks.  You may even buy a ticket for the “Hoot on the Hill” part of the track, where you’re allowed to bring your own tents, chairs, food, beverages, grills, etc.  For $10, this is the best deal in my opinion, and becomes a smaller version of Strawberry Hill.

    Two years ago I attended the July 4th Colonial Downs night of racing.  It was family-packed all night with people of all ages. It didn’t start until the evening so our family had time to go to the pool before the races. Fans saw a night of racing followed by an  epic fireworks event.  This year, they are having a live concert with the fireworks trackside so I am sure that it will be a blast (no pun intended).  There will even be a magician after the races for everyone to enjoy.  Get more information about this year’s Racing to the Stars and Stripes event.

    Virginia has plenty of horseracing events all summer at Colonial Downs.  For more information on all of  their events, visit Thoroughbred Summer Horse Racing.  Hope to see you there!

    Jane Govoruhk is the Assistant International Marketing Manager at Virginia Tourism Corporation, avid Hokie and Steelers fan, NASCAR enthusiast, music junkie, and author of this post.



    Couples, Events, Family | Comments Off

    It’s Fair Time in Virginia

    by Guest | Posted on October 3rd, 2011

    Put on your walking shoes for this year’s annual State Fair of Virginia! Thirty minutes north of Richmond and about two miles off Interstate 95 lies The Meadow Event Park. It is near Kings Dominion and the park is actually the birthplace of Secretariat!

    We loved the State Fair Carousel!

    We loved the State Fair Carousel so much that we rode it twice!

    My family went to check it out this past Friday. The weather was perfect. Parking was free. I will tell you that the admission gate is a bit of a walk from the parking lot but there is a shuttle you can take if you prefer. The walk to the gate actually allowed us to see the horse rodeo that had just started. It was fun to watch the cowboys try to shoot balloons as they were riding!

    The walk-around price is $13 for weekdays and $15 for weekends, but there are certain times when the price is cheaper. Our theory was that the price for the ticket is the same as a movie and the fair lasts longer! The ride tickets are priced per ride or you may purchase a wristband that gives you unlimited rides. We actually only purchased two rides but after seeing the children on the rides, we should have purchased the ride wristband (only $21). If your kids are two and under, the rides are free!

    We got there just in time for the pig races, which were quite entertaining. There are about four races daily and with names like “Bustin’ Bacon Bieber” and “Hammah Montana,” your kids will love them! The announcer even chooses children from the audience to be cheerleaders. The “pig rooters” all win a small prize, but the real prize is seeing the expression on their face as they scream for their pig!

    The rides are what you would typically expect at the fair. They have the swings, spin rides, a crazy chopper, the Zipper, Chaos, and a tower that takes you up in the air and drops you. And of course, every child loves the carousel. We rode that twice.

    The “Young MacDonald Farm” was awesome! They had animals from different farms around the state. The tent was nice because there was plenty of room for a stroller and the people to walk around and see the different animals. In the main tent there were alpacas, cows, sheep, goats, donkeys, horses, and even “Zeba.” She was a donkey mixed with a zebra. There were separate tents for small animals, birds, and one tent even had a goat show!

    While we stopped to take a break and eat, we heard a great concert. There are a number of great performers coming to the Fair so check here for more details on the shows. And I have to mention the food we ate! If you want anything fried, you should go just for the food. They had fried Oreos, candy bars, and even fried mac and cheese. They have ice cream, cotton candy, BBQ, tacos, turkey legs, candy apples, etc. All of it was amazing.

    The family loved the fair. We can’t wait to go back. And speaking of going back, I found some coupons. You will thank me later. Enjoy!!!

    Jane Govoruhk is the Assistant International Marketing Manager at Virginia Tourism Corporation, avid Hokie and Steelers fan, NASCAR enthusiast, music junkie, and author of this post.



    Events, Fall in Virginia, Family | Comments Off