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48 Hour Fall Getaways in Virginia, Part 6 of 8

by Casey | Posted on September 19th, 2013

Stretch your time and your legs as you meander around Virginia this fall. Spend a few days away with those you love most, doing what you love most. Together is where it’s at.

Lake Drummond - Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge

Great Dismal to Back Bay

The Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge Canal Trail in Chesapeake is a stunning (mostly bug-free) attraction each fall, when the colors peak late October to early November. Bring your camera to possibly capture beautiful wildlife and incredible sunrises and sunsets.

Between the Refuges:

- Northwest River Park - 763 acres of paddle sports, fishing and hiking
- Mount Pleasant Farms – Don’t miss their Fall on the Farm weekends in October!
- Cullipher Farm Market – Two corn mazes and u-pick pumpkin patch
Surf & Adventure Co. Lunchbox Kayak Tour of Back Bay – 2-3 hrs; no experience required
- Blue Pete’s Seafood Restaurant – Award-winning She-Crab Soup; outdoor seating; local hang-out

Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge is an 8,000-acre coastal habitat in southern Virginia Beach. Dunes, woodland, beach and marsh areas are home to loggerhead sea turtles, peregrine falcons, bald eagles, and approximately 10,000 snow geese at peak fall migration.

Map This Trip

 

Assateague Island

Lighthouse Touring: Mathews – Virginia Beach – Assateague

Assateague Lighthouse has received a semi-extreme makeover. See her in all her fresh, red-and-white-striped glory this fall, along with a few sister lights, starting at New Point Comfort in Mathews.

New Point Comfort Lighthouse is the third oldest lighthouse still standing in the Chesapeake Bay and the tenth oldest in the United States. Appreciate it from the observation walkway at the southern end of Route 600, or paddle your way out for an up close and personal view.

Between the Lights:

- New Point Comfort Nature Preserve
- Bethel Beach Natural Area Preserve
- Linda’s Diner
- Fort Monroe Casemate Museum
- Bubba’s Marina and Seafood Restaurant

Both Cape Henry Lighthouses in Virginia Beach can be seen at Fort Story military base with a government-issued form of identification for everyone aged 16 and older, plus the vehicle registration and insurance card. Admission to climb the old Cape Henry Lighthouse is $5 for 13 and older; $3 for 12 and under. Must be 42″ tall to climb; children may not be carried.

Between the Lights:

- First Landing Cross
- Surf Rider Restaurant
- Citrus Breakfast & Lunch
- Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel
- Exmore Diner
- Island Creamery
- Don’s Seafood
- Assateague Explorer Pony Watching/Wildlife Cruises

Finally, Assateague Lighthouse! It’s a beauty at 142′ tall. Visit anytime you wish, but if you enjoy celebrations, might I suggest October 5, 2013? The grand re-opening will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and will include music, fun for the kids, free lighthouse climbs and more. The lighthouse will be re-lit at approximately 10 a.m. with a ribbon cutting ceremony.

Map This Trip

 

Douthat State Park

Douthat State Park

Hot Springs Rustic and Resort

Take your fun to the mountains this fall as you experience what is possibly the best of both worlds: state park to luxury resort.

Start at Douthat State Park in Millboro where the hiking and fishing are fine. Book a cabin or pitch a tent. It’s a great place to appreciate the beauty around you. Stay a night or two, then pack it up and go upscale at The Omni Homestead Resort in Hot Springs.

Mountain Adventures:

- George Washington National Forest
- Cascades Golf Course
- Allegheny Springs
- The Wine Shop at Hot Springs
- The Gallery at Seven Oaks
- Garth Newel Music Center
- Sam Snead’s Tavern

Map This Trip

Looking for more great ways to get away in Virginia? Look no further than the other posts in this 48 Hours series.

LOVE is at the heart of every Virginia vacation. Virginia is for Lovers.
Sign up to receive our weekly Fall Foliage Report.*

*Fall Foliage Reports will begin on or about September 25.

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6 Virginia Trails for Arts and Culture

by Casey | Posted on September 18th, 2013

Take a drive that reaps rewards not with the scenery alone, but with the treasures along the way. The six trails below have been identified for their esteemed artisans and other relevant cultural experiences.

Rocky Knob area of the Blue Ridge Parkway

Rocky Knob area of the Blue Ridge Parkway

The Hidden Treasures Artisan Trail (HT) meanders through Patrick County in Southwest Virginia, leading you to and through a wealth of beauty. Marry it with the Floyd County Trail (FC) and the White Lightning Trail (WL) of Franklin County by way of the Blue Ridge Parkway, starting at Meadows of Dan. This trail is worthy of your 48 hours, be it weekday or weekend.

Key Highlights:

- Mountain Meadows Farm and Craft Market – corn maze and pumpkin patch, too! (HT)
- Mabry Mill (FC)
- Chateau Morrisette Winery (HT & FC)
- Villa Appalaccia Winery (HT & FC)
- Sarvisberry Gallery & Studios (FC)
- Tuggles Gap Restaurant & Motel (FC)
- Hensley Polseno Pottery (FC)
- Blue Ridge Institute and Farm Museum (WL)
- Moondancer Creations (WL)
- Icove Lighting Design Gallery (FC)

Download: Hidden Treasures | Floyd County | White Lightning

The Monticello Artisan Trail (MA) from the Blue Ridge Parkway through Nelson and Albemarle Counties pairs up nicely with the Nelson 151 Trail (151) and the Presidents Passport (PP) program.  Mix, mingle, and be merry!

Fall in Albemarle County

Fall in Albemarle County

Key Highlights:

- Wintergreen Resort (MA & PP)
- Mountain Vision Pottery (MA & PP)
- Devil’s Backbone Brewing Co. (MA & 151)
- Wintergreen Winery (151)
- Wild Wolf Brewing Co. (MA, PP & 151)
- Rockfish River Pottery (MA)
- Hill Top Berry Farm & Winery (MA, PP & 151)
- Nan Rothwell Pottery (MA & PP)
- Albemarle CiderWorks (MA)
- Carter Mountain Orchard (MA)
- Michie Tavern (MA & PP)
- Jefferson Vineyards (MA)
- Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello (MA & PP)

Monticello Artisan Trail Google Map or PDF | Sign Up for Presidents Passport | Nelson 151 Google Map

Where are you headed this fall in Virginia? Leave us a comment to tell us your favorite drive for foliage, your favorite festival, or whatever else you’d like to share about all the ways you LOVE fall in Virginia!

More Artisan Trails
Fall Related Blog Posts

LOVE is at the heart of every Virginia vacation. Virginia is for Lovers.
Sign up to receive our weekly Fall Foliage Report.*

*Fall Foliage Reports will begin on or about September 25.



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48 Hour Fall Getaways in Virginia, Part 4 of 8

by Casey | Posted on September 12th, 2013

The great outdoors are calling your name. You must climb, paddle, run, or ride. But where? Enter the beautiful season of fall where the mercury slowly dips to moderate numbers and the shorter days are loaded with excitement.

Leaf Peeping in Lynchburg

Lynchburg is serving up fantastic outdoor recreation and you really don’t want to miss out on it.

Start with the Liberty Mountain Trail System. It’s more than 65 miles zig-zagging across 5,000 acres and up to more than 1,360 feet.

Next up could be a lazy kayak trip with James River Float Company. After all that strenuous mountain work, this might be the perfect attraction.

Since you’ve gotten up close and personal with the foliage on the trail and admired its brilliance from the water, where else to see it but from the air? Call up Precision Windsports, Inc. They’ll get you up and flying in a light sport aircraft for a unique leaf-peeping vantage point.

Stay:
Craddock Terry Hotel (Stay 2 nights; get 3rd 50% off!)
Federal Crest Inn B&B
Kirkley Hotel

Eat:
Main Street Eatery
Shoemakers Fine Dining
The Crown

Do:
Rise Up Climbing
Jefferson Street Brewery
Upcoming Events

New Adventures at Mountain Lake

This beautiful mountain reprieve tucked away in Giles County is the 1986 filming location for the incredible (am I biased?) Dirty Dancing featuring Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey. While the urge to stay at “Kellerman’s” is a persistent annual draw, Mountain Lake Lodge & Conservancy has been revamped for a new generation of family fun.

You should know …

  • 2,600 acres with 22 miles of hiking and mountain biking trails
  • Rafting, canoeing, kayaking and fishing on-site
  • A new aerial and zip line adventure course, geocaching, and archery lessons are just some of the outdoor offerings
  • Dining on site at Harvest or Stony Creek Tavern
  • Stay on site in either the Main Stone Lodge, Chestnut Lodge, the Front Lawn Cottages & Historic Rustic Cabins, or in a Blueberry Ridge Mountain Home.

Also Nearby:
Blackberry Morning Retreat
Walker Creek Retreat
Inn at Riverbend (Quick! Stay 2 midweek nights; get 3rd 50% off!)
Cascades National Recreation Trail

Saddle Up in Southern Virginia

Shangrila Guest Ranch

Shangrila Guest Ranch

South Boston is your destination and horseback riding at Shangrila Guest Ranch is your pleasure for these 48 hours. An all-inclusive ranch, you’ll be more than comfortable in their log cabin, old home place or packhouse. If you’d rather try another accommodation, they’ll still let you saddle up with their beautiful horses. Ride, regardless of experience, for an hour or all day …  just make an appointment!

Explore South Boston and Halifax, but be sure to try the barbecue at Smokin’ Jakes. That definitely has to be on your list.

Also Nearby:
Berry Hill Resort
Oak Grove Plantation B&B
The Prizery
Bob Cage Sculpture Farm

Mountain Explorations in Southwest Virginia

The Blue Ridge Parkway is pure outdoor recreation. Start anywhere you like and you’re golden. For this purpose, let’s shoot down near Meadows of Dan and make a plan.

Blue Ridge Tree Climbing

Blue Ridge Tree Climbing

Pick things up with Blue Ridge Tree Climbing, LLC. Instructor Bob Wray is inspiring, stating, “If you cannot remember the meaning of childhood magic, or do remember and want to get it back, then I suggest you simply climb a tree again.”

Find rest in a cozy little cabin nestled among Christmas trees at River Walk Cabins, or delight in the views from Woodberry Inn, where there’s a restaurant on site.

There are plenty of trails nearby, including Sweet Mountain Laurel Loop, Rock Castle Gorge National Recreational Trail, and the entirety of the Buffalo Mountain Natural Area Preserve.

Also Nearby:
Mabry Mill and Restaurant
Saddle Up Farm
Chateau Morrisette Winery and Restaurant

Find more ways to spend 48 hours this fall in Virginia:

LOVE is at the heart of every Virginia vacation. Virginia is for Lovers.
Sign up to receive our weekly Fall Foliage Report.*

*Fall Foliage Reports will begin on or about September 25.

 



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48 Hour Fall Getaways in Virginia, Part 2 of 8

by Casey | Posted on September 5th, 2013

Ready to hit the road for a fun fall weekend? Actually, your 48 hours can be any day of the week you choose. In fact, I’d recommend you try for a mid-week jaunt, as mid-week rates are typically cheaper than weekend. Why not give it a go?

Explore Natural Tunnel State Park

Natural Tunnel State Park Cabin and Lodge

Natural Tunnel State Park

Deep in the Heart of Appalachia is a state park that boasts a chair lift that’s perfect for foliage peeping – Natural Tunnel State Park. The park’s 10 mountain ridge cabins are welcoming, comfortable, and offer an amazing vantage point for those who love fall’s colors. All you need to bring is your food, condiments, toiletries and clothes; the rest is provided. Plenty of availability! $113-$390 depending on cabin size.  Book Now

The 10-story natural tunnel is the main attraction here, with the aforementioned chair lift being a great highlight. The eight walking trails are easy; the longest is just over a mile. Two trails are open to cyclists. Of interest is Tunnel Trail to Log Cabin Trail where an original Carter Family Log Cabin sits.

Read more …

 

Autumn on the Crooked Road

It’s a winding road dotted with musical gems and talented artisans. Make Floyd your starting point as it’s the home of the famed Floyd Country Store and its Friday Night Jamboree. If you pick, bring your instrument to join in (it doesn’t have to be a Friday night for a pickin’ session)!

Aerial view of Abingdon in the fall. Image by CameronDavidson@CameronDavidson.com

Aerial view of Abingdon in the fall.

In Galax, partake of the “Best Dessert in the South,” the banana pudding at The Galax Smokehouse. Really. Virginia Living Magazine said so. Then it’s on to an amazing vantage point from on high – A Place By the Parkway. It’s just off the Blue Ridge Parkway near milepost 214.

If you’re feeling like getting some easy exercise, head to Damascus, the midway point of the Virginia Creeper Trail. You’ll want to go west toward Abingdon and coast down hill. You’re welcome.

In Abingdon, make Heartwood one of your main destinations. It’s a fantastic place that offers a really great meal and many pretty handmade pieces, including jewelry, quilts, soaps, and more. Maybe they’ll ship some treasures home for you? Then it’s back to Damascus where a well-deserved, Southern Living-praised slice of chocolate cake awaits you at Creeper Trail Cafe.

What else?

 

More of Where Those Came From

Primland Resort

Primland Resort

Like the ideas of Natural Tunnel, Abingdon, Floyd and the Blue Ridge Parkway? Expand them a bit these additional places to stay, eat and have fun.

Southwest Virginia will be quilted in the colors of fall before you know it. Don’t miss it and don’t miss more of our 48 Hour Fall Getaways in Virginia series. Read PART ONE and watch for part three coming soon!

LOVE is at the heart of every Virginia vacation. Virginia is for Lovers.
Sign up to receive our weekly Fall Foliage Report.*

*Fall Foliage Reports will begin on or about September 25.



48 Hours, Couples, Destinations, Fall in Virginia, Outdoors, Wine | 1 Comment

Virginia’s Most Beloved Drives for Fall Foliage

by Casey | Posted on September 4th, 2013

If it’s fall in Virginia, it’s time to be on the Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline Drive. Coasting across the peaks and looking down in the valleys … ahh! Good luck beating those views.

About the Blue Ridge Parkway

View from Humpback Rocks

View from Humpback Rocks

Winding 469 miles from Afton to the Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina, the Blue Ridge Parkway was born out of President Roosevelt’s desire to create jobs in the midst of the Great Depression. Construction of the Parkway was started on the Virginia/North Carolina border in 1935 and was completed in 1983, connecting Great Smoky Mountains National Park to Shenandoah National Park. This year is the 30th anniversary of the completion of the Parkway and the 78th anniversary of its start.

In Addition to the Foliage

Sure, you travel the Blue Ridge Parkway to enjoy the amazing fall foliage, but what else is there to see and do up there?

Milepost 5 & 6 – Humpback Rocks – See Appalachian farm buildings of the 19th century and visit the Humpback Rocks Visitor Center for additional exhibits, a gift shop and restroom. If you like to hike, two miles from the parking lot is Humpback Mountain, part of the Appalachian Trail. It’s a strenuous, but very popular hike. Map

Peaks of Otter Lodge

Peaks of Otter Lodge

Milepost 63.6 – The James River Visitor Center features an exhibit on the James River and Kanawha Canal, once a primary commercial route. A trail takes you to a restored 19th century lock, and if you like to fish, check out Otter Creek. It runs 10 miles down to the James, and Otter Lake is accessible from the Otter Creek Campground.

Milepost 83.1 – Fallingwater Cascades Trail is a National Recreation Trail, approximately 1.6 miles long and moderately strenuous.

Milepost 85.9 – Peaks of Otter are three peaks – Sharp Top, Flat Top and Harkening Hill. In this area you’ll find a restaurant, a 63-room lodge, lake and campground. The entirety of Peaks of Otter is a premier fall destination on the Parkway.
Also at 85.9:

  • Elk Run Trail is a self-guided nature loop = .8 mile; easy
  • Johnson Farm Loop Trail = 2.1 miles; moderate
  • Harkening Hill Trail = 3.3 miles; moderate
  • Map

Milepost 154 – The Trail Cabin, circa 19th-century, represents the isolation of mountain residents. The location has been described as “spectacular!”

Mabry Mill

Mabry Mill

Milepost 167.1 – Rock Castle Gorge Trail is a long and strenuous 10.8 miles. Wear good shoes and carry water!

Milepost 176.2 – Mabry Mill is not to be missed. It’s one of the most – if not the most – photographed sites on the Parkway. Get a bite to eat at the famed Mabry Mill Restaurant before exploring the mill, blacksmith shop, wheelwright and whiskey still. Demonstrations and tours are available. Be sure to find a treasure in the gift shop, too!

 

About Skyline Drive

Skyline Drive is 105.5 miles spanning the ridge of Shenandoah National Park. Ground was broken in July 1931 and the first 34-mile stretch from Swift Run Gap (Route 33) to Thornton Gap (Route 211) was completed in 1934. Thornton Gap to Front Royal (another 32 miles) was completed in 1936, and another 32.4 miles between Swift Run Gap and Jarman Gap was completed in 1939.

Of note is that Jarman Gap to Rockfish Gap was originally built as part of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Those 8.5 miles were completed in 1939 and were deeded to Shenandoah National Park in 1961.

In Addition to the Foliage

The highlight of Skyline Drive is, of course, Shenandoah National Park. Interestingly enough, the Drive existed before the Park came to be. Shenandoah National Park was authorized in 1926, established in 1935 and dedicated by President Roosevelt in 1936.

Hiking the Appalachian Trail through Shenandoah National Park

Hiking the Appalachian Trail through Shenandoah National Park

Seventy-five overlooks dot Skyline Drive and 518 miles of trails meander back and forth across it through Shenandoah National Park, making it a most impressive destination for leaf-peeping.

Milepost 21.5 – Overall Run Falls – If you’re looking for a great waterfall to hike to, this might be the one. With a 93′ drop, it’s the highest in Shenandoah National Park. The hike is a moderate 6.4 miles ’round trip to the falls and back.

Milepost 41.7 or 42.5 – Skyland Resort – Dating to 1886 and originally called Stony Man Camp, Skyland was a summer retreat for the Pollock family. Skyland is the highest point of Skyline Drive at 3,680 feet, overlooking the Shenandoah Valley. Stay here if you like, in one of the 178 accommodations. Enjoy the restaurant on site, too.

Milepost 42.6 – Whiteoak Canyon - Waterfalls ranging from 35 to 86 feet with swimming holes at the bottom of each are the reward for this 4.6-mile out-and-back hike to the upper falls. Want to see more? Add another 2.7 miles to your trip by descending further down the mountain. Map

Milepost 51.3 – Big Meadows Lodge – This lodge dates to 1939 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The stones were cut from Massanutten Mountain and the timber is native chestnut. Enjoy the Roosevelt Fried Chicken or New Deal Turkey Platter at the Spottswood Dining Room, if you find yourself hungry.

These two drives – two of “America’s Most Iconic Drives,” according to Travel + Leisure – are just the beginning of your Virginia drives for fall foliage, as we have more in store and coming soon. Be sure to subscribe to our blog to have the posts delivered directly to your inbox. We wouldn’t want you to miss a single thing about fall in Virginia.

LOVE is at the heart of every Virginia vacation. Virginia is for Lovers.
Sign up to receive our weekly Fall Foliage Report.*

*Fall Foliage Reports will begin on or about September 25.



Destinations, Fall in Virginia, Outdoors | 2 Comments