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    Hang On Tight! Ten Rock Climbing, Bouldering and Rappelling Spots

    by Stefanie | Posted on July 17th, 2014

    Climb Virginia!

    Climb Virginia!

    Hanging off the edge of a rock isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, nor is it for the faint of heart. For those who dare, Virginia has rock climbing, bouldering and rappelling adventures galore. And if you’re up for the challenge with a little less risk, there are also indoor centers that pack on the rush of adrenaline and excitement all the same. Here are 10 indoor and outdoor spots to check out.

    So where are your favorite places?

     

     

    INDOOR

    Peak Experiences Indoor Rock Climbing Center – Richmond
    Peak Experiences is one of the largest indoor rock climbing facilities in the U.S. Climbers of all skill levels are challenged by more than 125 top-rope routes, lead-climbing, and bouldering. The climbing wall landscape is continually transforming to keep climbers engaged and challenged upon every visit! The center offers various camps and classes, including the Passages Adventure Camp, which teaches young people to foster lifelong outdoor skills in a fun and challenging environment. The main focus is to help each camper build leadership skills, develop teamwork and improve their confidence and self-esteem. Climbing lessons are available, as well as suspension training and fitness classes.

    Sportrock Climbing Center – Sterling
    Sportrock Climbing Center boasts many amenities for anyone who is in the market for some rock climbing fun. Its three main focuses are improvement, connection and recreation. So whether you’re a novice working up to a more skilled level, or just want to come in and have some fun, the routes are set up by certified professionals, who switch up tracks every 6-8 weeks. The facility also offers a class called Fast Forward, which is designed to build connections and maybe make some friendships along the way!

    Rise Up Climbing

    Rise Up Climbing

    Rise Up Climbing – Lynchburg
    Rise Up has more than 6,000 square feet of climbable surface, with 20 lead and top-rope climbing stations, and more than 1,000 square feet of top-out bouldering. Whether you’re a seasoned veteran climber with specific training goals or just looking to have a little fun, Rise Up Climbing is the place. Have kids with you? No problem. Rise Up specializes in youth programming. And if you’re coming to the center having never been off the ground, again, no problem. Rise Up’s basic skills class can have you off the ground and having fun in 30 minutes or less.

    Crimper’s Climbing Gym – Christianburg
    Crimper’s indoor climbing facility offers several types of climbing styles: a 70 ft. wide and 16 ft. high bouldering area equipped with 16 in. padded flooring; a 23 ft. top-rope section with 7 top-rope stations; and a 30 ft. lead climbing section, termed the Gravity Well. Crimper’s offers classes for certification in top-roped and lead climbing, as well as classes to specifically help the climber learn, practice and improve their climbing skills under the guidance of an experienced instructor. Crimper’s offers beginner and intermediate-level technique classes, strength-building classes, and hangboard workout sessions. In addition, they also offer personal coaching and training.

    Virginia Beach Rock Gym – Virginia Beach
    Virginia Beach Rock Gym is the only indoor climbing gym in the Hampton Roads area, with a 32 ft. main climbing wall. The Rappel Tower is a great place to learn and practice the important skills of safe rappelling, top belaying, ascending, and basic self-rescue. Featuring versatile overhead cable anchors, the tower is the “classroom” for many of their advanced classes. An access panel in the floor allows one to practice free hanging rappels. The interior of the tower contains the Crack House, a fully textured climbing area featuring various sizes of cracks and layback flakes. The Boulders are an excellent place to work on technique or endurance without having to get high off of the ground. The Boulders feature a wide range of angles and terrain with lots of holds. There are color-coded problems of various difficulties or you can make up your own problems. Either way you’re sure to become a better, stronger climber.

    OUTDOOR

    Shenandoah National Park

    Shenandoah National Park

    Old Rag Mountain – Shenandoah National Park
    Old Rag Mountain, located west of Washington D.C. and its suburbs in Shenandoah National Park in Northern Virginia, is, despite its proximity to a major metropolitan area, an off-the-beaten-path climbing area that offers great face and crack climbing on granite crags, cliffs, and slabs. The 3,268-foot-high mountain, a popular hiking destination, is dotted with rocky outcrops and is the only major granite climbing area in the mid-Atlantic region. Old Rag Mountain, with more than 100 established routes, offers lots of varied climbing including crack climbs, delicate slab routes and thin bolt-protected face climbs. It is best known for its excellent crack climbing, some of the best on the East Coast.

    Outdoor Adventure Experiences – Dayton
    Outdoor Adventure Experiences offers nearly every kind of outdoor sporting activity any visitor could want; including rock climbing and bouldering. Located in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley, the facility offers affordable training and adventures for climbers of all skill levels.

    Grayson Highlands State Park

    Grayson Highlands State Park

    Grayson Highlands State Park – Mouth of Wilson
    Near Mount Rogers and Whitetop Mountain, Virginia’s two highest mountains, lies Grayson Highlands State Park, where you’ll enjoy scenic views of alpine-like peaks of more than 5,000 feet. Whitetop Mountain boasts great bouldering areas, where they are concentrated with a relatively short approach. Mount Rogers, the highest peak in Virginia, offers boulders that are some of the best climbing spots around. As you reach further up the mountain, the boulders become above tree line, making for some of the best 360 views in Virginia.

    Hidden Rocks – Harrisonburg
    Featuring 40 ft. sandstone cliffs just inside the George Washington National Forest in Rockingham County, Hidden Rocks boasts well-shaded top-ropes and leads, as well as bouldering.

    McAfee’s Knob – Catawba
    Mcafee’s Knob is one of Virginia’s premiere bouldering areas. The knob is also one of the most breathtaking hiking destinations in Virginia, and holds the reputation as having the most photographed point on the Appalachian Trail (which you use to get to the bouldering). The climbing is comprised of free standing and channeled sandstone blocks and labyrinths, and holds vary from kind to aggressive. The developed bouldering is all on quality stone and will provide an almost 270-degree panorama of the Catawba Valley and North Mountain to the West, Tinker Cliffs to the North, and the Roanoke Valley to the East.

     



    Destinations, Family, Outdoors, Outdoors, Travel Ideas, Uncategorized, Virginia Destinations | Comments Off

    Enjoy Local Shopping in Virginia’s Historical Districts

    by Stefanie | Posted on July 16th, 2014

    It’s hard to believe that summer is more than halfway over. But don’t fret! Now is the perfect time to score some great deals on everything from clothing to furniture. And with that also comes the unveiling of fall’s newest lineups. We’re not in primetime season yet, so there are deals out there to get a leg up on the latest trends. As we wallow through this transitional phase, take advantage of all the unique shopping districts around the Commonwealth.

    And don’t forget, TAX-FREE shopping weekend is Aug. 1-3!

    Carytown Shopping

    Carytown Shopping

    Carytown, Richmond
    Known as the Mile of Style, Carytown offers everything you need to eat, shop, and play. Its sidewalks are lined with unique boutiques, restaurants, specialty shops, spas and more. Enjoy the eclectic collection of award-winning, locally-owned businesses. Spend the day in the area voted “Best Shopping Neighborhood in Virginia” by the readers of Southern Living magazine. While you’re here, visit Carytown landmarks, including Cary Court, the oldest outdoor shopping center on the East Coast and catch a film at the Byrd Theatre, Richmond’s movie palace since 1928. Carytown hosts many festivals throughout the year, including the Watermelon Festival, Chalk up the Town, Craft Beer Festival, Food & Wine Festival, Carytown Fashion Show and more, of course!

    Old Town Alexandria
    The go-to D.C. destination for boutique shopping is Old Town Alexandria, with The Wall Street Journal praising, “The King Street area has some of the best stores and galleries in the region.” Nearly 80 percent of the restaurants and retailers in the King Street corridor are independently owned, including the chic shops of the Old Town Boutique District, while nearby, Del Ray’s Mount Vernon Avenue is another haven for eclectic, locally owned storefronts. Fashionistas flock to Alexandria for high end shoes and unique clothing finds, while home dĂ©cor shops and antique galleries burst with statement pieces. Delight in tasty treats from olive oils to award-winning hot chocolates, pick up pet friendly goodies, or peruse handmade jewelry at the Torpedo Factory Art Center. While you’re there, take in the sites and attractions of George Washington’s hometown and more.

    The Pink Scottie in Historic Petersburg

    The Pink Scottie in Historic Petersburg

    Old Towne Petersburg
    A devastating fire in 1815 wiped out the old towne of Petersburg, a collection of wooden warehouses and homes along the Appomattox River. Today, Old Towne is a district of antique galleries, boutiques, craft shops, restaurants, cafes and a mix of renovated residences. With cobblestone streets and national landmarks throughout, take in a truly unique shopping experience.

    Historic Roanoke City Market
    The Historic Roanoke City Market is the oldest such market in continuous use in Virginia, dating back to the 1800s. While you’re picking up from fresh, local produce, the Historic Market building also offers fantastic shopping opportunities. The entire Market District includes unique shopping, galleries, boutiques, restaurants, antique shops, museum shops and plenty more to discover.

    Shopping in Smithfield
    Smithfield’s Historic District, lined with Colonial, Federal and Victorian homes, offers antique collectors and shoppers a plethora of options. The Antiques Emporium, Heritage Antiques, Laura and Lucy’s, Olde House Antiques, Mansion House Art & Antique Gallery, and Wharf Hill Antiques offer everything from toys to treasures, furniture to fixtures, and memorabilia to music.

    Hugh Mercery Apothecary Shop in Historic Fredericksburg

    Hugh Mercery Apothecary Shop in Historic Fredericksburg

    Historic Downtown Fredericksburg
    Set foot into some of the most interesting periods in America’s past with a stroll among more than 350 original 18th and 19th century buildings in Fredericksburg’s 40-block National Historic District. While here, visitors can also step into over 100 shops, chef-owned restaurants and boutiques, concentrated in the downtown area and along a four-block “antique row” near the river.

    Leesburg Historic District
    Leesburg’s Historic District provides a charming backdrop for shopping, dining, walking tours, visiting art galleries and buying those one of a kind items or the stylish ‘must have’ accessories… handbags, jewelry, clothing and more. Antiques and home furnishing stores are plentiful. The streets are lined with brick sidewalks, authentic, historic architecture and wonderful flowering trees and flower baskets. Discover the charm and the great buys.

    Shockoe Slip, Richmond
    Shockoe Slip’s neighborhood has become a prime example of urban restoration and historic preservation. What was once the only trading area in Richmond is now the city’s most fashionable shopping and dining district. The Slip’s restored warehouses and taverns house a unique assortment of exclusive apparel stores, galleries, restaurants and hotels.

    Capo's Music Store in Downtown Abingdon

    Capo’s Music Store in Downtown Abingdon

    Abingdon Historic District
    Specialty shops, boutiques, art galleries and more line the streets of historic downtown Abingdon. Spend a day wandering the cobblestone sidewalks and discover historic landmarks like the State Theatre of Virginia, all the while browsing unique antique shops, music stores, the Abingdon Olive Oil Co. and more.



    Deals & Discounts, Events, Family, History, Locals | 1 Comment

    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.

    Virginia is for Lovers.
    Request a Free Travel Guide.



    Family, Locals, Outdoors, Video clips | 3 Comments

    Stand Up Paddleboarding Spots

    by Stefanie | Posted on July 10th, 2014

    You’ve heard the buzz and read the magazine articles.  Maybe you’ve even seen some stand up paddlers down at the beach or know someone who has hopped on a board.  Whatever your exposure to Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP), the odds are pretty good that it has piqued your interest.  So what are you waiting for?

    Stand Up Paddleboarding, also known as SUP, is the incredible combination of canoeing, kayaking and surfing. Using a canoe-like paddle and standing atop a stable and balanced long board, paddlers propel themselves through the water with smooth alternating strokes. SUP offers an alternative core workout similar to swimming and cycling. In a short time you will become one with water, finding yourself living in the moment. Stand up paddleboarding offers a new perspective of Virginia’s natural surroundings and an escape from your daily stress.

    Coastal SUP Tours, Virginia Beach
    Coastal SUP Tours offers a personalized SUP experience for every group.  Take a relaxing tour of First Landing State Park for the beginners, or tour the Bay/Ocean and watch dolphins as they migrate on their daily feeding routines around Cape Henry Point. The Coastal SUP Tours staff strives to provide their customers with a safe, comfortable and relaxing experience. They also offer one-on-one lessons for a more private and focused training.

    Black Dog Paddle SUPer Sisters

    Black Dog Paddle SUPer Sisters

    Black Dog Paddle, Midlothian
    Black Dog Paddle brings the fun and excitement of stand up paddleboarding to the James River and many other surrounding waterways in Richmond. Black Dog Paddle offers SUP lessons, fitness classes, ECO-tours, ECO-trips, SUP fishing, SUP yoga and stand up paddle rentals. Black Dog tours the inland waterways, the James River, Dutch Gap, the Chickahominy River, Lake Anna, Lake Chesdin, Fredericksburg, Charlottesville, Mathews County, and Deltaville on their new, well-balanced (and very fun!) stand up paddleboards.

    Tula Adventure Sports, Virginia Beach
    Home of the Drifter SUP Tour, Tula Adventure Sports is the only downstream paddle in the Virginia Beach area. Paddle along the shoreline of First Landing State Park on Broad Bay and Long Creek—a side of Virginia Beach that not everyone gets to explore. You will be surrounded by beauty while paddling along friendly waters, and getting a little push from the tide. While you’re on the Drifter Tour, you’ll never see the same shoreline twice and never paddle against the current. This paddle is great for first timers and wildlife enthusiasts. Tula also offers lessons (private or group) and rentals.

    Riverside Outfitters, Richmond
    Ready to see the James River from a whole new perspective? Join Riverside Outfitters’ expert guides on a thrilling instructional trip from Pony Pasture to Reedy Creek (Class I-II whitewater). In this relatively easy whitewater section of the river you will experience a fun, challenging workout among some of the prettiest urban wilderness in the U.S. Come see why Outside Magazine awarded Richmond the “2012 Best River Town in the U.S.A.” The guides provide plenty of instruction (dry land and on-the-water) so that paddleboarders not only have a great trip, but learn skills that can be applied to future paddleboard outings.

    Outdoor Adventure Experiences, Dayton
    Outdoor Adventure Experiences offers introductory expeditions, usually spanning two hours, on flat water. Half-day lessons on small, gentle rapids are also available.

    SouthEast Expeditions at Onancock Wharf

    SouthEast Expeditions at Onancock Wharf

    SouthEast Expeditions, Cape Charles
    SouthEast Expeditions offers small, introductory lessons to ensure individual attention. Each introductory lesson lasts one hour. A second class is included in the fee, where paddleboarders are able to explore the open waters on their own—perfect for families and group gatherings.

    Paddleboarding at Pohick Bay, Lorton
    Pohick Bay Regional Park has recently added SUP to their long line of rentals. As part of the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority, the Park is now able to give SUP discounts to residents in the surrounding areas—Fairfax, Arlington and Loudoun Counties, City of Alexandria, and Falls Church.

    Great White Water Sports, Norfolk
    Rent a paddleboard and relax and unwind. Great White Water Sports offers tranquil paddle yoga, also known as aqua yoga.

    Fredericksburg SUP

    Fredericksburg SUP

    Fredericksburg SUP, Fredericksburg
    While you’re discovering Northern Virginia, spend at day at Fredericksburg SUP, where their paddleboarding lessons cater to people of all ages and skill levels. Various lessons are available, as well as tours and sales.



    Beaches, Destinations, Family, Outdoors, Outdoors, Travel Ideas, Uncategorized, Virginia Destinations | 2 Comments

    Experience primitive tent camping

    by Stefanie | Posted on July 1st, 2014

    There is no other way to get back to nature than to pitch a tent and take on wilderness the primitive way. You’ll find hundreds of camping facilities around the state, but how about taking a trip to some tent-only campgrounds? They’re worth the experience.

    Virginia Camping

    Virginia Camping

    CAMP OUTBACK – LURAY
    Take in the breathtaking views of the mountains encompassing Luray. A strictly tent-only campground, Camp OutBack has 25 wooded camp sites, each accommodating up to 10 campers, offering a picnic table, charcoal grill and fire pit. Take a hike to the Shenandoah River or a 10-mile trip into Luray. A fishing lake is available nearby, as well as Shenandoah River Outfitters, offering canoeing, kayaking, rafting and tubing. Essential amenities are available, such as restrooms, shower, and available firewood for purchase.

    BLUECAT ON THE NEW – DRAPER
    Bluecat on the New offers Tipi rentals and primitive camping sites. The tipis have river rock floors and can have up to 4 single or 2 double cots (which are provided). Six campsites are equipped with grills and picnic tables. All sites are located on the scenic New River and have river access, as well as canoe, kayak and tube rentals. For those who are looking for a day of fishing, guided services are available. Also close by is the New River Trail State Park, perfect for those who would like to do some hiking, biking or horseback riding during their stay. A bath house with men and women’s showers is located on the grounds.

    CAMP KARMA CAMPGROUND – BEDFORD
    Check out the upscale camping experience at Camp Karma Campground in Bedford. The campground, located on 42 acres in the southwestern region of the state, offers 36 campsites, which are primarily for tent campers. The property offers hiking trails, a recreation field and visitors can swim and fish is Goose Creek. Standard amenities are available on the grounds.

    OUTLANDERS RIVER CAMP – LURAY
    Enjoy primitive camping along the Shenandoah River at Outlanders River Camp. The camp offers activities ranging from kayaking to hiking, and everything in between. Primitive sites, as well as electric tent sites are available on property. Looking to spend a day outside the grounds? Shenandoah National Park and the George Washington National Forest are just 15 minutes away.

    Greenwood Point Campground

    Greenwood Point Campground

    GREENWOOD POINT CAMPGROUND – WARM SPRINGS
    Those who enjoy the solitude of an isolated and remote location will be drawn to Greenwood Point Campground. With no road access, the adventure is just getting there! Strap on that pack and take the 3.3 mile hike, or paddle a canoe directly to the shores of the campground. Wooded campsites encircle an open and grassy common area, and lakeside views make this a popular private and quiet camping destination.

    ED ALLEN’S CAMPGROUND & COTTAGES – LANEXA
    Ed Allen’s offers a tranquil, 85-acre shaded retreat, featuring some of Virginia’s finest camping, fishing, recreation and wildlife. Try your luck on our two fully stocked ponds located in the campground, or one of Virginia’s greatest fishing retreats, the Chickahominy Lake. Peaceful evenings around the fire, fishing, boating, canoeing, or kayaking will make for enduring memories.

    NEW RIVER TRAIL STATE PARK – FOSTER FALLS
    New River Trail State Park has four primitive campgrounds: Cliffview, Millrace, Baker Island and Double Shoals. If you’re looking for a most unique tent-camping trip, this is the place to visit. Enjoy the amenities and adventures of the state park and retreat to a peaceful campsite to take in the serenity of nature. There is no vehicular access to the campsites and any showers or bathhouses. Access to the campground is hike-in or boat-in.

    Shenandoah National Park Camping

    Shenandoah National Park Camping

    BLOWING SPRINGS CAMPGROUND – WARM SPRINGS
    Offering both sunny and shaded camping sites, visitors to Blowing Springs Campground will be amazed by the phenomenon for which this site is named. A unique geological feature creates a duct that blows air out of the rocks at a constant 58 degrees, which may feel warm or cool depending on the season. Direct access to trails leading to swimming holes, and a stream stocked with trout are a few of the many reasons to visit this campground.

    BURKE LAKE PARK CAMPING – FAIRFAX STATION
    Take a camping trip to remember at Burke Lake Park. The campground, which offers nearly 100 campsites, is surrounded by acres of forest and one of Virginia’s most popular fishing holes. Fairfax Station offers convenient access to the Metrorail, which can put you in our nation’s capital within minutes. Enjoy the primitive tent-camping experience, and the excitement and history D.C. has to offer.

    NORTH CREEK CAMPGROUND – ARCADIA
    Located along the edge of North Creek, this campground offers shady campsites and a relaxed atmosphere. Prop your feet up and listen to the stream as it gurgles past, or take advantage of the fishing just outside your tent. The nearby trails include Whitetail, Cornelius Creek and Apple Orchard Falls. Enjoy a large expanse of National Forest land for hunting and hiking.

    LEWIS MOUNTAIN CAMPGROUND – LURAY
    Lewis Mountain, located within the Shenandoah National Park, is the smallest campground in the park. This site especially appeals to those who want a little more privacy without venturing deep into the back-country, yet it is within seven miles of the popular Big Meadows area of the park.



    Destinations, Family, Outdoors, Travel Ideas | 1 Comment