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    #Goodmorning from the #VirginiaBeach Fishing #Pier. It looks like another beautiful day is in store for #Virginia. #LoveVA #sunrise #photooftheday #todaysunrise #vatravel #bigsky @visitvabeach #vaoutdoors
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    Do you recognize one of the oldest tourist destinations in the US? This beauty has been included on several "Seven Natural Wonders of the World" lists, was surveyed by George Washington in 1750 and was once owned by Thomas Jefferson as a personal retreat. While you're visiting don't forget to swing by the legendary Foamhenge, explore the Natural Bridge Caverns and get your photo taken with a baby tiger at the Natural Bridge Zoo. Photo credit: @takeiteasybee #loveva #virginia #vaoutdoors #naturalwonder #naturalbridge #howisummer #vatravel #virginiaisforlovers #photooftheday #fatherson
  • Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

    10 of Virginia’s Tastiest Fall Food Festivals

    by Casey | Posted on September 16th, 2013

    You’re right on time for fall flavors. Taste your way from the mountains to the shore this fall in Virginia.

    Graves Mountain Apples

    Graves Mountain Apples

    Apples

    The Apple Butter Celebration in Shenandoah National Park is Saturday, September 21 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Skyland Resort. Take the ride up the mountain to see the early turners and get your fill of fresh-from-the-kettle apple butter, apple smoked BBQ, apple salsa, granny apple cole slaw, caramel apples, apple cobbler, and apple cider. Various entertainers will keep the day lively. The Celebration is free; admission to Shenandoah National Park is $15 per car.

    The Apple Harvest & Apple Butter Festival at Drumheller’s Orchard occurs Saturday and Sunday, September 28-29 and October 19-20. Come out anytime from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. for tasty fresh-picked apples, apple butter, cider, honey, and plenty of family fun. Apple sling shot, anyone?  Free parking and entertainment.

    Head to Syria for the Graves’ Mountain Apple Harvest Festival Saturdays and Sundays from October 5 through October 20, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. 2013 marks the festival’s 44th year. Don’t miss out on the kettle-cooked apple butter, applesauce, apple cider, apple butter donuts, and apple pies. Feel free to pick your own apples, too! Entertainment includes Bluegrass musicians, cloggers, a hay maze, hay mountain, hayrides, and horseback rides. A taste of southwest Virginia is available here, too … Brunswick Stew! Free parking and entertainment.

     

    Bluegrass, Barbeque & Brew Festival

    Bluegrass, Barbeque & Brew Festival

    Barbecue

    A brand new event in Norfolk is Ribtoberfest! Held at Town Point Park this Saturday, September 21 from noon to 8 p.m., Ribtoberfest brings beer and BBQ into one delicious waterside feast. Blues musicians will keep the day hoppin’ while restaurants pull out the stops to serve up their best ribs, pulled pork and other barbecue creations. More than 20 breweries will be on hand with 40+ Autumn-style beers. Admission is free.

    Bands, Brews and Barbecue will be held Saturday, September 28 from noon to 7 p.m. on the Manassas Museum Lawn in Manassas. Purchase tickets to sample the brews (with a valid ID) and some great Virginia barbecue while the bands play away the day. Free admission.

    Patrick Henry’s Red Hill will host the Bluegrass, Barbecue and Brew Festival on Saturday, November 2 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Local grillmasters includes Drug Store Grill from Brookneal, True Q BBQ from Lynchburg, and Tater Bugs Barbeque from South Boston. Four Virginia craft breweries and one cidery will be pouring while Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia bluegrass musicians entertain. Admission is $10 for music only and $15 for those who wish to sample the beverages. Buy Now

     

    Chincoteague Island Oyster Festival

    Chincoteague Island Oyster Festival

    Seafood

    A beautiful view from Farley Vale Farm in King George is the icing on the Rappahanock Riverfest happening this Saturday, September 21 from 3 to 8 p.m. Riverfest is an all-you-can-eat Blue Crab and barbecue event with open bar, live entertainment and auctions. Tickets are $85 and available in advance only. Buy Now

    Historic Stratford Hall hosts the Stratford Hall Wine and Oyster Festival this weekend, September 21-22 beginning at 11 a.m. each day. A variety of oysters will be available, as will shrimp, clams, and the fine vintages of 13 Virginia wineries. Admission for oyster and wine tasting is $45 (in advance) and includes three oysters from each of the seven oyster growers, and a wine tasting from each of the wineries. A ticket for wine tasting only is $25 in advance; Non-tasting is $10 in advance; Children 6-12 are $5 in advance. Buy Now

    Head to the Shore for the Chincoteague Island Oyster Festival, Saturday October 12 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. It’s an all-you-can-eat smorgasbord of oysters (half shell, steamed, fried, fritters …), crabs, hush puppies, clam chowder, and more. Admission is $40. Buy Now

    You don’t want to miss the Official Oyster Festival of the Commonwealth, the Urbanna Oyster Festival. The entire town of Urbanna turns into festival grounds Friday and Saturday, November 1 and 2, with oyster shucking competitions, a parade, oysters served anyway you like, and the crowning of the Oyster Festival Queen and Little Miss Spat. The festival is free and pay-as-you-go.

     

    +1! Late Fall Bonus Event:

    Sample the best of the bay at Taste by the Bay in Irvington on Saturday, November 23. Virginia wineries, breweries, and local restaurants will serve samples to ticket holders from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $30 in advance or $35 at the gate.

     

    Find more flavors to love at Virginia.org/FoodFestivals!

    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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    Fall in Virginia, Festivals, Food | 3 Comments

    22 Places to Eat Like a Local

    by Casey | Posted on August 16th, 2013

    We’ve asked and received recommendations for the most amazing Virginia breakfasts, highly acclaimed BBQ, comfortable patio dining, best places to enjoy a craft beer and favorite ice cream spots. All of these recommendations came from locals in the know. Yet, there was one more thing we had to ask:

    Where is the best place to eat like a local, regardless of the time of day or menu specialty?

    It turns out that some familiar names popped up. In addition, local pride and loyalty made appearances. Read on.

    Central Virginia

    Millie's Diner

    Millie’s Diner

    By a wide margin, Millie’s Diner in Richmond was the most recommended place to eat like a local. What’s more, Millie’s was also one of the most recommended establishments for a great breakfast. Why so hot? “One word — scallops — the best in the U.S.” Or more words, if you’re not a fan of scallops:

    - “The most delicious place to eat in all of Richmond, hands down. I have ordered things there that I never would have tried anywhere else, just because I know that there is NO WAY it wouldn’t be absolutely delicious coming from Millie’s kitchen.”
    - “I live in Reston, VA and make it a point to eat at Millie’s EVERY time I am in Richmond.”
    - “It was the place I chose to pop the question a couple years ago.”
    - “I ate there every Sunday for two years … they saved a stool for me at the end of the counter. Now THAT is local.”

    So what’s good to eat at Millie’s?

    - “Thai Shrimp! I ordered it every Friday night the first year Millie’s was open, then decided the rest of the menu was probably good as well (and it is). We have been eating there for 25 years.”
    - “Any one of the messes, though my favorite is Castro’s Mess.”
    - “Devil’s Mess, Cajun Mess, or anything really. Especially the Bloody Mary.”
    - “Love their vegetarian selections!”

    Other great places to eat like a local in Central Virginia:

     

    Southern Virginia

    The Horseshoe Restaurant's Pimento Cheeseburger

    The Horseshoe Restaurant’s Pimento Cheeseburger

    The Horseshoe Restaurant in South Hill is a classic diner operating since the 1930s. Southern eats like pimento cheese and fried pickles are daily offerings, as are stories of Roy Kelly (“Second Machine Gun Kelly”) and his arrest at the restaurant. The front page of the South Hill Enterprise dated December 31, 1938 stretches across one wall of the restaurant and features Kelly peering from behind bars. It’s just one of the cool pieces of this historic establishment that feeds the locals and travelers alike.

    What to eat at The Horseshoe?

    - “The Fried Green Tomato BLT is the best sandwich. Peanut Butter Pie and Chocolate Walnut are both out of this world.”
    - “Everything on the menu is awesome.”

     

    Blue Ridge Highlands

    Burger Bar

    Burger Bar

    Wytheville loves their skeeterdogs. What’s a skeeterdog? A “World Famous Hot Dog” from Skeeter’s Restaurant, operating in historic downtown since 1920. Skeeter’s shares space in a building that was also the birthplace of First Lady Edith Bolling Wilson. Presidential hot dogs, perhaps?

    Burger Bar is an authentic Bristol original. A mainstay since 1942, it’s been long-said that Hank Williams enjoyed his last meal here. Pair your country music history with a classic burger and you get menu items like “Hey Good Looking,” in honor of one-time devoted customer Ernie Ford. The locals love “Oh My Cheese!,” two grilled cheese sandwiches with a burger between them.

    Other great places to eat like a local in the Blue Ridge Highlands:

     

    Coastal Virginia

    Ham is a typical Virginia staple and you can enjoy a fresh ham biscuit on the front porch at Edwards Ham Shoppe in Surry. One local suggests you “wash it down with a cold, old-fashioned bottled soda” for a true local experience.

    Smitty’s Better Burger has been a local favorite in Hampton since 1956. A true drive-in with car hops, Smitty’s is a classic Old School experience that one local says is used “to impress visitors from out of town.” We do like to show off the things that are quintessentially “ours,” don’t we? Recommended menu item is the Better Burger, of course, “with cheese, fries and a drink!”

     

    Northern Virginia

    Tim's Rivershore Restaurant & Crabhouse

    Tim’s Rivershore Restaurant & Crabhouse

    It’s a neat little historic tavern, but what you really want to know about Amy’s Cafe in Fredericksburg is what one local said: “The ribs are to die for!” Find Amy on West Cambridge Street and tell her someone really loves chef’s baby back ribs.

    Waterside dining at Tim’s Rivershore Restaurant & Crabhouse is beautiful. Find Tim’s in Dumfries. The restaurant sits at one of the widest points of the Potomac River, offering sweeping views that are incredible from inside or out. The tiki bar is a great place to hang out and enjoy a beer with your seafood, burger or sandwich.

    Don’t be deterred by the name. Old Town Caterers & Deli in Manassas offers a diverse menu with international flair. The local favorite is the shrimp bisque.

     

    Shenandoah Valley

    Texas Tavern

    Texas Tavern

    Have you ever heard of a Liars Table? I had not and so inquired with our local about his recommendation of Hi Neighbor Country Restaurant in Strasburg. He mentioned the Liars Table as one of the main draws and I had to know why. He wrote, “The Liars Table is one of those things that really make a small town local restaurant.” He elaborated, naming names, to tell me that groups of “local characters” keep one particular table full all day long from about 5:30 a.m. until closing. One group coming in after the next, shooting the breeze, talking “local politics, news, etc.”

    I imagine that Hi Neighbor, a community staple since 1949, serves great food along with warm hospitality. What to eat? Our local says the “homemade biscuits with homemade sausage or chipped beef gravy are awesome,” but notes that the burgers and sandwiches are, too.

    In Roanoke, the name Texas Tavern dates to 1930. This love-worn establishment has been in the same family for four generations and is acclaimed for “Best Chili,” “Best Hot Dogs,” “Best Local Hamburgers,” and “Best Late-Night Dinner” by readers of  Roanoker magazine. Saunter up to the counter and enjoy home-cooked food 24 hours a day.

    Sal’s Italian Bistro in Edinburg is best summed up by the local B&B owner who wrote, “Sal, the owner, is the ‘real deal’ from Naples, Italy. The food is authentic and fabulous. Huge portions. We send all our B&B guests there.”

    Staunton’s Mill Street Grill offers a variety of menu items, but the one thing our local raved about was the ribs (look out Amy!). “Ribs are fall off the bone excellent. I’ve yet to have something that wasn’t excellent.”

    Other great places to eat like a local in the Shenandoah Valley:

    Where is your favorite place to eat like a local? Leave a comment to let us know!



    Food, Locals | 6 Comments

    Five Can’t-Miss Virginia Craft Beer Events

    by Casey | Posted on August 8th, 2013

    Craft beer lovers are invited to converge upon several festivals and special events this month – August Virginia Craft Beer Month.

    Saturday, August 10 is Microfestivus at Roanoke’s Elmwood Park. More than 100 beers from 40 Mid-Atlantic micro and craft breweries will be on tap for 4 oz. and 8 oz. tastings. The event is rain or shine and a valid ID must prove you’re 21. Admission is $5 plus the cost of tastings. Purchase tickets in advance for discounts. Virginia has 19 participating craft brewers for Microfestivus. Festival Map and Beer List

    Virginia Craft Beer Week at Boar's Head Inn

    Virginia Craft Beer Week at Boar’s Head Inn

    Monday through Friday, August 12-16 is Craft Beer Week at Boar’s Head Inn in Charlottesville. Burgers are the main menu item and a different craft beer or cider will be suggested as an optimal flavor enhancement for each.

    Need an example? Ask for the Boar’s Head Sirloin Burger covered in aged cheddar, Applewood-smoked bacon, lettuce, tomato, onion and pickle, and served with handcut fries. The suggested beverage is Starr Hill’s Jomo Lager, described by Starr Hill as “a crossover beer that appeals to the broadest spectrum of brew aficionados.” Burgers are $16 to $22 and beers are $5.75 per bottle. Available for lunch and dinner. Beer and Burger Week Menu

    Saturday, August 17 is Three Brothers Brewing Co.’s Beer Month Celebration in Harrisonburg. Enjoy live music from three different bands, as well as fantastic local food from Jack Brown’s and Log Cabin BBQ, plus iced coffee from Lucas Roasting Co.

    Virginia Craft Brewers FestSaturday, August 24 is the Second Annual Virginia Craft Brewers Festival hosted by Devils Backbone Brewing Company in Roseland. The festival runs from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday night camping is offered for a fee of $15 per person, $10 per car and $50 per RV.

    The Virginia Craft Beer Cup presented by Virginia is for Lovers will be awarded to the best overall beer as selected by certified judges. Festival-goers will enjoy live music from five different bands, craft beer from 29 Virginia craft breweries and great local food. Admission is $10 for designated drivers and non-drinking attendees ages 13 and older (soft drinks and water included in admission). Purchase a $35 tasting package in advance to save $10, or a VIP tasting package for $45 that is available in advance only. Children 12 and under are free.

    Looking for the lastest brew to be tapped? It just might be Exquisitely Evil Ale, a Double IPA that will be released Thursday, August 29 at Wild Wolf Brewing Company in Nellysford. Come out at 5 p.m. for a brewery tour prior to sampling Exquisitely Evil, and stay for paired food specials until 9 p.m.

    In addition, consider these opportunities:

    Looking for more on Virginia Craft Beer? Look no further than Virginia.org/CraftBeer/ for a map of brewery locations and more upcoming events.



    Beer, Events, Food | Comments Off

    Eat Up! August is National Peach Month!

    by Casey | Posted on August 2nd, 2013

    Fresh, juicy peaches are unbeatable, if you love peaches. And if you love peaches, you’re going to LOVE August! August is National Peach Month and here are all the fun things you need to know to capitalize on the peach harvest.

    Chiles Peach Orchard

    Chiles Peach Orchard

    Where to Pick

    Cana – Ayers Orchard – Right at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains is this beautiful pick-your-own orchard and century farm. Available varieties of peaches and nectarines are China Pearl, Red Skins, Alberta, Jersey Queen, Jefferson and Georgia Belles. By next week Yellow Hale should be ready to pick.

    Crozet – Chiles Peach Orchard – Check out the farm market and ice cream parlor where amazing treats await. Hot, fresh donuts, pies, fudge … it’s a heavenly place! This Saturday and Sunday, August 3 & 4, is the annual Homemade Peach Ice Cream Days. Grab some and then pick your own yellow Freestone for $1.39/lb. or Donut peaches for $1.99/lb.

    Crozet – Henley’s Orchard – For more than 75 years Henley’s has been growing and sharing peaches, nectarines and more. Fresh preserves and homemade peach ice cream is waiting for you here!

    Saunders Brothers Farm Market

    Saunders Brothers Farm Market

    Piney River – Saunders Brothers Orchard & Farm Market – The first peaches of the season are now available! All varieties are $2.99/lb or go all out and pick a peck or a bushel. As the month goes on, expect the Loring, Sugar Giant, Blake and Mr. Carson varieties to be ready. Spend some time this Saturday, August 3, enjoying the antique farm equipment display.

    MORE Farms & Orchards

     

    Peach Festivals

    Winchester – Peach FestivalAugust 10, 2013 – Probably every peach dish you can imagine can be found at this festival. Peach cobbler, pie, turnovers, ice cream … the list goes on! Enjoy the live music from 1 to 3 p.m. and load the kids up on the cow train.

    Meadows of Dan – Annual Meadows of Dan Folk FairAugust 17, 2013 – Musicians, crafts, fun activities for the kids, and plenty of peaches in various edible forms — even peach butter made like apple butter!

    Middletown – Richard’s Fruit Market Peach FestivalAugust 18, 2013 – It’s a day of family fun with haywagon and barrel train rides, plus a petting zoo and all the peaches you care to eat.

    MORE Festivals

     

    A Peach Recipe for You

    Easy Fresh Peach Preserves by  Karla Jones Seidita of Cheesecake FarmsEasy Fresh Peach Preserves from Karla Jones Seidita of Cheesecake Farms in Sumerduck.

    • 8 to 10 ripe peaches (about 3 1/2 lbs.)
    • 3 T. lemon juice
    • 1 1/4 c. sugar

    Peel and pit peaches. Remove any bruised spots and discard. Coarsely mash. Stir in lemon juice. Measure peahces and juice – you should have about five cups.

    Put mashed peaches and juice in a large skillet (not cast iron). Add sugar and cover the pan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Boil for one minute with the lid on, then remove lid. Reduce heat so peaches bubble but don’t boil over.

    Cook, stirring, until mixture reduces in volume by half (about eight minutes). Do not overcook. Preserves thicken as they cool.

    Remove from heat and skim away any foam. Immediately ladle into a heat-proof container. Cool uncovered at room temperature for about an hour, then cover and refrigerate. Stores refrigerated for up to one week.

    Have a peach recipe you’d love to share? Leave a comment!



    Food | Comments Off

    10 Virginia B&Bs with a Notable Breakfast

    by Casey | Posted on July 30th, 2013

    Recently we rolled out 22 Great Breakfast Spots in Virginia - as nominated by locals – and the response has been fantastic. In that same spirit of morning delights and food that’s worth the drive, we present to you 10 Virginia B&Bs with a Notable Breakfast.

    Innkeepers Sam and Sharon Elswick in the kitchen at Holladay House B&B.

    Innkeepers Sharon and Sam Elswick in the kitchen at Holladay House B&B.

    The innkeepers of Holladay House Bed and Breakfast in Orange take their breakfast seriously. Organic, locally-sourced ingredients are key to their morning preparations. The innkeepers are dedicated to supporting local farms and businesses, and you’ll find a list of their food partners here. In addition to the freshest breakfast possible (and made to your dietary specifications), Holladay House serves Holladay House Signature Coffee in cooperation with Orange County Coffee Roasters. It’s a custom roast that you can take home.

    Chestnut Cove B&B in Farnham is your choice bed and breakfast for hands-on stained glass creations, but don’t stop there. Guests have raved that the “scones at breakfast are worth the drive alone,” and that the innkeepers offer an “absolutely yummy breakfast burrito with beautiful presentation.”

    Ivycrest Inn B&B in Christiansburg is a grand Victorian with multiple spaces in which to enjoy your buffet-style hot breakfast each morning. One guest wrote of Ivycrest, “… woke up to a wonderful smell. We had a breakfast casserole and apple dumplings.” I’m imagining those hot apples on the porch during fall, myself.

    *Holladay House, Chestnut Cove and Ivycrest Inn were all nominated to be included in the 22 Great Breakfast Spots in Virginia post, but we felt this post was a much better place for you to find them.

    Channel Bass Inn on Chincoteague Island was recognized in May 2013 by The Daily Meal as one of the Top 50 US Bed and Breakfasts for Food. Fresh baked breads, fruits, warm compote, farm-fresh eggs and then some make the Channel Bass breakfast a “very full breakfast.” After you’ve enjoyed a great breakfast and whiled away the day, a three o’clock four-course tea affair awaits you, complete with scones and quite a variety more.

    The Magnolia House Inn in Hampton received attention from Essence in 2010, as innkeeper Joyce Blair’s Croissant French Toast was highlighted in a healthy living article. The intro to the article reads, “Four innkeepers at African-American-owned B&Bs share delectable recipes that will have your brunch guests wanting to stay the night.” Why not stay with Joyce, enjoy her french toast to see how it’s really supposed to taste, and then whip them up at home?

    Bay Haven Inn of Cape Charles has a farm-to-table philosophy for their breakfasts, making the preserves and jams from scratch, and serving a delicious meal using backyard and local ingredients. In addition, Bay Haven serves a personalized, micro-roast coffee by Eastern Shore Coastal Roasting Company. If available, ask for their signature sweet potato biscuits with Virginia country ham!

    Bay Haven Inn's signature sweet potato biscuits with Virginia country ham.

    Bay Haven Inn’s signature sweet potato biscuits with Virginia country ham.

    At the Carriage House Inn Bed and Breakfast in Lynchburg, you can expect a wide variety of three-course breakfast offerings, but also a special of the month. As fall approaches, let the idea of pumpkin waffles topped with apples and walnuts dance in your head, or maybe a gingerbread waffle in December? Dietary restrictions can be met with 48 hours’ notice.

    Cedar Springs Inn in Charlottesville boasts beautiful porch seating with expansive mountain views for their big country breakfasts. Each guest is served a personal loaf of coffeecake or sweet bread, plus fruit, choice of meat or fish, and choice of two savory and one sweet entree. There’s no reason to skip this breakfast.

    The White Pig Bed and Breakfast in Schuyler specializes in vegan breakfasts and is an oasis for rescued animals. White Pig has been honored as a winner of the Veggie Awards (2004) by VegNews, and by PETA with a Proggy Award (2004). Expect to find delicious offerings on their breakfast menu, including organic Belgium waffles with fresh strawberries.

    Williamsburg Sampler Bed and Breakfast in Williamsburg was honored with a proclamation from the Mayor of Williamsburg in 2008 in part for their US Registered Trademark SkipLunch® Breakfast. That term came to be, as their website explains, when the innkeepers were worried a guest who happened to be a college football player with a big appetite wouldn’t be satisfied with his breakfast. They served him a hungry man’s style breakfast and the player said, “Thanks for the Skip Lunch Breakfast.” And the breakfasts at Williamsburg Sampler have never been the same.

    Without a doubt there are dozens more amazing B&B breakfasts in Virginia and we want to hear about them! Simply leave a comment so we’ll know and others will, too.

    In the mean time, head over to Virginia.org to find more bed and breakfast inspiration to plan your next trip. LOVE is at the heart of every Virginia vacation. Virginia is for Lovers!

    RELATED: 10 Acclaimed Virginia Inns



    Food, Locals | 5 Comments