You don’t have to stay on the straight and narrow to get to The Crooked Road. This 333-mile trail of pure Virginia Heritage Music is going to take you on a journey through the history of the origins of country, bluegrass, gospel and more.
“A place of beauty, a place of song. This is The Crooked Road.”
As you travel, pull of at any of the 26 Crooked Road wayside exhibits, where you can learn more about the music and musicians who have made their mark in each location.
Home of the Birthplace of Country Music, Bristol brings musicians, scholars and fans alike to pay homage to country music’s past. The familiar melodies of the historic Bristol Sessions in 1927 still echo through the only city that can celebrate its unique title of the Birthplace of Country Music. The Bristol Sessions were not the first country music recordings, but they were the first country music recordings to be mass produced and distributed. Because of the influence these sessions had on the music industry, the 1927 Bristol Sessions are also known as the ‘Big Bang’ of country music.
Johnny Cash once said, “The Bristol Sessions is the single-most important event in the history of country music.”
The Carter Family Fold is a rustic, 1,000 seat music shed offering traditional Appalachian music.The Carter Family Fold is a rustic, 1,000 seat music shed offering traditional music.
There’s nine major venues throughout the trail, each telling the story of The Crooked Road’s history.
Experience The Crooked Road’s treasure that is Heartwood. It’s the gateway to Southwest Virginia, homeplace of traditional music and serves up the best of regional craft.
Explore the rich musical heritage of Southwest Virginia at Heartwood – and glimpse the frontiers of fusion with other traditions and instruments. Heartwood is also a performance place for the frontiers of this music, as performers explore new instruments, fuse with other musical traditions or push their horizons toward new forms of expression in special concerts and other events. Every Thursday night, enjoy live music and Heartwood’s special BBQ menu. Its restaurant serves up lunch, Thursday BBQ, Sunday breakfast, and a coffee and wine bar.
Shop at The Crooked Road store for artisan crafts, apparel, handmade instruments, music and more.
Nine major venues, more than 60 affiliated venues and 26 wayside exhibits. The Crooked Road will lead you on an adventure through the history of country music.
Attention to detail, upscale finishes, and impeccable customer service are all things you’d expect to find in a boutique hotel, and according to online reviews and media, these Virginia stays excel.
The Craddock Terry Hotel is quickly recognized by the large red heel on the front. Once a shoe factory producing nearly 100,000 pairs per day, this brick warehouse is now a very fashionable, 44-room luxury accommodation in downtown Lynchburg. The urban, industrial feel is not lost. Each room boasts incredible mountain or river views thanks to the 9-foot-tall windows, and exposed brick and beams serve as sturdy, beautiful reminders of the buildings’ past. As a finishing touch, you’re going to love receiving your complimentary continental breakfast in an old-fashioned wooden shoeshine box. Whimsy is in style at Craddock Terry!
Nestled off King Street in Old Town Alexandria is Morrison House, a well-appointed Kimpton property graced with Federal Period reproduction pieces. Acclaim for the hotel includes a four-star rating from Mobil, four-diamond rating from AAA, and it was named one of the “Top 30 Hotels in the South” by readers of Conde Nast Traveler in 2013. Morrison House has 45 guestrooms and suites, and a bed and breakfast feel to its intimate atmosphere. Complimentary wine, coffee and tea are served daily. “Elegant” is perhaps the best word to describe this gem of Old Town.
The Charlotte Hotel & Restaurant
The Charlotte Hotel in Onancock is a sweet find on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. With just eight rooms, you’ll have plenty of peace in this 1907 reprieve. Trip Advisor reviewers have called it “delightful,” “charming,” and “a tiny slice of paradise.” To add to the comfortable stay, a restaurant featuring house-made menu items gives you a true taste of the Shore.
General Francis Marion Hotel
The Roaring Twenties are all the rage at theGeneral Francis Marion Hotelin Marion, Virginia. While “thoroughly modern” for today’s travelers, the General Francis does indeed date to 1927 and boasts the period ambiance one would expect. Pieces of its historical past include the original terrazo floors, the registration desk, and switchboard. The hotel was honored with the Gabriella Page Historic Preservation Award by the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities. Do be sure to enjoy a libation at The Black Rooster, their on-site restaurant that gives a wink back to the black rooster being code for “drinks served here” during Prohibition.
Linden Row Inn
Richmond seeps history and the 1840s Linden Row Inn embodies it, from its architecture of seven integrated Greek Revival row houses to its garden, where a young Edgar Allen Poe played, courted, and perhaps named the “enchanted garden” in his poem To Helen. The Parlour Suites and the Main House Rooms have fabulous old 12-foot ceilings with windows just as high, while the Parlour Suites also boast pocket doors, gasolier lighting, and marble fireplaces. The Garden Rooms are located in the carriage houses, spaces the Inn calls “cozy and intimate enclaves.” Without a doubt, your authentic Richmond experience begins at Linden Row Inn.
Newly opened but historically preserved and treasured is The Georges in historic downtown Lexington. Named for George Washington and George C. Marshall of Washington and Lee and Virginia Military Institute fame, The Georges is an 18-room boutique hotel occupying two buildings across from one another on Main Street. An on-site restaurant and casual piano bar are just the beginning of how scrumptious this property is. Guests will be delighted with a breathtaking view as distinct as the room in which they find themselves. Luxury linens and bath necessities add to the desire to linger that this retreat will certainly impose.
Suites at 249
The Suites at 249 are found in the historic district of Culpeper inside renovated row buildings, but just like the aforementioned properties, the six Suites embrace the history they lie within. Exposed brick and hardwood floors make these modern, expansive suites a very comfortable home base from which to explore. The one thing that makes the Suites different from the others is the lack of concierge or bellhop to call upon. Once you check in, you come and go as you please by way of coded, keyless entry for both the front door and your room. This could be the perfect place for the couple who wants nothing more than to be left alone.
Bolling Wilson Hotel
In Wytheville is the newly renovated Bolling Wilson Hotel, a 30-room gem set to open Fall 2014. Named after Wytheville-born Edith Bolling Wilson, President Woodrow Wilson’s wife, the property is a contributing building on the National Register of Historic Places. Guests can expect to find beautifully restored and preserved architecture in the lobby with classic high ceilings, arched windows, and intricate moulding. Additionally, an on-site southern restaurant with outdoor dining and a rooftop patio promise a memorable experience.
There’s nothing like a place that has a great story to tell, and these eight properties are just a tip of the iceberg. Discover more lovely places to stay through the links below.
Don’t start pulling out the sweaters yet! We have quite a while until we’ll need those, but before the cool air starts coming in, these vacation hot spots are great for your late summer escape.
Bunk and Bridle 4-night Package, Reba Farm Inn – Aug. 17-20
-Starting at $400/person plus taxes.
Virginia has its own “dude ranch” located in Bedford County, with 75 horses on 300 acres near the Peaks of Otter. Become an East Coast Cowboy at Reba Farm Inn/Saddle Soar Equitainment with the “Bunk and Bridle” package. This travel package is for the true horse lover who wants to learn more and/or improve their horsemanship; or the novice, a great introduction to common sense horsemanship, and includes:
Four nights of lodging at the Inn
Meals (some meals will be served at the Inn, others at the barn and one out on the trail)
Hands on activities with horses and lots of riding
Restore and Discover Path, Salamander Resort & Spa
-Starting at $543 per person, per night.
Take some “me” time and enjoy an escape to Salamander Resort, and enjoy a soothing weekend pampering yourself. This package includes:
Fitness center & indoor pool access
Participation in group fitness and exercise sessions
50-minute spa service of choice each day
$125 wellness credit per night, per person to be used toward a resort activity
Complimentary car service within a 5-mile radius
Seasonal welcome gift
Hokie Football Overnight Stay Package, Blacksburg – dates are for all home Va. Tech games -Starting at $238.00 per night
Stay with the Holiday Inn University Blacksburg & Lane Stadium for one of Virginia Tech’s home football games and receive:
Free shuttle to and from the football field (9am-2am)
Free tailgate near the stadium
A special, unique gift for each game
Virginia Golf Package at the Tides Inn – Thru Aug. 31 -Starting at $380 per night, based on double occupancy
Located on a private peninsula in the Northern Neck, near Chesapeake Bay, Tides Inn is home to the Golden Eagle Golf Course designed by George W. Cobb. Surrounded by woodlands, the course features exciting elevation changes, well-placed bunkers, signature holes, and water elements that all levels of golfers can enjoy. Golden Eagle at the Tides Inn is the perfect getaway for golf with a group, as a romantic escape, or a trip with the whole family. Package includes:
Deluxe room accommodations
Full breakfast daily, per person, at the restaurant or room service
Unlimited daily golf at the Golden Eagle course, with cart, club storage and range balls
Unlimited use of the practice facility at the Little Eagle course
Golden Eagle souvenirs
Maury River Kayaking
Twin River Rafting Adventure Package, Natural Bridge – Thru Aug. 31 -Starting at $159
Stay at the Natural Bridge Park Historic Hotel and enjoy a river excursion with friends and family in the scenic Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. Enjoy all the benefits of a Natural Bridge Family Hotel Package including:
Natural Bridge and Caverns tickets
Standard room for 2 adults and 2 children
Served, hot breakfast
A single trip each for the River Paddle or Tubing Adventure
3-night stay at the Comfort Inn & Suites Oceanfront
2 Passport Pins for the festival
Yoga at Primland Resort
Summer Hydration, Primland – Thru Sept. 21 -Starting at $1,015 Having one of those summers? Plan a relaxing trip to Primland Resort and enjoy the Summer Hydration package. This is the season of warm summer winds with the sun at its zenith. Abundant warmth and light beam confidence and strength. experience summer through its element – nourishing water as it opens us to our natural resources. The Summer Hydration package treatments have been especially selected to represent the nourishment and replenishment of the summer season. Package includes:
3-day, 2-night stay at the resort
Breakfast and dinner each day
Yoga sea salt scrub
Stone of eternal youth facial
Civil War Experience, Fredericksburg – Thru 2014 -Starting at $205
Travel back in history and walk in the footsteps of Grant, Lee and the thousands of Americans affected by the Civil War. This historic package includes:
2-night stay at a Fredericksburg-area hotel (selected upon booking)
Admission to the Fredericksburg Area Museum & Cultural Center and the White Oak Civil War Museum
Admission to all National Military Park Battlefields, a VIP dining card and more
For the Birders Travel Package, Mountain Rose Inn -Starting at $569
Experience birding in luxury with this package at the Mountain Rose Inn that is just for bird lovers who might want to also be guests at our Inn. Experience birds of many varieties on the Inn’s property. You can even get face-to-face with a ruby-throated hummingbird during the summer months as you sip a glass of sherry & enjoy an afternoon snack on the Inn’s front porch. Package includes:
Breakfast of choice and picnic lunches.
Fishing at Cornerstone Farm, Red Oak -Starting at $450/couple
Whether you are young or young-at-heart, fishing is a relaxing pastime. You’ll discover the fishing is great sport on Cornerstone’s large private stocked pond. Cast a line for largemouth bass, crappies, catfish and more in our spring-fed pond for early morning or late afternoon fun. After dinner, enjoy the warmth of a evening bonfire while sharing stories and roasting marshmallows. This package includes:
Snack tray and beverages
Country breakfasts, light lunch, full evening meals
1 evening bonfire roasting marshmallows
On-site pond fishing (bait and tackle included)
Blenheim Vineyards in Charlottesville
A Winelover’s Retreat, Orchard House Bed & Breakfast -Starting at $285/couple
Enjoy a weekend in the country, sipping on Virginia’s finest wines. Package includes:
1 bottle of local Virginia wine and cheese platter
Full country breakfast each morning
Complementary soft drinks, coffee and tea
Complementary snack basket in room
Self-guided tours of local wineries and breweries
Creeper Trail Bike Shuttle Package, Summerfield Inn Bed & Breakfast -Starting at $224
The Virginia Creeper Trail is a 34-mile long Rails-to-Trails footpath and recreational trail used for hiking, birding and cycling. The Summerfield Inn Bed & Breakfast package includes:
1/2 day bicycle rental for 2
Family Fun Package at Hilton Garden Inn Virginia Beach Oceanfront, Virginia Beach -Starting at $356
Have a complete vacation experience with the Hilton Garden Inn Family Fun Package. Enjoy a family outing on the beach during the day and then have a night out on the town! Along with the breathtaking views of the Atlantic, this package also includes:
Tickets to Beach Movie Bistro (enjoy a full menu of dining options while you watch a movie!)
$50 dining card to be used at any of the hotel’s 5 Virginia Beach Boardwalk restaurants
At its core, music is all about emotion and storytelling. As Vince Gill puts it, “I just think it’s important to know your history. Period.” And the history of country music starts with the 1927 Bristol Sessions – “the Big Bang of Country Music,” if you will.
Carter Family Fold. Image by Emily Edmonds.
Orthophonic Joy: The 1927 Bristol Sessions Revisited is a project that brings well known veterans of country and bluegrass together with rising stars to deliver, in fact, orthophonic joy. That is,reproduced authentic sounds that deliver feelings of great pleasure and happiness.
The project of 16 re-recorded Bristol Sessions songs will be released in October, nicely dovetailing with the August 1 opening of the brand new Smithsonian Institution-affiliated Birthplace of Country Music Museum in Bristol.
Recording artists include Dolly Parton, Vince Gill, Emmylou Harris, Marty Stuart, Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers and Ashley Monroe. The project is produced by multi-Grammy Award-winner Carl Jackson.
Virginia’s musical legacy is as deep and wide as its rivers and valleys. In Southwest Virginia, the Carter Family and the Stonemans were two of the acts who helped popularize the rise of mountain music and were among the first to penetrate American households on radio and records.
Dr. Ralph Stanley. Photo by CameronDavidson@CameronDavidson.com.
Ralph Stanley (pictured right), from Clintwood, helped bring Bluegrass and Old Time music into the mainstream. His lengthy and distinguished career received widespread acclaim with the release of the movie O Brother, Where Art Thou?, featuring his songs O, Death and Angel Band. And while Man of Constant Sorrow, the unintentional O Brother theme song, wasn’t penned by Stanley, he resurrected the old ballad in 1951 when he recorded it with his brother Carter for Columbia Records. No one knows for sure exactly where the song originated.
Music festivals draw tens of thousands of fans from around the world. The Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion fills the downtown area of the vibrant city with stages indoors and out. FloydFest is an eclectic celebration of music of nearly every description and is held adjacent to the Blue Ridge Parkway. The Wayne C. Henderson Music Festival honors one of America’s top acoustic guitar makers and this year features Vince Gill as its headliner.
Divergent veins of music run throughout Virginia, producing famous names in a variety of genres. Legendary singers Ella Fitzgerald and Pearl Bailey both hailed from Newport News. Country Music Hall of Fame member Patsy Cline was born in Winchester. Las Vegas legend Wayne Newton was born in Norfolk, and country music superstar Roy Clark is from the small town of Meherrin. Williamsburg is home to native son Bruce Hornsby.
Dave Matthews grew up in Charlottesville and owns one of Virginia’s top wineries nearby. Pharrell Williams of Virginia Beach has made the world “Happy” with his smash single. He and his musical partner, Chad Hugo, from nearby Portsmouth, comprise The Neptunes and as performers and producers are one of the dominant forces in modern popular music.
Truly, Virginia’s music reverberates around the world today with new sounds and influences, yet still finds a home among the hills of Appalachia.
From inside the new Birthplace of Country Music Museum. Photo by Earl Neikirk, Bristol Herald Courier.
There are more than 2,500 miles designated as scenic byways in Virginia. The regions highlighted here offer a very small sample of the wonderful variety you’ll find on these scenic and historic roads across the Commonwealth.
So where is your favorite place to ride?
SKYLINE DRIVE IN SHENANDOAH NATIONAL PARK Skyline Drive is a National Scenic Byway that runs 105 miles along the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains, starting in the northern neck of the Shenandoah Valley at Front Royal to Waynesboro, where it meets the Blue Ridge Parkway. Fall is the most popular time to travel along Skyline Drive, with its colorful foliage from late September to mid-November. But spring offers the most colorful wildflowers along the drive, as well as blooming azaleas and Mt. Laurel. The drive time is approximately three hours.
The 23-mile Colonial Parkway connects important historical sites within Virginia’s Historic Triangle. Free of commercial development, the Parkway is designed to provide an experience – that of motoring through more than 400 years of American colonial history. There is more than six historic sites and attractions to visit along the way.
Blue Ridge Parkway
BLUE RIDGE PARKWAY
Known as “America’s Favorite Drive,” the 469-mile Blue Ridge Parkway meanders from Shenandoah National Park in Virginia to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina. The parkway follows the Appalachian Mountain chain and provides some of the most spectacular scenery in the world, ranging from 650 to 6,000 feet in elevation. Scenic overlooks, historic structures, walking trails and waterfalls are just some of the highlights along the parkway. Stops include Peaks of Otter and historic towns like Charlottesville, Lexington and Roanoke.
GEORGE WASHINGTON MEMORIAL PARKWAY
Just across the Potomac River from downtown Washington, D.C., is a Northern Virginia oasis in the heart of the nation’s capital – the George Washington Memorial Parkway. It offers walking and biking trails set amid lush vegetation and a rolling landscape. Take the pedestrian bridge to Theodore Roosevelt Island, an 88-acre memorial to our 26th president.
Kentucky & Virginia share a rugged mountainous border of jagged peaks rising more than 4,135 feet into the horizon. Pine and Black Mountains create this phenomenal land mass through the Heart of Appalachia region, enticing you to experience the curvy backroads that form these unique travel routes. Traverse through valleys and peaks, forest land, and rolling farms through distinct towns and lots of curves. Many of the Appalachian Backroads’ trails intertwine with rivers and streams that our early pioneer settlers followed hundreds of years ago. The touring and travel is well suited (and chosen for) to motorcyclists. Check out Benge’s Revenge—it’s not for sissies!
Back of the Dragon
BACK OF THE DRAGON
Experience the unmatched beauty and motorcycle riding enjoyment provided by Virginia Route 16, the two-lane ribbon over the three mountains between Tazewell and Marion. Back of the Dragon features and sponsors several events throughout the year, including the Women’s Motorcycle Rally, which will take place July 24-27 at Hungry Mother State Park.
Scenic Route 39 carries you up steep mountains and along deep gorges. You’ll come upon the Virginia Horse Center and Goshen Pass, then you can enter the George Washington National Forest and pretty soon, you’ve entered the town of Warm Springs. As you continue on Route 39 toward the West Virginia border, you’ll pass the Hidden Valley and Blowing Springs recreation areas, with opportunities for camping, hiking and fishing.
VIRGINIA CIVIL WAR TRAILS
Virginia has more important Civil War battlefields and sites than any other state. The Virginia Civil War Trails consist of 260 stops in five interconnected campaign driving tours marked with trailblazing signs. Many stops are located on or near Virginia’s scenic roads.
NELSON SCENIC LOOP
Attention history buffs, naturalists, architectural hounds, hikers, and wine aficionados! The Nelson Scenic Loop—comprised of four scenic byways—is a 50-mile auto and bike tour that features Nelson County’s bounty of natural, cultural, and historic attractions. Encompassing the Blue Ridge Parkway, Patrick Henry Highway, Beech Grove Road and Crabtree Falls Highway, the Nelson Scenic Loop traverses both the verdant foothills of the Piedmont as well as the summits of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Along the loop, you can encounter the landscape that was shaped by the clash of two planter cultures, the Scotch-Irish and Anglicans, who left a legacy of diverse farming practices, architecture, and local craft. There are a number of registered national historic landmarks along the way.
Take a rides through Capital Country, connecting the state and Confederate Capital of Richmond with the colonial Capital of Williamsburg. This byways tour starts with a visit to the Capitol Building in Richmond, or with St. John’s Church. You can stop by Civil War sites within the Richmond National Battlefield Park, then drive by the historic plantations along Route 5. The Byway ends in Colonial Williamsburg where you can park your bike and travel centuries back in time to the first days of our new democracy.
A typical byway drive in Southwest Virginia would be Route 52 north out of Wytheville. As you weave through Big Walker Mountain Byway, stop at the Big Walker Mountain Lookout for a breathtaking view. Then follow Route 42 southwest to Route 16. Going south will take you to Mount Rogers. North on Route 16 takes you toward Tazewell and Burke’s Garden.