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    Is everyone excited for #Virginia #CraftBeer Month next month? It's time to put your game face on and visit a new local #brewery or get adventuresome on a #VA #beer trail. Find your way at Virginia.org/craftbeer and tag your photos with #vacraftbeermonth! This is glass of @ardentcraftales' #IPA, found on tap in Richmond. #rva #vabeer #drinklocal #locavore #ardentcraftales
    Spend a day at Buckroe #Beach in Hampton, #Virginia. You'll find a popular cobia fishing #pier and kayak, paddleboat, chair and umbrella rentals. If you time your visit right, you'll even get to hear some live music in the beachside pavilion. Photo props to @jennaevelyndill. Post your #VA photos with #LoveVA for a chance to be featured here! #repost #ocean #howisummer #sand #photooftheday
    This is the #sunset from the #dock at #Merroir restaurant in Topping, VA last Friday evening. #Tranquility on #Virginia's #ChesapeakeBay. Swing by this weekend and get some #VAoysters in your belly! And tag your VA #oyster photos with #LoveVA for a chance to be featured here. #photooftheday #latergram #eatlocal
    @rbuck65 recently hiked Bearfence #Mountain off of #SkylineDrive, and this was the reward! This #hike is fairly short with a nice payoff. The trail head is near mile marker 56.4 on the Skyline Drive. #photooftheday #repost #epic #hiking #mountaintop #sunset #blueridgemountains #vaoutdoors Don't forget to tag your #Virginia photos with #LoveVA for a chance to be featured here!
  • Archive for the ‘Travel Ideas’ Category

    Discover Eight Natural Wonders of Virginia

    by Stefanie | Posted on May 14th, 2014

    No need to grab the passport for tours of the Seven Wonders of the World. We’ve got you covered. Virginia is home to many of the most well-known and sought-after outdoor landmarks in the country. So pack up the car and discover some of the Commonwealth’s eight  natural wonders.

    LURAY CAVERNS – Luray, Va.

    Looking for the ultimate underground experience? Known as “Geology’s Hall of Fame,” Luray Caverns is the largest and one of the most popular caverns in Eastern America. Founded in 1878, the Registered Natural Landmark reaches peaks up to 10 stories high and has more natural wonders within its caverns than any other in Virginia. Check out Giant’s Hall, filled with towering columns and crystal clear pools or The Stalagpipe Organ, home to the world’s largest instrument. There’s always more to discover from the state’s eight caverns.

    VIRGINIA NATURAL BRIDGE – Natural Bridge, Va.

    The Natural Bridge

    The Natural Bridge

    The Virginia Natural Bridge has been included in several “Seven Natural Wonders of the World” lists. Although mostly on the lists from the 19th and early 20th centuries, its natural wonders still remain today. Formed when a cavern collapsed, legend holds that a young George Washington surveyed the Natural Bridge site for Lord Fairfax. Today, landmarks remain of the work and on the wall of the bridge where he carved his initials. Just before the American Revolution, Thomas Jefferson purchased 157 acres of land, including the Natural Bridge, from King George, III of England for 20 shillings. Today it is privately owned. At the end of the day, unwind to view the Drama of Creation show, created in 1927 by then-president, Calvin Coolidge.

    NATURAL TUNNEL STATE PARK – Duffield, Va.

    Natural Tunnel was once described as the “Eighth Wonder of the World.” The tunnel, which was naturally carved through a limestone ridge for more than a thousand years, is more than 850 feet long and reaches a height of up to 10 stories. One of Virginia’s 36 state parks, Natural Tunnel offers cave tours and canoe trips on the Clinch River.

    WESTMORELAND STATE PARK – Montross, Va.

    Head to the northern neck of the Potomac River and you’ll find Westmoreland State Park. Take in the breathtaking views atop Horse Head Cliffs or stroll along the river’s shore and hunt ancient shark teeth. The park’s amenities include something for everyone in the family to enjoy, from the Olympic-sized pool to boating and fishing. Take in the great outdoors by doing some bird watching; the region is widely known for spotting American bald eagles, kingfishers, great blue herons, ospreys and more.

    BURKE’S GARDEN – Tazewell, Va.

    Burke’s Garden is the Commonwealth’s highest valley and largest rural historic district. Described as “God’s Thumbprint,” the bowl-shaped valley will take visitors back to a simpler time when agriculture, religion and education were the main focuses of its settlers. Today, the Garden offers breathtaking scenery, peaceful hiking and biking, bird watching, and more. Head to the cemetery at the Central Lutheran Church to discover gravestones dating back to the 1700s or follow the Appalachian Trail for scenic overlooks into the Garden.

    BREAKS INTERSTATE PARK – Breaks, Va.

    Head west to the state border and you’ll find the “Grand Canyon of the South.” Historic Breaks Interstate Park was discovered in 1767 by Daniel Boone and offers all the beauty you’d expect from the mountainous land, where you can take a tranquil hike or bike ride. Go for a canoe ride on Laurel Lake or take the family out for a day of geocaching. The park is open year-round and boasts motel, cottage and cabin accommodations.

    Lake Drummond

    Lake Drummond at the Great Dismal Swamp

    GREAT DISMAL SWAMP – Suffolk, Va.

    The National Wildlife Refuge is the largest remnant of a habitat that spanned more than one million acres over southern Virginia and northern North Carolina. In 1973, the Great Dismal Swamp was donated to The Nature Conservancy, making it a National Wildlife Refuge in 1974. If you’re looking to hunt or just take in the beauty of the habitat, the Great Dismal Swamp has activities from hunting and fishing, to photography and environmental education classes.

    GREAT FALLS PARK – McLean, Va.

    Just 15 miles from DC sits one of the most historic natural wonders in the U.S.: Great Falls Park, located on the Potomac River. A unit of the George Washington Memorial Parkway, the park’s origins date back to 10,500 BC. Today, the Patowmack Canal and Carousels of Great Falls Park are two of the most notable natural landmarks in the country, where visitors can stroll along the river and take in the sights of the falls, and its abundant wildlife. For the little ones, children 5 and older can attend the Junior Ranger Program to explore, learn and protect the park.



    Travel Ideas, Uncategorized | 8 Comments

    10 Places to Saddle Up in Virginia

    by Casey | Posted on March 28th, 2014

    The vantage point is a little different and the experience is entirely different from the back of a horse. Saddle up and explore Virginia’s countryside and seaside with these unique opportunities.

    Marriott Ranch

    Marriott Ranch

    Offering the only service of its kind in Virginia and seemingly, the country, Virginia Beach Horseback invites you to the Virginia Beach oceanfront for a horseback ride on the sand or a swim with the horses. Corralled at 31st Street, come down between noon and 6:30 p.m. until June for a ride down to the pier and back. In summer, try their new Swimming on Horseback option Wednesday through Thursdays at North Bay. All riders are prepped on how to control the horses; no experience required. Rates from $40 to $100. Reservations are not required, but suggested.

    The 4,200-acre working cattle farm known as Marriott Ranch is located in Hume, not far from Washington, D.C. Make a reservation for their popular 90-minute trail ride offered every day except Monday or take advantage of their special rides and overnight packages, such as the City Slicker package that includes horsemanship skills, cattle handling techniques, meals, and overnight at The Inn at Fairfield Farm (from $385/person). Or perhaps the Dinner Ride of a 90-minute trail ride and a cowboy steak dinner ($99/person) sounds nice? Additional rides include day-long rides, river and mountain rides, and cattle drives.

    Shangrila Guest Ranch

    Shangrila Guest Ranch

    In South Boston you’ll find tucked away the Shangrila Guest Ranch, an all-inclusive horseback riding destination. Couples and families alike will appreciate the variety of accommodations (a three-bedroom homeplace, a sweet little log cabin, or the packhouse lodge). The ranchers at Shangrila will also work with you for corporate retreats at The Rusty Spur, and there’s a special Cowgirls Week in May that may be perfect for a bridal or reunion retreat. If you don’t have long to stay and play, reserve your spot for an hour-long ride or the full day; they’re happy to oblige. Rates from $40/hr for a trail ride to $125/person for a daytime excursion with lunch. Inquire for lodging rates and other opportunities.

    Additional Places to Saddle Up:

    More Information:

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    8 Scenic Drives for Virginia History

    by Casey | Posted on March 25th, 2014

    It can be argued that any drive through Virginia is a historical one, but perhaps these eight drives are extra loaded with historical attractions and beautiful scenic opportunities.

    Aerial view of the Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area.

    Aerial view of the Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area.

    In Central Virginia you can pick up routes that take you north to south and east to west,  highlighting a great amount of history along the way.

    A trek down US Route 15 will put you on the Journey Through Hallowed Ground, one of the most historically significant drives in America.  All said, the drive covers ground from Gettysburg to Monticello, and is considered a National Heritage Area. Trail Map

    The Road to Revolution Heritage Trail highlights the life and times of Patrick Henry, the great orator and Virginia’s first Governor. The trail covers a wide expanse of Virginia in the Richmond region and spreads into Coastal Virginia and the Chesapeake Bay. Along the trail you’ll see St. John’s Church in Richmond, the site of Henry’s famous “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death” oration; Red Hill in Brookneal, Henry’s last residence and burial site; Hanover Courthouse, the launch site of Henry’s political career; Studley in Mechanicsville, Henry’s birthplace; and 17 other sites. Trail Map

    Dip into Southern Virginia from Richmond to explore the Civil Rights in Education Heritage Trail. Centered around the Robert Russa Moton Museum in Farmville, the trail covers 300 miles and 41 sites that touch on the civil rights in education struggles of African Americans, Native Americans and women from the 18th to 20th centuries. Trail Map

    Also from Richmond, but headed east, is the Jamestown Discovery Trail that follows US Route 5. Sites along the way include plantations, presidential homes, Native American settlements, and ends at Jamestown Settlement and Historic Jamestowne.

    Coal Miners Memorial in Dickenson County

    Coal Miners Memorial in Dickenson County

    If you find yourself in Southwest Virginia, you could be easily traversing multiple trails at once.

    The Coal Heritage Trail incorporates seven counties and the city of Norton to take in 300 miles of coal industry related historical sites and the additional locations that demonstrate the influence of coal on the region. The town of Appalachia is can be considered somewhat lost in time as it has preserved its place as a hub for eight surrounding coal camps dating from the 1800s to early 1900s. See coal equipment and related articles at places like the Harry W. Meador Coal Museum in Big Stone Gap and the Pocahontas Exhibition Mine and Museum in Pocahontas. Trail Map

    The Crooked Road Heritage Music Trail winds through this area, too, and focuses on the musical history of the region. Nearly 100 attractions invite you to come tap your toes and get in the know. Trail Map

    The Wilderness Road: Virginia’s Heritage Migration Route captures the primary route taken by western settlers as they moved down the Shenandoah Valley and into the Southwest Virginia area. A total of 23 localities on this trail down US Route 11 and into the Blue Ridge Highlands gives you plenty of options for a weekend trip. Trail Map

    Across all of Virginia are the Virginia Civil War Trails. Branching off this way and that, the trails follow different campaigns of the American Civil War.  Hundreds of miles to conquer and plenty of time to do it, we hope!

    Make your plans to get on the roads and see something new this spring and summer! Use our Trip Planner to map out the details and throw in some extra fun and food along the way.

    Virginia is for Lovers. Request a Travel Guide.



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    14 Reasons to Experience Virginia’s Most Iconic Scenic Drives

    by Casey | Posted on March 10th, 2014

    The Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline Drive are the hands-down, quintessential, most recognized scenic drives in Virginia. Have you driven either one? If not, they must be on your spring and summer to-do list, without question, and here’s why.

    Rocky Knob Recreation Area on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Photo by CameronDavidson@CameronDavidson.com.

    Rocky Knob Recreation Area on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Photo by CameronDavidson@CameronDavidson.com.

    The Blue Ridge Parkway is widely and commonly referred to as “America’s Favorite Scenic Drive,” as it meanders 469 miles from Shenandoah National Park in Virginia to Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina.

    7 Reasons to Go:

    1. Elevation from 650 to 6,000 feet afford some of the world’s most spectacular views.

    2. Mabry Mill is one of the most photographed sites in the nation and the restaurant has the best buckwheat pancakes you will ever get your hands on.

    3. The summit of Sharp Top, part of Peaks of Otter, offers 360-degree views. On a clear day you can see for many miles.

    4. Blue Ridge Music Center is home to a summer concert series with bands taking the amphitheater stage every Saturday from June until September.

    5. History is captured through 19th century interpretive preservation sites like The Trail Cabin at milepost 154 and The Puckett Cabin at milepost 189.

    6. If you want to hang out for a few days and enjoy the chill of spring’s air around a campfire, there are four campgrounds to choose from between mileposts 60 and 161.

    7. Hiking is a no-brainer with trails leading to spectacular look-outs and waterfalls, too.

    View from the Blue Ridge Parkway

    View from the Blue Ridge Parkway

    The 105-mile Skyline Drive is a National Scenic Byway and your access to Shenandoah National Park. The Drive runs the peak of the Blue Ridge Mountains from Front Royal to Waynesboro, where the Blue Ridge Parkway begins.

    7 Reasons to Go:

    1. Seventy-five overlooks put the Shenandoah Valley and Piedmont on display from on high.

    2. The Appalachian Trail makes up 101 of the 518 miles of trails through Shenandoah National Park. If setting foot on the AT is on your bucket list, here you go.

    Dark Hollow Falls, Shenandoah National Park
    Dark Hollow Falls, Shenandoah National Park

     3. Four Shenandoah National Park trails are included as the most popular, according to Virginia is for Lovers’ Facebook and Twitter fans. You must lace up and see what all the fuss is about (hint: waterfalls).

    4. Backcountry camping is welcome on nearly all of the Park’s 196,000 acres. Forty percent, or 79,579 acres of the Park, is Congressionally designated wilderness area, meaning Leave No Trace practices are expected by all who visit.

    5. For those who would like to spend time in the mountains but would rather not camp, there are two comfortable lodging options (with on-site dining) for you – Big Meadows Lodge and Skyland Resort.

    6. Seventy mountain streams offer great fishing of the vibrant native brook trout population. Fishing Regulations

    7. If you’re into geocaching, try EarthCaching at Shenandoah National Park. Rather than finding physical caches, you’ll be searching for natural, geological treasures. Note that placing traditional physical caches is prohibited.

    What would you add as your reason to visit either of these treasured drives? Leave a comment to let us and our readers know.

    Virginia is for Lovers.
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    11 Virginia Hotels That Excel at Being Green

    by Guest | Posted on March 3rd, 2014

    Do you care about the environment?   Do you recycle at home?  Well why wouldn’t you want to support the environment while travelling or on vacation?  The Virginia Green program helps you find green tourism attractions throughout Virginia – even green certified hotels.   Here are 11 great green hotels in Virginia that will help you lower your carbon footprint!

    Hotel Floyd, Floyd, Virginia

    Hotel Floyd, Floyd, Virginia

    The Hotel Floyd (Floyd, VA) was designed to mimic the Southwest Virginia region’s rustic character, artistic roots and appeal.   The hotel features the work of local artisans throughout and it boasts bamboo flooring with geothermal radiant heat and cooling.  Sustainable, no-VOC fabrics and paints throughout.

    The Inn at Virginia Tech & Skelton Conference Center (Blacksburg, VA) focuses on the provision of green meetings and conferences, and the Inn strives every day to reduce wastes and be more energy and water efficient.

    Lansdowne Resort (Lansdowne, VA) is a full service resort and spa with two golf courses and conference center, and Lansdowne demonstrates its commitment to the environment in all of these areas.  Winner for the 2012 Virginia Green Travel Leader award.

    Holiday Inn Oceanside (Virginia Beach, VA) is a Virginia Green partner that fully understands the importance of green practices, including recycling and many upgrades to efficient lighting and water fixtures.  The hotel is also a TripAdvisor Green Leader (bronze).

    Courtyard by Marriott UVA Medical Center (Charlottesville, VA) is a Virginia Green partner that fully demonstrates its commitment to green practices in a very green-minded town.

    John Cario of Hilton Garden Inn Downtown Richmond with Marshall Hall of Natural Organics Processes Enterprise.

    John Cario of Hilton Garden Inn Downtown Richmond with Marshall Hall of Natural Organics Processes Enterprise.

    Stonewall Jackson Hotel & Conference Center (Staunton, VA) places great emphasis on recycling, waste reduction, and hosting green meetings and conferences.

    The Mason Inn & Conference Center (Fairfax, VA) is part of George Mason University, and it is LEED-Gold certified and is a TripAdvisor Green Leader (silver).

    Renaissance Arlington Capital View (Arlington, VA) is LEED-Gold certified and is fully focused on minimizing wastes from its operation in every way, such as composting food wastes.  The Renaissance is a TripAdvisor Green Leader (platinum).

    The Westin Richmond (Richmond, VA) makes “green” a central focus of the entire guest and meeting experience; and it implements new projects every year to reduce its environmental footprint.  Westin Richmond is a winner of the 2013 Virginia Green Travel Star award.

    The Hilton Garden Inn Downtown Richmond (Richmond, VA) composts all of its food wastes, supports recycling projects in local schools, and collects used soaps for recycling in support for international mission projects.   Hilton Garden Inn Downtown Richmond is also a winner of the 2013 Virginia Green Travel Star award.

    Richmond Marriott West (Richmond, VA) is LEED-certified and fully committed to support green meetings as well as overnight stays.

    Please give customer feedback when you visit Virginia Green certified facilities.  Let them know that you appreciate their efforts to protect the environment, or share ideas on how they might continue to improve.

    What do you look for when you travel green? Leave a comment to share your favorite green places, practices and experiences in Virginia.

    Virginia is for Lovers.
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    Tom Griffin, Director, Greener Results ConsultingOur guest blogger today, Tom Griffin, is the Virginia Green Program Coordinator, and has been the driving force of the Virginia Green program for Virginia’s tourism and hospitality industry. Industry partners can learn more about the program at VATC.org/VirginiaGreen. Consumers can learn more about Virginia Green travel opportunities at VirginiaGreenTravel.com.



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