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The Crooked Road: Far from Straight & Narrow

by Stefanie | Posted on August 27th, 2014

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 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.

Jams are abound throughout the trail. Stay the night around one of the venues and take in the excitement of the music.

Plan a trip around some of the eclectic annual festivals along The Crooked Road, including:

 

Heartwood Artisans Center

Heartwood Artisans Center

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.

 

 

 



48 Hours, Arts, Destinations, Events, Festivals, History, History, Outdoors, Tour & Travel, Uncategorized, Virginia Destinations | 0 Comments

Local Brews and Local Oysters: A Match Made in Heaven

by Stefanie | Posted on August 4th, 2014

Ahhh, the oyster. It’s found its home in Virginia, quickly becoming the Capital of the East Coast. Now apply that “ahhh” to craft beer. They pair so well, don’t they? So guess what? It’s craft beer month! Get excited. Here’s some spots that are going to give you the best of both worlds.

Rappahannock Restaurant

Rappahannock Restaurant

RAPPAHANNOCK OYSTER CO.
Rappahannock Oyster Company is going to give you flavors from all over the Virginia coastline. The Rappahannock River Oysters are the most common, but have you ever heard of Stingray Oysters and Olde Salts? The oysters at these spots are going to give you three diverse flavors: sweet and buttery, sweet and crisp, and a bold, sea-side brininess. You’re going to find these babies at Rappahannock in Richmond, Rappahannock Oyster Bar, in D.C., and Merroir in Topping. And don’t forget, these restaurants are going to have some of Virginia’s best craft beer selections.

99 MAIN RESTAURANT – Newport News
The elegant 99 Main restaurant offers the sophisticated diner an exquisite dining experience with a creative French flair. Order the roasted oysters appetizer, topped with horseradish and house-made bacon. Pair it with Legend Brown Ale and you’ve got yourself a nice starter meal. Don’t be afraid to order a couple more brewskis.

SMALL’S STEAKHOUSE & OYSTER BAR – Norfolk
Small’s Steakhouse and Oyster Bar has four different oyster options from its raw bar AND three additional options for an entrée! If you’re in the area, put Small’s on the list for a great oyster experience. Try out the oyster grits and quench your thirst with three local breweries on tap.

The Shanty in Cape Charles

The Shanty in Cape Charles

SHANTY – Cape Charles
Located on the Bay in Cape Charles Town Harbor, the Shanty focuses on fresh local seafood in a fun environment. Swing by on boat, car, golf cart or foot. There’s cornhole for the kids, live entertainment on weekends and amazing sunsets over the bay. Order some raw or steamed oysters, a fried basket, or an oyster po’ boy, and wash it down with Starr Hills’ the Love or five other Virginia craft beer options.

BIG EASY GRILL & OYSTER BAR – Norfolk
Big Easy Grill & Oyster Bar offers some of the biggest oyster selections around. Start off with Oysters Rockefeller, pick out some raw or steamed samplers or platters. And guess what? When it’s time for the main course, Big Easy features the O-Rock Burger, topped with bacon, spinach, parmesan and gouda. They have the oyster po’ boy and their house specialty: fried oysters. Take back an oyster shooter or their vast selection of craft brews. You have some serious oyster and craft options at Big Easy. So if you have an empty stomach and want to fill it up, head over to Big Easy.

HANK’S OYSTER BAR – Alexandria
Hanks’ menu changes daily, with fresh seafood selections throughout their menu. Hank’s Oyster Bar serves their oysters on the half shell, as a po’ boy sandwich and a fried oyster dinner. Hank’s Oysters are always served up fresh, so don’t forget you can get them raw or steamed! Try out the Port City Monumental IPA while you’re there.

Legends Brewing Co. Brewery

Legends Brewing Co. Brewery

BERRET’S SEAFOOD RESTAURANT & TAPHOUSE – Williamsburg
Berret’s Taphouse offers one of the largest selections of local microbrews in the area, including Wild Wolf and Legend. Pair them with unique raw bar selections, like spicy buffalo oysters on the half shell and daily chef’s choice items. The taphouse menu includes the po’boy sandwich and a seafood platter, which includes crab cakes and shrimp.

 

Try out all the delicious oyster spots and craft beer/breweries Virginia has to offer!

 

 



Beer, Family, Food, Locals, Uncategorized | 5 Comments

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

Scenic Motorcycle Drives to Try Out

by Stefanie | Posted on July 17th, 2014

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.

COLONIAL PARKWAY
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

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.

APPALACHIAN BACKROADS
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

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.

ALLEGHANY HIGHLANDS
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.

CAPITAL COUNTRY
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.

SOUTHERN HIGHLANDS
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.

 



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

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