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, 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, 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
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.
We already know Virginia is for Lovers, right? Well how about for Oyster Lovers? Virginia is now known as the “Oyster Capital of the East Coast.” Virginia is the largest producer of fresh, farm-raised oysters in the country, providing seven regions of diverse flavor. From the saltiest waters of the Eastern Shore, to the sweet tastes of the Rappahannock River, the oysters here give visitors another thing to love about travel in Virginia.
The Chesapeake Bay is justifiably famous for its oysters. As a matter of a fact, one translation of the word Chesapeake from the Algonquian language is “Great Shellfish Bay.” Today, local oysters are raised and harvested throughout the coastline. If harvesting is not as appealing as devouring, finding a restaurant to serve them up any way is no task at all.
HISTORY The oyster originally colonized the Chesapeake approximately 5,000 years ago, becoming known as “filter feeders.” The millions of oysters that cleaned waters as it passed through kept the waters of the Bay clear and pristine down to depths of 20 feet. A pirating and dredging attack in the late 1800s to early 1900s led to a mass shortage of oysters along the Bay; however, Virginia is flourishing once again, making it the ultimate experience for oyster enthusiast.
Shooting Point Oyster Company
HARVESTING Gathering oysters is not as hard as you may think it is. If you’re looking to do some homemade preparation yourself, all you’ll need are some nets or baskets and a flotation device. Wait for the tide to recede, gather the oysters in the nets/baskets, attach the flotation device and allow the tide to roll in. The flotation device is used to identify the nets when the tide rises. During this process, the oysters will be provided with a fresh supply of seawater, ensuring freshness. Gather your oysters and you’re good to go!
Each year, oyster industry participants must pay an annual fee. The revenue collected from these fees is used for the Oyster Replenishment Program, which involves the spawning and formations of new adult oysters, which will reach market size in roughly three years. The program also provides training and support for the growing oyster aquaculture industry, and monitors oyster populations throughout the Chesapeake Bay, its tributaries and the coastal bays of the Eastern Shore. Annual fees are required for harvesting, shucking and more.
RESTAURANTS TO TRY There’s many places around Virginia to get your oyster fix. Head to the shore and you’ll find Harpoon Larry’s Oyster Bar in Hampton Roads. The restaurant has been a local hang out for years, featuring fresh, local oysters. The restaurant has also been named as one of the Best 23 Seafood Dives in the U.S. by Coastal Living magazine. At the mouth of the Rappahannock lies Merroir, a riverfront gourmet oyster tasting house, featuring the celebrated farms of the Rappahannock Oyster Co.
Try out Catch 31 in Virginia Beach, offering an exciting, multi-venue seafood dining experience. The restaurant offers an extensive menu of fresh seafood and a variety of seating options. The Shanty and Aqua in Cape Charles are going to give visitors a taste of the saltiness of the Eastern Shore, while the Rappahannock Oyster Co. offers a series of farm-to-table restaurants throughout the state. Rappahannock Oyster Bar in D.C. has been recognized by the Wall Street Journal as one of the 5 top oyster bars in America.
Tuscarora Mill in Leesburg prides itself on farm-to-table fine dining, including Virginia’s freshest oysters. Tuskie’s offers oyster plates for lunch and dinner, and different specials throughout the week.
Looking for luxury? Family fun? Maybe a little of both? Choose from these 12 Virginia resorts that boast plenty of activities to keep families busy or deliver top-notch amenities for couples.
For Kids to LOVE
Massanutten Resort is a four season mountaintop haven. This time of year is perfect for the waterpark! Line the kids up on Rockingham Racer to see who can make it to the bottom first, ride the waves at White Caps or get your aquatic play skills on at Splash-a-Nutten. After you’ve gotten a good soak, head to the Family Adventure Park for zip lining, summer tubing, and wall climbing. Accommodations
Wintergreen Resort is situated on 11,000 acres of the eastern slope of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Spaces dedicated to family fun include Discovery Ridge and Ridgely’s Fun Park. The activities included are zip lining, summer tubing, bungee trampoline, a climbing wall, miniature golf, and great indoor arcade and gaming outlets. Archery has been recently been added as a family activity, too!
Something for Everyone
Some of the family loves the beach and some love the mountains. Mash those two worlds together when you stay waterside at Mariners Landing on Smith Mountain Lake in Huddleston! The 1,000-acre resort community includes beaches, three pool complexes, gaming center, and of course, water sports for those who wish to rent or bring their own equipment.
The Tides Inn
Situated along Carter Creek near the Chesapeake Bay in Irvington is The Tides Inn. Families love the swimming pools, beach, and the “learn-to” water sports that the marina affords, while couples can partake of golf, the spa, a Cove Cruise, and the serenity of a peaceful waterside reprieve.
Spanning 2,900 acres along the James River is Kingsmill Resort in Williamsburg. A full-service spa, 54 holes of golf, tennis, various eateries, and a full-service marina are all at your fingertips. Families will enjoy the lazy river at the River Pool and access to paddle boards, sea bikes, kayaks, and fishing poles.
Lansdowne Resort in Leesburg is a AAA Four-Diamond Award winner, and it’s a great choice for families or couples. Amenities include elegant rooms, a luxurious 12,000 square foot destination spa, and 45 holes of golf, courtesy of designers Robert Trent Jones II and Greg Norman. Families can spread out and splash about in the five-pool aquatic complex or sign the kids up for a day camp.
Cozy for Couples
Southern hospitality reigns supreme at Boar’s Head in Charlottesville. Recently renovated, the AAA Four Diamond resort is known for its Old Mill Room dining and spa.
High up on the mountain in Meadows of Dan is Primland Resort, boasting truly spectacular views. Outdoor enthusiasts will be especially pleased with the Orvis endorsed wingshooting opportunities, hunting expeditions, ATV tours, and more. Primland also has 18 holes of golf and an American Indian inspired spa. Stargazing is quite romantic, and if you’d like to get a better look, head to the Primland Observatory.
Keswick Hall is a Charlottesville area mainstay that will soon boast a brand new Pete Dye-designed golf course. Fossett’s is the signature restaurant that will certainly be your destination after a relaxing spa treatment. Keswick is a two-time Conde Nast “#1 Small Resort in Mainland U.S.” honoree.
Salamander Resort in Middleburg is pure extravagance with lavish suites, an opulent spa with a couples spa suite and poolside cabanas, a full-service 22-stall equestrian center, delectable dining with a nearby cooking studio, and more.
The Omni Homestead Resort
The quintessential Virginia destination for couples is The Omni Homestead in Hot Springs, called “the birthplace of Southern hospitality.” Nestled into the Allegheny Mountains, this National Historic Landmark is enhanced with two championship golf courses, shooting, horseback riding, falconry, Jefferson Pools, spa with exclusive adults-only spa garden, Allegheny Springs water recreation area, and carriage rides.
The Berry Hill Resort
The 1728 National Historic Landmark known as The Berry Hill Resort is found in South Boston. History, tradition and charm are abundant at this luxury resort. Book one of the mini mansions for ultimate privacy! Blackberry Spa will be a delicious treat for a weary body.
Which resort destination tops your list? Stay at each one for a different flavor of Virginia hospitality and fun!
Try something new! These unique modern and historic music venues are worth the visit.
The Crooked Road is Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail. Extending 333 miles throughout the southern part of the state, the trail opened in 2004. Along the trail, you’ll find eight different venues showcasing the roots of America’s music. The songs and tunes of the region told the stories of early pioneer life, immigrant experiences and the day-to-day trials and tribulations. The ballads of the early Scots-Irish and settlers of the British Isles are evident, as are their instruments, such as the fiddle.
Travel to Galax and you’ll find the Old Fiddlers Convention, the oldest and largest such convention in the world! The area’s rich musical heritage has earned Galax its status as the “World’s Capital of Old Time Mountain Music.” Along the trail, tourists can explore communities along the way, offering a fun way to learn about local music, history and heritage. Also included is the Birthplace of Country Music in Bristol, where its famous Music Sessions took place in 1927 – the “big bang” for country music recording. The Birthplace museum, now under construction, will immerse visitors in the sounds and stories of Bristol’s music history. Bristol’s music continues most nights in restaurants and clubs along State Street and swells to fill the city during the Rhythm and Roots Reunion in September, when three days of concerts, jams and performances bring thousands of music lovers to more than 20 stages up and down Bristol’s main street. Stop along any of the venues and enjoy the many concerts, festivals and jam sessions the trail has to offer.
Check out the nTelos Wireless Pavilion to experience the architecturally striking entertainment venue on Portsmouth’s waterfront. It has already become a landmark and a premier regional attraction. As part of the lush new five-acre Harbor Center Festival Park, the nTelos Pavilion is unlike anything in Hampton Roads – or anywhere else for that matter. With 6,500 seats, the nTelos Pavilion is large enough to attract a wide variety of incredible acts, shows, and performers, yet intimate enough so that every seat is awesome. The intimacy of this venue is one of its greatest assets.
Located on the east end of the historic downtown mall in Charlottesville, the nTelos Wireless Pavilion is the city’s premier outdoor venue for live performances. Open since July of 2005, it features premium seating, a spacious lawn, and a professional stage house; all within easy walking distance of Downtown Charlottesville’s many restaurants and other attractions. The Pavilion provides Charlottesville with a comfortable and convenient venue to enjoy local and national performing artists.
The Virginia Beach Amphitheater is a 20,000 seat outdoor concert venue located in Virginia Beach, Virginia. There are 7,500 reserved seats under the pavilion roof and room for 12,500 on the “festival lawn”. Under cover or under the stars on the lawn, it’s a good place to hear a concert. Since opening its doors in 1996, the Verizon Wireless Virginia Beach Amphitheater has hosted such performances as: Coldplay, Dave Matthews Band, Kenny Chesney, Jimmy Buffett, 311, Aerosmith, Rascal Flatts, Mary J. Blige, Gwen Stefani and tours like Warped Tour and Ozzfest.
Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts
As America’s National Park for the Performing Arts, Wolf Trap plays a valuable leadership role in both the local and national performing arts communities. Through a wide range of artistic and education programs, Wolf Trap enhances our nation’s cultural life and ensures that the arts remain accessible and affordable to the broadest possible audience. A typical season at Wolf Trap includes something for everyone with performances ranging from pop, country, folk, and blues to orchestra, dance, theatre, and opera, as well as innovative performance art and multimedia presentations. A facility with a rich history dating back as far as 1632, Wolf Trap is not only a place to experience music, but also a place to receive a great history lesson.
The Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall & Arts Center in Alexandria will treat audiences to a premier performance space with its state-of-the-art acoustics, striking architecture, and wood paneled stage shell complementing the rich burgundy furnishings. Community-wide discussions between the college and local arts groups in the early 1990′s led to the concept for a premier performing arts center on the Virginia side of the Potomac River. As plans for the Center developed, details were added to the design so that the building could accommodate large performance groups and off-Broadway theater companies, yet remain affordable for local non-profit groups. Fundraising for the Schlesinger Center began in 1993 and was led by the Campaign Management Committee for the Alexandria/Arlington Cultural Center. Among the leaders of the Campaign committee was Rachel M. Schlesinger, a violinist and board member of the Arlington Symphony. Mrs. Schlesinger worked tirelessly to raise money for the Center, but never saw the dream become a reality. It was not until 1996 that Schlesinger’s husband made a $1 million donation in his wife’s name, bringing the center to life.
The Garth Newel Music Center in Hot Springs provides an intimate, informal music experience with a twist. Its name, a Welsh phrase meaning New Home, was the name given to the property in the 1920s. Enjoy music from classical to jazz all the while sipping a glass of wine, or perhaps enjoying a five-course meal. As one of the most active chamber music organizations in the country, Garth Newel’s mission has always been to share, explore and celebrate the infinite variety of chamber music in a setting of natural beauty. In addition to public concerts, educational programs are available, as well as on-site lodging. The Garth Newel Music Center has gone from a half dozen concerts in the 1970s to more than 50 today.
The Washington, D.C. area attracts national acts from around the world. If you’re looking for a musical experience in a more natural environment, travel about an hour northwest to Purcellville and you will find Franklin Park Arts Center. A process more than 10 years in the making, the Arts Center opened in 2008 on the site of Franklin farm, which burnt to the ground in 1997. Today, Franklin Park Arts Center boasts a 263-seat, timber-framed facility. The Center hosts local, regional, national and international artists from all genres of music. The Arts Center strives to promote individual creativity and expression by presenting quality performing, visual and literary arts in an accessible, affordable manner.
The City of Hampton holds one of the true musical landmarks in Virginia, The American Theatre. Originally opened in 1908, the Theatre was designed to provide “clean, wholesome amusement” to the town’s residents and visitors. Tragically burning to the ground barely a year after opening its doors, the Theatre’s owner rebuilt the facility in less than a year. It enjoyed a century of growth and change, all the while becoming The Lee for a while, then The Lee Adult when Phoebus (the town which was incorporated into Hampton) was enjoying its reputation as “little Chicago.” During the 1980s, the Theatre became The New American Theatre, where beer and pizza accompanied a movie and local bands played. Closing in the 1990s, it’s been reopened since 2000 and now hosts more than 50 acts a year, with many well-known artists performing on its stage.
Another rocky story, The State Theatre in Falls Church opened in 1936 and operated as a movie theater until the late 1980s. In November 1988, the State closed its doors. After a multi-million dollar restoration in the late 1990s, The State turned into one of the Washington Metro area’s favorite new venue for live music, hosting dozens of well-known local and national artists.
If you find yourself in the Commonwealth’s capital city, taking in a show at The National is a must. Built in 1923, the now historic venue was a hotspot for the thriving downtown scene in Richmond. At that time, The National was a place for fans to enjoy vaudeville acts on its stage, silent movie screenings and boasted the largest orchestra pit in the state. Today, The National lives up to its name, bringing in dozens of international and nationally acclaimed artists, while providing fans with great views of the stage from any angle. The venue’s original brick walls and hardwood floors will treat fans to the nostalgic feel of the concert hall the way it was more than 90 years ago. Music acts from all genres step on its stage each year, ensuring fans will be in for a great experience.
Adam McPeak and Mountain Thunder at The Lincoln Theatre
A member of the League of Historic American Theatres, The Lincoln Theatre in Marion is one of three existing Art Deco Mayan Revival-style theaters in America. The Lincoln is a Virginia Historic Landmark and is on the National Register of Historic Places. The Theatre opened in 1929 to nearly 1,000 patrons who experienced the first talking picture. Thousands of motion pictures flickered across the screen unil 1973, when it closed its doors. The Lincoln Center reopened in the mid-‘70s only to close again in ’77. The Theatre sat neglected until the 1990s, when the initiative was revived. The Lincoln Theatre reopened in 2004, now offering year-round musical events for both groups and individual artists.
Everyone knows that Virginia is a state steeped in a rich history. After all, the Commonwealth is home to Jamestown, Williamsburg, Revolutionary and Civil War battlefields, and is known as the “Mother of Presidents,” as eight United States presidents were born right here in Virginia.
Stone Mansion Ruins at The Winery at Bull Run
You probably learned all about Virginia’s history through textbooks and in the classroom – you may have even visited a site or two before. However, Virginia isn’t all Colonial garb and historic homes—if you look closely, you just might find that historic Virginia has an edgy – dare we say it?—cool side that you might never have suspected.
Here’s our guide to experiencing Virginia’s history in an unexpected, fresh, and new way:
Sip Virginia wine…on a national battlefield at the Winery at Bull Run. Enjoy a taste of Virginia past and present at this Fairfax County winery, which adjoins over 5,000 countryside acres of the historic Manassas National Battlefield Park, providing you with a beautiful vista of preserved 19th century farmland. Not only will you get to sip on delicious Virginia wine, but you’ll also get a glimpse into Virginia’s rich heritage with winemaking techniques from the Civil War-era, historical buildings and artifacts.
Play a Revolutionary War spy game – just like on AMC’s TURN—by visiting RevQuest in Williamsburg, Virginia. The thirteen colonies are on the verge of declaring their independence from Great Britain, and fighting has already begun. The fledgling American nation has no professional army or navy while the British have the greatest military force in the world. We must have a strong ally! Does the old saying, that “the enemy of our enemy is our friend” hold true?
Carter Family Fold
Channel your inner Johnny Cash at the Carter Family Fold in Hiltons. The Carter Fold is a rustic, 1,000 seat music shed offering traditional music every Saturday night. Johnny Cash (who married Carter family member and country music darling June Carter) played at the Fold many times – in fact, he played his very last concert there in 2003. The Carter Family was discovered in 1927 by Victor Recording Studio in Bristol and recorded 300 songs between 1927 and 1942. Playing traditional Appalachian music, the family has often been credited as forerunners of modern-day country music. Today, A.P. Carter’s old general store acts as a museum. Recent additions include the newly moved and reconstructed original A.P. Carter Homeplace.
Are you a fan of The Following? See where it all began in Richmond. Though the FOX television hit series was not filmed in Richmond, the show’s first season took place in downtown Richmond and featured all things Edgar Allen Poe, the muse of the show’s villain, Joe Carroll. Visit the Edgar Allen Poe Museum in downtown Richmond if you’re looking for a sinister way to explore Virginia’s capital city.
Drive by the home of the REAL Scarlett O’Hara in Mecklenburg County. Civil War-era author Myrta Lockett Avary penned two books: A Virginia Girl in the Civil War and Dixie after the War, and was one of the major influences for Margaret Mitchell when she wrote Gone with the Wind. This sassy antebellum belle resided at Lombardy Grove just off Route 58 in Mecklenburg County.
See the hoof print of the real Misty of Chincoteague. Remember reading Misty of Chincoteague when you were little? Well, Misty was a real horse, and you can see her actual hoof print in front of the Island Theater in Chincoteague! The premiere of the movie “Misty” on Chincoteague was in 1961, and Misty was led down Main Street by her owner Ralph Beebe. In front of the Island Theater, Misty put her front hoof prints in the cement, and author Marguerite Henry wrote Misty’s name in the cement underneath. Misty’s hoof prints can still be found in the sidewalk in front of the newly renovated Island Theater. A bronze statue of Misty is located at Robert Reed Waterfront Park in downtown Chincoteague. Today, you can find direct descendants of Misty at the Chincoteague Pony Center.
Chef Cathal Armstrong of Restaurant Eve
Enjoy modern cuisine in Old Town Alexandria: The historic district known as Old Town Alexandria takes you back to the time when our nation’s early leaders strolled the streets and partook of grog at pubs and taverns. Today, Alexandria is known for its exquisite culinary scene and its chefs are getting national recognition. Chef Cathal Armstrong of Restaurant Eve has become a foodie darling, earning a nod from the James Beard Foundation earlier this year.