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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

Virginia is for Oyster Lovers

by Stefanie | Posted on July 9th, 2014

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

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!

OYSTERING REGULATIONS
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.

The Shanty

The Shanty

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.

 

There’s always plenty more oyster hotspots to experience in Virginia.

And don’t forget about the oyster festivals coming up this year!

 

 



Food, Virginia Destinations | 1 Comment

12 Beautiful Virginia Resorts

by Casey | Posted on June 24th, 2014

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

Massanutten Resort

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

Wintergreen Resort

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

Mariners Landing

Mariners Landing

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

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.

 

Kingsmill Resort

Kingsmill Resort

 

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

Lansdowne Resort

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

Boar's Head

Boar’s Head

 

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.

 

 

Primland Resort

Primland Resort

 

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

Keswick Hall

 

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

Salamander Resort

 

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 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 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!

 

Virginia is for Lovers.
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Couples, Family, Virginia Destinations | 4 Comments