Virginia's Travel Blog Travel Ideas and Stories Wed, 26 Aug 2015 19:02:11 +0000 en-US hourly 1's Travel Blog Pups & Pints: Dog-Friendly Virginia Craft Breweries Wed, 26 Aug 2015 15:09:52 +0000 ]]>

Man’s best friend enjoys a ride and the company of others. Leash up and head to one of these Virginia craft breweries where dogs are welcome with their well-behaved owners.

Erin Brunner of Strangeways Brewing in Richmond boasts, “We are a VERY dog-friendly brewery and are looking forward to our upcoming dog events, Yappy Hour and BARK-toberfest. Dogs are welcomed with a bowl of water and handful of dog treats.”

Dogs at Strangeways Brewing.

Dogs at Strangeways Brewing.


According to Yelpers, these are also great places to chill with your pooch and a cold one:

Starr Hill, Crozet — “Great beer, easygoing vibe in the tap room, and they allow dogs! Love this place.” – Patti T.

Three Notch’d, Charlottesville and Harrisonburg — “… you can bring your well-behaved dogs inside to the taproom too!” – Christine M.

James River Brewery, Scottsville — “Great outdoor beer garden out back. Dog friendly for well behaved dogs.” – Collette B.

Hardywood, Richmond — ” … a couple food trucks and some picnic tables for people to enjoy their food. Dogs and kids running around enjoying the space.” – Abbie A.

Wild Wolf, Nellysford — “We sat out on the patio as we had our dog with us.  This is a very dog friendly establishment that allows you to drink and eat outside with your dog.” – Maura G.

Parkway Brewing, Salem — “Dog friendly to the max!” – Caitlin J.

Blue Mountain, Afton — “During the summer you can sit outside on one of the picnic tables, play games, bring your dog, and shoot the breeze.” – Jessica H.

Triple Crossing, Richmond — “This place is fantastic! Great beer, casual atmosphere and dog friendly.” – Lemonjello J.

Smartmouth, Norfolk — “I often bring my dog along with me and enjoy my drink on the patio with her.” – Sarah N.

Lickinghole Creek, Goochland — “This is the only brewery that I’ve brought my kids to … lots of people bring their families and dogs …” – Katie B.

Back Bay, Virginia Beach — “They had me with the beer,  but the dog friendly environment and live music kept me around!” – Sal H.

Belly Love, Purcellville — “Outdoor seating and dogs welcome, our golden doodle Enzo is a huge fan.” — Tyler A.

Ardent, Richmond — “We pulled up on Sunday Afternoon and I was pleasantly surprised to see an awesome biergarten, which BTW is dog friendly.” – Tara S.

Crooked Run, Leesburg — “… friendly staff and homey feel plus they are dog friendly!  There is even brewery dog on premises you (and your pup) can play with.” – Joanna M.

Young Veterans, Virginia Beach — “Dogs are also welcome here and since they do not serve food, they encourage you to bring or order your own!” – Jesse P.

Brass Cannon, Williamsburg — “Beer was good. Tasting room was dog friendly.” – Christine L.


Please note that Virginia Department of Health has regulations in place regarding specific areas for dogs. There are some exceptions for service dogs, however.

Practice good ownership by keeping your dog leashed and by cleaning up after them. Be sure shots are up to date as well.

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Ten Virginia Music Festivals in September You Need to Attend Tue, 25 Aug 2015 20:18:09 +0000 ]]>

Summer may be coming to an end, but that doesn’t mean Virginia’s music festivals are slowing down. September is full of music festivals covering almost every genre.


Patsy Cline Music Festival – Winchester, Va.
Sept. 3-6, 2015
This multi-day event honors and celebrates the legacy of Patsy Cline, a Winchester native. Activities include a block party in front of Patsy’ house, a rock and roll dance with the Robbie Limon Band playing, a Rockin’ in the Park concert with the Drifters and Bill Haley’s Comets.

Front Porch Fest – Stuart, Va.
Sept. 4-6, 2015
Lovers of music come together in an intimate outdoor setting local, regional and national musicians showcase their talent on three stages. It all takes place on Virginia’s front porch to the Blue Ridge Mountains.

American Music Festival – Virginia Beach, Va.
Sept. 4-6, 2015
The sounds of rock, jazz, country, blues, R&B and more take over the Virginia Beach oceanfront for three days. The largest outdoor musical event on the East Coast, the American Music Festival brings together local, regional and national acts to play along the beautiful oceanfront. This year’s festival features Steve Miller Band, Rebelution, G. Love & Special Sauce, Sheryl Crow, and more.

Skyline Ranch, site of the Appaloosa Festival.

Skyline Ranch, site of the Appaloosa Festival.

Appaloosa Festival – Front Royal, Va.
Sept. 5-6, 2015
The Appaloosa Festival is a music and outdoors experience, set at the Skyline Ranch Resort among the beautiful backdrop of the Blue Ridge Mountains and in the heart of Shenandoah Valley Wine Trail. Hosted by Scythian, Appaloosa features more than 20 bands, including some of the most critically acclaimed up-and-coming artists from all over the country.

Shenandoah Valley Music Festival

Shenandoah Valley Music Festival

Shenandoah Valley Music Festival – Orkney Springs, Va.
Sept. 5-6, 2015
One of the mid-Atlantic region’s longest-running outdoor music events, the Shenandoah Valley Music Festival presents world-class music by a stellar array of performers. Acts performing in September include the Oak Ridge Boys and a Bluegrass MiniFest featuring Seldom Scene.

Papa Joe Smiddy Music Festival – Duffield, Va.
Sept. 6, 2015
Enjoy a summer’s eve listening to traditional bluegrass music at the Natural Tunnel State Park amphitheater. Dust off your dancing shoes and enjoy this year’s festival, which features Pea Pickin Hearts, the ETSU Bluegrass and Old Time Pride Bands, UVA Wise Bluegrass Band, and Dr. Joe Smiddy, and Reedy Creek.

Lockn' Music Festival. Photo by Jay Blakesberg.

Lockn’ Music Festival. Photo by Jay Blakesberg.

Lockn’ Music Festival – Arrington, Va.
Sept. 10-13, 2015
Lockn’ is a four-day music festival at Oak Ridge Farm with an emphasis on music, camping, outdoor activities, regional food, beverages, and artisans. Many of the artists perform over multiple days, and be featured in unique and exciting artist pairings. Artists performing at this year’s Lockn’ Festival includes Robert Plant, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Widespread Panic, Keller Williams’ Grateful Gospel, and the Doobie Incident (The String Cheese Incident and the Doobie Brothers).

Bluegrass By The Bay Festival – Gloucester, Va.
Sept. 17-20, 2015
This old time bluegrass festival held on the Piankatank River will feature 18 bands: East Coast Bluegrass Band Competition, Goldwing Express, Deer Creek Boys, Code Blue, Mill Run, Bluegrass Brothers, California Ramblers, HWY 249, Copper Caynon, Josh Grisby and County Line, Hard Knox, Willis River, and more.

Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion. Photo by Justin Wiseman.

Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion. Photo by Justin Wiseman.

Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion – Bristol, Va.
Sept. 18-20, 2015
The award-winning Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion is a three-day music experience that celebrates Bristol’s heritage as the Birthplace of Country Music. State Street in historic Downtown Bristol comes alive with 22 stages of live music.

Know Good Beer Music Festival – Richmond, Va.
Sept. 19, 2015
Enjoy the best in Virginia and national craft brews all day on Brown’s Island in Richmond with more than 30 breweries and more than 60 beers to sample. There will be live performances from Blitzen Trapper, Kopecky, Those Darlins, and Sleepwalkers.


Check out our Music in Virginia page to learn all about the summer music scene, Virginia bands, and more.

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]]> 0 Skyline Ranch, site of the Appaloosa Festival. Shenandoah Valley Music Festival Lockn’ Music Festival. Photo by Jay Blakesberg. Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion. Photo by Justin Wiseman.
Nine to Eat: Restaurants Just Off I-77 Tue, 25 Aug 2015 16:10:55 +0000 ]]>

Travelers passing between southern West Virginia and western North Carolina often use Interstate 77. Connecting the dots, I-77 runs from Bluefield, WV/VA through Wytheville, VA where it intersects with Interstate 81, and exits the Commonwealth near Lambsburg, VA on the North Carolina border. Be sure to see the map below.

Hop off the fast lane and enjoy some really good food along the way. These restaurants are rated four stars or higher by Yelp reviewers, and are eight miles or fewer off of the interstate. Give them a try and let us know how you like it!


Grayson Restaurant – 4.5 stars – American (Traditional) – $ – 2.8 mi. Exit 73 in Wytheville

“Fresh, hot & reasonably priced food.” Jim H.
“Food was delicious.” Clifton W.
“Worth the stop … travelers needing lunch.” Amanda P.

If you’re looking for a down-home southern meal or a place where breakfast is served all day, Grayson Restaurant is your spot. It’s a locally owned place where pride in quality and service are paramount.

Grayson Restaurant

Grayson Restaurant


Key Ingredients – 4.5 stars – American (Traditional) – $$ – 1.1 mi. Exit 80 in Fort Chiswell

“We’ll be back!” Sarah K.
“Excellent food and friendly service. Fresh all around. Colonial atmosphere gives a great setting.” Patrick S.
“Don’t miss this gem!”

A must try experience is just down the drive at The Mansion at Fort Chiswell. Here you’ll find fine dining with Key Ingredients at the mansion. Come by for lunch or dinner and taste for the menus that change with the season to provide the best and freshest ingredients. Try seared dry pack scallops and white truffles, fresh halibut, or even the BBQ ribs. With house-made pico and rice, these colorful dishes will have you stuck on which one to try next. Enjoy the beautiful scenery that surrounds the porch while you eat and after take a tour of the historic mansion. When great food is combined with events happening year round at the mansion, it truly is “history in the making.” We can guarantee you a wonderful time in Chiswell.

Key Ingredients

Key Ingredients


Miller’s Bakery and Deli – 4 stars – Bakeries – $ – 1.9 mi. Exit 14 in Hillsville

“This place is a hidden gem in a little Virginia town! FABULOUS!” Kelsey B.
“The staff are very friendly and it was a treat to get to enjoy this inexpensive but satisfying meal along our trip.” Anne A.

Next time you’re passing through Woodlawn be sure to stop in Miller’s Bakery and Deli. Here they have monthly lunch specials in addition to the specials you’ll find there daily. This family run stop has a great home style feeling to it that makes it a great place to stop in and relax for a while. Making new friends and having a great time with old ones is easy while eating great food. There are always new ingredients being introduced and new eats to try here. With great folks and huge homemade sandwiches you can’t go wrong. There are even gluten free items available. Don’t miss these coconut pie, homemade donuts, and more.


The Mason Jar – 5 stars – Diners – $$ – 2.1 mi. Exit 14 in Hillsville

“A surprise from start to finish. I will definitely stop back by when in the area again and advise you to do the same!” Doug G.
“What a great find! This delish hole in the wall! Very clean and super service!” Nicole D.
“The service was fast, friendly, and very accommodating. Would definitely recommend to all!” Alinda P.

Open Tuesday to Sunday, The Mason Jar is a fun and tasty experience for the entire family. Daily specials are available and events are held at the restaurant during the week. Try their Maryland Crab Cake, The Southern Burger, and more. And if you save room, here the desserts are just as yummy with the strawberry shortcake or even apple crisp and, that’s right, they come in mason jars. Check up with them on Facebook to see what they are up to or look on their website to find their menu and look at all the great items they have. Entertainment is on Friday and Saturday nights starting at 9 to mix with great food all evening long.


Hillsville Diner – 4.5 stars – Diners – $ – 3 mi. Exit 14 in Hillsville

“Friendly place with charming décor. Simple yet satisfying menu.” Anna K.
“Lots of regulars eat here it seems and I think I know why!” Greg L.
“Perfect service. Fast and efficient. The food is amazing.” Steve H.

This diner is a landmark to Hillsville and has been since its creation in 1946. Hillsville Diner is the oldest continuously operating streetcar diner in the entire state of Virginia and can be found on the National Register of Historic Places. While traveling through the beautiful Hillsville Historic District be sure to stop in for a picture and a bite. Try their specialty stewed beef, gravy biscuits, or tasty buttermilk pancakes. This home cooked menu is packed to the brim with great food to accompany their quick service. Open Mondays through Saturdays, this is an old time favorite of visitors and locals where good food is served and new friends meet.


The Dutch Oven – 4.5 stars – Donuts, Delis – $ – 2.8 mi. Exit 14 in Hillsville

“I hesitate to share this gem of a restaurant, I’d like to keep it for myself, but it is an amazing little spot that deserves all the praise I can give.” Wendy B.
“The food was excellent!” Leif H.
“Fresh bread, meats, and cheeses make amazing sandwiches. The dessert are good too.” Kourtney T.

The Dutch Oven is truly a find. With great breads and fresh ingredients, meals here will have you leaving satisfied and planning your next visit. From donuts to sandwiches the food is excellent and the service is fast and friendly. This homemade goodness is the local’s ideal lunch stop. At this hidden gem in a small town, try the Reuben or pastrami cravers sandwich. Each time it is even better than the last. Remember the scrumptious cinnamon rolls and you can even pick up a loaf of bread while you’re there picking up lunch. Don’t miss out on fresh strawberry pie and biscuits and gravy. This is home style cooking gone right.

The Dutch Oven, Hillsville

The Dutch Oven


The Gap Deli at the Parkway – 4.5 stars – Delis, Sandwiches – $ – 2.2 mi. Exit 8 in Fancy Gap

“Quite good! Fantastic food in the middle of nowhere.” Daniel E.
“Never go wrong with good service, a yummy sandwich and a view.” Kelly C.
“It was so good!!! Would stop here again!” Jennifer T.

Found at the entrance to the Blue Ridge Parkway is The Gap Deli at the Parkway where you can find a great place to stop, relax, and eat a tasty meal. Try Cissy’s Taco salad, the Appalachian Trail garden burger, or the Golf Club. Sit out on the patio and take in the scenic beauty surrounding you while you snack. Open eleven to seven, seven days a week, this is where you can find where nature and people come together to create yummy meals. Experience what The Gap Deli calls the General Lee smack down dog or even their made from scratch peach crisp. Take out is also available if you plan to hit the road. It’s great service, great food, and a great view you can’t afford to miss.

The Gap Deli

The Gap Deli


Rap’s Orchard Gap – 4 stars – Diner – $ – 7.5 mi. Exit 8 in Fancy Gap

“Food was wonderful! Fun stop…staff is very friendly and attentive.” Brenda D.
“Great food on the parkway.” Ar J.

Open seven days a week, Rap’s Orchard Gap is a flash back to the 1950s. Adjacent to the Blue Ridge Parkway, this is a great stop for food, drinks, gas, and even souvenirs. With tasty homemade food in the deli, it’s the perfect place to rest along your journey. Here you can find live music on Saturdays and Sundays during the summer season in the outdoor entertainment venue. Other special events are had throughout the year including old car shows, motorcycle shows, and community cookouts. Inspired by a love of music and great meals, Rap’s is where you’ll find a fun and yummy stop to gather and eat great food and have a great time.


Hungry Farmer – 4 stars – Southern – $ – 6.1 mi. Exit 1 in Lambsburg

“A nice little hidden gem with a great southern buffet.” Greg O.
“Best chicken ever! Would definitely go back…Very friendly and attentive staff.” Melanie Y.
“Really friendly service and hearty food.” Julie B.

The Hungry Farmer is the great family restaurant you’ll be looking for on the way out of the state. Found along Fancy Gap Highway, this top features home style country cooking at its finest. Having been open for nearly two decades, The Hungry Farmer has great people who love to serve some really great food. The daily buffet is available and there is a breakfast bar on weekends. Try the cornbread, tater cakes, smoked ham, or even the oven fried chicken. Visitors crave the beef stew here at this small business open seven days a week. It’s a great stop on the way home or the way out. A hidden gem in scenic Virginia with home style country food you can’t miss.


About the Author: Kemry Johnakin is an English Major at Brigham Young University-Idaho, hopes to write the next great American novel, and is greatly unsettled by the lack of oxford commas used in government paperwork.

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]]> 0 Grayson Restaurant Key Ingredients The Dutch Oven, Hillsville The Gap Deli
Nine to Eat: Restaurants Just Off I-81, Part Two Fri, 21 Aug 2015 18:02:16 +0000 ]]>

Let’s be honest. Interstate 81 can become congested. The lure of something good to eat is just one reason to hit the exit ramp and leave the traffic behind for a while. These restaurants are less than seven miles off of Interstate 81 between Roanoke and Bristol, and they’re four-star rated (or higher) on Yelp. Try them out and let us know.

Looking for I-81 from Clear Brook to Lexington? It’s here.


Bread Craft – 4.5 stars – Sandwiches, Bakeries – $ – 6.1 mi. Exit 143 in Roanoke

“The sugar cookies are unbeatable, and the French press coffee is the best in town.” Nona N.
“Highly recommended.” Brad L.
“Wow Roanoke, you are lucky to have such a legit French bakery!” Jennifer B.

This style of baking is new to Roanoke, but a traditional style that creates some of the best breads visitors have ever tried. Bread Crafts make their breads daily and as fresh and easy as possible. Although they are mainly a bakery there are many other great eats found inside to create an aroma visitors and locals keep coming back for. Each day is greeted with new and fresh breads. Stop by for breakfast or lunch and be sure to try and take with you some of the tasty croissants, scones, cookies, and sweet rolls. Be sure not to miss this fresh taste.


Firefly Fare – 4.5 stars – Vegetarian, Gluten-Free, American (New) – $$ – 6.5 mi. Exit 143 in Roanoke

“Everything tasted extremely fresh.” Karmalife L.
“Very nice staff and such a wonderful addition to the downtown eatery scene.” Raul R.
“I wish I could eat it every day.” Cassandra D.

The local, farm-to-table southern cuisine is exactly what Firefly Fare in Roanoke is known for. That passion for great food visitors are looking for is met with a curiosity for the connections between people, the land, and the food they eat. Firefly Fare makes connections between cultures and history through their dishes. Found inside a historic city market building and supporting the farm-to-table movement in restaurants, Firefly Fare has been featured on NPR’s “Veggie Chef” and with the Salem Farmer’s Market Chef’s Circle. With both children’s and fresh juice menus try out the Paninis, pitas, and bowls of flavors. A wine and beer menu is also available to check out new tastes.


Dude’s Drive In – 4.5 stars – American (Traditional) – $ – 1 mi. Exit 118B in Christiansburg

“A local favorite! I can’t like it enough.” Justin M.
“The staff is super sweet and friendly, very quick, the food is awesome, and it’s super affordable!” Samantha C.
“This place is wonderful.” Liz A.

This small drive up restaurant may not seem like much from the outside but Dude’s Drive in has so much to offer in taste and experience. As an old-fashioned drive-in the kids will love to watch the car hops ready to meet and serve you with a smile. Come see the authentic style shop and try out their famous hot dogs. They may feel like fast food but the friendly service and old fashioned atmosphere creates a whole new experience you don’t want to miss out on, so swing by for a quick and great meal.

Dude's Drive-In

Dude’s Drive-In


Due South BBQ – 4.5 stars – Barbeque – $ – 1 mi. Exit 118B in Christiansburg

“This place is great.” PC
“The perfect stop on a road trip down south.” Lia M.
“Down home country feel, friendly service, great food!” Ingrid K.

We’ve found the best pulled pork, brisket, and ribs in the New River Valley. Due South BBQ is the 2007 Virginia State BBQ championship winner for best sauce and the 2009 champion for smoked brisket chili. The People’s choice best taste and appearance winners also make some of the best chicken and homemade sides visitors have ever tried. The locals adore their banana pudding and there are five available sauces to taste. Headed toward a Virginia Tech game? This is the place to stop. All meats are hickory smoked daily persuading us to promise that you’ll come back to visit for the great flavors.


Graze on Main – 4.5 stars – American (Traditional), Southern – $$ – 1.4 mi. Exit 70 in Wytheville

“Delicious is just not a good enough word!” Laura C.
“The food was amazing!” Jacqueline J.
“Carrot cake is the bomb.” Gary M.

Tucked into the beautiful Bolling Wilson Hotel, this gem of an establishment delivers high quality eats in a lush, historic building. Take your southern favorites (pimento cheese or fried green tomatoes, anyone) out on the patio for a great view of the mountains.


Rain – 4.5 stars – American (Traditional), Sandwiches – $$ – 1.3 mi. Exit 17 in Abingdon

“If you’re in Abingdon, Rain is a must try” Lawrence S.
“Wonderful service and great food” TyAnne C.
“So delicious I practically licked the plate.” Lisa G.

Casual-fine dining offered for lunch and dinner is best served at Abingdon’s Rain. The restaurant’s own Chef Ben Carroll is being named Abingdon’s most creative chef, so come try the amazing butternut squash soup or the stuffed chicken breast. With something for everyone, it’s a meal you can’t skip. Rain’s beautiful dishes are available for lunch and dinner and outside seating is available for relaxing. Enjoy homemade food with a traditional southern twist making each bite more incredible than before. Main courses include the rosemary chicken linguine, Benton-cured bacon, and stuffed chicken breast. There are also seafood options such as the scallops and catch-of-the-day. Taste for yourself the blackened ribeye steaks, one of their most popular dishes.


The Tavern – 4 stars – American (Traditional) – $$$ – 1.3 mi. Exit 17 in Abingdon  

“The filet was awesome, the atmosphere was charming, and our server was friendly.” Leigh C.
“Great Food! Tremendous service.” Deborah W.
“We visit only once a year and The Tavern is a MUST before we leave.” Missy S.

The Tavern, inside a building constructed in 1779, is Abingdon’s oldest building and home to some of the best dishes and tasteful dinners all visitors say you just must try for yourself. With its roots in American history, the building was used as a tavern and inn and even a hospital for wounded soldiers during the Civil War. Dinner at The Tavern is a long-time and beloved tradition in Abingdon. With an extensive beer and wine list, everything perfectly complements your meal. Guests enjoy a friendly and relaxed atmosphere met with a diverse menu with everything prepared fresh to order. Visitors come from all over the state to gather with friends and family in the restaurant or on the porch and courtyard to soak up the history of Abingdon.

The Tavern in Abingdon, VA

The Tavern


Heartwood: Southwest Virginia’s Artisan Gateway – 4.5 stars – American (New) – $$ – 0.8 mi. Exit 14 in Abingdon

“Heartwood is a one-stop shop for all things relating to Appalachia-music, arts, crafts, literature, and even food!” Cat P.
“Amazed by the portions and quality of the food. You need to try it yourself, it is a treat.” Khawla N.
“This place is great to go for great food and a true Virginia experience!” Lauren H.

Visit Heartwood: Southwest Virginia’s Artisan Gateway and experience Abingdon in a whole new way. Shop in the galleries full of unique craftsmanship and see what is so different and special about Southwest Virginia. With just as much to offer as the land around, their dishes are fresh and full. Try a fresh approach like the Southern Salad with cornbread croutons and foggy ride sweet Staymen vinaigrette or a hot sandwich like the Grass Fed Burger or Appalachian Ham. This is the best opportunity to have a fun experience in the region’s artisan heritage and crafts.

Heartwood in Abingdon, VA

Heartwood. Image by Jason Barnette.


Brooklyn Grill & Café – 4.5 stars – American (New) – $$ – 3.5 mi. Exit 3 in Bristol

“Super Deli! The food is amazing.” Dany H.
“Wow!!” Liana K.
“Two things-Awesome food. Great service. I will definitely go back if I’m in Bristol again.” Todd S.

Where does gourmet meet comfort? In Bristol, Virginia. At the Brooklyn Grill and Café guests can try new and improved favorites. This gem of a restaurant offers the satisfaction you were looking for and a taste you didn’t expect. Taste for yourself the eggplant appetizer, chicken Marsala, and even the spinach salad with a warm Gorgonzola sauce. Or instead try Brooklyn’s mouthwatering steak stuffed with blue cheese. Open from 11:30-2:00 and 5:00-9:00 Tuesday – Saturday, come see for yourself why locals and visitors alike are calling them “Bristol’s best!”


About the Author: Kemry Johnakin is an English Major at Brigham Young University-Idaho, hopes to write the next great American novel, and is greatly unsettled by the lack of oxford commas used in government paperwork.

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]]> 8 Dude’s Drive-In The Tavern in Abingdon, VA Heartwood in Abingdon, VA
Fabulous Fall Fun Itineraries Wed, 19 Aug 2015 20:34:21 +0000 ]]>

Virginia is brilliant for fall getaways as 15 million acres of foliage burst into spectacular color. Bring your family, friends or group to Virginia for a truly scenic experience.


Autumn in Abingdon

Enjoy the rural countryside and observe the natural beauty from the peaks of Mt. Rogers and Whitetop – the two highest mountains in Virginia. Stroll the charming brick sidewalks of Historic Abingdon while enjoying the vibrant foliage or ride on the Virginia Creeper Trail, while taking in unbelievable scenery with an abundance of autumn color. Read more.


More than just Fall Foliage: Autumn Fun in Newport News

Fall brings pleasant temperatures, beautiful foliage and an array of events to Newport News. During September and October alone, a Brazilian festival, a traditional craft show, an art and sculpture festival, a celebration of Greek culture, an oyster roast, and lantern tours are just a few of the great things happening in this city by the James River. Read more.


Fall Farm & Foliage Fun-Filled Day in Winchester

Tour magnificent gardens glowing in fall color. Visit Blandy Farm/State Arboretum of Virginia and marvel at the 8,000 trees and shrubs, meandering walkways and historic buildings. Enjoy the fall foliage and scenic mountain views on your way to strolling the market or orchards of Marker-Miller Orchards, Farm Market & Bakery. Day 1, Day 2.


Fall Foliage, Food and Football in Harrisonburg

Enjoy pumpkin patches, corn mazes, farm animals, hayrides, butterfly exhibits, greenhouses, and carousels at Back Home on the Farm. See the James Madison University Dukes play at Bridgeforth Stadium. Take a mountain biking excursion with Shenandoah Mountain Touring where the endless trails in and around Harrisonburg provide breathtaking views, allowing you to soak in the fall foliage. Read more.


Fall Frenzy in Lynchburg

Make Lynchburg your fall headquarters! Enjoy the fun, food and frivolity of the fall festival season in Central Virginia. Bring your sweetie, bring the whole family, but don’t forget your camera! The breathtaking architecture is fabulous any time of year, but unparalleled in the fall. Plan your trip around one of their many fall festivals for even more fun. Read more.


Fieldale Fall Frolic

Enjoy antique shopping at Fieldale Antiques or partake in a Friday afternoon jam session. Enjoy a bike ride, walk or bird watching along Smith River’s 3.5 miles of meandering trail called the Fieldale Trail. Venture to nearby Martinsville for live shows at the Black Box Theatre or 10+ million artifacts at the Smithsonian-affiliated Virginia Museum of Natural History. Read more.



Suggested Itineraries

Fall in Virginia

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Seven Music & Craft Beer Destinations Wed, 19 Aug 2015 19:13:45 +0000 ]]>

Craft beer and live music go hand in hand and many of Virginia’s popular craft breweries are also known for being excellent live music destinations.


Hardywood Park Craft Brewery – Richmond, Va.
Hardywood is a music destination in its own right. The brewery hosts numerous many of Richmond’s finest bands every weekend and all-day music festivals throughout the year including A Good Day in RVA Festival, the Richmond Roots Festival and the Richmond Bluegrass Festival.


A Good Day In #RVA continues! #toxicmoxie on stage now! #hardywood #livemusic #richmond #spacesuits

A photo posted by Hardywood Park Craft Brewery (@hardywood) on


South Street Brewery – Charlottesville, Va. South Street is right in the middle of Charlottesville’s thriving music scene. The brewery hosts hosts live regional bands weekly and is also within a short walking distance of many of the city’s live music venues including the nTelos Wireless Pavilion, the Southern Café and Music Hall and the Jefferson Theater.


Brothers Craft Brewing – Harrisonburg, Va. Brothers Craft Brewing (originally Three Brothers Brewing) hosts live music regularly. The brewery also has a hand in the Rocktown Beer & Music Festival that takes place at Turner Pavilion and celebrates good beer and good music. This year’s event takes place on September 26.


pretty nice little saturday #mapleunion #brotherscraftbrewing

A photo posted by Andrew Hassler (@jonnyload) on


Center of the Universe Brewing Company – Ashland, Va.
Ashland’s popular brewery features live music every Saturday as well as the Wednesday night Biergarten Concert Series. The brewey also hosts a number of excellent music festivals including the Summer Moon Music Festival.



Wolf Hills Brewing Company – Abingdon, Va. Wolf Hills hosts live music every Thursday-Saturday featuring many of the region’s popular bands. It also recently hosted the Howling Craft Beer & Music Festival.



Flying Mouse Brewery – Troutville, Va.
Flying Mouse typically has live bands on the weekends, and has at least one big event each quarter with two bands performing.


Enjoying the scenery.

A photo posted by @malpal83 on


O’Connor Brewing Company – Norfolk, Va.
Hamptons Roads’ microbrewery offers live music from regional bands every weekend as well as a Vinyl Night, where beer drinkers can enjoy the sound of vintage vinyl and even bring in their own records.



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Eight Places for Virginia Crafts: Beer and Burgers Wed, 19 Aug 2015 18:38:31 +0000 ]]>

Arguably, pizza is beer’s BFF, which we have acknowledged. However, there’s a place for delicious farm-fresh burgers in this conversation concerning Virginia crafts.

We’ve searched high and low to find Virginia restaurants that dedicate an equal amount of time to sourcing (and boasting about) fresh, local ingredients as they do to choosing their brews. The establishments featured here do just that.


CITIZEN BURGER BAR | Arlington and Charlottesville

Citizen Burger Bar

Citizen Burger Bar

The ingredients that go into Citizen’s burgers are locally sourced with great pride. A glance at their menu will show you just how proud of their partnerships they are. The beef comes from Timbercreek Farm (Charlottesville), the buns are baked at Albemarle Baking Company (Charlottesville), the signature cheeses are crafted at Mountainview Farm (Fairfield), and the produce are from a variety of local farmers. Even the desserts are homemade nearby. A variety of Virginia craft beers are available to match whichever burger you choose or choose to create.


SOUTH STREET BREWERY | Charlottesville

South Street Brewery

South Street Brewery

If you haven’t been to South Street lately, you need to go. Purchased in 2014 by Blue Mountain Brewery, South Street has been revamped, from the menu to the beer. You’ll still find staple South Street brews, but you’ll also discover and taste other inspirational craft beers. Timbercreek Farm (Charlottesville) supplies the beef for South Street’s burgers. Go for a classic cheeseburger, a mushrooom and swiss, or a Hangover burger. There are gluten-free bun options, too, also locally crafted.


TIMBERWOOD GRILL | Charlottesville

Timberwood Grill

Timberwood Grill

Eight burgers grace Timberwood’s menu, and the beef is sourced from Timbercreek Farm (Charlottesville). Those who need to avoid gluten will find options here (like the Chuck Norris in the photo above). The craft beer offerings are on point with 24 on tap and dozens more bottled.



Four signature burgers are tempting, but you can add on a variety of other toppings to really make it your own. The beef and veggies are locally sourced, and gluten-free buns are available. A good selection of craft beers will certainly deliver the perfect match for your perfect burger.



Loudoun County’s best burger (as proclaimed by readers of Leesburg Today for three years in a row) can be found at Melt. The fine folks there have even written a little piece on how to best pair your burger with a beer. Check it out. House-made buns are the foundation for Melt’s daily-ground 100% Angus beef burgers and locally sourced toppings. There are 17 “burgers” to choose from and include the Angus beef variety as well as lamb, turkey, Ahi tuna, lump crab, and chicken. Pair ’em up with a wide variety of bottle craft beers. Seriously. There’s a fridge or more full and waiting.


80/20 BURGER BAR | Norfolk

They may call themselves “Blue Collar Gourmet,” but every color of collar is going to love this place. The basis for all things heavenly at 80/20 is the Shenandoah Valley beef from Leaping Waters Farm. Would you rather have something besides awesome beef? There’s also local bison, free-range chicken, and black bean mushroom patty to choose from.  The dedication to serving guests the best, freshest, most local products available is evident in the “dinner only” philosophy at 80/20. The staff commits the entire day to dinner. Oh, and there are more than 100 craft beers available to pair perfectly with your Virginia burger. Can’t beat that.



Market Burger Fries & Shakes

Market Burger Fries & Shakes

Will it be a single or a double? At Market Burger, local beef reigns supreme and you can get one patty or two topped with as many FREE veggies and delights as you wish (although there are “top shelf” items that will cost a dollar or two). Go gluten free, or try a veggie or turkey burger … all go equally well with the often-changing collection of craft beer and homemade shakes.


STATION 2 | Richmond

Shenandoah Valley-raised beef from Buffalo Creek Farm (Lexington) is a key ingredient for the burger offerings at Station 2. Sausage Craft (Richmond) amerikreiner sausage also makes a showing atop the “Ballpark” burger. For those with dietary restrictions, the gluten free vegan option of the house-made edamame burger is an excellent choice. Greens and other veggies are from Manakintowne (Powhatan), and the handcrafted shakes include none other than Homestead Creamery (Wirtz) ice cream. One unique thing we’ve found at Station 2 are the “Spent Grain Buns,” which are crafted from the spent grains from Devils Backbone Brewery in Roseland. But about those craft beers … Yep! There are quite a few Virginia craft beers available for your perfect burger pairing.


Do you know of a place that locally sources their ingredients AND offers a robust list of burgers AND offers Virginia craft beer? We want to know about it! Leave a kind note to tell us about your pick to be added to this list. Cheers!

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]]> 8 Citizen Burger Bar South Street Brewery Timberwood Grill Market Burger Fries & Shakes
16 to Eat: Restaurants Just Off I-81, Part One Fri, 14 Aug 2015 18:07:45 +0000 ]]>

Let’s be honest. Interstate 81 can become congested. The lure of something good to eat is just one reason to hit the exit ramp and leave the traffic behind for a while. These restaurants are less than five miles off of Interstate 81 between Clear Brook and Lexington, and they’re four-star rated on Yelp. Try them out and let us know.

ALSO SEE: 20 to Eat: Restaurants Just Off I-64, Part Two


Jordan Springs Market – 4.5 stars – Barbeque, Delis – $ – 3.4 mi. Exit 321 in Clear Brook

“Best brisket you’re going to find anywhere.” Justin G.
“Definitely quality food and delicious! We left happy, full, and impressed!” Alesha R.
“If you’re driving through Appalachia, make a detour through here. Trust me.” Roger F.

Jordan Springs Market is a family owned and operated stop for some more of the best BBQ in the state. Voted in 2010-2013 as the “Best BBQ in the Valley,” they are open seven days a week and are known for creating everything from backyard grill BBQ to elegant buffets. With classic breakfasts and lunches, including sandwiches and subs, there is no end to comfort or flavor. Check out their daily specials and taste the Carolina style or Texas styled pork and briskets. And remember to wash everything down with a southern style sweet tea or lemonade. Jordan Spring’s Market is where you’ll find great “Beef, Beer, BBQ, and Bluegrass.”

ALSO SEE: Five Out-of-the-Way Places to Explore Off Interstate 81


Sake Sushi – 4.5 stars – Sushi Bars, Asian Fusion – $$ – 1.7 mi. Exit 307 in Stephens City

“Amazing service! Very friendly staff, delicious and quality food!” Neylyn M.
“They are consistently friendly, fast, healthy, and truly dedicated to their customers.” Florentina D.
“Very thoughtful, and fast, with great food and a serene atmosphere.” Dave S.

This comfortable and casual style stop is the perfect place for large portions and major flavor. Sake Sushi is the place locals and visitors are equally excited about. With specials for lunch and dinner, taste some of the many flavorful and vibrant options on the long menu. Taste for yourself their vegetable hibachi, chicken and shrimp, or steak hibachi. Have two or three rolls for lunch, and choose from six different tempuras and noodles. Be sure to check their menu for what they have that is spicy or even the most popular so you can taste out for yourself what other visitors have loved.

ALSO SEE: From “George” to “Martha,” The Historic Hotels of I-81 Have Returned to Their Glory


Nana’s Irish Pub – 4 stars – Irish Pub – $$ – 1.1 miles Exit 302 in Middletown

“Great food, great atmosphere and a must stop.” Walt T.
“Our new favorite place in the valley.” Jenn M.
“Give this place a try.” Jaclyn B.

Creamy Carrot and Parsnip soup with Irish soda bread fresh out of the oven is just the beginning of all that lies in store at Nana’s Irish Pub. Here is where you can find pub classics right next to new favorites on the menu. Try the Irish sausage soup or caramelized onion and blue cheese soup. Visitors love their corned beef hash and with lunch specials each day there’s no reason not to stop in. This pleasant gem is a home for great dinners and wonderful people. Try out this comfy and casual stop to meet great people, enjoy a warm meal, and find a new favorite dish.
ALSO SEE: A Route 11 Road Trip: Clear Brook to Bristol


Italian Touch – 4 stars – Italian, Pizza, Sandwiches – $ – 0.7 mi. Exit 302 in Middletown

“Awesome food and service.” Andrew S.
“Lunchtime in Middletown takes me to Italian Touch!” Dawn R.
“I love this restaurant. The staff is friendly, their lasagna is amazing.” Sarah K.

Taking pride in their exceptionally prepared and quality meals is Italian Touch. Using only the freshest ingredients here, seasoned foods meet master techniques to create dishes that reflect years of Italian cuisine experience. Italian Touch is known as fast service for busy people with lunch specials like Pasta de Brereton or Lobster Ravioli. Try the amazing New York Sicilian and Specialty pizzas, with pizza dough made fresh daily and served piping hot. Here the finest grains are precisely cooked to pasta perfection. With a goal to give visitors complete satisfaction with food and service, come let them prove it to you.

ALSO SEE: Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley Kids Trail


Cristina’s Café – 4.5 stars – Sandwiches, American (Traditional) – $$ – 2.9 mi. Exit 298 in Strasburg

“We couldn’t have found a more charming, friendly place with delicious fresh coffee and fantastic food.” Jason I.
“What a find! We felt like we were having lunch at a friend’s home.” Shanda A.
“I will definitely be back.” Myrna S.

Come by Cristina’s Café for a mix of home cooked love and sweetness. Owned and operated by two sisters who are passionate about good food, Cristina’s Café offers a wide variety of eats and experience. Come for great new live music that is sure to blow you away and stay for delicious homemade fruit tarts. Stay a while longer and taste for yourself their banana whole grain pancakes with Brittany’s wet nuts and real maple syrup or try their special stuffed French toasts. With events happening year round, this is no place to miss. Inspired by the beautiful surroundings of the Shenandoah Valley, in 2009 Cristina’s café became the first certified green restaurant in Shenandoah & Frederick counties proving they know how to make true connections with their home and with people.

ALSO SEE: A.T. Hikers Find Warm Welcome in Virginia Communities


Woodstock Café & Shoppes – 4.5 stars – Cafes – $ – 2.2 mi. Exit 283 in Woodstock

“The Woodstock café is one of the most delightful places I’ve encountered in the Shenandoah Valley.” Nanette S.
“This is a vital stop for anyone needing a hot beverage or delicious lunch!” Anna L.
“Best food in the valley. Very sweet servers.” Jenny S.

Found in historic Woodstock, VA, Woodstock Café & Shoppes can be found across the street from the oldest continuously operating courthouse west of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Come for a relaxing cup of coffee in the morning and enjoy a “window seat on Woodstock” where you can relax or work and they are happy to bring snacks and lunch when needed. As a great location for group meetings and even church group gatherings, there is enough seating for everyone in the Café. Be sure to check out their special evening events they host throughout the year as well including Wine Tasting, live entertainment, and even Cabaret Dinner Shows. It’s an experience you can’t miss.

Woodstock Cafe & Shoppes

Woodstock Cafe & Shoppes


Carmella’s – 4.5 stars – Cafes – $$ – 1.3 mi. Exit 279 in Edinburg

“What a wonderful find!” Kathy F.
“The meatball sub was amazing!!!” Kelsey R.
“Great! Good friendly service and great food.” Ralph R.

Specialty subs are what Carmella’s is known for. Taste the deli sandwiches or fresh salads made daily. Specialty desserts also hit the list of things that you must try and just what makes Carmella’s of Edinburg a must stop restaurant on your trip on I-81. With Vegetarian options the menu is made to please and it does just that the more you read. Carmella’s offers 40 wines to choose from as well as 53 types of beer. Their children’s menu is perfect for the kids and the outdoor seating provides a great view while you relax and eat. Known to have the best meatball sub and cheese cake around, Carmella’s is the place to stop. And you can even try The “Edinburger” or the Crab Cake Sandwich while you’re around.



Jalisco Mexican Restaurant – 4.5 stars – Mexican – $$ – 1.2 mi. Exit 273 in Mt Jackson

“Absolutely loved their food, prices, service, and margaritas!” Danielle F.
“We will be back.” Joe P.
“Overall an awesome and delicious restaurant. Can’t wait to go back!” Antima C.

Started in 1996 as a family owned business, Jalisco Mexican Restaurant has always given their guests the best Mexican food in the Shenandoah Valley. They cook only fresh, made to order meals with a Happy Hour every day. With vibrant spices and flavors that cover the table, lunch specials are available and visitors say you just have to try their signature coselaw made fresh daily. Their handmade tamales are prepared in the traditional way as Jalisco continues to focus on using fresh, high-quality ingredients to prepare made from scratch Mexican cuisine. Come stop in and see for yourself what they mean when we describe Jalisco’s as full plates and full bellies.

ALSO SEE: College Game Day: Favorite Eats


Southern Kitchen – 4 stars – Southern, Diners – $$ – 1 mi. Exit 264 in New Market

“Great fried chicken and southern hospitality.” Carl W.
“So glad we stopped here. The people were so nice. Prices were very reasonable.” John D.
“Quality service. Charming location. Highly recommend.” Jared T.

Open daily from 7 to 9, Southern Kitchen is a new take on old memories. With an atmosphere reminiscent of the 1950s diner look, guests can find American classics served with wholesome, home-made touches. Taste favorites like Lloyd’s fried chicken, their vegetable soup with its own original recipe, or even country ham which is rugged and salty delivering depth of flavor like nothing else can. Available for breakfast, lunch, and dinner with made to order dishes. This is comfy and home style at its best and most original. And don’t forget to stop by the jukebox while you’re there.

ALSO SEE: Eight Virginia Caverns to LOVE


Johnny Appleseed Restaurant – 4 stars – American (Traditional), Southern – $ – 1 mi. Exit 264 in New Market

“The fritters were amazing and the waitress was attentive…we will definitely be back!” Rayna L.
“Cute little eatery.” Katy H.
“What a wonderful, delicious experience.” Vicki M.

Serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Johnny Appleseed has over 25 years of experience in serving some of the tastiest home-style eats around. This full service stop is where you can enjoy a southern style meal in a relaxed country atmosphere. Try their southern fried catfish, Johnny’s fried chicken, and even the best crab cakes in the Shenandoah Valley. Baked fresh hourly are their homemade buttermilk biscuits served with apple butter and as soon as you sit down you’ll be met with their complementary apple fritters for every meal. You’ll find their specials on Friday and Saturday, but a great meal to remember every day.

Johnny Appleseed

Johnny Appleseed

ALSO SEE: Natural Area Preserves: Shenandoah Valley to Blue Ridge Highlands


Bella Luna Wood Fired Pizza – 4.5 stars – Pizza – $$ – 1.9 mi. Exit 247B in Harrisonburg

“Nice place. Great pizzas. Great dough and cooked spot on.” Darren A.
“Pizzas were excellent the meatballs were excellent…if I’m in the area I would definitely go back.” Jim T.
“The food (especially the pizza) was out of this world and some of the best I have had in years.” Hayden C.

Known as the first farm-to-table pizza restaurant in Harrisonburg, these Neapolitan-inspired dishes are the perfect mix of flavor and heat that you are looking for. These thin-crusted pizzas are made in a traditional wood-fired oven allowing the chefs to create a unique crust with textures and flavors visitors fall in love with over and over again. The dough is hand-mad fresh daily and the high heat the oven is kept on allows a very short time to cook. These perfect pizzas are accompanied by hand-made pastas, salads, and appetizers that feature house-made mozzarella and sausage. The cheese and meats used are delivered daily from family farms in the Central Virginia and Shenandoah Valley area. This rustic atmosphere creates the refined pizza locals rave about.

Bella Luna Wood-Fired Pizza

Bella Luna Wood-Fired Pizza


The Shack – 4.5 stars – American (New) – $$$ – 2.6 mi. Exit 222 in Staunton

“So unassuming, such a great place.” Daniel B.
“All this food, and such a fantastic, satisfying experience.” Tammy R.
“Bottom line, you need to add this to your itinerary when you are in Staunton, or you’ll be missing out.” Mark P.

This chic stop is one that Staunton just can’t stop raving about. The Shack is where color and flavor meet perfectly. With a chef that has a passion for his art and creating some of the most beautiful and tasty dishes around, try the grilled leg of lamb, Wagyu oyster steak, or maple quail. And be sure to save room for the delectable sweet potato fry pie or even the fresh buttermilk ricotta with honey comb and vanilla toast. The Shack was found in The Culture Trip, 2014 as one of “Shenandoah Valley’s 10 Best Restaurants,” and raved about from Esquire to The Washington Post and more. Hosting local and favorite events year round, be sure to keep up with the excitement at The Shack.

The Shack

The Shack


Taste of India – 4 stars – Indian – $$ – 4.5 mi. Exit 220 in Staunton

“We were quite pleasantly surprised to find such a good Indian place in a small town like Staunton.” Maria K.
“This is a great addition to Valley dining.” Jerry C.
“Lovely staff, excellent service, great food.” Sujatha S.

Fragrant, zesty, and warm are how we would describe Taste of India. Taste their Boti Kebab, Chicken Tandoori, or Chicken Curry. Here vegetarian options are available. With so many lamb and seafood options covering the menu, it may just be too hard to decide what to try first. But no matter what, save room because with these fine dishes there are tasty desserts to follow up. Taste of India welcomes you to taste their exotic flavors of authentic Indian cuisine. They have delicacies and special spices exported from North and South India. These subtle tastes are accompanied by flavors that pull through.


Frank’s Pizza Pasta & Subs – 4 stars – Sandwiches, Pizza – $ – 1.8 mi. Exit 200 in Fairfield

“It’s very simple with good pizza.” R R.
“Love this place!!!” Great food.” Amanda J.
“Definitely an easy and convenient stop if you are in this area.” Blake B.

Fairfield is home to Frank’s Pizza Pasta & Subs. Open since 1989, Frank’s has become known for the best pizza in Lexington and Fairfield. Their daily specials include fresh cannoli desserts and garlic knots made fresh and hot. Hamburger combos are even available and you’ll be sure to tell your friends about their calzones. Taste out one of the many pasta dinners or subs. Be sure to stop in for their weekly specials and check out their website to see what fun new and exciting things they are doing. Follow them on their Facebook to keep up with the fun and to see the great dishes available.


Salerno – 4 stars – Pizza, Italian – $ – 3.6 mi. Exit 191 in Lexington

“Good and local food.” Emma B.
“The pizza options are large and varied! All in all a good place to grab a meal.” Nicole W.
“With comically big subs and calzones, this seemingly ordinary neighborhood Italian joint is cranking out huge flavor.” Mike B.

While passing through Lexington be sure to stop by Salerno’s. These big dishes are for a big hunger. The fresh and bright colors reflect the flavor in the fresh ingredients. Try their subs, salads, or pizza slices. Specials like Panini Caprese with tomatoes and roasted red peppers smothered in fresh garlic and melted mozzarella cheese, are available daily. Using only fresh basil and seasonings, the homemade Italian bread is a perfect addition to an already tasty meal. There are many baked dishes as well as options to create your own pastas. Open Monday through Saturday, stop by Salerno’s next and try for yourself.


Mano Taqueria – 4.5 stars – Mexican, Latin American – 4 – 3.6 mi. Exit 55 in Lexington

“Finally a burrito I love in this town.” Jonathan C.
“Everything we had was delicious…you won’t go home hungry and the flavors are phenomenal.” Beth M.
“Absolutely delicious!” Renzo B.

Mano Taqueria is Lexington’s quick service, modern Latino restaurant. Their fresh designed favorable menu is full of tacos, burritos and more. Featuring seasoned deshebrada beef, slow roasted pork, and chorizo, Mano Taqueria is open Tuesday through Saturday. Here the food speaks for itself. Using locally sourced meats and suppliers from local farms, their local ingredients make the best and freshest dishes. With great sides and house-made sauces there is no way that this will not be your new favorite place to grab a bite along with the rest of Lexington.


About the Author: Kemry Johnakin is an English Major at Brigham Young University-Idaho, hopes to write the next great American novel, and is greatly unsettled by the lack of oxford commas used in government paperwork.


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]]> 3 Woodstock Cafe & Shoppes Carmella's Johnny Appleseed Bella Luna Wood-Fired Pizza The Shack
Off the Eaten Path: Business Route 13 on the Eastern Shore Wed, 12 Aug 2015 19:56:25 +0000 ]]>

It’s one of the closest long-distant trips you can make.

Although a little more than 20 miles in length, the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel transports drivers from the “mainland” of Virginia to place that seems much, much further than it is.

Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. Image by

Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. Image by

That place is the Eastern Shore of Virginia, the elongated southern part of the Delmarva Peninsula, surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Chesapeake Bay on the other. To the north is Maryland, and to the south is the bridge-tunnel.

Leaving Virginia Beach, it’s literally a drive out to sea. Although – on clear days – you can see both masses of land, there is still something isolated about the stretch of highway.

A ribbon of asphalt, passing vehicles and a bevy of seagulls are all that’s seen for about a half-hour. That is, unless you stop northbound at the visitors center on the first of the couple of manmade islands.

Once you reach the Shore, you are still on that ribbon of highway, but just a short jaunt off the highway are countless small towns and hamlets with lots to explore.

On the Eastern Shore, the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) has designated Business Route 13 from Cape Charles meandering north about midway on the peninsula as a Scenic Road. The route also takes a few turns and juts off in one or two locations, offering something tasty around each bend.

From our travels, here are our picks for a succinct handful of the things to eat, drink and do along this route on the Eastern Shore. There are tons more we don’t have space to list here, but this will get your tastebuds off to a good start.

Virginia has some 3,000 miles of highways and byways designated by VDOT as Scenic Roads, duly noted for their scenes of natural beauty and places of historical and social significance.

Also along these thoroughfares are some wonderful places for foodies, and from time-to-time we’ll take that road less traveled, fork in hand, and report our findings to you here, making this part one of an ongoing series.



Cape Charles


A perfect late summer respite is found at Brown Dog Ice Cream, which features a number of artisan flavors. A recent lineup included Blueberry Lavender, Malted Milk Ball, Pickett’s Harbor Peach and Coffee – made with java brewed by the Shore-based Coastal Roasting Co. of Eastville.

Insider tip: grab a cone and walk down Mason Street to the gazebo overlooking the Chesapeake Bay for a spectacular – and delicious – sunset.

Dine on the patio at The Shanty and enjoy some stunning water views and fresh catch. My picks for sharing with family and friends: a dozen (or two, or three) Hungar’s Creek raw oysters, a basket of oysters fried golden brown or a platter full of steamed clams, washed down with a Virginia beer or wine.

The iconic Sting-Ray’s Restaurant is located in an Exxon gas station and serves up great breakfast, lunch and dinner amid fill-ups at the pumps and an adjacent gift shop inside filled with kitsch. We order the crabcakes and sweet potato pie.


Kelly’s Gingernut Pub offers a tasty gastropub menu (try the Irish Cordon Bleu) and a wide assortment of draught and bottled beers. We, of course, gravitate to Virginia quaffs, and a favorite during the Dog Days of summer is the Devils Backbone Vienna Lager.


Brews, Band and Barbecue and Oysters Too on Oct. 10 at the Sunset Beach Inn in Kiptopeke offers all the aforementioned treats.

Eastern Shore Birding and Wildlife Festival Oyster Roast, also on Oct. 10 in nearby Oyster features a Shore-centic menu with oysters, crabcakes, barbecue, local vegetables and more.



Chatham Vineyards

Chatham Vineyards


We love to grab seafood to-go at Great Machipongo Clam Shack, but it’s also a good bet to sit down and dine in. We love the Eastern Shore Clam Chowder: tons of chopped clams served in a clear broth, coupled with a crab salad plate.

Insider tip: bring a cooler with some ice to stock up on fresh seafood to take back home or to your beach cottage.

Located in a quaint and quirky old service station, Machipongo Trading Company has a great selection of dishes (including vegetarian options) at breakfast and lunch. But whenever we see pimento cheese made in-house on a menu, we are compelled to order it, and we love the offering here, slathered and grilled as a panini sandwich.


We love Chatham Vineyards; it’s the perfect mix of a serene setting on Church Creek and vintages of wonderful wines from Jon Wehner. For whites, we gravitate towards the unoaked Chardonnay because it is the perfect pairing with oysters. For reds, the Vintner’s Blend, a Bordeaux-style offering, can’t be beat.


Merroir & Terroir Oyster Extravaganza on Nov. 14 at Chatham Vineyards in Machipongo showcases oysters and clams served in a number of ways and paired with award-winning Virginia wines.

Insider tip: this event, located on the grounds of Chatham Vineyards, sells out quickly; purchase tickets in advance.

Ducks Unlimited Oyster Roast on Nov. 21 at the Barrier Islands Center in Machipongo provides serves up a classic oyster roast while raising funds to preserve the Shore’s waterways.



Willis Wharf, H.M. Terry Company

Willis Wharf, H.M. Terry Company


An authentic shiny silver diner, Exmore Diner serves up authentic, delicious diner food. At breakfast our choice is a Bacon & Cheese Omelet with grits and biscuit. At dinner we love the soft shell crabs in season or the clam fritter, made fresh with seaside clams, any other time of the year.

There is a huge assortment of baked goods at Yellow Duck Bakery Café but for a quick breakfast we like to grab a muffin or two to go then it’s off to explore the Shore. The Chocolate Zucchini is a winner; in season we love the Gingerbread.


While at Yellow Duck Bakery Café, we grab one of the signature espresso drinks: make mine a Café Mocha, please.


We like to drive through Willis Wharf and catch a glimpse at the bustling family-operated Sewansecott Oysters operation from H. M. Terry Co., who has been in business through four generations and more than 100 years. You may catch some of the boats heading out to Hog Island ready to harvest some of the bivalve beauties.



Pam Barefoot of Blue Crab Bay Company in Melfa.  Image by

Pam Barefoot of Blue Crab Bay Company in Melfa. Image by


Considering that Wachapreague is the Flounder Capital of the World, a favorite dish of ours at The Island House Restaurant is the Flounder Platter; it’s offered fried but we love it broiled. The plate comes with fries and slaw.

Insider tip: designed after the old Parramore Island Life Saving Station, burn some calories by climbing the spiral staircase to reach the lookout tower and view the surrounding barrier islands.

Visit Blue Crab Bay Co.’s retail outlet in Melfa and sample a number of the specialty food company’s tasty offerings. One of our favorite snacks is the Crab House Crunch: peanut squares (think peanut brittle) is tossed in a spicy Chesapeake Bay seasoning for some sweet and some heat.

People watching and fabulous fried chicken are my favorite things about Tammy & Johnny’s, a local Old School fast food joint in Melfa run by siblings named, wait for it, Tammy & Johnny. Also grab an order of Sweet Potato Sticks.


Grab a bottle – or two – of Blue Crab Bay Co.’s signature Sting Ray Spicy Bloody Mary Mixer (spiked with ocean clam juice) for perfect brunch cocktails.


Clamboree on Aug. 15 at the Eastern Shore Yacht and Country Club in Melfa starts with all-you-can-eat steamed local clams and a dinner inside overlooking the Pungoteague Creek benefiting the Eastern Shorekeepers.

Island House Oyster Roast on Nov. 1 at the Island House Restaurant in Wachapreague offers classic oyster roast dishes amid scenic views of Wachapreague harbor.

Oysters a la Carte on Nov. 14 at Blue Crab Bay Co. in Melfa celebrates the specialty food company’s 30th anniversary with oysters, clams and local wine.



Mallards at the Wharf

Mallards at the Wharf


Inside the boutique Charlotte Hotel is a lovely restaurant featuring contemporary cuisine with many dishes using Eastern Shore products. The menu is seasonal and changing; recent offerings included a starter of Potato Wrapped Shrimp flash fried and served with a sweet chili sauce and entrée of Atlantic Salmon crusted with feta and served with a lemon beurre blanc.

Fine dining and lodging is offered at The Inn & Garden Café, a charming bed and breakfast. Writing menus to the season, fresh ingredients are used in dishes like mussels simmered in butter, garlic, white wine, lemon and thyme and a Vegetable Strudel that features artichokes, tomatoes, spinach and other ingredients in puff pastry.

A must-stop every time we head to the Eastern Shore is Mallards at the Wharf in the old Hopkins General Store on Onancock Creek. Every dish we’ve had from Chef Johnny Mo is amazing; a favorite of ours is the rockfish. Known as The Musical Chef, he may come from the kitchen and serenade diners while there. This time of year, dining outdoors is a must.

(Insider tip: there is a sister location, Mallards Sidewalk Café, in Accomac)


The Blarney Stone Irish Pub is a charming place to grab some great pub grub (they are noted for their Shepherds Pie); we also love to come for pint – or two. In addition to beer and signature cocktails, a nice assortment of whiskey is offered. We recommend the whiskey sampler, a half-ounce pour of each of the four featured brands.


The Onancock Challenge & Seafood Boil on Sept. 12 at Mallards at the Wharf in Onancock offers bowls of mussels, clams, fish, shrimp and vegetables in a savory broth following a paddling contest on Onancock Creek.


Patrick Evans-HyltonPatrick Evans-Hylton, a Johnson & Wales University trained chef, is a Norfolk, Va.-based food journalist, historian and educator. His work has appeared in print, television, radio and social media since 1995. Evans-Hylton calls his cookbook, Dishing Up Virginia, his love letter to the state’s foods and foodways. He blogs at

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]]> 4 Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. Image by Cape Charles Chatham Vineyards Willis Wharf, H.M. Terry Company Pam Barefoot of Blue Crab Bay Company in Melfa. Image by Mallards at the Wharf Patrick Evans-Hylton
16 Places for Virginia Crafts: Beer and Pizza Tue, 11 Aug 2015 20:12:26 +0000 ]]>

What goes better with a cold craft beer than pizza? Nothing. We’re not talking big chain pizza, but those smothered in garden-fresh produce and local cheese, baked in a brick oven or wood-fired. That’s the good stuff, and here’s where you can get that perfect Virginia match-up.


Mouth-watering pizza where Virginia craft beer is made?! Yep. That’s the sitch at these two breweries.


Blue Mountain Brewery

Looking for a gluten-free pie? You can get it at Blue Mountain. Both their gluten-free and their Blue Mountain pizza dough are hand-crafted, and the toppings are sourced from neighbors down the road. The Bratwurst with Apples and Onions is quite famous around the Virginia Tourism office. It features Double H Farm bratwurst (those neighbors I mentioned), carmelized onions, local apples, mozzarella, fresh marinara, and balsamic reduction. You have to try it to appreciate it. It’s love on crust. Ask your server for a Blue Mountain brew to pair with it, or perhaps try another Virginia craft beer or cider.



Mad Fox’s pizzas include locally sourced produce, meats, and cheeses. Try The Mad Brewer, but be sure to ask Bill, Bruce, or Max (aka “The Mad Brewers”) for their recommendation for a beer that will take the bite out of it. A Sriracha garlic puree only gets hotter has chili flakes and jalapeños are added to the roasted pork belly, parsley, aged mozzarella, and red onion. The taps rotate Mad Fox’s home-brewed selection, as well as “guest beers” and cider.

ALSO SEE: 10 Virginia Breweries to Tap for Your Next Event


Other awesome places to get the good stuff:


Bella Luna

A 900° wood-fired oven gives these specialty pies a Neapolitan feel while the four-ingredient handmade dough and delicious artisinal ingredients deliver a taste of Virginia. Sheandoah Valley-raised produce, meats, and cheeses are delivered daily to craft 10″ delights like the house fennel sausage pizza, the Virginia prosciutto and arugula pizza, and the Ring of Fire II, featuring amFOG mushrooms and spicy house-made hot sauce. Try the brand new Foxy Roxy with your pizza. It’s a hometown craft beer collaboration between Pale Fire and Brothers Craft Brewing.



The daily-made Crozet pizza dough is the main staple and has been for more than 40 years. Handcrafted with love, each pie includes fresh delights from the area as well as the family’s special tomato sauce. Not a tomato sauce fan? Try the Harvest Moon, a white pizza with squash, roasted  fresh garlic, and Virginia peanuts. Delish! Visit to see what’s on tap that will pair perfectly with your pie. Safe bet: there’s a Charlottesville original and a few Nelson County neighbors.

ALSO SEE: 15 Places to Sip and Savor Virginia Craft Beer



Harvest Table Restaurant

The mission at Harvest Table is to truly, honestly use the ingredients that are seasonally available in order to benefit the health of the community and the land. You’d be impressed to see their commitment. But about those pizzas … they’re baked in a stone oven and feature regionally available pepperoni from Hickory Nut Gap (NC), Kenny’s Farmhouse cheese (KY), Edwards Surryano ham (VA), and of course, fresh veggies from the Harvest Table garden. There’s “local” to drink, too. Wolf Hills, Blue Mountain, Parkway, and St. George are the craft beer selections, and several Virginia wines are available, too.



WaterStone Pizza

WaterStone features the beer of Jefferson Street Brewery (their upstairs neighbor), as well as a robust rotation of other Virginia craft brews, like Three Notch’d, O’Connor, Lickinghole Creek, Blue Mountain, Starr Hill, and Parkway. As for that fire roasted pizza, there is a gluten-free dough option. The menu is a tried-and-true take with Four Cheese, Margherita, a veggie, BBQ Chicken, etc., and you’re welcome to mix-and-match to create your own pie.



Honest and rustic are the ways of Rustico, turning out wood-fired pizzs topped with as many local, organic ingredients as possible. Give the Ratatouille pizza a look. It features herb and garlic roasted squash, arugula and eggplant salad, and parmesan on a san marzano sauce and topped with red wine vinaigrette. Looking for a gluten-free option? Ask for the chickpea crust! Pair it up with the latest flavor from AleWerks, Hardywood, or Adroit Theory.

ALSO SEE: Crafting a Quality Cocktail for Virginia Beer Month




What goes with beer and pizza? Football. Monza has several big screen TVs to lure you in for an indulgence without missing the big game. More than 100 craft beers are available (mostly Virginia, but Monza shares well with others). Choose your favorite and pair it up with something meaty like the Meathead. It’s loaded with meatballs, prosciutto, pepperoni, sausage, and spicy marinara.



Traditional Neapolitan pizza is bubbled to perfection in a mere 90 seconds thanks to an 800° volcanic brick oven. It’s so good that Pizzeria Orso has been included repeatedly on numerous “Best of” lists. While some ingredients are imported and true to Neapolitan style pizza, plenty more are locally and regionally sourced. Available Virginia craft beers include Lost Rhino, Blue Mountain, Devils Backbone, and Port City.



A Coastal Virginia Magazine Readers’ Choice winner this year, Venture serves an interesting line up of pizzas baked in their brick-lined oven, from the Beet-za (roasted beet, fresh basil, roasted garlic, tomato sauce, mozzarella, goat cheese, and fresh arugula) to the Hampton Hawaiian (tomato sauce, fresh pineapple, Edwards Virginia country ham, lump crab, and mozzarella. Virginia craft beers include St. George, Wild Wolf, Bold Rock Cider, Legend, and Hardywood Park.



Stuzzi Pizza Napoletana

When it comes to Neapolitan pizza, not everyone can claim it. There’s a certification process, and Stuzzi aced the test. Led by executive chef Clemenza Caserta, who competed in season 10 of FOX’s Hell’s Kitchen and co-hosts “‘Chewing the Fat’ with Big & Beefy” with chef Rob Burmeister, Stuzzi’s pizza menu is decidedly authentic. Trendy, I know. For a taste of something authentically Virginia, give the White Clam a try. As you might guess, it’s a white pizza (no tomato sauce) with Chesapeake clams, garlic, chili flakes, basil, and parsley. Choose from a variety of Virginia craft beers to make it a perfect pizza night.

ALSO SEE: Virginia Beer Trails & Tours



Lampo’s wood-fired pizza is so good (a contender in this year’s Best of C-Ville awards) that the evening rush often depletes the dough supply for later diners. Make a beeline for a Funghi pie featuring Sharondale Farms’ pioppini and oyster mushrooms along with garlic, panna, ager provolone, and Grana Padano. Need a little meat instead? The Abruzzo is topped with Timbercreek Organics’ pork and beef meatballs, fiore di latte, san marzano, pecorino, and basil. Either would go great with a Champion craft beer or Potter’s Craft cider.



The Brick Pizzeria at Black Bear Bistro

Head to the lower level of Black Bear to find a haven of rustic awesomeness. A brick oven is the crown, and your delicious pie is the jewel. Try the Capra Rosso. It starts with the Brick Sauce and is topped with pepperoni, peppadews, bacon, garden-fresh spinach, and goat cheese. Virginia craft beer choices include Devils Backbone, Legend, Lost Rhino, Starr Hill, Brothers Craft, and Wild Wolf.



“The best creations possible from the best ingredients available” is the mantra at Fire Works. Twelve taps and 80 bottled varieties give you plenty of pairing options for the signature pizza lineup. Virginia regulars are Hardywood, AleWerks, Blue Mountain, Old Ox, Wild Wolf, Devils Backbone, and Ocelot. Try The Smokey Blue, which features Mt. Jackson-raised bacon from Baker’s Farm along with organic tomato sauce, house blend cheese, Gorgonzola, wood-roasted onions, rosemary, and Balsamic glaze.



Hip and happenin’ Floyd is known for its thriving music scene, but Dogtown Roadhouse is putting them on the map for food as well. A 2015 TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence winner, Dogtown delivers on the standards: service and quality, but then they take it over the top with incredible live music and insanely good wood-fired pizza. Try the Paisan. It’s crafted with local sausage, carmelized onions, and a house cheese blend. A healthy variety of Virginia craft beer is available alongside the usual domestics and imports.



Check out the seasonal pizza selection at Rivermont and the ever-present housemade mozzarella. The pies are wood-fired and the craft beer selection is on point. Expect to see Port City, Alewerks, Devils Backbone, Apocalypse, and Hardywood, among others. Rivermont is also an exciting place for live music.

© Casey for Virginia's Travel Blog, 2015. | Permalink | 6 comments |
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