Virginia's Travel Blog http://blog.virginia.org Travel Ideas and Stories Wed, 23 Jul 2014 21:31:13 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.5.2 http://blog.virginia.org/wp-content/themes/vablog/images/vifl.gifVirginia's Travel Bloghttp://blog.virginia.org Five Can’t-Miss Summer Events http://blog.virginia.org/2014/07/summer-events/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=summer-events http://blog.virginia.org/2014/07/summer-events/#comments Wed, 23 Jul 2014 21:31:13 +0000 Casey http://blog.virginia.org/?p=7768 ]]>

Some events know no end and we LOVE them! Annually occurring festivals are marked on our calendars a year ahead of time. They’re something to look forward to and yet another opportunity to make memories with the ones we love. Here are five upcoming “late” summer events that you can’t miss. Start a new tradition or chime in via the comments to tell us your favorite parts of these five.

Assateague Island Pony Watching from the Assateague Channel

Assateague Island Pony Watching from the Assateague Channel

1. The Chincoteague Pony Swim from Assateague to Chincoteague Island has been happening at the end of July for nearly 90 years. That’s quite the tradition, and there are families who never miss it, making an annual pilgrimage to see the crossing, the parading, and the auctioning of the years’ foals. While you’re in town, be sure to visit Island Creamery, hailed the #1 ice cream parlor in America by TripAdvisor users.

2. The Shenandoah Valley Music Festival is one of the mid-Atlantic’s longest running outdoor music festivals. This year’s session began on July 18 and continues with dates through August 31. Remaining on the schedule are acts like United States Air Force Strings, Rhonda Vincent and the Rage, The Oak Ridge Boys and Eddie from Ohio. Centered around Shenandoah County’s Orkney Springs, the setting is bucolic with the Allegheny Mountains as a backdrop. Buy Tickets

Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts. Image by CameronDavidson@CameronDavidson.com.

Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts. Image by CameronDavidson@CameronDavidson.com.

3. The Filene Center at Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts in Vienna is the place for summer concerts and family performances! This summer has included Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band, Daryl Hall & John Oates, Ben Folds, Diana Ross, Pilobolus, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Sara Bareilles, The Fray and Lionel Richie with CeeLo Green. Yet to come (and tickets available for!) are  Sarah McLachlan, Darius Rucker, Heart, Wynton Marsalis, Yo-Yo Ma, Boney James and Eric Benet, YANNI, The Band Perry, Cirque Dreams – Jungle Fantasy and Colbie Caillat. Every summer season brings great acts that you won’t want to miss. Buy Tickets

4. The still new but ever growing Virginia Craft Brewers Festival is held each August at Devils Backbone Brewing Company against Wintergreen Mountain in Roseland. Now in its third year, more than 40 of Virginia’s craft brewers have signed on to offer tastings and tout their upcoming flavors. You won’t want to miss the awarding of the Virginia Craft Brewers Cup. Devils Backbone has taken home the cup each year so far. Their Smokehaus Lager won in 2013 and their Schwartz Bier won in 2012. Buy Tickets and/or Reserve a Campsite

Morven Park is the setting for Epicurience Virginia in Leesburg.

Morven Park is the setting for Epicurience Virginia in Leesburg.

5. Epicurience Virginia took by storm the culinary and wine scenes of Virginia, DC and environs when it debuted last year. Held at the beautiful, historic Morven Park in Leesburg, this event brings together the best tastes Virginia has to offer in an opulent atmosphere across three days at the end of August. The Grand Tasting is the second day and it’s the event you don’t want to miss with chef demonstrations and opportunities to meet Virginia winemakers and tastemakers. The rest of the weekend includes a Fabulous 1940s Party at Oatlands Plantation and various fine dining experiences. Buy Tickets

>> Upcoming Festivals
>> Virginia Craft Beer
>> Virginia Wine
>> Culinary Virginia

Virginia is for Lovers
Request a Travel Guide

© Casey for Virginia's Travel Blog, 2014 ]]>
http://blog.virginia.org/2014/07/summer-events/feed/ 0 Assateague Island Pony Watching from the Assateague Channel Assateague Island Pony Watching from the Assateague Channel Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts. Image by CameronDavidson@CameronDavidson.com. Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts. Image by CameronDavidson@CameronDavidson.com. Morven Park is the setting for Epicurience Virginia in Leesburg.
Virginia’s Music Heritage http://blog.virginia.org/2014/07/music-heritage/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=music-heritage http://blog.virginia.org/2014/07/music-heritage/#comments Tue, 22 Jul 2014 15:46:30 +0000 Casey http://blog.virginia.org/?p=7732 ]]>

At its core, music is all about emotion and storytelling. As Vince Gill puts it, “I just think it’s important to know your history. Period.” And the history of country music starts with the 1927 Bristol Sessions – “the Big Bang of Country Music,” if you will.

Carter Family Fold. Image by Emily Edmonds.

Carter Family Fold. Image by Emily Edmonds.

Orthophonic Joy: The 1927 Bristol Sessions Revisited is a project that brings well known veterans of country and bluegrass together with rising stars to deliver, in fact, orthophonic joy. That is, reproduced authentic sounds that deliver feelings of great pleasure and happiness.

The project of 16 re-recorded Bristol Sessions songs will be released in October, nicely dovetailing with the August 1 opening of the brand new Smithsonian Institution-affiliated Birthplace of Country Music Museum in Bristol.

Recording artists include Dolly Parton, Vince Gill, Emmylou Harris, Marty Stuart, Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers and Ashley Monroe. The project is produced by multi-Grammy Award-winner Carl Jackson.

>> About Orthophonic Joy: The 1927 Bristol Sessions Revisited

Virginia’s musical legacy is as deep and wide as its rivers and valleys. In Southwest Virginia, the Carter Family and the Stonemans were two of the acts who helped popularize the rise of mountain music and were among the first to penetrate American households on radio and records.

Dr. Ralph Stanley. Photo by CameronDavidson@CameronDavidson.com.

Dr. Ralph Stanley. Photo by CameronDavidson@CameronDavidson.com.

Ralph Stanley (pictured right), from Clintwood, helped bring Bluegrass and Old Time music into the mainstream. His lengthy and distinguished career received widespread acclaim with the release of the movie O Brother, Where Art Thou?, featuring his songs O, Death and Angel Band. And while Man of Constant Sorrow, the unintentional O Brother theme song, wasn’t penned by Stanley, he resurrected the old ballad in 1951 when he recorded it with his brother Carter for Columbia Records. No one knows for sure exactly where the song originated.

The music of Southwest Virginia is more accessible than ever thanks in part to The Crooked Road: Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail. The Crooked Road links together dozens of venues where live music can be heard each week. Heritage sites such as the Ralph Stanley Museum, the Blue Ridge Music Center and Heartwood help tell the stories of the music and musicians.

Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion

Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion

Music festivals draw tens of thousands of fans from around the world. The Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion fills the downtown area of the vibrant city with stages indoors and out. FloydFest is an eclectic celebration of music of nearly every description and is held adjacent to the Blue Ridge Parkway. The Wayne C. Henderson Music Festival honors one of America’s top acoustic guitar makers and this year features Vince Gill as its headliner.

Divergent veins of music run throughout Virginia, producing famous names in a variety of genres. Legendary singers Ella Fitzgerald and Pearl Bailey both hailed from Newport News. Country Music Hall of Fame member Patsy Cline was born in Winchester. Las Vegas legend Wayne Newton was born in Norfolk, and country music superstar Roy Clark is from the small town of Meherrin. Williamsburg is home to native son Bruce Hornsby.

Dave Matthews grew up in Charlottesville and owns one of Virginia’s top wineries nearby. Pharrell Williams of Virginia Beach has made the world “Happy” with his smash single. He and his musical partner, Chad Hugo, from nearby Portsmouth, comprise The Neptunes and as performers and producers are one of the dominant forces in modern popular music.

Truly, Virginia’s music reverberates around the world today with new sounds and influences, yet still finds a home among the hills of Appalachia.

From inside the new Birthplace of Country Music Museum. Photo by Earl Neikirk, Bristol Herald Courier.

From inside the new Birthplace of Country Music Museum. Photo by Earl Neikirk, Bristol Herald Courier.

© Casey for Virginia's Travel Blog, 2014 ]]>
http://blog.virginia.org/2014/07/music-heritage/feed/ 0 Carter Family Fold. Image by Emily Edmonds. Carter Family Fold. Image by Emily Edmonds. Dr. Ralph Stanley. Photo by CameronDavidson@CameronDavidson.com. Dr. Ralph Stanley. Photo by CameronDavidson@CameronDavidson.com. Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion From inside the new Birthplace of Country Music Museum. Photo by Earl Neikirk, Bristol Herald Courier,
Five Refreshing Summer Lake Getaways http://blog.virginia.org/2014/07/refreshing-summer-lake-getaways/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=refreshing-summer-lake-getaways http://blog.virginia.org/2014/07/refreshing-summer-lake-getaways/#comments Mon, 21 Jul 2014 19:27:57 +0000 Casey http://blog.virginia.org/?p=7684 ]]>

Virginia’s lakes are excellent summer destinations for families, couples, friends, reunions … you name it! Take a few-day getaway to enjoy everything lakes have to offer. Tuck away into a private cove in a rental home, hit the water on jet skis, or swing the hours away in a waterside hammock. It’s your playground, find your fun!

1. Forty-eight hours fly by when you’re having fun at Virginia’s second largest lake, Smith Mountain Lake. With 500 miles of shoreline, SML has many access points from the three counties that share it. Here’s just an example of a way to while away a weekend.

Bridgewater Marina, Moneta

Bridgewater Marina, Moneta

Check into “Rustic Cottage” in Moneta. Sitting up on a bank, the view of the deep water cove is fantastic. Amenities include a paddle boat, swimming pool, ping pong, and more. Four bedrooms. Located between lake markers R26 and R27.

If you’re bringing the whole family or just want to stay in luxury, check out the Wind Family Compound in Moneta. At 7,000 square feet, “spacious” is an understatement. Amenities include two master suites, two docks, 320′ of waterfront, game room, two kitchens, large playroom, huge screened porch, and tons more. Located near lake marker R19.

If camping is more your speed, pull in your RV, pitch your tent, or rent an on-sight park model at one of these lakeside camping retreats:

Smith Mountain Lake. Photo by Casey Higgins. Smith Mountain Lake. Photo by Casey Higgins. Smith Mountain Lake. Photo by Casey Higgins.

2. Virginia’s largest lake is Kerr Lake, stretching from Scottsburg to Boydton and down into North Carolina, and includes three counties in each state. Fifty thousand acres of fresh water and more than 800 miles of shoreline make it an outdoor enthusiasts paradise. Fishermen especially love Kerr Lake, and In-Fisherman magazine has hailed it as the number one Crappie fishing lake. In fact, numerous fishing tournaments are held at Kerr Lake annually.

Choose your stay. Camp or set up cabin at Occoneechee or Staunton River state parks, Longwood Campground in Clarksville, or North Bend Campground in Boydton.

Cooper's Landing Inn, Clarksville

Cooper’s Landing Inn, Clarksville

Want to step up your stay a notch or two? The Clarksville area (Virginia’s only lakefront town) has options!

  • Cooper’s Landing Inn is a beautiful bed and breakfast with its own restaurant, Traveler’s Tavern, on site. Enjoy their pool and hot tub while the innkeepers act as your concierge for explorations.
  • Blue Heron Lodge is a vacation rental home located on a quiet cove across the lake from Occoneechee State Park. Sleeps 12.

Get out and about!

There are numerous wildlife management areas bordering Kerr Lake. If you love wildlife photography or birding, this is a great destination for you.

Waterskiing Kerr Lake. Photo by CameronDavidson@CameronDavidson.com. Occoneechee State Park. Photo by CameronDavidson@CameronDavidson.com. Night Fishing is unique to Kerr Lake. Photo by Scott K. Brown.

3. Lake Anna is Virginia’s third largest lake with 200 miles of shoreline and 13,000 acres of water, yet it remains fairly private.

Kindred Spirits, Spotsylvania

Kindred Spirits, Spotsylvania

You won’t want to leave “Kindred Spirits” once you check in. Located in a quiet deep water cove, this home sits on nearly two acres and has 250′ of waterfront for you to enjoy. A boat slip, jet ski lift, and fantastic water views are just a few of the great features this vacation home offers.

Would you rather camp? You’ll find Christopher Run Campground in Mineral to be a fine choice with 200 campsites and a variety of cabins available. Lake Anna State Park in Spotsylvania is a gem for camping, too.

4. Lake Gaston straddles the Virginia/North Carolina border and covers 20,000 acres with 350 miles of shoreline.

You’ll love the waterfront camp sites at Lake Gaston Americamps in Bracey. Cabin rentals are available, too.

5. Lake Moomaw is tucked away in the Alleghany Mountains in Covington. It’s 2,530 acres are abundant with a variety of fish species while the wildlife around it are plentiful, too. The 43 miles of shoreline are wooded and undeveloped. True outdoorsmen will find the peace they long for when they choose a camping location on this lake.

  • Bolar Mountain Recreation Area offers waterside campsites, a sandy beach area, boat ramp, boat rentals, and 11 miles of hiking trails. Access this camp area from Warm Springs.
  • Greenwood Point is a 3.3-mile hike in (no road access), or you can paddle your way directly to the campground shore. Only five campsites are available here; first come, first served.

If the lake doesn’t keep you occupied, venture out to see a few gems …

  • Falling Spring – A scenic waterfall south of Lake Moomaw on Hot Springs Road (Route 220).
  • Humpback Bridge – The only single span 100′ wooden arched covered bridge in Virginia.

Enjoy these lakes and more!

Virginia is for Lovers.
Request a travel guide.

© Casey for Virginia's Travel Blog, 2014 ]]>
http://blog.virginia.org/2014/07/refreshing-summer-lake-getaways/feed/ 0 Bridgewater Marina, Moneta Smith Mountain Lake. Photo by Casey Higgins. Smith Mountain Lake. Photo by Casey Higgins. Smith Mountain Lake. Photo by Casey Higgins. Cooper's Landing Inn, Clarksville Waterskiing Kerr Lake. Photo by CameronDavidson@CameronDavidson.com. Occoneechee State Park. Photo by CameronDavidson@CameronDavidson.com. Night Fishing is unique to Kerr Lake. Photo by Scott K. Brown. Kindred Spirits, Spotsylvania
Hang On Tight! Ten Rock Climbing, Bouldering and Rappelling Spots http://blog.virginia.org/2014/07/10-indoor-outdoor-rock-climbing-bouldering-rappelling-hot-spots/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=10-indoor-outdoor-rock-climbing-bouldering-rappelling-hot-spots http://blog.virginia.org/2014/07/10-indoor-outdoor-rock-climbing-bouldering-rappelling-hot-spots/#comments Thu, 17 Jul 2014 19:29:41 +0000 Stefanie http://blog.virginia.org/?p=7526 ]]>
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.

 

© Stefanie for Virginia's Travel Blog, 2014 ]]>
http://blog.virginia.org/2014/07/10-indoor-outdoor-rock-climbing-bouldering-rappelling-hot-spots/feed/ 0 Wild Guyde Service rise_up Shenandoah National Park Grayson Highlands State Park
Scenic Motorcycle Drives to Try Out http://blog.virginia.org/2014/07/hop-hog-scenic-motorcycle-rides/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=hop-hog-scenic-motorcycle-rides http://blog.virginia.org/2014/07/hop-hog-scenic-motorcycle-rides/#comments Thu, 17 Jul 2014 12:41:42 +0000 Stefanie http://blog.virginia.org/?p=7464 ]]>

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.

 

© Stefanie for Virginia's Travel Blog, 2014 ]]>
http://blog.virginia.org/2014/07/hop-hog-scenic-motorcycle-rides/feed/ 0 SV09020403V_68.TIF Back of the Dragon
Enjoy Local Shopping in Virginia’s Historical Districts http://blog.virginia.org/2014/07/enjoy-local-shopping-virginias-historical-districts/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=enjoy-local-shopping-virginias-historical-districts http://blog.virginia.org/2014/07/enjoy-local-shopping-virginias-historical-districts/#comments Wed, 16 Jul 2014 13:19:58 +0000 Stefanie http://blog.virginia.org/?p=7599 ]]>

It’s hard to believe that summer is more than halfway over. But don’t fret! Now is the perfect time to score some great deals on everything from clothing to furniture. And with that also comes the unveiling of fall’s newest lineups. We’re not in primetime season yet, so there are deals out there to get a leg up on the latest trends. As we wallow through this transitional phase, take advantage of all the unique shopping districts around the Commonwealth.

And don’t forget, TAX-FREE shopping weekend is Aug. 1-3!

Carytown Shopping

Carytown Shopping

Carytown, Richmond
Known as the Mile of Style, Carytown offers everything you need to eat, shop, and play. Its sidewalks are lined with unique boutiques, restaurants, specialty shops, spas and more. Enjoy the eclectic collection of award-winning, locally-owned businesses. Spend the day in the area voted “Best Shopping Neighborhood in Virginia” by the readers of Southern Living magazine. While you’re here, visit Carytown landmarks, including Cary Court, the oldest outdoor shopping center on the East Coast and catch a film at the Byrd Theatre, Richmond’s movie palace since 1928. Carytown hosts many festivals throughout the year, including the Watermelon Festival, Chalk up the Town, Craft Beer Festival, Food & Wine Festival, Carytown Fashion Show and more, of course!

Old Town Alexandria
The go-to D.C. destination for boutique shopping is Old Town Alexandria, with The Wall Street Journal praising, “The King Street area has some of the best stores and galleries in the region.” Nearly 80 percent of the restaurants and retailers in the King Street corridor are independently owned, including the chic shops of the Old Town Boutique District, while nearby, Del Ray’s Mount Vernon Avenue is another haven for eclectic, locally owned storefronts. Fashionistas flock to Alexandria for high end shoes and unique clothing finds, while home décor shops and antique galleries burst with statement pieces. Delight in tasty treats from olive oils to award-winning hot chocolates, pick up pet friendly goodies, or peruse handmade jewelry at the Torpedo Factory Art Center. While you’re there, take in the sites and attractions of George Washington’s hometown and more.

The Pink Scottie in Historic Petersburg

The Pink Scottie in Historic Petersburg

Old Towne Petersburg
A devastating fire in 1815 wiped out the old towne of Petersburg, a collection of wooden warehouses and homes along the Appomattox River. Today, Old Towne is a district of antique galleries, boutiques, craft shops, restaurants, cafes and a mix of renovated residences. With cobblestone streets and national landmarks throughout, take in a truly unique shopping experience.

Historic Roanoke City Market
The Historic Roanoke City Market is the oldest such market in continuous use in Virginia, dating back to the 1800s. While you’re picking up from fresh, local produce, the Historic Market building also offers fantastic shopping opportunities. The entire Market District includes unique shopping, galleries, boutiques, restaurants, antique shops, museum shops and plenty more to discover.

Shopping in Smithfield
Smithfield’s Historic District, lined with Colonial, Federal and Victorian homes, offers antique collectors and shoppers a plethora of options. The Antiques Emporium, Heritage Antiques, Laura and Lucy’s, Olde House Antiques, Mansion House Art & Antique Gallery, and Wharf Hill Antiques offer everything from toys to treasures, furniture to fixtures, and memorabilia to music.

Hugh Mercery Apothecary Shop in Historic Fredericksburg

Hugh Mercery Apothecary Shop in Historic Fredericksburg

Historic Downtown Fredericksburg
Set foot into some of the most interesting periods in America’s past with a stroll among more than 350 original 18th and 19th century buildings in Fredericksburg’s 40-block National Historic District. While here, visitors can also step into over 100 shops, chef-owned restaurants and boutiques, concentrated in the downtown area and along a four-block “antique row” near the river.

Leesburg Historic District
Leesburg’s Historic District provides a charming backdrop for shopping, dining, walking tours, visiting art galleries and buying those one of a kind items or the stylish ‘must have’ accessories… handbags, jewelry, clothing and more. Antiques and home furnishing stores are plentiful. The streets are lined with brick sidewalks, authentic, historic architecture and wonderful flowering trees and flower baskets. Discover the charm and the great buys.

Shockoe Slip, Richmond
Shockoe Slip’s neighborhood has become a prime example of urban restoration and historic preservation. What was once the only trading area in Richmond is now the city’s most fashionable shopping and dining district. The Slip’s restored warehouses and taverns house a unique assortment of exclusive apparel stores, galleries, restaurants and hotels.

Capo's Music Store in Downtown Abingdon

Capo’s Music Store in Downtown Abingdon

Abingdon Historic District
Specialty shops, boutiques, art galleries and more line the streets of historic downtown Abingdon. Spend a day wandering the cobblestone sidewalks and discover historic landmarks like the State Theatre of Virginia, all the while browsing unique antique shops, music stores, the Abingdon Olive Oil Co. and more.

© Stefanie for Virginia's Travel Blog, 2014 ]]>
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30 Freshwater Swimming Holes http://blog.virginia.org/2014/07/swimmingholes/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=swimmingholes http://blog.virginia.org/2014/07/swimmingholes/#comments Mon, 14 Jul 2014 14:28:32 +0000 Casey http://blog.virginia.org/?p=7517 ]]>

Summer calls for a dip in the water, and we have fresh mountain streams and rivers that you’ll find most refreshing on a hot day. Our list has been compiled through various avenues of research, including tips from local residents. If they love these swimming holes, you’re sure to as well!

Dismal Falls

Dismal Falls

If you are unfamiliar with mountain streams, let me tell you that they’re cold. Pack a picnic and refresh yourself in the Maury River at one of these public access points in Rockbridge County:

Swim or wade at the base of a waterfall!

Choosing your James River access point can be tricky, as this gem can roar mightily in certain areas, especially after a heavy rain upstream. Try these locations, but never swim alone.

Splash around in the oldest river in North America, the New River.

Blue Hole – many river towns have a special swimming hole they dub “Blue Hole.” Aforementioned Goshen Pass is sometimes known as Blue Hole by locals and here are two more:

  • A site James Madison University students and Harrisonburg locals call “Blue Hole” is located on Dry River off Rawley Pike (Route 33) in Rockingham County. A large boulder makes a fantastic jumping platform into this deep swimming hole.
  • University of Virginia students love their own “Blue Hole” on Moormans River near the Sugar Hollow Reservoir in Crozet. This swimming hole is within the boundaries of Shenandoah National Park.

Dunlap Creek flows beneath the renowned Humpback Bridge in Alleghany County. When the water’s high enough, it’s a great place for a dip. Otherwise, dipping your toes works, too, at this beautiful, historic site.

Dunlap Creek flows beneath Humpback Bridge.

Dunlap Creek flows beneath Humpback Bridge.

Craig Creek Recreation Area is 130 acres in Botetourt County that’s available for camping, picnics, and of course, swimming! The water is gentle and perfect for families.

Blackwater Creek at Hollins Mill in Lynchburg is shallow for wading in to cool off on a hot summer day and is also an access point for the Blackwater Creek Natural Area and Trail.

While there’s no designated swimming area (like a beach) at Shenandoah River Raymond R. “Andy” Guest Jr. State Park on the Shenandoah River in Warren County, you can wade out and splash around or tube to your heart’s content.

Off the Blue Ridge Parkway in Rockbridge County at Petite’s Gap (milepost 71) is an unmarked gravel road (Petite’s Gap Road). Descend, winding, for several miles until you cross East Fork Elk Creek in Sulphur Spring Hollow. At the second crossing, pull off – your swimming hole is in that vicinity.

St. Mary’s River is home to St. Mary’s Falls, which can be found in Saint Mary’s Wilderness in Augusta County. This swimming hole includes a rock slide, which can be great fun if the water level is just right.  It’s just south of the falls.

Please enjoy Virginia’s swimming holes with a friend; never swim alone. Also, follow “leave no trace” practices when experiencing any part of Virginia’s outdoors.

Which of these have you been to? Which do you love that aren’t listed here? Leave a comment to tell us all about it.

Virginia is for Lovers.
Request a Free Travel Guide.

© Casey for Virginia's Travel Blog, 2014 ]]>
http://blog.virginia.org/2014/07/swimmingholes/feed/ 3 Dismal Falls Dunlap Creek flows beneath Humpback Bridge. Dunlap Creek flows beneath Humpback Bridge.
Stand Up Paddleboarding Spots http://blog.virginia.org/2014/07/stand-paddleboarding-great-addition-summer-vacation/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=stand-paddleboarding-great-addition-summer-vacation http://blog.virginia.org/2014/07/stand-paddleboarding-great-addition-summer-vacation/#comments Thu, 10 Jul 2014 14:51:48 +0000 Stefanie http://blog.virginia.org/?p=7429 ]]>

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.

© Stefanie for Virginia's Travel Blog, 2014 ]]>
http://blog.virginia.org/2014/07/stand-paddleboarding-great-addition-summer-vacation/feed/ 2 black_dog SouthEast Expeditions at Onancock Wharf DCIM100GOPRO
Virginia is for Oyster Lovers http://blog.virginia.org/2014/07/virginia-oyster-lovers/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=virginia-oyster-lovers http://blog.virginia.org/2014/07/virginia-oyster-lovers/#comments Wed, 09 Jul 2014 11:50:51 +0000 Stefanie http://blog.virginia.org/?p=7325 ]]>

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

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

 

 

© Stefanie for Virginia's Travel Blog, 2014 ]]>
http://blog.virginia.org/2014/07/virginia-oyster-lovers/feed/ 1 Rappahannock River Oysters Shooting Point Oyster Company Shanty
Virginia’s Craft Beer Pairs Nicely with Summer’s Bounty http://blog.virginia.org/2014/07/summer-beer-eats/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=summer-beer-eats http://blog.virginia.org/2014/07/summer-beer-eats/#comments Mon, 07 Jul 2014 14:35:06 +0000 Casey http://blog.virginia.org/?p=7402 ]]>

Fresh fruits and vegetables are the staples of summer in Virginia, as are signature, summer-only, craft beer. Why not pair the best of summer’s bounties?

Blue Mountain Brewery

Blue Mountain Brewery

With the idea of great summer flavors colliding, we reached out to Virginia’s craft brewers to see what’s on tap this season and with which local foods they’d most likely pair their best brews. Here are a few ideas to get you rolling along for a tasty summer weekend. Visit and enjoy!

A Match Made in Virginia

The best of what’s around!

  • Rick of Rusty Beaver in Ruther has his summer dishes coming straight from his Beaverdam garden. While that’s cool enough, it’s what he does with those veggies that takes it all over the top. He’s deep frying them in a Rusty Beaver ”Top Down Summer Ale” batter. Expect to find “zucchini, yellow squash, red peppers, onions, okra and fried pickles, based on availability … Wednesdays and Thursdays throughout the summer.”
Rusty Beaver "Top Down Summer Ale"

Rusty Beaver “Top Down Summer Ale”

Something New Every Week

Menus – both for food and for beer – change weekly at a majority of Virginia’s craft breweries. There’s your encouragement for a return visit! *wink*

  • Blue Mountain in Afton has a new weekly offering called Friday Night Bites. According to Jessica, the evening offers “$5 small plates that are seasonal and created to pair well with our 8-10 beers on tap. We don’t actually pre-select pairings so customers can order whatever they would like to try with each dish. We typically have 5-6 items available from 5-10 pm every Friday night.” One example she offered is the Seared Beef Carpaccio, which is spiced seared beef, roasted garlic aioli, frisée, aged Parmesan and olive oil.

Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way

Understandably, not all breweries seek to venture into the restaurant business. However, they will round up some food trucks to keep their patrons fed and steady on their feet.

  • Adventure Brewing in Fredericksburg has a regular group of food trucks that serve high quality food. According to Tim, “our ‘Stiletto Stout’ pairs very well with barbecued meats. With a roasted flavor that releases quickly after it leaves the tongue, it allows easy transitions between bites and drinks. Our ‘Super Power Pale Ale’ works well with Steve-O’s burgers and dogs, Martina’s Cantina’s tacos and Beach Fries’ crab cake sandwich. In another great pairing, the unique mix of ingredients that Smooth (Smooth’s Smoke House) uses on his pulled pork and chicken combine well with the light fruity hop flavorings in our ‘Expedition IPA.’”
  • Steve, a representative of Soaring Ridge Craft Brewers in Roanoke said you can find two exceptional summer beers on tap: “‘Tinker Creek’ is light in body with medium hop notes and a dry finish. This beer pairs well with Primo Pizza’s wood fired veggie mama pizza and their meatball sub. ‘White Top’  is a Belgian White Ale. This light bodied wheat beer spiced with coriander, chamomile and orange peel is very refreshing. ‘White Top’ pairs well with Blues Bar BQ’s BBQ and Smoked Sausage.”
  • Old Bust Head is a brand new brewery in Vint Hill, and their taproom and beer garden is scheduled to open later this summer. Jaimis gave me a few suggestions for enjoying their brews with some of the food trucks that come out. “Crowd favorites include Becky Jordan of Chef Beckles Foods, who recently created a special Santa Maria BBQ menu featuring OBH’s ‘Chinquapin Chestnut Porter’ in a wild mushroom BBQ sauce.”
  • Josh of Starr Hill in Charlottesville touted their new summer beer, ‘Soul Shine,’ described as “a Belgian-style Pale Ale with an American twist,” stating, “We love to drink ‘Soul Shine’ with oysters and grilled fish, but our favorite dish to pair is the Baja Fish Taco plate from Morsel Compass Mobile Kitchen, a local food truck. The thick white meat of the beer-battered cod and spicy chipotle slaw combine deliciously with the Belgian yeast and citrus flavor and aroma that ‘Soul Shine’ delivers.”
  • Center of the Universe in Ashland also offers a brand new summer Belgian Ale called “RVAle.” Chris told me “RVAle” “pairs perfectly with the fare being served by Intergalactic Tacos on Friday nights at the brewery. The beauty with a taco truck is that you can create anything to match well with new beer releases and styles.”
  • Jeremy of Sunken City in Hardy raves of Bruno’s Gastrotruck, “My favorite combination lately is the Naan Fish Taco paired with our summer seasonal, ‘Surfside Wheat,’ a traditional German hefeweizen.”
Devil's Backbone Brewing Company

Devil’s Backbone Brewing Company

Nothin’ Pale About Pale Ale

Light beers are most common during the summer, with many breweries offering a signature pale ale. These brews pair nicely with flavor-filled smoky or spicy dishes.

  • “Head First” - A strong malt backbone supports the piney, citrusy notes brought on by multiple additions of Cascade and Citra hops. A great beer to pair with weekend burgers or taco night! 6.5% ABV. Midnight, Rockville
  • “There Can Be Only One” – an American pale ale made with black patent malt. 6.3+ ABV. Bad Wolf, Manassas
  • “Gray Ghost American Pale Ale” – crisp, refreshing, summertime beer goes down smooth with a soft, rounded out blend of Crystal, Simcoe, Citra and Cascade hops backed with a slight caramel sweetness. 5.1% ABV. Three Notch’d, Charlottesville
  • “Bust Head English Pale Ale” – Additions of Goldings, Fuggle, and Cascade hops provide the aroma of floral hop tones, as well as imparting a refreshing, clean bitterness. 5.6% ABV. Old Bust Head, Vint Hill
  • “Striped Bass Pale Ale” – This refreshing pale ale was created to be consumed while enjoying the bounty of the Bay and protecting local waters. Gold in color wih a light body & pleasant hop bouquet of traditional noble German hops blended with the intense citrus of American hop varieties. 4.8% ABV. Devils Backbone, Roseland
Click here for a map of Virginia craft breweries.

Click here for a map of Virginia craft breweries.

Brewing: Keep it Local

Locally sourced ingredients are common with Virginia’s craft brewers, with some even offering spent hops to local farmers to use as livestock feed. It’s a reverse “eat local” mentality, if you will.

  • Dan of Back Bay Brewing in Virginia Beach wrote, I have a beer coming out in a few weeks called “Honey Blue Blue.” It’s a blueberry honey golden ale. The clover honey was sourced from northern Virginia and the blueberries will be locally sourced. At 4.8% its definitely a light refreshing fruit beer.”
  • Hardywood‘s Hardywood Virginia Blackberry is available only in summer, with its next release scheduled for July 12 at 2 p.m. It’s made with local Virginia blackberries, of course!
  • Adam, brewmaster and owner of The Damascus Brewery in Damascus will soon have something brand new for you to try, and even recommends what foods it would would pair well with. “We are getting ready to brew a ‘Fresh Hopped’ beer next week with hops grown by us and by a local hop farmer from Meadowview, VA called Kelley Ridge Farms.  This type of beer uses fresh hops less that 24 hours off the vine.  Because these hops have not had a chance to dry out, they contain several delicate essential oils and aromatics that would normally be lost.  This fresh hopped beer will only be available for a limited time and will fall into the IPA category.  The best pairing with this beer should be things like red meat, red sauce pastas, and Thai food or foods that have lots of curry or cumin.”
  • “Native Son Virginia Ale” can be found at Lost Rhino in Ashburn. It was created using only Virginia ingredients, from the water to the Copperfox Distillery malt and local Ashburn yeast.

Pairings to Try at Home

Several of our brewers offered which of their beers might translate well with your dishes at home. Stop by the brewery and take home a growler!

  • Adam at The Damascus Brewery had two suggestions for you to try. “‘Funberry Raspberry Lager is a lighter style of beer that is good for pairing with meals that have vinaigrette dressings or balsamic reductions. ‘Sweet Beaver Apricot Hefeweizen’ — while not actually sweet, the apricot finish to this beer really says summertime and is a great way to refresh yourself after a long hot day.  This beer goes really well with seafood and we personally love this with a Low Country Boil!”
  • Sean of Lickinghole Creek in Goochland offered, “We have Pony Pasture Pilsner available for the summer. It is a classic Bohemian Pilsner that is fantastic for hot Virginia summer days. Goes great with Crab Cakes from Haywood Grill, which is a local Goochland restaurant.” The moral of the story? Fill your growler, order crab cakes to go, and find a place to picnic!
  • Mark at Adroit Theory in Purcellville primarily pairs their brews with cheese, but does offer meal pairing suggestions. “Scorpion 3.0,” an 8.10% ABV Black IPA, pairs will with Bourbon marinated Angus beef tenderloin sliders, for example.

Which Virginia craft brewery is your favorite for fantastic, palate-pleasing summertime flavor? Leave a comment to tell us the best pairings you’ve experienced.

MORE VIRGINIA CRAFT BREWERIES

Virginia is for Lovers.
Request a free Travel Guide.

© Casey for Virginia's Travel Blog, 2014 ]]>
http://blog.virginia.org/2014/07/summer-beer-eats/feed/ 1 Blue Mountain Brewery Rusty Beaver “Top Down Summer Ale” Rusty Beaver "Top Down Summer Ale" Devil's Backbone Brewing Company Click here for a map of Virginia craft breweries.