Virginia's Travel Blog http://blog.virginia.org Travel Ideas and Stories Fri, 25 Jul 2014 20:37:37 +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 $10 or Less: Virginia Fun for Kids http://blog.virginia.org/2014/07/10orless-kids/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=10orless-kids http://blog.virginia.org/2014/07/10orless-kids/#comments Fri, 25 Jul 2014 20:37:37 +0000 Casey http://blog.virginia.org/?p=7880 ]]>

Make your dollars go further when you can mix in some affordable fun with your family vacation! The attractions mentioned within this post are priced at $10 or less for admission (parents, too!). Enjoy!

LOVE at Maymont. Photo by Casey Higgins.

LOVE at Maymont. Photo by Casey Higgins.

~~ FREE ~~

Parks and wilderness areas are go-to destinations for nature lovers, but consider some of Virginia’s cooler community parks, like Mount Trashmore in Virginia Beach. It’s 165 acres and offers a street course skate park with a deep bowl and competition-sized vert ramp for your skater dudes. While free, a pass application must be completed and submitted when you come to the park. Details

Buzzing through the metro Richmond area? Have a picnic lunch at Three Lakes Park and Nature Center in Henrico. The Nature Center includes a 50,000 gallon aquarium along with live exhibits of native wildlife.

Maymont is another fantastic Richmond destination. At 100 acres, the gardens are extensive. Do visit the Children’s Farm. Find a LOVEwork there!

Bluebird Gap Farm is a 60-acre farm in Hampton. It’s home to about 150 animals and includes a picnic area with charcoal grills, a nature trail and large playground.

If you have a child who is into the Transformers movies, he or she needs to see the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird at the National Air and Space Museum, Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen was filmed right there and your kid will recognize Blackbird immediately.

Bluebird Gap Farm

Bluebird Gap Farm

More Free:

 

~~ $10 or LESS ~~

A genuine Old School Virginia roadside attraction is Dinosaur Land in White Post. More than 50 dinosaurs have graced this attraction for 50 years. Great #selfie opportunities! $6 per person aged 11 and older; $5 per person 2 to 10.

Regardless of the season, Snowflex in Lynchburg is a fun destination for those who love to ski and snowboard. Seriously! Ski or snowboard for $5-$7 per hour. If you require equipment, the rental fee is $12 per person, per day. Complete a waiver before your arrival. Details

Speaking of a winter sport, why not ice skate year ’round, too?

The Virginia Museum of Natural History in Martinsville always has something fun and creative going on – something to keep your child’s attention. Watch for “Night at the Museum” sleepover opportunities! Admission is $5 per adult and $3 per child.

The Virginia Sports Hall of Fame in Portsmouth includes state-of-the-art interactivity that’s built for family fun. Check out the Hall of Fame inductees and play a bit of their sports while you’re there! $7 per person; children 2 and under are free.

The 18-hole Perils of the Lost Jungle miniature golf course in Herndon is one the Top 5 Miniature Golf Courses in America as rated by Newsweek, and The Putting Penguin rated them #1 in the country! You can experience this adventure for just a couple coins on top of $10 (what’s 50 cents?). Adults are $10.50 and children 12 and under are $9.50.

  • Similar:
    • Glow-A-Rama, Buchanan – indoor blacklight mini golf
      • $8 per adult and $7 per child

Claude Moore Colonial Farm National Park in McLean lets your kids get hands-on with history in a pre-American Revolutionary War setting (a small, low-income 1771 farm). Special events include the heritage animals that call the farm home, harvesting tobacco, tidying up with autumn chores, and more. Farm site admission is $3 per adult and $2 per child. Admission for Market Fair (a special event with select dates) is $7 per adult and $3 per child.

When in Lynchburg, check out Amazement Square: The Rightmire Children’s Museum, home of the Amazement Tower, the tallest indoor, interactive climbing structure in the United States. Admission is $9 per person unless you plan to visit on a Family Fun Night (second Saturday of each month), in which case the fee is just $3 per person!

Hunt Club's Petting Farm

Hunt Club’s Petting Farm

Who doesn’t love a zoo? Head to Roanoke’s Mill Mountain Zoo to see more than 175 animals. Inquire about the special Breakfast with the Animals experience (additional fee). Admission is $7.50 per adult and $5 per child.

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The Best of Virginia’s Outdoors http://blog.virginia.org/2014/07/virginias-outdoors/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=virginias-outdoors http://blog.virginia.org/2014/07/virginias-outdoors/#comments Fri, 25 Jul 2014 13:39:16 +0000 Casey http://blog.virginia.org/?p=7785 ]]>

National accolades for everything from ice cream to small towns, hot dogs and whatever else you can think of keep rolling in for Virginia areas and businesses. While it’s hard to keep up with all that’s fabulous and acclaimed, we thought we’d give it a shot by sharing the more recent accolades. This post, The Best of Virginia’s Outdoors, is the first in a series you can look forward to. Be sure to subscribe to our posts to avoid missing the upcoming articles.

BEACHES

Virginia Beach

Virginia Beach

Virginia Beach & Boardwalk

  • #4, 10 Last-Minute Beach Getaways for Summer, Fodor’s Travel, 2014
  • #6, America’s Best Boardwalks, Travel + Leisure, 2014
  • #6, 10 Under-the-Radar Beaches in the U.S., Fodor’s Travel, 2014
  • Best Beaches for Memorial Day Weekend, USAToday.com, 2014
  • 10Best: Southern Beaches, USAToday.com, 2014
  • #7, 9 Best Boardwalks in the U.S., Huffington Post Travel, 2013
  • #9, 10 Best Boardwalks in the U.S., National Geographic, 2013
  • 10 Uncrowded Atlantic Beaches for Summer, USAToday.com, 2013
  • One of America’s Most Awesome Boardwalks, Budget Travel, 2013

Assateague Island National Seashore

  • #23, 2014 Best Beaches in the U.S., TripAdvisor 2014 Travelers’ Choice
  • #6, Best U.S. Island, USA Today Travel Reader’s Choice, 2014
  • Among the Best Beaches on Earth, Travel + Leisure, 2013
  • Top 25 U.S. Beaches, TripAdvisor 2013 Travelers’ Choice
  • Top 10 Things for Families to Do in Virginia, Trekaroo.com, 2012

Chincoteague Island

  • #7, Top 10 Beaches in the U.S., TripAdvisor 2013 Travelers’ Choice
  • America’s Best Beach Town, AOL.com, 2010
Assateague Island National Seashore Chincoteague Island

BICYCLING

Arlington

  • #23, America’s Top 50 Bike-Friendly Cities, Bicycling.com, 2012

Capital Bikeshare, Arlington

  • #11, The 16 Best Bike Shares in the World, TheActiveTimes.com, 2013

Harrisonburg

  • America’s Top Mountain Bike Towns, TheActiveTimes.com, 2013

Williamsburg

  • Recognized as a Bicycle Friendly Community, League of American Bicyclists, 2013
Colonial Parkway, Williamsburg Harrisonburg with Shenandoah Mountain Touring Washington & Old Dominion Railroad Regional Park, Arlington

GARDENS

Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, Richmond

  • #2, 10 Best Public Gardens in North America, USA Today, 2014
  • #21, 30 Must-See U.S. Public Gardens, TheActiveTimes.com, 2014
  • 10 North American Gardens Worth Travelling For, BBC Travel, 2013
  • Best Botanical Gardens in the U.S., Travel Channel, 2013

 

GOLF

Primland Resort, Meadows of Dan

  • #13, Top 100 Public Courses in America, Golf Digest, 2012
  • The Boutique Mountain Golf Resort in the U.S., Golf Odyssey, 2011
  • #22, Best Courses, Golfweek, 2010
  • Resorts to Watch, Golf Magazine, 2010
  • Best New Public Course in America ($75 and over bracket), Golf Digest, 2008
  • One of the Top 10 New Courses in the World, Travel + Leisure, 2007

Golden Horseshoe Golf Club at Colonial Williamsburg, Williamsburg

  • America’s 100 Greatest Public Golf Courses, Golf Digest, 2012, 2011, …
  • Top 100 Resort Courses, Golfweek, annually 2007-2012
  • Top 100 You Can Play, GOLF Magazine, 2012, 2011, 2010, …
Golden Horseshoe Golf Club Primland Resort

HIKING

Appalachian Trail

  • #5, 7 Adventure Trips You Need to Take this Summer, TheActiveTimes.com, 2014

Cape Henry Trail at First Landing State Park, Virginia Beach (PDF)

  • #9, 30 Great American Hikes, TheActiveTimes.com, 2014

Old Rag Mountain in Shenandoah National Park

  • #6, 30 Great American Hikes, TheActiveTimes.com, 2014
  • #29, 31 Great American Day Hikes to Do Before Summer Ends, TheActiveTimes.com, 2014
First Landing State Park. Image by CameronDavidson@CameronDavidson.com Appalachian Trail through Shenandoah National Park.

RIVERS

Shenadoah River. Photo by CameronDavidson@CameronDavidson.com.

Shenadoah River. CameronDavidson@CameronDavidson.com.

Shenandoah River

  • Class I, 50 of the Best Rivers in the Southeast, Blue Ridge Outdoors, 2013

 

SKI RESORTS

Massanutten Resort, McGaheysville

  • 10 Best Ski Resorts for Summer Fun, Fodor’s Travel, 2014

 

STATE AND NATIONAL PARKS

High Bridge Trail State Park, Farmville

  • #17, 36 Stunning U.S. State Parks, TheActiveTimes.com, 2014

Natural Tunnel State Park, Duffield

  • #21, 36 Stunning U.S. State Parks, TheActiveTimes.com, 2014

Shenandoah National Park, Luray

  • #30, The Absolute Best National Park, TheActiveTimes.com, 2014
High Bridge Trail State Park Natural Tunnel State Park

COMMUNITIES RECOGNIZED FOR THEIR OUTDOOR OPPORTUNITIES

Galax

  • The Next Great Mountain Towns, Blue Ridge Outdoors, 2013

Luray

  • The Next Great Mountain Towns, Blue Ridge Outdoors, 2013

Richmond

  • Best Town Ever, Outside, 2012

Roanoke

  • 10Best: Bike-Friendly Cities, USAToday.com, 2014
  • Best Trail Town, Blue Ridge Outdoors, 2013
  • Best Mid-Sized Mountain Town, Blue Ridge Outdoors, 2012
Richmond. Photo by Jesse Peters. Luray. Photo by CameronDavidson@CameronDavidson.com. Roanoke. Photo by Christopher Thompson.

Learn more about Virginia’s outdoors at Virginia.org/Outdoors.

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© Casey for Virginia's Travel Blog, 2014 ]]>
http://blog.virginia.org/2014/07/virginias-outdoors/feed/ 0 Virginia Beach Virginia Beach Assateague Island National Seashore Assateague Island National Seashore Chincoteague Island Chincoteague Island Colonial Parkway, Williamsburg Williamsburg Harrisonburg with Shenandoah Mountain Touring Harrisonburg Washington & Old Dominion Railroad Regional Park, Arlington Arlington Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden Golden Horseshoe Golf Club Golden Horseshoe Golf Club Primland Resort Primland Resort First Landing State Park. Image by CameronDavidson@CameronDavidson.com First Landing State Park. CameronDavidson@CameronDavidson.com Appalachian Trail through Shenandoah National Park. Appalachian Trail, Shenandoah National Park. Shenadoah River. Photo by CameronDavidson@CameronDavidson.com. Shenadoah River. Photo by CameronDavidson@CameronDavidson.com. High Bridge Trail State Park High Bridge Trail State Park Natural Tunnel State Park Natural Tunnel State Park Richmond. Photo by Jesse Peters. Richmond. Jesse Peters. Luray. Photo by CameronDavidson@CameronDavidson.com. Luray. Cameron Davidson. Roanoke. Photo by Christopher Thompson. Roanoke. Christopher Thompson.
It’s Not Too Late! Plan Your Last Summer Escape http://blog.virginia.org/2014/07/late-summer-getaways/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=late-summer-getaways http://blog.virginia.org/2014/07/late-summer-getaways/#comments Thu, 24 Jul 2014 12:54:33 +0000 Stefanie http://blog.virginia.org/?p=7480 ]]>

As the summer winds down, a short getaway at the end of the season is always a great way to wrap things up. Include some of these cool culinary spots around.

Lansdowne Resort

Lansdowne Resort

SKYLINE WINE, DINE, RECLINE TRAIL
Did you know that 27 wineries, a whiskey distillery, incredible restaurants and the highest concentration of B&Bs in the State of Virginia are tucked into the edges of Skyline Drive? As you’re spending the weekend cruisin’ through 105 miles of natural scenic beauty, hop off for a break to take in a winery or two, check out one of the amazing restaurants, and don’t forget to make reservations at one of their many quaint B&Bs.

ASPEN DALE WINERY AT THE BARN
Located in Delaplane, Virginia on one of the most exciting wine trails in the Washington, D.C. area, Aspen Dale Winery at the Barn is a boutique winery that offers a unique experience for wine lovers. The legacy of Aspen Dale’s revolutionary-era agricultural experience drives the winery’s stewardship. Aspen Dale has endeavored to capture the best of Colonial and European wine making techniques and blendings, while the ambience of the 200 year-old barn winery and thoroughbred horse farm inspires. Aspen Dale’s passion for history, horses and wines is profound, as their dreams have been brought to life, providing the mellowness of a boutique winery experience that lingers long after the glass empties.

211 SCENIC VINO WINE TRAIL
What a Daytrip! Hop on Route 211, one of the prettiest scenic drives in Virginia. Getting to the premier wineries of the 211 Scenic Vino Wine Trail is half the fun! The gorgeous rolling hills on the route lead to Shenandoah National Park, America’s favorite drive, Skyline Drive, and the quaint village of Little Washington … the town George laid out in 1749 (just an hour from Big Washington DC)! Along the way you’ll find five (soon to be seven) of Virginia’s best wineries, a whiskey distillery, unique boutiques, art galleries, antique shops, and the approaching majesty of the Blue Ridge Mountains! Drive up to Skyland for some blueberry ice cream pie. Hike to a waterfall. Do the ziplines. Stay and enjoy the many Inns and gourmet eateries along the way, you’ll get to taste Virginia’s best award-winning wines. Our tip: go backwards! Take the gorgeously scenic drive first to Sperryville, the quaint town named DC’s best weekend getaway by Huffington Post. Enjoy the approaching Blue Ridge vistas. Then slowly work your way home!

COASTAL VIRGINIA ALE TRAIL (Taste Tidewater Tours)
Taking that last trip to Virginia Beach? If you’re a beer enthusiast, the Coastal Virginia Ale Trail is definitely something to put on the to-do list. Dedicated to all things local, let Taste Tidewater take you to the best craft beer the Virginia Beach/ Norfolk area has to offer. Taste and tour up to three venues based on availability. The tours generally last about four hours and include local history and lore, as well as tips on tasting and pairing beer with food.

Catoctin Creek Distilling Company

Catoctin is the first family-owned distillery since before prohibition. Co-owner Scott Harris talks about the distilling process.

LOUDOUN WEST BREW BUS / CREEK CROSSING FARM BED & BREAKFAST
Built in 1773 by the Quaker Edward Thompson, Creek Crossing Farm was one of three plantations and several large tracts of land owned by him in early Colonial Loudoun County. Located in Virginia’s Hunt Country, in a secluded valley just outside of the present day village of Lincoln, there are more than 25 acres of open fields with cattle, woods with wild turkey, pheasants and deer, and a creek that waters the entire farm, feeding organic blueberry and raspberry fields. Venture over to Loudoun and take a trip on the Loudoun West Brew Bus. Make stops at historic Corcoran Brewing, Adroit Theory brewery and Catoctin Distilling, and relax as you get a taste of the Loudoun brew scene without worrying about driving.

BELIVEAU ESTATE B&B AND WINERY
Treat yourself to a stay at Beliveau Estate, a premium B&B and Winery. The estate’s winery has received more than 30 awards since opening in 2012, including 2013 Silver Best Winery by the readers of Blue Ridge magazine. It has a beautiful tasting room, a covered outside veranda, picnic spots, on-site hiking, and in the cooler months a warm fireplace to sip wine around. Enjoy a weekend of true ambiance enjoying all the amenities the estate has to offer.

WINE LOVERS PACKAGE – Arcady Vineyards Bed & Breakfast and Wine Tours
Enjoy two nights at the only Charlottesville Wine Country B&B with a working vineyard! The luxury accommodations offer a whirlpool tub for two, wine fridge with sparkling wine, heated tiled bath floor, free Wifi, Bose CD/radio, TV/VCR and port, and local chocolate turn down. Package includes a full farm fresh breakfast each morning, bottle of sparkling wine chilled in your suite, and a wine and cheese social at check in. You will enjoy a personalized, all-inclusive wine tour with the oldest owner-operated tour company in Charlottesville. Visit four wineries with a deluxe local cheese/fruit/local chocolate platter, and bottled water. The wine tour also provides transportation to downtown Charlottesville for dining.

CULINARY DELIGHTS – SMITHFIELD STATION
Smithfield is world famous for Smithfield Ham, but that is only half the story. Additionally, Smithfield is a quaint coastal town with access to some of the freshest seafood on the Eastern Seaboard. This package focuses on the two hallmarks of dining in Smithfield, ham and fresh local seafood and includes: one-night stay in their Deluxe Lodge Rooms, Boardwalk Rooms or Cottages, or the Lighthouse; dinner for two in the award-winning restaurant. Dinner includes soup, appetizer to share, entrée, dessert, coffee or tea, and a bottle of house wine. Get your getaway started right with champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries in your room upon arrival. And don’t forget to stop by Virginia’s largest winery, the Williamsburg Winery!

DOWNTOWN BEER TRAIL PACKAGE – Stonewall Jackson Hotel
Staunton is now home to two Craft breweries, RedBeard Brewing and Shenandoah Valley Brewing. With intimate taprooms and a fine selection of beers all produced on property, come on down and sample some of the Valley’s finest. All within a short walk of our front door, no driving needed! Your package includes: Overnight accommodations, breakfast for two and parking, 6 beer flights (4 oz. pours) from Redbeard, 2 pints from Shenandoah Valley Brewing, a free tasting at Hops retail store, and a $15.00 Gift Certificate to Shenandoah Pizza (and their huge beer list!)

FOODE EXCLUSIVE CULINARY EXPERIENCE – Various Fredericksburg Locations
Experience a delectable 5 course meal especially prepared for you with locally sourced fresh ingredients. Meet your chef and learn the inspiration behind your dishes during your culinary delight! This package includes: One night at a Fredericksburg-area hotel (price varies by lodging tier selection) and especially prepared 5-course meal for two.

SHARED WINES & TREASURED TIMES – Landsdowne Resort
This is a comprehensive wine and culinary adventure in the heart of DC Wine Country as this Virginia wine country tour takes two adults from vineyard and back to the Virginia winery resort. You will be whisked away by a private car for a five-hour winery tour to experience as many wine tours and tastings as your heart desires. Choose from our partner wineries: Breaux Vineyards, Corcoran Vineyards, Doukénie Winery and Sunset Hills Vineyard. Package Includes: luxurious overnight accommodations (double occupancy), private car for a total of 5 hours, $100 Dining Credit, and breakfast buffet for two adults.

BASIC CHEESEMAKING AT CORNERSTONE FARM
Getaway and learn something new together! Learn the basic art of making cheese from scratch. Basic cheese instructions concentrate on “farmers” cheese, ricotta and mozzarella. Easy to make when you get back home. In the individualized 1-day, 2-night getaway, you will learn how to make simple basic cheese from scratch. The day will be spent learning and making a couple basic cheeses, with each person bringing home with them what they prepared. When not cheesemaking, enjoy strolling around the farm, sitting on the deck’s in lounge chairs and rockers, or watching the farm animals. So grab your friends or family and come down to the farm for some fun-filled time away! Package includes cheesemaking, 2-night stay, breakfast, lunch and dinner, and all cooking supplies.

SHENANDOAH WINE TRAIL – By the Side of the Road Bed & Breakfast
Get a true taste of Shenandoah with this valley getaway package including: Two nights in one of three luxurious cottages, a romantic dinner for two at BEYOND ($60 Value), complimentary red or white Virginia wine upon arrival,  a light version of their gourmet picnic to carry to the Valley Wineries of your choice (includes gourmet cheeses, French bread, fresh fruits & dessert), hot gourmet breakfast basket delivered to your cottage door each morning or served in the Common to Main House guests. Wineries nearby include: Cave Ridge Vineyard (10% Discount on cases), Wolf Gap Vineyard & Winery, Shenandoah Vineyards (10% discount on cases), North Mountain Vineyard & Winery, and BlueStone Vineyards.

The Boar's Head Inn

The Boar’s Head Inn

VIRGINIA WINE PACKAGE- Boar’s Head Inn
Experience Love by the Glass with the Boar’s Head Virginia Wine Package, which combines Four Diamond accommodations and dining with impeccable Virginia wines. Virginia’s quintessential escape, Boar’s Head, offers a warm, intimate ambiance, exceptional service and unparalleled Southern hospitality. Package includes: two night’s accommodations, a welcome gift of one bottle of Virginia wine with an artisan fruit and cheese platter, daily breakfast in the Old Mill Room, a self-guided tour to a local winery (including house credit for two tasting passes), a special three-course Virginia wine dinner for two in the Old Mill Room.

WINE OR BEER LOVERS TOUR – Belle Hearth Bed & Breakfast
Spend two relaxing nights, Tuesday thru Saturday, in any of the tranquil rooms and enjoy a welcoming wine or beer basket stocked with goodies. Then be treated to the vistas of the Blue Ridge Mountains while being chauffeured to three of Virginia’s finest wineries and/or micro-breweries only minutes from the Belle Hearth. All of this libation, plus a three-course gourmet breakfast each morning.

VIRGINIA IS FOR CRAFT BEER AND BARBEQUE LOVERS ESCAPE – Oceanfront Inn, Va. Beach
Celebrate your love and passions in life with our exclusive package in honor of the Virginia is for Lovers award-winning slogan.  Complete your experience with our Virginia is for Beer & Barbecue Lovers’ Basket including 2 bottles of Green Flash beer, an Oceanfront Inn bottle opener, two Oceanfront Inn pint glasses, and a gift certificate to locals’ favorite, Beach Bully Barbeque.

© Stefanie for Virginia's Travel Blog, 2014 ]]>
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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
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© 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 ]]>
http://blog.virginia.org/2014/07/enjoy-local-shopping-virginias-historical-districts/feed/ 1 Carytown Shopping Pink Scottie Hugh Mercery Apothecary Shop Capo’s Music Store
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.