Virginia's Travel Blog Travel Ideas and Stories Fri, 12 Sep 2014 19:43:55 +0000 en-US hourly 1's Travel Blog Smooth Operator: Virginia Bourbons to Celebrate a Delicious Heritage Fri, 12 Sep 2014 13:37:06 +0000 Patrick Evans-Hylton ]]>

September is National Bourbon Heritage Month, a time for folks to enjoy an imbibe that is truly American.

The celebration was set aside by a Senate resolution in 2007 and reads in part:

“Whereas the history of bourbon-making is interwoven with the history of the United States, from the first settlers of Kentucky in the 1700s …”

As a Virginian, I couldn’t agree more, for when the first settlers came to that region, that region was Virginia. In fact, it was Virginia until the commonwealth of Kentucky was established in 1792.

The geographical area today famous for the spirit – Bourbon County – was Virginia until this separation.

Re-enactors making whiskey at George Washington's Mount Vernon.    Photo:

Re-enactors making whiskey at George Washington’s Mount Vernon. Photo:

And the man noted as the father of modern bourbon, Elijah Craig, was born in Orange County, Va. in 1738 and began distillation in that region in 1789 in charred oak casks that, he writes, is “a process that gives the bourbon its reddish color and unique tastes.”


But the road to bourbon began before the 18th century.

The process of making distilled spirits using grain mash (from barley, rye and wheat, among others) as a base is millenniums old. Among the round-up: gin, rum, tequila, vodka and whiskey. Bourbon is a type of whiskey.

Corn, being a New World agricultural product, was new indeed to European settlers coming to the Americas. And bourbon is made from a mash of corn.

A key crop for Jamestown settlers, corn cultivation and use was introduced to the English by Native Americans. It was used to feed livestock, and to feed people.

Another use was found around 1620 by preacher, physician and surgeon George Thorpe, at Berkeley Hundred (now Berkeley Plantation,) just a short distance northwest of Jamestown along the James River.

Wee have found a waie to make soe good drink of Indian corne I have divers times refused to drink good stronge English beare and chose to drinke that,” he writes.

Not exactly bourbon, but a good start to crafting truly American whiskeys in the developing nation.

Virginia fostered this corn whiskey, and many farmers found that they could make about three gallons from a bushel of corn, and that the price they could fetch on their distilled spirits surpassed that of the corn at market.

This tradition made its way as the frontier opened up into the Shenandoah Valley, and across the Allegheny Mountains into what is now West Virginia and Kentucky.

A proposal to tax this drink to cover war debts from the Revolution caused the Whiskey Rebellion in those parts, the first armed conflict between citizens and the newly formed American government.

But it wasn’t just farmers that got in on the act; what would become Virginia’s largest commercial distillery of the day opened in 1797 at George Washington’s Mount Vernon.

Rye and corn grown on the estate was used in the mash, and production leapt from 80 gallons the first year to 11,000 gallons the following year. By the early 19th century, however, the distillery ceased operations.

A. Smith Bowman Distillery

A. Smith Bowman Distillery

In 2006, the site was excavated and a reconstructed distillery was built on the foundations, and tours are available as well as limited productions of whiskey using George Washington’s recipe. 

Whiskey was in abundance during the 19th century, but by the early 1900s Virginia moved towards Prohibition, adopting laws in 1914 that forbid alcohol production, sales and consumption across the state. The whole country went dry in 1920.

Although A. Smith Bowman Distillery began operation in 1935, shortly after Prohibition’s repeal, quality production of bourbon and other spirits were slow on the return, but the Old Dominion now has more than a dozen distilleries now offering artisanal quaffs flavored with history.

And what’s better than enjoying some of the imbibes from across Virginia than actually visiting some of the businesses, seeing the operations, and speaking with the distiller themselves? We’ll raise a glass to that.


Be it bourbon, or another distilled spirit, that calls your name when 5 o’clock comes, Virginia has more than a dozen distilleries offer quality quaffs for enjoying in a cocktail, on the rocks, or served neat.

Look in state ABC stores for the offerings.

Many distilleries offer tours to see the process up-close. Check with distilleries for details as not all are open to the public.


Stillhouse Distillery at Belmont Farm

Stillhouse Distillery at Belmont Farm

Belmont Farm Distillery
13490 Cedar Run Rd., Culpeper

Offerings: Kopper Kettle Virginia whiskey, Kopper Kettle vodka, Virginia Lightning corn whiskey (original and apple pie or cherry flavors.)


A. Smith Bowman Distillery
1 Bowman Dr., Fredericksburg

Offerings: Bowman Brothers Virginia small batch bourbon, John J. Bowman single barrel bourbon, Abraham Bowman small batch whiskey, George Bowman small batch Colonial Era-style dark rum, Deep Run small batch vodka, Sunset Hills small batch gin, Virginia Gentleman bourbons.


Catoctin Creek Distilling Company

Catoctin Creek Distilling Company

Catoctin Creek Distilling Company
120 W. Main St., Purcellville

Offerings: Roundstone Rye, Roundstone Rye 92 Proof, Watershed Gin, Roundstone Rye Cask Proof, Mosby’s Spirit (rye), 1757 Virginia Brandy, Pearousia (pear brandy), Short Hill Mountain Peach Brandy,


Chesapeake Bay Distillery
2669 Production Rd., Virginia Beach

Offerings: Blue Ridge Vodka, Chick’s Beach Rum


Cirrus Vodka
1603 Ownby Lane, Richmond

Offerings: Potato-based, hand-crafted, small-batched vodka.


Copper Fox Distillery

Copper Fox Distillery

Copper Fox Distillery
9 River Lane, Sperryville

Offerings: Wasmund’s Single Malt Whisky, Copper Fox Rye Whisky, Copper Fox VirGin, Wasmund’s Single Malt Spirit, Wasmund’s Rye Spirit, Wasmund’s Barrel Kit (to craft your own whiskey at home.)


Laird & Company

Although based in New Jersey, the company obtains all its apples from orchards in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, where it owns a distillery. It has been distilling apple brandy since 1780.


Offerings: Laird’s Applejack (apple brandy)


Reservoir Distillery
1800 Summit Ave., Richmond

Offerings: Bourbon, Wheat Whiskey, Rye Whiskey


Silverback Distillery
9374 Rockfish Valley Hwy., Afton

Offerings: Beringei Vodka, Strange Monkey Gin, Blackback Whiskey, Blackback Bourbon, Blackback White Whiskey, Beringei Sweet Tea Vodka (coming soon.)


Virginia Sweetwater Distillery. Photo: Jason Barnette

Virginia Sweetwater Distillery. Photo: Jason Barnette

Virginia Sweetwater Distillery
760 Walkers Creek Rd., Marion

Offerings: Virginia Sweetwater Moonshine, War Horn Whiskey


George Washington’s Distillery
3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Hwy., Mount Vernon

Offerings: a limited production is offered at the distillery – sign up on the website for email notifications when new batches of whiskey become available; folks can also get a taste of George Washington Rye Whiskey Estate Edition through a partnership of Mount Vernon and Hillrock Estate Distillery (


Woods Mill Distillery
1625 River Rd., Faber

Offerings: Woods Mill Harvest Apple Brandy; note – a bourbon is in the barrel aging and should be available within a year


Also of note for your travel plans: the Blue Ridge Whiskey Wine Loop


So you’ve visited Virginia and toured several distilleries. You have a couple of bottles of bourbon as souvenirs. Now what? It’s cocktail time. Here are three of my recipes for making some drinks that will carry you back to the Old Dominion with each sip.

Of note: one of the most famous bourbon cocktails, the Mint Julep, is also a Virginia native: the first reference was in 1803 and described as “A dram of spirituous liquor that has mint steeped in it, taken by Virginians of a morning.”

The classic recipe is attributed to The Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs, then in Virginia, now in West Virginia.

Bourbon Slush

This party punch puts local spirits to good use and satisfies the southern palate for boozy, sugary drinks with equal parts bourbon, lemonade and sweet ice tea.

This recipe is from my cookbook, Dishing Up Virginia.


  • 4 cups Virginia bourbon
  • 4 cups lemonade
  • 4 cups sweet ice tea
  • 1 cup ginger ale (like Virginia’s Northern Neck Ginger Ale)


Combine the bourbon, lemonade and tea in a 9-by-13-by-2 inch baking dish. Freeze overnight.

Remove the frozen mixture from the freezer 30 minutes before serving. Break up the mixture slightly and transfer to a punch bowl. Add the ginger ale. Stir until a slushy consistency is reached and serve immediately.

Yields 12-16 servings

The Virginia Highland

Virginia is the southernmost state that produces maple syrup, and we combine that delicious flavor with Virginia bourbon, complimentary orange bitters and garnish with a tasty slice of Virginia bacon just because.


  • 1/2 ounce Virginia maple syrup (from Southernmost Maple)
  • 2 dashes orange bitters
  • 2 ounces Virginia bourbon
  • 1 slice extra crisp Virginia bacon slice


In a highball glass add the maple syrup and bitters and stir. Add one or two ice cubes and add bourbon. Garnish with Virginia bacon slice

Yield 1 cocktail

The Winchester Wink

Winchester is the Apple Capital of the World, and we combine Virginia bourbon with Virginia cider along with complimentary flavors of lemon and ginger in this cocktail.


  • 3-4 thin slices of fresh, peeled ginger
  • 2 ounces Virginia bourbon
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Virginia cider


Add ginger, bourbon and lemon juice to a cocktail shaker; fill with ice and shake to combine. Strain into a highball glass and add one or two ice cubes. Fill to the top with Virginia cider.

Yield 1 cocktail


- One of the first Native American tribes that English colonists encountered is named after food.

The Chickahominy, whose name translates to “The Coarse Ground Corn People,” is today among the 11 officially recognized by the state.

The Chickahominy River, named after the people, feeds into the James River just to the west of Jamestown.

- Congress declared bourbon as “America’s Native Spirit” in 1964, making it the only spirit distinctive to this country.


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


© PEvansHylton for Virginia's Travel Blog, 2014 ]]> 1 Re-enactors making whiskey at George Washington’s Mount Vernon. Photo: Re-enactors making whiskey at George Washington's Mount Vernon. Photo: A. Smith Bowman Distillery A. Smith Bowman Distillery Stillhouse Distillery at Belmont Farm Stillhouse Distillery at Belmont Farm Catoctin Creek Distilling Company Catoctin Creek Distilling Company Copper Fox Distillery Copper Fox Distillery Virginia Sweetwater Distillery Virginia Sweetwater Distillery Patrick Evans-Hylton
Seven for the Season: Destination Restaurants to Visit this Autumn Fri, 05 Sep 2014 13:26:49 +0000 Patrick Evans-Hylton ]]>

Labor Day has come and gone, and with the first of September comes the meteorological start of autumn.

It may still be a few weeks before trees across Virginia light up in fiery reds, brilliant oranges and stunning yellows, but change is definitely in the air. Days are a little bit shorter, nights a little bit cooler, and shadows a little bit longer.

Add Skyline Drive to your route to The Apple House.

Add Skyline Drive to your route to The Apple House.

Now is a great time to get out and explore Virginia, one bite at a time. Here are some ideas to guide you along your path.


Autumn means heartier dishes; food to warm the body and soul. Across the state there are many wonderful offerings. Here are three that showcase a trio of Virginia’s culinary calling cards: apples, oysters and Brunswick Stew.

The restaurant:

The Apple House
4675 John Marshall Hwy., Linden

The dish:

Apple Butter Donuts


At the northern entrance of Skyline Drive, in the middle of Virginia apple territory, The Apple House opened in 1963 selling ethereal rings of fried goodness.

These treats, donuts made from apple butter and adorned with a sprinkling of cinnamon, are still offered today. A location in Front Royal also offers the donuts.

Grab a dozen and enjoy the fall views along the byways here at the cusp of the Blue Ridge Mountains.


The restaurant:

Island House Restaurant and Marina
17 Atlantic Ave., Wachapreague

The dish:

Fried Oysters


We don’t need it to be an “R” month to enjoy one of Virginia’s gifts to the culinary world, but there is something about oysters in the fall, when they are plump and juicy.

They are great on the half-shell, but equally awesome in a light batter and deep fried until golden brown and delicious. The generously-portioned oyster dinner comes with two sides and housemade sweet potato biscuits.

Island House is designed after a 19th century life saving station; after dinner climb spiral staircase to lookout tower for stunning views of the surrounding marshes, tranquil and still in the autumn air.


Old Chickahominy House

Old Chickahominy House

The restaurant:

Old Chickahominy House
1211 Jamestown Rd., Williamsburg

The dish:

Brunswick Stew


First opened in 1955 by Melinda Cowles Barbour, this restaurant and antique store/gift shop offers many Virginia-centric dishes, including Brunswick Stew.

The stew, a richly flavored amalgamation of lima beans, corn and other vegetables with chicken and seasonings in a tomato broth base is sold with hot biscuits or crackers; or as part of Miss Melinda’s Special which also features a country ham biscuit, fruit salad, homemade pie and coffee or tea. It’s also offered to go by the pint or quart.

While in town, walk through Colonial Williamsburg under soaring trees adorned in golden leaves to get a taste of 18th century Virginia.

—   —   —


Sometimes its not just the destination, but also the journey. Of course journeys are made all the better knowing there is some delicious food waiting for you at the end.

Here are some favorite places where getting there, and eating there, are rewarding anytime, including the fall.

The restaurant:

Charles City Tavern
9220 John Tyler Memorial Hwy., Charles City

The view:

Located about halfway between Richmond and Williamsburg, Charles City Tavern is just off Route 5, also known as the John Tyler Memorial Hwy. This ribbon os asphalt follows the curves of the James River, and is a gorgeous drive any time of the year, including the fall, when the colors come alive.

Stop before or after your meal at one of the famous James River Plantations along the way for a real treat. Berkeley Plantation, where the first bourbon in America was distilled and this country’s first Thanksgiving was celebrated is just four miles away.


Located in a charming 1889 farmhouse on a 2,000-acre working farm, views of the surrounding countryside are afforded from the dining rooms and screened in porches.

At dinner try the Eastern Shore Crab Cakes with Ragout of Sweet Corn and Virginia Ham.


Chateau Morrisette

Chateau Morrisette

The restaurant:

Chateau Morrisette
287 Winery Rd. SW, Floyd

The view:

Immediately off the Blue Ridge Parkway, Chateau Morrisette is widely known for the quality vintages that the winery produces.

But there is also a restaurant on-site serving up seasonal dishes and spectacular views. Opening up towards the west from the lodge-style dining room are gorgeous panoramas from the rolling hills and farmlands in the valley below to blue-hued mountains lit up in fall hues beyond.


It’s not just the incredible views once you get to Chateau Morrisette, but the ones along the way down the Blue Ridge Parkway. Take extra time to stop and snap photos.

Enjoy the Pork Tenderloin, which is infused with locally grown oregano, grilled and drizzled with roasted pepper and tomato coulis, and served with rice, fried green tomatoes and house collards. Pair it with a Cabernet Franc from the winery next door.


Hunter's Head Tavern

Hunter’s Head Tavern

The restaurant:

Hunter’s Head Tavern
9048 John S. Mosby Hwy., Upperville

The view:

Route 50, also called John S. Mosby Highway, cuts an east-west path through scenic horse country in Virginia and offers many spectacular vistas, especially heading away from the Washington D.C. area where the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains loom on the horizon.

Both Upperville, where the tavern is located, and nearby Middleburg are scenic towns, providing a good opportunity to stop and take a walk exploring antique shops and galleries.


Hunter’s Head Tavern is located in the historic 1750 Carr House, which began as a log cabin when this part of Virginia was on the western frontier of the nation. There are charming colonial features throughout.

Enjoy the Stuffed Rainbow Trout with House-Cured Bacon and Local Mushrooms; the trout is sustainably harvested seafood. The bacon and mushrooms are locally sourced; organic meats and produce come from neighboring Ayrshire Farm, which raises only Certified Humane animals.


Peaks of Otter Lodge Restaurant with seating overlooking Abbott Lake

Peaks of Otter Lodge Restaurant with seating overlooking Abbott Lake

The restaurant:

Peaks of Otter Lodge Restaurant
85554 Blue Ridge Pkwy., Bedford

The view:

Nestled in the mountains, just off the Blue Ridge Parkway, Peaks of Otter Lodge, celebrating its 50th anniversary, is a perfect place to enjoy nature, especially when the surrounding landscape comes afire with fall color.

The trip to the lodge is filled with scenic opportunities, as is the view from the lodge dining room. The space here opens up onto an expansive vista onto Abbot Lake and the rolling Blue Ridge in the background.


Blue Ridge Half Chicken, fried or roasted, and served with caramelized apples, cranberry relish, garlic mashed potatoes and housemade gravy. The fried chicken is done low and slow; it’s cooked to order and you’ll have to wait about 20 minutes but it’s essential in a perfect crispness.

On Friday nights there is a seafood buffet that includes crab legs, shrimp, clams, fish, oysters and even frog legs.

—   —   —


This dish was created in 1828 in Brunswick County, according to legend, and is open to interpretation and inspiration as ingredients go. Rabbit and squirrel were once the primary components, while today chicken and pork are used. Most Brunswick stews are tomato based and augment an animal protein with lima beans, corn, potatoes, and often okra.

The result is a rich, thick, hearty stew with complex and complementary flavors ranging from savory to sweet to smoky. Make a big pot; the leftovers taste even better as the ingredients mesh and meld and become more unified. Cornbread is the quintessential accompaniment.

Chicken Ingredients

1 large (4–5 pound) boiler chicken

1 large onion, unpeeled and quartered

3 carrots, unpeeled and quartered

3 celery stalks, quartered

2 garlic cloves, unpeeled and crushed

1 small bunch fresh Italian parsley

1 bay leaf

1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns

1 teaspoon sea salt

Stew Ingredients

4–6 slices thick-cut bacon, chopped

3 pounds new potatoes, quartered

2 medium onions, chopped

3 tablespoons tomato paste

6 cups stewed or canned crushed tomatoes

2 cups prepared lima beans

2 cups corn kernels

1 tablespoon sugar

1⁄2 teaspoon salt

1⁄4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1⁄4 teaspoon ground red pepper

4 tablespoons butter


Make the chicken. Place the chicken in a large stockpot and cover with water. Add the onion, carrots, celery, garlic, parsley, bay leaf, peppercorns, and sea salt. Cover the pot and bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce the heat to a slow boil and cook until the chicken is tender and the meat is falling off the bone, 45 to 90 minutes.

Remove the pot from the heat and allow to sit for 10 to
15 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate or cutting board to cool; do not discard the broth. Debone the chicken and shred or chop the meat. Strain the broth; cool, and skim off the fat.

Make the stew. Cook the bacon, stirring frequently, in a
large stockpot over high heat until cooked. Add 4 cups of the reserved chicken broth to the stockpot. (If you don’t have
4 full cups, use additional chicken or vegetable stock, or water to make up the difference.) Add the potatoes and onion, and bring to a boil. Continue boiling until the potatoes begin to soften, about 10 minutes.

Stir in the tomato paste. Add the reserved chicken. Reduce to a simmer and add the tomatoes, lima beans, corn, sugar, salt, black pepper, and red pepper. Stir well and simmer, uncovered, for about 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Add additional broth or water if needed, but stew should be thick.

Remove the stew from the heat. Stir in the butter until it melts and serve immediately.

Yields 8-12 servings

This recipe is from my book, Dishing Up Virginia (Storey Publishing, 2013)

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


© PEvansHylton for Virginia's Travel Blog, 2014 ]]> 0 Add Skyline Drive to your route to The Apple House. Old Chickahominy House Old Chickahominy House Chateau Morrisette Hunter’s Head Tavern Hunter's Head Tavern Peaks of Otter Lodge Restaurant with seating overlooking Abbott Lake Patrick Evans-Hylton
13 Places to Satisfy Your Buckwheat Craving Wed, 03 Sep 2014 19:52:11 +0000 Casey ]]>

Buckwheat is considered a superfood, as it’s packed with more protein than corn, rice or wheat, and it’s gluten free. Like many things, Virginia and buckwheat go way back. Both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson grew the crop in rotation on their respective farms at Mount Vernon and Monticello.1,2

Mabry Mill Restaurant Buckwheat Cakes

Mabry Mill Restaurant Buckwheat Cakes

While buckwheat is no longer one of the more common crops of Virginia, it is still celebrated, available on the menu in select restaurants, and packaged for mixing at home.



Monterey - The Highland Maple Festival is held two consecutive weekends annually in March, and buckwheat pancakes are the perfect recipient of the sweet maple syrup. Now celebrated for nearly 60 years, the festival was designated a “Local Legacy” by The Library of Congress in 1999, and designated the Official Maple Festival of Virginia in April 2014. The sugar camp tours, maple donuts, and buckwheat cakes draw roughly 50,000 visitors to the Allegheny Highlands each year.

Meadows of Dan – Pancake Days is an annual celebration held the third and fourth Saturdays of October at the Volunteer Fire Department. It’s an all day breakfast feast with regular pancakes, buckwheat cakes, sausage, and more! 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.



Fontaine Caffe & Creperie

Fontaine Caffe & Creperie

Not only is Mabry Mill the most photographed site on the Blue Ridge Parkway, their restaurant has some of the most famous buckwheat cakes, too. Even better, you can order them all day! Buckwheat flour is available for purchase as well.



Woodson's Mill

Woodson’s Mill

Raphine – Wade’s Mill is a working mill producing stone-ground grains for your at-home consumption. Visit to get a package of Jim and Georgie’s Wade’s Mill Buckwheat Poundcake Mix, or other buckwheat mixes.


Where in Virginia do you like to eat and buy buckwheat? Comment to share.

Virginia is for Lovers
Request a free Travel Guide or view the eGuide.


1. Jefferson and Soil Improvement, Part 2. Thomas Jefferson Demonstration Garden. March 13, 2011.
2. FAQ > Mount Vernon, Virginia. The Papers of George Washington.

© Casey for Virginia's Travel Blog, 2014 ]]> 0 Mabry Mill Restaurant Buckwheat Cakes Fontaine Caffe & Creperie Fontaine Caffe & Creperie Woodson's Mill
Pork-fect places to celebrate International Bacon Day (or any day) Fri, 29 Aug 2014 14:57:25 +0000 Patrick Evans-Hylton ]]>

Virginia has always loved its pork; look no further than the country ham, one of the state’s culinary calling cards, for evidence of that.

But it was more than ham that was eaten. In the first salvo of the Snout To Tail movement in English-speaking America, colonists ate just about every part of the pig they could, and what wasn’t eaten fresh was salted and smoked to preserve for a future meal.

Like bacon.

Bacon was no stranger to early Virginians; the cut is one of the oldest in meat history, and the English who came here in 1607 (pigs came to the Jamestown Colony, too) were already intimately knowledgeable with it. Bacon was meat for the masses as it was easy to produce and affordable.

And it is still loved today. In fact, since 2000 the Saturday before Labor Day has been observed as International Bacon Day.

We can’t think of a better occasion than to plan a trip across the commonwealth to try some bacon-centric dishes (some of our favorites are listed below) and grab a rasher or two from folks who cure their own to take back home and enjoy.

—   —   —


Looking for a bacon fix? Here are some of our favorite dishes which incorporate that sinful, sultry, salty flavor in the mix:



A creamy concoction of complimentary flavors like rich and complex apple butter and salty, savory bacon

3Way Café
216 Plume St., Norfolk


Bacon Wrapped Tater Tots from The Public House!

Bacon-Wrapped Tater Tots from The Public House!


Cheesey housemade tater tots are wrapped in bacon and served up sizzling hot with housemade chili ketchup.

Want to try these at home? Still chef/owner Mike Farrell shares his recipe with us below.

Still Worldly Eclectic Tapas
50 Court St., Portsmouth

also offered at Still’s sister restaurant, The Public House:

The Public House Victuals & Libations
1112 Colley Ave., Norfolk


This pig fits in nicely at Jackson 20.

This pig fits in nicely at Jackson 20.

B. E. L. T.

This bountiful brunch sandwich features bacon, an over-easy egg, lettuce, and a fried green tomato on toasted brioche

Jackson 20
480 King St., Alexandria



Crispy fried chicken topped with a fried egg adorns a bacon-studded waffle and a dressed bed of salad greens, then served with Kim Kim Hot Sauce (a Virginia’s Finest product) and maple syrup

Brookville Restaurant
25 W. Main St., Charlottesville



A rich bisque made with grilled corn, crab and hickory-smoked bacon from Virginia artisan butchery The Rock Barn

Zynodoa Restaurant
115 E. Beverley St., Staunton


Jack Brown's Beer & Burger Joint

Jack Brown’s Beer & Burger Joint


Decadent is an understatement; burger topped with peanut butter, mayonnaise, applewood-smoked bacon and cheese

Jack Brown’s Beer & Burger Joint
80 S. Main St., Harrisonburg


210 Market St. Roanoke



This fiery sandwich features bang bang bacon, fried mac-and-cheese, Thai dragon pepper salad and ghost pepper sauce

BBQ Exchange
102 Martinsburg Ave., Gordonsville



Bacon-wrapped jumbo beef hot dog, deep fried, and topped with hand-pulled pork, barbecue sauce and cole slaw

HogsHead Café
9503 West Broad St., Richmond



A brothy dish of housemade noodles with house-cured bacon lardons, mustard greens and a potlikker broth comprised of greens, vinegar and pork; topped with freshly-grated pecorino cheese.

Pasture Restaurant
416 E. Grace St., Richmond



Oven baked mac-and-cheese topped with cheddar and bacon and olive oil parmesan sauce

Fork in the Market
32 Market Square, Roanoke



This tall, cylindrical sweet is comprised of a Virginia maple syrup cake stuffed with a maple cream filing and topped with milk chocolate icing and bits of caramelized brown sugar-pepper bacon. It is available on Saturdays and Sundays.

Extraordinary Cupcakes
1220-C Richmond Rd., Williamsburg



A classic rendition of the venerable favorite: oysters in the half-shell topped with a rich mixture of bacon, cheese and spinach then baked until golden crowned and bubbling

Rockafeller’s Restaurant on Rudee Inlet
308 Mediterranean Ave., Virginia Beach



A sweet and savory addictive snack of bacon coated and cooked in maple syrup, cayenne and raw sugar

2000 Busted Rock Rd., Meadows of Dan

Station 2

Station 2


This wonderfully crafted burger starts with 100 percent Virginia-grown beef from Buffalo Creek Beef in Lexington chargrilled to order and placed atop an artisan bun baked with spent grain from Virginia brewer Devils Backbone. Garnished with lettuce, tomato, onion and pickle chips and a choice of cheese, the icing on the cake is – you guessed it, crispy bacon.

Station 2
2016 East Main St., Richmond

—   —   —


Here’s a list of places to bring home the bacon; the Virginia bacon, in fact.

These smaller producers craft their edible works of art right here in the Old Dominion.

Some places you may just have to go in and order right from the counter, while others ship. Some produce a good amount of quantity, while others do so on a smaller scale, meaning supplies may be limited.


Belmont Butchery
15 N. Belmont Ave., Richmond

From this artisan butchery comes –

BB Bacon: house-cured and slow smoked over hickory

Beef Bacon: house-cured, slow smoked boneless rib plate

Canadian Bacon: a brined and smoked cut from ham


Blue Ridge Meats of Front Royal
2391 Guard Hill Rd., Middletown

Using no-hormone meat locally-grown and house processed comes –

House smoked bacon


Crabill’s Meats
3149 Riverview Dr., Toms Brook

Producing meats in the Shenandoah Valley since 1962 comes –

Crabill’s bacon


Edward's Virginia Ham Shoppe

Edward’s Virginia Ham Shoppe

Edwards of Surry
11381 Rolfe Hwy., Surry
800-222-4267 | 757-294-3688

A number of bacons in various cuts and styles are offered, including –

Sliced Berkshire Bacon: dry-cured by hand from pasture-raised, Berkshire hogs

Bacon Steak: extra-thick hickory smoked bacon

Jowciale: smoked and peppered hog jowl

Assortment boxes: The Big Bacon Box, Virginia Bacon Sampler


RM Felts Packing Company
35497 General Mahone Blvd., Ivor

Under the brand name Felts Genuine Southampton comes –

Country-cured bacon


Kite’s Hams
3957 Wolftown-Hood Rd., Wolftown

From this Blue Ridge meat packer comes –

Thicker-sliced country-cured bacon


The Rock Barn
2387 Oak Ridge Rd., Arrington

From this field-to-fork artisan butchery comes –

Hickory-smoked bacon

—   —   —

Bonus Recipe:

Bacon-Wrapped Tater Tots with Chili Ketchup

Are you licking the computer screen yet? We thought so.

Sate your Virginia bacon desire immediately with this pork-fect recipe from Executive Chef Michael Farrell of Still Worldly Eclectic Eats in Portsmouth; they are a staple on his menu.


4 medium-to-large potatoes

2 cups grated cheddar cheese

1 tablespoon granulated garlic

1 tablespoon salt

1 tablespoon white pepper

16 strips bacon


Preheat oven to 425F. Thoroughly wash potatoes and prick with the tines of a fork.

Place potatoes on a baking sheet and roast for about 1 hour, or until tender. Set aside to cool completely.

Once cool, grate them using a medium grater and mix in cheese, garlic, salt and pepper.

Lay out a long piece of plastic film wrap and place potato mixture in the middle and press to form a log. Roll the film over the log tightly to form a cylinder. Let the mixture set and rest about 45 minutes.

Unwrap the potato cylinder and cut into 1-inch pieces about an inch or so in diameter.

Lay out the bacon and cut each strip in half. Place one tot on the bacon and wrap, then secure with a skewer.

Cook tots in a fryer with oil at 350F (or in hot oil in a skillet on the stove top) until the bacon is crispy and the potatoes are golden, about 3-5 minutes. Serve with Chili Ketchup.

Makes about 32 pieces.

Chili Ketchup: in a large bowl, whisk together 1 cup ketchup, 1/2 cup Asian chili garlic paste (like Sambal), 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, 3/4 cup brown sugar, 2 teaspoons Asian chili hot sauce (like Sriracha), 1 tablespoon soy sauce and 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce. Let chill in the refrigerator about an hour before serving. Makes about 1 cup.

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







© PEvansHylton for Virginia's Travel Blog, 2014 ]]> 0 Bacon Wrapped Tater Tots from The Public House! This pig fits in nicely at Jackson 20. Jack Brown’s Beer & Burger Joint Jack Brown's Beer & Burger Joint Station 2 Station 2 Edward’s Virginia Ham Shoppe Edward's Virginia Ham Shoppe Patrick Evans-Hylton
Rip It & Grip It! Epic Mountain Biking Trails Thu, 28 Aug 2014 20:28:51 +0000 Stefanie ]]>
Rotor Meltdown at Carvins Cove

Rotor Meltdown at Carvins Cove

Experiencing the great outdoors is one of the best things to do in Virginia. How about experiencing the great outdoors on a mountain bike? We’re not talking about a leisurely stroll through the woods. We’re talking about rampin’ tree stumps, mud in your face, rocky terrain mountain biking. There’s epic mountain biking trails all over, so if you’re a mountain biker looking for some new tracks, check out some of these!

Virginia Mountain Biking Trail
After a decade of exploring, preparing and linking sections of trail together, guides with Shenandoah Mountain Touring, with encouragement from the IMBA, have made Virginia’s first permanent long distance backcountry trail a reality. The continuous off-road Virginia Mountain Biking Trail spans the length of Virginia’s Allegheny and Blue Ridge Mountains from Strasburg to Damascus. It links eight major trail systems in the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests, consists of primarily singletrack trails, covering 480 miles and climbing 65,000 feet. Hard-core mountain bikers can be one of the first to tackle this new epic trail that Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine recently said is “poised to be the South’s sweetest stretch of singletrack.”

Southern Traverse Trail – Harrisonburg
Ride into history on the Southern Traverse Epic trail located in Virginia’s George Washington National Forest. The trailhead is near the Confederate Breastworks, an army camp created to stop Union troops from reaching Shenandoah Mountain. With 3,000 feet of climbing over 32 epic miles, this ride promises to test your courage and endurance. The backbone of the Southern Traverse is the south end of the Shenandoah Mountain Trail, an 11-mile singletrack ridge-ride. The ridge is accessed by a doubletrack climb that ascends 1,800 feet through a picturesque hardwood hollow. The snaking trail follows the ridge south and is an amazing melody of smooth and fast downhills, and technical rock gardens.

Carvins Cove Natural Preserve – Roanoke
Carvins Cove has a wide variety of single track trails, ranging from fast, smooth flowing trails to technical, rocky terrain. The Appalachian Trail follows the park boundary along the northern half of the park. The short, but difficult singletrack trail features bench-cut areas that run along the steep hillsides, which require special attention. There are two double black diamond trails and 5 black diamond tracks throughout the Natural Preserve.

Fountainhead Regional Park Mountain Bike Train – Fairfax Station
Often described as a rollercoaster for mountain bikes, the Fountainhead Regional Park Mountain Bike Trail System offers mountain bikers one of the most popular trails in the region. For an advanced mountain biker, the abundance of fast single track, banked turns, bridges, ledges, steep climbs, and fast descents will keep your eyes locked on the trail ahead of you. Once you have completed one loop, or all three loops, you will be hooked and begging to do it again.

Freedom Park – Williamsburg
Choose “Trail C” of the six mountain biking trails at Freedom Park and experience the premiere Freeride Trail, boasting dozens of TTFs (Technical Trail Features), including dirt rollers, berms, log skinnies, teeter totters, A-frames, table-tops, gap jumps, gravity pits and more. “Trail D” is the park’s most difficult trail at five miles long and is the most overall technical cross-country terrain. Be prepared for sudden changes through hardwood and pine forests, several sets of switchbacks, and many short but twisty (and rooty) uphill sections with sharp turns.

George Washington National Forest
There’s certainly no shortage of epic biking in the George Washington National Forest. Offering 24 black diamond and two double-black diamonds, this place is a mountain biker’s mecca. Try out the short, painful ascent to the Blue Ridge line with the 0.9-mile Blue Loop Trail or the 1,2-mile Upper Torry Ridge Trail, a Rocky Ridge Ride with stunning views. Both are going to give you the double-black diamond experience on a short track. BE CAREFUL! Of the 24 single black diamond trails, riding the Virginia Endurance Series is a must! This 44.3-mile epic ridge showcases three phenomenal trails, including Lookout Mountain Loop, Wolf Ridge Loop and Narrowback Mountain Loop. The series includes back country, ultra-mega, hand crafted, all day joy rides. Slightly over half of the trail is single track with heights reaching 3,287′.

Bryce Mountain Bike Park (Bryce Resort) – Basye
The fairly new Bike Park at Bryce Resort features seven lift-accessed trails. The new Quad Lift eliminated the need to paddle uphill, allowing maximum time for downhill thrills. Or take ride up and taking in the scenery of the surrounding mountains. The Park’s advanced trails reach up to two miles, with one black diamond and three double black diamond trails.

Virginia Creeper Trail

Virginia Creeper Trail

Virginia Creeper Trail – Damascus
There are several single-track trails along the Virginia Creeper Trail and if you’re looking for some epic thrills, take the Iron Mountain Trail. Along the trail is Beech Grove, also known as the “Motorcycle Trail.” This is one of the more technical trails on the mountain, starting out as a smooth, buff, single track, with a couple of nice switchbacks near the top. After about a quarter mile it turns into a gnarly rock garden, with some larger rocks and water bars, as well as a couple of creek crossings. After you cross a “French drain,” the last 100 yards is a wide open double track with some nice opportunities to catch a little air!

Dragon’s Back Trail – Salem
This 12-mile, single track, black diamond trail sounds like a mountain biker’s dream. The trail system includes three different trails, all boasting different terrains and qualities. Beginning at Turkey Trail, bikers will pedal the rocky, gravel roads to the bottom of the Deer Trail, which is a very steep, very narrow, single track grunt to the top of the ridge line. The 2.5-mile Grouse Trail features rocky to switchback terrain. As you climb closer to the top, the trail becomes extremely rocky, making it very difficult to climb. Located less than 20 minutes from downtown Roanoke, Dragon’s Back takes riders on a back country journey. This spiny ridge trail is very technical and often requires some hiking with your bike, but the rewards are well worth the effort.

York River State Park – Williamsburg
York River State Park 16 miles of designated single-track trails, as well as 15+ miles of double-track, multi-use trails. The Marle Ravine Trail is the original 6.5 mile, single-track loop at the park. This trail runs counter-clockwise and it is the most challenging trail at the park. The trail offers challenging roots, switch backs, short, steep ascents, flowing descents, and four wooden bridge crossings. The John Blair Trail is the newest trail in the YRSP trail system. This bi-directional trail traverses eastward crossing the park’s existing fire roads, allowing single-track access to some of the most beautiful areas of the park.

Upper County Park (James City Co.) – Toano
The 3.7-mile loop trail at Upper County Park is a technical one, with tight turns and off camber sections. Aerobically, this trail is one of the most challenging around, where many climbs come one after the other with few flat areas to recover. You will find it hard to take you hands off the bar to grab a water bottle or even your hydration pack hose. The trail sees little use, so expect a few sticks and branches and a narrow tread through low bush, which covers much of the forest floor along the trail.

Pocahontas State Park – Chesterfield
The Lakeview I, II & III trails in Pocahontas State Park, are nothing to approach lightly! Expect to experience a creek crossing, lots of small logs, some expose rocky shelves, some basic rock gardens and a lot of climbing and descending.  Expert offshoots add more rocky features, log skinnies, jumps and some technical, bouldered sections. Without including the red offshoots, Lakeview 1 is roughly a six mile loop from the parking lot.  Lakeview II extends this to about 8.5 miles and Lakeview III extends it to a total of 11.5 miles.


boasts a 13.7-mile loop. The trail is an extensive, difficult loop of connected trails with additional loops to explore. The trail incorporates portions of the Old Mill Bicycle Trail and connects to many other trails in the park. This trail circumnavigates the entire portion of the park north of State Route 655. For most of its length the Fendley Station Trail passes through mixed hardwood forest and some of the more remote park areas. Pocahontas also boasts a single and double diamond each. With the single-diamond Morel Ravine Trail, expect many rock gardens, uphill log crossings and other technical features. The double-diamong Lil’ West VA Trail is the hardest in the park, with advanced man-made features like teeters, skinnies, narrow wooden bridges and extensive rock gardens.

expect to experience a creek crossing, lots of small logs, some expose rocky shelves, some basic rock gardens and a lot of climbing and descending.  Expert offshoots add more rocky features, log skinnies, jumps and some technical, bouldered sections.  Without including the red offshoots, Lakeview 1 (blue on this map) is roughly a six mile loop from the Heritage Center parking lot.  Lakeview 2 (green on this map) extends this to about 8.5 miles and Lakeview 3 (red on this map) extends it to a total of 11.5 miles.

Douthat State Park – Clifton Forge
Douthat State Park  is pure mountain splendor. Located in a remote pocket of the Allegheny Mountains, it features a pristine lake as its centerpiece. Fat tire enthusiasts come for the 40 miles of singletrack with challenges for all levels. Experts find favor with many of the long sustained climbs and payoff screaming descents, but there is plenty of variety for everyone to make this one of the best mountain biking destinations in Virginia.

Elizabeth Furnace

Elizabeth Furnace

Elizabeth Furnace – Strasburg
This is a tough ride. If you’re new to the sport, you’ll probably hate it unless you turn around at Strasburg Reservoir and stay away from Signal Knob and the Green Mountain climb. People come here all the time to tame the steeps and conquer the rocky descents on their high-end full suspension bikes. They usually fail. So why do so many cyclists keep coming back year-round, winter, spring, summer and fall? Simply put, Elizabeth Furnace is home to some of the best all-around mountain bike trails in all of Northern Virginia. It’s steep. It’s dangerous. It’s long. It’s fast. It’s a blast. Trail Surface: Mountainous, rocky singletrack and forest roads.


For more trails and resources, check out these sites:


There’s plenty of epic mountain biking trails around the Commonwealth. What’s your favorite? Share!



© Stefanie for Virginia's Travel Blog, 2014 ]]> 0 Rotor Meltdown at Carvins Cove BR07052703V_02.TIF elizabeth_furnace2
15 Places to Sip and Savor Virginia Craft Beer Thu, 28 Aug 2014 15:01:40 +0000 Casey ]]>

Vibe is everything. Vibe is the mood, the company, and even the flavors. If you’re looking to experience great Virginia craft beer in an ultra-cool setting, you might check out this list – and please – add to it with your opinion of what makes a great sip-and-savor craft beer experience.

Breweries with Outdoor Seating and Great Views

1. Legend in Richmond is situated on the south side of the James River. Their deck has umbrella patio tables and an unobstructed view of the downtown Richmond skyline. Evenings are beautiful.

Wild Wolf, Nellysford

Wild Wolf, Nellysford

2. Blue Mountain in Afton also has umbrella patio tables, but their view is reflected in their name. Settle in with a pizza of fresh local ingredients and a cold Full Nelson Pale Ale to appreciate the blue mountains on display.

3. Devils Backbone Basecamp is in Nellysford, just down the road from Blue Mountain, thus sharing a very familiar view. The grounds at DBB are expansive, as they play host to festivals and other large events from time to time. And they have an awesome bar area, too.

4. Also in Nellysford is Wild Wolf, but their set up is like a little town square. The biergarten has a koi pond with a waterfall and a gazebo overlooking it, all situated beneath a magnificent old tree. The on-site restaurant serves up scratch-made delights that you can enjoy on the wrap-around porch, if you desire. The mountain views are outstanding; just see the photo above!

5. Old Bust Head in Vint Hill has a brand new beer garden – complete with a pergola for shade – to go with their brand new tap room. It’s a happenin’ place, with live music and a lively crowd, plus you never know when beautiful macaws or baby goats may drop by. Be sure to read the label on your bottle as each beer name is tied to a local tale, which the label explains. I wonder if Vixen Irish Red’s story might make me blush …

Restaurants with a Great View Serving Virginia Craft Beer

6. Bubba’s Restaurant and Crab House is a waterfront restaurant just off the Lynnhaven Inlet in Virginia Beach. It’s situated such that you can enjoy the sunset on one of the decks and sip a Virginia craft beer with your delicious straight-from-the-sea fare.

7. Catch 31 is also a Virginia Beach restaurant, and you’ll find it right on the Virginia Beach Boardwalk. Toes in the sand? They can be within just a few steps.

Mountain Lake Lodge & Conservatory

Mountain Lake Lodge & Conservatory

8. The Waterfront Market in Old Town Alexandria is perched right on the Potomac River. The views are immense and Port City is cold on tap!

9. Stony Creek Tavern at Mountain Lake Lodge in Pembroke has Virginia craft beer on tap, sweet views, and quite the story to tell, too. Did you know the beloved film, Dirty Dancing, was filmed at Mountain Lake Lodge? Now you know.

10. In McGahyesville, Massanutten’s Fareways Restaurant and Lounge offers a Tuesday night Beer Lovers’ Dinner, a five-course pairing that includes details from the chef as well as from the resident beer expert. If you’re not into beer tasting at quite that level, you can still enjoy a craft beer anytime at Fareways with a view of the Mountain Greens Golf Course.

11. Arlington Rooftop Bar & Grill offers a great view of the Clarendon / Courthouse neighborhoods of Arlington, and the rooftop truly is a fun place to be. At least two Virginia brews are on tap for your sit-sip-savor enjoyment.

12. Supper is a brand new Southern restaurant located in the trendy neighborhood of Ghent in Norfolk. The comfort food will beckon your return, but it may be the knowledge of rooftop dining that draws you in. The Norfolk skyline glistens not too far away and the tapped Virginia craft beer is cold.

13. Continuing with the rooftop theme, try Postbellum in Richmond. Don’t go for the view on this one, but the overall feel. The space includes a long bar, TVs, pub and patio tables, booths (!), and lights strung above. There’s plenty of room and an unobstructed view of blue skies or stars, whichever your preference.

James River Brewing, Scottsville

James River Brewing, Scottsville

Breweries Cloaked in History and a Story to Tell

14. James River Brewing in Scottsville is located in a 19th century tobacco factory alongside Mink Creek, a tributary to the James. The tasting room has a rustic, down-home feel with timber accents and barrels for tables. Out back, by the creek in the beer garden, you’ll find a wooden swing in the shade, waiting for you to linger with a Green Eyed Lady.

15. Jefferson Street Brewery is housed in the same Craddock Terry shoe factory as the Craddock Terry Hotel in Lynchburg. Learn a little something about the history of the facility while sampling the latest suds.

So where do you go for a great Virginia craft beer? Leave a comment to tell us about the best vibe you’ve found and why it’s great.

Virginia is for Lovers.
Request a Travel Guide or see the eGuide.

© Casey for Virginia's Travel Blog, 2014 ]]> 0 Wild Wolf, Nellysford Mountain Lake Lodge & Conservatory Mountain Lake Lodge & Conservatory James River Brewing, Scottsville
The Crooked Road: Far from Straight & Narrow Wed, 27 Aug 2014 18:58:21 +0000 Stefanie ]]>

You don’t have to stay on the straight and narrow to get to The Crooked Road. This 333-mile trail of pure Virginia Heritage Music is going to take you on a journey through the history of the origins of country, bluegrass, gospel and more.

“A place of beauty, a place of song. This is The Crooked Road.”

As you travel, pull of at any of the 26 Crooked Road wayside exhibits, where you can learn more about the music and musicians who have made their mark in each location.

Home of the Birthplace of Country Music, Bristol brings musicians, scholars and fans alike to pay homage to country music’s past. The familiar melodies of the historic Bristol Sessions in 1927 still echo through the only city that can celebrate its unique title of the Birthplace of Country Music.  The Bristol Sessions were not the first country music recordings, but they were the first country music recordings to be mass produced and distributed. Because of the influence these sessions had on the music industry, the 1927 Bristol Sessions are also known as the ‘Big Bang’ of country music.

Johnny Cash once said, “The Bristol Sessions is the single-most important event in the history of country music.”

The Carter Family Fold is a rustic, 1,000 seat music shed offering traditional Appalachian music.

The Carter Family Fold is a rustic, 1,000 seat music shed offering traditional Appalachian music.The Carter Family Fold is a rustic, 1,000 seat music shed offering traditional music.

There’s nine major venues throughout the trail, each telling the story of The Crooked Road’s history.

Jams are abound throughout the trail. Stay the night around one of the venues and take in the excitement of the music.

Plan a trip around some of the eclectic annual festivals along The Crooked Road, including:


Heartwood Artisans Center

Heartwood Artisans Center

Experience The Crooked Road’s treasure that is Heartwood. It’s the gateway to Southwest Virginia, homeplace of traditional music and serves up the best of regional craft.

Explore the rich musical heritage of Southwest Virginia at Heartwood – and glimpse the frontiers of fusion with other traditions and instruments. Heartwood is also a performance place for the frontiers of this music, as performers explore new instruments, fuse with other musical traditions or push their horizons toward new forms of expression in special concerts and other events. Every Thursday night, enjoy live music and Heartwood’s special BBQ menu. Its restaurant serves up lunch, Thursday BBQ, Sunday breakfast, and a coffee and wine bar.

Shop at The Crooked Road store for artisan crafts, apparel, handmade instruments, music and more.

Nine major venues, more than 60 affiliated venues and 26 wayside exhibits. The Crooked Road will lead you on an adventure through the history of country music.




© Stefanie for Virginia's Travel Blog, 2014 ]]> 0 Carter Family Fold Heartwood Artisans Center
Five Ideas for Traveling in September Wed, 27 Aug 2014 14:42:18 +0000 Casey ]]>

September is a busy month for families, but just another day in the life for those who are child-free. Here are some broad travel ideas to suit each crowd.

Virginia Beach

Virginia Beach


1. The Beach. The crowds have diminished and the weather is still warm enough for a dip or sunbathing, not to mention the rates begin to scale back, which means you can maybe stay a day or two longer.

Dark Hollow Falls, Shenandoah National Park

Dark Hollow Falls, Shenandoah National Park

2. The Mountains. Autumn foliage won’t peak in the Blue Ridge until mid-October, but if you travel ahead of time, you can scope out the perfect look-out points to watch those colors creep across the Alleghenies and into the Valley. Regardless of fall’s hues, the mountains are just plain beautiful and perfect any time of the year.

Shopping in Alexandria

Shopping in Alexandria

3. Shopping. Families who have put off back-to-school shopping will find end-of-summer deals everywhere, not to mention the extra savings that outlets yield. Additionally, those in search of furniture must consider a trip to Green Front Furniture Company in Farmville.

Colonial Williamsburg

Colonial Williamsburg

4. History. You choose your style, speed, and which period you’d like to explore. Virginia has many historical touch-points of interest, and September is a nice weather month to be out exploring.

State Fair of Virginia

State Fair of Virginia

5. Festivals and Fairs. Speaking of nice weather, get on your walking shoes for a stroll around a festival, or dust off the lawn chair for a music festival. Oh, and the State Fair of Virginia is this month!


See the events calendar for September to further round out your plans.


Virginia is for Lovers.
Request a free Travel Guide or view the eGuide.

© Casey for Virginia's Travel Blog, 2014 ]]> 0 Virginia Beach Dark Hollow Falls, Shenandoah National Park Shopping in Alexandria Shopping in Alexandria Colonial Williamsburg Colonial Williamsburg State Fair of Virginia
Eight Boutique Hotels & Vintage Stays in Virginia Tue, 26 Aug 2014 21:02:45 +0000 Casey ]]>

Attention to detail, upscale finishes, and impeccable customer service are all things you’d expect to find in a boutique hotel, and according to online reviews and media, these Virginia stays excel.

The Craddock Terry Hotel is quickly recognized by the large red heel on the front. Once a shoe factory producing nearly 100,000 pairs per day, this brick warehouse is now a very fashionable, 44-room luxury accommodation in downtown Lynchburg. The urban, industrial feel is not lost. Each room boasts incredible mountain or river views thanks to the 9-foot-tall windows, and exposed brick and beams serve as sturdy, beautiful reminders of the buildings’ past. As a finishing touch, you’re going to love receiving your complimentary continental breakfast  in an old-fashioned wooden shoeshine box. Whimsy is in style at Craddock Terry!

>> Travel Packages

Craddock Terry Hotel Craddock Terry Hotel Craddock Terry Hotel
Morrison House

Morrison House

Nestled off King Street in Old Town Alexandria is Morrison House, a well-appointed Kimpton property graced with Federal Period reproduction pieces. Acclaim for the hotel includes a four-star rating from Mobil, four-diamond rating from AAA, and it was named one of the “Top 30 Hotels in the South” by readers of Conde Nast Traveler in 2013. Morrison House has 45 guestrooms and suites, and a bed and breakfast feel to its intimate atmosphere. Complimentary wine, coffee and tea are served daily. “Elegant” is perhaps the best word to describe this gem of Old Town.


The Charlotte Hotel & Restaurant

The Charlotte Hotel & Restaurant

The Charlotte Hotel in Onancock is a sweet find on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. With just eight rooms, you’ll have plenty of peace in this 1907 reprieve. Trip Advisor reviewers have called it “delightful,” “charming,” and “a tiny slice of paradise.” To add to the comfortable stay, a restaurant featuring house-made menu items gives you a true taste of the Shore.


General Francis Marion Hotel

General Francis Marion Hotel

The Roaring Twenties are all the rage at the General Francis Marion Hotel in Marion, Virginia. While “thoroughly modern” for today’s travelers, the General Francis does indeed date to 1927 and boasts the period ambiance one would expect. Pieces of its historical past include the original terrazo floors, the registration desk, and switchboard. The hotel was honored with the Gabriella Page Historic Preservation Award by the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities. Do be sure to enjoy a libation at The Black Rooster, their on-site restaurant that gives a wink back to the black rooster being code for “drinks served here” during Prohibition.


Linden Row Inn

Linden Row Inn

Richmond seeps history and the 1840s Linden Row Inn embodies it, from its architecture of seven integrated Greek Revival row houses to its garden, where a young Edgar Allen Poe played, courted, and perhaps named the “enchanted garden” in his poem To Helen. The Parlour Suites and the Main House Rooms have fabulous old 12-foot ceilings with windows just as high, while the Parlour Suites also boast pocket doors, gasolier lighting, and marble fireplaces. The Garden Rooms are located in the carriage houses, spaces the Inn calls “cozy and intimate enclaves.” Without a doubt, your authentic Richmond experience begins at Linden Row Inn.

>> Travel Packages


The Georges. Photo by Gordon Gregory.

The Georges. Photo by Gordon Gregory.

Newly opened but historically preserved and treasured is The Georges in historic downtown Lexington. Named for George Washington and George C. Marshall of Washington and Lee and Virginia Military Institute fame, The Georges is an 18-room boutique hotel occupying two buildings across from one another on Main Street. An on-site restaurant and casual piano bar are just the beginning of how scrumptious this property is. Guests will be delighted with a breathtaking view as distinct as the room in which they find themselves. Luxury linens and bath necessities add to the desire to linger that this retreat will certainly impose.


Suites at 249

Suites at 249

The Suites at 249 are found in the historic district of Culpeper inside renovated row buildings, but just like the aforementioned properties, the six Suites embrace the history they lie within. Exposed brick and hardwood floors make these modern, expansive suites a very comfortable home base from which to explore. The one thing that makes the Suites different from the others is the lack of concierge or bellhop to call upon. Once you check in, you come and go as you please by way of coded, keyless entry for both the front door and your room. This could be the perfect place for the couple who wants nothing more than to be left alone.


Bolling Wilson Hotel

Bolling Wilson Hotel

In Wytheville is the newly renovated Bolling Wilson Hotel, a 30-room gem set to open Fall 2014. Named after Wytheville-born Edith Bolling Wilson, President Woodrow Wilson’s wife, the property is a contributing building on the National Register of Historic Places. Guests can expect to find beautifully restored and preserved architecture in the lobby with classic high ceilings, arched windows, and intricate moulding. Additionally, an on-site southern restaurant with outdoor dining and a rooftop patio promise a memorable experience.

There’s nothing like a place that has a great story to tell, and these eight properties are just a tip of the iceberg. Discover more lovely places to stay through the links below.

© Casey for Virginia's Travel Blog, 2014 ]]> 0 Craddock Terry Hotel Craddock Terry Hotel Craddock Terry Hotel Morrison House The Charlotte Hotel & Restaurant The Charlotte Hotel & Restaurant General Francis Marion Hotel General Francis Marion Hotel Linden Row Inn The Georges. Photo by Gordon Gregory. Suites at 249 Bolling Wilson Hotel
Mouth-Watering Wood Fire Pizza Spots Tue, 26 Aug 2014 16:36:16 +0000 Stefanie ]]>

Just thinking about the ooey, gooey, melty, cheesiness that is a pizza pie is enough to make the mouth water. And if it’s not, check out the following  spots that will do the trick.

And don’t forget! It’s craft beer month, so while you’re digging into some great wood-fired pizza, wash it all down with a nice cold one.


Pizzeria Orso – Falls Church
Once hailed as Washington’s best pizza by the Washington Post, Pizzeria Orso specializes in authentic Neapolitan pizza. Featuring an enormous custom-made volcanic brick oven, handcrafted in Italy by Forno Napoletano, the restaurant boasts 14 specialty pies, including classic options like margherita or their Orso pie. Feeling like something different? How about the Smashing Pumpkin: cream sauce, bufala mozzarella, smoked blue cheese, roasted pumpkin, pear, garlic, arugula and shaved grana. Or The Fun Guy with wild mushrooms, mozzarella, fontina and parmesan. The excellent wine and beverage program introduces exceptional, value-oriented Italian wines as well as a number of craft beers– including nine that are brewed right here in Virginia.

One of many Thyme Market's specialty pizzas

One of many Thyme Market’s specialty pizzas

Thyme Market – Culpeper
Bringing a taste of the traditional European market to the heart of historic downtown Culpeper. Thyme Market is an oasis of gourmet prepared foods – both to go or to be enjoyed on their patio. The kitchen is centered on their wood-fired pizza oven, which turns out delectable thin-crust pizzas with tasty toppings such as chorizo, artichoke, peppadew, shiitake mushrooms and goat cheese.

Venture Kitchen & Bar – Hampton
Placing in the top three among Coastal Virginia Magazine’s Best Of Awards 2014, Venture Kitchen & Bar won the bronze for best new restaurant, bronze for best overall restaurant and silver for best signature drink. Their pizza and bread dough are made fresh, in house, and boasts a not-quite-Neapolitan pie. Not only do they make their own bread and pizza doughs, Venture smokes their own sausage. So what’s good on the menu? How about the vegetarian Eggplant pie, with caramelized eggplant & onions, tomato sauce, seasoned ricotta, fresh thyme and mozzarella. And of course, their most popular Everybody’s Pizza (it’s not called that for nothin’!) topped with basil pesto, artichoke hearts, bacon, mozzarella and parmesan. Venture offers eight draft beer options– four are local craft– and more than two dozen bottled.

Dogtown Roadhouse – Floyd
Dogtown Roadhouse has six classic, but with a twist!, wood-fired pizzas on its menu. An interesting pie to try is The White, with fresh grapes, almonds, gorgonzola cream sauce and house cheese blend. Prepared in a ceramic oven and bubbling with cheesy goodness, Dogtown’s pies have become a mainstay in Floyd. Craft brews from around the country accompany the crispy pies.

Mad Fox Brewing Co. – Falls Church
Featuring  gluten-free crust options, Mad Fox Brewing Co. accommodates any palate. Some favorites on the menu include the Eye of the Tiger: zucchini, ricotta, caramelized onion, garlic base, oregano and pecorino. And there’s the Almost Famous: ham, pineapple, pepperoni and jalapeno… yum. Wash it down with their own Mad Fox Beer.

Fire Works Wood Fired Pizza – Leesburg
With pies called the Guadalajara and Black Sheep, those along should pique your interest about Fire Works Wood Fired Pizza. Fire Works uses the freshest ingredients possible, while supporting six different local growers and producers. Still need some convincing? Fire Works pizza is free-formed– the dough is made daily with fine milled Italian “Caputo” flour, filtered water, sea salt and yeast. They burn oak and use nitrate-free pepperoni and sausage. Whichever you choose, rest easy knowing when it arrives on the table, it’s going to be a fresh, wood-fired pizza you’ll be coming back to for more. Check out their Tap Takeovers in September and October, as well as 12 different craft beers on draft– four Virginia-made.

Check Auckerman at Bella Luna Wood-Fired Pizza

Check Auckerman at Bella Luna Wood-Fired Pizza

Bella Luna Wood-Fired Pizza – Harrisonburg
Did you know Bella Luna is Harrisonburg’s first farm-to-table pizza restaurant? Well, it is! Neapolitan-inspired, thin-crusted pizza is baked at 900 degrees in a traditional wood-fired oven, just as it was over 200 years ago in Naples, Italy. Dough is hand-made fresh daily, using only four ingredients: flour, water, salt and yeast. Guests may watch as pizza chefs press out the dough, top it with artisanal ingredients and slide it into the wood-fired oven. Bella Luna’s handmade pizzas feature seasonal produce, cheeses and meats, delivered daily from family farms in the Shenandoah Valley and Central Virginia.

Monza – Manassas
They’ve got a mind of their own! When Monza‘s wood-fired pizza come out of the oven, they come out. Monza serves up something for everyone. Try the Seafood: mozzarella, calamari, shrimp, scallops and rose cream sauce. Or the Buffalo Chicken with hot sauce, blue cheese, mozzarella and chicken. You have 10 to choose from, so choose wisely! Or just come back to try them all. Monza has several big screen TVs for watching sporting events and more than 100 craft beers available.

Fork in the Market – Roanoke
DEATH BY CHEESE. Just one of their nine gourmet pizzas on Fork in the Market‘s pizzas. How about a spin on the classic Philly Cheese Stake sandwich? The Philly pie serves up all the greatness that is the Philly sandwich, right on a pizza… it’s like two worlds collided to create this amazing concoction. Eyes are immediately drawn to the final item on the menu, the Mac Daddy. Yes, it exactly what it sounds like, sans a father. This amazing pie is topped with oven-baked mac and cheese and topped with cheddar and bacon, with olive oil parmesan sauce. If that doesn’t entice the palate, what will?

The Brick at Black Bear Bistro – Warrenton
The Brick at Black Bear Bistro rolled out onto the pizza scene in merely a year ago and has taken it by storm! The pizzeria’s owners achieved their dream of perfecting the crust that is prevalent in Italy and away they went. Eleven eclectic pies are on the menu, including the Fattoria with vodka sauce, farm-fresh eggs, shredded mozzarella, arugula, then tossed in olive oil. The Brick features gluten-free and vegan cheese options, as well as seven local craft beers on tap.

Blue Mountain Brewery Restaurant – Afton
How does hand-rolled thin crust infused with herbs, olive oil and honey sound? That’s the foundation of Blue Mountain Brewery‘s delicious wood-fired pizzas. You may think five measly options on the menu isn’t much, but try these on for size… Our Famous Veggie is topped with cilantro pesto sauce, zucchini, squash, roasted mushrooms, caramelized red onions, goat cheese, mozzarella and fresh cilantro. Or how about this one? The Bratwurst with Apples and Onions pie comes with Double H Farm bratwurst (from Nelson Co.), caramelized onion, apples, mozzarella, fresh marinara and balsamic reduction. And of course, wash down the deliciousness with one of their 20 seasonal drafts.

Brixx Wood Fired Pizza – Charlottesville
It says it in the name! Brixx Wood Fired Pizza has 23 amazing pizzas on their menu. How do you choose just one?! Brace yourself… some of these unique pies are going to get the stomach growling. First in line, the Mexican: black bean spread with mozzarella and cheddar cheeses, wood-roasted chicken, roma tomatoes and sliced fresh jalapenos topped with sour cream. Feeling like some Asian cuisine? Done. The Sweet Thai Chicken pie has wood-roasted chicken, tossed in a sweet chili sauce, goat cheese and mozzarella, roasted red peppers, pistachios and drizzled with Thai satay dressing. Not only is the pizza outstanding, the restaurant has the Brixx Masters of Beer Appreciation program. Who doesn’t love that? There’s 24 craft beer options from around the world, and of course, Virginia!

Stuzzi Pizza Napoletana

Stuzzi Pizza Napoletana

Stuzzi – Richmond
Stuzzi is a restaurant that brings a slice of Italy to you! Their Neapolitan recipe follows all the standards required for their wood oven goodness to come straight to you. And of course, wash it down with some local brews, like Hardywood.  Stuzzi also has gluten free options for both their pizzas and pasta.

Rivermont Pizza- Lynchburg
If you’re looking for a great pizza, fantastic craft beer, authentic wood-fired pizza, AND a thriving live music scene, Rivermont Pizza is for you! The menu is locally-sourced and changes seasonally. You’ll love the housemade mozzarella!

Aziza’s on Main – Richmond
Try this on for size… not only are there fantastic wood fire pizzas, Aziza’s on Main serves up a menu of Lebanese and Mediterranean fare as well. Visitors sing the praises of their wood-fired pizzas, topped with the freshest possible ingredients. Try out their Red pie, complete with red sauce, mozzarella, mushrooms and basil. It’s no wonder Style Weekly honored Aziza’s as the 2013 Restaurant of the Year!

There’s so much deliciousness to choose from! No matter where you are, or where you travel, there’s always a great pizza spot to try out.

What are some of your favorites?




© Stefanie for Virginia's Travel Blog, 2014 ]]> 0 Thyme Market Chef_Auckerman Stuzzi Pizza Napoletana