Virginia's Travel Blog Travel Ideas and Stories Fri, 29 Aug 2014 14:57:25 +0000 en-US hourly 1's Travel Blog 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.

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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
Crafting a Quality Cocktail for Virginia Beer Month Mon, 25 Aug 2014 13:28:17 +0000 Patrick Evans-Hylton ]]>

From time immortal, beer seems to have been part of the human experience; 7,000-year-old earthen vessels in Mesopotamia show signs of having housed the amber liquid.

But when someone first decided to marry beer with the cocktail is anyone’s guess, however Victorian-era notations from Britain support the idea that it’s been around for quite some time.

Todd Thrasher, of PX, Restaurant Eve, The Majestic, and other Alexandria restaurants, crafted his Atypical Chocolate Martini using a stout beer.

Todd Thrasher, of PX, Restaurant Eve, The Majestic, and other Alexandria establishments, crafted his Atypical Chocolate Martini using a stout beer.

Beer cocktails (the Germans call them Biermischgetränke, or “beer-based mixed drinks”) are quick-and-easy to prepare and very refreshing. And, because most beer has a lower alcohol-by-volume than spirits, you may want to indulge in more than one imbibe.

I can’t think of a better reason to raise a glass to August being Virginia Craft Beer Month than getting crafty with some of the commonwealth’s best beverages. Below are some of my recipes; I hope they will become favorites of yours.

Please note that some beers are flagship offerings, while others may be limited to certain times of the year. Brews may also be available by the bottle or can, growler, or keg, depending on the quaff; check with breweries for seasonal and packaging availability.

The good news is that, if one of our suggested beers happens to not be around at the time, there are dozens of great craft breweries across Virginia offering countless varieties and styles – something for every palate.


The Cocktail: Beer-A-Rita on the Rocks

A year-round favorite cocktail is the margarita; there have even been songs written about this concoction that helps folks hang on.

The classic gets a makeover with the addition of a slightly hoppy lager which plays very nicely with the flavors of tequila and frozen limeade concentrate, which is the base for this drink.

Fill a growler at Starr Hill in Crozet to make a Beer-A-Rita on the Rocks.

Fill a growler at Starr Hill in Crozet to make a Beer-A-Rita on the Rocks.

The Brewery:

Starr Hill Brewery
Tastings and tours available; check with brewery for details.

5391 Three Notch’d Rd., Crozet

The Brew Used:

Starr Pils
“… A classic German Pilsner. This beer is crafted with pilsner malt, German hops and Bavarian lager yeast. It is golden in color with a subtle malt backbone and pleasant hop aroma.” – tasting notes from the brewery website

The Recipe:

1 12-ounce can frozen limeade concentrate, thawed
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup tequila
48 ounces lager
2 limes, cut into wedges
Sea salt

Chill beer.

In a large carafe, add limeade concentrate, lemon juice and tequila and stir to incorporate. Squeeze wedges from one lime into container and toss in. Add the beer and fill container with ice, slightly stirring.

Take one lime wedge and run around the rim of each glass. Pour salt onto a plate and dip the rims of the glasses into the salt to coat. Pour margaritas into glasses and garnish with remaining lime wedges.

Yields 4-6 cocktails


The Cocktail: Black Velvet

Black Velvet is a beer cocktail made from floating chilled stout beer on top of a sparkling white wine. The drink has its origins at Brook’s Club in London in 1861. This cocktail is a great substitute for mimosas.

We recommend using a Virginia sparkling wine for the cocktail; find a favorite.

The Brewery:

O’Connor Brewing Co.
Tastings and tours available; check with brewery for details.

211 West 24th St., Norfolk

The Brew Used:

Dry Irish Stout (ODIS)
“A robust dry Irish stout with a rich roasted malt aroma. Smooth and velvety on the palate, concluding with a lingering dry finish.” – tasting notes from the brewery website

The Recipe:

3 ounces sparkling wine
3 ounces stout beer

Chill the sparkling wine and stout beer.

Pour the sparkling wine in a champagne flute and carefully pour the stout beer atop. Serve immediately.

Yields 1 cocktail


The Cocktail: Red Eye

Tomato juice is added in a number of beer cocktails, including the Mexican classic Michelada, a concoction of beer, lime juice, Worcestershire (and other) sauce and spices, including peppers.

Sometimes even the venerable Bloody Mary is made with beer, with monikers like Bloody Beer and Red Beer. The Red Eye is similar.

Popularized in the 1988 Tom Cruise movie Cocktail as a morning after, hair of the dog drink to ease into the day after a long night of imbibing, the Red Eye traditionally has a raw egg added as a final flourish; that is certainly optional.

Another option: use a bloody mary mix in place of tomato juice. There are several incredible bloody mary mixes which hail from the commonwealth.

Visit Virginia’s Finest for a list of regional products, including bloody mary mixes and hot sauces, which is also an ingredient in this drink.

Take a tour of Port City when you go to buy their Downright Pilsner.

Take a tour of Port City when you go to buy their Downright Pilsner.

The Brewery:

Port City Brewing Company
Tastings and tours available; check with brewery for details.

3950 Wheeler Ave., Alexandria

The Brew Used:

Downright Pilsner
“… Our take on a traditional Bohemian-style pilsner [golden color, prevalent hops, spicy floral flavor and aroma] … perfectly refreshing lager …” – tasting notes from the brewery website

The Recipe:


6 ounces tomato juice or bloody mary mix

1 teaspoon freshly-squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon hot sauce
9 ounces pilsner
1 raw egg, optional

Chill the tomato juice and beer.

In a pint glass add tomato juice, lemon juice and hot sauce and stir to incorporate. Fill glass with beer and serve immediately. Optionally, before serving, crack open a fresh egg and add to the drink.

Yields 1 cocktail


The Cocktail: Shandygaff

Crisp and refreshing, the Shandygaff, or Shandy, has origins to the mid-19th century when the word was used in am 1853 novel by H. G. Wells to describe a drink of beer mixed with ginger beer; sometimes ginger ale was substituted.

Today there are many variations, and in our neck of the woods, often a lemon flavor is introduced and the drink is called a Lemon Shandy.

Northern Neck Ginger Ale for the kids; Northern Neck Ginger Ale and Parkway's Bridge Builder Blonde for the adults.

Northern Neck Ginger Ale for the kids; Northern Neck Ginger Ale and Parkway’s Bridge Builder Blonde for the adults.

We infuse our drink with fresh lemon juice and top it off with ginger ale. We recommend Northern Neck Ginger Ale, which is now produced by Coca-Cola, but has had strong ties to the Northern Neck of Virginia since 1926.

The Brewery:

Parkway Brewing
Tastings and tours available; check with brewery for details.

739 Kessler Mill Rd., Salem

The Brew Used:

Bridge Builder Blonde
“An easy drinking Belgian-style ale … [with] a wheat flavored backbone from the malt, tempered with hints of clove, banana and pear.” – tasting notes from the brewery website

The Recipe:


7 ounces Belgian-style ale
2-3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
7 ounces ginger ale

Chill the beer and ginger ale.

In a pint glass, add the beer and lemon juice, gently stirring to incorporate. Add a few ice cubes and top off with ginger ale. Garnish with a lemon slice and serve immediately.

Yields 1 cocktail


The Cocktail: Snakebite

With equal parts beer and hard cider, a shot of vodka and some raspberry liqueur added for good measure, the Snakebite is a refreshing, easy-to-drink cocktail that will sneak up on you and take a bite before you know it.

Old Hill Cider is just one of the Virginia cideries to choose from when concocting a Snakebite.

Old Hill Cider is just one of the Virginia cideries to choose from when concocting a Snakebite.

British in origin, it is sometimes made with stout rather than lager, and often a cassis (blackcurrant) liqueur is used rather than a raspberry one. The drink is also sometimes known as Diesel.

One of the quaff’s components, cider, is celebrated each November with Cider Week Virginia. See the map and locate your closest cidery at Be sure to use Virginia cider when making this drink.

The Brewery:

Devils Backbone Brewing Company
Tastings and tours available; check with brewery for details.

200 Mosbys Run, Roseland

The Outpost:
50 Northwind Lane, Lexington

The Brew Used:

Gold Leaf Lager
“A striking gold color, light bodied with subtle, bready malt flavors. A quenching, crisp and dry finish.” – tasting notes from the brewery website

Of note, this beer won Gold Medal in 2009 and 2010 at the Great American Beer Festival and an International Style Pilsner Bronze Medal at the 2012 Great American Beer Festival.

The Recipe:

7 ounces cider
1 ounce vodka
1 ounce raspberry liqueur, such as Chambord
7 ounces lager

Chill the cider and beer.

In a pint glass, add the cider, vodka and raspberry liqueur and gently stir to combine. Fill the glass with the beer and serve immediately.

Yields 1 cocktail


The Cocktail: Sundae Funday Beer Float

For a spiked, sweet ending to a meal, or a tipsy treat anytime, this beer float fits the bill with the rich, delicious porter – with aromas and flavors of chocolate and caramel – with a large scoop of vanilla ice cream added for extra decadence.

This is what you'll be looking for when seeking AleWerks' Washington Porter for the Sundae Funday Beer Float.

This is what you’ll be looking for when seeking AleWerks’ Washington Porter for the Sundae Funday Beer Float.

We enhance coffee notes from the beer with a drizzling of a coffee-based liqueur, such as Kahlua, drizzled on top.

Serve this cocktail with a straw and a spoon.

The Brewery:

AleWerks Brewing Company
Tastings and tours available; check with brewery for details.

189B Ewell Rd., Williamsburg

The Brew Used:

Washington’s Porter Ale
“Very dark brown/black in color with an aroma of chocolate and malt and flavors of caramel, sweet chocolate and a touch of roasted barley.” – tasting notes from the brewery website

The Recipe:

10 ounces porter beer
1 large scoop vanilla ice cream
2 ounces coffee liqueur, such as Kahlua

Chill the beer and add to a pint glass. Add ice cream and drizzle coffee liqueur on top. Serve immediately.

Yields 1 cocktail


Patrick Evans-Hylton

Patrick 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



Enjoy a Beer Cocktail at these Virginia Restaurants:

© PEvansHylton for Virginia's Travel Blog, 2014 ]]> 0 Todd Thrasher, of PX, Restaurant Eve, The Majestic, and other Alexandria restaurants, crafted his Atypical Chocolate Martini using a stout beer. Todd Thrasher, of PX, Restaurant Eve, The Majestic, and other Alexandria restaurants, crafted his Atypical Chocolate Martini using a stout beer. Fill a growler at Starr Hill in Crozet to make a Beer-A-Rita on the Rocks. Fill a growler at Starr Hill in Crozet to make a Beer-A-Rita on the Rocks. Take a tour of Port City when you go to buy their Downright Pilsner. Take a tour of Port City when you go to buy their Downright Pilsner. Northern Neck Ginger Ale for the kids; Northern Neck Ginger Ale and Parkway’s Bridge Builder Blonde for the adults. Northern Neck Ginger Ale for the kids; Northern Neck Ginger Ale and Parkway's Bridge Builder Blonde for the adults. Old Hill Cidery is just one of the Virginia cideries to choose from when concocting a Snakebite. Old Hill Cidery is just one of the Virginia cideries to choose from when concocting a Snakebite. This is what you’ll be looking for when seeking AleWerks’ Washington Porter for the Sundae Funday Beer Float. This is what you'll be looking for when seeking AleWerks' Washington Porter for the Sundae Funday Beer Float. Patrick Evans-Hylton
It’s Time for a Celebracation! Six Ideas for a Celebratory Vacation in Virginia Wed, 20 Aug 2014 17:58:06 +0000 Casey ]]>

Milestones are worth celebrating. They’re also on the rise as a top reason to travel. Have you considered a celebration vacation? Anniversaries – yours, your parents – are a perfect example of a celebration worth vacationing for. Here are six ideas for a monumental memory-making getaway.

1. POUR ON THE ROMANCE with a lavish escape at one of Virginia’s premier luxury destinations. Your style and ideal view or location will dictate your choice among these highly rated stunners. Newly rated and added to the Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Hotels list are Clifton Inn, which Forbes calls “Virginia’s All-American Inn,” The Lodge and Cottages at Primland Resort, and The Williamsburg Lodge at Colonial Williamsburg.

Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Hotels

The Inn at Little Washington The Jefferson Hotel

Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Hotels

Clifton Inn Keswick Hall at Monticello Primland Resort The Ritz-Carlton, Pentagon City The Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner The Williamsburg Inn The Williamsburg Lodge


2. BE THE COWBOYS AND GIRLS you always wanted to be with an all-inclusive ranch stay. You bring the chaps, hats and boots; these wranglers will do the rest, including manning the chuck wagon.

Shangrila Guest Ranch. ©Todd Wright

Shangrila. ©Todd Wright

Shangrila Guest Ranch in South Boston offers trail riding, and all drinks and food are included in your rate. Check out their multi-day trail ride. The first night will be spent in a secluded cabin or glamping tent. Evening two will find you under the stars in a handmade tipi, and evening three concludes at a rustic lodge. The multi-day escape is offered at select times each year, so plan ahead for this special excursion.

Reba Farm Inn

Reba Farm Inn

Reba Farm Inn in Bedford is a 300-acre resort-like escape that does offer horseback riding, but isn’t quite as “whole hog” as Shangrila, if you want a more tame experience. Inquire about their anniversary package and ask for the Spring House Cottage upgrade with a trail ride to make it a truly memorable time. One night with the upgrade and 90-minute trail ride is $275 and includes a four-course dinner and three-course breakfast.


Waterman's Cabin. Courtesy SouthEast Expeditions.

Courtesy SouthEast Expeditions.

3. ACCESSIBLE BY KAYAK ONLY, the authentic 100-year-old waterman’s cabin off the Eastern Shore is unlike any other Virginia experience. It’s the perfect situation for a couple who wants solitude and to remain undisturbed, though your guide will come cook your breakfast, if you like! The cabin is only available a few weekends per year, so the opportunity to stay here is pretty exclusive. From $595 per person for two nights.


4. COOK WITH SOME OF THE BEST chefs when you book a package the includes a cooking class. What’s more gratifying than cooking for and with someone you love?

Chef's Garden at Salamander Resort.

Salamander Resort.

Salamander Resort & Spa in Middleburg has a cooking studio and hosts a Visiting Chef Series, bringing chefs from New York City, Washington, D.C. and other vibrant foodie locations. Ask about their Dreaming of a Culinary and Wine Experience package which includes a cooking class plus two recipes to take home, a wine flight, and of course, a luxurious overnight at Salamander. Rates from $452 per person.

The Inn at Meander Plantation in Locust Dale offers a Cooking School package with Chef Suzie Blanchard. Enjoy the comfortable accommodations of the inn, plus get your hands in the flour. You’ll stay two nights, cook up something fabulous, receive a recipe book, and take home an apron, too. A delicious wine-paired dinner will be the highlight of your last day. Rates from $1050 per couple.


©Jeff Greenough

©Jeff Greenough

5. CONQUER A MOUNTAIN when you set off on one of Virginia’s great hikes. The pay-offs are tremendous and you’ll be enamored to have done it with the one you love.

You’ll find the General Francis Marion Hotel in Marion to be a fantastic home base for your Mount Rogers excursion. Mount Rogers is the highest peak in Virginia at 5,729 feet, and the Appalachian Trail runs across it. It’s high enough that there’s an alpine feel to it, with minimal vegetation. The views are stupendous.


6. SLEEP WHERE PRESIDENTS HAVE SLEPT for a real historic getaway. While the most well-known homes are not available for overnight stays, some of the others and associated properties certainly are.

Belle Grove Plantation. Courtesy Rich Johnson Photography.

Belle Grove Plantation. Courtesy Rich Johnson Photography.

Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast in King George is the birthplace of President James Madison. The mansion sits along the Rappahannock River, dates to 1791 (the plantation dates to 1670), and boasts four master suites. It’s a popular wedding venue thanks to both its history and its beauty.

North Bend Plantation in Charles City dates to 1801 and was the home of William Henry Harrison’s sister, Sarah Harrison, and the current owner is Sarah’s great nephew. Beyond that, Mr. Copland is the great, great grandson of Edmund Ruffin, the man who fired the first shot of the Civil War on behalf of the South. Many of the furnishings are original; a stay here is a special treat.

To lay your head where modern day presidents have rested theirs, try The Jefferson Hotel in Richmond, previously mentioned for its Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Hotel rating. According to their website, “Twelve US Presidents, including Harrison, McKinley, Wilson, Coolidge, Taft, both Roosevelts (Theodore and Franklin Delano), Truman and Reagan, both Bushes (George H. W. and George W.) and Obama have been guests at The Jefferson Hotel.”


Just what would your ideal celebration vacation look like? Leave an idea or two in the comments section!

Virginia is for Lovers.
Request a free Travel Guide or download it!

© Casey for Virginia's Travel Blog, 2014 ]]> 0 The Inn at Little Washington The Inn at Little Washington The Jefferson Hotel The Jefferson Hotel Clifton Inn Clifton Inn Keswick Hall at Monticello Keswick Hall at Monticello Primland Resort Primland Resort The Ritz-Carlton, Pentagon City The Ritz-Carlton, Pentagon City The Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner The Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner The Williamsburg Inn The Williamsburg Inn The Williamsburg Lodge The Williamsburg Lodge Shangrila Guest Ranch. ©Todd Wright Shangrila Guest Ranch. ©Todd Wright Reba Farm Inn Waterman’s Cabin. Courtesy SouthEast Expeditions. Waterman's Cabin. Courtesy SouthEast Expeditions. Chef's Garden at Salamander Resort. ©Jeff Greenough ©Jeff Greenough Belle Grove Plantation. Courtesy Rich Johnson Photography.
Blue Ridge Parkway 101: Cruisin’ Through the Heart of Virginia Tue, 19 Aug 2014 18:12:05 +0000 Stefanie ]]>

It’s often called one of the most scenic byways in the world. Spanning 469 miles along the Appalachian Mountains, the Blue Ridge Parkway extends from Shenandoah National Park to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee. Planning a trip to the Parkway? Here’s some things to explore along the way.

Cruisin' the Blue Ridge Parkway

Cruisin’ the Blue Ridge Parkway

With 15 entry points to the Parkway, hopping on it is easy, and once you’re on there are more than 30 visitor information stops to guide to your destinations. There are developed sites along the Parkway to make it easy to stop, park, stretch, visit restrooms and exhibits, hike and get a bite to eat.

Beginning at Waynesboro, the start of the Parkway, the exploring begins. Stop by the Plumb House Museum, where you can tour the streets of the Battle of Waynesborough, home to many Civil War artifacts and more. Also check out the Waynesboro Heritage Museum.

Devil's Backbone Brewing Co. along the Nelson 151 Trail

Devil’s Backbone Brewing Co. along the Nelson 151 Trail

Venture a little further south to Nelson, where you’re going to need to plan some time to explore all it has to offer. Hop on the Nelson 151 Trail– your destination for Virginia wine, craft beer, local food, and of course– outdoor recreation. The Trail features seven wineries, three breweries/restaurants, all the while providing easy access to and from the Parkway.

The Red, White and Brew Trail, also located in Nelson, boasts 10 wineries, four breweries, one hard apple cidery and one distillery.

Stay nearby at Orchard House Bed & Breakfast or Wintergreen Resort.

Swing by the Jefferson Heritage Trail and explore where Thomas Jefferson left his mark on the arts, architecture, education, and of course, wines of Virginia. Inspired by his contribution to the growth of the modern American wine industry, the Jefferson Heritage Trail honors his legacy while creating an exciting journey for all who visit.

Experience the wonder that is the Natural Bridge. This National Historic Landmark has a rich history, dating back hundreds of years and was once owned by Thomas Jefferson. The caverns of Natural Bridge descend 34 stories into the deepest caverns on the East Coast.

Roanoke/Vinton hangs along the Parkway, with four entrances to the area. If you want to get a taste of a metropolitan-esque area, make a stop in Historic Roanoke for plenty of lodging, shopping a farmers’ market and cultural tours.


There are more than 50 hiking trails along the Parkway, so no matter where you are, there’s something nearby. From easy to strenuous, to 0.1 – 19 miles. While you’re on your hike, be sure to check out the natural landmarks along the way. White Rock Falls Trail is a 2.5-mile hike, where the highlight is the impressive gorge, which has a waterfall and natural wading pool.

Crabtree Falls

Crabtree Falls

Looking for some more hiking spots with waterfalls?

The James River is the Parkway’s lowest elevation (650′ above sea level) and is a historical transportation route through the mountains and represents a major geological and cultural component of the Blue Ridge section. The 3.5-mile Otter Creek Trail follows the creek from the Otter Creek Campground down to the James River Visitor Center. At the visitor center, the James River Canal Trail will take you to the restored James River and Kanawha Canal Lock that was built between 1845-51. When completed, the canal had 90 locks and went from Richmond to Buchanan, Va..

Two sites along the Parkway provide opportunities for overnight accommodations from spring through the fall foliage season. Many visitors also enjoy the various camping sites along the Parkway and a chance to sleep under the stars.

Peaks of Otter Campground off milepost 86 offers 132 sites, nestled between the bases of two dominating mountains, with Abbott Lake being one of the main attractions. The lake is always stocked with small mouth bass and bluegill. Set up a tent in the shade below the trees and roast some hot dogs and marshmallows. marshmallows around the fire– a perfect way to enjoy a relaxing evening under the stars

A historical must-see along the parkway!  This is the place you want to stay to get the full experience of the Blue Ridge Parkway.  These are charming little cabins, in a beautiful, natural setting. Located at Milepost 174 near Meadows of Dan, Rocky Knob Cabins has small, rustic cabins built by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the early days of Parkway construction.

Check out more lodging opportunities along the Parkway, including camping, bed & breakfasts, hotels and more.

Take a break at milepost 176 for some spectacular views, mountain-top chalets, elegant dining and a wide variety of recreational activities at Primland Resort. Primland also offers fishing, hunting, golf and so much more to take advantage during your stay.

Humpback Rocks encompasses 800 acres along the Blue Ridge Parkway between MP 5 and 9.3 just outside Waynesboro. This area is perhaps the best representation of the varied combination of natural and cultural resources anywhere along the Parkway corridor. The prominent rock outcrop was a landmark guiding wagon trains over the Howardsville Turnpike in the 1840s. A portion of the historic trace still exists. Stop by the Visitor Center and mountain farm exhibit at MP 5.8. The farm includes a single-room log cabin and a series of outbuildings that represent elements of regional architecture of the late 19th century. Costume interpreters provide demonstrations of weaving, basket making and gardening.

Mabry Mill

Mabry Mill

Mabry Mill in Meadows of Dan is not to be missed! With a blacksmith shop, wheelwrights and a whiskey still. Demonstrations are available through the fall and enjoy old-time bluegrass music on Sundays.

These gems give visitors a glimpse of traditional mountain life in the early days of settlement.



Wine tasting at Chateau Morrisette

Wine tasting at Chateau Morrisette


Two are along the Parkway in Virginia, each boasting unique selections. Chateau Morrisette Winery in Floyd is nestled above the Rock Castle Gorge Wilderness Area and is known for some of Virginia’s most popular wines. Enjoy their timberframe winery, while sipping their wines and enjoying their savory cuisine. Chateau offers seasonal events, including the Black Dog Concerts and Winemaker’s Dinners, all in an elegant, old world atmosphere. Find the winery off MP 171.5.

Peaks of Otter Winery & Orchards, ironically located at the foot of the Peaks, grow many fruits for their wine, where apples are their main crop. The winery turn their fruits not only into wine, but ciders and butter as well. You will find many types of fruit wines and blends, and may remind you of “grandma’s wines”. These wines are excellent with snacks, as an after dinner wine or just sipping. The apple cinnamon heated is great for the holidays. The winery also features a party wine with hot peppers and a mellow pear selection.

Milepost Services

The Blue Ridge Parkway is an American treasure located right here in the Commonwealth. Where else are you going to find so much to do on one parkway? History, hiking, scenic views, wineries, breweries and much more. The Parkway is the perfect way to experience Virginia and all it has to offer.

© Stefanie for Virginia's Travel Blog, 2014 ]]> 0 Blue Ridge Parkway Devil’s Backbone Brewing Company and Restaurant Crabtree Falls Mabry Mill Château Morrisette Winery