Travel Ideas and Stories - Virginia's Travel Blog

Local Brews and Local Oysters: A Match Made in Heaven

by Stefanie | Posted on August 4th, 2014

Ahhh, the oyster. It’s found its home in Virginia, quickly becoming the Capital of the East Coast. Now apply that “ahhh” to craft beer. They pair so well, don’t they? So guess what? It’s craft beer month! Get excited. Here’s some spots that are going to give you the best of both worlds.

Rappahannock Restaurant

Rappahannock Restaurant

Rappahannock Oyster Company is going to give you flavors from all over the Virginia coastline. The Rappahannock River Oysters are the most common, but have you ever heard of Stingray Oysters and Olde Salts? The oysters at these spots are going to give you three diverse flavors: sweet and buttery, sweet and crisp, and a bold, sea-side brininess. You’re going to find these babies at Rappahannock in Richmond, Rappahannock Oyster Bar, in D.C., and Merroir in Topping. And don’t forget, these restaurants are going to have some of Virginia’s best craft beer selections.

99 MAIN RESTAURANT – Newport News
The elegant 99 Main restaurant offers the sophisticated diner an exquisite dining experience with a creative French flair. Order the roasted oysters appetizer, topped with horseradish and house-made bacon. Pair it with Legend Brown Ale and you’ve got yourself a nice starter meal. Don’t be afraid to order a couple more brewskis.

Small’s Steakhouse and Oyster Bar has four different oyster options from its raw bar AND three additional options for an entrée! If you’re in the area, put Small’s on the list for a great oyster experience. Try out the oyster grits and quench your thirst with three local breweries on tap.

The Shanty in Cape Charles

The Shanty in Cape Charles

SHANTY – Cape Charles
Located on the Bay in Cape Charles Town Harbor, the Shanty focuses on fresh local seafood in a fun environment. Swing by on boat, car, golf cart or foot. There’s cornhole for the kids, live entertainment on weekends and amazing sunsets over the bay. Order some raw or steamed oysters, a fried basket, or an oyster po’ boy, and wash it down with Starr Hills’ the Love or five other Virginia craft beer options.

Big Easy Grill & Oyster Bar offers some of the biggest oyster selections around. Start off with Oysters Rockefeller, pick out some raw or steamed samplers or platters. And guess what? When it’s time for the main course, Big Easy features the O-Rock Burger, topped with bacon, spinach, parmesan and gouda. They have the oyster po’ boy and their house specialty: fried oysters. Take back an oyster shooter or their vast selection of craft brews. You have some serious oyster and craft options at Big Easy. So if you have an empty stomach and want to fill it up, head over to Big Easy.

HANK’S OYSTER BAR – Alexandria
Hanks’ menu changes daily, with fresh seafood selections throughout their menu. Hank’s Oyster Bar serves their oysters on the half shell, as a po’ boy sandwich and a fried oyster dinner. Hank’s Oysters are always served up fresh, so don’t forget you can get them raw or steamed! Try out the Port City Monumental IPA while you’re there.

Legends Brewing Co. Brewery

Legends Brewing Co. Brewery

Berret’s Taphouse offers one of the largest selections of local microbrews in the area, including Wild Wolf and Legend. Pair them with unique raw bar selections, like spicy buffalo oysters on the half shell and daily chef’s choice items. The taphouse menu includes the po’boy sandwich and a seafood platter, which includes crab cakes and shrimp.


Try out all the delicious oyster spots and craft beer/breweries Virginia has to offer!



Beer, Family, Food, Locals, Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Peach Time: Festivals and Pick-Your-Own Orchards

by Stefanie | Posted on July 30th, 2014

It’s peach time! We’re in primetime peach-picking season, which means festivals, pick-your-own days at orchards and plenty of peach goodies to go around.

Peach Ice Cream Days at Chiles Peach Orchard – Aug. 3-4
Spend a day (or two) in Crozet at Chiles Peach Orchard’s Peach Ice Cream Days. Fresh, homemade peach ice cream is available at the orchard these dates only! Made by the Crozet Lions Club, this event is a fundraiser for their community service activities. Enjoy this special treat after picking your own peaches (or choosing from their fresh-picked selections). Peaches, nectarines, and local produce are also available.

Winchester Peach Festival – Aug. 9
Come to Marker Miller Orchards with an empty stomach and enjoy a day of sweets: peach cobbler, peach pie, peach turnovers, peach ice cream and of course, fresh peaches galore! Enjoy music from 1-3 p.m. while sitting on the front porch or in the picnic pavilion.  A variety of food will be available at the food building. Don’t forget to let the kids enjoy the cow train and the peaceful scenery during the wagon ride around the farm.

Dog Days Peach Festival – Aug. 9-10
Spend a weekend of peaches and pooches at the Dog Days Peach Festival at Great Country Farms in Bluemont. It may be the hottest part of the summer, but the Dog Days at Great Country are all about fun with the family and canine companions! Bring the whole family for a romp in the play area and to u-pick peaches in the orchard at the peak of perfection. Enjoy the Doggie Olympic Games and demonstrations that will keep tails a-waggin’!

Richard’s Fruit Market Peach Festival – Aug. 17
Peaches, peaches everywhere! Bring the family out to Richard’s Fruit Market Peach Festival in Middletown for a day of peachy fun. Haywagon rides, barrel train rides and all the jumps you can handle on the bouncy-bounce, plus music and a petting zoo, and peaches, of course! Peach ice cream, milk shakes, sparkling cider, smoothies, pies, muffins and more! Fresh from the farm food for sale includes our own burgers and plenty of tasty treats!

The Peach Way, Delaplane
The largest concentration of peach orchards in Northern Virginia, The Peach Way features five orchards within five miles: Virginia Perfection/Valley View Farm, Hollin Farms, Hartland Orchards, and Stribling Orchard. The Peach Way is near several wineries, Sky Meadows State Park and more—perfect for a day or weekend trip.

Freestone Peaches at Saunders Brothers Farm Market, Piney River
In response to market demands, Saunders Brothers started growing super tree-ripened peaches; including sub-acid white-fleshed peaches, many of which get great size, color, and flavor. These peaches complement the yellow-fleshed varieties and extend the season from June 15 until late September. The Farm Market offers a fun place for the whole family to enjoy. Not only can you find a variety of peaches, apples and vegetables from May through November, they also offer ciders, jams, relishes, and salsas. Be sure to try out the amazing peach ice cream and check out the on-site museum; one of the largest privately-owned collections of farm antiques in the state of Virginia.

Ayers Orchard, Cana
Ayers Orchard is located at the foot of the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains and offers pick-your-own peaches, as well as cherries, apples, nectarines and plums. The orchard also offers fresh-picked and picked-to-order. Hiking and picnicking are encouraged; all ages are welcome at the orchard.

Additional Orchards and Markets for Peaches:

Events, Family, Festivals, Food, Pick-your-own | Comments Off

The Best of Virginia: Cities & Towns

by Casey | Posted on July 29th, 2014

When you love a place, you rally behind it to make sure everyone knows how great it is. Vote-offs like “America’s Coolest Small Town” by Budget Travel are annual favorites, and Virginia towns have been included in two of the last three votes. A real pride of place, however, takes over when a publication names the town or city closest to your heart as “best” or “favorite” without any public input. The accolades that these Virginia towns and cities have garnered are well deserved. Do add them to your travel bucket list to see the sweet gems you’ve been missing out on.

Old Town Historic Alexandria. ©Cameron Davidson

Old Town Historic Alexandria. ©Cameron Davidson


  • Best Performing Arts Town -The South’s Most Creative Small Towns, Garden and Gun, 2011


  • Top 20 Most Romantic Cities in the U.S.,, 2014
  • Prettiest Little Escapes, Huffington Post, 2013
  • Best Small Cities for Art Lovers, Nerdwallet, 2013


  • #14, The South’s Best College Towns, Southern Living


  • Best Music Town, Blue Ridge Outdoors, 2013
Cape Charles. ©Cameron Davidson

Cape Charles. ©Cameron Davidson

Cape Charles

  • #4, Perfect Little Beach Town, Southern Living


  • #1, Happiest American Cities, Harvard Gazette, 2014 (per National Bureau for Economic Research)
  • #1, Top 5 College Towns in America, Travelers Today, 2014
  • Top Five Destinations Every American Should Visit, Orbitz Worldwide, 2014
  • #9, America’s Favorite Mountain Towns, Travel + Leisure, 2014
  • #1, America’s 5 New Foodie Cities, Wine Enthusiast, 2014
  • #2, America’s Best College Towns, Travel + Leisure, 2013
  • #1, America’s Best Small Towns for Food,, 2013
  • #14, America’s Favorite Towns, Travel + Leisure, 2013
  • #1, Top College Towns,
  • #2, The South’s Best College Towns, Southern Living


  • #1, America’s Happiest Seaside Towns, Coastal Living, 2014
  • #6, 8 of the Best Small Town Getaways in the U.S.,, 2014
  • #2, America’s Best Little Beach Towns, Travel + Leisure, 2013


  • One of America’s Top 10 Small Towns. Crampton, Norman. The 100 Best Small Towns in America.
Downtown Harrisonburg. ©Elisabeth Bixby

Downtown Harrisonburg. ©Elisabeth Bixby


  • 50 Great American Places to Visit this Summer, Men’s Journal, 2013


  • #9, America’s Best College Towns, Travel + Leisure, 2013


  • The Next Great Mountain Towns, Blue Ridge Outdoors, 2011


  • Best Beer Town, Blue Ridge Outdoors, 2013
  • #5, America’s Best College Towns, Travel + Leisure, 2013


  • Best Small Towns to Visit, Smithsonian Magazine, 2013
  • #14, America’s Best College Towns, Travel + Leisure, 2013
  • 10 Coolest Small Towns in America, Budget Travel, 2009


  • The Next Great Mountain Towns, Blue Ridge Outdoors, 2011


  • 50 Best Places to Live & Play, National Geographic, 2007
Downtown Middleburg. ©Virginia Tourism Corporation

Downtown Middleburg. ©Virginia Tourism Corporation


  • Best Small Town Weekend Getaways, Southern Living
  • #6, 20 Best Day Trips in the U.S., Fodor’s Travel, 2014


  • Frommer’s Top Destinations for 2014, Frommer’s, 2014
  • Best Town Ever, Outside, 2012


  • Top 10 Valentine’s Day Getaways,, 2014
  • 10Best: Bike-Friendly Cities,, 2014
  • Best Trail Town, Blue Ridge Outdoors, 2013
  • Best Mid-Sized Mountain Town, Blue Ridge Outdoors, 2012


  • #41, America’s Happiest Seaside Towns, Coastal Living, 2014
Virginia Beach. ©John Henley

Virginia Beach. ©John Henley


  • America’s Best Main Streets, Fordor’s Travel, 2014
  • America’s Favorite Mountain Towns, Travel + Leisure, 2014
  • America’s Greatest Main Streets, Travel + Leisure, 2012
  • Best Small Towns in America, Smithsonian Magazine, 2012

Virginia Beach

  • Top 10 Summer Destinations,, 2014
  • Top 20 Destinations for Fourth of July Travel,, 2014
  • Best Cities for Summer Drives,, 2013
  • Top 10 Art Beaches, Huffington Post Travel, 2013
  • 8 Great Labor Day Weekend Getaways, Budget Travel, 2013
  • 7 Most Beautiful and Underrated Cities in the U.S.,, 2013


  • #2, Best Historic Destinations in the USA, US News & World Report, 2014-15
  • #3, 10Best: Best Historic Cities,, 2014
  • #3, 10Best: Places to Explore American History,, 2014
  • 20 Best Small Towns to Visit in Virginia in 2014, Smithsonian Magazine
  • #4, America’s Best College Towns, Travel + Leisure, 2013
  • These Old Towns are the Prettiest Little Escapes, Huffington Post, 2013 (Colonial Williamsburg and Jamestown Settlement)
  • #7 Best Weekend Getaways, US News & World Report
  • #8, 8 Affordable Family Vacations, US News & World Report

Which Virginia city or town is your favorite and why? Leave a comment to let us know!


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Destinations, Travel Ideas, Virginia Destinations | 3 Comments

$10 or Less: Virginia Fun for Kids

by Casey | Posted on July 25th, 2014

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

LOVE at Maymont. Photo by Casey Higgins.

LOVE at Maymont. Photo by Casey Higgins.

~~ FREE ~~

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

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

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

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

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

Bluebird Gap Farm

Bluebird Gap Farm

More Free:


~~ $10 or LESS ~~

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hunt Club's Petting Farm

Hunt Club’s Petting Farm

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

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Family, Travel Ideas | 4 Comments

The Best of Virginia’s Outdoors

by Casey | Posted on July 25th, 2014

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


Virginia Beach

Virginia Beach

Virginia Beach & Boardwalk

  • #4, 10 Last-Minute Beach Getaways for Summer, Fodor’s Travel, 2014
  • #6, America’s Best Boardwalks, Travel + Leisure, 2014
  • #6, 10 Under-the-Radar Beaches in the U.S., Fodor’s Travel, 2014
  • One of the 20 Most Awesome Boardwalks in America, Budget Travel, 2014
  • The 10 Best Boardwalks in America, Men’s Journal, 2014
  • Best Beaches for Memorial Day Weekend,, 2014
  • 10Best: Southern Beaches,, 2014
  • #7, 9 Best Boardwalks in the U.S., Huffington Post Travel, 2013
  • #9, 10 Best Boardwalks in the U.S., National Geographic, 2013
  • 10 Uncrowded Atlantic Beaches for Summer,, 2013
  • One of America’s Most Awesome Boardwalks, Budget Travel, 2013

Assateague Island National Seashore

  • #23, 2014 Best Beaches in the U.S., TripAdvisor 2014 Travelers’ Choice
  • #6, Best U.S. Island, USA Today Travel Reader’s Choice, 2014
  • One of the 10 Most Beautiful Beaches in America, Budget Travel, 2014
  • The Best Campgrounds in the Country, Men’s Journal, 2014
  • Among the Best Beaches on Earth, Travel + Leisure, 2013
  • Top 25 U.S. Beaches, TripAdvisor 2013 Travelers’ Choice
  • Top 10 Things for Families to Do in Virginia,, 2012

Chincoteague Island

  • #7, Top 10 Beaches in the U.S., TripAdvisor 2013 Travelers’ Choice
  • #3, America’s Best Little Beach Towns, Travel + Leisure, 2012
  • America’s Best Beach Town,, 2010


Virginia Creeper Trail, Abingdon

  • #6, 10 Best Rails to Trails, Travel + Leisure, 2003


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

Capital Bikeshare, Arlington

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


  • America’s Top Mountain Bike Towns,, 2013


  • Recognized as a Bicycle Friendly Community, League of American Bicyclists, 2013


Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, Richmond

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



Primland Resort, Meadows of Dan

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

Golden Horseshoe Golf Club at Colonial Williamsburg, Williamsburg

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


Appalachian Trail

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

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

  • #9, 30 Great American Hikes,, 2014

Old Rag Mountain in Shenandoah National Park

  • #6, 30 Great American Hikes,, 2014
  • #29, 31 Great American Day Hikes to Do Before Summer Ends,, 2014


Shenadoah River. Photo by

Shenadoah River.

Shenandoah River

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



Massanutten Resort, McGaheysville

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



High Bridge Trail State Park, Farmville

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

Natural Tunnel State Park, Duffield

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

Shenandoah National Park, Luray

  • #30, The Absolute Best National Park,, 2014



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


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


  • Best Town Ever, Outside, 2012


  • 10Best: Bike-Friendly Cities,, 2014
  • Best Trail Town, Blue Ridge Outdoors, 2013
  • Best Mid-Sized Mountain Town, Blue Ridge Outdoors, 2012

Learn more about Virginia’s outdoors at

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Outdoors, Virginia Destinations | Comments Off