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  • Posts Tagged ‘outdoors’

    14 Places to Enjoy Fall Foliage in Virginia

    by Casey | Posted on September 27th, 2013

    If you’ve been following along for any amount of time, you might have caught on that we ask “the locals” for recommendations every now and again. This group has been helpful in identifying the best BBQ joints, the best breakfasts, and more. Today, we present to you their suggestions for the best places to enjoy the fall foliage in their area.

    Humpback Rocks

    Humpback Rocks

     

    Humpback Rocks – Blue Ridge Parkway Milepost 6

    - “360 degree views of the Shenandoah Valley. Migrating birds can often be seen here in the fall, especially hawks.”
    - “Take the trail up from the Humpback Gap parking lot on the Blue Ridge Parkway to the rocky ledges above for amazing 360 degree views on top of the slanted rock. Just north at Milepost 5.8 is the Humpback Rocks Visitor Center with a mountain farm exhibit.”

     

    Hiking Crabtree Falls Trail

    Hiking Crabtree Falls Trail

    Crabtree Falls – 11581 Crabtree Falls Highway, Montebello

    - “Enjoy a 2 1/2 mile hike up along the falls, with 4 overlooks to the cascading falls. You can hike further to the Appalachian Trail or head back down to relax for lunch at one of the picnic tables available next to the parking lot or view the Tye River from an arched wooden bridge that crosses over it.”
    - “Just a few miles west of Crabtree Falls on Rt. 56 West is the Montebello State Fish Hatchery, the Montebello Country Store and Montebello Camping & Fishing Resort, and then just a few miles further is the Blue Ridge Parkway for panoramic fall foliage views!”

     

    The gorge at Balcony Falls

    The gorge at Balcony Falls

    Balcony Falls Overlook – Route 501, Glasgow, on the Rockbridge/Amherst County Line

    - “Kayaking, Canoeing, Hiking, FISHING!! Confluence Outfitters offers guided fishing through the gorge here and it is the most beautiful place to see the leaves changing and catch fish at the same time!”
    - “Devil’s Marbleyard is close by.” (Devil’s Marbleyard is a 3-mile round trip hike that highlights boulders the size of cars.)

     

    North Mountain Trail – Fire Road 447 off I-64, exit 43 in Rockbridge County. Drive in 6.7 miles to the parking lot at Route 770.

    - “The trail features stream habitats, interesting rock formations, varied forest types, opportunities for wildlife viewing and panoramic views as it rises in elevation from 1,700 feet to 3,200 feet. At mile 3, narrow rock stairs descend between huge boulders. Once on the crest of the mountain, there are excellent views to the east of Lake Robertson and the Peaks of Otter.”

     

    Hungry Mother State Park

    Hungry Mother State Park

    Back of the Dragon – Route 16 between Tazewell and Marion

    - “The 32 mile stretch of highway has several pull-over areas.”
    - “The vistas are incredibly beautiful in the Fall. The colors are amazing. Wildlife is abundant.”
    - “Watch for lots of sports cars and motorcycles. Dubbed “Back of the Dragon,” the winding curves extend over three mountains and 260 curves.”
    - “On the north side of the Back of the Dragon (Route 16), the historic town of Tazewell is located. Travelers can enjoy the Historic Crab Orchard Museum, dine at places such as The Blue Dandelion, or Your Grate Escape is a treat. Cavitt’s Creek Park/Lake Jack Witten offers full service camping, fishing, paddle boat rides. On the south side of the Back of the Dragon is Hungry Mother State Park and the historic town of Marion, Virginia.”

     

    Burkes Garden – Tazewell

    The Channels Natural Area Preserve

    The Channels Natural Area Preserve

    - “Driving around the 12 mile “bowl,” there are several places to pull off. Public restrooms are located at the Community Center.”
    - “Stop by the Lost World Ranch for a camel ride or sit on the Burke’s Garden General Store‘s front porch and enjoy a homemade piece of pie, or even have a sandwich with freshly baked bread. Go to the Appalachian Trail and take a hike.”

     

    The Channels Natural Area Preserve – Route 80 on the Russell/Washington County Line

    - “It is a fantastic hike with views for miles.”
    - “The Channels itself is a sandstone rock formation.”
    - “Near The Channels is Laurel Bed Lake, which sits atop the Clinch Mountain Range in the Clinch Mountain Wildlife Area. On the drive up to Laurel Bed there are numerous waterfalls along Big Tumbling Creek as well as foliage and Mountain Laurel.”

     

    Patrick Henry's Red Hill - Quarter Place Cabin

    Patrick Henry’s Red Hill – Quarter Place Cabin

    Patrick Henry’s Red Hill – 1250 Red Hill Road, Brookneal

    - “As you are driving down Red Hill Road, entering the National Memorial to Patrick Henry you will be immersed in the colors of Autumn. The 525 acres consists of thousands of trees and scenic views of the Staunton River Valley. We have the nation’s largest Osage Orange tree on the property that towers over the reconstructed home of Patrick Henry. Guests have the option to walk down two trails that showcases an abundance of trees in their Autumn splendor. The views are absolutely breathtaking at Patrick Henry’s Red Hill in the Fall.”
    - “There is a great winery just up the road, Sans Soucy Vineyard that has a beautiful tasting room and charming vistas. A unique and delicious option for lunch, the Drug Store Grill, is in the town of Brookneal about 5 miles away.”

     

    Devil's Bathtub & Waterfall

    Devil’s Bathtub & Waterfall

    Edith J. Carrier Arboretum & Botanical Gardens – 780 University Blvd. Harrisonburg

    - “The Edith J. Carrier Arboretum & Botanical Gardens is a treasure in the fall. You can bring food and have a picnic, walk the trails, bird watch, spot stunning florals and fauna, enjoy the peaceful new fountain feature, and more.”
    - The entire space is worth a view! It encompasses 125 acres of urban botanical preserve. It provides an ideal combination of naturalized botanical gardens and forest.”

     

    Bark Camp Lake – Jefferson National Forest at High Knob, Scott County

    - “Yes, there are trails to walk plus you can take non-motorized boats (canoes, kayaks) picnic area plus a small amphitheatre.”
    - Nearby are “Devil’s Bathtub, Falls of Little Stony and Hanging Rock Park.”

     

    Hidden Valley Lake – Routes 19 and 690 on the Washington/Russell County Line

    - “This area is great for hunting and fishing during the fall. There is a boat landing to launch your boat.”
    - “Hiking is wonderful in this area but there are some steep grades so it is not for all ages. The elevation level is perfect to take in the mountain scenery and enjoy the breath taking views of SWVA.”
    - “This wildlife area is an attraction all together with lots of different options for an entire day trip. It is truly located in the middle of nowhere but peace and quiet.”

     

    The Virginia Creeper Trail near Abingdon, VA

    The Virginia Creeper Trail

    Abingdon Vineyard and Winery – 20530 Alvarado Road, Abingdon

    - “The Winery is a wonderful place for a tasting while enjoying the wonderful landscaping with trees and the creek.”
    - “The Virginia Creeper Trail is located near the winery. You can ride your bikes over to the winery for a tasting and lunch.”
    - “The Alvarado area is also great for kayaking and canoeing down the creek/river. There is also a small general store located next to the trail that serves ice cream and snacks. This area is a gem hidden along the VA Creeper Trail.”

     

    Tobacco Heritage Trail – Town of Victoria

    - “Take a picnic, hike, bike or ride a horse down the trail; geocache; visit the Brunswick Museum & Historic Society or downtown shops.”
    - “The Colonial Center in South Hill. It is a beautifully renovated vaudeville theatre that has an art gallery and lots of great local talent starring in community theatre productions. Also, eat at the Horseshoe Restaurant in South Hill. It got its name from being an old horse powered mill. Yummy twists on traditional diner food. Close to the Colonial.”

     

    Old House Vineyards – 14706 Lee Highway, Culpeper

    - “Wine tastings, fishing, picnicking, relaxing on the fire pit patio, outside brick pizza oven. Vineyard is nestled and surrounded by mountain views on all sides. Beautiful FALL sunsets!”

     

    Looking for a weekend or longer getaway? See our series of eight posts detailing just that:

    Part 8Part 7 - Part 6 - Part 5 - Part 4 - Part 3 - Part 2 - Part 1

    LOVE is at the heart of every Virginia vacation.
    Virginia is for Lovers.

    SEE OUR FIRST FALL FOLIAGE REPORT OF THE SEASON!
    Want the next edition? SUBSCRIBE

     



    Destinations, Fall in Virginia, Locals, Outdoors | 3 Comments

    Virginia Captured Through Instagram

    by | Posted on September 25th, 2013

    Share your pics! Virginia is so wondrous in the fall and we want to see your favorite places.

    Tag them with #FallinVA and #LoveVA so that we can easily find, like, re-tweet and share them.

    Don’t forget to follow @VisitVirginia on Instagram and Twitter to view great images throughout the season.

    Every Wednesday through November we will share your pics here on the Virginia is for Lovers blog. Don’t forget to go to http://www.virginia.org/fall to plan your fall getaway, too!

    Here are 5 of our favorite recent Instagrams. Which is your favorite? Leave us a comment and let us know!







    Fall in Virginia, Favorite Shots, Outdoors | Comments Off

    Camping Destinations for Fall Fun

    by Casey | Posted on September 12th, 2013

    Camping can be about getting away from it all, but it can also be about thrifty travel. If you save money on your accommodation, that savings can then be applied to nearby attractions and dining. Give it a try at one of these campgrounds that have great fun nearby.

    Williamsburg KOA

    Williamsburg KOA

    Williamsburg KOA was built for family fun with many on-site special events and tons of fun nearby, too. The campground can accommodate RVs and campers of all sizes, but boast deluxe cabins with linens provided, too.

    SPECIAL DEAL: Stay Free on Thursdays when you book Friday & Saturday nights!

    Nearby:

    Ed Allen’s Campground and Cottages in Lanexa rests along the shores of Chickahominy Lake. It’s 85 acres of hardwoods, which equals stunning foliage. The lake sunsets rival the best you’ve seen anywhere, and the fishing is good, too.

    Nearby:

     

    Northwest River Park Campground

    Northwest River Park Campground

    Northwest River Park Campground is a 763-acre escape Chesapeake, and is a usual on the “Best of Chesapeake” list. Electric and non-electric sites are available, as well as camping cabins.

    Nearby:

     

    Fredericksburg/Washington DC South KOA is located in Fredericksburg amid Civil War battlefields. Like its Williamsburg KOA cousin, there are plenty of pull-through sites, tent sites and cabins awaiting your arrival.

    Nearby:

     

    Find more great camping for your fall weekends at Virginia.org/CampingRVing, or check out a couple of our camping-related blog posts below.

    LOVE is at the heart of every Virginia vacation. Virginia is for Lovers.
    Sign up to receive our weekly Fall Foliage Report.*

    *Fall Foliage Reports will begin on or about September 25.

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    Fall in Virginia, Family, Outdoors, Travel Ideas | Comments Off

    10 Free Things to Do this Fall in Virginia

    by Casey | Posted on September 9th, 2013

    One of Virginia’s most beautiful seasons is upon us, and you must get out and enjoy the view. Take your scenic drive, but also incorporate one or two of these 10 free things to do this fall. Your weekends are going to be amazing!

    Callands Festival

    Callands Festival

    1. What a destination Waterford, Virginia is. Founded in 1733, the entire village is a National Historic Landmark and a majority of the buildings predating 1840 are still in use today. October 4-6 is the 70th Annual Waterford Homes Tour & Craft Exhibit. This should be a bucket list item for those who enjoy a walk through history. There are plenty of fun activities for kids, traditional music and dance, Colonial militia encampments, a fife and drum corps, and much more.
    ** Note: We’ve learned that there IS a fee for this event: $16 in advance; $20 at the gate. In light of that, an additional freebie!

    1B. The Callands Festival in Callands, Virginia was named a Local Legacy of American Folk Life and Culture by the Library of Congress in 2000. Join in the fun with reenactors representative of both the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, musicians, artisans, and guided tours of the historic buildings. Traditional foods will be available, as will beautifully handcrafted items. It’s happening October 5!

    2. The Booker T. Washington National Monument in Hardy marks the birthplace, early life and emancipation of educator, esteemed orator and presidential advisor, Booker T. Washington. September 21 is a special event, Harvest Time of 1863, which will portray tobacco plantation life during the harvest. Interpretive programs, craft demonstrations, horse-drawn wagon rides and fun for the children are all included in this free event.

    Fall Farm Fest on the Blue Ridge Parkway

    Fall Farm Fest on the Blue Ridge Parkway

    3. Visit Westmoreland Berry Farm in Colonial Beach. Acres of Rappahannock River frontage are perfect for picnics and bird watching. The kids will enjoy a play area just for them, as well as the antics of the skywalking goats. Give the goats a nibble from the pulley feeder system; they love it! Westmoreland is a pick-your-own farm offering fall raspberries and pumpkins. Hitch a ride on the hay wagon to head to the fields. The only fee incurred at the farm is the rate for pick-your-own products or any cafe purchases you choose to make.

    4. A beautiful drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway delivers you to the Fall Farm Fest at Humpback Rocks Visitor Center and Pioneer Farm on September 15. The fun begins at 10 a.m. with mountain crafts workshops and live music.

    5. Day at the Point is a free fall festival now in its 16th year. Held October 5 in Lynchburg at Point of Honor, an 1815 Federal style mansion, the festivities include living history, kids games and activities, craft vendors, period music, candle making, beekeeping, blacksmithing, open hearth cooking, farm animals, and free tours of the 1815 historic home. Delicious food will be available for purchase, including Brunswick stew, barbecue, hot dogs, and homemade baked goods. Green thumbs may want to purchase special Point of Honor bulbs ready for fall planting.

    Richmond Folk Festival

    Richmond Folk Festival

    6. It’s rare to find a free three-day music festival, but Richmond has one. Check out the Richmond Folk Festival October 11-13. Seven stages will host more than 30 music and dance groups – ballet, reggae, bluegrass, Vietnamese, Scissors Dance, polka, salsa, gospel, Cajun … the list goes on. And there’s a place for kids with make-and-take crafts and special performers.

    7.  How about a hayride? The 60-acre Bluebird Gap Farm in Hampton offers the Bluebird Country Hayride once a month at noon. For fall, head that way on September 14, October 12 or November 9. It’s a leisurely ride around the farm, the pond, through the woods and back again. Before or after your hayride, find a picnic area to enjoy lunch, walk the nature trail or let the kids loose at the playground. 150 domestic and wild animals are on site; bring your quarters to feed farm animals. Hayride is weather dependent.

    Bluebird Gap Farm

    Bluebird Gap Farm

    8. Burke’s Garden is often referred to as God’s Thumbprint thanks to its aerial appearance – a giant thumbprint on the landscape of southwest Virginia. Visit this beautiful mountaintop valley during the Burke’s Garden Fall Festival on September 28, an annual event dating to 1987. “Handmade, homegrown and hands-on” is the feel of this festival that reflects farm living in the Heart of Appalachia.

    9. The next opportunity for you to enjoy Virginia’s National Parks for free is September 28. Not all of the National Parks charge a fee, but there are some very popular ones that do. Mark this date to visit Appomattox Court House National Historical Park, Manassas National Battlefield Park, Shenandoah National Park and five others for free!

    10. Check out the two-day Culpeper Harvest Days Farm Tour through Virginia’s beautiful Culpeper County on October 5 and 6. Take your time touring through 18 farms and farm related businesses to get involved with some hands-on activities and demonstrations, as well as mingle with llamas, horses, cattle, and buffalo. Expect to see both traditional and unique farm experiences during this free weekend that really does have something for everyone – even wine and moonshine!

    Find more free ways to LOVE Virginia this fall: 40 or More Free Things to Do in Virginia

    LOVE is at the heart of every Virginia vacation. Virginia is for Lovers.
    Sign up to receive our weekly Fall Foliage Report.*

    *Fall Foliage Reports will begin on or about September 25.

    ——————————————————————

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    Events, Fall in Virginia, Festivals, Outdoors | Comments Off

    Virginia’s Most Beloved Drives for Fall Foliage

    by Casey | Posted on September 4th, 2013

    If it’s fall in Virginia, it’s time to be on the Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline Drive. Coasting across the peaks and looking down in the valleys … ahh! Good luck beating those views.

    About the Blue Ridge Parkway

    View from Humpback Rocks

    View from Humpback Rocks

    Winding 469 miles from Afton to the Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina, the Blue Ridge Parkway was born out of President Roosevelt’s desire to create jobs in the midst of the Great Depression. Construction of the Parkway was started on the Virginia/North Carolina border in 1935 and was completed in 1983, connecting Great Smoky Mountains National Park to Shenandoah National Park. This year is the 30th anniversary of the completion of the Parkway and the 78th anniversary of its start.

    In Addition to the Foliage

    Sure, you travel the Blue Ridge Parkway to enjoy the amazing fall foliage, but what else is there to see and do up there?

    Milepost 5 & 6 – Humpback Rocks – See Appalachian farm buildings of the 19th century and visit the Humpback Rocks Visitor Center for additional exhibits, a gift shop and restroom. If you like to hike, two miles from the parking lot is Humpback Mountain, part of the Appalachian Trail. It’s a strenuous, but very popular hike. Map

    Peaks of Otter Lodge

    Peaks of Otter Lodge

    Milepost 63.6 – The James River Visitor Center features an exhibit on the James River and Kanawha Canal, once a primary commercial route. A trail takes you to a restored 19th century lock, and if you like to fish, check out Otter Creek. It runs 10 miles down to the James, and Otter Lake is accessible from the Otter Creek Campground.

    Milepost 83.1 – Fallingwater Cascades Trail is a National Recreation Trail, approximately 1.6 miles long and moderately strenuous.

    Milepost 85.9 – Peaks of Otter are three peaks – Sharp Top, Flat Top and Harkening Hill. In this area you’ll find a restaurant, a 63-room lodge, lake and campground. The entirety of Peaks of Otter is a premier fall destination on the Parkway.
    Also at 85.9:

    • Elk Run Trail is a self-guided nature loop = .8 mile; easy
    • Johnson Farm Loop Trail = 2.1 miles; moderate
    • Harkening Hill Trail = 3.3 miles; moderate
    • Map

    Milepost 154 – The Trail Cabin, circa 19th-century, represents the isolation of mountain residents. The location has been described as “spectacular!”

    Mabry Mill

    Mabry Mill

    Milepost 167.1 – Rock Castle Gorge Trail is a long and strenuous 10.8 miles. Wear good shoes and carry water!

    Milepost 176.2 – Mabry Mill is not to be missed. It’s one of the most – if not the most – photographed sites on the Parkway. Get a bite to eat at the famed Mabry Mill Restaurant before exploring the mill, blacksmith shop, wheelwright and whiskey still. Demonstrations and tours are available. Be sure to find a treasure in the gift shop, too!

     

    About Skyline Drive

    Skyline Drive is 105.5 miles spanning the ridge of Shenandoah National Park. Ground was broken in July 1931 and the first 34-mile stretch from Swift Run Gap (Route 33) to Thornton Gap (Route 211) was completed in 1934. Thornton Gap to Front Royal (another 32 miles) was completed in 1936, and another 32.4 miles between Swift Run Gap and Jarman Gap was completed in 1939.

    Of note is that Jarman Gap to Rockfish Gap was originally built as part of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Those 8.5 miles were completed in 1939 and were deeded to Shenandoah National Park in 1961.

    In Addition to the Foliage

    The highlight of Skyline Drive is, of course, Shenandoah National Park. Interestingly enough, the Drive existed before the Park came to be. Shenandoah National Park was authorized in 1926, established in 1935 and dedicated by President Roosevelt in 1936.

    Hiking the Appalachian Trail through Shenandoah National Park

    Hiking the Appalachian Trail through Shenandoah National Park

    Seventy-five overlooks dot Skyline Drive and 518 miles of trails meander back and forth across it through Shenandoah National Park, making it a most impressive destination for leaf-peeping.

    Milepost 21.5 – Overall Run Falls – If you’re looking for a great waterfall to hike to, this might be the one. With a 93′ drop, it’s the highest in Shenandoah National Park. The hike is a moderate 6.4 miles ’round trip to the falls and back.

    Milepost 41.7 or 42.5 – Skyland Resort – Dating to 1886 and originally called Stony Man Camp, Skyland was a summer retreat for the Pollock family. Skyland is the highest point of Skyline Drive at 3,680 feet, overlooking the Shenandoah Valley. Stay here if you like, in one of the 178 accommodations. Enjoy the restaurant on site, too.

    Milepost 42.6 – Whiteoak Canyon - Waterfalls ranging from 35 to 86 feet with swimming holes at the bottom of each are the reward for this 4.6-mile out-and-back hike to the upper falls. Want to see more? Add another 2.7 miles to your trip by descending further down the mountain. Map

    Milepost 51.3 – Big Meadows Lodge – This lodge dates to 1939 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The stones were cut from Massanutten Mountain and the timber is native chestnut. Enjoy the Roosevelt Fried Chicken or New Deal Turkey Platter at the Spottswood Dining Room, if you find yourself hungry.

    These two drives – two of “America’s Most Iconic Drives,” according to Travel + Leisure – are just the beginning of your Virginia drives for fall foliage, as we have more in store and coming soon. Be sure to subscribe to our blog to have the posts delivered directly to your inbox. We wouldn’t want you to miss a single thing about fall in Virginia.

    LOVE is at the heart of every Virginia vacation. Virginia is for Lovers.
    Sign up to receive our weekly Fall Foliage Report.*

    *Fall Foliage Reports will begin on or about September 25.



    Destinations, Fall in Virginia, Outdoors | 2 Comments