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10 Festivals Kids Will LOVE

by Casey | Posted on April 8th, 2014

It’s warm and you’re ready to get moving on the weekends. Festivals should be top-of-mind, of course, but when kids are in tow, look to these great opportunities they’re sure to love.

Annual International Children's Festival, Hampton.

Annual International Children’s Festival, Hampton.

April 13 – The Rockfish Valley Foundation Kite Flying Festival in Nellysford includes demos with Richmond Air Force, instruction, games, a duck race, a kite store, and free kites to the first 150 kids. It’s all free and you’re welcome to bring a picnic and stay a while.

April 19 – The Annual International Children’s Festival in Hampton is like traveling the world, from a kid’s point of view. More than 35 countries will be represented with cultural arts and performances, foods, and activities. Be sure to pick up your passport and have it stamped at each country to be entered to win a prize. Festival Map

April 26 – RIVERFest is held at Colonial Place in Norfolk and is a free outdoor celebration that promotes the restoration of Lafayette River. Kids will enjoy fireboat rides, and can create treasures with Indian beads, ECO arts, or “build a buoy.” Older kids even might join in the embellished craft race with a parent (requirements).

Jamestown Day

Jamestown Day

May 3 – Waynesboro Riverfest is a day of fun built to reach kids and adults for the purpose of emphasizing commitment and responsibility to conservation. Kids will love the canoe rides, arts and crafts, reptile and animal shows, and the fish and fun rodeo, not to mention the South River duck race!

May 10 – Jamestown Day is bucket list worthy for kids and their parents. If you’ve never been to Jamestown, you’re in for a real treat. The ships will be sailing and there are demonstrations, music and activities everywhere you turn. Get to know all about the 1607 founding of America’s first permanent English colony.

May 17 – Fundango Festival is called the #1 family fun festival in Virginia Beach and you’re invited to find out why. Meet Olympians and participate in the Olympic Experience, enjoy amazing entertaining acts, make faces in the photo booth, toss some corn hole, get your crafting on, and tons more.

May 24 – Delaplane Strawberry Festival in Delaplane is all about strawberries, of course. Bring your little ones out for old fashioned games, petting zoo, arts and crafts, hayrides, and more.

Celebrate Fairfax!

Celebrate Fairfax!

June 6-9 – Celebrate Fairfax! is 25 acres of family fun, including the ExxonMobil Children’s Avenue! Expect to find interactive activities, petting zoo, children’s entertainment stage, Inova Trackless Train, crafts, and so much more. This area is designed for kids 12 and younger.

June 7 – Manassas Heritage Railway Festival in Manassas offers a children’s stage of entertainment to go with the kids rides and Thomas the Tank Engine Kiddie Train. Load the whole family into the VRE Excursion Train for a ride to Clifton and back for just $6 each.

June 13-14 – The Annual Massanutten Antique Tractor & Gasoline Engine Club Show is celebrating 25 years. Dads will love checking out the equipment while kids check out the farm toy show, participate in the pedal races, or cheer on the tractor pulls.

These aren’t even the tip of the iceberg when it comes to festivals in Virginia. See the whole list!

Related: 10 Spring Festivals You Don’t Want to Miss

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25 Beautiful B&Bs with a Winery Just a Mile Away

by Casey | Posted on April 2nd, 2014

Vineyards are stunning with rolling hills of green vines. If you love the feeling you have when you visit a winery tasting room and walk the grounds, stay nearby so you don’t lose it. We’ve identified 25 beautiful Virginia bed and breakfasts that are a mile or less away from a Virginia winery. Stay close, sip close.

Le Bleu Ridge Bed and Breakfast, Afton

Le Bleu Ridge Bed and Breakfast, Afton

Central Virginia

The Farmhouse at Veritas is located in Afton and has two wineries nearby. On site is Veritas Vineyard & WineryAfton Mountain Vineyard is .9 mile southwest. The Farmhouse is a comfortable reflection of its 19th century history.

Also in Afton is Le Bleu Ridge Bed and Breakfast and Cottage, a Civil War-era landmark on the grounds of Flying Fox Vineyard. In fact, the tasting room is just 30 feet away from the main house!

When you visit Democracy Vineyards in Lovingston you can stay at Orchard House Bed & Breakfast, less than a half-mile away. The home dates to 1874 and boasts a beautiful front porch for rocking and relaxation.

Check into one of the guestrooms or suites at The Mark Addy Inn in Nellysford to sample the best of Hill Top Berry Farm and Winery just about a half-mile away. Hill Top offers “true to the fruit” wines and honey mead; pick blackberries seasonally, if you wish. One of five porches is awaiting your return.

Pool at Glass House Winery Bed and Breakfast, Free Union

Pool at Glass House Winery Bed and Breakfast, Free Union

Overlooking the vines of Glass House Winery in Free Union is the Glass House Winery Bed and Breakfast. A two-bedroom suite on the upper level affords amazing views of the property and pool. Three lower-level rooms with private baths boast radiant heated bamboo floors; two have private entrances.

Inn at Crossroads in North Garden is on the National Register of Historic Places and located next door to Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards. Hundreds of rolling acres steal your breath while you spend time on the front porch of this Federal style gem.

If you happen to love horses in addition to wine, stay at Reba Farm Inn in Bedford where you can saddle up and find great wine just a mile away at Peaks of Otter Winery.

A visit to Barboursville Vineyards near Charlottesville offers you a choice of two B&Bs. The 1804 Inn at Barboursville Vineyards is on the grounds of the vineyard and features bits and pieces of England, Italy, France and Virginia. Just .9 mile east in Gordonsville is Uphill House Bed & Breakfast, a relatively new home and B&B with English flair. Even closer to Uphill than Barboursville is Horton Vineyards and Winery at .7 mile away.

Blue Ridge Highlands

In Blacksburg you’ll find a luxurious retreat at Beliveau Estate Bed and Breakfast, plus Beliveau Winery is right there with it. Each spacious room has a cozy fireplace and private bath. Some have a private entrance and yet others have air jet tubs. Get comfortable with your wine!

Shenandoah Valley

In the southern Shenandoah Valley is Fincastle Vineyard & Winery and the vineyard’s bed and breakfast, too. The beauty of 80 acres of woodlands, pasture and vineyards will sweep you away; stay a while.

Back in Thyme Bed and Breakfast in Raphine is just down the road from Rockbridge Vineyard. The beautiful Victorian is comfortable with three bedrooms and private baths, plus a hearty country breakfast. Sample the wines at Rockbridge and bring a bottle out to enjoy on the swing below the vineyards.

Villa Veramar B&B sits among the grapes of Veramar Vineyards in Berryville and has romantic rooms with whirlpool tubs, evening wine and cheese platters, and of course, a fine breakfast.

Northern Virginia

Forgotten Creek Bed and Breakfast in Amissville is less than a half-mile from Gray Ghost Vineyards and Winery, a winery boasting an extensive list of national and international awards for their blends. Forgotten Creek B&B offers two suites and a farm-fresh quiche for breakfast.

Hillsborogh B&B, Hillsboro

Hillsborogh B&B, Hillsboro

The rustic, country-style retreat of Hillsborough B&B is just about a half-mile away from Hillsborough Vineyards in Hillsboro. A pool with waterfall offer a tranquil setting to enjoy a glass of something beautiful.

The Briar Patch Bed & Breakfast in Middleburg welcomes you to enjoy their 47 rolling acres from their 1805 historic country inn. It can be home base for visiting Leaves of Grass Vineyards, a very small operation that is open by reservation only, guaranteeing your own personal wine experience.

Spread your wings a little on the 138-acre Belle Meade Farm in Sperryville, home to Belle Meade Inn, a restored Victorian farmhouse. Practically a stone’s throw away at .2 mile is Sharp Rock Vineyards, which also has its own B&B cottages.

Settle in at The Blue Rock Inn in Washington. An on-site pub and restaurant make your dining choices easy while Little Washington Winery is just a hop, skip and a jump away.

The Barns at Hamilton Station, Hamilton

The Barns at Hamilton Station, Hamilton

In Hamilton you’ll fall in love with your surroundings, and Zion Springs Bed & Breakfast is just the beginning. The incredibly spacious suites will leave you asking, “Do we have to go home?” Less than a mile away is The Barns at Hamilton Station Vineyards, a welcoming wood and stone dairy barn-turned-tasting room.

The folks at Gadino Cellars in Washington are fortunate to have a number of nearby bed and breakfasts for you to choose from. Specifically, take a look at these beauties less than a mile away:

Chesapeake Bay

In Irvington, the renowned Hope & Glory Inn, a Top 100 in the World and Top 10 in the US, is less than a half-mile from The Dog and Oyster, a refreshingly unique winery that teams up with Ingleside Vineyard to offer premium and reserve labels alongside their own wines for a one-of-a-kind tasting experience. Hope & Glory offers 25 rooms as well as cottages. National publications are known to gush over this beautiful property.

Perched above the vines in Hague is The Manor House at General’s Ridge Vineyard. Sip a glass of the house wine from the balcony or porch after enjoying a tasting at General’s Ridge tasting room.

Coastal Virginia – Hampton Roads

Visit the urban Mermaid Winery in Norfolk and stay in the elegant Bed & Breakfast at Historic Page House Inn, a AAA Four Diamond accommodation. Mermaid offers 12 wine flights for your choosing, all made in small batches from Virginia grapes.

 

Learn more about Virginia’s extensive wine offerings and the amazing bed and breakfasts awaiting you. Remember to drink responsibly and designate a driver.

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10 Places to Saddle Up in Virginia

by Casey | Posted on March 28th, 2014

The vantage point is a little different and the experience is entirely different from the back of a horse. Saddle up and explore Virginia’s countryside and seaside with these unique opportunities.

Marriott Ranch

Marriott Ranch

Offering the only service of its kind in Virginia and seemingly, the country, Virginia Beach Horseback invites you to the Virginia Beach oceanfront for a horseback ride on the sand or a swim with the horses. Corralled at 31st Street, come down between noon and 6:30 p.m. until June for a ride down to the pier and back. In summer, try their new Swimming on Horseback option Wednesday through Thursdays at North Bay. All riders are prepped on how to control the horses; no experience required. Rates from $40 to $100. Reservations are not required, but suggested.

The 4,200-acre working cattle farm known as Marriott Ranch is located in Hume, not far from Washington, D.C. Make a reservation for their popular 90-minute trail ride offered every day except Monday or take advantage of their special rides and overnight packages, such as the City Slicker package that includes horsemanship skills, cattle handling techniques, meals, and overnight at The Inn at Fairfield Farm (from $385/person). Or perhaps the Dinner Ride of a 90-minute trail ride and a cowboy steak dinner ($99/person) sounds nice? Additional rides include day-long rides, river and mountain rides, and cattle drives.

Shangrila Guest Ranch

Shangrila Guest Ranch

In South Boston you’ll find tucked away the Shangrila Guest Ranch, an all-inclusive horseback riding destination. Couples and families alike will appreciate the variety of accommodations (a three-bedroom homeplace, a sweet little log cabin, or the packhouse lodge). The ranchers at Shangrila will also work with you for corporate retreats at The Rusty Spur, and there’s a special Cowgirls Week in May that may be perfect for a bridal or reunion retreat. If you don’t have long to stay and play, reserve your spot for an hour-long ride or the full day; they’re happy to oblige. Rates from $40/hr for a trail ride to $125/person for a daytime excursion with lunch. Inquire for lodging rates and other opportunities.

Additional Places to Saddle Up:

More Information:

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10 Spring Festivals You Don’t Want to Miss

by Casey | Posted on March 19th, 2014

Between spring and summer, Virginia has hundreds of festivals to choose from, each with its own unique atmosphere, tastes and vibe. Here are ten festivals that either have a storied history or are rising stars in their genre. Plan a spring weekend around one.

Daffodil Festival, Gloucester

Daffodil Festival, Gloucester

A true harbinger of spring, Gloucester’s Daffodil Festival is an annual two day extravaganza held in early April, just as the beautiful yellow blooms make their appearance. With floats akin to those of the Rose Parade, the festival kicks off with the Daffodil Festival Parade and the Daffodil Queen. The remainder of the festival is what you’d expect – magicians, face painting, artisans, live music, and tons of food. Saturday only, you’re invited to take a tour of Brent & Becky’s Bulbs to take place your order for genuine Gloucester Daffodil bulbs!

The Virginia Hot Glass Festival is held annually in Staunton and hosted by SunSpots Studio. Not afraid to share their spotlight, SunSpots invites other glass blowers from around the region to demonstrate and show off their talents for these two late April dates. Take home a piece of jewelry, art glass marbles, or other hand blown glass item just after the artist has put the finishing touches on it. For the kids, a fire-breathing dragon and ray gun demonstration will be key highlights, along with the challenge the kids can present to the artists: create a blown glass rendition of a kids’ drawing. The Virginia Hot Glass Festival is the only festival of its kind in Virginia.

A fairly new festival is the Rocktown Beer & Music Festival in Harrisonburg. Now in its fourth year, this festival celebrates craft beer from Virginia and beyond. Each brewery (30 so far) will have a representative on site serving their flagship beer as well as a rare or seasonal craft brew. Expect great food from the burgeoning restaurant scene of Harrisonburg, as well as fantastic live music to round out this spring day in late April. TICKETS

One of Virginia’s largest and oldest festivals is the annual Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival in Winchester, held over 10 days at the end of April and into early May. Entering its 87th year, the festival has grown to include a wine festival, midway rides, a golf tournament, apple pie baking contest, a fun run and 10K, the coronation of Queen Shenandoah, the Queen’s Ball, fireworks, the world’s largest firefighters’ parade, and the official Grand Feature Parade, among other events with live music and food involved. TICKETS

Chincoteague Seafood Festival

Chincoteague Seafood Festival

Salivating for fresh seafood? Wipe your mouth and head to the Chincoteague Seafood Festival in early May! Signature seafood dishes will be prepared for your consumption, including the famous Little Neck Clams that the festival is known for. Drinks are included with admission; beer is additional. Stay all day and graze while live beach music sets the vibe. TICKETS

The middle of May is the perfect time to treat yourself (or mom for Mother’s Day!) to a day overlooking the Potomac River with a glass of wine at the Spring Wine Festival & Sunset Tour at George Washington’s Mount Vernon. Sixteen Virginia wineries will be on hand for your tasting pleasure while the rarely opened wine storage of George Washington will be open for your viewing pleasure. This festival is very popular and often sells out in advance. Tickets available beginning April 1.

Southerners love their fried chicken and no community knows that better than Gordonsville! Dubbed the “Chicken Leg Center of the Universe,” Gordonsville offers to you its annual Famous Fried Chicken Festival. The story of their fried chicken goes way back to the 19th century women who would greet passengers on the train as it stopped in Gordonsville, all while carrying platters of chicken on their heads. The hospitality of serving great fried chicken has never stopped and you can enjoy the flavors or offer your own at the cook-off. Wineries and artisans will be on hand to complete the festival environment.

Rooster Walk Music and Arts Festival, Martinsville

Rooster Walk Music and Arts Festival, Martinsville

If you love multi-day music festivals, don’t wait until summer to get your groove on. Rooster Walk Music and Arts Festival is four days of live music over Memorial Day Weekend. At the time of this writing, there are 35 bands lined up, including Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, The Infamous Stringdusters and Yarn. Held at the Blue Mountain Festival Grounds in Martinsville, this festival will include delicious food, children’s activities, and arts and crafts. Camping is available. TICKETS

Portsmouth invites you to the Annual UMOJA Festival in late May. It’s the 24th year for this three day festival promoting cultural diversity and unity, and will open with a traditional African drum call and ceremonial processional. Great ethnic foods and artisans’ wares are a highlight along with a famed musical act. This year the UMOJA Festival welcomes Chaka Khan!

The three day Clinch River Days Festival is held annually in St. Paul and celebrates the river life, heritage and culture of Southwest Virginia. Whatever your outdoor pleasure, you can likely enjoy it during this weekend of fun. Taste the food and wine flavors of the region as you learn about the railroad and river influence on this area.

Find more fun festivals and events at Virginia.org/Events.

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Virginia’s Coastal Spring Drives

by Casey | Posted on March 4th, 2014

If you’re completely over the winter season and long for spring like I do, you’ll love the notion of beautiful spring drives through Virginia. Beginning in Coastal Virginia, these drives include history and beauty, and leave you feeling a little more carefree.

This is the first of a four-part series which will lead you to some of the best destinations in Virginia by way of the slower route.

Colonial Parkway

Colonial Parkway

Colonial Parkway is a 23-mile run through America’s Historic Triangle, connecting Historic Jamestowne, Jamestown Settlement, Colonial Williamsburg, Yorktown Battlefield, and Yorktown Victory Center. The drive is maintained by the National Park Service and is free from commercial development. Dogwood, Redbud, and more bloom along the drive, and the James and York Rivers are additional highlights.

Cross the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel to access Coastal Virginia’s Eastern Shore and then it’s Route 13 all the way to Maryland … with a stop-off or two as you go. Really take your time and enjoy what’s just out of sight:

~ Kiptopeke State Park
~ Cape Charles – the only public bayside beach on the Shore
~ Onancock – “The Coolest Town in the South,” per Budget Travel
~
Historic Railway Museum, Parksley
~ Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge - wild ponies!
~ Asssateague Island National Seashore and Assateague Lighthouse

Westover Plantation

Westover Plantation

Often romanticized (thank you, Gone With the Wind), and ever historic, plantations are plentiful along the James River and Route 5 from Williamsburg to Richmond. Not all are open to the public all the time, so call ahead if visiting one is part of your plan. Or, purchase the Civil War Trace ticket to visit the grounds and tour just a few of them.

Route 10 from Smithfield to Chippokes Plantation State Park runs on the south side of the James River. Enjoy a waterside meal at Smithfield Station and then explore the shops of this historic ham hamlet before heading northwest to Bacon’s Castle, the 1665 Jacobean mansion and oldest brick structure in British North America. Bacon’s Castle is so named for Nathaniel Bacon of ”Bacon’s Rebellion” in 1676. Nearly 350 years of history are interpreted at the site by way of tours of the 9,600 square foot mansion and 40-acre plantation. Just down the road is Chippokes Plantation State Park, a working farm that dates to 1617. Tour the antebellum mansion and check out the antique farm and forestry equipment, too. If you have time to spend, stay overnight or take to the trails for hiking and biking.

Which coastal route is your favorite to drive at a leisurely pace and enjoy a day or weekend? Leave a comment to let everyone know.

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