Travel Ideas and Stories - Virginia's Travel Blog

Posts Tagged ‘weekends’

New for Christmas Town 2013

by Casey | Posted on November 25th, 2013

The lights glisten, dance and twinkle at Busch Gardens during their annual Christmas Town event. In a matter of three weeks the park is transformed to remove the frights of Howl-O-Scream and introduce merriment for Christmas Town, which just opened Friday, November 22. Here’s what you can expect and what’s new this year.

Carolers in England. Busch Gardens Christmas Town. Photo by Casey Higgins.

Carolers in England

About Christmas Town

Nearly seven million lights bring a holiday feel to the countries of Busch Gardens beginning at 3 p.m. and lighting the night through 9 or 10 p.m. (see schedule below)

The tone is set by the carolers of England as you enter the park and then you’re on your way to The Polar Pathway. This area offers a moment of serenity. Pose on a polar bear as you by pass.

Meander on toward Holiday Hills, a 1950′s retro area laced with big bulbs, plastic, and vintage-style Coca-Cola billboards. Take a whirl on Peppermint Twist or Snowman Summit. Dasher’s Diner serves up your childhood favorites if you find that you’re hungry.

Holiday Hills, Busch Gardens Christmas Town. Photo by Casey Higgins.

Holiday Hills

Depart Holiday Hills for Italy where The Battering Ram, The Flying Machine and DaVinci’s Cradle are all operational. Ristorante Della Piazza is serving dinner and you can take in a beautiful show called “Miracles” at Il Teatro di San Marco Theatre. The ballerina in your midst will love this one!

Soak in the moment as you cross the bridge and look to your left for the “Peace on Earth” art suspended from the train trestle. It’s perfect for a family photo.

As you approach Oktoberfest you’ll notice that Mach Tower has been dubbed Nacht Tower for Christmas Town. Glide up and sail back down before or after your spin on Verbolten. Der Wirbelwind and Der Autobahn are operational in Germany, and you’re invited to a fantastic dinner and “Deck the Halls” show at Das Festhaus. Toy solders and Frosty the Snowman are just a few of the fun characters you’ll find inside.

O Tannenbaum is a sight to behold as lights dance in animation on the 50-foot Christmas tree. If your timing is right, a choir will sing to you from the balcony of Das Festhaus. Find more gifts – many handcrafted by Virginia artisans – to take home from Mistletoe Marketplace.

Ho, ho, ho! Santa’s near! The North Pole is home to Santa’s Workshop, of course, as well as the Kinder Karussel and gift shops. By the way, it snows at Santa’s workshop, making the experience all the more amazing.

New France has fun shops for carved candles, metal art, and paint-your-own pottery, not to mention the comfort food of Trappers Smokehouse. Le Catapult is ready to give a spin, too. (Careful with eating and spinning!)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Tinted in blues and purples is France, and this is where you’ll find the Ice Palace: A Penguin Paradise. The penguins of Sea World San Antonio made their way to Virginia for your enjoyment. The line can get long to see these sweethearts, so plan accordingly. New to France are the King, Queen and Court Jester. They’re available for photo ops and interacting with them is a ton of fun!

The walk to Ireland is a peaceful one complete with the nostalgic smell of Christmas trees. At Abbey Stone Theater you’ll find “Gloria!,” the re-telling of the first Christmas. Magi, a manger, and amazing musical and dance talent bring home the true meaning of Christmas. If you purchase the add-on for Santa’s Fireside Feast, Ireland is where you’ll rendezvous with the Jolly ol’ Elf.

Highland Stables. Busch Gardens Christmas Town. Photo by Casey Higgins.

Highland Stables

Before you know it, you’re to Highland Stables where white and blue stars twinkle just out of reach and the famous Clydesdales are waiting.

Christmas Town is nothing if not stunningly beautiful. Each country has its own flavor (literally), and as cliche as it sounds, there is absolutely something for everyone. Both secular and non-secular shows, fantastic dining, and some of your favorite Busch Gardens rides will make you want to come again.

Visiting Christmas Town

Single-Day: $30
Christmas Town Fun Card (unlimited visits): $30
Busch Gardens Annual Pass Holders: $20

3 to 10 p.m.: November 29-30, December 6-7, 13-14, 16-23, 26-31
3 to 9 p.m.: December 1, 8, 15, 24

Colonies at Williamsburg:  Three nights, four tickets to Colonial Williamsburg and Christmas Town: $719.99
Choose Your Own Hotel: Two nights, unlimited visits to Christmas Town: rates from $35/person/night
Embassy Suites Williamsburg: Two-three nights, four tickets to Christmas Town, cooked-to-order daily breakfast: $529-$597

Download a Christmas Town map!

Have you been to Christmas Town at Busch Gardens? We’d love to hear your favorite experience! Leave a comment.

Virginia is for Lovers

Events, Family, The Holidays | Comments Off

6 Heartwarming Resort Getaways for the Holiday Season

by Casey | Posted on November 20th, 2013

If you’re looking for a break in the midst of the season or need an idea for gifting a weekend to a special person, here are a few resort destinations that might fit the bill.

Salamander Resort

Salamander Resort

Love wine, beautiful countryside and amazing cuisine? You’re going to love spending time in Clarke and Loudoun Counties this Christmas season.

  • Stay: Salamander Resort
  • Dine: Village Square Restaurant, Grandale Farm Restaurant, Market Salamander, The French Hound
  • Visit: Veramar Vineyard, Dry Mill Vineyards and Winery, Piedmont Vineyards, Barrel Oak Winery
  • See the Entire Getaway


Primland Resort

Primland Resort

Escape to a mountaintop in Meadows of Dan, far away from whatever troubles you. One-of-a-kind gifts are nearby, as is award winning wine and fantastic outdoor activities.

  • Stay: Primland Resort
  • Dine: Elements, Mabry Mill Restaurant, Lilly’s Lunch, Chateau Morrisette Winery Restaurant
  • Visit: Primland Spa, Mabry Mill, Greenberry House, Chateau Morrisette Winery, Primland Observatory, Lover’s Leap, Wood Brothers Racing Museum, Old Dominion Toy Shoppe
  • See the Entire Getaway


The Omni Homestead Resort

The Omni Homestead Resort

Tuck away into a valley of Bath County where pampering is an everyday occurrence and the fun is built for family.

  • Stay: The Omni Homestead Resort
  • Dine: The Main Dining Room, The Casino Restaurant, Sam Snead’s Tavern, Rubino’s at the Cascades
  • Visit: The Spa and Allegheny Springs Winter Wonderland
  • See the Entire Getaway


Massanutten Resort

Massanutten Resort

Head to Virginia’s longest ski slopes for powdery fun this Christmas and winter.

  • Stay: Massanutten Resort
  • Dine: Woodstone Deli & Pizzeria, Fareways Restaurant
  • Visit: Spa at Massanutten, Indoor Waterpark
  • See the Entire Getaway


Bryce Resort

Bryce Resort

Looking for the mid-Atlantic’s most family-friendly ski resort? You found it!

  • Stay: Condos and vacation rentals at Bryce Resort
  • Dine: Copper Kettle Bar and Lounge, Restaurant at Bryce Resort
  • Visit: Bryce Resort, Shenandoah Caverns, American Celebration on Parade, The Yellow Barn
  • See the Entire Getaway


Wintergreen Resort

Wintergreen Resort

Ski under the lights at 4,000 feet and enjoy many fun activities high on the hill, too.

  • Stay: Wintergreen Resort
  • Dine: The Copper Mine, Black Bear Cafe, The Edge
  • Visit: The Plunge, Wintergarden Spa, Discovery Ridge Adventure Center, Wintergreen Winery
  • See the Entire Getaway


This is our third Heartwarming Getaways post. See the other two and be sure to leave a comment to tell us your favorite thing about Virginia’s resorts.

Virginia is for Lovers.

48 Hours, Family, The Holidays, Virginia Destinations | 1 Comment

Thanksgiving in the Mountains

by Casey | Posted on November 18th, 2013

What do you say the whole family goes away for Thanksgiving and lets someone else do the cooking? I say it’s a fantastic idea. No one slaves over the stove and everyone has a great time. Where can you do such a thing? Virginia’s mountains resorts come to mind. Check it out.

The Omni Homestead Resort

The Omni Homestead Resort

The Omni Homestead Resort in Hot Springs will keep you plenty busy this Thanksgiving! In addition to the activities listed below, there are shopping opportunities, special movie showings in the historic theater, and the outdoor fun you’ve come to expect from this famed resort.

  • Children’s crafting classes
  • Wine Tastings
  • Tree Lighting Ceremony
  • Santa Claus
  • Thanksgiving Brunch and Dinner Buffets

    Wintergreen Resort

    Wintergreen Resort

Wintergreen Resort welcomes families to enjoy their traditions of feasts, illuminations, workshops, and maybe even slope sports during Thanksgiving on the Mountain.

  • Turkey Day 5K
  • Thanksgiving Buffet at either Copper Mine Bistro or Devils Grill
  • The Plunge Tubing Park will be open (weather permitting)
  • Ski Swap – buy and sell used skis, boots, snowboards, ski clothing, etc.
  • Gingerbread House, Wreath and Ornament Workshops
  • Grand Illumination
Primland Resort

Primland Resort

What goes with Thanksgiving better than Native American Month? Primland Resort in Meadows of Dan is embracing the heritage and history to offer “Long Night’s Time,” a weekend full of Native American-themed special events.

  • Celebration of Native American Month
  • Presentation of famous Native Americans
  • Little-known inventions of Native Americans
  • Food sampling of a traditional Cherokee feast
  • Face painting activity
  • Basket weaving and beading display and presentation

    Massanutten Resort Indoor Waterpark

    Massanutten Resort Indoor Waterpark

Massanutten Resort offers comfortable accommodations, plus Thanksgiving dining at your choice of Fareways Restaurant & Lounge or Blue Ridge Buffet & Restaurant. The menus are all you’d expect of a traditional Thanksgiving meal – turkey with stuffing and gravy, pumpkin bisque soup, apple pie … yum! If the temperatures are too warm for snowmaking, turn to the indoor waterpark! That’s a fun Thanksgiving for the kiddos!

Just like Massanutten, Bryce Resort also offers a Thanksgiving Day lunch buffet with all the trimmings.  Stay in one of the resort condos or cabins and enjoy the holiday arts and craft show taking place on the 30th. It’s a great time to kick back and not do much at all or get out and shop the nearby towns.

Whatever your Thanksgiving plans, have fun and enjoy being together!

Virginia is for Lovers.

Family, The Holidays, Virginia Destinations | Comments Off

5 Heartwarming Holiday Getaways for Dining and Shopping

by Casey | Posted on November 13th, 2013

Last week we offered you Five Heartwarming Destinations for Your Holidays and this week we continue with five more for you to ponder. If you love the idea of taking a break to get some shopping done or to just break away and enjoy the moment, you might like these.

Christmas in Orange

Christmas in Orange

Getting away to the country is quite relaxing, especially during the Christmas season. Sparkling storefronts and lamp poles induce memories of simpler times. Find such places when you spend a few days in Orange County.

  • Stay: The Inn at Willow Grove, Holladay House Bed and Breakfast, Inn at Westwood Farm
  • Dine: Elmwood at Sparks, Pomme, Stonefire Kitchen, Palladio Restaurant
  • Visit: James Madison’s Montpelier, The Market at Grelen, Four County Players, Barboursville Vineyards
  • See the Entire Getaway


The Jefferson Hotel

The Jefferson Hotel

Locally-owned shops reign supreme in Richmond, but if you’re seeking big-name stores, those are nearby, too! You’re going to love the cobblestones, the unique shops and vintage boutiques, and an amazing flare for food that only Richmond can offer.

  • Stay: The Jefferson Hotel, The One Bed and Breakfast, The Berkeley Hotel
  • Dine: Fresca on Addison, Sine Irish Pub & Restaurant, Tobacco Company, Pasture, Comfort, Can Can Brasserie
  • Visit: Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, Maymont, Segway of Richmond, Children’s Museum of Richmond, Ice Skating, Carytown
  • See the Entire Getaway


Ice Skating in Fairfax County

Ice Skating in Fairfax County

Bring on the glitz and add the cheer when you take in a little shopping and a little history in Fairfax County.

  • Stay: a wide choice of top hotel brands are available
  • Dine: Clyde’s, Mount Vernon Inn Restaurant, Härth
  • Visit: Reston Town Center, Wolf Trap, Mount Vernon, Gunston Hall, Woodlawn Plantation, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Pope-Leighey House, Workhouse Arts Center, Tysons Corner Center, Tysons Galleria, Fairfax Square
  • See the Entire Getaway


Winter in Rappahannock County

Winter in Rappahannock County

If you love the nostalgic feel of Currier & Ives, Little Washington is your destination. A thriving arts community and the world renowned Inn at Little Washington are the claim to fame in this little slice of heaven in Rappahannock County.

  • Stay: Gay Street Inn, Heritage House Bed & Breakfast, Middleton Inn Bed and Breakfast
  • Dine: The Inn at Little Washington, The Blue Rock Inn Restaurant
  • Visit: Geneva Welch Gallery, The Theatre at Washington, Virginia, the five Artisanal Wineries of Rappahannock
  • See the Entire Getaway


Colonial Williamsburg

Colonial Williamsburg

Williamsburg is the quintessential holiday destination in Virginia for so many reasons. The shops, the Colonial decor, and a simple but tangible cheer that can’t help but emanate.


This is the second post in our Heartwarming Getaways series. Be sure to subscribe to our posts so you don’t miss the next edition. In the mean time, leave a comment to tell us your favorite Virginia destination for the holidays.

Virginia is for Lovers.

48 Hours, Family, The Holidays, Virginia Destinations | Comments Off

10 Classic Virginia Experiences

by Casey | Posted on November 12th, 2013

Looking for a well-rounded list of things to do, see and experience during the holiday and winter seasons? Consider this one of them.

1. Hike a portion of  the Appalachian Trail. Start in Shenandoah National Park or the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Yorktown Victory Center

Yorktown Victory Center

2. Navigate America’s Historic Triangle – Jamestown, Williamsburg and Yorktown. All of America is rooted in the happenings of this area, from the 1607 landing at Jamestowne to the new nation ideas bred at Williamsburg and the conclusion of the Revolutionary War at Yorktown. That’s a lot of history in a pretty tight radius.

3. If seeing sites that include words like biggest, endless, deepest or tallest are on your bucket list, we can help you mark them off. Virginia has eight caverns, including the largest in the eastern United States, one that has no end, the deepest, and one that has the tallest stalagmite in the world.

4. One key annual holiday event allows you to drive the longest boardwalk in the country - the Virginia Beach Boardwalk. It’s the McDonald’s Holiday Lights on the Beach, part of Virginia’s 100 Miles of Lights connecting seven twinkling cities.

100 Miles of Lights - Virginia Beach

100 Miles of Lights – Virginia Beach

5. There’s nothing neater than cobblestone streets and you can find them across Virginia. Check out our Main Streets and then look in places you wouldn’t suspect, like Richmond‘s Shockoe Slip, the Freemason District of Norfolk and Old Town Alexandria.

6. Have a whale of a time on board a boat bound for winter wildlife viewing off the coast of Virginia. The team at the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center in Virginia Beach is happy to take you into the Atlantic for a chance to see the fin and humpback whales migrating this time of year.

7. Eight United States Presidents have hailed from the Commonwealth and you can visit their homes and libraries as well as the places they dined, studied and enjoyed the social scene.

8. More than 230 wineries, 60+ craft breweries, and a quickly growing number of cideries and distilleries are toasting the holidays and inviting you to warm from within. Designated drivers are mandatory.

9. Strike a chord in the birthplace of country music – Bristol - and travel The Crooked Road to see and hear music history and tradition at places like Carter Family Fold and the Ralph Stanley Museum.

10. Zip line through a snowy winter wonderland at Wintergreen Resort. It’s 900 feet at speeds of up to 40 miles per hour. Don’t forget to wear a ski mask. Brrr!
What would you add to a list of quintessential things to do in Virginia? Leave a comment!
Virginia is for Lovers.

The Holidays, Winter | 3 Comments