There’s nothing quite like a scenic road trip through Virginia – getting away from the hustle and bustle of Washington D.C., discovering hidden gems all along the way. For those of you looking to escape to the beach for the Neptune Craft Beer Festival in Virginia Beach, we’ve done the heavy lifting and planned a route that will give you a little bit of everything!
Fueling Up for the Trip
Before hitting the road, it makes sense to grab some grub for the fun-filled festivities ahead. For a quick bite, it’s hard to beat Sugar Shack. The Richmond-grown donut shop has an Alexandria location where you can enjoy seasonal flavors like blackberry lavender, pineapple serrano and caramel macchiato. You’re sure to find something you like from the spot voted as one of the “Top 10 Tastiest Donuts in America” by USA Today. (Psst – rumor has it there’s a speakeasy in the back too. You should probably come back on your way home and investigate.
If you’re looking to sit and stay a while, Ted’s Bulletin is the place to go. The Northern Virginia staple has a new location in Ballston that feels like an Art deco take on a French brasserie. Their all-day breakfast menu offers Modern American fare like Breakfast Nachos and a Smashed Avocado Benny, and has quickly become a repeat destination for locals and visitors. If you’re feeling a little adventurous, you can check out Sidekick, their in-house bakery that offers over-the-top pastries like a Pop Rock & Cola Croissant or a Caramel Popcorn Éclair. Don’t mind if we do.
—Stretch Your Legs a Bit—
No one wants to be cooped up in a vehicle too long – so why not swing by some of Northern Virginia’s most famous attractions. If you want something a little more leisurely, Potomac Mills Malls is one of the most well-known outlet malls in the state. With a roster of over 225 retailers like Bloomingdales, the Lego Store, Nike, Saks Fifth Avenue Off 5th, Polo Ralph Lauren, Kate Spade and everything in between – there’s something for everyone.
Seeking out something more adventurous? Go Ape South Run in Fairfax has everything you need! Beginners can tackle the Treetop Journey course, a perfect experience for those looking to dip their feet in high-ropes obstacle courses. More experienced climbers can choose to take on the Treetop Adventure, complete with 50 foot high tree-to-tree crossings and zip lines up to 320 feet long!
—Time to Grab Some Lunch—
Whether you chose to shop or zip through the canopy, we’re pretty sure you’ve worked up an appetite by now and there are plenty of dining options in Fredericksburg. If you’ve got a hankering for some pasta (and let’s be honest – aren’t we always?) then Orofino can definitely scratch that itch. Their authentic Italian food made by Italian hands (owner Danilo Orofino honed his culinary craft in Palmero, Sicily) will have you living la dolce vita – the sweet life.
Folks looking for more local flavors have to try FoodE. The community project highlights the best ingredients the region has to offer in dishes that are truly unique to the town. Whether it’s the Fredericksburger or Rosie’s Fried Chicken, all the dishes are made with a lot of local love.
—Swing Through the Capital—
On a trip that takes you through the Virginia state capital, you’re obligated to check out some of Richmond’s most well-known attractions. Art buffs will love spending time at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, exploring 5,000 years of world history across 35,000 works of art in its permanent exhibit. Some of the collections are the most comprehensive in the world – and best of all, general admission is always free!
If your tastes lean a little more gothic, then the renowned Hollywood Cemetery is well worth a visit. The final resting place to two U.S. Presidents and dozens of other notable residents sits perched in the historic Oregon Hill neighborhood overlooking the James River. Visitors can walk freely around the grounds, or you can follow the winding roads through the sprawling cemetery and take in everything from the comforts of your vehicle.
—One More Treat for the Road—
Looking for one last pick-me-up before the home stretch? Lamplighter Coffee, with three locations around the city, is a Richmond staple. Using ethically-sourced coffee beans from around the world, their baristas are experts at slinging everything from plain coffees to cappuccinos, pour-overs and more. Co-owners/spouses Noelle and Zach Archibald first brought the tastes of the Pacific Northwest to their Addison Street location 10 years ago, and the shop quickly became a local favorite.
For more of a sugar rush, the frozen treats at Charm School are where it’s at. The ice cream shop uses freshly-made cones, minimally-processed dairy, ice cream made in-house daily and some of the most creative flavors and toppings you can imagine. But these frozen treats are much more than just Instagram-worthy eye candy. With vegan and gluten-free offerings, they’re able to satisfy any sweet tooth. Check them out on Twitter for their seasonal flavor list; we know you’ll find something you like!
—Discover Something New (Or Old)—
Passing through the Historic Triangle (Williamsburg, Jamestown and Yorktown), we’d recommend popping off I-64 for a journey back in time with a jaunt down Duke of Gloucester Street in Colonial Williamsburg. The stroll is less than a mile long, but this stop into the 18th century shows off some of the meticulously preserved and restored buildings and shops from the Capitol to the College of William and Mary’s Christopher Wren Building – the oldest academic structure still in use in America. You could spend days exploring over 300 acres of history here (and you should absolutely come back to do so), but for a quick pit stop this is definitely the way to go.
Photo Credit: The Vacation Channel, @vacationchannels
If you’ve had enough history for the day and want something a little different to end your day, we encourage you to check out the Virginia Living Museum in Newport News. View endangered red wolves, get up close and personal with exotic marine wildlife, and get hands-on with live spider crabs and fossilized dinosaur tracks. With indoor and outdoor exhibits showing over 250 living species native to Virginia, visitors leave feeling a little more connected to the world around them.
—Those Ocean Views—
You made it! There’s nothing quite like enjoying some delicious craft beer with sand between your toes and salt in the air. But if you’re looking to fill out your itinerary, be sure to check out some of the other things we know you’ll love about spending a long weekend in Virginia Beach.
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