It’s an understatement to say 2020 was a tough year, but as travel came to a halt and Virginia’s tourism businesses struggled to stay afloat amid constant uncertainty, many rose to the challenge with innovation and adaptability. Historic sites and museums launched virtual tours and online education, restaurants, wineries, breweries, and distilleries pivoted with outdoor seating and curbside pickup, and Virginia destinations offered safe travel inspiration with WanderLove, a celebration of road trips, the outdoors, and lesser-known destinations.
Moving into 2021 we still have a difficult road ahead, but we also have a lot of new things to do in Virginia to look forward to. In that spirit, we’ve curated a list of Virginia’s most anticipated openings for 2021, including new hotels, attractions, and exhibits. Save this list for future travel inspiration and we’ll be here to welcome you when the time is right.
Keswick Hall, slated to reopen in the spring of 2021 after a multi-year renovation and expansion, will offer visitors a premier luxury experience just minutes from downtown Charlottesville. The resort will still feature its renowned Full Cry golf course, designed by Pete Dye, in addition to 80 luxurious guest rooms and suites, a new spa, and a new signature restaurant run by famed chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten.
Nearby in downtown Charlottesville, central Virginia’s first food hall concept, Dairy Market, opened in late 2020 in the historic Monticello Dairy Building. At capacity, Dairy Market will have up to 18 merchant stalls and 11,500 square feet of retail space. In addition to the many food merchants, Dairy Market will be anchored by Starr Hill Brewery, so add this to your trip to experience some of the region’s best food and drink!
Photo Credit: Jack Looney
Located in Crozet, about 30 minutes from downtown Charlottesville, The Crozet Tunnel Greenway opened to the public in November of 2020 after nearly 20 years in the making. The trail offers a unique outdoor experience for railroad enthusiasts, hikers, bikers, history buffs, and cave dwellers. From sunrise to sunset, visitors can explore the 2.25-mile trail that passes through an abandoned train tunnel, which is more than 700 feet below the Blue Ridge Mountains. After your hike, head over to the Nelson 151 Trail to sample some of Virginia’s best craft beverages and farm-to-table cuisine.
Released in December 2020, Richmond’s Mending Walls map guides visitors to all Mending Walls Project murals. The Mending Walls Project is a public art project that brings together artists from different cultures and backgrounds to create murals that address where we are now in society and how we can move forward through understanding and collaboration.
Apex Entertainment opened in late 2020 in Virginia Beach, adding 85,000 square feet of family fun to Virginia’s largest city. Located in Downtown Virginia Beach, Apex offers family fun for all ages with 24 lanes of bowling, virtual reality experiences, arcade games, laser tag, mini-golf, axe throwing, go-karts, escape rooms, and more.
The Virginia Aquarium is also expanding with a $25 million renovation. The aquarium’s Marsh Pavilion will reopen on Memorial Day weekend 2021, featuring the aquarium’s beloved otters, displays of live jellyfish from around the world, a giant Pacific octopus, and a touch pool with Indo-Pacific invertebrates. The aquarium is opening a new veterinary wing and an animal conservation center in 2021 as well.
The Glass Light Hotel & Gallery Marriott Autograph Collection is a 113-room boutique hotel with exceptional works of glass art by world-renowned artists throughout the hotel. In March 2021, the Glass Light Hotel Gallery portion of the venue will open, and Norfolk will have the largest free collection of glass art in the world. Visitors can enjoy pieces by prominent artists like Dave Chihuly and Louis C. Tiffany at the Chrysler Museum of Art, Barry Art Museum, Perry Glass Studio, Glass Light Gallery, and more – all for free.
Additionally, the Norfolk Botanical Garden will host the return of LanternAsia in April of 2021 – art by day and magic by night with a FantaSea theme, where the world of fantasy collides with the enchantment of the sea. The exhibit of larger-than-life Chinese lanterns will be showcased throughout the garden’s 175-acres, where guests can experience large sea creatures, butterflies, a walk-thru shark tunnel, and more.
Phoebus is an area in Hampton, Virginia, noted for its charming architecture, adventurous culinary establishments, and antique bargains. In Phoebus, the past and present come together to provide unique shopping and dining in a historic waterfront community. That community is expanding with new drool-worthy eateries and a new brewery. In January 2021, 1865 Brewing opened as the area’s first Black-owned micro-brewery, with a broad range of beer styles, including recipes with coffee and CBD, and The Baker’s Wife Bistro & Bar opened offering French and American cuisine.
The Capital One Center, Capital One’s sprawling headquarters complex, will debut in the summer or fall of 2021 as a new mixed-use entertainment epicenter in Tysons. Highlights include The Watermark Hotel and Capital One Hall, a 1,600-seat performing arts center, and a 300 seat black box theater. There will also be a 1.2-acre Skypark, a Biergarten, a dog park, public art, and a pop-up food truck experience. This place will have it all!
While visiting Tysons be sure to check out ShipGarten. Opening early 2021, it’ll be Northern Virginia’s first roaming outdoor lifestyle experience, featuring four separate food and drink experiences, each being served up out of a 40-foot shipping container. Nearby, The Archer Hotel Tysons will open in the summer of 2021 with seven stories, 178 rooms, polished event spaces, and a rooftop terrace.
Also not to be missed in Fairfax, the Turning Point Suffragist Memorial will unveil the long-awaited national memorial to the women’s suffrage movement in spring 2021. After a visit to the memorial check out the new Lucy Burns Museum at the Workhouse Arts Center – a pivotal location in the fight for women’s voting rights and the passage of the 19th Amendment.
Alexandria will launch a new Civil Rights-themed self-guided tour and the Freedom House Museum, located at the site of the 19th-century Franklin & Armfield slave-trading firm, will reopen in 2021 to preserve the stories of thousands of people who were forced through the doors. Additionally, the city’s newest public art project, Groundswell, will be on display from March through November 2021. The installation will introduce an element of play to the Potomac River’s changing shoreline with an immersive ecosystem of 130 raw wood pilings topped with etched blue mirrors.
Rosie’s Gaming Emporium offers travelers the chance to try their luck with historic horse races, electronic devices, and jackpots. In addition to four gaming locations across Virginia, the newest Rosie’s location will open in Dumfries in 2021.
The new Fredericksburg Nationals Stadium and Fredericksburg Expo Center are beside each other with four hotels within walking distance. Besides fun baseball games, the stadium and expo center will be a place for sporting and corporate events, weddings, and more.
In downtown Lexington, the 39-room Gin Hotel, which dates from 1926, aligned with Choice Hotels’ Ascend Hotel Collection. The former Robert E. Lee Hotel was rebranded, and the in-house Italian restaurant was renamed Juniper Lounge. The 12-room sister property Tonic Restaurant and Inn, was also rebranded with a focus on healing and therapeutic vibes, along with a Bohemian, garden-like feel on the updated outdoor dining patio.
The Trails at the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley, which opened mid-2020, is the largest outdoor art exhibit in Virginia and will have more than three miles of trails.
Photo Credit: Shannon Terry
Natural Bridge State Park will be adding a Children’s Discovery Area, an outdoor experiential area for families that will include a Kids in Parks Track Trail that offers four self-guided brochures about area wildlife. Guests staying overnight can check in to the 152-room Natural Bridge Historic Hotel & Conference Center which underwent a 750,000 renovation in 2020.
The Springston Regals at Massanutten Resort, 140 new luxury two-bedroom duplex units, will be available in late 2020.
Originally constructed as a bank headquarters in 1910 in downtown Roanoke, The Liberty Trust, is undergoing a historic restoration and transformation into a 54-room luxury lifestyle hotel. The hotel is slated to open by September 2021.
Opening in the summer of 2021 at Nicewonder Farm in Southwest Virginia is Niceworder Inn, a 28-room luxury boutique inn with a world-class culinary and wine program and beautifully appointed rooms, all overlooking the beauty of the 400-acre property.
In Southwest Virginia, the new Appalachian Trail Center, currently scheduled to open in spring 2021, will be a hub to the Appalachian Trail and the Town of Damascus, known as Trail Town USA, due to seven nationally known trails intersecting within the small town’s borders. Located a few steps from the A.T. as it passes through downtown Damascus, the facility will be the fourth official Visitor Center along the 2,190-mile footpath, providing visitor information and education. Visit and start planning your epic journey along Virginia’s 544 miles of the Appalachian Trail.
Long Way Brewing, which opened in Radford in December of 2020, is an old stone church rehabbed into a brewery with themed beers that pay tribute to colonial heroine Mary Draper Ingles. The lower level of the brewery houses the Radford/Fairlawn Daily Bread during the morning hours, providing meals at no cost for people in need.
Daydreaming about your next trip? Use this guide to our new lodging, attractions, and destinations and start planning an epic road trip to feed your WanderLove in Virginia.