Categories
Fall in Virginia Outdoors Shenandoah Valley Travel Ideas

WanderLove: A Road Trip Through Lexington & Rockbridge County

Rockbridge County is the southern gateway to the Shenandoah Valley. Conveniently located at the junction of I-81 and I-64 W, visitors have fast and easy access to our “big backyard” – 100,000 acres of public forests, parks, recreation areas and two rivers where outdoor enthusiasts of all ages and skill levels can hike, bike, paddle, fish and camp.

Lexington is the perfect hub for this outdoor lover’s itinerary. The historic downtown is completely walkable and boasts over 65 indie-owned shops and eateries, in addition to numerous museums, historic sites and tours. Stay at one of the three hotels within walking distance of the historic district and universities: Hampton Inn Col Alto, The Georges Inn, ranked the #2 hotel in the U.S. by Travel + Leisure, or The Gin Hotel, an Ascend property.

For those looking for a more rustic or rural setting, the area offers many cabin and vacation home rentals including properties specializing in outdoor recreation such as Sugar Tree Inn, Fox Hill B&B, Steeles Manor Tavern B&B/Cabins, and Hummingbird Inn.

Cross Natural Bridge State Park off your bucket-list. The geological wonder is an awe-inspiring 215-foot high limestone arch carved from Cedar Creek, and is estimated to be 450 million years old. Today, the Virginia State Park offers educational programs, over 6 miles of trails and the Kids in Parks Track Trail and a NatureExplore play area at the new Children’s Discovery Area.

Photo Credit: Shannon Terry

Get a new perspective of the Blue Ridge Mountains! Spend the afternoon paddling, fishing and wildlife viewing on the 65 miles of the Upper James River Water Trail. This waterway features Class I-III rapids, ensuring paddlers a segment suitable to their skill level. Bring your own equipment or utilize an outfitter who will provide gear and shuttle transportation.

After a jaunt on the river or trail, “Drink in the Shenandoah Valley” with a cold craft brew along the Shenandoah Beerwerks Trail. Relax and enjoy the companionship of good friends amidst beautiful farms and mountains, breathe in the scent of ancient forests on a hike, explore a fascinating new community, taste the fresh flavors of a farm-to-table meal, or listen to music under the stars as you discover a new favorite band. Don’t forget to get your Beerwerks Passport stamped at 8 of the 15 breweries to receive a commemorative Beerwerks t-shirt and bragging rights.

Stable Craft Brewing, Photo Credit: Nikki Nargi

Get an early start on 2 wheels as you breeze past pastoral landscapes, quaint cities and towns, and historic, natural and cultural resources with a Rockbridge County cycling route.

Experts can start in charming Buena Vista, an Appalachian Trail Community, and climb their way to the iconic Blue Ridge Parkway, “America’s Favorite Drive.”

The Lexington/Goshen Pass Loop will wind along the Maury River on Rt. 39, Appalachian Waters Scenic Byway with many pull offs to enjoy river access and views of Goshen Pass, a three mile-long gorge in the Goshen and Little North Mountain Wildlife Management Area.

Or peddle around the Villages of Fairfield, Raphone and Brownsburg on a “tour de farm” route visiting farms, a vineyard, grist mill, community museum and more rural beauty than you can imagine. Many of the stops are members of the Fields of Gold Farm Trail.

And for those looking for an epic cross county experience, cycle a segment of the TransAmerica Bike Trail along Scenic Byway Rt. 56. And for those who wish to explore the natural beauty from behind a windshield, any of these routes make the perfect scenic drive.

Put on your walking shoes and explore Glen Maury Park in Buena Vista. This 315-acre park includes camping, hiking/mountain bike trails, fishing on the Maury River, an Olympic-sized pool, playing fields, picnic areas, and the 18-hole Rick Jacobson designed links course. Catch a bluegrass, gospel or beach music concert. Stroll the Buena Vista Riverwalk, a two-mile flood wall that connects the park to the nearby Chessie Nature Trail.

The Chessie Nature Trail parallels the Maury River, connecting Lexington and Buena Vista. A 7-mile rail-trail, the Chessie’s path is part of the old Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad bed as well as canal towpaths and boat lochs. It’s the perfect place to hike and run because it’s easily accessible while also boasting abundant natural beauty, wildlife, and farmsteads.

There are Hidden Gems just waiting to be discovered in Rockbridge County!

Take a peaceful moment and discover the flora and fauna tucked away just 1.6 miles from the historic downtown district at the Boxerwood Nature Center and Woodland Garden, a 15-acre arboretum featuring over 12,000 trees, fields, woodlands, ponds, and native and unusual plant specimens. There is a Kids Play Trail and Fairy Forest and a summer music series for the young at heart. Go on a high-tech treasure hunt using GPS coordinates to locate hidden geocaches.

The Gems of Rockbridge Geocaching Trail consists of ten geocaches that are strategically placed to highlight the natural beauty and cultural heritage of the gateway communities along the Blue Ridge Parkway: Vesuvius, Buena Vista, Lexington, Glasgow, and Natural Bridge.

Looking for a decadent slice of homemade pie? Local jams, jellies and pickles? A souvenir to take home? Visit a nostalgic Country Store! Opened in 1954, Layne’s Country Store is famous for their Virginia Country Ham and Hoop Cheese sandwich, which was ranked in the top 10 “Top 50 places in Virginia to get a country ham sandwich” by USAToday.

Natural Bridge General Store & Natty B’s Cafe serves up the best homemade pies around and is a great place to fuel up with a Blue Plate Special for a day on the river.

Gertie’s Country Store & Deli in Vesuvius was a finalist on the Blue Ridge Parkway Foodie Tour with their infused pulled pork BBQ sandwich. The store’s walls are covered with signatures from visitors from around the world, and is a convenient stopover for travelers on the TransAmerica Bicycle Trail, who can camp out back for free.

To come full circle, visit the Brownsburg Museum’s new exhibit, “Cradle to Coffin: Remembering the Country Store,” which includes an actual screen door where visitors step back in time and enter a one-room replica of a country store. The replica is complete with chairs so you can sit and “loaf” – which was the “term of art” used by the men of the village when they hung out at Whitesell’s Grocery or Swope’s store or Bud Wade’s barber shop and pool hall.

You’ll want to remember your “Small Towns, Big Backyard” road trip with a photo in front of the Natural Bridge State Park LoveWork. Designed by Mark Cline – famous for his life-size fiberglass dinosaurs and Foamhenge, a true to scale replica of Stonehenge. This installation includes elements that represent Rockbridge County, including the Natural Bridge, Lace Falls, wildlife such as deer and eagles, paddling on the James River, and stunning rock formations…what Rockbridge County is named after! This LoveWork is scheduled for installation by October 2020. 

Categories
Central Virginia Family Outdoors Travel Ideas

WanderLove: A Guide to a Girl’s Weekend in Charlottesville

Wanderlust is defined as a strong desire to travel, but here in Virginia, we call that feeling WanderLove. And while travel doesn’t look quite the same this year, you can still explore Virginia’s endless beauty with an epic road trip!

Charlottesville is a picturesque city with a booming wine scene, indie boutiques, beautiful accommodations, tasty eateries, and outdoor activities. Its location in the Blue Ridge Mountains’ rolling foothills makes it the ideal getaway for a girls weekend. It is also consistently mentioned as one of the top, up-and-coming, award-winning wine regions to visit for those who love wine. This charming city is home to nearly 40 wineries and vineyards and is a significant producer in Virginia’s wine country. What also makes this wine region unique is the numerous vineyard B&Bs and wine experiences – perfect for a safe vacation during this global pandemic. And it’s just a short two-hour drive from Washington, DC.

Photo Credit: Bram Reusen

No matter where you are driving from, you will know that you arrived in Charlottesville when you see views of rolling hills and mountains, and if you’re lucky, you’ll see them peeking above the fog. It is a sight to behold.

Vineyard Lodging

We arrived in Afton and checked-in to The Farmhouse at Veritas Bed and Breakfast. Built in 1836, The Farmhouse offers eight luxurious bedrooms with stunning views of the mountains and grapevines. Each reservation includes a bottle of sparkling wine and a fresh farm breakfast. I highly recommend staying in the Derby Room — a contemporary, two-level, airy room with views of the Petit Verdot and Viognier vines. The room also has a spiral staircase, which leads to the king bed on the second level. A private entrance leads to a beautiful wraparound porch, which includes multiple rocking chairs. If you’re unable to stay in the Derby Room, any room will do, as it is the crème de la crème of vineyard B&Bs — especially if you prefer accommodations with charm, elegance, and a bit of European flair.

Photo Credit: Carlita Pitts IG: @iamthelita

Need a larger space? I recommend booking the Barn Cottage. The vineyard also offers a full dining experience in any three indoor dining spaces equipped for social distancing.

If you desire a vineyard accommodation with a tranquil, resort experience, I recommend Glass House Winery Bed and Breakfast in Free Union. Free Union is ten miles northwest of Charlottesville and is located on a hill overlooking the vines and a lake, plus the scenic views of Blue Ridge Mountains in the background make the drive worth it.

Photo Credit: Carlita Pitts IG: @iamthelita

Glass House B&B is a group-friendly bed and breakfast with a pool and hot tub. The house itself is large, with funky décor and lots of space to move around. I highly recommend staying in the Suite to the Stars, a two-bedroom suite, with a living room, dining area, kitchen, and a large private deck. Each reservation comes with a complimentary wine flight at the winery and some decadent chocolates made in-house.

Wineries & Vineyards Near Charlottesville

There are so many beautiful wineries along Virginia’s Monticello Wine Trail that it’s hard to choose which to visit. If you’re traveling for a girls’ weekend, be sure that the wineries you select are near each other, so you aren’t driving all over Charlottesville. Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards is one of my favorites. I’ve visited multiple times, and it gets prettier each time. You can’t beat the beautiful landscaping, mountain views, boutique wines, and farm-to-table menu. While you’re out there, check out Blenheim Vineyards, owned by Dave Matthews. This beautifully designed winery has excellent views of the vineyards and countryside. If you’re up for winery hopping, I’d suggest stopping by Jefferson Vineyards and Gabriele Rausse Winery.

To experience more of the Monticello Wine Trail’s beauty and scenic views, be sure to also visit Afton Mountain Vineyards, Barboursville Vineyards, and Stinson Vineyards.

Wine Experiences Outside of Charlottesville

Want to add adventure and a great bonding experience to your trip? I’d highly suggest booking a private horseback riding tour through the vineyards with the Indian Summer Guide Service. We planned our ride at Veritas after Saturday brunch, and it was terrific. Our horses, Gracie and Amber, were well-mannered, and our guide was very patient with us. When we booked this tour, we didn’t realize we were riding up the mountain, and when we got to the top, we saw the most beautiful views of the wineries, farms, and properties. It was indeed a memorable experiermnce that I would do again in a heartbeat.

Photo Credit: Carlita Pitts IG: @iamthelita

Another excellent wine experience to add to your itinerary is the Roseland Polo Match at King Family Vineyards on Sundays. It’s fun to get dressed up in floral sundresses, hats, and wedge heels to watch an action-packed polo match with the background’s dramatic mountain views. Don’t forget to take lots of photos for the ‘gram!

Dining in Charlottesville

There are many great places to dine in Charlottesville. Given that Charlottesville is in the south, it’s most known for southern cuisine such as fried chicken, smoked BBQ, and black-eyed peas.

While we wanted great food on our trip, given that it is a girls’ weekend, we also wanted to dine at trendy restaurants with great views. On Friday night, we ate at Common House, a contemporary member’s only social club. It is beautifully designed, with a multipurpose event space, networking lounge, library, game room, and roof terrace. It rained the evening we went, so we didn’t get to see the roof terrace. However, we enjoyed our meals while we there, and we were equally impressed by the décor and service. 

On Saturday evening, we dined at the Quirk Hotel in downtown Charlottesville. The Quirk is one of Charlottesville’s newest boutique hotels, opening earlier this year, and is a modern hotel with a chic, artsy atmosphere. Upon entering, you’ll notice the curvaceous ceiling, a large art gallery, two restaurants, and a café.

We dined at the rooftop bar, which was just as stylish as it is beautiful. Like the rest of the city, the roof bar had lovely panorama views of downtown Charlottesville and the Blue Ridge Mountains. The restaurant offers a rustic Italian menu serving pizzas, oven-fired vegetables, pastas, charcuterie, and cheeses. They also locally sourced craft beer and wine from the Virginia wineries.

I’ll never forget my trip with my girls to Charlottesville and its surrounding wineries. In fact, we enjoyed it so much, we’re already planning our next visit!

THIS GUEST BLOG POST IS COURTESY OF Carlita Pitts, a vineyard loving, wine sipping, travel enthusiast living in Northern VA. She is the chief content creator of Divine Lita, a vineyard, wine, and travel blog – which mostly highlights her experiences visiting the wine regions in Virginia, DC, and Maryland. Visit her blog or catch her on Instagram @iamthelita to learn more. 

Categories
Family Outdoors Travel Ideas Virginia Mountains

WanderLove: A Family Road Trip Through the Virginia Mountains

Wanderlust is defined as a strong desire to travel, but here in Virginia, we call that feeling WanderLove. And while travel is a little bit different in 2020 due to COVID-19, you can still explore Virginia’s endless beauty with an epic road trip! To help you plan your next vacation out on the open road, we’ll be sharing a few of the most scenic and adventure-filled routes through the Commonwealth, including the best outdoor adventures, important sites, restaurants, and lodging options to add to your itinerary.

Follow this family-friendly road trip through the Virginia Mountains for a relaxing vacation that the whole family will love!

**While we have shared COVID-19 alternate hours and closures when possible, please contact individual businesses before visiting, as these details may change at any time.

DAY 1: Explore Park & Virginia’s Blue Ridge

Photo Credit: Cameron Davidson

Start your adventure in Virginia’s stunning Blue Ridge, right near the beautiful town of Roanoke. For your first adventure, head to Explore Park, located right on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Explore Park will provide more than a full day’s worth of activities. Kids ages 4+ and adults will love the Treetop Quest ropes course. All of the equipment is sanitized in between uses, and the outdoor, spacious course is perfect for a socially distanced adventure. We loved that there was a smaller course for younger children, and more challenging ones for older kids and adults.

Photo Credit: Shannon Terry

Once you’ve climbed around while safely harnessed, head over to Blue Mountain Adventures to do some tubing down the river. The gentle rapids mean adults and kids 7+ can go on their own – perfect for maintaining social distance. There’s truly an activity for every interest in the Virginia mountains!

If outdoor adventure isn’t up your alley, consider going to find the iconic Roanoke Star and then heading over to the trail to Mill Mountain Zoo (open daily 10am-5pm). Or is arts and culture more your thing? Be sure to check out Center In The Square. Don’t miss the Roanoke Pinball Museum and Roanoke Starcade.

Photo Credit: Creative Dog Media, IG account: @creativedogmedia

After your day of adventure, grab some dinner – some great options are Wildflour Cafe, Tuco’s Taqueria, Taaza, and Cedar’s Lebanese. All of these should be open for carry out, so you can eat outside wherever you wish, or consider taking your meal back to Natural Bridge KOA, a fantastic campground for families. Whether you’re in your own RV or renting one of their private cabins, it’s a perfect way to have your own space and relax. The campground is spacious and clean, and has full RV hookups for a comfortable stay. 

DAY 2: Natural Bridge & Rockbridge County

Start your morning with a scenic drive through beautiful Goshen Pass. There are several pull offs where you can stop to admire the Maury River and the surrounding beauty. Depending on your timeline, you may want to consider fishing, swimming, walking the trail on the north side of the river, or tubing. Virginia’s mountains have a vast variety of activities, giving you lots of options for outdoor fun.

If it’s a Thursday-Sunday, consider stopping at Wade’s Mill, Virginia’s oldest continuously operating commercial grist mill. You can even purchase grains fresh to order!

After stopping for some lunch (consider the Pink Cadillac Diner), head over to Natural Bridge State Park. The 215-foot tall natural limestone bridge was carved out by Cedar Creek, and is surrounded by forested area and hiking trails. A National Historic Landmark, the area was once owned by Thomas Jefferson. Admission is $6 for kids age 6-12, and $8 for those 13+.

The Cedar Creek Trail will take you to a 30-foot waterfall with beautiful views along the way. Stop to take in the awe-inspiring wonder of the natural bridge itself, and don’t forget to cross the small pedestrian bridge to peek into a cave. There are several easy access points to the creek, so little ones will love getting their feet wet in the shallow and cool water. And at just 1.6 miles round trip with minimal elevation gain, it’s perfect for families (though not stroller-accessible). While the Monacan Indian Village is currently closed to visitors, hikers can still view the outdoor setup as they walk by.

After your hike, head back to your campsite at Natural Bridge KOA and relax while you make some dinner. 

DAY 3: Virginia Safari Park & Downtown Lexington

On your third morning, consider doing something a bit different – a Virginian safari! At the Virginia Safari Park, visitors can view animals from the comfort of their own vehicles, and kids will love that the animals often come right up to the car to eat. Plus, the park is just down the road from your campground, offering easy and quick access during your stay. 

After your morning fun, head into downtown Lexington to pick up lunch and explore this enchanting city, which is home to both Washington & Lee University and Virginia Military Institute, giving it the beautiful and vibrant feel of a college town.

Be sure to walk around the charming streets of the downtown area, and consider any safe indoor activities that might be open, such as Boxerwood Nature Center, or just drive around taking in the beautiful homes and Virginian charm!

Finally, head back for a final night at Natural Bridge KOA. It’s the perfect convenient spot to launch your adventures during the following day.

DAY 4: Covington & the Alleghany Highlands

Now that you’ve explored the Lexington and Roanoke areas, head towards the Alleghany Highlands in the Virginia Mountains for some gorgeous and restful time in the Great Outdoors. On your way to some distanced outdoor activities, detour to the charming town of Covington.

For your first stop, seek out the Downtown Covington LOVEwork right on Main Street. It’s a perfect photo op to start your day and remember this incredible adventure. Next, head to the Eastern National Children’s Forest, a beautiful forested monument in an area that once suffered from wildfires. The site was planted by over 1,000 children – a fact any little travelers will love.

Stop in for lunch at Cucci’s Pizzeria, a Covington staple. The pizzas are huge and the crust is fantastic, so be ready to take home some leftovers if you’re traveling solo or with a single companion.

Next, head over to the LOVEwork at Humpback Bridge. This was our family’s favorite by far, and you’re sure to love it, too. The bridge itself is a National Historic Site and is the oldest remaining covered bridge in Virginia. The LOVE letters here are all constructed from materials unique to the history of the area. 

Once you’ve snapped a few photos with the LOVEwork, take some time to walk under the bridge over to the grassy area on the other side. The water is usually fairly shallow here, so it’s a fun place for little ones to get their feet wet, or if it’s moving more quickly, there are plenty of rocks to throw in – an activity that could keep the kids occupied for several hours if they are anything like mine!

After playing at the bridge, head up to Falling Spring Waterfall. The 80-foot waterfall and its surroundings are incredibly scenic, and there is a beautiful viewing area that’s perfect for taking a few photos. It’s a great stop even if little legs are tired because the view point is right by the parking lot – no hiking required.

Finally, head up to Morris Hill Campground at Lake Moomaw. It’s an amazingly beautiful area with private sites that are surrounded by trees. It’s a perfect spot to roast marshmallows and sit around the campfire. Just be sure to pack away all food and trash as black bears do frequent the area. They’re generally harmless, but it’s always best to keep everything safe. 

DAY 5: Alleghany Highlands in the Virginia Mountains

It’s your final day exploring this beautiful area of the Virginia Mountains! Kick things off with a peaceful morning bike ride along the Jackson River Scenic Trail and Blueway. Alleghany Outdoors is located right near the Intervale trailhead, and has bike rentals available for riders ages 10+. You can either ride as far as you’d like and turn back or do a one way rental and catch the shuttle back. If you have younger riders, feel free to bring your own bikes – the trail is perfect for little ones as it has finely packed gravel and only a 1% grade. The protected path is perfect for all ages, even kids in bike trailers.

After your bike adventure, switch to a different outdoor adventure – kayaking! Alleghany Outdoors also rents kayaks to paddle down the Jackson River (Ages 8+; 6+ for tubing). It’s a perfect way to see the beautiful cliffs along the river and to experience the stunning Alleghany Highlands from the water. The full trip is about two hours downriver (a shuttle will take you to the start), while a shorter trip of about an hour is also possible. If you have smaller children, consider instead walking across the swinging bridge.

Finally, finish out your time in the gorgeous Alleghany Highlands by heading up to the Coles Point Beach area at Lake Moomaw. The swimming area is clean and perfect for families, with warm, clear water and a sandy beach. Bring a picnic and watch the sunset over the water before heading back to Morris Hill Campground for the night.

This guest blog post is courtesy of preethi, the author of the local passport family blog. Preethi feels passionately about providing a diverse education for families through travel. She works to make travel and the outdoors more inclusive, and helps families develop curiosity and connection by connecting with the world at home and abroad. She loves exploring with her 5 kids, and writes about actual and virtual travel, global education, and parenting.

Follow Preethi & her family as they travel:
@localpassportfamily
www.localpassportfamily.com
Categories
Central Virginia History Travel Ideas

A Three-Day Tour Through Virginia’s Student Civil Rights History

DAY ONE: FARMVILLE

Farmville is known as the “Birthplace of the Student Civil Rights Movement.” Arrive and head to the Robert Russa Moton Museum. While the fight for desegregation was heating up in the late 1950s and early ‘60s, the country saw plenty of protests and counter protests, as well as walkouts, sit-ins and boycotts. One such walkout was especially powerful because it occurred in 1951 and was led by a young student: 16-year-old Barbara Johns. They rallied a group of students and organized a walkout of all-black Robert Russa Moton High School in protest of the school’s poor conditions. The NAACP then teamed up with the students and worked to integrate the schools of Prince Edward County. The lawsuit filed against the School Board of Prince Edward County was later incorporated into Brown v. Board of Education, making Farmville a key destination to learn about school integration and the overturning of Plessy v. Ferguson. In 1993, the building that formerly housed Moton High School was closed, but the school was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1998.

Photo Credit: Michael Mergen

For lunch, eat at the Fishin’ Pig. Stop here for southern fusion-style food, combining great seafood and BBQ.

Depart the museum and make your way to the Adventure Park at Sandy River Retreat. The park lets you zip through the treetops on 20 zip lines and navigate 60 obstacles! It’s the state’s largest aerial adventure park.

After your outdoor adventure, check-in to the Hotel Weyanoke. A Farmville staple since 1925, Hotel Weyanoke was built to welcome movers and shakers —to bring people from all walks of life together.

Hungry for dinner? Walk to Charley’s Waterfront Café. Enjoy the beautiful views as the restaurant overlooks the Appomattox River.

DAY TWO: FARMVILLE TO RICHMOND

Photo Credit: Bill Crabtree, Jr.

After breakfast at Effingham’s inside the hotel, travel east towards to the coast to Richmond. When you arrive at the Virginia State Capitol, you will have the opportunity to visit the Virginia Civil Rights Memorial, paying homage to Barbara Johns and the 1951 Moton student strikers. The Black History Museum & Cultural Center celebrates the rich culture and moving histories of African American people in Virginia and their contributions to Virginia and America.

After the museum, head to Mama J’s for some lunch. Mama J’s Kitchen is family-owned and operated and celebrates the family tradition of going to grandma’s house for Sunday dinner.

Next, visit the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. The museum is open 365 days a year and now is the permanent home to a 27-foot statue that is on display permanently outside, entitled “Rumors of War,” by Kehinde Wiley.

Photo Credit: Chad Williams, IG account: @echadwilliams

Ready for some shopping? Carytown, the “Mile of Style, is walking, shopping, restaurant, and services community. Stroll along our nine blocks of unique small businesses at the southern end of the Museum District in Richmond.

Dinner is served! Drive to Croaker’s Spot, a long-time local favorite for great seafood and Nouveau Soul Cuisine.

Ready to relax? There are so many lodging options in Richmond. From the Quirk to the Jefferson to the Graduate, there’s a lodging type for you. Check out all of the options listed here.

DAY THREE: RICHMOND

Order curbside coffee and breakfast (served all day) at Urban Hang Suite, Richmond’s only social cafe nested in the eclectic mix of the Arts District, Downtown and Jackson Ward Communities.

Your next stop – visit the home of Maggie L. Walker. Maggie Lena Mitchell was born in Richmond in July of 1864 to Elizabeth Draper, a formerly enslaved woman. Maggie grew to become the first woman to serve as President of a bank in the United States as well as a dedicated civil rights activist and member of the NAACP board. The Maggie L. Walker National Historical Site contains many of the original furnishings and offers visitors a glimpse into the life of this extraordinary woman.

After breakfast, take a drive around the city to explore the various historical markers honoring those who fought tirelessly to bring justice and equality to all. The first stop is Broad Street between 6th and 7th Streets. The site is that of former Thalhimers department store. On February 20th, 1960, Virginia Union University students entered the Whites Only lunch counter and after being refused service, stayed until the business closed. They were ultimately arrested but their convictions were overturned in 1963. A momentous victory for the civil rights movement!

The next markers, located at the Lewis F. Powell Jr. United States Courthouse, honors Oliver Hill and Spotswood Robison. Both were civil rights attorneys in the Davis v. County School Board of Prince Edward case. This case was one of five cases consolidated into Brown v. Board of Education which deemed the segregation of public schools unconstitutional.

The final marker, located at 1400 Hull Street, recognizes Richmond born activist and trailblazer, Dorothy Height. Height was a paramount advocate for both civil and women’s rights and was awarded both the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1994 and the Congressional Gold Medal in 2004.

For more information, please visit virginia.org/civilrightshistory.

Categories
Blue Ridge Highlands Heart of Appalachia Music The Arts Theater Travel Ideas

Explore Ken Burns’ ‘Country Music’ at These Historic Spots in Virginia

Virginia had an integral role in the history of country music, as evidenced in Ken Burns’ eight-part PBS documentary “Country Music.” From the Birthplace of Country Music in Bristol to the countless musicians who call Virginia home, the options for exploring the history, hometowns, and attractions of Virginia’s country music greats are plentiful around the Commonwealth.

Here are a few ways to experience the history of Virginia’s musical greats.

 

The Crooked Road—Southwest Virginia

The Crooked Road: Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail is a driving trail through Southwest Virginia that takes you through one of the most scenic and culturally unique regions of the United States. It also takes you through some of the most musically significant areas in the U.S. for Bluegrass and Traditional Mountain Music. The trail itself is more than 300 miles, including more than 60 cultural music venues across 19 counties, four independent cities, and more than 50 towns.

 

The Ralph Stanley Museum and Traditional Mountain Music Center—Clintwood

Dr. Stanley passed away in 2016 at the age of 89, but his tradition is alive and well in Southwest Virginia. The definitive repository for Stanley scholarship and celebration can be found in Clintwood at the Ralph Stanley Museum and Traditional Mountain Music Center. The center houses an extensive collection of memorabilia, offering visitors an opportunity to learn about the legend’s life, as well as the history of mountain music. And fans of the genre flock to McClure each Memorial Day for the annual “Hills of Home” bluegrass festival, now organized by Stanley’s son, with spots for camping and three days of fast-picking instrumentalists, including appearances by Ralph Stanley II and the Clinch Mountain Boys.

 

Birthplace of Country Music Museum—Bristol

Rarely can you trace the genesis of an artform definitively to a single event, but the Birthplace of Country Music Museum, an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, does exactly that, celebrating the legacy of the 1927 Bristol Sessions. Commonly referred to as the “Big Bang” of country music, those Bristol Sessions marked the commercial recording debuts of eventual legends like Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter Family, and the BCM, opened in 2014, allows music fans to explore country’s roots via multimedia exhibits, a performance theater, instruments owned by significant figures like Bill Monroe and Johnny Cash, a radio station, a learning center, and more. There’s no telling what the American musical landscape would sound like had Ralph Peer of the Victor Talking Machine Company not set up a temporary recording studio in Bristol that summer, and thanks to the Birthplace of Country Music Museum, we’ll never forget how significant those sessions turned out to be.

 

Blue Ridge Music Center—Galax

With a permanent exhibit detailing “The Roots of American Music” and a stunning amphitheater overlooking the Southeastern Virginia wooded setting, the Blue Ridge Music Center houses fascinating artifacts tracing the evolution of traditional instruments like the banjo and dulcimer alongside emphera and recordings documenting the region’s significant role in the founding of traditional country and bluegrass. Each day the center is open, you can hear Mid-Day Mountain Music from noon to 4 p.m. in the breezeway of the visitor’s center, and the nearby amphitheater plays host to a summer concert series and off-season shows in between. With so much music to soak in, and a picturesque treeline behind the facility, you may just end up kicking back on a rocking chair and soaking in the sounds of one of the most musically and visually beautiful spots you’ll find anywhere.

 

Carter Family Fold—Hiltons

To immerse yourself completely in the Carter Family’s story, head to Hiltons, Virginia and travel along A. P. Carter Highway until you find the Carter Family Fold. Part performance venue, part museum, and part historical site, the Fold offers a one-of-a-kind opportunity to commune with Virginia’s musical roots. The Carter Family Museum is a great place to start — it houses performance attire, memorabilia, and tributes that tell the story of the family’s rise to fame. Just next door, you can step into the A. P. Carter Cabin and Birthplace, which was lovingly restored and relocated with the help of preservationists, archeologists, craftsmen, carpenters, and historians. (Keep an eye out for Johnny Cash’s rocking chair!) And if you’re there on a Saturday, you can wrap up your visit with a concert, held weekly in the main Fold building with a stunning stage, plenty of room for dancing, and accommodating stadium seating.

 

The Lincoln Theatre – Marion

The Lincoln Theatre is a destination unto itself; one step inside the stunning space with its colorful murals and red and gold glow and you’re bound to realize you’re in one of the most gorgeous venues in the state. Not only is it on the National Register of Historic Places, the Marion, Virginia theater is also notable for playing host to “Song of the Mountains,” a PBS-syndicated TV series that’s carried on more than 150 stations across the United States. More than 10 seasons in, Song of the Mountains features some of the finest bluegrass you’ll find anywhere. Past performers have included the Seldom Scene, Ralph Stanley, the Steep Canyon Rangers, and the Grass Cats, and country legends like Doc Watson have also graced the Lincoln Theatre stage. It’s a beloved bluegrass tradition that’s well worth tuning in for or even better, seeing firsthand.

 

Rex Theater—Galax

Opened in 1941, Rex Theater originally functioned as a movie theater, but the historic building screened the last film in the 1980s. After closing, the town of Galax decided to renovate the space and host live bluegrass performances every Friday evening, as well as vintage movie screenings and special events throughout the year.

 

Floyd Country Store—Floyd

This authentic country shop is over 100 years old, and while the Floyd Country Store functions as a general store and restaurant throughout the week, visitors and residents flock the site for the Friday Night Jamborees, featuring gospel, old-time, and bluegrass bands.

 

Patsy Cline House—Winchester

Another notable spot to visit if you’re a music history buff is the historic Patsy Cline House in Winchester. As the first solo female singer in the Grand Ole Opry and the first woman to be inducted in the Country Music Hall of Fame, Cline is an iconic character in the history of Virginia music. Her small home speaks to her modest beginnings, and visitors can pay tribute to the late country star at her final resting place, right outside the city limits in Shenandoah Memorial Park.

All episodes of Ken Burns’ eight-part documentary series, “Country Music” are now streaming on PBS.

 

The Virginia artists featured in Ken Burns’ “Country Music” include:

A.P. Carter (Episode 1,2)
Anita Carter (Episode 3)
Carter Stanley (Episode 3)
Don Reid (The Statler Brothers) (Episode 1,5)
Emmylou Harris (Episode 2, 5, 7, and 8)
Ernst Van “Pop” Stoneman (Episode 1)
Helen Carter (Episode 3)
June Carter (Episode 2, 4, and 5)
Ketch Secor (Old Crow Medicine Show) (Episode 1,2, and 8)
Mac Wiseman (Bluegrass Singer) (Episode 2,3)
Maybelle Carter (Episode 1,2,3,5, and 6)
Patsy Cline (Episode 4,5, and 8)
Ralph Stanley (Episode 3 and 6)
Roy Clark (Hee-Haw) (Episode 5, 6)
Sara Carter (Episode 1,2)
Steve Earl (Episode 8)
The Carter Family (Episode 1,2 and 4)

Contributions to this article made by Davy Jones, Andrew Cothern, and Patricia Keppel.

Categories
Culinary The Holidays Travel Ideas

Holiday Spirits

Are you searching for a holiday gift for your spirited relative or friend? From our 33 Virginia distilleries, to restaurants to tastings and tours or actual recipes, we’ve done the work for you


Memorable Holiday Cocktails

Manhattan (feat. Virginia’s Catoctin Creek Rye)

      • 2 oz. Catoctin Creek Roundstone Rye
      • 1 oz. Sweet Red Italian Vermouth
      • 1 Dash Bitters (Peychaud’s or your favorite)
      • 1 Teaspoon Maraschino Cherry Juice
      • Maraschino Cherry for garnish

Pour into a mixing glass with crushed ice, stir, strain into a cocktail glass, garnish with a Maraschino cherry.

Recipe courtesy of “More Unforgettable Holiday Sips,” Virginia ABC Spirited Virginia magazine
With more than 350 stores in convenient locations throughout the Commonwealth, Virginia ABC is dedicated to providing those age 21 and older with an enjoyable, modern shopping environment. For store locations, visit https://www.abc.virginia.gov/about/find-a-store.

Bloody Mary

Top with a pinch of Crunch Dynasty

Recipe courtesy of Richmond Magazine.

Chocolate Mint Kiss (feat. Bowman’s Deep Run vodka and Richmond’s KISS)

Mix all ingredients and stir well! Enjoy! (Makes 2 drinks)

Recipe and image courtesy of Keep It Simple Syrup
Now that you’ve found either a distillery tour, a Virginia restaurant, or perhaps even a product of your liking, why not include a Virginia is for Lovers barware piece to top it off?
Make your holiday spirit bright!