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4 Places to See Something Unusual in Virginia

4 Places to See Something Unusual in Virginia

While it’s nice to go to the pre-planned sights of interest in Virginia, sometimes you just want to wing it and do something different.

We have a few unusual sights for you to check out at Virginia State Parks that allows you to step out from the status quo to see and do things many others do not. We’re highlighting four interesting, yet unusual things you can see at Virginia State Parks.

And one of the best things about this idea is that it won’t break the bank. Virginia State Parks are affordable destinations, and most charge only a small parking fee, typically $5 for a carload (see fee’s here ).


Saltpeter Cave is found at Natural Bridge State Park and was once leased out for the excavation of potassium nitrate by Thomas Jefferson.

Potassium nitrate was exhumed from the deposits of bird and bat droppings in the soil and was used to make saltpeter which was used in the production of gun powder.

  • The Saltpeter Principal is a common myth that states: The U.S. Army secretly feeds new recruits saltpeter in order to…well…ahem, use it for an “anti-aphrodisiac effect” to neutralize randiness. Snopes says, ” Nope, not true.
  • This colorless chemical compound is found pure in nature as the mineral saltpeter, or nitre. Potassium nitrate is a crystalline salt that resembles table salt. It is used as a diuretic. People have been using potassium nitrate as a cure-all for everything from stomach ailments to arthritis.
  • The cave is cordoned off, so it’s for an exterior look only, if you want to go inside caverns, you can at nearby Natural Bridge Caverns (not affiliated with state parks).



Courtesy of Virginia State Parks

You never know what you will find when you go geocaching. Make unusual discoveries like old growth trees, find unknown scenic lookouts or even buried treasure. It’s said that Blackbeard the Pirate hid his booty in the Bald Cypress Swamp found at First Landing State Park. Its cypress swamps were a source of fresh water for merchant mariners, pirates and military ships during the War of 1812. Legend has it that Blackbeard hid in the Narrows area of the park, and interior waterways were used by Union and Confederate patrols during the Civil War.

Each spring we hide a new set of caches at our parks for you to discover. Plus you have the added benefit of spending time outside enjoying nature and having fun.



Courtesy of Virginia State Parks

A flat-bottomed boat known as the bateau was invented and the Kanawha canal was built to make travel and shipping on the river easier to Richmond. The waters of the James have shaped life in this area’s past and will shape its future. You can see this replica bateau at James River State Park.

  • Inservice c. 1650 – c. 1850. Length from 24 to 50 feet. The bateau was propelled by bateaumen pushing with long sturdy poles.
  • Even though the working bateau is no longer used, historians and river enthusiasts still keep the memory alive. The 33rd annual James River Bateau Festival will be held June 16-23, 2018. An 8-day journey down the James River from Lynchburg to Maidens Landing using recreated late 18th and early 19th century cargo boats called James River Batteaux.
  • George Washington mentioned the bateau in his diary entry, dated April 7, 1791. Unfortunately, none of the original bateaux exist. Replicas of the bateaux have been built around the country and bateau river cruises are available in a number of states.
  • During the period of 1820 to 1840, at least 500 bateaus and 1,500 bateaumen operated on the James River between Lynchburg, Virginia and Richmond.



Courtesy of Virginia State Parks

The Potomac River is well known as a summer home to soaring bald eagles, so Caledon State Park attracts birdwatchers of all ages. But unfortunately each year tons of trash washes up on the shoreline at Caledon State Park. Volunteers work regularly to dispose of this debris properly. But every April we try to make it a little bit more fun as we hold a Trash to Art Contest.

This year the Trash to Treasure Art Contest will be on Saturday April 21, 2018 from noon to 4:00 p.m. at the picnic shelter.

  • Participants will help us clean-up the beach and then use that trash to build a unique piece of art.
  • Judges will pick winners for some cool prizes. Work in teams or by yourself. Co-sponsored by the Fredericksburg Center for Creative Arts. For more information call Caledon at 540-663-3861.

If you would like to learn about our overnight accommodations, please click here or call 800-933-7275. For other fun programs and events at our parks, click here. We hope you can check out these unusual sights in Virginia.


Written by Shellie Anne for Virginia State Parks.

Featured image provided by Courtesy of Virginia State Parks

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The post 4 Places to See Something Unusual in Virginia appeared first on Virginia’s Travel Blog.

About FunRVA

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A Guide to the Great Channels: A One-of-a-Kind Maze of Boulders and Crevices in Southwest Virginia

A Guide to the Great Channels: A One-of-a-Kind Maze of Boulders and Crevices in Southwest Virginia

Tucked away in the verdant depths of the 4,836-acre Channels State Forest is one of Virginia’s best kept secrets and most singular natural wonders. Located in the heart of the vast state forest, in the designated 721-acre Channels Natural Area Preserve, the Great Channels are a 20-acre labyrinth of sandstone formed during the last ice age, stashed away along the 4,208-foot crest of Middle Knob, the high point of Clinch Mountain.

Formed 400 million years ago during the last ice age, the geological formations are likely due to permafrost and ice wedging, which split large seams in the soft sandstone. The Great Channels are an otherworldly experience, like no other place else in the state and reminiscent of the slot canyons and gorges of the American Southwest.

Once off-limits for even the hardiest of hikers, today the Great Channels are accessible courtesy of two different approach routes.

Alan Cressler

The trek to the Great Channels is also one of the newer hikes in the state. In 2004, the Nature Conservancy purchased the nearly 5,000-parcel of land housing the Great Channels from a private owner, and just four years later, through a collaboration with the state, the Channels State Forest was created. Adventure-seeking members of the public have only been able to hike the area for a little over a decade—and until just a few years ago, there was only one route into the hidden sandstone labyrinth.

Classic Adventures

Once off-limits for even the hardiest of hikers, today the Great Channels are accessible courtesy of two different approach routes through the Channels State Forest. Both options end at the top of Middle Knob and offer sweeping 360-degree vistas of the surrounding ridge and valley defined landscape. From there, both descend along the same path into the elaborate network of sandstone formations.

The Channel Trail features an a 11-mile, out-and-back trip with about 2,600-feet of elevation gain.

Alan Cressler

The Channels Trail is the older of the two routes into the Great Channels, and it features an 11-mile, out-and-back trip with about 2,600-feet of elevation gain beginning from the trailhead on Route 689 (just across from Fletcher’s Chapel). Along the 5.5-mile trip to the Great Channels, hikers are treated to a lengthy haul through a leafy swath of the Channels State Forest, a wilderness roamed by black bears and white-tailed deer.

The newer (and significantly shorter) route into the Great Channels is along the 14.6-mile Brumley Mountain Trail. Orchestrated largely by the local non-profit group Mountain Heritage, the four-year-old trail traces a course along the spine of Clinch Mountain, running from Hayters Gap on Route 80 to Hidden Valley Lake, moseying through the Channels Natural Area Preserve, the Channels State Forest, the Brumley Cove Baptist Camp, and the Hidden Valley Wildlife Management Area.

Tackling the Great Channels on the Brumley Mountain Trail, beginning at the parking area on Route 80, requires hikers to traverse the easternmost 3-miles of the regional trail. From Route 80, trekkers have a 6.6-mile out-and-back trip featuring about 1,219-feet of elevation gain. Hikers are delivered to the portal into the Great Channels after about 3 miles of walking.

At the crown of Middle Knob, the Channels Trail and the Brumley Mountain Trail meld in the shadow of a lofty lookout tower and merge into a single route into the Great Channels. If the weather cooperates, views atop Middle Knob can stretch into the high country of North Carolina, as well as showcasing closer summits, like the string of pinnacles along the Clinch Mountain, including 4,689-foot Beartown Mountain.

Secrets of the Park

The Hayters lookout was built by Franklin Roosevelt’s Civilian Conservation Corps in 1939.

Malee Oot

The soaring Hayters Knob Fire Tower, perched atop Middle Knob, may be out of commission for now, but the looming structure has a rich history. The lookout was built by Franklin Roosevelt’s Civilian Conservation Corps in 1939, one of many fire towers constructed throughout the country in that decade at the behest of the Division of Forestry, the forerunner of the Forest Service. The fire tower was operational for just over three decades, finally retired in 1970.

The Channels State Forest and Channels Natural Area Preserve are just two patches on a vast quilt of contiguous wilderness, which includes the adjacent 6,400-acre Hidden Valley Wildlife Management Area and the 25,477-acre Clinch Mountain Wildlife Management Area. The vast expanse of wilderness surrounding the Great Channels offers endless opportunities build an even bigger outdoor adventure out of the trip, including options like fishing the trout-stocked waters of Big Tumbling Creek or paddling Hidden Valley Lake.

Quick Tips: Getting the Most of Your Trip

Hikers should get their bearings – and take note of their route – when delving into the sandstone labyrinth of the Great Channels.

Alan Cressler

Whether hiking to the Great Channels along the Channels Trail or the Brumley Mountain Trail, plan to make a day of the out excursion—and don’t rush. Allow for the added travel time required to navigate gravel backroads and byways, and most importantly, budget ample time to adequately explore the mountain-entombed sandstone labyrinth and to soak up the scenery from Middle Knob.

Both trailheads are on fairly remote stretches of roadway, so be sure to stock up on any last minute essentials for the trail in the nearby town of Saltville.

The trek from the crown of Middle Knob down into the channels is a steep section of trail. Plan to wear shoes with reliable tread and ankle support, and anyone who regularly uses hiking poles may be happy to have the extra stability during the descent.

Hikers should get their bearings and take note of their route when delving into the sandstone labyrinth of the Great Channels. Although the mountain-entombed maze is fairly condensed—spread over just 20 acres—the formations can begin to look familiar and possibly confuse some hikers trying to backtrack to the entrance route.

If tacking on a trip to the Hidden Valley Wildlife Management Area or the Clinch Mountain Wildlife Management Area, keep in mind both are fee areas requiring a $4 access permit, available for purchase from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.

For hikers hoping to make an overnight escape out of their foray into the Great Channels, camping is not permitted in the Channels State Forest, the Channels Natural Area Preserve, or anywhere along the Brumley Mountain Trail. However, there are opportunities for primitive camping in both the Hidden Valley Wildlife Management Area and the Clinch Mountain Wildlife Management Area.

Written by Malee Baker Oot for RootsRated Media in partnership with Abingdon.

Featured image provided by Alan Cressler

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The post A Guide to the Great Channels: A One-of-a-Kind Maze of Boulders and Crevices in Southwest Virginia appeared first on Virginia’s Travel Blog.

About FunRVA

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Top 10 State Parks in Virginia According to Trip Advisor

Top 10 State Parks in Virginia According to Trip Advisor

We love all of our state parks here in Virginia, but there seems to be a tipping of the scale in the direction of a few according to Trip Advisor, maybe they are just most visited, or real hidden gems. But it might surprise you that they aren’t all located on a body of water.

Thanks to the many park guests who write reviews, we have compiled this list with quotes from Trip Advisor of the Top 10 Virginia State Parks.



Near Mount Rogers and Whitetop Mountain, Virginia’s two highest mountains, Grayson Highlands offers scenic views of alpine-like peaks more than 5,000 feet high. There’s a visitor center, campgrounds, and hiking trails leading to waterfalls and overlooks.

Scenic horse trails and a horse camping area with electric and water hookups, stables and parking for trailers are available.

The park also provides year-round access to the Appalachian Trail and the Virginia Highlands Horse Trail.

Check them out:

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From sunset paddles to catching citation Bass there’s plenty outside recreation here

Courtesy of Virginia State Parks


Located on the shores of the second largest freshwater lake in the state, this picturesque park is the water enthusiast’s paradise.

There are plenty of water activities, including swimming, boat rentals, a boat ramp and a universally accessible fishing pier.

Families can also enjoy picnicking, a visitor center, an amphitheater, special programs, camping, miles of trails and cabins with boat docks.


Hiking, biking and swimming are just a short list of the fun activities

Courtesy of Virginia State Parks


Has long been known as a family favorite for beautiful woodlands and a placid 108-acre lake in the heart of the mountains.

Hungry Mother has a sandy beach with bathhouse, boat rentals (fishing, canoe, kayak and paddle), a boat launch and a universally accessible fishing pier.

Guests also enjoy its campgrounds, cabins, yurts, gift shops, visitor center, six-bedroom family lodge that sleeps 15, hiking and biking trails, and restaurant. Also popular for nature-based park programs for all ages.


From fossil walks to mountain bike races, this park is a fabulous day trip destination

Courtesy of Virginia State Parks


Well-known for its rare and delicate estuarine environment, where freshwater and saltwater meet to create a rich habitat for marine and plant life.

Programs, activities and visitor center displays focus on the history, use, wildlife and preservation of the York River and its marshes. With more than 30 miles of hiking, mountain biking and equestrian trails allow guests to explore the marsh, river shoreline and forests.

There is also a boat ramp, fresh and salt water fishing spots, a fishing pier, playgrounds, picnic shelters, and seasonal boat and recreational equipment rentals are available.


From Cypress Swamps to Chesapeake Bay beach access, and is located in Virginia Beach

Courtesy of Virginia State Parks


First Landing offers many recreational and educational activities and has many unusual habitats including bald cypress swamps, lagoons and maritime forest, as well as rare plants and wildlife.

Cabins, water and electric hook-up campsites, picnic areas, boat ramps and a camp store with bicycle rentals are also available.

This park has been called an oasis within the urban setting of Virginia Beach. Escape the busyness of the city and walk, hike or bike one of our many trails, we have 10 of them with over 20 miles to enjoy.


In the heart of Virginia, this park offers hours of outside fun for the whole family

Courtesy of Virginia State Parks


Offering boating, picnicking, camping, camping cabins, 64-plus miles of trails, and nature and history programs. The Aquatic Center affords seasonal water-based activities for all, and a great way to cool off when the temperatures soar.

Summertime, bring a lawn chair or blanket and enjoy live performances by Pocahontas Premieres featuring rising and established performers from across the state at the park’s Amphitheatre.

Three lakes offer plenty of fishing. Rent paddleboats, stand-up paddleboards, canoes, kayaks and rowboats seasonally by the 225-acre Swift Creek Lake. Have your camera handy, as this park is a favorite for wildlife photography.


A natural tunnel carved out of limestone and nearly as tall as a 10-story building

Courtesy of Virginia State Parks


More than 850 feet long and as tall as a 10-story building, Natural Tunnel was naturally carved through a limestone ridge over thousands of years.

Facilities include two campgrounds, cabins, picnic areas, an amphitheater, a visitor center, a camp store and a gift shop. You’ll also find the Wilderness Road historic area, a swimming pool with a 100-foot slide and a seasonal chairlift to the tunnel floor.

Wild Cave Tours are available from April 1 through October each year.


Step back in history when you visit this working farm along the shores of the historic James River

Courtesy of Virginia State Parks


Is one of the oldest continually farmed plantations in the country and a working farm since 1619. Visitors tour the historic area with its antebellum mansion and outbuildings, stroll through formal gardens, and view antique equipment at the Chippokes Farm and Forestry Museum.

There is a wonderful campground and four overnight cabins allow visitors to stay on the historic grounds. The park has an Olympic-sized swimming pool and a neat visitor center. It also provides opportunities to bike, hike, ride horseback and picnic.

One favorite feature of this park is the access to the Historic James River, where you can kayak, beachcomb for fossils and spot wildlife.


The bridge is more than 2,400 feet long and 125 feet above the Appomattox River

Courtesy of Virginia State Parks


The trail is 31 miles long and wonderful for hiking, bicycling and horseback riding. Once a rail bed, the trail is wide, level and generally flat. You won’t want to miss the park’s centerpiece, the majestic High Bridge, which is more than 2,400 feet long and 125 feet above the Appomattox River.

It is the longest recreational bridge in Virginia and one of the longest in the United States. You can rent bikes in nearby Farmville, and there is convenient parking in two lots nearest the bridge.

The park is open dawn to dusk, but there are unique park programs throughout the year that allow after-hours access like a Firefly Festival, special Astronomy evenings, and even one overnight of camping opportunity on the bridge.


Concrete ships located off the waterfront offer some of Virginia’s finest fishing and birding

Courtesy of Virginia State Parks


On the beautiful Eastern Shore of Virginia, explored by Capt. John Smith in 1608, Kiptopeke offers recreational access to the Chesapeake Bay. The concrete ships located off the park’s waterfront offer some of Virginia’s finest fishing, and you can fish right off the lighted fishing pier.

This park has newer cabins, lodges, yurt, and a campground close to picnic area and playground.

It’s also a great place to explore unique migratory bird habitat along the Atlantic flyway. Seasonal interpretive and educational programs** focus on natural history, birding and bay ecology.


There are so many review sites out there, so by all means don’t take this list as gospel, but it’s a good start. We recommend you visit as many Virginia State Parks as you like to make your own top 10 list, then share it with us. Follow this link to our Facebook page.

Call the reservation center to inquire about overnight accommodations in cabins, campgrounds and yurts at 800-933-7275. Click here to view a map of all Virginia State Parks.


Written by Shellie Anne for Virginia State Parks.

Featured image provided by Courtesy of Virginia State Parks

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Virginia Cider Week

Virginia Cider Week

Virginia Cider Week Logo

Virginia Cider Week 2018

You have likely heard about Virginia’s ever-growing wine industry and burgeoning craft beer industry, but you may not know that Virginia also has a diverse and growing hard cider industry too.

In fact, hard cider is becoming so popular in Virginia that an entire week in November has been dedicated to it. Gather your friends and family and prepare to be blown away as you enjoy cider dinners, pairings and mixology throughout the state during Virginia Cider Week, November 9-18


Albemarle CiderWorks

Albemarle CiderWorks

If you want a taste of Virginia hard cider for yourself, check out the following Virginia cideries:

• The Shelton family runs Vintage Virginia, an apple tree nursery, and ferments their own hard cider at Albemarle CiderWorks, just south of Charlottesville, Virginia, the family business started as an orchard in 2000, and their cider business launched in the summer of 2009.
Bold Rock Hard Cider started serving cider back in May and now distributes cider from Galax to Leesburg to Virginia Beach.
• A historic barn used to auction cattle now is the home of Castle Hill’s cider fermenting facility, tasting room and events space. Castle Hill Cider started serving cider in their tasting room in Keswick Virginia back in July 2011 and they now have five ciders – one still and four sparkling.
• Twenty-five minutes outside of Floyd, Virginia, Foggy Ridge Cider has been growing apples specifically for cider production since 1998 and has been selling hard cider since 2006. They grow varieties such as Harrison, Hewe’s Crabapple, Roxbury Russets and Ashmead’s Kernel.
Old Hill Cider has a blend of apples heavily based on Albemarle Pippin, Stayman and Winesaps. Shannon Showalter’s orchard, which has been in his family since the mid-60s, is just 30 minutes north of Harrisonburg, Va. The 40-acre orchard produces 26 varieties. The farm boasts more than just cider – pick-your-own apples and sweet cider, as well as apple cider donuts.
• Not too far outside of Charlottesville you can find old college buddies Tim Edmund and Dan Potter, of Potter’s Craft Cider, bottling their Farmhouse Dry cider in their two-room production facility, an old horse veterinary clinic that they renovated to accommodate their booming cider business. These home brewers turned their hobby into a viable business venture in fall 2010, and since their cider has been picked up on keg and in bottles by bars, restaurants and groceries throughout Central Virginia.

See even more cideries here.


The post Virginia Cider Week appeared first on Virginia’s Travel Blog.

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10 Easy Bike Routes in Virginia’s Blue Ridge

10 Easy Bike Routes in Virginia’s Blue Ridge

Surprise! Casual coasting and site-seeing on two wheels is available in the Roanoke Valley in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. The long shadows cast in the afternoon and evening sun are refreshingly cool, which makes the adventure all the more enjoyable.

While we may be known as the U.S. East Coast Mountain Biking Capital and home to world-class road biking, there are also plenty of opportunities for beginner-level riders.

Bring your bike or rent one and let’s get moving along these 10 easy bike routes.

1. Carvins Cove – Happy Valley Fire Road | Roanoke

At about 16 miles from one end to the other and back, this is an easy, rolling ride that includes beautiful scenery along the way. The fire road connects all of the lower bike trails at Carvins Cove.

> > Carvins Cove: Your Adventure Playground

2. Salem Bike Route | Salem

This 11-mile road course loop meanders through downtown Salem to show off some history and then follows the Roanoke River for a good dose of natural beauty.

3. Greenfield Recreation Trail | Troutville

One of four trails around Greenfield Recreation Park, the namesake trail is a little over three miles long. The trail loops around the perimeter of the park, taking in the views of the 125 acres and beyond.

4. Roanoke River Greenway | Roanoke

Families and biking newbies can ride the slow pace of the Roanoke River Greenway, a beautiful stretch of paved trail that parallels the Roanoke River and loops in and around municipal parks. Multiple parking areas and even bike rental companies, such as Roanoke Mountain Adventures and UnderDog Bikes, make this an easy Blue Ridge Day of fresh air.

> > 5 Ways to Explore Virginia’s Blue Ridge

5. Tinker Creek Greenway | Roanoke


A post shared by Nicholas Buehring (@nbuehring) on May 3, 2017 at 5:33am PDT

The Tinker Creek Greenway is short and starts at Fallon Park before reaching the Roanoke River. Care to stretch this leg? Connect with the Roanoke River Greenway and ride on!

6. Hanging Rock Battlefield Trail | Salem

A gravel trail, the Hanging Rock Battlefield Trail is an easy out-and-back that include interpretive signage regarding the Civil War history of the Battle of Hanging Rock. Be sure to see the Battle of Hanging Rock monument as well.

7. Claytor Lake State Park | Dublin

Four miles of trails are available at Claytor Lake State Park. They’re easy and wonderfully family friendly, looping from campground to campground and offering views of Claytor Lake.

8. What a Day Trail & Fitness Trail – Waid Recreation Area | Rocky Mount

The “What a Day Trail” and the “Fitness Trail” are both ADA Accessible, which means their three total miles are only open to hikers and bikers, and are an easier experience for those with motor disabilities and impairments and the caretakers who accompany them. All abilities of adventure seekers and nature lovers will adore these two trails.

> > 8 Spots for Mountain Biking & Beer

9. Lick Run Greenway | Roanoke

Part of the Roanoke Valley Greenway trail system, Lick Run Greenway is a 3.5-mile point-to-point trail that travels between downtown Roanoke and Huff Lane Park near Valley View Mall. The trail goes through Washington and Brown Robertson Parks.

10. Wolf Creek Greenway | Vinton

Another of the Roanoke Valley Greenway trail system, Wolf Creek is a little over two miles long and stretches through Goode and Stonebridge Parks before reaching the Blue Ridge Parkway. You’ll find the shaded trail quite enjoyable with plenty of wildlife and domestic animals along the way.

Map of Locations

Looking for more routes to try? Take a look at our Greenways and additional bike routes.

Written by Casey L. Higgins for Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge.

Featured image provided by Courtesy of Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge

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About FunRVA

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7 Virginia Cocktails from Our Soul to Yours

7 Virginia Cocktails from Our Soul to Yours


September is Virginia Spirits Month!

Here in Virginia, we take pride in our hand-crafted spirits. We’re also the Birthplace of American Spirits with the first batch of whiskey being distilled right here in 1620. We now have over 70 distilleries making some of the finest whiskey, bourbon, vodka, moonshine and liqueurs in the United States. Don’t believe us? Give them a try.

Here are seven recipes from our soul to yours. Enjoy responsibly.



Whether you’ve just returned from a fox hunt or are just looking to unwind after a long day, you’ll definitely enjoy this classic, courtesy of Tarnished Truth.

  • 2 oz Tarnished Truth 9-Year Bourbon
  • ¾ oz Grapefruit Juice
  • ¾ oz Honey Simple Syrup
  • French Tarragon

Combine bourbon, grapefruit juice and simple syrup in a shaker. Add ice and shake. Double strain with Hawthorne strainer into chilled coupe glass. Garnish with French tarragon.



Cousin to the Moscow Mule, this refreshing cocktail is perfect on warm summer nights. If ginger beer is too spicy for you, we recommend giving locally-produced Northern Neck Ginger Ale a try instead!

  • 1 ½ oz Ironclad Small Batch Bourbon Whiskey
  • Ginger beer
  • 3 dashes of Angosture bitters or Fee Brothers Black Walnut bitters
  • Fresh lime

Build in the glass with ice. Top with ginger beer and a squeeze of lime. Garnish with a lime slice.



For those who like the sweeter things in life, A. Smith Bowman Distillery’s twist on an old fashioned is a combination of smooth and delicious that’ll have you making another… and another.

  • 2 oz Bowman Brothers Bourbon
  • ¼ oz Maple Syrup
  • 4 Dashes of Peychaud’s Bitters
  • Orange Peel

Combine bourbon, maple syrup and bitters. Stir until maple syrup is dissolved. Add ice. Garnish with orange peel.



– Photo Credit: Revel Photography –

One summer cocktail that’s loved all year round, this Ragged Branch specialty gives an island cocktail a bourbon kick. They say it’s like relaxing on a beach in the mountains.

  • 2 oz Ragged Branch Wheated Bourbon
  • 1 oz Pineapple Gomme
  • ¼ oz Campari
  • 1 oz Fresh Lime juice
  • Pineapple leaf
  • Blueberries

Add all into shaker and strain into a rocks glass. Garnish with pineapple leaf and blueberry if desired. 



The folks at Cirrus Vodka are serious about their vodka, and the crisp Cucumber Cruiser is evidence of that. Muddle in a mint leaf or two for something extra refreshing in the warmer months.

  • 2 oz Cirrus Vodka
  • 1 lime, squeezed
  • Juice of 2 cucumber wheels, blended with water and strained
  • 1 oz agave nectar

Muddle then shake with ice. Add a splash of soda and serve over ice. Garnish with thinly sliced cucumber wheels.



– Photo Credit: Revel Photography –

We’ve seen some crazy Bloody Marys here in Virginia, but for those looking to master the basics, Blue Sky Distillery has a simple (but delicious) take on this brunch staple.

  • 1 ½ oz Blue Sky Dog Star Vodka
  • 2 oz tomato juice
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • ¾ tsp horseradish sauce
  • 3 dashes of Tabasco sauce
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 dash of freshly ground pepper
  • Celery
  • Olives

Combine vodka, tomato juice, Worcestershire sauce, horseradish sauce, Tabasco sauce, salt and pepper into a stirring glass. Mix and pour over ice. Garnish with celery and olives if desired.



– Photo Credit: Revel Photography –

Trying to impress some friends at your next cocktail party? Our friends over at Boar Creek have put an Appalachian twist on this big-city classic that’s sure to be a crowd-pleaser.

  • 2 oz Boar Creek Whiskey
  • 1 oz Sweet Vermouth
  • 3-4 Dashes of Bitters
  • Orange peel
  • Luxardo Cherry

Combine in stirring glass, mix and pour. Garnish with orange peel and luxardo cherry.

It’s five o’clock for 30 days! Find tastings and events all month long. Whether you’re visiting a Virginia distillery or savoring a new — or old favorite — cocktail, we want you to show your Virginia spirit by using the hashtag #VaSpiritsMonth throughout September.

The post 7 Virginia Cocktails from Our Soul to Yours appeared first on Virginia’s Travel Blog.

About FunRVA

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The 8 Best Biking Trails in Southwest Virginia

The 8 Best Biking Trails in Southwest Virginia

Simply put, riding a bike is a smile-inducing escape from the stress of everyday life. And no matter how you like to ride, Southwest Virginia is filled with a wide variety of options to put a smile on your face. The centrally located Abingdon, Virginia, is the logical hub in this region to launch your two-wheel adventure. It’s close to several major bike trails, and offers bike rentals and outfitters, hotels and bed & breakfast spots, downtown shops and restaurants, and post-ride entertainment options to make for a fine cycling getaway. Here are eight of the best biking routes in the region to get you acquainted with the near endless cycling possibilities found here, whether you’re looking for mountain biking trails, a road ride or a mixed-use bike path.

1. Iron Mountain Trail

Distance from Abingdon: 14 miles

Mileage: Approximately 24 miles one way

Difficulty: Moderate/Difficult

The Iron Mountain Trail is an amazing backcountry ridge trail that, when shuttled one way from Hurricane Mountain to the trail town of Damascus, makes for more than 20 miles of technical downhill-trending singletrack. Big oak forests, rocky and root-laden technical sections, au-natural berms, scenic vistas, and even a few rollers make this one of the best mountain bike trails in the entire state. You’ll also find a lot of options for loops using various other trails and forest service roads found in the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area.

2. Seven Sisters Trail

Distance from Abingdon: 65 miles

Mileage: 5.5 miles

Difficulty: Moderate/Difficult

The Seven Sisters Trail is a well-guarded secret among local mountain bike aficionados. Although there are lots of options in the area for creating big loops using forest service roads, jeep tracks, and some pavement to tie into Seven Sisters; the real prize of the area is the 5.5-mile trail named for the seven mini peaks that one will ride up and down along the ridge. Expect steep, punchy climbs that sometimes test your ability to get traction, coupled with just as steep and feverishly fast descents split up by backcountry flow sections that separate the peaks.

3. Crystal Springs Recreation Area

Life is oh so joyful.

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Distance from Abingdon: 59 miles

Mileage: 13 miles of trails

Difficulty: Easy/Moderate/Difficult

The Crystal Springs Recreation Area, located in Wytheville, Virginia, is a relatively new town-owned park that caters to mountain bikers. Along with its stellar trail portfolio, the park features a bike wash station and plenty of spots for a post-ride picnic. The trails run the full gamut from very technical riding found on the Boundary Trail and the High Rocks Spur Trail to easier riding found on the Crystal Springs Loop Trail and various other spur trails. There’s a little bit of everything out here—rocks, rhodo-tunnels, creek crossings, technical rooty sections, and loamy dirt sections.

4. Heart of Appalachia Bike Trail

Distance from Abingdon: 39 miles

Mileage: 128 miles

Difficulty: Difficult

The Heart of Appalachia Bike Trail is a bike tour through some of the most amazing scenery found in Southwest Virginia. Along the way cyclists need to be prepared for a bit of everything including back roads, rail-trails, gravel roads, and singletrack. Riders will cross over scenic rivers, through Jefferson National Forest, by countless tracts of mountain valley farmland and even over a swinging bridge. There are ample spots to resupply and even make a mid-ride pub stop. Camping or lodging is available along the route if one wants to break this up into two days. It is truly a tour-de-force of the best of the region and widely praised as a must-do adventure tour by many cyclists in the state.

5. Virginia Creeper Trail

Today’s been creepy

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Distance from Abingdon: 0 miles

Mileage: 34 miles

Difficulty: Easy

The Virginia Creeper Trail is considered one of the best rail-trail bike routes in the entire nation, and for good reason. The trail is extremely beginner friendly and with the abundance of resupply points, outfitter shuttle services, and post-ride dinner options, it has become a favorite vacation of many families and recreational cyclists. Along the way, riders will have their senses dazzled by the beautiful pastoral farmlands, the rolling Appalachian hills in the distance, and the hum of the beautiful White Top Laurel Creek. Many cyclists will take a shuttle to the end of the trail at Whitetop Station and take the mostly downhill route back to the pick up point.

6. New River Trail

Distance from Abingdon: Approximately 80 miles

Mileage: 57 miles

Difficulty: Easy

The New River Trail is located within the linear New River State Park. It is a classic rails-to-trails bike path that parallels the New River for most of the trail. Like the Virginia Creeper Trail, this ride is a good option for family outings and recreational riders. Along the way bikers will cross many bridges and a couple of tunnels. Access points are easy to find, and there are options for primitive camping along the trail for those that are interested in an overnight adventure.

7. Burkes Garden Century

Distance from Abingdon: 62 miles

Mileage: 100

Difficulty: Moderate

The Burkes Garden Century is an actual event that is put on by the New River Valley Bicycle Association each August, but many cyclists ride this route on their own. The route is notoriously novice-friendly for folks seeking out their first century. Expect gentle grades for most of the ride with the exception of moderately steep climbs and descents in Burkes Garden. Along the way, riders will get long-range views of rolling farmlands and be pleasantly surprised by the interesting topography found in the crater like valley of Burkes Garden.

8. Big Walker National Scenic Byway Ride

What a view from Crystal Springs Recreation Area! #Wytheville #outdoors #hike

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Distance from Abingdon: 55 miles

Mileage: Approximately 50 miles

Difficulty: Moderate

The Big Walker National Scenic Byway ride uses Jefferson National Forest, the Stony Fork Recreation area, and both Little Walker and Big Walker Mountains. Expect a fair amount of rollers climbing up from Stony Fork to Little Walker and then a tough climb up onto Big Walker. At the top of Big Walker Mountain there is a general store with great food and an old observation tower that is worth climbing up to soak up the 360 degree views of the region. The descent off Big Walker Mountain is fast and twisty making for a riotous good time.

Written by Joe DeGaetano for RootsRated in partnership with Abingdon.

Featured image provided by Joe DeGaetano

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The post The 8 Best Biking Trails in Southwest Virginia appeared first on Virginia’s Travel Blog.

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Your Dining Guide to Southwest Virginia, Part 1

Your Dining Guide to Southwest Virginia, Part 1


Southwest Virginia is known for its mountainous terrain and scenic rural landscapes, but due to the rolling pastures and bucolic farmland, you’ll find that fresh produce and locally sourced ingredients are always on the table at restaurants in Southwest Virginia. Containing 18 counties and dozens of hidden foodie gems, Southwest Virginia is a massive graphic area too big to cover in one article, so stay tuned for Part 2 of the Southwest Virginia Dining Guide.



white birch juice and food restaurant abingdon

White Birch Food & Juice Bar, Abingdon—Locally focused juice bar serving cold-pressed juices, healthy juice shots, and craft smoothies along with healthy menus for breakfast, lunch, brunch, and dinner.

Mojo’s Trailside Café & Coffee House, Damascus—Coffee shop in Damascus, a small community directly on the Appalachian Trail, that offers gourmet coffee drinks, smoothies, small plates, and sweet treats.

Gillies Restaurant, Blacksburg—Restaurant near Virginia Tech campus serving traditional breakfast fare like pancakes and scrambles as well as Southwestern dishes like the breakfast burrito or lighter breakfast items including granolas and yogurts.

More Breakfast Places:


—FOR BRUNCH—draper mercantile french toast

Draper Mercantile Restaurant, Draper—Restaurant at the historic Draper Mercantile Trading Co. Sunday brunch made from scratch using local, organic ingredients whenever possible.

622 North, Blacksburg—Restaurant, wine lounge, and bar in a beautifully renovated Victorian home in Blacksburg’s historic Downtown District. Saturday & Sunday brunch with dishes like the Pancake Club Sandwich, Kentucky Hot Brown made with French toast, and Chicken & Waffles.

More Brunch Restaurants:


—FOR LUNCH—Burger Bar

Burger Bar, Bristol—Classic diner in Downtown Bristol that has been crafting fresh, juicy burgers since 1942. Also known for their homemade milkshakes.

Wolfe’s BBQ, Marion—Barbecue restaurant serving sliced brisket, ribs, chopped pork, and smoked chicken paired with classic Southern sides including homemade coleslaw, mac & cheese, fried okra, collard greens, and hushpuppies.

Al’s on First, Pulaski—Casual dining spot on the first floor of the Jackson Park Inn. Menu focuses on Southern charm and homestyle cooking.

More Lunch Locations:



The Palisades Restaurant

Palisades Restaurant, Eggleston—Contemporary Southern restaurant located in the former Pyne’s General Story, a historic landmark building. Source most of their meats, fish, and produce from nearby purveyors in the New River Valley, providing fresh fare whiles supporting local businesses. 

Graze on Main, Wytheville—Eclectic restaurant in the Bolling Wilson Hotel that focuses on classic fare with a Southern twist. Casual but elegant dining option in Wytheville.

Harvest Table Restaurant, Meadowview—Creative menu utilizing seasonal ingredients from local sources to serve healthy dishes. Pasture-raised meats, seafood responsibly harvest from the Virginia & North Carolina shores, and produce grown on their own Harvest Table Farm. On-site store carries foods and goods from local farmers and artisans.

More Dinner Destinations:



Blackbird Bakery

Blackbird Bakery, Bristol—24-hour bakery (Closed Sundays) in Downtown Bristol known for their wide array of homemade pastries, desserts, and specialty beverages.

Southern Sweets, Abingdon—Family-owned bakery that makes cupcakes, cakes, cookies, pies, truffles, and a variety of sweet treats daily.

Mockingbird Café, Christiansburg—Made-from-scratch bistro focusing on fresh cakes, cupcakes, pastries, and cookies, as well as serving an all-day breakfast and full lunch menu.

More Dessert Spots:


—FOR COCKTAILS—Sister's American Grill at the Martha Washington

Sisters at the Martha, Abingdon—Restaurant & classic bar in the lower level of the Martha Washington Inn in Downtown Abingdon.

The Speakeasy, Marion—Restaurant & bar in the historic General Francis Marion Hotel crafting specialty cocktails.

Rain, Abingdon—Modern restaurant and bar that highlights local ingredients. Serves classic cocktails with a twist.

More Cocktail Bars:



wolf hills brewing abingdon

Wolf Hills Brewing Company, Abingdon—Award-winning craft brewery in historic Abingdon that brews a wide selection of craft beers, including lagers, ales, pilsners, porters, wheats, IPAs, and more.

Studio Brew, Bristol—Downtown Bristol taproom and full-service restaurant. In addition to 20+ creative craft beers, the brewery is known for its homemade craft root beer and wood-fired pizzas.

Creek Bottom Brewery, Galax—Small-batch brewery, restaurant, and craft beer market that produces six year-round craft beers and multiple seasonal ales.

More Craft Breweries:


—FOR WINE LOVERS—Iron Heart Winery at Fariss Farms

Iron Heart Winery, Allisonia—Family-owned farm, winery, and overnight retreat nestled in the Appalachian Mountains. Currently producing Vidal Blanc, Riesling, Rose, Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay, and Chambourcin wines.

The Chateau Morrisette Winery, Floyd—Pet-friendly winery in the Blue Ridge Mountains open seven days a week for tastings April-December and Friday through Sunday January-March. Try The Black Dog, a popular red wine blend at the winery.

Stanburn Winery, Stuart—Southwestern Virginia winery that produces Chardonnay, Traminette, Cabernet Franc, and several other varietals. Several wines have won bronze and silver medals in the Virginia’s Governor’s Cup.

More Wine Locales:


Visit these restaurants, breweries, wineries, and more in Southwest Virginia, and find more awesome food experiences around the Commonwealth to eat & drink what you love in Virginia!


More Foodie Inspiration for Virginia Destinations:



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The Complete Guide to Water Sports on South Holston Lake

The Complete Guide to Water Sports on South Holston Lake

Lakes are scarce in the Old Dominion state, making watery expanses like Southwest Virginia’s South Holston Lake particularly precious. Spreading along the western edge of the Appalachian Mountains, the 7,850-acre lake is shared by Virginia and Tennessee, and is easily accessible from towns throughout Southwest Virginia, including Abingdonand Bristol. Besides being among Virginia’s more sizeable reservoirs, South Holston Lake is also one of the most picturesque. Almost two-thirds of the lake is fringed by the Cherokee National Forest, providing boaters and paddlers a serene natural backdrop. South Holston Lake is also a hotspot for wildlife, from rare songbirds to largemouth bass. There are plenty of ways to enjoy stunning South Holston Lake, so here’s the complete guide to recreational opportunities on the water.


Peppered with intriguing islands, secluded coves, and expansive stretches of forest-fringed shoreline, South Holston Lake gives kayakers, canoeists, and stand-up paddleboarders plenty to explore. Besides the scenic backdrop, the lake is also a hotspot for wildlife. Paddlers have the chance to spot wood ducks floating on the surface of water, cautious green heron wading in the shallows, and bald eagles soaring overhead. Beyond the birds, the lake also supports plenty of other wildlife to keep perceptive paddlers entertained, including northern water snakes, turtles, and muskrats.

Recreational paddlers headed for South Holston Lake have plenty of options for hitting the water, including the Washington County Park in Abingdon. Two public boat launches are operated by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF), and visiting paddlers can rent kayaks or stand-up paddleboards at the Sportsmans Marina in Abingdon. Kayakers still itching for a little moving water can also explore the nearby North Fork of the Holston River, a hotspot for smallmouth bass. The Mendota, Virginia, based outfitter Adventure Mendota rents kayak for self-guided paddling trips on the North Fork of the Holston, and offers shuttle services.


There’s something especially restorative about swimming in a pristine mountain lake. For sun-worshippers in search of a perfect spot for a swim, there’s the Jacob’s Creek Recreation Area. Spread over a secluded peninsula on the eastern side of the lake in the Cherokee National Forest, the recreation area features a family-friendly swimming area, and a waterside trail perfect for a brief leg-stretcher before hitting the beach. Or turn a day trip to the lake into an overnight excursion and grab one of the recreation area’s 27 campsites.


South Holston Lake is a big draw for area anglers. The reservoir is loaded with sought after sportfish, including smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, white bass, crappie, and walleye, in addition to foraging fish, like gizzard shad and alewives. Other alluring species include monstrous channel catfish, common carp, and quillback. Plus, the lake is also stocked with brown, rainbow, and lake trout. Visiting anglers heading to the South Holston Lake can stock up on gear—and get the scoop from locals in the know—at the Virginia Creeper Fly Shop in Abingdon. Anyone hoping to fish the dual-state lake must pick up an annual South Holston Fishing License ($21 per year).

Underwater Adventures

While South Holston Lake has ample acreage for paddlers to explore, there’s also plenty to see beneath the surface. The lake is also a hotspot for local scuba divers, a mountain-framed alternative to the Caribbean. Adventure Diving, based in Bristol, Tennessee, just 20 minutes from South Holston Lake, offers private open-water classes for beginning scuba divers.

Recreational Boating

Relax en este lago en Tennessee…

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Recreational boaters have plenty to explore, including 23.2 river miles of water and 182 miles of shoreline. There are a handful of marinas scattered over the lakeshore in both Virginia and Tennessee offering launch and storage facilities, in addition to daily pontoon rentals. The regional options on the South Holston Lake for boaters in Southwest Virginia include the Sportsmans Marina in Abingdon, Virginia and the Laurel Marina & Yacht Club, the Painter Creek Marina, and the Friendship Resort and Marina in Bristol, Tennessee.

The Lake for Landlubbers

You don’t have to hit the water to enjoy the South Holston Lake region. The Virginia Creeper Trail—a nationally-recognized rail-trail running for 34.3 miles from Abingdon to Whitetop Station—crosses the northernmost fringes of the lake just west of the Alvarado Station. For birders and wildlife enthusiasts, the VDGIF South Holston Birding & Wildlife Trail is a drivable loop with several fauna-loaded stops scattered along the lake.

Practical Information

Just 20 minutes north of South Holston Lake, the historic town of Abingdon is loaded with cultural attractions and lodging options, including the Martha Washington Inn and Spa, which dates back to the early 19th Century. For those who like to sleep under the stars, Abingdon offers the seasonal campground at the Washington County Park. Plus, the town is loaded with post-adventure hangouts, like the Wolf Hills Brewing Company. It’s the perfect basecamp for enjoying any of the outdoor activities in the region as well as spending time on the lake.

Written by Malee Baker Oot for RootsRated Media in partnership with Abingdon.

Featured image provided by Dan Grogan

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A Historic Day in Va Beach

A Historic Day in Va Beach

As the landing site for our country’s first settlers, and only about an hour away from the Historic Triangle of Yorktown, Jamestown and Williamsburg, the foundations of our country began right here. With a multitude of historic sites to explore, bring the family along for a historic day together in Virginia Beach.

Begin your day the right way with breakfast at Doc Taylor’s at the oceanfront. The old seaside doctor’s office is cranking out delicious diner-style breakfast favorites that will get you off on the right foot. Let your breakfast settle as you explore the resort area’s most historic buildings, the Virginia Beach Surf and Rescue Museum, the Atlantic Wildfowl Museum and the “Grand Dame of the Shore,” the Cavalier Hotel.

Next, make your way down to Pungo for a beacon of aviation history at the renowned Military Aviation Museum. Take in the largest collection of WWI and WWII-era planes that have all incredibly been restored to flying condition.

Jump into the afternoon by exploring some of VB’s most historic homes, including theAdam Thoroughgood House, Francis Land House, Adam Keeling House and the Lynnhaven House, then grab some beers at Commonwealth Brewing Company, an old firehouse-turned-brewery. With a rotating food truck lineup, get a bite to eat while you’re at it.

Finish out your afternoon by retracing the steps of our forefathers at First Landing State Park. Head over to Fort Story to check out the First Landing Cross, which commemorates the first settler’s arrival, and climb up the 191 steps of the historic Cape Henry Lighthouse, the first lighthouse authorized by the U.S. Government in 1792. The climb may be hard, but the view from the top is well worth it.

Top the evening off with a sunset walk along the Chesapeake Bay where legend has it, Blackbeard buried his plundered treasure before fleeing incoming Navy ships!

Written by The Virginia Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau for Visit Virginia Beach.

Featured image provided by Courtesy of Virginia Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau

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Your Guide to Dining in the Shenandoah Valley

Your Guide to Dining in the Shenandoah Valley

An agricultural hub, the Shenandoah Valley is the best place for authentic farm-to-table culinary experiences. From down-home cooking to authentic Italian and Mexican cuisine, there is something for everyone. Family farms, wineries and breweries can be found in every county across the Shenandoah Valley. Self-guided trails such as the Fields of Gold Farm Trail, Shenandoah Beerwerks Trail and Shenandoah Spirits Trail are a great way to explore the valley and experience some its culinary delights.



– Photo Credit: Kate Simon –

Stella Bella & Lucy’sBreakfast and lunch served in a unique setting with vintage items and artwork for sale. Destination point for the Artisan Trail of Virginia.

Cinnamon Bear Bakery and DeliServes sensational salads, scrumptious sandwiches/wraps, and a great soup of the day and sandwich combo. Breakfast is served all day.

The Artful Dodger Eclectic coffee house, restaurant, and craft bar. Features breakfast all day every day and locally roasted coffee to Virginia made beers, wines and spirits.

L Dee’s Pancake HouseFamily-run restaurant serving breakfast all day. Enjoy homemade biscuits, sausage gravy, omelets, pancakes and more.

Reunion BakeryFrench bakery with outstanding pastries – sweet and savory, and delicious coffees. The new Blackburn Inn serves Reunion’s pastries to their guests in the morning.

Thunderbird Café“South meets West”. Menu features everything from the Turner Country Ham Plate to Huevos Rancheros for breakfast.

More breakfast places:



– Photo Credit: Steve Shires –

Bistro on MainOffers different menus for brunch, lunch, and dinner as well as daily special soups, quiches, and entrees. The intimate, casual atmosphere and affordable menu has made the Bistro on Main a favorite among locals and tourists alike.

Food.Bar.FoodMenu features a broad spectrum of styles, traditions and flavors while celebrating the bounty of the Shenandoah Valley—meals made with fresh ingredients and thoughtful flavors.

The Restaurant at the Edinburg Mill Rustic American style cuisine, with local meats and fresh ingredients. Items are house-made daily include vegetarian and vegan options.

Houlihan’s Restaurant and BarMade-from-scratch meals in a trendy environment. From fresh-baked artisan breads to amazing mini desserts, you’ll find a variety of popular dishes at an incredible value.

Table 44Scratch-made biscuits and homemade jam, endless omelet bar, and a loaded Bloody Mary that could be breakfast on its own!

More brunch places:

Front Royal Brewing Company

Southern Inn Restaurant



– Photo Credit: Pete Emerson –

White’s WaysideHome-grown and locally owned. A community favorite since 1929. They live by their mission statement, “”Grown by our neighbors, cooked by our neighbors at a neighborly price”.

Chicano Boy TacoHandmade tacos and enormous mission-style burritos are available at this Mexican-American taqueria.

Gloria’s PupuseriaPick-up a pupusa from Gloria’s Pupuseria. These Salvadorian meat and cheese treats pack serious flavor.

Pure EatsOffers fresh, house-made doughnuts, premium local burgers, HomeStead Creamery milkshakes, and a variety of local and regional craft beers on tap and in bottles.

Anne Hathaway Cottage Tea RoomOffers a traditional Victorian High Tea, light lunches and Devonshire Cream Teas on a daily basis.

Gathering GroundsCoffee and espresso bar featuring homemade fresh pastries, breakfast items, gourmet sandwiches, soups and salads. Pup-friendly patio complete with complimentary filtered water and puppycino!

More lunch places:



Jack Brown’s Beer and Burger Joint Rustic old-time Texas-style saloon. Pop in for an American Kobe Beef burger and a beer. Enjoy deep fried Oreos, a lively atmosphere and the local scene.

Rocca Ristorante and BarAuthentic Italian restaurant located on the second floor of the Robert E. Lee Hotel overlooking downtown Lexington’s Main Street. Pair you meal with an award-winning wine.

The ShackTop-ranked Virginia restaurant serving locally sourced high-quality food. Al a carte menu Wed-Thurs and prix fixe Fri-Sat. Communal seating. Their chef was recently named a James Beard Award finalist.

Hops KitchenUtilizes Basic City Beer Co.’s beer in much of their BBQ, Asian, German, and American type fare. Video games, hammocks for lounging, two huge big screens for the sports fans, and picnic tables for dining are available.

Hometown Grill of StauntonKnown for their Southern Fried Catfish and Southern Fried Chicken. Home-style and freshly prepared daily. Try one of their hot and ready buffets.

Hot Plates CaféFamily restaurant with home-style cooking in a relaxed atmosphere. Menu consists of liver and onions, fried chicken, burgers, homemade fries, and more.

More dinner places:



– Photo Credit: Town of Front Royal, VA –

The Apple HouseGood food, friendly staff and beautiful surroundings make The Apple House a landmark to visit. Visit for your gift needs as well as to pick up some famous BBQ or Apple Butter Donuts.

Mill Street GrillKnown for their Baby Back Ribs, which are tender, fall off the bone, and glazed with in-house barbecue sauce.

Log Cabin BarbecueFall-off-the-bone ribs and BBQ made with original sauces. Local favorite for 20 years operating out of a 200-year-old original log cabin.

Hanks Bar & Grille Specializing in authentic hickory smoked barbecue since 1992. They are famous for their Baby Back Ribs, Pork Barbecue and Texas Style Beef Brisket. They also offer fresh seafood and made from scratch bread and desserts.

Fishin’ Pig Fusion of Grady’s BBQ and Shorty’s Breading Co. Award-winning BBQ rub and famous chicken and seafood breading awakens all senses!

More BBQ Places:



– Photo Credit: Heritage Bakery & Cafe –

Heritage Bakery & CaféLocated in the Hardesty-Higgins House Visitors Center of downtown Harrisonburg. Ever-changing daily selection of baked goods, breakfast and lunch items, and more.

Firkin Pie CompanyThe scratch-made, buttery crust pies are out of this world and come in all shapes, sizes and with a variety of fillings.

Sweet Things Ice Cream ShoppeHomemade ice cream in hand-rolled waffle cones. Flavors are made fresh daily. Also available are milk shakes, sundaes, banana splits, cakes, pies and specialty candies.Virginia Living magazine’s Best Ice Cream Shop in the Shenandoah Valley in 2014.

Grammie’s Ice Cream Offers 36 flavors of hand-dipped, slow churned ice cream in cones, sundaes, banana splits, and milk shakes. Locations in Dayton and Massanutten.

Smiley’s Ice CreamIce cream shop and a mobile ice vendor specializing in making premium homemade ice cream, sorbets, and other ice cream novelties. The storefront is located at Mt. Crawford Creamery.

More dessert places:



– Photo Credit: Steve Shires –

TAPSServes upscale pub fare featuring craft beer, creative cocktails, salads, sandwiches and snacks made with many ingredients from farms throughout the Shenandoah Valley.

Silk RoadDistinctive flavor, exquisite dish preparation and delicious Asian selections! Sushi, Chinese, Japanese, Thai and Asian fusion pair with a full bar of breathtaking drinks and great wines options.

ZynodoaOffers specialty cocktails such as the “Unencumbered” consisting of Plymouth gin, St. Germaine, mint, lime and cucumber. A four-course Chef Tasting Menu, with optional wine pairing is also available.

Local Chop and Grill HouseVoted ‘Best Happy Hour’ 2010-2012 and 2014-2016. Features 18 rotating drafts—with a solid selection of Virginia craft brews. Bartenders specialize in creative seasonal cocktails using fresh ingredients and hand-crafted elements.

PaveMint TaphouseLocated in a renovated 1960’s gas station which backs up to the bike-walking trail and arboretum along Happy Creek. Provides unique cuisine, signature cocktails, micro brews and fine wines.

Jalapeno Southwest GrillAuthentic Tex-Mex restaurant with top-shelf Tequila bar and specialty margaritas.



– Photo Credit: Blue Ridge Bucha –

Blue Ridge BuchaOffers certified organic kombucha made from Blue Ridge Mountain water. It is infused with the finest organic ingredients to create refreshing and unique flavors.

Jack Brown’s Single Wide Beer & Burger JointOffers over 100 craft beers from around the corners and around the world. Pair with their award-winning burgers.

Basic City Beer Co.A natural spring pumps a million gallons of artesian water for use in the brewery’s beers. Seasonal brews and Blue Ridge Bucha are available.

Seven Arrows Brewing Provides high quality craft brewed beers along with a seasonal beer. Eventide IPA, Sinistral Wheat, Aurora Pils, and Three Ridges Vienna Lager are always available.

Stable Craft BrewingOffers 16 farm-fresh beers on tap. Situated on a true working farm, Stable Craft offers entertaining activities from tours of their hop fields to visiting horses.

More Craft Brew Places:



The Bistro at CrossKeys Vineyards Specializes in exquisite wines, delicious food, and fabulous events with gorgeous views of the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains.

Yelping Dog WineExtensive wine menu changes weekly so you can try and enjoy many different Virginia wines. Free wine tastings from different vineyards are available. Local tip – Gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches are amazing!

Bluestone VineyardsFamily owned and operated vineyard offering locally produced wine from some of the best grapes Virginia has to offer.

Cave Ridge VineyardsRestaurant opening spring 2018! Currently hosts special food events such as Caribbean night and Wild Game Dinner. Family-owned and operated, located in the foothills – an ideal location for growing the highest quality grapes.

More wine places:


Visit these restaurants in the Shenandoah Valley and find more awesome food experiences around the Commonwealth to eat & drink what you love in Virginia!

The post Your Guide to Dining in the Shenandoah Valley appeared first on Virginia’s Travel Blog.

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Your Guide to Dining in Alexandria and Arlington

Your Guide to Dining in Alexandria and Arlington

Northern Virginia’s food scene rivals that of many large cities. Food and drink options from around the globe, specialty desserts and world-renowned chefs make for a truly memorable culinary experience in Alexandria and Arlington.



– Photo Credit: David Hills Photography –

Northside SocialAn Arlington institution. The two-story neighborhood hangout has an outdoor patio. Come for the coffee, stay for the happy hour wine.

Society FairClassic French fare like country poutine with a poached egg, Louisiana-style beignets, quiches and more. Homemade biscuits and fresh-squeezed or pressed juices.

Metro 29 Diner Featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. New York-style diner providing quality food, prompt service and a warm, easy going dining experience. Patrons are greeted by a glass case filled with layered cakes, cream pies, cheesecakes and 18 different kinds of mouthwatering pastries.

Fontaine Caffe & CreperieLocated in the heart of Old Town, Alexandria serving authentic Brittany style savory and sweet French crêpes, seasonal specials, and French Sparkling Cidres in a casual European cafe setting.

Junction Bakery & BistroAmerican bistro boasting fresh-baked bread and homemade goods. Grab a cup of Commonwealth Joe espresso or fresh-pressed juice from Grateful Juice Co.

Bob ‘n Edith’s DinerClassic, family-owned 24-hour diner serving up all of your favorite dishes.



Photo Credit: Rose Collins / Neighborhood Restaurant Group

Columbia FirehouseBuilt in 1863, now stands as a historic, beautifully preserved American Brasserie and bar in the heart of Alexandria’s Old Town.

Magnolia’s on KingServes elevated brunch classics and Southern-inspired surprises in a historic 200-year-old building. Local tip: Try their benedicts – classic-style or with Maryland lump crab.

The Liberty TavernFeatures modern American cuisine paired with a diverse wine list, creative specialty cocktails and a great selection of premium draft and bottled beer.

Evening Star CafeSpecialties include a Bloody Mary garnished with a bite-sized grilled cheese sandwich and bacon, and blueberry pancakes with whipped brown sugar cream and toasted pecans.



Stomping GroundCasual neighborhood favorite. Everything is made by hand from scratch utilizing local and sustainable meats, dairy, produce and grains whenever possible.

Jaleo Crystal CityExplores the spirit and cuisine of Spain. Festive, casual dining experience with its menu centered on a large selection of tapas, the “little dishes” of Spain. Under the culinary direction of Jose Andres – winner of the James Beard Award and Bon Appetit’s Chef of the Year.

BastilleAward winning brasserie and wine bar, offering guests a contemporary spin on French cuisine and pet-friendly patio.

Busboys & PoetsLocal favorite serving up everything from traditional meals to local spins on the classics as well as extensive vegetarian and vegan options.

Mia’s Italian KitchenUpscale-casual Italian restaurant near the waterfront in Old Town Alexandria. House-made pasta, Italian sandwiches, charcuterie, and square pizzas.

Texas Jack’s BBQLocally-sourced, reclaimed wood and hand-forged metals lend a warm backdrop to their succulent, smoked meats. Pair them with a curated collection of craft cocktails, local beers, American bourbons and whiskeys. Named best barbecue joint in the D.C. area by the Washington Post.



Photo Credit: Arlington Convention and Visitors Service

VermilionClassic neighborhood restaurant and bar located in Old Town. Features a menu of contemporary American cuisine and bar with extensive list of specialty drinks.

Virtue Feed & GrainModern American tavern food on the Alexandria waterfront. Virtue Feed & Grain features soaring open windows, exposed brick and giant iron girders.

Lebanese TavernaLocally family owned restaurant featuring Middle Eastern cuisine. Offers many favorite dishes such as falafel, kabobs and a large selection of vegetarian dishes.

Palette 22Part restaurant, part art gallery. The menu features fusion cuisine from around the globe, all plated artfully and created in an open display kitchen.

Green Pig BistroRated among Washingtonian Magazine’s “Very Best 100 Restaurants”. Serves classic rustic French cooking with a decidedly American push: solid and basic yet approachable dishes.



Vola’s Dockside GrillWaterfront dining in Old Town, Alexandria. A friendly, familiar place with a raw bar and the largest outdoor riverside patio where the food, atmosphere, service, and experience are always fantastic.

Mussel Bar & GrilleOffers a wide-range of casual dining fare that include grilled and wood-fired dishes and Belgian classics, iced seafood platters and an expansive Belgian beer list. Be sure to check out Chef Wiedmaier’s exclusive brew, Antigoon.

Hank’s Oyster BarA local favorite serving coastal and New England beach fare classics like lobster rolls and daily fish specials. Lightly fried items such as the popcorn shrimp and calamari and clams balance Hank’s ice bar options.



Photo Credit: Rose Collins / Neighborhood Restaurant Group

Buzz BakeshopA beloved neighborhood bakery with locations in Alexandria and Arlington. Features a myriad of sweets from freshly baked cupcakes and rich fudgy brownies to decadent cream cheese-filled pumpkin muffins and more.

Livin’ the Pie LifeSmall-batch scratch bakery featuring fresh local ingredients and flaky handmade crust. Sweet and savory pies, old-fashioned cookies, cakes, scones, and more.

Dairy GodmotherDeclared a “dessert destination” by the Washington Post. One-of-a-kind real Wisconsin-style frozen custard shop specializing in imaginative flavors both nostalgic and new.

Bayou BakeryServes Cajun classics, including Bayou’s beignets and king cake on Mardi Gras. Owner David Guas is a Louisiana native and a pastry chef, as well as a go-to chef for “The Today Show.”

NicecreamCombines fresh local grass-fed cream and local ingredients from nearby farms. Ice cream is frozen on the spot creating the freshest handcrafted cup of ice cream you can get.



– Photo Credit: Arlington Convention and Visitors Service –

Copperwood TavernFarm-to-Table restaurant serving locally sourced meats, seafood, and produce. Offers 20 draft beers, 30 small-batch whiskeys, superb wine selection and southern Virginia’s white whiskey – yes, moonshine! Pet-friendly patio with custom copper dog bowls available!

PXA ‘20’s fashioned speak-easy situated in a historic building with all of the original wood work and glistening chandeliers intact for a truly classic. Let the master mixologist make you one of his special creations.

Captain Gregory’sA secret spot serving innovative, award-winning handmade cocktails and donut-inspired bites behind a secret sliding door in the Sugar Shack – in true speakeasy tradition.

Baba Bar Exciting speakeasy cocktail bar, serving top notch cocktails by expert mixologists, weekend brunch, fun dining and decadent desserts.



Port City Brewing CompanyArtisanal brewery producing an exciting line of handmade, great quality, locally crafted ales.

Heritage Brewpub and RoasteryBrewpub and roastery featuring hand crafted brews and eats sourced from local ingredients and handmade. Hearty and light fare in a uniquely American setting.

New District Brewing CompanyFeatures an onsite tasting room with typically 12-14 beers on tap at any time and three staple beers, 1821, Ginger Saisan, and 1821 dark that can be found locally in Arlington.



CheesetiqueThe go-to spot for fine cheeses, food-friendly wine, and an eclectic, cheese-centric menu in Arlington and Alexandria.

Sonoma CellarFeatures hand-selected wines from 180+ Sonoma County boutique wineries and 20+ Virginia-based wineries. Bistro menu features freshly prepared craft foods, designed to pair with the wines.

Screwtop Wine BarWine and cheese bar, specializing in charcuterie. It also holds educational wine classes and tasting events. Brunch, lunch and dinner is available. Check out their artfully made craft sandwiches.

Grand Cru Wine Bar & BistroBlends fine wine and excellent cuisine at a reasonable price. Exceptional food, great service and a world class selection of wines all in a quaint European style of dining.

BraboContemporary American fare with European and French techniques and flavors. The menu features a range of dishes including hand-cut pastas, slow-roasted tenderloin, and seasonal seafood dishes, all made to complement an extensive wine list and hand-crafted cocktails.


Visit these restaurants in Arlington and Alexandria and find more awesome food experiences around the Commonwealth to eat & drink what you love in Virginia!


The post Your Guide to Dining in Alexandria and Arlington appeared first on Virginia’s Travel Blog.

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Take Your Camper to the Coast: Where to Camp in Virginia’s River Realm

Take Your Camper to the Coast: Where to Camp in Virginia’s River Realm

There’s something about waking next to the water. Here in Virginia’s River Realm, we’re well acquainted with the enchantment and constant inspiration of our local rivers, creeks and the Bay. One of the best ways to experience these beautiful waterways is by camping. You can get closer to the water when you stay at one of many campgrounds in the area. These campgrounds have secrets of their own including wild water parks, geocache adventures, live music, crabbing lessons and so much more.

Get up close and personal with nature at one of our local campgrounds and resorts. Wake up to the sounds of the water flowing along the banks and fall asleep exhausted from a day of fun with the family . . . .

Bethpage Camp-Resort

679 Brown’s Lane, Urbanna, VA
(804) 758-4349


Courtesy of Virginia’s River Realm

Bethpage Camp-Resort has been voted the best RV Resort and Best National Park of the Year. When you visit, you’ll understand why. The resort features a lively water park with slides, fountains and more for the whole family. You can also enjoy the water swimming in the resort’s lake. Park your boat at the marina for easy access to sunset cruises and early morning fishing. Make sure you leave room after dinner at Urbanna Seafood and Raw Bar for mini golf and ice cream at COWTOPIA


Courtesy of Virginia’s River Realm

__ Season:__ April 1 – November 15

Belle Isle State Park

1632 Belle Isle Rd, Lancaster, VA (804) 462-5030


Courtesy of Virginia’s River Realm

Belle Isle has seven miles of shoreline on the northern shore of the Rappahannock River. You and your family can explore tidal wetlands woven in between farmland and forests. The state park has an RV campground, three picnic shelters, hiking, biking and bridle trails, and motor boat and car-top launches. If you don’t want to bring the camoer or tent, Belle Isle also offers overnight lodging at Bel Air and the Bel Air Guest House for a truly unique and relaxing experience on the water. There are many ways to have fun in the park: universal access playground, boardwalk and fishing pier, and educational programs. Belle Isle is also close to area attractions like Stevie’s Ice Cream and Kilmarnock Town Centre Park. See our Belle Isle State Park weekend travel guide here.

Season: Year round Cross Rip Camp 503 Cross Rip Rd, Deltaville, VA
(804) 776-9324


Courtesy of Virginia’s River Realm

Cross Rip Camp is a seasonal campground located on the Chesapeake Bay near the Intercoastal Waterway. You will wake up to 833 feet of shoreline on a freshwater pond and 1,186 feet of riprap and sandy beach on the Chesapeake Bay. You’re just a few miles away from restaurants like Cocomo’s and attractions like the Deltaville Maritime Museum & Holly Point Nature Park. Bring along your boat, which you can keep in a slip during your stay or year round.

Season: May 1 to November 6

Greys Point Campground

3601 Greys Point Rd, Topping, VA
(804) 758-2485


Courtesy of Virginia’s River Realm

Located along the Rappahannock River, Grey’s Point Camp is surrounded by all things water. You’ll find water views everywhere you go, from the beach to the sundeck. Bring along your fishing pole and boat to enjoy prime fishing on the Rappahannock or in the Chesapeake Bay. The Campground is also bike friendly and kid friendly. Spend the day at the waterpark and playgrounds and nights playing cornhole and sitting by the fire. The whole family will be tired after your weekend by the river.

Season: April 1 – November 15

Bush Park Camping Resort

724 Bushy Park Rd, Wake, VA
(804) 776-6750


Courtesy of Virginia’s River Realm

Enjoy a peaceful wonderland of nature and history while staying at Bush Park Camping Resort. Enjoy the Rappahannock River and Bushy Park Creek along with access to the Chesapeake Bay on the 97-acre campground, which was one of the original Churchill Farms known as Bush Park Farm. You and your family can spend the mornings on the water fishing and crabbing, afternoons by the family pool, and evenings back at the campsite cooking up your catch of the day.

Season: April 1 – November 15

Just two hours from Richmond or Hampton Roads, 3 hours from Washington DC, Virginia’s River Realm is a tourism destination along the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributary, the Rappahannock River. We invite visitors to explore delightful surprises, hidden gems and our friendly, small town spirit. The 465 miles of shoreline, eight great small towns, and hundreds of unique attractions will mesmerizes you to enjoy the wonder of a perfect oyster, the promise of a secret cove or back road and the pleasure of sharing a table with friends, a place where you can catch your breath, calm your mind & live your dreams

Written by Virginia’s River Realm for Virginia’s River Realm.

Featured image provided by Courtesy of Virginia’s River Realm

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2018 Guide To Fall Pride Festivals In Virginia

2018 Guide To Fall Pride Festivals In Virginia

Virginia VA Pride Festivals #pride2018 #visitgayva #Ilovegayva #lgbtbravel

Virginia has an unprecedented 15 Pride festivals and celebrations in 2018, an increase of eight Prides in just one year!

Surrounding each Pride event are self-designated LGBT-friendly shops, restaurants, distilleries, meaderies, cideries, craft breweries, wineries, outdoor adventures, attractions and places to stay during Pride weekends.

Find them all at Virginia.org/LGBT.

Check out the rest of Virginia’s 2018 fall Pride schedule below and share the Virignia you LOVE with the people you LOVE @VisitGayVA (Twitter) and @visitgayva (Instagram) all year-round.


Virginia VA Pride Festivals

Charlottesville Pride Festival


Saturday, Sept. 15 » Charlottesville Pride Festival 2018

Charlottesville’s 7th annual Pride Festival | 11 AM – 7 PM

Sprint Pavilion on the Downtown Mall

Free, family-friendly, children’s area, beer and wine garden, food trucks; vendors representing businesses and organizations with resources, special offers, and interactive activities; Pride merchandise; music, dance, and drag entertainment




Virginia VA Pride Festivals #pride2018 #visitgayva #Ilovegayva #lgbtbravel

Petersburg Pride & Proud Festival


Saturday, Sept. 16 »Petersburg Pride & Proud Festival 2018

Petersburg’s 2nd annual Pride Festival | 12 PM – 10 PM

Historic Downtown Petersburg & DJ’s Rajun Cajun & Steakhouse

Free, and family friendly. Enjoy the best of local food and drink, from Rajun Cajun, Wabi Sabi, and others. Drag performances and children’s area.





Virginia VA Pride Festivals #pride2018 #visitgayva #Ilovegayva #lgbtbravel

VA Pridefest ~ Richmond


Saturday, Sept. 22 »VA Pridefest 2018 (Richmond)

Richmond’s 39th annual Pride Festival | 12 PM – 8 PM

Brown’s Island in Downtown Richmond

Free, family-friendly day of festivities feature a variety of vendors, local eats, activities and entertainment for a day of fun in the sun!





Virginia VA Pride Festivals #pride2018 #visitgayva #Ilovegayva #lgbtbravel

Northern VA Pride Festival ~ Centreville


Saturday, Sept. 29 » Northern Virginia Pride Festival 2018

Northern Virginia’s 5th annual Pride Festival | 11 AM – 8 PM

Bull Run Park Special Events Center ~ Centerville

This year’s festival theme is “United in Pride.” Everyone in the pro-equality community is invited to attend our festival united by our shared appreciation for diversity and acceptance.





Virginia VA Pride Festivals #pride2018 #visitgayva #Ilovegayva #lgbtbravel

Staunton Pride Festival


Friday, Oct. 5 – Sunday, Oct. 6 »Staunton Pride Festival 2018

Staunton’s 1st ever Pride! | 12 PM – 8 PM

Downtown Staunton

Enjoy music, fun, and friendship with others at this family-friendly event. All are welcome! Come celebrate the LGBTQIA2+ community and its allies! Pride will be held on Beverley Street in Staunton, rain or shine.



Virginia VA Pride Festivals #pride2018 #visitgayva #Ilovegayva #lgbtbravel

Floyd Pride Festival


Saturday, Oct. 13 »Floyd Pride 2018

Floyd’s 6th annual Pride festival | 3 PM – 9 PM

Downtown Floyd & Floyd Farmer’s Market

Floyd PFLAG welcomes all friends, family, allies, neighbors and supporters of LGBT equality to gather at the Floyd County post office, parade down Main Street, then celebrate and dance at the Farmers’ Market Pavilion.



Virginia VA Pride Festivals #pride2018 #visitgayva #Ilovegayva #lgbtbravel

Star City VA Pride ~ Roanoke


Fall 2018 » Star City VA Pride Festival 2018

Staunton’s 1st ever Pride! | Announcing dates in Sept.

Downtown Roanoke

Brand new Pride in Roanoke and Virginia’s Mountain Region

The post 2018 Guide To Fall Pride Festivals In Virginia appeared first on Virginia’s Travel Blog.

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How to Celebrate National Family Fun Month in Lynchburg

How to Celebrate National Family Fun Month in Lynchburg

This August, celebrate National Family Fun month the Lynchburg way! Our city has numerous kid-friendly activities, so choose a few to help you beat the summer heat!

Amazement Square

In 2001, the previously abandoned J.W. Wood Building became the home for Lynchburg’s first first hands-on, multidisciplinary children’s museum, Amazement Square. The building is rich in both history and fun! The museum features four floors of interactive exhibits that are designed to make learning interesting. In addition to the exhibits, a four story jungle gym composed of slides, zip lines, tunnels and ladders makes for a creative way to get from floor to floor (parents, don’t worry, there are stairs too!).

Regular admission is only $9 for both adults and children, but be sure to check out their upcoming events to see if discounted admission is offered.

Nature Zone

If your child is a zoologist in training, be sure to visit the Nature Zone at Miller Center. This hands on, kid-focused museum allows visitors to get up close and personal with animal friends. Turtles, opossums, snakes and more are all waiting to play. The best part? The Nature Zone is free and open to the public, so no need to call ahead.

Jump Trampoline Park

Looking for a place to burn off all that extra energy? Look no further than Lynchburg’s Jump Trampoline Park. This 10,000 square foot facility is dedicated to serious fun. Play on giant connected trampolines, angles trampolines, foam pits, and even a dodgeball court! There are even fun zones such as Battle Beams, where members of your family can compete to knock each other into the foam pit, and Slam Dunk, where you can play basketball with a trampoline court.

Tickets can be purchased on their website or at the facility. Once you have purchased a ticket, you will be required to sign a waiver and purchase special jump socks, which can be reused on future visits.

Putt Putt Fun Center

For all day fun for the whole family, visit Putt Putt Fun Center. Attractions include:

  • Mini golf- Choose from 2 unique 18 hole courses for some competitive family fun!
  • Laser tag- Explore a two story laser tag arena that’s sure to keep you guessing.
  • Go karts- Race your family on this high speed course (height restrictions apply to those who wish to drive solo).
  • Bumper cars and boats- Both experiences are sure to provide a wild ride full of laughs.
  • Batting cages- For the sports enthusiasts in your group.
  • Arcade- Stay inside and beat the head with a wide selection of arcade games.

Pricing varies by activity. View a full breakdown on their website.

Reading Fun

Reading together with your children is a great way to bond! Check out local libraries and bookstores for story times, reading challenges and fun events. The Jones Memorial Library offers family story time on Tuesdays.

Escape Rooms

Do you dare to take on the challenge? Lynchburg features two escape rooms; One Way Out and Locked Up Lynchburg. The challenge? Escape with only the clues and objects within the room before the clock runs up. Both escape rooms provide a variety of themes to choose from so you can decide which is best for your family. This is a fun, family bonding opportunity, however this activity may be better suited for children ages 8 or older.

Riverside Park Sprayground


Lynchburg Tourism

Looking to beat the summer heat? Cool off with a trip to the Riverside Park Sprayground. This 1,900 square foot playground features squirting water, spitting frogs, and dumping buckets for hours of playtime! The facility is free and open 10:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. from May to October.

Written by Lynchburg Regional Convention & Visitors Bureau for Lynchburg, Virginia.

Featured image provided by Discover Lynchburg

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Your Guide to Some of the Best Restaurants in Richmond

Your Guide to Some of the Best Restaurants in Richmond


Richmond’s culinary scene is one of the most impressive in the Commonwealth, with dozens of nationally-recognized restaurants that serve every type of cuisine imaginable and multiple James Beard award-winning chefs bringing unique dishes to the table. With new restaurants opening weekly, there is always somewhere new to eat in the capital city, but we have compiled a list that blends the tried and true dining destinations with the hottest new Richmond restaurants. Next time you’re having trouble deciding where to eat in Richmond, use this restaurant guide to help point you in the right direction.


—FOR BREAKFAST—the fancy biscuit richmond

The Fancy BiscuitHomemade biscuits topped with classic Southern fare, like thick sausage gravy, country ham, and fried chicken.

Perly’s Delicatessen & RestaurantDeli and restaurant in Downtown Richmond that puts a modern spin on traditional Jewish cuisine.

Sugar Shack DonutsTo-go donut shop with several Richmond locations, voted as one of the “Top 10 Tastiest Donuts in America” by USA Today.

More Breakfast Places: 


—FOR BRUNCH—Millie's Diner

Millie’s DinerRichmond staple that has garnered international fame for their innovative menus, open on Saturday & Sunday for brunch. Be ready for a wait, as the diner is one of the most popular brunch spots in the city.

LuLu’sVoted the #1 brunch spot in Richmond by OpenTable 2015-2017. Serves French-inspired cuisine with seasonal ingredients.

Helen’sA Richmond landmark since 1935, recognized by Bon Appetit Magazine at one of “America’s Best Neighborhood Restaurants”. Saturday and Sunday brunch.

More Brunch Restaurants:


—FOR LUNCH—Pasture pimento cheese photo credit Kevin Clay

Photo Credit: Kevin Clay

PastureSouthern restaurant with a menu comprised of small plates, shareable dishes, and perfect portions. Sources ingredients from local farmers and producers, and all craft beers from east of the Mississippi, with the majority coming from Virginia brewers.

ZZQTexas-style barbecue joint in Scott’s Addition, named “Best BBQ in Virginia” by Food & Wine in 2018. Go early in the day, as they close when their made-daily barbecue runs out.

Mama J’s KitchenSoul food restaurant in Historic Jackson Ward serving Southern-style comfort cuisine.

ComfortSouthern restaurant that focuses on locally sourced ingredients and from-scratch dishes, has been donating all profits to fighting hunger in the community since March 2018.

More Lunch Locations:


—FOR DINNER—Shagbark

ShagbarkChef & Owner Walter Bundy celebrates the natural bounty of Virginia in his seasonally-focused menus. Sample one of their incredible craft cocktails or choose from the extensive wine list, which has selections from many Virginia vineyards.

Lunch. And Supper!Side-by-side modern eateries in Scott’s Addition neighborhood, serves classic Southern smokehouse dishes.

The RooseveltHearty Southern fare and a drink menu featuring all Virginia wines, a large selection of local craft beers, and seasonal cocktails.

L’opossumModern French restaurant led by James Beard semifinalist David Shannon, L’opossum was called “The South’s Best Restaurant in 2018” by Southern Living.

More Dinner Destinations:


—FOR SEAFOODIES—east coast provisions carytown richmond

East Coast ProvisionsEast Coast-style seafood restaurant with an oyster bar, sushi, and hand-cut steaks.

RappahannockFarm-to-table seafood menu serving oysters harvested straight from the Chesapeake Bay, Atlantic Ocean, and other notable oyster regions.

The Boathouse at Rocketts LandingWaterfront restaurant in Downtown Richmond that provides a scenic dining experience on the James River and an award-winning menu that features upscale seafood dishes.

Fighting FishSushi restaurant in Richmond’s historic Jackson Ward neighborhood.

More Sensational Seafood:


—FOR DESSERT—charm school ice cream richmond

Charm School Social ClubIce cream shop with unique flavors and toppings. Offers vegan and gluten-free options.

ShyndigzServes fresh-baked cakes, pies, and sweet treats.

Gelati CelestiHandmade small-batch ice cream shop with 24 house favorite flavors and more than 85 seasonally-rotating flavors.

Proper Pie Co.Pie shop that specializes in both savory and sweet pies. Celebrity Chef Alton Brown hailed their pumpkin pie as, “…the best pumpkin pie I’ve ever had in my life.”

More Dessert Spots:


—FOR COCKTAILS—Heritage Bitter About My Hot Friend cocktail

HeritageCrafts cocktails with house-made infusions and rare ingredients to create elaborate and delicious drinks.

Can Can BrasserieFrench bistro restaurant and cocktail bar with an impressive array of wines, craft beers, aperitifs, and specialty seasonal cocktails.

RogueConsistently voted as one of the best cocktail spots in Richmond, offers seasonal specialties and creative cocktails tailored to individual tastes.

The JasperCarytown cocktail lounge from two of Richmond’s most renowned (and award-winning) bartenders, Matthias Hägglund and Thomas Leggett. Also carry a wide array of craft beers and wines at all price points.

More Cocktail Bars:


—FOR LOCAL CRAFT BREWS—Legends Brewing Co. Brewery

Legend Brewing CompanyRichmond’s oldest craft brewery, producing a wide variety of craft beers, including both lagers and ales. A large patio affords sweeping views of the city skyline from the south side of the James River.

Hardywood Park Craft BreweryOne of Virginia’s fastest-growing breweries, Hardywood has three locations around the Commonwealth, with two in Richmond. Have earned international acclaim, winning awards at the Great American Beer Festival and the World Beer Cup.

The Veil Brewing Co.Craft brewery in Richmond’s Scott’s Addition neighborhood, known for their award-winning IPAs.

Circuit Arcade BarScott’s Addition arcade-bar featuring over 50 craft beers, wines, and ciders on draft for self-pour.

More Craft Breweries:


—FOR WINE LOVERS—Secco Wine Bar Photo Credit Ansel Olsen

Photo Credit: Ansel Olsen

Secco Wine BarArtisanal wine bar with over 30 by-the-glass offerings and small bites built to pair with current wine list.

Acacia MidtownRegional American restaurant in Richmond’s Fan neighborhood that carries an extensive selection of wines from around the world.

Richmond Wine StationSelf-serve wine bar on the edge of Scott’s Addition with over 60 wines available to try. Charged by the ounce so you can sample wines without paying for a full pour, then try your favorites by the glass.

More Wine Locales:


Visit these Richmond restaurants and find more awesome food experiences around the Commonwealth to eat & drink what you love in Virginia!


The post Your Guide to Some of the Best Restaurants in Richmond appeared first on Virginia’s Travel Blog.

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Big Concerts Coming to Virginia in September 2018

Big Concerts Coming to Virginia in September 2018

bristol rhythm and roots reunionFestival season may be winding down, but that is not stopping the amount a great music coming to Virginia. From major country acts to the biggest names in rock and pop, catch your favorite artists and discover new ones all over the Commonwealth.


—Virginia Music Festivals—

The Appaloosa Festival is a roots music and outdoors experience Aug. 31-Sept. 2, set at the Skyline Ranch Resort among the beautiful backdrop of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Hosted by Scythian, Appaloosa features more than 40 bands on five stages, including some of the most critically acclaimed up-and-coming artists from all over the country.

On Aug. 31-Sept. 2, the largest outdoor musical event on the East Coast, the American Music Festival will feature three major headline bands on the 5th Street Main Stage on the Virginia Beach Oceanfront. ZZ Top, Goo Goo Dolls, Ziggy Marley and SOJA will be performing.

Lovers of music come together Aug. 31-Sept. 2 in Stuart for the Front Porch Fest as local, regional and national musicians showcase their talent on three stages at the Spirithaven Farm. It all takes place on Virginia’s front porch to the Blue Ridge Mountains.

On Sept. 1-3, the Blue Ridge Rock Festival at DeVault Family Vineyards will be bringing the rock. The festival will feature music from Lamb of God, Jonathan Davis of Korn, Motionless in White, All That Remains, Puddle of Mudd, Fuel, Anti-Flag, Saliva, Nonpoint, and many more.

Shenandoah Valley Music Festival

One of the mid-Atlantic region’s longest-running outdoor music events, the Shenandoah Valley Music Festival presents world-class music by a stellar array of performers. Acts performing Sept. 1-2 include Kenny G and Bluegrass Minifest featuring Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper, Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen and Circus No. 9.

The Papa Joe Smiddy Music Festival in Duffield on Sept. 2 honors the tireless work of “Papa Joe” Smiddy, a well-known old-time musician, entertainer and educator.  Enjoy a summer’s eve listening to traditional bluegrass music at the Natural Tunnel State Park amphitheater.

In Richmond, Stone Brewing will present the 2nd annual Stone’s Throw Down in RVA on Brown’s Island on Sept. 8. The festival will connect craft beer with live music with performances from Drive-By Truckers, Antibalas, No BS! Brass Band, Futurebirds, Spooky Cool and Kenneka Cook.

Head to Gloucester for the Bluegrass by the Bay Bluegrass Festival Sept. 12-15 for four full days of bluegrass music and field picking, food, crafts & more. 20 featured bands plus camping, games and potluck dinner.

The Watermelon Park Fest in Berryville Sept. 20-23 will be full of bluegrass, old-time and folk Americana music, with national and regional live music, pickin’ and band competitions and more.

Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion

The award-winning Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion is a three-day music experience Sept. 21-23 that celebrates Bristol’s heritage as the Birthplace of Country Music. State Street in historic Downtown Bristol comes alive with 22 stages of live music.

The Hoopla Festival at the Devil’s Backbone Basecamp Brewpub and Meadows brings music, outdoor and beer lovers together Sept. 28-30 for workshops & outdoor activities alongside an incredible lineup of live music including Rayland Baxter, Tyler Childers, Love Canon, Cris Jacobs, and more.


—Over at Virginia’s Many Live Music Venues—

The National in Richmond will be bringing a number of big name artists throughout the month. The venue will be hosting The Connells (Sept. 8), Lil Baby (Sept. 9), the Black Jacket Symphony (Sept. 22), The Struts (Sept. 24), Social Distortion (Sept. 25), Rainbow Kitten Surprise (Sept. 26), Toad the Wet Sprocket (Sept. 28), and others.

Elsewhere in Richmond, The Broadberry will be hosting Real Estate (Sept. 5), Jukebox the Ghost (Sept. 13), The Shack Up Festival featuring The Shack Band, Butcher Brown, Wild Adriatic, Weekend Plans, Agents Of Good Roots, Runaway Gin, Los Colognes, James Justin and Co., VILLAGES (Sept. 14-15), and more.

The Altria Theater will host 4U – A Symphonic Celebration of Prince by the Richmond Symphony on Sept. 9 and Maxwell on Sept. 27.

Buddy Guy will perform at the Dominion Energy Center on Sept. 6.

Old Crow Medicine Show will be at Maymont on Sept. 21.

Portugal. The Man will perform at Richmond Raceway’s Virginia Credit Union Live! on Sept. 20 and on Sept. 29, the venue will host Off To The Races: The RVA Bluegrass Experience featuring The Infamous Stringdusters, Yonder Mountain String Band, The Del McCoury Band, and Jeff Austin Band.

Just outside Richmond, the Innsbrook After Hours concert series at the Servpro Pavilion in Glen Allen will host Phillip Phillips and Gavin DeGraw (Sept. 5), Ziggy Marley (Sept. 12), Amos Lee (Sept. 20), Alison Krauss (Sept. 22) and Kaleo (Sept. 27).

The Beacon Theatre in Hopewell will be hosting acts like We Are Messengers (Sept. 9), Jackyl (Sept. 14), Skid Row (Sept. 21), and more.

In Charlottesville, the Sprint Pavilion will host acts including Father John Misty (Sept. 25), Moon Taxi (Sept. 27), Brandi Carlile (Sept. 28), Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit (Sept. 30), and more. On Sept. 29, Thomas Rhett, Brett Young & Midland will perform at the John Paul Jones Arena.

The Jefferson Theater will hosts artists like Trampled By Turtles (Sept. 9), Lucy Dacus (Sept. 14), Neko Case (Sept. 15), Mat Kearney (Sept. 19), BØRNS (Sept. 22), Rainbow Kitten Surprise (Sept. 24), and more.

The Norva

The NorVa in Norfolk will be hosting acts like The Connells (Sept. 7), Lil Baby (Sept. 11), GWAR (Sept. 14), Matt and Kim (Sept. 16), Seether (Sept. 17), Rainbow Kitten Surprise (Sept. 25), Social Distortion (Sept. 26), Clutch (Sept. 27), Chromeo (Sept. 29) and more.

The Veterans United Home Loans Amphitheater at Virginia Beach brings in G-EAZY (Sept. 1), 5 Seconds of Summer (Sept. 2), Dierks Bentley (Sept. 6), Deep Purple & Judas Priest (Sept. 8), Zac Brown Band (Sept. 15), and Lady Antebellum & Darius Rucker (Sept. 20).

Phase 2 Club in Lynchburg will be bringing in acts such as Ashley McBryde (Sept. 14), Riley Green (Sept. 22), The Outlaws (Sept. 28), and more.

In Roanoke, the Berglund Center will be hosting Alison Krauss on Sept. 20.

Over in Rocky Mount at the Harvester Performance Center will be hosting a number of shows including Keb Mo on Sept. 15, Lorrie Morgan (Sept. 21), Squirrel Nuit Zippers on Sept. 27, and Blue Öyster Cult on Sept. 16.

The Blue Ridge Summer Concert Series at the Blue Ridge Music Center in Galax will host Phoebe Hunt & The Gatherers and Zoe & Cloyd on Sept. 1, and Mipso on Sept. 8.

The Lime Kiln Theater in Lexington will be hosting I’m With Her (Sara Watkins, Sarah Jarosz, and Aoife O’Donovan) on Sept. 14 and Love Canon on Sept. 22.

Celebrate Virginia After Hours in Fredericksburg will bring to the stage Gary Allan (Sept. 8), The Drifters, Cornell Gunter’s Coasters, The Platters (Sept. 15), The Marshall Tucker Band (Sept. 23) and Dustin Lynch (Sept. 29).

At Wolf Trap National Park for Performing Arts in Vienna, shows will include Ziggy Marley (Sept. 1), 5 Seconds of Summer (Sept. 5), Alanis Morissette (Sept. 6), Jethro Tull (Sept. 7), 4U – A Symphonic Celebration of Prince by the Wolf Trap Orchestra (Sept. 8), and more.

Alexandria music hall The Birchmere will be hosting The Earls of Leicester (Sept. 2), Jon B (Sept. 9), The Brian McKnight 4 (Sept. 13), Nils Lofgren & Friends (Sept. 14-16), The Marshal Tucker Band (Sept. 18), Buddy Guy (Sept. 24), Eric Benet (Sept 27-28), and more.

Jiffy Lube Live

Jiffy Lube Live in Bristow will host a number of shows including Dierks Bentley (Sept. 7), Ozzy Osbourne (Sept. 14), and Van Morrison (Sept. 16).



For more big names coming to Virginia this month, go to virginia.org/music. At a Virginia concert this month? Share your photos with @VisitVirginia on Twitter and Instagram with the hashtags #vamusic and #vaisformusiclovers.

The post Big Concerts Coming to Virginia in September 2018 appeared first on Virginia’s Travel Blog.

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7 Things to do in Clifton Forge

7 Things to do in Clifton Forge

Nestled in the Allegheny Mountains at the southern tip of the Shenandoah Valley and west of the Blue Ridge Parkway, in Virginia’s Mountain Region, Clifton Forge allows visitors to step away from the hustle and bustle of a hectic life, celebrate the arts, and enjoy the beautiful outdoors. Visit today for a #UniquelyAlleghany experience.


Enjoy the Great Outdoors at Douthat State Park

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Douthat State Park is situated amongst some of Virginia’s most breathtaking mountain scenery. Visitors can enjoy miles of stream fishing, a 50-acre lake, a sandy swimming beach with snack bar, boat and bicycle rentals, cabins, and more. With more than 40 miles of hiking and mountain-biking trails, an amphitheater, playgrounds, and nature and history programs, there is something for everyone. The park also features two completely furnished lodges and a restaurant on-site.


Take a Class at the Clifton Forge School of the Arts

Comprised of historic buildings and a specimen garden which border Smith Creek, the Clifton Forge School of the Arts offers classes for children and adults in Fall, Spring, and Summer semesters. Classes and workshops are offered in drawing, painting, hand quilting, woodworking, stained glass, pottery, sculpture, music instruction, and much more.  Students of all ages are welcome and customized art education and experiences are available.


Eat at Jack Mason’s Tavern & Brewery

Photo Credit: Chuck Almarez with Fire & Light Gallery

This European-style brewpub features a variety of their own craft beers in addition to those from other breweries. Jack Mason’s Tavern is not just a restaurant, but also as a fun gathering place for friends and family of all ages. They have a game room featuring pool tables, video games, and a pinball machine. The large fireplace and warm atmosphere will welcome you as you come in to meet with friends or watch your favorite game.


Stay at Hill Crest Bed & Breakfast

Located on 2.82 acres, Hill Crest Bed & Breakfast features stunning Greek revival architecture. Relax on Hill Crest’s 64-foot wraparound porch and take in the breathtaking view of the city and the surrounding mountains. Hill Crest has 24 rooms and approximately 6,500 square feet of finished living space. Enjoy their 40,000-gallon in-ground pool, beautiful gardens, majestic trees, and more.


Visit the C&O Railway Heritage Center

Photo Credit: Alleghany Highlands Chamber of Commerce & Tourism

This C&O Railway Heritage Center is an interpretive and educational railway heritage museum and visitor’s center that tells the story of the C&O Railway: the people, the places, and the technology. The story is the essential American tale of how our nation grew, how we lived and worked, and how we were all connected together by twin rails of steel. The purpose of this center is also to honor the memory and contribution of all the workers who built the railroads that allowed our nation to prosper, as well as those railroaders who continue to keep America moving by rail.


Check Out Local Artwork at the Alleghany Highlands Arts & Crafts Center

The Alleghany Highlands Arts & Crafts Center features rotating exhibits and sales of regional fine arts and handcrafts. Exhibits change every 4-6 weeks and feature work in a wide variety of media by Highlands and other artists. The shop sells juried handmade pottery, wood items, jewelry, stained glass, ornaments, needlework, baskets, and other fine crafts, as well as framed and unframed watercolors, oils, and various types of prints. Short-term workshops for the general public are offered throughout the year.


See a Show at the Historic Masonic Theatre/Amphitheatre

Photo Credit: Chuck Almarez with Fire & Light Gallery

Originally an opera house and Masonic Lodge, the Historic Masonic Theatre is Virginia’s oldest continuously operating Theatre. In July 2016, the Historic Masonic Theatre opened its doors to the public once again after a $6.5 million renovation. Both a movie theatre and a performing arts venue, the four-story building has a state of the art auditorium, an underground cafe and lounge area, and a balcony with additional seating.


See more…


For more information on the Alleghany Highlands, visit www.visitalleghanyhighlands.com.

The post 7 Things to do in Clifton Forge appeared first on Virginia’s Travel Blog.

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6 Things to Do in Blacksburg

6 Things to Do in Blacksburg

Located in Montgomery County in the Blue Ridge Highlands region of Virginia, Blacksburg is a university town rooted in rich history but also home to the quirky, the inventive, the creative and the sustainable. The home of Virginia Tech, Blacksburg has a certain vibe that’s equally attractive to young professionals, retirees, and weekenders. When planning your next visit to the area, be sure to add the following activities to your list!


Wine Down at Beliveau Estate Winery

Photo Credit: Montgomery County VA Regional Tourism Office 

Known for their lavender, wine, food and beautiful vistas, Beliveau Estate Winery sits on 165 scenic acres just 12 miles from downtown Blacksburg and Virginia Tech. Try their many different varietals of award-winning red and white wines in a tasting, by the glass, or by the bottle. Bring a picnic or order from their chef’s daily menu. Take advantage of the property’s spectacular mountain views, on-site hiking trails, fragrant lavender garden, covered veranda, stocked ponds, hilltop pavilion, outdoor patio and tiki bar, on-site French Country-style Bed & Breakfast, and so much more!


Visit Virginia Tech’s Hahn Horticulture Garden or Moss Arts Center

World class performances, top of the line technology, and two changing gallery exhibits are only a few of the many things you at the Moss Arts Center. The Center for the Arts brings opera, ballet, noteworthy authors, and more. The Hahn Horticulture Garden encompasses nearly six acres of teaching and display gardens on the campus of Virginia Tech. The garden features perennial borders, water gardens, shade gardens, a meadow garden, and the Peggy Lee Hahn Garden Pavilion.


Tube the New River Junction

A small, family-oriented campground with water, electricity, wi-fi, in-ground fire pits and picnic tables at every site, the New River Junction has been in operation since 1982. One of the oldest rivers in the world, the New River spans almost 300 yards across at its intersection with the Junction, meandering across its limestone bed before dropping off through McCoy falls. Go tubing, grill out and chill out at Big Falls Park!


Bike the Huckleberry Trail

The Huckleberry Trail is the New River Valley’s scenic paved bike and pedestrian trail, which began as a train path in 1902 to transport coal followed by passengers in 1904. The nickname “Huckleberry Crossing” came from the train’s tendency to stall, leading to passengers disembarking and passing the time by picking huckleberries from the overgrown bushes along the tracks. In the summer of 1966, the Blacksburg depot was closed and work began to transform the train path into a nature trail. The 8+ mile paved trail connects both the towns of Blacksburg and Christiansburg. If you’re visiting Blacksburg and didn’t bring your own bike, find a rental through Roam NRV, a bike-sharing app that lets you rent bikes from hubs all over town.


Have a Beer or Kombucha at Rising Silo Brewery

Located inside Glade Road Growing Farm, Rising Silo Brewery brews craft beer and kombucha using ingredients grown on-site, pairing the beverages with wood-fired pizza as well as other tasty dishes. New craft beers are constantly rotating on tap, and specialty events fill their calendars, from Masa Monday to Pizza Friday. Farm fresh is only the beginning for this brewery. Enjoy a beer and then grab some fresh produce to take home with you!


Buy, Eat, and Live Local in Downtown Blacksburg

From the bustling Farmers Market, open Wednesdays and Saturdays year-round, to the historic Lyric Theatre, Downtown Blacksburg is a place where locals, students, and visitors mingle, shop, and dine. With a variety of restaurants and plenty of outdoor café-style seating, there’s something to satisfy every taste bud. Grab that perfect gift, sweet treat, or must-have item one of the many locally owned bookstores, artisans, jewelry stores, and more.


Where to Stay in Blacksburg

  • Main Street Inn
  • Clay Corner Inn
  • Beliveau Estate Bed and Breakfast


Where to Dine in Blacksburg

  • Cabo Fish Taco
  • Blacksburg Taphouse
  • Avellinos Italian Restaurant and Pizzeria
  • Lefty’s


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Crush Friday: Your Mini-Vacation Guide to Bristol & Abingdon

Crush Friday: Your Mini-Vacation Guide to Bristol & Abingdon


Millennials have a serious problem, and it’s not spending all their money on avocado toast: they aren’t taking their paid vacation days. In 2017 alone, American workers forfeited 206 million paid vacation days, which adds up to a hefty chunk of change–$66.4 billion in benefits, to be exact. That means you pretty much donated $604 in work time to your boss.

We want to help you get the most out of your paid time off; if you feel as if you can’t possibly leave the office for an entire week, then start with a Friday here and there. And don’t just lie around the house all day, checking emails that can most likely wait until Monday. Get out and explore Virginia!

Bristol Sign

To keep you from making excuses, we’ve done the hard work of planning your next three-day weekend. This month, we traveled to one of the most underrated parts of the state, exploring Bristol, Abingdon, and the epically scenic region of Southwest Virginia. Cash in a vacation day and follow this itinerary for an awesome 72-hour adventure in Virginia.

Not sure when to plan this trip? In just a few weeks, Bristol will host Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion, a three-day music festival that celebrates Bristol’s heritage as the Birthplace of Country Music. This year’s festival is headlined by Old Crow Medicine Show, but there are dozens of talented bands worth seeing at this incredible annual event.



Stay at: The Black Dog Inn or Creeper’s End Lodging in Abingdon, each starting around $115 per night. Hilton Garden Inn in Bristol, starting at $129 per night.

black dog inn abingdon

Named for the inn’s four-legged resident, Hadley, the Black Dog Inn is a historic restored property in the heart of downtown Abingdon. Featuring beautiful woodwork and antique furnishings, the inn has been renovated with all the modern amenities, including luxurious showers, TVs in every room, and a mini fridge stocked with anything you could possibly want, from sodas and bottled waters to milk and cream options for your morning coffee.

creepers end lodging abingdon

Just around the corner, Creeper’s End Lodging consists of two charming cottages that hold seven apartment-style suites. Each room has its own unique layout that caters to every type of guest, from families with small children to solo travelers looking for a quiet spot to unwind at the end of a long day.

If you’re looking for comfort, convenience, and affordable accommodations in Bristol, stay at the Hilton Garden Inn, just a few miles from the downtown area. The hotel has everything you expect from a Hilton property, including a fitness center, indoor swimming pool, and an on-site restaurant and bar.

COMING SOON: Opening in October 2018, the Bristol Hotel will be the first hotel in downtown Bristol, conveniently situated just off State Street and within walking distance to all the restaurants, shops, and attractions of the city. This historic boutique hotel will offer a rooftop bar, gourmet restaurant, and stunning rooms at affordable rates.

Suggested Prior Reservations: Accommodations at Creeper’s End Lodging or Black Dog Inn, bike rentals through Virginia Creeper Trail Bike Shop, tours with Adventure Mendota, dinner at 128 Pecan or Morgan’s.


—FRIDAY—the market restaurant abingdon

Begin Friday with the drive out to Abingdon and make a quick stop at The Market for lunch. A hidden gem of Southwest Virginia, the restaurant serves a variety of soups, salads, and sandwiches and gets all of its ingredients from local farms and distributors, ensuring that their menu stays fresh and seasonal.

Virginia Creeper Trail

Once you’ve finished lunch, your next stop is the Virginia Creeper Trail Bike Shop. The shop rents mountain bikes to riders looking to take on the Virginia Creeper Trail, a 34-mile rail-trail that runs from Whitetop Station inside Mount Rogers National Recreation Area to downtown Abingdon, ending just blocks from the bike shop. The trail is a leisurely downhill ride, but you’ll have the option to choose a shorter bike route if 34 miles seems a bit daunting. We decided on a nine-mile stretch from the shop to Alvarado, which provided a picturesque ride through the rural wooded landscape outside Abingdon. In addition to offering rentals, the bike shop provides a shuttle service, ferrying you and the bikes back to the shop after the ride.

wolf hills brewing abingdon

Even though the trail is fairly easy, you’ll find yourself in need of a break after hours of biking. Check in to either the Black Dog Inn or Creeper’s End Lodging, both a short distance from Abingdon’s best restaurants and shops, then get ready for your evening out. We started with Wolf Hills Brewing, ordering a flight to get a taste of their excellent brews. The brewery crafts small batches of unique beers, focusing on perfecting the quality of their beers rather than mass-producing large quantities. A few top picks were the Blackberry Gose, Wes’s Wheat, and the Oatmeal Vanilla Porter, a heavenly dessert-like brew that will impress even the light beer drinkers.

128 Pecan in Abingdon, VA

Photo Credit: Jason Barnette

Abingdon has tons of noteworthy restaurants (fun fact: there are more restaurants per-capita in Abingdon than in San Francisco), so narrowing it down for dinner is no easy task. We recommend dining at either 128 Pecan or Morgan’s. 128 Pecan is casual yet timeless, with a menu featuring upscale southern fare. Start with an appetizer (both the calamari and the parmesan fries were delicious), then choose from entrees like grilled lamb chops, shrimp & grits, and lemon rosemary grilled chicken.

morgans restaurant abingdon

If you’re looking for a more formal dining setting, opt for dinner at Morgan’s. The restaurant is known for their hand-cut steaks, served on a large wooden slab with your choice of caramelized onions, roasted garlic & herb butter, sautéed mushrooms, or a Madeira reduction. While the restaurant has an impressive wine list, cocktail lovers shouldn’t miss out on ordering one of their signature drinks, made with fresh herbs, berries, and a selection of syrups and tonics prepared in-house.

Barter Theatre

After dinner, stroll over to the Barter Theatre to catch a show. The official state theatre of Virginia, the Barter Theatre has been a staple of the community since 1933. Resident actors team up with special guest stars to put on popular Broadway plays and musicals like Steel Magnolias, Singin’ in the Rain, and Sister Act.

The Martha Hotel & Spa

Grab a drink after the show at the Martha Hotel, located just across the street from the Barter Theatre. The elegant historic hotel blends old southern charm with modern luxury, and the on-site restaurant and bar is the perfect place to end your first evening in Southwest Virginia.


—SATURDAY—white birch juice and food restaurant abingdon

Wake up early on Saturday for breakfast at White Birch Juice in downtown Abingdon. Besides a handful of healthy breakfast entrees, the restaurant blends up an array of smoothies, cold-pressed juices, and wellness shots using simple, locally sourced ingredients like fresh fruit, spices, and health-conscious produce including wheatgrass and spinach. Try the Scram-bowl, made with your choice of homefries, local grits, or rice & quinoa topped with scrambled egg, mushrooms, spinach, caramelized onions, goat cheese, avocado, red pepper yogurt sauce, and fresh parsley. It’s filling enough to get you through your morning but still light enough that you won’t be tempted to go back to bed.


Photo Credit: Sam Dean

Hit the road heading west for Adventure Mendota River Outfitters. They’ll get you geared up and ready to explore the North Fork of the Holston River in kayaks. After meeting at the outfitter headquarters, you’ll fill out some paperwork, get a brief instruction seminar, and don your life jackets and water shoes (must be close-toed as the river floor is rocky and rough in some spots) before grabbing the kayaks and hitting the water. After floating a leisurely five miles on the Holston, you’ll exit the river to the waiting Adventure Mendota staff, who will load up the kayaks and equipment before shuttling you back to their shop.The Channels Natural Area Preserve

If water sports aren’t your first choice, consider hiking at the Channels Natural Area Preserve, a seven-mile round-trip hike to sandstone slot canyons that are approximately 400 million years old. While it’s not a beginner-level trek, the payoff of the massive stone channels at the end is well worth the hike.

Burger Bar

Head back towards Bristol, where you’ll grab lunch at the Burger Bar. This classic burger joint looks like something straight out of the 1950’s, complete with neon signs, swivel seating at the Formica countertops, and retro pendant lighting overhead. Legend has it that country music star, Hank Williams Sr., ate his last meal at Burger Bar, and in our opinion, that’s a pretty fantastic last meal. Start with one of the juicy burgers with all the toppings and add a side of their chili cheese fries, but save room for a classic milkshake, blended in flavors like Strawberry Shortcake, Marshmallow Crème, and Chocolate Raspberry.

birthplace of country music museum bristol

Next up, pay a visit to the iconic Birthplace of Country Music Museum, just a short walk from Burger Bar. The museum traces Bristol’s history in country music back to 1927, when the famed Bristol Recording Sessions brought together some of the most important acts in country music, including the Carter Family and Jimmie Rodgers. After learning about these recordings and the effect they had on the music industry as a whole, you’ll see how these songs are still being played by musicians over 90 years later.

Paramount Center for The Arts

Spend an hour or so browsing a few of the shops off State Street in Downtown Bristol. Check out the Paramount Theater, a national historic landmark that was built in 1931 and still hosts concerts, movies, and other entertainment on a regular basis. If you’re interested in seeing the interior of the Art Deco-style theater outside of scheduled show times, you can request a tour of the property in advance.

Studio Brew

Beer lovers have several places to sample in downtown Bristol. Stop into Bristol Station Brews & Taproom for a tasting, followed by a few brews with dinner at nearby Studio Brew. This artisan craft brewery typically has over 15 brews on tap, giving you plenty to choose from. Pair the brews with a wood-fired sandwich or pizza for an incredibly tasty (and filling) dinner. Get a little adventurous with your meal and order the Pizza & Pint of the Day, a “chef’s choice” of pizza matched with your choice of a 16-ounce brew, all for just $10.99.

Journey back to the Hilton Garden Inn for a good night’s sleep.


—SUNDAY—blackbird bakery bristol

Kick-start your last day in Southwest Virginia at Blackbird Bakery in Bristol. Pick out breakfast from the glass cases containing an assortment of homemade muffins, donuts, pastries, and other sweet treats. Add a specialty coffee to fully wake up, and grab a seat at the patio tables outside if the weather permits.

Spend a little more time exploring downtown Bristol’s shops, then travel back into Abingdon to pick up a picnic lunch from Zazzy’s Coffee Roasters. The menu features sandwiches and wraps, salads, a daily selection of quiches, and freshly baked muffins, scones, and turnovers. The restaurant offers to-go lunch combos including a cold sandwich or wrap, a cup of soup, chips, and a cookie or brownie with a bottle of water.

Grayson Highlands State Park

Grab your lunch and get back on the road for Grayson Highlands State Park, about an hour east of Abingdon, where you’ll park at the base of the Rhododendron Trail inside Grayson Highlands. If you’re lucky, you’ll spot the resident wild ponies along the trail, as well as some stunning scenery from the top of the short quarter-mile hike.

grayson highlands state park rhododendron trail

After reaching the top of the trail, you can connect to the Appalachian Trail for a further exploration along the mountains, or head back down the trail to start your trip back home.


Follow the Virginia is for Lovers team next month as we “Crush Friday” in Southern Virginia, discovering the small-town charm of destinations like Clarksville, Danville, and Martinsville.


Previous Crush Friday Virginia Destinations: 



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