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Good for the Sole— Heartwarming Stories from an Appalachian Trail Community

Good for the Sole— Heartwarming Stories from an Appalachian Trail Community

The 2,190-mile Appalachian Trail (A.T.) travels through 14 states on its course from Georgia to Maine. A thru-hike along the length of the A.T. challenges hikers both physically and mentally and is frequently described as “life-changing.” 540 miles of the A.T. wind through Virginia, more than through any other state, and hikers often refer to the infamous “Virginia Blues” – the feeling that they’re not making progress and the state will never end. Appalachian Trail Communities like Waynesboro, Virginia, know how important support and rejuvenation are to the weary hiker.

_” We had a great trail magic moment on Mother’s Day when we were hiking along the Blue Ridge Parkway. A local woman brought an amazing spread of sandwiches, pastries, chips, fresh fruit, and drinks to a place where the trail crossed the Parkway. She kept saying, ‘Call your mothers and let them know that there’s another mother out here taking care of you!’ It was so sweet.” ~ Staige Davis and Andrea Parra, thru-hikers _

We Are Hikers, Too!

You’ll meet many friends on the trail.

Courtesy of Visit Waynesboro

Waynesboro is a community with a deep appreciation of our magnificent surroundings. Some of us have lived here in the Shenandoah Valley all of our lives, and some of us have relocated here because of the area’s breathtaking greenways and blueways. We live just 3 miles from the Appalachian Trail, and we’re out there hiking the trail, maintaining the trail, and even designing mountain gear and hammocks for the trail. We share a great respect for those who choose to walk this exhilarating and humbling path and look forward to being a part of your Appalachian Trail story!

When you come off the trail to rest your feet and your soul, stop by the Rockfish Gap Tourist Information Center for information on shuttles into town and to the thru-hiker campground, as well as other services you might need. Stanimal’s 328 Hostel & Shuttle Service is a popular treat for the trail-weary. Owner Adam Stanley is himself a veteran of the A.T. and his own experience with a Trail Angel inspired him to open two hiker hostels in the area. A community that understands the specific demands of the trail can be priceless for those trekking far from the resources and comforts of home.

“I had identified a tailor who could probably sew the pack strap for me; but, Adam, the proprietor of Stanimal’s suggested we go to Rockfish Gap Outfitters first. RGO is an authorized Osprey Packs dealer. Adam thought they might be able to talk to Osprey and see if anything could be done (my pack is an Osprey Exos 58). Osprey offers a pretty amazing guarantee. Jack from RGO got on the phone with Osprey and 15 minutes later I was walking out the front door with a brand new replacement pack. Woo hoo!… I was back on the trail.” ~ Beaker, 2017 Thru Hiker

Stanimal’s and Rockfish Gap Outfitters to the rescue.

Courtesy of Visit Waynesboro

“I met David Young at Graham’s Shoe Service and asked his opinion about a couple of boot issues. He was fabulous, and fixed the toes of both boots where the sole was pulling away from the upper. It was a relief to have this work done.” ~ Karen Edwards, hiker

Graham’s Shoe Service is the A.T. hiker’s best friend, providing boot, tent, pack and raincoat repair.

Courtesy of Visit Waynesboro

“Life is too short and the Appalachian Trail is too long not to have a meal at the best Chinese buffet anywhere.” ~ Robert J. Sutherland, travel writer from Georgia

Food is, of course, an important topic of conversation among the hiking community. Mention of Waynesboro’s delicious and filling dining options are mentioned in hiker blogs the world over. Jake’s Bar & Grill’s “magnificent hamburgers,” as one hiker from Spain describes them, are widely appreciated, as is the dog-friendly outdoor patio at Heritage on Main Street. And if you’ve read your share of A.T. guide books, you no doubt already know that Waynesboro is the home of “The Best Chinese Buffet on the Entire A.T.,” New Ming Garden Buffet and Grill.

Classic A.T. signs.

Courtesy of Visit Waynesboro

“At Basic City we like to surround ourselves with people that have drive, endurance, and a passion for the sublime. A.T. hikers embody these attributes. We built a shower for hikers coming off the trail. We also have a lot of regulars that are Trail Angels.” ~ Bart Lanman, co-owner of Basic City Beer Co.

Our breweries, restaurants, and merchants are just a few of the reasons you should plan to take a zero (a day off during a long-distance hike in which zero miles are walked) in Waynesboro, VA! Check out our Guide for A.T. Hikers for additional resources and advice on where to sleep, shower, rest, recharge, stock up, and kick back. After a stop in Waynesboro, you’ll be ready to step back out onto the trail to continue your journey of a lifetime!

Written by Naturally Waynesboro for Visit Waynesboro.

Featured image provided by Courtesy of Visit Waynesboro

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The post Good for the Sole— Heartwarming Stories from an Appalachian Trail Community appeared first on Virginia’s Travel Blog.

About FunRVA

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Crush Friday: Your Mini-Vacation Guide to Richmond

Crush Friday: Your Mini-Vacation Guide to Richmond

Each year, Americans are forfeiting 662 million of their precious paid vacation days and choosing to stay in the office, leading to some seriously stressed out workers.

Stop with the work martyr act, people!

Using your paid vacation days leads to a happier, healthier life, and while you may feel like it’s impossible to log out for a weeklong vacation, you can start with taking off a Friday to create a three-day weekend. The team at Virginia is for Lovers did just that this month, spending our 72 hours exploring Virginia’s vibrant capital city. Use our detailed itinerary for a foolproof escape plan and Crush Friday in Richmond this month!
richmond charm school mural




Stay at: The Graduate Richmond, starting at $139 per night

graduate hotel dogs barkbox

Located just a few blocks from the Virginia Commonwealth University campus, the Graduate Richmond offers a prime location for your stay in Richmond. The hotel embraces all things RVA, with a lobby that pays tribute to local tennis legend, Arthur Ashe and artwork in the rooms that nods to the city’s unique music scene. The hotel frequently hosts community-centric events, partnering with local businesses for things like special themed dinners and workshops that support the Richmond community. One of the best aspects of this hotel? Pets are not just permitted, but warmly welcomed by the hotel as valued guests. You’ll receive a custom Bark Box created just for the Graduate upon reaching your room, filled with school-themed toys and treats that your dog will LOVE (we know our pups did!). If you get hungry during your stay, stop by the Brookfield Cafe on the ground floor for a bite to eat at almost all hours, from breakfast to late-night cocktails. And starting in the spring of 2018, guests will also have a second option for dining and drinks: the Byrd House, a rooftop bar with awe-inspiring views of the surrounding cityscape. Once the weather allows, we recommend kicking back with a cocktail while lounging by the rooftop pool.

Suggested Prior Reservations: Lunch/Supper, East Coast Provisions



 maggie l walker museum

Richmond is packed with history, so we thought we would push back breakfast and start the day at an inspiring destination: the Maggie L. Walker National Historical Site. Walker spent her entire life working towards equality for African Americans, especially women, making countless important contributions that helped lay the foundation for future Civil Rights movements throughout the United States. Before visiting the museum, watch a short film that details Walker’s rise from an African American woman born at the end of the Civil War to a community leader and hero. Continue the tour next door at Maggie Walker’s historic home, allowing visitors a chance to walk the same halls as this distinguished Richmond resident.

sub rosa bakery richmond

After leaving the museum, head to Sub Rosa Bakery in the historic neighborhood of Church Hill. This bakery is a Richmond favorite, crafting traditional Eastern Mediterranean breads, pastries, and tarts using old-school methods like grinding the heirloom wheat in a stone mill and baking in a wood fired masonry brick oven. Sub Rosa has a dedicated following, so don’t be surprised if there is a line of people already queued up for breakfast, but the service is fast and efficient, with pastries served up within minutes of ordering. Pair your breakfast with one of their specialty coffees, espressos, or teas for a caffeine boost, then grab a seat and watch the bakers work their magic as they kneed doughs, prepare the pastries, and shuffle the bread-based treats into the fiery stone oven.

roaring pines richmond soda shop

Walk just a few blocks down the street to Roaring Pines, an old-fashioned soda bar and general store where you can channel your inner child. Order one of the unique cream sodas, like the Coal Miner’s Daughter, a Cheerwine soda and cream concoction with a candied peanut garnish. Each drink is carefully mixed using homemade syrups and drinking vinegars, resulting in fresh flavors that you won’t find anywhere else. Never tried drinking vinegars before? Sample a few with a vinegar flight; our favorite was the mint lime and cucumber, a tart, light vinegar mixed with carbonated water for a fizzy and refreshing taste. After sipping on some of the unique beverages, peruse the shop, filled with all American-made home goods, from locally made brooms and mops to household cleaners sold by the ounce.

ledbury richmond

Journey down from Church Hill to the Broad Street Arts District to check out an eclectic shopping district. For premium men’s clothing, Ledbury is a must. This Richmond-based business makes tailored men’s dress shirts, pants, and coats, in addition to a variety of luxury accessories. You’ll be hard-pressed to beat their level of quality and detail when it comes to men’s clothing. A few blocks away, Rider Boot Shop has the perfect dress shoes to pair with your Ledbury purchases (they also sell women’s shoes!).

blue bones vintage clothing richmond

Shop consignment at Blue Bones Vintage and boutique women’s clothing at Rosewood Clothing Co. and Mod and Soul. In addition to consignment clothing, 68 Home carries eclectic home décor and furniture. You’ll find everything from 70’s era floral couches to unique stemware in this charming Broad Street staple.

secret sandwich society

After your busy morning, grab some lunch at Secret Sandwich Society on Grace Street. The restaurant serves burgers, sandwiches, soups, and salads from thoughtfully sourced ingredients and runs entirely on wind-powered electricity. We loved their Presidential-named sandwiches, like the Kennedy, made with slow roasted pork shoulder, ham, swiss cheese,  pickles, roasted garlic mayo,  and mustard, all served on a brioche bun.

charm school ice cream richmond

Since you’re on vacation, consider splurging on a little afternoon dessert at Charm School, an ice cream shop on Broad Street that scoops deliciously unique flavors like lemon poppyseed and their rotating “cereal milk” flavor (Captain Crunch during our visit). Top your ice cream with toasted marshmellow fluff for an Instagram-worthy dessert.

Belle Isle Historic Park

If you feel like you need to work off some of the day’s dishes, a bike ride at Belle Isle Historic Park is the way to go. The riverfront island is encircled by scenic trails, with the city skyline as an appealing backdrop for your peddling. Added in 2017, Adventures in RVA have checkout stations throughout the city where you can use a credit card to rent bikes by the hour. One such station is located near the footbridge that leads to Belle Isle.

circuit arcade bar

Head back to the hotel to check in and take a quick shower before departing for Scott’s Addition, a burgeoning Richmond neighborhood that is home to several breweries, distilleries, cideries, and even a meadery. Start your brew tour at The Circuit Arcade Bar, a throwback gaming destination complete with classic console games like Mortal Kombat and PacMan, multi-player sports games such as skeeball and air hockey, and elaborate vintage pinball machines. Circuit Arcade also boasts an impressive array of craft beers, ciders, and wines on tap, with around 50 different selections available at any given time. Ask their in-house “draft master” for recommendations or sample as many as you like with your beer card, which charges for each drink by the ounce.

blue bee cider richmond

Next up, swing by Blue Bee Cider to try their crisp, dry ciders. Opt for a tasting to sample all of the ciders, then choose your favorite for a full pour that you can enjoy on the private outdoor patio, a prime spot to catch a stunning Richmond sunset.

the veil brewing co richmond

IPA lovers shouldn’t miss a visit to The Veil Brewing Co., located right around the corner from Blue Bee. They are known for crafting hop-forward wild ales using inventive hop and grain pairings, releasing new brews on a weekly basis. Each new release is greeted by enthusiastic fans lining up out the door (sometimes even around the block) to purchase multiple cases, and after sampling all of their draft options, we understood why. You’ll most likely find yourself carrying home a case or two of your new favorite beer upon leaving The Veil.

vasen brewery richmond

One of the latest to join the Richmond craft beer scene, Vasen Brewery produces a full menu of interesting sours, gose, lagers, and saisons. On weekends, you can get a behind-the-scenes look at how the beer is made during the brewhouse tour.

If you still haven’t satisfied your thirst for Richmond craft beers, drop in to Isley Brewing Company, another Scott’s Addition favorite that creates flavorful ales, porters, and everything in between. We recommend the “Choosy Mother” Peanut Butter Porter, which has distinct “peanutty” notes that meld with the dark brew for a very drinkable result.

Maybe we’re biased, but the #UrbanRoost is perfect at sunset. 🌅

A post shared by LUNCH. | SUPPER! (@lunchorsupper) on May 9, 2017 at 5:11pm PDT

For dinner in Scott’s Addition, book a table at Lunch. and Supper!. The menu blends Southern staples with culinary twists that bring the dishes to a whole new level, like the Herd, a brisket, pork, and barbecue meatloaf wrapped in bacon and topped with a tomato-honey-bourbon glaze. A word to the wise: don’t miss out on the restaurant’s daily deviled eggs special.



perly's restaurant and delicatessen richmond

After all the breweries and cocktails yesterday, you’ll probably want to start the day with a solid breakfast. Go to Perly’s Restaurant & Delicatessen, just a few blocks walk from the hotel, for an authentic Jewish deli experience. Options include classics like Corned Beef Hash and bagels topped with lox and cream cheese as well as breakfast takes on Jewish cuisine like the Cinnamon Babka Fresh Toast or the Benny Goodman: two potato latkes topped with smoked salmon, poached eggs, dill hollandaise, and salmon roe.

Robert E. Lee Monument

After breakfast, take a stroll down Monument Avenue, known for the historic monuments but also a popular spot for locals to lie out on sunny days, jog, or walk their dogs (if you’ve brought your pups along, a leashed jaunt down the avenue is a great Richmond activity for you both!).

trend carytown richmond

Head over to Carytown, a nine-block stretch of Cary Street packed with boutique shops, local restaurants, and historic sites. First stop is Trend., a small boutique that carries a wide array of goods, including home décor, cute women’s apparel, and items handmade by local Virginia artisans.

chop suey carytown richmond

A block further down Cary, Chop Suey Books is a mainstay in the Carytown community, buying and selling used and new books and hosting special events and meetups in the upstairs section of the shop. If you don’t have a specific title in mind and are feeling daring, check out the front of the shop, where you can have a “Blind Date with a Book”. The shop wraps up books in solid parchment paper and twine, adding a tag on the front that gives a short description of the book, leaving your next read up to chance (or fate, if you prefer). Be sure to give WonTon the bookstore kitty a few pets before you leave!

mongrel carytown richmond

Be sure to drop into Mongrel, an “uncommon” gift and card shop across the street from Chop Suey Tuey. You’ll find yourself wanting to buy absolutely everything in the shop, from the fragrant candles to the eclectic barware, and with reasonable prices, you can afford to splurge a little on your picks. If you know anyone with a birthday coming up, browse the store’s one-of-a-kind card selection, filled with hundreds of cards that celebrate every occasion. They even pick out a Card of the Day to showcase their massive collection.

can can brasserie carytown richmond

Grab lunch at Carytown’s Can Can Brasserie, an elegant Parisian-style bistro. While the entrees are all fantastic, we like the half-soup-and-sandwich deal due to the restaurant’s incredible Onion Soup Gratinée and fresh, lightly dressed salads. The soup is hearty and rich, topped with about a pound* of melty Gruyere cheese (*a guestimate that may be slightly exaggerated). For drinks, you can always go with one of their seasonal craft cocktails or a pick from the notable craft beer menu, but if you’re thinking nonalcoholic, try the Eloise, the restaurant’s delicious take on a Shirley Temple.

vmfa virginia museum of fine arts faberge eggs richmond

Infuse your afternoon with a little culture when you visit the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts on the Boulevard. The museum houses a permanent collection of more than 33,000 works of art that span over 5,000 years and additionally draws special exhibitions from all over the world (the Terra Cotta Army exhibit just wrapped up). One of their most popular and rare permanent collections is the Faberge Egg exhibit. With about 200 pieces crafted by the Faberge artisans, the VMFA has the largest public Faberge collection in the world. You’ll also spot famous artwork from artists like Georgia O’Keefe, Kehinde Wiley, Picasso, and Matisse. Before leaving, stop by Amuse, the museum’s upscale restaurant, for a cocktail and maybe an appetizer or two.

maymont richmond

Drive over to Maymont next, one of Virginia’s most stunning hidden gems. Originally founded as a private estate, the property was generously donated to the city of Richmond after the wealthy owners passed away, allowing future generations to experience the beautifully designed property. Start the tour at the Robins Nature & Visitor Center, home to dozens of fish, reptiles, and mammals found in the James River as well as a few animals found in Virginia’s Chesapeake Bay, including seahorses and catsharks. After finishing the tour at the otter habitat, go outside to explore the 100-acre estate. The Maymont Farm features goats, horses, pigs, chickens, and more, teaching visitors about farm life in a hands-on manner. Hike down the hill to the wildlife habitats, where you’ll spot American Black Bears, Bobcats, American Bison, Bald Eagles, and other Virginia wildlife. If you’re ready for a break, bring a picnic blanket and soak up some sun on the expansive grassy lawns before touring the idyllic Italian and Japanese gardens (another popular spot for Instagrammers). Before leaving Maymont, head to the historic estate mansion, open for public tours during select hours each day.

east coast provisions carytown richmond

Back in Carytown, get dinner at East Coast Provisions, a trendy spot that serves up fresh seafood, much of it sourced from Virginia farmers. Start the meal with a dozen raw oysters, selecting a few different varieties to get the full Virginia oyster experience. For entrees, the restaurant has classic options like steaks and burgers, but if you’re a seafood lover, order a few of the sushi rolls. Save room for dessert and try either the House Donuts, Chocolate Lava Cake, or the Banana Bread.

Byrd Theatre

Catch a movie at the historic Byrd Theatre, with 7:15, 9:55, and midnight showings on the weekends. The theatre shows both classic and recently released movies for just $4 and sells concessions at affordable rates, and the recently renovated interior maintains the historic charm while also ensuring the theatre is comfortable and pristine.

the jasper bar carytown richmond

Still got a little bit of energy left? You’re on vacation, so stay up late and stop in to The Jasper, Carytown’s new cocktail bar for last call. They’ve reinvented the bar atmosphere, with a creative, upscale menu featuring elaborate cocktails at affordable prices, a wide array of craft beer offerings, and a world-class wine list. We will warn you: the Draft Zombie cocktail gets its name for a reason; be ready to Uber back to the hotel.



the fancy biscuit richmond

Sleep in on Sunday and grab breakfast at the FANcy Biscuit, named for its location in the iconic Richmond neighborhood, the Fan. And as the name suggests, they make some seriously awesome biscuits. The breakfast spot is pretty casual, and while the lines can get pretty long on the weekends, service is fast, and if a table isn’t available, you can always order your biscuits to go.

libby hill park richmond

Drive back to the Church Hill area and make a quick stop by Libby Hill Park. Enjoy the scenic perch at the top of the hill as you look toward downtown Richmond and the James River, a sight that is called the “View that Named Richmond.” In 1737, William Byrd II stood looking down at the bend in the James River and was reminded of the River Thames in Richmond Hill, England. The rest, as they say, is history.

edgar allen poe museum richmond

At the base of Church Hill, Shockoe Bottom is the home of the Edgar Allan Poe Museum. The museum pays tribute to Poe’s time in Richmond and traces his eerie story through the rest of Virginia and beyond. Peek at original manuscripts, first edition novels, personal belongings, and portraits of the famously morose author, and take time to kiss the Poe bust in the museum’s courtyard, built to reflect the verses found in one of Poe’s inspired literary works.

proper pie company richmond

Plan to arrive at Proper Pie Co. for lunch a few minutes before they open at noon; this pie shop is known as one of the best around, receiving the highest praises from famous Chef and food critic Alton Brown during his visit to the capital. They bake an assortment of both savory and sweet pies, switching up the menu daily to keep things fresh and reflect the seasonal offerings.

hollywood cemetery richmond

Wrap up the weekend with another epic historic spot in Richmond, Hollywood Cemetery. The grounds are surprisingly beautiful, and there are a number of notable historic figures resting inside, including two U.S. Presidents. The cemetery garners attentions from visitors around the world, and has gained the distinction of being the second most visited cemetery in the United States after Arlington National Cemetery.

lamplighter coffee richmond

Before heading home, grab a coffee to-go at Lamplighter Roasting Co. The Richmond coffee company has three locations spread across the city, so you can choose the closest location for a caffeine pick-me-up before hitting the road.



Stay tuned for our next Crush Friday trip, where we’ll take a Friday off work and spend the three-day weekend in Nelson County, home to the Nelson 151 Trail, the Blue Ridge Mountains, and endless outdoor adventure.


Previous Crush Friday Virginia Destinations: 


The post Crush Friday: Your Mini-Vacation Guide to Richmond appeared first on Virginia’s Travel Blog.

About FunRVA

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Top 12 Scenic Roads of Virginia State Parks

Top 12 Scenic Roads of Virginia State Parks

Many believe Virginia State Parks offers some of the prettiest scenery around. And most would agree that they are the perfect destination for a road trip. With fuel prices low it seems like just about wants to hit the road and explore Virginia.

I would like to share what I think are the most beautiful roads at Virginia State Parks. These also include routes and highways that may cut through a state park. Let’s get this road trip started and see the top 12 scenic roads.


A part of the famous ride known as the “Back of the Dragon” at Hungry Mother State Park

Courtesy of Virginia State Parks

Long a family favorite known 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 gift shops, visitor center, hiking and biking trails, and seasonal restaurant.


This scenic park road meanders around Chippokes Plantation State Park

Courtesy of Virginia State Parks

Just across the James River from historic Jamestown in beautiful Surry County, Chippokes Plantation is one of the oldest continually farmed plantations in the country. A working farm since 1619, the park offers modern recreational activities and a glimpse of life in a bygone era.

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. The park has a seasonal Olympic-sized swimming pool and a visitor center with a gift shop. It also provides opportunities to bike, hike, ride horseback and picnic.


First Landing State Park offers roads that are mostly flat, and are ideal for cycling

Courtesy of Virginia State Parks

The park is where English colonists first landed in 1607. Native American canoes, Colonial settlers, 20th century schooners and modern cargo ships have navigated the park’s waterways. 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.

As one of Virginia’s most-visited state park, it’s an oasis within urban Virginia Beach. The park has 20 miles of trails and 1.5 miles of sandy Chesapeake Bay beach frontage. 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.


The magical Bear Creek Lake State Park is less than an hour from Richmond

Courtesy of Virginia State Parks

Nestled in the heart of the Cumberland State Forest in central Virginia, Bear Creek Lake is less than an hour west of Richmond. It’s the perfect getaway for the outdoor enthusiast. Activities center on the 40-acre lake with a boat launch, fishing pier, boat rentals and a swimming beach. Other attractions include a camping, picnicking, an archery range and playgrounds.

Guests also enjoy the park’s trails and access to the adjoining 16,000-acre Cumberland State Forest, including the 14-mile Cumberland Multi-use Trail, which is available for hiking, biking and horseback riding.


Grayson Highlands State Park road leads you into what some call the crown jewel of Virginia State Parks

Courtesy of 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. Hiking trails leading to waterfalls and overlooks and the very popular Wild Ponies.

Scenic horse trails and a horse camping area with electric and water hookups, stables and parking for trailers are available. The park provides year-round access to the Appalachian Trail and the Virginia Highlands Horse Trail.


This winding road leads down to the Potomac River at Westmoreland State Park

Courtesy of Virginia State Parks

On the Potomac River’s Northern Neck, this park offers many opportunities for family fun. It’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places and has an Olympic-sized swimming pool and an adjacent bathhouse, meeting area, snack bar, camp store and power-boat ramp. You’ll also find a visitor center, a playground, a fishing pier, boat rentals and 6 miles of trails.

Fossil collectors enjoy hunting for ancient shark teeth along the Potomac.

Offshore breakwaters are great for fishing. Birding enthusiasts find the park an excellent site for spotting American bald eagles, ospreys, kingfishers, great blue herons, common terns, green herons and gulls, as well as wintering waterfowl.


The historic area at Sky Meadows State Park after a heavy rain shower brings the hills to life

Courtesy of Virginia State Parks

Rich in history, this 1,864-acre park has scenic views, woodlands and the rolling pastures of a historic farm that captures the colonial through post-Civil War life of the Crooked Run Valley. Nature and history programs are offered year-round. Hiking, picnicking, fishing and festivals are favorite activities in this peaceful getaway on the eastern side of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

The park has 10.5 miles of bridle trails, 24 miles of hiking trails, 9 miles of bike trials and Appalachian Trail access.


The Douthat Lodge with views of the lake and majestic Allegheny Mountains at Douthat State Park

Courtesy of Virginia State Parks

A traditional family park since 1936, Douthat is listed on the National Register of Historic Places for the role its design played in the development of parks nationwide. Amid some of Virginia’s most breathtaking mountain scenery, visitors enjoy interpretive programs, four miles of stream fishing, a 50-acre lake stocked with trout, a summertime sandy swimming beach with snack bar, boat rentals, a gift shop and camp store, and more than 43 miles of hiking, and is known as a mecca for mountain biking.

Plus, there are playgrounds, an amphitheater, picnic areas, tent and trailer camping, and a seasonal restaurant overlooking the lake.


Discover where the Staunton and Dan rivers converge at Staunton River State Park

Courtesy of Virginia State Parks

Tucked neatly into the heart of Virginia, about 25 miles from the North Carolina border, Staunton River offers much to families and outdoor enthusiasts. The 2,400-acre park offers woodlands, meadows and shoreline along the Dan and Staunton rivers.

Access to Virginia’s largest lake, Buggs Island Lake, offers freshwater fishing and boating, along with water skiing and many other aquatic activities. The park also has Olympic-sized and wading pools, picnic shelters, three playgrounds, tennis and volleyball courts, several boat launches and more than 17 miles of multi-use trails. River Traders, just outside the park entrance, rents canoes and kayaks.

This park is the first state park in Virginia to be designated an International Dark Sky Park and is ideal for stargazing. Park staff conducts associated interpretive programs and rents telescopes.


This super scenic foggy road draws you into Leesylvania State Park

Courtesy of Virginia State Parks

Leesylvania is nestled along the tidal shores of the historic Potomac River. Native Americans lived on this land for thousands of years. Capt. John Smith visited the area in 1608 on his voyage of discovery. It’s also the ancestral home of Virginia’s legendary Lee and Fairfax families.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Landmarks, Leesylvania offers many land and water activities, including hiking, picnicking, fishing and boating.

A universally accessible fishing pier, playground, boat launch, boat storage area, snack bar and store, visitor center and gift shop are available. A 20-station fitness trail and canoe and kayak rentals also are available.


By design, the park road mimics the bends in the river at Shenandoah River State Park

Courtesy of Virginia State Parks

This park is on the South Fork of the Shenandoah River and has more than 1,600 acres along 5.2 miles of shoreline. The park opened in June 1999. In addition to meandering river frontage, the park offers scenic views of Massanutten Mountain to the west and Shenandoah National Park to the east.

A large riverside picnic area, picnic shelters, trails, river access and a car-top boat launch make this a popular destination for families, anglers and canoeists.

With more than 24 miles of trails and a zipline, the park has plenty of options for hiking, biking, horseback riding and adventure.


Traverse this most scenic and breathtaking road at Pocahontas State Park

Courtesy of Virginia State Parks

Just 20 miles from Richmond, Pocahontas offers 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. Three lakes offer plenty of fishing. Boat rentals are available seasonally by the 225-acre Swift Creek Lake.

The Civilian Conservation Corps Museum, dedicated to Depression-era workers who helped build the state park system, is one of a handful in the nation.

Pocahontas State Park’s location and 64 miles of trails make it particularly popular for mountain biking.


You can click the link on any park name to learn more about that specific Virginia State Park, or go here to see a map of all 37 Virginia State Parks.

One of the public cabins in Virginia’s State Parks.

Courtesy of Virginia State Parks

Cabins are available at Hungry Mother, Chippokes, First Landing, Bear Creek Lake, Westmoreland, Douthat, Staunton River, and Shenandoah River State Parks.

For overnight accommodations, click here or call 800-933-7275.

Now it’s your turn, what are your thoughts, do you have a favorite scenic road not on this list? If you have a photo maybe we can include it next time.

Written by Shellie Anne for Virginia State Parks.

Featured image provided by Courtesy of Virginia State Parks

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10 Charming Virginia Bed & Breakfasts for a Spring Getaway

10 Charming Virginia Bed & Breakfasts for a Spring Getaway


Colorful blooms, sunny skies, and the beauty of spring already have you daydreaming of a romantic getaway surrounded by stunning views? We’ve got just the thing for your wanderlust: an overnight stay at a gorgeous Virginia bed and breakfast. Book a stay at one of these ten welcoming B&Bs for an idyllic spring retreat.



The Inn at Evergreen Haymarket

Originally built during the Civil War era as a private mansion, the Inn at Evergreen blends historic charm with modern amenities for a first-class getaway. The inn is located in the rolling hills of Northern Virginia inside the grounds of Evergreen Country Club, where guests have access to all of the amenities of the country club while staying at the inn, including golf, tennis, an outdoor pool, and world-class dining.



by the side of the road inn and cottages harrisonburg

Harrisonburg’s By the Side of the Road Inn & Cottages is one of the top-rated inns in the Shenandoah Valley, a region that is known for its scenic beauty. Originally built around 1790, the inn is a historic landmark for the city, and is just a few minutes from the excitement of downtown Harrisonburg.  The bed and breakfast offers three private cottages, two suites by the pond, and four historic Manor House suites, all outfitted with fireplaces, luxurious feather beds, and large tubs well suited for a relaxing soak. The grounds encompassing the inn are ideal for a spring getaway, surrounded by lush, brightly colored gardens, shady trees, and a tranquil pond.



The Old House at White Flint Farm

Stay at the Old House at White Flint Farm and enjoy the great outdoors on 183 acres of sustainable farmland. Flowers and vegetables are spread throughout the property, with many of the plants budding in early spring to create a veritable outdoor paradise. Guests can cook their own breakfast on-site with eggs from the resident chickens, herbs from the beds directly behind the house, and a variety of seasonal ingredients harvested straight from the farm. Tours of the grounds and the farm are available if arranged prior to arrival.



Barclay Cottage Bed & Breakfast is a Victorian-style beach cottage located three short blocks from the sandy shores of Virginia Beach. The spectacular abode features a two-story wraparound porch where guests can relax in rocking chairs and take in the peaceful atmosphere of the coastal community. You’ll experience the most comfortable accommodations during your stay, from Turkish towels and robes to high-quality sheets and bedding. Each morning, awake to a full breakfast and then plan your beachfront excursion, either walking the short distance or exploring the famous Boardwalk on one of the bed and breakfast’s complimentary beach cruiser bikes. Beach towels, umbrellas, chairs, and boogie boards are also available for guests to use.



brierly hill bed and breakfast

Take in magnificent panoramic views of the Blue Ridge Mountains and Shenandoah Valley when you book a stay at Brierley Hill Bed & Breakfast. Only five minutes from downtown Lexington, the B&B has six rooms available for guests, each with a private bathroom and equipped with luxurious amenities likes Whirlpool tubs, private balconies, and gas fireplaces. While the amenities are impressive, the real draw of this inn is the scenery, on full display from the wraparound veranda outfitted with porch swings and rocking chairs for guests to relish the awe-inspiring mountainous backdrop.



island manor house chincoteague

Virginia’s Eastern Shore has several scenic offerings for visitors looking to stay the night. One such destination is the Island Manor House Bed & Breakfast, an historic B&B on Chincoteague Island’s Main Street strip. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a better option when it comes to location, as the Island Manor House is within walking distance of the island’s shops and restaurants, as well as a few minutes’ drive from Assateague Island National Seashore and the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, home of the famous wild ponies. Each morning starts with a Southern-style breakfast, and in the afternoon, guests are invited to the dining room for an authentic English afternoon tea overlooking the property’s colorful gardens.



For an overnight stay near Shenandoah National Park, head to Glen Gordon Manor, a lovely bed and breakfast situated on 45 acres of pristine farmland and gardens. This secluded spot is about an hour from Washington D.C., but with the Blue Ridge Mountains in the background and green pastures as far as the eye can see, you’ll feel a world away from any urban destinations. If the weather allows, relax beside the crystal clear waters of the pool with a glass of Virginia wine, or book a treatment at the on-site spa for a little additional pampering. A multi-course breakfast is included with your stay, but we suggest sticking around for dinner as well, as the manor’s restaurant, Houndstooth, offers impressive prix fixe menus that showcase spring flavors by utilizing locally sourced ingredients.



shirleys bed and breakfast

Spring in Virginia is best experienced outdoors, but that doesn’t mean you have to rough it. Shirley’s Bed & Breakfast in Roanoke is perfectly located for an outdoor adventure, just a few miles away from the Appalachian Trail, Blue Ridge Parkway, and Roanoke’s Explorer Park. However, shopping and dining alternatives are also still close by, with downtown Roanoke about ten minutes away. Situated beside an auto restoration garage, you’ll spot antique car memorabilia throughout the property and in each room, but these rustic touches are paired with soft décor and upscale amenities that create a uniquely appealing vibe. A large pool out front of the wood chalet is heated from April to November, allowing guests access even in the chill of early spring and fall. During your stay, you’ll be served a Southern style breakfast each morning, featuring favorites like homemade biscuits and gravy, breakfast casseroles created from cherished family recipes, and locally sourced sausage, bacon, and hams. Kick back in the early evenings on the porch with a glass of wine or beer, offered free of charge to guests.



sleepy fox inn mouth of wilson

The Sleepy Fox Inn & Spa boasts extensive flower and vegetable gardens, walking trails, and of course, stunning accommodations on their 70-acre property. The inn provides plenty of privacy, but is still conveniently located in the Blue Ridge Mountains near notable outdoor destinations like Grayson Highlands State Park, Mount Rogers, and the Virginia Creeper Trail. Music lovers can travel the Crooked Road and hear examples of historic mountain music at the Blue Ridge Music Center before staying the night at the Sleepy Fox. A full gourmet breakfast is served each morning (under the flower arbor during sunny days) and at night, guests can lie out on the lawn for an incredible view of the brilliant starry skies. Need a little extra relaxation? The inn offers luxury massages on-site from a licensed certified massage therapist.



An historic treasure originally constructed in 1793, the Kenmore Inn Bed & Bistro features nine elegant guest rooms, an on-site pub, and a restaurant that prides itself in sourcing local for a seasonally inspired menu. The property is the longest-running inn in Fredericksburg, welcoming visitors to stroll the tranquil brick patio and rest on the shaded front porch since 1932, but the interior has been updated to include all the modern amenities you expect in a luxury bed and breakfast. While staying at the Kenmore Inn, visit the downtown Fredericksburg area, lined with boutique shops, critically acclaimed restaurants, and historic sites.



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Big Concerts Coming to Virginia in April 2018

Big Concerts Coming to Virginia in April 2018

Spring is here and many big name musicians will be coming to Virginia during the month of April. From major country acts to the biggest names in rock and pop, catch your favorite artists and discover new ones all over the Commonwealth.

On April 9-15, the Tom Tom Founders Festival takes over downtown Charlottesville with live music, block parties, food and drinks from local vendors, public art displays, workshops, and talks from innovators in a myriad of startup industries.

Throughout April and running through June, the Virginia Arts Festival will be bringing hundreds of world-class performing arts in venues throughout Hampton Roads. Major performances in April include jazz guitarist Peter Bernstein (April 7), a capella group Semi-Toned (April 17), Rhiannon Giddens (April 18), and the Virginia International Tattoo, the largest spectacle of music honoring military from around the world.


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 Broken Social Scene (April 4), Sylvan Esso (April 6), Kelsea Ballerini (April 7), Dr. Dog (April 19), The Decemberists (April 20), and others.
  • The Broadberry will be hosting Sam Bush (April 2), Todd Snider (April 26), the RVA (All Day) Block Party featuring No BS Brass Band (April 28), and more. The Broadberry will also be hosting a number of acts at Capital Ale House Music Hall including Twin Peaks (April 3), Forlorn Strangers (April 4), Nicole Atkins (April 24), and Hawthorne Heights (April 27).
  • The Carpenter Theatre at the Dominion Energy Center will be hosting Boney James on April 8.
  • The Richmond Coliseum presents 90’s Block Party with Guy featuring Teddy Riley, Jagged Edge, 112, Next & Ginuwine on April 14.
  • The Tin Pan will have performances from Janiva Magness (April 11), Alan Doyle (April 18), John Popper of Blues Traveler (April 22), and more.
  • The Beacon Theatre in Hopewell will host Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder on April 7, Restless Heart on April 13, Lee Ann Womack on April 14, Average White Band on April 18, Colt Ford on April 20, and more.
  • In Charlottesville, the John Paul Jones Arena will have performances from Styx and REO Speedwagon (April 4), Straight No Chaser (April 13), Pink (April 19), and Casting Crowns (April 29). The Sprint Pavilion on Charlottesville’s Downtown Mall will be hosting Old Crow Medicine Show on April 26 and The National on April 30.
  • The Jefferson Theater will hosts artists like Yo La Tengo (April 8), Dr. Dog (April 20), Anderson East (April 24), Margo Price (April 28), and more.
  • The NorVa in Norfolk will be bringing in YFN Lucci (April 12), Wolf Alice (April 14), Circa Survive (April 18), The Darkness (April 25), and many others.
  • Phase 2 Club in Lynchburg will be bringing in acts such as Bush (April 10), Willie & Waylon featuring Jelly Roll and Struggle Jennings (April 13), Bone Thugs-n-Harmony (April 15), and more.
  • Brantley Gilbert will be performing at the Salem Civic Center on April 20.
  • The Harvester Performance Center in Rocky Mount will host many acts including Rosanne Cash (April 2), Dark Star Orchestra (April 4), Tanya Tucker (April 6), Lee Ann Womack (April 13), Rhiannon Giddens (April 17), David Mayfield Parade (April 20), Dar Williams (April 21), Edwin McCain (April 22), the Black Lillies (April 27), and more.
  • At Wolf Trap National Park for Performing Arts in Vienna, shows will include Pat McGee Band (April 12), The Suffers (April 18), Ana Popovic (April 25), and more.
  • The Tally Ho Theatre in Leesburg will be hosting Delta Rae on April 20 among many other shows.
  • Alexandria music hall The Birchmere will host Steve Earle & the Dukes who celebrate the 30th Anniversary of ‘Copperhead Road’ on April 3. Also on the Birchmere’s schedule are Ronnie Milsap (April 5), Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives (April 6 & 7), Don McLean (April 14), Los Lobos (April 19), Average White Band (April 20 & 21), Janis Ian (April 28), and many more.
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.

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Make Some Noise: Lynchburg’s Music Scene

Make Some Noise: Lynchburg’s Music Scene

The Blue Ridge Mountains are alive with the sound of music. This sound springs from the lively music scene that has grown in the city over the last few years. No matter your music taste, there are plenty of music venues in Lynchburg that will meet your style and genre. Make some noise at the music events and venues waiting for you in the Hill City.

Lockn’ Music Festival

Amidst the natural beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains and a short drive from Lynchburg, the Lockn’ Music Festival is held annually at Infinity Downs & Oak Ridge Farm in Arrington, Virginia. This four day festival aspires to provide the ultimate atmosphere for live music with a blend of world-class music, local vendors, and community engagement by offering fans mind-blowing lineups and the best in local and regional cuisine, craft beers and wines, and opportunities to explore the picturesque setting.

Though their 2018 lineup has not been announced, past performers have included:

  • Robert Plant
  • Phish
  • Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
  • The String Cheese Incident
  • Willie Nelson
  • Jimmy Cliff
Opera at the James.

Courtesy of The Lynchburg, Virginia Regional Convention & Visitors Bureau

Opera on the James

Opera on the James celebrates its 13th Season as Lynchburg’s OPERA AMERICA Level Four Professional Company providing opera lovers the power and beauty of live opera. With stunning costumes and sets, partnerships with the Lynchburg Symphony Orchestra and Jefferson Choral Society , and perfect location at the Academy Center of the Arts, Opera on the James gives a feast for the senses.

Past and future performances include:

  • Cosi Fan Tutte coming in March
  • Don Giovanni
  • La Boheme
  • The Marriage of Figaro
  • Carmen
  • Tosca
Academy Warehouse Series.

Courtesy of The Lynchburg, Virginia Regional Convention & Visitors Bureau

Academy Warehouse Series

Expanding on their successful summer Riverfront Park Concert Series, The Academy Center of the Arts , through the support of BWX Technologies, Inc. and Moore & Giles, has added a six-part indoor concert series for Fall 2017 and Winter 2018. The Warehouse Concert Series will feature national, regional, and local music acts, furthering the Academy’s mission to bring world-class music to Downtown Lynchburg.

The series continues into 2018 with eclectic and heart pounding sounds of the No BS! Brass Band on January 12th with more bands scheduled through April 19th.


Speakertree Records offers Lynchburg’s best selection of new and used vinyl records, as well as, other media.The shop recently moved to the Riverviews Artspace. The space hosts live acoustic shows for local, regional and national touring artists.Keep up with their planned events by following their Facebook page.

Lynchburg Concerts

Founded in January 2017, Lynchburg Concerts prides themselves on bringing premier talent to the Central Virginia. Their 2018 lineup includes:

  • Colt Ford
  • DEE – 1
  • Corey Smith
  • The Orphan, the Poet and the Victor
  • Phil Vassar
  • The Lacs
  • And many more!

With the 2017 season coming to a close, keep an eye on their social media for next year’s schedule!

Coffee Shops.

Courtesy of The Lynchburg, Virginia Regional Convention & Visitors Bureau

Coffee Shops

For those that enjoy sipping on coffee while listening to music, Lynchburg has several shops that host live performances. The White Hart Cafe hosts regular guest artists from Lynchburg and the surrounding areas. Across town, The Muse Coffee& Roastery promotes their own selection of upcoming artists. Newcomer 5th St. Grind plans to hold regular Open Entertainment “Mic” Nights, where the floor is open for any type of performance, including music acts.

Hill City Keys Piano Program.

Courtesy of The Lynchburg, Virginia Regional Convention & Visitors Bureau

Hill City Keys Piano Program

From April to October, a new crop of pianos thematically painted by local elementary and high school students, are placed at strategic points in downtown Lynchburg for anyone to play. This program has been a huge hit and has been a successful part of the music scene for the last four years. Come play them all and post your masterpiece to YouTube!

Catch your favorite band at any of these music venues in Lynchburg

Lynchburg’s music scene is growing and becoming more vibrant as bands and artists claim the City as their home. Events ranging from festivals to intimate acoustic sessions are always happening in Lynchburg, so view our events calendar to see upcoming shows and concerts.

Written by Lynchburg, Virginia for Lynchburg, Virginia.

Featured image provided by Courtesy of The Lynchburg, Virginia Regional Convention & Visitors Bureau

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4 Weddings That Wowed in Virginia

4 Weddings That Wowed in Virginia


From a fiesta-inspired celebration at New Kent’s Vintager Inn to an elegant soiree at Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, these weddings truly capture the sentiment of “Virginia is for Lovers.”


—Hotel Roanoke in Roanoke—

The Wedding of: Kristin & Thiago

A kiss under the clouds. #jaredladiaphotography #vawedding

A post shared by Jared Ladia Photography (@jaredladiaweddings) on Jan 2, 2017 at 5:03pm PST

Bride Kristin, donning stunning strapless sweetheart neckline ballgown with a tulle skirt, and groom Thiago, sporting a navy suit and blush tie exchanged vows at Church of the Holy Spirit and then celebrated their nuptials surrounded by all their family and friends in downtown Roanoke at the historic Hotel Roanoke. The newlyweds’ ballroom reception was brought to life with white and navy linens, lush pink blooms, and glitzy gold decor like Chiavari chairs, lanterns and candle votives. After dinner, guests sampled an array of cupcakes at the couple’s tasty dessert bar, and the live band Horizon kept the dance floor packed as the newlyweds and their guests danced the night away. The couple capped off their wedding celebration with a grand glow stick exit.


—Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk—

The Wedding of: Meredith & Thomas

Living in Antwerp, Belgium with her fiancé Thomas, Meredith knew she wanted to get married back home in Virginia, so the couple planned a nuptial celebration at Norfolk’s Chrysler Museum of Art. With the groom’s Belgian family and their European friends in tow, the couple jet-setted back to the bride’s old stomping grounds for a stunning wedding. Norfolk’s posh art museum set the tone for their classic black-tie affair. Their ballroom reception was decked out in black linens, simply chic white floral arrangements, and gold embellishments. During cocktail hour, a string trio serenaded guests, and a mix of Virginia cider and Belgian beer — as a nod to the bride’s and the groom’s homes — were served. Guests sampled an array of hors d’oeuvres like apricot scones with ham and wild mushroom grilled crostini. And for dinner, friends and family feasted on an array of delicious dishes along with a mac ’n’ cheese martini bar.


—The Vintager Inn in New Kent—

The Wedding of: Caroline & Jennifer

Caroline and Jennifer’s rustic fiesta-inspired wedding captured their laid-back and fun personalities. In an outdoor ceremony on The Vintager Inn’s lawn, the brides tied the knot, writing their vows themselves with a dear friend officiating the nuptials. As the couple recessed down the aisle, a mariachi band broke out in celebratory music. The band also serenaded guests during the cocktail hour that followed, where guests played corn hole and enjoyed tacos and tequila. Inside the inn’s rustic red barn, the newlyweds celebrated with dinner and dancing. Paying homage to their inner wanderlust, Caroline and Jennifer used luggage tags as escort cards and favors, and in lieu of table numbers, they named each table after a place they traveled together and decorated tables with photos of their journeys. Friends and family celebrated the newlyweds with a barbecue-style dinner, dancing, photo booth, cupcake and cake pop bar, and a celebratory glow stick exit.


—Glass House Winery in Free Union—

The Wedding of: Lea & Vinny

Lea and Vinny’s June nuptials at Free Union’s Glass House Winery were laid-back, light-hearted and filled with love. In an intimate ceremony surrounded with 50 of their closest friends and family, Lea and Vinny said “I do” by the vineyard’s pond during sunset. Paying homage to their love for Star Wars, the bride surprised the groom by processing down the aisle to “Imperial March,” Darth Vader’s theme song, which caused their guests to erupt in laughter. After their fun and personal ceremony, guest joined the couple for a heavy hors d’oeuvres buffet-style reception that was catered by the couple’s friend who owns Fardowners in Crozet. And the groom, who used to work in a bakery, made the wedding cake with the help of a friend. After a reception on the deck, guests made their way inside the winery’s tropical plant conservatory for an epic dance party among the lush plantings.


Did you have your dream wedding at a Virginia destination? Share your photos and experiences with us in the comments below! You can also tag us on Instagram (@VisitVirginia) using the hashtags #LOVEVA and #VAWeddings.


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Your Guide to Exploring Virginia’s History by Train

Your Guide to Exploring Virginia’s History by Train

**This post is written in partnership with Amtrak Virginia and Virginia Department of Rail & Public Transportation.**


Virginia has a rich, complex history ripe for exploration. If you’re ready to plan your next adventure, our historic and historical sites will transport you to a vibrant tapestry of moments from the past. Amtrak will transport you to the sites themselves – with no traffic, no parking and no distractions from the fun of your journey. Amtrak’s passenger routes take you directly to many of Virginia’s most popular destinations, and a short walk or Lyft ride gets you to the heart of the action.


Of course, even the most enthusiastic history buffs tend to appreciate the conveniences of modern travel. Amtrak trains offer complimentary Wi-Fi service and in-seat outlets to support all your pre-trip reading and post-trip photo-sharing. There are no middle seats to navigate – you can just sit back and relax in wide, comfortable reclining seats with plenty of legroom. And, the café car has sandwiches, salads, snacks and hot and cold beverages available for purchase.

This post features Williamsburg, Richmond and Charlottesville, three iconic locations seeped in the history of the Commonwealth – and our nation. It includes all kinds of inspiration for a history-themed excursion, as well as information on Amtrak and Lyft to make the logistics simple.




As seasoned Virginia travelers know, Williamsburg offers a host of cultural and recreational activities and events. Its worldwide renown, however, comes from the unique opportunity to experience an in-depth recreation of early American history. You’ll love diving into the “Colonial Capital” of Virginia.

Amtrak Station: The Williamsburg station could not be more conveniently located, just blocks away from Colonial Williamsburg. It offers a comfortable waiting room and a design to complement the region’s history – a steep gabled roof and classical portico.


Colonial Williamsburg

Governor's Palace at Colonial Williamsburg

Take a stroll down Duke of Gloucester Street and get a “live” look at the 18th century. In Colonial Williamsburg you can see, touch, taste and even smell key elements of our nation’s history in live demonstrations, restaurants and shops.

From Amtrak Station: Walking Distance


College of William and Mary

William and Mary College

Founded in 1693, the College of William and Mary enjoys a rich legacy all its own. Its Sir Christopher Wren Building, completed in 1700, is the oldest college building still in use in the U.S. Open to visitors, “Wren” is a great place to begin a campus walk.

From Amtrak Station: Walking Distance


Powhatan Creek Trail

Whether you prefer walking, jogging or biking, the Powhatan Creek Trail offers exercise – and several historic stops, including the Church on the Main, Mainland Farm and the Tomb of the Unknown Patriot Solider of the American Revolution.

From Amtrak Station: 5.6 miles



jamestown ships

Travel back to 1607 at Jamestown Settlement to meet English colonists and Native Americans of the region. With life-size re-creations of the colonists’ fort and ships, as well as a Powhatan village, you can enjoy truly hands-on exploration.

From Amtrak Station: 6.2 miles 




Virginia’s present-day capital has a little something for everyone, from patrons of the arts to NASCAR fans and from foodies to outdoor enthusiasts. For history buffs, Richmond offers a diverse array of sites and experiences spanning more than three centuries. The only challenge: narrowing down your itinerary.

Amtrak Stations: The two train stations in Richmond are located downtown (Main Street) and just outside of the city in neighboring Henrico (Staples Mill Road). Both feature a waiting room and are only a quick walk or Lyft ride away from the city’s many historic sites.


Virginia State Capitol

Virginia State Capitol

Designed by Thomas Jefferson, the Virginia State Capitol has served as the home of the Virginia General Assembly, America’s oldest English-speaking legislature, since 1788. You can enjoy interior tours as well as a stroll on the grounds.

From Main Street Amtrak Station: Walking Distance
From Staples Mill Road Amtrak Station: 8.6 miles 


The Valentine

Valentine Museum

The Valentine collects, preserves and interprets 400 years of Richmond history. Tour the 19th-century Wickham House and sculpture studio and explore the extensive collection of costumes, textiles, photographs, artwork and other curiosities.

From Main Street Amtrak Station: Walking Distance
From Staples Mill Road Amtrak Station: 8.3 miles 


Historic Tredegar

The American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar

The American Civil War Museum at Historic Tredegar brings to life the history and perspectives of Union, Confederate and African-American participants. The riverside site also houses the Richmond National Battlefield Park Visitor Center.

From Main Street Amtrak Station: Walking Distance
From Staples Mill Road Amtrak Station: 9 miles 


Canal Walk

Canal Walk

The Richmond Canal Walk interprets four centuries of Richmond history through medallions, monuments and exhibits along a scenic 1.25-mile route. You can take in the city skyline and water views on the Haxall Canal, Kanawha Canal and James River.

From Main Street Amtrak Station: Walking Distance
From Staples Mill Road Amtrak Station: 10 miles 


Other Richmond Historic  Highlights:

Agecroft Hall, Beth Ahabah Museum & Archives, Hollywood Cemetery, Maggie Walker National Historic Site, Maymont, Poe Museum, Richmond Slave Trail, St. John’s Church




Nestled in the eastern foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Charlottesville showcases spectacular scenery year-round. Its historic sites reflect the rich cultural, natural, and artistic heritage of the region, offering tours, special events, and educational programs that are entertaining and informative for the whole family.

Amtrak Station: Located in a building dating back to the 1890s, even the Charlottesville station reflects the region’s history. It’s in walking distance to several historic areas, including the University of Virginia campus and the bustling downtown.


Charlottesville Historic District

Charlottesville Downtown Mall

The town of Charlottesville, founded in 1762, evolved around Court Square in today’s Charlottesville Historic District. You can visit historic sites like the Albemarle County Courthouse, then stroll the brick pedestrian mall to shop and dine.

From Amtrak Station: Walking Distance


University of Virginia and Central Grounds

University of Virginia

Enjoy a stroll on the original Grounds of the University of Virginia, designed by Thomas Jefferson. This “Academical Village” includes the Lawn and the Pantheon-inspired Rotunda, the signature landmark of the University, open for tours.

From Amtrak Station: Walking Distance


Michie Tavern

Michie Tavern

A truly sensory experience awaits you at Michie Tavern. Eat a hearty Southern meal, then discover 18th-century travelers’ secrets and woes through a self-guided tour with interpretations on drinking, gaming, dining, sleeping and entertainment.

From Amtrak Station: 3.7 miles



Thomas Jefferson designed, redesigned, built and rebuilt Monticello for more than 40 years – his autobiographical masterpiece. Tour the interior of this beautiful home, but don’t miss the gardens, a showpiece and experimental botanic laboratory.

From Amtrak Station: 5 miles


Plan Your Travel

Manassas train station

While this post hopefully sparked some inspiration, the featured cities and attractions are only the beginning of Virginia’s historic destinations. Check out the full list of historic and historical sites to map out the right trip for you and your group.

Then, head to Virginia.Amtrak.com to book your tickets for a comfortable, convenient travel experience. On the day of your excursion, you can use the Amtrak mobile app to access the Lyft app and request a ride. New users of Lyft will receive $5 off each of their first four Lyft rides by using the promo code AMTRAKLYFT!


No matter where you go, you’ll find incredible experiences – Virginia is most definitely for history lovers.

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5 Small Towns on Virginia’s Eastern Shore for a Quiet Coastal Retreat

5 Small Towns on Virginia’s Eastern Shore for a Quiet Coastal Retreat

Assateague Lighthouse

Spanning 70 miles and bordered by the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, Virginia’s Eastern Shore is a coastal paradise. The waterfront region is one of the best-kept secrets in the Commonwealth, boasting gorgeous beaches, incredible wildlife, and serene communities that welcome visitors to discover their quiet charm. If you’re looking for a beachfront break without the crowds, plan a vacation to one of these five small towns on the Eastern Shore.



onancock eastern shore

Centrally located on the Chesapeake Bay side of the Eastern Shore, Onancock is an inviting small town that was founded in 1680. Visited by Captain John Smith in the early 1600s, he wrote that the land was the “Gem of the Eastern Shore”. The town was historically a bustling port town, with steamboats traveling between Baltimore and Norfolk stopping in the waterfront community for supplies and rest. Today, the town is filled with stunning Victorian-era homes and local boutique shops. The only ferry to Tangier Island from the shore departs from Onancock, giving you access to yet another incredible small town on the Eastern Shore. If you’re in the mood for a little adventure, rent a kayak from SouthEast Expeditions at the Wharf, or book a guided tour like the Paddle Your Glass Off trip, where a guide takes you on a paddle through the Bay waters to Chatham Vineyards, where you’ll take a scenic break for a little wine tasting.

Where to Stay/Eat: Book a stay at the Charlotte Hotel, a cute boutique retreat in the heart of downtown Onancock. Grab a bit to eat at either the Inn Garden Café Restaurant (which is also a charming bed and breakfast), or Mallard’s at the Wharf, the only waterfront restaurant in Onancock.


—Cape Charles—

Aerial of Cape Charles

Just across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, Cape Charles is an idyllic small town that exudes endless character. The downtown area has lots of local shops carrying everything from handcrafted jewelry to homemade ice cream. Cape Charles is an excellent destination for wildlife lovers, as Kiptopeke State Park and the Eastern Shore of Virginia National Wildlife Refuge are both right outside the town. SouthEast Expeditions has another location in the area, offering an Aqua-Culture Clamming tour along Cherrystone Creek, just north of Cape Charles. Kayakers learn about aquaculture practices and tour a working clam farm, then hand pick their own clams straight from the Bay waters to sample the tasty results.

Where to Stay/Eat: Stay in the downtown area at the Hotel Cape Charles and get a taste of the local seafood at either The Shanty or the Oyster Farm Seafood Eatery, followed by a little dessert at Brown Dog Ice Cream.



Aerial of Chincoteague

A small Atlantic island tucked away on the northeastern corner of Virginia’s Eastern Shore, Chincoteague is best known for the wild ponies found in the bordering Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge. These beautiful animals were made famous in the book and subsequent movie, Misty of Chincoteague, and the town houses a museum that tells the true story behind the ponies. The small town draws visitors looking for a quiet coastal beach experience as well as space travel enthusiasts, as the NASA Wallops Island Flight Facility Visitor Center, NASA’s primary facility for suborbital missions, is just south of the island. The facility also has a free museum where you can learn about previous rocket launches and the science behind the missions. For a breathtaking view of the surrounding landscape, stop by the Assateague Lighthouse on the neighboring Assateague Island. Access to the top of the lighthouse is open to the public during select visiting hours. Want even more scenic beauty? SouthEast Expeditions offers a kayak tour of the Chincoteague Channel and the marshes of Assateague Island, where you might even spot the famous wild ponies grazing along the shores.

Where to Stay/Eat:

Enjoy a stay in Chincoteague at the Channel Bass Inn Bed & Breakfast or the town’s first boutique hotel, the Marina Bay Hotel & Suites. Eat at Bill’s Prime Seafood & Steaks, followed by a few scoops at Island Creamery, ranked the best ice cream in America by TripAdvisor.



Wachapreague is a tiny Victorian-era town with a population of only 200 permanent residents, and is surrounded by farmland, woods, water, and some of the only undeveloped wetlands and barrier islands in the Mid-Atlantic. This sleepy coastal town is well known for sport fishing, bringing enthusiasts from around the world to fish in the vast and plentiful waters of the Atlantic Ocean. Bird watching is also a big draw, especially during spring and fall migrations when thousands of birds take flight through the region. Book a tour or rent a kayak to journey through Wachateague’s waters with Daytrippers, where you’ll explore the adjacent barrier islands, dig for clams, or try your hand at fishing.

Where to Stay/Eat:

The town’s most popular place to dine is the Wachapreague Island House Restaurant, and for an overnight stay you can either book a room at the Wachapreague Inn or travel just a few miles up the road to the Garrison Bed & Breakfast.


—Tangier Island—

Tangier Island lies twelve miles off the western coast of the Eastern Shore in the Chesapeake Bay and is known as America’s “Soft Crab Capital”. The town’s small population mainly work as watermen, harvesting fresh seafood from the surrounding Bay waters. These watermen have been working the rich waters of the Chesapeake Bay for generations, and their deep roots are apparent in the unique dialect spoken on the island, a form of English not heard anywhere else in the world. The remote island is only accessible by plane or boat, with a ferry bringing visitors from Onancock on the Eastern Shore and Reedville from the mainland, and the island’s inhabitants travel Tangier’s short series of roads by foot, bicycle, or golf cart. Visit the Tangier History Museum to learn about the small island’s long and captivating history.

Where to Stay/Eat:

Sample fresh seafood at The Fisherman’s Corner Restaurant or Lorraine’s Seafood Restaurant. If you’re interested in staying overnight, book a stay at the Bay View Inn Bed & Breakfast.


Virginia has dozens of small towns that offer endless charm, hospitality, and memorable adventures. Whether you visit a small town for outdoor lovers or head to the best foodie destinations, Virginia’s charming small towns welcome you to discover a unique vacation experience.

The post 5 Small Towns on Virginia’s Eastern Shore for a Quiet Coastal Retreat appeared first on Virginia’s Travel Blog.

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Crush Friday – Ideas for Family Fun on a Blue Ridge Friday

Crush Friday – Ideas for Family Fun on a Blue Ridge Friday

No one likes a martyr, Becky. Go ahead and take Friday off – with the family – and getaway to Virginia’s Blue Ridge. You’ll be more productive, and besides, you need and deserve a break. And what kid wouldn’t want to skip a day of school?

Plan your escape with these eight exciting destinations for family fun on a Blue Ridge Friday.

Center in the Square | Roanoke


Courtesy of Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge

Spend as much time as you want at Center in the Square. Neither you nor the kids will quickly bore, as there’s plenty to see and do. Check out the Roanoke Pinball Museum where you can challenge each other for the highest score on one of more than 45 machines dating from the 1950s to 1990s. Oh, and it’s an SOL-compliant museum as well, so even if the kids are missing school, they’re still learning.

Also visit the Science Museum of Western Virginia, where families can explore everything from bubbles (for preschoolers) to healthy bodies. Kids Square is a hands-on space for toddlers to 10 year olds. From the Dig Pit to The Forest and every space in between, your littlest ones will have a blast! The Harrison Museum of African American Culture is a place to learn the history and see the art of the Roanoke Valley’s African American community, as well as unique international pieces.

The museums and attractions at Center in the Square are part of the Star City Pass, a new discount card that’s a great way to save! Learn more >

The Taubman Museum of Art | Roanoke

Your little ones may see it as a spaceship, but The Taubman is so much more than that. Appreciate the outside, sure, but then head inside to see the stunners on exhibit. Art from around the world, the region, and classic pieces from the 19th and 20th century permanent collection are the draw for parents while the kids clock to Art Venture, an exploratory space for ages 2 to 12.

Virginia Museum of Transportation | Roanoke

Calling all lovers of planes, trains, and automobiles! You’re going to love climbing aboard the famous steam locomotives at the Virginia Museum of Transportation, but there’s more to see! Play a game of “I Spy” to help your kids locate key objects like the Ford Model T Depot Hack or the Jupiter Rocket.

Launching Pad Trampoline Park & Family Fun Center | Salem


Courtesy of Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge

What’s a day off of work if you can’t jump around and laugh a bit? With or without the kids, we love the Launching Pad! Show off the dunking skills you never knew you had and turn a flip or two to get the ol’ ticker pumping. Joust with your teen. I mean, to what better age group is there to swing a soft stick? How about a family game of dodge ball? You may just stay here all day.

Mill Mountain Zoo | Roanoke

Who doesn’t love the zoo? Bring your sweet little ones to visit the red panda, snow leopard, and Chinese water dragon, but don’t forget to ride the Zoo Choo! If your visit happens to fall on a third Saturday between May and October, you can have breakfast with the animals. 

Dixie Caverns | Salem

Rainy days, sunny days, cold days, warm days … any day is a good day for a tour at Dixie Caverns. Spend about 45 minutes exploring the cave with a guide and then check out the rock and mineral shop to snag a souvenir.

River Rock Climbing Gym | Roanoke


Courtesy of Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge

If climbing is more your thing than bouncing, gear up and reach new heights at River Rock Climbing Gym, an indoor experience. They have everything you need to be successful, and plenty of challenging routes to the top. Children as young as three are welcome to climb.

Don’t let your vacation days become one of the unused 662 million. You’re too valuable for that. Instead, #CrushFridayVA in Virginia’s Blue Ridge. We have more than 600 miles of trails, a thriving craft beer scene, and plenty of art, music, and family fun to deliver a memorable weekend and longer.

Here are some other resources to help you plan a getaway to the Blue Ridge Mountains:

Originally written by Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge.

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

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One of the Most Scenic Sites in All of Virginia

One of the Most Scenic Sites in All of Virginia

Trip Advisor calls it the number 1 out of 4 Top things to do in Covington Virginia, and many call it one of the most scenic locations in Virginia. It is a chart topper for selfies and one of the most photographed spots in the Allegheny Mountains.

If you aren’t careful, time will get away from you, so consider making plans now to visit this beautiful place in the fall, and maybe use Douthat State Park as your home-base while you explore these mountains.


You can visit the falls year-round, but the scenery is magnificent in October

Courtesy of Virginia State Parks


The breathtaking waterfall has the tallest drop of all the waterfalls in Virginia, as the water tumbles 80 feet from top to the rocks below. It is located in Allegheny County, just five miles North of Covington Virginia, but for the purpose of this article, you need to know it is just 26 miles from Douthat State Park.

A recommended ride for motorcycles in the mountains of Virginia

Courtesy of Virginia State Parks

It is one of the most easily accessible waterfalls I have been to, as you won’t need to hike for miles over rough terrain to get this spectacular view, you can pull off the road and walk just 100 feet to the overlook. Note: No trespassing is allowed beyond the overlook and it is strictly enforced.


As the sound of the rushing falls is magnificent, you just can’t feel it in photos, so you need to be there in person to experience it, and better understand the magnitude of these powerful falls.

The trip through the winding mountains roads are all part of the fun getting to Falling Spring, especially if you ride a motorcycle, a sports or muscle car.

The photo to the right-above shows the lookout over the falls with a Harley Davidson rider cruising past. You can sit or stand there and take photos in all seasons. The location also looks out upon the changing hues of the mountains in the distance.

The mountains in the distance change color throughout the day like the fall leaves

Courtesy of Virginia State Parks
Highway 220 provides a super scenic road trip from Douthat State Park

Courtesy of Virginia State Parks
The drive to Douthat State Park is full of gorgeous views

Courtesy of Virginia State Parks
A close up view of the ledge at the top as water cascades over to form the falls

Courtesy of Virginia State Parks
Enjoy this detour to Falling Spring when you stay at Douthat State Park

Courtesy of Virginia State Parks
You’ll want to stop here and see these falls

Courtesy of Virginia State Parks


In 2004 Mead Westvaco donated the Falling Spring Falls and about 19 surrounding acres to Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation. Douthat State Park staff and volunteers have done a beautiful job building a handful of picnic tables, a security fence, signage and parking.


I have provided a Google map below as a reference. If you plan to stop at The Omni Homestead Resort or Hot Springs in Bath County Virginia enroute then you double the drive time, but can break it up for lunch or dinner, so for that follow the second map below:


Learn more about the Allegheny Highlands of Virginia here to help plan your road trip to the region. You can go year-round of course, even in ski season over the winter months.

Douthat State Park is open year-round to accommodate your overnight needs in cabins and lodges. Hiking trails, mountain biking Disneyland (as it is affectionately called), fishing, picnicking, kayaking, camping, and more, click here.

Relax at a Douthat State Park cabin

Courtesy of Virginia State Parks

You can check availability and reserve a Douthat State Park cabin now for the leaf season, go online here or call 1-800-933-7275.

I hope you will take my recommendation and plan this trip now to be sure to be there before the fall leaves…well, fall. Some leaves may even stick around until the first week of November, but we can’t make you any promises.

Originally written by Virginia State Parks.

Featured image provided by Courtesy of Virginia State Parks

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Four and Five Diamond Properties for your Next Upscale Meeting, Event or Getaway

Four and Five Diamond Properties for your Next Upscale Meeting, Event or Getaway

Virginia is home to three Five and 18 AAA rated Four Diamond hotels. The hotels receiving a Five Diamond Rating undergo a number of checks and balances including in-person inspections, anonymous overnight stays and, finally, review by a panel of experts to ensure credibility. Those at the Four Diamond level, just 6.1 percent of AAA Inspected & Approved hotels, are also an exclusive group. They must be refined and stylish with upscale physical attributes, extensive amenities and a high degree of hospitality, service and attention to detail.

—Five Diamond Properties—

Williamsburg Inn, Williamsburg
A new honoree this year, the Williamsburg Inn underwent renovations to upgrade its outdoor spaces and redesign their beautiful signature-themed suites. Enjoy access to world-class dining at the Four Diamond Regency Dining Room, 6,500 square feet of meeting space, recreation, and spa amenities in the colonial historic area.

The Jefferson Hotel, Richmond
A Richmond treasure since 1895, The Jefferson Hotel has been recognized by travelers one of the finest in America. Known for its genuinely friendly service, 181 guestrooms and 15 luxury suites, breathtaking architecture and elegant décor, The Jefferson is reminiscent of a more gracious era. Enjoy the timeless elegance of over 26,000 square feet of unique meeting space, combined with modern communications technology and complemented by unsurpassed conference services. Guests of The Jefferson enjoy two restaurants, including the Four Diamond Lemaire, Sunday Champagne brunch and more.

The Inn at Little Washington, Washington
The Inn at Little Washington is one of America’s finest restaurants and country inns. The Inn offers a range of accommodations from well-appointed rooms to luxurious, two story suites many with balconies and garden views. Their historic Ballroom boasts ample space for private dinners for 30 guests with receptions for up to 90 people using adjacent space. Their Five Diamond dining room features inspired American cuisine, which draws admirers from around the world and has been described by critics as “so good it makes you cry”.

– The Inn at Little Washington –


—Four Diamond Properties—


Kingsmill Resort, Williamsburg
Located on 2,900 acres along the historic James River, the resort features 425 guest rooms and condos, the full-service Spa at Kingsmill, a full-service marina, four restaurants and lounges, 36 holes of championship golf and more. Kingsmill also offers award-winning meeting and banquet facilities to accommodate groups from 10 to 350 in their 16,000+ square feet of meeting space encompassing sixteen meeting rooms.

Liberty Rose Bed & Breakfast, Williamsburg
This colonial-style hilltop estate is surrounded by century old oak, beech and poplar trees. Gardens, courtyards, fountains and swings will welcome and relax you upon your arrival. With four unique guestrooms to choose from, consider this property perfect for a small retreat or intimate meeting.



The Oaks Victorian Inn, Christiansburg
Built in 1889 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, The Oaks Victorian Inn offers guests the gracious warmth of Victorian elegance, beautiful surroundings, luxurious guest rooms and warm hospitality. Stay in one of five spacious rooms, some with fireplaces, claw-foot tubs, jetted Jacuzzi tubs, and body showers. In addition to their guestrooms, the Garden Cottage is perfect for honeymoons and romantic weekend getaways.

The Martha Washington Inn and Spa, Abingdon
Originally built in 1862 and formerly a Civil War hospital  then women’s college, this elegant hotel now offers The Spa at The Martha as well as a newly completed salt water pool and a sundeck off the pool provides the perfect spot for a quiet read or warm relaxation in the sun. Should you need space for a board meeting for 10 people or a conference of 200 people, The Martha offers a unique meeting atmosphere and 63 guest rooms.

– The Martha Washington Inn and Spa, Abingdon –


Lansdowne Resort and Spa, Leesburg
The luxury resort’s beautiful natural setting in Leesburg sprawls 476 acres along the Potomac River. You’ll feel deeply connected to nature, history, exquisite dining and a healthy, active lifestyle, leaving inspired with a new sense of purpose and perspective. Recently awarded the Platinum Choice Award for excellent service and amenities by Smart Meetings, the resort experience is inspired by newly renovated rooms and over 55,000 square feet of flexible meeting space, ideal for all types and sizes of meetings and events.

The Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner, McLean
This hotel has a total of 398 guest rooms which were all completely redefined in 2016, including 50 suites and 24 club level rooms, with beautiful views of Washington, D.C. and the Blue Ridge Mountains. Also available are a variety of meeting venues including boardrooms, salons and pre-function areas as well as The Ritz-Carlton Ballroom at 14,000 square feet.

More Northern Virginia properties

Salamander Resort and Spa, Middleburg

Middleton Inn, Washington

Hyatt Regency Reston, Reston

Hilton McLean Tysons Corner, McLean

The Ritz-Carlton, Pentagon City, Arlington



The Tides Inn, Irvington
This intimate boutique resort offers comfortable accommodations and boasts nearly a half of mile of waterfront, and offers an endless number of activities for guests to enjoy including the award-winning Golden Eagle Golf Course. The Tides Inn offers a variety of meeting space totaling 8,980 square feet. The gracious atmosphere of the Tides Inn is a perfect setting for both business and recreational gatherings.

– The Tides Inn, Irvington –


The Omni Homestead Resort, Hot Springs
Surrounded by the splendor of the Allegheny Mountains, this National Historic Landmark offers gracious service, elegant accommodations and distinctive Southern charm. The resort offers 483 guest rooms, a variety of casual and fine dining restaurants and a seemingly endless array of indoor and outdoor activities. The resort offers 28 meeting rooms with over 72,000 square feet of flexible meeting space.


Virginia Crossings Hotel & Conference Center, Glen Allen
This full service, upscale property features luxurious guest rooms, 28,000 square feet of meeting space, two restaurants, outdoor pool and hot tub and an 18 hole, Joe Lee designed championship golf course. The beautiful Colonial architecture and quaint garden setting provide a comfortable environment for your next meeting, event or retreat.

Boar’s Head, Charlottesville
Located on a 573-acre country estate, this resort offers 175 classically appointed guest rooms and suites, a wide variety of world class recreational activities, spa and 22,000 square feet of event space.

More Central Virginia properties:

Kewisk Hall and Golf Club, Keswick (Hotel closed for renovation until 2019, golf club remains open)

Hilton Richmond Hotel & Spa/Short Pump, Richmond

The Westin Richmond, Richmond


See more…

Resorts for Team Building

Waterfront Meeting and Event Venues

Virginia’s Lodges, Cottages and Cabins Make the Perfect Meeting Escape

Plan your next meeting or event in Virginia


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About FunRVA

We are FUN! We are RVA! We support local business and charities! Life is good!

Crush Friday: Your Mini-Vacation Guide to Harrisonburg

Crush Friday: Your Mini-Vacation Guide to Harrisonburg


Did you know that every year Americans leave about 662 million paid vacation days on the table? These work martyrs have various reasons for not taking their paid vacation, but it all comes down to one simple fact: sacrificing your time off ends up costing you more than the $604 that each person in the workforce is losing when not taking PTO. These workaholics are also less productive, more stressed, and less likely to earn a raiseSo stop overworking yourself and start with using a paid vacation day to Crush Friday in Virginia!

Downtown Harrisonburg


Virginia is For Lovers will help you plan your getaway every month, creating a foolproof itinerary that lets you discover a new region in the Commonwealth. This month, we ventured to Harrisonburg, one of the best-kept secrets in the Shenandoah Valley. The home of James Madison University, Harrisonburg could easily fall into the “college town” mold, but instead the region has become a leader in supporting local business, outdoor sports, and community ideals. Harrisonburg welcomes visitors to easily explore the city center, with tons of free parking, a walkable downtown area, and boutique shops filled with locally made goods, food, and just about anything else you’re looking for. Follow in our footsteps and Crush Friday in Harrisonburg this week!



Stay at: Massanutten Resort, starting at $95 per night.

Massanutten Resort

Only 25-30 minutes from Harrisonburg, Massanutten Resort has unique lodging options for every budget and group size. Hotel rooms, townhouse-style condos, and duplex-style homes within a private gated community are situated throughout the resort’s 6,000-acre property. Endless, four season outdoor activities are available for overnight guests or daytrippers. During the winter, spend a day or two exploring the slopes while skiing or snowboarding. Want speed but with a better view? Book a ride on the Mega Zip Line, another year-round option for visitors. The resort’s other exciting year-round activities include the indoor water park, which is not just for kids. The FlowRider wave lets you try out surfing or bodyboarding right in the mountains, creating ocean-like waves that bring the beach to you.

Come back in the summer and visit the Adventure Park, which offers a climbing wall, a canopy tour adventure course that features four zip lines, an outdoor water park, and two 18-hole golf courses. For the extreme sport lovers, Massanutten has mountain biking trails, bike rentals, and lessons for every level. Kayaking and canoeing are also available close to the resort.

Suggested Prior Reservations: Grapes & Hops Dinner, Massanutten Spa, Shenandoah Bicycle Company, Friendly Fermenter, Rocktown Kitchen, Massanutten activities like Canopy Tour and FlowRider.



If possible, arrive Thursday evening for the weekly Grapes & Hops dinner at Massanutten. The dinner may be at the high end of your budget at $75 per person, but it is well worth every penny. You’ll enjoy a five-course meal that is paired with five wines and five beers and led by the chef, a brew specialist, and the resort’s in-house sommelier. Before every course, these experts will explain their pairing choices, describing the flavors you should expect, where the products were sourced, and their reasons for choosing the selected beverage or dish. In addition to an exceptional meal (that is also incredibly filling), you’ll get an education on regional ingredients, world-class wines, and some of Virginia’s most acclaimed craft beers.



thunderbird cafe harrisonburg

Begin your day just down the road from Massanutten Resort at Thunderbird Café, a retro-style diner tucked away in an unassuming strip mall. Despite the location, the café does breakfast right, with delicious dishes that are both hearty and affordable. Forget the burnt coffee; at the Thunderbird, locally roasted beans are used to whip up a variety of lattes, espressos, and other specialty beverages. Whether you consider yourself a chicken & waffles aficionado or are a first-time taster, the Wild Wing Waffle at Thunderbird Café will exceed your expectations. The house-made Belgian waffle is topped with southern fried chicken strips tossed in buffalo sauce and drizzled with a maple-honey glaze. But after sharing bites of each dish around the table, we can guarantee that there is no wrong choice at Thunderbird Café.

tubing massanutten resort

Drive back to Massanutten Resort and spend the morning exploring the mountain. During the winter, try out skiing, snowboarding, or if these options are a bit too active for you, take a page from our book and try tubing, where you’ll still get the thrill of rushing down the mountain at high speeds. Plus, tubing is a lot less of an active endeavor, and after a large breakfast, you may want to opt for an activity that provides tons of fun while requiring little effort. During warmer months, consider signing up for a mountain bike lesson, tackling the canopy tour, or stick with tubing, a year-round option at the resort.

ruby's arcade and restaurant harrisonburg

Once you finish on the mountain, turn your sights to Harrisonburg and Ruby’s Arcade & Restaurant. You may not be quite ready for another meal yet thanks to Thunderbird’s generous portions, so play a few rounds of duck pin bowling while you muster up an appetite. The arcade has a bevy of games for customers, including ping pong, pool, chess, and board games. During the weekdays, the games are all free to play during lunch hours, adding entertainment to your afternoon without even having to open your wallet. If you’ve worked up that appetite, the wood-fired pizzas at Ruby’s are the perfect meal to complement the games. The restaurant invents interesting combos like the Bern, a pizza with red sauce, Turner ham, spinach, feta, mozzarella, and red pepper flakes, but for the more traditional options, you can build your own customized pie.

the friendly fermenter

Walk off that meal with a trip to the Friendly Fermenter, just a few blocks away from Ruby’s. One of the newest additions to Harrisonburg’s burgeoning beer scene, the Friendly Fermenter is both a craft brewery and a local supplier, selling beer-making equipment and ingredients to other brewers of every skill level. Sample a flight of the latest brews, which are switched out continuously, as they are all made in extremely small batches and only available in the tasting room. Live music performances are held in the cozy space almost every Friday and Saturday night (and are typically free!), so be sure to ask the bartender and keep the tasting room in mind for a visit later in the evening.

pale fire brewing company harrisonburg

Visit another brewery upon leaving the Friendly Fermenter to get a better idea of the brew scene in Harrisonburg. We picked Pale Fire Brewing Co. in the historic Ice House complex because of it’s convenient location in the city center, but there are several excellent craft breweries within walking distance to choose from. The brewery offers a beer flight with five four-ounce pours for just $7.50, and the tasting room welcomes you to sit down and stay a while. Grab a seat on the couches by the fireplace and check out the Little Free Library, a massive wall of bookshelves all color coordinated with hundreds of books available for guests to read there or even take home with them. Music lovers can peruse the brewery’s vinyl record collection and choose their favorites to be sampled on the record player.

hugo kohl jewelry harrisonburg

Make a quick stop by the Hugo Kohl Jewelry Shop, just across the walkway from Pale Fire. This is not simply a jewelry store; the owner is one of the only jewelers in the world using old-world methods and tools to craft stunning pieces, with results that are both art and jewelry. If you’re lucky, you may get the chance to see him at work through the glass wall behind the show room, where he makes everything you see in the shop.

rocktown kitchen harrisonburg

If you’ve made reservations, walk right around the corner to Rocktown Kitchen for dinner. The restaurant specializes in farm-to-table dining that is casual yet moderately upscale, using seasonal ingredients to create quality dishes like Fried Green Tomatoes, served on a bed of baby greens with a goat cheese fondue and dark balsamic reduction, and a Grilled Rack of Lamb with an okra and tomato stew, buttermilk mashed potatoes, and tzatziki sauce.

After a full day of eating and activities, consider heading back to the resort early for a good night’s sleep, or stick around for a live show at the Friendly Fermenter if scheduled.



heritage bakery and cafe harrisonburg

There are few better ways to begin a Saturday than with an incredibly relaxing breakfast, and the best place to do that in Harrisonburg would be Heritage Bakery & Café. Run by a mother/daughter duo, the quaint little café provides a quiet respite for the early hour, with an atmosphere that makes you feel like you are in a close friend’s kitchen rather than a public café. Ordering from their menu may just be the toughest decision you make during this trip, as pretty much everything is delicious, beautiful, and made with almost all locally sourced ingredients. Each item that you see in the bakery case has been made from scratch that day, and the creative owner comes up with new recipes and flavor combinations daily (check the bakery’s Instagram for the latest). While waiting for your order, grab a cup of coffee and browse the artwork on the café walls, made by local artists, as you enjoy the timeless music from artists like Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald humming unobtrusively in the background.

Harrisonburg Downtown Farmers Market

Once you’ve gotten your caffeine kick for the day, walk over to the Harrisonburg Farmer’s Market and peruse locally made goods and produce harvested from nearby farms. The market gives a small glimpse of the sustainable movement that, while recently burgeoning throughout the United States, has been an important part of life in the Shenandoah Valley for decades.

shenandoah bicycle company Harrisonburg

Ready for a little excitement? Head over to Shenandoah Bicycle Company and pick up a mountain bike (reserve ahead of time, as they often run out of rentals on weekends) to explore the Rocktown Trails at Hillandale Park, about a mile from the bike shop. The trails are built to suit every skill level, from beginner to expert, and are also open to hikers and joggers looking to explore Harrisonburg’s stunning outdoors.

Return the bikes to Shenandoah Bicycle Company and consider what you’re craving for lunch. If you’re in the mood for Mexican, Magnolia’s Tacos & Tequila Restaurant is where you should be. Treat yourself to a mid-day margarita and some chips and salsa, guacamole, and cheese dip (go ahead, you earned it on the trails!). For a taste of the best fresh flavors sourced from the Shenandoah Valley, consider eating at Food.Bar.Food, known for their creative menu with dishes that represent a wide variety of styles and cultures from around the world. Paired with cocktail specials invented each week by their talented bartenders, the cuisine spans vast distances on the globe but somehow manages to come together to represent the best of Harrisonburg.

White Oak Lavender Farm

Make a pit stop heading back towards Massanutten Resort at White Oak Lavender Farm, a working lavender farm growing 30 different varietals. The property acts as a serene country retreat space for those looking to escape the stresses of everyday life, and in addition to the lavender fields, the farm houses an animal sanctuary, soothing lavender gift shop, and the Purple Wolf Vineyard, where you can sample the wines in a flight, tasting, or full pour. Several of the wines are made using lavenders grown on-site, resulting in smooth, palatable wines with subtle notes of lavender. Start with a self-guided tour of the Discovery Area ($3 entry fee), where you can pet farm animals like goats, sheep, and miniature ponies, walk the labyrinth, and enjoy the peaceful environment of the quiet garden spaces. For an extra $5, pick your own lavender from the garden as a relaxing reminder of your visit, and be sure to say hello to Martha, the resident turkey, if you see her strutting through the farm.

Log Cabin Barbecue

Grab dinner at the base of Massanutten Resort at Log Cabin Barbecue, a casual spot for ribs, sandwiches, and platters in a historic log cabin. The restaurant closes at 8pm, so if you don’t make it there, eat at the Virginia BBQ & Pizza Co., located beside the check-in lodge on the Massanutten Resort grounds, which stays open for dinner on Saturdays until 10pm. Get a drink after dinner at Base Camp, an indoor/outdoor bar and grill at the bottom of the slopes.



campfire cafe massanutten

It may be the last day of your mini-vacation, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the last few hours before heading home! Eat breakfast at the Campfire Café, the resort’s rustic restaurant that pays tribute to Shenandoah National Park and the abundant outdoor activities found in the region. Try to snag one of the booths in the back built inside a large tent with open flaps, and order a Breakfast Skillet for a true campfire meal.

flowrider massanutten indoor water park

While you might be in the mountains, you can still experience a coastal vibe with a stop in the resort’s indoor water park. Kept at a comfortable 84 degrees, the park has twisting body slides, lazy river floats, hot tubs to unwind, and the FlowRider, where experienced teachers will teach you the basics of surfing and bodyboarding. Once you’ve conquered the waves, change out of your swimsuit, pack up the car, and bid farewell to another successful Crush Friday experience!


Stay tuned for our next Crush Friday trip, where we’ll take a Friday off work and spend the three-day weekend exploring Richmond, Virginia’s capital city and one of the most popular vacation destinations in the Commonwealth.


Previous Crush Friday Virginia Destinations: 




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About FunRVA

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Big Concerts Coming to Virginia in March 2018

Big Concerts Coming to Virginia in March 2018

There’s lots of new music coming to Virginia in March 2018. From major country acts to the biggest names in rock and pop, celebrate the season with your favorite artists and discover new ones all over the Commonwealth.


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 Eli Young Band (March 3), Spoon (March 7), The Flaming Lips (March 10), MGMT (March 21), Betty Who (March 23), Lettuce (March 28), and others.
  • The Broadberry will be hosting Deer Tick (March 11), Anders Osborne (March 17), Of Montreal (March 24), and more.
  • The Altria Theater will have Tony Bennett on March 17.
  • The Beacon Theatre in Hopewell will host Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder on March 10, Firehouse on March 24, and more.
  • In Charlottesville, Jimmy Buffett & The Coral Reefer Band will be performing at the John Paul Jones Arena on March 31.
  • The Jefferson Theater will hosts artists like Matisyahu (March 14), Matt & Kim (March 24), Miguel (March 25), Drive-By Truckers (March 26), Delta Rae (March 29), and more.
  • The NorVa in Norfolk will be bringing in Jeezy (March 6), The Hunts (March 10), Dropkick Murphys (March 11), Judah and the Lion (March 18), Drive-By Truckers (March 25), and many others.
  • The Hampton Coliseum will be hosting the Hampton Spring Jam featuring Keith Sweat, Tank, Brandy, and After 7.
  • Phase 2 Club in Lynchburg will be bringing in acts such as Montgomery Gentry (March 3), Tyler Farr (March 10), Carbon Leaf (March 23), Lupe Fiasco (March 30), Puddle of Mudd (March 31), and more.
  • Luke Combs will be performing at the Salem Civic Center on March 1 and Cole Swindell will be at the Berglund Center in Roanoke on March 23.
  • The Harvester Performance Center in Rocky Mount will host many acts including Cowboy Junkies (March 1), Southern Culture on the Skids (March 17), Anders Osborne (March 18), John Moreland (March 28), and more.
  • At Wolf Trap National Park for Performing Arts in Vienna, shows will include San Fermin (March 30), The English Beat (March 31), and more.
  • Alexandria music hall The Birchmere will host David Archuleta on March 5. Also on the Birchmere’s schedule are Edwin McCain (March 8), The Zombies (March 13), Marc Broussard (March 20), Squirrel Nut Zippers (March 22), Lee Ann Womack (March 23), and many more.



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 March 2018 appeared first on Virginia’s Travel Blog.

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5 Small Towns in Southwest Virginia You Need to Visit

5 Small Towns in Southwest Virginia You Need to Visit


With dozens of critically acclaimed restaurants, nonstop entertainment, and easy transportation, the lure of Virginia’s bigger cities is obvious, but less likely are the quaint and cozy small towns. Southwest Virginia has many options in this category, offering a quiet getaway with tons of character and friendly locals to make it worth your while. These five small towns beckon you to come stay a while and experience the laidback charm of Southwest Virginia.



Lays Hardware Center For The Arts

The small town of Coeburn sits along the Guest River with the Jefferson National Forest just south of the town border, providing ample outdoor activities for visitors. The High Knob Lake Trail and Little Stony National Recreation Trail are two of the popular hiking spots in the area, and cyclists head to the Guest River Gorge Trail, a scenic “rails-to-trails” pathway that runs along the river. Coeburn recently partnered with the neighboring town of Saint Paul and Spearhead Trails, an ATV and multi-use trail system in Southwest Virginia, to add a trailhead that offers access to the Mountain View Trails, one of the trails that winds through about 100 miles of the region.

Known for its beautiful downtown, this mountain gem features antique lamps, brick sidewalks, and several pedestrian bridges. Coeburn is also known as an artistic haven and is part of the Lonesome Pine Artisan Trail in Wise as well as a member of the ‘Round the Mountain Artisan Network. The Historic Lays Hardware Center for the Arts is part of the famed Crooked Road, which pays tribute to local musical legends like the late Dr. Ralph Stanley, himself a longtime resident of Coeburn, and Appalachian music culture as a whole. Every Friday night, the venue hosts musical talents from the region and informal performances are offered most Thursdays.

Where to Stay/Eat: When planning a visit to Coeburn, consider staying at the nearby Inn at Wise, located about 8 miles west of the downtown area, and stop at Moon Dog Brick Oven for a bite to eat. Looking for a quick but delicious takeout spot? Coeburn’s Frosty Bossie is known for their burgers, chili, shakes, and ice cream.



Draper Valley Overlook

Pulaski has several historic stops worth a visit, including the Pulaski Theatre, a recently restored historic theatre that hosts concerts, live stage performances, and children’s shows. Another spot worth a visit is the Pulaski Railway Station, a historic train depot built by the Virginia-Tennessee Railroad in 1888 and nicknamed the “Grand Old Lady of Pulaski”. While much of the depot was destroyed in a fire, a historical restoration managed to salvage the original stone walls, preserving this important piece of Southwest Virginia history.

A few miles southeast of Pulaski, the Draper Mercantile has been a favorite spot for locals for over 125 years, frequently hosting live music, workshops, and special events. You can also shop a selection of locally sourced foods and artisan wares in the Draper Mercantile Marketplace.

Pulaski is also well known as an outdoor recreation destination, with New River Trail State Park and Claytor Lake just a few miles away. The Dora Trail connects the New River Trail to downtown Pulaski, where cyclists and hikers can explore along the banks of the picturesque New River.

Where to Stay/Eat: Swing by Al’s on First for a chance to try some Southwest Virginia flavors, and book a room at the Jackson Park Inn for an overnight stay.



Back of the Dragon

One of the oldest communities in Southwest Virginia, Tazewell was first named Jeffersonville due to Thomas Jefferson also being elected as the third President of the United States the same year (1799) that the town was founded. Eventually renamed Tazewell in 1892, the town is well known for the surrounding scenery.

Take in the views  from the car (or motorcycle for a real adventure!) when you drive on the Back of the Dragon, the moniker given to Route 16 due to its more than 300 winding curves in about 32 miles. The route has spectacular views of the Appalachian Mountains, especially in spring and fall.

Aerial view of Burkes Garden, location of The Varmint.

For even more stunning scenery around Tazewell, drive the Mountain Heritage Loop and see Burke’s Garden, an ancient mountain that collapsed in on itself, creating a massive bowl in the earth. The site is often referred to as “God’s Thumbprint” due to its shape and epic proportions. End the loop at the Crab Orchard Museum to learn about the cultural history and mountain heritage prevalent in Southwest Virginia. For an interesting dive into farm life, head to Sandy Head Ostrich Farm, a farm open for educational tours where you can see sustainable farming techniques of alternative livestock, including emu, ostrich, and geese.

Where to Stay/Eat: Enjoy a rustic yet upscale dining experience at Seven Restaurant in Tazewell or grab a more casual bite at Fisher & Company, a family operated barbecue restaurant housed in an old general store building across the street from the Crab Orchard Museum. Craft beer fans should stop by Painted Peak Brewing Company and Tap Room on historic Main Street in Tazewell, where they can sample craft brews thoughtfully paired with cuisine that highlights the culinary arts of the Appalachian region. Stay at Foxtail Orchards Cabins & Campground, located at the gateway to the Back of the Dragon in beautiful Thompson Valley.



Floyd Country Store

Floyd is home to the internationally-renowned Floyd Country Store, a general store that doubles as a live music venue, celebrating Southwest Virginia’s deep musical roots, especially in bluegrass and old-time music. Visit on the weekends for the Friday Night Jamboree, a family-friendly live music event that features different artists each week.


Although only occurring once a year, Floydfest is another music event that draws people to the area from all over the world. This four-day music festival hosts big name artists like Gov’t Mule, Old Crow Medicine Show, and Foster the People, all set against the awe-inspiring backdrop of the Blue Ridge Mountains. In addition to music, the festival offers local arts, food, and craft lessons that give a comprehensive overview of Southwest Virginia culture. Make sure to snap a picture at the Floyd LOVEwork at the Jacksonville Center for the Arts, made up of quilts designed and sewed by local quilt makers.

Where to Stay/Eat: Stop in to either Blue Ridge Restaurant or Oddf3llows Cantina for a meal. Get a unique lodging experience when you spend the night at Floyd Yurt Lodging, a 30-foot circular yurt with a full kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, and spacious loft area. At night, you can take in the incredible starry skies through a five-foot clear dome in the middle of the yurt roof.



Jettie Baker Center

A vibrant small town near the Kentucky/Virginia border, Clintwood is best known for the Ralph Stanley Museum and Traditional Mountain Music Center, a museum dedicated to the life and music of Dr. Ralph Stanley, a legend in traditional Appalachian old-time music. The exhibits also detail musicians influenced by Stanley’s music, including Ricky Skaggs and Patty Loveless, and the history of the genre’s ties to Southwest Virginia’s Appalachian Mountains.

The Ralph Stanley Museum and Traditional Mountain Music Center

Like most towns in Southwest Virginia, Clintwood is surrounded by natural beauty. Drive Route 611, the Cumberland Mountain Scenic Drive, for a memorable trip through the gorgeous mountain landscape. Discover this beauty on-foot with a hike to Birch Knob Tower in the nearby Jefferson National Forest. From the top of the tower, which is 3,144 feet above sea level, you’ll have uninterrupted panoramic views of Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and on a clear day, Ohio. If you’re looking for even more outdoor scenery, plan a stop at Breaks Interstate Park to see the largest canyon east of the Mississippi, appropriately called the “Grand Canyon of the South”.

Where to Stay/Eat: Stay at the Ralph Stanley Museum, which has a two-bedroom suite above the museum. The accommodations can be rented either as a suite or by the bedroom. Eat at La Casa Mexicana in downtown Clintwood.


Virginia has countless small towns that offer charm, hospitality, and a whole lot of fun. From small towns for outdoor lovers to the best foodie destinations, discover what makes Virginia’s small towns an excellent choice for an unforgettable vacation.




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The Top 5 Scenic Drives in the Shenandoah Valley (and Where to Stop Along the Way)

The Top 5 Scenic Drives in the Shenandoah Valley (and Where to Stop Along the Way)

Cradled by the Blue Ridge and the Allegheny Mountains, Virginia’s 140-mile Shenandoah Valley is laced with some of the most spectacular thoroughfares in state. One of the most historic corridors in Virginia, the valley features everything from colonial-era towns to Civil War battlefields, providing a portal to some of the state’s best outdoor recreational opportunities and access to the Shenandoah National Park, the George Washington National Forest, and the Shenandoah River. Today’s Shenandoah Valley is a diverse place, sprinkled with charming towns, wineries, craft breweries, and infinite outdoor adventures. So load up the car and explore Virginia’s most stunning landscapes with one of these epic road trips.

Blue Ridge Parkway

One of the most spectacular motorways in America, the 469-mile Blue Ridge Parkway runs through mountainous corridors of Virginia and North Carolina, linking the Shenandoah National Park with the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The Shenandoah Valley’s portion of the parkway stretches between Waynesboro and Natural Bridge, and includes a number of iconic highlights.

Stock up for your tour at the Cheese Shop in Stuarts Draft—and then hit the parkway. South of the Waynesboro, visit the Humpback Rocks Recreation Area (milepost 5.8). Tackle the quad-burning, mile-long ascent of Humpback Rocks for sweeping views of the northern Blue Ridge from atop the 3,080-foot greenstone pinnacle. Next, continue to one of the parkway’s gems—the sandy swimming beach at 25-acre Sherando Lake. Cap off the day with a wine tasting at any of the vineyards around the parkway’s northern entrance, like Barren Ridge Vineyards, in Fishersville, or the Ox-Eye Vineyards in downtown Staunton.

Skyline Drive

Take in the view from 3,514 feet at Mary’s Rock.
Take in the view from 3,514 feet at Mary’s Rock.

Adam Fagen

Bisecting the 200,000-acre Shenandoah National Park, Skyline Drive showcases one of Virginia’s most spectacular natural wonders. The 105-mile roadway features endless Blue Ridge panoramas, including 75 scenic overlooks. Stop the car and you’ll find more than 500 miles of hiking trails to explore on foot. Chances are good that you’ll spot some of the park’s resident wildlife—black bears, red fox, coyotes, and more than 190 different birds—that regularly appears near the roadway.

Hop on Skyline Drive at the park’s northern entrance, just outside Front Royal, and head south. For a quick, 2.6-mile out-and-back hike to one of the park’s most iconic vistas, stop along the first third of the drive, at the Meadow Spring Trailhead (milepost 33.5), and head for 3,514-foot Mary’s Rock, a panoramic promontory scalable by linking the Meadow Spring Trail and the Appalachian Trail. Next, stop near the drive’s halfway point, at Big Meadows (milepost 51). Stretch the legs with a short loop around the deer-grazed lea, and then grab lunch at the New Market Taproom inside the Big Meadows Lodge.

End the day in Waynesboro, just 5-miles from Skyline Drive’s southern terminus. The town is home to three of the breweries along the Shenandoah Beerwerks Trail—Basic City Beer, Seven Arrows Brewing Company, and Stable Craft Brewing.

Route 11—The Wilderness Road

Running from Winchester south to Roanoke, Route 11 meanders through the heart of the Shenandoah Valley parallel to Interstate 81 linking charming towns and natural wonders. The roadway is one of the most historic thoroughfares in Virginia: It began as a hoof-forged pathway used by migrating bison and the Native American hunting parties in pursuit of the lumbering herds. In the 18th century, the thoroughfare was dubbed the Wilderness Road, and used by audacious settlers striking out for the frontier from cities across the East Coast.

For the ultimate Route 11 road trip cruise the 50-miles from Natural Bridge to Staunton. Begin at Natural Bridge State Park and hike to the recreation area’s namesake 215-foot sandstone—making sure to tack on a trip to 30-foot Lace Falls on the Cedar Creek Trail. Next, head to Lexington. The college town features a charming Main Street, loaded with farm-to-table restaurants, boutiques, and galleries. It’s also home to attractions like the Stonewall Jackson House, the Miller’s House Museum, or Virginia Gold Orchard, which specializes in Asian pears. Grab lunch at the vegan-friendly Kind Roots Café, offering an array of gourmet sandwiches and smoothies. On the way out of town, head for the award-winning Devil’s Backbone Brewery, located directly on Route 11. Cap off the day in Staunton, exploring the town’s collection of closely concentrated breweries – Shenandoah Valley Brewing Company, Redbeard Brewing Company, and Queen City Brewing.

Route 39 – Appalachian Waters Scenic Byway

Stop at the Goshen Pass Natural Area Preserve for an eyeful of the breathtaking gorge.
Stop at the Goshen Pass Natural Area Preserve for an eyeful of the breathtaking gorge.

Alan Cressler

Route 39, aptly dubbed the Appalachian Waters Scenic Byway, links five counties in Virginia and West Virginia, extending from Lexington westward to Summersville, West Virginia. In Rockbridge County, the roadway showcases a picturesque corner of the Shenandoah Valley, paralleling one of the best whitewater rivers in the state—the Maury. Pick up grab-and-go picnic fixins at Blue Phoenix Café in Lexington before hitting the road.

Make the first detour at the world renowned Virginia Horse Center, just outside town. The 600-acre facility is a pivotal part of the state’s equine economy, and hosts 115 different events annually, the majority free and open to the public. Next, head for the highlight of the 23-mile stretch between Lexington and Goshen—a stunning 3.7-mile gorge carved by the roaring Maury River dubbed Goshen Pass. Stop at the Goshen Pass Natural Area Preserve for an eyeful of the breathtaking gorge. The 937-acre natural area is woven with hiking trails, including riverine routes ideal for scoping out tranquil swimming holes. The area is best accessed via the swinging bridge over the Maury River next to the parking area along Route 39. End the road trip with a wine tasting at beautiful Rockbridge Vineyards in Raphine.

Daughter of the Stars Loop

Head for the 1,600-acre Shenandoah River State Park in Bentonville along the Daughter of the Stars Loop.
Head for the 1,600-acre Shenandoah River State Park in Bentonville along the Daughter of the Stars Loop.

Virginia State Parks

One of Virginia’s official Birding and Wildlife Trails, the Daughter of the Stars loop ribbons from Front Royal south to Mount Jackson running along the edge of the Shenandoah National Park before finally veering west toward vast George Washington National Forest. Named for a Native American creation legend describing the Shenandoah Valley as “the stars placed the brightest jewels from their crowns in the river,” the route meanders past magnificent scenery and a plethora of recreational opportunities. Stock up for the day at Blue Wing Frog, a picnic market offering salads, sandwiches, and tasty portable snacks located in Front Royal, the town dubbed Virginia’s “Canoe Capital.”

Paddlers already anxious to hit the water can pick from over a dozen public river access sites around Front Royal, like Eastham Park, which also features multi-use trails and a dog park. Unequipped paddlers can rent boats, tubes, or arrange shuttles through the town’s outfitters: Down River Canoe Company, Front Royal Outdoors, or Skyline Canoe Company. Or head for the Shenandoah River State Park in Bentonville. Want to see the beauty from a different perspective? Then stop at Virginia Canopy Tours where you can fly through the forest reaching speeds up to 40 mph and soar at heights ranging from 15 to 90 feet above the forest floor. The 1,600-acre recreation area is bisected by a stunning stretch of the South Fork of the Shenandoah River. It also features 24 miles of trails, including the wildflower-studded Bluebell Trail.

Explore the Shenandoah Valley’s vast network of subterranean wonders at Luray Caverns, the largest series of caves in the eastern United States. When it’s time to recuperate at the end of the day—choose from whiskey, wine, or craft beer via the Shenandoah Spirits Trail. In Luray, swing by the River Hill Distillery (open for tastings Saturday), producing aged bourbon whiskey, or opt for locally sourced beers at Hawksbill Brewing Company. Rather sip a fine wine? Continue toward Mt. Jackson and detour to one of the area’s many vineyards including Cave Ridge Vineyard, Winery at Kindred Pointe, Third Hill Winery and Wolf Gap Vineyards.

Originally written by RootsRated for Staunton.

Featured image provided by Mark Levisay

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Off-Road in Southwest Virginia: Exploring the Area’s ATV Trails

Off-Road in Southwest Virginia: Exploring the Area’s ATV Trails

Southwest Virginia has long been an escape for outdoor pursuits. Scenic mountains and small-town charm have traditionally brought people to this corner of the state for things like hiking, camping, mountain biking, and fishing. But now those who like a little more power in their outdoor activities are in for a treat as the region has created a number of off-road ATV trails to create a new way to enjoy the area.

Turns out, the Appalachian Mountains of Southwest Virginia are the perfect place to put rugged off-road vehicles to the test. Whether you’re a first-timer or an off-roading die-hard, you’ll find plenty of options on the diverse trail system that’s been created over the last decade. Known as Southwest Virginia’s Spearhead Trail System, the group of five individual trail groupings have created a network of more than 300 miles of trail to explore by ATV. You’ll also find a lodging catering to ATV users, rental equipment, guide services, and support for your vehicle. Trails are rated, much like ski runs, to ensure you know what you’re getting yourself into. One permit allows you to access all the trails—and experience the mountains in a whole new way.

Spearhead Trails

🌞 it’s allll fun & games until you fly head first into a tree

A post shared by KC (@kaseyyy_chitwood) on Mar 5, 2017 at 5:38pm PST

Each of the five groupings that make up the trail system have something different to offer visitors, and each within relatively close proximity, which allow you to explore multiple trails on a visit. Here’s a rundown on your options:

Coal Canyon : Located near Poplar Gap Park in Buchanan County, Virginia, Coal Canyon offers 61 miles trails that are perfect for ATVs and Side-by-Sides. Plans are in the works to ultimately create a 100-mile system stretching from the towns of Grundy to Haysi. You’ll find lots of family-friendly riding here on the site of reclaimed mining land, which offers lots of ridge-top views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. Riders of all skill levels will find something to love here.

Mountain View : You’ll find more than 100 miles of tree-lined trails here, including 10 miles of singletrack for dirt bikes. While you’ll find a mix of trails for every level, the biggest number are rated as difficult, so you can put your vehicle (and driving) to the test here. The trailhead is in the ATV-friendly town of St. Paul, where you’re welcome to ride your vehicle around town as well as the trails.

__ Original Pocahontas__: Located near the historic town of Pocahontas, Virginia, in Tazewell County, this trail system is known for its “deep woods” experience along with impressive vistas. The OP, as locals call it, features 65 miles of twists and turns accessible from trailheads in Pocahontas (another ATV-friendly town) and Boissevain Park. If you want to explore more about the region’s mining history, the Pocahontas Exhibition Coal Mine and Museum is an excellent way to see for yourself what’s involved in removing coal from the ground.

Ridgeview Trail : Just opened in 2017, the Ridgeview Trail System** **features 60 miles of trails—50 miles of multi-use trails with 10 miles of singletrack connected to the ATV-friendly town of Haysi, Virginia. Plans are underway to create additional trails for mountain bikers and equestrians to connect to the nearby Breaks Interstate Park. The majority of ATV tails are easy or moderate, making this a good spot for beginners, although those who like a challenge will certainly find their share of those as well.

Stone Mountain : The last trail grouping is the smallest, offering 30 miles of trails in Pennington Gap, Va., but they are primarily rated as intermediate and advanced, making this a big draw for aggressive riders. The area is also known for its nine overlook vistas that provide excellent views of the surrounding Stone and Black Mountains. You’ll find rest areas and picnic tables at many of the overlooks, making it a perfect spot for a picnic. The trailhead is in Leeman Park, which is filled with amenities for vacationing families, including an RV camping area, swimming pool, basketball courts, tennis courts, and a picnic area.

Planning Your Trip**

While you’ll find plenty of campgrounds, hotels, bed & breakfasts, and cabins throughout the region, you also have several ATV-focused lodging options that are easily accessible from the trail.

Located at the Coal Canyon Trailhead,Southern Gap Outdoor Adventures features both camping (tent and RV) and cabins to rent. Standard cabins sleep 7-10 people, and are a great option to allow yourself the most time on the trails. Side-by-Side ATVs are also available to rent through Southern Gap Outdoor Adventures. You can also hire a guide to help you get to know the trails. In 2010, elk were reintroduced to Buchanan County—after an almost 100 year absence—and bus tours are available that offer a chance to see the creatures in the wild.

The family-ownedReal McCoy Cabins in Pocahontas features six rustic luxury cabins that are just off the OP trail system. Each sleeps four to six comfortably with heat and A/C and a kitchenette to prepare your own meals. Or take advantage of the breakfast, lunch, and dinner available onsite. You can drive your ATV to Pocahontas to grab a bite to eat or gas up the vehicle.

TheTrailhead ATV Resort in Boissevain also offers easy access to the OP trail system, with cabins, cottages, and RV/tent sites available. You’ll find modern facilities, including deluxe cabins that sleep six to seven, with kitchens, full bathrooms, TVs, and air conditioning. A camp store has just about anything you’d need for the trail.

For those without vehicles,Spearhead Trails Rentals and Tours in Coeburn, Virginia can outfit you with a Side-by-Side and everything else you’ll need for a trip. Want someone else to do the driving?St. Paul ATV Excursions offers guided tours of the trails.

Keep in mind that a trail permit is required for riding on the Spearhead System, which can be purchased atlocal retailers oronline. Once you’re out on the trails, you’ll quickly discover how in a very short time, this system of trails in Southwest Virginia has quickly become one of the top ATV destinations in the eastern U.S. Be prepared to get muddy and have fun.

Originally written by RootsRated for Southwest Virginia.

Featured image provided by Virginia State Parks



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10 Unique Treats for Chocolate Lovers

10 Unique Treats for Chocolate Lovers


Most people appreciate a little bit of chocolate every now and then, but if you can’t get enough of the decadent dessert, we have a few more options to satisfy your sweet tooth. Visit these ten chocolate-loving locations to try some unique takes on your traditional sugar fix.


Red Truck Bakery—Marshall & Warrenton Locations

red truck bakery flourless chocolate cake

Red Truck Bakery has earned quite a few accolades; it was named one of the 15 Best Small-Town Bakeries by Travel + Leisure magazine and Conde Nast’s Traveler named them one of America’s 13 Destination Bakeries. The bakery is also a favorite of both former President Obama and celebrity mega-maven Oprah Winfrey. When visiting, feed your chocolate craving with the Flourless Chocolate Truffle Cake, a decadent (and gluten-free!) dessert made with Callebaut dark chocolate, eggs, butter, vanilla, espresso, and orange. For a tasty chocolate treat that incorporates a local Virginia product, order the Double-Chocolate Moonshine Cake, made with real corn whiskey hooch in the next county over. A rich chocolate cake topped with a smooth chocolate glaze, the dessert was named one of the most unique gifts of the year by Bon Appetit and NBC’s Today Show. Can’t make it to the bakery in person? The bakery ships nationwide on the same day as they are made, guaranteeing a fresh and flavorful delivery.


The Conche—Leesburg

The Conche Chocolate Cart

The Conche embraces chocolate in everything they do, from the seasonal, creative cocktails to their coca-filled dessert menu. This restaurant provides an indulgent experience for even the biggest chocoholics.  Start with the Crispy Calamari, made with a double chocolate stout beer batter. Next, try the Seared Scallops, crusted with cocoa nibs and served with a cocoa infused black bean puree or the Cocoa Rubbed NY Strip Steak with a chocolate burgundy reduction. When it comes to dessert, consider either a selection of their Boutique Bon Bons or, if you’re really looking to splurge, the ConcheEntremet. Served and flambéed tableside, this dessert consists of a dark chocolate sphere encompassing rich sour cream chocolate cake, Guanaja chocolate cremeux, and salted caramel ice cream, all topped with caramel and chocolate sauces.


Horton Vineyards & Winery—Gordonsville

Combining chocolate with one of Virginia’s favorite beverages, Horton Vineyards offers two dessert wines crafted with chocolate essence. If you lean towards white wines, try the Blanco Xoco, a sweet chocolate-infused white wine made with Rkatsiteli and Vidal Blanc grapes. Red wine drinkers will love the Rojo Xoco, a favorite in the Gordonsville-based tasting room. This red wine is made with Touriga Nacional, Syrah, Norton, and a dark chocolate essence, resulting in a wine that tastes like a raspberry Tootsie Roll pop.


Cock & Bowl—Occoquan

Visit Cock & Bowl in Occoquan to try a truly delicious chocolate treat: The Tortue (Turtle) Waffle. This exquisite dish starts with a freshly baked Belgian waffle, which is topped with a mix of Belgian chocolate and caramel, pecan brittle, and a liberal dollop of whipped cream. The restaurant has an array of both sweet and savory Belgian waffle options, or you can create your own customized waffle with a selection of individual toppings.


Brothers Craft Brewing—Harrisonburg

Brothers Craft Brewing Anniversary Mole Stout

Photo Credit: Chelsea Wood

Brothers Craft Brewing celebrated five successful years as a Harrisonburg brewery, and to mark the occasion they released their Anniversary Molé Stout, a rich base chocolate stout with traditional Mexican molé flavors like cacao nibs, vanilla, cinnamon, and chili peppers. Another chocolate offering currently on tap at the brewery is the Chocolate Hazelnut Resolute, a bourbon barrel-aged Russian Imperial Stout.


Proper Pie Co.—Richmond

A staple in Richmond for both savory and sweet pie lovers, Proper Pie Co. dreams up a mouthwatering array of pies. Chocolate fans should try the Chocolate Chess Pie, a true Southern classic in the pie arena. Made with an irresistible crust and topped with a mountain of fresh whipped cream, the dessert is a revelation for your taste buds. If you’re considering splurging on a second slice, order the Chocolate Raspberry Cream Pie.


Trummer’s Coffee & Wine Bar—Gainesville

If you’ve ever been on a camping trip, you have probably tried the gooey goodness that is S’mores. Get a taste of nostalgia at Trummer’s Coffee & Wine Bar with their rich S’mores hot drinks. Choose the homemade hot chocolate for kids or consider the made-to-order latte if you need a little caffeine boost. Both chocolate drinks are made with a homemade dark chocolate sauce and vanilla syrup, then topped with toasted marshmallows, a generous chocolate drizzle, and gram cracker crumbles. Pair with the Chocolate Croissant, Tiramisu, or Biscotti, all baked in-house and served fresh.


Gearhart’s Chocolates—Richmond & Charlottesville Locations

Gearhart's pod and vine chocolates


Photo Credit: Monica Pedynkowski

Gearhart’s Chocolates has locations in both Richmond and Charlottesville, as well as an online shopping option for chocoholics not near the stores. While they carry a wide array of chocolate treats, our pick for a unique gift is the Pod & Vine Gift box, nine pieces of artisanal dark chocolate made with premium wines from three Virginia vineyards. Barboursville Vineyards collaborated with their Cabernet Franc, mixed with damson plum preserves; Jefferson Vineyards’ Petit Verdot is mixed with raspberry jam, currants, and a hint of black pepper; and the “Seven” Port from King Family Vineyards is blended with hazelnuts and vanilla. If you prefer something a little stronger with your chocolate, pick up a box of the Virginia Malt Whisky Truffles, crafted with dark chocolate ganache, spiked with Virginia Distillery Co.’s Highland malt whisky, then hand-rolled in Valrhona cocoa.


Cocoa Mill Chocolatier—Staunton

Cocoa Mill

How about some chocolate with your chocolate? Cocoa Mill Chocolatier in Staunton fashions edible chocolate heart boxes which are then filled with an assortment of milk and dark chocolate truffles. This tasty, heart-shaped box was featured in the Wall Street Journal and won “Best Overall” in a nationwide chocolate taste test. Plus, you can feel good about indulging at Cocoa Mill, since all of the chocolates made at Cocoa Mill Chocolatier are handmade and fair trade, helping developing countries promote sustainable farming and achieve better trade conditions.


Glass House Winery—Free Union

Glass House Winery

Glass House Winery may be located in Virginia, but you’ll forget that fact as soon as you step inside. Tropical plants, trees, and flowers fill the conservatory, creating an atmosphere more likely to be found on a Caribbean island. However, the experience itself is the epitome of Virginia, with outstanding wines, friendly staff, and of course, incredible chocolates. The winery is owned by a husband-and-wife team that each brought their knowledge to the table, his as a botanist and hers as an expert chocolatier. Together, they craft a perfect pairing of wines and chocolate, which is evident in the resulting products. Sample the Red Wine Cream, filled with a buttercream center made from Norton wine and dark chocolate, or the Raspberry Champagne, a milk chocolate ganache with raspberry liqueur that contains coated carbonated fizz bubbles and is decorated with edible pastry balls that resemble champagne bubbles. Pair with the 2014 Meglio del Sesso, a chocolate dessert wine made with Norton grapes and real chocolate.



These are just a few of the unique chocolate experiences you’ll find in Virginia. Tell us, where do you go to satisfy your chocolate cravings?



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11 Newly Opened Hotels for Meetings

11 Newly Opened Hotels for Meetings

Looking for the perfect meeting or event location just got easier with 11 new options that opened or re-opened in 2017. Many offer water or mountain views but all offer flexible space and modern amenities to fit varying budgets and group sizes.


Opened April 2017, Hilton Norfolk The Main is downtown Norfolk’s newest world-class, $147 million, mixed-use entertainment, meeting, dining and hotel destination. It features a 300 room hotel, three world class dining venues and IACC Conference Center which includes 42,000 square feet of state-of-the-art classrooms, centers for leadership and tiered conference rooms. There are also two ballrooms in the Hilton, the largest accommodating groups of up to 1,500.

– Hilton Norfolk The Main –

Hyatt House Virginia Beach Oceanfront opened spring 2017 and includes well-equipped oceanfront guest rooms with some featuring full kitchens. Directly situated on the Atlantic Ocean and in close proximity to the Virginia Beach Convention Center, the hotel has over 1,900 square feet of flexible meeting space with state-of-the-art audiovisual equipment.


Marina Bay Hotel and Suites is located on Virginia’s Eastern Shore in the heart of downtown Chincoteague Island. Combining the warmth and elegance of an exclusive property with all the facilities of a modern hotel, this is Chincoteague Island’s first boutique hotel. It offers 76 guest rooms and small indoor and outdoor event spaces.


Historic Old Town Alexandria welcomed its first waterfront hotel, a Hotel Indigo, in April 2017. The new property adds to the bustling development of Alexandria’s riverfront district, which includes a new Waterfront Market and a new water taxi service linking Alexandria to the monuments and museums of DC’s National Mall.

– Hotel Indigo Alexandria, ©2017 Eric Kieley Photography –


Home2 Suites by Hilton Roanoke opened in April 2017. The hotel is across the street from Valley View Mall and surrounded by several popular restaurants. With convenient access to the Roanoke- Blacksburg Regional Airport, I-581, and I-81, getting in, out and around the Roanoke area from the hotel is easy. With 121 suites, Home2 Suites- Roanoke is an extended-stay hotel for every type of traveler.


The Commonwealth (formerly Commonwealth Park Suites) has undergone an 18-month, complete re-imagining and renovation of its 59 guest suites and 3,000 square feet of meeting space. Rueger’s, the hotel’s 42 seat restaurant and bar, pays homage to the saloon that opened on the site of the hotel in 1846. The renovation included restoration of the historic 1912 façade, new elevators, new entrance canopies and improved accessibility.

The Graduate Hotel opened in summer 2017 and offers a unique experience to visitors, paying tribute to the local college and its culture. The walnut paneled lobby, complete with a chandelier made of Arthur Ashe’s signature frames, is a one of the many nods to Richmond’s rich history. Grab a bite to eat in Brookfield, the lobby café and watering hole, or travel up to Byrd House, the rooftop pool and beer garden perched on the sixteenth floor.


Opened September 2017, the SpringHill Suites by Marriott – Gainesville has 110 comfortable suites featuring separate living areas, pull-out sofas, flat-panel TVs and more. The property also features 1,750 square feet of meeting space, 400 square feet of pre-function space and full-service bar.

– Springhill Suites by Marriott – Gainesville, Photo credit: Burtnett Studios –


Opened in September 2017, the brand new 80 room Fairfield Inn & Suites Abingdon features an indoor pool, fitness room, meeting room and beautiful Blue Ridge Mountain Views.


The new Hyatt Place Blacksburg opened in March 2017. It offers 123 guest rooms and nearly 3,000 square feet of meeting space. Meetings as large as 176 people can be accommodated in a banquet style setting. Within walking distance are several retail and dining options.

South Hill

Opened September 2017, the new Holiday Inn and Suites South Hill features a total of 72 guest rooms, heated indoor pool and outdoor dining. A board room is available for meetings of up to 30 as well as a separate meeting room that accommodates up to 60.

See more…

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6 Virginia Weddings We Love

6 Virginia Weddings We Love


From a romantic rooftop wedding in downtown Roanoke to rustic-chic nuptials with a Blue Ridge Mountain backdrop, these are a few of our favorite Virginia weddings that have pulled at our heart strings and left us misty-eyed.


Veritas Vineyards & Winery in Afton: Christopher & Michael

Surrounded by their family and friends, Christopher and Michael said “I do” at Veritas Vineyards & Winery in Virginia’s picturesque wine country. The couple brought their black-tie nuptials to life with a classic color scheme of whites and creams, glitzy gold decor, and an abundance of lush florals and greenery. Both looking dapper in modern black tuxedos, the two had a sentimental first look in Veritas’ beautiful tasting room before exchanging vows in an al fresco ceremony with the vineyard and misty Blue Ridge Mountains as their backdrop. The couple celebrated their newlywed status with dinner and dancing in Veritas’ grand ballroom, which was draped from floor to ceiling with white fabric and illuminated with romantic candlelight and twinkle lights.

Contact Photographer Tom Daly for additional info.


Center in the Square in Roanoke: Raquel & Daniel

Downtown Roanoke’s hip rooftop venue Center in the Square provided a romantic setting for Raquel and Daniel to exchange vows. They decked out their venue in a modern black and gold color scheme with pink blooms, lucite chairs and bistro lights. Wearing her mother’s wedding dress, Raquel made a grand entrance down the rooftop’s circular staircase before her parents escorted her down the aisle to Daniel. After exchanging vows, the newlyweds celebrated with dinner and an epic dance party as the sun set over downtown Roanoke and the Blue Ridge Mountains. Raquel and Daniel added their own personal touches to the celebration by having a tasty candy and dessert bar and having friends and family write well wishes on a black and gold globe in lieu of a traditional guest book.

Contact Carrie Michelle Photography for more info.


Neon District in Norfolk: Joyce & John

Joyce and John let their quirky personalities shine bright on their wedding day as they added fun, unique touches throughout their celebration. After their church ceremony, the couple and their bridal party headed to downtown Norfolk’s Neon District to take photographs as the art district’s vibrant murals provided a colorful backdrop. Dinner and dancing was held nearby at the Chrysler Museum of Art. Friends and family had plenty of fun activities to entertain themselves from playing Mario Cart and dancing to getting goofy in the photo booth with quirky masks and props. After dinner, guests sampled one of the many color cakes that was part of their dessert bar and smoked celebratory cigars.

Contact Paper Bird Photography for more info.


King Family Vineyards in Charlottesville: Myra & Kevin

Paying homage to the bride’s Pakistani heritage, Myra and Kevin’s vineyard wedding celebration embraced both the bride’s cultural background and the bucolic southern locale. Myra looked radiant in a traditional fuchsia and gold-embellished silk Pakistani wedding dress that she accessorized with a gold wrap, glitzy jewelry and henna tattoos. She completed her bridal look by adorning her hair with pink and white orchid blooms. Bridesmaids donned gowns in a variety of styles and shades of pink, and also had their hands embellished in henna to complement the bride’s look. Kevin looked dapper in a navy three-piece suit with a blush bowtie and his groomsmen wore contrasting light tan suits with blush vests and bowties. After exchanging vows on King Family Vineyards’ lush lawn, the newlyweds celebrated surrounded by friends and family in the winery’s sophisticated ballroom, which was decorated with rustic wooden cross-back chairs, a mix of ivory and periwinkle linens, and white blooms.

Contact Jared Ladia Photography for more info.


The Barn at Timber Creek in Farmville: Breanna & Clay

Farmville’s The Barn at Timber Creek set the tone for Breanna and Clay’s rustic-chic nuptials with its wood-paneled walls, floor-to-ceiling stone fireplace and forest surroundings. The couple had a touching first look in the meadow, which also provided a dreamy backdrop for their newlywed portraits. Breanna and Clay said “I do” in an outdoor ceremony surrounded by towering pine trees. Back inside the venue, friends and family joined the couple for a fun-filled bash. The rustic venue was draped in fabric and bistro lights. Wooden farm tables were embellished with burlap and lace runners, mason jar glasses and centerpieces created out of tree slabs, blue jars and white blooms. Plenty of personal touches were found throughout their celebration from the mismatched vintage china and burlap pendant banner to the tree branch cake-cutting knife and delicious dessert bar.

Contact Jared Ladia Photography for more info.


Sierra Vista in Bedford: Meredith & Zack

Not a bad view for a ceremony. #jaredladiaphotography #vawedding

A post shared by Jared Ladia Photography (@jaredladiaweddings) on May 23, 2017 at 6:36pm PDT

Mother Nature did all the talking in Meredith and Zack’s beautiful countryside wedding in Bedford. On Sierra Vista’s 300-acre property, the two became husband and wife in a picturesque outdoor ceremony with panoramic views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. To let the great outdoors shine, the couple decorated their ceremony site simply with wooden signage, barrels, wooden chairs, and a rustic wedding arch adorned with hydrangeas and roses. Meredith donned a strapless sweetheart neckline lace gown and Zack sported a blue suit with blush tie. Dinner and dancing was held in Sierra Vista’s rustic wooden ballroom. Chandeliers of blooms and greenery were hung from the ceiling, wooden columns were wrapped in romantic twinkle lights and touches of burlap found throughout. Tables were draped in crisp white linens and garlands, and set with mismatched china. As the sun set over the Blue Ridge Mountains, the couple had a romantic newlywed portrait session that captured all the feels on their picture-perfect wedding day.

Contact Jared Ladia Photography for more info.



The post 6 Virginia Weddings We Love appeared first on Virginia’s Travel Blog.

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