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12 Historic Destinations to Explore the Great Outdoors, Part 1

12 Historic Destinations to Explore the Great Outdoors, Part 1


Virginia is well known for its history, but it’s quickly gaining recognition as a world-class outdoor destination, too. So why not combine both into one epic Virginia vacation? These twelve historic destinations also happen to have connections to the Great Outdoors, making them ideal spots for an active (and history-filled) summer vacation.


James Madison’s Montpelier—Montpelier Station


There are over 8 miles of walking trails within James Madison’s Montpelier estate, winding through horse pastures, wildflower meadows, and forests. Plan your route along a few of the different trail loops to catch stunning views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. One of the most popular trails filled with history, the Montpelier Civil War Trail is a one mile trail that follows the path of McGowan’s Brigade, passing the archaeological remains of a Confederate winter camp. This route also connects to the farm of George Gilmore, an African-American man who was born into slavery in 1810 but would live to become a farmer and landowner after Emancipation swept through the South.


Appomattox Court House National Historical Park—Appomattox

Appomattox Court House and National Historical Park

As the Civil War drew to a close, Confederate General Lee met with Union General Grant at the McLean House within Appomattox Court House National Historical Park to draw up the terms of surrender. Visit the park today to see historical actors tell the stories of local residents during the day in 1865, and then wander the miles of hiking trails within the park property as you imagine what the landscape would have looked like during the close of the Civil War. From the North Carolina Monument, follow the History Trail, a 4.5-mile trail that encompasses areas where both Union and Confederate armies were fighting during the Battle of Appomattox Court House. The trail runs through open fields, shaded woods and the picturesque Appomattox River, ending at the site of Lee’s headquarters during the surrender.


Belle Isle Historic Park—Richmond

Belle Isle Skills Area

In the heart of downtown Richmond, Belle Isle Historic Park was originally explored by Colonial Captain John Smith in 1607 and named Broad Rock Island. The island was already inhabited by indigenous peoples, but these native inhabitants vacated as Colonists moved further inward. After Colonial establishment, the island’s purpose changed over time, housing an iron and nail factory in the early 1800s, a small village complete with a school, church, and general store in the early 1860’s, and then a prison encampment for about 30,000 Union soldiers during the Civil War. Today, you can take the pedestrian bridge across to Belle Isle by bike or by foot and follow the trails that encircle the small island, or bring your mountain bike along to conquer the single-track trails in the hills of Belle Isle. Water sport enthusiasts can raft or kayak down the rapids of the James River, although the waterway is best suited for experienced paddlers.




Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello estate is often considered his masterpiece. He designed, built, and made additions to the property over a 40-year span, continuously making changes and improvements to the property that integrated ideas and inventions of his own design. Fourteen varying trails surround Monticello today, welcoming visitors to explore the grounds after touring the historic home. For spectacular views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, take the four-mile round trip Saunders-Monticello Trail through native hardwood forests, open pastures, and deep ravines.


Manassas National Battlefield Park—Manassas

Manassas National Battlefield Park

Manassas National Battlefield Park is the site of the first major battle of the Civil War, the Battle of Bull Run, as well as the Second Battle of Manassas, which led General Lee north to invade Union territory. Take a guided tour of the battlefield on foot and then hike, bike, or horseback on over 40 miles of trails within the 5,100-acre park.


George Washington’s Mount Vernon—Mount Vernon

Mount Vernon, George Washington's Estate and Garden, overlooks the Potomac River.

Located south of Alexandria, George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate is one of Virginia’s most beloved historic sites. Rather than driving to or from Alexandria, consider taking the Mount Vernon Trail, an 18-mile multi-use paved trail that stretches from the estate to Theodore Roosevelt Island, connecting with regional trails along the way. You can either bike or walk the trail to Mount Vernon, and public restrooms, picnic areas, and trash cans spaced along the trail allow for necessary breaks.


Colonial National Historical Park—Yorktown

Yorktown Battlefield

Colonial National Historical Park contains several iconic historic sites within the 8,600+ acres of coastal preserves, including the Colonial Parkway, Historic Jamestowne, the Jamestown Settlement, and Yorktown Battlefield, with Colonial Williamsburg on the border. The park spans parts of the City of Williamsburg and York, James City, Gloucester, and Surry Counties, extending between the York and James Rivers. Hiking and biking are popular outdoor activities within Colonial National Historical Park, as well as kayaking, canoeing, and fishing on the rivers. Bikes are permitted on most of the Colonial Parkway, but you can also tour Yorktown Battlefield on a seven-mile Battlefield Tour, marked by red arrow signs, or a nine-mile Encampment Tour, marked by yellow arrow signs. Also, both the TransAmerica Bicycle Trail and the Virginia Cross State Ride have trail access points at the Yorktown Victory Monument. In addition to biking, Patriot Tours & Provisions offers Segway, kayak, and paddleboard tours that combine the Great Outdoors with Virginia’s rich history. Finally, Schooner Alliance Historic Yorktown Cruises takes you for a laid-back cruise on the York River to learn about America’s Historic Triangle while sailing past Yorktown Battlefield and the Victory Monument.


James Monroe’s Highland—Charlottesville

Ash Lawn-Highland

James Monroe’s Highland estate in Charlottesville is just down the road from his close friend Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, and if you’re in the area, you should make a plan to visit both of these former U.S. president’s properties. Take guided tours of the Presidential Guest House, which dates to 1818 and is filled with original French and American antiques from the same era. After touring the historic home, stroll along the rustic trails that wind throughout Monroe’s 500-acre property. Cycling is permitted on three of the six trails, and horseback riding on the trails may be allowed if arranged ahead of your visit.


Natural Bridge State Park—Natural Bridge

Natural Bridge Park

One of Virginia’s most awe-inspiring natural landmarks, Natural Bridge State Park has several historic ties to boast. Thomas Jefferson once owned the 215-foot tall limestone gorge, and today, a Monacan Indian Village interpretation inside the park gives visitors a peek into how the residents prior to Colonial settlers would have lived on the lands. There are various trails crisscrossing the park’s mountainous landscape open to hikers. The mail trail, Cedar Creek, is about a mile long, and its namesake watering hole is stocked with fish, welcoming visitors to cast a line.


Frontier Culture Museum—Staunton

The Frontier Culture Museum of Virginia contains eleven permanent home exhibits that showcase how cultures blended together to influence early American settlements and leading to the diverse cultures seen today, specifically in home life and architectural features. The historically-recreated homes display cultural aspects of European, African, and the Indigenous peoples, combining these influences into American styles that would soon emerge all over the country. During your self-guided tours of the grounds, you’ll follow several miles of walking trails, spending an average of three to four hours taking in the sight by foot.


Chancellorsville Battlefield—Fredericksburg

Chancellorsville Battlefield

An historic Civil War site of Virginia, Chancellorsville Battlefield is part of the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park, created to preserve the land and share the stories of the four Civil War battles fought within the 7,600-acre park. In addition to offering a walking tour that tells the story of the Wounding of Stonewall Jackson, the park has about 23 miles of hiking trails within the park open to visitors.


Twin Lakes State Park—Green Bay

twin lakes state park

Twin Lakes State Park used to be two distinct parks that were eventually merged. One of these had tremendous historical and cultural significance before the battle for Civil Rights had begun, as it was the only state park in Virginia that allowed African Americans. With even more notable Civil Rights sites right down the road in Farmville, visitors can learn about the area’s important contributions to equality, then return to the park for a wide array of outdoor activities, including hiking, camping, swimming, and exploring the lake in a kayak, canoe, or paddleboat.



Stay tuned for Part Two of Virginia’s Historic Destinations for the Great Outdoors! 

The post 12 Historic Destinations to Explore the Great Outdoors, Part 1 appeared first on Virginia’s Travel Blog.

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#TakeTheTrain to Your Next Marathon or Half Marathon in Virginia

#TakeTheTrain to Your Next Marathon or Half Marathon in Virginia

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


It’s no secret that Virginia is for runners, and there’s a full schedule of road races across the Commonwealth each year to back that up. Whether you like to run with ocean breezes or mountain views, there’s a race for you.

Of course, you likely won’t be traveling on foot to the race. Why not skip the highways and ride the rails? Amtrak has nine passenger rail routes and 23 stations, taking you directly to many of Virginia’s most popular destinations. Not only do you avoid traffic, you have lots of options for staying loose after the race. Amtrak offers wide, comfortable reclining seats with plenty of legroom where you can stretch – and stretch out. You also can get up and walk around the train to prevent cramping. If you need to refuel, the café car has sandwiches, salads, snacks and hot and cold beverages available for purchase.

To get you inspired, this post lists some of the many marathons and half-marathons across the state, organized by city. All are easily accessible by rail. Just take the train, take a medal and take it easy.



Just across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C., Alexandria is known for its rich colonial history and scenic waterfront. The Amtrak station (ALX) is conveniently located right in the heart of the city.



Passenger trains travel right down the middle of Center Street in the charming town of Ashland. Unique shops, restaurants, galleries and historic homes are just steps away from the sheltered Amtrak platform (ASD).



Nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Charlottesville offers cultural, natural, and artistic history. The Amtrak station (CVS) is an easy walk from the University of Virginia campus and bustling downtown.



Anthem Richmond Marathon

Visitors to Richmond are attracted to Virginia’s capital city for history, arts, fine dining, outdoor recreation and sports. Richmond has two Amtrak stations: Main Street Station (RVM) and Staples Mill Road Station (RVR).



Full of modern charm, Petersburg is famous for its rich history, including several Revolutionary and Civil War battles. The Amtrak station (PTB) is also a beautiful example of Mid-Century Modern architecture.



Quantico is a small town on the banks of the Potomac River, surrounded by Marine Corps Base Quantico. Passengers use the Amtrak platform (QAN) adjacent to the historic 1950s mid-century modern depot.


—Newport News—Rock & Roll Marathon

A popular coastal destination, Newport News offers historic sites, museums and maritime adventures with inviting beaches and natural parks to explore. You’ll find the Amtrak station (NPN) close to the James River.



A major seaport, Norfolk attracts outdoor enthusiasts for fishing, boating and surfing in the Atlantic Ocean and the Chesapeake Bay. The recently constructed Amtrak station (NFK) is close to the waterfront.



Williamsburg, Virginia’s “Colonial Capital,” offers visitors historical, cultural and recreational activities and events throughout the year. The Amtrak station (WBG) is within walking distance of Colonial Williamsburg.



Blue Ridge Marathon

Located in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Roanoke is known for its scenic beauty, outdoor recreation and cultural offerings. The sheltered Amtrak platform (RNK) is located in the bustling downtown area.



Fredericksburg offers a little bit of everything, from battlefields and museums to water fun and children’s activities. Amtrak’s platform and shelter (FBG) are just one block from the Rappahannock River waterfront.



The “City of Seven Hills,” Lynchburg is a center of cultural activities such as concerts, plays, lecture series and art shows. Amtrak’s intermodal Kemper Street station (LYH) is also served by local and intercity buses.


Ready to Run?

Head to Virginia.Amtrak.com to book your tickets for a comfortable, convenient travel experience. Book at least 14 days in advance to save up to 25%, or check out the everyday discounts we offer. Just ride, run and enjoy!


Before June 30, 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.


The post #TakeTheTrain to Your Next Marathon or Half Marathon in Virginia appeared first on Virginia’s Travel Blog.

About FunRVA

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9 Reasons to Get Outdoors in Charlottesville & Albemarle County This Summer!

9 Reasons to Get Outdoors in Charlottesville & Albemarle County This Summer!

Summer is here and that means lots of fun in the sun in Charlottesville & Albemarle County! From peach picking, to tubing, to hiking in the mountains, the Charlottesville area is the perfect place for an outdoor summer adventure! Read on to find more details about 9 awesome summer adventure ideas!

1.) Charlottesville City Market

Think farmer’s market and think bigger. You can visit the City Market’s website to plan a route or wander the rows and take it all in. Charlottesville City Market is a producer-only market of farmers, food vendors, and artisans held every Saturday from 7 a.m. until noon in downtown Charlottesville at Water Street and South Street between 1st and 2nd. The vendors are plentiful and there’s a wide selection of produce, meats, and crafts for sale. Pop in early to beat the crowds or show up a little later when the market is bustling–either way, one thing is certain, the Charlottesville City Market is not to be missed!

Charlottesville City Market –

Tess McGough

2.) James River – James River Runners, James River Reeling and Rafting

Bring a friend! Bring the family! Bring the neighborhood! A float down the James River is a great way to relax, work on your lifejacket tan, or simply enjoy some time in nature. Pack the necessities for a picnic or just keep floating. Take a quick drive south of Charlottesville to the charming town of Scottsville where you can tube, canoe, kayak or raft with either the James River Runners or James River Reeling and Rafting. If you’d prefer to stay dry and fish, rent a canoe or cast from the riverside–the river is full of catfish and small mouth bass and the water even at five and six feet is typically clear enough to see the riverbed.

Tubing on the James River near Scottsville, Virginia

Courtesy of Charlottesville and Albemarle County

3.) Hiking at Humpback Rocks

Ask anyone in the area and they’ll tell you like it is: the hike to Humpback Rocks is one of the best around. Enjoy a 360° view of the Shenandoah Valley and Shenandoah National Park, best seen at sunrise or sunset. There’s ample space for parking at the base of the mountain, located just off the Blue Ridge Parkway. Though short, the roughly 1 mile hike to the top is 800 feet up (!) so make use of the trailside benches if needed. For those of you that are so inclined, the Appalachian Trail is a hop, skip and a jump away from the intersection with the “Rocks” sign (you’ll know it when you see it). Zip up for the view, then hike as much as you want. Click here for more about Humpback Rocks!

Humpback Rocks –

Brent McGuirt Photography

4.) Swimming Holes & Waterfalls: Blue Hole, Snake Hole, Pauls Creek, Riprap

It’s summer and it’s hot. So hike in your swim trunks and give yourself the refreshing break you know you’ll need. Of the four swimming holes we’ve mentioned above, two of them–Snake Hole and Blue Hole–can be found in Sugar Hollow in the western portion of Albemarle County (roughly a 30-40 minute drive from downtown Charlottesville). For Pauls Creek, head on up to Crawford’s Knob (near Wintergreen) and enjoy a swim beneath the falls. (As always, be careful, as the wet rocks can be very slippery!) Riprap Trail is a moderately strenuous hike comprised of a 9.8 mile circuit, which makes the waterfalls along the way feel that much better. Riprap connects to the Appalachian Trail, so for the more adventurous hikers who are looking to go above and beyond in their hiking endeavors, this is definitely the hike for you!

5.) Lakes: Chris Greene Lake, Mint Springs, Walnut Creek Park

If you’d rather get straight to the water and skip the hike, stop by Chris Greene Lake, Mint Springs Valley Park, or Walnut Creek Park. Most boats are welcome (so long as there’s no gas motor). The waters are open to swimmers from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. in the summer months up until Labor Day. Hikes, beaches, and picnic shelters are available at each location as well, plus you can even get in a game of disc golf at Walnut Creek Park!

Beaches at Walnut Creek Park in Albemarle County –

Brantley Ussery

6.) Peach Picking

There’s always something ripe to pick at one of our local orchards (and the view from Carter Mountain never gets old). Pick your own peaches or buy them fresh-from-the-tree at either Chiles Peach Orchard or Carter Mountain Orchard. Don’t miss the Thursday Evening Sunset Series at Carter Mountain–the lineup is incredible and yes, the view is even better at sunset. Peak peach season comes in late July and to celebrate, Carter Mountain Orchard throws its annual Ol’ Fashioned Peach Festival, featuring games, contests, hayrides, and more!

Peaches at Chiles Peach Orchard –

Brantley Ussery

7.) Ballooning: Monticello Country Ballooning, Bonaire Charters, Blue Ridge Balloon

But have you seen Charlottesville from above? Take in the mountains and the city at sunrise or sunset–throw in a picnic breakfast or a glass of champagne–with Blue Ridge Balloon, Bonaire Charters, or Monticello Country Ballooning. Balloons travel between five and ten miles per flight and no two flights are the same! So enjoy the view from up above and experience Charlottesville & Albemarle County in a new and exciting way!

Hot Air Ballooning Over Charlottesville & Albemarle County

Courtesy of Charlottesville and Albemarle County

8.) Fridays After Five

If you’re short on cash, a fan of live music, and afraid of heights, water or both, Fridays After Five is for you. Head downtown to the Sprint Pavilion Fridays from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. for free live music performed by local artists and bands. Volunteers work the concessions on behalf of a variety of local non-profits–any money you spend is kicked back to the Charlottesville community. The line-up for 2017 features a wide variety of performers. There’s something for everyone, and this event is definitely family friendly!

Fridays After Five –

Jeff McCallister

9.) Monticello

There is no bad time to visit Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello for a tour of the house and gardens or a stroll on the Saunders-Monticello Trail. It’s that much cooler and oh so much prettier on the mountaintop. Monticello is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as is the Academical Village on UVa’s grounds. Both were designed by Jefferson, both are outside (but yes, there’s AC around), and both offer perspective you’d be hard-pressed to appreciate online. Make a day of it, or take the weekend and tack on a visit to James Madison’s Montpelier and James Monroe’s Highland, which are just down the road!

Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello –

Jack Looney

Keep in mind that these suggestions are by no means a cumulative list and only scratch the surface of all that the Charlottesville area has to offer during the summer months! We encourage you to visit our website for a broader and more comprehensive selection of attractions and activities. If you arrive with questions, feel free to drop by one of our visitor centers. There’s one on the Downtown Mall and another in the historic train depot in Crozet. We look forward to seeing you in the Charlottesville area this summer! Now it’s time to get out there and enjoy some fun in the sun!

Written by Will Dozier for Charlottesville and Albemarle County.

Featured image provided by Courtesy of Charlottesville and Albemarle County

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The post 9 Reasons to Get Outdoors in Charlottesville & Albemarle County This Summer! appeared first on Virginia’s Travel Blog.

About FunRVA

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Glamping on Virginia’s Eastern Shore

Glamping on Virginia’s Eastern Shore

Stay in a yurt on the Chesapeake Bay, a historic watch house at offshore oyster grounds or an off-the-grid guest house on a private Atlantic island. The Virginia Eastern Shore’s nine campgrounds hug the Atlantic Ocean on one coast, and the Chesapeake Bay on the other, and have amenities ranging from free shuttle services to waterside restaurants.


These are not your grandfather’s campgrounds. Resort camping is a different animal, with swimming pools, playgrounds, restaurants, camp stores, coffee shops, organized games, movie nights, rental and tackle shops, places to juice up your devices and concierges to help you find interesting day trips. Most campgrounds have places to park your RV or put up a tent and also rent cabins.

Here’s a complete list of campgrounds on VA’s Eastern Shore

Upper Shore Campgrounds

KOA Chincoteague Island, Chincoteague
    Courtesy of Visit Eastern Shore, Virginia
KOA Chincoteague Island, Chincoteague
Courtesy of Visit Eastern Shore, Virginia

Pine Cove Campground and Waterfowl Park, Chincoteague
    Courtesy of Visit Eastern Shore, Virginia
Pine Cove Campground and Waterfowl Park, Chincoteague
Courtesy of Visit Eastern Shore, Virginia

Tall Pines Harbor Campground, Temperanceville
    Courtesy of Visit Eastern Shore, Virginia
Tall Pines Harbor Campground, Temperanceville
Courtesy of Visit Eastern Shore, Virginia

Tom's Cove Campground
    Courtesy of Visit Eastern Shore, Virginia
Tom’s Cove Campground
Courtesy of Visit Eastern Shore, Virginia

Middle Shore Campgrounds

Wachapreague Campground, Wachapreague
    Courtesy of Visit Eastern Shore, Virginia
Wachapreague Campground, Wachapreague
Courtesy of Visit Eastern Shore, Virginia

Virginia Landing Campground, Quinby
    Courtesy of Visit Eastern Shore, Virginia
Virginia Landing Campground, Quinby
Courtesy of Visit Eastern Shore, Virginia

Lower Shore Campgrounds

Cherrystone Family Campground, Cheriton
    Courtesy of Visit Eastern Shore, Virginia
Cherrystone Family Campground, Cheriton
Courtesy of Visit Eastern Shore, Virginia

Kiptopeke State Park, Kiptopeke
    Courtesy of Visit Eastern Shore, Virginia
Kiptopeke State Park, Kiptopeke
Courtesy of Visit Eastern Shore, Virginia

Sunset Beach Resort, Kiptopeke
    Courtesy of Visit Eastern Shore, Virginia
Sunset Beach Resort, Kiptopeke
Courtesy of Visit Eastern Shore, Virginia

Lower Shore Campgrounds

Walk out of your yurt at Kiptopeke State Park and you're on your own private deck overlooking a gorgeous Chesapeake Bay beach.
    Courtesy of Visit Eastern Shore, Virginia
Walk out of your yurt at Kiptopeke State Park and you’re on your own private deck overlooking a gorgeous Chesapeake Bay beach.
Courtesy of Visit Eastern Shore, Virginia

Kayak out to a remote spit of land in the Chesapeake Bay or Atlantic Ocean and set up a homestead. 
     Burnham Guides
Kayak out to a remote spit of land in the Chesapeake Bay or Atlantic Ocean and set up a homestead.
Burnham Guides

The entire Atlantic shoreline of the Virginia Eastern Shore was once dotted with “watch houses” where oyster men stayed to watch over their valuable oyster fields. Few remain. 
     SouthEast Expeditions
The entire Atlantic shoreline of the Virginia Eastern Shore was once dotted with “watch houses” where oyster men stayed to watch over their valuable oyster fields. Few remain.
SouthEast Expeditions

The guest house at Holly Bluff dates to the 1930s and was once a hunting and fishing lodge for wealthy northerners.
    Courtesy of Visit Eastern Shore, Virginia
The guest house at Holly Bluff dates to the 1930s and was once a hunting and fishing lodge for wealthy northerners.
Courtesy of Visit Eastern Shore, Virginia


Walk out of your yurt at Kiptopeke State Park and you're on your own private deck overlooking a gorgeous Chesapeake Bay beach.
    Courtesy of Visit Eastern Shore, Virginia
Walk out of your yurt at Kiptopeke State Park and you’re on your own private deck overlooking a gorgeous Chesapeake Bay beach.
Courtesy of Visit Eastern Shore, Virginia

This yurt, perched on a high bluff overlooking the water, is more than a tent but still very elemental. It gives you a cozy house for the night with conveniences nearby, but not too close. It’s at Kiptopeke State Park, which has a lighted fishing pier, kayak and bike rentals, a camp store, a dog-friendly beach and a bird-watching station. Kiptopeke also has tent camping, RV sites, lodges and cabins, the largest of which sleeps twelve.


Kayak out to a remote spit of land in the Chesapeake Bay or Atlantic Ocean and set up a homestead. 
     Burnham Guides
Kayak out to a remote spit of land in the Chesapeake Bay or Atlantic Ocean and set up a homestead.
Burnham Guides

The American Indians, then the Europeans, have been exploring the Eastern Shore of Virginia since time immemorial. Today, local outfitters, know every nook and cranny along hundreds of miles of coastline and they’ll take you to secret islands and sand bars out in the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean and set up home. SouthEast Expeditions and Burnham Guides lead multi-day expeditions and can also tailor a trip to your interests.


The entire Atlantic shoreline of the Virginia Eastern Shore was once dotted with “watch houses” where oyster men stayed to watch over their valuable oyster fields. Few remain. 
     SouthEast Expeditions
The entire Atlantic shoreline of the Virginia Eastern Shore was once dotted with “watch houses” where oyster men stayed to watch over their valuable oyster fields. Few remain.
SouthEast Expeditions

Stay in an old “watch house” along the Atlantic Coast. Watermen used these humble abodes to guard their oyster crops against thieves. SouthEast Expeditions leads this kayak trip on the lower Eastern Shore of Virginia. You’ll paddle out to your new home, forage for seafood in the surrounding waters and cook it up a feast for dinner.


The guest house at Holly Bluff dates to the 1930s and was once a hunting and fishing lodge for wealthy northerners.
    Courtesy of Visit Eastern Shore, Virginia
The guest house at Holly Bluff dates to the 1930s and was once a hunting and fishing lodge for wealthy northerners.
Courtesy of Visit Eastern Shore, Virginia

The Virginia Eastern Shore’s barrier islands once anchored thriving communities and were a luxury resort destination for the wealthy, who flocked here from New York, Baltimore, Washington D.C. and Philadelphia. Remnants of these long-ago enclaves remain out on the barrier islands and you can learn more at the Barrier Island Center. But one private island on the Atlantic has a rustic fishing lodge (by our modern standards) that survives to this day, Holly Bluff. Your power comes from propane gas tanks and your shower is courtesy of a rain-catchment system.

You Might Also Like:
One-of-a-Kind Places to Lay Your Head on Virginia’s Eastern Shore
Ten Great Kayaking Adventures on Virginia’s Eastern Shore
Explore Virginia’s Eastern Shore by Bicycle
Eight Great Wilderness Hikes on Virginia’s Eastern Shore

Written by EasternShore VA RootsRated for Visit Eastern Shore VA.

Featured image provided by SouthEast Expeditions

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Love to Learn: Must-See Music Schools and Museums in Virginia

Love to Learn: Must-See Music Schools and Museums in Virginia

Virginia’s musical tradition is calling out… can you hear it? The richness of the commonwealth’s musical past is always echoing, and throughout the state, you’ll find people and places that can help you learn about Virginia’s role in shaping music’s present — and about how you can contribute to its future. Here are a few of the museums and schools you’ll want to set aside time to visit, whether you’re picking up guitar for the first time or simply picking up facts about past.


Birthplace of Country Music Museum—Bristol

Birthplace of County Music Museum

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


Jammin’ Java—Vienna

Jammin’ Java is known as one of the country’s finest intimate concert venues — one of the Top 100 Clubs in the world as rated by Pollstar Magazine — having hosted national, regional, and locally renowned touring artists in Vienna, Virginia for nearly 20 years. But attendees may not realize the facility is also home to several learning opportunities, with private lessons available for drums, ukulele, guitar, voice — even songwriting. Plus, learners can show off their newfound instrumental talents thanks to open mic showcases, which are open to the public and feature current and former students, offering a refreshing alternative to the typical recital format. The educators at Jammin’ Java bring a wide variety of professional experiences to the table, from work as touring musicians to the development of innovative music curricula in academic settings — approaches that come together to form an atmosphere of learning and creativity. Alongside the popular Tot Rock kids’ concert series, the Music School at Jammin’ Java shows just how family friendly and community-focused a top-notch music venue can be.


Carter Family Fold—Hiltons

Carter Family Fold stage

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


The Front Porch—Charlottesville

If you’re of the opinion that music is a force for unity, and that music is a universal language, then you’re reading from the same sheet music as The Front Porch — the nonprofit musical school that’s been located in downtown Charlottesville since 2016. The school began in the home of local educator Emily Morrison, but has since expanded to offer a diverse and inspiring set of programs and classes to teach instrumentalists young and old of all backgrounds and bring community members together. There are free weekly jam sessions that are open to the public. Tuesday Tunes outdoor concerts, thanks to a partnership with James Monroe’s Highland. Lessons in everything from bluegrass to blues and mandolin to fiddle, with scholarships available to expand the reach of their instruction. The facility represents a celebration of inclusivity — truly a testament to the common ground that can be found in the traditional music that Virginians are lucky enough to have inherited from past generations.


Blue Ridge Music Center—Galax

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


ESO Art Center—Belle Haven

Southern Accomack county is home to the Eastern Shore’s Own Arts Center, a non-profit community arts facility located in a classic, three-story brick building in the town of Belle Haven. Founded in 1984 as an adult theater troupe, ESO has since expanded to offer a wide range of spaces and services allowing local artists to perform, teach, and practice. You’ll find group music classes, from beginner youth chorale to adult string ensemble, and individual lessons for aspiring instrumentalists young and old, with opportunities for students to share what they’ve learned with the community via public performances and recitals. In addition, the ESO LIVE! Series welcomes local and regional artists for monthly nightclub-like shows, and the center presents a yearly production of the Nutcracker in December — a tradition that’s been held since 1991. And visitors in warmer weather have their own tradition to look forward to: the Eastern Shore’s Own Craft Beer & Music Festival, the center’s late-summer annual fundraiser.


Guitar Works—Richmond

Guitar Works provides Richmonders with a true best-of-both-worlds scenario: A centrally located shop — right in the heart of Carytown — selling fine instruments while offering a robust teaching program for players of all styles and levels. For more than 40 years, Guitar Works has been providing instruction, with lessons available Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Whether you’re interested in fine-tuning your guitar work, getting into banjo, strumming the mandolin or ukulele, or holding down the low end via bass, there’s teaching available in half hour or full hour sessions delivered by instructors who are passionate about helping students pursue their musical goals. And don’t forget — the storefront has all the gear, parts, and services to keep advancing your rig as your abilities develop. They’ve even got their own line of guitars, which began in 2000 with the aim of providing high quality, affordable acoustic instruments.


Virginia Musical Museum—Williamsburg

For a focused view of Virginia’s musical history, and insight into the lives of some of the biggest stars to hail from the commonwealth, spend some time at the Virginia Musical Museum in Williamsburg, located on Richmond Road in the Parker Piano Outlet building. The museum’s collection runs the gamut from antique modes of listening — music boxes, early phonographs, Edison’s tin foil machine — to memorabilia from famous native sons and daughters, including a stage outfit worn by Patsy Cline (born in Winchester) and a roaster owned by Wayne Newton (born in Norfolk). You’ll also find an impressive collection of antique and notable instruments, from organs and a piano gallery to a 1790 Joshua Shudi harpsichord — one of only two known to exist today. And they recently added an encore banjo, which is one of the earliest examples of an automatic music machine, dating all the way back to 1897!

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Lesser-Known Summer Vacations in Virginia, Part 2

Lesser-Known Summer Vacations in Virginia, Part 2

Cascade Falls and Trail

When discussing summer vacations, most people picture beachfront getaways filled with nothing but surf, sand, and sun. While a tried-and-true trip to the coast may be the most reliable plan, we want to infuse your summer with a little extra adventure. If you’re ready to make new memories and explore a different destination, consider planning a trip to one of these four lesser-known summer vacation spots.

This is Part 2 of a series. Read Part 1 Here.


The Well-Known Virginia Vacation:
The Shenandoah Valley

A Lesser Known Virginia Vacation: The New River Valley

The New River

Organized along the New River between the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Appalachian Mountains, the New River Valley in Southwest Virginia contains cities like Blacksburg, Christiansburg, Pulaski, and Radford. With the New River as the focal point, water sports in the valley are becoming a big draw for travelers interested in exploring Virginia’s rushing waterways. Plan a paddle trip with New River Outdoor Co., an outfitter that rents kayaks, canoes, and rafts along the New River or cast a line on a guided fishing trip with Greasy Creek Outfitters. Explore the area on foot with a section hike of the challenging Appalachian Trail, which runs through the New River Valley, or traverse the landscape on a mountain bike through trails in New River Trail State Park.

Where to Stay:

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New River Stand-Up Paddle Boarding

Starting near Galax, the Crooked Road, Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail, follows the New River west until it reaches Mouth of Wilson. There are several notable sites to see along this section of the Crooked Road, including the Rex Theater in Galax and the Blue Ridge Music Center in Caroll, and if you continue west along this historic music trail, you’ll reach Heartwood in Abingdon and the Birthplace of Country Music Museum in Bristol. Wine lovers should stop at Chateau Morrisette Winery in Floyd, where they can tour the vineyard, sip on the resulting wines, and enjoy a meal at the winery’s on-site restaurant. For outdoor enthusiasts, visit Cascades National Recreation Trail, a popular 4-mile hike that ends at a 66-foot waterfall within the Jefferson National Forest, or head to Claytor Lake State Park and rent stand-up paddleboards through Mountain 2 Island for a scenic paddle tour of the lake.



The Well-Known Virginia Vacation: Blue Ridge Mountains

A Lesser Known Virginia Vacation: Alleghany Highlands

alleghany highlands

On the western edge of the Virginia Mountain region, the Alleghany Highlands cover the Highland, Bath, and Alleghany Counties of Virginia. The area is known for its beautiful mountain views, outdoor activities like hiking and mountain biking, and delicious maple syrup that is harvested within the Highlands. It is the perfect destination for those looking to get “off the grid” and unwind with a little peace and quiet. With Highland County referred to as Virginia’s “Little Switzerland”, this mountainous region is a must-see vacation spot in the Commonwealth.

Where to Stay:

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falling spring alleghany highlands

While in the Alleghany Highlands, make your way to the Garth Newel Music Center in Hot Springs for live music performances and a taste of the musical heritage of the region. History fans should visit McDowell Battlefield, the site of Confederate General Stonewall Jackson’s first victory in the legendary Valley Campaign of the Civil War. After, go to Highland County Museum, which served as a hospital during the Civil War and tells the story of the Battle of McDowell and the story of the rural mountain community. If you’re an outdoor enthusiast, you have plenty of gorgeous sites to choose from within the Alleghany Highlands, including parts of the George Washington & Jefferson National Forest, the Jackson River, Douthat State Park, and Lake Moomaw. Hike at Buck Run and Locust Spring Run Trails or some of the almost 40 miles of trails within Douthat State Park, which are also open to mountain bikers.

alleghany humpback bridgeIconic spots within the Alleghany Highlands include Humpback Bridge, the only covered humpback bridge still standing in America, Falling Spring, a breathtaking 80-foot waterfall in Covington, and the Historic Masonic Theatre, Clifton Forge’s opera house and masonic lodge that dates back to 1905. Before leaving the Alleghany Highlands, stop by Sugar Tree Country Store to pick up a few bottles of premium Highland County Maple Syrups.



The Well-Known Virginia Vacation: Virginia Beach

A Lesser Known Virginia Vacation: Chesapeake


On the Intracoastal Waterway in the heart of Coastal Virginia, Chesapeake has about 22 miles of waterways to explore. The small city is about 30 minutes west of Virginia Beach, but while Virginia Beach has become the go-to destination for visitors looking for sun, sand, and surf, Chesapeake has remained a quieter, more tranquil destination for those looking to explore Virginia’s coast. Furthermore, it’s an ideal base for exploring the region, with Norfolk, Suffolk, and Hampton Roads all just a short drive away. While staying in Chesapeake, head to the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, an 113,000-acre wilderness that contains miles of hiking trails, endless wildlife including over river otters, black bears, and over 200 species of birds, and the hauntingly beautiful Lake Drummond.

Where to Stay:

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Lake Drummond

While visiting the Great Dismal Swamp outside of Chesapeake, book a kayak excursion on Lake Drummond for an unforgettable coastal experience. Hike along the scenic trails of Northwest River Park, winner of the “Best of Chesapeake”, and bring along your camping gear to stay overnight at one of the park’s 70 campsites. To learn about the unique flora and fauna of the region, visit the Chesapeake Arboretum, a 48-acre garden with hardwood forests and a fragrant garden containing a stunning antique rose garden. Outdoor adventure enthusiasts can see the coastal region from the air with a skydiving trip from Skydive Suffolk.



The Well-Known Virginia Vacation: Smith Mountain Lake

A Lesser Known Virginia Vacation: Philpott Lake

Philpott Lake Dam and Overlook

Philpott Lake sits within the rugged foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Southwest Virginia, about an hour south of Roanoke. This 3,000 acre lake has over 100 miles of shoreline that is mostly protected recreation areas and state park lands, creating pristine coasts teeming with Virginia wildlife. The lake offers tons of recreational activities, from swimming and fishing to hiking and camping. With a total of eight campgrounds, six beaches open for swimming, and nine boat launches along Philpott, the lake has everything you need for a secluded summer vacation.

Where to Stay:

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Mabry Mill

Philpott Lake is located along the border of Franklin County, known as the Moonshine Capital of the World. Visit Twin Creeks Distillery in Henry to samples these world-famous spirits. While exploring the lake’s shoreline, be sure to see Fairy Stone State Park, named for the legendary “fairy stones” found in the waterfront park. Walk the trails and search for these lucky stones, which you can take home as a souvenir of your summer vacation. Head to Floyd County, about 30 miles northwest of Philpott Lake, to experience traditional Appalachian music at The Floyd Country Store, which hosts live music and dancing every Friday evening at the Friday Night Jamboree. For a memorable photo opportunity, take the Blue Ridge Parkway to Mabry Mill, a restored gristmill that still hosts old-time skill demonstrations including basket weaving and making apple butter.


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Virginia in Song: Odes to the Old Dominion, Part 2

Virginia in Song: Odes to the Old Dominion, Part 2

Cumberland Gap National Historical Park

Given Virginia’s central role in founding country music, as well as the breadth and depth of talented musicians that call the commonwealth home, it should come as no surprise that there are many, many songs for which Virginia has served as a muse. We shared five of our favorites in Odes to the Old Dominion, Part 1, and here are five more — each with a unique take on what makes Virginia such a special place to live and visit. Whether it’s natural beauty they’re rhapsodizing, or a busy urban corridor in its heyday, these songs bring the state’s history, culture, and scenic surroundings to life.


Page Wilson—“Virginia”

Page Wilson was a Virginian through and through: “Home in my heart always,” as he puts it in his ode to the state, simply titled “Virginia.” He was a native of Hanover County, with a father who owned a Texaco station in Mechanicsville and a mother who sang in the choir at Northside Baptist Church. Wilson’s love for the music benefited the community in a number of ways, from his popular radio show, the Out O’ the Blue Radio Revue, to his help planning various local music festivals. But it’s his song “Virginia” that most concisely captured his love for the commonwealth he called home.

Wilson served for a time as a member of the Richmond Folk Festival programming board, which will come as no surprise to listeners of the Out O’ the Blue Radio Revue, given the show’s mission of highlighting different genres and styles. The Richmond Folk Festival fulfills that mission each October by bringing sounds from all over the world to central Virginia, from the types of country, bluegrass, and zydeco Wilson featured on Out O’ the Blue to international experiences like Moroccan Gnawa, Afro-Venezuelan parranda, and Japanese taiko drumming, to name a few. Whether you attend the downtown festival to explore the unfamiliar or dig deeper into the region’s musical roots, you’ll be soaking in musical variety in exactly the sweet spot Wilson described in song: “Between the Blue Ridge and Chesapeake Bay.”


David Rawlings—“Cumberland Gap”

David Rawlings is half of what’s likely to go down as one of the most significant duos in Americana history — the other half being the brilliant and venerated Gillian Welch. You’ll find the pair performing under either artist’s name, depending on who’s primarily singing lead on that particular album or tour, but they’re constant collaborators, and they joined forces once again in 2017 to release Poor David’s Almanack. The lead single, “Cumberland Gap,” earned Rawlings a Grammy nomination, and it paints a foreboding picture of the famed Appalachian Mountain pass, which lies near the intersection of Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee. “He made the trip in the blizzard’s grip,” Rawlings sings. “I’d rather wrestle Satan.”

While traversing any mountain in blizzard conditions is a recipe for tough going, the truth is that the Cumberland Gap National Historical Park is a welcoming, family-friendly destination, offering 70 miles of hiking trails and ranger-led programs through the year, along with fishing, campground, and unique tour opportunities, including Gap Cave and the Hensley Settlement, where a self-sufficient homestead was inhabited for nearly 50 years at the beginning of the 20th Century.


Ray T Jones—“That Norfolk Sound”

Raymond Thomas Jones served in the Navy during the Vietnam War, and he was stationed in Norfolk at a time in which Church Street was a cultural hub for the African-American community, with popular spots like the Eureka Lodge, Queen’s Lounge, and the Plaza Hotel powering an exciting nightlife. Jones was profoundly influenced by the music he heard, and he wrote and recorded “That Norfolk Sound,” an ode to the city he loved, with a genre-bending mix of acoustic guitar and fuzzed-out guitar, and lyrics about walking down Church Street and soaking in the sounds around him. The song came out in 1975, and the following year, Jones even recorded a special for Norfolk’s WAVY-TV 10, in which he reported on the city’s scene while standing outside Scope, the arena situated in downtown Norfolk just a few blocks over from Church Street.

Scope still serves the Norfolk community, providing a large venue for concerts, basketball tournaments, Norfolk Admirals hockey games, and more. Just next door is Chrysler Hall, home to the Virginia Symphony Orchestra and the Virginia Ballet, with a full schedule of events ranging from concerts and comedians to musicals. And while many iconic venues like Queen’s Lounge closed their doors long ago, Church Street still hosts outstanding live jazz thanks to the Attucks Theatre. The location’s history goes all the way back to 1919, when the theater hosted greats like Cab Calloway, Duke Ellington, and Nat King Cole. It was deemed a National Historic Landmark in 1977, and a three-year renovation project restored the theater to its former glory, paving the way for the Attucks to host regular jazz shows once again.


The Bluegrass Clippers—“Back Home”

While most would cite the 1940s and 1950s as the classic era of bluegrass — the time in which the genre took root — The Bluegrass Clippers were part of another heyday for the genre that swept through the musical landscape in the 1970s and 1980s. The Richmond-area group released Clippin’ the Grass in 1983 on Virginia-based Outlet Records, and while the Clippers did pay homage to the greats by covering songs from the Stanley Brothers (“Mountain Girls”), Lester Flatt (“Get In Line Brothers”) and Bill Monroe (“Little Cabin Home on the Hill,” co-written by Flatt and Monroe), there’s also a pair of original tunes on the album, including a touching composition by lead vocalist and mandolin player Buzzy Vaughan called “Back Home.” The song describes a trip down an idyllic country road, taking in the beauty of the surroundings: “Sunlight dancing on the gold autumn leaves/Listen to the birds singing in the breeze/Winding down the road I’m just a mile away/When I get home this time my plan is to stay.”

Whether you’re on your way back home or hitting the road to see the state’s natural beauty firsthand, Virginia is home to some of the most picturesque drives you’ll find anywhere. The Blue Ridge Parkway is a destination unto itself, with 469 miles of stunning views stretching from Shenandoah National Park to North Carolina’s Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The Parkway is itself a national park, protecting a string of mountain landscapes with panoramic views of mountain passes and an inspiring variety of flora and fauna, perfect for enjoying the scenic route while zooming through the area, or for taking it slow via an extended vacation. A drive up the Eastern Shore on Route 13 can be just as rewarding, with plenty of birdwatching, restored Colonial architecture, and the wild ponies of Chincoteague and Assateague.


Steve Bassett—“Tres Leches”

Steve Bassett is half of the storied songwriting partnership that crafted “Sweet Virginia Breeze,” which was named the official Popular State Song of Virginia in 2015, just months before Bassett’s writing partner, Robbin Thompson, passed away. The lyrics started flowing while Thompson was on his Floyd Avenue porch in Richmond’s Fan neighborhood in 1977, and the two collaborators finished writing the song after Bassett stopped by to rehearse. 40 years later, Bassett found his own inspiration just a few streets away, naming his 2017 album Tres Leches after the signature dessert served at beloved Park Avenue Cuban restaurant Kuba Kuba. A slice is even featured on the cover art!

Founded in 1998 by chef Manny Mendez, Kuba Kuba has become an iconic part of the Richmond food community, thanks to its welcoming bodega-like atmosphere, outstanding home-style Cuban dishes, and widely renowned take on the cake that earns its name — tres leches — from the three kinds of milk (evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, and heavy cream) it typically incorporates. Kuba Kuba’s version is so exceptional it was featured on the Food Network, with the Ace of Cakes himself — Duff Goldman of Baltimore’s Charm City Cakes — singing its praises. The cake takes three days to make, but it’s certain to disappear from your plate much more quickly.


Didn’t see your favorite song about Virginia here or in Part 1? Share the title in the comments below so others can enjoy it!

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8 Delicious Craft Beers You Will Love From the Charlottesville Area

8 Delicious Craft Beers You Will Love From the Charlottesville Area

One of the things I love most about living in Charlottesville is its booming craft beer scene. As a Belgian native, I do enjoy a pint of beer every once in a while. Since I moved to Charlottesville about a year ago, the city has seen the opening of several new beer-centric establishments – Random Row Brewing Company on Preston Avenue and Draft Taproom on the historic pedestrian Downtown Mall.

In the near future, a new Belgian-themed restaurant and brewery, Brasserie Saison, will also open on the Downtown Mall. Three Notch’d Brewing Company is moving to the IX Art Park, which will expand its business and capacity. This is all to illustrate that, if you like craft beer, Charlottesville is THE place to be!

There are currently four breweries within the city limits while nearby Crozet has two. With these six breweries in the Charlottesville area, there’s an abundance of different craft brews to try and I can proudly say that I’ve had the chance to sample and enjoy most of them.

In the list that follows, I’ve named and described my favorite local beers from the Charlottesville area. Before we get started, I’d like to note that these are the best beers that are permanently available at the breweries’ taprooms, in local stores or both. There are many other, really great, seasonal and experimental beers available at all the local breweries at any time.

1.) Falconer Pale Wheat Ale, Champion Brewing Company (35 IBU, 5.5% ABV)

Champion Brewing Company’s Falconer is a hoppy American wheat beer made with falconer’s flight hops and a blend of citra, simcoe and sorachi ace. It features a heady hop nose but is mostly an easily drinkable and mildly bitter wheat beer. This is one of my absolutely favorite local beers from the Charlottesville area. Whenever I feel like having a casual beer after a long day of work, the Falconer is what I go for.

Craft Beers at Champion Brewing Company

Bram Reusen

2.) Black Me Stout, Champion Brewing Company (45 IBU, 6% ABV)

There’s a great variety of excellent beers tapped at Champion all of the time, but I’d especially like to recommend their Black Me Stout. Occupying a well-balanced spot between an imperial stout and a dry stout, this dark beer is brewed with chocolate malt and wheat. A low bitterness and smooth taste make it a must-try craft beer, for those who like darker beers.

Stout at Champion Brewing Company

Bram Reusen

3.) Barhopper IPA, South Street Brewery (60 IBU, 6.8% ABV)

In my opinion, one of the very best IPAs made in Charlottesville, the Barhopper IPA from South Street Brewery, is an India Pale Ale made with lots of different ingredients. No fewer than five hops are used in the brewing process–simcoe, centennial, falconer’s flight, azacca and cascade hops–in addition to wheat, pils, caramel Munich and caramel Vienna malts. This all results in a delicious, medium-bodied and hop-forward IPA with a medium caramel taste.

Craft Beers at South Street Brewery

Bram Reusen

4.) Hydraulion Red, Three Notch ‘d Brewing Company (22 IBU, 5.3% ABV)

This Irish-style red is a unique beer, arguably my favorite beer brewed by Three Notch’d Brewing Company. Named after the “Hydraulion,” the only fire engine owned by the former University of Virginia fire-fighting company, the Hydraulion Red is made with 2-row, crystal and caramel malts, and warrior and golding hops.

Beer Flights at Three Notch’d Brewing Company

Bram Reusen

5.) Jack ‘s Java Espresso Stout, Three Notch’d Brewing Company (30 IBU, 5.5% ABV)

One of the greatest stouts I’ve ever tasted, Three Notch’d’s Jack’s Java Espresso Stout, is brewed in collaboration with the roastmaster of Shenandoah Joe. He invented a unique three-roast blend of coffee just for this special beer. This hearty and dense oatmeal stout features an obvious coffee taste and hints of sweet chocolate, an extraordinarily delicious combination that you have to taste to believe.

6.) Method IPA, Random Row Brewing Company (7.2% ABV)

The latest addition to Charlottesville’s craft beer scene, Random Row, is definitely a promising brewery. My favorite beer at this young brewery is their Method IPA, which is a West Coast-style IPA. This hoppy beer is brewed with falconer’s flight 7C hops, which give the beer its aroma and flavor. To counterbalance the hops’ extreme bitterness, an English ale yeast is used to give this IPA a delicately sweet finish.

Craft Beers at Random Row Brewing Company

Bram Reusen

7.) Pavlov ‘s Bell-gian Ale, Pro Re Nata Farm Brewery (61 IBU, 8.3% ABV)

I’m not going to lie about it; as a Belgian, I tend to be critical about beers referred to as Belgian-style. Sometimes the term is misused. Other times, however, it’s exactly right, as is the case with Pro Re Nata’s Pavlov’s Bell-gian Ale. This is by far my favorite beer from this wonderful farm brewery, located in Crozet. A wheat-forward and honey-gold brew, this Belgian ale features notes of apricot and cloves.

Pavlov’s Bell-gian Ale at Pro Re Nata Farm Brewery

Bram Reusen

8.) Northern Lights IPA, Starr Hill Brewery (55 IBU, 6.2% ABV)

Many of Starr Hill Brewery’s beers are quite good, but if I had to pick just one, I’d order a Northern Lights IPA. It’s one of their flagship beers and for good reason. This classic American-style IPA is a great beer to enjoy after a day of hiking in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Featuring a citrus aroma and well-bodied bitterness, the Northern Lights IPA is made with five different hops, two malts and ale yeast.

Taps at Starr Hill Brewery

Bram Reusen

While you’re strongly recommended to try all these permanently-available craft beers, I also encourage you to try the seasonal ones on the breweries’ draft menus. Personally, I always order a sample flight to find one or more beers that I really like, after which I’d get a full pint of my favorite(s). Happy tasting and let us know about your favorite Charlottesville area craft beers in the comments section below! Cheers!

Written by Bram Reusen for Charlottesville and Albemarle County.

Featured image provided by Courtesy of Charlottesville and Albemarle County

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Big Concerts Coming to Virginia in June 2018

Big Concerts Coming to Virginia in June 2018

Festival season is in full wing and throughout June, many big name musicians will be coming to Virginia. From major country acts to the biggest names in rock and pop, catch your favorite artists and discover new ones all over the Commonwealth.


—Virginia Music Festivals—

Richmond’s summer concert series, Friday Cheers, brings some of the nation’s hottest touring acts, along with some regional favorites to Brown’s Island every Friday night in June. Thousands of people will come to relax after the work week to meet friends and hear music from Tyler Childers (June 1), Rhiannon Giddens (June 8), Parquet Courts (June 15), Knower (June 22), and Turnpike Troubadours (June 29).

Over in Abingdon, the Howling Craft Beer and Music Festival will take place June 1-3 at Wolf Hills Brewing Company. Catch Southern Culture on the Skids, Annabelle’s Curse, If Birds Could Fly, Andrew Scotchie and the River Rats, and more. The Thursday Jams concert series in Abingdon will feature music from The Steel Wheels (June 7), Cris Jacobs (June 14), Heather Gills Band (June 21), and Acoustic Syndicate (June 28).

The Virginia Beach Patriotic Festival celebrates the military at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront June 1-3 and features performances from Brett Eldredge, Brantley Gilbert, and Cole Swindell.

On June 7-9, it’s three days of beach music with on-site camping for the Hot Fun in the Summertime Beach Festival in Stuart, Virginia.

HoustonFest in Galax is June 8-9 and features the bluegrass music of The Church Sisters, Flatt Lonesome, HogSlop String Band, and many more.

Good Charlotte, Gin Blossoms, and Sugar Ray will headline Celebrate Fairfax!, Northern Virginia’s largest community-wide celebration, on June 8-10 at the Fairfax County Government Center.

Taking place June 9-17, the Crooked Road’s Mountains of Music Homecoming is an annual nine-day, region-wide celebration of the communities in Southwest Virginia from the traditional music to the many cultural and natural assets. The event includes Crooked Road marquee concerts in over 20 communities and many dozens of cultural events throughout the region.

The Columbia Pike Blues Festival returns to Arlington on June 16 with live music from Three Man Soul Machine, Caz Gardiner, King Soul Band, Niki Hill, and Don Bryant.

Bruce Hornsby hosts Funhouse Fest in Williamsburg June 22-23 along with performances from Alison Krauss, Amos Lee, the Wood Brothers, and Deva Mahal.

The Hampton Jazz Festival will be June 22-24 at the Hampton Coliseum with performances from Charlie Wilson, Maze, Boyz II Men, Kenny G, Xscap3, and many more.

The Chesapeake Bay Reggae Festival takes place June 30 and July 1 in Mill Point Park in Hampton featuring regional reggae artists performing.


—Over at Virginia’s Live Music Venues—

The National in Richmond will be bringing a number of big name artists throughout the month. The venue will be hosting Dirty Heads (June 1), Cold War Kids (June 14), American Aquarium (June 16), and more.

Elsewhere in Richmond, Jason Mraz will be hosting SPARC’s LIVE ART at the Altria Theater on June 11. 200 SPARC students will join Mraz artists Josh Groban, Sara Bareilles, Michael McDonald, Rayvon Owen, René Marie, and more. Trey Songz, Brandy, Trina, and more will perform at the Classic Amphitheater at Richmond Raceway Complex on June 9 and Robert Plant will perform there on June 10.

Just outside Richmond, the Innsbrook After Hours concert series at the Servpro Pavilion in Glen Allen will host X Ambassadors (June 8), Hank Williams Jr. (June 9), XL102 Big Field Day with AWOLNATION, Dashboard Confessional, Manchester Orchestra, J. Roddy Walston and the Business and Moon Taxi (June 23), and Ludacris (June 30).

Paramount Center for The Arts

In Charlottesville, the Paramount Theater will be hosting Smokey Robinson on June 3. Sprint Pavilion will host Blackberry Smoke and JJ Grey & Mofro on June 16 and Alison Krauss on June 21.

The NorVa in Norfolk will be hosting acts like Houndmouth (June 15), Badfish – A Tribute to Sublime (June 21), Bad Wolves (June 22), and more.

The Portsmouth Pavilion in Portsmouth will have performances from Blackberry Smoke and JJ Grey & Mofro (June 15) and Rebelution (June 30).

The Veterans United Home Loans Amphitheater at Virginia Beach brings in Slayer on June 12, Kenny Chesney on June 14, and Rascal Flatts on June 28.

Over in Rocky Mount at the Harvester Performance Center will be hosting a number of shows including the Bacon Brothers (June 1), Pure Prairie League (June 8), American Aquarium (June 14), and may more.

The Black Jacket Symphony will perform thew music of the Eagles at the Berglund Center in Roanoke on June 16. Jamey Johnson will be at the Salem Civic Center on June 22.

The Blue Ridge Summer Concert Series at the Blue Ridge Music Center in Galax will host Bill and the Belles and Dori Freeman on June 2, Sierra Hull and ShadowGrass on June 23, and The Kruger Brothers and Erynn Marshall and Carl Jones on June 30.

At Wolf Trap Center for Performing Arts in Vienna, shows will include John Prine and Margo Price (June 1), Jake Owen (June 3), Nile Rodgers & CHIC and Chaka Khan (June 5), Alison Krauss (June 6), Fitz and the Tantrums and X Ambassadors (June 7), Barry Manilow (June 8), Roger Daltrey (June 10 & 12), Harry Connick Jr. (June 14), Steven Tyler and the Loving Mary Band (June 21), Dr. Dog and Manchester Orchestra (June 22), Tony Bennett (June 23), Charlie Wilson (June 24) and Bruce Hornsby (June 29).

Jiffy Lube Live in Bristow will host a number of shows including Top Dawg Entertainment: The Championship Tour featuring Kendrick Lamar, SZA, ScHoolboy Q, Jay Rock, Ab Soul, SiR, and Lance Skiiiwalker on June 1, Def Leppard on June 8, Dave Matthews Band on June 9, Slayer on June 10, Kenny Chesney on June 15, Poison and Cheap Trick on June 17, Thirty Seconds to Mars on June 26, Foreigner on June 29, and Rascal Flatts on June 30.

Shows at Alexandria music hall The Birchmere include Three Dog Night on June 10, Matthew Sweet on June 13, Gordon Lightfoot on June 18, Robert Earl Keen on June 19, 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 June 2018 appeared first on Virginia’s Travel Blog.

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Crush Friday: Your Mini-Vacation Guide to Farmville & Appomattox

Crush Friday: Your Mini-Vacation Guide to Farmville & Appomattox



The work culture in America is getting out of hand, with a total of 662 million paid vacation days going unused in 2016. We are effectively turning into the worst kind of work martyrs, sacrificing our own well-being (and let’s face it, sanity) to seem like more productive employees. However, the tide may finally be turning!

The latest Project Time Off survey performed in 2017 shows that American employees are using more vacation days, trending in a positive direction for the first time in 15 years. We like to think that our monthly treks around Virginia have something to do with those results, but don’t let this good news fool you; you still need to make an effort to plan and implement your paid vacation days.


We’ve heard all the excuses for wasting paid vacation days, and we are here to tell you that they are 100% wrong. Here are the real facts:

Common Excuse: “My boss will think I’m lazy”

Actually, the opposite is true. Employers typically notice that their employees come back well-rested and ready to work, leading to better overall performance. What does that mean for you? A potential raise in your future!

Common Excuse: “No one else can do my job.”

If that’s the case, then how can you ever expect to use your PTO? Plan ahead to ensure that your coworkers and your boss understand that you will be in vacation mode and you won’t be answering emails.

Common Excuse: “I’ll return to a pile of work that I won’t be able to catch up on.”

You know what happens when you take a Friday off? You allow that workplace burn-out to fade, and return on Monday as a more productive worker. Try it out…you’ll notice that when you Crush a Friday in Virginia, you’ll crush that stack of work on your desk Monday, no problem.

farmville mural painting

So now that we are done with the excuses, let’s move on to this month’s solution; hit the road to Farmville and Appomattox, located about an hour and 1.5 hours from Richmond, respectively. Follow the detailed itinerary that our Virginia is for Lovers team traveled for an easy (and of course super fun!) three-day getaway to this charming region in Central Virginia.



Stay at: Weyanoke Hotel, starting at $149 per night

weyanoke hotel farmville

Recently opened across from the Longwood University campus in downtown Farmville, the Weyanoke Hotel is within walking distance of much of the Crush Friday Farmville itinerary. The rooms are upscale and spacious, and many even have their own private balconies with patio furniture. Luxuriously comfortable bath robes, massive walk-in showers, and plush mattresses made exclusively for the Weyanoke are just a few of the small touches that make the hotel an excellent choice for guests staying in Farmville. Additionally, there is a coffee shop, rooftop bar, and two on-site restaurants all located within the hotel. The staff are helpful and friendly, and go above and beyond to make certain that every guest is having the best stay possible.

If you’re looking for an outdoor-focused overnight option, consider staying at the Sandy River Outdoor Adventure Resort for at least one of the nights during your stay. They have a cottage and log cabins available that range from $119 per night to $249 and sleep anywhere from one to eight people, but we recommend checking out the luxury tipis. These unique glamping accommodations look fairly simplistic (albeit large) from the outside, but as soon as you walk through the door, it is safe to say your expectations will be shattered. The tipis each have a different setup, holding up to six people in the largest glamping tipi, and range in price from $169 to $239 per night. Inside, you’ll find separate bedrooms, full bathrooms with showers, kitchens, and even living room areas complete with TVs and couches. While you’ll have a campfire area right outside your tipi, you’re definitely not “roughing it” when staying at these swanky structures.

Suggested Prior Reservations: Lodging at both Weyanoke Hotel and Sandy River Outdoor Adventure Resort, Sandy River Adventure Park



appomattox visitor center

Head into downtown Appomattox early Friday morning (around 9am if possible. Noon is not early, people). We stopped by the Appomattox Visitor’s Center to get some information on the sites we were planning to see in the area, and then headed across the street to Baine’s Books and Coffee at the recommendation of a Visitor’s Center employee.

baine's book store and coffee shop appomattox

A quaint but cute spot on Appomattox’s Main Street, you could spend hours flipping through vintage records, perusing their selection of used books, and just generally soaking in the relaxed atmosphere of the coffee shop. However, bear in mind that you have a pretty full morning, so unless you manage to come the night before (and stay at the Appomattox Inn and Suites just down the road), order an extra-caffeinated beverage, walk through the magnificent shop for a few souvenirs, and be on your way.

Appomattox court house national historic park

Get back on the road and travel to Appomattox Court House and National Historical Park, where you’ll count license plates from a variety of states in the parking lot. During our visit, Alaska, California, Arkansas, Maine, and Iowa were just a few of the plates in attendance. This tranquil park contains the village where Confederate General Robert E. Lee met with Union General Ulysses S. Grant to discuss terms of surrender, eventually leading to the end of the American Civil War. Start your tour with a short video on the history of the property and the significance of the surrender that occurred on the grounds. After finishing the video, chat with the Visitor’s Center staff to see what special exhibits are available, such as living history experts that tell the stories of local figures from 1865. Stop to hear their stories if these actors are around, as their attention to detail make the iconic history of the park come alive. Finally, take a tour of the McLean House, where the Generals sat together and finalized the terms of surrender from the Confederate Army.

american civil war museum appomattox

The next destination on our itinerary is the American Civil War Museum, where General Lee’s sword and uniform are on display. While major figures like Lee are discussed, the museum also shares the history of the average soldiers, telling individual stories and their ultimate fates. Some are soberly heartbreaking, such as a torn uniform on display next to a picture of the soldier, complete with the bullet that ended his life. With these painstakingly detained stories in front of you, it is easy to imagine the turmoil and hardships that both sides faced during the Civil War. Before leaving, drop by the gift shop to browse locally made pottery, Civil War reproduction items, and books that cover every aspect of the war, from true historic accounts to late 19th century cookbooks.

babcock house appomattox

Drive back into town for lunch at the Babcock House, a charming bed and breakfast and restaurant that utilizes local, seasonal ingredients to craft fresh Southern fare. Delicious and hearty offerings such as the Shrimp N’ Grits, cornmeal-fried catfish, and a wide array of sandwiches and salads make it hard to choose, but be sure to leave room for dessert, as their sweets are overwhelmingly praised by the local residents.

sandy river outdoor adventure course and ziplines

After lunch, get back on the road towards Farmville and head to Sandy River Outdoor Adventure Zipline Park. The course takes up to three hours to complete, and will definitely work off any extra calories from your lunch, so be prepared to expend some energy on the course. When you arrive, staff will explain the course and walk you through the gear that you will need for your climb. Once you’ve mastered your harness and safety equipment, it’s time to take to the trees. The park offers several different courses for you to explore, each made up of different obstacles and zip line sections and ranging in difficulty from beginner to expert. Test your skills on the varying courses, but don’t miss out on the thrill of the longest zip line, which runs above an expansive meadow and moves at surprisingly swift speeds.

weyanoke hotel room farmville

Make your way into downtown Farmville and check into the Weyanoke Hotel. Take a few minutes to admire your spacious, beautifully decorated room and even lounge around in the comfy bathrobe for a bit. Open the balcony doors and enjoy the view from your private patio. Check out the massive walk-in showers…you’ll never want to leave your ultra-lux room, but you still have a few more activities left in the day, so soak it all in before heading out again.

A few miles up the road, the Robert Russa Moton Museum is an iconic site for Civil Rights history buffs. This preserved schoolhouse holds exhibits that tell the story of the Prince Edward County school district and how a few brave African American students stood up for their right to a quality education. Many of these students would become plaintiffs in the historic Brown vs. Education case that would lead to the integration of American school systems. Walk through the museum to learn about the conditions that the students faced and the hardships they would endure before emerging as the victors in a long and difficult struggle.

effingham's restaurant weyanoke hotel farmville

Finish your Friday with dinner at Effingham’s inside the Weyanoke Hotel lobby. The restaurant specializes in coal-fired pizzas made to order. Stick with one of the specialty pizzas on the menu, or build your own from their unique list of toppings, including foraged mushrooms, Brussel sprouts, Surryano ham, and chili oil. Pair your meal with a glass of the House Sangria or a refreshing Ballad’s craft beer from the draft list.




To start off Day 2 of your Farmville adventures, rent a bike from The Outdoor Adventure Shop located at the downtown trailhead of High Bridge Trail State Park. Owned by the same couple that runs Sandy River Adventure Park, the shop rents bicycles and sells all sorts of outdoor gear, from rock climbing accessories to lightweight hammocks and clothing from some of the most popular outdoor brands.

farmville lovework

Before hitting the trail, snap a picture in front of the LOVEwork right across the street from the shop. Made from wooden beams previously used in the railroad that was removed to create High Bridge Trail, the massive LOVEwork sets the scene for a great Instagram pic.

high bridge trail state park farmville

While the High Bridge Trail runs for about 31 miles, it is only a 4.5 mile bike to the most scenic part of the trail, the bridge for which the trail is named. Towering 125 feet above the Appomattox River, the nearly half-mile long bridge affords stunning views of the countryside surrounding the trail.

kayak lovework farmville

After returning to downtown Farmville, walk across the bridge to Appomattox River Company, the largest kayak and canoe outfitter on the East Coast. Whether you’re in the market to buy new paddling equipment or just browse their selection of over 3,000 kayaks, this is the place to go to learn more about outdoor water sports. Take a photo of Farmville’s second LOVEwork before leaving; on the outer wall of the shop, this creative LOVEwork is made from used kayaks.

uptown coffee cafe farmville

If you’ve worked up an appetite, walk back into downtown and stop by Uptown Coffee Café for lunch. The small-town restaurant serves up huge sandwiches and salads that will tide you over until dinner. Check out their selection of bottled sodas and made-to-order smoothies, and top off your meal with a few scoops of ice cream or a freshly-baked cronut, a sweet croissant/donut creation cooked in-house daily.

green front furniture shop farmville

Do a little shopping at a few of the local antique shops along Main Street in Farmville’s Historic District. The largest and most impressive of these is Green Front Furniture Company. Housed within 16 shops and warehouses in downtown Farmville, the furniture company has something for every taste and budget. Love modern furniture? There are several buildings devoted to just that style. You’ll find eclectic accents, Oriental rugs in all sizes, and handsomely handcrafted furniture sets as you tour the different stores. And with the Green Front stores totaling almost 1 million square feet, you’ll work off your lunch in no time. Snag a map before exploring the shops and find furniture within your price point. We found 4×6 Oriental rugs for less than $100, handwoven throw pillows made in Turkey starting around $30, and many other great deals that were unexpected at such a fashionable furniture shop, but you can definitely find warehouses filled with the more pricey items if that’s in your budget. Even if you aren’t looking to buy, the staff at Green Front are helpful without hovering, giving you space to browse without pressuring you to purchase.

the virginia tasting cellar wine farmville

Wrap up your shopping and walk behind Green Front’s Building 7 to visit The Virginia Tasting Cellar. For just $12, this Virginia-only wine tasting bar lets you try any ten wines. They work with Virginia wineries to serve their products at one of the twelve tasting bar stations, pouring over 40 wines from these wineries at any given time. After sampling your chosen wines, pick your favorite for a full pour and wander out to the gorgeous outdoor patio, an open deck space that overlooks the Appomattox River.

third street brewing farmville craft brewery

Around the corner from the Virginia Tasting Cellar is Third Street Brewing, Farmville’s first craft brewery. On most Saturday evenings, the brewery hosts local musical acts and food trucks, providing entertainment and snacks while you try a flight of the latest craft beer offerings. If the weather allows, order a pint and take a seat in the outdoor patio space.

After your brews, have dinner at the Weyanoke Hotel’s upscale Italian restaurant, Campagna. Full disclosure, it was not yet open during our visit as the hotel had just reopened a week prior, but if the other dining options at the Weyanoke are any indication, Campagna is sure to be one of the best restaurants in town.

catbird rooftop bar weyanoke hotel farmville

Finish the evening with a nightcap at Catbird, the Weyanoke’s rooftop bar. We managed to catch a sunset before anyone else had arrived, and the memorable moment was the perfect way to end our second night in Farmville.

sandy river outdoor adventure resort glamping tipis

Stay another night at the Weyanoke, or if you have a clear evening, consider booking one of the luxury glamping tipis at Sandy River Outdoor Adventure Resort, where you can light a campfire and sit out under a bright expanse of stars free from city lights before bed.




sassafras cafe coffee bar weyanoke hotel farmville

Sleep in a bit on Sunday before getting breakfast at Sassafras Coffee Bar inside the Weyanoke. In addition to specialty coffees and teas, the hotel bistro bakes fresh breakfast treats, including some truly tasty cinnamon rolls.

longwood university campus farmville

Grab a quick bite before strolling across the street to check out the Longwood University campus. Although right in the downtown area of Farmville, the campus is quiet and charming, with plenty of lush green landscapes encompassing the classic architecture of the college buildings.

A few miles outside of Farmville, Hampden-Sydney College is an all-male private college with another beautiful campus worth seeing. Walk the school’s idyllic property or just take a quick drive through the campus to get a peek at the pastoral grounds.

the fishin pig barbecue restaurant farmville

Before wrapping up your three-day getaway, stop at The Fishin’ Pig right outside of Hampden-Sydney’s campus for lunch. Known for their smoked meats, the restaurant is a must for any fans of Virginia barbecue. Top with their homemade barbecue sauces and add a few of their Southern-style sides for a fantastic last meal in Farmville, at least for this trip.


Keep an eye out for the next Crush Friday trip, where we’ll ditch work on a Friday and spend a three-day exploring the Great Outdoors around Roanoke!


Previous Crush Friday Virginia Destinations: 


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Hip Hop in Hampton Roads: An Introduction

Hip Hop in Hampton Roads: An Introduction

Norfolk Skyline

Hip hop is huge in Hampton Roads. How huge? Chart-topping hits. Some of the most legendary producers the genre has ever known. And don’t forget the world’s largest reinforced thin-shell concrete dome. Since the 1990’s, the region has had a hand in making some of the most successful hip hop, rap, and pop music made anywhere. Given the success of artists like Missy Elliott, Timbaland, and Pharrell Williams, it’s safe to say that just about any minute of any day, someone around the world is listening to a song crafted by a native son or daughter of Hampton Roads.

The tradition is so significant that William & Mary University recently founded a section of their library’s special collections solely devoted to the area’s musical tradition — billed as “the most comprehensive of its kind dedicated to Virginia’s hip hop culture and history from the 1980s to the present.”

Read on for an introduction to hip hop in Hampton Roads, as well as a few places you can go to experience the music culture for yourself.


Missy Elliott—Portsmouth

Born in Portsmouth, Virginia, Melissa Arnette Elliott, better known as Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliott, ranks among the most successful and illustrious stars of the hip hop and R&B landscape. Elliott graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School in 1990, concurrently founding R&B group Fayze (later called Sista) with two childhood friends and starting a musical partnership with neighborhood friend Timothy Mosley (you know him as Timbaland) that continues to this day. After moving to New York City and joining forces with the Swing Mob, a community of artists assembled by Jodeci member and producer DeVante Swing, Elliott and Timbaland broke through as a songwriting and producing duo, working with Aaliyah on her legendary 1996 album One in a Million. Elliot’s star rose even further as she embarked on a solo career that included a platinum-selling debut in Supa Dupa Fly and countless hits thereafter. She may not have a physical monument to her contributions yet, but given the enthusiastic support for a recent online petition, a statue might not be too far off.



Born Timothy Mosley, the hit-making producer you know as Timbaland was born in Norfolk and graduated from Salem High School in Virginia Beach. As early as high school, Timbaland was working alongside noted rapping collaborator Melvin (Magoo) Barcliff and future superstar Pharrell Williams, and along with Missy Elliott, he joined Jodeci member DeVante Swing’s New York City-based Swing Mob in the early 1990’s. His continued partnership with Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliott made for some of the greatest songs in the hip hop and R&B canon, including “If Your Girl Only Knew,” “The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly),” and “Get Ur Freak On,” and his extensive list of producing credits reads like a best-of list of popular music from the turn of the millennium on: Beyoncé, Katy Perry, Sam Smith, Justin Timberlake. He’s won multiple Grammys, most recently for helping to write “Drunk in Love,” a standout track from Beyoncé’s self-titled masterpiece. And he hasn’t forgotten his origins — he has a record of giving back to his high school, including surprise visits and grant money for technology.


Norfolk Scope Arena—Norfolk

Scope — officially known as the Norfolk Scope Arena — has been a defining feature of the city’s downtown since it was built in 1971. (It actually ranks as the world’s largest reinforced thin-shell concrete dome.) Scope has set the stage for some of the city’s biggest and most memorable hip hop moments. Did you know that Public Enemy headlined a 1990 show there, playing alongside Heavy D. & The Boyz, Digital Underground, Kid ‘N Play and Chill Rob G? Organizers asked Public Enemy to skip “Fight the Power” fearing upheaval, yet the group both opened and closed their set with the classic anthem. The venue still books some of the biggest names in hip hop and R&B with Janet Jackson stopping by in late 2017 on her “State of the World” tour.


American Oldies Records—Newport News

Located in Newport News’ Denbigh shopping center, American Oldies Records is a favorite spot for vinyl enthusiasts, including those crate diggers who are looking to find just the right drum break to use in their next beat. The store’s history goes all the way back to the 1970s, when the space was named Memory Lane Records. It became American Oldies in 1982, and while it does sell some new vinyl alongside CDs, the focus is on used vinyl, and the store is known in the region for offering an especially large used selection — perfect if you’re looking for an obscure record no other DJ has sampled from. And it’s a great place to celebrate Record Store Day, when special, limited-run releases of all genres hit the shelves. The early bird gets the RSD exclusive vinyl!


Shaka’s Live—Virginia Beach

Located on Atlantic Avenue, just across the street from waves breaking, right in the heart of the Virginia Beach Oceanfront, you’ll find Shaka’s Live. The venue offers visitors and veterans of the scene alike a gathering place for local and national shows, with everything form Americana acts and David Bowie tribute tunes to trap and Talib Kweli. Longtime attendees might remember that Slick Rick — Rick the Ruler himself — performed iconic track “La Di Da Di” there in 2011, and Raekwon of the Wu-Tang Clan was there as recently as 2017. Shaka’s also hosts resident DJs spinning crowd pleasing hits each Friday and Saturday night, with music starting at 10:30 p.m., VIP options and on-site parking.


Pharrell Williams—Virginia Beach

The Neptunes. N.E.R.D. The Voice. “Happy.” There are so many reasons Pharrell Williams could be part of your musical orbit, from his distinctive falsetto singing to his Grammy-winning producing career, and it all started during his time growing up in Virginia Beach. He graduated from Princess Anne High School, but as early as middle school, he was collaborating with fellow Neptunes creative force Chad Hugo, whom Williams met in band class. The duo was discovered at a talent show by legendary Michael Jackson producer Teddy Riley, and the Neptunes continue to hold a vaunted place in the history of hip hop production, having helped to create massively successful tracks with Britney Spears, Nelly, Busta Rhymes, Jay-Z, Snoop Dogg, Robin Thicke… the list goes on. Especially revered in the region is “Grindin,’” a track the Neptunes produced for beloved Virginia Beach rap duo The Clipse. Among Williams’ many awards and honors? A key to the city of Virginia Beach, presented by mayor Will Sessoms in 2014.


Clipse—Virginia Beach

Though they were born in the Bronx, brothers Gene “No Malice” Thornton and Terrence “Pusha T” Thornton moved with their family to Virginia Beach when they were young — when No Malice and Pusha T were seven and two respectively. In 1992, they formed Clipse and soon began a partnership with Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo of the Neptunes, frequently visiting Hugo’s house, where a home studio was set up in the attic. After a record deal with Elektra didn’t work out (debut album Exclusive Audio Footage was shelved), the duo signed to Arista Records and released Lord Willin’ in 2002, placing Clipse at the top spot on the Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop chart. Their follow-up, Hell Hath No Fury, was successful as well, widely considered to be one of the best albums of 2006 — and one of the true masterpieces of the genre.


Commonwealth—Virginia Beach

Commonwealth, the renowned specialty boutique with a motto of “for the greater good,” has its roots in Norfolk, though its current location in the state can be found in Virginia Beach as part of Lynnhaven Mall. The purveyor of fine streetwear has opened stores in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles — not to mention Manila, the capital of the Philippines — spreading a crucial element of Hampton Roads’ influence around the world, showcasing some of the foremost artists, designers, and photographers in hip hop culture via in-store displays, events, and exhibitions. Accolades include placements on lists like Detail magazine’s “Best Stores in America,” GQ magazine’s “Top 100 Stores” men should shop at, and Complex magazine’s Buyers Guide “Coolest 25 Stores.”


The Norva—Norfolk

Since 2000, the Norva has been bringing exceptional live music to downtown Norfolk, ideally situated on Monticello Avenue across from the MacArthur Center mall. The Norva hosts some of the hottest names in hip hop, with a 2017 schedule that included an appearance by Big Boi of OutKast, and 2018 performances by YoungBoy Never Broke Again, BIG K.R.I.T., Ty Dolla $ign, YFN Lucci and Tech N9ne. Want early access to the venue on the night of the show? Be sure to check out the “Get in Early” program, which allows concertgoers to find a place 15 minutes before the doors open after eating at the attached FM Restaurant (reservations required).



Hailing from Norfolk, Dominick J. Lamb — commonly known as Nottz — commands tremendous respect for his classic beat-making style and extensive production discography, not to mention his skills as an MC. His first placement came in the late 1990’s, on an album called Lyricists Lounge Vol. 1, and his subsequent credits include work with the Notorious B.I.G., Busta Rhymes, Snoop Dogg, Rah Digga, Swizz Beatz, Method Man, and The Game, among others. He landed three tracks on Busta Rhymes’ E.L.E. (Extinction Level Event): The Final World Front, including an absolute classic in “Everybody Rise,” which fittingly shouts out the Virginia hip hop community. Nottz came from a musical family, with a father and three brothers who were all involved in DJing and making beats, and he’s stayed true to his love of old records, exhibiting a consistency via is sample-based approach.



The post Hip Hop in Hampton Roads: An Introduction appeared first on Virginia’s Travel Blog.

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Where to Get Some of the Best Barbecue in Virginia

Where to Get Some of the Best Barbecue in Virginia


If you haven’t already started a barbecue bucket list for your travels around Virginia, then you’re in luck; we’ve got a few suggestions for the best barbecue in Virginia, from the best-kept secrets to award-winning spots that you need to try. Add these 20+ barbecue destinations to your travel itineraries for a little extra flavor during upcoming Virginia visits.


Buz and Ned’s—Richmond

buz and neds barbecue richmond

Since 1992, Buz & Ned’s has been serving up their barbecue to their loyal fans in the capital city. After steadily growing in popularity, the restaurant gained national acclaim when owner Buz Grossberg appeared on “Throwdown with Bobby Flay” (which he won!), followed by “Man vs. Food”. The menu features BBQ pork, pulled BBQ chicken, beef brisket, smoked wings, and several different types of ribs, all smoked on-site with 100% hardwood. With a wide array of sides, appetizers, drinks, and desserts, Buz and Ned’s has an impressive southern style menu that will guarantee you don’t leave hungry.


Risin’ Smoke BBQ—South Hill

South Hill’s Risin’ Smoke BBQ cooks all their meat low and slow, using hickory wood to infuse flavor into their barbecue. Before smoking their pork shoulder, beef brisket, pork ribs, chicken, beef bologna, turkey, and other meats, they cover it in a thick layer of their homemade rub. Pick your meat and add a few sides to complete your meal, like the macaroni and cheese or the onion rings, both fan favorites. Try the barbecue with their three homemade sauces, a classic vinegar-based red sauce, the sweet sauce made with Hungry Hill Farms honey, or the habanero hot sauce. If you’ve got room, order one of the desserts, all made in-house by a mother/son duo. We recommend the cheesecakes, which come in a variety of flavors like cookies and cream, peanut butter chocolate chip, and cinnamon roll.


Checkered Pig Barbecue—Martinsville

checkered pig barbecue martinsville

Checkered Pig Barbecue is well known by both locals and barbecue aficionados from all over the country. In addition to winning several notable awards for their ribs, barbecue, and sauces, this small town barbecue joint has been featured on both the Food Network and Destination America. Every day, the meats are pit cooked over real hardwood, infusing the barbecue with lots of flavor and tenderness. Checkered Pig is known for being affordable, fast, and delicious, making it an ideal pit stop for any road trip through southern Virginia.


The Bone BBQ—Gainesville

The incredible flavors that you’ll find at The Bone BBQ are not based on some secret recipe the family has been using for five generations. Instead, the owners of this barbecue restaurant depend on using quality ingredients to craft their fine barbecue. Every ingredient is carefully selected to reflect the restaurant’s high standards, from the Certified Angus Beef Brisket and fresh produce to the hickory logs used in the smoking process. You can’t go wrong with any of the barbecue offerings at the Bone BBQ, but the award-winning ribs are definitely worth a try.


Woody’s Beach Barbecue—Chincoteague

woody's beach barbecue chincoteague

Woody’s Beach Barbecue in Chincoteague is all about serving excellent barbecue in a casual beach environment. The barbecue options include traditional pulled pork, ribs, and smoked chicken, with sides like coleslaw, hand-cut French fries, baked beans, and onion rings. You can even combine your meat and sides by ordering your pulled pork topped with slaw and fries or onion rings. After dining at this beach-town barbecue stand, stay a while and play a few of the lawn games, or relax in the hammocks or Adirondack chairs for an authentic beach and barbecue experience.


Yummy Pig BBQ—Leesburg

YummyPig BBQ does it all when it comes to smoking, serving a wide range of meats including pork, chicken, brisket, ribs, rib tips, bratwursts, and chicken apple sausages. Add a healthy dose of their homemade sauces, such as the Sweet Bourbon, Tequila Mustard, Four-Pepper Vinegar, or Chipotle sauce. Start with one of their delicious appetizers, like the Pig Pen Nachos, made with crispy kettle chips layered with a cheesy mornay sauce, smoked pork and chicken, salsa, kale, slaw, an avocado-lime crema, and pico de gallo, for a filling but fantastic barbecue experience.


Shawn’s Smokehouse BBQ Company—Culpeper

Shawns smokehouse BBQ company culpeper

Dine at Shawn’s Smokehouse BBQ Company to try some of the juiciest house-smoked meats in all of Virginia. In addition to their brisket, pulled pork, smoked chicken and wings, ribs, and burnt ends, they concoct all of their sauces and sides in-house. If you find yourself envious of their smoking skills after your meal, you can sign up for Shawn’s BBQ School, a full day of hands-on barbecue training that teaches you everything you need to know to become a barbecue master.



Pulled pork, beef brisket, Angus chopped beef brisket in “Q” sauce, and smoked turkey breast are all slow smoked over seasoned oak and hickory woods at Poke-E-Joe’s in Lynchburg. How slow? They spend anywhere from 12 to 16 hours cooking meats over low heats between 190 and 210 degrees. The spice rub used to season the meat ends up curing into a sealed crust over the meat, preserving the tenderness inside. The resulting meats are rich, smoky, and full of flavor.


The Apple House—Linden

the apple house linden barbecue

The Apple House in Linden is a family-run barbecue restaurant that has been a staple in the community for over 50 years. Specialties such as pulled pork barbeque, half-pound Bully burgers, and beef brisket are served with your choice of sides, including seven-bean baked beans, cornbread salad, coleslaw, and homemade candied jalapenos. Top your heaping of barbecue with a generous serving of the secret sauce, a slightly sweet vinegar-based recipe that pairs perfectly with the hickory-smoked meats. After the meal, stop into the restaurant’s gift shop to browse an extensive selection of Virginia-themed products and gifts.


Something Different—Urbanna

something different barbecue urbanna

Ranked as the #1 Restaurant in Urbanna by Trip Advisor and featured in Southern Living’s Off the Eaten Path “Second Helpings” book, Something Different specializes in what they call “Fine Neanderthal Cuisine”. The restaurant uses their own unique blends of seasonings and rubs before pit smoking several types of meats, like pulled pork barbecue, Texas-style beef brisket, and tri tip, and finally serving them with homemade sauces for a mouthwatering finish. The down-South food is complemented by regular live local music, a full bar with creative cocktails and craft beers, and a boutique shop that sells everything from homemade pies and ice creams to freshly baked breads and roasted peanuts.


Bonefire Smokehouse—Abingdon

Located on Main Street in Historic Downtown Abingdon, The Bonefire Smokehouse specializes in ribs, barbeque, and southern cuisine. While the restaurant is passionate about their barbecue, they are also dedicated to preserving the music of Southwest Virginia, hosting performances from regional and national musicians every Thursday through Sunday. The smoked meats at Bonefire Smokehouse are a purists’ dream, with no sauces added to the barbecue before they reach your plate. But if you’re a barbecue aficionado who doesn’t mind a little (or a lot of) sauce, they provide a handful of original recipe sauces for you to top your barbecue at the table. In 2016, the restaurant was named the regional winner of the Best BBQ by Virginia Living Magazine, and they were also awarded “Best Ribs in America” by the Regis and Kelly Show in 2009.



More of the best barbecue spots in Virginia:



Looking for even more places that smoke incredible barbecue? Check out these previous articles for Virginia barbecue fans and share your favorite places with us in the comments below!

13 Virginia Restaurants that Serve Up Unbeatable Barbecue

18 Virginia BBQ Joints You’re Going to LOVE




The post Where to Get Some of the Best Barbecue in Virginia appeared first on Virginia’s Travel Blog.

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America’s First Lighthouse

America’s First Lighthouse

“The rocky ledge runs far into the sea,
And on its outer point, some miles away,
The Lighthouse lifts its massive masonry,
A pillar of fire by night, of cloud by day.

Even at this distance I can see the tides,
Upheaving, break unheard along its base,
A speechless wrath, that rises and subsides
In the white lip and tremor of the face.

And as the evening darkens, lo! how bright,
Through the deep purple of the twilight air,
Beams forth the sudden radiance of its light
With strange, unearthly splendor in the glare!

Not one alone; from each projecting cape
And perilous reef along the ocean’s verge,
Starts into life a dim, gigantic shape,
Holding its lantern o’er the restless surge.”

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, The Lighthouse

When you look at a lighthouse, what do you see? Perhaps to you, lighthouses spark memories of a family vacation to the shore or elicit seafaring imagery that could be ripped from the pages of a Herman Melville novel. Maybe you just see a big flashlight. In the age of electronic navigation and two-way radios, this is understandable. While lighthouses are still utilized in many capes and inlets across the world, they have turned into somewhat of a novelty for many – a relic of days past. But, as is often true with historical structures, these lighthouses hold within them more than steel, brick and glass. Each flame that flickered through the thick windows broke through the panoptic blanket of night and signalled something different to everyone who saw it. Safe passage into harbor. A new beginning. The end of a journey. Home.

Cape Henry Lighthouse

Courtesy of Vist Virginia Beach

Each stair leads to a story and the 191 steps leading to the top of Virginia Beach’s Cape Henry Lighthouse, at the corner of the Chicks Beach District and the North End Oceanfront District, are no exception. This story begins, surprisingly enough, not on the shores where the Chesapeake Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean, but in New York City’s Federal Hall, in 1789. The newly formed United States of America, still recovering from the destruction of revolution, was holding its first session of the First United States Congress, which is still regarded as the most important meeting of the Senate and the House of Representatives ever held. It was at this session that the US Treasury was formed, the rules of the House, Senate and officers were established, and George Washington was inaugurated as the nation’s first President.

Cape Henry Lighthouse

Courtesy of Vist Virginia Beach

It was also during this historic session that Jacob Wray, the collector of customs at Hampton, made a plea to the newly-appointed Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton, that the unlit shores of Cape Henry, which had claimed 57 maritime vessels, needed to be promptly addressed. With many Congressional leaders feeling a pressing need to answer the public’s demand for safe and navigable waterways, Hamilton contracted the project with John McComb, Jr., the designer of the planned residence of the President. Using the Aquia stone that remained on-site from a failed attempt to build a lighthouse during the war, as well as Rappahannock freestone, McCombs plans called for an octagonal structure with three windows in the east and four in the west, that would stand 90 feet above the water table, and cost $17,700, roughly $435,000 in today’s money. As the tower neared completion, President Washington requested a list of applications for the new lighthouse keeper to be selected by him personally. In late October, 1792, Laban Goffigan of Norfolk lit the fish oil-burning lamps of the new Cape Henry Lighthouse for the first time.

Cape Henry Lighthouse

Courtesy of Vist Virginia Beach

The completion of the Cape Henry Lighthouse marked the first federal work project of the new United States government to be fulfilled and it quickly became an important fixture for our region’s maritime enterprises and military. Though a new lighthouse, which is still in use, was built adjacent to it in 1881, the old Cape Henry Lighthouse still stands as a reminder of Virginia Beach’s historic past. Today, you can gain access to the lighthouse, which sits on the active Fort Story Military Base, and climb the winding metal staircase all the way to the top, adding to the revered legend’s story, one step at a time.

Written by Vist Virginia Beach for Visit Virginia Beach.

Featured image provided by Courtesy of Vist Virginia Beach

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Between Two Buns: 17 of the Best Burgers in Virginia

Between Two Buns: 17 of the Best Burgers in Virginia


Everyone has that one restaurant that they are absolutely sure has the best burgers in Virginia, so we asked around and local residents in the following towns shared their secret spots with us. Visit a few of these 17 burger joints and let us know which restaurant tops your list for the best burgers in Virginia.


Grafton Street Restaurant & Irish Pub—Gainesville

grafton street bar and grill g street burger

Grafton Street Restaurant & Irish Pub, named for the popular street in Dublin, serves a wide array of Irish fare (and drinks to match), but their “G Street” Burger has become a go-to order for regulars. They start with a toasted Brioche bun and a delicious thick burger, and then pile on tons of Applewood bacon, Vermont cheddar cheese, crispy fried onions, and a healthy topping of their secret burger sauce. Pair it with a draft beer for a satisfying (and filling!) burger experience.


Jake’s Bar & Grill—Waynesboro

Jakes Bar and Grill burger

Using 100% locally raised USDA ground beef, Jake’s Bar & Grill in Waynesboro takes pride in every single burger that comes out of their kitchen. They also make every one of their tasty sauces in house, topping their 10 specialty burgers with concoctions like a lime-infused Avocado-Poblano or a tart and tangy Citrus Chipotle sauce. While all the burgers command respect at Jake’s Bar & Grill, we recommend the award-winning Tumbleweed, a brioche-bun burger featuring breaded jalapeño nuggets, cream cheese, apple jelly, and crunchy fried onion strips.


Boulevard Burger and Brew—Richmond

Located on the Boulevard and on the outskirts of Richmond’s craft beer-centric Scott’s Addition neighborhood, Boulevard Burgers and Brew has become a burger mecca for the capital city. The old-school diner cooks up the patties to your preference of either “pink” or “no pink”, resulting in a perfectly juicy burger. Go with a specialty order like the Chuck Norris Black and Blue (blackened spice, blue cheese, lettuce, tomato, and onion) or the Fatty D (spicy Asian dry rub topped with cilantro, tomato, pickled ginger, Nori, and wasabi Kim Kim aioli), or build your own burger from their “add-ons” menu. And make sure to add a side of the fries…you won’t be disappointed. Pair your burger with a draft beer or one of their adult boozy shakes and floats. We like the Belle Isle Brew shake, made with Belle Isle Bold Brew Coffee Moonshine, Bailey’s, and vanilla ice cream.


Grill 309—Culpeper

grill 309 culpeper burgers

Culpeper’s Grill 309 is a favorite spot for locals, with a friendly and welcoming atmosphere and incredible burgers that will keep you coming back again and again. For a sweet and savory pairing, try the Doughnut Burger, a ½ pound Virginia Black Angus beef burger with cheddar cheese, grilled onions, an over easy egg, and bacon, all served on a freshly glazed doughnut bun. If you’re in the mood for something a little lighter, go for the Burger Sliders, three mini Virginia Black Angus Beef burgers with lettuce, tomato, onions, and pickles.


The Shack—Staunton

the shack burger

The Shack is a must-visit when it comes to dining in Staunton. Under Chef Ian Boden, the restaurant’s menu reflects the abundance of fresh produce and ingredients found in the Shenandoah Valley. While it’s tough to choose a favorite dish, the burger is definitely a front runner, topped with a black garlic mayo, cheddar cheese, marrow roasted onions, dill pickles, and thick slabs of crisp bacon. Go crazy and top it all off with an egg for the full burger experience at The Shack.


Burger in the Square—Roanoke

burger in the square

Since 1985, Burger in the Square has been a favorite in the Roanoke community. They use fresh ground beef to create a menu of over 20 different juicy burgers, from the most basic, no-frill burger on a bun to favorite specialty burger combinations like the Blazing Saddle (a burger made with ghost pepper cheese, grilled serrano peppers, sautéed onions, srirachi slaw, lettuce, and tomato) or the Oinker Burger (burger with hand-pulled sweet or vinegar barbecue on top and optional house slaw).


Maw & Paw’s Diner—Eagle Rock

Maw and Paws Diner burger

Photo Credit: Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge

Located north of Roanoke near the Virginia border, Maw & Paw’s Diner is a small, family-owned restaurant that knows how to make a fantastic burger. The diner is known for their Super Bacon Cheeseburger, built on a handmade patty, and at only $4.99, the burger is both delicious and affordable. If you’ve spent the day working up an appetite exploring the nearby mountain trails, add an order of the Bacon & Cheese Fries, but plan for a nap afterwards.


Me’s Burgers & Brews—Danvilleme's burger and brews

Owned by a mother/daughter duo, Me’s Burgers & Brews ties the family’s love of literature into the menu, with their ever-changing selection of burgers named for their favorite writers, including C.S. Lewis (a beef patty with pesto, caramelized onions, diced tomatoes, basil mayo, and swiss cheese), Alexander Dumas (the “Three Musketeers” of meats—ham, bacon, and grilled chicken breast—topped with lettuce, tomato, Swiss cheese, and ranch dressing), and Jane Austen (a beef patty with bacon, mushrooms, lettuce, jalapeño aioli, and Pepper Jack cheese). If you prefer to be the “author” of your burger, start with a beef, veggie, chicken, bison, lamb, or tuna patty and then choose from the 30+ toppings to craft your own original masterpiece.



ra bistro burger lynchburg

{Ra}Bistro has a full menu with salads, starters, and a wide array of entrees, but the menu also features over 15 specialty burgers made with fresh-ground meats like Angus beef, turkey, bison, and chopped sirloin. The most unique offerings include the Funnel Cake Burger (a cheeseburger rolled in funnel cake batter, flash-fried, dusted with powdered sugar and served with raspberry melba sauce) and the Bayou Burger (Angus beef topped with flash-fried crawfish, Andouille sausage, melted provolone, and remoulade).


Viking Burger—Newport News

viking burger

If you’re in Coastal Virginia and looking for a fantastic burger, head to Viking Burger in Newport News. Since 2014, the restaurant has been redefining the art of the burger. While you can order a basic cheeseburger or one of their unique signature creations, we recommend Viking’s “Valhalla” burgers, made with two sirloin patties stuffed with different types of cheese, like the Valkyrie, a double burger stuffed with Pepper Jack, Muenster, grilled jalapeños, and spicy brown mustard, and then finished with even more Pepper Jack, grilled bell peppers, and lettuce. These behemoth burgers often conquer even the most voracious eaters, so don’t feel too bad if you leave with leftovers.


This isn’t the first roundup of restaurants that know how to make the perfect burger. Read about eight more great burger joints around the Commonwealth, find the best places for burger and beer pairings, or visit one of the honorable “best burger” mentions below!



The post Between Two Buns: 17 of the Best Burgers in Virginia appeared first on Virginia’s Travel Blog.

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52 Places Pairing Virginia Wine, Cheese & Charcuterie

52 Places Pairing Virginia Wine, Cheese & Charcuterie

If you missed Virginia Vineyard Month in April, we have another reason to get outside and sip in exultation as the green landscapes continue to bloom. We’ve compiled a pro-list of wineries, restaurants and shops offering the best of Virginia Wine paired with mouthwatering cheese and charcuterie plates. If we missed one of your favorite spots offering this epicurean combo, let us know in the comments below!




Barboursville Vineyards – Gordonsville

Barboursville Vineyards, Virginia’s oldest vineyard established in 1976, is Italian-owned and operated by only two winemakers since its inception. Not-surprisingly Palladio, the onsite restaurant, will make you feel like you’ve stepped right into Tuscany with their Italian labeled dishes that deliver on every promise.

Try the Piatto Di Salumi e Pate’ Nostrani – selection of house made charcuterie, house cured sausages, pâtés & condiments.

View the full menu here.


Early Mountain Vineyards – Madison

Early Mountain proudly pairs its wines with the best seasonal produce from local farms, artisanal cheeses from craft cheese mongers and charcuterie made in-house. They also offer an ever-changing “Best of Virginia” selection of wines allowing guests to sample the finest wines from all over the state. Try these menu items:

  • Artisanal Cheese Board – cheeses, creamed honey, seasonal mostarda, marcona almonds
  • Artisanal Charcuterie Board – cured meats, spicy mustard, housemade pickles

View the full menu here.


Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards – Albemarle

The tasting room at Pippin Hill features artisan cuisine that complements their wine and reflects their vineyard-to-table philosophy. As part of the Wine Pairing menu you’ll find their wines paired with seasonally inspired dishes, highlighting the freshest ingredients from local farms and their very own Kitchen Garden. Try these menu items:

  • Charcuterie – three local & international cured meats, marinated olives, arugula pesto. Pairs with Cannon Red or Rosé.
  • The PHF Board – chef’s choice of two cheeses, two cured meats, traditional accoutrements. Pairs with Sauvignon Blanc or Merlot Reserve.

View the Wine Pairing Menu here.


Union Market – Richmond

Union Market is a neighborhood staple in Union Hill, next to Church Hill, offering fresh locally baked bread, a seasonal menu of salads and sandwiches, and a grocery packed with local fare and brews. Create your own charcuterie board from their chalkboard list of meats and cheeses then grab a bottle of Virginia wine to enjoy on the string lit outdoor patio when the weather warms up.

View the full menu here.


More nearby Restaurants, Shops & Wineries:





Upper Shirley Vineyards – Charles City

Experience the magic of Upper Shirley Vineyards, a one-of-a-kind estate, winery, restaurant and wedding venue perched above one of the most scenic bends on the James River. The Winery is 30 minutes from downtown Richmond and 35 minutes from Williamsburg, located just off Route 5 and the Capital Bike Trail. The estate boasts history and scenic beauty on an epic scale and with an abundance of culinary riches—bottomland produce, fresh-caught seafood—and world-class wines made from their own estate-grown grapes. Try these menu items:

  • Vineyard Board – Selection of Artisan Salami & Meats Manchego De La Mancha, House-made Pimento Cheese, House-made Conserva, Creole Mustard, Pickled Vegetables & Baguette
  • Cheeses From Here & There – Three Virginia & International Cheeses Paired with AR’s Southern Hot Honey, Fruits, Nuts & House-Made Crackers

View the full menu here.


Mermaid Winery – Norfolk & Virginia Beach

Mermaid Winery is Virginia’s first urban winery located in the charming Ghent neighborhood of Norfolk with a second location in Virginia Beach. You’ll find many familiar wines as well as Virginia varietals at the tasting bar where you can also view their winemaking process. Try the Cheese & Charcuterie Board – choose three or four from a list of meats and cheeses.

View the full menu here.


The Cheese Shop – Williamsburg

I ❤ cheez shop

A post shared by gracie (@gthreepio) on Apr 1, 2017 at 2:12pm PDT

Since 1971, The Cheese Shop has been promoting great cheese from all over the world. Belly-up to the cheese counter and sample your way to a perfect selection of cheeses. Their expert staff will help craft a platter for you to enjoy on their front patio or to take home for snacking or entertaining. You’ll find Virginia cheese from Caramont Farm, Goats R Us, Lovers Retreat Dairy, and Meadow Creek Dairy.

With their extensive selection of cheeses, there’s also no shortage of wine and accoutrements for pairing.


Eat: An American Bistro – Virginia Beach

Eat: An American Bistro is an eclectic restaurant with creative renditions of seafood, steaks, burgers & vegetarian fare. Grab a cocktail or craft beer on the outdoor patio located just off the boardwalk in Virginia Beach. Try these items on the menu:

  • Artisan Cheeses – handcrafted cheeses, house-made pickles, truffle acacia honey, everything crackers
  • Deluxe Charcuterie – house-made assorted fresh and dry cured meats, grain mustard, pickles, hand selected cheeses

View the full menu here.


More nearby Restaurants, Shops & Wineries:





The River & Rail – Roanoke

The River & Rail serves up rustic and regional cuisine with many items made from scratch, like house-cured meats, house-made condiments and pickled vegetables. The wine list features Virginia favorites from Chrysalis Vineyards, Veritas Vineyards, Blenheim Vineyards, and Michael Shaps. Try these menu items:

  • Farmstead Cheese selection – three Cheeses, rye crackers, and accoutrements
  • Salumi Board – bourbon mustard, house pickles, and grilled bread

View the full menu here.


Chateau Morrissette – Floyd

Chateau Morrissette Winery is perched right off the Blue Ridge Parkway in Floyd County with sweeping views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Enjoy their rustic farm to table fare by the fireside during cooler months or outside on the terrace during warmer months. They also offer seasonal events such as summer “Black Dog Concerts” and “Winemaker’s Dinners” all in an elegant, old world atmosphere. Try these menu items:

  • Cheese Platter – Meadowcreek Appalachian Cheese (Galax, VA), house-made marmalade, pickles, bread. Pair with Chardonnay Reserve.
  • Winemaker’s Platter – cured meats, local cheeses, roasted grapes, pickles, preserves, mustard, and bread. Pair with Our Dog Blue®.

View the full menu here.


Whitebarrel Winery – Christiansburg & Blacksburg

Mulled apple wine, and cheese and meat board for the win

A post shared by Abbie Watson (@abbiewg) on Dec 2, 2017 at 10:17am PST

Whitebarrel Winery, rebranded from Attimo Winery in 2015, is nestled in the New River Valley and practices ancient wine making techniques where production is exclusively done by hand. Whitebarrel recently opened a satellite wine and tapas bar in Blacksburg and is soon to open additional locations in Richmond, Northern Virginia, as well as a new east coast “Wine Truck.” Each location serves a full tapas-style menu with small plates that complement their wines, many of which are from Virginia.

Try the Charcuterie Board – Choose 3 or 6 meats and cheeses, served with homemade pâté & artisan crackers, olives, & fruit; with mustard and local jams.

View the full menu here.


More nearby Restaurants, Shops & Wineries:





Potomac Point Winery – Stafford

Potomac Point Vineyard and Winery is an old-world, Tuscan-styled vineyard and winery located just outside of Washington, DC in Stafford, Virginia. Potomac Point specializes in wine tastings, tours, weddings, catering and events. Bring your own picnic to pair with Potomac Point’s award-winning wines on their beautiful courtyard. Or pick from the full bistro menu including these artisan cheese platters:

  • White Wine Cheese Platter – Belletoile Brie, Truffle Honey Goat Cheese, Aged Gouda
  • Red Wine Cheese Platter – Manchego, Peppered Pecorino, Merlot Bellavitano
  • Le Grand Cru Platter – Peppered Pecorino, Merlot Bellavitano, Truffle Honey Goat Cheese, Prosciutto, Soppressata, Calabrese

View the full menu here.


868 Estate Vineyards – Loudoun

Visit 868 Estate Vineyards’ onsite restaurant, Grandale’s Viniter’s Table, for a local upscale menu in a relaxed winery setting. Enjoy the seasonally selected menu featuring wines from 868 Estate Vineyards as well as thoughtfully chosen wines from other regions of Virginia and the world. Try these menu items:

  • Cheese & Olive Board – handcrafted artisan cheeses, marinated blend of olives
  • Antipasto Plank – mix of house made, local, and European sliced charcuterie with seasonal pickles
  • Cheese, Meat & Olive Board – Two chef’s choice cheese, marinated blend of olives, two chef’s choice charcuterie

View the full menu here.


Jackson 20 – Alexandria

Located in the Alexandrian hotel in the heart of Old Town Alexandria on King Street, Jackson 20 is a top-tier restaurant offering hearty drinks and inventive American tavern fare. Try these menu items:

  • Artisanal Cheese Selection – Local Honey, Red Onion Marmalade, Raisin Walnut Toast
  • Charcuterie Board – Pork & Rabbit Terrine, Foie Gras, Cured Meats, Whole Grain Mustard, Baguette

View the full menu here..


Greenhill Winery & Vineyards – Middleburg

A little port & cheese party going on here 🧀🎉

A post shared by Greenhill Winery & Vineyards (@greenhillwine) on Jan 31, 2018 at 6:21am PST

Experience Virginia wine in an authentic farm winery setting. Greenhill is a lovely boutique destination winery in Loudoun County with a friendly and professional staff delivering quality wine in a breathtaking Virginia Wine Country environment. The tasting menu includes these cheese boards and more:

  • Cheese Board – A selection of imported & domestic cheeses served with a warm baguette
  • Cheese & Charcuterie Board – Imported & domestic cheeses served with a variety of aged meets & a warm baguette

More nearby Restaurants, Shops & Wineries:





CrossKeys Vineyards – Rockingham

CrossKeys Vineyards is located ten miles south of Harrisonburg in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley delivering gorgeous views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The family-owned vineyard specializes in exquisite wine and delicious food as well as offering a wonderful venue for weddings, parties, and corporate events. Visit the bistro and try these menu items:

  • Cheese Flight – A montage of domestic and international cheeses, fresh and dried fruits, olives, and nuts. Pair with Meritage.
  • CrossKeys Sampler – a combination of charcuterie, cheeses, olives, nuts, and fruit. Pair with Cabernet Sauvignon.

View the full menu here.


Bella Luna Wood Fired Pizza – Harrisonburg

Bella Luna features hand-crafted, farm-fresh food in a warm and inviting environment. Located in the historic Livery Building in downtown Harrisonburg, Bella Luna offers wood-fired pizzas, hand-made pastas, fresh seasonal salads and sandwiches, and delectable desserts. The bar boasts a wide selection of local microbrews and hard ciders on tap, hand-selected wines and artisan cocktails.

Try the Antipasto Platter – cured meats, artisan cheese, seasonal vegetables, and hearth bread.

View the full menu here.


Local Chop & Grill House – Harrisonburg

Local Chop & Grill House is located in a historic produce exchange warehouse in Downtown Harrisonburg. Their dedication to supporting local artists, craftsmen, and family farms is shown through the fresh and seasonal menu. Enjoy local flavors with dishes of high quality steaks and chops, poultry, house-made charcuterie, organically grown produce and fresh baked goods.

Try the Chef’s Artisanal Plate – an assortment of salt cured meats and local cheese served with grilled baguette, various pickles, mustard and seasonal compote.

View the full menu here.


More nearby Restaurants, Shops & Wineries:

The post 52 Places Pairing Virginia Wine, Cheese & Charcuterie appeared first on Virginia’s Travel Blog.

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Delicious Foodie Events at Virginia’s Theme Parks

Delicious Foodie Events at Virginia’s Theme Parks


Virginia’s two largest theme parks, Kings Dominion and Busch Gardens Williamsburg, are hosting food festivals that welcome visitors to try the most incredible flavors from Virginia and around the world. Snag your tickets to these upcoming events to get your fill of exceptional culinary creations.


Taste of Virginia at Kings Dominion—Doswell

Taste of Virginia Kings Dominion food festival

When: Friday through Sunday, May 18 – May 20, 2018

The culinary team of Kings Dominion cooks up recipes inspired by the regions of Virginia, from the coastal seafood flavors to the fresh produce from the Shenandoah Valley, during the Taste of Virginia festival. The festival also features Virginia spirits, craft beers, and wines, as well as live local entertainment and music. If you’re feeling brave, be sure to ride Kings Dominion’s newest coaster, Twisted Timbers, during your visit to the park. Taste of Virginia is included with the price of park admission, while the food and drinks are an additional cost. Purchase a Wine or Food Tasting Card for $25 to get six wine or food samples from any Taste of Virginia location within the park.


Busch Gardens Food & Wine Festival—Williamsburg

Busch Gardens Food and Wine Festival

When: Every Friday, Saturday, & Sunday, May 25 – July 1, 2018

The Busch Gardens Food & Wine Festival features over 60 specialty food dishes, 30 wines, 25 craft beers, and 20 cocktails for guests to sample. The dishes represent regions all around the world, including India, Germany, Japan, France, and of course, Virginia, showcasing local flavors with dishes using Smithfield Ham, Apple Pie Moonshine, and more. Special entertainment such as chef demonstrations and beverage tastings occur throughout the festival and Hunter Hayes, Scotty McCreery, and other big name headliners take the stage on Saturday evenings for live concerts. Individual sampling portions and wine tastings are available for purchase, or you can save up to 45% by purchasing the $62 Food & Beverage Sampler, which allows you to pick 15 items from over 60 entrees and desserts along with more than 30 alcoholic or non-alcoholic drinks, or choose 10 items for just $49.

The post Delicious Foodie Events at Virginia’s Theme Parks appeared first on Virginia’s Travel Blog.

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7 Places that Highlight Then & Now in Virginia

7 Places that Highlight Then & Now in Virginia

richmond skyline vintage virginia is for lovers hot air balloon

Virginia has been welcoming visitors for centuries, but only in the past hundred years or so could we finally begin documenting these travelers with photography. Check out seven of Virginia’s most visited destinations in contrasting images that span several decades and plan your trip to celebrate National Travel & Tourism Week!


THEN: Kings Dominion—Doswell

kings dominion vintage

The Anaconda at Kings Dominion

The Eiffel Tower still stands where it was first built upon the park’s opening in 1975, but many other aspects of King’s Dominion have changed over the years. The Virginia theme park has continued to renovate and expand, adding epic coasters like the Dominator, Hypersonic XLC, Delirium, the Intimidator 305, and Volcano. In the fall, the park hosts Halloween Haunt during evening hours, a Halloween-themed event with special musical performances, terrifying haunted houses, and scary characters wandering the grounds. This year, they will add WinterFest and transform the park into a winter wonderland during the holiday season.


THEN: The Virginia State Capitol—Richmond
the capitol richmond vintage


Virginia State Capitol Building

Designed by Thomas Jefferson, Virginia’s State Capitol in Richmond has been hosting Virginia’s General Assembly since 1788. While they still meet there occasionally today, the buildings underwent multimillion-dollar restorations and expansions from 2004-2007, reopening with a gift shop, exhibit space, café, meeting rooms, and public restrooms. The Capitol is open daily for tours to the general public.


THEN: George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate—Mount Vernon

mount vernon vintage

Mount Vernon

Mount Vernon, George and Martha Washington’s historic home outside of Alexandria, has been carefully preserved in the centuries since the first president occupied the home. But the estate was once much larger, and the property’s preservation society has since worked to restore previous outlying buildings. In 2007, Mount Vernon restored George Washington’s Distillery & Gristmill on the original grounds, welcoming guests to tour both the historically accurate distillery, where you can sample the resulting whiskey, and the functioning gristmill, which produces flour and cornmeal.


THEN: Skyline Drive
skyline drive vintage

Scenic Skyline Drive

Not much has changed along Skyline Drive, the National Scenic Byway that runs through Shenandoah National Park. The 105-mile roadway along the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains has been carefully preserved and maintained as one of Virginia’s most stunning natural treasures. Stop along one of the 75 overlooks for impressive views of the mountains and valleys that border Skyline Drive.


THEN: Busch Gardens—Williamsburg
busch gardens vintage big bad wolf roller coaster

Busch Gardens

Busch Gardens has been entertaining Virginians and travelers to the Commonwealth since 1975. Although the Big Bad Wolf, the coaster shown in the THEN picture, closed in 2009 after 25 years of thrilling rides, the park replaced it in 2012 with Verbolten, a steel roller coaster that is designed to reflect the Authobahn roadways of Germany. Many other new rides and attractions have been added to Busch Gardens, including Apollo’s Chariot, Mäch Tower, Griffon, InvadR, and Tempesto (shown). During the month leading up to Halloween, the park transforms at night into Howl-O-Scream, and from Thanksgiving until New Year’s Day, the park is fully decorated for Christmas Town.


THEN: Jamestown Settlement—Williamsburg
jamestown vintage ship

Jamestown Settlement

A living history museum, Jamestown Settlement tells the story of the first colonists in America with films, gallery exhibits, and living history experiences. The museum expanded significantly in the early 21st century as part of the 400 year anniversary of neighboring Historic Jamestowne, the original site of the settlement. New permanent exhibits and a new introductory film were presented to highlight the history of Jamestown and the experiences of America’s first Colonial residents.


THEN: Luray Caverns—Luray

luray caverns vintage

Luray Caverns

Like Skyline Drive, not much has changed at Luray Caverns in the past few decades (although thankfully fashion has improved). Discovered in 1878, the caverns are a U.S. Natural Landmark, open to visitors to explore the vast chambers decorated by nature with stalactites and stalagmites throughout. Make sure you stop by the Stalacpipe Organ, the world’s only organ that uses the natural stone formations of the caverns to create symphonic melodies.


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3 Days of Summer Fun in Charlottesville & Albemarle County!

3 Days of Summer Fun in Charlottesville & Albemarle County!

The summer season is an especially beautiful and fun time to visit Charlottesville & Albemarle County! The area is home to world-renowned historic attractions, the prestigious University of Virginia, a booming craft beverage scene including wine, beer, artisanal cider, and spirits, one of the longest pedestrian malls in the entire country , all while being nestled against the backdrop of the breathtaking Blue Ridge Mountains. The hardest part of planning your trip will be trying to figure out which activities to choose, so the best bet is to extend your stay, so you can take advantage of everything. Check out this three-day itinerary that will deliver on many of the best things that the Charlottesville area has to offer!

Day 1

Your visit to Charlottesville & Albemarle County will begin by exploring some of the area’s iconic historic attractions. Home to three former presidents (Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe, and James Madison), this region is steeped in a history and tradition dating back to our nation’s formative years. Visit and tour the homes of Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello (a UNESCO World Heritage site) and James Monroe’s Highland for a glimpse back in time at how these former presidents lived, worked, and played. The two homes are located a short drive from one another and both can be visited and toured in half a day.

Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello

Roy VanDoorn

After your historic home tours, you will have probably worked up an appetite – and luckily for you, the historic Michie Tavern is conveniently located on the drive back into Charlottesville! Here, you will be able to enjoy a buffet of traditional Southern fare, including some legendary fried chicken, green beans, mashed potatoes, and buttery biscuits. After lunch, be sure to experience more of the 18th Century way of life by exploring Michie Tavern’s general store, tavern gift shop, armory and artifacts shop, and metal smith shop. Self-guided tours are available of the property and games from the time period are available for the kids to play. Pro tip – purchase a Neighborhood Pass , which will give you discounted admission to all 3 of the aforementioned stops. Save even more money by purchasing this pass online!

After touring Michie Tavern, prepare for some of the best views around as you visit Carter Mountain Orchard! Peaches are in season and you will be able to pick your own fragrant fruit straight from the tree, or let the folks at Carter Mountain do the work for you! While you are there, be sure to get a dozen (or two) of the legendary apple cider donuts, straight from the fryer. They will melt in your mouth! Pro tip – enjoy these donuts on the back deck which overlooks the city of Charlottesville and the neighboring Blue Ridge Mountains with stunning panoramic views!

Carter Mountain Orchard Apple Cider Donuts


As you begin your descent back down the mountain, get ready to become immersed in history once again with a visit to the prestigious University of Virginia. Founded by Thomas Jefferson (and also a UNESCO World Heritage site), the University of Virginia is consistently ranked as one of the top public universities in the country, plus its architecture and Grounds are sure to leave you impressed. Located at the center of this University is the area referred to as the Academical Village and The Lawn, which also serves as a home for the iconic Rotunda. This structure, with its renowned columns, distinctive marble capitals, and white-dome roof, is well known throughout the world and serves as the University’s centerpiece, as well as a popular gathering space for students. Free tours are also available to learn more about the history of this recently-renovated, magnificent building. While you are here, be sure to stop by and visit the room where Edgar Allan Poe studied when he was a student at the University of Virginia and listen to an audio recording about his time studying there!

Rotunda at the University of Virginia

Brantley Ussery

Day 2

After a good night’s rest, gear up for another jam-packed day of discovering Charlottesville & Albemarle County. You will start your day by exploring the historic pedestrian Downtown Mall, located at the epicenter of the city. This eight-block avenue paved with brick and lined with mature oak trees is one of the longest pedestrian malls in the entire country! Once you are here, you will have your pick of dining options, with plenty of restaurants to choose from, many of which offer outdoor patio seating for dining al fresco! These outdoor patios are perfect spots to catch some shade from the trees above and listen to street musicians who can often be found serenading people here with their lovely tunes. After your meal, browse and meander the plethora of shops, stores, and galleries, which feature an abundance of locally-produced and crafted items for purchase. The Downtown Mall is also home to three major performance venues, the historic Paramount Theater, the Jefferson Theater, and the Sprint Pavilion, all of which are great options for catching a show or live music act. The Sprint Pavilion is located at the east end of the Downtown Mall and hosts many terrific musical acts throughout the year and a free, family-friendly concert series that takes place on Friday afternoons called Fridays After Five. Music lovers will definitely not be disappointed in the Charlottesville area – after all, this region is home to the legendary musician Dave Matthews of the Dave Matthews Band!

Historic Pedestrian Downtown Mall

Brantley Ussery

After your excursion on the Downtown Mall, continue to explore the streets adjacent to it, many of which contain fascinating and unique stores, and check out West Main Street for even more restaurants! The amount of dining options in this area is staggering and it’s no surprise that the Charlottesville region has been dubbed the “Locavore Capital of the World” by Forbes. This area has been leading the pack in the farm-to-table movement and the chefs here always use locally-sourced ingredients whenever possible. It’s the ultimate destination for foodies far and wide!

Once you have finished exploring the downtown area, it’s time to get out into the surrounding countryside to explore Virginia wine country! Charlottesville & Albemarle County features more than 30 wineries, most of which have several prestigious awards and accolades under their belts. The region was even named one of the top wine destinations in the world by Wine Enthusiast magazine! Several transportation companies offer wine tours so you can travel from vineyard to vineyard and ensure you are sipping safely. The wineries are all located on beautiful plots of land, with perfect views of the rolling landscape and mountains from the tasting rooms and grounds. The destination is also home to a booming craft beer scene, several artisanal cideries, and even a few distilleries, so there are leisure beverage options available for any preference you might have. Finish up your day by catching a show at the Heritage Theater Festival at the University of Virginia or listening to a performance of the Charlottesville Opera at the historic Paramount Theater on the Downtown Mall.

White Hall Vineyards

Brantley Ussery

Day 3

Summer is the perfect time to enjoy the great outdoors in Charlottesville & Albemarle County. The area presents loads of outdoors adventures ranging from hiking, cycling, kayaking, fly fishing, and even floating down the river on a tube! Start your day with a short and scenic drive westbound to the picturesque Shenandoah National Park. Here, you will find abundant trails perfect for hiking in the clean, cool mountain air. There are hikes for those of all ages and skill levels, from beginners to even the most experienced hikers. After you’ve gotten in a quick hike and enjoyed the incredible views from the many scenic overlooks located along Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge Parkway, head back to Charlottesville for a quick trip south to the charming town of Scottsville. Situated on the lazy banks of the James River, this town is the perfect summer hangout spot. Several reeling and rafting companies are available to help you plan your perfect river experience, whether it’s on a canoe, a kayak, or the ever-popular tube option. Nothing says relaxation like a lazy float down the James River, watching the clouds pass by overhead as you enjoy the crisp, cool water on a warm Virginia afternoon. After your tubing adventure, grab a quick bite to eat at one of the several restaurants located along Scottsville’s main street – plus, there is even a brewery, so you can sample the brewmaster’s latest carbonated concoction!

Tubing Down the River!

Courtesy of Charlottesville and Albemarle County

With a plethora of lodging options to choose from in Charlottesville & Albemarle County, there is something for every family (and budget). You can find charming inns and B&Bs, boutique hotels, chain hotels, and even high-end resorts with luxurious amenities all within reach!

This list only begins to scratch the surface of everything that Charlottesville & Albemarle County has to offer. We encourage you to explore our website to find a more comprehensive sampling of lodging options and activities, or to find out more details about the attractions and activities listed in this itinerary. Once you arrive, be sure to check out one of our visitor centers for even more information. One is conveniently located on the Downtown Mall and the other is located in the historic train depot in Crozet, a short and scenic drive from Charlottesville. So go ahead and start planning that perfect summer trip to Charlottesville & Albemarle County. We look forward to seeing you!

Written by Brantley Ussery for Charlottesville and Albemarle County.

Featured image provided by Courtesy of Charlottesville and Albemarle County

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Where They’re From: Walking in the Footsteps of Virginia’s Great Musicians

Where They’re From: Walking in the Footsteps of Virginia’s Great Musicians

ralph stanley music center

A time machine would be handy, wouldn’t it? Especially when it comes to the careers of legendary musicians, because only a select few fans get to see those first gigs that act as stepping stones toward stardom. While time travel remains out of reach, there’s good news: The options for exploring the history, hometowns, and early handiwork of Virginia’s musical giants are everywhere, from Northern Virginia wine country to the hills of the Commonwealth’s Southwest.

Here are a few ways to walk in the footsteps of Virginia’s musical greats.


Ralph Stanley—McClure

Born in McClure, Ralph Stanley got his first banjo when he was a teenager, learning to play clawhammer-style from his mother. With that foundation, and with Bill Monroe’s new bluegrass style growing in popularity, Stanley proved to be a foundational figure himself. He pioneered his own quick and crisp style of playing (“Stanley style”) and gained renown for his distinctive singing, with the Stanley Brothers and the Clinch Mountain Boys. You’ll often hear his name preceded by “Doctor;” his contribution to the region’s musical tradition was so significant he was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Music by Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, Tennessee.

The Ralph Stanley Museum and Traditional Mountain Music Center

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


Dave Matthews—Charlottesville

Though Dave Matthews was born in South Africa, he’s known as one of the most significant figures in his adopted hometown of Charlottesville. Matthews moved to Charlottesville with his mother in the mid-eighties, and what followed is the stuff of legend: A weekly gig at now-defunct local venue Trax, a breakout album in “Under the Table and Dreaming”, more than a dozen Grammy nominations, and a massive and loyal international following for his eponymous band. In fact, from 2000-2010, no musical act generated more in gross concert revenue — north of $500 million in total. Not bad for a guy who used to tend bar on Charlottesville’s downtown mall.

Blenheim Vineyards

Trax may be gone, but if you’re looking for ways to two-step the path Matthews walked in his younger days, Miller’s — where Matthews worked as a bartender — is a great place to start. It’s a favorite spot for locals and college students alike, with a busy schedule of musical performances and regular Thursday night appearances by the John D’earth Quintet — an incubator for local jazz talent. D’earth is the University of Virginia’s Director of Jazz Performance, and he’s performed on Dave Matthews’ recordings. (And Matthews sang on D’earth’s 2001 album “Mercury”.) For a look at Matthews’ more recent activity in the area, be sure to stop by Blenheim Vineyards, the winery he owns, located less than half an hour’s drive from the downtown spot where he worked as bartender.


Jason Mraz—Mechanicsville

Born and raised in Mechanicsville, Jason Mraz graduated from (and performed as a cheerleader at) Lee-Davis High School before studying at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York City and eventually making a name for himself as a musician in San Diego. His intricate wordplay and seemingly limitless vocal abilities earned him a recording contract with Elektra Records, and his 2002 album “Waiting for My Rocket to Come” propelled him to national notoriety, with “The Remedy (I Won’t Worry)” earning him his first hit in the Top-40. Multiple Grammy nominations and wins have followed, along with recognition for “I’m Yours” as ASCAP’s 2010 Song of the Year.

The School of the Performing Arts in the Richmond Community — more commonly known by the acronym SPARC — was also part of Mraz’s journey to success. SPARC’s mission is to “profoundly influence young people’s lives through exceptional performing arts education,” and while he was still living in Richmond, Mraz spent afternoons and summers there learning and gaining confidence as a performer. And it’s clear he hasn’t forgotten his time there, as Mraz has served as Artistic Advisor for LIVE ART — a unique program that brings together performing arts instruction and special education, culminating in a yearly mega-concert, with past performances from Mraz, k.d. lang, Sara Bareilles, Rob Thomas, and René Marie, among many others. It’s a joyful celebration in support of an excellent cause — well worth seeing (and hearing) in person.


Bruce Hornsby—Williamsburg

Known for his bright and nimble piano playing, his multi-platinum recording career producing iconic hits like “The Way It Is,” and his time spent as a sideman with the Grateful Dead, Bruce Hornsby is as beloved a figure in Virginia’s musical history as you’ll find. He grew up in Williamsburg and graduated from James Blair High School, where he proved to be a strong basketball player. His musicianship turned out to be even stronger, as he moved to Los Angeles in 1980, formed Bruce Hornsby and the Range in 1984, and signed with RCA Records by the following year. While many got to know his music when he was working with backing band The Range, these days you’ll see him performing as Bruce Hornsby & The Noisemakers.

Colonial Williamsburg

If you’re not a fan of high school basketball, fear not — there are other ways to walk in Hornsby’s footsteps. He and his Noisemakers headline an annual festival in Williamsburg called the Funhouse Fest, presented by Hornsby himself and the Virginia Arts Festival. Past events have featured amazing acts like the Taj Mahal Trio, Hiss Golden Messenger, Sheryl Crow, and Greensky Bluegrass. VIP packages are available, offering early entry, premium parking, VIP Tent access, and even meet-and-greet opportunities with select artists. Whether you’re a Hornsby fan or just in town in June to see Colonial Williamsburg, there’s fun to be had at Funhouse. That’s just the way it is.


René Marie—Warrenton

René Marie’s is one of the most inspiring stories in Virginia’s long musical history. The jazz vocalist did perform some as a teenager in Roanoke, where she lived in the years after her family moved from her birthplace of Warrenton. But her career started in earnest decades later, when she was working at a bank and followed her son’s recommendation to get back into singing at the age of 41. Given an ultimatum by her husband to choose between singing and an abusive marriage, she followed her love for performing, going on to establish herself as one of today’s most talented and respected jazz vocalists. And she’s dedicated herself to helping others work through their own difficult circumstances by writing and performing a one-woman show about overcoming domestic abuse, and by establishing SLAM!, an online, one-on-one vocal therapy workshop that aims to help singers reconnect with their voices.

three fox vineyards

The early days of Marie’s relaunched music career included a production of “Ella and Her Fella, Frank” at the Barksdale Theatre in Richmond. The Barksdale merged with Theatre IV in 2012 to become the Virginia Repertory Theatre, and you can enjoy the nonprofit, professional theatre company’s productions at multiple locations around Richmond, including the Hanover Tavern, the November Theatre, and the Children’s Theatre at Willow Lawn. If you’re planning a trip even further into Marie’s past, a trip to Warrenton provides access to some of Virginia’s most stunning wine country. In fact, Warrenton is centrally located along the Fauquier Country Wine Trail, which links more than two dozen wineries, including Three Fox Vineyards and Mediterranean Cellars, with plenty of bed and breakfasts nearby for those sticking around for an extended stay.

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11 Free (or Almost Free) Things to Do in Virginia Beach

11 Free (or Almost Free) Things to Do in Virginia Beach

Enjoy the beaches. Sandbridge Beach, Chic’s Beach and the Oceanfront Resort Beach are all free and open to the public.

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​Visit First Landing State Park or False Cape State Park.

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Explore the Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

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Climb to the top of the historic Cape Henry Lighthouse, the first project commissioned by the new Federal Government after gaining independence from England.

Courtesy of Vist Virginia Beach
Peruse a local farmers market, like the Old Beach Farmers Market or the Virginia Beach Farmers Market.

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Visit one of our many historic homes like the Adam Thoroughgood House (1680) or the Ferry Plantation House (1740).

Experience the high-octane history of the Virginia Military Aviation Museum.

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Check out the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art to learn about contemporary art through regularly scheduled changing exhibits, studio art classes, and special events.

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Discover the historic DeWitt Cottage, built in 1895 on the Boardwalk. The cottage is now home to the Atlantic Wildfowl Heritage Museum.

Step back in time at The Virginia Beach Surf and Rescue Museum, housed in a former U.S Life Saving Station, built in 1903 on the Boardwalk.

From Thomas Jefferson and Captain John Smith to Ella Fitzgerald and Patsy Cline, Virginia has been home to many of history’s giants. Check them out at the Virginia Legends Walk, at the oceanfront 13th Street Park.

Courtesy of Vist Virginia Beach

Written by Vist Virginia Beach for Visit Virginia Beach.

Featured image provided by Courtesy of Vist Virginia Beach

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