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The Ultimate Checklist for an Unforgettable Virginia Holiday

The Ultimate Checklist for an Unforgettable Virginia Holiday


Santa isn’t the only one making a list and checking it twice! Everyone has their own holiday traditions that make the season a little brighter, from hanging the stockings to baking holiday cookies with the kids. We have compiled our favorite seasonal Virginia traditions into a simple checklist that will make this year’s Yuletide one you won’t soon forget.


Click on the image below for the full list or print it out here to check off these tinsel-filled to-do’s as you complete this holiday list.




1. Enjoy a Breakfast with Santa in Virginia with the whole family

Louisa County Breakfast with SantaPictured: The Louisa County Breakfast with Santa


2. Visit one of the decorated Loveworks around Virginia and snap a picture for your holiday cards.

Mansassas Holiday LOVEworksPictured: Manassas LOVEwork decorated for the holidays


3. Attend a Grand Illumination or parade in Virginia’s favorite Christmas towns.

Christmas in MiddleburgPictured: Middleburg Christmas Parade


4. Pick up the traditional tree at a local Christmas tree farm.

Enjoy the holiday season by choosing and cutting the perfect Christmas tree at Claybrooke Farm.

Pictured: Christmas trees at Claybrooke Farm


5. Get your holiday shopping done in one of Virginia’s many amazing shopping districts.

Holiday Shopping in Old Town

Pictured: Shopping district of Old Town Alexandria


6. Learn about Virginia’s rich history during the holidays when you attend a seasonal celebration at one of Virginia’s historic destinations.

Holidays at Berkeley Plantation

Pictured: Christmas tree at Historic Berkeley Plantation


7. Take the kids to Christmas Town at Busch Gardens.

christmas town at busch gardens

Pictured: Christmas Town at Busch Gardens



8. Experience Virginia’s holiday flavors at a local restaurant.

Holidays at The Boar's Head Inn

Pictured: Holiday meal at Boar’s Head Old Mill Room Restaurant


9. See a seasonal play or show at a nearby theater.

Miracle on 34th Street. Photo courtesy of Barter Theatre.

Pictured: Miracle on 34th Street at Barter Theatre in Abingdon


10. Plan a romantic getaway at a decked-out hotel or resort.

homestead holidays

Pictured: Holiday decorations in the lobby of  the Omni Homestead


11. Break out your favorite over-the-top holiday sweater for a tacky lights tour.

Richmond Tacky Lights Tour

Pictured: Decorated home on the Richmond Tacky Lights Tour


12. Warm up with a steaming cup of hot cocoa in the Commonwealth.

Blackbird Bakery

Pictured: Hot chocolate at Blackbird Bakery in Bristol


13. Hear Virginia choirs and musical groups perform your favorite Christmas Carols.

Downtown Harrisonburg Holiday Tour

Pictured: Carolers sing on a downtown Harrisonburg Holiday Tour


14. Head west to a Virginia mountain resort for some snowy family fun.Massanutten Resort Skiing

Pictured: Wintergreen Resort


15. Pick up some sweet seasonal treats and goodies from a delicious Virginia bakery.

Red Truck Bakery

Pictured: Red Truck Bakery


16. Lace up and hit an ice skating rink with friends or family.

Ice Skating at Reston Town Center

Pictured: Reston Town Center Ice Skating Rink


17. Visit a decorated Virginia winery for some extra holiday cheer.

Gray Ghost Winery

Pictured: Gray Ghost Winery in Amissville decorates with cork reindeer


18. Order oysters, seasonal craft beers, and wines to add classic Virginia touches to your holiday meal.

craft beer with oysters virginia beachesPictured: Oysters and Craft Beer at Rappahannock Oyster Company


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10 Decked-Out Destinations for a Holiday Breakfast with Santa

10 Decked-Out Destinations for a Holiday Breakfast with Santa


Out of all the holiday traditions to fill the season, the chance to meet Santa and share their wish lists is one of the most memorable for kids. Couple this with a delicious breakfast and you have a new favorite Yuletide tradition for the whole family. Attend these holiday breakfasts with Santa, happening around Virginia, to make this a season they won’t soon forget.


Louisa County’s Breakfast with Santa—Louisa

Date: December 2, 2017

Louisa County Breakfast with Santa

Join Santa at the Betty Queen Center in Louisa County for a delightful breakfast, complete with all your favorite foods, including heaping stacks of fluffy pancakes and crisp bacon. Parents can take their own photos of the kids with Santa and his helpers as they tell him what is on their wish list this year. The breakfast costs $8 for one adult and child pair, and $3 for each additional person from that family.


SPCA’s Pictures with Santa—Martinsville

Date: December 2, 2017

spca pictures with santa cat in hat

Although not a holiday breakfast event, the SPCA’s Pictures with Santa in Martinsville is great for those looking to celebrate the season with their four-legged family members. Pets get their picture taken with Santa, with professional services offered by Dawson Photography, and owners have the option to purchase 5×7 prints for $10 each. If you’re interested in adding to your family, you can also visit with the pets up for adoption during the event. While appointments are available ahead of time, walk-ins are also welcome.


Brunch with Santa at Cooper’s Landing Inn

Date: December 2, 2017

Coopers Landing breakfast with santa

The 12th annual Brunch with Santa at Cooper’s Landing Inn is a seasonal event the whole family will love. Even the food is festive, with Reindeer pancakes, eggnog French toast, and peppermint hot chocolate. Enjoy your meal by the toasty 1830’s wood stove or dine next to one of the 14 uniquely decorate Christmas trees. In addition to the $15 entry fee, which includes a picture with Santa in a special holiday memory folder, the Inn asks that each child brings a toy to donate to local families in need. They will match the amount of toys collected to bring even more holiday cheer to those families. Reservations are recommended.


Breakfast with Santa at the Mariners’ Museum and Park—Newport News

Dates: December 2 & 9, 2017

mariners museum breakfast with santa

The Mariners’ Museum and Park in Newport News welcomes guests to their annual Breakfast with Santa, which features a full mouthwatering menu of pancakes, fresh seasonal fruit, bacon, sausage, and much more. After dining and taking photos with Santa, kids have the chance to do a little holiday crafting, with activities like making their own ornaments. The $12 general entry fee includes all of this, plus admission to the museum for the entire day. Children two years old and under are free.


Breakfast with Santa at Eileen’s Bakery—Fredericksburg

Dates: December 3, 10, 17, 19, & 22, 2017

In its 7th annual year, Eileen’s Bakery offers several dates for their Breakfast with Santa celebration, as well as two seating times for each date. The breakfast buffet is an absolute feast, with tasty dishes like pancakes, eggs, bacon, sausage, and home fries. Kids can decorate their own pancakes in holiday-themed edible treats and finish off their meal with a steaming cup of hot cocoa. Get pictures of the kids with Santa as they share their wish list, then capture the excitement as he gives each child a surprise present. Breakfast is $23.99 for adults, $17.99 for kids under 13, and free for kids one and under.


Breakfast with Santa in Yorktown—Yorktown

Date: December 9, 2017

yorktown breakfast with santa

Join Santa and Mrs. Claus for a holiday breakfast and photos at Riverwalk Restaurant in Yorktown. Bring the kids along with their wish lists to meet Santa, enjoy a festive kid-friendly breakfast menu, and get some special holiday treats during this seasonal event. Reservations are required, and tickets are $20 per person, with children two and under free.


Graves’ Mountain Lodge Breakfast with Santa—Syria

Date: December 9, 2017

Graves mountain lodge breakfast with santa

At Graves’ Mountain Lodge Breakfast with Santa, kids will have opportunity to visit with Santa, share their wish list, and take a memorable photo. Virginia breakfast favorites like bacon and sausage links, biscuits and gravy, grits, fried apples, eggs, and pancakes are all on the menu for just $11.95 per adult, with children 17 and under half price.


Breakfast with Historic Santa—Manassas

Date: December 9, 2017

manassas breakfast with historic santa

If you’re looking for a unique take on Santa, make plans to attend the Breakfast with Historic Santa event, held at the Old Manassas Courthouse. This Santa commemorates one of the original depictions of Santa, illustrated by artist Thomas Nast in 1862. Santa’s uniform resembles the American flag, as Nast drew him giving gifts to U.S. soldiers in their camps near Fredericksburg. During the breakfast, children will have the opportunity to take pictures with this historic Santa, share their wish lists, and make authentic 19th century Christmas decorations to take home. Reservations are required, and the event is $20 for ages six and older and $10 for children younger than five.


Breakfast with Santa at the Founders Inn & Spa—Virginia Beach

Dates: December 9, 10, 16, 17, & 23, 2017

The Founders Inn and Spa Illumination

Founders Inn & Spa goes all out with holiday decorations, illuminating the trees outside in twinkling lights. Head inside for the Breakfast with Santa, where children can take pictures with Santa in front of a 32-foot tall, gorgeously decorated Christmas tree. Enjoy breakfast at the Swan Terrace Grill, followed by fun holiday entertainment, including a balloon artist and face painting at no extra fee. The inn also offers a Santa Slumber Party on select dates, complete with a personalized letter from Santa and turndown service with milk and cookies. Reservations are required; breakfast is $29.95 per person.


Salamander Resort & Spa Brunch with Santa—Middleburg

Dates: December 9, 16, & 23, 2017

Salamander Resort & Spa

Visit with Santa and his elves while enjoying a huge brunch spread at Salamander Resort & Spa’s Winter Wonderland. The resort transforms their expansive ballroom into Santa’s Workshop for the season, where you can make your own holiday keepsake at their design station. And of course, there will be photo opportunities with Santa himself for the kids and the whole family.


Where do you take your kids to get pictures with Santa during the holidays? Share a few suggestions in the comments below!

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8 Stress-Free Thanksgiving Getaways (with Turkey!)

8 Stress-Free Thanksgiving Getaways (with Turkey!)


Thanksgiving is almost upon us, and with this family-focused holiday comes a lot of extra responsibilities, from the panic of cooking for more than a dozen people to the seemingly never-ending cleaning to make the house presentable. This year, consider skipping the stress of prepping for Thanksgiving and instead using the long break as a relaxing getaway. Whether you are dreaming of a romantic vacation for two or a full family feast without any of the cooking and cleaning, there is a Virginia Thanksgiving getaway for you!


Cooper’s Landing Inn Decadent Thanksgiving Feast—Clarksville

coopers landing fall thanksgiving

Reserve seats for the Thanksgiving Feast at Cooper’s Landing Inn, or book their special Thanksgiving package for the complete holiday getaway. This seasonal special includes two nights stay at the inn with homemade pumpkin bread and warm apple cider upon arrival, a complimentary bottle of chilled wine in your room, breakfast both mornings, and the four-course Thanksgiving meal for two. The Thanksgiving dinner is only $20 for kids and $45 for adults, while the full Thanksgiving package starts at $440.

Book Now


Thanksgiving Dinner at Belle Grove Plantation—King George

Eat your Thanksgiving dinner at Belle Grove Plantation, a historic plantation home that dates to 1790. The bed and breakfast decorates for the occasion with tasteful table settings and elegant Thanksgiving touches, and the menu includes all your favorite holiday dishes like turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, deviled eggs, mashed potatoes, French green beans, sweet potato soufflé, and several pies for dessert. Tickets for the event are $60 per person and must be purchased before November 11th. While the website does not allow for booking online for a Thanksgiving getaway, rooms may still be available to book for a complete stay; call to check availability.

Get Tickets


Thanksgiving on the Mountain at Wintergreen Resort—Wintergreen

Thanksgiving at Wintergreen resort

Plan a stay at Wintergreen Resort over Thanksgiving for a customizable getaway filled with endless activities. Bring the entire family to stay in one of the resort condos where you can get an entire turkey delivered, as well as all the seasonal sides and desserts you could possibly want. Looking for a smaller, more romantic retreat? Book a room at the Mountain Inn and eat dinner at one of the resort’s on-site restaurants, which will be serving up classic Thanksgiving dishes all day long. Then, spend Black Friday shopping the Wintergreen Ski Swap, where you can get new and used equipment at a fraction of the price while also supporting a good cause; 20% of the proceeds go to supporting the Wintergreen Ski Patrol. Additionally, there are several other events happening at the resort over the course of the weekend, from a Thanksgiving 5K to the annual Wintergreen Grand Illumination.

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Thanksgiving Buffet & Stay at Graves Mountain Lodge—Syria

thanksgiving graves mountain lodge

Stay Wednesday evening at Graves Mountain Lodge and wake up to a wonderful (and effortless!) Thanksgiving meal. The buffet runs most of the day and features delicious seasonal favorites like roast turkey, country ham, fried oysters, and so much more. While the meal is included with an overnight stay, you can also purchase tickets for just the meal at $40 for adults and half price for kids. Schedule horseback rides with the lodge to see the beauty of Graves Mountain and the valley of Syria, or explore on your own with a hike through the mountain trails. Want even more outdoor adventure? Skyline Drive is just 30 minutes away, and the famous Luray Caverns are also within a short drive.

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Traditional Founders Thanksgiving Buffet at the Founders Inn & Spa—Virginia Beach

Virginia’s mountains may be a favorite destination for many during the fall and winter, but the beach offers its own charms during the off-season. Experience the charms of the Virginia coast this Thanksgiving with a trip to Founders Inn & Spa in Virginia Beach. Their award-winning culinary team designs a delicious menu featuring traditional favorites like turkey, stuffing, and Smithfield Ham. Reservations are required for the meal, which runs $49.95 per adult, $24.95 for children five to twelve, and is free for children four and under. Bring the entire family, including your four-legged friends, for an overnight stay as the inn is pet-friendly and even has a fenced dog park on-site. For a truly relaxing Thanksgiving getaway, book a few services in the inn’s luxurious spa.

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Foods & Feasts of Colonial Virginia at Jamestown Settlement—Williamsburg

jamestown thanksgiving

Savor the Thanksgiving holiday at Yorktown’s “Foods & Feasts of Colonial Virginia”, a special event that explores centuries-old cooking and preservation methods. Held at Jamestown Settlement and the American Revolution Museum, this food-focused event starts on Thanksgiving Day and runs to November 25th. You’ll learn how food was gathered, preserved, and prepared by both the Indigenous peoples and the early English Colonists at the Jamestown Settlement, then head to the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown to discover how Revolutionary War soldiers and civilians prepared their food from the rations supplied by the farms around Virginia.

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Thanksgiving Craft Beer & Wine Festival—Tysons

It may not be on Thanksgiving day, but fans of Virginia’s adult beverages will love the Thanksgiving Craft Beer & Wine Festival in Northern Virginia, held on Saturday, November 25th from 1pm-6pm at the Tysons’ Biergarten. This pet-friendly event brings together a wide array of breweries and wineries, featuring over 50 Virginia craft beers and wines for you to sample, as well as live music performances, seasonal foods, contests, games for the kids, and giveaways.

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Homestyle Thanksgiving Day Lunch at Natural Bridge Historic Hotel—Natural Bridge

The Natural Bridge Hotel & Conference Center

Pack up the family and head to the Natural Bridge Historic Hotel for a Homestyle Thanksgiving Day Lunch. The seasonal menu includes an array of both seasonal favorites and unique Virginia dishes, like a Brandy Sugar Pumpkin Bisque with Baby Shrimp, Southern Fried Tom Turkey, Cornbread and Oyster Stuffed Trout Fillet, and Cinnamon Apple Cake. Reservations are required for this event, which costs $29.95 for adults, $14 for children under twelve, and free for children younger than five.

Book Now



Check out all the events and special Thanksgiving packages here.


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Raise Your Spirits at These 8 Virginia Distilleries

Raise Your Spirits at These 8 Virginia Distilleries

Va Distillery Company copper stills

Virginia is still quite young in its distilling efforts compared to many other parts of the world, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t produced some world-class products. There are more than 20 distilleries that offer tours around the Commonwealth, and with relaxed tasting laws and renewed interest in local spirits, that number will almost certainly continue going up. Learn about the history of the distilling process, tour the grounds, and sample some of the resulting spirits when you visit one of these eight Virginia distilleries.



Virginia Distillery Company

Photo Credit Tom Daly

Opened in 2011, Virginia Distillery Company began as a passion project for native Irishman Dr. George Moore, who wanted to bring the secrets of Irish distilling to Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Today, his son, Gareth Moore, helms the venture, producing Single Malt Whisky as well as cask-finished Virginia-Highland Whisky. The newly opened Visitors Center is all about old-world luxury; the exterior looks more like an elegant Virginia farmhouse than a business, and leather chairs arranged around the stone fireplace inside provide a comfortable place to sip on smooth whisky. Head to the bar to taste a few of their specialty seasonal cocktails, made using products sourced from local farmers and businesses, then take a tour of the facility to learn about the origins of Single Malt Whisky and how it is made.



Although the vodka has been in production since 2004, Cirrus Vodka only recently opened their Richmond tasting room, allowing visitors to taste the namesake product that has won numerous medals in prestigious competitions. A tour of the facility gives you an up-close look at their state-of-the-art steel and copper still, and after you’ve seen how they make it, head back out to the tasting room where professional bartenders will whip up a few craft cocktail examples using the potato-based vodka. The Cirrus Vodka tasting room is conveniently located, just around the corner from Richmond staples like Buzz & Ned’s and Hardywood Brewery.



Mount Vernon Distillery

Located on the Mount Vernon estate, George Washington’s Distillery & Gristmill sat vacant for almost 200 years, but with a renewed interest in the art of distilling, the property was able to reconstruct the original site and produce spirits once again. The historic location is the only North American distillery that demonstrates 18th century techniques for distilling, showing visitors the entire process from the grains to the barrel. Period interpreters bring the distillery to life with guided tours, highlighting Washington’s vision for America’s future in the world of distilling.



During Prohibition, the Bondurant Brothers were notorious moonshine runners in Franklin County, Virginia, with their feats immortalized in the 2012 Hollywood film “Lawless”. Eighty years later, the grandson of Jack Bondurant took over the family business in a legal capacity, opening Bondurant Brothers Distillery to allow outsiders to taste what made his grandfather’s moonshine so timeless. Learn about how moonshine is made, hear the legendary story of the Bondurant Brothers, and taste some of their famous moonshine when you visit the Chase City distillery.



Copper Fox Distillery

Copper Fox Distillery opened in Sperryville in January 2005, followed by a second Williamsburg location that opened in 2016. The distillery is primarily known for their small batch whisky, but they also produce gin and a few other specialty whisky products. They are open daily, with free tours of the property available on the half hour during business hours, and tastings consist of your choice of four products for a small fee.



A small-batch distillery in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Southwest Virginia, Davis Valley Distillery uses locally-grown grains and fruits in their process, producing an array of spirits including vodka, moonshine, and whisky. Their fruit moonshines provide a taste of the South, with flavors like apple pie, cherry, peach, and strawberry. The distillery is the second business for the owners of Davis Valley Winery and Vineyard, located just next door, so you can tour and taste both in a single day.



Chesapeake Bay Distillery

 Photo Credit David Uhrin, Courtesy of Coastal Virginia Magazine

Opened in 2005, Chesapeake Bay Distillery creates rum and vodka products, like their spicy Ghost Pepper Vodka. The combined distillery and tasting room is just a few blocks from the oceanfront in the ViBe Creative District of Virginia Beach, with tons of restaurants and shops within walking distance. The tasting room is open select hours Wednesday through Sunday, and visit the distillery on Saturdays between 12pm and 4pm for a tour that will teach you how their spirits are made.



A. Smith Bowman Distillery

From still to bottle, A. Smith Bowman Distillery in Fredericksburg walks you through the barrel-aging bourbon process. In addition to a spirits museum, the distillery offer complimentary tours on the hour and are open Monday through Saturday. During your tour, you’ll learn all about A. Smith Bowman, a farmer in the 1930s that decided to use excess grains to start a distillery after Prohibition was repealed. His family has continued the tradition over several generations, and the results speak for themselves, with Whisky Magazine naming two of their products as the best bourbons in the world.


Looking for more distilleries to visit in Virginia? Find tasting rooms in every corner of the state that produce whisky, vodka, gin, and more.

Find More Virginia Distilleries


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Virginia’s Historic Train Depots: Part 2

Virginia’s Historic Train Depots: Part 2


**This is Part 2 of a series, focusing on the Northern and Southern regions of Virginia.**

While train depots were once the busiest, most important structures in a community, the development of highway infrastructure and the growth of the airline industry made the once-imperative railroad hubs almost irrelevant. But rather than tear them down, many communities chose to revitalize their train depots, turning them into museums, restaurants, and visitor’s centers. Stop by one of these fifteen train depots in the northern and southern Virginia regions to see local history preserved.



Orange Visitor Center/Train Station

Built in 1909-1910 in the Colonial Revival style, the Historic Orange Train Station stood as a passenger depot until the service stopped in the early 1970s. The train terminal was renovated in 1997, becoming the home of the Orange County Department of Tourism and Visitors Bureau.



The Appomattox Train Depot somehow survived the Battle of Appomattox Station, which occurred the day before the official end of the Civil War, but was destroyed by a fire in 1889. The townspeople erected a replacement, but bad luck struck again in 1923, as the structure once again burned. However, the current depot was constructed immediately after, and when the depot shut down for good, builders were able to salvage the brick, wrought iron, and wood of the 1923 version, turning it into the Appomattox Visitor Information Center.



Historic Farmville Train Station

Farmville’s Historical Train Station was built in 1903, serving the Norfolk and Western Railway passenger trains until 1971. After four years vacant, the depot was restored and reopened, but once again faced closure in 1979, effectively ending rail service to Farmville. Today, the station functions as a meetings and gatherings space bookable by the public, while the original rail line was turned into High Bridge Trail State Park, a rails-to-trails cycling route.



The original Beaverdam Depot was first destroyed by the Union army during the early years of the Civil War, but it would be rebuilt and destroyed several more times before the end of the war. The present structure was erected in 1866, with ongoing restoration aiming at preserving this historic structure. Currently, it is both a historical monument and a venue for small events.



Culpeper Amtrak Station

The first Culpeper Depot was constructed in 1874, but like many wooden structures of the time, it burned down in 1903, and was replaced by the current structure a year later. In 1985, Norfolk and Southern Railroad requested permission to demolish part of the building, but a historic committee worked to save and renovate this historic building. Finally completed in 2003, the historic train depot now houses the Culpeper Tourism Office and Visitors Center, the Department of Tourism, and the Culpeper Museum, as well as offering Amtrak passenger services several times a day to big destinations like Boston, New York City, and Philadelphia.



The first Bavarian Chef opened in 1974 in Madison, and after more than 35 years in the restaurant business, the owners added a second location, restoring the historic Fredericksburg train station into a charming restaurant in 2010. The depot’s structure was built by the Richmond, Fredericksburg, and Potomac Railroad in 1910 to replace the original ground level station house, and the renovations done by the restaurant a century later restored the beautiful building to its former glory.



South Hill Model Railroad Museum

The Virginia S. Evans Doll Museum, South Hill Model Railroad Museum, and the South Hill Tourism Information Center are all housed in the former train depot. The centerpiece of the railroad museum is the Atlantic & Danville Model Railroad, a scale model of the trains and town circa 1950, showing the route between Lawrenceville to Clarksville. Guests will find dining, shopping, and event information on South Hill, Lake Gaston, Kerr Lake, Mecklenburg, and more in the tourism center.



Restored and opened as an 800-square-foot meeting space for private and community events in 2010, the Bealeton Train Depot was built by the Southern Railway Company in 1905. The depot functioned as a railroad hub for the region until the 1950s, with countless people traveling through the station on their way to and from Washington, D.C.




Once a train depot for Northern Virginia, Claire’s at the Depot is now a popular upscale restaurant that locals love to frequent. Many beautiful elements hint at the structure’s origins as a turn-of-the-century train station, including the stunning wood arches inside the restaurant.



Built in 1892, the Bassett Train Depot became the hub of downtown life for the community. It was destroyed by a fire in 1922 but rebuilt afterwards, remaining an active train depot until 1957. Today, the Historic Bassett Train Depot serves as a Community Market each Thursday during the spring and summer seasons, and also holds special events and festivals throughout the year. The town is currently working on renovations to restore the train depot, preserving this historical structure as a monument to the forgotten days of bustling train travel.



Manassas train station.

Built in 1914, the historic Manassas Railroad Depot now houses the Manassas Visitor’s Center and the James and Marion Payne Railroad Heritage Gallery. Additionally, the tracks are still used by Amtrak and the Virginia Railway Express commuter trains for routes to Washington, D.C. and a few other select cities.



The Herndon Depot Museum was established by the Herndon Historical Society to hold railroad and town memorabilia, artifacts, and history, including the story of Commander Williams Lewis Herndon, for whom the town was named, as well as artifacts from the U.S.S. Herndon destroyer from World War II. The building dates back to the 1850s and served as a train station in the dairy community until 1968. Today, you can stop by the museum as you travel along the Washington & Old Dominion Trail, a 45-mile long rail-to-trail paved pathway frequented by cyclers and runners.



Off route 20 in Orange County, the Historic Montpelier Train Station is a century-old depot that was converted into the Montpelier Station post office. The Montpelier Foundation renovated the train station yet again in 2008, and in 2010, the historic depot became home to a new James Madison’s Montpelier exhibit, “The Montpelier Train Depot: In the Time of Segregation”.



Purcellville Train Station

Located in the downtown business district, the Purcellville Train Station was built by Southern Railway in 1904 before changing ownership and becoming part of the Washington & Old Dominion Railroad. The entire train depot was closed down in 1968, but passenger service ceased years before in 1951. The structure was restored by the Purcellville Preservation Association in 2002, and today acts as a museum, a rest area along the Washington & Old Dominion Trail, and a public meetings space.



Virginia’s rail lines played a pivotal role in the Civil War, transporting soldiers, carrying wounded men, and supplying food and goods to the camps. The Fairfax Station Railroad Museum, first erected as a train station in 1854, displays Civil War artifacts and shares stories based around the Orange and Alexandria Railroad Line. The depot was also significant in historic for another reason: Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross, began working to improve humanitarian efforts at the site.




This is Part 2 in the Historic Virginia Train Depot Series. Read Part 1 and stay tuned for Part 3!

About FunRVA

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Nine Virginia Wineries to Add Flavor to your Event

Nine Virginia Wineries to Add Flavor to your Event

With nearly 300 wineries scattered across seven different American Viticultural Areas throughout the Commonwealth, Virginia is the 5th largest wine producing region in the U.S.

From the Shenandoah Valley’s mountainside estates to the lush vineyards surrounding Charlottesville and the sprawling rows of vines of Loudoun County that stretch from the border of West Virginia to Washington, D.C., you’ll want to raise a glass of Virginia wine at your next reception.

Many wineries have fantastic indoor and outdoor spaces perfect for a meeting or event. Below is just a sampling of Virginia wineries across the state with indoor meeting space for 20 or more people.


Barboursville Vineyards, Orange

Framed by the magnificent Blue Ridge Mountains, this 900-acre plantation features elegant dinner seating for up to 140 at Palladio Restaurant or a beautifully manicured meadow for 500. A full list of amenities and services is available to compose meetings, receptions and parties your guests will certainly remember. Attendees can also stay at their 1804 Inn and surrounding cottages. Read more.

– Barboursville Vineyards –


West Wind Farm Vineyard and Winery, Max Meadows

Settled in the scenic Blue Ridge Mountains, West Wind Winery can accommodate groups (motorcoaches) of 50 people traveling by Motorcoach as well as corporate gatherings, meetings or social events of 10 to 150 and outdoor events. Their private farmlike setting allows guests to get away from the distractions that might be found in a restaurant or conference facility. For groups large and small, special tours and tastings are also available. Specialty themed Wine Pairing dinners are also available by reservation. Read more.


Veritas Vineyards & Winery, Afton

Also surrounded by breathtaking views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Veritas Vineyards and Winery, along with their expansive grounds, allows you the opportunity and flexibility to create the event of your dreams. Whether you prefer an intimate sit down dinner in the Mezzanine or a full blown celebration in Saddleback Hall, Veritas can accommodate your event. Read more.

– Veritas Vineyards & Winery –


Ducard Vineyards, Etlan

With amazing scenery and great service Ducard Vineyards provides the perfect atmosphere for creative thinking, productivity and rewarding your staff. Along with indoor meeting seating for 40, there are also extensive stream-side patios for breakouts, relaxation and lunch. There are also options for private group wine tasting and tours or experiential learning and team building out in the vineyard. Read more.


Crosskeys Vineyards and Winery, Rockingham

From an early breakfast meeting or an intimate client dinner to a large company party of 200, CrossKeys Vineyards are perfect for every type of event. Take in the breathtaking landscape of the Blue Ridge Mountains while enjoying on-site catering and Virginia-grown wine. Read more.

– CrossKeys Vineyards and Winery –


New Kent Winery, New Kent

With their gorgeous, naturally beautiful setting and delicious wines, it is no wonder that the Vineyard Estate at New Kent Winery is an enormously popular venue for special events. They have various different event spaces that make it the ideal event venue for corporate events, formal dinners, banquets, or employee appreciation parties. They can flexibly accommodate many visions and budgets, from small elaborate themed dinners to large corporate meetings. Read more.


Delfosse Vineyards and Winery, Faber

For meetings and events of all kinds, DelFosse Vineyards and Winery is an ideal setting. Their 1,000 square-foot log cabin can accommodate up to 40 and their pavilion with tent can accommodate up to 250. Spaning over 330 acres, the area will eventually include five miles of hiking and biking trails, a functional spring for the bottling of spring water, and historically preserved buildings for additional meeting activities. Read more.

– Delfosse Vineyards and Winery –


Ingleside Vineyards, Oak Grove

Located on the highest ridge of Virginia’s historic Northern Neck peninsula, Ingleside grows over 50 acres of vines and produces nearly 20 different wines. Their private facilities are equipped to handle up to 150 guests. Packages are available that include a pavilion with indoor/outdoor seating, museum for corporate events and meetings, European-style courtyard with fountain and more. Read more.


Greenhill Winery and Vineyards, Loudoun

Greenhill is the foremost boutique destination winery in Loudoun County, delivering quality wine, with friendly and professional staff in a breathtaking Virginia Wine Country environment. Experience 100% Virginia wine in an authentic farm winery setting. Their 1762 Club House can accommodate up to 60 people indoors, 75 for a seated dinner or up to 100 when using the green spaces for a cocktail reception. Their tasting room and barrel room can accommodate up to 100 seated as well as many other areas for smaller events. Read more.


See more:

Wineries with Event Space, Part 1

Unique Meeting Venues

Virginia is for Wine Lovers

About FunRVA

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Plan an Adrenaline-Packed Getaway to Breaks Interstate Park

Plan an Adrenaline-Packed Getaway to Breaks Interstate Park

Breaks Interstate Park

Far out in the beautiful wilderness of Southwest Virginia, Breaks Interstate Park is one of the best-kept secrets in America. The park is one of only two Interstate Parks in the nation, sharing a border with Kentucky, and is made up of 4,500 acres of mountain landscape. This incredible canyon spans over five miles and reaches a depth of over 1,600 feet, making it the largest canyon east of the Mississippi and earning it the nickname the “Grand Canyon of the South”. While the park is an important part of Virginia history, scenery, and preserved lands, it has also become well-known for another aspect: extreme sports and adventure activities. Discover why Breaks Interstate Park and the surrounding region draws thousands upon thousands of visitors each year to take on the challenges that the mountains and rivers present.



Breaks Interstate Park

The name “Breaks” came from the break in Pine Mountain created by the Russell Fork of the Big Sandy River as it carved a gorge towards the Ohio River. During weekends in October, water is released from the John Flannagan Dam and Reservoir that feeds into the river, creating Class Five plus rapids on the Russell Fork through the Gorge and drawing extreme whitewater seekers to take on the rapids. One extreme 75-foot stretch of whitewater, called “El Horrendo” by the locals and brave kayakers that face the rushing water, is considered one of the most difficult in the East.

In addition to these extreme rapids weekends, the Big Sandy River brings visitors all year to kayak, raft, boat, and fish out on the waters.



The latest addition to Breaks Interstate Park, the Canyon Rim Zipline features three sections of zip line over the canyon that give you a spectacular view of the mountains, foliage, and the river below. The zipline tours are available Thursday-Monday as weather allows. Guests must be between 70 pounds and 250 pounds to ride the ziplines.



Spearhead Trails

One of the latest draws to Southwest Virginia are the Spearhead Trails, rugged ATV terrain trails that winds through hundreds of miles of mountainous landscape. The closest trails to Breaks are the Ridgeview Trail System in Haysi and the Coal Canyon Trail System in Grundy. Combined, these two sections make up over 100 miles of trails for ATV, dirt bike, and mountain bike riders. Don’t have your own ATV?  Southern Gap Outdoor Adventure in Grundy provides side-by-side ATV rentals for visitors looking to explore the trails, as well as offering elk viewing tours and rental cabins.



Breaks Interstate Park has over 12 miles of mountain biking trails ranging from moderate to difficult that offer breathtaking scenery. For avid cyclers, the Trans-America Bike Route also passes through the park, following Route 80 through Dickenson and Russell Counties, then continuing east all the way to the Chesapeake Bay. You’ll cycle through intense mountain routes, ride on part of the iconic Blue Ridge Parkway, then continue through plantations and farmlands to the Virginia coast.




A few miles from Breaks, Birch Knob Tower rises from the mountains, sitting over 3,000 above sea level and offering views of five states from the top on a clear day.



Elk used to wander the rolling hills of Southwest Virginia freely, but in the 20th century, the population disappeared from the region. Local government and wildlife experts teamed up a few years ago to re-introduce the species to the mountains, and today, visitors can book elk tours through both Breaks Interstate Park and Southern Gap Outdoor Adventures to see the herds as they graze on the pristine lands.



Breaks Interstate Park, Overlook Trail

Over 25 miles of hiking trails of varying difficulty levels circle Breaks Interstate Park, but you can also find countless miles of trails in other parts of Southwest Virginia.



Rock climbing is prevalent in the rugged terrain of Southwest Virginia, and Breaks Interstate Park will soon be opening their own rock climbing courses, most of them suited for expert-level climbers.



Breaks Interstate Park cabins

If you are traveling with family or a group, book a stay at the Breaks Interstate Park Luxury Cabins, which are outfitted with a gas fireplace, washer/dryers, a full kitchen, and three bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms. For smaller parties or private rooms, the Breaks Park Rhododendron Lodge provides more traditional hotel accommodations.


Breaks Interstate Park

Experience both wild beauty and endless thrills when you travel to Breaks Interstate Park in Southwest Virginia.



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Big Concerts Coming to Virginia in November

Big Concerts Coming to Virginia in November

There’s a great amount of music coming to Virginia in November. From major country acts to the biggest names in rock and pop, catch your favorite artists and discover new ones all over the Commonwealth.


Over at Virginia’s many live music venues:

The National in Richmond will be bringing a number of big name artists throughout the month. The venue will be hosting Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox (Nov. 9), Yonder Mountain String Band (Nov. 18), Walk the Moon (Nov. 21), Keller Williams Thanksforgrassgiving (Nov. 24), Dark Star Orchestra (Nov. 30) and others.

The Broadberry will be hosting acts like Blitzen Trapper (Nov. 4), Kishi Bashi (Nov. 7), MAX (Nov. 10) and a 3-day celebration with J. Roddy Walston and the Business (Nov. 24-26).

Bob Dylan will perform at the Richmond Coliseum on Nov. 10 while Xscape along with Monica and Tamar Braxton will be there on Nov. 22. Over at the Altria Theater, John Prine and the Beach Boys will be performing Nov. 11 and Nov. 12, respectively.

The Beacon Theatre in Hopewell will host LeAnn Rimes on Nov. 8 and Rhonda Vincent on Nov. 11.

In Charlottesville, the Jefferson Theater will hosts artists like Carbon Leaf (Nov. 3), Hackensaw Boys (Nov. 24), Angel Olsen (Nov. 28) and more.

The NorVa in Norfolk will be bringing in Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox (Nov. 8), The Maine (Nov. 11), Bone Thungs-N-Harmony (Nov. 24), X Ambassadors (Nov. 28), Bleachers (Nov. 29), Kip Moore (Nov. 30) and many others.

The legendary Ringo Starr and his All-Star Band will be at Old Dominion University’s Constant Center on Nov. 12.

The Berglund Center in Roanoke will have Alabama performing on Nov. 2 and the Salem Civic Center will host the Justin Moore on Nov. 16.

At Wolf Trap National Park for Performing Arts in Vienna, shows will include Justin Townes Earle (Nov. 15), David Crosby and Friends (Nov. 28 & 29), Loudon Wainwright III (Nov. 30) and more.

Delbert McClinton will play at Alexandria music hall The Birchmere on Nov. 3. Also on the Birchmere’s schedule are Pat McGee Band (Nov. 4), Lyle Lovett and John Hiatt (Nov. 15 & 16) and more.

Todd Rundgren will play at the State Theatre in Falls Church on Nov. 28.


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


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12 Cozy Cottage & Cabin Rentals for an Iconic Fall Getaway

12 Cozy Cottage & Cabin Rentals for an Iconic Fall Getaway

montfair cabin

There is nothing more appealing once the weather turns cold than a weekend getaway in a cozy cabin. Whether you’re looking for a peaceful mountain retreat or a quiet coastal cottage, Virginia’s got the perfect place for you. Check out these 12 cottages and cabins that offer all the comforts and amenities you need to create a memorable fall experience in Virginia.



montfair resort farm cottages

Montfair Resort Farm has eight eco-friendly cottages available for guests, all overlooking a small mountain lake in Albemarle County. Just 15 minutes from Charlottesville, the property is convenient to a wide array of travel destinations, including dozens of wineries and breweries, historic sites like Monticello, and the world-famous Shenandoah National Park. Hiking trails wind through the estate’s woodlands, open fields, and three ponds, and you’ll spot a variety of wildlife during your treks through the property. The two bedroom, pet-friendly cottages sleep up to six guests, with a pull-out couch in the living room suitable for kids. Two canoes, kid’s bicycles, and adult mountain bikes are available for your use during a stay at the farm’s cottages.



A getaway location with impressive views and serene surroundings, Yona Mountain Lodge is a three bedroom, four bathroom cabin with endless entertainment for the whole family (even the four-legged family members, as the cabin is pet-friendly). A recreation room is a prime spot for the kids to hang out, with a pool table, foosball, ping-pong, and darts. Adults will enjoy the two stone fireplaces, a wrap-around covered porch with a hot tub, and a screened-in porch off the master bedroom that provides privacy along with gorgeous scenery.



rustic river cabin

On the Shenandoah River, the Rustic River Cabin is warm and inviting, with a gas fireplace in the living room and an enclosed sunroom overlooking the scenic waters below. For days that aren’t too cool, an upper level balcony provides an additional view of the river, and outdoor activities like hiking and fishing are still popular, even during the fall and winter months. A hot tub on the deck and a fire pit in the yard below provide outdoor respites from the chilly air. The cabin is pet-friendly, allowing you to bring along your four-legged friends for a fall Virginia adventure.



The Riverside View cabin is a 900 square-foot mountain retreat nestled in the small town of Damascus. With the Appalachian Trail running through the center of the town and the Virginia Creeper Trail just a few blocks away, the small two-bedroom cabin is ideal for outdoor enthusiasts. If the weather permits, spend some time on the balcony to enjoy the scenic beauty of the Laurel River, which runs along the property.



Built in the 1930s, the Fishel Cottage has since been renovated with all the modern amenities you would expect for a relaxing getaway. The pet-friendly log cabin sleeps up to six, with a queen bedroom, fold-out sleeper sofa, and a twin bed in the back room for kids. An enclosed back porch offers a comfortable place to unwind with a beautiful backdrop, and on cool nights, light a fire in the brick fireplace to keep warm. The rental is within walking distance of the Virginia Museum of Natural History, along with plenty of walking trails for hiking through the surrounding countryside.



hawthorn cottage

Coastal Virginia is a popular summer vacation spot, but the off-season frequently means you’ll get cheaper rates and less crowded beaches. The Hawthorn Cottage is a three bedroom, one-and-a half-bath rental located in the small yet charming town of Colonial Beach in Virginia’s Northern Neck. Only a block from the waterfront, the cottage is within walking distance of the town’s restaurants, shops, and fishing pier. Rent a golf cart during your stay to tour this peaceful community like the locals.



River Woods Retreat sits on six acres of wooded property at the base of Massanutten Mountain, with the Shenandoah River running below. The retreat has three bedrooms, two full bathrooms, and one half-bath, accommodating groups of up to six people. With Massanutten Resort right around the corner, the rental attracts many skiiers and snowboarders during the winter season, but in the fall, hiking and mountain biking trails are open for outdoor enthusiasts to explore the mountainside, as well as several zip lines that showcase the incredible views of the fall foliage below. Spend the cool evenings warming up by the fire pit, and wake up in the morning to the idyllic sounds of nature on the cabin’s outdoor deck. Two stone gas fireplaces inside the home will keep things cozy as the weather turns chilly, and a luxuriously large bathroom with a Jacuzzi tub, gas fireplace, and walk-in shower will have everyone in your group vying for the expansive master suite.



A two bedroom, two bath rental that sleeps up to four people, the Meadow View Cabin is six miles from Historic Downtown Lexington off of a private country lane. The panoramic window wall affords pastoral views of the scenic landscape outside, and the wooden wraparound deck is a great place for a cup of coffee first thing in the morning.



natural retreats Anastasia cottage

Natural Retreats Anastasia Cottage is only a few minutes from several notable destinations, including Douthat State Park, the Waterwheel Restaurant, and the historic Omni Homestead Resort. The log cabin was built around 1840 and while the antique logs and woodwork have been carefully preserved, the interior has been updated with period antiques and modern amenities. Up to five people can comfortably stay in the cabin, with two queen, one full, and one twin bed, but there are also an additional two sleeper sofas in the cottage. A fireplace and a screened-in patio create a comfortable setting for cool or inclement weather.



The Ferry Creek Guest House is a three bedroom, one bathroom cottage decorated in a nautical theme to reflect the coastal elements of the nearby Chesapeake Bay. Take a short drive to popular historic sites like Colonial Williamsburg, the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, and the Jamestown Settlement, spend the day fishing on the Rappahannock River, or just enjoy the peace and quiet of this small bayside cottage.


COTTAGES AT THE MILL AT FINE CREEK—POWHATANcottages at the mill at fine creek

If you’re looking for a picturesque retreat just outside of Richmond, rent the Cottages at the Mill at Fine Creek in Powhatan, located twenty minutes outside the capital city. These thirteen cottages are individually designed and decorated; there are seven one-bedroom, five two-bedroom, and one three-bedroom layouts, making the cabins ideal for family and group retreats, although they also rent out single units if available. Rustic chic country décor furnishes each cottage, connected by a series of walking trails between manicured yards and mulched gardens. Guests receive complimentary breakfast each morning at the on-site General Store.



Handcrafted by the owner using wood from his own sawmill just down the road, Papa Bear’s River Cabin accommodates up to eight people. The wooded acres of the property sit along the Shenandoah River in the Blue Ridge Mountains, making it an ideal getaway site for outdoor enthusiasts looking to fish and hike in Virginia’s mountains. This three bedroom, two bathroom cabin has an outdoor fire put with hand-hewn log chairs and a six-person hot tub on the patio, as well as a gas log fireplace inside the house. In addition to the outdoor activities available on-site, the house is minutes away from Luray Caverns, Shenandoah National Park, and the Blue Ridge Whiskey Wine Loop, featuring more than ten wineries, distilleries, and cideries.




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15 Easy But Rewarding Hikes in Virginia

15 Easy But Rewarding Hikes in Virginia

Do you have that itch to get outdoors, to stretch your legs in a scenic setting? Virginia can scratch that itch. Loaded with easy but rewarding hiking trails from the mountains to the sea, here in Virginia you can take friends and family on a hike of 2 miles or less and reap wonderful rewards, whether it is a mountain panorama, a crashing waterfall, historic sight, a lakeside vista or remote beach walk. After the hike enhance your experience by exploring nearby outdoor (and indoor) attractions, dining and overnighting options, whether it is camping under the stars or slipping between the sheets of a hotel, B&B or lodge. Make the most of your precious time. Spend it in Virginia.



Nearest Town: Henrico

Hike Distance: 1.6-mile loop

Why Go There: Walk the long boardwalk through wetland

What You Need to Know: Take your time here, watching for wildlife while traversing the wetlands.

Trailhead GPS Coordinates: 37.32203, -77.35486

The confluence of Ashton Creek and the Appomattox River make an ideal hike setting. Your hike first drops off a bluff using steps then cruises a boardwalk with a great wetland view. Once at Ashton Creek Marsh, a long boardwalk avails a firsthand look at this wetland. The hike then saddles alongside the Appomattox River where the trail overlooks the Appomattox River and Cobb Island standing across from it. This hike does have a few hills as it roller coasters along a river bluff.

 After the Hike: Have a picnic after returning to the trailhead. Visit Petersburg National Battlefield, site of the longest siege in the Civil War. Eat at River’s Bend Grill. Check out the trails at Dutch Gap Conservation Area. Visit Henricus Fort and Indian Village.



Nearest Town: Martinsville

Hike Distance: 1.0-mile loop

Why Go There: Enjoy a quiet preserve along the Smith River

What You Need to Know: This park is known for its thick stands of blooming rhododendron.

Trailhead GPS Coordinates: 36.61068, -79.81743

Take a highlight-rich walk through this nature preserve along the Smith River. Enjoy a mix of natural beauty and history on the Jones Cliff Trail, which you follow for the 1.0-mile loop. The path visits stops by a pair of tobacco curing barns, reflecting the former use of the land. Cruise through woods. Take the Rhododendron Trail to the Smith River. Enjoy the river shoals amid evergreens of rhododendron and mountain laurel. Returning to the Jones Cliff Trail you will pass by the Burgess Cemetery, where the former landowners are interred. If you want to extend your hike a bit take the River View Trail for another look at the Smith River.

 After the Hike: Visit the Martinsville Speedway. Do your own racing at the Martinsville Grand Prix Go-Karts. Check out the Virginia Museum of Natural History. Eat at Clarence’s Steak & Seafood House. Camp at Indian Heritage RV Park.



Nearest Town: Cripple Creek

Hike Distance: 2.0 miles in two short walks from same trailhead

Why Go There: See Raven Cliff Furnace

What You Need to Know: The national forest recreation area also features a quiet campground.

Trailhead GPS Coordinates: 36.83655, -81.06323

This two part walk combines the natural beauty of Virginia’s highlands with its primitive industrial past. The setting is majestic Raven Cliff, rising high in the clear Cripple Creek valley of the Jefferson National Forest. Enjoy two short trails from a nice picnic area and campground. Walk up pretty Cripple Creek on the Raven Cliff Furnace Trail, then reach a still-intact iron ore smelter. Backtrack to the trailhead, and join the Raven Cliff Trail. Walk an old railroad grade, gaining more stream views, and passing through a blasted bluff. Finally, descend to Cripple Creek and a ford, then backtrack to the trailhead.

 After the Hike: Fish Cripple Creek for smallmouth bass. Camp at Raven Cliff Campground. Paddle the New River. Bicycle the New River Trail. Visit West Wind Farm Vineyard & Winery.



Nearest Town: Smithfield

Hike Distance: 1.8-mile loop

Why Go There: Views of tidal creek accessed via flat, manicured trails

What You Need to Know: The well-kept park offers kayak/canoe launch, picnic area, bike trail and a fishing pier

Trailhead GPS Coordinates: 36.97687, -76.62745

Windsor Castle Park

Set near the confluence of Cypress Creek and Little Creek, this relatively new riverside park offer 3.8 miles of level, graveled, hiker-only trails and many other activities on a former plantation first established in 1637. A recommended loop hike leaves the main parking area, crosses Jericho Road, aiming for Cypress Creek. Reach an overlook above the marsh. Cruise through woods along Cypress Creek. After that, turn up Little Creek, crossing a long boardwalk over wetlands before closing the loop. Check out the historic buildings and the manor house post hike.

After the Hike: Hit the beach at nearby Boykin Park on the James River. Paddle your kayak from the launch at Windsor Park. Visit the Smithfield Historic District. Dine at the Taste of Smithfield Restaurant.



Nearest Town: Dumfries

Hike Distance: 1.6-mile loop

Why Go There: The Lee’s Woods Trail may have more history per foot than any other trail in Virginia.

What You Need to Know: Leesylvania State Park offers much to do at the trailhead. Have a picnic, walk along the river. Head out to the fishing pier to see what is biting. Launch your boat and motor or paddle the shoreline.

Trailhead GPS Coordinates: 38.59113, -77.24834

This hike travels hills above the tidal Potomac River. Pick up the Lee’s Woods Trail then leave the scenic shore to climb to Freestone Point and a Civil War battery featuring a stellar view of the river and beyond. From there, visit the site of Fairfax, a home from the early 1800s. More woodland winding leads up to the historic Henry Lee homesite, Leesylvania, dating back to before the United States was a country. Pass the Lee home garden and cemetery amid more hilly mature forest, then return to the riverside picnic area.

After the Hike: Take a scenic drive through Prince William Forest Park. Kayak the tidal Potomac River. Grab some barbeque at Smokin’ Looney BBQ.



Nearest Town: Stanardsville

Hike Distance: 2.0-mile there-and-back

Why Go There: Lesser visited highlight at Shenandoah National Park

What You Need to Know: Be watchful, trailhead is easy to miss. Many other park attractions are nearby.

Trailhead GPS Coordinates: 38.41379, -78.48932

This is a short and easy hike at Shenandoah National Park, doable by the whole family. Leave Skyline Drive on the wide and easy Pocosin Fire Road (closed to public vehicles) and explore the ruins of the Pocosin Mission, where a brave Episcopal minister attempted to save the souls of surrounding mountaineers. Explore the ruins of the mission and other nearby signs of habitation, including a cemetery. If you want to expand your hike head down Pocosin Hollow, passing many old-growth trees on your way down to a tumbling watercourse, where you’ll find a nice spot to picnic or relax. Alternatively, you can take a stroll on an adjacent parcel of the Appalachian Trail to enjoy a view from a rocky slope.

After the Hike: Hike to South River Falls or have a picnic at South River Picnic Area. Take a cruise along Skyline Drive. Overnight at Lewis Mountain Campground. Fill up at Sombrero’s Mexican Cuisine & Café in Stanardsville.



Nearest Town: New Castle

Hike Distance: 1.9-mile out-and-back

Why Go There: Explore a former mining community and the wildlife rich wetlands.

What You Need to Know: This is an easy walk, fun for all ages.

Trailhead GPS Coordinates: 37.57419, -80.05532

This walk explores natural and cultural history of once was a mining community. Today, a pair of all-access trails visits a pond, wetlands and remnants of the town of Fenwick. Boardwalks enhance the part traversing wetlands. You will also wander down Mill Creek Valley to a scenic waterfall. The spiller tumbles about 15 feet over stair step ledges into a surprisingly large and deep pool, bordered by a stone amphitheater, parts of which are overhanging the stream below.

 After the Hike: Fish the ponds of Fenwick Mines. Have a picnic in the picnic shelter or picnic grounds. The Pines Campground, a national forest facility, is located nearby and offers tent camping sites in Barbours Creek Valley. Grab a meal at the Pine Top Restaurant or Bibos Pizzeria in New Castle.



Nearest Town: Bedford

Hike Distance: 1.5-mile loop

Why Go There: See attractive waterfall and grab a big view from the Blue Ridge Parkway.

What You Need to Know: Start the loop at Wilkerson Gap, at Flat Top Mountain Parking Area, not at Fallingwater Overlook.

Trailhead GPS Coordinates: 37.47294, -79.5802

Hiker relaxes while admiring a lower portion of Fallingwater Cascades

This hike makes a loop to view one of the prettiest waterfalls on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Hike downhill into the rugged canyon of Fallingwater Creek, where boulders and woods lend a rugged aspect. Reach Fallingwater Cascade, a scenic waterfall. Climb out of the geologically rich canyon, soaking in views of mountains down the stream valley before returning to the trailhead.

 After the Hike: Have a glass at Peaks of Otter Winery. Spend the night at Peaks of Otter Lodge. See the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford. Take a drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway.



Nearest Town: Konnarock

Hike Distance: 1.0-mile loop

Why Go There: Circle around high elevation wooded lake

What You Need to Know: The Beartree Lake Trail starts on the north side of the parking area as a paved footpath. Do not confuse this with the Beartree Gap Trail, which starts on the south side of the parking area as a dirt path.

Trailhead GPS Coordinates: 36.65978, -81.68892

This wide, easy path is just one of many attractions at this Mount Rogers National Recreation Area destination. The Beartree Lake Trail encircles the mountain impoundment of Beartree Lake, elevation 3,000 feet, popular with nature lovers, summertime swimmers and year-round with anglers. Short fisherman’s paths descend to the lake while making the loop. Cross a small bridge and pass fishing docks, as well as a canoe/kayak launch. Cruise beside the swim beach—this is the more developed side of the lake. Pass a spur to the Appalachian Trail then cross over the lake dam, completing the loop.

 After the Hike: Kayak around Beartree Lake. Camp at Beartree Lake Campground. Bicycle the Virginia Creeper Trail. Head into Damascus and visit Mount Rogers Outfitters, or eat at Hey Joe’s Tacos.



Nearest Town: Boydton

Hike Distance: 1.3-miles figure eight loop

Why Go There: Walk interpretive trail with overlooks of Roanoke River and Lake Kerr Dam.

What You Need to Know: This trail is located near Lake Kerr Dam, with all sorts of outdoor recreation nearby.

Trailhead GPS Coordinates: 36.59639, -78.29262

Kerr Lake. Justin Kerns Photo.

This hike starts near the dam of mighty 50,000-acre Lake Kerr, aka Buggs Island Lake. The interpretive trail with numbered signs makes a loop from the dam road down to the Roanoke River, where the waterway has been unleashed then flows around Buggs Island. Pass along a channel of the Roanoke River – Buggs Island is just across the channel. The trail then comes to an old cemetery. Later you will come along a rock outcrop once used as a picnic site by 19th century area residents. Climb past an overlook of imposing Lake Kerr Dam before returning to the trailhead.

 After the Hike: After your hike, head to nearby Joseph S. J. Tanner Environmental Education Center and Forest Study Area to learn about the outdoors, plus about more outdoor fun here, such as camping and paddling on Lake Kerr. Visit the Rosemont Vineyards and Winery. Grab a sweet treat at J.B. Jones & Co. Bakery.



Nearest Town: Colchester

Hike Distance: 1.3-mile loop

Why Go There: Make a loop through woods, through wetlands and past a beach.

What You Need to Know: This Virginia state park is known for its wildlife viewing.

Trailhead GPS Coordinates: 38.64246, -77.19906

Mason Neck State Park

It is hard to get lost on the well-marked and maintained Bay View Trail. It leaves the park picnic area begins a circuit. Keep along Belmont Bay, an inlet of the tidal Potomac River. Boardwalks get you across soupy sections as good vistas of Belmont Bay open. After bridging a stream you can take a spur trail to access the beach below. Walk the sand along the bay then resume the Bay View Trail. More boardwalk leads through ecologically significant wetlands. Beyond there you will enter the woods, completing the hike under canopy. If you are looking for more paths, Mason Neck State Park avails about 5 more miles of hiking trails, plus a 3 mile paved trail also open to bicycles.

 After the Hike: Rent a canoe or kayak at the state park to paddle Belmont Bay. Rent a bicycle to ply the park roads and the multi-use trail. Visit nearby George Washington Distillery & Grist Mill. Get a quick meal and a cold one at Cody’s Bar & Grill. Savor some barbeque at Dixie Bones.



Nearest Town: Nassawadox

Hike Distance: 2.0-mile there-and-back to hike stop #10

Why Go There: Experience a slice of coastal Virginia with varied habitats favorable for avian life.

What You Need to Know: Until purchased by the Nature Conservancy the land had been in the hands of one family for over 300 years.

Trailhead GPS Coordinates: 37.46976, -75.83466

Explore Virginia’s Eastern Shore on the interpretive Birding & Wildlife Trail at this 1,000-acre Nature Conservancy property. Open to the public, the path leaves the trailhead on the fringe of coastal marshes, then into woods, including pine-hardwood forest. Pass by fields, wetlands then reach a pond. Watch for birds here. Ahead, the trail crosses a boardwalk. A nearby screen house makes a good wildlife blind. Your final stop leads to an observation deck with a view of marshlands dotted with wooded islands. If you want to extend your hike make the loop that skirts by a tidal creek.

 After the Hike: Park your RV at Virginia Landing RV Campground or overnight at the Holiday Inn Express in Exmore. Grab some seafood at the Seaside Grill. Enjoy a throwback food experience at the Exmore Diner.



Nearest Town: Lebanon

Hike Distance: 2.0-mile there and back

Why Go There: To see Big Falls and the hike the suspension bridge

What You Need to Know: A short spur trail leads to Spring Falls.

Trailhead GPS Coordinates: 36.95356, -82.05475

Fishing at Pinnacle Natural Area Preserve, Big Cedar Creek

State Natural Area is a geological and aquatic wonderment of Southwest Virginia. A hike here is well worth your time. From the trailhead you walk a long suspension bridge over Cedar Creek, a Virginia state scenic river, then follow along the creek, making for a modest walk amidst rugged geology. Big Falls is a stream-wide stair step waterfall sure to impress, more through its width than height of 12 feet. Additional trails, including the quarter-mile spur to Spring Falls, add more possibilities to this back-of-beyond hike amid impressive biodiversity.

 After the Hike: Want more of the great outdoors? Head to the Great Channels of Virginia, another geologically fascinating place with knockout views. Canoe or kayak the Clinch River. Eat at the Stone Cellar in Lebanon.



Nearest Town: Cumberland

Hike Distance: 1.8-mile loop

Why Go There: Enjoy lakeside and woodland walking at quiet state park

What You Need to Know: The park is located inside the greater 16,000-acre Cumberland State Forest

Trailhead GPS Coordinates: 37.52692, -78.27573

Bear Creek Lake State Park

I recommend the well signed and well maintained Channel Cat Loop here at Bear Creek Lake State Park, encircled in the great Cumberland State Forest. The Channel Cat Loop first cruises along Bear Creek Lake past many of the park facilities, including the fishing pier, swim beach and campground, then loops into the “back 40”, where you immerse in deep woods. In addition to walking along Bear Creek Lake you will also encounter some small streams amid the pines and hardwoods before circling back to Bear Creek Lake.

After the Hike: Bicycle the 14-mile Cumberland Multi-Use Trail or the rail trail of High Bridge State Park. Camp at Bear Creek Lake State Park. Dine at the Cumberland Restaurant in Cumberland.



Nearest Town: Fluvanna

Hike Distance: 2-mile loop

Why Go There: Explore a network of trails along the Rivanna River.

What You Need to Know: Download the park map before starting your hike for the best experience.

Trailhead GPS Coordinates: 37.85949, -78.26959

Pleasant Grove Park near Fluvanna County comprises over 800 acres along the Rivanna River. Once the farm of a local country squire, the land is now laced with over 20 miles of trails. So where to hike? I recommend starting at Trailhead Drive and making a loop with the River Anne Trail, Sandy Beach Trail, River Bluff Trail and Heritage Trail. This way you get a taste of the varied environments of the park — open fields, pine-oak forests, riverside, sandbar, uplands and wooded hillsides. Having the park trail map will help you not bite off more trail than you can chew.

 After the Hike: Hit the First Run Café, very close to the trailhead. Canoe or kayak the James River. Bike the Cumberland Multi-Use Trail in Cumberland State Forest. Visit historic Charlottesville.



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Four Trip Ideas For Your Next Wine Tasting Weekend

Four Trip Ideas For Your Next Wine Tasting Weekend

October is the perfect month to celebrate Virginia wines. Lucky for us there’s still plenty of time to celebrate Virginia Wine month at some of the best wineries in our state. Want to sip and savor the season for yourself? Take a look at these four trips and get some inspiration for your next wine tasting weekend in Virginia.


Virginia Wine Country Travel Guide

Style icon and lifestyle blogger Cathy Anderson of Poor Little It Girl sips and savors her way through Charlottesville wine country using Richmond as her home base. Along the way she visits Early Mountain Vineyards, Jefferson Vineyards, Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards, Barboursville Vineyards and Keswick Vineyards. Read along to see her favorite stops, captured in perfect detail through her beautiful photos.


Where To Sip, Eat And Stay In Virginia’s Wine Country

“If you’re a wine lover and you haven’t visited Virginia’s beautiful wine country, you’re missing out on the fastest growing wine destination in the United States,” according to the food and travel experts at Better Living. Join them on a tour of Middleburg’s favorite places to sip: Boxwood Estate Winery, RdV Vineyards, Delaplane Cellars and Mount Defiance Cidery & Distillery – and don’t miss their insider tips on where to sleep and eat while visiting.


Virginia Is For Wine Lovers

If you’ve ever wanted to bring your pup on a wine date here’s your chance. Follow along as blogger Lara Eurdolian, of Pretty Connected, takes her loveable sidekick, Charlie, to Greenhill Winery, Stone Tower Winery, 868 Estate Winery, 8 Chains North Winery, Chrysalis Vineyards and Cana Vineyards. Find out her favorite dog-friendly spots to explore, sip, dine and stay – all within an hour’s drive of Washington, D.C.


A Spirited Weekend On The Nelson 151 Trail In Virginia

The husband and wife team from Intoxicating World ventured along the Nelson 151 trail to partake in some ‘bottletrotting’ – not only exploring the region’s wine and beer of the region, but learning about its history and culture as well. Their stops included Afton Mountain Vineyards, Veritas Vineyard & WineryCardinal Point Vineyard & Winery, and their recommendations extend beyond vineyards and breweries to other experiences as well.

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Ten Great Kayaking Adventures on Virginia’s Eastern Shore

Ten Great Kayaking Adventures on Virginia’s Eastern Shore

What’s the ideal way to explore the two pristine coastlines of Virginia’s Eastern Shore?

From a kayak.

Burnham Guides.
Burnham Guides.

You’ll feel exactly like John Smith did in 1609 when he arrived in the New World and discovered a remarkable spit of land with the Chesapeake Bay on one side and the Atlantic on the other. No boardwalks or beach rentals three deep here. With one of the most undeveloped coastlines on the East Coast, the wild barrier islands off the Eastern Shore’s coast are the longest stretch remaining on the Atlantic Ocean.

Bring your own kayak or hire an expert outfitter and guide to provide a route, equipment, training, logistics, along with cultural, historical, conservation and ecological insight. Trips can be tailored according to interests, skill level and physical prowess. Click here for a complete list of outfitters when you’re ready to book your kayak adventure.

Courtesy of Visit Eastern Shore, Virginia
Courtesy of Visit Eastern Shore, Virginia

Kayak Winery Tour : On the Paddle Your Glass Off tour you will leave from a working waterfront on the Chesapeake Bay and paddle to award-winning Chatham Vineyards. Taste wine from grapes grown and bottled on a farm that is four centuries old and then paddle back with a bottle of wine tucked away.

Book with SouthEast Expeditions

Overnight on An Island or a Historic Estate : Head out on the Chesapeake Bay, the world’s second-largest estuary, to camp out on a remote island. If you’d like more luxurious digs, kayak right up to Sycamore Bend, a historic waterfront estate for the night, or stay in a B&B in the charming harbor town of Onancock. Add to your adventure with an oyster roast, hang-glide or wine tasting.

Book with Burnham Guides

Courtesy of Visit Eastern Shore, Virginia
Courtesy of Visit Eastern Shore, Virginia

Wildlife & Ecology : The Eastern Shore’s undeveloped coastlines on two sides include the wild barrier islands and provide rich, protected habitats to observe birds and wildlife. Kayak through off-the-beaten-track Harborton Bay, Gargatha Landing and Wachapreague to observe one of nature’s most complex and delicate ecosystems, the coastal wetlands. You’ll never look at the world the same once you spot the tiny, well-disguised eggs of the tiger beetle hiding in plain sight on the open sand.

Book with Bay Country Kayaking

Chincoteague Pony Kayak Trip : Sure, you can see the famous Chincoteague ponieswhen they’re rounded up in the spring or fall, or for the big July swim, but if you know where to look, you can sneak up on them in a kayak. It’s a thrill, especially for fans of Marguerite Henry’s famous Misty of Chincoteague book or movie.

Book with Assateague Explorer or SouthEast Expeditions

Courtesy of Visit Eastern Shore, Virginia
Courtesy of Visit Eastern Shore, Virginia

Overnight at a Waterman’s Watch House : Adventure out to the Atlantic coast of Virginia’s Eastern Shore and overnight in a rustic waterman’s cottage on a deserted barrier island. You’ll feel alone on the planet as the sun goes down and you are blanketed with the night sky and the complete silence. Watermen once used these tiny huts to watch over their oyster beds.

Book with SouthEast Expeditions

Kayak Rocket Launch : See NASA’s Wallops Island rocket launches from a kayak. Wallops Island rockets were first launched from Virginia’s Eastern Shore in 1945 and today, they carry payloads to the International Space Station, and smaller rocket launches are routine. Major nighttime launches are spectacular and can be seen as far north as New York. Check here for rocket launch schedules.

Book with SouthEast Expeditions or Assateague Explorer

Barrier Island Beach Trip : Depart from the tiny seaside fishing village of Wachapreague and head out through the salt marshes and wetlands to a barrier island. Bring a picnic and spend the day hunting for shells, playing in the Atlantic Ocean and lounging on a deserted beach.

Book with DayTrippers

Courtesy of Visit Eastern Shore, Virginia
Courtesy of Visit Eastern Shore, Virginia

Virginia’s Seaside Water Trail : Kayak a 100-mile-long sea trail with 37 mapped routes that starts at the Eastern Shore of Virginia National Wildlife Refuge on the south end of the peninsula. Paddle along the Atlantic Coast all the way to Greenbackville on the Virginia Maryland state line. You can do this as a self-guided tour using a map or hire a guide.

Book with Burnham Guides or Plan a Self-Guided Adventure

Watch Sunset or Sunrise From a Kayak : The compelling sunsets and sunrises of Virginia’s Eastern Shore are magnificent no matter where you are, but they’re especially compelling when you’re sitting quietly in a kayak.

Book with Any Outfitter

Kayak Clamming or Oyster Tour : Pull an oyster or a clam right from the water, shuck it and slurp it down. These delicious shellfish grow both in the wild and with help from local aqua farmers on both the bay and ocean sides of Virginia’s Eastern Shore. The region produces most of the clams raised on the East Coast, and the oysters, decimated in the 1980s, are making a strong comeback.

Book with Any Outfitter

You may also like :

Originally written by Visit Eastern Shore VA.

Featured image provided by Courtesy of Visit Eastern Shore, Virginia

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10 Restaurants That Serve Virginia’s Fall Flavors

10 Restaurants That Serve Virginia’s Fall Flavors


With the arrival of fall in Virginia comes the mouthwatering flavors that you look forward to each year…butternut squash, crisp apples, and perfectly ripe ears of corn. You can find this Virginia produce in local markets, but if you want to sample these fall flavors properly, head to one of these ten upscale restaurants located around the Commonwealth. Their menus offer creative recipes that utilize locally sourced fall ingredients to create unforgettable flavors of the season that you’re sure to love.




If you’re looking for seasonally driven southern cuisine with a modern twist in or around Staunton, make reservations at Zynodoa Restaurant, a community staple helmed by Executive Chef Travis Terry. The restaurant’s fall menu changes frequently, using fresh ingredients supplied by local farmers mere hours before the restaurant opens each day. Order from the a la carte menu, or for a truly memorable dining experience, sample the four-course chef tasting menu, complete with optional wine pairings.

—Fall Sample Menu Items Include—

Wayside Produce creamy broccoli & Mountain View Lusk soup with roasted broccoli
Autumn Olive Farm slow-roasted pork with a cabbage, apple, & broccoli slaw, sweet potato puree, shaved chestnuts, and Showalter’s apple cider reduction
Pan-seared yellowfin tuna with Malcolm’s Market grilled melon, blistered shishito peppers, and a preserved lemon & basil aioli
Polyface Farm citrus molasses-brined chicken breast with Malcolm’s Market kale, roasted cauliflower, Am Fog oyster mushrooms, buttermilk mashed potatoes, red wine jus

See Full Fall Sample Menu



Trummer’s on Main may be less than 30 miles from the cityscape of Washington, D.C., but the restaurant makes use of Virginia’s strong agricultural community, serving creative American cuisine with fresh, local ingredients. Executive Chef Jon Cropf and Pastry Chef Meagan Tighe team up in the kitchen to craft a delicious fall menu, and don’t miss complementing your meal with a recommendation from house Sommelier Diana Roderique, whose knowledge of the over 8,000 bottle wine cellar results in impeccable pairings.

—Fall Sample Menu Items Include—

Sungold tomato gazpacho with lump crap, poached shrimp, sweet corn, and rye
Chestnut polenta with roasted mushrooms, mascarpone, and cracked pepper
Chesapeake rockrish with sweet corn succotash, cornmeal dusted okra, and pancetta
Dry-aged duck with quinoa, turnip, and apple

See Full Fall Menu




Try a fine selection of Virginia’s fall flavors when you order off the contemporary American menu at Terrapin Restaurant in Virginia Beach. The modern but classic restaurant works with local community farmers and purveyors to source only the freshest ingredients, and then owner and Chef Rodney Einhorn transforms them into unforgettable dishes. With a menu that changes daily, Chef Einhorn is able to craft impressive seasonal fare that stays true to his motto: Keep it local, fresh, and sustainable. Check the restaurant’s website for the latest recipes behind their dishes, currently a Butternut Squash & Sweet Potato Bisque.

—Fall Sample Menu Items Include—

Curried sweet potato soup
Crispy skin Maple Leaf Farms duck breast, field peas, bacon, local green beans, roasted radishes, celery, pickled spring onions
Miso honey-glazed wild caught Pacific halibut, French horn mushrooms, peas, charred leeks, ginger carrot broth and chive oil
Autumn crumble with apple filling, cranberry compote butter crumb, cinnamon vanilla ice cream, coral tuiles

See Full Fall Menu



the roosevelt

The Roosevelt celebrates the food of the South with their own unconventional twists, infusing classic Virginia dishes with flavors that will surprise and delight. Residing in Richmond’s historic Church Hill neighborhood, the restaurant is run by Chef and co-owner Lee Gregory, a nominee for the impressive James Beard culinary awards. His belief in Virginia’s rich lands goes further than the food, which is evident when you see the restaurant’s all-Virginia wine list, a hearty roster of regional beers, and first-rate craft cocktail concoctions made with local products.

—Fall Menu Items Include—

Celery root soup with bacon and chives
Roasted beet salad with greens, pear, ricotta, toasted pistachio, and mustard vinaigrette
Sauteed trout with cauliflower puree, sunchoke almondine, and salsa verder
Seared scallops with lentils, braised endive, pearl onion, and bacon vinaigrette
Roasted rockfish with farro, beech mushrooms, squash, and mushroom broth

See Full Fall Menu



Executive Chef Bertrand Chemel creates exceptional cuisine at 2941 Restaurant, blending his French roots with modern American fare. On the shores of Fairview Lake, the restaurant has waterfront views from almost every seat in the house, providing diners with peacefully scenic ambience while they dine on some of the finest fall flavors available in Northern Virginia. Make reservations for their special Spice Dinner, held on October 22, 2017, and enjoy a seasonally-focused meal created by Chef Chemel and Lior Lev Sercarz, a friend of the chef and a famous spice master based in New York City. Their fall spice-infused tasting menu will showcase rare spice blends for an once-in-a-lifetime meal experience.

—Fall Menu Items Include—

Spiced corn ravioli
Grilled venison loin with savoy, cabbage, turnips
Roasted duck breast with black barley, caramelized onion, and roasted cherries
Empire apple with a Chardonnay poached apple. Walnut soil, apple cider cremeux, and walnut ice cream

See Full Fall Menu



While Chateau Morrisette is a well-known winery in Southwest Virginia, their restaurant should not be overlooked. Open for both lunch and dinner, you’ll find fall flavors dominate their seasonal menu, from turkey and cranberry dishes to plates prepared with apples picked from a local orchard. Of course, with the restaurant’s relation to the on-site winery, you can expect fantastic wine options to go with your autumn meal.

—Fall Menu Items Include—

Turkey on a croissant with melted brie, cranberry shallot chutney, shaved estate onions, and baby spinach
Matt’s garden salad with shaved squashes and radishes, cucumber, and baby heirloom tomatoes
Roasted estate-grown beet salad with orange crusted French bleu cheese and a walnut vinaigrette
Osso buco with grilled broccolini, sweet potato gnocchi, blood orange gremolata, and a roasted Virginia apple demi-glace
Cardamom fig glazed duck breast, forest mushroom risotto, haricot vert, and veal fumet

See Full Fall Menu



vintage restaurant inn at willow grove

Located within the luxurious Inn at Willow Grove, Vintage Restaurant is a Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Rated restaurant, serving up gourmet regional farm-to-table food in a world-class setting. Along with a menu that changes with the season to reflect fresh farm and field ingredients, the upscale dining destination features an award-winning wine list with over 100 vintages from around the world, including picks from the nearby Monticello Wine Trail.

—Fall Menu Items Include—

Butternut squash potstickers, with red curry, toasted cashew, and finger lime
Southern-style buttermilk fried quail with parsnip puree and orange maple glaze
The vegetarian state fair, a pastrami style tofu corndog, potato & chive funnel cake, spaghetti squash & black trumpet mushrooms
Grilled filet of beef with gruyere cheese, caramelized onions, Lyonnaise potatoes, asparagus & horseradish apple butter

See Full Fall Menu



The local restaurant

As you would guess from the name, The Local is all about sourcing and supporting their Eastern Shore community. Chef and owner Jason Van Marter works with farms on the Shore to use local ingredients in his ever-changing menu, and in addition to the food, he displays artwork from local artisans on the restaurant walls, further supporting the namesake of the restaurant.

—Fall Sample Menu Items Include—

Pumpkin seed-crusted Virginia flounder, daikon salad, red curry crème
Sous vide black angus flat iron steak, braised red cabbage, sweet chili soy glaze
House-made white bean hummus, herb goat cheese, roasted tomatoes and garlic, toasted pumpkin seeds, truffle naan, balsamic reduction

See Fall Sample Menus



the shack

Under owner and Chef Ian Boden, The Shack has become synonymous with providing high-quality food with as little pretense as possible. The restaurant is small but cozy, using communal seating at large tables to create an inclusive atmosphere. In the lush lands of the Shenandoah Valley, Chef Boden relies on local farmers to support his seasonally-based menu. On Wednesdays and Thursdays, the Shack offers an a la carte menu, but on Fridays and Saturdays, the restaurant switches to a set prix fixe menu, with three standard courses and the option to make it a four-course meal.

—Fall Sample Menu Items Include—

Roast delicata squash with heirloom apples, Asher blue cheese, and brown butter vinaigrette
Kilt salad with fall greens, zucchini, bacon preserved ramps, and pork schmaltz
Ricotta pansotti with roast cherry tomatoes, heirloom pepper puree, and parmigiana reggiano
Salt & pepper pork sausage with roasted radish and turnips, butternut squash pierogi, and apple puree
Chocolate cremeux with sweet corn ice cream, whey caramel, peanuts, and oats

See Daily Fall Menus



joshua wilton house fall food

Located in downtown Harrisonburg in an historic Victorian inn, Joshua Wilton House Restaurant changes their menu daily according to the seasonal fare provided by local purveyors. They offer weekly specials like a Date Night Tuesday ($35 per person for two courses and a shared dessert) and Wilton Wednesday (any appetizer with a beverage option for $14), allowing you to sample some of the finest dining in the city without breaking your bank.

—Fall Sample Menu Items Include—

Braised pork belly with carrot orange puree, caramel apple, and turner ham prosciutto
Polyface Farms chicken chowder with corn, potatoes, chives, and bacon
Venison with vanilla parsnip puree, braised cabbage, and blueberry gastrique
Duck breast with sweet potato, bacon, kale, peanuts, brandy green peppercorn cream
Filet mignon with potato gratin, asparagus, and red wine jus

See Fall Sample Menu


Got more suggestions for where to savor fall flavors? Share your favorite restaurant with seasonal menus below!


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Virginia’s Eastern Shore for Budget-Minded Travelers

Virginia’s Eastern Shore for Budget-Minded Travelers

Watch the sun set over the Chesapeake Bay. Bottle of wine optional. Courtesy of Visit Eastern Shore, Virginia
Watch the sun set over the Chesapeake Bay. Bottle of wine optional.
Courtesy of Visit Eastern Shore, Virginia

Walk on a deserted beach or cheer on the Chincoteague ponies at the annual Pony Swim. Kayak along Virginia’s Seaside Water Trail or study the night skies. Watch a decoy carver, cheer on a boat docking competition, listen to a concert in a 17th century church or hike through a maritime forest. On Virginia’s Eastern Shore, the best things in life really are free.


Visit dozens of artists, artisans and agri-artisans from Chincoteague in the north to Cape Charles in the south, and everywhere in between. Grab a map anywhere you see the Artisan Trail sign or download one here, and you’ve got a passport to studios, theaters, vineyards and organic farms down long country roads and in small walkable towns. You’ll meet the people who live, work and create artisan food and wine, fine art, pottery, rugs, wearable art, decoys, furniture and mosaics, and sometimes, get in on the action. The Artisan Trail will lead you to museums, live music and theater, hotels, inns and B&Bs, seafood shacks and elegant bistros on the water and out on the water to explore two coastlines.

Pristine, wild coastlines are just hours from New York City. Courtesy of Visit Eastern Shore, Virginia
Pristine, wild coastlines are just hours from New York City.
Courtesy of Visit Eastern Shore, Virginia


Four of the six public beaches on Virginia’s Eastern Shore are free.

Free On the Chesapeake Bay

  • The Cape Charles beach is just steps from the town center.
  • Savage Neck’s gorgeous wild beach has a moderate hike to reach it. You can park at the trailhead.
  • Tangier Island’s beach is on a tiny island off the coast of the Eastern Shore. Take a ferry out of Onancock, or fly into the island’s landing strip. Walk to the beach or rent a golf cart or bicycle.

Free On the Atlantic

There’s no charge to play all day on the wild barrier islands that hug the coast of Virginia’s Eastern Shore for 70 miles. You will, however, need a boat or kayak to get there. Either bring your own and launch out of a free public boat ramp on the Atlantic side or hire an outfitter. Either way, you’ll end up on an uninhabited island that will make you feel like the first person to land in the New World.

Public Beaches With Fees

  • The 36-mile Assateague Island National Seashore on the Atlantic Ocean begins on Virginia’s Eastern Shore in Chincoteague and stretches into Maryland.
  • Kiptopeke State Park, one of Virginia’s most popular destinations, perches right on the Chesapeake Bay, has campsites, cabins, a yurt and a fishing pier.


  • Nine campgrounds on Virginia’s Eastern Shore are all right on the water or very near to it, and have a range of amenities like fishing piers, cabins, swimming pools, restaurants, stores and horseback riding. The campgrounds are on both the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean coastlines.
  • Rent a house right on the beach and bring your family and friends. Vacation rentals are a less expensive way for groups of family and friends to travel. You can cook at “home” and save the cost of eating out. Shop local farmer’s markets, seafood grocers, gourmet markets or just throw a line off a local (free) fishing pier.
An oyster shucker stands in front of an enormous pile of shells. Courtesy of Visit Eastern Shore, Virginia
An oyster shucker stands in front of an enormous pile of shells.
Courtesy of Visit Eastern Shore, Virginia


Virginia’s Eastern Shore dates to 1607 so there is lots to learn about its history. Nine small museums here are almost all free except for a few with very small admission fees (donations are welcome!) The agricultural and seafood industries, life on the water and the railroad shaped the region’s culture. The free NASA Wallops Visitor Center tells the story of America’s first rocket launch on Virginia’s Eastern Shore at Wallops Island in 1945. Today Wallops Island is a major spaceport launching resupply missions to the International Space Station. There are dozens of historic sites to see, too, all free, like the country’s oldest courthouse records in Eastville, the debtor’s prison in Accomac and the Timothy Hill House in Chincoteague.

Wildlife finds sanctuary in the protected wild habitats of Virginia’s Eastern Shore. Courtesy of Visit Eastern Shore, Virginia
Wildlife finds sanctuary in the protected wild habitats of Virginia’s Eastern Shore.
Courtesy of Visit Eastern Shore, Virginia


Virginia’s Eastern Shore, one of the world’s most important bird migratory flyovers, is one of the most preserved regions on America’s East Coast, with more than 78,000 acres of parks, natural areas, preserves, national seashores and refuges. Entrance to most of this wild land and coastline is free. The Eastern Shore Wildlife Refuge near Cape Charles is free. Kiptopeke State Park and Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge/ Assateague Island National Seashore near Chincoteague have entrance fees.

Enjoy a day on the water on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. Courtesy of Visit Eastern Shore, Virginia
Enjoy a day on the water on Virginia’s Eastern Shore.
Courtesy of Visit Eastern Shore, Virginia


Virginia’s Eastern Shore, a long 70-mile peninsula, has two coastlines: the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the world’s second largest estuary, the Chesapeake Bay, on the other. It’s one of the best spots in America for fishing, boating and kayaking. Bring your own boat or kayak and head to any of 40+ free, public boat ramps, on both the Atlantic Ocean and the Chesapeake Bay. Local captains and kayak outfitters can provide equipment and guided adventures for a fee. Fishing piers on Virginia’s Eastern Shore are free and some town piers have “blanket” fishing licenses so you can even dodge that expense.

The July Chincoteague Pony Penning draws people from around the world. Courtesy of Visit Eastern Shore, Virginia
The July Chincoteague Pony Penning draws people from around the world.
Courtesy of Visit Eastern Shore, Virginia


The Virginia Eastern Shore calendar is chock full of free events, like the annual July Pony Swim in Chincoteague, a St. Patrick’s Day parade in Onancock, open mike night at the Machipongo Clam Shack and an award-winning movie at the Barrier Island Center. Take in a star party or a model rocket launch at the NASA Wallops Island Visitor Center, which has year-round family programs. Check this comprehensive events page for details.

You may also like : – Annual Fests for Foodies, Virginia’s Eastern ShoreHow to See the Chincoteague Ponies Year RoundNine Charming Small Museums on VA’s Eastern Shore

Originally written by Visit Eastern Shore VA.

Featured image provided by Courtesy of Visit Eastern Shore, Virginia

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About FunRVA

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LGBT Friendly Festivals & Events in Virginia this Fall

LGBT Friendly Festivals & Events in Virginia this Fall

Don’t miss these LGBT Friendly events and festivals this fall all across the state. From oyster roasts and food festivals to seasonal craft beverage releases and Halloween events, there’s something for everyone to enjoy!


Oysterfest at North Gate Vineyard – Loudoun

Save the Date: October 14, 2017

Take a drive outside of D.C. for OysterFest at North Gate Vineyard! Nomini Bay Oyster Ranch will be serving up both raw and charbroiled oysters, oyster chowder and shrimp or chicken salad sliders paired with Rkatsiteli or Viognier. Our Lite Fare menu will also be available. Free admission and live music with Pete Lapp from 2-5pm.


Annual Party at Kindred Pointe – Mount Jackson

Save the Date: October 15, 2017

Gather with friends and family under the new pavilion at The Winery at Kindred Pointe for the 4th annual Party at The Pointe with live music, complimentary food pairings prepared by Paje Cross and Triplett Tech Culinary, and food for sale by Happenings Catering. Girl Meets Boy and Robbie Limon will be performing.


Bold Rock Fall Foliage Fest and Seasonal Cider Release Party – Nellysford

Save the Date: October 21, 2017

Bold Rock Cidery is open daily for tours, tastings and cider to-go. Virginia Tourism Corporation, www.Virginia.org

Head south of Charlottesville to Bold Rock’s Second Annual Fall Foliage Festival and Seasonal Cider Release Party. Admission is free and family/pet friendly. Activities will include live music all afternoon, hay rides, apple bobbing and crushing, pumpkin carving, plus a variety of additional fall themed fun and delicious food from Morsel Compass and Moe’s Original BBQ-Charlottesville!

More Charlottesville area events this fall:


Fire, Flour & Fork – Richmond

Save the Date: November 2-5, 2017

Fire, Flour & Fork is a four-day culinary event, organized by Real Richmond Food Tours, celebrating the best the Richmond region has to offer: its complex history, its rich artistic community and its established and rising culinary stars. Virginia Tourism Corporation, www.Virginia.org

Food lovers flock to the annual Fire, Flour & Fork, a four-day culinary event, organized by Real Richmond Food Tours and celebrating the best the Richmond region has to offer: its complex history, its rich artistic community and its established and rising culinary stars. What to expect: a highly curated mix of dining events, demonstrations, talks, tours, food producers, cookbook authors, visiting chefs with Virginia ties, culinary historians and craft spirit makers. There will be multiple brunches and dinners at Richmond restaurants pairing our chefs with friends and mentors from out-of-town and large scale events every day.

More Richmond area events this fall:


Taste by the Bay – Irvington

Save the Date: November 18, 2017

Tides Inn Taste By The Bay Irvington

Photo Credit: Joanna Marchetti

Tides Inn hosts the highly anticipated Taste by the Bay: Wine, Food, Arts and Ale for its fifth year, bringing together samplings from Virginia wineries, Virginia craft brews, tastings from local restaurants, live music, maritime attractions, and- just in time for the holiday shopping season- a variety of artisan vendors. Wineries and restaurants alike will be offering tastings, as well as the option to purchase some local favorites!

More Coastal Virginia events this fall:


For more upcoming LGBT Friendly events in Virginia, visit Virginia.org/LGBT.

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Shenandoah County’s 5 Best Hikes for Fall Foliage

Shenandoah County’s 5 Best Hikes for Fall Foliage

The Shenandoah Valley is known for its spectacular display of fall foliage and Shenandoah County is no exception. Home to 178 miles of trails making their way through lush National Forest, hiking is one of the best ways to experience the spectacular colors with views of the Shenandoah River and the valley below. Below are a few of our favorite fall hikes to enjoy the splendor of the Valley ablaze with shades of red, orange and yellow.

  1. Buzzard Rock– Buzzard Rock is a relatively easy 4 mile hike offering spectacular vistas from the namesake, Buzzard Rock. Located just east of Fort Valley, this trail offers southern views through Fort Valley and a great vantage point of the nearby fish hatchery. There are also views towards the north towards Winchester and east towards Front Royal.
  2. Signal Knob– Signal Knob is a longer and more difficult 5 mile loop that can be steep and rocky in places but the unobstructed views at over 2000 feet above sea level looking north, east, and west are well worth it. Visitors will quickly discover why this point was used as an observation and signal point for Confederate officers to plan their surprise attack on Union troops during the Civil War at the Battle of Cedar Creek.
  3. Big Schloss– This trail often tops our list of best hikes in the Shenandoah Valley for its unique vantage point of the Valley from rock outcrops along the Virginia, West Virginia border and fall is no exception. Although the first quarter mile is steep, the trail levels out and continues along flat rocks just over a wooden bridge. No hiking lover’s trip to the Valley is complete without a visit to Big Schloss.
  4. Massanutten Story Book Trail– This easy, paved, handicap accessible trail is less than a half a mile but offers spectacular views looking east into Page Valley and south towards Rockingham County. Perfect for families with small children looking to stretch their legs and experience nature.
  5. Veach Gap– Beach Gap is a more secluded and relatively easy hike with a gradual ascent through Veach Gap offering a beautiful overlook at the trail’s high point. Early risers can take in great views from the third overlook of the sunrise over Shenandoah National Park.

Originally written by Shenandoah County.

Featured image provided by Courtesy of Shenandoah County Tourism

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Biking with Kids: 12 Family-Friendly Cycling Trails

Biking with Kids: 12 Family-Friendly Cycling Trails

Family biking is an ideal way to spend quality time together. Virginia offers a vast array of family biking venues that take you through deep forests, among the mountains, along the shore and through the city. What fun it is to cruise a friendly pathway or rail trail on your bike, family in tow! Revel in the breeze while pedaling your way through resplendent Virginia scenery. After your adventure, gather the crew for a meal or perhaps visit some other nearby attractions, making the most of your family time. Read on then make plans for your Virginia family biking adventure.



Nearest Town: Virginia Beach

Bicycle Rental: Yes

Trailhead Parking Coordinates: 36.85946, -75.97725

Virginia Beach Boardwalk

The Ride: The Virginia Beach Boardwalk is a 3-mile long one-way path that runs astride the shoreline of vibrant Virginia Beach. The main path is 28 feet wide to accommodate crowds but the boardwalk has a separate parallel path for bicyclers. It’s fun to cruise the margin dividing sand and sea from the hotels, restaurants and action that is Virginia Beach. You’ve got to get your picture taken in front of the 24-foot high statue of Neptune. Check out the other nautical sculptures. Not only are bike rentals offered but you can actually join guided bike tour of the boardwalk and adjacent areas.

After the Ride: Check out the Virginia Beach Surf & Rescue Museum. Cast a line at the Virginia Beach fishing pier. Head to Atlantic Fun Park for Go-kart rides and more. Engage in some oceanfront dining at Johnny Mañana’s Boardwalk Cafe and Tequileria.



Nearest Town: La Crosse

Bicycle Rental: No

Trailhead Parking Coordinates: 36.69682, -78.09349

Tobacco Heritage Trail

The Ride: The Tobacco Heritage Trail is a converted rail trail stretching east-west through small towns, serene farms and rolling woods. Slated to stretch over 40 miles between Chase City and Lawrenceville, the ever-expanding path has some excellent completed segments for you to enjoy. Start your adventure at the large parking area in La Crosse, located just off I-85, then head east on the rail trail into woods and farms. Roll into Brodnax after 4 miles. From there you can backtrack or continue through the small town. Beyond Brodnax, the trail travels 8 miles through lush woods along Evans Creek to the hamlet of Charlie Hope.

After the Ride: Hike or see the history at Occoneechee State Park. Camp at North Bend Campground on Lake Kerr Reservoir, aka Buggs Island Lake. Devour some home style eats at The Hungry Farmer or the Horseshoe Restaurant in South Hill.



Nearest Town: Piney River

Bicycle Rental: No

Trailhead Parking Coordinates: 37.70821, -79.02304

The Ride: This 6.5-mile one-way gem of a trail was once a spur rail lines linking to a rock quarry. The abandoned track was later converted into the rail trail it is today, and is an under the radar rail trail in Virginia. The path starts near the hamlet of Piney River, at the Piney River Depot. It traverses down the Piney River valley for 4 miles to meet the Tye River. The gravel path then continues for a couple of miles along the Tye to the community of Tye River. Turn around and backtrack.

Crabtree Falls

After the Ride: Drive the Blue Ridge Parkway. Hike Mount Pleasant Scenic Area with its fantastic views. Visit Crabtree Falls. Eat at Ann’s Family Restaurant. Visit James River State Park.



Nearest Town: Danville

Bicycle Rental: Yes

Trailhead Parking Coordinates: 36.57429, -79.37452

Scenes Along the Dan River in Danville

The Ride: The paved Riverwalk Trail presents 9 miles of paved pathway on a trail network that continues to grow. Start out at relaxing Dan Daniel Park, then pick up the paved path running alongside the Dan River in the heart of Danville. You can travel in either direction. Heading northwest, upstream along the Dan, you will pass several bridges crossing the river to downtown. Reach an overlook near the Union Street Bridge after a couple of miles. The trail continues upriver and is being expanded. Leaving the Dan Daniel Park in the other direction, downriver, it is less than two miles to Anglers Park, where a paved track leaves the Dan River north through pleasant woods, intermingled with mountain bike trails. The main Riverwalk continues east beyond along the Dan River, reaching a turnaround.

After the Ride: Take the family on a learning mission at the Danville Science Center. Eat at Me’s Burgers & Brews or at the Checkered Pig BBQ and Ribs. Check out the AAF Tank Museum.



Nearest Town: Chesapeake

Bicycle Rental: No

Trailhead Parking Coordinates: 36.68916, -76.35884

The Ride: This level and linear trail runs for 8 miles one way along the historic Dismal Swamp Canal. The ride is anything but dismal as you parallel the wildlife-rich canal. The path – marked every quarter-mile — borders Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge. A pair of restrooms are situated along the route. Get a family portrait taken by the statue of “Chessie” the bear at the trailhead.

Great Dismal Swamp

After the Ride: Head to the Chesapeake Arboretum, admission is free. Grab a meal at La Parrilla Mexican Grill. Visit Blackwater Trading Post on Blackwater Creek. Eat some BBQ and check out the general store, perhaps paddle adjacent Blackwater Creek.



Nearest Town: Roanoke

Bicycle Rental: Yes

Trailhead Parking Coordinates: 37.26328, -79.95727

Roanoke Valley Greenways

The Ride: Start at the east end of Wasena Park, where you can rent bikes at nearby Roanoke Mountain Adventures. The Roanoke River Greenways heads west up along the Roanoke River toward Salem. Bridge the Roanoke River 3 times en route to Bridge Street. Heading downriver from Wasena Park, you can pedal until your legs drop, bicycling under Mill Mountain and the Roanoke Star. Continue on to intersect the Tinker Creek Greenway, about 5 miles one way from Wasena Park. The Tinker Creek Greenway ends at Falcon Park.

After the Ride: Enjoy the outside seating at the Green Goat eatery. Canoe or kayak the Roanoke River. Soak in the view from the Roanoke Star at mountaintop Mill Mountain Park. Grab a pie at Grace’s Place Pizzeria.



Nearest Town: Draper

Bicycle Rental: Yes

Trailhead Parking Coordinates: 36.9993, -80.74213

New River Trail State Park

The Ride: Draper is conveniently located off I-81 and you can rent bicycles near the trailhead at The Junction, part of Draper Mercantile. The New River Trail stretches 57 miles on a scenic rail corridor, much of it along the New River. I have pedaled this entire path numerous times and proclaim it a Virginia trail treasure. The path is crushed stone. From Draper you can roll southwest to come along the New River after a couple of miles. Pass over a few bridges and trestle. It is 4 miles one way to the Hiwassee Bridge and another 2.5 miles to Allisonia. Heading northeast from Draper you can pedal your way 4 miles to Dora Junction in Pulaski.

After the Ride: Nearby Claytor Lake State Park features camping, hiking and lake fun. Head over to see the critters at Fort Chiswell Animal Park. Visit and dine at The Mansion at Fort Chiswell.



Nearest Town: Lynchburg

Bicycle Rental: Yes

Trailhead Parking Coordinates: 37.41046, -79.13517


The Ride: Lynchburg’s Riverwalk Trail follows the James River past Percival’s Island Natural Area and downriver for 6 miles in one direction in a decidedly rural experience leading away from Lynchburg. Start your ride on the paved path at Washington and Concord streets, where parking is available and bikes can be rented at Bikes Unlimited. From this trailhead you can also follow the Riverwalk Trail upriver through the heart of Lynchburg then join the paved Blackwater Creek Trail. Pass through the Hollins Mill Tunnel and go 3 miles to end at the Cancer Awareness Garden. Part of the pedal traverses the Blackwater Creek Natural Area. On your return ride down Blackwater Creek use the paved Point of Honor Trail.

After the Ride: Visit the Point of Honor 1815 Home. Have a ball at the One Way Out Escape Room. Stop at Amazement Square, an updated educational museum with a climbing tower with slides as well as zip lines. Eat at the Depot Grille on the James River. Have a cone at Ice Cream Dream.




Nearest Town: Fairfax Station

Bicycle Rental: No

Trailhead Parking Coordinates: 38.76009, -77.30333

Burke Lake Park

The Ride: Make your nearly 5-mile loop at Burke Lake Park, a fine full facility preserve with a dizzying array of activities in addition to bicycling. Regularly touted as one of the best fitness trails in America, the mostly gravel path circling Burke Lake makes for a fine family bicycle outing. The pathway curves with the curves of the lake, crossing the dam and visiting quiet coves. Additional activities at the park include disc golf, mini-golf, a miniature train, fishing pier, carousel, and ice cream parlor. You can even camp out here and do it all.

After the Ride: In addition to the activities on-site at Burke Lake Park, eat a pizza at Coal Fire. Grab a treat at The Swiss Bakery & Pastry Shop. Paddle a canoe or kayak at nearby Fountainhead Regional Park.



Nearest Town: Abingdon

Bicycle Rental: Yes

Trailhead Parking Coordinates: 36.7092, -81.97147

Virginia Creeper Trail


The Ride: You’ll find some of Virginia’s finest family biking on the Creeper Trail. The 34-mile rail trail stretches from Abingdon in the west through Damascus and into the wilds of Mount Rogers National Recreation Area. The stretch from Abingdon morphs from town to deep woods, fields and farms on a dedicated pea gravel track. Cruise over several trestles to finally reach the magnificent trestle over South Holston Lake 8 miles from Abingdon, making for a 16-mile there-and-back ride.

After the Ride: Shop at Virginia Creeper Fly Fishing. Stay at the historic Martha Washington Hotel. Take in a play at the Barter Theater, the state theater of Virginia. Have a quick bite at Lukes Café.



Nearest Town: Norge

Bicycle Rental: No

Trailhead Parking Coordinates: 37.41234, -76.71394

The Ride: Conveniently located off I-64 east of Richmond, York River State Park presents around 20 miles of trail open to bicyclers. Most of the paths are natural surface but don’t let that deter you, since the park trails are generally not steep. Consider starting on the Backbone Trail, a mostly level track that links to other park paths. The Backbone Trail alone makes a 5-mile there and back, but it is easy to increase your mileage. I recommend adding a short loop including the Whitetail Trail and the Dogwood Lane Trail. There are also specific trails dedicated to mountain biking only in addition to the above trails.

After the Ride: Paddle the York River. Head to Go-Karts Plus for some racing. Have a burger at Jimmy’s Oven and Grill or some ethnic cuisine at Ballalva’s Mexitalian Restaurant.



Nearest Town: RadfordRadford and the New River

Bicycle Rental: Yes

Trailhead Parking Coordinates: 37.13765, -80.57474

The Ride: Radford is located on the big and famous New River. Start your ride at Bisset Park, where bikes are available for rent from Tangent Outfitters. Following the trail upriver, you will leave Bisset Park, making your way on the paved path to Veterans Park and Dudley’s Landing, a wildlife viewing area. Trace a bend in the river and this segment ends after 2 miles. Backtrack two miles to Bisset Park then follow the paved path up Connellys Run. The trail tunnels under West Main Street to enter Wildwood Park. Roam through the greenspace bridging Connellys Run and onward to Wadsworth Street for 3 more miles of out and back bicycling.

After the Ride: Float down the fabulous New River. See a first-run movie at the vintage Radford Theater. Visit the Glencoe Mansion, Museum and Gallery. Eat a Southern-style meal at the River City Grill. Order a pizza from Benny Nicola’s.

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5 Incredible Virginia Winery Experiences

5 Incredible Virginia Winery Experiences

5 Incredible Virginia Winery Experiences

With nearly 300 wineries throughout the state, it’s easy to find an amazing winery experience anywhere in Virginia. Here are five great experiences to get you started!



1. Kayak to a Winery, Machipongo, Virginia

Hop aboard Southeast Expeditions’ “Paddle Your Glass Off” kayak tour on the Eastern Shore. Starting on the banks of Nassawadox Creek, a kayak guide will lead the way on a 45-minute paddle to Chatham Vineyards. Pulling up on the shores of the vineyard, visitors walk right up to the winery and enjoy a tasting of Chatham’s delicious Church Creek wine.



2. Bike to a Winery, Charles City, Virginia

Bring your own bike or rent one to cruise to Upper Shirley Vineyards via the Virginia Capital Trail, a paved bicycle and pedestrian trail connecting Richmond to Williamsburg. Designed for all fitness levels, biking-enthusiasts can start in Richmond and make the 20-mile trek to Upper Shirley Vineyards, while the occasional biker can hop aboard the Cap Trail Bike Shuttle, which allows visitors to choose how far and what part of the trail they want to ride. Once at Upper Shirley Vineyards, sip the delicious wine and enjoy a locally-sourced meal from their on-site restaurant – all while admiring a stunning view of the James River.



3. Party in the Vines, Afton, Virginia

Mark your calendar for the next Starry Nights event at Veritas Vineyard & Winery. On the second Saturday of each month during the summer (June-September), Veritas hosts an outdoor concert on their back lawn. Pack a picnic, bring a lawn chair and enjoy an evening of good wine and great music under the stars.



4. Take the Scenic Route, Floyd, Virginia

Travel along the Blue Ridge Parkway, a relaxing scenic drive with stunning views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Make a pit-stop at Chateau Morrisette Winery for wine-tasting with a view. Known as “the winery dogs built,” Chateau Morrisette is incredibly dog-friendly, welcoming leashed dogs on their grounds and in their tasting room.



5. Plan a Luxury Escape, Loudoun County, Virginia

Sip your way through horse and wine country on your own luxury getaway. Just 25 miles from Washington, D.C., more than 40 wineries dot the rolling hills and scenic landscapes of Loudoun County. Plan a wine tour during the day, then check in to the luxurious Salamander Resort & Spa for spa treatments and fine dining.

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Hiking with Kids: 10 Trails for Beginners in Virginia

Hiking with Kids: 10 Trails for Beginners in Virginia

Seems we’re all pressed for time these days. We know some quality family time is needed. But what is the best way to actually spend time together? How about going on a fun (and easy) family day hike? If that is what you are looking for then Virginia’s got you covered – whether it is strolling along the salty shoreline, heading to a dramatic waterfall or walking to a panoramic overlook. Families can experience the beautiful sights of Virginia together, creating a shared memory – and get some exercise while we’re at it.

Moments as simple as discovering some fascinating bug, or collecting different colored autumn leaves, or maybe having a picnic in the warm sun under a brilliant blue sky can be had on a family day hike. This is the stuff from which family bonds are forged. Read on discover some easy family likes in the beautiful and varied landscapes found only in Virginia.



Nearest Town: Luray

Hike Distance: 3.3-mile loop

Why Go There: Mountaintop overlooks and waterfalls

What You Need to Know: Hike starts in facility-rich Big Meadows area of Shenandoah National Park

GPS Coordinates: 38.51636, -78.44363

Lewis Spring Falls Loop

Bring your smart phone to capture the visual features of this hike that starts high and stays high. Walk the famed Appalachian Trail, climbing to view-laden and geologically rich Blackrock, a stony peak. From there, the hike passes more interesting rock features, then joins the Lewis Falls Trail, leading to a loud and dramatic cataract with its own views near and far.

Lewis Spring Falls is one of the highest elevation falls at Shenandoah National Park. A guardrail guides you the last bit to a rock-walled observation point. Here, you can look down at the 81-foot falls spilling over the rock face crashing into rocks, then splashing out of sight. The distance is very doable, and the elevation changes aren’t overly much.

After the Hike: While here at Shenandoah National Park, explore the other aspects of the greater Big Meadows area, with its park lodge, visitor center, ranger station, picnic area and campground. Even take a guided horseback ride at Skyland, just a few miles down Skyline Drive. 



Nearest Town: Henrico

Hike Distance: 1.3-mile triple loop

Why Go There: Walk along the shores of three small but scenic lakes

What You Need to Know: The park offers a nature center with freshwater aquarium

GPS Coordinates: 37.61817, -77.4309

Combine this short trek with a visit to the elaborate nature center here at Three Lakes Park. The nature center overlooks the middle lake of three impoundments and focuses on the plants and animals of the area and includes a 50,000-gallon freshwater aquarium. After visiting the nature center, do a triple loop, circling around each of the three watery destinations on easy level paths. Anglers bring a pole.

Also, watch for bird life in these lakes. Your triple loop first circles Lake 1. This lake has a picnic shelter and popular fishing pier. A stream feeds fresh water into it, then flows out. Note the two small islands within Lake 1. A mix of trees shades the trails –pine, river birch, cedar, sweetgum and tall oaks. Lake 2 is shallow and is good habitat for amphibians. Lake 3 has a land peninsula popular with anglers. Try to incorporate your hike with a visit to the nature center. After the hike, relax on the back deck of the nature center, which extends over the water.

 After the Hike: Check out the Meadow Farm Museum, where you can explore a living outdoor museum recreated as an 1860 farm, with guided animal tours and living history demonstrations. 



Nearest Town: Great Falls

Hike Distance: 2-mile loop

Why Go There: 10 miles of well-marked and maintained trails

What You Need to Know: Hit the visitor center first, grab a trail map, then learn a little about the park’s human and natural history

GPS Coordinates: 39.01763, -77.25543

Riverbend Park is a fun place to walk and hike. A worthy 2-mile loop leaves the visitors center on the Madison’s Escape Trail, named for President James Madison’s route of egress when the British invaded Washington, D.C. in 1814. Next, turn right onto the Follow the Hollows Trail. That path rolls up and down through charming rocky vales divided by wooded ridges. Take a side detour to the nature center if you want or visit after your hike (The nature center has a short interpretive loop trail of its own). Whether you stop at the nature center or not, make your way to the Potomac River and the heralded Potomac Heritage Trail. Turn south following the river back to the visitor center. While here, you can rent a kayak or canoe and explore the Potomac River. Have a picnic by the river or at Witch Hazel Bluff.

After the Hike: Great Falls Park is nearby. Here you can visit the Great Falls of the Potomac, see the remains of a canal system and enjoy more trails along the mighty Potomac River.  



Nearest Town: Chesapeake

Hike Distance: 4-mile loop

Why Go There: 8 miles of trails along undeveloped coastal riverway

What You Need to Know: This park has amenities galore in addition to hiking trails – a fully developed campground, cabins, canoe & paddleboat rental, bicycling and more

GPS Coordinates: 36.58611, -76.15264

Northwest River offers a dizzying array of activities including a fine trail network with easy loop possibilities. Land and water meld here and park trails are laced with over a dozen bridges spanning creeks feeding into undeveloped Northwest River and Smith Creek, which form an aquatic boundary to the preserve.

A recommended 4-mile loop leaves the activity-rich area around the ranger station then joins the Indian Creek Trail to cross two of the park trail bridges before turning down the Deer Island Trail. It leads you to an overlook and fishing pier on the cypress-bordered Northwest River.

From there, take the Otter Point Trail to an overlook of Smith Creek. Finally, wind your way back to the trailhead on the Molly Mitchell Trail, with 6 more trail bridges. Afterwards, consider renting a canoe or paddleboat, a popular pastime when the weather is nice.

After the Hike: Consider taking a bike ride on the nearby Great Dismal Swamp Trail, a flat, easy, fun and safe bicycling experience.



Nearest Town: Kiptopeke

Hike Distance: 2 miles total there and back, plus 2.6 miles additional if desired

Why Go There: The refuge is a very important migration stop for raptors, waterfowl, and even butterflies

What You Need to Know: Over 400 species of raptors, waterfowl, and songbirds are represented on the refuge’s bird list.

GPS Coordinates: 37.12908, -75.96201

Eastern Shore of Virginia National Wildlife Refuge

Make your escape from the hectic world and return to nature at this refuge. Start your adventure at the visitor center, where rangers conduct interpretive education programs, and enjoy the displays therein (check hours ahead of time as they are seasonal).

Pair two nature trails to cobble together a satisfying 2 mile there and back hike. Leave directly from the visitor center to join the Butterfly Trail. Not only does it focus on the fluttering fliers, it also includes interpretive information to help you observe wildlife. After a half mile, pick up the Wildlife Trail, which combines nature and history. Walk through mixed woods, passing an old cemetery, then open onto the salt marsh where an overlook awaits as well as a gun emplacement. The area was once the site of Fort John Custis during World War II. From there, backtrack a mile to the refuge visitor center. If you desire more trail consider walking or pedaling the 2.6-mile paved Southern Tip Hike & Bike Trail as it follows the former Cape Charles Railroad line.

After the Hike: Stop at the Eastern Shore of Virginia Visitor Center to explore more family fun possibilities, or grab a meal at The Jackspot on Sunset Beach in nearby Cape Charles.



Nearest Town: Bedford

Hike Distance: 3.2-mile double loop

Why Go There: See historic farm and gorgeous mountaintop lake.

What You Need to Know: The farmhouse is staffed by interpreters on weekends and holidays.

GPS Coordinates: 37.44563, -79.60997

Situated in the scenic Peaks of Otter area along the Blue Ridge Parkway, this hike visits a long-lived homestead and then circles around a lake built as part of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Start your hike at the Peaks of Otter Visitor Center, 2,500 feet high, then cruise rich woods. Join the Johnson Farm Loop where you skirt a mountainside then reach the farm, located in a high mountain flat. See the preserved homestead as well as outbuildings, and perhaps the furnished inside of the Johnson Farm when open for interpretation. The hike then circles Abbott Lake, rimmed by the Peaks of Otter and a park lodge. Before finishing, stop by a preserved log structure from the 1830s.

After the Hike: The Peaks of Otter lodge, picnic area, campground and visitor center complement this Blue Ridge Parkway concentration of highlights. Take the tram up to Flat Top and soak in superlative panoramas.



Nearest Town: Moneta

Hike Distance: 1.9-mile loop

Why Go There: You can make a loop on a peninsula nearly encircled by water.

What You Need to Know: This Franklin County park not only features aquatic views on easy woodsy trails but it also has a fishing pier, picnic area and a swim beach.

GPS Coordinates: 37.08903, -79.61687

Smith Mountain Lake, a dammed impoundment of the Roanoke River southeast of the town of Roanoke, is known for its numerous peninsulas jutting into the water, forming near islands that add up to the 600 or so miles of shoreline. Franklin County’s Smith Mountain Lake Community Park is situated on one of those peninsulas.

The mostly level 1.9-mile loop hike explores about every inch of the park’s shoreline, allowing watery views in all directions.

Start your hike on the pea gravel all access Picnic Point Trail, heading east, toward the park’s fishing pier. Scrub pines and oaks border the wide path. You can already see the lake ahead – and the elaborate fishing pier. After watching the anglers, boaters and perhaps having a picnic, begin a counterclockwise loop around the park. Follow a clear path coursing through prototype Piedmont woods of maple, shortleaf pine, beech and white oaks. Views extend through the trees no matter the season and a good vista is a simple matter of walking a few feet to the shoreline.

After the Hike: Pitch your tent or rent a cabin at nearby Smith Mountain Lake State Park. They also have additional trails and other facilities. The state park makes a great base camp for exploring the lake.



Nearest Town: South Boston

Hike Distance: 3-mile loop

Why Go There: You can make a loop on a peninsula nearly encircled by water.

What You Need to Know: This Franklin County park not only features aquatic views on easy, woodsy trails but it also has a fishing pier, picnic area and a swim beach.

GPS Coordinates: 36.69812, -78.67681

Staunton River State Park

Staunton River State Park is strategically located at the confluence of the Dan River and the Staunton River, both backed up at that point as part of Lake Kerr, aka Buggs Island Lake. Take a rewarding shoreline loop in a mix of forested scenery and watery overlooks. Start near the park visitor center to pick up the River Bank Trail, first cruising along the Dan River, alternating between intimate coves and outland peninsulas. Pass picnic shelters then head along the Staunton River before returning to the visitor center via the Captain Staunton Trail. The trail system is extensive so it is easy to lengthen your hike. Perhaps you would also like to indulge in other park activities such as boating, kayaking, swimming or picnicking.

After the Hike: Consider camping here at the state park. It is Virginia’s first designated International Dark Sky Park, great for viewing the stars. They have cabins, too.



Nearest Town: Mouth of Wilson

Hike Distance: 1-4 miles depending on your route

Why Go There: Highland meadows with expansive views, Virginia’s rooftop

What You Need to Know: This is the trailhead to see the wild ponies of the Virginia Highlands.

GPS Coordinates: 36.63452, -81.50955

Grayson Highlands State Park

If you’ve never been to the Mount Rogers High Country, perched more than a mile above sea level, here’s your chance to experience a mix of rock outcrops, grassy meadows, spruce thickets and the wild ponies that call this area home. Grayson Highlands State Park is the perfect jumping off point with its amenities and well-marked trails that leads you to Virginia’s rooftop. A sampler hike takes you from the state park to Massey Gap, where you can join the Appalachian Trail southbound to wind through the mosaic of field, forest and rock. A clear day will yield incredible panoramas of the wildlands within and mountains beyond. Add camping, picnicking and nature study to your agenda.

After the Hike: Head to nearby Damascus, rent bikes and roll your way 17 miles downhill on the Virginia Creeper Trail, one of Virginia’s most famed outdoor experiences.



Nearest Town: Duffield

Hike Distance: 1.8-mile there and back

Why Go There: Nice level trail with scenic views of adjacent Beaver Creek Knobs

What You Need to Know: This is one of those hikes so full of must-visit highlights that it is hard to get a head of steam going.

GPS Coordinates: 36.70219, -82.74565

Natural Tunnel

See the Natural Tunnel, an immense passageway through which Stock Creek flows. Trek along Stock Creek to see the 220-year-old Carter Cabin. Climb from the Stock Creek gorge then walk along its rim, gaining rewarding views, culminating with a trip to Lovers Leap, where views can be had as well as a look at more stunning geology.

You actually don’t have to hike to the Natural Tunnel, since a park sky lift can take you down to Stock Creek and the Natural Tunnel for a fee. More importantly, it will take you back up again.

The Natural Tunnel is big enough for a railroad line to have been routed through it. Bridge Stock Creek then soon reach the 220-year old Carter Cabin. Also enjoy a view from Lovers Leap. Natural Tunnel State Park also has tent and RV camping, picnicking and cave tours, as well as other hiking trails.

 After the Hike: Float the Clinch River. It is a fine family paddling experience. Outfitters are stationed in nearby St. Paul.

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Virginia’s Historic Train Depots: Part 1

Virginia’s Historic Train Depots: Part 1


**This is Part 1 of a series, focusing on the Western part of Virginia.**


Before thousands of miles of highways stretched across the country to allow for individual transportation, trains were the most efficient and useful way to travel. Growing populations and interest in the unknown led Americans out West, and expanding railroad companies followed, building a complex infrastructure that allowed for safer travel. During this time, train depots became an essential part of communities, acting as gateways to the rest of the country. With the development of automobiles and highways, train depots fell out of favor and were abandoned, but occasionally, members of society recognized the historical significance and worked to preserve the structure. Today, renovated train depots house restaurants, visitor’s centers, museums, and even upscale inns. Discover the history behind these Virginia train depots, preserved and restored to once again hold an important place in their communities.



Virginia Museum of Transportation

Housed in downtown Roanoke’s old Norfolk & Western Railway Freight Station, the Virginia Museum of Transportation showcases retired steam, diesel, and electric locomotives, as well as rail cars, antique automobiles, model trains, and aviation artifacts. The train depot originally opened in 1918, serving as a hub in the heart of Virginia’s Rail Heritage Region, and while the museum covers the history of the railway, there are still active tracks running alongside, allowing visitors to see today’s trains in action.



Referring to their creation as the “Grand Old Lady of Pulaski”, the Virginia-Tennessee Railroad rebuilt the Pulaski Railway Station in 1888 out of peak granite, hiring master Italian stone masons to replace the previous depot which had stood for 30 years. A major restoration took place in 1994, but like the Bedford Station, a fire destroyed all but the stone walls in 2008. The town restored the structure to its former glory, and now rent the historic depot out for private events and town functions.



whistle stop inn

The Whistle Stop Inn began as train station in the late 1800’s, but the unique depot has been lovingly restored to a vacation cottage that sleeps 2-4 people. The historic depot is located beside the New River, with the New River Trail running parallel. The one bedroom rental has an additional sleeper sofa and a fully furnished kitchen and the location provides a perfect getaway spot for outdoor enthusiasts, with hiking, cycling, and river sports all just steps away.



Built in 1907 by Norfolk & Western, the Historic Rocky Mount Train Depot began as both a freight station and a passenger service center. Today, it serves as the Community and Hospitality Center for Rocky Mount, but the town preserved the history of the train depot in exhibits that display tools and antique train memorabilia. While visiting, make sure to check out the restored N&W caboose, located next door to the community center.



The C&O Railway Heritage Center educates visitors about the history of the C&O Railroad, from the people and places associated with the train company to the technology that made the railroad possible. Additionally, the museum honors the people that worked on the railroad, telling their stories and how rail travel helped develop our nation and build a thriving economy during the toughest times.



Virginia Creeper Trail Green Cove Station

A railroad depot from the 19th century, the Green Cove Train Station now serves as a U.S. Forest Service Visitor Center and trailhead for the Virginia Creeper Trail. Many of the original contents from the general store and post office housed inside the depot were saved during the restoration, and are now on display to shed light on the building’s interesting history. The visitor center closes for winter months, opening from April to October each year.



Established in 1958, the Allegheny Historical Society preserves the history of the Allegheny Highlands region, but the building itself plays a role in the historic story. The society is housed inside two adjacent buildings that began as the Chesapeake & Ohio Covington Passenger Depot, with the first originally completed in 1890 and the additional depot structure added in 1908.



Built by the Virginia-Tennessee Railroad Company in 1867, the Historic Cambria Depot is one of only two pre-segregation Reconstruction-era depots left in the United States. Although Union troops laid waste to the Tuscan-style depot during the Civil War, the station was rebuilt, becoming a central entry point for both Montgomery and Floyd Counties between 1870 and 1940. After the era of trains began to decline, the building was repurposed as an eclectic shopping center, holding a bevy of antique shops and craftsmen stores.



Liberty Station Restaurant

Olde Liberty Station functioned as a train depot until 1971, and even after closing, it stood in Bedford as a reminder of the bygone days of train travel. Unfortunately, much of the historic building was destroyed in a fire in 2009, but the strong stone walls that had stood for over 120 years survived the damage. In 2010, Olde Liberty Station Restaurant opened its doors, quickly becoming a community staple that serves excellent American fare while sharing the history of the train station and the town of Bedford.



The Historical Society of Washington County was founded in 1936, but before that, the building that held the society’s headquarters in downtown Abingdon was a Norfolk & Western Train Depot. The historic structure now houses genealogical information, historical research, and more than 160,000 images that tell the story of Southwest Virginia and the people that have called it home over the years.



Constructed in 1918 as the Southern Railway Depot, the Pittsylvania County History Research Center currently serves as a regional museum, with a mixture of temporary and permanent exhibits featuring artifacts like clothing, tools, and photographs. The museum is also home to the Veterans History Project, sharing accounts of American war veterans that have been collected and preserved so that future generations may learn their stories. One of the favorite exhibits at the museum is a model train replica of the 1874 rail line that ran through Pittsylvania County, commonly referred to as the “Old 97” track.



This is Part 1 in the Historic Virginia Train Depot Series. Stay tuned for parts 2 and 3!

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