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5 Awesome Primitive Campgrounds in Virginia

5 Awesome Primitive Campgrounds in Virginia

One of the best perks of primitive camping is the privacy. When you feel the need to get away from it all and get back to nature, then consider one of these awesome primitive campgrounds at Virginia State Parks.

These primitive sites are available year-round, and are not easily accessible to the general public which means instead of hearing people, car noise, and congestion you hear wildlife, and the wind in the willows.

So, if you are willing to get there, we have some unique primitive campgrounds available year-round at Virginia State Parks.



River front campsites make these a favorite for primitive campers at James River State Park. – Virginia State Parks

James River State Park has 13 primitive waterfront sites beside the river at Canoe Landing. Tents only. It’s a short walk from vehicle parking to the campsites. These sites are to the left of the canoe launch when facing the river. No tent pads.

Also try Branch Pond which has 7 primitive sites in wooded area about two miles from the river. Tents only. Each site has a tent pad.



The canoe-in sites at Powhatan have firepits and picnic tables for ease of cooking. – Virginia State Parks

Powhatan State Park offers a canoe-in campground, accessible by the James River, has eight primitive sites (no electricity or water) and is open year-round. The campground has a toilet but no bathhouse.

There’s also a parking lot .2 miles away from which campers may hike with gear to the campground.



Primitive camping at False Cape State Park is not for the faint, but worth the reward. – Virginia State Parks

False Cape State Park camping is not for everyone, as it is unusually restrictive and not easily accessible, plus takes a bit of planning to get there. You will have to hike or bike 6 miles just to get to the park entrance. Then the park’s primitive campsites are another three to six miles further.

If you feel you are fit enough, then click here to learn more about coastal camping at False Cape. The reward is well worth the energy to get there. Camping is permitted year-round, but reservations are required.

Same-day reservations aren’t taken for False Cape. Campsites at the park are in four distinct areas – Barbour Hill Bay, Barbour Hill Ocean, False Cape Landing Bay and False Cape Landing Ocean – which are separated by significant distances. For information, contact the Customer Service Center at 1-800-933-7275.



Ride the rail trail and camp in these primitive sites at New River State Park. – Virginia State Parks

New River State Park has four primitive campgrounds: Cliffview, Millrace, Baker Island and Double Shoals. There’s no vehicular access to the campsites and no showers or bathhouses.

New River Trail is a 57-mile linear park that follows an abandoned railroad right-of-way and long stretch of the New River which makes it popular for hiking, biking and trail riding.

There are no designated swimming areas, but tubing the New River is popular here. Call the Foster Falls Boat and Bike Livery at 276-699-1034 to rent tubes, bikes, kayaks or canoes. There is also a horse livery if you would like to go on a guided trail ride, info here.



Primitive camping that offers access to the Appalachian Trail at Sky Meadows State Park. – Virginia State Parks

Sky Meadows State Park offers a unique and peaceful camping experience. The park offers year-round primitive hike-in tent camping nestled against the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Campers must hike Hadow Trail 1 mile with their gear from the overnight parking area to get to these campsites.

The campground is accessible by bike, but no vehicles are allowed near campsites. Reservations are required for group campsite and recommended for individual sites because they are available first-come, first-served.

The park offers access to 2.43 miles of the Appalachian Trail. The park is a three-day hike from Harper’s Ferry, W.Va., and two days from Shenandoah National Park.



Magnificent sunsets over the Potomac River from the primitive campsites at Caledon State Park. – Virginia State Parks

While we featured 5 awesome primitive campgrounds, there are many other Virginia State Parks that also offer primitive camping opportunities like the kayak, canoe, hike or bike-in camping at Caledon State Park. These sites are 3 miles from the Visitor Center.

The paddle-in primitive campground at Caledon is a link on the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail, and the sunsets over The Potomac River can’t be beat.


Paddle-in to be one of the first to overnight at our newest Virginia State Park. – Virginia State Parks

Our newest, Widewater State Park is located on a peninsula where Aquia Creek and the Potomac River meet, Widewater provides access to both bodies of water. The park lies on non-contiguous parcels surrounded by private property.

The recently opened park offers tent-only primitive campsites for paddle-in camping and organized groups. Be amongst the first to stay overnight at this beautiful park, call 800-933-7275 to learn more.


There are 22 state parks that have group campsites, 7 with equestrian campgrounds, 4 parks offer camping cabins, 11 with camping lodges, and 5 with yurts. To learn about full service campgrounds click here.


Camping fees can be found here. For information on availability of overnight accommodations, particular park amenities, or to make reservations at a campground, go online here, or call 1-800-933-PARK.

Written by Shellie Anne for Virginia State Parks and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

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The Top Events & Festivals Happening Around Virginia This June

The Top Events & Festivals Happening Around Virginia This June

Thomas Jefferson Wine Festival

Kick off summer with live outdoor concerts of every music genre, incredible foodie festivals that showcase the best of Virginia’s culinary scene, and commemorative events that mark some of the most important moments in American (and even worldwide) history. June brings all of this and more in Virginia, so mark your calendars and make this a memorable summer in the Commonwealth!


Graves’ Mountain Festival of Music—Syria

When: May 30-June 1, 2019Graves Mountain Apple Harvest Festival

Virginia’s music festival season is finally here! Attend the Graves’ Mountain Festival of Music in Syria to hear bluegrass and country music from over 15 bands, including Ralph Stanley II & Clinch Mountain Boys, Po’ Ramblin’ Boys, The Lonesome River Band, Mo Pitney, and Sideline. During the festival, enjoy home-cooked food from Graves’ Mountain Lodge and the beautiful backdrop of the storied Blue Ridge, and if staying multiple days, book a room at the lodge or bring your camping gear for a memorable stay in Virginia’s Great Outdoors. When you’re not catching live musical performances, you can explore the surrounding countryside with horseback riding, hiking, swimming, and fishing, and be sure to stop by the Syria Mercantile to shop in an historic general store.


Blackbeard Pirate Festival—Hampton

When: June 1-2, 2019

The 20th annual Blackbeard Pirate Festival brings the feared pirate to life in Hampton, commemorating the city’s maritime heritage and its relationship with the world’s most infamous pirate, “Blackbeard” Edward Teach. This two-day immersive festival includes tons of children’s activities, living history reenactments, live entertainment, sea battles, fireworks, and a pirate encampment where you can come face to face with ocean-faring folk wearing their finest sea attire, and you might even get the chance to meet the king of the pirates, Blackbeard himself. Get Tickets


Broad Appetit—Richmond

When: June 2, 2019Broad Appetit Richmond

Calling all foodies! Make your way to Broad Appétit in Richmond this June, an outdoor food event along Broad Street that features over 70 local restaurants and continuous live music performances. For only $3 per plate (+$2 for added dessert pairing), you can sample signature dishes from the top Richmond chefs in every category, from trendy award-winners to southern fried favorites. In addition to these restaurant sites, you’ll find local Virginia produce, meats, cheeses, and artisan baked goods available for purchase. Pair your plates with some of Virginia’s finest craft brews and wines for a full day of deliciousness.

Find More Things To Do in Richmond→


Appalachia Rising at the Carter Family Fold—Hiltons

When: June 2, 2019Carter Fold Sessions

Virginia’s music roots go deep, and the Carter Family Fold pays tribute to one of the most influential families in American mountain music. On June 2, the museum and music center will honor their legacy during Appalachia Rising, with live performances from Marty Stuart, Wayne Henderson & The Virginia Luthiers, and Folk Soul Revival. Don’t miss your chance to see these legends perform classic Carter Family songs live at this once-in-a-lifetime music event!


Virginia Pride Festival Season Continues—Pride Events in Winchester, Reston, Hampton Roads, Hampton, and Virginia Beach

When: Various Dates Throughout JuneVA PrideFest

Pride season in Virginia continues throughout June with pride events in Winchester, Reston, Hampton Roads, Hampton, and Virginia Beach. LGBT visitors and their supporters come together to enjoy full days of fun at these festivals, sharing great food, craft drinks, live music, and much more. Virginia is for ALL Lovers at these inclusive LGBT events!

Find More Things To Do in Virginia Beach→


75th D-Day event at the D-Day Memorial—Bedford

When: June 4-9, 2019The National D-Day Memorial

On June 6, 1944, the small town of Bedford, Virginia lost 20 of the 32 young men sent to liberate Europe in the invasion of Normandy during World War II. This devastating blow would leave the community reeling for decades to come, but their grief and pride for these young men led to Bedford being awarded the National D-Day Memorial site in 2001. Since its dedication, the touching World War II monument has drawn hundreds of thousands of visitors to the picturesque mountain site, and on June 4-9, the memorial will host a special event to recognize the 75th anniversary of D Day. Titled “The Final Salute”, the event will bring together World War II vets and the general public for what could be the last time, as the average age of surviving service members from the war is 96 years old. Attend this historic event to remember their extraordinary sacrifice of these veterans, both for their country and for the entire world.

Find More Things To Do In The Virginia Mountains→


Annual Norfolk Harborfest—Norfolk

When: June 7-9, 2019HarborFest

Held on the Downtown Norfolk Waterfront, the Annual Norfolk Harborfest is a free three-day festival that celebrates Virginia’s maritime history with the Parade of Sail, a waterfront parade filled with tall ships, classic wooden boats, military vessels, sleek power cruisers, along with  special performances from regional and national entertainers, and hands-on activities for the entire family. Don’t miss Saturday’s Build-A-Boat challenge, where teams will construct boats from scratch using an array of materials and innovative engineering techniques, with their final results tested the following day during a thrilling race across the harbor waters. Stick around after the sun goes down on Saturday for the Harborfest Fireworks Display, the largest pyrotechnics show on the East Coast.


Mountains of Music Homecoming—Various Locations on the Crooked Road

When: June 7- June 15, 2019Floyd Country Store

The 5th Annual Mountains of Music Homecoming is nine days of nonstop music held in 40 different communities along The Crooked Road in Southwest Virginia. This historic festival includes 18 live concerts and 89 cultural events that highlight all aspects of Southwest Virginia, from the history, arts, and music of the region to the breathtaking outdoor scenery and the famed Appalachia cuisine. In addition to the concerts and cultural events, the Mountains of Music Homecoming includes four music festivals, notably Galax’s Houstonfest, an annual event featuring over 34 bluegrass and oldtime mountain music bands like Wayne Henderson & The Virginia Luthiers Band, Shenandoah, and Dori Freeman. Get Tickets

Find More Things To Do In Southwest Virginia→


Virginia is for Lovers Celebrates 50 Years of Love—Various Virginia Wineries, Breweries, Restaurants, and Other Local Businesses

When: Throughout 2019, with the Summer of Love Kicking Off June 21, 2019loveworks at Pippin Hill Winery

One of the most famous tourism slogans in the world, Virginia is for Lovers turns 50 this year, and we are celebrating with countless special events around the Commonwealth! Visit many of breweries to sample limited-edition lagers made in honor of the state, or grab a special 50 Years of Love Passport at participating wineries to get discounts and commemorative glasses. Various restaurants will be offering special meal pricing and menus, and there are even sponsored giveaway contests to win free overnight stays and getaway packages to some of Virginia’s premiere establishments. Find dates and details at the Virginia is for Lovers 50 Years of Love page and make plans to join us in the celebration!


Hampton Jazz Festival—Hampton

When: June 30, 2019Hampton Coliseum

Since 1970, the city of Hampton and Hampton University have partnered to bring the Hampton Jazz Festival to the Hampton Coliseum. The annual festival attracts the nation’s top blues, soul, pop, and jazz performers, giving tens of thousands of loyal fans the rare chance to see them all in one place. This year, the list of performers includes Maxwell, KEM, Anthony Hamilton, Babyface, and Maze with guest star Frankie Beverly. Get Tickets


Find even more June events to add to your calendar, and look ahead to July and August to make your summer vacation plans!

The post The Top Events & Festivals Happening Around Virginia This June appeared first on Virginia’s Travel Blog.

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Must See Historical Sites in and Around Lynchburg

Must See Historical Sites in and Around Lynchburg

When you look around Lynchburg, you may take in the views of the picture-esque Blue Ridge Mountains or the mighty James River or even the iconic hillside cityscape. But, look closer: you’ll see a world of history is surrounding you—and it’s yours to explore. Here’s what awaits you.


American Civil War Museum

American Civil War Museum

Why visit? The American Civil War Museum in Appomattox allows you to explore the lives of confederate soldiers, enslaved and free African Americans and civilians.The museum also contains significant time-period artifacts, like the sword and uniform Robert E. Lee wore when the Confederacy surrendered to the Union at Appomattox Court House.


Anne Spencer House

Why visit? Anne Spencer was an internationally-acclaimed African American poet during the Harlem Renaissance. Her home and gardens on Pierce Street served as one of her reservoirs of inspiration for her work. Her gardens are free to tour, and you can book a reservation to tour her home.


Fort Early

Why visit? This Civil War fort stood on the outskirts of Lynchburg, under the command of Lt. General Jubal Early. His troops successfully held off the Union army during the Battle of Lynchburg. The grounds of Fort Early is open year round.


Historic Sandusky

Why visit? One of the first Federal style homes in Lynchburg during the early 19th century, this home was invaded by Union troops during the Battle of Lynchburg. Tours of this historic, local home are available.


Appomattox Court House National Historical Park

Appomattox Court House National Historical Park

Why visit? The Civil War, one of the most trying times for Americans in history, ended at the Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865, just 25 miles away from Lynchburg. Today, you can tour this National Historic Landmark and walk the same grounds as Generals Grant and Lee.


Battle of Lynchburg Driving Tour

Why visit? During June 17-18, 1864, the Civil War moved onto the City of Lynchburg, leaving behind eight significant sites. Now you can endeavor on a driving tour with an education CD guide.


Legacy Museum

Why visit? The museum is committed to the collecting, preserving and storing historical artifacts, documents and memorabilia relating to significant contributions of the African American Community in Lynchburg and the region, and telling these stories through exhibits and events. Learn more.


Miller Claytor House

Why visit? Did you know it’s rumored that while in this home, Thomas Jefferson ate a tomato from it’s garden to show to a child that “love apples” were not poisonous? The Miller Claytor House is Lynchburg’s last remaining town house from the 18th century and is available to explore at Riverside Park.


National D-Day Memorial

National D-Day Memorial

Why visit? Located 28 miles from Lynchburg, The National D-Day Memorial commemorates the sacrifice and courage of the World War II American soldiers during the storming of Normandy Beach on June 6, 1944.


Old City Cemetery

Why visit? Listed as a Virginia Historic Landmark, Old City Cemetery was established in 1806 and is an extraordinary 27-acre public garden, “history park,” and the oldest municipal cemetery in Virginia still in use today. Five small museums help tell the stories of the diverse population of nearly 20,000 buried here.


Point of Honor

Why visit? This home that sits overlooking James River on Cabell Street was first owned by Dr. George Cabell, a friend of Thomas Jefferson and physician to Patrick Henry. Since then, the home has been owned by seven famous local families. The home is available for tours.


Lynchburg Museum

Why visit? Get a glimpse of the 200+ years of history of our great city. Housed in the historic Old Court House, this museum covers the prominent figures and events that helped build the City of Lynchburg.


Maier Museum of Art

Why visit? This American art museum sits on the campus of Randolph-Macon College and holds a distinguished collection of American Impressionism and early 20th-century Realism pieces.


Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest

Poplar Forest

Why visit? When the famed Monticello turned from home into a 19-century tourist attraction, Thomas Jefferson built Poplar Forest, his own private retreat where he could read, write and spend time with his family. This National Historic Landmark is only a few miles from Downtown Lynchburg and is available for tours.


South River Meeting House

Why visit? The grounds of Lynchburg were first pioneered by Quakers in the 1750s. They established the South River Meeting House in 1791, which is available for self-guided tours.

Written by Lynchburg, Virginia and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.
Featured image provided by Visit Lynchburg

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Big Concerts Coming to Virginia in June 2019

Big Concerts Coming to Virginia in June 2019

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


—Virginia Music Festivals—

Over in Abingdon, the Howling Craft Beer and Music Festival will take place May 31-June 1 at Wolf Hills Brewing Company. Catch C2 & The Brothers Reed, 49 Winchester, and Strong Water and The Double Hearted.

The Virginia Beach Patriotic Festival celebrates the military at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront May 31-June 2 and features performances from Old Dominion, Luke Combs, and Kane Brown.

On June 2, the Carter Family Fold will host Appalachia Rising, a celebration of music carrying on the musical and performing traditions of the Carter family. The afternoon of music features live performances from Marty Stuart, Wayne Henderson & The Virginia Luthiers, and Folk Soul Revival.

On June 6-8, it’s three days of beach music with on-site camping for the Hot Fun in the Summertime Beach Festival in Stuart, Virginia.

HoustonFest in Galax is June 7-8 and features the bluegrass music of Dori Freeman, Wayne Henderson, Dailey & Vincent, EmiSunshine, and many more.

Better Than Ezra and Smash Mouth will headline Celebrate Fairfax!, Northern Virginia’s largest community-wide celebration, on June 7-9 at the Fairfax County Government Center.

Taking place June 7-15, the Crooked Road’s Mountains of Music Homecoming is an annual nine-day, region-wide celebration of the communities in Southwest Virginia from the traditional music to the many cultural and natural assets. The event includes Crooked Road marquee concerts in over 20 communities and many dozens of cultural events throughout the region.

The Columbia Pike Blues Festival returns to Arlington on June 15 with live music from Funky Miracle, Lauren Calve Band, Hardway Connection, Thornetta Davis, and Sugaray Rayford.

Kings Dominion amusement park in Doswell celebrates KingsFest, a 3-day Christian rock and pop festival June 20-22.  This year’s events features music from TobyMac, for KING & COUNTRY, We Are Messengers, and more.

In Williamsburg, the Virginia Arts Festival presents Williamsburg Live June 21-22 with performances from Parker Milsap, Norah Jones, Emmylou Harris, and Mandolin Orange.

The Musical Soul Food Festival returns to Chesapeake City Park in Chesapeake for two days of uplifting and inspirational entertainment on June 21-22.

Hampton Coliseum

The Hampton Jazz Festival will be June 28-30 at the Hampton Coliseum with performances from Maxwell, KEM, Anthony Hamilton, Maze featuring Frankie Beverly, Babyface, and many more.

The Mount Airy Bluegrass Festival in Warsaw takes place June 28-29 between the tidal waters of the Rappahannock and Potomac rivers. Bluegrass music provided by Rhonda Vincent & The Rage, Ralph Stanley II & The Clinch Mountain Boys, Josh Grigsby & County Line, Carolina Blue and Junior Sisk & Rambler’s Choice.

—Over at Virginia’s Live Music Venues—

The National in Richmond will be bringing a number of big name artists throughout the month. The venue will be hosting David Allan Coe (June 16), Todd Rundgren (June 18), A Day to Remember (June 22), and more.

Richmond’s summer concert series, Friday Cheers, brings some of the nation’s hottest touring acts, along with some regional favorites to Brown’s Island every Friday night in June. Thousands of people will come to relax after the work week to meet friends and hear music from The War and Treaty & The Teskey Brothers (June 7), The Budos Band (June 14), Robert Glasper (June 21), and Lucy Dacus (June 28).

Elsewhere in Richmond, Jason Mraz will be hosting SPARC’s LIVE ART at the Altria Theater on June 2. 200 SPARC students will join Mraz artists Hanson, Chris Stills, Kori Withers, Joel Rafael, Chris Caswell, Daniel Clarke, and more. Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit and Father John Misty will also perform at the Altria Theater on June 24.

Richmond Raceway’s Virginia Credit Union Live! will host a number of artists including the Stone Soul Music and Food Festival (June 8),  the Avett Brothers (June 9), Wu-Tang Clan (June 18), Styx (June 21), Young the Giant & Fitz and the Tantrums (June 25), and “Weird Al” Yankovic (June 27).

Just outside Richmond, the Innsbrook After Hours concert series at the Servpro Pavilion in Glen Allen will host Collective Soul & Gin Blossoms (June 5), Brett Eldredge (June 21), Justin Moore (June 22), and Jake Owen (June 27).

The Beacon Theatre in Hopewell will host Richard Marx on June 1, Saving Abel and Hinder on June 12, Corey Smith on June 13, and more.

In Charlottesville, the John Paul Jones Arena will host Twenty One Pilots on June 9.  The Sprint Pavilion will host Rodrigo Y Gabriela on June 5. Shows at the the Jefferson Theater will include Sleep (June 9), The Connells (June 22), and more.

The NorVa in Norfolk will be hosting acts like New Found Glory (June 5), Rusko with Big City & Ebisu Sound (June 8), The Connells (June 21), and more.

The Portsmouth Pavilion in Portsmouth will have shows from Styx (June 20) and Slightly Stoopid (June 21).

The Veterans United Home Loans Amphitheater at Virginia Beach brings in Thomas Rhett on June 13 and Rascal Flatts on June 29.

Over in Rocky Mount at the Harvester Performance Center will be hosting a number of shows including Richard Marx (June 2), Yonder Mountain String Band (June 6), Colt Ford (June 7), Steve Earle & the Dukes (June 14), LeAnn Rimes (June 28) and may more.

Phase 2 Club in Lynchburg will be bringing in acts such as Kip Moore (June 8), Stryper (June 14), and more.

“Weird Al” Yankovic will perform at the Berglund Center in Roanoke on June 25. Trace Adkins & Clint Black will be at the Salem Civic Center on June 7.

The Blue Ridge Summer Concert Series at the Blue Ridge Music Center in Galax will host Mandolin Orange on June 1, Bill Monroe’s Sons of Bluegrass on June 14, The Kruger Brothers on June 22, and Kelsey Waldon on June 29.

The Thursday Jams concert series at the Abingdon Market Pavilion will feature music from Devon Gilfillian (June 6), The New Respects (June 13), The Commonheart (June 20), and Love Canon (June 27).

The Lime Kiln Theater in Lexington will be hosting Chris Thile (June 2), Charley Crockett and Kat Wright (June 22), and Bruce Hornsby & The Noisemakers (June 23).

Celebrate Virginia After Hours in Fredericksburg will be hosting acts such as Tesla (June 8), Kip Moore (June 28), and Jamey Johnson (Jun 30).

At Wolf Trap Center for Performing Arts in Vienna, shows will include Bobby Brown & Bell Biv DeVoe (June 2), Rodigo y Gabriela (June 7), Lake Street Dive & The Wood Brothers (June 8), Johnny Mathis (June 15), Trampled By Turtles & Deer Tick (June 20), Buddy Guy & Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band (June 23), Pat Benatar, Neil Giraldo, Melissa Etheridge & Liz Phair (June 25), Diana Ross (June 27), Dispatch & Anderson East (June 29), and Big Head Todd and the Monsters & Toad the Wet Sprocket, among others.

Jiffy Lube Live in Bristow will host a number of shows including Luke Bryan on June 1, Thomas Rhett on June 15, and Dead & Company on June 26.

Shows at Alexandria music hall The Birchmere include Marc Cohn on June 1, David Crosby & the Sky Trails Band on June 4, The English Beat on June 5, Keb Mo on June 13, Amy Grant on June 20, The Smithereens on June 21, Kenny G on June 24, The Righteous Brothers on June 28, LeAnn Rimes on June 30, and many more.

The Tally Ho Theatre in Leesburg will be hosting Cowboy Mouth on June 1, Blessid Union of Souls on June 7, and Fishbone on June 8, among many other shows.



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

The post Big Concerts Coming to Virginia in June 2019 appeared first on Virginia’s Travel Blog.

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Outdoor Recreation in Shenandoah County

Outdoor Recreation in Shenandoah County

Give yourself permission to go outside and play!


Step away from the flat screen and binge on reality. Rediscover the thrill of three dimensions in Shenandoah County, a 512 square mile natural playground nestled between the Blue Ridge Mountains, Allegheny Mountains, and Appalachian Mountains and lapped by the winding bends of the North Fork of the Shenandoah River. Find countless adventures up and down all of our peaks and valleys.

Whether your idea of play means splashing in water or mud, climbing high enough to touch the clouds, scrambling under rocks, gripping leather reins or fishing poles, racing on your own two feet or hovering between two wheels, outdoor recreational opportunities abound in Shenandoah County.

Our 178 miles of trails, 100 miles of rivers and streams, and even a valley within a valley are spectacular in every season. From farmland to forests, steep mountainsides to flat meadows, bendy rivers to rocky overhangs, this diverse terrain packs surprises for every sort of adventurer, from timid to daring.

Five local experts offer insights into their favorite activities to help you make the most of the great outdoors during your visit to Shenandoah County.



Hiking trails weave through lush woods, past streams and waterfalls, and open to stunning valley views, whether you’re exploring the George Washington National Forest, the western slope of Massanutten Mountain, or even nearby Shenandoah National Park where it’s easy to hop on and off the famed Appalachian Trail.

“Shenandoah County has a great variety of hiking destinations,” says Dennis A. Turner, who helms a hiking column in the area’s Mountain Courier newspaper and is an active member of a local hiking club. “We have lots of different types of hiking,” he says. “You can hike for a year and do completely different hikes the next year!”

Some routes are steep, others aren’t, but “it’s not just up and down mountains,” Turner says. Among the options are three handicap accessible trails, a Lion’s Tale Trail for visually impaired hikers, and the kid-friendly, 1.2-mile Fox Hollow Loop.

Some trails lead straight to a destination such as a waterfall, swimming hole, mountain stream or valley community, while others loop to multiple points of interest. All offer great views. “There’s a destination, a purpose, a place to go,” says Turner, great news if you avoid aimless wandering. (Though that can be fun, too.)

One popular route on Great North Mountain is Big Schloss. “It’s amazing!” says Turner. “Trails are well-marked and it’s just wonderful to hike. It’s a signature place, a rock sticking out on top of a mountain, unusual.”

Shenandoah County Tourism

From points of interest to level of difficulty, there’s so much variety for hikers in Shenandoah County that it can be a challenge to know where to start. For help planning a route, Turner suggests Hiking Upward and Virginia Trail Guide. You can also read more about hiking here.


Horseback Riding

Lush national forest blankets nearly a quarter of Shenandoah County and trails through them beckon to be explored. Whether you visit with your own horse or are looking to saddle up with a guided ride, options abound.

“Some trails get up to pretty high heights and the views from the top of the mountains are just awesome,” says Susan St. Amand, equine enthusiast, avid trail rider, and member of Shenandoah Trail Riders and Horseman’s Association. “The scenery is awesome, as is the chance to get back to nature and slow down.”

A breathtaking range of equestrian trails can be found. “The horseback riding trails are similar to the trails hikers will use in this area,” says St. Amand, who frequently rides in the George Washington National Forest. “The biggest thing is to get out and ride,” she says. “That’s my therapy. I love being out there.” A natural peace can be found deep in the pristine forest.

If you don’t have a horse but want to ride, head to Fort Valley Ranch Fort Valley Ranch to join one of the guided rides in the Massanutten Mountains. “For someone who’s riding for the first time, they’re really awesome because their horses are calm and gentle and that makes for a good experience,” says St. Amand. Fort Valley Ranch also boards horses, if you travel with your faithful friend.

In general, terrain in the area is “very rocky,” St. Amand advises, “so your horse has to be used to riding in rougher conditions and has to have shoes or it will tear up their feet.”

For help finding trails to suit your skills and interests as well as upcoming group rides to join, St. Amand recommends connecting with the Shenandoah Trail Riders Association. Click here to read more about horseback riding in Shenandoah County.

Shenandoah County Tourism

Special Events

To watch professional equestrians loop a track at top speed, check out harness racing at Shenandoah Downs from mid-September through late October each year. If you and your horse are up for a competitive challenge, check out the Old Dominion Equestrian Endurance Organization; a two-day ride is set for October 19-20 this year in Fort Valley.


Whether you prefer steep mountains or level valleys, biking in Shenandoah County “is beautiful!” says Kevin L. Watson, cycling instructor for the League of American Bicyclists and Bike Virginia Ambassador. “My wife and I bought our home here because of the riding,” he says. “We still commute to Washington D.C., but this is where we live and we love it!”

From back country roads to roadways through communities along the Shenandoah River, farmland to national forests, mountains to parks, “There are so many different roads, places to go, and things to do—we love it!” says Watson, who pedals between 3,000 and 5,000 miles each year.

Bike routes vary from paved roads to dirt paths to gravel trails—choose what suits your bike and ambition. “Absolutely any level of rider can enjoy a beautiful route,” he says. “There’s incredibly challenging riding for advanced cyclists and also plenty of nice areas for less serious or less advanced riders.”

Shenandoah County Tourism

Watson enjoys riding North on Highway 11, which offers “beautiful!” views of Signal Knob (the northern peak of Massanutten Mountain in the Ridge and Valley Appalachians) and the Allegheny Mountains. Another of his favorite rides is along Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park. He also enjoys pedaling in Fort Valley: “It’s a valley within a valley with history that dates back to the Revolutionary War,” he says. “It’s a terrific, beautiful place to ride.”

Plan to bring your own wheels; there’s no bike outfitter in Shenandoah County at present. For maps and information about where to ride, Watson recommends the Shenandoah Valley Bicycle Coalition. You can also learn more about biking in Shenandoah County here.

Special Event

The 2019 Bike Virginia Tour is a challenging six-day ride that features different areas of the state each year. Set for June 21-26, the ride begins in Woodstock, one of the eight communities in Shenandoah County. The Shenandoah Valley setting is billed as “one of the premier riding experiences that Virginia has to offer.”



For centuries, people have cooled off in the Shenandoah River, one of the few rivers that flow from south to north. “Whether it’s boating, tubing, swimming, fishing, or just jumping in to cool off on a hot day, our rivers are very popular,” says Steve Shaffer, who has kayaked or canoed most of Shenandoah River’s North Fork and South Fork. He says “the scenery” most distinguishes these waters.

Different segments of the river have different moods. “In the central part of the county there’s some deep backwater,” says Shaffer. Head there if you prefer boating with a motor. “There’s no waterskiing above the dam, but you’ll see quite a lot of motorized fishing boats,” he says. The river’s primary navigational hazards are five dams and several low water bridges. Three dams are located between Edinburg and Woodstock; two dams are located between Strasburg and Riverton.

Though quite often “the water flow is really just enough to support the towns, farmers and recreation,” says Shaffer, some seasons are standouts. “It’s been a wet year and that’s good because now the river water is high. It’s absolutely beautiful with good flow. This whole summer has been great for boating.”

Shenandoah County Tourism

With its clear water and mild whitewater, the North Fork is most attractive to paddlers. With views of Massanutten Mountain, “the scenery is beautiful!” says Shaffer. When water levels are low it can be a challenge to navigate; canoers may need to walk their boat through some shallow areas.

The North Fork is quite private with six public access points along the North Fork. “The goal is to put in a half-dozen more public entry points,” says Shaffer. In the meantime, since most land that banks the North Fork is privately owned, the easiest way to gain access is by lodging at one of the local accommodation options that offers a dock as well as boats and gear to borrow or rent. Unless you stay with someone who can provide a boat, plan to bring your own; there’s not currently a boat outfitter in the area.

To learn more about public river access in Shenandoah County, visit https://visitshenandoahcounty.com/public-river-access/.


The Shenandoah River winds through Shenandoah County for 72 miles. Perhaps nobody knows its twists and turns better than Harry Murray, author of 15 books about fly fishing and owner of Murrays Fly Shop, one of the East Coast’s largest and most complete angling shops.

“The geographic area is so beautiful,” he says. “The fishing is incredible. For those who are most serious about fly fishing, Shenandoah National Park is the best in the state—it’s all wild, they don’t stock, all fish are returned to the roughly 20 trout streams there.”

Shenandoah County Tourism

Shenandoah County offers more than 31 miles of trout streams within the George Washington National Forest; stocked trout areas include Passage Creek, Peters Mill Creek and Tomahawk Pond.

You can hook bass in the North Fork of the Shenandoah River, a relatively narrow, shallow river that’s easily accessible for wade angling. “You can fish right behind our shop here in Edinburg and catch browns and rainbows,” says Murray.

Classes and guide services, which Murray offers, might improve your odds of landing a fish. “We conduct about 30 trout schools and 30 bass schools each year,” he says. Lessons start in a classroom but head out to a stream with rod and reel provided. The opportunity to fish with an expert “provides tremendous insight to learn the most about it,” he says, noting that four professional fishing guides work with him. Whether you want to try your hand at fly fishing, spin fishing, or prefer to use night crawlers, Murray says, “we just want people to have a good time.”

Visit www.murraysflyshop.com for more information about fly fishing in Shenandoah County. For details about Virginia fishing license and permit requirements, visit the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.

Beyond fishing, boating, cycling, horseback riding and hiking, other adventures await in Shenandoah County, including hang gliding, sky diving, zip-lining, off highway vehicle riding, golfing, skiing, climbing and more. Come play in our great outdoors.

Shenandoah County Tourism

Written by Shenandoah County Tourism for Shenandoah County and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

Featured image provided by Shenandoah County Tourism

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Dog-Friendly Spots In Prince William

Dog-Friendly Spots In Prince William


Going on a vacation can be difficult when planning a trip for you and your furry, four-legged friends. Fortunately, Prince William  is an ideal pet-friendly destination. Below are some of the great locations where you and your dog can spend some time together during your trip.


Dog-Friendly Parks

Prince William Forest Park – Visit Prince William


Locust Shade Park is a beautiful, 400-acre park that is great for a family trip with your pup. Children can enjoy miniature golf and playgrounds. And your dog is sure to enjoy all of the smells present along the hiking trails. Bring a picnic basket and enjoy your meal with a lovely waterfront view.

Your dog will love the shoreline and flowing water!



You could spend an entire day exploring the beautiful scenery available in Prince William Forest Park. The beautiful foliage and ample space for you and your dog to walk (and sniff) makes this national park the perfect destination during your dog-friendly vacation. Go during the fall to enjoy the colors of autumn, or during the spring to see all of the trees in full bloom. Prince William Forest Park is a great place to camp overnight with your dog. Bring the whole family for an unforgettable experience. Read about the park’s pet policy.

Your dog will love running through all of the colorful leaves on the ground!



Leesylvania State Park is a unique park with a historic trail, small beach and fishing pier. Go for a walk with your pup on Lee’s Woods Historic Trail, where you will find Civil War points of interest. Enjoy a picnic lunch surrounded by trees and a view of the Potomac River. After lunch, you and Fido can dip your toes in the sand and enjoy the sights, sounds, and smells of the river. Leesylvania also allows pets to stay with their owners in overnight cabins. Read about the park’s pet policy.

Your dog will love playing in the water at Leesylvania’s beach!



Veterans Memorial Park is located adjacent to the Marumsco Creek, Featherstone National Wildlife Refuge and the Occoquan Bay National Water Reserve. Your dog is sure to love watching the ducks swimming in the pond and smelling the water. You will love the nice, easy nature walk and picnic areas within the park.

Your dog will love looking at the ducks roaming around the park!



Lake Ridge Park has a marina and hiking trails that are perfect for you and your four-legged companion. One of the great things about the marina is that you can bring your dog on canoes and jon boats. Can you imagine how cute your dog will look with a little life jacket on?!

Your dog will love the feeling of adventure as you hike through the trails at Lake Ridge!


Dog-Friendly Restaurants

Irish Setters hanging out at Mill Street Snacks – Visit Prince William


2 Silos is located on the 8-acre Farm Brew LIVE campus in Manassas. Bring your family and friends together to enjoy craft beer, craft food and live local music. Dogs are allowed on the patio as long as they are leashed and picked up after.



You don’t have to brave the airlines to visit an authentic little European neighborhood bistro. Come down to the quaint riverfront town of Occoquan for a little boutique shopping and finish up with a visit to Cock & Bowl for a fine Belgian beer and a delicious meal. Serving up always-fresh, always-homemade European bistro specialties and a selection of 50+ Belgian beers! Dogs are permitted on the patio as long as they are leashed and well behaved.



Occoquan, Virginia’s tiniest snack shop offering food and drinks. Mill Street Snacks is a walk-up window where you can order a snack. Great for an afternoon pick me-up! There is always a water bowl available for their doggie guests.



Located in Woodbridge, Brixx is a dog-friendly restaurant that will greet your pup with a bowl of water. Your dog can relax on the patio while you enjoy some delicious pizza, pasta or sandwiches.



BurgerFi is a delicious burger place you can enjoy with your dog, located in Woodbridge. They have nine outdoor tables where you and your dog can enjoy a selection of burgers, fries, onions rings and yummy shakes. Table service isn’t available, so you’ll need to tether your dog when you go inside to order



Madigan’s Waterfront is a locally owned and operated seafood and steak restaurant located on the Occoquan River in Historic Occoquan. You can hang out with your pup in the Tiki Bar as long as they’re leashed.



Hidden Julles Café is locally owned and operated. They proudly feature locally-sourced, organic breakfast and lunches. Located in Haymarket, Hidden Julles allows dogs on their patio as long as they are leashed.



Stop into Uncle Julio’s Mexican Restaurant, it is the perfect place to grab delicious fajitas, margarita and fresh tableside guacamole. Dogs are allowed on the patio as long as they are leashed.



Foster’s Grille welcomes dogs to dine with their owners at four outdoor tables; however, guests must order and pay inside at the counter where dogs are not permitted. Menu items include char-grilled burgers topped with cheese, grilled chicken sandwiches, fried chicken sandwiches, hot dogs, veggie burgers, turkey sandwiches, salads, chicken wings, and beer.



Swirlie’s has soft serve ice cream, sundaes, banana splits, shakes, malts and Hawaiian shaved ice. Dogs are welcome at their patio picnic tables.



Giuseppe’s Italian Restaurant is a casual eatery that serves up a variety of delicious, authentic Italian cuisine. Fido is welcome to join you at one of their many pet-friendly outdoor tables while you enjoy your meal.



Cupcake Heaven and Cafe serves up a variety of freshly baked cupcakes and pastries, along with a small assortment of soup, quiche, sandwiches, lattes, teas and smoothies. Your pup is welcome to join you at one of their eight pet-friendly outdoor tables while munch on a savory chicken salad sandwichs and sip your White Chocolate Mocha Latte.



The Bone is a simple, no-frills barbecue joint located in Gainesville. Choose from a variety of tasty menu options including pulled pork, smoked turkey, beef brisket, spicy sausage, hickory chicken, ribs, etc. Your dog is welcome to join you at one of their seven pet-friendly outdoor tables while you enjoy your BBQ meal.



La Parrillada is a casual eatery serves where you can enjoy a variety of Authentic Mexican dishes. Start your meal off with warm chips & salsa and a margarita as you sit outside at one of their pet-friendly tables.



Eggspectation is a unique eatery that specializes in anything and everything EGG! Choose from menu options like steak & eggs, omelets, pancakes, french toast and more. Your dog is welcome to join you at one of their eight pet-friendly outdoor tables.


Written by Deena Westenhofer for Prince William County.
Featured image provided by Visit Prince William.

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50 years of LOVE | Virginia’s LGBT Communities & Destinations

50 years of LOVE | Virginia’s LGBT Communities & Destinations

It was in 1969, 50 years ago, when the Commonwealth’s Virginia is For Lovers” tourism slogan was created, and it has become one of the most beloved and iconic slogans in the world. While it’s meant a lot of different things to a lot of different people over the years, one thing remains the same: LOVE.

It was also in 1969 that the June 28 Stonewall Riots occurred by members of the LGBTQ+ community at the Stonewall Inn in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City. Led by two Transgender women of color, Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, it is widely considered the beginning of the gay liberation movement in the United States of America.

1969 Virginia was also a place where the spirit of living OUT, equal and fully was also bursting through. The Block Neighborhood, Richmond’s underground community of gay culture and community, had its alcohol license revoked due to Queer ownership, and on March 24, 1969, Hunter “Patch” Adams, a twenty-three year old sophomore at the Medical College of Virginia, wrote what may have been the first written protest to Richmond Times Dispatch. [1] Today, OutRVA  is the the Go-To guide for the city’s Queer-centric and friendly experiences and home of the VA PRIDEfest since the mid-1970’s.

Mickey’s Tavern on Brooke Street in downtown Norfolk had become internationally known as a respite for sailors and their friends, and acquired a largely gay clientele. Later, in 1972, Norfolk’s first local gay newspaper – Friends – was created and edited by Mickey’s owners Jerry Halliday and H.T. Kelly, Jr. [2] Today, Norfolk is home to a vibrant LGBT scene, filled with LGBT history & walking tours, events and plenty of entertainment! For 30 years, Norfolk has hosted the Hampton Roads Pride Fest, showing that this community has grown into such a vital part of the city’s culture.

Winchester native Julian Glass, along with partner R. Lee Taylor, was collecting art, antiques and renovating Glass’s family estate Glen Burnie House and gardens – later to be opened as the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley in 2005. [3] Playing nearby, undoubtedly, one might hear the timeless songs of Winchester native and gay icon Patsy Cline. Born 1932, Cline was a pioneering country music singer who died in a tragic plane crash at age 30. Cline was the first solo female singer to become a member of the Grand Ole Opry in 1960, and the first woman to be inducted in the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1973. Today, Winchester is a thriving main street, which now hosts its annual Winchester PRIDE Celebration.

Tradewinds Restaurant in Roanoke was the regional gay bar for this small city and mountain region. Patrons would have to walk around to the back of the building, down an alley and several steps down. Attracting a large crowd, this type of bar was indicative of many home-grown and under-the-radar gay and lesbian bars around the country. [4] Today, one can stay and enjoy the food, sites and culture of the Star City, at the annual Roanoke PRIDE festival or on the Roanoke LGBTQ History Walking Tour.

Today, with more American’s coming OUT, the onset of U.S. Marriage Equality in 2015, an increasing number of LGBTQIA+ community centers and organizations, more pro-equality laws and shifts cultural acceptance, LGBTQ+ travelers are discovering the many Virginia destinations which are safe, welcoming and This is reflected in the Queer ownership of Virginia lodging, dining, retail, attractions and events – some Queer-centric, others explicitly open and welcome to all visitors.

Today, you can find self-designated LGBT-friendly shops, restaurants, distilleries, meaderies, cideries, craft breweries, wineries, outdoor adventures, attractions and places to stay during one of our many PRIDE weekend, statewide. You can explore one of Virginia’s 10 regions or find them all at Virginia.org/LGBT.

You can also share the Virginia you LOVE by sharing at LOVE @VisitGayVA (Twitter) and @visitgayva (Instagram) all year-round.

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Virginia’s Enchanting Rooftop Restaurants & Bars

Virginia’s Enchanting Rooftop Restaurants & Bars

quirk rooftop bar

Looking for great food at even greater heights? Combine Virginia’s flair for award-winning culinary masterpieces and creative craft cocktails with breathtaking scenery when you check out one of these stunning rooftop restaurants and bars!


Q Rooftop Bar at Quirk Hotel—Richmond


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Found on top of the mod-upscale Quirk Hotel, Q Rooftop Bar offers views of Richmond’s downtown skyline from its 2,800-square-foot location. Grab a cocktail, a glass of wine, or a craft beer from the ever-changing rooftop bar drink menu as you take in the gorgeous views. Craft beer fans should try the QUIRK beer, made by Hardywood Park Craft Brewery just a few miles from the hotel. For food, the rooftop bar offers what they refer to as “elevated street fare”; this means small snacks and finger foods, so if you’re in need of a full meal, book a table at the restaurant in the hotel’s stylish lobby, Maple & Pine.


Catbird at Hotel Weyanoke—Farmville


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The renovated Hotel Weyanoke is a luxury retreat in the heart of downtown Farmville, a few miles from Hampden Sydney College and across the street from the Longwood University campus. Head up to the Weyanoke’s rooftop bar and lounge, Catbird, for seasonal hand-crafted cocktails, craft brews or wines, and panoramic views of Farmville and the surrounding landscape. Pair your beverages with a selection of small plates and tapas served on the rooftop, or visit one of the hotel’s several noteworthy restaurants; dine on wood-fired artisan pizzas at the casual eatery Effingham’s for lunch or dinner, or enjoy an upscale supper at Campagna, the hotel’s sophisticated Italian restaurant. If you’re staying overnight, grab a quick bite for breakfast at Sassafras, a coffee shop serving pastries and other fresh treats made in-house daily.


Kabana Rooftop—Richmond


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Perched 20 floors above Richmond’s towering financial district, Kabana Rooftop Bar & Lounge is the highest rooftop bar in the capital city. They offer small snack plates as well as a curated list of cocktails, craft beer, and wines for those hot summer days. For a taste of local flavors, we recommend the Sunset Margarita, made with Richmond-based Belle Isle Honey Habanero Moonshine, or the RVA Sour, which combines Reservoir Rye Whiskey, another Richmond spirit, with simple syrup, fresh lemon juice, and red wine.


Sky Bar at the Hilton Virginia Beach Oceanfront—Virginia Beach


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You’ve never seen the Virginia Beach shoreline like this before! On the rooftop of the Hilton Virginia Beach Oceanfront Hotel, Sky Bar is 21 floors up from the sandy beachfront, with magnificent 360-degree views that include Virginia’s Eastern Shore, the North Carolina border, downtown Norfolk, and of course, the dazzling Atlantic Ocean. The rooftop bar and club often hosts live DJs for their dance parties, and the cocktail menu blends traditional recipes with coastal ingredients to create inventive and summer-inspired drinks. The hotel features two award-winning restaurants, Catch 31 and Salacia, on the lower levels where you can get dinner during your visit.


The Skyline Grill at the Virginian Hotel—Lynchburg


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Lynchburg’s first and currently only rooftop dining destination The Skyline Grill at the Virginian Hotel has both indoor and outdoor dining options in the rooftop restaurant, separated by glass garage doors left open during sunnier days. You can order a charcuterie platter or a few appetizers to share with friends, but if you’re in the mood for a hearty meal, they also offer a full entree menu, featuring dishes like pork belly wrapped cod, pan seared hanger steak with a wild mushroom demi-glace, and goat cheese crusted pork medallions topped with a sweet onion sauce, apple butter, and roasted brussel sprouts. Try one of the libations from their seasonally-inspired drink menu, from craft cocktails and draft brews to a wide variety of internationally sourced wines. Snuggle by the fire pits during chillier nights as you take in the surrounding scenery from the perfect vantage point of the rooftop couches.


Grain Rooftop Beer Garden at the Hilton Norfolk Main—Norfolk


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The Grain Rooftop Beer Garden at the Hilton Norfolk Main Hotel has one of the best selections of craft beer in Norfolk, and that is saying something in a city that is known for its impressive collection of craft breweries and brewpubs. Not a craft beer drinker? The drink menu also features a selection of specialty cocktails and wines. The beer garden’s terraced patio provides views of the Elizabeth River and downtown Norfolk, and is decorated with landscaped trees, twinkling lights, and a stylish yet cozy gas fire pit. Play a game of pool with friends in the upscale billiards room or sharpen your wits during a round of lawn chess in the patio’s backyard “garden” area. Before leaving snap a picture in the restaurant’s free photo booth to commemorate a memorable evening.


The Byrd House at the Graduate Richmond—Richmond


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On the top level of Richmond’s Graduate Hotel, The Byrd House is a brilliant pun on the city’s founder, William Byrd II, as well as a play on words for the bar’s sky-high perch. In addition to the bar and restaurant, the Byrd House also features a sleek poolside area for sunbathing and swimming. Cocktails, craft beers, and wines, including a refreshing frosé (frozen rosé slushies!) make up the drink list, while the “Byrd Food” consists of chips, dips, and larger fare like burgers and chicken sandwiches.


Arlington Rooftop Bar & Grill—Arlington


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If you’re in search of epic views near Washington, D.C., visit Arlington Rooftop Bar & Grill, an outdoor bar, restaurant, and lounge that overlooks downtown Arlington. The decor has a distinctly natural vibe, comprised mainly of stone slabs and natural woods that cover the walls, floors, tables, chairs, and even the bar. Strings of lights illuminate the patio area after dark, but try to arrive before dusk to catch a stunning sunset over the city. Snack on appetizers like crab dip and chips, fried calamari, chicken wings, or bacon-wrapped shrimp, then choose from their wide array of sandwiches, salads, or signature entrees if you’re still hungry. The cocktail menu is fairly small, consisting of only a few signature drink options, but they have over a dozen beers and ciders on draft and a decent selection of sparkling, white, red, and rosé wines.


Camp Ten Four at the Graduate Hotel—Charlottesville


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Charlottesville’s highest rooftop bar Camp Ten Four is located atop the stylish Graduate Hotel, nine floors above the city’s historic Main Street. The vibe is distinctly lighthearted and carefree, inviting you to remember the fun of childhood summer camps while enjoying an array of adult beverages, including a selection of cocktails cleverly contained in pouches that resemble Capri Suns. Food options maintain the casual atmosphere and include easy eats like nachos, cheeseburgers, and crinkle-cut fries.


Other Rooftop Restaurants & Bars Around Virginia:

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Historic Tours & Tea During Garden Week in Virginia

Historic Tours & Tea During Garden Week in Virginia

Enjoy tours, tea and visit to four plantations during Historic Garden Week in Virginia April 27 – May 4, 2019

If you are interested in hidden gems, you must visit Hopewell’s Weston Plantation (1789), the only plantation house remaining on the Appomattox River. This year, Weston Plantation will open Garden Week and its spring season with a tea sponsored by the Appomattox Garden Club on Sunday, April 28. Members of the Appomattox Garden Club decorate the three floors of the house with seasonal arrangements, chosen to complement the decor of each room. The arrangements will remain in place through May 4 for Garden Week in Virginia.

Weston Plantation– Weston Plantation –

“Southern ladies know how to entertain!” says Chesterfield resident Sherry Conklin. “This lovely tea is as nice as any event I have attended. The food is homemade by the ladies of the garden club – from cucumber sandwiches, ham biscuits, chicken salad puffs and cheese sticks to cookies and candies, along with a traditional fruit punch. Once you have been to the Weston tea, you’ll want to go back again.”

It’s not easy to find Weston. If you’re not careful, you might miss the small sign at on the right side of Rt. 10, which points to Weston. The sign is just after Rt. 10 crosses the Appomattox River, heading south from Richmond. From the sign, you follow a narrow winding road leading to Weston Lane and the Manor House.


Plantations on the James River

Berkeley, Shirley and Westover Plantations on the James River in Charles City are offering a special $45 combination ticket through the Garden Club of Virginia on April 28, 29 and 30. The combo ticket allows access to the grounds and gardens, outbuildings and interiors of all three historic sites as well as Westover Episcopal Church (1730), which is offering a lunch by advanced reservation.

The visitor will find the plantations on historic Rt. 5 just outside Richmond. Here you step back in time, driving through quiet, undisturbed woodlands and farms, where early landowners established their plantations on grants from the British crown in the 1600 and 1700s.

Shirley Plantation, founded in 1613 as Virginia’s first plantation, is located on 700 acres above the James River about 30 miles outside of Richmond and 35 miles from Williamsburg. The 11th generation of direct Carter descendants live in the plantation house and manage the farm.

Shirley Plantation– Shirley Plantation –

The grounds are open from 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. daily, with tours on the hour. On Sunday, April 28, Shirley Plantation is offering Afternoon Tea with Mrs. Carter. Upper Shirley Vineyards, located near the Plantation, offers visitors wine tastings, lunch, and appetizers.

Berkeley Plantation, where early settlers observed the first Thanksgiving in 1619, is ancestral home of the Harrison family – Benjamin Harrison V, signer of the Declaration of Independence; William Henry Harrison, 9th U.S. President; and Benjamin Harrison, the 23rd president. Tours are conducted daily from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Westover, the grandest of the James River Plantations was built by William Byrd II in the mid-18th century. Byrd, the founder of Richmond, is known for his early explorations and diaries of his life in Virginia. His library at Westover consisted of 4000 volumes.

Westover Plantation– Westover Plantation –

Westover’s grounds and gardens are open daily, 10am – 5pm, and interior house tours can be scheduled by appointment. The grounds include three 18th-century English wrought-iron gates. The pillars of the iron gate on the north side of the house, now abandoned, give testament to the grandeur of the plantation.

Nearby, Westover Episcopal Church includes burial plots of a number of prominent Virginians, including the first Benjamin Harrison of Berkeley and his wife as well as William Byrd I and his wife and William Byrd II’s daughter, Evelyn Byrd, often seen as a friendly ghost at Westover.

The nation’s only statewide house and garden tour, Historic Garden Week allows visitors to see Virginia’s gardens at the peak of spring color. Homes and manor houses on the tour are decorated with more than 2,300 flower arrangements created by members of the Garden Club of Virginia. For more information on the plantation tours and other Garden Week activities and to purchase combination tickets, visit www.vagardenweek.org. Tour proceeds fund the restoration and preservation of gardens throughout Virginia.

For information on the Appomattox Garden Club tea at Weston Manor, contact the Hopewell and Prince George Visitor Center at http://www.visithpg.com/visitor-center or call Carolyn Hoagland at 804-334-2684.


Written by Hopewell / Prince George for Hopewell/Prince George Chamber of Commerce.
Featured image provided by Hopewell / Prince George

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STEM/STEAM Activities and Exhibits for Students

STEM/STEAM Activities and Exhibits for Students

STEM is an educational curriculum that combines science, technology, engineering, and math. STEAM is adding art into the mix. Many Virginia museums and attractions offer educators and students the chance to get inspired, explore and learn in a setting outside of the traditional classroom. Below are a few museums and attractions and the exciting programs they offer.


The NASA Wallops Flight Facility Visitor Center, Wallops Island

Wallops Flight Facility and Visitor Center

The NASA Wallops Flight Facility Visitor Center offers exhibits about aeronautics, rockets, scientific balloons, current missions, and the history of Wallops Flight Facility. Numerous free public programs, field trip opportunities, events, and group tours of the facility are also available. The Visitor Center also serves as the viewing site for rockets that launch from Wallops Island.  The Virginia Space Flight Academy offers middle school students day and overnight programs with a mixture of excitement and fun.


Kings Dominion, Doswell

Kings Dominion’s lively, interactive setting is the ultimate venue for a greater understanding of the basics of STEM. Working with educators throughout the state, they have designed engaging educational programs with companion tools, including teacher-student workbooks, educator guides and pre-trip classroom activities – all made to align with Virginia courses of study as well as National Science Standards. Meal deals are also available.


Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Museum, Virginia Beach

Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center

The Virginia Aquarium is home to over 10,000 animals representing over 300 species. Self-guided visits, 3D films, an interactive boat trip and standards-based programs help bring science to life for your students. Live animals encounters are sure to engage students of all ages. Scout overnights, workshops and summer camps are also available.


Children’s Science Center Lab, Fairfax

The Lab features four experience zones with changing exhibits as well as a flex-space “Garage” for camps, classes, workshops, parties and mini expositions to showcase regional STEM talent in-action. Special animal encounters can be arranged on certain days. STEM educators are on-site to help facilitate activities.


Science Museum of Virginia, Richmond

Science Museum of Virginia
-Photo Credit: Science Museum of Virginia –

Visitors can get up close and personal with science while watching an amazing live demonstration or show their creativity by mixing art and science in Art Lab. The museum features touring exhibits from around the world and allows students to learn the science behind their favorite feast. Groups can attend a rat basketball game or watch live astronomy presentations, cosmic expeditions or a giant screen movie on the most technologically advanced digital dome theater in the world, The Dome.


Chincoteague Bay Field Station, Wallops Island

Located on the Eastern Shore, between the Atlantic Ocean and ecologically important Chesapeake Bay, the Chincoteague Bay Field Station introduces students to a variety of concepts in the biological, chemical, and physical sciences. Their summer camp activities include all of their traditional marine science topics as well as arts, sports and team building.


Virginia Living Museum, Newport News

Virginia Living Museum

At the Virginia Living Museum, nature and science come alive where visitors are connected to nature every day! Discover how pH can affect our ecosystems by testing different aquatic environments. Learn about plastic pollution and then upcycle some in their Shrinky Dinks activity and save it from ending up in a local landfill. On a sunny day, observe the sun in the rooftop observatory and race solar cars on the outdoor trail. These are just a few STEAM activities you may encounter during your visit at the Virginia Living Museum.


Explore More Discovery Museum, Harrisonburg

Over a dozen community-inspired exhibits are designed to engage young minds through interactive and multi-sensory learning. Students can design balloon-powered cars in Maker City or use simple circuits to light up their drawings. Master Summer Camps allow children to learn the science behind super heroes or create culinary masterpieces from around the world. The museum also offers special programs and workshops and SOL-guided field trips.


Virginia Museum of Natural History, Martinsville

Virginia Museum of Natural History

The Virginia Museum of Natural History has award-winning exhibits, ground-breaking scientific research and collections, and innovative educational programs for all ages. Students can participate in mock digs for dinosaur bones, build and race LEGO cars, explore iconic paintings and drawings using a math lens, conduct a variety of experiments and much more.


Virginia Transportation Museum, Roanoke

Explore the museum’s extensive collection of steam, diesel and electric locomotives, rail cars and model trains. Their student programming is aligned with the Virginia Standards of Learning in multiple disciplines and supports STEM education. Programs can be modified, developed, and crafted for individual groups. A playground, picnic area and lunch room is also available for your group.


Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, Fairfax

Steven F. Udvar Hazy Center

Home to two enormous hangars housing thousands of flight artifacts, including the Space Shuttle Discovery, the Steven F. Udvar Hazy center offers educational programs and activities for all ages. Portable carts called Discovery Stations, allow visitors to make a stop-motion animated film with space toys. Catch a science demo, learn about the forces of flight or fly a combat sortie in a simulator while doing 360-degree barrel rolls in a P-51 Mustang or F-4 Phantom II.


See more…

Student Group Itineraries

Family and Student-Friendly Activities

Virginia Museums


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Spring Break (and Summer) Survival in Staunton

Spring Break (and Summer) Survival in Staunton

With spring break ahead, summer travels, and impromptu days off here and there often leave parents looking for things to do. We’ve rounded up a list—worthy of a day trip or overnight stay—that won’t break the bank, making parents happy and keeping kids entertained. Pin, Facebook, bookmark, or print this for future reference; we’re sure you’ll look to it as a resource over the next few months.


Teenagers and Tweens

One of the coolest demonstrations you’ll ever see is glassblowing, and you can see it every day in Staunton at Sunspots Studios! Watch the masters seemingly turn glass into wax as they form big bubbles bound for a life of beauty. If you get inspired, try “Blowing Your Own Ornament” where you work alongside a trained artist to create a unique ornament which will provide a lifetime of memories.

Escape to Crack the Code where you must solve puzzles in order to escape the room. You have 60 minutes to find the clues, solve the puzzles and make your way to freedom. Choose from two different themed rooms: DaVinci’s Office and The Asylum. This group activity is perfect for large families or a group of friends (6 people max).

For parents of Pokémon Go fans, we’ve got the fix. Explore by foot using the free app, Traipse! Traipse takes you on an adventure that is half historic tour and half scavenger hunt. You can Traipse anytime, with whomever you want, in places like downtown Staunton or Gypsy Hill Park. And with the newest version of the app you can now build your own tour based on your interests, time and even level of difficulty.

Montgomery Hall Park is one of Staunton’s best kept secrets with its rolling hills and quiet woodlands. Its a perfect escape for those looking to get outdoors with 148 acres of nature hiking and mountain biking trails. The park is also equipped with a disc golf course, basketball courts, tennis courts and much more!


For history buffs visit the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Museum where you can discover the life and legacy of our 28th President or learn about the Valley’s earliest settlers at the Frontier Culture Museum. Theater enthusiasts will fall in love with the American Shakespeare Center’s Blackfriars Playhouse where selfies and Snapchat are encouraged as you can go behind, under, and even on stage!

The Younger Set

Discover Staunton by Trolley! Take a ride on the green trolley for just 25 cents per rider. Hop on and off as you visit area attractions like the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum and Gypsy Hill Park. Parents and Grand Parents can sit back and enjoy the architecture and scenery of several of Staunton’s historic districts. MUST SEE stops include Gypsy Hill Park to feed the ducks and stretch your legs; Split Banana for handmade gelato; and Pufferbellies to play with the latest toys. The Green route runs every 30 minutes from the Visitors Center located at 35 S. New Street.

Speaking of toys, did you know Staunton has a toy store that lets your kids play while you shop? “Don’t touch” is not a phrase you’ll hear at Pufferbellies. Pop in to play at the largest independently owned toy store in the Shenandoah Valley, and you can help your kids build their Christmas wish list while you’re at it!

Montgomery Hall Park is 148 acres and is home to the natural playground, Nature Ridge. Designed for imaginative play, Nature Ridge has a mud kitchen, rock quarry, pirate ship, ball drop, chimes, and an elevated sand pit accessible to children of all ages and abilities.

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For train obsessed kiddos we have the historic train station. Take a walk across Sears Hill Bridge for great City views and to explore the tracks from overhead. On the weekends, don’t miss the Gypsy Express Mini-Train running Saturdays and Sundays from May to October. Another kid hot spot is the Staunton Fire Station where you can see JUMBO, the oldest motorized fire engine in Virginia and the only remaining 1911 Robinson fire engine.

Pack a picnic and bring a stroller or rent a wagon for a day of exploration at the Frontier Culture Museum. Walking shoes recommended as you make your way from the Old World to the New, visiting farmsteads with costumed interpreters complete with farm animals.


Staunton has no shortage of music and art festivals during the warmer months and for other special events and weekly happenings check out Staunton On Tap, our schedule of events with all the latest happenings.


Written by Visit Staunton for Staunton.
Featured image provided by Staunton Tourism

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Your Complete Norfolk Spring Bucket List

Your Complete Norfolk Spring Bucket List

Spring is here, and with it comes warmer weather and these top 10 things to do outdoors. We’ve put together some local favorites and recommendations for your ultimate spring bucket list!

 1. Pack a Picnic

Norfolk is surrounded by water on three sides, which makes for many parks with waterfront views. Grab sandwiches from Pendulum Fine Meats’ Luncheonette, some of the most sustainably sourced meat in town, and make your way to a relaxing picnic at Norfolk’s Plum Point Park to watch the sailboats glide by.


2. Watch a Sunrise at the Beach

The sun rises in the east, and we’re blessed in Norfolk with soft sand and beautiful sites of the sunrise on two of our beaches, East Beach and Ocean View. Grab a coffee to-go from Sandfiddler Café and make your way to either location for a gorgeous sunrise over the water. Bring the pup! Dogs are allowed on both beaches until 10 am.

 3. Have a Tea Party

What’s springtime without a tea party in the garden? Norfolk’s hidden gem, the Pagoda & Oriental Garden now houses local favorite, Hummingbird Macarons & Desserts. Choose from specialty macaron flavors like Raspberry Berret or Cookies n’ Cream, then cleanse your palate with loose leaf teas in the garden outside.


4. Gather Fresh Produce at a Farmer’s Market

There’s nothing better than snacking on fresh berries and organic veggies. Peruse The Markets Fare at East Beach or Riverview Village Days at Lafayette Park and find some sun-soaked produce and fun souvenirs like handmade soap and local honey.

Farmers Market - Visit Norfolk
Visit Norfolk –


5. Catch a Butterfly

Spring is a time for new beginnings, and no creature represents it better than the butterfly! Observe them among the flowers at the Norfolk Botanical Garden’s Wildflower Meadow and Bristow Butterfly Garden, a 2.5-acre habitat with plants that attract and support this wildlife in all stages of their life cycle. The enclosed Butterfly House opens later in spring, where you can have an up-close experience with a variety of butterflies.


6. Enjoy a Rainy Day

Yes, we said it… ENJOY your rainy day. With spring comes showers, but that doesn’t mean you have to sit inside! Explore our abundance of museums, including the Chrysler Museum of Art, Nauticus Maritime Museum, Hermitage Museum & Gardens, and the Hunter House Victorian Museum. Be sure to splash in a rain puddle on your way in! For more museums, click here.

Museum - Visit Norfolk 
Visit Norfolk –


7. Attend a Festival

Norfolk is known for its many festivals and spring means it’s officially festival season! Explore the tall ships at Harborfest, America’s largest and longest running free maritime festival, join in the battle between red and white at the Spring Town Point Virginia Wine Festival, and meet local artists at the Stockley Gardens Art Festival. Find more of our locals’ favorite festivals here.


8. Read on a Rooftop

The gorgeous Slover Library in Downtown Norfolk offers rooftop patios where you can relax and read in the beautiful weather outside, all for free!

Patio Reading 
@dsullivan32, Instagram


9. Dine on the Patio

Located in the south, Norfolk boasts a warm spring. What better way to soak up the sun than to dine and sip outside? Check out Longboards for a surf shack vibe and marina views, or grab a bite of comfort food on a rooftop patio with garden lights at Supper Southern Morsels. Check out more patio dining here.


10. Walk Among Animals at the Zoo

The Virginia Zoo is located in the heart of the city, and their animals will take your heart! During select days of the week, you can walk through the Australian Walkabout among wallabies and emus. Afterward, head over to the ZooFarm exhibit, where you can play with goats and interact with alpacas, cows and pigs.

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I goat myself a new kid 🐐

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Written by Visit Norfolk for VisitNorfolk.
Featured image provided by @anna_on_the_keys, Instagram

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We Asked, You Shared: Your Favorite Things to Do in Virginia

We Asked, You Shared: Your Favorite Things to Do in Virginia

We asked our Instagram followers to share their favorite things to do in Virginia (and who they most wanted to take along for the ride) and we LOVED every single one of the dozens of responses we received. We’ve narrowed down our own favorites to these twelve incredible destinations that showcase some of the best activities that Virginia has to offer. Read on to see if your response made the cut!


Set Out on the Rappahannock RiverRappahannock River


Between the Northern Neck and the Middle Peninsula of Virginia, the Rappahannock is one of Virginia’s most scenic rivers, running almost 200 miles from its narrow source in the Shenandoah Valley to its final destination along Virginia’s eastern coast, where it empties into the Chesapeake Bay. If you don’t have your own boat or water sport equipment, you can rent them from River Rock Outfitter in Fredericksburg, which sits on the banks of the Rappahannock River about an hour north of Richmond. The outdoor shop provides an array of kayaks and paddle boards for hourly, daily, or weekend rates, allowing you to spend as much time as you want out on the river. Closer to the river’s mouth, The Tides Inn in Irvington offers all sorts of waterfront fun, including kayak, canoe, and paddleboat rentals, fishing excursions, riverfront cruises, boat charters, sailing classes, and jet ski eco-tours of the Rappahannock River.


Explore the Wondrous Luray CavernsLuray Caverns

Virginia is home to eight distinct cavern systems, but Luray Caverns are the largest in the Eastern United States and are also a U.S. National Landmark. Noted for the variety of distinct formations and the unparalleled natural colors, the caverns open to cathedral-sized rooms that reach up to ten stories high and contain crystal-clear pools that reflect massive stone columns. When visiting Luray Caverns, don’t miss seeing the world’s first and only Stalacpipe Organ, which creates distinct music from the existing stone formations, and after touring the caverns, check out The Garden Maze on the complex grounds, one of the largest hedge mazes in the Mid-Atlantic United States.


Discover the Historic Sites of Northern VirginiaGeorge Washington's Mount Vernon

This Virginia lover couldn’t pick one favorite thing to do, but instead highlighted three of the most notable historic sites in Northern Virginia. Start your journey about 15 miles south of Washington, D.C. at George Washington’s Mount Vernon, the immaculate riverfront estate of the first President of the United States. The jewel of the property is the restored home of the Founding Father, but you’ll also enjoy touring a host of colonial outbuildings, beautiful gardens, a working distillery and gristmill, and the lush lawns surrounding the home. Learn about the history of the era in the museum and education center, which features 25 galleries and theaters, over 700 artifacts, and interactive displays that let you get to know the real George Washington.

Next, travel west towards Chantilly to the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, the companion facility of the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum. Within the museum’s two capacious hangars, you’ll get a peek at thousands of historically-significant aviation and space artifacts, including a Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird, a Concorde airliner, and the Space Shuttle Discovery.

After your tour, head to one of the nearby Civil War National Battlefield Parks in Northern Virginia to walk the hallowed grounds of American history. Manassas National Battlefield Park and Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park are both just a short drive from the Udvar-Hazy Center, allowing you to fit all this epic history into a single (albeit long) day!


Find Small Town Charm in Every Corner of the CommonwealthDowntown Staunton

No matter what part of Virginia you’re visiting, you’ll find the irresistible allure of a quaint yet cozy small town. From waterfront communities like Cape Charles and Chincoteague on the Eastern Shore to the historic streets of Lexington and Staunton at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Virginia’s small towns are hidden gems packed with amazing farm-to-table restaurants, warm hospitality, and historic preserved Main Streets. Embark on a leisurely road trip through Virginia’s scenic countryside and end the journey in one of these stunning small towns, where you’ll learn the true meaning of the phrase “Southern Charm”.


Enjoy Luxury With Your (Four-Legged) Best Friend at Salamander ResortSalamander Resort & Spa

Just 30 minutes west of the Dulles Airport and about an hour west of Washington, D.C., the pet-friendly Salamander Resort is a luxurious rural retreat set on 340 acres in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. If traveling with your pet, book one of their upscale terrace level accommodations, which provide easy access to the grounds and come with loads of upscale amenities for both you and your pet, including plush dog beds, food and water bowls, organic treats made daily by the pastry team, a special toy, and waste bags. The grounds contain miles of trails for you and your dog to explore; grab a trail map from the front desk and take your pooch for a stroll through some of Virginia’s most breathtaking countryside. Before leaving the resort, stop at the “dog walk” in front of the pet step-and-repeat for a photo opp.


Take a Leisurely Bike Ride Along The Virginia Creeper TrailVirginia Creeper Trail

Named for the steam engines that once climbed the rails into the Iron Mountains, as well as the native plant that grew along the tracks, The Virginia Creeper Trail is a 34.3-mile maintained rails-to-trails route open to hikers, bicyclists, and horseback riders. Rent bikes from one of the outfitters in Damascus or Abingdon and opt for the cycling route length that suits your level of difficulty; the outfitters provide shuttles to or from their location, allowing you an easy one-way ride along this famed Southwest Virginia trail.


Savor Award-Winning Treats at Red Truck BakeryRed Truck Bakery

Red Truck Bakery is not only beloved by Virginians, but has gained international acclaim for their incredible baked goods, with outlets like the Washingtonian, The New York Times, Southern Living, and Esquire Magazine writing about the rural bakery. Additionally, celebrities like Oprah and former President Barack Obama have raved about the bakery’s sweet treats. With so many ringing endorsements, you’re sure to love the pastries, pies, cakes, and other baked goods made fresh each day at the Red Truck Bakery.


Craft Brewery Hop in the Scott’s Addition Neighborhood of RichmondThe Veil Brewing Company in Scott's Addition

In the past decade, Virginia has exploded onto the craft beer scene, and the historic Scott’s Addition neighborhood in Richmond is a prime example of this brewing movement. This craft beverage mecca is home to over a dozen breweries, cideries, distilleries, and meaderies within six square blocks of each other, allowing you to easily visit them all on foot. Breweries to visit include The Veil Brewing Company, Ardent Craft Ales, and Vasen Brewing Company, while cider lovers will enjoy sipping seasonal offerings on the patio of Blue Bee Cider, or in the case of inclement weather, sampling ciders in the cozy warehouse tasting room of Buskey Cider. Make an appointment at Reservoir Distillery to try some of Virginia’s finest whiskies, and if you’ve never tasted mead before, be sure to stop into Black Heath Meadery.


Catch Aquatic Wildlife at the Virginia AquariumVirginia Aquarium

Containing more than 10,000 animals representing 300+ species, the Virginia Aquarium in Virginia Beach is fun for all ages. While you’ll spot all types of aquatic creatures swimming in the enormous glass tanks, you can also get an up-close look (and feel!) at animals like stingrays and horseshoe crabs in the aquarium touch pools. Get out on the water with the aquarium’s boat tours; depending on the time of year, you’ll spot dolphins, whales, or other local wildlife in their natural habitat during the tours.


Camp Under the Stars in Shenandoah National ParkStargazing in Shenandoah National Park

One of the most significant natural landmarks in the United States, Shenandoah National Park contains countless hiking trails, including over 100 miles of the famed Appalachian Trail, which winds through the shaded peaks of the Blue Ridge Mountains. But the beauty of the park is even more apparent under an expansive night sky. Plan a weekend trip with friends to hike the park, then stay overnight in one of the four campgrounds within Shenandoah National Park. You’ll always remember the epic experience of sleeping under a bright blanket of stars in the park, away from the noise and daily distractions of modern day living.


Relax and Unwind at Virginia’s Scenic BeachesSunrise on the Boardwalk in Virginia Beach

Virginia’s pristine beaches are a popular spot for family getaways. Whether you’re looking for a quiet coastal retreat (stay at Cape Charles on Virginia’s Eastern Shore), an oceanfront destination for a large family reunion (book a rental home in Sandbridge Beach), or exciting nightlife and luxury lodging by the Atlantic (plan a trip to Virginia Beach), the beaches in Virginia welcome every traveler to see what the shores are all about! Don’t miss out on sampling the local seafood, including fresh Virginia oysters pulled straight from the Chesapeake Bay.


These are just a few of the awesome responses we received from our Instagram fans. Where is your favorite place to go when visiting Virginia? Share your top destinations with us in the comments below!

The post We Asked, You Shared: Your Favorite Things to Do in Virginia appeared first on Virginia’s Travel Blog.

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Big Concerts Coming to Virginia in May 2019

Big Concerts Coming to Virginia in May 2019

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

On May 9-12, the East Coast Music Conference will be bringing nearly thousands of fans and artists together in Norfolk for four days of industry speakers, parties, and more than 100 live performances.The East Coast Music Conference offers dozens of showcase performances for music fans of all genres, industry seminars and networking for musicians and industry personnel, and much more.

Richmond’s outdoor sports and music festival Dominion Riverrock will brings thousands to the riverside Brown’s Island on May 17-19 with live music performances from Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Billy Strings, Turkuaz, South Hill Banks, Palm Palm, Skydog, The Big Payback, and more.

Running through May and June, the Virginia Arts Festival will be bringing hundreds of world-class performing arts in venues throughout Hampton Roads. Major performances include Béla Fleck & Chick Corea (May 11), Michael Feinstein, Great American Songbook (May 19), I’m With Her (May 23) and many more.

The Rooster Walk Music & Arts Festival will feature nearly 50 bands just outside of Martinsville May 23-26. The lineup includes Galactic, Sam Bush Band, Shovels & Rope, Marcus King Band, Billy Strings, Steep Canyon Rangers, and many more.

Dr. Ralph Stanley’s Hills of Home Music Festival is located in the beautiful mountains of Southwest Virginia at Dr. Ralph Stanley’s “home place” in McClure. The three day festival, taking place May 23-25, is a great opportunity to see traditional bluegrass bands.

Head to Floyd for the Chantilly Farm Bluegrass and BBQ Festival May 24-25 to celebrate the summer with some of the biggest bands in bluegrass and mountain music.

The Virginia Beach Patriotic Festival celebrates the military at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront May 31-June 2 and features performances from Old Dominion, Luke Combs, and Kane Brown.

Over at Virginia’s many live music venues:

The National in Richmond will be bringing a number of big name artists throughout the month including Tyler Farr (May 2), Black Label Society (May 12), Tank and the Bangas (May 22), Stone Temple Pilots (May 28), and more.

At Richmond Raceway’s Virginia Credit Union Live!, Juice Wrld and The 1975 will be performing on May 14 and May 22, respectively.

Richmond’s summer concert series, Friday Cheers, brings some of the nation’s hottest touring acts, along with some regional favorites to Brown’s Island every Friday night in May. Thousands of people will come to relax after the work week to meet friends and hear music from Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, Chicano Batman, Illiterate Light, and Colter Wall.

Elsewhere in Richmond, Son Volt will perform at the Broadberry on May 7, while Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds will be there on May 23, along with many other shows. India.Arie will be at the Dominion Energy Center on May 7.

Just outside Richmond, the Innsbrook After Hours concert series at the Servpro Pavilion in Glen Allen will host Lady Antebellum on May 4, 311 on May 18, and Kane Brown on May 31.

The Beacon Theatre in Hopewell will host Firehouse on May 3, LeAnn Rimes on May 4, The LACS on May 30, and more.

In Charlottesville, shows at the the Jefferson Theater will include Todd Snider (May 2), Tallest Man on Earth (May 11), Josh Ritter (May 18), and more.

The Norva

The NorVa in Norfolk will be hosting acts like Japanese Breakfast (May 2), Tom Morello (May 15), The Struts (May 16), and more.

The Hampton Coliseum will be hosting Tool on May 10.

On May 5, the Veterans United Home Loans Amphitheater at Virginia Beach will host FM99’s Lunatic Luau featuring Shinedown, Bush, In This Moment, Fozzy, P.O.D., and more. Hootie & the Blowfish will perform there on May 30.

Over in Rocky Mount at the Harvester Performance Center, performances this month include The Dustbowl Revival (May 3), Here Come the Mummies (May 9), Sister Hazel (May 18), Cracker (May 26), and more.

The Berglund Center in Roanoke will have Home Free on May 7, Alan Jackson on May 11, Styx on May 24, and Randy Houser on May 31.

The Thursday Jams concert series at the Abingdon Market Pavilion will welcome Morgan Wade on May 9, Town Mountain on May 16, Nora Jane Struthers on May 23, and Flow Tribe on May 30.

Phase 2 Club in Lynchburg will be bringing in acts such as Motionless In White & Atreyu (May 8), The 80s vs. 90s Party featuring Biz Markie (May 11), P.O.D. (May 18), and more.

The Lime Kiln Theater in Lexington will host The Infamous Stringdusters on May 10 and I’m With Her on May 24.

The Blue Ridge Summer Concert Series at the Blue Ridge Music Center in Galax will host Po’ Ramblin’ Boys and Vivian Leva & Riley Calcagno on May 25.

Jiffy Lube Live in Bristow will be hosting The Who on May 11, Chris Young on May 18, and Bob Seger on May 25.

Alexandria music hall The Birchmere will host David Allan Coe on May 4, Gordon Lightfoot on May 13, Maceo Parker on May 18, and more.

At Wolf Trap National Park for Performing Arts in Vienna, shows will include The Avett Brothers (May 23) and Sammy Hagar (May 31), among others.

The Tally Ho Theatre in Leesburg will be hosting Julian Marley on May 9, Danny Worsnop of Asking Alexandria on May 17, and The Black Lillies on May 24, among many other shows.


For more big names coming to Virginia this month, go to virginia.org/bignamesinconcert. 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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The Top Events & Festivals Happening in Virginia This May

The Top Events & Festivals Happening in Virginia This May

The month of May is full of fun and exciting events happening all across the Commonwealth. Whether you are an adventure seeker, a foodie, or a music lover, you have an enjoyable month ahead. Pick your favorites and mark your calendar!


Appalachian Trail Days—Damascus

When: May 17-19, 2019Adventure Damascus Bicycle and Outdoor Co.

Each year in May, hikers from all over gather in Damascus during Appalachian Trail Days to celebrate the Appalachian Trail. This three day, family friendly outing is one of the most popular small-town events. Visitors are welcome to enjoy live music, an auction, parade, presentations and workshops, hikes, movies, great food, and a hiker’s talent show.


Virginia Hyperfest—Afton

When: May 17-19, 2019

Plan on attending Virginia Hyperfest, the east coast’s largest motorsports event! Pack your cooler, grab some friends, and experience some of the many activities featured. Check out the SpeedTrendSociety Car Show, then experience the thrill yourself when you sign up for HyperDRIVES, where participants can drive their own car on the track with an expert instructor. Take a helicopter ride or a race car ride-along, or if you’re coming with children, visit the kids zone and see live music performances. Take part in the PRS Air Guitar Contest and several different spectator games. This is an adventure filled weekend that you will not want to miss.


Dominion Riverrock—Richmond

When: May 17-19, 2019riverrock festival

This event was created to showcase what makes Richmond stand out as an up-and-coming city. Riverrock features several outdoor and adventure activities with Richmond’s urban riverfront as the backdrop. Experience the largest outdoor sports and music festival in the country while participating in activities such as standup paddle boarding or kayaking on class III & IV rapids, biking and running on one of the many trails, and bouldering and slacklining, to name a few.


Virginia Gold Cup—Fauquier

When: May 4, 2019

land rover great meadow international

Experience the world-famous Virginia Gold Cup steeplechase race at Great Meadow this May. This highly anticipated spring event has been a tradition in Fauquier since 1922 and is usually attended by over 50,000 spectators. Race day festivities include six hurdle and timber horse races, Jack Russell Terrier races, a hat contest and a tailgate decorating contest, in addition to special food and drink offerings.


Rosie’s Gaming Emporium—New Kent

When: Throughout May

Although they are officially opening on April 23, Rosie’s Gaming Emporium at Colonial Down’s will be in full swing in Virginia this May. With 600 historical horse racing machines, you’ll find plenty of fun gaming action throughout Rosie’s, and have endless chances to win huge jackpots while sipping on cocktails in the gaming lounge.


Spring Wine Festival—Mount Vernon

When: May 17-19, 2019Mount Vernon

Celebrate Virginia’s rich wine history at the Spring Wine Festival, held on the grounds of George Washington’s Mount Vernon. Take an exclusive mansion tour and explore the wine cellar, and during this festival, visitors are invited to pack a blanket and relax on the east lawn with a view of the Potomac River as the backdrop. Listen to live music, purchase some fruit and cheese to snack on, and sample a variety of Virginia wines.


Gordonsville’s Famous Fried Chicken Festival—Gordonsville

When: May 18, 2019

Gordonsville’s claim to fame is their delicious fried chicken, which was served by local women to passengers on trains as they passed through the town. Visitors are welcome to savor this tasty and comforting culinary treat at the town’s Famous Fried Chicken Festival. The day will be full of activities and events including a cook-off contest, where participants will have their special fried chicken and pie recipes judged. Expect to find great entertainment and specialty vendors, in addition to local cideries and wineries that will be offering tastings and goods for sale.


Annual Chincoteague Seafood Festival—Chincoteague

When: May 4, 2019chincoteague seafood festival

The Chincoteague Seafood Festival is held annually to promote Virginia’s Eastern Shore and its vibrant seafood industry. Seafood lovers are invited to try the fresh local fare, like little neck clams, clam fritters, chowder and strips, raw and fried oysters, and steamed shrimp. Several non-seafood offerings are available, such as the ever-popular hushpuppies and sweet potato fries. Alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks will also be available for purchase. Festival goers can participate in the extravaganza raffle for a chance to win t-shirts, gift certificates, and lots of other prizes. This is an advance ticketed event that is usually sold out prior to the event.


Annual Rooster Walk Music & Food Festival—Martinsville

When: May 23-26, 2019

If you are looking to spend your Memorial Day weekend immersed in music and culture, you’ll want to be at the 11th annual Rooster Walk Music and Arts Festival. This event features musical performances across several different genres, including bluegrass, rock, reggae, jazz, country, and Americana, all in a family friendly environment. In addition to music, explore several vendor booths to partake in arts and crafts. Take the kids to the Kid’s Coop where they can participate in constant events and activities like open mic sessions, slip n’ slides, treasure hunts, and so much more.


Patriotic Fest—Virginia Beach

When: May 31- June 2, 2019

Visit Virginia Beach on the last weekend of May for Patriotic Fest, an annual event that celebrates our military. The Patriotic Fest is a three-day-long event featuring concerts, military expos, and displays. This year visitors can expect to see talented headliners like Old Dominion, Luke Combs, and Kane Brown.


Virginia NHRA Nationals—Dinwiddie

When: May 17-19, 2019

Virginia Motorsports Park will be hosting the 2019 Virginia NHRA Nationals. After hosting a sellout crowd at the 2018 event where records were set in almost every category, fans are awaiting what’s to come this year. Tickets for the event are on sale along with the addition of two VIP experiences for the only national event happening in the state of Virginia.


More notable events happening around Virginia this May:

The post The Top Events & Festivals Happening in Virginia This May appeared first on Virginia’s Travel Blog.

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LOVEworks Family Adventures

LOVEworks Family Adventures

Bealeton Lovework Travel Guide

Meet one family creating lifelong memories as they capture their Virginia LOVEworks travels on Instagram.

Known affectionately by friends and family as the “FloYos,” the Flowers-Yost family, comprised of Mandi and Matthew, their daughters Lili and Savannah, and their dog Zoe Jane, takes every opportunity to travel to Virginia’s more than 100 giant LOVE signs, dubbed “LOVEworks.”

The fun first began when the FloYos traveled home from a family vacation. They stopped at a rest area and saw their first LOVE sign, and the rest was history. Their Instagram page boasts more than 300 posts of LOVEworks – which, according to Mandi, has been the best way to document their journey and “a great way to share the love with others.”

Abingdon lovework travel guide

Mandi acts as the primary photographer, though occasionally, 8-year-old Savannah takes over. Their eldest, Lili, is a senior at college, and prefers being behind the camera to capture the family moments. The FloYos enjoy building trips around their LOVEworks destinations, finding plenty of other spots to see while in the area thanks in part to social media.

“I use the location of the town and search TripAdvisor for things to do, and then I also hashtag the area on Instagram to see what the locals see,” Mandi says. “We usually find a local place nearby to eat and also seek out any roadside America attractions nearby – you’d be surprised how many there are!”

Norfolk Airport Lovework Travel Guide

Other stops include museums and forts for a dose of Virginia history. When Mandi and Matt travel solo, they also enjoy trying out the numerous local wineries and breweries. One of Mandi’s favorite areas to visit is the NEON arts district in Norfolk, with “absolutely amazing” street art and murals.

With 75 locations now checked off the list, it’s difficult for the FloYos to narrow down their list of favorites, as each has its own unique charms. But Mandi’s favorite LOVEwork is located at Airlie in Warrenton, as it was one of the first they encountered and uniquely offers visitors a chance to impart some love of their own. 

“We put our first lovelock of our marriage on the sign at Airlie,” she says. “The sign is so picturesque and the grounds are simply beautiful. It just has an all-around good vibe, and is so tranquil and relaxing to visit.”

Their second favorite LOVEwork destination is the Virginia Beach area. “I love the fact that there was so much art to be seen! There were several love signs, [and] the street art and murals are absolutely amazing … I have seen the newest LOVEwork recently unveiled there [in the ViBe Creative District] by a local artist, and we can’t wait to get back to visit and check that one out!”

The FloYos know Virginia offers something for everyone and appreciate all the state does to promote inclusivity. From wineries, breweries, art districts and music festivals, to small historic towns, family activities and outdoor recreation, friends and family will always find ways to enjoy quality time together.

“Virginia holds true to their slogan [Virginia is for Lovers],” Mandi says. “Whether it’s music, wine, love, beer, art or something else, there is nothing not to love!”

Washington Lovework Travel Guide

Mandi and Matt hope Virginia continues to add LOVEworks to every town so they always have one more reason to visit. For them, it’s important to keep creating and sharing the love, because “you never know who you will inspire to get out and see the state.” They have made friends with other Instagram users and families who share and support each other’s LOVEwork adventures.

While the trips are fun and educational, they’re ultimately about making memories. Mandi didn’t get to see much of the country when she was a child, so it’s important that their daughters see the beauty of nature, experience history, and see and appreciate the beauty of art.

“The most important thing we want to teach our beautiful daughters is that there is so much more to life than ‘stuff.’ We would rather collect memories than things,” Mandi says. “Spending time together and creating memories is at the top of our priority list, and we hope that they share that with their families someday.”

“Make memories, have laughs and see something new at every chance you get, because ultimately, life is just too short. We can’t wait to find more LOVE!”Orange Lovework Travel Guide

Read more incredible Virginia stories when you order a copy of the 2019 Virginia Travel Guide. Follow along with the FloYos on Instagram @MattAndMandiKindOfLove, then start planning your own LOVEwork adventure at Virginia.org/love.


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Best Outdoor Things to Do in Norfolk, VA

Best Outdoor Things to Do in Norfolk, VA

With an abundance of outdoor activities, Norfolk is the perfect destination to enjoy some sunshine. From exploring our gardens to dancing in the street to live music at First Fridays, there is a variety for you to explore. You won’t want to miss these unique ways to get outside!

Parks and Gardens

Elizabeth River Trail

The Elizabeth River Trail or as locals call it, the ERT, is a 10.5-mile biking and pedestrian urban trail that will satisfy the highly active. Rental bikes ( Pace bike share) are scattered throughout the city so you don’t even have to worry about having a bike!


Visit Norfolk

Poplar Hall Park

Poplar Hall Park Disc Golf Course is one of Norfolk’s several public parks. Friends and family can enjoy the park with a picnic and toss the frisbee, but if you’re ready to get competitive the frisbee course awaits.

Botanical Garden

The beautiful Norfolk Botanical Garden has over 60 themed gardens on the property and there is always something to explore. Most blooms can be spotted during the spring and summer months, but make sure to check out their year-round gardens too. The Sensory Garden is year-round and filled with plants that will please all of your senses. Visitors are encouraged to enjoy the sights, textures and smells of this space.

Hermitage Museum and Gardens

The Hermitage Museum and Gardens offer visitors a dose of history, art and horticulture all in one spot. With the Hermitage sitting right on the Lafayette River it’s a perfect backdrop for a day spent outdoors! During the warmer months, be sure to check out their “Sunsets on the River” event, for an evening of outdoor entertainment including local music, food trucks, art, local craft beer and wine. Best part yet, they allow your well- behaved dog to join in on the fun!

Outdoor Entertainment

Party on the Pier

A hidden gem in Norfolk, the Nauticus pier which hosts a monthly affair offering food trucks, live music, local brews and more. It’s the perfect spot to watch the sunset and the best way to end your day after exploring Norfolk.


Visit Norfolk

Ocean View Concerts

End your Friday and Sunday evenings sitting in a beach chair a few feet from the water, while Ocean View’s concert series plays the soundtrack to your evening. Local and regional bands will perform as the sun sets along the Chesapeake Bay. Lawn games, children’s activities, food and drinks will be at your fingertips while you enjoy your beachside evening.


Wine, food and children’s festivals are a few of Norfolk’s highly anticipated waterfront events. Check out Norfolk’s must-attend festivals here!

Eat and Drink

The mild weather in Norfolk allows foodies to enjoy patios and rooftops from March to November. Breweries are equipped with patios and beer gardens that make for the perfect afternoon outing.

On the Water

Norfolk has 144 miles of shoreline! Needless to say, there is no shortage of water access. Click here to check out the top 8 ways to get out on the water!


Visit Norfolk

Written by Visit Norfolk for VisitNorfolk.

Featured image provided by @anastasiau , Instagram

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A Guide to Green Travel: Eco-Friendly Vacations in Virginia

A Guide to Green Travel: Eco-Friendly Vacations in Virginia

Scenic Farm in the Charlottesville area. Photo by John Hulburt.

While there are countless Virginia businesses committed to practices that reduce their impacts on the environment, some go above and beyond, making huge strides towards bettering Virginia’s beautiful landscapes. Visit these eco-friendly destinations or book a tour to learn about how they implement sustainable practices in their businesses.


Polyface Farms—SwoopePolyface Farm

Polyface Farms is a prime example of eco-friendly agricultural practices, raising animals and growing produce using only the most sustainable, environmentally-sound methods. For a casual view behind the scenes, the farm offers a self-guided tour Monday-Saturday during business hours, but if you want to hear from the staff, you can sign up for their Grass Stains tour, a two-hour educational walking tour of the farm, or the Lunatic Tours, which are limited to 100 people and are given from the casual pace of a hayride.


The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center—Virginia BeachVirginia Beach Aquarium

In addition to displaying a wide array of unique sea creatures in safe, natural habitats within the aquarium, the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center operates the Stranding Response Program, a statewide effort to provide aid to all stranded marine mammals and sea turtles. The program examines distressed animals and offers the most humane treatment courses based on the diagnosis. Over the years, the aquarium has helped thousands of stranded, sick, and injured animals return to their homes off the coast of Virginia. Additionally, the aquarium facilitates visitor science programs, works on conservation projects like restoring coral reefs and rebuilding local osprey populations, and studies ocean trends to help marine life thrive in areas where human activities have damaged their ecosystem. To contribute to the important work done by the Virginia Aquarium, you can make a donation online, plan a visit to the aquarium, or book one of their whale and dolphin watching boat trips, where a portion of your ticket sales will support the aquarium’s education, research, and conservation efforts.


Williamsburg Winery—WilliamsburgThe Williamsburg Winery Oysters

Virginia oysters are a delicious, flavorful treat, but they are also one of the most environmentally-friendly foods out there. These plump bivalves clean the Chesapeake Bay and surrounding waterways, filtering the waters and creating clean water wherever they live. Once harvested, they are taken to restaurants all over Virginia, like Gabriel Archer Tavern at The Williamsburg Winery, where they are served on the half-shell, fried, grilled, or in other savory dishes. Paired with the wines made on-site, these oysters are the perfect way to practice ecotourism while enjoying one of Virginia’s most popular foods. And after your meal, the restaurant recycles the shells with the VCU Rice Rivers Center Oyster Shell Recycling program, which are returned to Virginia waters to act as reefs for new generations of oysters.


Wild Wolf Brewing Company—NellysfordWild Wolf Brewing Company

Wild Wolf Brewing Company received the Green Brewery of the Year Award from the Virginia Green Travel Alliance for three consecutive years (2015-2017). Recycling, composting, and water and energy conservation are the main focal points for sustainable practices at Wild Wolf. A careful composting process is used for the restaurant’s on-site garden, creating rich soil to grow their own vegetables and herbs. They also grown their own hops, keeping resident chickens and ducks in the fields to eat the bugs and keep down the weeds, avoiding the use of harmful chemical pesticides. Like many Virginia breweries, Wild Wolf sends most of their spent grains to local beef farmers for feed, who then provide beef for Wild Wolf’s restaurant, creating a sustainable loop of eco-friendly business practices. Additionally, the brewery side uses recycled materials for their six pack carriers and uses cans rather than bottles for their beers, which are lighter and easier to recycle.


The Sustainable Homestead Institute—Ridgewaythe sustainable homestead institute

Focusing on sustainable development, nature reliance education, and ecological land design, The Sustainable Homestead Institute is a non-profit organization that provides an immersive experience in the skills that were used by earlier peoples to survive off the land. Sign up for courses ranging from one to five days to learn valuable outdoor skills, including how to build shelters, start fires, and create safe drinking water. Additionally, this educational facility has transformed hay fields into a research farm that produces honey, grazed beef and mutton, free-range eggs, heirloom apples, timber products, and biodynamic vegetables in a large commercial greenhouse.


The Bunny Hutch—Virginia BeachThe Bunny Hutch Lord Roland, Official Easter Bunny of Virginia

Visit The Bunny Hutch in Virginia Beach, where almost every animal you meet is available for adoption! The Bunny Hutch operates as both an exotic animal rescue and an educational facility that teaches visitors about the care of exotic animals. To date, the crew at the Bunny Hutch have rescued over 220 animals, often saving them from homes where owners did not have the knowledge or equipment to care for specialty animals. The Bunny Hutch allows you to meet all sorts of animals, but the biggest star is definitely Lord Roland Watson Beldon Maxwell VIII, AKA Junior. The son of the world’s largest rabbit, this Continental Giant Rabbit is also the official Easter Bunny of Virginia. Stop by the Bunny Hutch to say hello to Junior and meet all the other interesting animals that call this animal rescue home!


Plan Your Own Clean Up Day To Help Local CommunitiesVirginia is for Lovers Team Cleans up The James River Richmond Virginia

If you’re looking to do your own part in keeping the local communities clean, consider signing up for a self-guided cleanup program in Virginia. There are many different organizations that provide the tools and information for cleaning up throughout the Commonwealth, including the James River Association, Keep Virginia Beautiful, and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, which hosts a Clean the Bay Day on the first Saturday in June, bringing together thousands of Virginians to help clean dozens of watershed areas that feed into the Chesapeake Bay.


Looking for more eco-friendly businesses and things to do in Virginia? Here are a few more destinations worth a visit to learn about sustainable practices:


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Bike, Run, Paddle, Swim, Repeat…in the 2019 Adventure Series

Bike, Run, Paddle, Swim, Repeat…in the 2019 Adventure Series

Virginia State Parks and Appalachian Power are pleased to announce exciting news for the 2019 Adventure Series.

The series in an eclectic mix of races in Virginia State Parks that offers competitors of all levels a chance to win and earn great prizes, cash and Virginia State Parks annual passes and gift certificates.

Now in our third year, we’ve listened to your suggestions and made some exciting changes to the 2019 season with new races, new scoring system and new ways to win for competitors of all levels.

Check out this year’s exciting line-up

Smith Mountain Lake Triathlon.

Virginia State Parks

Races range from Cyclocross, running events, mountain biking, adventure races to Sprint Tri’s like the Appalachian Power Smith Mountain Lake Triathlon.

This year’s dynamic point system combines the difficulty of each race and the finishing place of each competitor. Details can be found on the website and in the rules and scoring system (PDF).

Wanna win? You have to get by these two. Ed Ross-Clunis 2017 runner up and 2018 Champion on the left and Carrie Parker who’s taken home the gold both years on the right.

Virginia State Parks

Ed Ross-Clunis 2017 runner up and 2018 Champion on the left and Carrie Parker who’s taken home the gold both years on the right.

We’re also pleased to offer an expanded “Achievement Awards” categories to include more ways to win Virginia State Parks annual passes and Gift Certificates. Categories range from he most total points, down to awards for completing four Adventure Series races.[

New for 2019 is the “Five for Fun” category in which a competitor can complete any five races of any type in Virginia State Parks and receive an annual pass and entry into a drawing for $150 Gift Certificate.

Please join our Facebook page for updates, reminders and important information concerning the series. If you have any questions please contact Steve Boyd here. We hope to see you out there!

Written by Steve Boyd for Virginia State Parks.

Featured image provided by Virginia State Parks

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Where to Catch (and Sometimes Pick!) Colorful Spring Flowers in Bloom

Where to Catch (and Sometimes Pick!) Colorful Spring Flowers in Bloom


Welcome to the season of renewal in Virginia! It is the best time of year to explore the beautiful blossoms that are making the Commonwealth so colorful this spring. While it’s easy to go outdoors and discover wildflowers in almost every corner, find sanctuary in one of these gorgeous gardens to see the vibrant blooming flora all throughout Virginia this spring.


Historic Garden Week—Locations Throughout VirginiaTuckahoe Plantation: Garden Week

This year marks the 86th annual historic garden week in Virginia. This week-long event offers a great opportunity to visit more than 250 different gardens across the state of Virginia. Experience spring blooms at their peak and visit historic homes with colorful arrangements created by the Garden Club of Virginia.


Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens—RichmondLewis Ginter Botanical Garden

Situated minutes away from Downtown Richmond on a historic property, the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens is one of the most incredible spots in Central Virginia to see a variety of spring flowers. Fifty acres of gardens include a conservatory with hundreds of orchids and several themed gardens, including a children’s garden that offers a treehouse and an adventure pathway. Whether you are visiting for a day of family fun or to bask in the beauty and charm, this year-round garden is particularly sweet in the spring. It is no surprise that Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens is a top attraction in the Richmond region.



Another gorgeous Richmond attraction, Maymont is a 100-acre property was gifted to the community by Mr. James and Mrs. Sallie Dooley, who resided in the estate from 1893-1925. Maymont features several themed gardens including an Italian Garden made up of geometric flower beds, sculptures, and fountains that are reminiscent of the Villa Torlonia near Rome. Maymont’s Japanese Garden transports visitors with fragrant cherry blossoms in full bloom, water irises, and intricate stonework surrounding a tumbling waterfall. Stroll through their Arboretum or visit one of several specialty gardens to experience the beauty of the spring season.


Burnside Farms—NokesvilleBurnside Farms

Head over to Burnside Farms in Nokesville, Virginia for their annual Festival of Spring. This is the perfect colorful backdrop for a new family photo to display in your home or as your newest screensaver. At the opening of each spring season, visitors are welcomed onto the grounds, filled with over one million spring blooms. Fifty varieties of tulips are bursting with color in their fields. This family friendly event allows visitors to pick daffodils (2 for $1), and tulips ($1 per stem). For an additional dollar, you can take the bulb home to plant in your own garden. Admission includes games, activities, live music and vendors on weekends.


Edith J. Carrier Arboretum & Botanical Gardens— Harrisonburg

Situated on the campus of James Madison University, the Edith J. Carrier Arboretum & Botanical Gardens showcases the natural beauty that the spring season promises. Visitors are invited to walk the trails and pathways brushed with Virginia native plants, landscaped gardens and lush lawns perfect for a picnic or an afternoon of relaxation. Offering a number of cultural and educational programs throughout the year, guests can leave with a newfound appreciation for environmental preservation.


Colonial Williamsburg—WilliamsburgColonial Williamsburg

Take a trip back in time with a visit to Colonial Williamsburg, where you’ll enjoy 90+ gardens spanning over more than 100 acres of colonial era public buildings, homes, shops, and exhibits. Partake in a guided stroll through Rockefellers’ Bassett Garden, where an expert will share family stories and explain the design of the garden. If you have ever wondered about gardening techniques used back in colonial days, pick a date and visit the “Meet the Gardener” program. Explore the ornamental garden at the governor’s palace, or visit the vegetable gardens behind private homes on Duke of Gloucester Street.


Gloucester Daffodil Festival—Gloucester

Scenic Gloucester

Take part in what has been a Gloucester tradition since 1987. Each year, the town of Gloucester hosts a Daffodil Festival to welcome the new spring season. This event offers fun for the entire family, with a parade, face painting, games, activities, and live music. Participate in the daffodil show, attend the History of Bulbs and Blooms presented by Brent Heath, or tour the farms at Brent and Becky’s bulbs.


Norfolk Botanical Gardens—NorfolkNorfolk Botanical Gardens

The Norfolk Botanical Gardens offer an experience that is unique to Norfolk. Surrounded by Whitehurst Lake, guests have the unique ability to tour the gardens on foot or by boat as well as by tram. During the spring season, there are 15 gardens open to visitors, including one garden entirely dedicated to showcasing native Virginia plants. Visit one of the largest, most diverse collections of roses, azaleas and rhododendrons on the East Coast.


Meadowlark Botanical Gardens—Vienna

With 95 acres to explore, spring is an excellent time of year to enjoy the unique and elegant Meadowlark Botanical Gardens, which contain a wide collection of native perennials. The gardens boast over twenty different varieties of cherry blossom trees, along with irises, peonies and colorful tulips. Experience the spring foliage while walking along one of several maintained trails within the gardens. The sunniest spring days offer the opportunity to visit the shade garden, home to many birds, butterflies and blooming wildflowers. Learn more about horticulture and gardening at a workshop, or partake in a tour of the grounds, while discovering all that there is to know about conservation.


George Washington’s Mount Vernon—Mount VernonMount Vernon

George Washington’s Mount Vernon is the perfect place to view spring flowers if you are a history lover. Displaying a variety of colonial-era buildings, including a functioning gristmill and distillery at the historic estate, Mount Vernon also boasts unforgettable gardens and landscapes. Originally overseen by George Washington himself, the gardens surrounding his mansion and were naturally designed with hundreds of plants, many native to Virginia, and trees, twelve of which are still alive today.


Netherlands Carillon—ArlingtonNetherlands Carillon

Netherlands Carillon offers a truly unique experience to visitors. Gifted to the United States by the Netherlands after World War ll, the bell tower is comprised of 50 bronze alloy bells, each delicately engraved. The bell is a symbol of the Netherlands’ friendship and gratitude towards the United States. Located next to the “Iwo Jima” Memorial and the Arlington National Cemetery, the tower offers an excellent view of the D.C. skyline and several monuments. The tower is surrounded by a colorful collection of tulips, all of which bloom during the spring season.



The gardens at Monticello have been acclaimed as a botanic showpiece. The gardens were more than just ornamental; during Jefferson’s lifetime, they acted as a source of food for the estate. Documented evidence suggests that Thomas Jefferson grew more than 105 species of herbaceous plants. The estate boasts several gardens, including the winding flower border that outlines the west lawn and twenty oval gardens within proximity to the house. The grove, originally housing Jefferson’s ‘pet trees’, offers visitors the opportunity to take a trip back in time, while exploring the spring blossoms and colors.


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