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8 Reasons Why We LOVE Fall in Virginia

8 Reasons Why We LOVE Fall in Virginia

fall in Shenandoah National ParkShenandoah National Park

It’s hard to choose a favorite season for traveling in Virginia, but with bright leaves covering the rolling mountains, a crisp feeling in the air, and delicious autumn flavors available at every restaurant, craft brewery, and cider, we can’t help but feel like Fall in Virginia is a top contender. Read on for our favorite things to do in Virginia in the fall!

 

1. Taking in The Colorful FoliageVirginia Creeper Trail in Abingdon

The fall foliage in Virginia is spectacular, blanketing the Commonwealth in fiery hues of orange, red, and yellow. You’ll catch these colors earlier in the fall in the mountains of Southwest Virginia, but as the days advance, the foliage begins to move eastward, eventually ending along the coastlines of Virginia. Keep an eye on the Fall Foliage Report to get an idea of where the best leaf-peeping is happening.

Where to Go: The Virginia Creeper Trail in Abingdon flaunts extraordinary colors in the fall, and cycling the 34-mile paved trail gives you the chance to pause along the way to take in the vibrant foliage. To experience the fall colors on foot, head to one of the hiking trails in Shenandoah National Park, where you’ll get expansive views of the storied Blue Ridge Mountains. Finally, if it’s a little too chilly for outdoor activities, hop in the car and travel along Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge Parkway to get a peek at the changing leaves.

Find More Fall Foliage Destinations

 

 2. Tackling the Challenge of a Corn Mazeliberty mills corn maze

Puzzle lovers will enjoy conquering a corn maze at a Virginia farm during the fall. With varying difficulties, you can find a corn maze that suits your skill, from the easiest routes with the kids to the most challenging field labyrinths that take 4-5 hours to complete.

Where to Go: The largest corn maze east of the Mississippi River, Liberty Mills Farm Corn Maze spans 32 acres and contains four different trails of increasing difficulty, making the corn maze ideal for visitors of all ages. Each year, the maze has a unique theme that can be seen from above; the 2018 theme is dinosaurs. Complete one or all four of the corn maze trails, then jump on to the hay wagon for a ride to the pumpkin patch, where you can pick your own pumpkin to take home and carve into a frightful Jack-o’-lantern.

Find More Corn Mazes

 

3. Celebrating Halloween at a Virginia Theme Parkbusch gardens howl o scream halloween

Virginia’s theme parks are all decked out during fall for their signature Halloween events. Spend the day riding roller coasters, eating seasonal fare, and browsing spooky Halloween shops at Busch Gardens or Kings Dominion. For family-friendly Halloween fun, visit Busch Gardens before 6pm and Kings Dominion on weekends until October 28, 2018.

Where to Go: The European countries of Busch Gardens Williamsburg are transformed for Howl-O-Scream, turning into fear-themed Terror-tories like Ripper Row and Sideshow Square. In addition to terrifying creatures lurking around the grounds, the park offers seven haunted houses, two party zones, six bars with Halloween-themed beverages, and two escape rooms.

Kings Dominion’s Halloween Haunt features eight haunted mazes with themes like the Cornstalkers, Zombie High, and Blood on the Bayou, five scare zones including Nercopolis, The Lair, and Cleaver Brothers Carnival, and four horrifying live shows.

 

4. Picking-Your-Own at An Orchard or Pumpkin PatchScenic Winchester Apple Orchard

Pack up the family for a fall adventure to a local pumpkin patch, where they can pick their own from the vines or purchase already-picked pumpkins directly from the farmers, or head to an apple orchard to pluck fresh fruit that can be used in homemade apple cider, pie, or a variety of other fall treats.

Where to Go: Located next to historic Monticello and Michie Tavern in Charlottesville, Carter Mountain Orchard has everything apple, including pick-your-own orchards, apple cider for the kids and Bold Rock cider for the adults, fresh-baked pies and cookies, and of course their famous Apple Cider Donuts. After exploring the orchard and sampling some of the apple foods and drinks, peruse their country store for jams and jellies, local crafts, and gourmet food products. The weekends are always busy at Carter Mountain, so consider visiting during a weekday for a more relaxing experience.

Westmoreland Berry Farm in Colonial Beach has both pick-your-own apple orchards and pumpkin patches, as well as friendly goats that the kids will love.

Find More Pumpkin Patches & Apple Orchards

 

5. Getting Spooked at Countless Historically Haunted DestinationsColonial Williamsburg Grand Illumination

There isn’t a corner in the Commonwealth that doesn’t have some historical significance, so it’s no surprise that there are dozens of supposedly “haunted” destinations. And what better time to visit these spirited spots than around All Hallows’ Eve?

Where to Go: As one of the oldest settlement areas in America, Colonial Williamsburg is packed with creepy history that comes to life during the Colonial Ghosts Tour, ranked one of the top 10 “Bone-Chilling Haunted Tours in the US”. The walking tour takes you to over a dozen haunted locations in the Williamsburg area, and for the bravest visitors, they offer an extended tour with six additional locations, including haunted sites within William & Mary College, the second oldest college in America.

Find More Haunted Sites

 

6. Tasting the Delicious Results of Harvest SeasonScenic Warsaw Barn

Fall is harvest time in Virginia, and from vineyards releasing their annual vintages to farms gathering the last produce of the growing season, you’ll find fresh flavors throughout the Commonwealth. Sample these Virginia-grown products at a farm-to-table restaurant, winery or cidery, or from a local farmer’s market.

Where to Go: One of the leaders of the farm-to-table movement of Virginia, Harvest Table Restaurant in Meadowview serves Neo-Appalachian Cuisine that is made from local produce, grass-fed meats, and handmade cheeses. In addition to buying these ingredients from nearby farms, Harvest Table also has their own four-acre farm, ensuring that everything they serve is fresh and only the highest quality.

Find More Fresh Farm-To-Table Restaurants

 

7. Attending Fall Festivals That Combine the Best Parts of Autumncox farms fall festival

Hayrides, corn mazes, apples, cider, and pumpkin patches all in one place…need we say more?

Where to Go: Cox Farms Fall Festival in Centreville is Northern Virginia’s largest fall festival, so you’ll get all of the above and more at this annual autumn event.

Find More Fall Festivals

 

8. Relaxing on a Quiet Coastal GetawayThe Cavalier Hotel Virginia Beach

Virginia’s coasts bring thousands of visitors during the peak season of summer, but the beaches are just as enjoyable during the fall. In addition to less crowds, many of the beaches are dog-friendly during the fall, and Virginia Beach even has guided horseback riding available in the off-season. With milder temperatures, affordable prices, and peaceful scenery, Virginia’s beaches are our favorite hidden gems when it comes to travel in the fall.

Where to Go: Stay at the recently renovated Cavalier in Virginia Beach for a luxury fall getaway at a fraction of the peak-season price. The iconic hotel was built in 1926 and was one of the most renowned hotels of the eastern seaboard during the era, bringing famous guests like F. Scott Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Judy Garland, Elizabeth Taylor…the list goes on and on. Learn about the glamorous history while experiencing the modern luxuries at this lavishly renovated coastal hotel.

Find More Coastal Fall Vacations

 

 

What makes you most excited for Fall in Virginia? Share your autumn activities with us!

 

The post 8 Reasons Why We LOVE Fall in Virginia appeared first on Virginia’s Travel Blog.

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Film Festivals In Virginia This Fall

Film Festivals In Virginia This Fall

 

A wide variety of film festivals are taking place across the state this fall. From screenings of Academy Award contenders and conversations with world-renowned filmmakers to discussions lead by Native American filmmakers and screenings of local student films, there’s a unique experience for everyone to enjoy. Four of Virginia’s largest film festivals are highlighted below along with things to do nearby. To find more,  visit the  Virginia Film Festivals page.

 

Middleburg Film Festival – Middleburg

October 18-21, 2018

The Middleburg Film Festival offers four days of fantastic films in a beautiful setting, only 30 minutes from Dulles International Airport and just one hour from Washington, D.C. A carefully curated selection of narrative and documentary films will screen in an intimate theatre environment, followed by Q & A’s with world-renowned filmmakers and actors. The films include festival favorites, premieres, and Academy Award contenders.

While visiting Middleburg, festival attendees can also experience the beauty of the surrounding horse-country, farm-to-table dining, wine-tastings at local vineyards, strolling through the historic town, and engaging in casual conversation with filmmakers. Find local offerings below and visit the festival website for the list of 26 screenings, master classes, panel discussions, and much more. (Distance in parenthesis from Middleburg’s Historic Downtown).

Places to Stay:

Nearby Restaurants:

Things to Do:

 

Washington West Film Festival  – Arlington & Reston

October 25-29, 2018

The Washington West Film Festival invites film lovers to experience world-class, premiere, and award-winning films along with talented filmmakers at various locations in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area. Believing one great story should lead to another, the week-long festival is committed to giving 100% of its box office proceeds each year to a charity project that helps alleviate childhood hunger, illness, and poor education in the U.S. and around the world.

The eighth annual festival features more than 40 films across eight venues in Arlington and Reston. Find local offerings near select venues below and visit the festival website for a schedule of screenings and events.

Bob Woodward being interviewed after a 40th anniversary screening of All The President’s Men.

Places to Stay:

Restaurants Nearby:

Things to Do:

  • Reston Town Center (venue) – outdoor shopping venue offering more than 50 retailers, 35 restaurants, and multi-screen cinema.
  • Shop in the Village at Shirlington – Arlington’s European-style promenade with fun shops, restaurants, nightlife and art-house theater.
  • Arlington National Cemetery – The final resting place for more than 400,000 active duty service members, veterans and their families, the impressive landscape serves as a tribute to the service and sacrifice of every individual laid to rest.
  • W&OD Trail – Built on the roadbed of the former Washington & Old Dominion Railroad, the 45-mile long paved trail runs from Purcellville in Loudoun County to Shirlington in Arlington County.

 

Virginia Film Festival – Charlottesville

November 1-4, 2018

The Virginia Film Festival at the University of Virginia has been celebrating the magic of the movies and inspiring audiences for over 30 years. Every autumn, the Festival showcases celebrated new features and documentaries, fresh perspectives on timeless classics, and local filmmakers from right here in Virginia. The Festival brings in a fascinating selection of guests, from internationally acclaimed directors and actors to professors and leading cultural experts who lead discussions that stimulate, educate, and engage. Today, the Festival stands as one of Virginia’s most important cultural landmarks, and one of the most respected regional destination film festivals in the United States.

The annual Virginia Film Festival will take place on the Grounds of the University of Virginia, on Charlottesville’s historic Downtown Mall, and throughout Charlottesville. Find local offerings below and visit the festival website for a schedule of screenings and events. (Distance in parenthesis from the Downtown Mall).  10 Places to Enjoy Dazzling Fall Foliage in the Charlottesville Area!

Places to Stay:

Restaurants Nearby:

Things to Do:

 

Pocahontas Reframed Storytellers Film Festival – Richmond

November 15-18, 2018

The 2nd annual Pocahontas Reframed: Storytellers Film Festival is held at the historic Byrd Theatre in Richmond and features three days of film and live performances celebrating Native American stories and storytellers. Organized to foster greater awareness and exposure to indigenous languages, cultures and societies, the festival brings together artists, authors, filmmakers, and actors to share, teach, and explain their creativity and history. Find local offerings in proximity to the Byrd Theatre and visit the festival website for a schedule of screenings and event. 

The festival is a signature event of the 2019 Commemoration, AMERICAN EVOLUTION™, a three-year tribute to Virginia’s history and heritage. Featuring events and activities that inspire travelers from around the country and the world to engage in the themes of democracy, diversity and opportunity. AMERICAN EVOLUTION™ positions Virginia as a global leader in education, economic development and tourism. (Distance in parenthesis from the Byrd Theatre).

Places to Stay:

Richmond’s Carytown Restaurants:

Things to Do:

  • Shopping in Carytown (0.0 miles) – Eight blocks of unique boutiques, restaurants, and gift shops in Richmond’s downtown.
  • Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (0.7 miles) – Ranks as one of the top comprehensive art museums in the United States, attend the Pocahontas Reframed panel discussion here on Thursday before the festival.
  • Virginia Museum of History & Culture (0.7 miles) – One of the oldest and most distinguished history organizations in the nation, you’ll find permanent and special exhibits that showcase Virginia’s rich history.
  • Maymont Grounds and Gardens (1.5 miles) – Stroll the gardens, tour the mansion or visit the nature center on this beautiful 100-acre American estate in the heart of Richmond.

 

Afrikana Independent Film Festival – Richmond

POSTPONED – September 13-16, 2018

Afrikana Independent Film Festival, founded in 2014, is a multi-day festival featuring a dynamic blend of film-centric events throughout the Richmond arts district and beyond. Afrikana showcases the cinematic works of people of color from around the world and strives to present stories that celebrate the diaspora and encourage people to connect.

The 3rd Annual Afrikana Independent Film Festival has been postponed due to Hurricane Florence. Visit their website for a new date announcement.  

Richmond’s Art District Restaurants:

Things to Do:

  • The Valentine Museum (venue) – Located in the heart of historic downtown Richmond, the Valentine collects, preserves and interprets Richmond’s unique stories through exhibitions, programs, and guided tours.
  • 1708 Gallery (venue) – a non-profit arts organization founded by artists in 1978.
  • Maggie Walker National Historic Site and Memorial Plaza – Commemorates the life of a progressive and talented African American woman. Despite many adversities, she achieved success in the world of business and finance as the first woman in the United States to found and serve as president of a bank. The site includes her residence of thirty years and the memorial plaza includes a 10-foot bronze statue surrounded by inscriptions tracing her life.
  • Black History Museum & Cultural Center of Virginia (venue) – Presents the complex experiences of peoples of Africa and the African Diaspora, with an emphasis on Virginians, by collecting, preserving, and interpreting historical and cultural artifacts.
  • VCU Institute for Contemporary Art (venue) – Presents the art of our time and provides an open forum for dialogue and collaboration across the region and throughout the world

 

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Dig into Archaeology Month in Virginia

Dig into Archaeology Month in Virginia

**Co-Authored with David Rotenizer, Franklin County Office of Economic Development – Tourism**

Every October, Virginia celebrates archaeology at libraries, museums, historical societies, clubs, and at active archaeological sites. Below are some sites with active digs or special exhibits you can visit to celebrate Archaeology Month in Virginia. October 20 is International Archaeology Day. Keep a look out for special events across the Commonwealth.

Please call the attraction ahead of time for full details on current programs.

At Historic Jamestowne, explore the first permanent English colony in America. Jamestown Rediscovery offers many exciting opportunities to explore the island’s history and archaeology. Join archaeologists for a walking tour or visit the laboratory and see some of the 2-million artifacts recovered from the site.

Check out Road Scholar’s six-day hands-on program.

George Washington’s boyhood home, Ferry Farm, houses artifacts from colonial times and the Civil War that were found on the property. See archaeologists at work in the lab on weekdays. Visitors can also speak to a construction interpreter about the Washington house replica, enjoy the hiking trails and do some bird-watching in the Wild Meadow.

Mount Vernon’s archaeological assets are extremely valuable in the study of the Chesapeake region’s 18th century plantation life. Major excavations include the house for families slave quarter, Washington’s Distillery, and currently the Slave Cemetery. You can visit the site or volunteer to help, June – October.

Colonial Williamsburg Archaeology excavates 17th and 18th century sites in Williamsburg’s historic area to. Take a guided tour of the Archaeology Labs or view archaeological objects and hear about current research, excavation techniques, curatorial efforts, and the functions of different labs.

Excavations at Poplar Forest are currently centered on the northern corners of Jefferson’s retreat house looking for the remains of two ornamental tree clumps and two oval flower beds planted in 1812 and 1816. Additionally, archaeologists will continue field school excavations southeast of the main house near an antebellum slave cabin and Jefferson’s ornamental plant nursery.

The USS Monitor Center at The Mariners’ Museum is home to one of the most famous ships in Civil War history, the ironclad USS Monitor. Experience interactive exhibits and see remarkable artifacts like the iconic rotating gun turret. Publicly viewable, treatment tanks at the Batten Conservation Complex hold the Monitor’s largest artifacts. The Complex is home to the world’s largest marine archaeological metals conservation project.

Experience an 18th century house like never before at Menokin. See, touch and feel its internal make-up as over 80% of the original parts of this collapsed house still exist. Become part of the process as The Menokin Foundation undertakes the restoration of this National Historic Landmark in an innovative way using original fabric and architectural glass.

The Virginia Museum of Natural History curates millions of artifacts, fossils, rocks, and biological specimens to research and add to their collection. They also curate more than a million archaeological artifacts. Their facilities include an archaeology lab with reference collections for zooarchaeology. Visitors view the lab from a large observation window.

See archaeologists at work at Alexandria Archaeology Museum. The Museum displays the results of recent digs and interprets the results of research through exhibitions, tours and more. Artifacts include a 13,000-year-old Clovis point, centuries-old pottery and Civil War items. Over the past few years, the museum staff have been involved with the recovery of historic ship wrecks along the waterfront.

James Madison’s Montpelier hosts two 5-day immersive Archaeological Expedition Programs for the public where participants work side-by-side with professional archaeologists to discover and recreate the Madison plantation. Participants live on the historic grounds and experience history hands-on by digging for artifacts and taking part in recovering President Madison’s home with museum professionals.

Monticello’s Archaeology Department will host its annual open house on Oct. 20, featuring displays and exhibits on recent discoveries in the field and the lab, as well as walking tours of the vanished Monticello Plantation landscape. Displays and exhibits are found in the Woodland Pavilion and the Visitors Center.

Mead’s Tavern, a 1763 building in the Campbell County community of New London, is undergoing intensive archaeological and architectural investigation ahead of a planned restoration by Liberty University. Archaeologists studying the tavern’s basement have uncovered evidence of a colonial- era hearth and extensive floor deposits containing domestic artifacts. Join them on Oct. 27 for a tour.

Germanna Foundation recently broke grond for the new Hitt Archaeology Center. The facility will have space for cleaning, cataloging, and storing artifacts from archaeological work at the four Germanna Foundation properties.

Kittiewan Plantation is home to the Archeological Society of Virginia. Some of filming for mini-series Turn took place there. The 18th century home and grounds are available for tours. Regular open house tours from April to November, but other times by prior appointment. Archaeological and historic collections available for viewing.

Like so many other things, Virginia is host to a range of archaeological sites and resources available for visiting and often an opportunity to participate. To learn more, visit www.VirginiaArcheology.org or follow Facebook page @Virginia.ASV.

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Do you know of any other active archaeological digs or treasures? Drop them in the comments below.

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Your Dining Guide to Southwest Virginia, Part 2

Your Dining Guide to Southwest Virginia, Part 2

Burke's Garden

When traveling through Southwest Virginia, you can’t help but be in awe of the picturesque landscape of the mountainous region, but in addition to being a stunningly beautiful backdrop, the land also provides fertile grounds for farming. This lends to a rich culinary scene in Southwest Virginia, where chefs utilize locally sourced ingredients to craft historically-rooted Appalachian cuisine. We have already highlighted dozens of restaurants, breweries, and wineries in Part 1 of our Southwest Virginia Dining Guide, but there are many more hot spots to dine and drink within the area. Read on to discover the best places to get a true taste of Southwest Virginia.

 

—FOR BREAKFAST—

The Front Porch on Main, Tazewell—Located in a historic Victorian-style home in Tazewell, breakfast menu includes regular fare like pancakes, French toast, and Eggs Benedict, as well as specialty ‘morning snacks’ like Grilled Banana Bread and Cinnamon Fried Apples.  

Restore Community Coffee, Lebanon—Community-focused coffee shop and restaurant that brews locally roasted coffee beans from Dark Hollow Roaster. During breakfast, they offer homemade sandwiches on bagels or English muffins and a daily selection of pastries made fresh in-house.

Mountain Grounds Coffee & Bake House, Wise—Coffee shop and bakery with locally roasted coffee and fresh baked goods like scones, cinnamon rolls, and pastries.

More Breakfast Places:

 

—FOR LUNCH—Cuz's Uptown Barbeque

Cuz’s Uptown Barbeque, Pounding Mill—Eclectic restaurant inside an old dairy barn and silo. While the barbecue is the main attraction, they also have fresh fish, lobster, crabcakes, and steaks. Closed for winter, November through March.

New Graham Pharmacy, The Last Soda Fountain, Bluefield—Open since 1935, an old-fashioned soda fountain known for their traditional diner breakfasts and lunches with fountain drinks, milkshakes, and root beer floats.

Frosty Bossie, Coeburn—Casual takeout-style restaurant famous for their burgers, chili, shakes, and ice cream.

More Lunch Locations:

 

—FOR DINNER—Milton's at Western Front Hotel

Milton’s, Saint Paul—Located in Saint Paul’s new boutique hotel, the Western Front Hotel. Modern Appalachian cuisine including fried catfish and apple stack cake. Open for lunch and dinner.

Seven Restaurant, Tazewell—Nostalgic restaurant decorated with handmade Amish wooden furniture, creating a cozy ambiance with repurposed wood walls and a rustic stone bar. Open for lunch and dinner, they serve elegant yet approachable fare with craft cocktails, craft beers, and a curated wine list.

Rhododendron Restaurant, Breaks—In Breaks Interstate Park, Rhododendron has large windows that provide breathtaking views of the mountains.Menu changes seasonally, focusing on country-style dishes like fried chicken, country fried steak with homemade gravy, and fresh vegetable sides.

More Dinner Spots:

 

—FOR SWEET TREATS—family bakery gate city

The Family Bakery, Gate City—Family bakery serving a daily selection of seasonally-inspired desserts, including donuts, cakes, cupcakes, pies, cake pops, cinnamon rolls, and chocolate-dipped strawberries.

860 Park Ave Bake-A-Deli, Norton—Gourmet bakery in downtown Norton serving beautifully decorated cupcakes, cake pops, cookies, cheesecakes, pies, and cakes for special events as well as hand-dipped ice cream.

Sweet Thang Pastries & Restaurant, Clintwood—From-scratch restaurant, bakery, and coffee shop that makes cookies, cinnamon rolls, donuts, pies, and various other desserts.

 

More Bakeries & Dessert Destinations:

 

—FOR LOCAL CRAFT BREWS—Sugar Hill Brewing Co.

Sugar Hill Brewing Company, Saint Paul—Family-owned and operated restaurant and brewery in historic downtown Saint Paul. Have at least a dozen of their seasonal craft brews available on tap at all times. Regionally-made wines available.

Painted Peak Brewing Company, Tazewell—Craft brewery on Tazewell’s Main Street that specializes in Pale Ales, IPAs, and Ambers. Restaurant within the brewery serves Appalachian cuisine and tap room food like nachos for lunch and dinner.

 

—FOR WINE LOVERS—

Mountainrose Vineyards, Wise—Winery built on former coal lands, creating rich wines from grapes grown in the distinct soil, from reds and whites to blush wines and a hard apple cider. Offers tours and tastings 7 days a week.

Plum Creek Winery, Tazewell—Appointment-only winery in Tazewell that produces 14 fruit-flavored wines like plum, peach, pineapple, strawberry, blueberry, and apple.

Vincent’s Vineyard, Lebanon—Quaint farm winery in the foothills of the scenic Clinch and Beartown Mountains. Free wine tastings and tours of the vineyard and winery.

 

 



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Nine Places to Savor Fall Flavors in the Shenandoah Valley

Nine Places to Savor Fall Flavors in the Shenandoah Valley

Fall brings not only crisp air and gorgeous foliage, but also some of the best flavors. Virginia’s apples, pears, pumpkins and vegetables make for the perfect fall flavored dishes to excite every palate. Below are some places to savor some fall flavor.

 

The Apple House, Linden – Check out their homemade Apple Spice Cinnamon Donuts. Enjoy the friendly atmosphere and beautiful surroundings – and maybe take home some of their famous BBQ sauce or some extra donuts!


– Apple Spice Cinnamon Donuts –

 

Old School Burgers at Valley Pike Farm Market, Weyers Cave – Old School Burgers has a Pumpkin Spice Burger on their menu! Valley Pike Farm Market is home to over 300 local Virginia wines and craft beers. Also enjoy locally roasted coffees and homemade pastries, fine candies, baked goods and more.

 

Food.Bar.Food, Harrisonburg – Enjoy a taste of fall with a Spiced Cider Caipirinha. This tasty concoction includes limes muddled with Masala Chai syrup and Cachaca (Brazillian Sugar Cane Rum) with Ryan’s Fruit Market Apple Cider.


– Spiced Cider Caipirinha –

 

Montpelier Restaurant and Bar at Hotel Madison, Harrisonburg – Can’t decide between Pecan and Pumpkin Pie? No worries, Montpelier has you covered with their Pumpkin-Pecan Pie with Whiskey Butter Sauce. Locally sourced, the pumpkins are from Ryan’s Fruit Market, butter and cream are from Mt. Crawford Creamery and the eggs are from Monrovia Farm.

 

Southern Kitchen, New Market – Peanut Soup is a southern tradition and a favorite to warm the soul on a cool autumn day.  This family recipe comes straight from the owner’s mother.

 

Southern Inn Restaurant, Lexington – Enjoy Virginia Gold Asian Pear Bread Pudding served with savory butternut squash ice cream. The Asian pears are grown locally at Virginia Gold Pear Orchard.

 

Down Home Comfort Bakery, Front Royal – Savor the tastes of fall with their Caramel Apple Cinnamon Rolls, Pumpkin Woopie Cookies, Granny’s Pumpkin Patch Loaf and more. Pies are homemade and available in personal or family size.


– Caramel Apple Cinnamon Rolls, Photo Credit: Front Royal Office of Tourism –

 

Haywood’s  at The Georges, Lexington – Delight in a new twist on some traditional fall entrees and desserts. Check out their Pumpkin Crème Brûlée or Apple Crisp. Every Wednesday for the month of October there will be a different fall, chef-inspired pasta special paired with a featured cocktail or wine.

 

Natural Bridge Historic Hotel, Natural Bridge – The Chef has put together a myriad of new dishes and wine pairings to take advantage of the fall harvest. Sweet potatoes, squash and fall vegetables bring the fall feeling to their duck, salmon and sirloin dishes.

 

What is your favorite fall dish? Share some of your favorites in the comment section below.

The post Nine Places to Savor Fall Flavors in the Shenandoah Valley appeared first on Virginia’s Travel Blog.

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Crush Friday: Your Mini-Vacation Guide to Southern Virginia

Crush Friday: Your Mini-Vacation Guide to Southern Virginia

 

Chances are you’re currently reading this article while sitting under the fluorescent lights of your office, fighting the afternoon food coma until you can call it a day and head home.

Virginia Tourism wants to help you break the cycle of the boring workplace with a three-day weekend getaway. Each month, we take a Friday away from the office and hit the road, traveling to a different region in the Commonwealth as we map out a detailed itinerary that includes top restaurants, popular breweries and wineries, and must-do activities, as well as our picks for overnight accommodations.

This detailed guide to the Southern Virginia towns of Clarksville, South Boston, and Danville makes planning your own Crush Friday trip a no-brainer. So the next time the workplace burnout begins to creep up on you, ask your boss for a Friday off work and implement this escape plan to discover the hidden gems of Southern Virginia.

 

—TRIP PLANNING OVERVIEW—

Stay at: Berry Hill Resort & Conference Center in South Boston, starting at around $145 per night. Virginia International Raceway Lodge in Alton, starting at around $125 per night for the Lodge, $200 for the Junior Villas, and $224 for the Studio Villas.berry hill resort south boston southern virginia

To experience luxury in Southern Virginia without breaking the bank, book a room at Berry Hill Resort in South Boston. This National Historic Landmark sits on 650 acres of stunning countryside, providing a quiet, upscale retreat at incredibly reasonable prices. Every room is spacious and immaculately decorated, seamlessly blending the historic elements of the property with all the modern conveniences you’d expect in a 21st century hotel room. After checking in, wander the historic grounds to learn about the estate, which dates back to 1728. In addition to expansive rooms and suites, the resort boasts an indoor pool, tennis and basketball courts, and several yard game options, including horseshoes, croquet, bocce, and cornhole. Grab a more casual dinner at Darby’s Tavern or splurge on a culinary experience at the Mansion Dining Room, both on the resort grounds.virginia international raceway villas alton

For racing lovers and car enthusiasts, Virginia International Raceway is a must for an overnight stay. Many know the Southern Virginia destination as a racetrack, but it also has on-site accommodations that let you get closer to the action. Whether you stay in the Lodge, the Junior Villas, or the Studio Villas, you’ll have a view of the track. And even if racing isn’t your thing, the destination has plenty of other amenities for every type of traveler. Looking for a little luxury? Visit the on-site spa or book a once-in-a-lifetime experience with Formula Experiences, the only Formula and prototype driving experience in America. More interested in history? Visit Oak Tree Tavern, a beautifully restored 1800’s plantation house on the property. Want to get more hands-on with your activities? In addition to the main racetrack, the grounds also contain a skeet shooting range and karting track with rentals available. But even if you’re just looking for a place to relax at the end of a long day, Virginia International Raceway’s lodging options have all the amenities you need for an enjoyable stay.

Suggested Prior Reservations: Berry Hill Resort, Virginia International Raceway Lodge and Villas, Rentals at Clarksville Water Sports, dinner at The Mansion Dining Room at Berry Hill.

 

—DAY ONE—clarksville marina and water sports kayak rental buggs island kerr lake in southern virginia

Begin your adventure in Southern Virginia at Occoneechee State Park, located along the shores of Buggs Island Lake (also referred to as “Kerr Lake” by some). Rent boats, paddleboards, kayaks, and other watersports gear through Clarksville Water Sports, a local rental company that has locations on Route 58 as well as a small shop at the Occoneechee Marina Dock. Take your rental out for some smooth sailing along the manmade lake, and be sure to snag a picture underneath the Route 58 bridge—the narrow water route makes for an epic shot.lamplighter restaurant clarksville southern virginia

After your morning paddle on the water, cross the bridge into the small but charming town of Clarksville for lunch at Lamplighter Restaurant & Lounge. With a menu consisting of American favorites, you’ll find a wide array of sandwiches, burgers, soups, and salads, as well as specialty plates like the Fish & Chips or the Hawaiian Chicken, all at affordable prices.homestead creamery ice cream at the cottage barn clarksville southern virginia

Finish lunch and head just up the hill to the Cottage Barn, a furniture shop that specializes in restoring vintage pieces. In addition to one-of-a-kind furniture finds and home accents, the shop carries Homestead Creamery Ice Cream, so we recommend picking up a cone with your favorite flavor before browsing the wares.hite's clothing store clarksville

Spend an hour or two strolling the shops along Virginia Avenue in Clarksville, including Hite’s Clothing, a  contemporary clothing boutique for both men and women, Virginia Avenue Mall, a seemingly endless store filled with all sorts of knickknacks from over 30 independent retailers, and Galleria on the Lake, known for their selection of Virginia wine, beer, and locally made goodies (get a tub or three of the Birdie’s Pimento Cheese—you’ll thank us later).hill top berry farm winery and meadery tasting room clarksville southern virginia

While shopping, stop in to Hill Top Berry Farm & Winery’s new tasting room on Virginia Avenue, where you can sample several dozen meads and fruit wines. Our favorites included the Plum Crazy, Perry, and the Jolly Dragon, a mead made from hickory smoked hot peppers, honey, and blackberries. If you’re into fall flavors, make sure to taste the Hunter’s Moon, a spiced pumpkin mead made with real pumpkins that is available year-round due to heavy demand.buggs island brewery clarksville southern virginia

Before leaving Clarksville, travel to Buggs Island Brewing to get a taste for the local craft beer scene. The pet-friendly brewery carries an impressive lineup; we liked the Without a Paddle IPA and Kerr Lake Kolsch, but ordering a flight is the best way to sample your way through the brews before choosing a pint.springfield distillery south boston southern virginia

Head towards South Boston and check into the Berry Hill Resort and Conference Center for your first night’s stay. After getting settled in your room, take a quick tour of the grounds before venturing a few miles down the road to Springfield Distillery. Here, you’ll get a chance to explore a working distillery and taste their corn whiskey products. The spirits come in flavors like Sweet Heat, Brown Sugar Cinnamon, and Blackberry, and you can either sample them straight or mixed into simple cocktail recipes that are easily recreated at home.berry hill resort south boston

Return to Berry Hill for dinner at the resort’s on-site restaurants: for a casual but elegant meal, head to Darby’s Tavern, or if you want something a little more formal, book a table at the Mansion Restaurant.

Enjoy a few drinks and a game of pool at the Tavern before calling it a night and heading back to your room.

 

—DAY TWO—

Wake up and get brunch at Berry Hill, or travel back into downtown South Boston for breakfast at Southern Plenty Café before hitting the road towards Danville.link's coffee house danville

For a latte or specialty coffee, stop into Links Coffee House and Café, then walk next door to A La Carte Home Décor for inspired home accents. In addition to tasteful decor, the shop also sells potted greenery and floral arrangements with orchids, ferns, ivy, and more that are put together by one of the shop owners. You’ll spot her work all over town in shops and restaurants, repotted in unique containers like vintage champagne buckets and antique vases.river district artisans danville southern virginia

Walk around the downtown Danville area for an hour or two, stopping into shops like Vintages on the Dan, a wine and craft beer shop that is stocked with a huge selection of beverages from Virginia businesses, as well as notable producers from all over the world, and River District Artisans, a shop that houses goods from dozens of local artisans and also teaches visitors how to make their own wares in crafting classes.Scenes Along the Dan River in Danville

If you’re interested in exploring the scenic Danville Riverwalk Trail, either set out on foot or use your Smartphone to download the Zagster app and find nearby bike rental spots. Affordable and easy, the service allows you to rent and return bike at any of the designated locations within Danville’s River District.mucho taqueria taco and tequila restaurant danville

After working up an appetite, grab lunch at Mucho Taqueria, a taco restaurant and tequila bar with stylishly vibrant décor. Consider treating yourself to an afternoon margarita with your tacos, as the cocktails are a must for tequila lovers.ballad brewing danville southern virginia brewery

Get a taste of the Southern Virginia brewery scene at Ballad Brewing, located in a renovated warehouse just around the corner from Mucho Taqueria. The brewery holds more than just a tap room; you’ll find games like cornhole, tabletop shuffleboard, and board games within the cavernous floor space. Sample a few of the staples, like the Fast Mail Ale, Bohemian Pilsner, and Cash Crop Farmhouse Ale, but don’t miss out on trying their specialty seasonal offerings, too.virginia international raceway formula experience track racing alton in southern virginia

Leave Danville’s River District and drive to Virginia International Raceway to check into the Lodge. Take some time to look into the raceway’s many activities—relax at the upscale spa, get your adrenaline going during a luxury driving experience with Formula Racing, or a squeeze in a little target practice at the skeet shooting range.oak tree tavern at Virginia International Raceway Alton

Head back to the room and get ready for dinner at Oak Tree Tavern, Virginia International Raceway’s historic restaurant, or head back into Danville to dine at Cotton at Riverside Mill, a fine dining restaurant serving specialty pizzas and Southern-style entrees that overlooks the Dan River.

 

—DAY THREE—heart line restaurant danville southern virginia

Enjoy a leisurely breakfast at Heartline in Danville. This authentic retro eatery is extremely popular with the locals, cooking all the typical diner favorites in the open kitchen behind an old-fashioned Formica countertop.Scenes Along the Dan River in Danville

If weather allows on Sunday, rent kayaks through the Danville Parks & Recreation Department and traverse the Dan River. Not an experienced kayaker? No worries. The city department often hosts guided paddling trips with employees skilled and familiar with the waterway.

Return the kayaks before getting lunch at Golden Leaf Bistro in the historic Tobacco Warehouse District of Danville. The menu boasts creative salads, burgers, and sandwiches that incorporate local ingredients, infusing the dishes with classic southern flavors.

After lunch, pack up and hit the road for your journey home.

 

Follow the Virginia is for Lovers team next month as we “Crush Friday” in Virginia’s River Realm, where we’ll enjoy fresh oysters, waterfront scenery, and so much more!

 

Previous Crush Friday Virginia Destinations: 

 

 

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The Top Spots to View Virginia’s Colorful Foliage Throughout the Fall

The Top Spots to View Virginia’s Colorful Foliage Throughout the Fall

It’s officially fall in Virginia and we are beginning to see slight hints of red, orange and yellow in the western parts of the Commonwealth! According to the Virginia Department of Forestry’s Fall Foliage Report, most of Virginia’s forests will still be green for a while, thanks in part to plentiful rain this summer.

However, we hope to see more of the gorgeous fall foliage beginning to peak in the coming weeks. See below on where to visit throughout October and November for optimal viewing opportunities.

Please note: These times are estimates and subject to change. Please contact the individual parks or check the Fall Foliage Report for updates.
 

– MID-OCTOBER-

– Mount Rogers –

Grayson Highlands State Park – Near Mount Rogers and Whitetop Mountain, Virginia’s two highest mountains, Grayson Highlands offers scenic views of alpine-like peaks of more than 5,000 feet. Hiking trails lead to waterfalls and an overlook. Campgrounds, scenic horse trails and a horse camping area with stables are available. The park also provides access to the Appalachian Trail and the Virginia Highlands Horse Trail.

Natural Tunnel State Park – More than 850 feet long and as tall as a 10-story building, Natural Tunnel was naturally carved through a limestone ridge over thousands of years. Along with the amazing views, the park has two campgrounds and cabins for lodging. You’ll also find the Wilderness Road historic area, and be able to go on cave tours and canoe trips on the Clinch River.

Wilderness Road State Park – This 310-acre park lies astride the Wilderness Road, a route carved by Daniel Boone in 1775. Rent a bike and ride along the Wilderness Road Trail, an eight-mile multi-purpose trail, while taking in the incredible fall colors.

Hungry Mother State Park – Known for its beautiful woodlands and placid 108-acre lake in the heart of the mountains, Hungry Mother is a great place for leaf gazing. It has campgrounds, cabins, hiking and biking trails and so much more.

– MID- TO LATE OCTOBER-

– Sherando Lake Recreation Area, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson National Forests

George Washington and Thomas Jefferson National Forests – With over 1.66 million acres in Virginia, the forests boast over 2,200 miles of trails. There are 23 federally designated wildernesses within mountainous terrain ranging from 515 feet in elevation near the Shenandoah River all the way up to Virginia’s highest point of 5,729 feet at Mount Rogers.

Shenandoah National Park – This national treasure includes the 105-mile long Skyline Drive, a National Scenic Byway. There are over 500 miles of hiking trails, numerous waterfalls and mountain summits. Camping is available in the park as well as lodges and cabins. Guided horseback rides depart the Skyland stables.

Douthat State Park – Amid some of Virginia’s most breathtaking mountain scenery, visitors can enjoy more than 40 miles of hiking and mountain-biking trails, picnic areas, tent and trailer camping, a restaurant overlooking the lake and more. The park also features two completely furnished lodges.

James River State Park – James River State Park has more than 1,500 acres of rolling farm meadows and three miles of river frontage. There are 15 miles of trails for hiking, biking and horseback riding. Cabins, lodges, and campsites are available as well as picnic shelters offering beautiful views of the surrounding hills.

Natural Bridge State Park – The 215-foot tall Natural Bridge is a limestone gorge carved out by Cedar Creek. The park features beautiful forests, rolling meadows, six miles of hiking trails, and more.

 

– LATE OCTOBER TO EARLY NOVEMBER –

– High Bridge Trail State Park –

High Bridge Trail State Park – The majestic High Bridge is more than 2,400 feet long and 160 feet above the Appomattox River allowing for incredible views of both the river and surrounding park. The park also features a multi-use trail ideally suited for hiking, bicycling and horseback riding.

Prince William Forest Park – With more than 15,000 acres of woodlands, streams, ponds, and scenic trails, this park is the largest nature area in the National Park Service’s Washington Capital Region. The park features nature trails, an abandoned mine and many cultural, geological and historical sites. It also offers a RV park, cabins, and camping sites.

Occoneechee State Park – Located on the John H. Kerr Reservoir, better known as Buggs Island Lake, this park has cabins, campsites, an equestrian campground, picnic shelters and more. The park also has 20 miles of trails for hiking, biking and horseback riding and 800 miles of wooded, cove-studded shoreline.

 

– EARLY TO MID-NOVEMBER –

– First Landing State Park –

First Landing State Park – Explore a unique habitat featuring lagoons, large cypress trees and rare plants. More than 19 miles of hiking trails wind through the natural area. Climate-controlled cabins, campsites, picnic areas and miles of various trails are available.

Belle Isle State Park – With 733 acres and seven miles of shoreline on the Rappahannock River, Belle Isle lets visitors explore a wide variety of tidal wetlands, agricultural fields and upland forests. Belle Isle has three picnic shelters, hiking, biking and bridle trails, and overnight lodging at the Bel Air Mansion and the Bel Air Guest House.

York River State Park – Known for its rare and delicate environment where freshwater and saltwater met, this park offers more than 25 miles of hiking, mountain biking and equestrian trails. Visitors can explore the marsh, river shoreline and forests.

Kiptopeke State Park – Kiptopeke offers five cabins, RV and tent camping, a group camping lodge, a yurt and camping trailers. There’s also 4.2 miles of hiking and biking trails, a playground, bird habitat and more.

 

 

Check out the map below for park locations.

The post The Top Spots to View Virginia’s Colorful Foliage Throughout the Fall appeared first on Virginia’s Travel Blog.

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10 Places to Enjoy Dazzling Fall Foliage in the Charlottesville Area!

10 Places to Enjoy Dazzling Fall Foliage in the Charlottesville Area!

Another summer has come and gone and the fall season is finally upon us. This means a return to crisp, cool days, chilly and refreshing nights, plus one of the best things of all – vibrant and dazzling fall foliage! Charlottesville & Albemarle County is a treasure trove for fall color a bit later in the season, once those aforementioned chilly nights have had some time to work their magic. Once that magic has been worked, get ready for an annual treat that draws people to the region from miles around. The lush, leafy greens will start to transform and eventually cloak the landscape in a breathtaking display of oranges, reds, and yellows. Read more to discover ten of the best places to view fall foliage in the Charlottesville area!

1.) Charlottesville’s Downtown Mall

While the Downtown Mall is lovely any time of year, it is especially beautiful during the autumn months. The large, mature oak trees that line this pedestrian walkway explode with colors beginning in mid-October, much to the delight of all who come to this historic avenue to take a stroll, go shopping, or grab a bite to eat. Sip on some warm hot chocolate from Splendora’s or grab a hot cup of coffee at Mudhouse and leisurely walk up and down this historic street, while taking in Mother Nature’s fall splendor!

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Downtown Mall in Autumn –

Brantley Ussery

2.) Shenandoah National Park, Skyline Drive & the Blue Ridge Parkway

Located a short and scenic 30-minute drive from the Downtown Mall is an entrance to Shenandoah National Park, one of the country’s most splendid spots for viewing fall colors. Drive the twists and turns of Skyline Drive, while soaking up the fall colors on Central Virginia’s rolling Blue Ridge Mountains. Pull off at one of the many overlooks for picture-perfect photo opportunities. Or head south along the Blue Ridge Parkway where you will also be greeted with plenty of opportunities to pull over and gawk at color, hike to the top of the highest hills, or just simply bring a picnic lunch and let yourself be mesmerized by the beauty below. Colors here change a bit faster due to the higher elevation, so be sure to plan accordingly, so you don’t miss the peak colors!

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View from Humpback Rocks on the Blue Ridge Parkway –

Brantley Ussery

3.) University of Virginia

This prestigious university was founded by Thomas Jefferson nearly 200 years ago and is one of the top-ranked public universities in the country. During the fall months, get ready for tremendous pops of color all along The Lawn, the Academical Village, and everywhere else on Grounds! Really get into the fall spirit by heading to a University of Virginia home football game. Here, you can tailgate, sip something warm to drink, and of course, head into Scott Stadium to cheer on the Hoos!

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Fall Color at the University of Virginia –

Brantley Ussery

4.) Wineries & Vineyards

Did you know the Charlottesville area has more than 30 wineries? Did you know that Wine Enthusiast also named the Charlottesville region as one of the top wine destinations in the world? Finally, did you know that these picturesque vineyards are even more beautiful when the leaves start to change colors? Come visit one of these beautiful properties while you sip your favorite Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, or Merlot (many of which have national and global accolades) while staring off into the distance and admiring the fantastic fall foliage in the heart of Central Virginia’s wine country.

5.) Presidential Homes

Three former U.S. presidents have called the Charlottesville area home, including Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe, and James Madison. You can visit their respective homes of Monticello, Highland, and Montpelier year round, but they are especially lovely during the autumn months. Explore these three homes and their grounds for a trip back in time! Monticello and Highland are located only a mile or two apart, with Montpelier located a scenic half-hour drive to the northeast. Meander the grounds and explore the walking trails that several of these presidential homes offer, all while enjoying the vibrant colors on the trees that surround you.

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Monticello in Fall –

Jack Looney

6.) Albemarle County Country Roads

A quick trip outside of the city limits of Charlottesville will place you in the gorgeous landscape of Albemarle County. With countless back roads and scenic byways, this is the perfect place for a leisurely drive to see the annual show put on by Mother Nature. Take a trip to eastern Albemarle County and view fall foliage surrounded by gently rolling hills and majestic horses dotting the landscape. Or head west toward the charming town of Crozet for more displays of oranges, reds and yellows. Finally, head south, toward the quaint town of Scottsville, which also comes bursting on to the fall foliage scene, nestled against the banks of the mighty James River. Follow the winding roads and see what beautiful sights and towns you can discover along the way!

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Country Roads in the Fall –

Heather Hummel Photography

7.) Hot Air Balloon Ride

So far, all of the fall foliage viewing spots mentioned have been down on the ground. However, sometimes it’s good to change your perspective, so why not see things from up above in a hot air balloon? It’s amazing how different things look when viewed from above and the views of colorful trees from way up high are sure to take your breath away. There are several hot air balloon companies that provide these types of services and you can even do a ride at sunrise or sunset as the golden hour light shines down on the gorgeous colors below. This is sure to be an unforgettable experience and a completely different and unique way of taking in the Charlottesville area colors!

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Hot Air Balloon in the Charlottesville Area

Courtesy of Charlottesville and Albemarle County

8.) Sugar Hollow

Located in the western part of Albemarle County, a scenic 30-40 minute drive from downtown Charlottesville, is Sugar Hollow. The drive alone will be gorgeous enough, but wait until you have arrived at this beautiful place, complete with plenty of hiking trails and a spectacular reservoir that will perfectly mirror the vibrant colors on the trees that line its banks. You can easily spend the better part of a day here, so grab your hiking shoes and get ready for some time out in nature as you watch colorful leaves slowly waft from the trees, eventually landing by your feet. What a perfect Instagram opportunity!

9.) Rooftop Bars & Restaurants

Over the last few years, several rooftop bars and restaurants have come bursting on to the scene in the Charlottesville area. In addition to featuring delicious food and drink, they also serve up some of the best views of the city of Charlottesville and Albemarle County. Try Heirloom, a rooftop bar and restaurant located within the Graduate Hotelnear the Grounds of the University of Virginia, where you’ll be treated to panoramic views of Charlottesville and the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains. Or head out to The Rooftop in Crozet for more views of the Blue Ridge Mountains that are sure to leave you speechless!

10.) Carter Mountain Orchard

Last, but certainly not least, Carter Mountain Orchard is extremely popular among visitors and locals alike during the fall months – and for good reason! Not only can you pick apples straight from the tree, but you can enjoy scrumptious apple cider donuts, sip freshly-pressed cider, sample wines and hard cider, go for a hay ride, pick a pumpkin, AND enjoy some of the most awesome views of the Charlottesville area! During the fall season you’ll be treated to stunning views in every direction, whether you look west toward the Blue Ridge Mountains, or east toward the gradually flattening Piedmont region. This location is a must for anybody wanting to see some truly remarkable color from a vantage point like no other!

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View from Carter Mountain Orchard –

Brantley Ussery

Of course the Charlottesville area offers much more than brilliant fall foliage during the autumn months – there’s a plethora of festivals, events, and many other things to see and do. Be sure to peruse our website for more ideas and inspiration. Of course, you can always stop by one of our two visitor centers (one located on the Downtown Mall and the other in Crozet) to speak with someone in person for recommendations of things to do during your stay. We look forward to welcoming you to Charlottesville & Albemarle County this fall!

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Apple Cider Donut at Carter Mountain Orchard –

Sanjay Suchak

Written by Brantley Ussery for Charlottesville and Albemarle County.

Featured image provided by Courtesy of Charlottesville and Albemarle County

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Fall Fun with the Kids under $15

Fall Fun with the Kids under $15

Fall is an exciting time to visit Virginia. From farms transformed into playgrounds with apple picking, corn mazes, and hay rides to festivals and fall foliage, there is something for kids and kids at heart. Whatever you choose, Virginia’s scenic roadways will show off the striking natural beauty along the way.

 

1. Corn mazes, pumpkin patches, hayrides, and more at Virginia farms and orchards.

Great Country Farms, Bluemont – Pick your own apples and pumpkins! Children: $8, Adults: $10. Pumpkins are $.59/lb.

Ashland Berry Farm, Ashland – Free parking and hayrides. Pumpkins vary in price from $4 to $20 for all-you-can-carry!

White Fall Farm, Gretna – At the Pumpkin Hunt, enjoy the hay bale maze, pumpkin painting, pumpkin hunt and pick your own pumpkins. $10/person.

Chesterfield Berry Farm, Chesterfield – Acres of pumpkins, gourds, fun family activities, corn maze, delicious snacks and delectable sweets. As low as $12/person.

Historic Crab Orchard Museum, Tazewell – Themed corn maze and punkin’ chunkin’. Corn maze:  Adults (13 & up): $10.00, Kids (7-12): $5.00, 6 & under: Free with paying adult. Wagon ride: $2/person. Punkin’ chunkin’: $10 for 4 pumpkins.

 

2. Attend a fall festival.

From apples, peanuts and oysters to barbecue, bikes and bluegrass, Virginia’s fall festivals have something to excite even the youngest members of the family. Many festivals are free to attend. (Just be sure to bring some extra cash for local food hand-made goodies.

 

3. Check out the incredible fall foliage.

Cruise the Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline Drive to take in breathtaking views of the mountains and colorful fall foliage. But, the mountains aren’t the only place to check out the leaves changing. Virginia’s lakes and rivers also offer prime leaf peeping.

The entrance fee for Shenandoah National Park is $30 per vehicle and $15 per person.

Visit one of Virginia’s 37 state parks and enjoy more than 500 miles of trails as well as beaches, picnic shelters, lodges, festivals, concerts, nature programs and cultural happenings. Some parks are free while others charge a small parking fee and admission fee to special events.

 

4. Take a pony ride or visit a petting farm.

Fort Chiswell Animal Park, Max Meadows – Pet and feed goats, llamas, and deer. You can throw peanuts to the monkeys or board the Safari Bus for a guided ride through the Outback. Open Fri.-Sun. Labor Day though November. $12/Adult, $10/Child.

Woodstone Meadows Stable and Petting Farm, Massanutten – Pony rides suitable for ages two and up and by appointment only. Petting farm features sheep, bunnies, donkeys, ducks, a pot belly pig, a turkey, a goat, and more! Pony rides: $10/person. Petting farm: $7/person.

Skyland Stables, Shenandoah – Pony rides in beautiful Shenandoah National Park. $8/child.

Hunt Club’s Petting Farm, Virginia Beach – Ride a pony, hold a chicken or feed a goat! Petting farm: $6/person. Pony rides: $5/ride.

Maymont, Richmond – Have a hands-on animal encounter. Look for feed machines on-site to purchase treats for your furry pals. Free.

Many of Virginia’s fall festivals offer petting zoos and pony rides.

 

5. Get Hands-on at a museum.

Have fun while learning! Hands-on, interactive activities keep little minds and bodies growing.

Amazement Square Children’s Museum, Lynchburg – $9.75/person, under 1: Free.

Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum, Winchester – $9/person, 2 and under: Free.

Children’s Museum of Virginia, Portsmouth – Adults (18 & up): $11, Ages 2-17: $10.

Children’s Museum of Richmond, Richmond – Children and Adults (Age 1- 59): $9, Under 1: Free

Other locations in Short Pump, Chesterfield and Fredericksburg.

 

NOTE: The ticket and admission fees are current as of the writing of this article.  Please check the attractions website for most current pricing details.

See more…

Fall Family Getaways

Cool Places for Kids

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Big Concerts Coming to Virginia in October 2018

Big Concerts Coming to Virginia in October 2018

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

 

—Virginia Music Festivals—

The Infamous Stringdusters Ladies and Gentlemen with Nicki Bluhm

On Oct. 5-7, enjoy the Festy Experience in Nelson County for live music, award winning craft beer, fall camping, and lots of fun at Infinity Downs, adjacent to the main grounds of the LOCKN’ Music Festival. This year’s lineup includes Greensky Bluegrass, Sam Bush Band, Gillian Welch, Railroad Earth and more.

Celebrating the roots, richness and variety of American culture through music, dance, traditional craft and food, the Richmond Folk Festival takes place Oct. 12-14 and features more than 30 performing groups on seven live music stages, along with a Virginia Folklife demonstration area, children’s activities, a folk arts marketplace, regional and ethnic foods and more. The free three-day festival is one of the largest events in Virginia.Blue Ridge Folklife Festival. Image by CameronDavidson@CameronDavidson.com.

Ferrum College’s Blue Ridge Folklife Festival on Oct. 27 celebrates western Virginia’s folkways and rural life with three music stages with all the famed Blue Ridge music styles including bluegrass, ballads, blues, gospel, and string band music. There will also be craftspeople, vintage farm tractors, hundreds of custom cars, and more.

The Hampton Coliseum will host the Hampton Roads Soul Music Festival on Oct. 27 featuring RBRM: Ronnie, Bobby, Ricky & Mike, Bell Biv Devoe, Bobby Brown, Babyface and Next.

 

—Over at Virginia’s Many Live Music Venues—

The National in Richmond will be bringing a number of big name artists throughout the month. The venue will be hosting Milky Chance (Oct. 2), Thrice (Oct. 3), Papa Roach (Oct. 5), The Record Company (Oct. 12), The Wombats (Oct. 18), Anderson East (Oct. 20), The Breeders (Oct. 23), Mary Chapin Carpenter (Oct. 27), The Wood Brothers (Oct. 28), Cream (Oct. 30) and others.

Cole Swindell & Dustin Lynch will be at the Richmond Coliseum on Oct. 13.

Just outside Richmond, the Innsbrook After Hours concert series at the Servpro Pavilion in Glen Allen will host Old Dominion on Oct. 5.

The Beacon Theatre in Hopewell will be hosting acts like Wynonna & the Big Noise (Oct. 18), Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy (Oct. 20), Sanctus Real (Sept. 27), and more.

In Charlottesville, the Sprint Pavilion will host Turnpike Troubadours on Oct. 5, Dirty Heads on Oct. 14, and Death Cab for Cutie on Oct. 18 while the John Paul Jones Arena will host MercyMe on Oct. 20 and Keith Urban on Oct. 28.

The Paramount Theater

Over at the Paramount Theater, Pink Martini will perform on Oct. 10 while Mary Chapin Carpenter performs there on Oct. 28.  The Jefferson Theater will hosts artists like Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls (Oct. 1), Lucero (Oct. 10), Lucy Dacus (Oct. 11), Agents of Good Roots (Oct. 12), Andy Grammer (Oct. 20), and more.

Celebrate Virginia After Hours in Fredericksburg will bring to the stage The B each Boys on Oct. 19.

The NorVa in Norfolk will be hosting acts like Milky Chance (Oct. 3), The English Beat (Oct. 5), The Record Company (Oct. 11), Dirty Heads (Oct. 13), Tesla (Oct. 17), and more.

Phish will be performing at the Hampton Coliseum Oct. 19-21.

Phase 2 Club in Lynchburg will be bringing in acts such as Buckcherry (Oct. 19), Good Charlotte (Oct. 20), and more.

In Roanoke, the Berglund Center will be hosting Old Dominion on Sept. 27. On Oct. 13, the Salem Civic Center will host Breaking Benjamin on Oct. 4 and Jake Owen on Oct. 11.

Over in Rocky Mount at the Harvester Performance Center will be hosting a number of shows including the Church Sisters on Oct. 6, Tim Reynolds on Oct. 10, Lyle Lovett & Robert Earl Keen on Oct. 14, Rhonda Vincent & the Rage on Oct. 26, Wynonna & the Big Noise on Oct. 27.

Jiffy Lube Live in Bristow will host a number of shows including Lady Antebellum & Darius Rucker (Oct. 6) and Chris Stapleton (Sept. 13).

At the Tally Ho Theatre in Leesburg, acts like Michael Allman & The Mile High Club (Oct. 6), The Wailers (Oct. 20), The BoDeans (Oct. 20) and more will be performing.

Herman’s Hermits starring Peter Noone will play at Alexandria music hall The Birchmere on Oct. 7. Also on the Birchmere’s schedule are Indigo Girls (Oct. 8), Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy (Oct. 9), The Jayhawks (Oct. 11), Lyle Lovett & Robert Earl Keen (Oct. 23 & 24) and more.

 

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

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Five Ideas for a Memorable Fall Vacation in Virginia

Five Ideas for a Memorable Fall Vacation in Virginia

 

Fall is truly a stunning season to visit Virginia, bringing seasonal foods, drinks, and special events that the entire family can enjoy. Plan a romantic getaway to Virginia wine, country, take the kids to a fall festival, enjoy the Great Outdoors with a hike through an iconic Virginia park…there are countless options for memorable autumn getaways, but here are five fall trip ideas that every traveler will love.

 

1. Solve the Corn Maze at Liberty Mills Farm in Somerset

liberty mills corn maze

Each year, Liberty Mills Farm comes up with a new theme for their 32-acre corn maze, the largest corn maze east of the Mississippi River. The maze has four different trails, offering a variety of difficulty for all ages. After solving your chosen trail (or all four if you’re a puzzle master!), pick out the perfect pumpkin from the farm’s 8-acre pumpkin patch.

Want More Fall Fun?

Travel just down the road to Montpelier, the historic estate of fourth President of the United States James Madison and his wife Dolley, America’s “First Lady”. Take a guided tour of the home to hear about Madison’s accomplishments and struggles, then head outside to see the reconstructed enslaved community sites followed by the special exhibit “A Mere Distinction of Color”, which brings to life the powerful true stories of several individuals that were enslaved at Montpelier.

Barboursville Vineyards

Both wine and history enthusiasts alike will enjoy a stop at Barboursville Vineyards, located just across the street from the Barboursville ruins. The winery has over 25 wines available for daily tastings and offers guided tours of the winery to the public.

Continue south to Charlottesville, an historic city filled with great restaurants for the foodie travelers. Stay at the newly-opened Draftsman, a pet-friendly boutique hotel conveniently located in downtown Charlottesville.

Before heading home, stop at Carter Mountain Orchard outside of Charlottesville for their famous apple donuts and hot cider, a fitting end to your fall getaway.

 

2. Take in the Sights & Sounds of Southwest Virginia in Bristol, the Birthplace of Country Music

Birthplace of Country Music Museum

Bristol is known as the “Birthplace of Country Music”, hosting countless music events and live performances throughout the year, but fall combines the storied mountain music with the brilliant colors of autumn blanketing the rolling terrain. Visit the Birthplace of Country Music Museum to learn about how the legendary 1927 Bristol Sessions recordings forever changed the music industry in America.

Want More Fall Fun?

The region is also home to the Carter Family Fold, a museum and performance space dedicated to the talented country music stars. If you’re interested in learning more about the region’s musical history, continue along the Crooked Road, Virginia’s Music Heritage Trail, and take in the beautiful fall foliage as you drive through some of Virginia’s most awe-inspiring landscapes. Stop at Grayson Highlands State Park to see the wild ponies graze along the mountains, and follow the pathways up the mountain to do a section hike along the renowned Appalachian Trail. Back of the Dragon

Travel Route 16, nicknamed the Back of the Dragon, through Southwest Virginia’s prettiest mountain terrain. This scenic roadway packs 438 curves into just 32 miles of asphalt, making it a favorite route for motorcyclists and fall foliage seekers.

For even more adventure, rent ATVs at Southern Gap Outdoor Adventure and head out on the Spearhead Trails, five multi-use trail systems that afford hundreds of miles of riding through the rural mountains of Southwest Virginia.

Spend the evening at the Western Front Hotel in Saint Paul, a boutique hotel featuring a rooftop bar and an on-site restaurant that cooks up local Appalachian cuisine.

 

3. Experience Harvest Season in Northern Virginia’s Wine Country

Breaux Vineyards

October is the official Wine Month of Virginia, celebrating the bountiful harvest of the vineyards and the world-class products made from the grapes. Plan a trip through Loudoun and DC’s Wine Country to taste your way through some of the finest examples of Virginia wines. With over forty wineries in Loudoun County, you can create a wine-filled itinerary to suit your vacation time, whether you’re looking to fill a fall afternoon or plan a week-long trip through Northern Virginia’s bucolic wine country.

Want More Fall Fun?

Explore a few of Loudoun’s charming small towns during your visit to Northern Virginia. Downtown Leesburg has several impressive dining spots, including King Street Oyster Bar, The Wine Kitchen, and Tuscarora Mill. In Northern Virginia’s Horse Country, Middleburg affords a wide array of shopping, from small local boutique shops to upscale antique emporiums. After shopping, grab lunch at Market Salamander or the historic Red Fox Inn & Tavern, which dates to 1728.

Salamander Resort & Spa

For a luxury stay in Middleburg, book a room at Salamander Resort & Spa, a peaceful resort in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. If you’re thinking of staying closer to Leesburg, head to Lansdowne Resort & Spa, an upscale hotel in the heart of Loudoun Wine Country.

 

4. Hike the Picturesque Trails of Shenandoah National Park

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With 300 square miles of protected lands, Shenandoah National Park has seemingly endless trails for you to discover the beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains. A few of the most popular hikes include Hawksbill Summit, a 2.2-mile hike that ends with a 360-degree view at the summit, Lewis Spring Falls Loop, a 3.3-mile trail that borders roaring waterfalls, and Old Rag Loop, a 9-mile classic for the more experienced hiker that offers expansive panoramic views. The park also contains 101 miles of the Appalachian Trail, allowing you to journey along one of the most famous hiking trails in the world.

Want More Fall Fun?

See Shenandoah National Park from your car as you travel along Skyline Drive, an historic 105-mile National Scenic Byway that traverses the park. The highway meanders along the mountaintops, providing exceptional views of the terrain. During the fall, the mountains are blanketed with fiery hues of yellows, reds, and oranges, coming alive with the bright autumn foliage.

Plan a few pit stops during your trip in the small towns bordering Shenandoah National Park, such as Front Royal, Luray, and Waynesboro. These hidden gems have tons of character and photo-worthy Main Streets lined with boutique shops and can’t-miss restaurants that give you a true taste of Virginia’s mountain regions.

Skyland Resort

If staying within Shenandoah National Park overnight, consider making reservations at Skyland. Situated at 3,680 feet, Skyland sits at the highest point along Skyline Drive, with incredible views of the Shenandoah Valley right outside your windows.

 

5. Enjoy a Quiet Coastal Vacation to Virginia Beach in the Off-Season

Virginia Beach sunset

Relax on Virginia’s shores without the crowds when you travel to Virginia Beach in the fall. While the air may be a bit cooler, the idyllic shores are still suitable for a cozy picnic, and you’ll find more affordable rates for beachfront rentals and hotels. Stroll the beaches at sunrise for a refreshing and peaceful morning walk; if you’re lucky, you may even spot some dolphins frolicking in the Atlantic waters.

Want More Fall Fun?

For a once-in-a-lifetime experience, book a horseback ride along the beach in the fall. The guided tours take you past several prime coastal landmarks, including the Virginia Beach Pier and the iconic Boardwalk.

The Cavalier Hotel Virginia Beach

Add a little luxury to your beachfront vacation with a stay at The Cavalier, a quintessential Virginia Beach hotel that was recently renovated. Don’t miss out on visiting the hotel’s private beach club, available only to guests and residents living in the neighborhood surrounding the hotel.

 

Where is your go-to fall vacation spot in Virginia? Share your trip ideas with us in the comments below!

 

 

The post Five Ideas for a Memorable Fall Vacation in Virginia appeared first on Virginia’s Travel Blog.

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Unique Experiences for your Next Group Event

Unique Experiences for your Next Group Event

Add adventure and fun to your next event or group outing! Virginia’s attractions offer unique event space and dining options overlooking gardens and racetracks, among parade floats or shark tanks, within the gates of theme parks, and on the decks of ships. Plan your next event at one of these attractions below.

 

– Shenandoah Caverns Family of Attractions, Shenandoah –

Not only can visitors enjoy Shenandoah Caverns as the main attraction, both the Yellow Barn and American Celebration on Parade are a perfect space for larger events.  Their capacity can handle hundreds depending on the building selected and they have extensive experience working with caterers from throughout the region.

 

– Spirit of Norfolk, Norfolk –

Set sail for your next event. Book your group aboard one of the Spirit of Norfolk’s regularly scheduled lunch, brunch, cocktail or dinner cruises, or have an event planner customize a full deck or ship charter for you. The ship can accommodate up to 372 guests on their two private decks.

 

 – Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, Richmond –

Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden features year-round beauty on a historic property with more than 50 acres of spectacular gardens, dining and shopping. Guests can enjoy more than a dozen themed gardens including a Healing Garden, Fountain Garden, Asian Valley, Victorian Garden, and more. Their classical domed Conservatory is the only one of its kind in the mid-Atlantic. The Garden offers six diverse venues for events of up to 250. Dining options include the Garden Cafe and Tea House.

 

– Autobahn Indoor Speedway, Manassas –

Autobahn Indoor Speedway is the largest completely indoor go-karting facility in Virginia. This attraction is perfect for families and travel groups with a need for speed. High-tech conference rooms and team-building activities are available as well. Their conference room can accommodate groups of 72 theater-style and 48 classroom-style set up. Catering options available.

 

– Kings Dominion, Doswell –

With 400 acres packed with more than 60 rides, live shows, and attractions for all kinds of explorers, Kings Dominion is sure to add some thrill and excitement to your next event. Whether you’re looking for a great meeting space or the perfect location for a company picnic, team building event, or family reunion, Kings Dominion has something for everyone. Custom catering is available for groups of 75+. On-site dining options are also available from funnel cakes to shrimp po’boys!

New in 2018 is their newest roller coaster, Twisted Timbers and WinterFest, a holiday event filled with millions of lights, festive activities and rides.

 

– VIRginia International Raceway, Afton –

VIRginia International Raceway offers an adrenaline-filled motorsport experience. Facilities include 6,000 square feet of event space, a 7,000-square-foot gallery for receptions, and 10,000 square feet of outdoor pavilion and tent space. From a pit-crew challenge to the license plate tag game, VIR’s team building is unlike any you’ve ever experienced. Other activities such as go-karting and skeet shooting will also keep your guests busy. On-site lodging and dining options are available.

 

– Virginia Zoo, Norfolk –

The natural setting of the Virginia Zoo with its well-appointed landscapes, gardens, and public spaces is the perfect location for your next event. With locations throughout the Zoo of various size and atmosphere, there is a setting to fit your needs. Full-service catering is available from a buffet to action stations.

 

– Center in the Square, Roanoke –

In the heart of Historic Downtown Roanoke, Center in the Square offers an array of facilities accommodating groups of all sizes. The atrium features a magnificent 5,500 gallon living coral-reef aquarium. The Roanoke Pinball Museum can be reserved for parties of up to 100 and offers unlimited play. The rooftop offers majestic mountain views and is also available for event rental.

Center is the Square is also home to the Don and Barbara Smith Children’s Museum, Harrison Museum of African American Culture, Mill Mountain Theatre & Science Museum of Western Virginia.

 

– Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center, Virginia Beach –

Bring your event to life! With over 10,000 animals representing over 300 species, the Virginia Aquarium has an incredible amount of fun and unique experiences for anyone. The Aquarium features three dining options, from fast casual to grab n’ go, with something for everyone in your group. Their venues offer you the chance to dine with sharks or crocodiles or board their catamaran, the Atlantic Explorer. Groups of up to 1,200 can be accommodated by renting the entire Bay & Ocean Pavilion.

 

See more…

Unique Event Venues

Group Friendly Restaurants

Museums with Event Space

Diamond-Worthy Culinary Experiences

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Livin’ Like a Local – NASCAR Drivers’ Richmond Favorites

Livin’ Like a Local – NASCAR Drivers’ Richmond Favorites

NASCAR is rolling into Richmond this week, and, like most visitors to the capital city, NASCAR drivers, crews and their families make sure to take advantage of the renowned food scene during their visit. We’ve got the inside scoop on some of their favorite local hot spots.

– Boka Tako –

One of the original Richmond food truck kings, the folks dishing out “Tacos for your Mouf!” have served up their award-winning food in the Driver-Owner lot on more than one occasion. Fortunately, with two restaurants and their trucks popping up all over the RVA, you don’t need to drive a car fast to enjoy them.

 

– Ashland Coffee and Tea –

A couple drivers have been known to bike the 30 mile round trip to this breakfast spot located on Ashland’s quaint Railroad Avenue. When you see the menu, it’s easy to see why. Maple bacon cinnamon rolls? Sign us up!

 

– The Fancy Biscuit –

These guys need a hearty breakfast to make it through a grueling day at the track, and few places do the job better than the southern staples you can enjoy from the Fancy Biscuit. With sweet shop Shyndigz next door, you can pick up a celebratory desert to enjoy after Victory Lane.

 

– Lunch. and Supper! –

Nestled amongst the bustling brewery business of Scott’s Addition, Lunch. and Supper! specializes in southern gourmet and offers up comfort foods perfect for any time of day. When the NASCAR crews want a taste of the Richmond experience, they come here.

 

– Dot’s Back Inn –

Located a couple miles from the track, Dot’s has been a Northside anchor for years. Guy Fieri even stopped by the local joint on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives in 2009. While the whole menu is excellent, Dot’s is the perfect brunch spot for Sunday morning before heading home.

 

– Rappahannock –

Known for a massive raw bar with some killer oysters, this tide-to-table joint has quickly become a favorite for locals and out-of-towners alike. When NASCAR rolls into RVA, some of the guys and gals can’t resist throwing back a dozen oysters and a cold, local beer.

 

– Buz and Ned’s –

One of the only Virginia restaurants cooking with 100% wood, Buz and Ned’s Real BBQ is so good that Buz earned the nickname “Flay Slayer” when his pork spare ribs took home the win in Bobby Flay’s Throwdown. It’s easy to see why the teams and drivers flock to this Richmond staple when they’re in town.

While we can’t guarantee you’ll run into your favorite driver at one of these local hot spots – you’re sure to see them under the lights at Richmond Raceway. Click here for more information!

 

The post Livin’ Like a Local – NASCAR Drivers’ Richmond Favorites appeared first on Virginia’s Travel Blog.

About FunRVA

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

4 Places to See Something Unusual in Virginia

4 Places to See Something Unusual in Virginia

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

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

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

1. | SALTPETER CAVE

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

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

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

2. | PIRATE’S BOOTY

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Courtesy of Virginia State Parks

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

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

3. | FLAT-BOTTOMED BOAT

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Courtesy of Virginia State Parks

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

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

4. | TREASURABLE TRASH

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Courtesy of Virginia State Parks

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

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

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

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

#THINKOUTSIDE

Written by Shellie Anne for Virginia State Parks.

Featured image provided by Courtesy of Virginia State Parks

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About FunRVA

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

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

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

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

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

Alan Cressler

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

Classic Adventures

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

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

Alan Cressler

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

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

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

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

Secrets of the Park

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

Malee Oot
 

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

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

Quick Tips: Getting the Most of Your Trip

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

Alan Cressler

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Featured image provided by Alan Cressler

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

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Top 10 State Parks in Virginia According to Trip Advisor

Top 10 State Parks in Virginia According to Trip Advisor

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

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

“BUCKET LIST HIKE”

1. | GRAYSON HIGHLANDS STATE PARK

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

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

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

Check them out:

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“THE JEWEL OF THE BLUE RIDGE”

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

Courtesy of Virginia State Parks

2. | SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE STATE PARK

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

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

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

“ONE OF MY FAVORITE PLACES”

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

Courtesy of Virginia State Parks

3. | HUNGRY MOTHER STATE PARK

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

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

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

“HIKER’S PARADISE!”

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

Courtesy of Virginia State Parks

4. | YORK RIVER STATE PARK

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

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

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

“A PARK THAT HAS EVERYTHING”

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

Courtesy of Virginia State Parks

5. | FIRST LANDING STATE PARK

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

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

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

“PEACEFUL NATURE AT ITS BEST”

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

Courtesy of Virginia State Parks

6. | POCAHONTAS STATE PARK

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

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

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

“SURPRISE OF MY LIFE”

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

Courtesy of Virginia State Parks

7. | NATURAL TUNNEL STATE PARK

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

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

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

“GEM OF HISTORY”

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

Courtesy of Virginia State Parks

8. | CHIPPOKES PLANTATION STATE PARK

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

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

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

“MUST SEE”

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

Courtesy of Virginia State Parks

9. | HIGH BRIDGE TRAIL STATE PARK

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

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

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

“SUNSET VIEW IS AMAZING”

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

Courtesy of Virginia State Parks

10. | KIPTOPEKE STATE PARK

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

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

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

WHAT’S ON YOUR TOP 10 LIST?

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

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

#THINKOUTSIDE

Written by Shellie Anne for Virginia State Parks.

Featured image provided by Courtesy of Virginia State Parks

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The post Top 10 State Parks in Virginia According to Trip Advisor appeared first on Virginia’s Travel Blog.

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Virginia Cider Week

Virginia Cider Week

Virginia Cider Week Logo

Virginia Cider Week 2018

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

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

 

Albemarle CiderWorks

Albemarle CiderWorks

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

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

See even more cideries here.

 

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

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10 Easy Bike Routes in Virginia’s Blue Ridge

10 Easy Bike Routes in Virginia’s Blue Ridge

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

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

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

1. Carvins Cove – Happy Valley Fire Road | Roanoke

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

> > Carvins Cove: Your Adventure Playground

2. Salem Bike Route | Salem

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

3. Greenfield Recreation Trail | Troutville

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

4. Roanoke River Greenway | Roanoke

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

> > 5 Ways to Explore Virginia’s Blue Ridge

5. Tinker Creek Greenway | Roanoke

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

6. Hanging Rock Battlefield Trail | Salem

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

7. Claytor Lake State Park | Dublin

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

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

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

> > 8 Spots for Mountain Biking & Beer

9. Lick Run Greenway | Roanoke

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

10. Wolf Creek Greenway | Vinton

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


Map of Locations


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

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

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

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7 Virginia Cocktails from Our Soul to Yours

7 Virginia Cocktails from Our Soul to Yours

 

September is Virginia Spirits Month!

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

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

 

– THE HUNTSMAN –

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

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

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

 

 – HORSE’S NECK –

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

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

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

 

– MAPLE OLD-FASHIONED –

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

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

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

 

– BLUE RIDGE PUNCH –

– Photo Credit: Revel Photography –

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

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

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

 

– CIRRUS CUCUMBER CRUISER –

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

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

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

 

– BLOODY MARY –

– Photo Credit: Revel Photography –

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

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

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

 

– APPALACHIAN MANHATTAN –

– Photo Credit: Revel Photography –

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

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

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

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

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

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The 8 Best Biking Trails in Southwest Virginia

The 8 Best Biking Trails in Southwest Virginia

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

1. Iron Mountain Trail

Distance from Abingdon: 14 miles

Mileage: Approximately 24 miles one way

Difficulty: Moderate/Difficult

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

2. Seven Sisters Trail

Distance from Abingdon: 65 miles

Mileage: 5.5 miles

Difficulty: Moderate/Difficult

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

3. Crystal Springs Recreation Area

Life is oh so joyful.

A post shared by Ellen Allen (@ellensueallen) on Aug 3, 2014 at 6:58am PDT

Distance from Abingdon: 59 miles

Mileage: 13 miles of trails

Difficulty: Easy/Moderate/Difficult

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

4. Heart of Appalachia Bike Trail

Distance from Abingdon: 39 miles

Mileage: 128 miles

Difficulty: Difficult

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

5. Virginia Creeper Trail

Today’s been creepy

A post shared by Kelsey Boring (@kelseyboring) on Oct 6, 2016 at 10:46am PDT

Distance from Abingdon: 0 miles

Mileage: 34 miles

Difficulty: Easy

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

6. New River Trail

Distance from Abingdon: Approximately 80 miles

Mileage: 57 miles

Difficulty: Easy

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

7. Burkes Garden Century

Distance from Abingdon: 62 miles

Mileage: 100

Difficulty: Moderate

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

8. Big Walker National Scenic Byway Ride

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

A post shared by VisitWytheville (@visitwytheville) on Aug 18, 2015 at 7:12am PDT

Distance from Abingdon: 55 miles

Mileage: Approximately 50 miles

Difficulty: Moderate

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

Written by Joe DeGaetano for RootsRated in partnership with Abingdon.

Featured image provided by Joe DeGaetano

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