Entertainment around RVA

#TakeTheTrain to Enjoy Virginia’s Waterways

#TakeTheTrain to Enjoy Virginia’s Waterways

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


In Virginia, warm weather means water weather. From the beach to mountain springs, the Commonwealth has it all. Even better, you can enjoy waters of Virginia no matter your interests. Dive right in for swimming, fishing, boating, water skiing, tubing, kayaking, sailing or paddle boarding. You can even kick back and just enjoy beautiful water views while sipping, strolling or shopping.

You don’t have to hit the road to hit the water, though. With nine passenger rail routes and 23 stations, Amtrak can take you right to many of Virginia’s most popular destinations with river, bay and sea views. Just kick back and enjoy the wide, comfortable reclining seats with plenty of legroom – plus complimentary Wi-Fi service and in-seat power outlets to keep you charged up and connected. Need to refuel? The café car has sandwiches, salads, snacks and hot, cold, and adult beverages available for purchase.

If you’re ready for a water-inspired Virginia getaway, look no further. Below are several suggestions, starting in the west and heading east toward the Atlantic! All destinations are easily accessible by rail. As you ride, keep an eye out – those water views might just start on the journey.



Amtrak Station (RNK)

Surround yourself with the Blue Ridge Mountains – and the rushing waters of the Roanoke River, where you’ll find trails for biking, walking, and running as well as opportunities to fish, tube and kayak. It’s just beyond the bustling downtown Roanoke area, which offers lots of dining, shopping and less “active” activities as well.

Get started:



river rock outfitters kayaking in fredericksburg

Amtrak/VRE Station (FBG)

Fredericksburg is known for its historic downtown area – but you can’t forget the Rappahannock River and all the outdoor fun it offers! Try your hand at tubing, paddle boarding or kayaking. There also are many options for dining and shopping near the water, especially for antique lovers.

Get started:



Richmond Kayaking

Amtrak Main Street Station (RVM)/Amtrak Staples Mill Road Station (RVR)

The James River runs right through the heart of downtown Richmond, where you’ll find outdoors enthusiasts kayaking, tubing, fishing and even making a splash on a rope swing, all right next to gleaming office buildings. With many historic sites and markers right along the banks, you can enjoy an informative and relaxing walk or canal boat ride.

If you like water views while cycling, you’re in luck! Between May and October 2018, Amtrak has a pilot program for cyclists interested in riding half of the scenic Virginia Capital Trail (rather than the full 100-mile round trip). Just buy a one-way ticket and board your bicycle on a daily route between Richmond’s Main Street Station (RVM) and Williamsburg (WBG). You’ll find more information and details on the Amtrak Virginia page.

Get started:



Dockside in Alexandria. Aerial.

Amtrak/VRE Station (ALX)

The Potomac River provides a beautiful backdrop for Alexandria, just across the water from Washington, D.C. It’s the perfect location for sailing and boating! You also have a number of parks along the river for walking, playing or other activities. When you’re ready for a rest, take in the view from one of the many restaurants and bars along the shore.

Get started:


—Newport News—

Amtrak Station (NPN)

Newport News is a shipbuilding powerhouse, and with miles of waterfront parks, restaurants and other attractions, it has a lot to offer. You can boat, fish or even lay out on the beach. And, while you’re at it, you can check out historic sites and markers along the shore.

Get started:



Norfolk skyline

Amtrak Station (NFK)

The Atlantic Ocean and Chesapeake Bay offer endless opportunities to get in the water, with activities like fishing, boating and surfing. However, in Norfolk you’ll also find that the waterfront is a vibrant hub of activity, with parks, shops, museums, sports arenas and historic attractions. Not to mention amazing views from the new !

Get started:



Amtrak Station (WBG)

You might know Williamsburg for its colonial splendor. However, the York and James Rivers make Williamsburg the perfect spot for water activities, too. From sailing to kayak tours, there is an opportunity for all kinds of water lovers to make historic moments of their own.

Get started:



Make a Big Splash, Not a Big Splurge

Head to Virginia.Amtrak.com to book your tickets for a comfortable, convenient travel experience. Book at least 14 days in advance to save up to 25%, or check out the everyday discounts we offer. Just hop on board, and you’ll be by the water before you know it.


The post #TakeTheTrain to Enjoy Virginia’s Waterways appeared first on Virginia’s Travel Blog.

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How to See the Chincoteague Ponies Year-Round

How to See the Chincoteague Ponies Year-Round

The last week in July has been a momentous occasion on Chincoteague Island for nearly a century. Each year this small island on the Atlantic Ocean becomes pony central. The week-long Pony Penning celebration marks the annual journey of the Chincoteague Ponies from Assateague Island to Chincoteague Island. The herd is rounded up, herded across the channel, foals are auctioned off and then the herd swims back.

Photo Courtesy Chincoteague Chamber of Commerce

Courtesy of Visit Eastern Shore, Virginia

The crowning event of this week is known as Pony Swim when the ponies swim from Assateague to Chincoteague. It’s a chance to see Chincoteague ponies up close and in action, but July isn’t the only time you can see the ponies. Here are the best ways to see Chincoteague ponies during Pony Penning week and the rest of the year.


Monday Morning Beach Walk : Watch the ponies from the northern herd make their march down the beach at Assateague Island National Seashore to join the southern herd. Find a spot in the sand north of the parking lots at Assateague by 6 a.m. for a great view.

Pony Swim : Thousands of people flock to watch this so here are some tips for the best viewing spots. *_Pony Swim Lane *_offers the best view of the ponies as they come up out of the channel onto a small patch of marsh separated from the crowd only by a line of construction fencing. You literally will be face-to-face with ponies, but it is not without challenges. The earlier you arrive, the closer to the ponies you will be, so this spot requires an early bird spirit. Wear clothes and shoes that you aren’t particularly attached to. It’s very marshy so you will get muddy. Bug spray is a must, other handy items include sunscreen, binoculars and water.

Photo Courtesy Chincoteague Chamber of Commerce

Courtesy of Visit Eastern Shore, Virginia

Find a spot at Memorial Park about 100 yards from Pony Swim Lane where the ponies land. In exchange for sacrificing proximity to the ponies, you gain dry land. Some say the view from Memorial Park is just as good as that of Pony Swim Lane, but bring binoculars to get a close-up on the ponies. From the water is where old pros at Pony Penning watch. There are a variety of ways to accomplish that. Paddle your kayak up to the area where the ponies swim or book a seat with a local boat captain. Boats fill up quickly, so book your spot months in advance. When booking a boat for Pony Swim, ensure that the captain is licensed, and the boat has been inspected by the Coast Guard. If you’d like to launch your own boat and join the action make sure to obtain a permit from the town office.

Pony Parade : After the ponies swim across the channel to Chincoteague, they parade down Main Street to the Chincoteague Carnival Grounds. Claim a spot on the sidewalk between Pony Swim Lane and the carnival grounds and wait patiently for the ponies to make their way past.

Photo Courtesy Chincoteague Chamber of Commerce

Courtesy of Visit Eastern Shore, Virginia

Pony Auction : The last Thursday in July is the Pony Auction. At 8 a.m. the auctioneer starts the bidding on the foals that were born into the herd during the last year. Get to the carnival grounds early to get a good seat. These feisty ponies can put up a fight from time to time and their antics can make for an interesting morning.

Return Swim : The adult ponies swim back to Assateague Island on Friday. The time varies each year but is announced on the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company’s Facebook page before the swim. Smaller crowds offer a better view and more intimate experience for the Friday swim.

For more information about Pony Penning visit these sites :
Chincoteague Chamber of CommerceChincoteague.comwww.cvfc3.com


Spring and Fall Roundups : In April and October the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company rounds up the ponies for vet checks. During these roundup weekends the southern herd is rounded up and corralled on Friday and the northern herd is rounded up on Saturday. The southern herd is the easiest to see because their corral borders the main road into the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge. The northern herd’s corral can only be accessed by walking three miles up a service road or by taking the Wildlife Refuge Bus Tour.
Get details

Photo Courtesy of Chincoteague Chamber of Commerce

Courtesy of Visit Eastern Shore, Virginia

Pony Tours : Throughout the spring, summer and fall guides around Chincoteague offer tours on the water that get you close to the ponies. You can see the ponies by kayak or boat. Some guides offer deals that guarantee pony sightings with a money-back guarantee.
Get details

Chincoteague Pony Centre : Have you ever dreamed of cuddling or even riding a Chincoteague Pony? The Chincoteague Pony Centre can hook you up. Ponies are housed in corrals out front for visitors to pet, ride, take pictures with and gaze upon. You can also wander around the stables and check out the closest remaining descendants of Misty, the pony made famous by Marguerite Henry.
Get details

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Written by EasternShore VA RootsRated for Visit Eastern Shore VA.

Featured image provided by Courtesy of Visit Eastern Shore, Virginia

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The post How to See the Chincoteague Ponies Year-Round appeared first on Virginia’s Travel Blog.

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The Perfect Bachelorette Weekend in Charlottesville

The Perfect Bachelorette Weekend in Charlottesville

With plenty of indie boutiques, tasty eateries, vineyards and outdoor activities, Charlottesville is the perfect getaway for a bachelorette weekend with your favorite ladies. From start to finish, we’ve created an action-packed itinerary to help you celebrate during your girls’ weekend.




12 p.m. – Shopping and lunch on the Downtown Mall

Drop your bags off at the The Graduate hotel before heading out for lunch and shopping. On your walk from the hotel to the Downtown Mall, stop by Feast for sandwiches and stock up on provisions for your weekend. The eatery-meets-market sells locally made cheeses, meats, wine and other yummy snacks.

The Downtown Mall is home to dozens of locally owned boutiques, watering holes and restaurants. During your shopping spree, refuel with coffee and baked goods at Mudhouse.


3 p.m. – Check into The Graduate

Located on The Corner, across from University of Virginia’s Grounds and a stone’s throw from Charlotteville Downtown Mall, The Graduate hotel is a perfectly positioned home base for your weekend of fun. When booking your room, request the Sip ’n’ See package, which includes a two-night stay, along with wine tastings and transportation to and from area wineries.


5 p.m. – Happy hour downtown

Toast to love and the future bride-to-be at this popular downtown haunt. Grab cocktails and share small plates before your night out on the town. Also check out The Fitzroy and Random Row Brewing Co., if drinks are on the docket.


6 p.m. – Fridays After Five concert

From April through September, Charlottesville hosts free concerts downtown in the Sprint Pavilion. Bring a blanket and some snacks. And, if you’re thirsty, you can buy beer and wine at the event.


8 p.m. – Dinner at C&O


This rustic French bistro is a Charlottesville classic and the perfect place to celebrate milestones surrounded by friends and family. Order a few dishes for the table, like the artichokes and fromage, and then choose from one of their mouthwatering entrees.


10 p.m. – Explore the downtown nightlife

Commowealth Skybar on Charlottesville's Downtown Mall. Roy VanDoorn photo.

If you are up for exploring more of the downtown area, head to South Street Brewery for beer, Commonwealth’s Skybar for rooftop cocktails, The Southern for live music and Rapture for dancing.



9 a.m. – Bagels at Bodo’s



11:30 a.m. – Hop on the wine bus at the hotel


12 p.m. – Explore wineries

King Family Vineyards

King Family Vineyards

Spend your afternoon exploring Central Virginia’s picturesque wine country. Ahead of time, be sure to order sandwiches and salads from Ivy Provisions to bring along on your adventure. Or for a Southern-inspired picnic spread, grab some fried chicken and tasty side dishes from Wayside.


4 p.m. – Head back to the hotel to relax and get ready for dinner


6:30 p.m. – Happy hour at Tavola’s Speakeasy

Grab celebratory drinks at Tavola’s Speakeasy, a bar tucked in the back of the rustic Italian restaurant. Order a delectable cocktail or glass of vino off their extensive wine list, and snack on classic Italian small plates like garlic and butter-infused mussels and the bruschetta of the day.


8 p.m. – Dinner at The Local

Mosey next door to The Local for a farm-to-table feast. Be sure to request a table on the rooftop deck so you can enjoy al fresco dining. We recommend starting with the fried cauliflower and Brussels sprouts and cheese board. And don’t forget to save room for dessert.



9 a.m. – Yoga at FlyDog

Rise and shine with an invigorating yoga class at FlyDog. Schedule a private session at the studio and choose from classes like aerial, vinyasa, barre and yin.


11 a.m. – Brunch at Beer Run

Arrive at Beer Run as they open to avoid a wait. Order one of their award-winning Bloody Mary’s and choose from an array of filling breakfast dishes like the “El Guapo” breakfast burrito and the challah French toast strata.


1 p.m. – Stand-up Paddleboarding

No Pokémon were harmed in the making of this photo

A post shared by Zach DiGregorio (@zachdigo) on Jul 11, 2016 at 4:59pm PDT

Before heading out of town, enjoy a few hours of relaxing stand-up paddling boarding on the Rivanna River with Rivanna River Company. Choose from a 6-mile paddle or a quick 2-mile “sampler” paddle.



The post The Perfect Bachelorette Weekend in Charlottesville appeared first on Virginia’s Travel Blog.

About FunRVA

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12 Unique Spots for the Perfect Picnic in Virginia

12 Unique Spots for the Perfect Picnic in Virginia


Virginia is filled with countless stunning outdoor destinations, so it’s not hard to find a beautiful picnic location, but rather than focusing on the obvious spots to put down a blanket and enjoy a meal, we wanted to share a few of the lesser-known places for a picnic. Whether you’re planning a romantic spread for two with a stunning backdrop or taking the whole family for an informal lunch, consider these twelve outdoor locations in Virginia for a perfect picnic.


Yorktown Beach—Yorktown

yorktown beach picnic

Voted as the best place to picnic by Coastal Virginia Magazine this year, Yorktown Beach has several spots that would make for the perfect picnic, including the sandy beachfront, the grass lawn bordering the beach, and the fishing pier. In addition to the coastal scenery, you’ll have the chance to view local marine wildlife, with dolphins and stingrays frequenting the waters bordering Yorktown. If you don’t plan on packing your own picnic, head to Carrot Tree Kitchens in the Riverwalk Landing shopping center, which has an array of to-go dishes conveniently packaged for a picnic.


Stratford Hall—Stratford

stratford hall northern neck

Stratford Hall was built as the home of the Lee family, with prominent family members including the only brothers that signed the Declaration of Independence, Richard Henry Lee and Francis Lightfoot Lee, and Confederate General Robert E. Lee. The 1,900-acre estate now serves as a historic museum that is open for public tours, as well as offering nature trails that showcase the remarkable scenery of the grounds. Built on a bluff overlooking the Potomac River, the property has numerous sites for visitors to set up their picnics, like the expansive lawns surrounding the home, picnic tables near the Visitor Center, and pristine spots off the trails that provide views of the Potomac. After lunch, take a tour of the Great House, and then set off a leisurely stroll on the estate’s nature trails. Pets are permitted on the grounds and trails of Stratford Hall, but excluding service animals, no pets are allowed inside of the buildings.


Meems Bottom Covered Bridge—Mount Jackson

meems bottom covered bridge mount jackson

Off Route 11 just outside of Mount Jackson, Meems Bottom Covered Bridge is one of only four public covered bridges in Virginia. Crossing the North Fork of the legendary Shenandoah River, the bridge is Virginia’s longest covered bridge, spanning a length of 204 feet over the water. Constructed in 1894, the bridge carried travelers over the river for more than 80 years before being destroyed by vandals in 1976. It was eventually reconstructed from the salvaged timbers of the original bridge, creating a scenic route through the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. While you can’t have a picnic on the bridge itself, there are picnic tables on the shores beside the bridge, and after your picnic, you can embark on a kayaking trip down the river from the public boat access point at the bridge.




One of the most enchanting destinations within the urban landscape of Richmond, Virginia’s capital city, Maymont began as a private estate for the Dooley family in the late 19th century. The couple left the opulent property to the community, and eventually it was purchased by a private nonprofit society formed to preserve and restore the 100-acre estate to its former splendor. Set up your picnic under one of the ancient trees on the mansion’s sprawling lawns, or walk down to the Italian or Japanese gardens for an idyllic picnic surrounded by colorful flowers and unique architecture, including a waterfall, reflecting pond, and arched bridge in the Japanese gardens. Once you’ve finished lunch, take a tour of the mansion, Robbins Nature Center, and the wildlife habitats, where you can see examples of local and regional wildlife.


Abingdon Vineyard & Winery—Abingdon

Abingdon Vineyard & Winery

You’ll find beautiful views at every single winery in Virginia, but sitting on the South Fork Holston River, Abingdon Vineyard and Winery is especially picturesque. Take in the views from the patio overlooking the river and order a flight of their wines before taking your picnic and your favorite bottle out onto the lawn.


Boxerwood Nature Center & Gardens—Lexington

A Picnic at Boxerwood Gardens

If you’re a wildlife enthusiast looking to visit the Lexington area, plan a picnic to Boxerwood Nature Center & Gardens. The outdoor sanctuary has a mature collection of rare and native trees, shrubs, and plants, including one of the largest collections of Japanese maple varieties in the country. Wildlife abounds in the park and can often be seen by walking the trails through the Pioneer Forest. The trails are geared towards kids and are also pet-friendly, making the nature center a picnic destination that the entire family can enjoy. As Boxerwood is designed as an outdoor haven, please be sure to clean up after your picnic and properly dispose of any trash when you leave.


Sunset Beach Resort—Cape Charles

The Jackspot at Sunset Beach

Just off the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, Sunset Beach Resort is surrounded by 1,700 acres of protected lands, creating a coastal paradise on the Bay waters. Pack your own or pick up lunch from the Jackspot, the resort’s on-site restaurant, before walking out onto their private beachfront for a picnic along the sandy shores of the Chesapeake Bay. While you’ll have epic views at any time of day from the private beach, consider making it a dinner picnic and watching the sunset over the Bay; the spot remains one of the most stunning locations to catch a sunset in all of Virginia.


Rivergate City Park—Alexandria

Rivergate City Park

There are several riverfront parks along the Potomac River on Alexandria’s waterfront, but Rivergate City Park is one of the best for a picnic. The small park has picnic tables, plenty of bench seating, and a large lawn area if you want to throw down a blanket and arrange your picnic in the pristine park grasses. Additionally, the park has some of the most iconic views of Washington, D.C., with the Capitol and National Harbor visible on a clear day. Once you’re done with your picnic, take a walk along the nearby Mount Vernon Trail.


James Madison’s Montpelier—Montpelier

james madison montpelier picnic

James Madison’s Montpelier is known for more than just history; this former U.S. President’s estate provides unbelievably spectacular views of the rolling countryside and the Blue Ridge Mountains, making it an ideal picnic location. Opt for Grab & Go selections, made-to-order sandwiches or salads, or barbecue from award-winning Exchange Café in Montpelier’s dining hall, and then head outside to find your picnic spot. After lunch, walk the nature trails throughout the property and take a tour of Madison’s famed home and grounds.


Potomac Point Winery—Stafford

potomac point winery and vineyards stafford

A Tuscan-style winery 45 minutes outside of Washington, D.C., Potomac Point Winery allows visitors to bring their own food and non-alcoholic beverages, or they can order from the tasting room’s bistro menu, filled with popular Mediterranean dishes. If you’re thinking of pairing your picnic with a little vino, try a flight of the wines in the tasting room before purchasing a bottle to sip with your meal. Set up your picnic in the vines or at the picnic pavilion. Pets are welcome to join picnickers outside of the tasting room throughout the vineyard.


Gravelly Point Park—Arlington

Another interesting picnic spot in the Capital region of Virginia is Gravelly Point Park in Arlington. Visitors can spread their blankets, lie on the ground, and get front-row seats to planes flying in and out of Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, which is less than two miles from the park. Like Rivergate City Park, Gravelly Point sits alongside the Potomac River and has prime views of the Washington D.C. monuments, adding to the scenery of this Northern Virginia picnic spot.


R.P. Gravely-A.J. Lester Public Art Garden—Martinsville

r.p. gravely a.j. lester public art garden martinsville

If searching for a picnic spot in Martinsville, the R.P. Gravely-A.J. Lester Public Art Garden is free and open to the public from dawn to dusk. The park is full of charm, but an especially notable site is the Historic Little Post Office, which has the original ironwork and stained glass door from 1893. The park contains free-standing sculptures crafted by Virginia artists, as well as a LOVEwork where picnickers can snap a photo to remember their visit to the park. Spread your blanket under the garden’s 100-year-old oak tree, recognized for its age, size, and grandeur.


Tell us, where is your favorite spot in Virginia for a scenic picnic?




The post 12 Unique Spots for the Perfect Picnic in Virginia appeared first on Virginia’s Travel Blog.

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Black Pride RVA ~ Celebrating Community, Uniqueness & Diversity

Black Pride RVA ~ Celebrating Community, Uniqueness & Diversity


Lacette Cross @DCurryImaging

This July 20 – 22, 2018, will mark the first Black LGBTQ+ Pride event in the Commonwealth of Virginia. A three-day schedule of education, celebration, and empowerment, Black Pride RVA will span several areas of Richmond, each with important connections in the lives of queer Black Virginians.

Richmonder Lacette Cross is one such important connector. Known as “Rev. L” to many, her life’s passion and work as a pastor, teacher, writer, theologian, ethicist, and community leader led her to spearhead this first-time series of events celebrating the uniqueness and diversity. We were lucky enough to catch up with Lacette just prior to the event weekend, and she shared insights into the passion and purpose of the upcoming Black Pride RVA.


Who are the driving forces behind Black Pride RVA?

I joined several passionate and dedicated locals to form the group UGRC. We are “Us Giving RVA Connection” with a main focus on improving the health and wellness of Black LGBTQ+ folks in the Greater Richmond area.

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We are so excited to see this come to reality! Only 57 days and counting until we make history. #BlackPrideRVA #pridewithapurpose #VAs1stblackpride #dontmissit

Posted by UGRC RVA on Wednesday, May 23, 2018


What do you hope to accomplish with Black Pride RVA?

Our theme is “Pride with a Purpose.” We see the need to help raise the voices and experiences of Black folks and People of Color (POC) in the Queer community, at existing Pride events, and throughout the year. Black Pride RVA is our way of promoting the health and wellness of Black LGBTQ+ people through celebration, education, and empowerment. We want to build and strengthen a community grounded in justice, equality and love.


What’s the best way to support Black Pride RVA as an Ally, for those not a member of the Black LGBTQ+ community?

That’s simple ~ Show up, think unity, and embrace diversity.


There are a wide range of activities, spanning the weekend, at different locations throughout Richmond. Tell us a little about what’s happening, and where.

Godfrey’s ~ Dance Club, Drag Shows, Brunch & Dinner

Our first event is a Dinner & Drag Show on Friday, July 20 (7:00 pm). It will be a night of night of music and fantastic Drag performances, great food, and fun. It’s held at Godfrey’s, a 20+ yr. old entertainment mainstay in Richmond, focused on diversity, inclusion, and showcasing the best in Drag talent and dance music in RVA.

Saturday, July 21, we have two events: Our “Day of Purpose” Pride event (9:30 am – 4:00 pm) will be held at Diversity Richmond. A long-standing community center and “home away from home” for many in the LGBTQ+ community, Diversity Richmond is our local mother ship providing resources and fostering respect and dignity for the Richmond community.

Saturday evening is our Official Black Pride After Party (9:00 pm – 1:00 am) at the historic Hippodrome. The “HIPP” is a beautifully restored theatre located in RVA’s Jackson Ward neighborhood. Once known as the “Harlem of the South,” the HIPP is truly a one-of-a-kind venue and entertainment mecca for all.

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Tonight! 8pm in our exclusive Speakeasy Lounge we welcome for the first time “Harrison Colby”! Come on out and have an incredible meal with great live tunes and never a cover!

Posted by The Hippodrome Theater on Friday, August 17, 2012

And as our grand finale, Sunday, July 22, we are holding our Closing Worship Service (11:00 am) at the Third Street Bethel AME (614 N. 3rd St.). Spanning over two centuries, it is the perfect house of worship to give thanks for our hard work, celebrate our relationships, and most importantly – share our Faith.


To say you’re a busy person is an understatement. When you’re not the clock, where are your favorite places to visit, eat and explore? 

I love taking a day trips to Buckroe Beach in Hampton. Locally, I enjoy Kitchen 64, Southern Kitchen, McLean’s, Travinia and new to my list is Legend’s Grille at Willow Lawn. My favorite parks in @OutRVA are Manchester Dock / Slave Trail green space and Libby Hill Park. I also love to experience a good sunset at the Boat House in Hopewell. The Appomattox River is gorgeous in that area.


Lacette Cross (pronouns: she/her) is a Richmond transplant, growing up in Oceanside, CA. For over 20 years, Lacette has lead youth development programs in faith based and community focused organizations. She’s currently the Director of Volunteers & Outreach with Side by Side, a Richmond-based organization dedicated to creating supportive communities where Virginia’s LGBTQ+ youth can define themselves, belong, and flourish. Lacette is a local pastor and active community leader. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work form Catholic University, a Master of Divinity from the School of Theology at Virginia Union University, and a Master of Theology from Union Presbyterian Seminary. She enjoys exploring the RVA food scene, spending time with close friends, and reading a good book.

The post Black Pride RVA ~ Celebrating Community, Uniqueness & Diversity appeared first on Virginia’s Travel Blog.

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Crush Friday: Your Mini-Vacation Guide to Virginia’s Eastern Shore

Crush Friday: Your Mini-Vacation Guide to Virginia’s Eastern Shore

You frequently see articles that complain about Millennials ruining everything, but in one aspect, there is definitely truth to the stigma; Millennials are ruining paid time off, and it’s time to take a good hard look at how we can fix it. A recent study by Project Time Off showed that 96% of Americans say that using their PTO is important to them, but 54% of those folks aren’t taking all of their paid vacation days, averaging out to about 662 million unused days each year. And with many offices going by a “use it or lose it” policy, American employees forfeit $66 BILLION in lost benefits annually.

While this disastrous Millennial trend might currently be true, the reasons behind it are far from easy to understand. Maybe you feel as if your vacation days are a privilege rather than part of your benefits, or maybe you feel as if you will fall behind on your work if you’re out of the office, but here’s a news flash for you: None of these reasons hold up when faced with the facts!

According to the Project Time Off studies, work martyrs aren’t doing themselves any favors. Statistically, they are less likely to get raises or bonuses, are lower performers in the long run due to burnout, and they often end up carrying their stress home with them, impacting their overall happiness.

So what’s the first step in stopping the trend? Planning out an itinerary for your future travels makes it more likely that you’ll actually use those paid vacation days. And if you’re hesitating to spend multiple days away from the office, start with a single day. Crush a Friday in Virginia using our three-day itineraries to different hot spots and you can fit a full carefree getaway with plenty of adventure into only 72 hours.

chincoteague island sunset over the Chesapeake Bay

This month, our team headed to Virginia’s gorgeous Eastern Shore, known for its oysters, outdoor activities, and pristine landscapes. Bordered by the Chesapeake Bay on the western side and the Atlantic Ocean to the east, the 70-mile peninsula is ideal for those travelers that embrace coastal living without the crowds.



Stay at: Sunset Beach Resort Hotel in Cape Charles, starting at $99 per night in the off season and $149 per night during peak season, and Waterside Inn in Chincoteague, starting at $90 per night in the off season and $165 per night during peak season.

The Jackspot at Sunset Beach

Just across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, Sunset Beach Resort Hotel in Cape Charles has several different types of accommodations, including hotel rooms, camping and RV sites, and cottages with multiple bedrooms if you’re traveling with friends. The pet-friendly resort has an on-site restaurant, Jackspot Bar & Grill, and after grabbing food or cocktails, you can walk right out onto a private beach to catch a spectacular sunset over the Bay. Rent water sport gear from the resort and cast off from the beach, or take a dip in one of the two pools located on the resort grounds. Stop by the store in the hotel lobby to pick up small beach items like sunscreen or kits to make s’mores around the campsite fire pits.

waterside inn chincoteague island

After traveling up to Chincoteague Island, consider booking a stay at Waterside Inn. The hotel is only a few blocks from the heart of the downtown area and your stay includes a free breakfast each morning served in the lobby. Take a dip in the outdoor pool or cook out along the pier as you take in the famous Eastern Shore sunsets over the water.


Suggested Prior Reservations: Paddle Your Glass Off Tour with SouthEast Expeditions, Sunset Beach Resort, The Shanty, Onancock Sailing Adventures, Waterside Inn, Refuge Trek at Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge



southeast expeditions paddle your glass off kayak tour cape charles to chatham vineyards

Start your Eastern Shore getaway north of Cape Charles with the Paddle Your Glass off Tour, a guided kayak tour led by SouthEast Expeditions to Chatham Vineyards. Embark from the banks of Nassawadox Creek, an inlet off the Chesapeake Bay, and paddle out towards Church Creek as your guide fills you in on the surrounding landscape. You’ll learn about the unique ecosystem and wildlife, the history of the waterway, and its current role in the livelihoods of local watermen.

chatham vineyards cape charles dog

After about a 45 minute paddle, your waterfront tour ends on the shores of Chatham Vineyards, where you’ll stroll across the shady estate grounds towards the tasting room. Built in 1818, the federal-style home of Chatham adds to the picturesque backdrop of the winery, and if you’re lucky, you’ll receive a very warm, and possibly slobbery, welcome to the property by Otis and Tucker, two friendly Labradors that call Chatham home.

Continue to the winery tasting room, where a knowledgeable staff will pour a flight of their current offerings, which included both steel and oak cask Chardonnays, Rosé, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and a Vintner’s Blend during our visit. While you’ve probably been to countless wineries, the wines of Chatham are distinct due to the soil found on the Eastern Shore. Oyster and clam shells have mixed into the soil over hundreds of years, creating an uncommon terroir that lends to the flavorful minerality of the wines.

deadrise pies pizza restaurant cape charles

Linger at the tasting room over a glass of your favorite wine, then paddle back across the creek and hop into the car towards the downtown area of Cape Charles for lunch at Deadrise Pies. Serving up wood-fired pizzas made to order, the restaurant sources locally whenever possible, making all doughs and sauces with only the best quality, organic ingredients by hand each day. If you’ve brought your appetite, start with either the Fried Mozzarella or the House Meatballs. With too many tempting specialty pizzas on the menu, we opted to order several and split among our group, choosing the DR Margherita, made with a garlic crust and topped with fresh mozzarella, shaved pecorino, basil, cracked pepper, and oil, as well as the Gondola, a pie covered in fresh garlic, oregano, salami, prosciutto, pecorino, and basil.

cape charles distillery

Everything in downtown Cape Charles is fairly walkable, so leave the car parked and head towards the waterfront along Mason Avenue, which serves as the main stretch of shops in the town. Your first destination after lunch is Cape Charles Distillery, the first (and currently only) distillery on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. Sample their whiskeys, bourbon, moonshines, and vodka in a tasting flight or choose a few for a specialty cocktail flight, made using seasonal fruits, herbs, and other ingredients from local farms. Our top picks were the maple whiskey and the apple pie moonshine.

brown dog ice cream cape charles

Walk back to Mason Avenue and continue to Brown Dog Ice Cream for a refreshing sweet treat. With flavors like blueberry, banana cream, and malt milk balls, you’ll probably opt for more than one scoop of this creamy ice cream. A helpful tip: Be sure to grab a handful of napkins before leaving Brown Dog, as they definitely don’t skimp on the scoop size and on hot summer days you’ll get some serious drips in a matter of minutes.

buskey cider on the bay cape charles cidery

Just a block down from Brown Dog, Buskey Cider on the Bay is another can’t-miss spot in downtown Cape Charles. While the flagship location is in Richmond, Buskey Cider opened the second tasting room in Cape Charles as a passion project; after the owner and his wife vacationed in Cape Charles, they fell in love with the quaint coastal town and quickly decided that it was the perfect place to expand the Buskey brand. Order a flight of ciders inside the tasting room before grabbing a seat on the patio outside and sipping your way through original flavors like Watermelon Rosemary, Jalapeno Lime, and My Pear Lady, made with local Asian pears and single varietal Pink Lady apples.

the shanty restaurant cape charles

Wander back to the car for a short trip over to The Shanty for dinner. A local seafood spot right on the water, the eatery has incredible views of the Chesapeake Bay and serves up some of the freshest oysters, crabs, and fish around. We recommend the crab cakes or the blackened fish tacos, and pair with a cocktail from their extensive list, which features an array of margaritas, crushes, martinis, and island-inspired drinks.

sunset jacks spot at sunset beach resort cape charles

After dinner, head to Sunset Beach Resort Hotel to check into your room before catching the sunset from the hotel’s private beach, located in front of Jackspot Bar & Grill. If you’re still not ready to call it a night, grab a few cocktails from the Jackspot to sip during the memorable waterfront sunset.



Cape Charles Coffee House

Have a leisurely breakfast on Saturday morning at Cape Charles Coffee House. Housed in an early 20th building that was originally constructed as a bank, the restaurant has retained a lot of the historic charm, with much of the original woodwork throughout and an open second story dining area that overlooks the bistro below. Order one of the specialty coffee drinks for a caffeinated start to your meal, and if you’re feeling hungry, consider trying the French toast or Belgian waffles, both generous portioned plates with sides of fresh fruit. For a healthier alternative, the fresh fruit and yogurt parfait is the way to go.

shopping cape charles voiajer

Spend the next few hours browsing through a few of the shops in the downtown area, from cute clothing boutiques to shops that sell eclectic beach knick-knacks. A few favorites include Voiajer, a fair trade gift shop with colorful home décor and clothing ethically sourced from all over the world, and Moonrise Jewelry, a locally based jewelry company that uses Eastern Shore inspiration to craft colorful jewelry. They are known for their signature “fish leather”, which have been cured, dyed, and gilded to create stunning one-of-a-kind pieces, including earrings, bracelets, necklaces, and even handmade bowties and cuff links for men, all at affordable prices.

cape charles beach lovework

Before departing downtown, stop by Cape Charles’ beachfront LOVEwork at the end of Mason Avenue for a quick picture.

cape charles brewing company brewery

Located on the outskirts of the downtown area, Cape Charles Brewing Company currently has about ten beers on draft, but are working towards having a steady rotation of about 15-18 craft beers at any given time. The beer list spans a wide range of brews, from a double IPA to a coffee-infused brown ale, and you can sample the different styles in a flight tasting.

breathe easy and smile yoga class at cape charles brewing company

Before visiting the brewery, check to see if they are hosting a yoga class courtesy of Breathe Easy and Smile Yoga, a traveling yoga teacher that often holds popup classes throughout Cape Charles. Yoga is always a fantastic way to de-stress, and attending a class during your Crush Friday escape will help you return on Monday morning feeling much more Zen about your workplace.

cape charles brewing company food

In addition to beer and occasional yoga classes, Cape Charles Brewing Company also offers a small but tasty food menu, sourcing most of the ingredients from local farmers, including seasonal produce and local seafood. Grab a bite to eat at the brewery before hitting the road for your next stop on the Eastern Shore: Onancock, a small but charming town about 45 minutes north of Cape Charles.

Travel down Onancock’s Market Street, lined with antique shops, art galleries, and small shops, to arrive at the Onancock Wharf Harbor. Set up a tour ahead of time with Onancock Sailing Adventures to get a customized tour of the waters bordering Onancock. Owner and Captain Tom Bunino will share stories of the area, covering history, local legends, and the complex ecosystem of the Bay. With scheduled times available throughout the day, the tours are a leisurely way to experience the scenery of Onancock Creek, and tickets are only $45 per person. If you don’t feel like sharing your sailing adventure with anyone else, private lessons are available for $75 or group lessons can be arranged for $60 per person.

black narrows brewery salts tart oyster beer chincoteague

Return to land and direct your GPS towards Chincoteague Island, or more specifically, Black Narrows Brewing Company. The first brewery on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, this family-run brewery prides itself on supporting its tight-knit community, donating 5% of all beer sales to a new local cause each month. An additional 5% is donated to a single global cause chosen annually. And while we love to pretend that it was solely the donations, the brewery’s unusual offerings probably played a pretty big part in us ordering a second round. Every beer utilizes local ingredients, resulting in some of the most unique brews we’ve come across, like the Salts Tart Oyster Wheat, which has a briny finish that pairs well with oysters, or the How Bout It Heirloom Corn Lager, made with heirloom corn that has been grown on Virginia’s Eastern Shore since the 1870’s.

woodys beach bbq chincoteague barbecue food truck

Check in to Waterside Inn and get cleaned up before dinner. Chincoteague has a vibrant community of food trucks serving a wide variety of cuisines, and we chose one such popular food truck for our evening meal. Woody’s Beach BBQ is an outdoor, beach-themed shack serving pulled pork, baby back ribs, and other smoked meats with homemade sides and desserts. We favored the creative pulled pork sandwiches, such as the Big Hot Woody, topped with sliced jalapenos, Sriracha chili sauce, and their “Almost Famous” red sauce.

Island Creamery

While the desserts at Woody’s looked appetizing, we saved room and traveled just down the street to Island Creamery, an iconic Chincoteague staple that was voted Best Ice Cream in America by TripAdvisor in 2014. Lines can get a bit long, but the staff at Island Creamery work quickly to get everyone’s order, and although the line was out the door when we arrived, we all had freshly baked waffle cones in hand within ten minutes.

chincoteague lovework sunset

Before ending the day at Waterside Inn, catch a memorable sunset from Chincoteague’s LOVEwork, made from oversized Adirondack chairs that you can sit in for pictures.



Start your Sunday with breakfast at Bill’s Seafood & Steaks in town. The restaurant is well known for their impressive upscale dinner cuisine, but the restaurant maintains the same level of quality in their breakfast fare. The menu mixes healthy options like homemade granola and egg white omelets with heartier dishes like corned beef hash and The Sportsman, a plate of three hotcakes with two eggs, home fries, and either bacon or sausage.

chincoteague national wildlife refuge wild ponies

After breakfast, drive to the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, a 14,000-acre reserve made up of pristine beaches, dunes, marshland, and maritime forests. The refuge provides a habitat for dozens of coastal wildlife species, like the Delmarva Fox Squirrel, the threatened Piping Plover, and of course, the famed wild Chincoteague ponies. Reserve tickets ahead of your visit for the Refuge Trek, a 7-mile bus tour of the wildlife refuge’s service roads. During the tour, you’ll see coastal wildlife in their habitats, and if you’re lucky, even catch sight of the ponies. If you prefer traveling on your own, there are numerous trails within the refuge that are open to the public, including a short trail to the Assateague Lighthouse.

pico taqueria taco food truck chincoteague

Head to Pico Taqueria, another well-known food truck, for lunch. Like Island Creamery, you’ll most likely arrive to a long line, but these tacos are worth the wait. They follow the motto, “You can put anything on a taco”, trying out recipes that blend local and international flavors. The Eastside Taco blends fried fish, fennel, and grapefruit, while the Maddox is made with cornmeal fried oysters harvested from the Bay waters, pickled carrots, daikon, and Thai basil. Add a homemade lemonade or limeade to your meal and grab a seat at the shaded tables behind the restaurant to enjoy a relaxing lunch before hitting the road for home.



Follow the Virginia is for Lovers team next month as we “Crush Friday” in Southwest Virginia, exploring Bristol, Abingdon, and the surrounding countryside.


Previous Crush Friday Virginia Destinations: 



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Need a Weekend Away? Hit the Rails to These 5 Virginia Destinations

Need a Weekend Away? Hit the Rails to These 5 Virginia Destinations

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


One of the most fun and exciting parts about exploring Virginia is just how much variety you’ll find here. The Commonwealth takes you from the beach to the mountains, with bustling cities and charming small towns. Whether you like to slow down and relax when you travel, or you like your vacations action-packed and heart-pumping, you’ll find so much to love here.

Even better, you can skip the drive and take the train to many of Virginia’s wonderful vacation destinations. Amtrak’s nine passenger rail routes and 23 stations offer a wide array of options. Stretch out and enjoy the journey in wide, comfortable reclining seats with plenty of legroom. Break out your devices and take advantage of the complimentary Wi-Fi service and in-seat power outlets. And, if you need a little refreshment, visit the café car, where sandwiches, salads, snacks and hot and cold beverages are available for purchase.

Ready to head out on a little getaway? This post includes five destinations with five different inspirations. Take a look and see how you’d make them your own!


Hilly Getaway – Lynchburg

Scenic beauty of Lynchburg

Amtrak Station (LYH)

The Blue Ridge Mountains are stunning, but their beautiful foothills also offer many charms – like Lynchburg, the “City of Seven Hills.” It’s a vibrant and historic city that keeps getting better with time, offering new forms of adventure, entertainment, amusement and relaxation.

Ideas to get started:


Relaxing Getaway – Ashland

Ashland/Hanover Visitor Information Center

Amtrak Station (ASD)

Ashland is full of small-town charm and friendly hospitality. Located right in the center of Virginia, it’s affectionately known as the “Center of the Universe” by residents for its central location within the state. Stroll down tree-lined streets, explore historic sites and enjoy unique shops and restaurants. Or, if you do want a few thrills, check out nearby amusement park Kings Dominion.

Ideas to get started:


Artsy Getaway – Staunton

Downtown Staunton

Amtrak Station (STA)

For all things arts and culture, you can’t miss Staunton. It’s an extremely walkable city, with a compact downtown featuring stunning, carefully preserved architecture and over 100 unique shops, art galleries and restaurants. Added to the area’s museums, historic sites and theatres, you’ll stay busy on your visit.

Ideas to get started:


Get-Outside Getaway – CulpeperDowntown Culpeper

Amtrak Station (CLP)

The scenic Culpeper countryside offers stunning views – and a plethora of opportunities to hike, bike, canoe, fish and ride horses. Or, take in some fresh air and walk around the revitalized downtown area, filled with art and antiques, quaint shops, country stores and foodie-friendly restaurants.

Ideas to get started:


One-Day Getaway – Manassas

Manassas train station.

Amtrak Station (MSS)

If you only have time for a quick trip, you can’t miss Manassas. Known for its Civil War history, Manassas features wonderful museums and a charming historic district, perfect to explore on a day trip. You’ll learn a little, shop a little, meander a little – and definitely eat a little.

Ideas to get started:


Plan Your Getaway Today

Head to Virginia.Amtrak.com to book your tickets for a comfortable, convenient travel experience. Book at least 14 days in advance to save up to 25%, or check out the everyday discounts we offer. Amtrak is happy to be part of your adventures in Virginia!


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10 Ideas for a Summer Vacation in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains

10 Ideas for a Summer Vacation in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains

It’s summertime in Virginia’s Blue Ridge and we’re chomping at the bit to experience everything on this list. There’s adventure for young and old with a variety of water activities to keep you cool, indoor entertainment to keep you sun-safe, and even tasty options for those hot summer nights.

Here are 10 ideas for your next summer vacation!

1. Splash Valley Water Park at Green Ridge Recreation Center


Courtesy of Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge

Gorgeous summer days call for water park family action, and Splash Valley is our number one choice for an H2O cool down. The park is open daily through August 22, plus weekends through Labor Day. Fun features include a bowl slide, flume slide, starter slide for the young bunch, fountains, lazy river, leisure pool, and a zero-entry area perfect for your littlest sidekick to safely splash around.

Children two and under are free, and daily specials help save some bucks for the rest of the family. Concessions are available.

2. Waterfall Hikes

At the waterfall.

A post shared by James Anderson (@james_and_kari) on Jun 12, 2016 at 9:21am PDT

When you know there’s water at the end of your hike, you’re more apt to put forth the effort for the journey. Waterfalls are the ultimate pay-off, and we have the inside scoop on where to find them.

3. Guided Outdoor Adventure

Most locals have no trouble exploring around Virginia’s Blue Ridge, but for our guests and those who have yet to experience some of our finer outdoor options, guides are the way to go. Want to amp up what you think you know how to do in our area? They’ll also take you to the next level of outdoorsmanship.

From tubing to paddling, Twin River Outfitters can hook you up with all the basic necessities. They can also go above and beyond. Inquire about their overnight paddle trips that include resting at their private campground. If one night isn’t enough, there is a four-night option that allows paddlers to experience the entirety of the Upper James River Water Trail, which sounds like it should definitely be on someone’s bucket list.

Much like Twin River, Roanoke Mountain Adventures offers rentals and guide service, but extends to also cover mountain biking, which is something of a favorite activity here in Roanoke, the U.S. East Coast Mountain Biking Capital. Half-day and full day guided trips are offered for mountain biking and kayaking, while stand-up paddleboarding is offered in two-hour trips.

4. Smith Mountain Lake State Park

Smith Mountain Lake (or SML, as we like to call it) is Virginia’s second largest body of water with 500 miles of shoreline. Three counties lay claim to portions of the lake, which reaches a max depth of 250 feet. There’s no one thing that attracts people to SML, rather, it’s renowned for largemouth bass fishing, is a boater’s paradise, and even includes a State Park with a sandy beach, hiking trails, boat rentals, campground, and cabins. Smith Mountain Lake is our beach in the mountains.

5. Salem Red Sox

Sliding into the weekend like 😎

A post shared by Salem Red Sox (@salemredsox) on Jun 9, 2017 at 7:23am PDT

Is there anything more patriotic than baseball? Only baseball on the 4th of July, probably. Add on a hot dog, maybe some post-game fireworks, and a win for the home team and you have yourself an authentic American experience. Come see our Salem Red Sox take over the diamond at Haley Toyota Field. They’re an Advanced Class “A” Minor League affiliate of the Boston Red Sox.

6. Bridgewater Marina


Courtesy of Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge

If aforementioned SML sounds like a place you want to be, you’ll want to add a trip or two to the Plaza at Bridgewater Marina for a round of putt-putt, a few scoops of ice cream (what’s summer without ice cream?!), great food and drinks, and a bit of shopping. If you fancy a trip on the water, it’s also a place to secure a boat rental. We love pontoons for families.

7. Virginia’s Blue Ridge Beerway

A summer vacation with friends typically includes adult beverages, right? We have a trail you’re going to LOVE. Our Beerway is a self-guided route from craft brewery to craft brewery throughout Virginia’s Blue Ridge. In fact, it’s best conquered over the course of a three-day weekend and definitely with a designated driver. Sharing is caring, so take turns with the imbibing and driving. You could also book a spot on a Roanoke Craft Beer Tour for a guided experience!

8. Fly Fishing Fun


Courtesy of Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge

Fly Fishing is a very serious sport for some anglers, and we happen to have several great places to dance your fly on the water.

On the Upper Roanoke River, a variety of bass, redeye, bluegill, catfish, and trout await. The James River is a hot spot for smallmouth, largemouth, and spotted bass; a daily limit of five should be adhered to, with only one larger than 22 inches and none between 14 and 22 inches.

At Big Pine Trout Farm, a stretch of Meadow Creek is at your disposal. Both wild and stocked rainbow trout thrive here. It’s an incredible fishing destination complete with an upscale farmhouse that sleeps six to eight people.

As any good fisherman knows, be aware of the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries Regulations before you go.

9. Museums & Galleries


Courtesy of Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge

When water isn’t your thing or you need a break from the sun, head to one of our favorite museums and galleries.

The Taubman Museum of Art is a work of art in and of itself. Permanent and rotating exhibits make every visit to this space one you’ll enjoy.

The Virginia Museum of Transportation is a favorite destination for those who love planes, trains, and automobiles. Climb aboard, learn a thing or two, and stay chill.

The Grainery is Rocky Mount ‘s Center for the Arts and where you’ll find not only a reprieve from the heat but a little bit of heat inside, too. Hot glass blowing in a key attraction here!

At the Eleanor D. Wilson Museum at Hollins University, emerging artists share 4,000 square feet of gallery space with world renowned artists. Maybe a new name will catch your eye as you peruse the exhibits.

10. Indoor Attractions


Courtesy of Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge

When those summer thunderstorms pop up, you’ll be looking for a fun place to wait it out. Better yet, make one of these a key destination while you’re in Virginia’s Blue Ridge!

The Launching Pad Trampoline Park is just what its name implies: an indoor park of trampolines. All ages can get in on this kind of fun! Put on your cool socks and bounce around to your heart’s content. You’ve never had a slam dunk contest until you’ve had one on a trampoline.

Center in the Square is a day-long indoor destination packed full of museums and unexpected delights. Huge aquariums, a butterfly garden, and even pinball machines are calling your name.

Get your climb on at River Rock Climbing Gym. See how well you can powder up and reach the top of these challenging verticals, and occasionally, hang upside down to maneuver around.

Skating rinks are an old-school kind of fun we just can’t forget. Whether you prefer two wheels or four, our area rinks are still hoppin’ with the unmistakable sound of wheels on hardwood, disco balls, and laser lights dancing about. Someone’s about to have Saturday Night Fever!

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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Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe

Poe and Petersburg

A little history of the Hiram Haines House.

12 West Bank Street started as an Inn and Restaurant in 1814, and by 1829 was operated by Hiram Haines as a coffee house. Its real claim to fame lies in the fact that in 1836 Edgar Allan Poe, a friend of Haines, spent his honeymoon in the suite above the coffee house with his new bride, Virginia Clemm. It is said that his happiest days may well have been spent in Petersburg, then the center of trade and commerce for Central Virginia.

From Abugel’s book page 65:

Hiram Haines published a book of poetry in 1825. He signed and numbered each copy and paid for the printing by selling subscriptions. Haines was proud of his Culpeper County beginnings and mentions them in the book. There were many subscribers of Haines’ book of poetry, though the names of some of the city’s richest merchants, those who could most easily afford a copy whether they wanted it or not, are curiously absent. One can only speculate about who didn’t subscribe. Suffice it so say that by and large, the people who did purchase Haines’ volume would most likely have visited his Coffee House regularly or more easily conversed with the young editor Edgar Allen Poe. If some of the tobacco or flour merchants were anything like Poe’s foster father, John Allan, they would hardly have had the time for such idle pursuits as publishing unprofitable volumes of poetry. From the critical standpoint, Haines’ little volume was well received and stood the test of time. One early twentieth-century critic saw hints of Robert Burns in some of the poet’s “quaint mannerisms” and added that the primary importance of Mountain Buds and Blossoms lay in the fact that it was the first attempt to celebrate adequately in verse the glories of Virginia.”

The only public notice about the book was an advertisement by Haines himself as “The Stranger” in the Petersburg Morning Advertiser of August 2, 1825, announcing the book’s availability “after a long and painful delay,” attributed to increased costs occurring during production.

The predominant piece in the volume is a thirty-seven-page opus called “The Virginiad,” in which an Indian maiden serenades the full moon and her lover. Haines, like others of the time, was clearly influenced by the popularity of the story of John Smith and Pocahontas:

I love thee, sweet orb, in thy beauty now beaming. Mild emblem of peace and queen of the night: Upon my warm bosom thy calm looks are gleaming.

But ah! Thy view not my bosom’s delight: Oh! Not like that course is its love ever ranging. As Vestal’s fire pure, so burns its first flame. Nor yet as thy face, will it ever be changing. A hundred new moons shall find it the same……

To learn more about Edgar Allan Poe, visit the Poe Museum in Richmond Virginia with contact info:


To learn more about Petersburg , visit us at https://www.petersburgpreservationtaskforce.com/tourism

Petersburg Regional tourism

And remember, Virginia is for Lovers! Visit us at www.virginia.org or @virginia.org

Written by Clay Hamner for The Petersburg Preservation Task Force.

Featured image provided by Petersburg Preservation

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7 Charming Bed and Breakfasts in the Virginia Mountains

7 Charming Bed and Breakfasts in the Virginia Mountains

West of Staunton, there’s more to soak in than beautiful natural scenery and gorgeous wildlife. Here, you’ll find hip food and stately architecture, cooking classes and aerial flight tours.

The area, known for its mountains, water and exceptional greenery, is a natural home for hiking, fishing and other outdoorsy pastimes. With charming B&Bs and inns nestled in the midst of breathtaking natural beauty, we’ve found your one stop shop for lodging, dining, and outdoor recreation. All you have to do is put on your shoes and go.


The Inn at Warm Springs—Warm Springs

The views of the mountains from multiple porches are simply riveting, but the cozy, comfortable rooms in the renovated old courthouse and jailhouse are the real show stoppers. Eat breakfast in the old judge’s chambers, complete with a simple local egg and bacon with yogurt or espresso. Dinner is a complicated and pleasurable shrimp and grits or unctuous pork and mushroom risotto. Owner Jarek Mika bought the place in July of 2017 and is a constant presence to direct you toward the nearest river fishing hole or concert hall.


Fort Lewis Lodge—Millboro

Fort Lewis lodge

It seems to be in the middle of nowhere and that’s why it is perfect. When reaching out to make a reservation, you can expect to speak to any number of family members who run the property, which is open to guests from April to November. John and Caryl Cowden have overseen the 3300-acre “lodge” since its inception 35 years ago. Both can be found on property to discuss your plan for the day, which could include canoeing, kayaking, swimming or a quick steam in the wood-fire heated sauna. Dinner is prepared by Mrs. Cowden with seasonal ingredients, such as local chicken with lemon or on-property grown pork chops. Later in the evening, enjoy a crackling wood fire in the pavilion or a bright heart-to-heart with Cowden’s daughter-in-law, Erin who tends the bar and the chatter.


The Inn at Gristmill Square—Warm Springs

A short drive from the county of Bath, this Inn could be considered a little more “city” even though it once was a gristmill. Rooms surround a simple courtyard resplendent with foliage and herbs in growing season and maintained by owners Kate and John Loeffler.  All meals, including those at the on-premise restaurant The Waterwheel, come together using local purveyors. Breakfast, a spinach and cheese pastry or a homemade berry scone, is delivered via picnic basket, begging to be enjoyed in bed or on one of the many porches overlooking the small creek surrounding this charming bed and breakfast.


25 E Main Bed and Breakfast—Fincastle

Owners Bobbie and Mitch Bowman turned this 1870s Victorian stunner into a bed & breakfast in May of 2016. Three guest rooms have been adapted with the present and the past in mind. You’ll find spa-like walk-in showers alongside period appropriate wallpaper. The Bowmans have created a little conservatory in the back of the house with raised vegetable beds, fountains, and a beehive on-site. Upon arrival, look for wine and cheese in the garden (weather permitting). Breakfast is included with site-sourced ingredients, including the honey. Expect buttermilk pancakes of cornmeal, stuffed French toast, or pastries alongside local coffee.


Bedford Landings—Moneta bedford landings

Arrive by plane, boat, or car to this unique bed and breakfast that also happens to offer aerial tours. . Think staying near a landing strip will be too loud? It isn’t. It’s relaxing and patently scenic. Owners Jack Phillips and Karen DeBord have cultivated their passions and transformed them into hospitality. DeBord hosts a biscuit class near the hangar and Phillips, a retired pilot, guides guests through a bird’s eye view of the Peaks of Otter by plane. Breakfast shows itself in many forms, from waffles to frittatas to scones. Make sure to request the “special” pecan-crusted bacon.


Cedar Pointe Bed and Breakfast—Huddleston

Surrounded by Smith Mountain Lake on all sides, Cedar Pointe Bed and Breakfast is ideal for the whole family. Water skiing, fishing, and swimming are simply a must. You’ll delight in the views from your spacious screened-in porch overlooking the pristine water of Smith Mountain Lake. Breakfast includes homemade scones, eggs Benedict with local fruit, or buttermilk waffles with macerated blueberries. A bonus: if you are traveling by boat, you are able to pull directly up to the attached dock.


Hill Crest Bed & Breakfast—Clifton Forge

High on the hill, the mansion is strikingly beautiful, with large columns, a stone staircase, and a vast wrap-around porch. Inside the 10,000 square foot home is all warmth and welcome. Each room bears a moniker that speaks to its history similar to each course (three to seven based on preference or time schedule) of breakfast, an homage to owner Martha Crawford’s past life as a private chef. The Crawfords have painstakingly renovated the seven room behemoth, leaving no detail overlooked. Expect sweet scones and savory herbed eggs for breakfast, home-baked goods upon check-in and a digestif coupled with a light sweet snack next to your pillow for bedtime.




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Dog Friendly Norfolk!

Dog Friendly Norfolk!

We know how important your best friend is. Yes, the furry one with four legs who gives the biggest kisses! Norfolk recognizes and celebrates how dog friendly our society has become. After all, Millennial’s are buying houses based on space for their dogs, so why not base your vacation spots on them too!


Yappy Hour

Waterside District

Every Third Thursday April through September

The warmer months of the year mean shorts, tank tops and in this case happy hour with your dog! Join Waterside every third Thursday of the month during spring and summer for happy hour with your four legged friend!

Bark in the Park

Harbor Park

April 22 & August 12

Calling all dog parents! The Norfolk Tides invite you to bring your dog along with you to the Tides baseball game onApril 22nd and August 12th! Grab a ticket, share a hot dog and cheer on the Tides with your furry friend in tow!

Today was for the dogs 🐶

A post shared by Norfolk Tides Baseball (@norfolktides) on Aug 6, 2017 at 2:08pm PDT

Sunday Dog Days

Norfolk Botanical Gardens

Sundays in June, July, and August

Leash up your canine and head over to Norfolk’s Botanical Garden! Every Sunday in June through August share sights and smells of the gardens with your dog!

It’s been a while! 👋🏼 I’ve been busy smelling the flowers. 🌼

A post shared by Summer 🌴 Golden Retriever (@summerptree) on Jun 4, 2017 at 5:00pm PDT


Pendulum Fine Meats

820 Shirley Ave.

Vacation time isn’t the time to maintain that diet of yours; it’s a time to cheat a little right? After all you’re here to taste what the city has to offer, why not let your dog do the same! Check out Pendulum for lunch and leave with a doggie bag, for you and your pup! Look in the freezer section for their prepackaged “beef pet food,” your pet will thank you later!

The Birch Bar

1231 W. Olney Road

Don’t we dream of sitting outside and cracking a cold one with our dog? Well now you actually can! The Birch Bar, hidden gem turned eminent, offers beer for you and your canine! Order two brews, a charcuterie board and you’ll have yourself a dog day!

Our city fully embraces the dog obsessed generation and we encourage you to bring your pup next time you visit! Pet friendly patios at our breweries and restaurants, dog friendly beaches and over 10 miles of trails; Norfolk’s a doggy’s vacation paradise!

Click here for more information about pet friendly Norfolk!

Written by Visit Norfolk for VisitNorfolk.

Featured image provided by Courtesy of Visit Norfolk

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Big Concerts Coming to Virginia in August 2018

Big Concerts Coming to Virginia in August 2018

Richmond Jazz Festival at MaymontFestival season in Virginia is still going strong all summer and throughout August, many big name musicians will be coming to Virginia. From major country acts to the biggest names in rock and pop, catch your favorite artists and discover new ones all over the Commonwealth.

—Virginia Music Festivals—

The Carter Family Memorial Music Festival is held the first weekend in August presented in honor of The Original Carter Family, the first family of country music, and commemorating the historic 1927 Bristol Recording Sessions.  Artists performing this year include Five Mile Mtn. Road, Uncle Shuffelo & Haint Hollow Hootenanny, Whitetop Mountain Band, Hogslop String Band, and Volume 5.

The City of Galax has the world tapping its feet as the Old Fiddlers’ Convention takes place in Felts Park Aug. 6-11. Musicians and fans from around the world travel to Galax to perform and hear the music that defines the sound of the Blue Ridge Mountains. A few hundred come with their instruments to show their skill, and compete for the cash prizes.

On Aug. 9-12, experience the world’s best jazz and R&B music at the Richmond Jazz Festival set against the beautiful rolling hills of Maymont. Acts performing this year include Gladys Knight, The O’Jays, Joss Stone, Warren G, and many more.

The Shenandoah Valley Music Festival has been bringing great music to the Shenandoah Valley for more than 50 years. Acts performing in August include Mary Chapin Carpenter (Aug. 10) and Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes (Aug. 11).

Hear 60 of the world’s most acclaimed musicians performing in more than 20 concerts in historic downtown venues at the Staunton Music Festival Aug. 10-19. The daily concerts range from eclectic and feature chamber music from the Middle Ages to world premieres, performed by vocalists and instrumentalists from across Europe and the U.S. There are also free pre-concert talks and special offers with numerous downtown restaurants and hotels.

Lockn' Music Festival

The Lockn’ Music Festival is a four-day music festival taking place Aug. 23-26 at Infinity Downs Farm with an emphasis on music, camping, outdoor activities, regional food, beverages, and artisans. Many of the artists perform over multiple days, and be featured in unique and exciting artist pairings. Artists performing at this year’s festival include Widespread Panic, Umphrey’s McGee, Blues Traveler, Dead & Co., and many others.

The Norfolk Waterfront Jazz Festival is Hampton Roads’ longest-running outdoor jazz festival featuring a mix of Grammy award-winning artists and chart-toppers performing in Town Point Park on the downtown Norfolk waterfront. Artists performing this year (Aug. 24-25) include Boney James, David Benoit & Marc Antoine, Marcus Anderson, Dave Koz, Adam Hawley, and Norman Brown.

Held on the campus of the University of Virginia’s College at Wise, the RTE 23 Music Festival brings a diverse mix of artists together on Aug. 25 for a full day of live music and celebrating all the old time music that originated in the area.

The Appaloosa Festival is a roots music and outdoors experience Aug. 31-Sept. 2, set at the Skyline Ranch Resort among the beautiful backdrop of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Hosted by Scythian, Appaloosa features more than 40 bands on five stages, including some of the most critically acclaimed up-and-coming artists from all over the country.


—Over at Virginia’s Live Music Venues—

The National in Richmond will be bringing a number of big name artists throughout the month. The venue will be hosting Chris Robinson Brotherhood (Aug. 2), Franz Ferdinand (Aug. 11), Incubus (Aug. 14), Band of Horses (Aug. 15), DJ Pauly D (Aug. 21), and more.Virginia Is For Music Lovers Launch

Elsewhere in Richmond, The Broadberry will be hosting Sons of Bill and Wrinkle Neck Mules (Aug. 2), Guided By Voices (Aug. 13), Big Freedia (Aug. 16), and more.

Vince Gill will perform at the Dominion Energy Center on Aug. 12. Cake and Ben Folds will perform at Richmond Raceway’s Virginia Credit Union Live! on Aug. 19.

Just outside Richmond, the Innsbrook After Hours concert series at the Servpro Pavilion in Glen Allen will host The Roots(Aug. 4), Kane Brown(Aug. 9), Dark Star Orchestra(Aug. 16), Jamey Johnson(Aug. 17), Travis Tritt(Aug. 18), ZZ Top (Aug. 22), Kool & the Gang(Aug. 23), and Jake Owen (Aug. 24).

The Beacon Theatre in Hopewell will be hosting acts like Billy Bob Thornton & the Boxmasters (Aug. 8), Montgomery Gentry (Aug. 16), Crystal Gale(Aug. 18), Paul Barrere & Fred Tackett of Little Feat (Aug. 25), and more.

In Charlottesville, the Jefferson Theater will be hosting Sons of Bill (Aug. 4), Brothers Osborne (Aug. 26), and more.

The NorVa in Norfolk will be hosting acts like Pennywise (Aug. 8), Pusha T (Aug. 20), Alkaline Trio (Aug. 21), and more.

The Portsmouth Pavilion in Portsmouth will have performances from George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic (Aug. 12), The Revivalists & Trampled by Turtles (Aug. 17), and more.

The Veterans United Home Loans Amphitheater at Virginia Beach brings in Pentatonix on Aug. 5, Counting Crows on Aug. 7, Wiz Khalifa & Rae Sremmurd on Aug. 11, Keith Urban on Aug. 12, Def Leppard and Journey on Aug. 13, Lauryn Hill on Aug. 16, and Godsmack and Shinedown on Aug. 18.

Phase 2 Club in Lynchburg will be bringing in acts such as Upchurch (Aug. 4 & 5), The Sword (Aug. 11), Jackyl (Aug. 25), and more.

Over in Rocky Mount, the Harvester Performance Center will be hosting a number of shows including Gordon Lightfoot (Aug. 5), Big Bad Voodoo Daddy (Aug. 12), The Nighthawks (Aug. 17), and many more.

Vince Gill will perform at the Berglund Center in Roanoke on Aug. 10 while ZZ Top will be there on Aug. 21. Rodney Carrington will perform at the Salem Civic Center on Aug. 18.

The Blue Ridge Summer Concert Series at the Blue Ridge Music Center in Galax will host Che Apalache & the Cabin Creek Boys on Aug. 4, The Legendary Ingramettes and Linda & David Lay on Aug. 18, and Front Country & The Martha Bassett Band on Aug. 25.

The Lime Kiln Theater in Lexington will be hosting The Seldom Scene on Aug. 4 and John Doyle and Friends on Aug. 31.

Celebrate Virginia After Hours in Fredericksburg will host the Beach Boys on Aug. 2 and Tracy Lawrence and Joe Diffie on Aug. 11.

At Wolf Trap Center for Performing Arts in Vienna, shows will include Hanson (Aug. 4), Bryan Adams (Aug. 5), Mary Chapin Carpenter and Rhiannon Giddens (Aug. 11), Gladys Knight and the O’Jays (Aug. 15), Alan Jackson (Aug. 16), Trombone Shorty, Galactic, Preservation Hall (Aug. 17), The Avett Brothers & Nicole Atkins (Aug. 18), The Revivalists (Aug. 19), Jeff Beck and Ann Wilson of Heart (Aug. 20), Michael McDonald and Peter Cetera (Aug. 22), Dawes and Shovels & Rope (Aug. 23), Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons (Aug. 24), Kenny G (Aug. 30), and Gavin DeGraw and  Phillip Phillips (Aug. 31).

Jiffy Lube Live

Jiffy Lube Live in Bristow will host a number of shows including Bush, Stone Temple Pilots, The Cult on Aug. 5, Counting Crows on Aug. 8, Wiz Khalifa & Rae Sremmurd on Aug. 9, Keith Urban on Aug. 11, Pentatonix on Aug. 12, Lauryn Hill on Aug. 17, Luke Bryan on Aug. 18, Godsmack and Shinedown on Aug. 19, Breaking Benjamin and Five Finger Death Punch on Aug. 24, Brad Paisley on Aug. 25, 311 and The Offspring on Aug. 26, G-EAZY on Aug. 30, and Niall Horan on Aug. 31.

Shows at Alexandria music hall The Birchmere include Amanda Shires on Aug. 2, Toad the Wet Sprocket on Aug. 9 and 10, Aaron Neville on Aug. 11, Shawn Mullins on Aug. 14, Jeff Daniels and Ben Daniels Band on Aug. 18, Tanya Tucker on Aug. 23, Chris Isaak on Aug. 26 & 27, and many more.


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

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21 Ways to Crush Friday

21 Ways to Crush Friday

According to Project: Time Off, Americans who plan out their vacations use more of their vacation days and are happier for it. Unfortunately, 662 million vacation days were left on the table last year. That’s over 1.8 million years worth of happiness-inducing time that was forgone due to work. Look – we get it. The thought of letting your work pile up for a week to go lay on a beach somewhere can cause more stress than it is seemingly worth, right? While we love long vacations as much as the next person, sometimes it just doesn’t seem feasible.

That’s why we’re partnering with Visit Virginia to inspire Americans to start small and Crush Friday. Not every vacation requires weeks away. A three-day weekend to Virginia Beach might be all you need to hit refresh and wash away the stress of the daily grind. Who knows; maybe you enjoy spending your Fridays in meetings, while the slowly-ticking clock stands between you and your much-deserved weekend, but we doubt it. One leave slip is all it takes to be here in Virginia Beach spending your Fridays doing what you love.

Fill your Friday with memories, not memos. Here’s how we Crush Friday in Virginia Beach.

Trek out for an afternoon hike atFirst Landing or False Cape State Parks.


Visit Virginia Beach

Unplug at the secluded beach hideaway of Sandbridge and ride a fat tire bike along the water’s edge.

Cruise down the boardwalk on a beach cruiser bike.


Visit Virginia Beach

Really take a break by relaxing and unwinding at The Flowering Almond Spa at The Founders Inn and Spa.


Visit Virginia Beach

Grab a sandwich atTaste Unlimited, and head to Chesapeake Bay for an afternoon picnic on the sand. You can’t go wrong with the Northender sandwich.

Crush Friday with the Virginia Aquarium’s Craft Brews Cruise! Climb aboard for a sunset boat trip featuring craft beers from your favorite local breweries.


Visit Virginia Beach

Stroll around theViBe Creative District for some local handmade swag.

Catch a Broadway-quality show at the Little Theatre of Virginia Beach, just steps from the Oceanfront district.


Visit Virginia Beavch

Look forward to the warmer days ahead with an original orange crush on the patio atWaterman’s, Chix on the Beach, or at the Shack.

Monkey around up in the trees at theAdventure Park at Virginia Aquarium.


Visit Virginia Beach

Enjoy the beautiful views of the Rudee Inlet at dusk atRudee’s Restaurant & Cabana Bar.

Take the pooch for a walk atLittle Island Park in Sandbridge.

Get (Meta)Physical at Edgar Cayce’s A.R.E.Ease in with an ocean-view meditation, inhale fresh air in their meditation garden, ponder a life question on the stone labyrinth, and get a Cayce-inspired massage at the spa.


Visit Virginia Beach

Relax to the sound of the tide as the kids play atGrommet Island Park.

Crush Fridays by crushing golf balls at TopGolf Virginia Beach. Crazy-looking golf pants not required (but highly encouraged).


Visit Virginia Beach

Pick some spring wildflowers down in Pungo.

Climb the steps of our coastal city’s past at the Cape Henry Lighthouse.


Visit Virginia Beach

Enjoy a drink at H-Bar at the new HYATT Houseat the Oceanfront.


Visit Virginia Beach

Experience the thrill of free-fall without the plane at iFLY.


Visit Virginia Beach

Shop ’til you drop at Town Center.

Written by The Virginia Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau for Visit Virginia Beach.

Featured image provided by Courtesy of Virginia Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau

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Girls Weekend Getaway Itinerary

Girls Weekend Getaway Itinerary

Pack your bags, grab your girls, and hit the road! It’s time for a girls weekend getaway! Whether you’re looking for art and culture, delicious drinks, or unique shops, there’s no better city to visit than Virginia Beach!

Day One: Friday

Afternoon: First things first, check into your oceanfront hotel on the iconic Virginia Beach boardwalk! Turn on some tunes, pour yourselves some drinks, and start getting ready!

Evening: After you and your ladies primp and polish, we recommend ordering an Uber and heading to Sonoma Wine Bar and Bistro at The Town Center of Virginia Beach for dinner! The rustic decor and large wine selection will make you feel like you’re in wine country. After dinner, take a stroll through Town Center for some shopping!

Day Two: Saturday

Morning: Rise and shine and yoga time! Lay out your mats and relax with a sunrise beach yoga session. After yoga, head to the VB locals’ favorite, Doc Taylor’s Restaurant! Doc’s as the locals call it, is the perfect place to grab a bloody mary or mimosa and chat! The wait is a little longer than most, so be sure to get there early!

Afternoon: Now that you’re fueled up and ready to go, head to Pleasure House Point (just a short drive away) for a scenic hike through the trails of the tidal wetlands. Be sure to grab your athleisure and a water bottle, you may break a sweat.

Evening: Are you ready for creative food and a casual atmosphere? Be sure to hit Eat: An American Bistro! With a plentiful food and drink menu, Eat is the perfect place for you and your squad! Close your tabs and move right along! It’s time to sip on an orange crush (VB’s original drink)! Call an Uber and head to The Shack on 8th! Do you love to play games while drinking with your girls? The Shack this is the perfect place for your tribe. The Shack is an all outdoor bar that offers games galore including Giant Jenga, Bocce Ball, Connect Four, Giant Beer Pong, and more!

Late Night: If you don’t go dancing with your crew, is it really a girls night? We don’t think so. Grab an Uber and head to LunaSea Key West Cafe! We recommend taking your drink outside and relaxing on the second-floor patio. Don’t forget to hit the dance floor upstairs so you can get your groove on with your ladies!

Day Three: Sunday

Morning: Good morning, it’s time to grub out! Hop in the car and head to Citrus. Every breakfast item at Citrus is made from scratch so you know it will be delicious!

Afternoon: Before you head home, make a pit stop at the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art and check out their current exhibitions. The MOCA is one of the most instagrammable places in Virginia Beach so make sure you take advantage of the photo ops!

We really hope you enjoyed your girls weekend getaway! Be sure to tag any photos you took with #VisitVaBeach so we can see them (and maybe repost them)! It was our pleasure hosting you and we hope you will return again soon! On behalf of the Visit Virginia Beach Team, we wish you a safe trip home and happy travels!

Written by The Virginia Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau for Visit Virginia Beach.

Featured image provided by Courtesy of Virginia Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau

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Bachelorette Weekend Itinerary for Virginia’s Blue Ridge

Bachelorette Weekend Itinerary for Virginia’s Blue Ridge

Gather your girls for a fun weekend of bachelorette shenanigans in Virginia’s Blue Ridge. Roanoke is your home base for late night entertainment, rejuvenation, shopping, dining, and unexpected thrills none of you will ever forget.

We’ve already created an itinerary for you. All that’s left to do is make a few reservations and show up!

Friday Night

Invite everyone to converge on Hilton Garden Inn Roanoke where you’ll have queen bedroom suites reserved (each sleeps six when using the sofa bed). Early arrivals can enjoy the fitness room or pool before getting ready for an exhilarating night in Roanoke.

Dinner with a sunset view and an array of fun cocktails is in order. Head to Carlos Brazilian International Cuisine and request the patio. It’s a stellar selfie spot!

If you focused more on dining than drinking at Carlos Brazilian, perhaps after-dinner drinks at Billy’s in downtown is in order. Seek out the courtyard where comfortable lounging around a fire pit is available and perfect for some low-key girl talk or great laughs shared with your besties.


A post shared by Sidewinders Steak House (@sidewindersaloon) on Feb 16, 2018 at 8:12pm PST

Care for a little dancing? Of course you do! It’s a bachelorette weekend and Sidewinders is the self-proclaimed Bachelorette Party Destination. Call to reserve space for your crew and enjoy a night of live country music. If country isn’t your thing, Corned Beef & Co. has a DJ spinning Friday nights.


Sleep late, but not too late. Breakfast at Our Daily Bread will fuel your day and get you on track for what’s to come. Their weekend brunch with plenty of strong coffee is just what the hangover doctor ordered.

Saturdays are for the girls 💋

A post shared by SALON DEL SOL ROANOKE (@salondelsolroanoke) on Jul 22, 2017 at 10:10am PDT

Once you’re adequately hydrated and nourished, pamper the party at Salon Del Sol. Manis, pedis, facials, and full-on massages work out the kinks and make every girl feel like a million bucks.

Lunch at The Green Goat can be as light as you want it or need it to be. Salads, wraps, sandwiches, and pizzas are all on the menu.

If your gal pals are crazy about “found” architectural décor a la Joanna Gaines, you’ll want to check out our “as seen on TV” hot spot of Black Dog Salvage, home of the DIY Network program Salvage Dawgs. The Memorial Bridge Marketplace features vendors who have repurposed vintage and industrial finds, antiques, and whatnots for you to peruse and possibly take home. Who knows? There may be a bit of shiplap with your name on it.

There’s more excellent shopping to be had. Historic Roanoke City Market hosts talented artisans and dedicated farmers, all showcasing their finest wares. Homemade and homegrown has a place in your home.

At this point, it’s time to break away from the traditional drinking, dancing, shopping, and spa experiences that bachelorette weekends are typically known for. Those activities rightfully hold their places in the #LastFlingBeforeTheRing event line-up, but if you want to add something outside the norm, consider booking a bachelorette package at SafeSide Tactical. Delivering perhaps as much of an adrenaline rush as skydiving, target shooting is an exhilarating sport of skill and precision.

Back to the bachelorette beers … Toast your marksmanship with flights of craft beer at Soaring Ridge Craft Brewers and Big Lick Brewing Company, both conveniently located in downtown Roanoke.

Freshen up and maybe even take a swim at the hotel before heading back out for dinner at Local Roots, Roanoke’s first farm-to-table restaurant. Afterward, take in the view from the Roanoke Star, our favorite bucket list attraction and the largest illuminated star of its kind in the world.

Cap off your day with something sweet from Blue Cow Ice Cream, Roanoke’s newest small-batch, handmade ice cream parlor. If you can’t make up your mind, just order the ice cream flight. That’s right, craft beer and wine … there’s a new kind of flight in town.


Don’t think check-out time is goodbye. You have more to do and see on this last day of bachelorette weekend. For starters, brunch at The River & Rail is everything you didn’t know you needed. Chef Deal’s menu changes often based on the availability of local ingredients, but some of the tried-and-true plates are nearly always available, like the house-made jar of pickled vegetables and the pimento cheese!

Bride to be wine tour #whiterockwinery #ramulouseridgewinery

A post shared by Tour Roanoke (@tourroanoke) on Jul 1, 2017 at 4:40pm PDT

Last on your agenda is a private Blue Ridge Winery Tour, a chauffeured spin to a few of our area wineries for tours and tastings. It’s a fun way to toast the bride-to-be again and again as you make memories to last a lifetime.

No bachelorette party is complete without a hashtag. Check out the Bach Party Hashtag Generator from Wedding Wire. Pair up your result with #BlueRidgeDay to share your big ideas with other brides-to-be and show the world your #LastRodeo.

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

Featured image provided by Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge

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13 More New and Renovated Hotels for Meetings

13 More New and Renovated Hotels for Meetings

Whether it be a new build or a carefully and beautifully restored renovation, Virginia has a plethora of new meeting spaces to get excited about for your next meeting or event.

— Shenandoah Valley —

The 230-room hotel, Hotel Madison, is now taking reservations. It includes 50 extended-stay rooms and one presidential suite. With over 21,000 square feet of event space, the Shenandoah Valley Conference Center will offer multiple breakout spaces and will have the flexibility to host groups of ten to 1,200.

The Stonewall Jackson Hotel & Conference Center has undergone a complete renovation to historically preserve its charm while refreshing of all guest rooms and public spaces, including the conference facilities, swimming pool, and fitness center.


– Stonewall Jackson Hotel & Conference Center –

Central Virginia

The Draftsman, a vibrant upscale boutique hotel beautifully situated on W. Main Street in downtown Charlottesville, is now open. The hotel, a member of Marriott’s distinguished Autograph Collection, will have four event spaces equaling 2,380 square feet with a maximum capacity of 214 in the largest event space.

The newly opened Hotel Weyanoke includes 70 rooms and four food and beverage venues: Sassafras, a bakery and market; Humble Pie, an artisanal pizza grill and market featuring locally sourced organic ingredients and family recipes; Campagna, an Italian trattoria and tasting room; and The Bridge, a rooftop refreshment retreat.

The Virginian Hotel, Curio Collection by Hilton is now open after being restored to appear how it looked when it first opened in 1913. Despite looking historically accurate to the period, it will have modern four- to five-star hotel amenities, 115 guest rooms and 8,000 square feet of meeting space.


The Embassy Suites by Hilton & Executive Meeting Center has completed its multi-million dollar renovation that includes all guest suites, public areas, meeting and conference areas. The Executive Meeting Center offers all-inclusive meeting packages in its specially designed conference space. Its self-contained center is dedicated conference space for 10-120, just under 10,000 square feet with a dedicated business center and dedicated Director and Conference planning team.

Coastal Virginia/Hampton Roads

Newport News
The Holiday Inn Newport News at City Center is now open. Formerly the Omni Hotel, the Holiday Inn will offer 183 guestrooms, a restaurant and 11,000 square feet of flexible meeting space.

Virginia Beach
The Cavalier’s long-awaited extensive $75 million renovation is complete. The historic hotel reopened spring 2018 as a 5-star member of Marriott’s distinguished Autograph Collection with 85 guest rooms, an onsite bourbon distillery, a ballroom for events, and a world class restaurant.

Virginia Mountains

The new Fairfield Inn and Suites Salem comprises of 113 total sleeping rooms. The property also has a state of the art fitness center, indoor heated pool and a small Board Room. A great feature of this hotel is its position located off the main Interstate but nestled in the mountains of Roanoke.

Northern Virginia

Kimpton Lorien Hotel & Spa in Old Town Alexandria has completed a multimillion-dollar phased redesign to all 107 guest rooms including 16 suites, hallway corridors, public areas, adjacent restaurant BRABO, and its 5,600 square feet of meeting and event space, including two main function rooms accommodating up to 100 as well as the hotel’s signature outdoor suite terraces overlooking King Street.

The new 168-unit Homewood Suites by Hilton Arlington-Rosslyn-Key Bridge is a LEED Gold-certified upscale, full-service, extended stay, all-suite hotel designed specifically with the extended-stay guest in mind. The hotel features 1,400 square feet of highly flexible meeting space, and a top-notch fitness facility with state of the art equipment.

Blue Ridge Highlands

Projected to open in fall 2018, The Bristol Hotel will repurpose downtown Bristol’s notable Executive Plaza, which dates back to 1925 into a 65-room boutique hotel. It will feature a rooftop bar with scenic views and street-front dining serving farm-to-table style cuisine.

Heart of Appalachia

The Western Front Hotel is a historic boutique hotel with 30 hotel rooms in downtown St. Paul situated between the Spearhead Trails and the Clinch River. The hotel will feature Milton’s, an upscale Appalachian Cuisine restaurant. It also includes a rooftop bar, gift shop, Music Hall, outdoor lawn and stage for performances, and a billiards/pool room.

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10 Cool Things for Kids to Do This Summer: Little Angels

10 Cool Things for Kids to Do This Summer: Little Angels

Summer is right around the corner, so it’s not too early to find cool stuff for kids to do at Virginia State Parks.

In part 1 of our series we’ll explore fun stuff for our Little Angels, age 7 and under, to do. Here are 10 activities to help get you started with your summer plans:


First Landing State Park has 20 miles of trails and 1.5 miles of sandy Chesapeake Bay beach frontage. Swim at your risk in the Chesapeake Bay; no lifeguards. There are no designated swimming areas at the Narrows or boat launch. The beach is used for swimming, fishing, crabbing, and you’ll could see boating, kiteboarding, and kayaking. Pets are allowed if kept on a leash no longer than 6 feet.



Courtesy of Virginia State Parks

Pocahontas State Park’s Aquatic Recreation Center is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 7p.m. on weekends and holidays from the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day. Click here for park fees. During summer months, enjoy a day of free swimming for each night of overnight camping for registered guests.



Courtesy of Virginia State Parks

The Children’s Discovery Area at Sky Meadows State Park is conveniently located next to the picnic area and surrounded by the Virginia Master Naturalist’s “Outdoor Laboratory.” The Children’s Discovery Area offers a safe space where you and your kids can explore, play, and hike together. Create your own fun at different play stations or grab a TRACK Trail brochure to start your hiking adventure. The trail is designed so that each time you pick up a different brochure, you experience something new along its .7 mile length.



Courtesy of Virginia State Parks

Kids love the hands on activities at the Farm and Forestry Museum at Chippokes Plantation State Park. The museum explores the lives of Virginia farmers at one of the oldest continuously used farms in the country. See how tools, techniques and even crops themselves changed over time in five exhibit halls. Museum staffers care for donkeys, pigs, goats, chickens and a rabbit. Learn more about them and help with their care at one of our ranger-led Pasture Pals programs.



Courtesy of Virginia State Parks

Pick up a 24 hour park exploration backpack at the Visitor’s Center at James River State Park, and enjoy an entire day of adventure. We offer three fun-filled packs including: Pond, Birding, and Field and Forest Explorer. Each pack is full of books, maps, nature logs, and tools to explore and identify the flora and fauna in the area of your interest. Learn about the unique Wetland plants, the fish at Green Hill pond, or the birds of prey who live near the river. Checkouts are on a first come first serve basis. Free.



Courtesy of Virginia State Parks

A light glows beneath the surface of Holliday Lake. Watch as insects are first drawn from the darkness to the bright light, followed by minnows, then bigger fish, and eventually turtles. This evening program illuminates what lies in the depths below and sheds light on the active nightlife under the water at Holliday Lake State Park. Participants are encouraged to bring a flashlight, bug spray, and a light jacket for the cooler nights. The underwater lights will stay on for the entire hour.



Courtesy of Virginia State Parks

Long before there was a York River State Park, or even a York River, 6,000 plus years ago, marine creatures swam here in a shallow sea. Early whales, porpoises, sharks, clams, scallops, and snails all left traces of their existence which we now find as fossils. Join us in discovering relics of these very old creatures as we hike to a fossil beach. Please call to make reservations.



Courtesy of Virginia State Parks

Teach a kid to fish and they will…make you bait the hook! Join the rangers at Claytor Lake State Park for a morning of fishing as we learn about local aquatic life. We’ll learn how to cast, catch fish, different ways to rig bait, and common fish species. Fishing rods and bait, such as worms and corn, will be available for use.

9. | SNAKES 101


Courtesy of Virginia State Parks

While the eagles in the park are the celebrities of the sky, the snakes commonly found along the trails and in the marsh are one of the most talked about animals at Mason Neck State Park. Join a ranger for a guided walk along the Bay View Trail to learn more about why these animals have developed a bad reputation, and how they actually play an important role in our ecosystem. This is a short quarter mile walk down to the marsh.



Courtesy of Virginia State Parks

Get ready to catch gold fever at Lake Anna State Park. Mosey on over and join our interpretive rangers on a quest for this elusive mineral. You’ll discover the history of gold in Virginia and learn the finer points of placer mining and how to work a pan. Then we’ll head down to the edge of Old Pond and see what washes up. Space is limited, so please pre-register.


Visit our events database here to find more fun events for your Little Angels at Virginia State Parks. You can search by date, park or event type.

If you’re interested in a specific program listed above, please go to the park’s webpage or give them a call for the details. Reservations may be required for a program, so they’ll know how many to anticipate.Be sure to follow us on Facebook here so you won’t miss Part 2: Tweens, and Part 3: Teens.

To find a place to escape the heat, click here to search swimming at Virginia State Parks.


Learn more about overnight stays in our campgrounds, yurts and camping cabins here. If you would like to spend a few nights in a cabin or group lodge, click here.

Call 800-933-7275 to reserve your family getaway today.

Written by Shellie Anne for Virginia State Parks.

Featured image provided by Courtesy of Virginia State Parks

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The post 10 Cool Things for Kids to Do This Summer: Little Angels appeared first on Virginia’s Travel Blog.

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10 Cool Things for Kids to Do This Summer: Tweens

10 Cool Things for Kids to Do This Summer: Tweens

School break is right around the corner, so let’s check out some cool things for kids to do this summer at Virginia State Parks. This is part 2 where we’ll explore fun stuff to do for the Tweens, ages 8-12.



Courtesy of Virginia State Parks

If dipping your toes in the James River is not enough at Chippokes Plantation State Park, there is also an Olympic size swimming pool and a kiddie pool that are open from the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. Click here for park fees. From Memorial Day to mid-June and from mid-August to Labor Day, swimming may be available only on weekends and Labor Day. If your stay depends on using the pool, please contact the park before making a reservation at 757-294-3728.



Courtesy of Virginia State Parks

Go for a ride at New River Trail State Park. Guided trail rides and horse/pony rides in enclosure are available April through October (closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays). Call Foster Falls Horse Livery, 276-699-2460, for rates and reservations. The first ride of the day is by reservation, heading out at 9:30 a.m. and the rest are first come first served basis. To go on a trail ride you need to be 11 or older, and under 11 there is the opportunity to be led on a ride in the enclosure. Also, you can call the Foster Falls Boat and Bike Livery at 276-699-1034 to rent river tubes.



Courtesy of Virginia State Parks

Piddle Paddle around Woodstock Pond at York River State Park. Paddleboats, jon boats, canoes and kayaks can be rented for use on the pond. Rental equipment is available for use on the creek and the pond from April 1 through the end of October. Weather, water and air temperature, and other conditions beyond our control may impact rentals. Call ahead 757-566-3036 to make sure they are available. Also, guided canoe and kayak trips begin at the visitor center. Park guests learn about salt-marsh ecology on the Taskinas Creek canoe trip or about the natural and cultural history of the York River on the kayak trip.



Courtesy of Virginia State Parks

Bows and arrows have long been a part of human culture and a part of how we relate to the natural world. At this basic archery program at Bear Creek Lake State Park, learn about recurve and compound bows and how to use them. Take your best shots, and get tips on how to shoot better. The equipment is not suitable for children under eight years of age. $5.00 per person, family rates available. Limited spaces available as this is a specific park program. Advance registration required through the Park Office, call to find out the next available date. Water and restrooms are not available at the range.



Courtesy of Virginia State Parks

Try Geocaching, it’s a world-wide phenomenon that uses hand-held GPS (Global Positioning Satellite) units along with satellite technology, to find deliberately hidden objects similar to a treasure hunt. Try locating our specially-placed park caches. You can also go here to get coordinates and learn more about our caches and current program. If you don’t have a GPS app on your phone, or your own GPS device, the park has several units available for rent by the day, or half-day. Simply stop in at a park Visitor Center during scheduled open hours and we’ll get you started with this adventure-filled, family-friendly activity available to the public all year long. To find a beginner Geocaching 101 park program, or similar click here.



Courtesy of Virginia State Parks

Kids, find out what it takes to be a ranger at Sky Meadows State Park. We have three Junior Ranger Activity Books: Junior Historian, Junior Naturalist and Junior Farmer. Complete all three activity books and become an official Sky Meadows Junior Ranger! Stop by to get your books and start your journey.



Courtesy of Virginia State Parks

Join us at Leesylvania State Park for a 2 mile hike where we will be listening and identifying the musicians of the night. We will be challenging ourselves to explore the natural history of our park by using only our night vision. Click here to find the next night hike. Please register 24 hours in advance by calling the Visitor Center at 703-583-6904.



Courtesy of Virginia State Parks

Rent a Hydrobike at Douthat State Park and explore the lake. Funyaks and Jon boats, with and without electric motors, can be rented from the first Saturday in April through the end of October. Also, canoes, paddleboats, hydrobikes and paddleboards may be rented from the Friday before Memorial Day through Labor Day. If no one is at the boathouse, guests should go to the camp store for help. The boathouse is located adjacent to the swimming beach.



Courtesy of Virginia State Parks

Many parks offer fishing programs like Hungry Mother State Park. Also, there is no fishing license required if you are under 16, so it’s a great chance to learn something new. The 108-acre Hungry Mother Lake within the park supports a host of sport fish including largemouth, smallmouth, hybrid striped and spotted bass as well as crappie, channel and flathead catfish, carp, sunfish, rock bass, muskellunge and walleye. There are fishing programs at many of our parks, click here to find one.



Courtesy of Virginia State Parks

You can earn five unique and attractive pins for visiting various Virginia State Park. Get one for your first park visit and others after visiting 5, 10, 20 and all parks. The whole family can participate so each family member can sign up for Trail Quest and start earning pins now. (Children without an email account may use a parent’s.) Visit a Virginia State Park and, after the visit, log into the State Park Adventures page, select the name of the park you visited, pick “Trail Quest” and record the date of the visit. If you’ve also joined the Geocaching Game, record having found the park’s cache at the same time. The app keeps track of your progress, and you will receive email confirmation, too.


Visit our events database here to find more fun events for your ‘Tweens at Virginia State Parks. You can search by date, park or event type. If you’re interested in a specific program listed above, please go to the park’s webpage or give them a call for the details. Reservations may be required for a program, so they’ll know how many to anticipate. Be sure to follow us on Facebook here, check out Part 1: Little Angels here, and soon we’ll publish Part 3: Teens.

To find a place to escape the heat, click here to search swimming at Virginia State Parks. To learn more about fishing, click here.


Learn more about overnight lodging in our campgrounds, yurts and camping cabins here. If you would like to spend a few nights in a cabin or group lodge, click here. Call 800-933-7275 to reserve your family getaway today.

Written by Shellie Anne for Virginia State Parks.

Featured image provided by Courtesy of Virginia State Parks

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Love is Everywhere ~ EQ Event’s Making Couples’ Dreams Come True

Love is Everywhere ~ EQ Event’s Making Couples’ Dreams Come True

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Posted by EQ Events on Thursday, March 1, 2018

Planning to surprise your Honey with a jaw-dropping proposal? Making plans for your big dream wedding, or ready to shady-dip with your Boo to a remote VA location and make it official? Engagements, elopements and weddings are some of the most important events in our lives. Planning any special event can be a months-long to-do list involving location scouting, mercurial guest lists, seasonal menu and cocktail tastings, flower and personalized decorations and a Herculean budget balancing act. Factor in the element of surprise and you’ve soon got another full-time job with aggressive deadlines.

Enter Casey Dokoupil, co-owner of EQ Events. She knows a thing or two about the topic. Casey, along with co-owner Rachel Leyco and their EQ Event’s team, have helped countless couples and families plan their perfect Virginia event. We asked Casey to share some of her experiences helping people create and experience the milestone events of their lives. 


Tell us a little about yourself and EQ Events!

That’s a big question!  The short answer is that EQ Events exists because Rachel and I shared an odd combination of interests for two random friends – event planning and supporting under-served populations, particularly the LGBTQ+ community. We discussed it for a while before going for it and we quickly found that there’s a huge need for it. Queer people, and all minority people, are often really anxious about planning their weddings and events because they don’t know how service providers are going to treat them, or if they will be turned away. That’s not okay with us, and one of the most important parts of our work is running interference for our clients. We welcome all people at EQ, and we won’t recommend vendors who don’t.


Weddings are such an important time for a couple, their family and friends. What do you find is most important to couples planning their big day?

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Still not over how absolutely wonderful these two are, how they fight every day to make the lives of other folks better,…

Posted by Shawnee Custalow – Wedding Photographer on Monday, April 9, 2018

Finding the right match! It’s just as true for someone’s wedding as it is for their choice of partner. And it’s not just about the right kind of flower or color of the linens, it’s about finding personalities that make sense for the energy the couple is looking for on their wedding day. Richmond offers an embarrassment of riches when it comes to amazing, local vendors who tend toward the progressive view of what a wedding is for: celebrating a couple’s love and the family they are forming in a way that’s uniquely authentic to them and the life they actually lead. I remember thinking about this balance quite a lot when we were working on the wedding of Bridget and Mary Frances. They’re both lawyers, whip smart and serious in their careers, but also music lovers with a sarcastic, hilarious way about them. They married on Capitol Square, the centerpiece of the Commonwealth and the heart of Virginia law. But the moment the ceremony ended, a brass band blasted into life, leading the brides and all of their guests through Richmond’s streets to the reception in a grand second line – a shout-out to Mary Frances’s New Orleans origins. Such unique juxtapositions can only be created with the right combination of vendors, and perfectly timed cues.


Helping couples merge their different wedding visions or expectations must be a challenge!

I also officiate, and this comes up constantly. Most couples already know that their expectations are going to be different because that’s life, and that’s okay. I tend to take a therapeutic approach, guiding the couple through their own discussion and helping them to find the common ground that makes the most sense for them. Of course, I might offer suggestions based on things that have worked for other couples, or that I think may be helpful. Sometimes, it’s about asking each partner what’s most and least important to them, and allowing each other the space to make decisions based on those things. It’s immensely satisfying to watch couples work through joint decisions this way, with the respect and patience their marriage will also require.


There must be so many timelines and detailed arrangements in creating a wedding or event. Have you ever had any last minute changes or surprises you’ve had to maneuver?

Ummmm yes. That happens all the time, and I actually kind of love it. It’s part of our job to answer the hysterical phone call, or find the last-minute solution. Or both. We’ve had a band just completely fail to show up, needed an emergency tent for a sudden cold front (and of course, accompanying downpour), and once someone’s honor attendant showed up very, very intoxicated. We made it through all of those situations without the guests ever knowing a thing, but I don’t want to put our trade secrets in writing! I think the important thing is realizing that those situations are the nature of this business, and that’s why people spend their hard-earned money on our services. We take care of everything, whether it’s on the planned timeline…or not!


Engagements can be a special time for a couple, too. Do you have any recent secret or surprise proposals you’ve helped a client with?

Proposals are incredibly fun for us! They’re all different, and it’s so exciting when game day comes and we get to help create this perfect, dreamlike moment for people in love. We’re also shady enough to love a good secret! We did this beautiful proposal a few months ago for Jaime & Cecily in Cape Charles, Virginia, with a pretty elaborate timeline. We were running all over town making sure every detail was ready, but some things couldn’t be set out until the last moment because the actual question took place in a public space. Anyway, we were just sitting down to eat some lunch and get ready for the big moment when Jaime texted us in a panic to say that Cecily was out of work two hours early! We threw down our lunch and sped across town, setting up the proposal spot at what must be Olympic speed. We had just hidden ourselves when the couple appeared. It went perfectly, and – spoiler alert – she said yes!


What are some of the challenges or benefits of helping couples with surprise or planned elopements?

Elopements are much more popular than many people realize, and for good reason. They offer privacy, and freedom from the expectations of others. Most importantly, they are ridiculously romantic. As long as the idea of an elopement personally appeals to a couple, they usually end up really happy with that decision. There aren’t many challenges, as it’s typically a simplified kind of experience, but some couples do struggle with where to hold their elopement, especially if they plan to have a couple of guests in attendance. We’ve done so many now that we know all the best spots!


Of your most recent work, is there one that made a special impression on you?

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Posted by Michelle Renee Photography on Monday, January 1, 2018

Since we’re talking about elopements, that’s what comes to mind! I did a private elopement in January that was so sweet, even I had to hold back tears. It was an absolutely frigid day during that long cold snap, and I was waiting for the couple, Claude and Ann, along with just two other vendors at Wilton House, a historic building here in Richmond. I already felt connected to them and their life because they’re small business owners too, running their estate sales company All Our Yesterdays together as a family. The couple was a little late, so when we saw their car pull up, we were all paying attention. Now, I see gorgeous, happy people all the time in my profession, but these two were practically floating down the brick walkway toward us. They didn’t know we were watching them, and the joy in their expressions as they came toward us, slowly despite the cold and their lack of coats, reminded me why we started this business – to provide access to couples, ALL couples, who are so genuinely in love, and don’t want the sun to set on another day without being married to one another. This couple in particular, laughing and chatting so naturally, had also written their own vows, and their joy became my joy as they read them to one another that day. Beautiful souls, those two.


With marriage equality in the U.S. and Virginia, have you experienced a change in the number and type of events you perform?

We started our business around the time that equality came to Virginia, but since federal equality we have seen an uptick in weddings, specifically formal weddings, for our queer clients. The majority of our clients are queer like us, but not all of them. There does seem to be an equalizing force happening right now, where the rates of each kind of wedding are stabilizing between LGBTQ+ and non-LGBTQ+ people. Where we once saw far more quick elopements among queer people, we’re now seeing folks plan more slowly and deciding what they really want. I think that’s an effect of less fear as we reorient to having these rights we’ve always deserved. Our clients don’t seem so afraid that their marriages will be taken away, so they plan them how they want. For some, that still means quick elopements, and for others it means large, fancy events, or anything in between! It’s really refreshing to see couples marrying however they want, and such a privilege to be a part of it.


Tell us about your new “RVA Microweddings Collective” partnership. We love the concept and it looks like a valuable new resource for couples.  

Our collective of wedding specialists hear all the time that weddings are so time consuming, stressful for the couple and hard to budget. Yet, simply running away to get married doesn’t feel like quite enough. We get that. RVA Microweddings Collective is our collective of professionals, each with our specialty, who work together seamlessly to offer easy, affordable, fast and less-stress weddings. We offer officiating, coordination, photography, hair, florals and DJ services in one packaged service. We offer simple, flat rates in an a-la-carte format, plus a small flat service rate. Everything you need, nothing you don’t. We’ve already worked with several couples, and they LOVED it!


When you are not working, where are some of your favorite Virginia places to eat, drink, enjoy and explore?

Well, my wife Beth is the greatest woman on the face of the earth, and she’s a beer connoisseur. So we spend a lot of time exploring Virginia’s incredible craft beer scene, especially our favorites Port City Brewing Company and Ale Werks Brewing Company. If we’re feeling some wine, you’ll usually find us at Keswick Vineyards, where we’ve been members since 2010. Back home in Richmond, we love digging into somehuevos rancheros at Kuba Kuba, savoring the Italian delights at Nota Bene, or sipping coffee at Crossroads. We feel so lucky to live here at a time when Virginia is really blossoming. We’re spoiled for choice with local food, cider, spirits…all of life’s edible joys can be found here in the Commonwealth, and many of those establishments are owned by small business people just like me – and many are also queer, just like me! We love supporting those businesses, and we really love the creative cuisines and tipples they produce for us to show off to visiting family and friends.

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Posted by Kuba Kuba on Friday, February 11, 2011


What’s your best advice for couples planning a wedding, engagement for special occasion in Virginia?

Don’t worry about what’s trendy or popular, unless it genuinely appeals to you as a person. The right approach to your event already exists inside your own heart, and not necessarily on Pinterest. My happiest clients plan their events around the things they mutually and genuinely love. Remember that your event is an extension of the authentic you – and YOU are what your guests love, and come to celebrate! And of course, call us to help you!


Casey Dokoupil lives in Richmond, VA. She is a registered wedding officiant in Virginia and Washington, DC. Casey is an animal lover and is active in the local community. Travel is one of her biggest passions, but at home she enjoys a hot cup of tea and spending time with her wife Beth and their four-legged family of fur faces.

The post Love is Everywhere ~ EQ Event’s Making Couples’ Dreams Come True appeared first on Virginia’s Travel Blog.

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Where to Catch Dazzling Fourth of July Fireworks Displays in Virginia

Where to Catch Dazzling Fourth of July Fireworks Displays in Virginia


If you haven’t already set your travel plans for the 4th of July in Virginia, consider heading to one of these spectacular fireworks shows, happening in every corner of the Commonwealth.



Norfolk Harbor

Fireworks over Norfolk

Celebrate the birth of our nation at historic Colonial Williamsburg’s Fourth of July Fireworks. During the day, enjoy patriotic festivities that commemorate the historic event, like public readings of the Declaration of Independence, live musical performances, hands-on crafts for the kids, and a spectacular fireworks display at dusk.

Busch Gardens combines two of the most exciting things, fireworks and roller coasters, for their 4th of July Fireworks Celebration, happening from July 3rd-July 5th. Red, white, and blue fireworks will light up the sky as contemporary patriotic music plays throughout the park.

Watch fireworks over the Virginia Beach Oceanfront at the Stars & Stripes Explosion. Oceanfront stages set up for the event will hold multiple live performances from classical musicians, tribute bands, and more.

Bring your family to Town Point Park in Norfolk on July 4th for the Annual Fourth of July Great American Picnic & Fireworks, a free event featuring traditional American food like hot dogs, hamburgers, barbecue, and locally sourced seafood. Live entertainment and music happen until the sun goes down, followed by fireworks displays after sunset.



Mount Vernon Fireworks

Mount Vernon Fireworks

Pay tribute to America’s first Commander in Chief during An American Celebration at Mount Vernon. Unlike the rest of the fireworks displays, this incredible display happens during the day, with special fireworks that are visible in sunlight shooting across the Potomac River. Military reenactors fill the air with the roar of cannon fire and the sounds of battle, and the National Concert Band plays a special rendition of American tunes while General and Mrs. Washington mingle with guests.

On July 4th, Great Meadow holds an Independence Day Celebration beginning at 4pm. Admission is $35 ahead of time or $40 at the gate per car pass. This pass covers a wide array of free activities for the kids, from a helicoptered air show and rocket demonstrations to polo exhibits and one of the largest fireworks shows in the area.

Culpeper’s 4th of July Celebration has a full day of patriotic-themed activities, starting with a Freedom 5K race in Downtown Culpeper. After the race, watch the Main Street parade, shop local crafts and food vendors, enjoy live entertainment, and learn more about the patriotic history of Culpeper at the Courthouse. The evening fireworks mark the end of the celebration.  

The Leesburg Independence Day Celebration kicks off at 10am with a parade through Historic Downtown Leesburg, starting at Ida Lee Park and ending at Fairfax Street. Arrive early to hear the American Originals Fife and Drum Corps playing patriotic music as they march down the street. Around 6:00pm, head into the park, snag a spot for the live music performances, and get dinner from the expansive food court. Fireworks begin at 9:30pm.



Running from 10am-11pm, the Independence Day Parade, Duck Race, and Fireworks in Galax kicks off with the Great Galax Duck Race, followed by the Independence Day Parade down Main Street in the evening and fireworks in Felt’s Park at 11pm.

The 4th of July Celebration in Downtown Wytheville features food and drink vendors, a children’s parade and bounce house, the Skeeter’s World Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest, Olykoek Donut’s Donut Eating Contest, live music from One Side Missing, and a Classic Car exhibit. Around 6:45pm, head to Elizabeth Brown Park for the “After Hours” concert, followed by fireworks.

The town of Tazewell in Southwest Virginia celebrates Independence Day with musical performances, a bounce house for the kids, and live fireworks beginning at dusk.

Visit Damascus Town Park on July 3rd for the Damascus Independence Day Celebration for live music, local foods, and a fireworks display in the evening. The event is free and open to people of all ages as well as the four-legged family members.



Richmond Fireworks

Fireworks over Downtown Richmond

Wintergreen Resort hosts the 4th of July Jubilee from June 29th– July 4th, with fun activities planned each day, including live music, a petting zoo for kids, chairlift rides up and down the mountain, a movie under the stars, fun races for the whole family, and fireworks after sundown on July 3rd.

From June 30th-July 4th, the Star Spangled Celebration at King’s Dominion combines all the roller coasters you love with musical performances from local military bands and incredible fireworks shows in the evenings. All members of the military and veterans receive free admission and discounted tickets for family members.

The 4th of July Concert & Fireworks at Dogwood Dell features live music by the Richmond Concert Band followed by fireworks beginning at dusk. The event is free and family friendly.



Sponsored by the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company, Chincoteague’s Old Fashioned Fireworks Display coincides with the island’s annual Carnival on Main Street. The Carnival begins at 7m and the fireworks start at 10pm.



The Summer Jam at Massanutten is the perfect summer festival, with live music, food vendors, a beer and wine garden, and of course, fireworks after dark. Tickets are $15 in advance or $20 at the gate, with free admission for kids under 7.

Waynesboro Parks & Recreation Department presents the annual Summer Extravaganza in Ridgeview Park. This family-friendly event has live music, an arts & crafts show, food vendors, and several outdoor activities during the day, including 5 & 10k races. The festival caps off with fireworks in the evening.



Smith Mountain Lake

Fireworks over Smith Mountain Lake

Book a stay at the Omni Homestead in Hot Springs from June 30th-July 5th for the 4th of July Cookout, Concert, & Fireworks. The resort holds special activities, including daily Fun Runs, outdoor barbecues and picnics, mixology seminars, and golf clinics. On Fridays and the 4th of July, watch fireworks from the resort lawn at dusk.

Beginning with a downtown parade at 11am, the Annual Stars and Stripes Celebration on July 4th in Clifton Forge is an all-day affair full of patriotic flair, kid-friendly events, live music, local food, and an incredible fireworks display after the sun goes down.

Watch brilliant fireworks over Smith Mountain Lake during the Independence Day Festival at Mitchell’s Marina in Huddleston.

The Vinton War Memorial outside of Roanoke hosts the Vinton Fourth of July Celebration to recognize the bravery and sacrifice of American soldiers. Featuring live entertainment, festival foods, children’s activities, and fireworks beginning at 9:30pm, the festival is free for all ages.



Join the Celebration at Martinsville Speedway on July 3rd for live music, food, games, and carnival rides. Bring along a few non-perishable foods and personal care items to donate to the Fuel for Families Food Drive, a nonprofit that benefits families in need. At sunset, a dazzling firework show illuminates the skies over the Speedway.

Danville’s July 4th at the Crossing starts with a 5K and 10K run for adults and a kid’s Fun Run at Angler’s Park, followed by an ice cream social. After the race, visit the Farmer’s Market at the Crossing at the Dan to shop local wares and goods. Carrington Pavilion opens at 6pm for free festivities, live entertainment, and activities for the whole family. A grand fireworks display will begin at dusk.



These are just a few of the special fireworks displays happening this Fourth of July in Virginia; head to Virginia is for Lovers for a complete list of Fourth of July activities around the Commonwealth.

The post Where to Catch Dazzling Fourth of July Fireworks Displays in Virginia appeared first on Virginia’s Travel Blog.

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