Entertainment

Entertainment around RVA

Let’s Go #RVADine

Let’s Go #RVADine

We all know #RVADine has the best food in Virginia. It’s time to prove it! Virginia is For Lovers is running a March Madness Culinary Challenge deathmatch* pitting Virginia dishes against each other. Comfort is repping #RVA and we need to turn out the vote. CLICK HERE TO VOTE FOR COMFORT We suggest clicking the…

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Seven Tavern Dining Experiences in Virginia

Seven Tavern Dining Experiences in Virginia

Tuck into a cozy corner or dine fireside at one of these Virginia taverns. In original buildings dating from the 1700s, these restaurants show off authentic period recipes, greet you with costumed waitstaff, or simply welcome you into a bygone time lost amid the neon lights of fast food joints. You’ll be intrigued as you dine your way through, as surprise menu items await. Cheers to great eats and atmosphere!

 

Michie Tavern

— MICHIE TAVERN | CHARLOTTESVILLE —

It’s not just the ca. 1784 tavern’s authentic appearance that history buffs will find appealing at Michie Tavern (pronounced “mickey”), it’s also the waitstaff dressed in period attire and recipes dating to the 1700s that draw people. The traditional southern fare includes fried chicken, of course, as well as pork barbecue, black-eyed peas with country ham, cornbread and cobblers. While you’re there, visit the gift shops housed in adjacent historic buildings, and then take the half-mile drive up to Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello.

 

The Tavern Restaurant

THE TAVERN RESTAURANT | ABINGDON —

Abingdon’s oldest building (1779) was a tavern and stagecoach inn at its inception. In fact, the tavern was refuge for historic figures such as President Andrew Jackson and King Louis Philippe of France. As time passed, the building saw use as a post office, bank, general store, bakery, barber shop, cabinet maker’s shop and private residence. Since 1994, however, the building has welcomed visitors for dining. The menu at The Tavern is diverse but includes a German influence, as the owner is German. Wienerschnitzel, anyone?

 

Hunter's Head Tavern

HUNTER’S HEAD TAVERN | UPPERVILLE —

The 1750′s Carr House is home to Hunter’s Head Tavern, a local favorite offering English fare including fish and chips, bangers and mash, shepherd’s pie and more. Nearly all of the ingredients are locally sourced. Of interest when you dine at Hunter’s Head is the authentic cabin feel, including original fireplaces and mantels.

 

Hanover TavernHANOVER TAVERN | HANOVER —

Many historic figures have passed through the doors of Hanover Tavern, including George Washington, Lord Cornwallis, the Marquis de Lafayette, and of course, Patrick Henry, who was the son-in-law of the tavern’s 1750 to 1764 owners. Henry and his wife, Sarah, lived at the tavern for several years prior to his governorship in 1776. Today you can visit the tavern for dining and even dinner theatre, if you wish. The restaurant is open Tuesday through Sunday with dinner and/or lunch specials daily. Menu items include fresh Rappahannock oysters, fried green tomatoes, Virginia peanut chopped salad, meatloaf, crab cakes, and more! Reserve a table.

King's Arms Tavern

KING’S ARMS TAVERN AT COLONIAL WILLIAMSBURG | WILLIAMSBURG —

King’s Arms Tavern could be described as a destination restaurant, and rightfully so. Dating to 1772, its founder noted it to be “where the best people resorted.” It’s at King’s Arms within Colonial Williamsburg that you’ll find musical entertainment and 18th century-cloaked waitstaff to greet and serve you. The chophouse menu will fulfill a hungry man’s palate, and a children’s menu is available, too. Perhaps Thomas Jefferson’s mac-n-cheese will hit the spot in that little belly? Reserve a table.

White Oak Tea Tavern

WHITE OAK TEA TAVERN | TROUTVILLE —

The 1783 Cloyd House welcomes you with a fireside table to enjoy a pot of White Oak Tea Tavern’s Signature Breakfast Blend black tea and a baked spinach and artichoke chicken salad served in a hot, fresh bread bowl. It’s perfect on a chilly day.

 

Lancaster Tavern RestaurantLANCASTER TAVERN RESTAURANT | LANCASTER —

Established in 1790, this historic house has seen life as a tavern, inn, personal residence and even dentist office. Re-established in 1982 as a fine dining opportunity in Lancaster, today’s visitors are welcome to tour the upstairs suites after their meal. You’re also welcome to stay, as Lancaster Tavern is also a bed and breakfast. Lunch and dinner are available daily and feature local seafood and homemade desserts and dressings.

When you think of history and dining, what establishments come to mind? Leave a comment to give some love to your favorite.


© Casey for Virginia’s Travel Blog, 2015. |

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5 PartyRVA Ideas for Your Next Party……in RVA

5 PartyRVA Ideas for Your Next Party……in RVA

PartyRVA is taking over the blog today. If you’re looking for something off the beaten path while you’re in Richmond, this is a good start. It may get a little crazy in here, because of all the party and the RVA: Let’s mix it up. Gone are the days of the cookie-cutter parties. Are you…

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About Visit Richmond

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10 RVA Instagrams to Follow for an Insider’s Look

10 RVA Instagrams to Follow for an Insider’s Look

Instagram is an amazing platform to get an insider look at a place before you visit. So, if you’re coming to the Richmond Region soon, of if you’ve been and you want to relive your memories, follow us on Instagram.   Go ‘head, do it now…we’ll wait.   Done? Good, now here are 10 more…

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Top 5 Reasons You Don’t Want to Miss Arena Racing!

Top 5 Reasons You Don’t Want to Miss Arena Racing!

Arena Racing USA is exactly what it sounds like, racing in an arena. But, it’s so much more than that. It’s a family friendly racing event you can only see in the Richmond Region. Oh yeah, it’s also racing with half scale stock cars!!   Arena Racing USA is the only place in the entire…

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Eight Authentic Virginia Music Experiences

Eight Authentic Virginia Music Experiences

Music fans in Virginia have no shortage of outdoor concerts, music venues and festivals in the state. But sometimes you need more than just music on a stage. You need to get a real experience. Go back in time and discover Virginia’s music heritage or immerse yourself in the music culture of these destinations.

 

Carter Family Fold – Hiltons, Va.

The Carter Family Fold was founded by Janette Carter, daughter of A.P. and Sara, who with Sara’s sister Maybelle, are considered the “First Family of Country Music.” Janette’s daughter Rita is carrying on the musical and performing legacy the family established. The original Carter Family lived on this hallowed ground at the foot of Clinch Mountain. The 1,000-seat music center, which recently celebrated its 40th anniversary, hosts old time, bluegrass and country music every Saturday night and there’s a dance floor that’s usually packed at every show with people of every age clogging and flat-footing.

 

Tuesday Verses. Lorna Pinckney, Upside Marketing, LLC

Tuesday Verses. Photo by Lorna Pinckney, Upside Marketing, LLC

Tuesday Verses at Addis Ethiopian Restaurant – Richmond, Va.

Tuesday Verses is a weekly open mic night for music and poetry that takes place at Addis Ethiopian Restaurant for the last 12 years. It’s promoted as a simple open mic night, but it’s so much more than that. The energy fills the room before people even go up to perform. And when they do, nobody is quiet. Whether it’s hip hop, soul, blues or spoken word, on stage, people are cheering and clapping and having a great time. During the evening, everyone is ordered to get up and meet someone in the crowd that they don’t know. It’s very much like a church environment, where everyone is friendly and happy to meet everyone else. The love and support fills the room as the music plays.

 

Hardee's Tuesday Morning Jamboree

Hardee’s Tuesday Morning Jamboree

Hardee’s Tuesday Morning Jamboree – Stanleytown, Va.

Every Tuesday morning, residents of Stanleytown get up bright and early and head over to the local Hardee’s for breakfast and coffee – and to see some of the best old style country and gospel music performed live.

The unconventional music venue features “The Hardee Bunch,” a group that involves more than 25 musicians. They set up in a corner to play and entertain special requests from the audience. The Jamboree started in 1994 as a birthday celebration for a member celebrating his 91st birthday. Because it was such a hit, the group decided to meet each week to play. The weekly event has become so popular, it’s standing room only most days and full of toe tapping, clapping, singing along and occasional dancing.

Strange Matter. Photo by Andrew Cothern.

Strange Matter

Strange Matter – Richmond, Va.

Richmond, Va. is known for its active punk rock history. The city is perhaps best known for shock-metal band GWAR, as well as many other punk and metal names like Lamb of God, Avail, Strike Anywhere, and others. One can’t call themselves a punk fan without a visit to Richmond. Strange Matter, located at 929 West Grace Street, has housed a punk rock club for nearly three decades. It was most famously known as Twisters throughout the 1990s, and since then has been known as Club 929, The Nanci Raygun, and Bagel Czar before it re-opened in 2009 as Strange Matter. The club hosts up-and-coming local and national touring acts in the punk, metal, experimental and hardcore genres nearly every night.  It’s small, dirty and loud, but just the way a punk venue should be. Going to Strange Matter puts you in the middle of Richmond’s rock history to see where big names started while catching new acts who could make it big.

 

Live Music and Dancing at Clark’s Ole Time Music Center – Raphine, Va.

By day, boards are planed for use in prefabricated homes inside the planer building at Clark’s Lumber Company in Raphine, Virginia. On Friday nights, however, it becomes Clark’s Ole Time Music Center, a dance hall and performance venue for old time and mountain music bands. Not only will you find hometown musicians and their supporters, but you’ll also find homemade foods available for purchase.

 

Bluegrass Jam at The Old Furniture Factory – Round Hill, Va.

Indeed the 1880s Old Furniture Factory was, indeed, a furniture factory. Built by the Howell Brothers, it has grown from the original small two-story to the larger building you now see. It has operated as a schoolhouse, grocery store, tin shop, prohibition-era speak-easy, general store, wood shop for historic reproduction cabinetry, and finally, a community mecca for art and music. The last Friday night of the month is when you can enjoy the Bluegrass Jam, which sometimes mashes Folk, Celtic and Old Time into the mix. It’s informal and has great BBQ for purchase from Savoir Fare.

 

Draper MercantileWine Down Friday at Draper Mercantile – Draper, Va.

For more than 125 years the locals have found Draper Mercantile to be a great place to commune. Along with that comes musical performances from those who live there and those who don’t. The standing Friday night event at the Mercantile is Wine Down Friday, a casual, intimate gathering that includes Virginia wine, craft beer, appetizers, and a new performer each week. Genres have included country, folk, bluegrass, classic rock, blues and jazz.

Friday Night Jamboree at Floyd Country Store – Floyd, Va.

The Floyd Country Store in Floyd, Va. is a real country store that serves old-fashioned candy, hand-dipped ice cream, homemade country food and a great collection of hard-to-find old-time and bluegrass CDs and music accessories. The Friday Night Jamboree brings people each week to dance, enjoy and play gospel, old-time, and bluegrass music – and everyone feels welcome. The crowd usually spills out into the street as it’s one of the most popular events in the area. You can find groups that can be found picking outside or upstairs in the store from 6:30 p.m. until the store’s closing time around 11:30 p.m.

Where is your favorite place to get an authentic music experience in Virginia? Leave a comment to give a shout-out.


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22 MORE Virginia Small Towns to LOVE

22 MORE Virginia Small Towns to LOVE

Virginia has so many sweet small towns, most of which hold designations as historic districts and/or Main Street Communities. In 2014 we highlighted nearly two dozen small towns and the response from our Facebook and Twitter communities was so great that we’re now giving you a “part two” with 22 more. Make a plan to get around the towns this year.

 

— ASHLAND —

Did you know that Ashland, Virginia is known as the Center of the Universe? In fact, you’ll find Center of the Universe Brewing Company there, along with railroad, Civil War and American Revolution history. Seek out the LOVEwork for a photo op, then head over to Ashland Coffee and Tea where you can craft your own beverage at the tea bar. Nearly every evening of the week includes an intimate, live performance by a variety of artists. Hungry? Check out Virginia Barbeque Company offering homemade sides and hand-pulled Virginia barbecue. It’s a true “mom and pop” experience.

* Virginia Main Street Community *

Ashland Coffee and Tea
Center of The Universe Brewing
The Virginia Barbeque Company

 

— BEDFORD —

If you’re into antiquing, Bedford is a great shopping destination for you to find a new old treasure. It’s also a place to pay tribute to the fallen heroes of June 6, 1944 – the day the Allied Forces stormed the beaches of Normandy. Bedford is the beneficiary of the National D-Day Memorial because it was the American city that lost the most soldiers per capita that day. Take your time walking through. This memorial bares 4,413 names, the most comprehensive list of fallen Allied Forces from that day. Stop in at Town Kitchen & Provisions to put together a picnic lunch of local, handmade delights. It’s a culinary go-to just as the butcher used to be! For dinner? Try Liberty Station Restaurant, a restored train depot that is home to delicious American fare.

* Virginia Main Street Community *

Liberty Station Restaurant
Downtown Bedford
National D-Day Memorial

 

— BIG STONE GAP —

Hollywood recently visited Big Stone Gap in Southwest Virginia, meaning: you’re missing out! The film named after Adriana Trigiani’s book premiered at the 2014 Virginia Film Festival and includes actor Patrick Wilson and actresses Ashley Judd, Jenna Elfman, Whoopi Goldberg, Jane Krakowski and Jasmine Guy. A ready-made day awaits you in this Victorian-era town. Get all of the details inside this Big Stone Gap Getaway. Purchase Big Stone Gap, the novel.

June Tolliver House and Folk Art Center
Trail of The Lonesome Pine Amphitheatre/June Tolliver Playhouse
Mutual's Drug Store

 

 

— BLACKSTONE —

Blackstone dates to an unknown time (Revolutionary period), and was called “The Village of Black and Whites” thanks to the two rival tavern owners – the Schwartz Family (schwartz is German for black) and the White Family. In 1885, “Blackstone” was embraced as the town name; in 1888 it was incorporated. Today you’ll find a revitalized community to enjoy. Spend the day shopping and visit Schwartz Tavern, as well as The Robert Thomas Carriage Museum, home to one of the finest collections of horse-drawn carriages, sleighs and buggies. When you’re ready for a break, head to Blackstone Herb Cottage for homemade soups and salads, fresh veggies, sandwiches and more.

* Virginia Main Street Community *

Blackstone Herb Cottage
The Robert Thomas Carriage Museum
Downtown Blackstone

 

— CAPE CHARLES —

A Chesapeake Bay community on the Eastern Shore, Cape Charles offers great dining and accommodations, public beach access (the only bayside public beach on the Eastern Shore), and access to bird and wildlife habitats. Find the one-of-a-kind LOVEwork for a selfie or family photo, then set out on an adventure in Kiptopeke State Park or the Eastern Shore of Virginia National Wildlife Refuge. When it’s time for nourishment, find comfort at Cape Charles Coffee House or get the “fresh and local” entrees at The Shanty.

LOVEwork in Cape Charles
The Shanty. Photo by CameronDavidson@CameronDavidson.com.
Cape Charles

 

 

— CLIFTON —

Sorry, celebs and Washington elite, your secret hideaway is no longer a secret. Clifton is a National Historic District that dates to 1868 when it was originally called Devereux Station. You’ll likely be pleasantly surprised to note the absence of a stoplight in Clifton. There’s simply no need for one. It’s a walk into the past with amazing present-day taste. Connect with a local and inquire as to the whereabouts of the house on Main Street in which the screenplay for Sleepless in Seattle was written, then visit Paradise Springs Winery for a tasting and a bit of history in a beautiful setting. If you have the kids with you, check out Adventure Links at Hemlock Overlook Regional Park. It’s a great place to burn off some energy. For dinner, there’s no place like Trummer’s on Main.

Trummers on Main
Trummer's on Main
Paradise Springs Winery

 

C&O Railway Heritage Center— CLIFTON FORGE —

Like many other small towns in Virginia, Clifton Forge originated as a rail town. Visit the C&O Railway Heritage Center for insight on how the Chesapeake and Ohio influenced life in Clifton Forge. To enjoy the full-on railroad effect, seek out The Red Caboose, a Veteran owned restaurant crafting daily “meat and two” specials from fresh local ingredients.

 

— FLOYD —

Floyd, Virginia is the quintessential destination for music lovers seeking an authentic experience. There’s nothing glamorous about Floyd. It’s not Vegas, baby; it’s dirt-real with spur-of-the-moment porch pickin’, homemade food, handcrafted arts and crafts, and good, friendly people. Your must see’s, do’s and eat’s include the Floyd Country Store (home of the Friday Nite Jamboree), Blue Ridge Restaurant (homemade country dining for 80+ years), Historic Pine Tavern (family-style dining since 1927), and the cool artisan opportunities.

Floyd Country Store
Rhythm Fire Cultural Dance Company
Blue Ridge Restaurant

 

Barrett's Landing Riverfront Park— FRANKLIN —

A one-time rail and steamboat hub, Franklin sits along Blackwater River, a tributary of the Albemarle Sound around North Carolina’s Outer Banks. Fewer than 25 miles west of Suffolk, this proud Main Street Community features antique and gift shops alongside mainstay restaurants. Check out Barrett’s Landing Riverfront Park for access to the river for fishing and simply enjoying the outdoors.

* Virginia Main Street Community *

 

— FRONT ROYAL —

With the Blue Ridge Mountains as a beautiful backdrop, Front Royal is an access point for Shenandoah National Park, a launching point on the Shenandoah River, and the entrance to Skyline Caverns, one of the only places to see rare Anthrodites. It’s also home to the unique Apartment 2g restaurant, which is literally five dining rooms comprised of former apartments. The restaurant is led by former Inn at Little Washington chefs David and Stacy Gedney. Reservations are required, so plan ahead. L’Dees Pancake House is the place for hometown dining.

Downtown Front Royal
Downtown Front Royal
Downtown Front Royal

 

— GALAX —

Galax boasts the largest and oldest Old Time Bluegrass Fiddler’s Convention in the world. In fact, during the 80th annual event this August, an attempt will be made to reclaim the Guiness World Record for the largest mandolin ensemble ever! If you’re in town on a Friday night, head to the Rex Theater where they’re broadcasting a live radio show that you can be present for. Locate the unique-to-Galax LOVEwork to capture the essence of what this town is about. Get an affordable but tasty hometown meal at Scoots and then top it off with a specialty coffee or pastry at Cones N Coffee.

Rex Theater
Jam Session
Scoots

— GATE CITY —

Vintage and antique seekers will enjoy a stroll through Gate City, so named for its role as the gateway into Virginia from Kingsport, Tennessee. If an old mercantile, family owned restaurants and a walk through time sound like a treasure of a day, then this is your place at a slow pace. Enjoy pastries from The Family Bakery and an authentic short-order lunch at Hob-Nob Drive-In. There’s also a special LOVEwork in Gate City for you to find!

Clinch Mountain Merchant LLC
Hob-Nob Drive-In
The Family Bakery

 

 

— MARION —

One of the country’s last remaining Art Deco Mayan Revival theaters can be found in Marion, Virginia. The Lincoln Theatre is akin to an art museum with six giant, intricate murals lining the auditorium; a must see! While you’re visiting, find and purchase a Mountain Dew soft drink. It’s a simple thing, really, but did you know that it was created by William “Bill” Jones right there in Marion? Jones sold his creation to Pepsico in 1964. Shopping and dining are plentiful enough in Marion. For barbecue, Wolfe’s. For a Marion original, a dip dog at Dip Dog Stand. Aerosmith band members have had one and you should, too. Don’t forget to purchase and take home a bottle of Virginia Sweetwater Moonshine from Appalachian Mountain Spirits!

* Virginia Main Street Community *

Dip Dog Stand
Appalachian Mountain Spirits' Virginia Sweetwater Distillery
The Lincoln Theatre

 

— MARTINSVILLE —

NASCAR roars twice each year at nearby Martinsville Speedway in Ridgeway, but the city of Martinsville itself is an artisan community. Main Street is vibrant with art walks (find the murals!) and a farmers’ market. Enjoy more of the outdoors when you borrow a bike for free to enjoy a ride along the Dick & Willie Passage Rail Trail.

* Virginia Main Street Community *

Dick & Willie
Martinsville Artisan
Martinsville Farmers' Market

 

— MATHEWS —

Mathews is a historic maritime community with the Chesapeake Bay as its main point of scenic beauty. Sunrises are stellar. Enjoy it from your own vessel along the Mathews Blueways Water Trails or from New Point Comfort Nature Preserve. A surprise experience for a Bay town is Donk’s Theater, dubbed “Virginia’s Lil Ole Opry,” hosting bi-monthly country music shows. When the hunger pangs kick in, eat well at The White Dog Bistro, an upscale experience in a Georgian mansion. Or for the local flare, head to Richardson’s Cafe where the soda fountain counter is still ready and waiting for you to sidle up.

Richardson's Cafe
New Point Comfort Nature Preserve
The White Dog Bistro

 

— MIDDLEBURG —

Middleburg is a beautiful gem in Virginia horse country. Rolling pastures and beautiful board fences usher you into the quaint town dotted with brick and stone buildings. There’s a boutique on every corner and farm-fresh dining each way you turn. Washingtonians enjoy this escape and you certainly will, too. Your “musts” include dining at Red Fox Inn Restaurant just as Jackie Kennedy Onassis did, trying on hats (if not buying one) at Lou Lou Too, and sampling the wines of Middleburg’s five wineries.

Boxwood Winery
Middleburg Shopping
The Red Fox Inn

 

— PURCELLVILLE —

Purcellville is your destination for an abundance of wineries in one concentrated area, but it’s more than that. As the saying goes, Purcellville is “everybody’s home town,” because it has cool mid-1700s history, cute shops, and a genuine welcoming vibe. The businesses are overwhelmingly local-owned; rest assured that you’ll be graciously received. On your grand tour, seek out the LOVEwork for a photo, tip back a pint at one of the two breweries, or maybe try something harder at Catoctin Creek Distillery. For dining, the patio at farm-to-table Grandale Restaurant is a great option. Something a little more simple but also locally sourced would be a juicy burger at Market Burger Fries & Shakes.

Washington & Old Dominion Railroad Regional Park
Grandale Restaurants
Sunset Hills Vineyard

 

— RADFORD —

Radford has so many outdoor opportunities with the New River as its centerpiece, and it has a quirkiness to it since it’s also a college town. Specialty shops abound and you can find a good mix of chain and local eateries. Glencoe Museum is a popular stop for history buffs while St. Albans Sanatorium is where you can go to get a little freaked out. It’s been called the “most active location on the East Coast” by experienced paranormal teams. Eek!

Radford and the New River
St. Albans Sanatorium
The New River

 

— SOUTH BOSTON —

Small town South Boston is where you’ll find the NASCAR sanctioned South Boston Speedway, a track that spurred the careers of retired drivers Ward and Jeff Burton. But South Boston is more than motorsports. Enjoy performing arts at The Prizery and then peruse the South Boston – Halifax County Museum of Fine Arts and History, home to permanent exhibits like one dedicated to Virginia’s 55th Governor, William M. Tuck. For dining, check out Bistro 1888, a AAA Three Diamond restaurant. Smokin’ Jake’s House of BBQ is a casual eatery with delicious southern sides like collards, fried green tomatoes and hushpuppies.

* Virginia Main Street Community *

The Prizery
South Boston Speedway
Bistro 1888

 

— ST. PAUL —

The hub of Virginia’s most recent multi-use trail system, The Spearhead Trails, St. Paul is a pioneer river town with fun history (saloon uproars, anyone?) and more outdoor adventure than you can shake a stick at. The Clinch River is a water lover’s paradise with tremendous fishing and paddle sports. It’s also the home of about 50 species of mussels — more than any other river in the world! St. Paul is seeing a revitalization with historic and ecologic preservation, as well as economic growth. Get a taste of the local flavor at Riverside Diner, and be sure to indulge in a homemade dessert.

* Virginia Main Street Community *

Clinch River Adventures
Clinch River Adventures
Spearhead Trail

 

— URBANNA —

Urbanna‘s claim to fame is hosting Virginia’s official oyster festival, the Urbanna Oyster Festival, held each November. Visit other times of the year to see special things like the 1755 John Mitchel Map, called “the most important map in American history.” The walking tour will highlight important historical sites and Chesapeake Bay Oyster Company will be waiting to serve you their fresh, signature Parrot Island Oysters™!

Chesapeake Bay Oyster Company
Urbanna Scottish Factor Store Museum
Urbanna Oyster Festival

 

— WINCHESTER —

Most people call it Winchester but you may call it Apple Country. Winchester was Patsy Cline‘s hometown and once you visit, you’ll fall in love with it, too. Head to Old Town and enjoy great dining on the pedestrian mall, then check out the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley. Spring’s blooms are breathtaking and the Glen Burnie Gardens at the museum will show off and delight. If those aren’t enough, plan to visit during the annual Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival, now entering its 88th year.

* Virginia Main Street Community *

Patsy Cline Historic House
Apple Blossom Festival
Old Town Winchester

 

Can you think of 22 MORE great small towns in Virginia? Leave a comment to give a shout-out!

 * Virginia Main Street Communities *


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Five Virginia Weddings Martha Stewart LOVED

Five Virginia Weddings Martha Stewart LOVED

We all know Martha Stewart has great taste, so it’s no surprise she’s featured so many gorgeous Virginia weddings in the super-stylish Martha Stewart Weddings magazine.

From whimsical winery weddings to historic backdrops to say “I Do”, you’re sure to have the wedding of your dreams in Virginia—just like these couples did. Here are five of the Virginia weddings Martha Stewart loved, and we’re sure you will, too. After all, “it’s a very good thing” to get married in Virginia.

 

Keswick Hall - Photo Credit Jose Villa

Keswick Hall. Photo Credit Jose Villa

A ROMANTIC CREAM-AND-IVORY WEDDING AT A HISTORIC VIRGINIA HOTEL

A Virginia belle living in New York City returns to her roots at this elegant Keswick Hall wedding in Keswick, VA.  The historic hotel offers a gorgeous backdrop for weddings, and also has plenty of activities on-site for your guests, including the new Pete Dye-designed golf course, a spa, tennis, outdoor swimming pool, and four restaurants and bars.

Maximum Capacity: 350
Style: Country, Garden, Vintage
Wedding Events: Ceremony, Reception

Main Street Station - Photo Credit Sincerely Liz

Main Street Station. Photo Credit Sincerely Liz

A HARLEM RENAISSANCE-INSPIRED WEDDING IN RICHMOND, VIRGINIA

This dapper couple chose the historic Main Street Station in Richmond for their Harlem Renaissance inspired wedding. Located in the heart of downtown Richmond, Main Street Station offers the perfect blend of urban chic and historic elegance. Within walking distance of many lodging and dining options, this is the perfect location for couples looking for a city feel.

Maximum Capacity: 250
Style: City, Eclectic, Vintage
Wedding Events: Bridal Shower, Ceremony, Engagement Party, Reception

Veritas Vineyards. Photo Credit Simply Bloom Photography

Veritas Vineyards. Photo Credit Simply Bloom Photography

A VINTAGE AND WHIMSICAL PINK WEDDING IN VIRGINIA

These two chose the gorgeous backdrop of Veritas Vineyard & Winery to say “I do.” Virginia boasts more than 250 wineries, with nearly half of them offering weddings services. Veritas is located in the heart of Charlottesville’s wine country, and offers stunning vistas of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Maximum Capacity: 250
Style: Classic, Rustic
Wedding Events: Ceremony, Reception

Berry Hill Estate - Photo Credit Nick Pironio for Missy McLamb Photographers

Berry Hill Estate. Photo Credit Nick Pironio for Missy McLamb Photographers

A CASUAL GRAY, YELLOW, AND IVORY WEDDING OUTDOORS IN VIRGINIA

This sweet couple chose the historic Berry Hill Estate in South Boston for their rustic, beautiful wedding ceremony. This national landmark welcomed its first guests in 1728 and is nestled amongst tree-lined forest covering 650 acres. This resort combines history and tradition with a seemingly endless array of indoor and outdoor activities for your guests, while offering a historic and breathtaking backdrop for your wedding.

Maximum Capacity: 350
Style: Classic, Country, Garden
Wedding Events: Ceremony, Reception

For more wedding inspiration, see Weddings in Virginia.

 


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Christmas in February: The End!

Christmas in February: The End!

It’s the final day of Christmas in February. We’re blowing it out today. We’re giving away everything until it’s gone. We’ve got prints, Capital Ale House gift cards, Richmond 2015 swag, mugs, RVA stickers, all kinds of stuff.   Want some? Follow these easy instructions! 1. Subscribe to the blog! 2. (optional) Follow us on…

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Instagram Takeover: Creativedogmedia

Instagram Takeover: Creativedogmedia

Creativedogmedia is taking over our Instagram this week. Let’s learn about them! Who are you? Thanks for having me this week. I am Daryl Watkins and I own Creative Dog Media™.  I’ve been a photographer for 15+ years (with approximately a year of aerial experience using a quadcopter) and also part owner and VP of…

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Top 5 Things We’re Daydreaming About in the Frozen Tundra

Top 5 Things We’re Daydreaming About in the Frozen Tundra

We know that daylight savings time is a few weeks away. We know that it will get warmer, we’re just having a hard time believing it. Here are the Top 5 Things We’re Daydreaming About in the Frozen Tundra of the Richmond Region:   1. Dominion Riverrock May 15-17 – If you like outdoor sports,…

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Five Can’t-Miss I-95 Detours

Five Can’t-Miss I-95 Detours

The next time you’re traveling Interstate 95, take a detour for fun, great food and true Virginia experiences.

 

Mill House Museum, Occoquan

Mill House Museum, Occoquan

— OCCOQUAN —

The sweet 18th century mill town of Occoquan is situated along the Occoquan River, a Potomac River tributary. Hop off I-95 at exit 160 and treat yourself to a glance back in time. The historic buildings house more than 100 art galleries and boutiques, and great dining.

Your first stop into town should be at Mom’s Apple Pie. It feels like a country general store and offers freshly baked treats. You might need to stop again on the way out of town. You know, to have a snack for the road.

Don’t Miss:

– Madigan’s Waterfront Restaurant has deck seating perfect for warm weather and sunshine. (more dining)
– Step aboard for Boat Tours on the Occoquan River. Tours depart from Occoquan Regional Park in Lorton.

ALSO SEE: Five Out-of-the-Way Places to Explore in Northern Virginia

 

Prince William Forest National Park

Prince William Forest National Park

— TRIANGLE —

Triangle is the home of the National Museum of the Marine Corps and is a seven-mile hop-skip-jump from Quantico, which you’ve no doubt heard of if you watch any kind of prime time crime. Exit 150 is where you want to go. As you approach the exit, you’ll see an interestingly shaped building jutting above the trees. That’s the Marine Corps Museum, and it should be your first stop.

Don’t Miss:

– The 12,000-acre one-time World War II covert ops training ground now known as Prince William Forest National Park is tucked quietly away and feels a world away for those accustomed to the hustle and bustle of metro Washington, D.C. life. Among other things, this acreage was also a child relief camp during the Great Depression, a pyrite mine, the 1865 free African American community of Batestown, and the hunting and fishing grounds of the Doeg. There are 37 miles of hiking trails, cabins, and even backcountry camping (hike-in/hike-out).
– Quantico National Cemetery is the final resting place of decorated war heroes, four-star generals, and famed Mt. Suribachi, Iwo Jima flag-raising photographer Louis Lowery.

 

Historic Fredericksburg

Historic Fredericksburg

— FREDERICKSBURG —

“Dripping in history” is how I would describe Fredericksburg. We’ve recently highlighted a popular must-see, and the points below are great additions.

Don’t Miss:

– The James Monroe Museum honors our fifth United States President. See pieces from the 1,600+ collection and enjoy the galleries, garden and gift shop.
– The National Civil War Life Museum includes an impressive collection of soldier and civilian relics, life size dioramas, a 3-D theater, and the opportunity to have your photo taken via glass-plate.
– If you have an appreciation for artisans and their crafts, a stop at LibertyTown Arts is a must. You’ll likely come across the artists at work!
– Take a cue from the locals and eat where they eat. Try Mason-Dixon Cafe for lunch and follow it up with Carl’s Frozen Custard, a Fredericksburg institution dating to the 1950s.

 

Hanover Tavern

Hanover Tavern

— HANOVER —

Virginia is dotted with Founding Father history and Hanover is a key dot, if you will. Take exit 92 east on Patrick Henry Highway. That’s a give away, right? In this area you’ll find historic sites related to Patrick Henry, like Hanover Tavern, which was once owned by his wife’s parents and is one of only a few surviving colonial-period taverns. You can eat there, too! Make a reservation.

Don’t Miss:

– Hanover Courthouse was where Patrick Henry argued the Parsons’ Cause in 1763, which some nod to as a jumping off point for the American Revolution.
– The Hanover Tomato Festival is held annually on the second Saturday in July. If you’re timing coincides, do stop and enjoy this nationally-known delight.

To continue your Patrick Henry-inspired detour …

– Take Route 301 south to 643, followed by a left on Route 1750 to Historic Polegreen Church. It’s about 11 miles from Hanover Courthouse.
– From Polegreen, continue to drive south on Route 643 to pick up Route 360 south. You’ll take 360 all the way into Richmond where you’ll take a left on East Broad Street. Drive seven blocks to find St. John’s Church on the right. It was at St. John’s that Patrick Henry delivered his “give me liberty or give me death” speech on March 23, 1775, which is reenacted Sundays from late May through early September.
– Hungry? You passed Patrick Henry’s Pub & Grille on the way up the hill to the church. Try The Patrick Henry Burger. It’s eight ounces of Angus beef topped with lettuce, tomato, mayo, and/or your choice of 22 other flavorful additions.

 

Henricus Historical Park

Henricus Historical Park

— CHESTER —

Shortly after the founding of Jamestown, the Citie of Henricus was founded. It was 1611 and Sir Thomas Dale found himself settling one of the first successful English settlements in the New World. The “success” wouldn’t last, however, as a raid by the Powhatan destroyed the village in 1622. Pocahontas grew up along those same James River banks at Henricus and it was at Henricus that she converted to Christianity, was baptized, and took the name Rebecca. Henricus’ demise in 1622 abruptly ended the peace treaty Pocahontas had been able to arrange between her people and the colonists.

Don’t Miss:

– Half Way House Restaurant, a Richmond area tradition since 1760. Esteemed guests have included George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Robert E. Lee, and many others. You’ll be delighted with the fine dining you’ll find at this authentic manor house.
– The Dutch Gap Conservation Area is an 810-acre playground that includes opportunities for kayaking, canoeing, wildlife watching, fishing, hiking and biking. Park Map


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Top 5 Shops to Get Your Geek On

Top 5 Shops to Get Your Geek On

We’re a long four months away from Wizard World Richmond rolling back into town in July. The good news is that the Richmond Region has great stores for all your comic book, Magic: the Gathering, Settlers of Catan, Pokemans, Anime and video game needs. Here is our list of Top 5 Shops to Get your…

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Laissez les Bon Temps Rouler! It’s Mardi Gras in Virginia!

Laissez les Bon Temps Rouler! It’s Mardi Gras in Virginia!

Whether you call it Fat Tuesday, Carnival(e) or Mardi Gras, you can get in on the festivities in Virginia. Get your pre-Lent fill at a great Cajun restaurant, nosh on tasty king cake, and even twirl a parasol in a Second Line Parade in Virginia.

 

Starr Hill Mardi Gras Celebration

Starr Hill Mardi Gras Celebration

— 2015 MARDI GRAS EVENTS —

February 13 – Floyd – Floyd Mardi Gras Costume Ball at Pine Tavern – Four bands, prizes, silent auction, craft beer from Parkway Brewing, and a special Mardi Gras menu from the Pine Tavern Restaurant. A Kiddy Gras Pajama Party will be going on simultaneously at Blue Mountain School. Drive home safe with a Designated Driver ticket, or forget the drive with a Stay & Dine Package from Pine Tavern Lodge.

February 13-17 – Alexandria – Mardi Gras Masks for Multiple Sclerosis at The Fish Market – Freshly steamed crawfish, seafood gumbo, shrimp étouffée, Cruzan Rum Hurricanes and more! While you’re there, contribute to Multiple Sclerosis by purchasing and signing a mardi gras mask. The Mardi Gras celebration comes to an epic conclusion on the 17th with a Fat Tuesday Party featuring drink specials and live music by Lenny Burridge.

February 14 & 17 – Richmond – Mardi Gras RVA – Two parades, one motorized and one on-foot, are happening in Richmond! Come catch some beads or join the fun in the walking parade on Fat Tuesday. After the parades there will be performances at Dogtown Dance Theatre.

February 15 – Lexington – Mardi Gras Week at The Georges – Don’t miss Lexington’s first ever Second Line Parade February 15! Dress up, bring a parasol and laissez les bon temps rouler! The Georges and Haywood’s are celebrating all week with menu and drink specials.

February 17 – Alexandria – Fat Tuesday Fete at Jackson 20 – Live Zydeco, good gumbo, crawfish boil, drink specials and prizes!

February 17 – Nellysford – Mardi Gras at Wild Wolf Brewing – Celebrate Fat Tuesday with creole inspired specials and festivities, including a special glass, and a prize to the best costume of the night!

February 17 – Nellysford – Fat Tuesday Mardi Gras Celebration at Oceanwide Seafood Bar and Grill – Live music, special menu additions including Shrimp and Chicken Gumbo, Crawfish or Shrimp Boil, Muffaletta, Seafood Etouffee, Beignets and Pralines. Drink specials throughout the night!

February 17 – Richmond – Fat Tuesday Soiree at Southern Season – $29 prix fixe menu will include Black Tea Smoked Duck Jambalaya, Carolina Gold Rice, Andouille Sausage, Head on Prawns and more. Small plates will also be available ($9 to $14). Book Now

February 17 – Richmond – Slow Cooker Mardi Gras Feast at Southern Season – Learn from Chef Kendra Bailey Morris as she teaches this festive class using recipes from her recent book, The Southern Slow Cooker.

February 17 – Roseland – Fat Tuesday Celebration at Devils Backbone – What better way to celebrate Mardi Gras than jambalaya and king cake! Don’t forget to wear your beads! 

February 17 – Virginia Beach – Fat Tuesday Masquerade Party at Twist – Themed heavy hors d’oeuvres, drink specials, masks and beads included with ticket.

February 20 – Free Union – Mardi Gras at Glass House Winery – Music by Beleza, performing live from 7-10pm. 

February 21 – Crozet – Starr Hill Mardi Gras Celebration – Brews, beads, buds, and Big Easy Metro Food Truck, too, serving up some of the best Creole and Cajun dishes north of New Orleans.

February 21 – Lexington – Mardi Gras Masquerade Ball at Robert E. Lee Hotel – Wear your mask, enjoy the live music and hors d’oeuvres, and maybe win a prize! Rooms are available for those who wish to make a night of it.

February 28 – Culpeper – Downtown Culpeper Carnivale –  Fun for the entire family including live music, street performers, performing artists, New Orleans inspired food, face-painting, and mask decorating. Enjoy the traditions of Mardi Gras with beads and masks for all. 

 

Bayou Bakery King Cake

Bayou Bakery King Cake

— BEIGNETS AND KING CAKE —

Rest assured that you’re going to get the best quality king cake and beignets available when you visit Bayou Bakery in Arlington. Chef David Gaus is New Orleans-born and is a go-to chef for NBC’s The Today Show. The Bayou Bakery website boasts of his “BB” King Cake, it “has received some ‘sugah’ in Garden & Gun, Southern Living, and The Washington Post, which named Bayou Bakery’s confection one of the top five King Cakes in the country.” See the full menu of lunch, brunch, dinner and fine, fine pastries.

** Don’t miss the Bayou Gras Block Party Tuesday, February 17! It coincides with Clarendon’s annual Mardi Gras Parade.

 

You can see the French Quarter inspiration at Magnolia Kitchen in Norton.

You can see the French Quarter inspiration at Magnolia Kitchen in Norton.

— CAJUN AND CREOLE DINING EXPERIENCES — 

Manassas – Okra’s uses local ingredients to bring the spice of Louisiana to Virginia. The atmosphere matches the feel with live Blues, Jazz and Zydeco performances. Let your mouth water as mine did when you read their menu.

Richmond – Lady N’awlins Cajun Cafe is “just 1,004 miles north of the French Quarter”, they like to say, yet you can find the same great eats in Richmond as you can in N’awlins. Collards, gumbo, hush puppies, oysters, crawfish, shrimp, beignets, crepes … the list goes on.
** Don’t miss the Lady N’awlins Mardi Gras Block Party on February 17! The party will roar from noon to 2 a.m.

Blacksburg – Boudreaux’s invites you to come and be among friends in a casual environment with a great menu.

Alexandria – RT’s has been serving Cajun and Creole for 25+ years, including spicy she-crab soup, creole alligator stew and crawfish etouffée.

Charlottesville – Fig Bistro & Bar offers a fine gourmet approach to their New Orleans influenced cuisine, but you’ll still find the good stuff like crawfish, Cajun shrimp and mash pirogue, salmon, and more.

Leesburg – The Cajun Experience has a full-fledged Louisiana menu waiting for you, and live music to boot! Menu favorites include Café Du Monde beignets, red beans and andouille, and gumbos and poboys a’plenty.

Norton – Magnolia Kitchen is a gem of Creole delight in Virginia’s Heart of Appalachia. The bread is freshly baked at Gambino’s in New Orleans and flown in to go perfectly with those poboys. Wrap up a hearty meal with bananas foster.

Alexandria – 219 Restaurant is an upscale French-Creole restaurant in Old Town complete with a cigar lounge boasting entertainment and an impressive cigar list. The menu includes shrimp risotto, jambalaya, chicken and waffles, collard greens and fried green tomatoes.

Roanoke – The Quarter can be found in Roanoke’s downtown market area in a renovated historic building. Classics like shrimp and grits, red beans and rice, gumbo and bread pudding are on the menu.

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Virginia: Where Presidents Stay & Play

Virginia: Where Presidents Stay & Play

Claiming eight United States Presidents, of course presidents have eaten, slept, and strode all over Virginia and in the obvious places, but what about later presidents? The ones who weren’t born in Virginia? Take a glance through history to see the interesting places United State Presidents pop up.

 

The Omni Homestead Resort

The Omni Homestead Resort

— THE OMNI HOMESTEAD RESORT —

Located in Hot Springs, Virginia and dating to 1766, The Omni Homestead Resort has been rebuilt after a 1901 fire, added onto under various owners, and remains a quintessential destination for Southern hospitality. The dignitaries and debutantes that have graced those grand halls are numerous and include 22 U.S. Presidents (Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Woodrow Wilson, Dwight Eisenhower, James McKinley, William Taft, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton are among them) and The Duke and Duchess of Windsor whom stayed for 30 days. Suites and restaurants are named in honor of several of these visitors.

 

Inn at the Crossroads

Inn at the Crossroads

— INN AT THE CROSSROADS —

A legitimate 1817 tavern that has never had any other purpose than to cater to travelers, Inn at the Crossroads in North Garden has welcomed presidents and will welcome you, too.

According to the current owners, “In the spring of 1823, a meeting between Thomas Jefferson and Martin Van Buren was held in the Dabney Carr room which was the private dining room at the time. Jefferson was either traveling to or from Poplar Forest to be with his grandson Frances Eppes and his family. Teddy Roosevelt visited the tavern for supper following a day of birding while visiting his beloved Pine Knot. Franklin Delano Roosevelt made a visit to the tavern in 1936 when he made a speech from the front porch prior to dedicating the George Washington National Forest.”

 

The Jefferson Hotel

The Jefferson Hotel

— THE JEFFERSON HOTEL —

A grand dame of a Southern hotel, The Jefferson Hotel in Richmond has been a go-to for the glamorous and famous since 1895, even through a couple of fires, exchanges of ownership, additions and renovations. Esteemed guests have included a host of presidents, including Benjamin Harrison, William McKinley, Woodrow Wilson, Calvin Coolidge, William Howard Taft, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton (post presidency for the inauguration of Virginia Governor Terrence McAuliffe), and Barack Obama. Additional guests are numerous and include Vanderbilts, Sir Edmund Hilary, Charlie Chaplin, Ray Charles, Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley.

1811 Historic Rosemont Manor

1811 Historic Rosemont Manor

— 1811 HISTORIC ROSEMONT MANOR —

Berryville’s Rosemont Manor is an elegant destination for anyone, but has a history of being a getaway retreat for presidents and celebrities. Once owned by Governor and U.S. Senator Harry Flood Byrd, Sr., Rosemont’s twelve suites are named for some of its more prominent guests. Specifically, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson (while U.S. Senator), Charles Lindbergh, Sir Winston Churchill, and Albert Einstein. Yes, Einstein. So cool. It is reported that Richard Nixon was also a guest at Rosemont, but apparently the owners ran out of suites to name.

 

— WEXFORD —

While this is not a place you can visit or stay, I’m hoping to see it made available as a bed and breakfast one day. Wexford is the only home that President and Mrs. Kennedy designed and built from the ground up, and it’s located near Middleburg, Virginia. The estate is currently on the market and includes much of its original features like parquet flooring, stable, bunker and Secret Service dependencies. See the video below – a great glimpse of the Kenendy’s at Wexford in 1963. Note that the estate was also called Rattlesnake Mountain and Atoka. It was not until after President Kennedy’s passing that Mrs. Kennedy called it Wexford in honor of her husband’s Irish heritage.

An additional note about Wexford: President and Mrs. Reagan leased the property during his presidential campaign in 1980 and also spent time there prior to inauguration.

Video courtesy John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. Refresh page if not appearing.

 

Red Fox Inn & Tavern

Red Fox Inn & Tavern

— RED FOX INN & TAVERN —

One Kennedy related place you can stay and dine is Red Fox Inn & Tavern in Middleburg. According to the Inn’s website, “The J.E.B. Stuart Room once served as the stage for a rare press conference by President Kennedy and as a meeting room for hopeful Democrats hosted by Ambassador Pamela Harriman, a local foxhunting resident. Elizabeth Taylor often graced the Tap Room both during the courtship and after her marriage to a local gentleman, Senator John Warner. The lovely and kind Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis frequently stayed at the Inn during foxhunting holidays each fall.”

 

— RAPIDAN CAMP —

Before Camp David, President Herbert Hoover saw the need for a “Summer White House” and sought out to create one. President and Mrs. Hoover built their Rapidan Camp retreat in early 1929 on 164 acres on the Eastern Slope of the Blue Ridge Mountains in what is today’s Shenandoah National Park. Rapidan Camp was comprised of 13 rustic cabins constructed over a period of years by the Marine Corps as part of training exercises. Mrs. Hoover hired the architect and helped design the camp. Guests of the Hoover’s while at Rapidan Camp included Charles Lindbergh, Mrs. Thomas Edison, Mr. and Mrs. Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. and British Prime Minister Ramsay McDonald.

In 1932 the Hoover’s donated the camp to the Commonwealth of Virginia and asked that it be made available to future presidents, which it was. President Jimmy Carter was the last to use it. All that remains of Rapidan Camp are three buildings; two are restored to their 1929 appearance and are accessible by a ranger-led tour in Shenandoah National Park.

Do you have additional information on this topic? Feel free to leave a comment to help us add to the list!


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Virginia’s Presidential Wine

Virginia’s Presidential Wine

Wine, Virginia and presidents are all beautifully intertwined. Grape growing began in 1619 with the Twelfth Act, a mandate by the House of Burgesses which required land owners to plant and maintain ten vines. Some of America’s earliest vineyards were once located on the same soil as modern day vineyards like The Williamsburg Winery in Williamsburg and Philip Carter Winery in Hume. It is Thomas Jefferson, however, whom history most remembers for trying and failing to successfully grow the grapes to create the wines of Europe.

Colle, the site of Philip Mazzei's vineyards and now Jefferson Vineyards.

Colle, the site of Philip Mazzei’s vineyards, now Jefferson Vineyards.

Jefferson Vineyards in Charlottesville is the site of the original vineyards of Philip Mazzei, an Italian viticulturist whom received from Thomas Jefferson 193 acres adjacent to Monticello. According to Jefferson Vineyards, Mazzei was able to produce wine from six varieties of native grapes, but the vineyard was destroyed in 1778. The vineyard was replanted in 1981 by Virginia wine pioneer Gabriele Rausse and wine was available by 1984.

 

— WINE IN THE WHITE HOUSE —

Virginia wine has made it onto the table at The White House. Several times, actually. Just prior to Valentine’s Day in 2014, President Barack Obama hosted a State Dinner and served a Virginia wine, NV Thibaut-Jannison Blanc de Chardonnay, to French President François Hollande. It wasn’t the first time President Obama has chosen the Blanc de Chardonnay. He and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh enjoyed a glass during the President’s first State Dinner in 2009. The Thibaut-Jannison wines are not available in a tasting room, but you may find a retailer to purchase a bottle.

Additional Wines Served in The White House:

 

DuCard's Montpelier Wine Program

DuCard’s Montpelier Wine Program

— PRESIDENTIAL & PATRIOTIC —

Barboursville Vineyards in Barboursville crafts specially bottled wines for Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello: Monticello Claret, Monticello Octagon, Monticello Vin Blanc, Monticello Chardonnay and Monticello Malvasia.

DuCard Vineyards in Etlan has created limited edition James and Dolley Madison wines. James Madison’s Constitutional is a red wine while Dolley Madison’s High Society is a white. Purchase together as a boxed set and a portion of the proceeds goes directly to The Montpelier Foundation.

Little Washington Winery in Washington has a signature red, a Meritage, called “George” after the one and only George Washington. It was named Best Wine in Show at Virginia Wine Showcase and tied with Barboursville Octagon for the number one red wine in Virginia by Virginia Wine Lovers Magazine.

A visit to Democracy Vineyards in Lovingston will deliver wine names pointing to freedom. For example, Declaration is the signature white, Dawn’s Light is a rosé, Constitution is a Viognier and Petit Manseng blend, and Emancipation is a blend of Pinotage and Merlot. Cheers to the red, white and blue!

 

Thomas Jefferson Wine Festival at Poplar Forest

Thomas Jefferson Wine Festival at Poplar Forest

— WINE FESTIVALS AT PRESIDENTS’ HOMES —

 

Do you have information about this topic? Please feel free to leave a comment.


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From “George” to “Martha,” the Historic Hotels of I-81 have Returned to their Glory

From “George” to “Martha,” the Historic Hotels of I-81 have Returned to their Glory

A century ago in towns throughout America the downtown hotel was the center of social activity for locals and favored destinations for visitors. But as business gradually moved out to the suburbs those grand old hotels faded into disuse, misuse and neglect. Happily, the glory of the old hotels has been resurrected in splendid style as fabled “crown jewels” have been reborn along Virginia’s Interstate 81 and are again the pride and joy of the towns and cities they serve.

Dazzling makeovers have added the perfect amount of modern luxury and style while preserving the dignity and historic fabric of the original. Visitors and locals alike are again flocking to them. Come experience them for yourself. You’ll find plenty to see, do and eat right downtown and just off I-81, from Winchester to Abingdon and from “George” to “Martha.”

 

George Washington Hotel

George Washington Hotel

WINCHESTER

From the moment you walk into the George Washington Hotel you know you are in a special place. The well-worn marble steps leading to the lobby are testament to the many decades this beauty served the City of Winchester as THE place to stay. Now a Wyndham Grand hotel, the GW features a spa, superb restaurant and one of Virginia’s most appealing hotel bars. Just down the block is Loudoun Street Pedestrian Mall with dining, shopping and museums. Visit the Patsy Cline Historic House where the legendary singer lived until the early days of her stardom.

 

MImslyn Inn

MImslyn Inn

LURAY

The lovely town of Luray is admittedly about a 20-minute drive off I-81 but the town and its Mimslyn Inn are too irresistible to leave off this list. The Mimslyn’s perfect amenities include a spa and a “speakeasy” downstairs, complementing its “Circa ‘31” main dining room off the lobby. Luray’s downtown is a gateway to the great outdoors with outfitters, bike rentals, guided rides, hikes and birdwatching.  Excellent fly-fishing can be experienced on the nearby Shenandoah River and Luray has places that can outfit you and give you casting lessons.

 

Stonewall Jackson Hotel

Stonewall Jackson Hotel

STAUNTON

Amelia Earhart once stayed and the Stonewall Jackson Hotel and surely enjoyed the view of the city from her window. Overlooking downtown and next door to the wonderful American Shakespeare Center, the Stonewall Jackson is easy walking distance to fine restaurants, cool boutiques and a vibrant arts district. Watch live glass blowing at Sunspots Studios and bring home a treasured piece of art.

 

Robert E. Lee Hotel

Robert E. Lee Hotel

LEXINGTON

With its mountain views and central location, the Robert E. Lee Hotel is a perfect location for exploring one of the South’s most honored small towns. Two historic universities border downtown, lending a vibrancy that complements the surprising cool vibe of downtown cafes, art boutiques, fashion shops and even a downtown brewery. There’s history, too, and plenty of it. The famous Confederate general for whom the hotel is named is buried nearby as is Stonewall Jackson. A number of very well-known people are alumni of the colleges. Keep an eye peeled – you may see one of them enjoying downtown.

 

Hotel Roanoke

Hotel Roanoke

ROANOKE

The Hotel Roanoke traces its roots to before the Civil War and has served this city for generations. The hotel is a jewel, with a traditional palm court with murals, fine and casual dining and in-room spa services. An easy walk brings visitors to a vibrantly alive downtown with one of Virginia’s best open air markets along with lots of shopping and dining. Don’t miss Center in the Square or the Taubman Museum of Art. Train buffs love the O. Winston Link Museum and the Virginia Museum of Transportation.

 

Bolling Wilson Hotel

Bolling Wilson Hotel

—  WYTHEVILLE

The newest addition to this group is the Bolling Wilson Hotel. Originally the George Wythe Hotel, with its rebirth the hotel changed its name for the First Lady who was born across the street. Edith Bolling married Woodrow Wilson, America’s 28th president, while he was in office. The new First Lady exercised much influence in the White House as her husband’s health faded and she is credited with setting a standard for women in Washington. To learn more about her visit the museum in her birthplace. Have your picture taken by the “Big Pencil” in front of Wytheville Office Supply.

 

General Francis Marion Hotel

General Francis Marion Hotel

MARION

Downtown Marion is in the middle of a wonderful renaissance thanks in no small part to the presence of the General Francis Marion Hotel. Lovingly restored a decade ago, the hotel has helped spawn a resurgence of downtown. Great new restaurants and shops are springing up around the hotel, joining favorites such as Wolfe’s BBQ. There’s even a downtown moonshine distillery that offers tastings and other goodies. Another restored jewel of downtown is the fabulous Lincoln Theatre, the only surviving Mayan Revival theater east of the Mississippi. The Lincoln is home to Song of the Mountains, the award-winning concert series syndicated on PBS, and hosts live theater and national musical touring acts.

 

The Martha Hotel & Spa, Abingdon, VirginiaABINGDON

The Martha” is short for The Martha Washington Inn and Spa, but this historic hotel wants to be on a first-name basis with her guests in the style typical of Virginia hospitality. The hotel dates to before the Civil War and was also once a women’s college, but for many decades now has been a landmark hotel. Guests may relax in the evening with sherry in the hotel library or sit in rockers on the sprawling front verandah. The Martha is directly across the street from the historic Barter Theater, the State Theater of Virginia and the stage where luminaries such as Gregory Peck and Ernest Borgnine got their professional starts in theater. Rent bikes for an unforgettable ride on the Virginia Creeper Trail, one of America’s most scenic rail/trails. There’s plenty of art downtown and if you are there on the right day you’ll love the Abingdon Farmers Market.

 

 


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For the Love of Chocolate: 50+ Chocolate Craft Beers

For the Love of Chocolate: 50+ Chocolate Craft Beers

Admit it, chocolate in most any form is acceptable. In Virginia you’ll find at least 57 craft beers that are either centered around chocolate or have detectable chocolate notes. Most are available in limited quantities and are seasonal.

 

Lickinghole Creek Craft Brewery

Lickinghole Creek Craft Brewery

— RICHMOND AREA —

 

South Street Brewery

South Street Brewery

— CHARLOTTESVILLE AREA —

 

Apocalypse Ale Works

Apocalypse Ale Works

— ROANOKE AREA —

 

— VIRGINIA BEACH / WILLIAMSBURG AREA —

 

Port City Brewing Company

Port City Brewing Company

— ALEXANDRIA / ARLINGTON AREA —

 

— LEESBURG AREA —

  • Eye of Jupiter Oatmeal Stout, Belly Love, Purcellville
  • Newtown Alt, Paeonian Porter and Slainte Stout, Corcoran, Waterford
  • Biscotti Stout, Crooked Run, Leesburg
  • Woody Stout, Lost Rhino, Ashburn

 

— SHENANDOAH VALLEY —

 

— ABINGDON AREA —

  • Reason Irish Stout and Bever Fever Porter, The Damascus, Damascus
  • Chocolate Milk Stout, Wolf Hills, Abingdon

 

— MANASSAS / WARRENTON AREA —

  • Gold Cup Russian Imperial Stout, Old Bust Head, Warrenton
  • Missing Score and Chocolate Nutz, BadWolf, Manassas

 

— FREDERICKSBURG AREA —

 

See these other craft beer flavors we’ve highlighted:

As always, contact the brewery concerning availability and distribution.

Did we somehow miss your favorite chocolate flavored Virginia craft beer? Please leave a kind note!


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25 Perfect Proposal Locations in Virginia

25 Perfect Proposal Locations in Virginia

You’re thinking about asking a certain question of a special someone and you need ideas. Should you do the whole “down on bended knee” thing, drop the ring in a glass of champagne, air write your love? Well, we don’t know about those, but we can give you some ideas for locations to propose to your dearest.

 

Wintergreen Resort Sunrise Winter 2015

Wintergreen Resort Sunrise

— MOUNTAINTOP SUNRISES AND SUNSETS —

Wintergreen Resort is a four-season resort with snow sports, golf, and more, but it’s the view we’re interested in right now. Let the photo to the right speak louder than any of these words can.

Besides a photographer or hiker looking to get an early start, you shouldn’t encounter too much traffic at a Skyline Drive or Blue Ridge Parkway overlook. If you feel like hiking to have a truly unmatched experience, these are great views:

Dan Ingalls Overlook

Dan Ingalls Overlook

Whitetop Mountain is Virginia’s second highest peak and has stunning panoramic views of three states on a clear day. The highest peak, Mount Rogers, would also be an excellent choice for the hiking couple. There are wild ponies who may share in your joy!

Dan Ingalls Overlook in Bath County affords a breathtaking view complete with benches to enjoy your time together. Or catch her when she falls. *smile*

 

— WATERSIDE SUNRISES AND SUNSETS —

Pick a beach, any beach! You’ll find privacy on the Eastern Shore or at Sandbridge Beach, just south of the resort area of Virginia Beach.

Lighthouses are often a go-to for proposals as well, and Virginia has a number to choose from.

There are amazing sunrises and sunsets at Virginia’s lakes. Kerr Lake, Smith Mountain Lake and Lake Anna are the three largest lakes and have the most shoreline to situate yourself for the perfect opportunity.

 

Mill Mountain Star

Mill Mountain Star

— STARGAZING —

A quiet place where there is little to no light pollution. Does it still exist? It does! Spread a blanket and be amazed at the night sky. When the time is right (you’ll know it!), ask that one question.

Maybe it’s not about the dark and seeing real stars, but about a memorable star. If so, there’s only one: the Mill Mountain Star in Roanoke. And yes, we want to see a selfie afterward!

 

— BEAUTIFUL GARDENS —

A lush, blooming garden is a great place for a spring or summer proposal (minding your allergies, of course). These gardens come to mind when considering beautiful backdrops and settings to await a “YES!”

Eyre Hall Gardens in Cheriton on Virginia’s Eastern Shore include canopies of crape myrtles with sweet wooden benches tucked beneath, the ruins of an 1819 orangery, and plenty of other paths and beds of beauty.

Edith J. Carrier Arboretum & Botanical Gardens. Image by Frank Doherty.

Edith J. Carrier Arboretum & Botanical Gardens. Image by Frank Doherty.

At the Edith J. Carrier Botanical Gardens in Harrisonburg you’ll find a duck pond with an arched bridge. Work with a photographer (and the Garden itself) to arrange to have the moment captured forever at this magical spot.

If you love cherry blossoms, we have great news! You don’t have to go to Washington, D.C. to walk among them. Head to Red Wing Park in Virginia Beach where there are rows of these dainty pinkish-white lovelies to stroll between and drop to a knee. It’s also another great engagement portrait  location.

Gigantic trees with branches so low you can sit on them, a waterfall and other water features, flowering nooks, architecture … you can find these at Maymont in Richmond.

We wish you all the best, and a life filled with LOVE and happiness!


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Virginia: Mother of Eight Presidents and Six First Ladies

Virginia: Mother of Eight Presidents and Six First Ladies

It has been well recorded that Virginia was home to eight United States Presidents, but how about the club of First Ladies? Where have they come from and how many can Virginians embrace as our own?

In honor of Presidents’ Day, here is a tidy bit of history and fun facts about these powerful women whom partnered with powerful men.

 

“The Washington Family” by Edward Savage, 1789-1796, hangs in the Dining Room at George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate & Gardens.

— MARTHA DANDRIDGE CUSTIS WASHINGTON —

Husband: George Washington, First President of the United States of America
Born: June 2, 1731 at Chestnut Grove Plantation, New Kent County, VA
Died: May 22, 1802 at Mount Vernon, Fairfax County, VA
Sites Associated with President and Mrs. Washington

Martha Dandridge married wealthy plantation owner Daniel Parke Custis in 1749. The two had four children but only two survived past childhood. Custis died in 1757 and Martha inherited his 15,000-acre plantation. Martha wed Colonel George Washington at St. Peter’s Parish on January 6, 1759 and she and her children moved to Mount Vernon. By the time George had been elected president, Martha’s children had passed away and she gave care to her son’s children. During the presidency the Washington’s resided in New York and Philadelphia, not returning to Mount Vernon until 1797. George passed at home in December 1799 and she in 1802. Both are interred at Mount Vernon. More Information

 

Thomas Jefferson's Poplar Forest Retreat

Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest Retreat

— MARTHA WAYLES SKELTON JEFFERSON —

Husband: Thomas Jefferson, Third President of the United States of America
Born: October 19, 1748 at The Forest Plantation, Charles City County, VA
Died: September 6, 1782 at Monticello, Albemarle County, VA
Sites Associated with President and Mrs. Jefferson

Martha Wayles married planter Bathurst Skelton in 1766. Together they bore one son; Bathurst passed in 1768. In April 1772 Martha married Thomas Jefferson, a lawyer and member of the House of Burgesses. Together they moved into a cottage on the grounds of what would become Monticello. Thomas and Martha had five daughters and one son whom did not survive past infancy. As the British invaded Virginia in 1781, Martha and the children fled Monticello for their Poplar Forest retreat in Bedford. The turmoil of the invasion so taxed 16-month old Lucy that she passed away a short while later. The loss coupled with the invasion was tremendous for Thomas and he not only resigned his governorship, but rejected additional political offers. Martha’s final pregnancy likely contributed to her death. She died four months after childbirth in 1782, 19 years before Thomas Jefferson became president. More Information

 

Mrs. Andrew Jackson / engd. by J.C. Buttre. c1883.  Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

Mrs. Andrew Jackson / engd. by J.C. Buttre. c1883. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

— RACHEL DONELSON ROBARDS JACKSON —

Husband: Andrew Jackson, Seventh President of the United States of America
Born: June, 1767 near Chatham in Pittsylvania County, VA
Died: December 22, 1828 at The Hermitage Plantation, Nashville, TN

Rachel Donelson was born in Virginia but moved with her family at age 12 to a portion of the state that would later become Tennessee. In fact, her father is credited with co-founding the city of Nashville. Rachel’s first marriage occurred in 1785 to Lewis Robards. A twisted love triangle ensued when Robards claimed to find Rachel in an inappropriate relationship with lawyer Andrew Jackson. Rachel claimed physical abuse at Robards’ hand. Regardless of which story you believe, one fact remains: Rachel and Andrew were illegally married in Mississippi and a Robards divorce on the grounds of adultery followed. Later, Andrew and Rachel were legally married in Tennessee. The entire story became political fodder when Jackson pursued the presidency, opening the debate of how an ideal first lady should carry herself. The Jackson’s adopted two children and were legal guardians for eight more. Mrs. Jackson died suddenly on December 22, 1828. A recent near-fatal heart attack may have played a role. Andrew Jackson was sworn into his presidency absent his wife on March 4, 1829. More Information

 

— LETITIA CHRISTIAN TYLER —

Husband: John Tyler, Tenth President of the United States of America
Born: November 12, 1790 at Cedar Grove Plantation, New Kent County, VA
Died: September 10, 1842 at The White House, Washington, DC
Interred: Cedar Grove Cemetery, New Kent County, VA

Letitia Christian married lawyer and House of Delegates member, John Tyler, in 1813 after five years’ engagement. The two had seven children between 1815 and 1830, keeping her home to raise them and manage their properties and investments while he pursued a political career. Letitia did reside with John while he was Governor of Virginia and she spent a brief period in Washington, D.C. during his time as a U.S. Senator. John moved the family to Williamsburg in 1836; Letitia suffered a stroke in 1839 and was left partially paralyzed. In 1840 John was selected as the vice presidential candidate alongside fellow Virginian and presidential candidate William Henry Harrison. John Tyler was sworn into the office of President of the United States upon Harrison’s death in April 1841. During her time at The White House, Mrs. Tyler suffered a second stroke which ultimately led to her death on September 10, 1842. She was the first First Lady to die in The White House. It was not until after Letitia’s death that President Tyler owned Sherwood Forest in Charles City, VA. More Information

 

Mrs. Chester Arthur. Photographed between 1857 and 1870. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

Mrs. Chester Arthur. Photographed between 1857 and 1870. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

— ELLEN LEWIS HERNDON ARTHUR —

Husband: Chester Arthur, 21st President of the United States of America
Born: August 30, 1837 in Culpeper County, VA
Died: January 12, 1880 in New York, NY

Ellen Lewis Herndon was the only child of of U.S. Navy Commander William Lewis Herndon. As he was promoted, he felt the best place for his family was Washington, D.C. The Herndon’s resided in D.C. from 1842 until 1847. Ellen and her mother moved around a great deal, depending on her father’s mission and port-of-call. She lived in Fredericksburg from 1847 to 1851, D.C. from 1851-1855 and then to New York and other environs. Ellen met Chester Arthur, a lawyer, who proposed to her in 1858. Wed in 1859, the two had three children (one passing before age three) and lived a very affluent lifestyle thanks to the wealth amassed by her parents. Chester Arthur was a successful attorney who befriended the right people in high places. In fact, he did not pursue public office until accepting the Republican nomination for vice presidential candidate in 1880. His vice presidency and eventual succession into the presidency upon President James Garfield’s death are roles Mrs. Arthur did not live to see, as she fell ill with pneumonia and died January 12, 1880. More Information

 

Edith Bolling Galt Wilson. 1887.  Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

Edith Bolling Galt Wilson. 1887. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

— EDITH BOLLING GALT WILSON —

Husband: Woodrow Wilson, 28th President of the United States of America
Born: October 15, 1872 in Wytheville, VA
Died: December 1961 in Washington, D.C.
Edith Bolling Wilson Birthplace
Bolling Wilson Hotel

Born to a judge in rural southwest Virginia, Edith Bolling was the seventh of 11 children living a not-so-lavish lifestyle, but with ancestral links to the likes of Thomas Jefferson and even Pocahontas. Edith married jeweler Norman Galt in 1896 and by his death in 1908, she inherited the family business in Washington, D.C. The Galt’s had one son whom died in infancy. Through mutual friends, Edith came to meet recently widowed President Woodrow Wilson. The two were smitten in short order, and Edith Galt became First Lady Edith Wilson on December 19, 1915. The couple honeymooned at The Homestead in Hot Springs, Virginia. Mrs. Wilson was the first First Lady to travel to Europe and did so with the President for a war-time visit with troops and for the signing of the Treaty of Versailles (1918 and 1919). When President Wilson suffered a stroke in 1919, Mrs. Wilson concealed and down-played his incapacity to lead by intercepting all correspondence, choosing which matters were important enough to trouble him, and replying on his behalf. She was devoted to her husband until his death in 1924, and she worked for the rest of her life to mold the way history would view him, including saving his Staunton birthplace in 1938. More Information

 

Learn more about Virginia’s presidents, the places they lived, worshiped and visited, and about these ladies who found themselves supporting the most powerful men in the world.


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