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Show off Richmond on Instagram!

Show off Richmond on Instagram!

Outside magazine is hosting its annual Best Towns competition. They’ve already picked 60 towns, but need four more wildcards. Somehow Richmond was left off this list. This is where you come in because you can help Richmond into the competition on Instagram!     It’s super easy:   1. Tag a photo of Richmond with…

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It’s Your RVA Weekend

It’s Your RVA Weekend

In the Richmond Region for the weekend? Here’s some stuff you should do because it’s your RVA Weekend:   Mid Atlantic Beard and ‘Stache Championships When: Saturday   Where: The Canal Club   What? The Mid Atlantic Beard and ‘Stache Championships is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a facial hair competition. Put on by…

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Six MORE Virginia Glamping Destinations

Six MORE Virginia Glamping Destinations

A luxury yurt, an elaborate treehouse and three other glamping opportunities were featured in the original Five Virginia Glamping Destinations article. Since then the trend has caught on and we have found additional glamping opportunities you’ll want to consider.

As a recap, “Glamping is the desire to be in and experience ‘the outdoors’ but not really roughing it with tents, campers and equipment.”

 

— FESTIVAL GLAMPING —

Question: Would you pitch a tent at a festival?
Answer: Not when you can pay someone else to (and get access to things you wouldn’t otherwise have access to).

Glamping at Lockn'

Solid Ground Shelters tent at FloydFest

Be forewarned that many people take the glamping route when offered at festivals. These options sell out fast; don’t delay making plans.

Held annually in July, FloydFest is a five-day celebration of music and art that brings more than 50 performers to 10 stages. Four glamping opportunities are available at FloydFest:

Dancin’ Dave offers tent choices from a pup tent all the way up to a jumbo that can sleep three to five adults. They set up the tent, provide a doormat, carpet, cots, sleeping pads, nightstand, lantern, camp chair, and wash water jug. Add-ons are available. Basic cost range: $220-$400. Book Now

The Show Sherpa pitches your one- to four-person cabin style tent for you and include cots, lantern and camp chairs. If you book with them, Sherpa Village becomes available to you. There you’ll find comfortable chairs, shuttle service, daily bag of ice for your site, community kitchen, and complimentary coffee. Basic cost range: $225-$700. Book Now

Solid Ground Shelters was included in our previous post, but are also a FloydFest provider. Each deluxe tent includes power, fan, two nightstands, mattresses, linens, pillows, table and chairs, lights, and a lock. You choose whether you want a queen or two twins. Additional amenities include a bath towel for each person, access to an air conditioned restroom trailer, access to the snack and coffee lounge, and luxury bath products. Cost: $1,350. Book Now

Blue Ridge Yurts traditionally sell out well in advance of FloydFest, and that holds true for 2015. Their “pimped-out comfort” is actually a, well, pimped-out yurt suitable for two to four people. It includes furniture, rugs, open-dome ventilation, lights, electricity, stocked coolers, air conditioned restroom trailer, golf cart shuttle service, and next-to-yurt parking. Oh, and a pair of High Roller All-Access tickets worth $1,400 are also included. Cost: Unavailable. Image Gallery

Glamping at Lockn'

Glamping at Lockn’ Music Festival

Held annually in September, Lockn’ Music Festival features more than 25 bands across four days and raises the bar for glamping. When you book their glamping package, you’ll choose whether you prefer two twin beds or a queen. The minimum amenities are bedside tables, a table and two chairs, lighting and fans, electricity, and a stocked hospitality table. An upgrade will get you complimentary bath products, a Super VIP Glamping Lounge area with games, snacks, coffee and comfortable furniture, daily personal shopping service, 24 hour hospitality, and two mornings of breakfast. The cost? $1149-$1299 in addition to your VIP festival tickets, which are required to even book this accommodation. Book Now

 

— STATE PARK GLAMPING —

Kiptopeke State Park

Kiptopeke State Park

Of all of Virginia’s 36 State Parks, only one currently offers glamping in the context we’re presenting here. That being said, you never know when another will hop aboard and pop up a yurt. You have to move fast to book the yurt at Kiptopeke State Park in Cape Charles. A high demand accommodation, it sits overlooking the Chesapeake Bay on its own private deck and includes a picnic table, fire ring with cooking grate, food prep table and fresh water. Cooking is not allowed in the yurt, nor are pets or smoking. The yurt is equipped with bunk beds and a futon to accommodate six; linens are not provided. Air conditioned. A seven-night minimum stay is required for peak season (Memorial Day weekend to the last Sunday in August). Rates are $611 for Virginia residents and $719 for non-residents. More Information

 

— ROCK TAVERN RIVER KAMP —

Rock Tavern River Kamp

Rock Tavern River Kamp yurt

Luray is known as the Cabin Capital of Virginia, but the folks of Rock Tavern River Kamp are bringing a few yurts to the party. Three yurts are available, each sleeping a variation of two to six people and including modern amenities. There’s not much roughing it when you’re riverside and have a TV and appliances at hand. Kayaks, tubes, canoes and rafts are available for rent. Rates: $110-$135 per night. Book Now

 

— MARK ADDY INN GLAMOROUS CAMPING —

Mark Addy Inn

The view at The Mark Addy

The Mark Addy Inn in Nellysford is a well known bed and breakfast, but did you know they’ve added a “glamper” to their mix of accommodations? It really is a beauty, too. The glamper is a 37-foot motorhome complete with water, electric, cable TV, full bathroom with shower, fireplace, full kitchen … Oh, and WiFi. Go on over to the Inn for breakfast if you like, or the innkeepers will stock the glamper with breakfast goodies. Pets are welcome! Current Rates: $558 for two nights Book Now

 

— BLUE HAVEN 151 —

Blue Haven 151

Blue Haven 151

Kick it old school when you glamp in a vintage camper at Blue Haven 151 in Roseland. It is anticipated that this is the year you’ll be able to choose from refurbished themed vintage Airstream, Avion, Spartan, and Curtiss Wright aluminum campers. Rates: Unavailable

 

— THE DEPOT LODGE —

The Glamping Tent near Paint Bank, courtesy of TripAdvisor

This photo of The Glamping Tent near Paint Bank is courtesy of TripAdvisor.

In Paint Bank, Virginia there are bison, a really cool general store, an indoor swinging bridge, and The Depot Lodge, an accommodation that is part of a larger collection. That larger collection includes a refurbished 1967 Airstream “Land Yacht” Overland Trailer and the Glamping Tent at Crump’s Camp. The Airstream will accommodate four people with bunks and a fold-down full size bed. A bath with shower and mini-tub are a highlight, as is a TV and phone service. The Glamping Tent is actually located in Waiteville, West Virginia, just a few minutes away from Paint Bank. It boasts a private bathroom, gas fireplace, satellite TV, and your choice of king or two twin beds. A dock on Potts Pond is right outside your door and a perfect place to enjoy the view. Rate for Both: $159 per night. Book Now


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

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Top 7 Richmond Instagram Photos You Should Copy

Top 7 Richmond Instagram Photos You Should Copy

Want to get the best possible Instagram photos during your adventures in the Richmond Region? We’d advise taking a note or two from some of the fabulous Instagrammers who make Richmond look even more awesome on a daily basis. Here are the Top 7 Instagram Photos You Should Copy:     This shot from @BrianWBeard…

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Resolved: Fifteen Virginia Foodie Towns to Try in 2015 – Part 2 of 2

Resolved: Fifteen Virginia Foodie Towns to Try in 2015 – Part 2 of 2

Part One of our Fifteen Virginia Foodie Towns to try in 2015 was very well received, and we’ve heard from you that you are hungry for more.

We’ve spent some time eating and drinking our way across the state the past month or so preparing for Part Two, and here it is.

You are warned to read this with a napkin handy, as you may start to drool in anticipation of visiting these foodie finds.

We’ve got one, though, that you’re sure to make happen: explore some of the tasty offerings across the state.

This is the second of a two-part article. 

These are just some of our favorites from our journeys across Virginia to whet your whistle – please list your fabulous food findings as you make your way across the Old Dominion in the comment section below. 

 

— MIDDLEBURG —

The Vibe:

This tidy village would be as at home in the English countryside as it is the rolling Virginia Piedmont. Graceful, historic buildings in town host boutiques, beds-and-breakfasts and eateries; the surrounding landscape is the true Virginia horse country. Locavore plates with high-end appeal abound.

Must Eat/Must Drink:

Salamander Resort & Spa

– At Salamander Resort & Spa take a class in the Cooking Studio where visiting chefs interact with students to create a full range of dishes in a gorgeously-appointed kitchen.

Goodstone Inn & Restaurant

– You are in for a treat when dining at Goodstone Inn & Restaurant. Farm-to-table ingredients from nearby growers as well as the inn’s own organic herb and vegetable gardens are crafted into French Country cuisine.

Home Farm Store

Home Farm Store is a beautiful gourmet food hall with a butcher shop featuring meats from nearby Ayrshire Farm (we love that the beef, pork, veal, chicken and turkey are Certified Humane and Certified Organic). The store also features many Virginia artisan edibles, like wine, cider, honey, ham and more.

Boxwood Winery

– Visit Boxwood Winery and taste a flight of the award-winning wines or purchase by the glass, bottle or case. Four wines are offered, and while all are favorites, we especially love the dry Rose’, perfect for light fare and enjoying out on the porch.

Red Fox Inn Restaurant

– The prix-fixe Sunday brunch at the 1728 The Red Fox Inn and Tavern is a great way to ease into the day. Celebrate horse country with the Hunt Country Breakfast with cornmeal crusted pan-fried trout, scrambled eggs, smoked bacon and home fries.

 

— NORFOLK —

The Vibe:

The urban heart of Hampton Roads, Norfolk was site to the region’s first “restaurant” (1693) and Restaurant Row along Granby Street in the 1990s. Look for sophisticated offerings across downtown and Ghent from seafood-centric dishes to omnivore-pleasing vegetarian plates.

Must Eat/Must Drink:

– In Ocean View, we love Captain Groovy’s, a funky oyster bar with great food, from fried clams to oysters on the half shell, Voodoo wings (a must-try) and ice cold Red Stripe beer. Sit on the patio in warm weather.

Doumar's Cones and Barbeque

– It’s still the 50s at Doumar’s, venerable drive in which has feed the hearts and stomachs of locals for decades. Sit in your car and have hot-from-the flattop burgers, dogs and thick shakes brought out by rollerskate-clad servers. Enjoy an ice cream in a cone made on a 100-year-old machine – reportedly the first-ever.

O'Connor Brewing

– Enjoy a brew, or two, at the urban-chic O’ Connor Brewing Company tasting room smack dab next to their production line. Find your favorite, but we love the Green Can.

Todd Jurich’s Bistro has long embraced sourcing local ingredients for menu options at this downtown fine-dining eatery. We love the pumpkin and oyster stew as a start to most any meal as well as cocktails from master mixologist Rob Ashbury.

Taste

– Founded in 1973, family-owned Taste operates six specialty food shops (which also offers upmarket sandwiches and take-home bistro dishes) across the region, including Norfolk. Wander in and sample Virginia peanuts, grab a glass of wine from the Old Dominion, enjoy a chef-prepared bite and maybe sign up for a cooking class.

 

— RICHMOND —

The Vibe:

Virginia’s capital is on fire on the national food scene right now, and rightfully so. Chef-driving restaurants across the region offer a wide assortment of menu options, from fine to informal, global to New American – and each seemingly delightfully delicious in their own way.

Must Eat/Must Drink:

Thai Corner. Real Richmond Food Tours

Real Richmond Tours takes it to the street: these well-crafted walking tours are a perfect way to get grounded in RVA and sample some of the wonderful culinary offerings around town.

The Dog and Pig Show had us at their Shrimp & Grits (a shame to call something so wonderful such an overly simplistic name) but they grabbed us and didn’t let go at – are you sitting – homemade Moon Pies. Yes. Thank me later.

Heritage may well set the standard in brunch. The tragically hip dining room sets the stage for approachable-but-fabulous dishes. We adore the Raman Bowl, a big handcrafted bowl (made by one of the servers there) of umami-laded broth stuffed with braised pork belly, nori, kim chi and adorned with a poached egg.

The Roosevelt

–  Cocktails at The Roosevelt never disappoint; from the simple to the sublime, we love to start off dinner with an imbibe, or have a drink here before dining elsewhere. We recently had The Seersucker: Maker’s Mark Bourbon, sweet tea syrup, Angostura bitters and charred lemon cube and fell deeply in love with the drink.

– The cooking school at Southern Season, a foodie’s dream store, is both entertaining and educational. We love the variety of offerings. Recommended: catch a class from Appalachia cooking doyenne Kendra Bailey Morris, who instructs there often.

 

— ROANOKE —

The Vibe:

Roanoke is called the Star City, and in our books it goes beyond the neon structure on the summit of Mill Mountain. From the charming century-plus old market downtown to down home cuisine from greasy spoons to citified eats, this city shines in western Virginia.

Must Eat/Must Drink:

– Named for the national treasure that is the 469-mile Blue Ridge Parkway, Parkway Brewing honors the asphalt ribbon and the beauty of surrounding southwestern Virginia with quaff like Bride Builder Blonde, which we love.

– Start the day at The Roanoker; this venerable eatery has been serving hungry folks for generations and is perhaps known for breakfasts laden with eggs, fried ham and their world-famous (really) biscuits.

Roanoke Farmers' Market

– Since 1882, the Roanoke City Market has been a place for area growers and specialty food producers to connect with consumers with delicious results. Walk around this historic market, grab a bite, and talk shop with a farmer.

The Regency Room

– To see how Old Virginia dined, visit the Hotel Roanoke’s The Regency Room, a delicious reminder of times gone by. You have to get the peanut soup; the version here is hailed around the globe.

The River and Rail Restaurant

– Culinary rockstar Chef Aaron Deal’s River and Rail is a wonderful bistro that offers modern, upmarket versions of southern classics. I hate this phrase, but you must save room for dessert – the banana pudding will change your life.

 

— STAUNTON —

The Vibe:

About mid way down the Shenandoah Valley, chefs in this little Rockwell-esqe town draw from the farms and fields around to craft highly-acclaimed dishes reflecting new, modern interpretations of many Old Dominion favorites.

Must Eat/Must Drink:

– The oh-so-cute Ox-Eye Tasting Room is a must-stop to try a number of vintages from this Virginia farm winery. The Riesling would be a perfect quaff for spring.

The Shack

– Call us a bit sentimental, but our heart swells here in Virginia when national media like Esquire magazine and The Washington Post wax poetic over chef/owner Ian Boden’s The Shack. We concur.

Zynodoa. Photography by Sera Petras Photography.

– One of our favorite ways to start – or end – a good meal is with a cheese plate. At Zynodoa, a succinct offering of Virginia fromage includes Caromont aAmond-Crusted Chevre, Mountain View Lusk and Meadow Creek Grayson.

– We came for the wine, we stayed for the grilled cheese. Yelping Dog Wine, Cheese and Charcuterie gourmet shop offers an assortment but we really grooved on the Pimento: pimento cheese made in-house with fresh chopped celery on brioche.

Cocoa Mill

– From an assortment of decadent delights, we love Cocoa Mills Chocolatier’s chocolate bark, which includes such indulgences as milk bar, bittersweet bark, cranberry bark and Oreo bark.

 

— Virginia Beach — 

The Vibe:

From city eats to crab pickings, Virginia Beach’s chow locale is plenty diverse. Look for fresh catch at the Oceanfront, cultivated cuisine at Town Center, and straightforward noshes along the Shore Drive and Great Neck corridors. Served up are spectacular views, too, of a New Urbanism downtown, sandy beaches on the Atlantic Ocean, and the deep blue serene waters of the Chesapeake Bay.

Must Eat/Must Drink:

Waterman's Surfside Grille

– The ocean views from Waterman’s can’t be beat, nor can their seafood-centric menu. But by all means try their signature Orange Crush cocktail; a boozy libation with fresh orange juice and a little bit of magic.

– The charming producer-only Old Beach Farmer’s Market is a sure-bet to stroll, speak with farmers and watermen, sample fresh baked goods, grab some artisan cheese and relish in the foods and foodways of Virginia Beach.

– Some of the freshest, most perfectly-prepared seafood we’ve enjoyed comes from Coastal Grill, an elegant but easy-going eatery serving up fresh shellfish and fin-fish for more than two decades. Must bite: soft shell crabs in season.

– The good folks at Taste Tidewater Tours offers a number of ways to see – and eat – yourself across Virginia Beach (and Norfolk, too) including tours of breweries, oyster houses and more.

Just Cupcakes

– We all need a little treat, and the delicious diminutive desserts from Food Network Cupcake Wars veteran Carla Hesseltine’s Just Cupcakes is literally the icing on the (cup)cake.

 

— WILLIAMSBURG —

The Vibe:

We love the historic taverns in Colonial Williamsburg, but the dining scene here is so much more. One of Virginia’s first celebrity chefs, Marcel Desaulnier (creator of Death by Chocolate) was a pioneer in the state’s farm-to-fork movement more here than three decades ago when he opened The Trellis. Many eateries here are on the forefront of New Virginia cuisine.

Must Eat/Must Drink:

– A Merchant’s Square staple, The Cheese Shop never ceases to make us smile. Fabulous fromage, wonderful wines, sinful sandwiches and more is why they’ve been a favorite for four decades.

– The continental surroundings and beyond delicious classic French cuisine at Chef Daniel Abid’s Le Yaca French Restaurant is a place we love to come and get in touch with our inner Francophile. But the three course, $17 lunch is a great offering at a great price. Our fave entrée: Lobster and Shrimp Quiche.

– It’s truth in advertising: the A Very Large Griddled Dog from Chef David Everett’s DoG Street Pub (DoG is an acronym for it’s location: Duke of Gloucester Street) is a wonder weiner. This fabulous frank is griddled and stuffed in a toasted bun filled with stout chili, onions and then topped with Tillamook cheddar cheese.

MAD about Chocolate

– From the Guru of Ganache, Chef Marcel Desaulniers, comes MAD About Chocolate, an adult Willy Wonka-esque chocolate café and art gallery showcasing the amazing work of his wife, artist Connie Desaulniers. Candy, ice cream, brownies – he has it all. We adore Mrs. D’s Chocolate Chip Cookies.

– From Colonial Williamsburg’s Chef Rhys Lewis comes Wine, Wit and Wisdom, a fun and informational wine tasting accompanied by small bites. The chef’s glowing personality and stellar wine and food knowledge make us cheer.

 

— WINCHESTER —

The Vibe:

Tucked in the northwest corner of the state, Winchester is a quaint old town – home to the venerable Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival and eateries showcasing the food and foodways from this upper region of the Valley. Look for lots of local dishes, from traditional to trendy.

Must Eat/Must Drink:

Marker-Miller Orchards

– In season, the place to go is Marker-Miller Orchards to get out in nature and pick tree-ripened apples and peaches. A stop by the farm market bakery for some ethereal apple cider donuts is a must.

The George Washington Hotel

The George Washington Hotel is a grande dame inn, harkening to another time and level of service. Check in your room then check out the wonderful lobby bar. Sit at the curved counter, order a classic cocktail, and watch the comings-and-goings.

– We love to walk through the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley every time we are in Winchester, and one of the things we marvel at are the collection of skillfully crafted ceramic bowls, crocks and more that once stored foods and feed pioneer families here generations ago.

– Ed Matthews of One Block West is a chef that goes beyond the trend of farm-to-table and gets to the real reason: supporting local producers and serving up the freshest ingredients possible. The seven-course (you read that right) Chef’s Whim Tasting Menu is a treat you should indulge in.

– Look for the adults-only offerings from Winchester Ciderworks. The team here craft a number hard cider products from one of this area’s favorite fruits, the apple. The flagship Malice has our tastebuds tapping.

 

Patrick Evans-HyltonPatrick Evans-Hylton, a Johnson & Wales University trained chef, is a Norfolk, Va.-based food journalist, historian and educator. His work has appeared in print, television, radio and social media since 1995. Evans-Hylton calls his cookbook, Dishing Up Virginia, his love letter to the state’s foods and foodways. He blogs at PatrickEvansHylton.com


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

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Top 5 Reasons to Get NASCAR Tickets for the Weekend

Top 5 Reasons to Get NASCAR Tickets for the Weekend

Racing season is here! That means Richmond International Raceway is running under the lights this weekend with the Toyotacare 250 Friday and the Toyota Owners 400 Saturday night. Tickets are still available for this weekend of racing! Here are the top 5 Reasons to Get NASCAR Tickets for the Weekend at RIR. It’s your race…

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5 Restaurant Week Reservations for the Weekend

5 Restaurant Week Reservations for the Weekend

Richmond Restaurant Week is a chance to eat a creative, three-course menu from some of Richmond’s best chefs for only $29.15. It’s also a chance to do something good as $4.15 of every meal goes to Feedmore, the umbrella organization for the Central Virginia Food Bank and Meals on Wheels. Gonna be in the Richmond…

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25 Hikes for Wildflowers (and a Few Waterfalls, Too!)

25 Hikes for Wildflowers (and a Few Waterfalls, Too!)

Taking a walk can be an instant pick-me-up, but encountering wildflowers and waterfalls? That’s quite possibly some folks’ idea of heaven on earth. Refer to this list as you plan your walks and hikes, as each of these is fit for varying abilities and desires.

Sky Meadow State Park, Delaplane

Sky Meadows State Park, Delaplane

— WILDFLOWERS OF VIRGINIA —

While the list is long, these are some of the more easily found wildflowers that you might come across on your hike. Perhaps a glance at this year’s Wildflower of the Year is one to aspire to find. It thrives from the coastal region into central Virginia, and is called Sweet Pepperbush (Clethra alnifolia), a vital honey plant that attracts bees.

Common Wildflowers:

  • Virginia Bluebell
  • Bloodroot
  • Honeysuckle
  • Eastern Red Columbine
  • Trillium
  • Snowdrop
  • Rhododendron
  • Pink Lady’s Slipper

Celebrating Wildflowers, a program of the U. S. Forest Service
Wildflowers of Shenandoah National Park

 

— GREAT TRAILS FOR WILDFLOWERS AND WATERFALLS —

Roaring Run | Botetourt County

Located in the George Washington & Jefferson National Forests, Roaring Run Recreational Area is a place that delivers one site after another, not to mention beautiful pink lady’s slippers, a variety of violets, and other wildflowers. Walk the trails here and you’ll encounter the 19th century iron furnace (interpretive signs explain the history of this National Historic Place), cross Roaring Run Creek (known for its trout population), and of course, see Roaring Run Falls!

Difficulty: Easy; 1.4 miles out-and-back
Considerations: Footbridges and steps
More on the Wildflowers

Apple Orchard Falls | Botetourt County

Off the Blue Ridge Parkway at Sunset Fields (MP 78.4), the headwaters of North Creek lead hikers down a trail to an awaiting waterfall and overlook. It’s fantastic for photography and definitely a memorable experience. Known wildflowers for this area are trillium and mountain fetterbush.

Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult; 3.2 miles
Considerations: Steep descents and footbridges
More on the Wilflowers

Back Creek Gorge Wildflower Trail |  Bath County

From Blowing Springs Recreation Area, the Back Creek Gorge Wildflower Trail leads to low falls, a deep swimming hole, and beautiful wild geranium, Solomon’s seal, creeping phlox, and quite a few other species of native flowering plants. This area is known for its year ’round 58-degree natural limestone spring.

Difficulty: Easy, follows an old railroad bed; 1.31 miles
More on the Wildflowers

Falls along the Cabin Creek Trail

Falls along the Cabin Creek Trail

Cabin Creek Trail | Grayson Highlands State Park | Mouth of Wilson

A 25′ Whitetop Mountain waterfall is the highlight of the Cabin Creek Trail, a 1.8-mile loop dotted with vibrant Rhododendron.

Difficulty: Difficult; 1.8 miles
Considerations: Steep climbs; slippery rocks
Trail Map

DeHart Botanical Gardens | Meadows of Dan

First and foremost, this area is managed by Ferrum College, a gift from Allen DeHart in 2012. DeHart Botanical Gardens is 172 acres of amazing overlooks, small waterfalls, a cave, and roughly 400 cataloged species of flora and fauna. It is an educational area for the college and for responsible day-use hikers.

Difficulty: Difficult
Considerations: Steep climbs
More Information & Map

 

— GREAT TRAILS FOR WILDFLOWERS —

Dense Blazing Star Field | Montgomery County

In mid- to late-July, vibrant purple dense blazing star changes the appearance of an otherwise lovely prairiesque field in the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests. These lovelies attracts at least 15 species of butterflies, making the visit even more breathtaking.

Difficulty: Easy; park along the road and enter the field
Considerations: Copperhead snakes are native to the area; watch your step and you’ll be fine.
More on the Wildflowers

Bluebell Island Trail

Bluebell Island Trail, St. Paul

Bluebell Island Trail on the Clinch River | St. Paul

Recently reopened after flooding, the Bluebell Island Trail is blooming and ready for visitors to meander along the scenic Clinch River. This trail connects Bluebell Island Preserve to the Sugar Hill Trail System through St. Paul.

Difficulty: Easy; 1.9 miles
Considerations: Natural river cycle may cause flooding; a higher trail can be used instead
More Information

Mountain Laurel at Mason Neck State Park

Mountain Laurel at Mason Neck State Park

Bay View Trail | Mason Neck State Park | Lorton

This trail is the best of both worlds, wandering along Belmont Bay’s marshes and up into the hardwood forest. Mountain Laurel is plentiful here!

Difficulty: Moderate; 1.2 miles
Considerations: Boardwalk and stairs
Trail Map

Bluebell Loop Trail | Shenandoah River State Park | Bentonville

This specific segment of trail runs along the Shenandoah River and is accessed by the canoe launch parking area, or by The River Trail. Should you choose to make this a longer hike, connecting trails can easily extend it.

Difficulty: Easy; 1 mile
Considerations: Connecting trails include descents and bridges.
Trail Map

CCC Trail | Hungry Mother State Park | Marion

Thick Rhododendron line the Civilian Conservation Corps Trail at Hungry Mother. The trail meanders along and repeatedly crosses over a creek at its lower levels and becomes increasingly difficult as it approaches Molly’s Knob Trail.

Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult; 1.9 miles
Considerations: Creek crossing
Trail Map

Accotink Creek Trail | Lake Accotink Park | Springfield

Lake Accotink Park is 493 acres in Northern Virginia that includes a 55-acre lake. Take a walk along Accotink Creek, which feeds the lake. Here, with a keen eye, you can spot showy orchis, bluebells, and dwarf ginseng, among other native plants and flowers.

Difficulty: Easy
Trail Map

 

Edith J. Carrier Arboretum & Botanical Gardens

Edith J. Carrier Arboretum & Botanical Gardens

— GUIDED WILDFLOWER WALKS AND HIKES —

If you’d like narrative about the terrain and types of flowers you’ll be seeing along the path, perhaps a guided walk or hike would be a good fit for you. These sites have been known to offer guided opportunities; contact the locations for more information.

 

— WILDFLOWER GARDENS —

Sometimes you don’t have to put forth much effort at all to encounter stunning wildflowers.

Lotus Garden Park in Virginia Beach is the home of the city’s official flower, American lotus (Nelumbo lutea). The beautiful yellow flower is protected, so picking is definitely not allowed. If you’re interested in picking wildflowers, there are two places nearby: Cromwell Produce and Cullipher Farm Market.

The Herb & Wildflower Garden is but one of the themed gardens at MacCallum More Museum and Gardens in Chase City. Map

Meadowlark Botanical Gardens is 98 acres of serenity in Vienna. Stroll the trails and encounter Azalea Woods and Wild Meadow, among other special places boasting native plants. Map

Find one of the East Coast’s largest collections of Rhododendron, Azalea and more at Norfolk Botanical Garden in Norfolk. An additional perk? An entire wildflower meadow and butterfly garden! Fifty species of wildflowers can be found, ranging from spring Poppies to summer Sunflowers. Map

~ Please don’t pick the wildflowers. ~


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Top 4 Hidden Gems to Eat Like a Local

Top 4 Hidden Gems to Eat Like a Local

The Richmond Region is pretty great if you’re a foodie. You probably already know about the Roosevelt, Lemaire, Southbound, Peter Chang China Cafe, Sub Rosa Bakery, Heritage, Comfort, Rappahannock…the list could go on and on and on. What you may not know, though, is that the Richmond Region has a few hidden gems that pop…

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Top 5  Destinations for Someone with a Sweet Tooth

Top 5 Destinations for Someone with a Sweet Tooth

In addition to the numerous savory restaurants and trendy watering holes scattered around the Richmond Region, the area is stocked plentifully with shops for the traveler wanting a sugar rush.  Treat yourself to a confection of happiness good for all ages at any of these top 5 destinations for someone with a sweet tooth!  …

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Register for (or watch) These 5 Dominion Riverrock Events

Register for (or watch) These 5 Dominion Riverrock Events

Dominion Riverrock is coming. Next month, May 15-17, will see the country’s premier outdoor sport and music festival return to the Richmond Region. There’s gonna be dog sports, there’s gonna be slacklining, there’s gonna be stand up paddleboarding and there’s gonna be 90′s alt rockers rocking the stage. We suggest you register for (or watch)…

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12 Historic Virginia Music Venues

12 Historic Virginia Music Venues

Virginia’s music venues are full of rich history. Places that now host live music once started out as old movie houses or stores or farmhouses and changed over time. Here are 12 of Virginia’s historic music venues.

Tally Ho

Tally Ho

Tally Ho Theatre – Leesburg, Va.
A landmark in historic downtown Leesburg, the Tally Ho Theatre was created in 1932 as one room movie house. As time went on, new multiplex movie theaters began springing up around the area and forced the duplex movie theater out of business. It operated as a movie theater until the theatre was sold and renovated in 2012, and started hosting live bands in a wide range of genres.

The Floyd Country Store – Floyd, Va.
The Floyd Country Store opened in 1909 as a general store and over the course of its history was a hardware and general store that served old-fashioned candy, hand-dipped ice cream, homemade country food and a great collection of hard-to-find old-time and bluegrass music accessories. In the late 1990′s, the industry needed to change to stay in business, and at that time the store was open one night a week for what is now famously known as the Friday Night Jamboree. The Jamboree brings people each week to dance, enjoy and play gospel, old-time, and bluegrass music. The crowd usually spills out into the street as it’s one of the most popular events in the area.

Beacon Theatre – Hopewell, Va.
The Beacon Theatre is in the center of downtown Hopewell, Virginia, and was designed by Fred Bishop and constructed in 1928 as a silent movie & vaudeville show palace. During the 1930s and 1940s, the famous burlesque dancer, Sally Rand, and cowboy performer Lash LaRue performed at the Beacon. During the 1950s – 1970s, it was the local movie house. After a $4.1 million restoration, the Beacon Theatre has been returned to its original splendor and regularly offering all kinds of music from Motown to country to bluegrass to rock.

The Birchmere

The Birchmere

The Birchmere – Alexandria, Va.
Celebrating 50 years in 2016, the Birchmere opened on April 4, 1966 and has hosted top acts including Johnny Cash, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Patti Loveless, Dave Matthews, Emmylou Harris and Ray Charles. The Birchmere has also played an important role in the discovery of new artists, the Dixie Chicks and Vince Gill among them. In 1997, the Birchmere opened its current Alexandria location just down the road, where it sets an intimate tone by keeping the audience close, just two feet away from the stage, in a 500-seat music hall that has launched many artists into world-renown.

Carter Family Fold – Hiltons, Va.
The Carter Family Fold was founded in 1979 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.

The Paramount Theater

The Paramount Theater

The Paramount Theater and the Jefferson Theater – Charlottesville, Va.
Located on Charlottesville’s historic Downtown Mall, both the Paramount Theater and the Jefferson Theater are historic venues that host a variety of music shows ranging from rock, bluegrass, reggae, country, metal and hip-hop. The Paramount Theater opened in 1931 and became a landmark overnight. The venue thrived as a movie palace for 40 years and brought in patrons by the thousands before closing in 1974. In 1992, a $16.2 million restoration project restored the Paramount to its former glory and the venue opened its doors to the public once more in 2004. The Jefferson Theater was established in 1912 as a live performance theater that played host to silent movies, vaudeville acts and a historic list of musicians. The Jefferson Theater closed in 2006 for restoration and renovations and reopened in 2009 highlighting the theater’s vintage architecture while modernizing its facilities.

Garth Newel Music Center – Hot Springs, Va.
William Sergeant Kendall, a well-known painter in the 1920s, built Garth Newel Music Center in 1924 where he and his wife trained and rode fine Arabian horses, painted, and enjoyed musical evenings in their home. After Kendall died in 1938, his wife Christine Herter Kendall began a chamber music study program, and the Rowe String Quartet began giving concerts on the property in 1973. Christine died in 1981, bequeathing the property to the Garth Newel Music Center Foundation, who devoted themselves to the continued development of the Music Center and it grew from a season of a half-dozen concerts in the mid-70s to more than 50 today.

Lime Kiln Theater – Lexington, Va.
The Lime Kiln Theater is rooted in and inspired by the magic of a natural, outdoor theater. In 1967, two Washington and Lee University students, Tommy Spencer and Don Baker, produced “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” in an abandoned, turn of the century, lime quarry and kiln. 15 years later, Spencer convinced the owner of the site containing the quarry to donate the use of the land for the establishment of an arts organization. After thousands of volunteer hours to clear the brambles, thickets, rubble, and build the stage, the first season was presented in 1984. Lime Kiln Theater hosts numerous live music shows and plays throughout the season.

The National

The National

The National – Richmond, Va.
The historic National Theater was built in 1923 and designed by architect Claude K. Howell, who also created many Monument Avenue residences. It became a part of the then-thriving downtown theater scene along Broad Street once known as Theatre Row. The venue originally staged both live entertainment, such as vaudeville shows, as well as motion pictures. In 1968, it was converted into a dedicated cinema, which closed in 1983. Restored and reopened in 2008, the theater, now known as The National, is used as a performing arts and music venue hosting numerous mainstream acts.

Harrison Opera House – Norfolk, Va.
Once a theater in the 1940s, the Virginia Opera Center Theater hosted entertainment for USO troops during World War II. The house was renovated and re-christened Edythe C. and Stanley L. Harrison Opera House in 1993 and is now the official home of the Virginia Opera. With more than 1,600 seats, the Harrison Opera House retains an intimate ambience adorned with glittering chandeliers and sweeping staircases reminiscent of the old time glamour.

Wolf Trap – Vienna, Va.
When concert goers attend the Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts, they are standing on what used to be a working farm. Catherine Filene Shouse acquired the land as a refuge from Washington, DC city life in 1930. The farm served as a gathering place for her family, friends and social and political leaders where they enjoyed dinners, parties, and nature walks. Shouse founded Wolf Trap in 1966 when she donated the land to the US government as well as funds to build a large outdoor amphitheater.


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Spring/SummeRVA Beers!

Spring/SummeRVA Beers!

The Richmond Region’s breweries are starting to buzz with hops aficionados hanging on the patios and eagerly waiting in line for special releases. Between birthdays and collaborations and rereleases of summer favorites there’s a lot to like about Spring/SummeRVA Beers in the Richmond Region. Legend Brewing Virginia’s oldest craft brewery is officially old enough to…

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6 Can’t Miss Places for BBQ in RVA

6 Can’t Miss Places for BBQ in RVA

Whether you’re looking for a patio to eat some ribs on the Boulevard before a Flying Squirrels game or want to sit outside in historic Church Hill or chow down on family-owned comfort food these 6 Can’t Miss Places for BBQ in RVA have something for everyone.   Buz and Ned’s real barbecue Buz and…

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5 Great Restaurant Patios to Ring in Spring in the Richmond Region

5 Great Restaurant Patios to Ring in Spring in the Richmond Region

Blooming dogwoods, joggers pounding the sidewalks along Monument Ave, and dining outside are all sure signs of spring’s arrival in the Richmond Region!  With tons of dining options abound, we highlight five fantastic restaurant patio options to enjoy a warm spring night with family and friends. Here are 5 Great Restaurant Patios to Ring in Spring in the Richmond Region. Union Market This hidden gem nestled in Church Hill provides a quaint neighborhood grocery and dining option in this historic region.  Enjoy a glass of Pinot or a local craft beer at a Tap Takeover event and munch on a delicious…

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Six Things You Don’t Want to Miss in April

Six Things You Don’t Want to Miss in April

Spring has finally sprung in the Richmond Region. Locals are hanging out on the rocks by the river, riding their bikes through the city, hitting the trails at Pocahontas State Park and taking in the warm weather. Here are six things you don’t want to miss in April in the Richmond Region. Flying Squirrels Baseball!…

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Take the Scenic Route: U.S. Route 58, Part One

Take the Scenic Route: U.S. Route 58, Part One

United States Route 58 is a scenic stretch of road coursing east to west across southern Virginia. One can reach Virginia Beach from Cumberland Gap on the KY/TN/VA border in 10 hours. Not the fastest route for eager beach-bounders, to be sure, but worthy of a being the trip when you stretch it over a couple of days and take in these sites along the way.

In part one, consider 213 miles’ worth of beautiful Heart of Appalachia and Blue Ridge Highlands scenery, culture, music and more.

 

— CUMBERLAND GAP —

Immensely beautiful and rich with westward migration history, Cumberland Gap National Historical Park is a great place to begin your adventure. The great pioneer, Daniel Boone, forged his way through the Gap to lead homesteaders to settle the west. There are more than 70 miles of trails to explore, Gap Caverns, and the Hensley Settlement, too, not to mention this place is a nature and landscape photographer’s paradise.

It’s fitting that this journey begins with Cumberland Gap, perhaps the main point of interest along The Wilderness Road: Virginia’s Heritage Migration Route. As it turns out, Route 58 is named Wilderness Road between the Gap and Jonesville, and then Daniel Boone Trail between Jonesville and Duffield.

Cumberland Gap National Historical Park

 

— NATURAL TUNNEL STATE PARK —

Duffield is where you’ll find the Natural Tunnel State Park and its centerpiece, the 10-story natural tunnel which remains an active thoroughfare for Norfolk Southern and CSX coal cars. Points of interest here include the tunnel itself, the view of it from a chairlift (especially amazing at Christmas when it’s lit!), trails to places like Lover’s Leap, and of course, the scenery.

Cabins and camping are available at Natural Tunnel, even cabins big enough for more than a few people. It’s a great place to overnight before continuing your road trip.

Natural Tunnel State Park

 

— HOBNOB DRIVE-IN & CARTER FAMILY FOLD —

Authenticity. Really, there’s nothing but authentic in this part of Virginia. Local hangouts, traditions, lore … get a bit of it all with lunch and a quick detour.

The HobNob Drive-In in Gate City serves up a quick-order counter lunch that you’d expect from a 1950′s diner style establishment (which it is). The burgers are big and juicy; the shakes? Divine. Read all about it. It’s the perfect stop before checking out Carter Family Fold – a story of music and a slice of Americana.

If you’re a country music fan, you have the Carter Family of Hiltons, VA to thank. A.P., his wife Sara and her cousin Maybelle recorded 300 songs between 1927 and 1942. Their genre was traditional Appalachian, which led the way for their family (June Carter Cash and husband Johnny Cash) and today’s country musicians to record music and reach the masses. When you head off the beaten path of 58 into Hiltons and A.P. Carter Highway, the Fold is a quick three miles up the road on your left. A.P.’s general store is a museum, the old homeplace has been reconstructed on site, and the music center hosts bands every weekend (schedule). Saturday is the only day you can get inside to visit, so plan accordingly.

 

 — BIRTHPLACE OF COUNTRY MUSIC MUSEUM —

Continue on 58/421 to State Street in Bristol – the one street (and city) that is actually in two states. On the left, you’re in Virginia. The right; Tennessee. Your stop here is the Birthplace of Country Music Museum. If you’ve timed your travels such that you’re ready for a bite to eat, might I suggest Burger Bar? It holds history of its own (I mentioned lore before, right?). It’s said that Hank Williams enjoyed his last meal at Burger Bar. In fact, “they say” this was the last place he was seen in public.

So about the Birthplace of Country Music Museum … It is dedicated to the 1927 Bristol Sessions. Those sessions in which the aforementioned Carter Family was a big part of, and the sessions that launched the country music industry into the juggernaut we know today. The Museum is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, meaning you’re going to have an incredible experience in this new facility.

Birthplace of Country Music Museum

 

— ABINGDON —

To get back on track, take Route 113 north to Route 11 where you can drive on to Abingdon. This is another great place to stretch your legs and see something new and beautiful. See The Barter Theatre (the State Theatre of Virginia), take in the grounds, spa … rooms? of The Martha Hotel, and enjoy great dining and artisan shopping.

Abingdon

 

— VIRGINIA CREEPER TRAIL —

The Virginia Creeper Trail has trail heads in Abingdon, Alvarado, Damascus, Creek Junction and Whitetop Station. Damascus is the next stop along your Route 58 adventure. My recommendation (for what it’s worth) is to go on to Damascus and connect with a bike service company for bike rental and shuttle to the top — Whitetop Mountain. From there you can coast down (YES!) to Damascus. It’s about 18 miles down (but you’re coasting), so supper at Damascus Old Mill Inn and an overnight might be in order, depending on your pace.

Damascus Old Mill Inn

 

— GRAYSON HIGHLANDS STATE PARK —

If you’re not into cycling or are otherwise into scenic views, Grayson Highlands State Park is your next stop. Waterfalls, overlooks, and Virginia’s highest peaks are found here.

 

— GALAX: MUSIC, MOUNTAINS, RIVER, FUN —

If you’ve never heard of the Galax Old Time Fiddlers’ Convention, you’re missing out. It’s the oldest and largest fiddlers’ convention in the world, and it happens annually the second week of August. Can’t make it? Plan to pass through on a Friday night so you can enjoy a live airing of Blue Ridge Backroads, a radio show at the Rex Theater. It’s a showcase of old time and bluegrass bands that has been airing since 1999. Or, in the summer months, make a beeline south down Route 89 to Blue Ridge Music Center at milepost 213 on the Blue Ridge Parkway. There you’ll find an amphitheater hosting musical acts on the weekends, though there are sites, music and more available most any day of the week.

Considering the music heritage of the city and region, it’s only fitting that a LOVEwork created of string instruments be located in Galax. Find it on Grayson Street, take a photo and tag it #loveva.

Does fishing or floating appeal to you? Contact New River Trips for guided excursions on the New. There’s also a great rail trail through New River Trail State Park, perfect for photography, biking, or just taking a stroll.

Rex Theater

Stay tuned for part two of Take the Scenic Route: U.S. Route 58!

 


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Top 5 Events to Commemorate 150 Years

Top 5 Events to Commemorate 150 Years

The National Park Service has put together a spectacular series of programming to celebrate the sesquicentennial (sess – qwee – sentennial) anniversary of the end of the Civil War. Events will take place starting today and running through April 4. Here are five events you don’t want to miss: April 2: “Such a spectacle was…

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Top 5 Reasons You Should Take the River City Food Tour

Top 5 Reasons You Should Take the River City Food Tour

The Richmond Region is quickly becoming a foodie destination for taste buds up and down the East Coast; chock full of diverse, unique options for palates waiting to be pleased. River City Food Tours offers a culinary tour of Carytown, the Richmond Region’s famous shopping and dining district, is a great way to sample our…

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150 Years Later

150 Years Later

This weekend marks 150 years since the end of the Civil War. The National Park Service is putting on a spectacular program starting Wednesday April 1 and running through Saturday, April 4 to commemorate the end of the war and emancipation.   These programs include walking tours and special lantern tours that will imagine what…

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