Things WE LOVE About Virginia

There’s so much to love about Virginia and anyone who has spent time here has a favorite place, experience or memory. Mountains, beaches, rivers, hiking, cities, music, food, history … Virginia has an abundance of many great things.

What you’ll read below are direct quotes from the staff of Virginia Tourism Corporation and the Virginia Film Office. Let us show you what we love most about the place we call home.

An avid equestrienne and polo player, President and CEO Rita McClenny loves nothing more than “a sunset polo match at Great Meadow in The Plains.” McClenny played in the inaugural America’s Cup of Polo in 2007.


Diane Béchamps, Vice President of Marketing, gave careful consideration to naming what she loves. In the end, there are many. “It is almost impossible to think of one thing, but what strikes me the most is the lush, green natural beauty found along the 3,000 miles of scenic byways. I also love the feeling you get when you step into unique destinations like Colonial Williamsburg and Middleburg. They give one a sense of history, beauty, dignity, grace and pride.  I love Virginia oysters, viogners, craft cheeses, Surryano hams, Shenandoah apples, and fresh berries. I also love the feeling I get when I arrive in the Northern Neck: Elegant, sophisticated river escape.” Below is Béchamps and her beloved Chanti at Salamander Resort.


Salamander Resort. Photo by Diane Bechamps.


Director of Corporate Communications, Caroline Logan, is used to making you love Virginia. She and I are a lot alike in that way. While she could go on for days with the things she loves, this Richmond girl shared what’s currently top of mind. “Make mine Virginia wine! I am so proud of Virginia’s wines and how they are getting national and even international attention. Our wineries are absolutely stunning with beautiful views and tasty wine! Virginia oysters. We have seven oyster regions with seven distinct flavors, making Virginia the oyster capital of the East Coast!” The photo below is of Logan, her husband, and sweet Millie at Barboursville Ruins on the grounds of Barboursville Vineyards.


Checking out the @barboursville ruins with our little winery dog. #vawine #loveva #dogfriendlyva #milliegram #dogsofinstagram

A photo posted by Caroline Logan (@sweetcarolinerva) on Jul 6, 2014 at 1:38pm PDT


When first asked to name what she loves about Virginia, Carol Torricelli, Director of Sales, simply smiled and said, “Everything gives me goosebumps.” After some serious consideration, she wrote her heart. “There are so many places to meander… so many flavors to savor… For me it’s inconceivable to whittle my Virginia favorites down to a single or few, for there’s a myriad of moments, plenty of places and a  moving number of sights and sounds that give me goosebumps; I’ve been inspired to capture some of my Virginia moments in the song that I wrote, “Come to Virginia©”  that still makes me sentimental whenever I sing it… ” Torricelli laments not having a YouTube video to let the world hear her song. I do as well. But here is a photo I took of her (center) when we were passing through The Plains.        


We love The Plains! #Forlanos #coffeetogo #quaint #loveva #roadtripva   A photo posted by Casey Higgins (@jccjhiggins) on Sep 17, 2013 at 10:30am PDT

VTC’s Director of Research, Esra Calvert, loves autumn. Specifically, “the crispy air, the color of leaves and even the smell of air are beautiful to someone like me who has grown up in the hot Mediterranean climate.” Calvert is originally from Izmir, Turkey, on the Aegean Sea. She continued, “I also love Richmond – especially the Fan and Monument Avenue.  It is like living the past with 21st century amenities.”


Dave Neudeck is the Director of Digital Marketing and my boss. He is totally into hiking, biking, motorsports and Old Town Alexandria. I didn’t need a quote to tell you those things, but he sent me a list anyway:

– Old Town Alexandria – Dining in Old Town, biking the Mount Vernon Trail, perusing the Torpedo Factory, taking in the history and culture.

– Virginia Creeper Trail & Abindgon – You know it!  Shuttle to the top and coast down.

– Virginia International Raceway – Great place to see a race.

Virginia Creeper Trail – bridge along 17 mile trail from White Top to Damascus. #loveva #vaoutdoors A photo posted by Dave Neudeck (@daven10) on Aug 5, 2014 at 9:21am PDT


Christina Rehklau is our Research Manager. She’s relatively new to us and to Virginia, which is often the best type of person to hear from. She wrote, “I love, love, love that in Virginia the mountains and ocean are both just a few hours away. Coming from the Midwest, I really appreciate this. The heritage here is amazing. It’s like living in a history book. I’m a huge fan of the architecture here. I love this home just outside Hollywood Cemetery (see photo below). I love that a lot of the older homes and buildings are still intact. The Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel should be on a bucket list. That is an engineering marvel. We took lots and lots of pictures when we went to Cape Charles. P.S. – My sister came to visit from Ohio this month and she said, ‘In Virginia there is so much to see and do. In Ohio we don’t have a lot.’ LOL!”

Cheers to all that, Christina, and we’re glad to have you!        


Home near Hollywood Cemetery, Richmond. Photo by Christina Rehklau.


The webmaster of and Digital Marketing Manager, Mary Bishop, enjoys traveling with her husband and her pup, Lucy. “One of my new favorite places is First Landing State Park. I love Virginia Beach and this section of beach is still primitive with dunes and no hotels or houses. The park has a nice area for picnicking, even for wedding receptions, a store and office. The camp sites are really cool with some of them nestled in the dunes. The bike trail is really good for beginners like myself. I love that I can take my dog on the beach and on the bike trail.” That’s Mary’s picture below.      


First Landing State Park. Mary Bishop Photo.


Robin Mamunes is the Senior Marketing Coordinator in VTC’s Digital Marketing Department. She helps manage the information on so that you can easily find what you’re looking for. Robin wrote, “I think the greatest treasure about Virginia is being able to drive from where I live in most any direction for a short drive and end up in paradise. Recently my travels took me to the Market at Grelen. Within less than 1 ½ hrs. drive from Richmond I was in the mountains away from the hustle and bustle of city life. The drive is beautiful, as you meander thru winding scenic roads that take you back to yesteryear. You are so pleasantly surprised to reach the market to find a view and hospitality that is sure to quench all of your senses! Makes a perfect day trip and well worth the drive!”          


Judy Watkins is a long-time staffer at VTC, meaning she’s traveled Virginia a great deal. No doubt, being posed this question was one she had to consider, but she came through with this: “One of my favorite places in Virginia is Colonial Williamsburg. A stroll down Duke of Gloucester Street brings unexpected surprises no matter how many times you’ve been there. Peer behind the  buildings facing the street, and you will discover beautiful gardens. Look through the shop windows and you may spot a seamstress sewing by the natural light. Look for a costumed interpreter, who may just be Patrick Henry or Thomas Jefferson, and you’ll engage in a distinctly different conversation than you’re used to holding.” The image below is one she took.        


Colonial Williamsburg. Judy Watkins Photo.


Mary Nelson is the Deputy Director of the Virginia Film Office. She’s been helping lure producers to Virginia for many years, so of course films and their locations are very dear to her heart. Mary shared, “One of my favorite things about Virginia is that it has been the site for some of the most interesting historical films and television shows of recent years — Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln, the HBO mini-series John Adams, the current AMC television series TURN: Washington’s Spies and the brand new PBS series Mercy Street that premieres in winter of 2016. Better yet, you can visit many of the film locations.”

Dawn Blacksten is the Project Manager for the Virginia Film Office. She said, “I love camping with my family in Virginia. We enjoying camping at Chickahominy Riverfront Park in James City County. There’s so many activities to do with the kids: swimming, fishing, biking, canoeing. Depending where you camp, you can see the sunset or rise over the water. We like making s’mores and watching the sunset over the Chickahominy River. The Capital Bike Trail goes by the campground, so you can bike your way to Jamestown for a day trip.” See her photo below. Beautiful!      


Camping. Photo by Dawn Blacksten.


While we’re talking Film Office, Emily Wyman, Locations Assistant, gave a laundry list of things she loves. “I love VA State Parks and local parks, the variety Virginia has to offer: swamps, beaches, lakes, rivers, mountains …”  

Specifically, Emily enjoys “First Landing State Park: swamps, sand, marsh and beautiful moss and bald cypress trees. It’s the park I grew up going to so I love it for nostalgic purposes. Philpott Lake: quieter than its neighboring lake, and so beautiful in the fall!” She also loves Belle Isle and the Pipeline in Richmond, as well as tubing on the James River in Scottsville (as seen in the photo below!).  

    Scottsville. Photo by Emily Wyman.


Michelle Workman is a Development Assistant in the VTC Partnership Marketing Division. She wrote, “My absolute favorite place in Virginia is Kerr/Buggs Island Lake.  It’s gorgeous and I have so many memories going there as a child growing up. My parents have been going since I before I was born and still go for two weeks every summer.”    


Brand new to Virginia Tourism by way of Botetourt County Tourism is Katie Conner. She’s the new Development Specialist in the Shenandoah Valley. Katie gave a list of love and sent a photo, too.

-Spring time flowers

-Dirt roads and old trucks

-Rock jumping on the James River as the train goes overhead

-Camping at Douthat State Park

-Hiking along the Appalachian Trail and on National Forest trails

-Paddling along The Upper James River Water Trail

Ghost tours in Lexington          


James River. Katie Conner Photo.


As you travel Virginia, stop at a Virgina Welcome Center for a smiling face and great local insight.    


James Dean (yep, that’s his name!) is the Manager of the East Coast Gateway Welcome Center. You probably know it as the best bathroom stop on I-64 before you get to Williamsburg AND the home of our very first LOVEwork (pic below). Dean said, “You can be on top of a mountain then swimming in the sea in just a couple of hours on I-64!” He should know. Stop by and ask him about distances and timing, and tell him I sent you.      


New Kent Welcome Center: LOVEwork. Photo by Casey Higgins 

Ginny Griffin is one of our Procurement Specialists. She loves the diversity of having four seasons, stating, “whether it’s the fall foliage or the spring flowers, the scenery is breath taking.” She also loves that “from Richmond, you can reach the beach or the mountains in about two hours.  You can also go to a modern city or a small country town, an adventure park, a winery or a country farm.  You can enjoy fine dining or hand pick all the fresh strawberries you can eat (Chesterfield Berry Farm).” Griffin has a perfect sunset in mind too … “Sunset over the Chesapeake Bay with the twinkling lights of the Bay Bridge-Tunnel, as seen from First Landing State Park.”  


For now, that leaves me. Lexington is my hometown and it will always hold a special place in my heart. I love the historic downtown, the cold water of the Maury River on a hot day, and the view from the top of House Mountain. I’ll never forget my first visit to Rockbridge Vineyard or nearby Wade’s Mill, or the first show I saw at Lime Kiln. Memories I love recreating are the drive over the mountain to Humpback Bridge, up Route 11 to the Amish cheese shop and greenhouse in Stuarts Draft, and watching for The Star in Roanoke. The Shenandoah Valley is my home. You should visit sometime.      


Now it’s your turn. What do YOU LOVE about Virginia? Leave a comment!

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

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

Casey Higgins

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