2016 in Review: Virginia’s Biggest Travel News


It was a busy year for Virginia, with huge festivals, groundbreaking initiatives, and local developments filling our calendar. As we look into the future and welcome 2017, we also reflect on the amazing year to which we say goodbye. Highlighted below are the biggest moments in 2016, which will create more opportunities and adventures for those traveling Virginia in the future.



Mercy Street Season One released, a television series on PBS that tells the true story of a military hospital in Alexandria during the Civil War. The first season was filmed in Central Virginia, with Richmond locations used for the hotel-turned-hospital and several places in Petersburg for the interior and exterior shots.

mercy street


Mercy Street was renewed for a second season, which premieres on January 22, 2017.



The 2016 Virginia is for Lovers Culinary Challenge put some of the best restaurants in Virginia head to head for a foodie contest that ended with leaders in six select categories. The winners:

Small Bites—kybecca in Fredericksburg

Burgers—NN Burger in Tappahannock & Kilmarnock

Barbecue—Wolfe’s BBQ in Marion

Fresh Catch: Oysters & Seafood—White Dog Bistro in Mathews

Bakeries & Desserts—The Family Bakery in Gate City

Eat Like a Local—Two Drummers Smokehouse in Toano

white dog bistro


The town of Damascus welcomed Appalachian Trail hikers to Virginia for the annual Trail Days celebration. Hikers took a much-needed break from their travels to rest and recharge in the small town, which is close to the Virginia/Tennessee border.



Virginia is for Lovers caught the Pokemon Go bug, sharing the best spots for hunting Pokemon in every corner of the state.

pokemon tavern



Governor Terry McAuliffe announced Tangier Island as the eighth official oyster region of Virginia. The oysters harvested here have a traditional bay flavor, balancing salt and sweet with a savory buttery finish. Pair with a glass of Viognier from Glass House Winery for an excellent oyster experience.

Shooting Point Oyster Company



The ponies of Chincoteague residing on Virginia’s Eastern Shore are herded for the annual Pony Swim and Auction, which occurred in 2016 for the 91st consecutive time. Ancestors of Misty are rounded up as they swim across the channel and some are even available for purchase to keep the shore’s wild pony population under control.

chincoteague pony swim



The 4th annual Lockn’ music festival took place in Arrington, featuring live jam bands and other stellar music acts during the four day concert event. Notable groups included Keller Williams, My Morning Jacket, Phil Lesh & Friends, Lettuce, and Ween. Lineup and date information have already been announced for 2017, so get your tickets today!

Lockn' Music Festival, held at Oak Ridge Farm, is a four day music festival with an emphasis on stellar music, camping, outdoor activities, regional food, beverages and artisans. Virginia Tourism Corporation, www.Virginia.org



Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe launches the LGBT Tourism Initiative, welcoming all guests to come experience the beauty of the region. From luxury accommodations to outdoor experiences, the Commonwealth’s travel industry has shown great LOVE for visitors that came into Virginia in 2016.

lgbt initiative


Famous musician and celebrity Ozzy Osbourne visits Virginia with his son to film their new television show, Ozzy and Jack’s World Detour, making stops in Colonial Williamsburg, Jamestown, and several other important American history sites.
Ozzy and Jack Musket Range



Held at the Jiffy Lube Live arena in Bristow, Farm Aid brought popular acts like Dave Matthews Band and Willie Nelson together for an all-day music festival that benefitted local farmers and the farming industry in Virginia. Supported by First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe, the event has already been confirmed for 2017, although the lineup is not yet finalized.

Jiffy Lube Live



Setting a record for the biggest college football game in history, the Battle at Bristol pitted Virginia Tech against University of Tennessee in the split city of Bristol. With the dividing line running down the center of State Street, the city hosted thousands of football fans for this historic sporting event.

battle at bristol



Virginia is for Lovers partnered with Uber during Virginia Wine Month to promote safe driving to and from select wineries across the state. Visitors received quick rides from Uber, discounts on tastings at the vineyards, and a percentage off bottles of Virginia wines during the campaign.

Uber and Virginia Wine Month Promotion



Ruth Negga and Joel Edgarton star in the critically acclaimed Loving film, released in November in select theaters around the country. Based on the historic court case that occurred in Virginia, the film has already earned several Golden Globe nominations, with considerable buzz for the upcoming Oscars.

loving movie poster



Virginia is for Lovers spread holiday cheer through the 12 Days of Giving, a program that partnered the tourism industry with local food and beverage businesses to provide holiday gifts for fans and their friends during the season. To learn about future Virginia is for Lovers promotions, follow VisitVirginia on Instagram.



2016 was packed with the opening of amazing new restaurants in every region, many utilizing locally sourced and organic ingredients to bring the best flavors of Virginia to your plate. Tons of breweries, cideries, and wineries also opened throughout Virginia to provide even more destinations for weekend fun with your friends.

Heirloom Restaurant Graduate Hotel Charlottesville



Did we miss any notable events that occurred in the past year? Tell us a few 2016 highlights from your Virginia travels in the comments below!

© pkeppel for Virginia’s Travel Blog, 2016. |

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About FunRVA

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

Patricia Keppel

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