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Disc Golf, Spikeball, Quidditch, & More: Where to Play Niche Sports in Virginia

Disc Golf, Spikeball, Quidditch, & More: Where to Play Niche Sports in Virginia

Virginia is quickly becoming a go-to destination for niche sports of all types. Sports such as Quidditch, Spikeball, Disc Golf and FootGolf to just name a few that have been hosted at the wide variety of state-of-the-art venues spread throughout the Commonwealth. One thing is for certain, Virginia loves to host niche sports.

Quidditch

The most popular sport among wizards and witches, Quidditch is quickly becoming quite popular among humans as well. Based on the fictional game from the book “Harry Potter”, quidditch is a fast-paced 7v7 contact sports which was founded in 2005 and is now played in over 39 countries. Mounted on broomsticks, players compete on a hockey rink sized pitch with five balls in play during a match. One quaffle, a volleyball which is used to score points, three dodgeballs which are called bludgers are used to knock out other players temporarily and a tennis ball called the snitch which must be caught to end the game.

In July of 2019, Glover Park in Henrico County hosted the Pan-American Quidditch Games where over a 100 athletes from North, Central, South America and the Caribbean competed. Glover Park consists of 4 lighted multi-purpose synthetic turf fields, 8 sand Volleyball courts, and a pavilion area with restrooms. Along with hosting quidditch, the facility has hosted football, ultimate, lacrosse, volleyball, soccer and more.

Disc Golf

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Like regular golf in many ways other than the fact that players use a frisbee “disc” to negotiate a course of 18 holes. The goal of Disc Golf is to make your way from each tee to hole in the fewest number of strokes. The courses are usually very different from each other and consists of many obstacles which makes the game very challenging.

In 2019 Spotsylvania hosted the United States Women’s Disc Golf Championships at three different courses which included Cannon Ridge, Hawk Hollow, as well as Loriella Park. These courses provide numerous challenges, and are highly regarded by recreational players, professional competitors, and everyone in between. Check out this article featuring 21 Disc Golf Courses in Virginia which range from open courses along the coastal plains to the arduous elevation changes in the mountains of Virginia.

Ultimate

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While the game of Ultimate has been around for quite some time, it has recently started picking up more traction. What sets ultimate apart from most sports is the fact that it focuses on self- officiating regardless of the level of competition. Much like soccer the sport requires a high level of endurance along with aerial passing skills of football. Played between two teams of seven players on a rectangular pitch with each end having an end zone much like football. The goal of the game is to pass the disc to a teammate standing or running into the end zone. However, unlike Football you cannot run with the disc in your hand but must pass it on to another teammate to work the disc up the field towards the opponents end zone.

While Ultimate tournaments have been hosted all around Virginia, a facility that has recently put itself on the map for hosting ultimate tournaments is the Smith River Sports Complex (SRSC) in Martinsville. SRSC most recently hosted the Oak Creek Invite College Ultimate Tournament in 2020. Located on 90+ acres, SRSC has a combination of 6 synthetic turf and grass fields along with a pavilion area with restrooms and a concession building. This facility is also used for many different sports such as soccer, lacrosse, football and field hockey.

FootGolf

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When golf meets the soccer ball, we end up with the fast-growing sport of FootGolf. Played with a regular size soccer ball and very similar rules to golf, the objective of the game is to get the ball into the 21-inch diameter hole with the least amount of strokes. FootGolf became an official sport in the United States in 2011. Much like golf, footgolf is a precision sport where players must learn the roll of the ball along with navigating the different terrain that each course presents.

Virginia has quite a few golf courses that have started offering footgolf. Most recently Winton Farm Golf Course was used as the competition course during the 2019 State Games of America. Surrounded by mountains and with a lake on the course, you can expect beautiful sceneries while you play 18 holes of FootGolf.

Spikeball

Played in a 2v2 format, Spikeball is a quick reaction net sport inspired by the concepts of Volleyball. While it was founded in 1989 the sport was mostly dormant until its revival in 2008. The sport is often highlighted on SportsCenter and House of Highlights social media channels due to its propensity to produce unbelievable acrobatic plays.

Spikeball held their 2019 National Championship event in Chesterfield at the River City Sportsplex. With 12 synthetic turf fields, the 115-acre complex is one of the country’s largest collection of lighted synthetic turf fields with the ability to host sports such as football, field hockey, lacrosse, soccer and more. The facility also offers a concession stand along with a vendor village area which makes it ideal to host large events.

The post Disc Golf, Spikeball, Quidditch, & More: Where to Play Niche Sports in Virginia appeared first on Virginia’s Travel Blog.

About FunRVA

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

WanderLove: A Road Trip Through Madison County

WanderLove: A Road Trip Through Madison County

“Let’s take a drive in the country!” If those words spark tingles of anticipation for discovering gently rolling hills, wide open pastures, and towering forests, Madison County will fulfill your daydreams and deliver even more. 

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PHOTO CREDIT: M.A.P DRONES

Verdant and peaceful, Madison recalls the countryside of a hundred years ago. Farmhouses abound with their lowing cows and magnificent horses. Dotted with inns and B&B’s, Madison County is the perfect place to wander, explore, rediscover yourself and reconnect with your loved ones. The town of Madison is the hub that can anchor your adventure.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, please contact individual businesses before visiting, as these details may change at any time. 

ROUTE 231 (OLD BLUE RIDGE TURNPIKE): FROM MADISON TO ETLAN

22 miles, approximately 36 minutes

In the town of Madison, a wide and welcoming front porch invites you to explore She She on Main, an upscale consignment shop, where finds can include bejeweled satin gowns, custom jewelry and accessories. The newly-opened toy shop is sure to delight. COVID Note: Childrens’ masks and upscale hand sanitizer/beauty packages are available here. Everyday wear, household décor and more round out the offerings. 

The veteran-owned American eatery Mad Local is just up the street. Enjoy southern food served with a smile. Check out the fried green tomatoes for a tasty starter. The menu features local meats and produce, and wine and beer sourced in and around the county.

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Be sure to drop by the Madison County Visitors Center, halfway to your next destination, to get the latest news on events, activities and other happenings in the area.

Detour off VA 231 at Banco and pick up VA 670 to discover a truly delightful artists’ enclave. Possum’s Store (A Curious Place) in Criglersville showcases pottery, stained glass, abstract wood sculpture, and yes, decorative possums, created by local artists and artisans. The bright and airy space in a former life served as the general store, circa 1900. COVID Note: Workshops here are on hold, but live music is again scheduled monthly. 

About a minute up the road you will come upon Rose River Farm. At Douglas Dear’s fisher’s paradise, crystal clear spring water flowing over a rocky bed provides an ideal environment for trophy trout. Catch and release fly fishing is a fantastic way to pass the day in quiet, pristine surroundings. Private and group lessons are offered for the uninitiated, or to brush up on your skills. For full immersion, book a luxury yurt-style cabin for an overnight stay right on the property. 

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Photo Credit: Sam Dean, IG account: @sdeanphotos

Horseback riding, apple picking and hayrides are just a few experiences offered at the expansive Graves Mountain Farm and Lodge. The farm encompasses 1,100 acres of streams, ponds, forests and meadows for hiking and fishing. Rock on the porch and enjoy scenic views or stay as active as you care to be. Horseback rides last from an hour and extend to as long as six. Pick-your-own apples is a great fall adventure. The farm offers 27 different varieties – you will no doubt find a new favorite! 

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PHOTO CREDIT: M.A.P DRONES

Winding VA 642 takes you north to Etlan. A LOVEworks sculpture marks the entry to Ducard Vineyards, welcoming you to one of Virginia’s first solar powered wineries. Reserve a table on the back patio and relax with your favorite bottle while enjoying a stunning view of the mountains of Shenandoah National Park. Check their calendar for wine and food pairing events in the barrel room and seated tastings of premium selections and library wines that you can reserve in advance. Ducard is one of the southernmost stops on the Blue Ridge Whisky Wine Loop which you can continue north to explore. 

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Or reconnect to VA 231 and take a right, turning south where the road is known as FT Valley Road. On this most scenic byway you’ll find Blue Quartz Winery and Shotwell Run Brewing Company, located at the same address so you can sample wines, beers, and cider all in the same tasting room. COVID Note: Outside seating and curbside pick up only, reservations recommended. 

Hotels, Resorts, & Other Lodging

ROUTE 29: FROM DOWNTOWN MADISON TO LEON

25 miles, approximately 45 minutes

This section of Route 29, known as the Tween Rivers Trail, encompasses many of the highlights of Madison County and beyond. This leg of the journey guides you into the heart of Madison, nestled between the Rapidan and Rappahannock Rivers. 

An abundance of outdoor space, complete with picnic tables and tented areas, make a visit to Bald Top Brewery a pleasant stop. Sample brewer Mike’s array of artisan beers, and let owners Dave and Julie fill you in on details while you enjoy some delicious food from the rotation of local food trucks that have partnered with the brewery. Check their calendar for events and live entertainment.

Hop back onto VA 231 and drive north through town. Early American style hand-crafted furniture is the mainstay at regionally-renowned Clore. The family’s heritage dates back to 1830, and pride in craftsmanship is evident. Durable hardwoods such as cherry, oak and walnut infuse each piece with a strength and spirit not often found in today’s disposable culture. 

An early pioneer of Virginia’s resurgent wine scene, Prince Michel Vineyards is one of the commonwealth’s largest wineries. Winemaker Brad Hanson has been crafting delicious quaffs here for over two decades. Brad’s wines have been awarded 400 medals (and counting!) in competition. The tasting room features a large oval bar joined to a glass-walled catwalk that lets you peek into the winery cellar below. Stock up on those necessary – or frivolous – wine accessories found in the gift shop. A further treat for fans of Virginia’s great wines, Prince Michel offers luxurious suites located in the vineyards behind the winery. 

Drive north to Leon and make a right into VA 631 to take the long, meandering way to Spruce Rock Farm. Open from Thanksgiving to Christmas Eve, this family-owned Christmas tree farm offers blue spruce, canaan fir, fraser, concolor fir, and white spruce. Just stop and breathe in the intoxicating scent of evergreens. 

Heading to Revalation Vineyards, resist the urge to spell check: the winery is named for the town of Reva and the grapes have all the regular names: viognier, chardonnay, vidal blanc. Revalation Vineyard is the project of an international couple who fell in love with Madison’s rolling countryside. Julien and Francoise Seillier-Moiseiwitsch carefully planned and developed their farm over a decade. Only opening in 2018, the experimental vineyards were refined to focus on the best-producing red and white vines. A tin-roofed log cabin reclaimed from a farm further south serves to ground a delightful tasting experience. COVID Note: Reservations required. 

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PHOTO CREDIT: M.A.P DRONES

If you’re looking for additional spots to eat along this route, dine at Prince Michel Vineyards or Tap 29 Brewery, which has a pub-style menu and plenty of outdoor seating.

Hotels, Resorts, & Other Lodging

ROUTE 29: LEON TO ORANGE 

20 miles, 30 minutes

Just outside the town of Madison, farmers and artisans ply their trades. Head south on VA 287. At Madison County Farmers Market, their motto is “Eating local means better taste and supporting family farms.” All the folks selling at the market actually live here, and grow the food only minutes away. From just-picked vegetables to eggs, poultry, meat, wine and beer, taste the freshest that Madison has to offer. COVID Note: Currently, you must preorder and pick-up. 

A hidden gem in the same vein is Madison Gardens, just five minutes down the road. In addition to farm-fresh produce, you’ll find a sweet selection of plants and flowers. 

Mennonite baked goods have a justifiably stellar reputation. Somehow the family-made, simple recipes yield the most delicious hand-held fry pies, shoofly pie, and German chocolate cupcakes which is why Yoder’s Country Market is a fine place to replenish while roaming the backroads. Get lunch at the counter and enjoy at the outdoor picnic tables crafted by Amish and Mennonite artisans. Visit the petting zoo too, kids or no kids. 

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PHOTO CREDIT: M.A.P DRONES

Wolftown Road leads west to another exciting destination. Early Mountain Vineyards’ grand lodge atmosphere melds seamlessly with their casually sophisticated wines. A certain luxury and ease pervade the place, owing perhaps to the touch of owners Jean and Steve Case of AOL fame/fortune. Honored with the commonwealth’s highest award in 2019 for their Eluvium red blend, Jean Case is an advocate for all the fine wines of Virginia, which she features in her tasting bar alongside Early Mountain’s own. 

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Photo Credit: Todd Wright, IG account: @toddwrightphoto

Returning east to VA 29, head south to find quite an astounding assortment of finds. Most unexpectedly, bratwurst, weisswurst (served by folks in drindl skirts and lederhosen) surprise and delight at the Bavarian Chef. A Madison mainstay since 1974, the restaurant serves up the best wiener schnitzel this side of the Danube. COVID Note: Take-out as well as onsite dining are on offer. 

You’ll encounter comfortable log cabin décor at Plow & Hearth, the brick and mortar (so to speak) home of the national retail catalog that overflows with warm flannel sheet sets, wrought iron fireplace tools, hummingbird feeders – all you need to recreate your mountain hideaway fantasies. 

Then round out your dreams with original artwork from MAD Arts (Madison Arts Exchange), a shop you can browse endlessly. Over 200 local artisans show all sorts of one of a kind items in the charming two-story house where room unfolds into room unfolds into room. 

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PHOTO CREDIT: M.A.P DRONES

Make the next u-turn and head back north on VA 29 to find – the largest display of outdoor water fountains in the state at Southern Grace. Explore the eclectic garden pieces and home décor under towering trees. Call ahead, you may need an appointment. 

Mosey off the beaten path – slightly north and to the east – and make your way through more gorgeous countryside to The Inn and Tavern at Meander. The epitome of Southern hospitality and elegance, Meander’s 1700’s inn and restaurant display the charm of a different era. Formal gardens are frequented by hummingbirds, tea can be had while rocking on the expansive porch. While Washington may not have slept here, frequent visitors in the past include Thomas Jefferson and the Marquis de Lafayette. 

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Photo Credit: M.A.P Drones

Hotels, Resorts, & Other Lodging

BONUS EXCURSION

Shenandoah National Park extends 70 miles along the skyline of the scenic Blue Ridge Mountains. Madison County is home to two of the park’s most popular attractions. 

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Photo Credit: Cameron Davidson

You can park in Nethers near the end of SR 601, at the base of Old Rag Mountain. It’s a five-mile hike to the 3,284 ft. summit where you’ll be amazed by the 360 degree view. For the more adventurous, there’s a 9-mile circuit trail that involves a significant bit of rock climbing over the ancient granite.

White Oak Canyon Trail exhibits a dazzling display of no fewer than six waterfalls, tallest of which is 86 feet. Pack your hiking boots – and your bathing suit – for this excursion. Swimming holes at the base of the falls will serve to refresh!

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Photo Credit: Aaron Watson @aaronwatsonphotography

Continue on your WanderLove way by venturing south into Orange County and discover more expressions of Virginia’s LOVE signs nestled into scenic byways. 

The post WanderLove: A Road Trip Through Madison County appeared first on Virginia’s Travel Blog.

About FunRVA

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

The Best Places to Take in a Virginia Sunrise or Sunset

The Best Places to Take in a Virginia Sunrise or Sunset

Packed with mountains, beaches, lakes, and rivers, Virginia has countless picturesque spots to take in a sunrise or a sunset. As the sun rises and sets over these varied landscapes, something truly magical happens, creating unforgettable moments that are stunningly beautiful.

While you can really catch a sunrise or sunset anywhere, we’ve picked a few of our favorites. Head to one of these destinations at dawn or dusk to get a glimpse of Virginia at her finest! 

High Knob Observation TowerNorton

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Photo Credit: Brad Deel IG account: @brad.deel

Perched at the top of Stone Mountain’s High Knob Recreation Area in Virginia’s Heart of Appalachia region, the High Knob Observation Tower sits at an elevation of over 4,000 feet. On a clear day, you’ll get expansive views of five states from the top (Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, and West Virginia). The observation tower was reconstructed in 2014 and is now handicapped accessible, allowing all visitors to enjoy the breathtaking sunrises and sunsets seen from the peak.

Virginia Beach Boardwalk—Virginia Beach

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The Virginia Beach Boardwalk runs parallel to the sandy beachfront, so you’ll never lose sight of the ocean as you stroll along this iconic landmark. The Boardwalk is an ideal place for catching a sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean, and if you’re lucky, you may also spot dolphins leaping above the water during dawn hours. 

Salamander Resort—Middleburg

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Photo Credit: Salamander Resort

Salamander Resort features 168 luxurious rooms, a lavish spa, a full-service equestrian center, and both indoor and outdoor pools. Set on 340 acres in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the uninterrupted rolling landscape creates one of the best places to enjoy a sunrise or a sunset in the Middleburg area.

Wachapreague

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Photo Credit: Adam Lewis IG account: @adamtlewis

One of the many small towns on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, Wachapreague is located on the eastern coast of the shoreline, providing an excellent vantage point for sunrises. Wachapreague has long been a well-known destination for avid sport fishermen, but the town has shied away from the larger crowds seen in many coastal destinations. Instead, Wachapreague’s residents have chosen to protect their vast acreage of unspoiled wetlands and barrier islands (some of the last in the mid-Atlantic States) so you can take in the sunrise with hardly a soul in sight. 

The Richmond City Skyline

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Photo Credit: Adam Lewis IG account: @adamtlewis

While many choose undeveloped landscapes to take in a sunrise or sunset, Richmond’s city skyline offers a more urban kind of beauty. One of the best places to take in a sunrise or sunset over Richmond’s skyline is from either Floodwall Park on the south side of the James River or Belle Isle, a 54-acre island in the middle of the river easily accessed from a pedestrian bridge that runs from Tredegar Street on the north side of the James.

James Madison’s MontpelierMontpelier Station

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Photo Credit: Aaron Watson @aaronwatsonphotography

The lifelong home of President James Madison, Father of the Constitution and architect of the Bill of Rights, Montpelier is comprised of over 2,600 acres in Virginia’s Orange County. Tour the estate later in the day to catch a spectacular sunset over the grounds. 

Hughlett Point Natural Area Preserve—Kilmarnock

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Hughlett Point Natural Area Preserve is made up of protected wetlands, undeveloped beaches, dunes, and upland forests. Several threatened animals call the preserve home and it is an important wintering area for migrating waterfowl and songbirds. Hughlett Point is also a habitat for bald eagles, osprey and northern harriers. With so much wildlife and untouched landscapes, Hughlett Point Natural Area Preserve is a gorgeous spot for a sunrise or sunset. 

Primland Resort—Meadows of Dan

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A luxury resort surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains, Primland offers spectacular views, mountain-top chalets, elegant dining, and a wide array of recreational activities such as sport shooting, ATV tours, and horseback riding. With mountains all around, you’re sure to catch a beautiful sunrise or sunset at Primland Resort. 

The Roanoke Star—Roanoke

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Photo Credit: Sam Dean, IG account: @sdeanphotos

Enjoy the scenic views of the Roanoke Valley from Mill Mountain Overlook at the Roanoke Star. Built in 1949 and visible from just about every part of the Valley, the splendid 100-foot Star is situated on the top of Mill Mountain, and from this vantage point, both dusk and dawn are breathtaking. 

False Cape State ParkVirginia Beach

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Photo Credit: Trevor Frost, IG account: @tbfrost

Located between Virginia Beach’s Back Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, False Cape State Park is one of the few remaining undeveloped areas along the eastern seaboard of the U.S. The park offers an opportunity to get back to nature in a unique setting, just minutes from the bustle of Virginia Beach but in a seemingly remote landscape. Plus, with oceanfront primitive campsites, you can hike out, set up a tent to take in sunset and sleep under the stars, and then wake to a picture-perfect sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean. 

The Blue Ridge Parkway

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Photo Credit: Scott K. Brown

The 469-mile  Blue Ridge Parkway follows the Appalachian Mountains and boasts some of the most spectacular scenery in the world. Running from the northern Shenandoah Valley of Virginia to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina, the route has dozens of scenic overlooks where you can stop and take in a sunrise or sunset. Want to add more picturesque mountain views to your trip? The Blue Ridge Parkway connects to Skyline Drive on the northern end, taking you through the famed Shenandoah National Park

High Bridge Trail State Park—Farmville

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Photo Credit: Kyle LaFerriere, IG account: @laferriere.photography

Farmville’s High Bridge Trail State Park is a multi-use trail used for hiking, bicycling, and horseback riding. Its centerpiece is the majestic High Bridge, which is more than 2,400 feet long and 160 feet above the Appomattox River, and from this vantage point, both sunrise and sunset are absolutely stunning. 

Netherlands Carillon—Arlington

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Photo Credit: Tom Hamilton, IG account: @tomhamiltonphotography

If you’re looking for a fantastic sunrise or sunset in Northern Virginia, head to the Netherlands Carillon in Arlington. Standing near the Iwo Jima Memorial and Arlington National Cemetery, the Netherlands Carillon has one of the best views in the area, overlooking the Potomac River with Washington, D.C. in the background. 

McAfee Knob—Catawba

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Photo Credit: Sam Dean, IG account: @sdeanphotos

How about pairing sweeping views with one of Virginia’s best hikes? A 4.4-mile trail (8.8 miles there and back) will take you to the awe-inspiring McAfee Knob, one of the most photographed spots on the Appalachian Trail. The Knob offers an almost 270-degree panorama of the Catawba Valley and North Mountain to the West, Tinker Cliffs to the North, and the Roanoke Valley to the East. On a clear day, you’ll have some of the best views in the Southern Shenandoah Valley from the top. This is a popular hike, but if you set out early to catch the sunrise, you’ll likely reach the peak before it gets too busy.

Cape Charles

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Photo Credit: Sam Dean, IG account: @sdeanphotos

A charming town on the southern end of Virginia’s Eastern Shore, Cape Charles is the ultimate low-key beach destination. Catch a sunrise or sunset from the beach, or take a kayak tour with SouthEast Expeditions to Chatham Vineyards. Beginning at a working watermen’s wharf on the shores of Nassawadox Creek, the 45-minute paddle takes you through the marsh waters before arriving at Chatham Vineyards, where you can relax and sip a nice glass of Virginia wine. Pro tip: the 2:30pm tour time will give you the chance to see a sunset over the water during the shorter days of the year. 

Breaks Interstate Park—Breaks

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Photo Credit: Joshua Moore, IG account: @jtm71

Straddling the Virginia/Kentucky border, Breaks Interstate Park is one of only two Interstate Parks in the nation and encompasses over 4,500 acres of greenwood lands and mountain scenery. The best spot to catch a sunrise or sunset in the park is probably overlooking the “Grand Canyon of the South”, the deepest gorge east of the Mississippi River. In addition to amazing views, the park offers elk viewing tours, miles of hiking trails, fishing, paddle boats, cabin rentals, campsites, a lodge and visitor center, an on-site restaurant, and a gift shop.

Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge—Chincoteague

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The Eastern Shore’s Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge is a 14,000-acre wildlife preserve that sits primarily on the Virginia side of Assateague Island (some sections are also located on the Maryland side of the island). The island is home to a herd of wild ponies and is well known for its migratory birds, and with hours running from 6am-6pm, you can witness both sunrise and sunset from the refuge depending on the time of year. 

Where do you catch the most spectacular sunrises and sunsets in Virginia? Share your favorite spots with us in the comments below! 

The post The Best Places to Take in a Virginia Sunrise or Sunset appeared first on Virginia’s Travel Blog.

About FunRVA

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

WanderLove: A Road Trip From Williamsburg to Norfolk

WanderLove: A Road Trip From Williamsburg to Norfolk

Wanderlust is defined as a strong desire to travel, but here in Virginia, we call that feeling WanderLove. And while travel is a little bit different in 2020 due to COVID-19, you can still explore Virginia’s endless beauty with an epic road trip! To help you plan your next vacation out on the open road, we’ll be sharing a few of the most scenic and adventure-filled routes through the Commonwealth, including the best outdoor adventures, important sites, restaurants, and lodging options to add to your itinerary.

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On this road trip, we’re taking you through the Historic Triangle and Virginia’s Salty Southern Route, traveling to notable destinations like Colonial Williamsburg and Yorktown before venturing into Southern Virginia to slow down and enjoy the flavors that the region has become world-famous for. 

**WHILE WE HAVE SHARED COVID-19 ALTERNATE HOURS AND CLOSURES WHEN POSSIBLE, PLEASE CONTACT INDIVIDUAL BUSINESSES BEFORE VISITING, AS THESE DETAILS MAY CHANGE AT ANY TIME. INCLEMENT WEATHER MAY CLOSE THE PARKWAY. CALL 828-298-039 OR CHECK THE REAL-TIME CLOSURE MAP FOR STATUS.

COLONIAL PARKWAY: FROM WILLIAMSBURG TO YORKTOWN

10 miles, approximately 21 minutes from Williamsburg to Jamestown; 13 miles, approximately 23 minutes from Williamsburg to Yorktown

Use Williamsburg as your home base, branching out following the Colonial Parkway to Jamestown and then Yorktown. This is one of Virginia’s most beautiful coastal routes, so you won’t regret taking the time for a leisurely drive through the area to hit up these iconic history spots. 

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Photo Credit: Bill Crabtree Jr.

While in Jamestown, visit both Historic Jamestowne (the original site built by early Colonial settlers) and the Jamestown Settlement (the museum that recreates the cultures and traditions of the early Colonial settlers and the indigenous peoples of the area). 

In Historic Jamestown, you can see the remains of the original site where Pocahontas, John Smith, and John Rolfe walked, all of which have been painstakingly unearthed by archaeologists as they strive to learn more about the early 17th century way of life. Drive the park’s five-mile loop to get a feel for the landscape that made this area a prime choice for the Colonial settlers. Stop into the Glasshouse of 1608 to see live glass-blowing demonstrations and learn about how early settlers practiced this technique in Jamestown. 

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Photo Credit: Michael Lavin

The Jamestown Settlement is a must for visitors of any age, diving deeper into the history of the early Colonial settlers and the Powhatan people that inhabited the shores of Virginia in the 1600s. The exhibits here use the knowledge gained from the archaeologists working at Historic Jamestowne, adding context and story to the artifacts discovered there. In addition to Virginia history, the museum examines the lives of the Colonial settlers while they were still in England, tracing the stories that led them on their journeys to the New World. Part of this aspect includes recreations of the original three ships that brought the Colonists over, the Susan Constant, Godspeed, and Discovery. Climb aboard the ships and hear from costumed interpreters about their arduous trip over the Atlantic. 

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From Jamestown, you also have the option to jump on the Jamestown-Scotland Ferry, which will take you across the James River towards Surry, a destination that you’ll have the option of exploring later in your itinerary. 

Follow the Colonial Parkway back to Williamsburg. Make sure you’re wearing good walking shoes, as the next stop on the itinerary is Colonial Williamsburg. The largest living history museum in the world, Colonial Williamsburg has over 300 acres, and every inch is packed full of American and Virginia history. From demonstrations of 18th-century trades like blacksmithing and brickmaker to art exhibits in restored historic buildings, you’ll feel immersed in the lifestyle of the 1700s. Walk through the pristine gardens and take a break in one of the half-dozen historic taverns to get lunch or enjoy a “pint” like an authentic Virginia Colonist. Watch reenactors perform military exercises as they march in costume through the grounds. And if you’re looking for a place to spend the night, the historic grounds have multiple lodging options available, including the five-star Williamsburg Inn and the newly renovated Williamsburg Lodge, part of the Marriott Autograph Collection. 

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Photo Credit: Mark Atkinson, IG account: @me_atkinson

The second leg of this road trip along the Colonial Parkway takes you from Williamsburg to Yorktown. Known for the Battle of Yorktown that would be the final major confrontation between the British and the Colonists during the American Revolution, this historic town has several important sites worth a visit during your trip. 

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Photo Credit: Skylar Arias Adventures, IG account: @skylar_arias_adventures

First, spend some time perusing the exhibits at the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, which tells the story of how American was founded. Be sure to catch the 16-minute film, “The Siege at Yorktown”, which includes immersive special effects like the smell of cannons and smoke that make you feel like you’re part of the action. After touring the museum, head outside to the outdoor living-history area and watch reenactors tell the stories of the soldiers, doctors, and Colonists that lived during the American Revolution, including a soldier that demonstrates how to fire the muskets typically used during battle. 

Next, Yorktown Battlefield gives you the chance to stand where the soldiers faced off. After watching the short film at the American Revolution Museum, you’ll be able to picture this pivotal battle clearly in your mind. Wrap up your historic Yorktown tour with the Yorktown Victory Monument, which honors the soldiers who fought for American Independence. 

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Photo Credit: Fred DeSousa

Venture over to Yorktown Beach to stroll along the sand and take in the view of the York River. Head out on the water for an unforgettable cruise with Alliance Yorktown Sailboat Charters. After returning to dry land, explore the shops and restaurants in Yorktown’s Riverwalk Landing, located right beside Yorktown Beach.  

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Photo Credit: Traveling Newlyweds, IG account: @traveling_newlyweds

Restaurants, Breweries, Wineries, & More

Fat CanaryRefined bistro serving upscale American fare and wines, with a cheese shop and outdoor patio. 

Le Yaca French RestaurantFrench fine dining restaurant in Williamsburg open for weekend brunch and daily lunch and dinner.

Williamsburg WineryHistoric winery & vineyards on the same property as Wedmore Place. 

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Photo Credit: Ron Magee

Waypoint Seafood & GrillSeafood restaurant in Williamsburg that celebrates all the flavors of the Chesapeake Bay. 

Fat Tuna Grill & Oyster HouseWilliamsburg seafood restaurant; menu features a raw bar, seafood sandwiches, and fresh-catch entrees. 

Alewerks Brewing CompanyPopular Williamsburg craft brewery with a great lineup of year-round beers as well as seasonal favorites, like the Pumpkin Spiced Ale and Coffeehouse Coffee Stout. 

Craft 31Williamsburg restaurant known for its menu of gourmet burgers, pizza, and a raw bar, as well as an extensive craft beer selection. 

Cochon on 2ndUpscale restaurant serving hand-crafted artisan food that combines local ingredients with eclectic culinary inspiration from around the world. 

Blue Talon BistroRestaurant in Williamsburg’s Historic Downtown that offers “serious comfort food”; open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. 

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Billsburg BreweryWilliamsburg brewery known for its traditional pilsners, lagers, and ales. 

Yorktown PubLocal seafood restaurant in Yorktown with a casual atmosphere. 

Water Street GrilleRestaurant located on the Historic Yorktown Beach known for an extensive craft beer list; serves a wide variety of food, from fresh-caught seafood to sandwiches, burgers, and pastas.  

Mobjack Bay Coffee Roasters & CafeCoffee shop and cafe in the historic Yorktown village that roasts their own coffee in-house. 

Hotels, Resorts, & Other Lodging

Kingsmill ResortWilliamsburg resort with a luxury spa, multiple on-site restaurants, an outdoor water park open seasonally, three golf courses, and a marina. 

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Williamsburg InnLuxury Colonial Williamsburg property with a wide range of guest services and amenities, including several on-site fine dining restaurants; pet-friendly rooms available. 

Williamsburg LodgeNewly renovated lodge in Colonial Williamsburg with an on-site restaurant, a full-service spa, a golf course, and a pool open seasonally; pet-friendly rooms available. 

Wedmore PlacePicturesque inn with 28 opulent rooms and suites on the same property as The Williamsburg Winery; most rooms have wood-burning fireplaces and include a complimentary continental breakfast at the on-site restaurant, Cafe Provencal. 

Great Wolf LodgeFamily-friendly resort with a 67,000 square foot indoor water park; several on-site dining options.

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Photo Credit: Joseph Leute

The Hornsby House InnHistoric five-room inn on Main Street in Yorktown. 

York River Inn Bed & BreakfastYorktown bed & breakfast that overlooks the York River; three unique rooms to choose from.  

ROUTE 17: FROM YORKTOWN TO SMITHFIELD

31 miles, approximately 50 minutes

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Photo Credit: Sanjeev Havanur, IG account: @sanjeevjhavanur

Leave Yorktown, following Route 17 southeast towards Newport News and the Virginia Living Museum. Walk through the open-air animal exhibits that include many species native to Virginia, including the Bald Eagle, Northern River Otters, Red Foxes, Wild Turkeys, and Bobcats, then check out some of the many other exhibits that cover everything from the incredible history of dinosaurs to current nature conservation techniques and the study of astronomy. If you’re traveling with kids, this museum is a perfect opportunity to blend vacation with education, teaching them about science, history, and nature all within a fun and interactive environment. 

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Photo Credit: The Vacation Channel IG account: @vacationchannels

Make a quick trip to The Mariners’ Museum Park, a museum that explores maritime history and heritage. While the museum is currently closed due to COVID-19, you can still take advantage of the Mariners’ Park and the Noland Trail, a 550-acre park, and a five-mile hiking trail that surrounds the Mariners’ Lake. Pack a picnic lunch for your outing and dine near the Lions Bridge, which overlooks the tranquil waters of the James River. 

Continue along Route 17, crossing the James River and traveling to Smithfield. Spend a few hours at Windsor Castle Park, a 208-acre public riverside park in the heart of Downtown Smithfield that features a woodland trail system, mountain biking path, dog park, kayak and canoe launch into the James River, and the park’s namesake, the historic Windsor Castle manor house. The estate, originally named Windsor Castle Farm, dates back to 1637 when the lands were part of a parcel bought by Arthur Smith, the founder of the town of Smithfield; today, the park is an important part of Smithfield’s Historic Downtown Walking Tour.

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Photo Credit: Patricia Bernshausen

In addition to history, don’t miss out on getting a true taste of Smithfield by sampling the local pork and peanut products. Part of the Salty Southern Route, Smithfield has become well-known for its hams, and if you’d like to purchase some delicious souvenirs to take home, head to Darden’s Country Store, an old-fashioned country store and smokehouse. You’ll likely find Virginia peanuts in every shop and grocery store within a 30-mile radius of Smithfield, but a few places to pick up these salty treats (as well as other local flavors) include Taste of Smithfield, Smithfield Station, and Smithfield Gourmet Bakery & Cafe. Look for Hubs Virginia Peanuts, a local brand and one of the top peanut producers in all of Virginia. If you want an immersive peanut experience, tack on a trip to Franklin County and The Hubs Vine, a market that offers Hubs peanuts as well as a variety of local foods and products, a wine bar, and fun games like life-size battleships, shuffleboard, and cornhole. 

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PHOTO CREDIT: PATRICIA BERNSHAUSEN

Travel northwest of Smithfield for a quick detour to Chippokes Plantation State Park in Surry County (also a part of the Salty Southern Route). Just across the James River from Historic Jamestown, Chippokes was established in 1619 and is one of the oldest continuously farmed plantations in the country. The park offers a glimpse into what life was like 400 years ago for early Colonists, but there are also modern outdoor recreational activities to be found within the park, such as 12 miles of biking, hiking, and horseback riding trails, fishing access along the river, and a campground and cabins for overnight experiences. 

Restaurants, Breweries, Wineries, & More

Fin SeafoodNewport News seafood restaurant with fresh cuisine made from an array of local, organic, and sustainable ingredients.

Second Street RestaurantUpscale yet casual restaurant serving American fare; locations in Williamsburg and Newport News.

Tradition Brewing CompanyAuthentic brewpub and craft brewery in Newport News creating flagship beers like the Tradition Craft Lager and Tradition West Coast IPA as well as seasonal favorites like the Persnickety Witch Pumpkin Ale and Oktoberfest Marzen. 

Ironclad Distillery Co.Newport News distillery that is known for its world-class bourbon and whiskey. 

Wharf Hill Brewing CompanyCraft brewery, bar, and restaurant in Smithfield with a selection of ten rotating craft beers on tap. 

Summerwind VineyardFamily-owned and -operated vineyard in Smithfield that is open Friday-Sunday. 

Taste of Smithfield RestaurantSmithfield restaurant serving authentic, fresh Southern food paired with a wide selection of local craft beers; retail shop connected to the restaurant carries local Virginia products like peanuts and Genuine Smithfield Ham. 

Q Daddy’s Pitmaster BBQBBQ restaurant in Smithfield owned by a second-generation Pitmaster; outdoor picnic tables available. 

Dock of the BaySeafood restaurant with locations in Carrollton, outside of Smithfield, and in Portsmouth; currently open for limited dine-in and carry-out. 

Vintage TavernSuffolk restaurant offering seasonal, Southern fare; limited indoor and outdoor seating available. 

Hotels, Resorts, & Other Lodging

The Smithfield InnHistoric bed & breakfast, restaurant, and tavern in Smithfield. 

Smithfield StationSmithfield waterfront inn with views of the Pagan River and fireplaces in every room; Jacuzzi tubs available in select suites. On-site dining, The Restaurant at Smithfield Station, known for the fresh seafood and dishes made with Smithfield Ham. 

The Lodge at Kiln CreekBoutique hotel outside of Newport News with balconied rooms. 

ROUTE 17: FROM SMITHFIELD TO NORFOLK

27 miles, approximately 47 minutes

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Photo Credit: Corey Pittman, IG account: @mainfocusmedia

Depart Smithfield and take Route 17 towards Norfolk. If you’ve got a bit of extra time, add in a short detour to Suffolk. This charming small town in Southern Virginia is known for the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, the largest intact section of a diverse and thriving ecosystem that once covered over a million acres spread over southeastern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina. A haven for a wide range of wildlife and rare plants, Great Dismal Swamp also has outdoor recreation opportunities, including hiking and biking trails, nature photography, and kayaking or canoeing on Lake Drummond, a 3,100-acre lake near the center of the swamp. Large, haunting cypress trees rise out of the still waters, creating an unforgettable backdrop for your paddling trip. For a more extreme option in outdoor recreation, consider booking a skydiving adventure with Skydive Suffolk and see Coastal Virginia from an unparalleled viewpoint. 

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Photo Credit: Trevor Frost, IG account: @tbfrost

Back on Route 17, continue to Norfolk; learn about the area’s rich naval history at Nauticus, a maritime science museum with interactive exhibits, live-action shows, and documentary films. But the biggest exhibit (both in terms of size and popularity) is the Battleship Wisconsin, one of the largest battleships ever built by the U.S. Navy. Take a self-guided tour of the massive ship’s deck, or purchase an additional guided tour with your museum ticket to hear about the ship’s important contributions to American Naval victories during World War II. 

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Photo Credit: Fred DeSousa

Depending on what you’re interested in, Norfolk has a little something for everyone; the Norfolk Botanical Garden provide a serene break from the bustle of the city and is a must-see for any budding horticulturists; for visitors with kids, the Virginia Zoo is home to over 700 animals from around the world and offers another opportunity for combining education and entertainment; shopping enthusiasts and foodies should explore Norfolk’s pedestrian-friendly Granby Street.  

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In addition to walking the streets of Norfolk, you can fit in more outdoor recreation within the city limits by hiking or biking the Elizabeth River Trail. This 10.5-mile paved trail curves along Norfolk’s waterfront, allowing for a leisurely and picturesque urban outing that takes you through Norfolk State University, Downtown Norfolk, Harbor Park, and other notable districts of the city. 

While Norfolk is the last stop on this WanderLove adventure, there are several other cities and towns close by that merit a visit, including Portsmouth, Chesapeake, and Virginia Beach. Consider extending your trip a few days to squeeze in some extra fun in these nearby coastal destinations.

Restaurants, Breweries, Wineries, & More

CommuneFarm to table restaurant with locations in Norfolk and Virginia Beach that utilize seasonal ingredients that are sourced as local as possible, with some of the produce grown in their own garden; menu changes frequently to reflect the season’s current flavors. 

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AW Shucks Raw Bar & GrillNorfolk seafood restaurant and raw bar in the Ghent neighborhood that utilizes local and seasonal ingredients. 

LeGrand KitchenNorfolk restaurant that offers clever seasonal American fare; currently have outdoor dining, takeout, and limited indoor seating. 

O’Connor Brewing CompanyNorfolk craft brewery and taproom with over 20 rotating beers on tap. 

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Blanca Food & WineRestaurant in Norfolk cooking a blend of Spanish, French, and Italian food and featuring an Old World wine list.

Voila!Gourmet International cuisine in a laid-back environment in the historic district of Norfolk. 

Grain & Saltine—Two restaurants inside Norfolk’s The Main Hotel; Grain serves elevated bar food and a large array of craft brews and has a rooftop patio that offers a fantastic view of downtown Norfolk; Saltine is a fine dining concept with fresh seafood. 

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Todd Jurich’s BistroUpscale dining and casual elegance combine in this Norfolk restaurant that sources many ingredients from local farmers and producers for their American fare.  

Freemason Abbey RestaurantNorfolk restaurant in a historic building that has been a local favorite for over 30 years; serve steaks, seafood, pasta dishes, and other American fare. 

Doumar’s Cones & BarbecueBarbecue restaurant and ice cream shop known for being the first place to use an ice cream cone machine; their cones are still made fresh by hand, creating an irresistible aroma at the restaurant. 

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Photo Credit: Bill Crabtree Jr.

Rip Rap Brewing Co.Family-friendly craft brewery in Norfolk with a wide range of beers, from light ales to dark stouts and porters; offering nine rotating beers on tap.

Mermaid WineryWinery with locations in Norfolk’s Ghent neighborhood and Virginia Beach’s Chix’s Beach area; in addition to their own wines, they also serve a selection of charcuterie, cheeses, and full lunch and dinner menus at both locations.

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Hotels, Resorts, & Other Lodging

Glass Light Hotel & GalleryBoutique hotel and glass art gallery in the heart of Downtown Norfolk; part of the Marriott Autograph Collection. 

The Inn at Four Eleven YorkNorfolk inn and restaurant that blends modern comforts with a rustic style; four unique luxury suites. 

Hilton Norfolk the MainViews of the Elizabeth River in Downtown Norfolk; features an indoor pool and a rooftop bar and restaurant. 

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The Founders Inn & SpaLocated in Virginia Beach but only eight miles from the Norfolk International Airport, an upscale inn set on 26 pristine acres with an indoor swimming pool, on-site restaurant, full-service spa, and pet-friendly accommodations. 

The Pinner HouseBoutique bed and breakfast in Suffolk with individually-designed rooms, suites, and a Carriage House.

The Truitt HouseElegant 1909 mansion in Suffolk that has been restored into a bed and breakfast with on-site dining. 

Looking for more WanderLove road trip adventures? Use these guides to help you map out your next Virginia getaway! 

And check out these additional articles from our partners: 

The post WanderLove: A Road Trip From Williamsburg to Norfolk appeared first on Virginia’s Travel Blog.

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WanderLove: A Road Trip Through Lexington & Rockbridge County

WanderLove: A Road Trip Through Lexington & Rockbridge County

Rockbridge County is the southern gateway to the Shenandoah Valley. Conveniently located at the junction of I-81 and I-64 W, visitors have fast and easy access to our “big backyard” – 100,000 acres of public forests, parks, recreation areas and two rivers where outdoor enthusiasts of all ages and skill levels can hike, bike, paddle, fish and camp.

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Lexington is the perfect hub for this outdoor lover’s itinerary. The historic downtown is completely walkable and boasts over 65 indie-owned shops and eateries, in addition to numerous museums, historic sites and tours. Stay at one of the three hotels within walking distance of the historic district and universities: Hampton Inn Col Alto, The Georges Inn, ranked the #2 hotel in the U.S. by Travel + Leisure, or The Gin Hotel, an Ascend property.

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For those looking for a more rustic or rural setting, the area offers many cabin and vacation home rentals including properties specializing in outdoor recreation such as Sugar Tree Inn, Fox Hill B&B, Steeles Manor Tavern B&B/Cabins, and Hummingbird Inn.

Cross Natural Bridge State Park off your bucket-list. The geological wonder is an awe-inspiring 215-foot high limestone arch carved from Cedar Creek, and is estimated to be 450 million years old. Today, the Virginia State Park offers educational programs, over 6 miles of trails and the Kids in Parks Track Trail and a NatureExplore play area at the new Children’s Discovery Area.

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Photo Credit: Shannon Terry

Get a new perspective of the Blue Ridge Mountains! Spend the afternoon paddling, fishing and wildlife viewing on the 65 miles of the Upper James River Water Trail. This waterway features Class I-III rapids, ensuring paddlers a segment suitable to their skill level. Bring your own equipment or utilize an outfitter who will provide gear and shuttle transportation.

After a jaunt on the river or trail, “Drink in the Shenandoah Valley” with a cold craft brew along the Shenandoah Beerwerks Trail. Relax and enjoy the companionship of good friends amidst beautiful farms and mountains, breathe in the scent of ancient forests on a hike, explore a fascinating new community, taste the fresh flavors of a farm-to-table meal, or listen to music under the stars as you discover a new favorite band. Don’t forget to get your Beerwerks Passport stamped at 8 of the 15 breweries to receive a commemorative Beerwerks t-shirt and bragging rights.

Get an early start on two wheels as you breeze past pastoral landscapes, quaint cities and towns, and historic, natural and cultural resources with a Rockbridge County cycling route. Experts can start in charming Buena Vista, an Appalachian Trail Community, and climb their way to the iconic Blue Ridge Parkway, “America’s Favorite Drive.”

The Lexington/Goshen Pass Loop will wind along the Maury River on Rt. 39, Appalachian Waters Scenic Byway with many pull offs to enjoy river access and views of Goshen Pass, a three mile-long gorge in the Goshen and Little North Mountain Wildlife Management Area.

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Or peddle around the Villages of Fairfield, Raphone and Brownsburg on a “tour de farm” route visiting farms, a vineyard, grist mill, community museum and more rural beauty than you can imagine. Many of the stops are members of the Fields of Gold Farm Trail.

And for those looking for an epic cross county experience, cycle a segment of the TransAmerica Bike Trail along Scenic Byway Rt. 56. And for those who wish to explore the natural beauty from behind a windshield, any of these routes make the perfect scenic drive.

Put on your walking shoes and explore Glen Maury Park in Buena Vista. This 315-acre park includes camping, hiking/mountain bike trails, fishing on the Maury River, an Olympic-sized pool, playing fields, picnic areas, and the 18-hole Rick Jacobson designed links course. Catch a bluegrass, gospel or beach music concert. Stroll the Buena Vista Riverwalk, a two-mile flood wall that connects the park to the nearby Chessie Nature Trail.

The Chessie Nature Trail parallels the Maury River, connecting Lexington and Buena Vista. A 7-mile rail-trail, the Chessie’s path is part of the old Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad bed as well as canal towpaths and boat lochs. It’s the perfect place to hike and run because it’s easily accessible while also boasting abundant natural beauty, wildlife, and farmsteads.

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There are Hidden Gems just waiting to be discovered in Rockbridge County!

Take a peaceful moment and discover the flora and fauna tucked away just 1.6 miles from the historic downtown district at the Boxerwood Nature Center and Woodland Garden, a 15-acre arboretum featuring over 12,000 trees, fields, woodlands, ponds, and native and unusual plant specimens. There is a Kids Play Trail and Fairy Forest and a summer music series for the young at heart. Go on a high-tech treasure hunt using GPS coordinates to locate hidden geocaches.

The Gems of Rockbridge Geocaching Trail consists of ten geocaches that are strategically placed to highlight the natural beauty and cultural heritage of the gateway communities along the Blue Ridge Parkway: Vesuvius, Buena Vista, Lexington, Glasgow, and Natural Bridge.

Looking for a decadent slice of homemade pie? Local jams, jellies and pickles? A souvenir to take home? Visit a nostalgic Country Store! Opened in 1954, Layne’s Country Store is famous for their Virginia Country Ham and Hoop Cheese sandwich, which was ranked in the top 10 “Top 50 places in Virginia to get a country ham sandwich” by USAToday.

Photo Credit: Patty Williams

Natural Bridge General Store & Natty B’s Cafe serves up the best homemade pies around and is a great place to fuel up with a Blue Plate Special for a day on the river.

Gertie’s Country Store & Deli in Vesuvius was a finalist on the Blue Ridge Parkway Foodie Tour with their infused pulled pork BBQ sandwich. The store’s walls are covered with signatures from visitors from around the world, and is a convenient stopover for travelers on the TransAmerica Bicycle Trail, who can camp out back for free.

To come full circle, visit the Brownsburg Museum’s new exhibit, “Cradle to Coffin: Remembering the Country Store,” which includes an actual screen door where visitors step back in time and enter a one-room replica of a country store. The replica is complete with chairs so you can sit and “loaf” – which was the “term of art” used by the men of the village when they hung out at Whitesell’s Grocery or Swope’s store or Bud Wade’s barber shop and pool hall.

Photo Credit: Patty Williams

You’ll want to remember your “Small Towns, Big Backyard” road trip with a photo in front of the Natural Bridge State Park LoveWork. Designed by Mark Cline – famous for his life-size fiberglass dinosaurs and Foamhenge, a true to scale replica of Stonehenge. This installation includes elements that represent Rockbridge County, including the Natural Bridge, Lace Falls, wildlife such as deer and eagles, paddling on the James River, and stunning rock formations…what Rockbridge County is named after! This LoveWork is scheduled for installation by October 2020. 

The post WanderLove: A Road Trip Through Lexington & Rockbridge County appeared first on Virginia’s Travel Blog.

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WanderLove: A Road Trip Through Chesapeake

WanderLove: A Road Trip Through Chesapeake

Wanderlust is defined as a strong desire to travel, but here in Chesapeake, Virginia, we call that feeling WanderLove. And while travel doesn’t look quite the same this year, you can still get back in touch with what you love: exploring the great outdoors, connecting with friends and family, and the winding roads in between.

Chesapeake offers lots of social distancing fun with stand-up paddle boarding, hiking, restaurants with plenty of outdoor seating and so much more. Chesapeake is easily accessible from the western part of Virginia, Richmond, and NOVA via I-64, or neighboring Coastal Virginia cities via US-158 W. And we’re a short drive away from the famous Virginia Beach Oceanfront, historic Portsmouth, Downtown Norfolk, and North Carolina’s Outer Banks.

The whole family will have a wonderful time—even your furry friends. You’ll want to make more than a day of it, so choose from many affordable hotel options, including dog-friendly establishments. If you’re the outdoors type, pitch a tent and sleep under the stars at our beautiful and scenic campgrounds. If you’re here during the fall, watch the leaves change colors before your eyes along our trails and waterways.

Here are six great reasons to get back to what you love on a road trip to Chesapeake, Virginia.

Nature Trails

Trail Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge@sarahcpitman

Get outside and explore Chesapeake’s miles of trails and hundreds of acres of green parks. Shady and green in summer, gloriously beautiful with fall colors in late October, Chesapeake is the perfect place to bike, hike, or bird watch with the whole family.

Wander through the Chesapeake Arboretum, a 48-acre natural classroom featuring a lovely trail system and a self-guided tree walk. The Dismal Swamp Canal Trail offers tons of family fun with a lush 16-mile bike loop or leisurely 2-mile up-and-back nature walk, while the Interpretive Trail at Battlefield Park, on the grounds of the Great Bridge Battlefield & Waterways Museum, brings history to life through engaging and detailed placards. But that’s only the beginning. Check out all the parks and trails Chesapeake has to offer.

Kayaking Waterways

Kayaking Northwest River Natual Area Preserve@adventurekayaktours

Grab your paddle and drop into a variety of tidal and non-tidal waterways. This includes Dismal Swamp Canal TrailNorthwest River ParkElizabeth River Park, and other beautiful kayaking and canoeing spots in Chesapeake. You’ll get both a workout and a dose of fun exploring your natural surroundings. It’s serenity. It’s peace and quiet. And it’s completely family-friendly. If you’re in Chesapeake, you owe it to yourself to give it a try.

Don’t have a kayak? Rent one and head out on your own or take a guided tour with Kevin Fonda at Adventure Kayak & SUP Tours. Adventure Kayak Tours is family owned and operated, and proud to be considered Coastal Virginia’s top outfitter for custom kayak and paddle tours and rentals. They offer guided tours at several Chesapeake locations, to include some scheduled overnight excursions.

South Norfolk Jordan Bridge

South Norfolk Jordan Bridge@wongus121

Take a scenic walk or bike ride across the South Norfolk Jordan Bridge—at 167 feet high, it’s the region’s tallest bridge. It connects Chesapeake to the City of Portsmouth across the Elizabeth River’s Southern Branch and offers sweeping, panoramic views from its soaring architectural curves. Explore the mile-long crossing via the protected Pedestrian Walkway with a healthy 5% grade (across and back is two miles total). As a FREE activity, walking the South Norfolk Jordan Bridge makes a fun date night, is family-friendly and safe for pedestrians.

Just below the bridge is Elizabeth River Park. After your walk along the South Norfolk Jordan Bridge, stop in the Snack Shack for a treat. The park also features a playground, 1/2 mile trail, dog run, 24-hour boat ramp, a spectacular view of the winding Jordan Bridge, and sunsets that will take your breath away. You can also fish or crab from the fishing pier, no fishing license is required. If you have a boat or kayak you can launch it for free from the easily accessible public boat ramp or kayak launch.

Breweries & Tap Rooms

Taps at Big Ugly Brewing @steele_woodworks@steele_woodworks

Chesapeake’s local breweries and tap rooms are the perfect way to relax after a day of exploration with a cold, affordable pint. Big Ugly Brewing boasts up to 10 “Big, Bold Beers” on tap any given night and spacious indoor and dog-friendly outdoor seating. The eclectic interior showcases a variety of vintage vehicles from the collection of founders Jim Lantry and Shawn Childers—including a private seating area inside a Volkswagen bus, complete with a custom tabletop. Food trucks stop by often, so be sure to follow Big Ugly’s Facebook page to know who’s coming next.

Chesapeake’s newest addition, The Garage Brewery, offers a seven-barrel microbrewery experience. At the center of the business is Ulyana Gomez, a local entrepreneur, investor and lover of craft beer. She dreamed of opening a brewery and finally made her dream come true when she opened The Garage Brewery back in 2019. The dog-friendly brewery offers roomy indoor seating, an outdoor patio and plenty of nibbles to choose from.

Foodie Destinations

Dinner Plate from @cheftk@cheftk

Food lovers, rejoice! We’ve got fresh, locally prepared foods and artisanal creations. From fresh ice cream and coffee to baked goods and beer. Experience fine dining at The Butcher’s Son or Passion The Restaurant. You will enjoy waterfront dining at Big Woody’s Bar & Grill and Lockside Bar & Grill. Or bask in the delectable, local flavors of Mount Pleasant FarmsGreenbrier FarmsHickory Ridge Farm, and Bergey’s Breadbasket—each of which has tons of fall fun options for the kids, including corn mazes and pumpkin picking.

For classic local flavors, satisfy your sweet tooth at H.E. Williams Candy Company or flashback to the 50s with affordable shakes, burgers, and eclectic memorabilia at Irwin’s Fountain. If you prefer delicious seafood freshly caught in season, stop by the family-friendly Wicker’s Crab Pot, or take your taste buds on a trip to Jamaica at Cutlass Grille.

Don’t miss out on local hangouts, like Kapers EateryThe Egg BistroMcGrath’s Burger Shack, and Racha Thai Cuisine.

Check out the Chesapeake restaurant page to find the perfect flavor. If you’re hungry for something familiar, we have plenty of popular restaurant chains to choose from.

Continue on your WanderLOVE experience with this great itinerary Into Chesapeake’s Outdoors!

The post WanderLove: A Road Trip Through Chesapeake appeared first on Virginia’s Travel Blog.

About FunRVA

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

WanderLove: A Road Trip from Richmond to Danville

WanderLove: A Road Trip from Richmond to Danville

Wanderlust is defined as a strong desire to travel, but here in Virginia, we call that feeling WanderLove. And while travel is a little bit different in 2020 due to COVID-19, you can still explore Virginia’s endless beauty with an epic road trip! To help you plan your next vacation out on the open road, we’ll be sharing a few of the most scenic and adventure-filled routes through the Commonwealth, including the best outdoor adventures, important sites, restaurants, and lodging options to add to your itinerary.

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Photo Credit: Kyle LaFerriere, IG account: @laferriere.photography

Travel from the capital city of Richmond to Farmville, a town packed with outdoor adventure and two college campuses, continue to Clarksville, “Virginia’s only Lakeside Town”, and then end your adventure in Danville, a growing town in southern Virginia. This leisurely Central Virginia road trip is an ideal route for those looking for a change of pace and a quiet getaway away from the bustle of city living. 

**While we have shared COVID-19 alternate hours and closures when possible, please contact individual businesses before visiting, as these details may change at any time. Inclement weather may close the Parkway. Call 828-298-039 or check the real-time closure map for status.

ROUTE 360: FROM RICHMOND TO FARMVILLE

61.3 miles, approximately 1 hour 25 minutes

Leave Downtown Richmond through the Manchester area of the city, crossing the James River and following Route 360 (also known as Hull Street). Before leaving the city, get a prime view of the river by walking or biking across the T. Tyler Potterfield Memorial Bridge, a pedestrian walkway that runs about 20 feet above the James and spans from Downtown Richmond’s Brown’s Island to Manchester. 

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Photo Credit: Matt Long, IG account: @landlopers

If you’d like to explore the river from a closer perspective, rent kayaks or paddleboards through Riverside Outfitters, or book a guided kayak or whitewater rafting tour through RVA Paddlesports. Both of these outfitters also offer climbing courses, from rock climbing with RVA Paddlesports to treetop climbing courses through Riverside Outfitters. 

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Photo Credit: Patrick Griffin

Leave the city and take Route 360 through the Brandermill and Woodlake suburbs, heading to the Metro Richmond Zoo. Home to over 2,000 animals representing nearly 200 different species, the zoo currently has various safety measures in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19, from operating at a 50% capacity and controlling the direction of foot traffic to moving the gift shop outdoors. As with every business open during COVID-19, masks are mandatory for visitors in the indoor parts of the zoo and if a safe six-foot distance cannot be maintained. Spend some time wandering around the exhibits, getting a close look at exotic animals like kangaroos, orangutans, giraffes, and lions. Don’t miss the baby Pygmy Hippo, the latest (and cutest) addition to the zoo family. 

Continue your road trip along Route 360. If you’re enjoying a leisurely drive and aren’t in a hurry, take a detour along State Route 153 to Route 460 and visit Richlands Dairy Farm & Creamery. The farm is currently open during select hours for drive-through service, where you can pick up an array of lunch options like pulled pork sandwiches and chicken salad wraps as well as fresh ice cream made on-site in flavors like Peaches & Cream, Butter Pecan, and Peanut Butter Cup. After stopping in for lunch or just a sweet treat, there’s no need to backtrack to Route 360; instead follow Route 460 through Crewe and towards Farmville. 

If you decide to skip the detour and head straight to Farmville, pick up Route 307 just west of Amelia. This small country road will shave a bit of time off your trip from Richmond to Farmville, and will also take you past Sailor’s Creek Battlefield Historical State Park. This preserved property contains a farmhouse that dates to the 1780s and marks the site of the Battle of Sailor’s Creek, where over 7,700 Confederate soldiers were killed, wounded, or captured during the Civil War. Just 72 hours later, General Lee would surrender his forces in Appomattox and begin the arduous process of ending the American Civil War.

Pick up Route 460 from Route 307. For those that are looking for some good fishing, head to Sandy River Reservoir. This 740-acre man-made lake is fully stocked with Largemouth Bass, Black Crappie, Channel Catfish, Redear Sunfish, Bluegill, and Chain Pickerel, and in the fall, the changing leaves provide a stunning backdrop for your fishing expedition. 

Sitting on the reservoir, Sandy River Outdoor Adventure Park is another excellent stop along your Richmond to Farmville route. A treetop course that runs from 25 to 50 feet above the ground, there are over 60 obstacles including 17 ziplines, rope bridges, swings, and ladders. Conquer the course, then consider renting canoes, kayaks, or paddleboards from the park to set out on the reservoir. Consider spending the night at this amazing adventure park, as their luxury glamping tipis are a once-in-a-lifetime type experience. These massive tipis have heated floors for the cooler nights, air-conditioning for the summers, full bathrooms and kitchens, and plush memory foam beds, allowing you to enjoy the Great Outdoors without sacrificing any of the amenities or comforts found at an upscale hotel.

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Restaurants, Breweries, Wineries, & More

Croaker’s SpotSoul seafood restaurant in Richmond’s Manchester region. 

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Brewer’s Waffles & MilkshakesManchester restaurant crafting signature sweet and savory waffles paired with kid-friendly milkshakes or boozy hard milkshakes. 

Pig & BrewBarbecue restaurant in Manchester serving authentic North Carolina-style bbq. 

Manchester’s TableMediterranean-influenced restaurant and gourmet market in historic Manchester. 

Laura Lee’sUpscale yet comfortable bar and restaurant in Southside Richmond, with a menu focusing on family-friendly American cuisine. 

Legend Brewing CompanyCraft brewery/restaurant serving sandwiches, steaks, and an array of pub fare. Excellent views of the James River and Richmond city skyline from the patio. 

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The Boathouse at Sunday ParkSeafood and steak fine dining restaurant located on Swift Creek Reservoir in Midlothian. 

Fest BiergartenMidlothian restaurant and beer garden serving traditional German fare like artisanal sausages and sandwiches. 

Hotels, Resorts, & Other Lodging

Graduate RichmondPet-friendly boutique hotel in Downtown Richmond with a rooftop bar and pool, on-site dining options. 

Sandy River Outdoor Adventure RetreatFully furnished log cabins, a cottage, and glamping tipis on a 23-acre farm outside of Farmville. 

ROUTE 15: FROM FARMVILLE TO CLARKSVILLE

55.3 miles, approximately 1 hour 3 minutes

Upon arriving in Farmville, head to High Bridge Trail State Park to either walk, jog, or bike the 31-mile multi-use trail. Rent bikes from Outdoor Adventure Store, an outfitter located right on the trail in Downtown Farmville, and set out on the trail going east to find the namesake bridge, a 2,400-foot wooden path that towers 160 feet above the Appomattox River and offers clear views of the surrounding landscapes for miles in any direction. Don’t miss taking a photo to commemorate your biking adventure in front of the wooden LOVEwork, located right across the street from the Outdoor Adventure Store. Just across the river on Main Street, you can find a second LOVEwork made out of kayaks at Appomattox River Company, an outdoor recreation shop that sells new and used kayaks, canoes, paddleboards, and other waterfront gear. 

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Photo Credit: Big Orange Frame

Peruse the warehouses and shops of Green Front Furniture Company that are spread throughout Downtown Farmville. With nearly a million square feet of showroom space in 13 shops and warehouses, you can easily spend an entire afternoon browsing furniture and home decor sourced from around the world. Whether your tastes lean towards sleek and modern, exotic and colorful, or tastefully classic, Green Front has an extensive collection that is carefully organized so that you can find exactly what you’re looking for. Before leaving the Downtown Farmville area, walk through Longwood University’s campus to enjoy gorgeous architecture and get a taste of the local college experience. 

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To learn about Farmville’s important contributions in the battle for Civil Rights in Education, visit the Robert Russa Moton Museum. The site of the first non-violent student demonstration, the schoolhouse-turned-museum explores the regional history that led to the landmark Brown vs. Board of Education Supreme Court case, a decision that would effectively end segregation in the American education system. In addition to historic events, the museum honors local heroes in the struggle like Barbara Johns, the 16-year-old Prince Edward County student that would lead the charge in the Brown case. 

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Photo Credit: Michael Mergen

On the way out of Farmville, follow Route 15 and enjoy the scenic drive between Farmville and Clarksville. Consider a detour to drive through the grounds of Hampden-Sydney College. The tenth oldest institution of higher education in the United States, this private all-male college has an idyllic countryside campus worth a visit. 

Restaurants, Breweries, Wineries, & More

Charley’s Waterfront CafeDowntown Farmville restaurant overlooking the Appomattox River with upscale, family-friendly dining. 

The Fishin’ PigSouthern barbecue and seafood restaurant outside of Farmville near Hampden-Sydney College. 

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North Street Press ClubBurger and sandwich restaurant in Downtown Farmville with a creative drink menu and laid-back modern dining atmosphere. 

Effingham’s RestaurantBreakfast, lunch, and dinner restaurant within the Hotel Weyanoke; known for the wood-fired pizzas. 

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Three Roads Brewing CompanyCraft brewery in Downtown Farmville with outdoor seating. 

The Virginia Tasting CellarWine tasting room below Charley’s Waterfront Restaurant that offers tastings of a rotation of Virginia wines, craft beers, and ciders. Riverside patio allows for social distancing. 

Bondurant Brothers DistilleryChase City moonshine distillery owned and operated by one of the descendants of the Bondurant Brothers, a Prohibition-era moonshining family made famous by the movie Lawless. 

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Hotels, Resorts, & Other Lodging

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Hotel WeyanokeNewly renovated pet-friendly boutique hotel in Downtown Farmville with on-site dining and a rooftop bar. 

ROUTE 58: FROM CLARKSVILLE TO DANVILLE

50.9 miles, approximately 58 minutes

Clarksville is in Mecklenburg County and is known as “Virginia’s only lakeside town” due to its location on the shores of Kerr Lake, also called Bugg’s Island Lake. Experience the best of the area’s outdoor adventures at Occonechee State Park, where you can rent paddle boards or kayaks, fish on the 50,000 acre manmade lake, and walk shaded trails along the shoreline. 

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Photo Credit: Sam Dean, IG account: @sdeanphotos

Before leaving Clarksville, walk along Virginia Avenue and peruse some of the local shops like The Cottage Barn or Galleria on the Lake to browse local artwork, home decor, and a selection of gourmet foods and wines. 

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Take Route 58 west towards Danville, making sure to stop in South Boston and Halifax, a few of Virginia’s charming small towns, during the trip. While these towns may be small, they have several restaurants that could rival those of the biggest Virginia cities, so if you’re looking for a dinner spot, consider making a reservation at either Molasses Grill or Bistro 1888

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Your road trip ends in Danville, another Virginia small town filled with boutique shops, excellent restaurants, outdoor activities, and historic sites. For outdoor lovers, the Danville Riverwalk Trail has over nine miles of walking and biking trails that provide beautiful views of the Dan River. Ballou Park’s disc golf course has a nine-hole recreational course, as well as a challenging 18-hole competitive course. Finally, Danville is home to the Anglers Ridge Mountain Bike Trail System, one of the longest single track mountain biking trails in the region. Accessible from Anglers Park or Dan Daniel Memorial Park, the system offers a variety of trails for every rider, from beginners to expert mountain bikers. 

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History enthusiasts should visit Danville’s AAF Tank Museum to get a view of rare tanks, military vehicles, and a variety of cavalry artifacts from 1509 to the present. Another bit of local history can be seen along Millionaires’ Row, a long section of Main Street in Danville that is filled with a pristine collection of Victorian and Edwardian homes. Many of these homes have long and interesting histories, with one even playing a part in the Civil War. Five historic and architecturally-significant churches also sit along Millionaires’ Row, and are worth visiting since Danville is sometimes referred to as the “City of Churches”. To pick up a free self-guided walking tour brochure for the area, stop by the Danville Museum of Fine Arts & History, where you can also dive deeper into local history and art. 

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Restaurants, Breweries, Wineries, & More

Buggs Island Brewing CompanyCraft brewery in Clarksville offering a line of flagship beers in addition to seasonal small-batch brews. 

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Lamplighter Restaurant & LoungeClarksville casual dining restaurant that serves full breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus. 

Springfield DistilleryDistillery in Halifax County that produces straight and flavored corn whiskeys in seasonally-inspired flavors like maple syrup, peach, and cinnamon. 

Southern Plenty CafeEccentric coffee shop, cafe, and boutique store in Downtown South Boston known for their creative coffee drinks and homemade pastries and desserts. 

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Molasses GrillHalifax fine dining restaurant that fuses Southern traditions with modern culinary practices.

Bistro 1888Upscale restaurant and bar in South Boston that serves up New American Cuisine made from fresh, seasonal ingredients.

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2 Witches Winery & Brewing CompanyWinery and brewery combination in Danville; currently closed Monday-Wednesday due to COVID-19, open select hours other days. 

Me’s Burgers & BrewsBurger restaurant in Danville with an extensive craft beer list. Operating on reduced hours with a limited menu due to COVID-19. 

Mucho TaqueriaEclectic taco restaurant and tequila bar in Danville’s River District. In addition to limited seating, the restaurant is offering curbside pickup during COVID-19. 

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Heart Line RestaurantClassic greasy spoon diner in Danville that is popular with the locals and known for their delicious and affordable meals, especially breakfast. 

Dry Fork Fruit DistilleryDanville distillery that specializes in fruit-flavored moonshines, whiskeys, and brandys.

Ballad BrewingCraft brewery in Downtown Danville making everything from Pilsners and IPAs to Sours and Stouts.

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Hotels, Resorts, & Other Lodging

Cooper’s Landing Inn & Traveler’s TavernHistoric home in Clarksville that has been renovated into a beautiful pet-friendly inn. Features an in-ground pool and hot tub, casual fine dining, and an outdoor patio and wine bar. 

Berry Hill ResortHistoric South Boston luxury resort on 650 acres that has a spa, on-site dining options, and an indoor pool. Pet-friendly rooms available. 

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The Lodge at Virginia International RacewayLodge and private villas located right alongside the racetrack at Virginia International Raceway outside of Danville. 

Looking for more WanderLove adventures around the Commonwealth? Use the following guides to start planning your next road trip!

The post WanderLove: A Road Trip from Richmond to Danville appeared first on Virginia’s Travel Blog.

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Virginia’s Most Decadent Candy Stores & Chocolate Shops

Virginia’s Most Decadent Candy Stores & Chocolate Shops

Halloween may not look the same this year, but that doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the sweets! Novelty and vintage candies, oversized old school favorites, and decadent chocolate creations are just a few sugar-filled treats available at Virginia’s local candy stores and artisan chocolate shops. Order online and send a surprise package to someone you love, or hop in the car and create your own decadent trick-or-treating road trip. 

FOR CANDY ENTHUSIASTS

The Candy Store—Roanoke

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Photo Credit: Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge

The Candy Store, filled with novelty oversized gummies, regionally-produced chocolates, and seemingly endless rows of more than 1,200 specialty and vintage candies from around the world, is a boutique candy shop that is well worth the trip to Roanoke.

Sweet Sheep Candy—Fredericksburg

Visit Sweet Sheep Candy to indulge in a variety of gummies, licorice, specialty chocolates, and novelty candy, or order online and have more than 250 types of sweet treats shipped right to you.

Nancy’s Candy Company—Meadows of Dan

If you’re on a road trip through the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, visit Nancy’s Candy Company, a one-stop-shop for locally famous homemade fudge and delicious handmade candy.

For the Love of ChocolateRichmond

Don’t let the name fool you, For the Love of Chocolate is filled with a wide variety of candies from all over the world, including Virginia-made specialties, kosher, and vegan selections. And tons of chocolate, of course.

Rocket Fizz—Leesburg

The nostalgia of Rocket Fizz, a “soda pop and candy shop” franchise, has captured the hearts of and taste buds of adults and children alike. Rocket Fizz is home to thousands of unique and fun candies, bottled soda pops, gag gifts, and toys.g

It’s Sugar—Virginia Beach

Although this is a national chain, It’s Sugar is worth the trip in the heart of Virginia Beach. Pick up some over-the-top candy and gifts, including giant gummy bears and candy bars. 

Sweet Art EmporiumPalmyra

Satisfy your sweet tooth with locally made chocolate covered caramels, peanut brittle, taffy, or Palmyra’s very own Red Rocker Candy. Located in a 1930’s era building in the haunted village of Palmyra, Sweet Art Emporium is just minutes away from the Rivanna River, the spooky trails at Pleasant Grove, the pumpkin patch at Fruit Hill Orchard, the adorable alpacas at Sacred Acres Farm, and ghost stories at Camp Friendship. 

A Secret Forest—Richmond

A Secret Forest is an online-only shop where you can order gorgeous lollipops and candies that are really intricate. Check out the Halloween and holiday themes! 

Sugar Magnolia—Blacksburg

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Visit Sugar Magnolia for old-fashioned candy sticks, gourmet hand-crafted popcorn, fine chocolates, and packaged candy. They also have a hot chocolate bar in the fall and winter! 

—FOR CHOCOHOLICS

Geartharts Chocolates—Charlottesville & Richmond

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If chocolate is your preference and you’re looking to splurge, a trip to Gearharts Chocolates is a must-do in Virginia. Gearharts offers artisanal chocolates that combine single-bean Venezuelan chocolates, fine local and exotic ingredients, and passionate craftsmanship to create luxurious chocolates with depth and complexity.

Baylee’s Best Chocolates—Roanoke

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Photo Credit: Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge

Take a trip to Baylee’s Best Chocolates for homemade toffee, caramel, marshmallows, and of course, chocolate. Visitors can watch staff create sweet treats right in front of them. Don’t miss the candy and caramel apples this fall. 

Cocoa Mill Chocolate Co.Lexington & Staunton

Cocoa Mill Chocolate Co. has been handcrafting chocolate since 1993. The store’s wide assortment of chocolates, including truffles, barks, dipped fruits, and hand-poured turtles have been nationally recognized. 

Artisan Confections—Arlington

Artisan Confections specializes in high-quality, hand-made chocolates that are elegant in both design and flavor.

Chocolate SpikeBlacksburg

Chocolate Spike offers artistic chocolate endeavors by Genie Ranck, producer of unique chocolates in unusual flavors.

Glass House WineryFree Union

Glass House Winery not only excels at winemaking but also makes in-house chocolates. Win-win!

Warfel’s Sweet Shoppe—Dayton

Warfel’s Sweet Shoppe offers homemade small-batch chocolate in the heart of Virginia’s beautiful Shenandoah Valley: old fashioned creme fudge, chocolate creme truffles, and “sugar-free” chocolates, just to name a few.

The Royal Chocolate—Virginia Beach

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Indulge from cases filled with handmade chocolates using Belgian Chocolate – truffles, creams, caramels, chocolate, and caramel-coated pretzels, not to mention the famous chocolate-covered apples at The Royal Chocolate!

Find More Sweet Treats:

The post Virginia’s Most Decadent Candy Stores & Chocolate Shops appeared first on Virginia’s Travel Blog.

About FunRVA

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WanderLove: A Guide to a Girl’s Weekend in Charlottesville

WanderLove: A Guide to a Girl’s Weekend in Charlottesville

Wanderlust is defined as a strong desire to travel, but here in Virginia, we call that feeling WanderLove. And while travel doesn’t look quite the same this year, you can still explore Virginia’s endless beauty with an epic road trip!

Charlottesville is a picturesque city with a booming wine scene, indie boutiques, beautiful accommodations, tasty eateries, and outdoor activities. Its location in the Blue Ridge Mountains’ rolling foothills makes it the ideal getaway for a girls weekend. It is also consistently mentioned as one of the top, up-and-coming, award-winning wine regions to visit for those who love wine. This charming city is home to nearly 40 wineries and vineyards and is a significant producer in Virginia’s wine country. What also makes this wine region unique is the numerous vineyard B&Bs and wine experiences – perfect for a safe vacation during this global pandemic. And it’s just a short two-hour drive from Washington, DC.

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Photo Credit: Bram Reusen

No matter where you are driving from, you will know that you arrived in Charlottesville when you see views of rolling hills and mountains, and if you’re lucky, you’ll see them peeking above the fog. It is a sight to behold.

Vineyard Lodging

We arrived in Afton and checked-in to The Farmhouse at Veritas Bed and Breakfast. Built in 1836, The Farmhouse offers eight luxurious bedrooms with stunning views of the mountains and grapevines. Each reservation includes a bottle of sparkling wine and a fresh farm breakfast. I highly recommend staying in the Derby Room — a contemporary, two-level, airy room with views of the Petit Verdot and Viognier vines. The room also has a spiral staircase, which leads to the king bed on the second level. A private entrance leads to a beautiful wraparound porch, which includes multiple rocking chairs. If you’re unable to stay in the Derby Room, any room will do, as it is the crème de la crème of vineyard B&Bs — especially if you prefer accommodations with charm, elegance, and a bit of European flair.

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Photo Credit: Carlita Pitts IG: @iamthelita

Need a larger space? I recommend booking the Barn Cottage. The vineyard also offers a full dining experience in any three indoor dining spaces equipped for social distancing.

If you desire a vineyard accommodation with a tranquil, resort experience, I recommend Glass House Winery Bed and Breakfast in Free Union. Free Union is ten miles northwest of Charlottesville and is located on a hill overlooking the vines and a lake, plus the scenic views of Blue Ridge Mountains in the background make the drive worth it.

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Photo Credit: Carlita Pitts IG: @iamthelita

Glass House B&B is a group-friendly bed and breakfast with a pool and hot tub. The house itself is large, with funky décor and lots of space to move around. I highly recommend staying in the Suite to the Stars, a two-bedroom suite, with a living room, dining area, kitchen, and a large private deck. Each reservation comes with a complimentary wine flight at the winery and some decadent chocolates made in-house.

Wineries & Vineyards Near Charlottesville

There are so many beautiful wineries along Virginia’s Monticello Wine Trail that it’s hard to choose which to visit. If you’re traveling for a girls’ weekend, be sure that the wineries you select are near each other, so you aren’t driving all over Charlottesville. Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards is one of my favorites. I’ve visited multiple times, and it gets prettier each time. You can’t beat the beautiful landscaping, mountain views, boutique wines, and farm-to-table menu. While you’re out there, check out Blenheim Vineyards, owned by Dave Matthews. This beautifully designed winery has excellent views of the vineyards and countryside. If you’re up for winery hopping, I’d suggest stopping by Jefferson Vineyards and Gabriele Rausse Winery.

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To experience more of the Monticello Wine Trail’s beauty and scenic views, be sure to also visit Afton Mountain Vineyards, Barboursville Vineyards, and Stinson Vineyards.

Wine Experiences Outside of Charlottesville

Want to add adventure and a great bonding experience to your trip? I’d highly suggest booking a private horseback riding tour through the vineyards with the Indian Summer Guide Service. We planned our ride at Veritas after Saturday brunch, and it was terrific. Our horses, Gracie and Amber, were well-mannered, and our guide was very patient with us. When we booked this tour, we didn’t realize we were riding up the mountain, and when we got to the top, we saw the most beautiful views of the wineries, farms, and properties. It was indeed a memorable experiermnce that I would do again in a heartbeat.

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Photo Credit: Carlita Pitts IG: @iamthelita

Another excellent wine experience to add to your itinerary is the Roseland Polo Match at King Family Vineyards on Sundays. It’s fun to get dressed up in floral sundresses, hats, and wedge heels to watch an action-packed polo match with the background’s dramatic mountain views. Don’t forget to take lots of photos for the ‘gram!

Dining in Charlottesville

There are many great places to dine in Charlottesville. Given that Charlottesville is in the south, it’s most known for southern cuisine such as fried chicken, smoked BBQ, and black-eyed peas.

While we wanted great food on our trip, given that it is a girls’ weekend, we also wanted to dine at trendy restaurants with great views. On Friday night, we ate at Common House, a contemporary member’s only social club. It is beautifully designed, with a multipurpose event space, networking lounge, library, game room, and roof terrace. It rained the evening we went, so we didn’t get to see the roof terrace. However, we enjoyed our meals while we there, and we were equally impressed by the décor and service. 

On Saturday evening, we dined at the Quirk Hotel in downtown Charlottesville. The Quirk is one of Charlottesville’s newest boutique hotels, opening earlier this year, and is a modern hotel with a chic, artsy atmosphere. Upon entering, you’ll notice the curvaceous ceiling, a large art gallery, two restaurants, and a café.

We dined at the rooftop bar, which was just as stylish as it is beautiful. Like the rest of the city, the roof bar had lovely panorama views of downtown Charlottesville and the Blue Ridge Mountains. The restaurant offers a rustic Italian menu serving pizzas, oven-fired vegetables, pastas, charcuterie, and cheeses. They also locally sourced craft beer and wine from the Virginia wineries.

I’ll never forget my trip with my girls to Charlottesville and its surrounding wineries. In fact, we enjoyed it so much, we’re already planning our next visit!

THIS GUEST BLOG POST IS COURTESY OF Carlita Pitts, a vineyard loving, wine sipping, travel enthusiast living in Northern VA. She is the chief content creator of Divine Lita, a vineyard, wine, and travel blog – which mostly highlights her experiences visiting the wine regions in Virginia, DC, and Maryland. Visit her blog or catch her on Instagram @iamthelita to learn more. 

The post WanderLove: A Guide to a Girl’s Weekend in Charlottesville appeared first on Virginia’s Travel Blog.

About FunRVA

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

WanderLove: A Family Road Trip Through the Virginia Mountains

WanderLove: A Family Road Trip Through the Virginia Mountains

Wanderlust is defined as a strong desire to travel, but here in Virginia, we call that feeling WanderLove. And while travel is a little bit different in 2020 due to COVID-19, you can still explore Virginia’s endless beauty with an epic road trip! To help you plan your next vacation out on the open road, we’ll be sharing a few of the most scenic and adventure-filled routes through the Commonwealth, including the best outdoor adventures, important sites, restaurants, and lodging options to add to your itinerary.

Follow this family-friendly road trip through the Virginia Mountains for a relaxing vacation that the whole family will love!

**While we have shared COVID-19 alternate hours and closures when possible, please contact individual businesses before visiting, as these details may change at any time.

DAY 1: Explore Park & Virginia’s Blue Ridge

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Photo Credit: Cameron Davidson

Start your adventure in Virginia’s stunning Blue Ridge, right near the beautiful town of Roanoke. For your first adventure, head to Explore Park, located right on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Explore Park will provide more than a full day’s worth of activities. Kids ages 4+ and adults will love the Treetop Quest ropes course. All of the equipment is sanitized in between uses, and the outdoor, spacious course is perfect for a socially distanced adventure. We loved that there was a smaller course for younger children, and more challenging ones for older kids and adults.

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Photo Credit: Shannon Terry

Once you’ve climbed around while safely harnessed, head over to Blue Mountain Adventures to do some tubing down the river. The gentle rapids mean adults and kids 7+ can go on their own – perfect for maintaining social distance. There’s truly an activity for every interest in the Virginia mountains!

If outdoor adventure isn’t up your alley, consider going to find the iconic Roanoke Star and then heading over to the trail to Mill Mountain Zoo (open daily 10am-5pm). Or is arts and culture more your thing? Be sure to check out Center In The Square. Don’t miss the Roanoke Pinball Museum and Roanoke Starcade.

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Photo Credit: Creative Dog Media, IG account: @creativedogmedia

After your day of adventure, grab some dinner – some great options are Wildflour Cafe, Tuco’s Taqueria, Taaza, and Cedar’s Lebanese. All of these should be open for carry out, so you can eat outside wherever you wish, or consider taking your meal back to Natural Bridge KOA, a fantastic campground for families. Whether you’re in your own RV or renting one of their private cabins, it’s a perfect way to have your own space and relax. The campground is spacious and clean, and has full RV hookups for a comfortable stay. 

DAY 2: Natural Bridge & Rockbridge County

Start your morning with a scenic drive through beautiful Goshen Pass. There are several pull offs where you can stop to admire the Maury River and the surrounding beauty. Depending on your timeline, you may want to consider fishing, swimming, walking the trail on the north side of the river, or tubing. Virginia’s mountains have a vast variety of activities, giving you lots of options for outdoor fun.

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If it’s a Thursday-Sunday, consider stopping at Wade’s Mill, Virginia’s oldest continuously operating commercial grist mill. You can even purchase grains fresh to order!

After stopping for some lunch (consider the Pink Cadillac Diner), head over to Natural Bridge State Park. The 215-foot tall natural limestone bridge was carved out by Cedar Creek, and is surrounded by forested area and hiking trails. A National Historic Landmark, the area was once owned by Thomas Jefferson. Admission is $6 for kids age 6-12, and $8 for those 13+.

The Cedar Creek Trail will take you to a 30-foot waterfall with beautiful views along the way. Stop to take in the awe-inspiring wonder of the natural bridge itself, and don’t forget to cross the small pedestrian bridge to peek into a cave. There are several easy access points to the creek, so little ones will love getting their feet wet in the shallow and cool water. And at just 1.6 miles round trip with minimal elevation gain, it’s perfect for families (though not stroller-accessible). While the Monacan Indian Village is currently closed to visitors, hikers can still view the outdoor setup as they walk by.

After your hike, head back to your campsite at Natural Bridge KOA and relax while you make some dinner. 

DAY 3: Virginia Safari Park & Downtown Lexington

On your third morning, consider doing something a bit different – a Virginian safari! At the Virginia Safari Park, visitors can view animals from the comfort of their own vehicles, and kids will love that the animals often come right up to the car to eat. Plus, the park is just down the road from your campground, offering easy and quick access during your stay. 

After your morning fun, head into downtown Lexington to pick up lunch and explore this enchanting city, which is home to both Washington & Lee University and Virginia Military Institute, giving it the beautiful and vibrant feel of a college town.

Be sure to walk around the charming streets of the downtown area, and consider any safe indoor activities that might be open, such as Boxerwood Nature Center, or just drive around taking in the beautiful homes and Virginian charm!

Finally, head back for a final night at Natural Bridge KOA. It’s the perfect convenient spot to launch your adventures during the following day.

DAY 4: Covington & the Alleghany Highlands

Now that you’ve explored the Lexington and Roanoke areas, head towards the Alleghany Highlands in the Virginia Mountains for some gorgeous and restful time in the Great Outdoors. On your way to some distanced outdoor activities, detour to the charming town of Covington.

For your first stop, seek out the Downtown Covington LOVEwork right on Main Street. It’s a perfect photo op to start your day and remember this incredible adventure. Next, head to the Eastern National Children’s Forest, a beautiful forested monument in an area that once suffered from wildfires. The site was planted by over 1,000 children – a fact any little travelers will love.

Stop in for lunch at Cucci’s Pizzeria, a Covington staple. The pizzas are huge and the crust is fantastic, so be ready to take home some leftovers if you’re traveling solo or with a single companion.

Next, head over to the LOVEwork at Humpback Bridge. This was our family’s favorite by far, and you’re sure to love it, too. The bridge itself is a National Historic Site and is the oldest remaining covered bridge in Virginia. The LOVE letters here are all constructed from materials unique to the history of the area. 

Once you’ve snapped a few photos with the LOVEwork, take some time to walk under the bridge over to the grassy area on the other side. The water is usually fairly shallow here, so it’s a fun place for little ones to get their feet wet, or if it’s moving more quickly, there are plenty of rocks to throw in – an activity that could keep the kids occupied for several hours if they are anything like mine!

After playing at the bridge, head up to Falling Spring Waterfall. The 80-foot waterfall and its surroundings are incredibly scenic, and there is a beautiful viewing area that’s perfect for taking a few photos. It’s a great stop even if little legs are tired because the view point is right by the parking lot – no hiking required.

Finally, head up to Morris Hill Campground at Lake Moomaw. It’s an amazingly beautiful area with private sites that are surrounded by trees. It’s a perfect spot to roast marshmallows and sit around the campfire. Just be sure to pack away all food and trash as black bears do frequent the area. They’re generally harmless, but it’s always best to keep everything safe. 

DAY 5: Alleghany Highlands in the Virginia Mountains

It’s your final day exploring this beautiful area of the Virginia Mountains! Kick things off with a peaceful morning bike ride along the Jackson River Scenic Trail and Blueway. Alleghany Outdoors is located right near the Intervale trailhead, and has bike rentals available for riders ages 10+. You can either ride as far as you’d like and turn back or do a one way rental and catch the shuttle back. If you have younger riders, feel free to bring your own bikes – the trail is perfect for little ones as it has finely packed gravel and only a 1% grade. The protected path is perfect for all ages, even kids in bike trailers.

After your bike adventure, switch to a different outdoor adventure – kayaking! Alleghany Outdoors also rents kayaks to paddle down the Jackson River (Ages 8+; 6+ for tubing). It’s a perfect way to see the beautiful cliffs along the river and to experience the stunning Alleghany Highlands from the water. The full trip is about two hours downriver (a shuttle will take you to the start), while a shorter trip of about an hour is also possible. If you have smaller children, consider instead walking across the swinging bridge.

Finally, finish out your time in the gorgeous Alleghany Highlands by heading up to the Coles Point Beach area at Lake Moomaw. The swimming area is clean and perfect for families, with warm, clear water and a sandy beach. Bring a picnic and watch the sunset over the water before heading back to Morris Hill Campground for the night.

This guest blog post is courtesy of preethi, the author of the local passport family blog. Preethi feels passionately about providing a diverse education for families through travel. She works to make travel and the outdoors more inclusive, and helps families develop curiosity and connection by connecting with the world at home and abroad. She loves exploring with her 5 kids, and writes about actual and virtual travel, global education, and parenting.

Follow Preethi & her family as they travel:
@localpassportfamily
www.localpassportfamily.com

The post WanderLove: A Family Road Trip Through the Virginia Mountains appeared first on Virginia’s Travel Blog.

About FunRVA

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But Did You Know…Appalachian Music & Virginia’s Mountain Towns

But Did You Know…Appalachian Music & Virginia’s Mountain Towns

While there are countless music genres in existence today, nearly all of these musical genres owe at least some credit to the musical heritage of the Appalachian Mountains of Southwest Virginia, referred to as “Appalachian Music”. 

Many people may only think of Bluegrass when they think of Appalachian Music, but did you know the genre is the culmination of nearly 300 years of musical influences from around the world and has contributed to nearly every modern musical genre?

International Migrations & Their Influence on Musical Traditions

The Appalachian Music genre first arose after people from various European and African countries intersected in the mountains of Virginia, bringing their own traditions and cultures together to form a new and enormously influential musical style. 

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Photo Credit: Shannon Terry

During the 18th century, several international migrations were responsible for the birth of Appalachian Music. In Ireland, a population explosion changed a citizen’s prospects in their home country, which went from having four million citizens in 1780 to a total of more than seven million just forty years later. Many would leave Ireland in hopes of finding jobs in the expansive new country across the ocean, and most would take on positions as indentured servants to pay their way. 

Another wave of immigrants would come to America from England after the French and English signed the Treaty of Paris of 1763, in which France relinquished their control over lands in America to England. England found itself in control of large swaths of land, which was then sold off to British citizens looking to live in a place that would give them more property for less money. 

Immigrants also arrived in American from Germany following the implementation of laws that restricted religious freedoms and economic factors like land becoming more expensive in Central Europe. In America, land was abundant, therefore much more affordable for lower and middle class immigrants. 

A final major migration was the forced migration of Africans across the Atlantic Ocean into slavery. These people would bring nothing with them on their cruel journey to the New World except for their traditions and beliefs, so of course these would be cherished and passed down to their children and grandchildren in generations to come, allowing them to keep their ancestry alive.

While America would see an increase in immigrants from many other parts of the world that would feed into the musical evolution of Appalachia music, these four cultural groups were the biggest contributors to the genre, blending their musical traditions with the indigenous peoples that had lived in the mountains for generations prior to create a sound that would endure for hundreds of years. 

The Rise of Traditional Appalachian Music

When musical historians talk about “Appalachian Music”, they break down the genre into two defined periods. The first era would lead to the overwhelming popularity of the second period. The traditional Appalachian period occurred between the 1700s and the early 1900s, while the second, the Old-Time Appalachian Music era, took place from about 1900-1930. 

The traditional Appalachian Music style fused the heritage of America’s immigrant populations with the indigenous groups living in Southwest Virginia, bringing together unique musical elements that had been passed down from generation to generation. For the Europeans coming to America, these elements included ballad-style songs that detailed the struggles of daily life as well as instrumental dance tunes. The nasal quality that was typical of traditional Appalachian Music was a Celtic contribution, and while these new citizens were adjusting to a starkly different life in America, they kept their folklore alive by singing ballads of lords and ladies, castles, and ghosts, with the central themes of the stories being love and loss. 

When it came to instrumental contributions, the Anglo-Celtic peoples are credited for bringing the fiddle to American music. Pianos were too costly for most immigrants, so fiddles would be one of the few instruments that they could afford, and the tonal styles of the fiddle perfectly mirrored the qualities of their ballad-style songs. A Scottish fiddle player by the name of Neil Gow is credited with introducing the rhythmic and powerful short bow sawstroke technique that became synonymous with Appalachian Mountain fiddle playing. German immigrants added to the development of Traditional Appalachian Music with instruments like the harmonica, Appalachian dulcimer, and autoharp. 

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While the European style of singing was typically solo or duet, Africans that were enslaved in the colonies brought a distinct tradition of singing songs about work and worship as a group. These songs were usually in a call-and-response format, with one person singing a line and the rest singing the response. The lyrics in African songs were constantly changed and updated to inspire hope and raise the spirits of the enslaved as the widespread practice of slavery began to take a strong hold in America. The banjo was another major contribution that Africans made to Appalachian Music. The instrument originally hailed from Arabia and was brought to western Africa as the Islamic faith spread. When Africans came to America, they began to make their own banjos from hollowed-out gourds or pots that were covered in animal hides. Banjos were considered slaves instruments and were not frequently used or heard outside of their homes, but beginning in the 1840s, the banjo’s singular rhythm and beat began popping up in Traditional Appalachian Music, producing an entirely new sound when combined with the fiddle. 

The Hardships of Frontier Life

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Photo Credit: Beth-Anne Norman Driskill

As European immigrants arrived in America, they found that much of the settled parts of the colonies were too expensive, especially as recently released indentured servants. Rather than living in abject poverty in the urban centers, many chose instead to purchase land in the untamed Appalachian Mountains, where they could make their living in a hard but proud manner. These early mountain men and women were perceived by the settled regions in the East as being poor and lower class, and they attained the nickname of “hillbillies” due to this association. However, the truth is that to survive in the wild mountains of Southwest Virginia, you had to be healthy, strong, and knowledgeable about all manner of things, from farming to building and even general practices of medicine. Living on the American frontier was a struggle, and these “hillbillies” learned soon after taking up residence that relying on other mountain residents was necessary for their survival. Close-knit communities began to pop up in the mountains of Southwest Virginia, where religion and social gatherings were extremely important. Musical traditions ran deep in both of these aspects of the communities, and as decades passed, these neighbors began to meld their cultures into the sound that is now considered Traditional Appalachian Music. 

With emancipation, many Black Americans wished to leave their former slave residences and find their own homes, but they were met with the same problem as the European immigrant populations had faced: settled farmland was too expensive. Some of these newly freed peoples would also find an identical solution, moving to the Appalachian Mountains in search of a new life and taking the traditions of their music with them. 

In addition to instrumental and lyrical elements, the cultural elements that emerged from the Appalachias were also distinct attributes of the music. Religion was a core component of life in the remote mountain towns, but so was community. The Appalachian folk worked extremely hard to eke out a living during the days through farming, coal mining, and other backbreaking careers, so on weekend nights, they would gather together and let loose with barn raising events and musical performances by other locals. 

Dialects were another element that went into the creation of Appalachian Music; these remote communities often did not have much contact with the outside world, or even other communities outside of a small radius, as the natural, unrefined landscape made crossing over mountains a near-impossible task. When record labels began travelling to these untouched communities in Southwest Virginia, they would frequently find that they couldn’t understand the performers, leading to occasionally incorrect song titles for the earliest recordings done in the region. 

These unique musical and cultural elements all came together in the Appalachian Mountains, with the communities having strong religious centers, lyrical themes of survival, love, and heartbreak, and the rhythms of the banjo, fiddle, and other European instruments complementing each other, resulting in a musical genre that would come to captivate America.

Traditions Evolve: The Birth of Old-Time Appalachian Music 

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Photo Credit: Cameron Davidson

After almost 250 years of musical traditions meshing together in the Appalachian region, a distinct sound began to emerge that was referred to as Old-Time music. Researchers and historians worked in the late 19th century to collect traditional musical forms, recognizing the importance of cataloguing this music to preserve the cultures that were fading as a national American culture emerged. Technological innovations were exploding, allowing for the music scene to grow like never before; automobiles gave people the ability to travel long distances and to more remote places than they have previously been, mail-order and mass-produced instruments provided the means for less affluent musicians to expand their talents, and the invention of recorded sound meant that songs performed in the most remote areas could be preserved and replayed hundreds of miles away. Music that had been played only on front porches and in the barns of Appalachian America could now be recorded and broadcasted on radio stations, giving the rest of the country a taste of the unmistakable genre that was to be called Old-Time Appalachian. 

Image Courtesy of the Library of Virginia

These recordings were happening throughout America, but some of the most important and lasting performances were recorded in the mountains of Southwest Virginia. In the summer of 1927, a series of recordings were undertaken by Victor Records that came to be known as the Bristol Sessions. Recorded in the small city that straddles the Virginia/Tennessee state line, this music brought performers from all over the surrounding mountain landscapes together in one place to immortalize their songs using the brand-new technologies. Huge music stars like Jimmie Rodgers and local Virginia legends the Carter Family were recorded for the first time ever during these sessions, launching their careers as international country music stars and leading the city to be nicknamed “The Birthplace of Country Music”. 

It’s important to note that while these iconic recordings were meant to capture the sounds of Appalachian Music, there was only one Black artist, El Watson, to be recorded during the Bristol Sessions. During this era, America was experiencing the ugly transition into lawful and formalized segregation, and most of the noteworthy contributions of Black musicians in America were being wiped out or credited to the White artists in the area.

Image Courtesy of the Library of Virginia

The first-ever recordings of Appalachian Music may have been a pivotal component to the genre’s growth, but another aspect of the music industry that was important was the emergence of large-scale music festivals. One such festival in Virginia was the White Top Folk Festival, which ran from 1931-1939. Held in the mountains of Grayson County near Abingdon, this annual festival showcased the music and traditions of the surrounding regions, but like the Bristol Sessions, the festival did not include Black performers or allow Black attendees, severely limiting the authenticity and true heritage of Appalachian Music experienced at the festival. The first White Top Folk Festival in 1931 drew thousands of people, and it would continue to grow over the years into a major music event. In 1933, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt even attended the festival. Her father, Elliot Roosevelt, had moved to Abingdon by himself to seek treatment for a drinking problem when Eleanor was a child, and he would often write her letters that described the area. As an adult and after her father had passed away, Eleanor Roosevelt wished to see the place where her father had lived, and the White Top Folk Festival gave her the chance to experience the epitome of Appalachian culture. By 1935, the festival had peaked to draw over 10,000 visitors, but subsequent years would draw smaller crowds, and after several years of cancelling the festival due to weather or local problems, the White Top Folk Festival was finally shuttered in 1939. 

Appalachian Music Today

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Photo Credit: Brian Camp, IG account: @brian_k_camp

The popularity of Appalachian Music waned during and after the Great Depression, but rather than completely dying off, the genre began to transform and influence the latest musical stylings created in the latter half of the 20th century. Country, Bluegrass, Rock n’ Roll, Folk, and Americana all contain notable aspects of Appalachian Music, pulling from the religious, thematic, and instrumental qualities associated with the genre. 

But in addition to continuously inspiring other musical genres, Appalachian Music is currently making a comeback, especially in the mountains of Southwest Virginia. Here, you can follow The Crooked Road, a route that ties together the most important musical heritage destinations of the area, including the Birthplace of Country Music Museum, where you’ll learn all about the important 1927 recording sessions, the Carter Family Fold, the home of the famed Carter Family that has been converted into a performance theater and museum, The Floyd Country Store, an authentic country store that is over 100 years old and one of the few places you can experience Appalachian Music firsthand during the weekly Friday Night Jamborees, the Southwest Virginia Cultural Center & Marketplace, where you can peruse goods made from local artisans and often catch live music performances, and the Blue Ridge Institute & Museum, which is the largest folklife museum in Virginia and highlights the historic traditions of music, customs, and crafts that impacted everyday life in the Appalachian Mountains. This route provides an in-depth look at the Appalachian Music genre, and every real music lover should make the trek along the Crooked Road at least once.

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Photo Credit: Brian Camp, IG account: @brian_k_camp

Appalachian Music originated in the mountains of Southwest Virginia, and today, the region still creates some of the most skilled performers, historians, and craftsmen at the Wayne C. Henderson School of Appalachian Arts. This program focuses on teaching students about the rich musical heritage of the region, as well as the meticulous skills needed to become a Luthier (someone who builds string instruments like guitars). The school was named for native Virginia, Master Luthier, and Appalachian Music expert Wayne C. Henderson, who has made guitars for internationally-renowned artists like Mumford & Sons and Eric Clapton. While a guitar from Wayne C. Henderson requires you to join a years-long waitlist and will set you back thousands of dollars, there are several other talented Luthiers in Southwest Virginia that craft gorgeous handmade guitars as well as a variety of other string instruments. 

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Photo Credit: Joshua Moore, IG account: @jtm71

Music festivals have also begun to instill more Appalachian Music into their annual lineups. Large Virginia festivals like Bristol Rhythm & Roots, FloydFest, the Richmond Folk Festival, Red Wing Roots, and Rooster Walk have incorporated Appalachian traditions into their events in everything from the vendors and foods to the artists performing, while festivals like the Blue Ridge Folklife Festival, Old Fiddlers’ Convention, Mountains of Music Homecoming series, and the Virginia Highlands Festival are all centered around the heritage of Appalachian Music. If you’d like to hear Appalachian Music firsthand and learn more about the history of the genre, plan on attending a few of these annual Virginia festivals in future years (with COVID-19, virtually all of the Virginia festivals and large events in 2020 have been cancelled). 

Want to know more about Virginia’s lesser-known history? Dig into these articles and stay tuned for more But Did You Know… history pieces to learn about some of Virginia’s most incredible true but untold stories!

The post But Did You Know…Appalachian Music & Virginia’s Mountain Towns appeared first on Virginia’s Travel Blog.

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The Perfect Road Trip through Northern Virginia

The Perfect Road Trip through Northern Virginia

Northern Virginia is home to a spirited mix of history, culture, dining, and shopping – all of which you can experience on your next epic road trip adventure. Learn about the events and places that helped shape the United States while discovering quaint downtown neighborhoods where locals treat visitors like family. Stroll tree-lined streets and tour charming boutique wineries. Hop on bikes to ride along the banks of the Potomac River for some of the most stunning views of Washington, DC. Browse the home of America’s first president, hoist a pint at a historic brewery, dine at a celebrity chef’s restaurant or treat yourself to a little retail therapy. It’s all waiting for you in Northern Virginia.

Leesburg

Loudoun’s county seat is a picturesque little burg with a historic downtown bustling with restaurants, breweries, boutiques and chic home décor stores. Dine on oysters, tacos and farm-to-table fare on King Street (our restaurant row) and soak up the storied ambience of a town that’s been home to icons such as President James Monroe.

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Photo Credit: Jen Sigal

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Middleburg

America’s horse and hunt country capital, and Loudoun’s second largest town, Middleburg is a gorgeous settlement dating back to 1728. The historic downtown is lined with chic boutiques, raffish men’s stores and superb cafés and restaurants, while the surrounding countryside is straight out of an Edith Wharton novel: handsome mansions at the end of oak shaded driveways, thoroughbred horses frolicking in the fields.

Photo Credit: Visit Loudoun County

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Gainesville

Gainesville, which once serving as a path for Civil War soldiers, is now a vibrant suburban district home to major shopping, dining, and entertainment choices. Visitors can enjoy a fun night on the town at several bars and nightclubs, world-class PGA golf courses, and even find time for a hike at the Conway Robinson State Forest.

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Woodbridge

Woodbridge is probably the most renowned area in Prince William, Virginia due to its location adjacent Interstate 95, the giant Potomac Mills Sign, IKEA, and other roadside views. Visitors can find a wide assortment of destination shopping, dining, outdoor recreation and entertainment choices and of course it is also home to Virginia’s largest outlet mall, Potomac Mills Mall.

Photo Credit: Visit Prince William

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Mount Vernon/Lorton

This historic area of southern Fairfax County is home to an exceptional number of historic homes and attractions, including George Washington’s beloved estate. Explore a Frank Lloyd Wright home, an arts haven that exists in a former prison tied to the suffragist movement or find a peaceful oasis on the Mason Neck peninsula. You’ll never believe you’re just a few miles from the nation’s capital.

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Photo Credit: Cameron Davidson, IG account: @cameron.davidson.usa

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Old Town Alexandria

On the Potomac River waterfront, Old Town is the heart of Alexandria and the city’s downtown, filled with architecture dating back to the 1700s alongside picturesque cobblestone streets and alleys, independent shops and restaurants and a vibrant waterfront.

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Photo Credit: Kristian Summerer

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  • Vola’s Dockside Grill
  • Fontaine
  • On the Potomac River waterfront, and named the nation’s Ice Cream Cone Capital, Old Town is the heart of Alexandria and the city’s downtown, filled with architecture dating back to the 1700s alongside picturesque cobblestone streets, independent shops and restaurants and a vibrant waterfront.

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Del Ray

Centered around made-for-strolling Mount Vernon Avenue, Del Ray is lined with locally owned eateries, eclectic shops, wellness businesses, Art Deco architecture and murals. Come for the relaxed vibe, casual eats and signature festivals and events.

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Photo Credit: Kristian Summerer

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Crystal City/Pentagon City

A walkable, urban district, Crystal City has great restaurants, cafes, specialty stores and the region’s premier physical theater, Synetic Theater. In addition to the dining options along Restaurant Row, 23rd Street between South Eads and South Fern streets has an eclectic, independent dining scene and active nightlife.

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Photo Credit: Jake McGuire

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Rosslyn

Spectacular views of the D.C. skyline, myriad dining options and an urban vibe make this section of Arlington County an ideal home base for exploring the capital region. Right across Key Bridge from Georgetown, Rosslyn’s tall buildings are surrounded by natural beauty and historic landmarks.

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Photo Credit: Jake McGuire

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Tysons/Merrifield

Tysons is the urban center of Fairfax County and has been called “America’s Next Great City” as the growth and development of this former unassuming rural crossroads takes the thriving city into a booming business and tech hub near Washington, DC. Around the corner, Merrifield has become a vibrant community that is home to the ever-expanding urban village called Mosaic, which has been attracting some of the region’s best chefs, retailers, and boutiques.

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Photo Credit: April Greer

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For more ideas for your Northern Virginia vacation, visit www.NorthernVA.org.

The post The Perfect Road Trip through Northern Virginia appeared first on Virginia’s Travel Blog.

About FunRVA

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WanderLove: A Road Trip Through Highland County

WanderLove: A Road Trip Through Highland County

Wanderlove is about doing what you love with the people you love.  Experience the unspoiled views and hidden gems in our mountain community of Highland County.  Plan your next road trip at www.highlandcounty.org.

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Photo Credit: Blue Ridge GeoGraphics

Highland County is one of the least populated counties east of the Mississippi River and is ideal for those seeking solitude and a refreshing sense of freedom.  Known for its breathtaking beauty and rural charm, Highland is characterized by stunning forests, dark night skies, pristine waterways, small towns and open farmland.  Our high elevations are key to the success of the local maple syrup industry.  Highland County is home to the headwaters of the James and Potomac Rivers and has an overall abundance of clean mountain spring water.

Check out the following sweet spots as you plan your itinerary to Highland County.

Sweet Spot #1:  Climb the Sounding Knob Fire Tower

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Photo Credit: Blue Ridge GeoGraphics

It’s easy to elevate your travel experience in Highland, but now you can get even higher.  Over 100 steps up the Sounding Knob Fire Tower will give you a lasting memory – and maybe even some wobbly legs!  How many mountain ranges can you see?  The tower was constructed in 1934 by the Civilian Conservation Corps, and then it was disassembled and removed from its original location on Sounding Knob in 2002.  In 2017, it was restored by the generosity of Skip Jones and Steve Good.  It now overlooks Monterey on top of Jack Mountain.  It is located up a gravel drive on Sounding Knob Road just 1.3 miles south of its intersection with Rt. 250.  Enjoy one of the best views in Virginia now through November 1, 2020 from sunrise to sunset every day.  The practice of social distancing is required, and please be sure to exit right when leaving Sounding Knob Road and entering Rt. 250.  Vehicles with very low clearance may have difficulty with water breaks on Sounding Knob Road, but most vehicles have no issues.

Sweet Spot #2:  Taste Pure Deliciousness on the New Virginia Maple Syrup Trail

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Photo Credit: Valerie Lowry

Highland County is well known for its maple syrup industry, being one of the most southern places in the U.S. that the sweet “liquid gold” can consistently be produced.  Maple syrup producers and their sugar camps dot the landscape, each with their own stories, history and techniques.  Because of the freezing and thawing cycle in late winter and early spring, the county hosts an annual Maple Festival during the second and third weekends in March.  Outside of that March timeframe throughout the year, eight Highland County sugar camps plan to be open by appointment for you to explore for a tour, local syrup sample and fun.  Get insights on farm life, take a hike at some areas, and learn how many producers are even expanding to other tree syrups like hickory, walnut and birch.  Pick up an official passport, get yours stamped after each sugar camp visit, and if you complete all eight, you’ll even get a free gift!  Set to begin in September of 2020, learn where your syrup comes from and experience this unique agritourism adventure!  Get full details on the brand new Virginia Maple Syrup page, and call ahead to each syrup producer for details and COVID-19 protocol.

Sweet Spot #3:  Find All the Beautiful Shapes and Colors on the Barn Quilt Trail

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Photo Credit: David Cockerham

What are those painted wooden quilt blocks adorned on barns and houses in Highland County?  They are barn quilts!  Beginning in 2011, Highland County was the first county in Virginia to have its very own Barn Quilt Trail.  Starting in mid-September, pick up a copy of the newly revised Barn Quilt Trail brochure or view the online version to locate over 50 unique barn quilts on a leisurely country ride.  With interesting names like “Five Reds,” “Colaw Apple,” or “Jacob’s Ladder,” each barn quilt tells a story, usually with significant special meaning about the owner, nature, family, business or design.  When you follow the Highland County Barn Quilt Trail, you’ll wind your way through our back roads with a purpose.  Enjoy the beauty of our hills and hollows, fields and forests and the stories of the people who are part of this community.  Can you spot them all?

Sweet Spot #4:  Take a Hike on Unspoiled, Sparsely-Populated Trails

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Photo Credit: Doug Puffenbarger

Get off the road and lace up your boots for some hiking in the clean mountain air.  Four trails are featured in Highland County’s section of Virginia’s Western Highlands Trail Guide.  The Shenandoah Mountain Trail is an easy 6-mile hike that’s also part of the Great Eastern Trail.  It awaits you at the top of Shenandoah Mountain on Rt. 250 along the border of Highland and Augusta Counties.  Traveling west, you can hike the 2.6-mile McDowell Battlefield Trail that leads to the top of Sitlington Hill and the core of the McDowell Battlefield, with interpretive information from Civil War Trails along the steady incline.  In the remote Laurel Fork area of northern Highland County lies the Locust Spring Run and Buck Run Trail with 6 miles of moderate to difficult features.  The Paddy Knob Trail straddles Virginia and West Virginia to the foundation stones of an old lookout tower, offering easy to moderate hiking of .5 to 7 miles.

Sweet Spot #5:  Relax with Fishing Along the Cool, Clean Streams and Ponds

Fishing is a great way to get away!  Highland County offers three rivers for public fishing: the Bullpasture, the Potomac and Laurel Fork.  Favorites like rainbow, brown and brook trout swim the pure mountain streams.  Discover more information on places to go and regulations with Fish Virginia First or the Department of Wildlife Resources. If you need a guide, check out Bull Mountain Guide Service.  If you want a fun experience with children to introduce them to fishing, visit Hiner Town Trout Fishing, roughly one mile north of Monterey off of Potomac River Road (Rt. 220) at 222 Hiner’s Lane, where you can fish in a small pond from 9 am to 7 pm Monday through Saturday or by reservation on Sunday at 540-679-6194 (if you call before Saturday).  Children even receive a prize if they catch a golden trout!  You keep what you catch at $5 a pound (cash or check), but there are no licenses required or pole/bait restrictions.  Being outside, family units must remain six feet apart. Finally, if you are just in the mood to taste some fish without hooking “the big one”, get your fresh or frozen trout at the Virginia Trout Company at 5480 Potomac River Road, Monday through Wednesday from 8 am to noon.

Sweet Spot #6:  Discover the History of an Area That Looks Much the Same as It Did Over 100 Years Ago

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Photo Credit: Highland County Chamber of Commerce

The Highland Historical Society runs a beautiful museum known as The Mansion House that served as a hospital during the Battle of McDowell in May of 1862.  Located at 161 Mansion House Road in McDowell, you can learn more about the significance of the Battle of McDowell during the Civil War with the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Orientation Center, get acquainted with local ancestors and the formation of the county, and catch a glimpse of the 1921 classic silent movie filmed in Highland County, Tol’able David.  The Mansion House accepts free-will donations for entry and is open Thursday through Saturday from 11 am to 4 pm through the end of October.  More info can be found at www.highlandcountyhistory.com.  You can even catch a virtual view of their two newest exhibits, Early Handmade Furniture in Highland County and a Preview of the Jones/McCoy House Museum Collection II, at their website!  More information on the Civil War history and trails in the area can be found at www.civilwartrails.org and www.shenandoahatwar.org

Rt. 250 and Rt. 220 are the two main roads to be traveled in Highland, intersecting at the county seat of Monterey in the center of the county.  If you’re visiting from Shenandoah Valley in places like Staunton, you’ll arrive along Rt. 250 and continue northwest over several mountains, arriving first in the town of McDowell and then onward for fifteen more minutes to Monterey.  If you continue along Rt. 250, you’ll end up with more mountain vista views and find yourself in Pocahontas County, West Virginia.  If you’re visiting from the southwest from locations like Roanoke, you’ll take Rt. 220 to Monterey, and if you continue onward you’ll eventually come to Pendleton County, West Virginia.  A detour along the back country roads anywhere in the county will lead you to new experiences and views.  For a map to help plan your trip, check out the Highland County Motorcycle Guide brochure or view VDOT’s Highland County Map.

Feeling the itch to discover more?  That’s your Wanderlove calling, and we have you covered!  Find out more about the businesses and organizations of Highland County, including places to stay, eat and unwind at www.highlandcounty.org, or learn more about other destinations at www.Virginia.org/WanderLove.  Happy travels!

The post WanderLove: A Road Trip Through Highland County appeared first on Virginia’s Travel Blog.

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WanderLove: A Road Trip to Waynesboro Through Shenandoah National Park

WanderLove: A Road Trip to Waynesboro Through Shenandoah National Park

Are you eager to leave the bustle of NOVA and spend a romantic weekend exploring scenic roads, trails and a cozy downtown with your sweetie? If you love to wander with your love, we have just the road trip for you. Plan a drive through Shenandoah National Park along the Skyline Drive and make your grand finale weekend in Waynesboro before you head home.

Route Section #1: Skyline Drive

The magnificent Skyline Drive stretches 105 miles from Front Royal to Waynesboro along the Blue Ridge Mountains through Shenandoah National Park. Download the park’s app for maps of trails, campgrounds, waystops, and locations of the more than 70 overlooks offering chances to stop and admire views of the Shenandoah Valley and the Virginia Piedmont.

Where to Eat

There’s no better place to enjoy a romantic picnic than on the top of the world, and you’ll find wayside food stops every 25 miles for snacks, groceries, and carry-out meals. If you’re looking for sit-down dining try Skyland’s Pollock Dining Room and the Mountain Taproom for traditional and seasonal regional favorites made with locally sourced ingredients. Big Meadows Lodge also provides diners with a chance to sample Southern specialties as well as lighter fare.

Photo by user deity.dreams, caption reads Personal pizzas and cocktails with a view of @shenandoahnps..#bigmeadows #skylinedrive #shenandoahnationalpark #ohshenandoah #bigmeadowslodge #pizza #views #dateday

Image: @deity.dreams – July 1, 2020

Personal pizzas and cocktails with a view of @shenandoahnps . . #bigmeadows #skylinedrive #shenandoahnationalpark #ohshenandoah #bigmeadowslodge #pizza …

Where to Stay

The most stylish place to stay in SNP is Skyland Lodge. Located at the highest point along the Skyline Drive, you have your pick of rooms, suites, and cabins, including pet-friendly accommodations. If you’d rather sleep with a view of the stars, Big Meadows Lodge or Campground is your ticket.

Photo by user barbdelollis, caption reads Home sweet home for the weekend!#shenandoahnationalpark  #skyland #worthgettingreallylost #

Image: @barbdelollis – June 26, 2020

Home sweet home for the weekend!#shenandoahnationalpark #skyland #worthgettingreallylost 

Must-See Sights

Grab a map from the Thornton Gap Visitor Center, or download one on your phone. With over 70 overlooks to choose from, you’ll be hard-pressed to pick the best view! Keep a lookout for:

Mary’s Rock Tunnel (Milepost 32.4) In 1932, workers from the Civilian Conservation Corps took three months to blast 670 feet through the granite.

Milam Gap (Milepost 52.8) Hike an easy two miles to visit Rapidan Camp. Visitors can make reservations for ranger-guided tours of President Hover’s 1929 fishing camp.

Calf Mountain (Milepost 98.9). Just a few miles before leaving SNP, stop at the Calf Mountain overlook for one last spectacular view of the Shenandoah Valley from above.

Photo by user tegethoff, caption reads Layers on layers ⛰

Image: @tegethoff – July 31, 2020

Layers on layers ⛰

Outdoor Options

Shenandoah National Park offers more than 500 miles of some of the best hiking in the country and many trails can be accessed from the Skyline Drive. Bikers are welcome to travel the Skyline Drive and other paved areas of the park. Check regulations for fishing if you’d like to bond over a hook.

Photo by user ljoneswilkins, caption reads AHHHH, there is so much love in these hills! After traveling far and wide it is always amazing to come home and remember these hollers are home to some of the best stuff around!

Image: @ljoneswilkins – August 10, 2020

AHHHH, there is so much love in these hills! After traveling far and wide it is always amazing to come home and remember these hollers are home to some …

Route Section #2: Waynesboro

Waynesboro is called the Gateway to Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge Parkway, and at just four miles away from the entrances, it’s an ideal place to rest and replenish after a long day of driving. Waynesboro has much to offer the roadtripper, including a charming and vibrant downtown filled with shopping, dining, and culture as well as a number of outdoor experiences, all within view of the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains.

Photo by user alphaema, caption reads #rainbow #visitwaynesboro #blueridgemountains #blueridgemoments #loveva #sharewhatyoulove

Image: @alphaema – July 2, 2020

#rainbow #visitwaynesboro #blueridgemountains #blueridgemoments #loveva #sharewhatyoulove

Where to Eat

The first thing you should do is grab a drink to refresh and plan the next stage of your adventure. For a unique experience, check out Blue Ridge Bucha, which serves up its kombucha, (naturally carbonated, fermented tea) in a number of flavors. Nearby Basic City Beer Co. offers taproom or outside seating for sipping craft beer and earning a stamp for your Shenandoah Beerwerks Passport. If wine is more your style, make your way to Barren Ridge Vineyards, where you can sip wine on the terrace and admire one of the prettiest sunset settings in the area.

Photo by user azulacres, caption reads @chefcoles cookin’ up some BBQ Hillbilly Tacos! Come see us!

Image: @azulacres – July 11, 2020

@chefcoles cookin’ up some BBQ Hillbilly Tacos! Come see us!

Whet your appetite at Heritage on Main with one of their 31 specialty cocktails and a treat like crab cakes, steamed shrimp or fries poutine. Choose a home cooked main course like Pennsylvania lamb with apple cider gastrique, cajun shrimp polenta, or even a burger or sandwich.

If burgers are your jam, you’re in for a treat at Waynesboro’s newest eatery The River Burger Bar. This classy joint serves both classic and gussied up Angus beef burgers (think fried green tomato and goat cheese with red onion, spicy aioli and arugula) and high-end pub fare appetizers as well as wine, beer, and cocktails.

Where to Stay

Make reservations to cuddle up at the Iris Inn, where guests are treated to incredible views overlooking the Shenandoah Valley as well as personal services and high-end amenities. The 19-acre property boasts newly renovated suites with king-sized beds and deck access in the main inn. Guests can also choose from private cottages or couples-only cabins perched at the edge of the mountain with walls of windows, screened porches, and hot tubs. Upon check in, guests are welcomed with wine and cheese. The inn serves a three-course gourmet breakfast every morning. You can even amp up the romance factor by adding a special anniversary package containing wine and treats.

Photo by user jeffbicer, caption reads Love the way the last minute of sunlight hits our @kingfamilyvineyards Roseland. Wineries are closed but we’re still enjoying the wine. #vawine #vawinecountry #fortunate

jeffbicer – April 11, 2020

Love the way the last minute of sunlight hits our @kingfamilyvineyards Roseland. Wineries are closed but we’re still enjoying the wine. #vawine #vawinecountry …

Must-See Sights

Downtown Waynesboro is home to many independently owned shops and businesses. Take home something special to decorate your love nest from Initial Inspiration or Alpha & Omega Antique Mall. Find your new favorite local artist in the gallery (and gift shop) at the Shenandoah Valley Art Center.

If you bond over a mutual love of history, visit the Waynesboro Heritage Museum, which tells the story of Waynesboro through several galleries containing exhibits on the railroads, business and industry, schools and education, and more.

Make plans to enjoy a Saturday morning holding hands and strolling the Waynesboro Farmer’s Market in Constitution Park. You’ll find locally grown fruits, vegetables, herbs, baked goods, crafts, and more. Better yet, you’ll be able to chat with the farmers and producers.

Photo by user wildaltarfarmstead, caption reads @wildaltarfarmstead  is excited to be set up at the Waynesboro market for the first in person market of the year. We have fresh produce and mushrooms as well as Virginia grown and milled grains from @woodsonsmill. we are also pleased to accept both snap and wic!

wildaltarfarmstead – June 20, 2020

@wildaltarfarmstead is excited to be set up at the Waynesboro market for the first in person market of the year. We have fresh produce and mushrooms …

Outdoor Options

Take a leisurely stroll (or bike ride) down the South River Greenway, which stretches 1.2 miles along the South River. You’ll enjoy views of the city, the Blue Ridge Mountains, and the water, which is habitat to fish, birds, and human paddlers. Stop and pose for photos by the river-themed LOVEworks sign. Another way to enjoy this section of Waynesboro is to rent a kayak from Rockfish Gap Outfitters and float down the 4-mile section of the South River that makes up the Waynesboro Water Trail.

Photo by user caithoge7454, caption reads I get emotional when I think about how lucky our son is to have you as his dad. Soaking up every ounce of these little adventures with you before we start our craziest one yet in less than 3 months! ⭐🛶🌈👶🏼💕

caithoge7454 – June 6, 2020

I get emotional when I think about how lucky our son is to have you as his dad. Soaking up every ounce of these little adventures with you before we start …

You’ll need to head into the country a bit to visit Star B Stables, but if you want to add an off-road component to your road trip, there’s nothing better than a gentle horse and a peaceful trail ride through the Valley.

If you’d like to stretch your legs on a serious (but short) hike, head up Afton Mountain to the Humpback Rocks Visitor Center. Tour the interpretive farm that represents an 1890s mountain settlement and then climb the steep mile up to the rocks where you’ll have a heartstopping view of the Shenandoah and Rockfish Valleys.

What Next?

Waynesboro is beautiful in all seasons. Make sure you plan your next road trip for when the leaves are full of fall colors. Check out other Virginia road trips at Virginia.org/WanderLove.

The post WanderLove: A Road Trip to Waynesboro Through Shenandoah National Park appeared first on Virginia’s Travel Blog.

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WanderLove: A Road Trip Along Virginia’s Blue Ridge Parkway

WanderLove: A Road Trip Along Virginia’s Blue Ridge Parkway

Wanderlust is defined as a strong desire to travel, but here in Virginia, we call that feeling WanderLove. And while travel is a little bit different in 2020 due to COVID-19, you can still explore Virginia’s endless beauty with an epic road trip! To help you plan your next vacation out on the open road, we’ll be sharing a few of the most scenic and adventure-filled routes through the Commonwealth, including the best outdoor adventures, important sites, restaurants, and lodging options to add to your itinerary.

Winding through 469 miles of the storied Appalachian Mountains, the Blue Ridge Parkway extends from Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee. This scenic roadway begins in Afton and continues south, and key communities along this fee-free route include Waynesboro (Milepost 0), Buena Vista (Milepost 46), Buchanan (Milepost 86), Roanoke, and Fancy Gap (Milepost 200). The speed limit along the Blue Ridge Parkway is 45 miles per hour, so this iconic Virginia road trip adventure is perfect for those that are looking to take their time and enjoy the journey. Follow our guide to the Blue Ridge Parkway to find the best restaurants, hotels, wineries, and can’t-miss sites along the way! 

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Photo Credit: Cameron Davidson

**While we have shared COVID-19 alternate hours and closures when possible, please contact individual businesses before visiting, as these details may change at any time. Inclement weather may close the Parkway. Call 828-298-039 or check the real-time closure map for status.

BLUE RIDGE PARKWAY: FROM AFTON TO ROANOKE

116 miles, approximately 3 hours 5 minutes

As the Blue Ridge Parkway runs entirely through mountain terrain, there are countless outdoor activities located along the route. You’ll find hiking opportunities around every bend, from quick jaunts that allow you to stretch your legs to 30-mile sections of the Appalachian Trail that involve overnight backpacking. 

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From the North Entrance of the Blue Ridge Parkway near Afton, the Humpback Rocks region has several hiking trails, but the most popular is the Humpback Rocks Trails, a short but strenuous 1-mile climb directly to the rocks. There is also a secondary route to the Humpback Rocks along the Appalachian Trail, giving you the chance to conquer part of this legendary trail during your Blue Ridge Parkway journey. More hiking trails on this section of the Blue Ridge Parkway include Upper Shamokin Falls & Lower Shamokin Falls (a total of 2.1 miles with scenic waterfall views along the trail), the Three Ridges Hike (14.4 mile backpacking circuit with vista after vista along the Appalachian Trail), the White Rock Falls Loop (a 4.7-mile moderate trail with waterfalls), and Crabtree Falls Trail (located about six miles off the Blue Ridge Parkway, a 2.5-mile loop that features the highest vertical-drop cascading waterfall east of the Mississippi River). The Blue Ridge Parkway crosses the Appalachian Trail in several spots, so if tackling a few section hikes is on your bucket list, this is the trip to do it! 

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Photo Credit: Creative Dog Media, IG account: @creativedogmedia

A short detour off the Parkway, Wintergreen Resort offers four-season fun for visitors driving the Blue Ridge Parkway. The resort contains two 18-hole golf courses that are open spring through fall; swimming, boating, and paddleboarding at Lake Monacan are available during the warmer months; skiing, snowboarding, and tubing slopes are open in the winter. The 11,000-acre mountain-top resort has miles of hiking trails, tennis courts with lessons available through expert trainers, a full-service spa, several restaurants on-site, and indoor and outdoor pools (outdoor pools only open during the summer months). 

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Photo Credit: Sam Dean, IG account: @sdeanphotos

Looking for even more ways to enjoy the Great Outdoors along the Blue Ridge Parkway? Plan a picnic along the sandy beach shores of Sherando Lake Recreation Area, mountain bike the Big Levels 4×4 Trail (a 17-mile trail that is also open to off-highway vehicles and off-road driving), or take your ATVs out on the South Pedlar ATV Trail System’s network of 19 miles of trails open to riders April-November (permits must be purchased ahead of time).

While driving the Blue Ridge Parkway between Afton and Roanoke, plan a detour to Natural Bridge Historic Landmark. A site on the National Register of Historic Places once owned by Thomas Jefferson, this 215-foot tall limestone bridge was formed over thousands of years as Cedar Creek slowly eroded the land underneath the bridge. This natural wonder is surrounded by pristine forests, rolling meadows, and impressive vistas that showcase the beauty of the surrounding mountain terrain. Follow the park’s six miles of hiking trails to take in the variety of landscapes found within Natural Bridge State Park. 

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Photo Credit: Creative Dog Media, IG account: @creativedogmedia

Head back to the Blue Ridge Parkway, where you’ll cross the James River and continue to Milepost 85.6 to the famed Peaks of Otter. Made up of Sharp Top Mountain, Flat Top Mountain, and Harkening Hill, this trio of mountains is a must-see landmark off the Blue Ridge Parkway. Take some time to hike any or all of the three mountains: Flat Top, a 5.6-mile trail, affords spectacular views at the top, particularly in the fall when the leaves blanket the surrounding region in fiery colors; Sharp Top, a difficult 2.6-mile trail with 360-degree views at the top; and Harkening Hill, a 3.5-mile loop and the easiest of the three trails. In addition to hiking, there are picnic areas, campgrounds, wildlife exhibits, and interpretive programs that you can learn about at the Visitor’s Center. 

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Your final optional detour before reaching the outskirts of Roanoke is the unique Buchanan Swinging Bridge. A 366-foot long and 57.5-foot tall pedestrian bridge swinging above the James River, parts of this historic bridge date to 1851 and have survived countless natural disasters such as floods, as well as the destructive Civil War battles that were fought throughout Virginia. If you’re looking to spend more time out in nature before continuing towards Roanoke on the Blue Ridge Parkway, rent kayaks, canoes, or tubes through Twin River Outfitters and set out on the James River from downtown Buchanan. 

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Photo Credit: Shannon Terry

Scenic Overlooks & Viewpoints

Afton Overlook—Milepost .2

Rockfish Valley Parking Overlook—Milepost 1.5

View Shenandoah Valley—Milepost 2.9

Greenstone Overlook—Milepost 8.8

Rock Point Overlook—Milepost 10.4

Ravens Roost Overlook—Milepost 10.7

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Photo Credit: Mike Herrick, IG account: @wahoophoto

Three Ridges Overlook—Milepost 13.1

The Priest—Milepost 17.6

20-minute cliff overlook—Milepost 19

The Slacks Overlook—Milepost 19.9

Bald Mountain Overlook—Milepost 22.1

Fork Mountain Overlook—Milepost 23

Big Spy Mountain Overlook—Milepost 26.4

Boston Knob Overlook—Milepost 38.8

Irish Creek Valley Overlook—Milepost 42.2

White’s Gap Overlook—Milepost 44.4

Chimney Rock Overlook—Milepost 44.9

View Buena Vista—Milepost 45.7

House Mountain View—Milepost 49.3

Punchbowl Mountain Overlook—Milepost 51.7

Bluff Mountain Overlook—Milepost 52.8
White Oak Flats Overlook—Milepost 55.1

Dancing Creek Overlook—Milepost 55.9

Upper Otter Creek Overlook—Milepost 57.6

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Photo Credit: Cameron Davidson

Otter Creek Flats Overlook—Milepost 58.2

Otter Creek Overlook—Milepost 59.7

The Riffles Overlook—Milepost 60.4

View Terrapin Hill—Milepost 61.4

Lower Otter Creek Overlook—Milepost 62.5

Otter Lake Overlook—Milepost 63.1

View Terrapin Mountain—Milepost 72.6

Arnold Valley Overlook—Milepost 75.3

Apple Orchard Mountain Overlook—Milepost 76.5

Sunset Field Overlook—Milepost 78.4

Onion Mountain Overlook—Milepost 79.7

View Black Rock Hill—Milepost 79.9

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Photo Credit: Megan Soffer

View Headforemost Mountain—Milepost 81.9

Upper Goose Creek Valley Overlook—Milepost 89.4

Porter Mountain Overlook—Milepost 90

Mills Gap Overlook—Milepost 91.8

Purgatory Mountain Overlook—Milepost 92.1

Boblett’s Gap Overlook—Milepost 93.1

Pine Tree Overlook—Milepost 95.2

Harvey’s Knob Overlook—Milepost 95.3

Montvale Overlook—Milepost 95.9

Iron Mine Hollow Overlook—Milepost 96.2

Taylor Mountain Overlook—Milepost 97

The Great Valley Overlook—Milepost 99.6

The Quarry Overlook—Milepost 100.9

N & W Railroad Overlook—Milepost 106.9

View Coyner Mountain—Milepost 107

Read Mountain Overlook—Milepost 109

Stewart Knob Overlook—Milepost 110.6

View Roanoke Basin—Milepost 112.9

Restaurants, Breweries, Wineries, & More

12 Ridges VineyardVineyard that currently provides tastings of wines from around the world, specifically focusing on cool climate and sparkling wines. Located on milepost 25 of the Blue Ridge Parkway, the winery offers stunning mountain views. 

Nelson 151 TrailBeverage trail that follows Route 151 through Nelson County; includes six wineries, four breweries, three cideries, and a distillery. 

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Royal Oaks Country StoreOld-fashioned country store with a restaurant serving breakfast and lunch.

DeVine Cafe & Wine ShopLocated 5.5 miles off the Blue Ridge Parkway at Milepost 14 on the Wintergreen Resort grounds. Small cafe with coffee and wine bar, gourmet grocery and gifts, local products.

Peaks of Otter WineryWinery and vineyard that also grows apples, peaches, nectarines, plums, and pears. Open for pick-your-own seasonally. Currently open for outside service only due to COVID-19. 

Hotels, Resorts, & Other Lodging

The Iris Inn19-acre luxury inn, cottages, and cabins in the Blue Ridge Mountains overlooking Shenandoah Valley.

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Photo Credit: Jumping Rocks Photography IG account: @jumpingrocksphoto

Wintergreen Resort11,000 acre resort in the Blue Ridge Mountains that offers four-season activities, including skiing and tubing in the winter and hiking and golf during the spring, summer, and fall. Several restaurants on the grounds and an on-site spa with indoor and outdoor pools. 

Fenton InnInn off the Blue Ridge Parkway renovated to look like a Bavarian village, combining Old World craftsmanship and charm with modern luxuries. 

Royal Oaks CabinsCabin and chalet rentals, country store, deli, and gift shop off the Blue Ridge Parkway; exit at Milepost 16 onto Route 814. Cabins and chalets have fireplaces, hot tubs, and gorgeous mountain views.

Sugar Tree InnRustic pet-friendly inn nestled above the Shenandoah Valley in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Located about a mile off the Blue Ridge Parkway from Milepost 27. 

Peaks of Otter LodgeOn the Blue Ridge Parkway at Milepost 86 and nestled between the Peaks of Otter mountains, this pet-friendly lodge is open May-November and has 63 guest rooms, an on-site restaurant serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily, and a gift shop.

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Montebello Camping & Fishing ResortMountain campgrounds and cabins in Nelson County that is open April-October; guests are invited to fish in resort’s the four-acre pond. 

Peaks of Otter CampgroundCampground right off the Blue Ridge Parkway and near the Peaks of Otter Lodge with 132 camp and RV sites; no electric, water, or sewer hookups at individual sites. A 24-acre lake beside the campground is stocked with small mouth bass and bluegill.

BLUE RIDGE PARKWAY: FROM ROANOKE TO VIRGINIA/NORTH CAROLINA BORDER

103 miles, approximately 2 hours 27 minutes

Note: A section of the Blue Ridge Parkway spanning from Milepost 112.4 to 135.9 (from Roanoke to Adney Gap) is currently closed due to damage caused by heavy flooding. Check the website for updates and take the detour provided in our map. 

While most of the Blue Ridge Parkway around Downtown Roanoke is currently closed, Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge has put together a 26-mile detour that still offers scenic views and several pit stops along the way.

While in the Downtown Roanoke area, walk or bike the Roanoke River Greenway, a system of trails in and around the area that highlights the best the region has to offer, including riverfront views, craft breweries, and some of the most beloved local restaurants.

A must-see attraction in Roanoke is Mill Mountain Park, a 568-acre park that contains miles of multi-use trails open for mountain biking, hiking, and even horseback riding, as well as the iconic Roanoke Star (where you’ll get an incredible view of downtown Roanoke), the Mill Mountain Wildflower Garden, and the Mill Mountain Zoo

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Photo Credit: Creative Dog Media, IG account: @creativedogmedia

Fill this section of your road trip with even more outdoor fun at Explore Park. Bordering the Roanoke River, the park is a blend of mountain terrain, pristine forests, and waterfront landscapes and contains an aerial adventure course with challenging obstacles and ziplines, a campground area with campsites, cabins, and yurt rentals, and multiple hiking trails. Book kayaks and tubes to set out on the water through Blue Mountain Adventures, an outfitter and guide company within Explore Park that also offers unique lodging options like treetop platform camping sites and glamping in their canvas tent rentals. Relax after your outdoor excursions with a craft beer, cider, or glass of wine at Twin Creeks Brewpub, conveniently located inside the park.

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Photo Credit: Shannon Terry

Get a taste of Appalachian music, food, and culture at the Floyd Country Store. This authentic general store is a true hidden gem of Southwest Virginia, where you can pore through an extensive collection of bluegrass and old-time music, pick out a selection of sweets housed in old wooden barrels, and savor some seriously delicious home-cooked meals. While the country store’s regularly-scheduled Friday Night Jamborees are not currently held live due to COVID-19, you can livestream these performances on their Facebook page every week to experience the musical heritage of the Virginia mountains. 

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Resume your journey south on the Blue Ridge Parkway and head to Rocky Knob Recreation Area, which is near the intersection of the parkway Milepost 169 and Route 8. Covering over 4,000 acres, Rocky Knob has numerous trails open for hiking and horseback riding, such as Rock Castle Gorge Trail, a moderate 10.8-mile trail known for its beautiful rock crystalline quartz formations that includes a fun rock scramble and outstanding views of the surrounding mountains at the top. There are also campgrounds in the recreation area open seasonally, allowing you to spend the night under the clear starry skies and enjoy both a stunning sunset and sunrise in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Two spots to take in these views are Grassy Knoll and Saddle Overlook, which provide uninterrupted views of the mountains for miles around. 

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Photo Credit: Cameron Davidson

About 30 miles further south on the Blue Ridge Parkway, Mabry Mill is another can’t-miss site along your road trip route. Known as one of the most iconic structures on the Parkway, this historic mill also has a restaurant and gift shop on the grounds, where you can dine on country-style fare before perusing the gift shop for handmade crafts from local artisans and old-fashioned Virginia foods such as stone-ground grits, cornmeal, and buckwheat flour made at the mill.

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Photo Credit: Shannon Terry

If you’re looking for a sugary stop along the way, head to Nancy’s Candy Company in Meadows of Dan, right off the Blue Ridge Parkway. This candy factory makes over 45 flavors of fudge, 49 unique truffles, 85 different chocolates, and many other varieties of sweets. The retail shop is currently closed due to COVID-19, but you can still place an order online or over the phone and pick up at this delectable candy store.

Nancy’s Candy Co. is a working candy factory, selling over 45 flavors of fudge, 49 different truffles, 85 different chocolates, and more. Their 2,000 square foot candy store is a chocolate lovers dream!

Virginia Tourism Corporation, www.Virginia.org

Your final pit stop along the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia should be The Blue Ridge Music Center, which is hosting a socially-distanced concert series at their state-of-the-art amphitheater on select dates through the fall. If you’re not lucky enough to be passing through during one of these shows, the music center is still worth a visit due to their on-site hiking trails.

Scenic Overlooks & Viewpoints

TEMPORARY CLOSURE STARTS HERE—PLAN YOUR DETOUR

Buck Mountain Overlook—Milepost 123.2

Masons Knob Overlook—Milepost 126.2

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Photo Credit: Shannon Terry

Metz Run Overlook—Milepost 128.7

Poages Mill Overlook—Milepost 129.3

Roanoke Valley Overlook—Milepost 129.6

Lost Mountain Overlook—Milepost 129.9

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Photo Credit: Shannon Terry

Slings Gap Overlook—Milepost 132.9

Bull Run Knob Overlook—Milepost 133.6

Poor Mountain Overlook—Milepost 134.9

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Photo Credit: Shannon Terry

BLUE RIDGE PARKWAY REOPENS HERE

Cahas Mountain Overlook—Milepost 139

Devil’s Backbone Overlook—Milepost 143.9

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Photo Credit: Shannon Terry

Pine Spur Overlook—Milepost 144.8

Smart View Overlook—Milepost 154.1

Shortts Knob Overlook—Milepost 157.6

The Saddle Overlook—Milepost 168

Rock Castle Gorge Overlook—Milepost 168.8

Round Meadow Overlook—Milepost 179.3

Groundhog Meadow Overlook—Milepost 189

View Pilot Mountain—Milepost 189.1

Puckett Cabin—Milepost 190

Mount Airy Overlook—Milepost 202.8

Restaurants, Breweries, Wineries, & More

FarmBurguesaFarm-to-table burger restaurant in Vinton. 

Blue Cow Ice Cream Co.Artisan ice cream shop in Roanoke. Currently open for carryout, curbside pickup, and delivery. 

AmRhein’s Wine CellarsFamily-owned winery just off the Blue Ridge Parkway at Milepost 136. More than a dozen Virginia-style wines available to sample during a tasting.

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Photo Credit: Shannon Terry

Villa Appalaccia WineryTuscan-style pet-friendly winery on the Blue Ridge Parkway between Mileposts 170 and 171. 

Chateau Morrisette Winery and RestaurantWinery and restaurant with incredible views off the Blue Ridge Parkway at Milepost 171.5. Currently closed due to COVID-19; check website for updates.

Mabry Mill Restaurant & Gift ShopHistoric mill, restaurant, and gift shop on the Blue Ridge Parkway at Milepost 176; open Wednesday-Sunday during COVID-19. The circa-1910 mill is known as one of the most photographed spots on the Blue Ridge Parkway. 

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Photo Credit: Beverly Smith

The Gap Deli at the ParkwayDeli in Fancy Gap near the Virginia/North Carolina border off the Blue Ridge Parkway serving signature salads, sandwiches, desserts, coffee, and daily specials. Currently only offering curbside pickup due to COVID-19. 

Hotels, Resorts, & Other Lodging

The Overlook CabinsFully-furnished rustic pet-friendly cabin rentals on a 63-acre horse farm in the mountains. Only three miles from Grayson Highlands State Park. 

Bent Mountain Lodge Bed & Breakfast15,000 square foot bed & breakfast with ten pet-friendly suites that offer beautiful views of the Blue Ridge Mountains and have Jacuzzi tubs. 

Stonewall Bed & BreakfastFloyd log cabin bed & breakfast in the mountains with five rooms, a suite, and two cabins. 

Hotel FloydEco-friendly and pet-friendly hotel in Downtown Floyd that utilizes Green technology in their sustainable practices. 

Tuggles Gap Restaurant & MotelHistoric restaurant and motel off the Blue Ridge Parkway on Route 8, just six miles south of Floyd.

Woodberry InnPeaceful mountain inn off the Blue Ridge Parkway at Milepost 174.1. 

Primland ResortLuxury pet-friendly resort with spectacular mountain views about 12.5 miles off the Blue Ridge Parkway in Meadows of Dan. On-site fine dining restaurant, spa, and indoor pool; grounds offer an 18-hole golf course and a disc golf course, flyfishing, sport shooting, archery, biking, horseback riding, RTV trail riding, and stargazing at the resort’s observatory. 

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A Blue Ridge Haven Cabin RentalsAppalachian-style pet-friendly log cabins along the Blue Ridge Parkway; sleep up to six people. 

Meadows of Dan CampgroundCampground in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains with camping and RV sites and log cabin rentals that feature Whirlpools and gas-log fireplaces. 

Lonesome Pine Cabins12 rustic mountain cabins with modern conveniences outside of Fancy Gap that sleep 2-4 people. 

Fancy Gap Cabins and CampgroundPet-friendly campground, cabin rentals, and a quaint motel with mountain views. The grounds include 22 acres of hiking trails as well as peach and apple orchards.

The post WanderLove: A Road Trip Along Virginia’s Blue Ridge Parkway appeared first on Virginia’s Travel Blog.

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Outdoor Family Adventures in Northern Virginia

Outdoor Family Adventures in Northern Virginia

On the Water

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Photo Credit: April Greer, Burke Lake Park

  • Harpers Ferry Adventure Center – From tubing and whitewater rafting to an aerial adventure course and ziplining, there is something everyone in the family can enjoy at this outdoor center in western Loudoun. Located on the banks of the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers, this is the perfect place to get on the water for a remote and relaxing afternoon.
  • Enjoy a family picnic (with takeout) at one of Alexandria’s vibrant waterfront parks on the Potomac River.

Farm Visits

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Photo Credit:
Hailey Zurschmeide, Great Country Farms

  • Great Country Farms – Take a scenic drive through the country for a stop at Great Country Farms. Featuring 400 acres, there is plenty of room to do everything from pick-your-own fruits and vegetables and visit animals to play a game of mini golf or fish in the pond.
  • The Little Goat Farm at the Lake – Located on beautiful Lake Manassas in Prince William County, Virginia, the Farm provides guests healthy, sustainable food as well as goat, alpaca, llama, bee products, and free-range eggs. Enjoy special events such as Goat Yoga, Open House Farm Tours, Private Tours, Newborn Snuggling, & Private Parties. Reservations are required to visit.
  • Plan ahead for a volunteer day at Arcadia Farm to help build garden beds, tend to the chickens, seeding and/or weeding, and learn about farm life.
  • Enjoy quality time with the farm animals (and babies!) at local favorite, Frying Pan Farm Park. The farm preserves and interprets farm life of the 1920s to 1950s, but is also home to a country store, old-time carousel, an equestrian center, and beautiful nature trails.             

Hiking & Biking

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Photo Credit:
Jake McGuire, Theodore Roosevelt Island

  • Theodore Roosevelt Island – Escape to the great outdoors in the middle of an urban environment with a trip to Theodore Roosevelt Island, a 91-acre wooded island sanctuary featuring miles of trails designed for hiking or running.
  • Neabsco Creek Boardwalk – This ¾ mile long boardwalk allows hikers access to wetlands where the tall grasses and marsh filter pollution from the river and provide a rich habitat for local animals and birds. The walkway is also part of the Potomac Heritage National Trail, which was established by Congress in 1983 designating an 800-mile trail network stretching from the Allegheny Mountains in Pennsylvania to the Potomac River, winding through Pennsylvania, Maryland, Washington, D.C. and Virginia. 
  • Gravelly Point – Take a walk or a bike ride along the Mount Vernon Trail to Gravelly Point and watch planes fly to and from nearby Reagan National Airport. Its unique location just a few hundred feet from the north end of Reagan’s runway 1/19 makes it one of the best spots in the United States for airplane-spotting. Bring a picnic lunch, frisbee and/or your bike and explore beautiful scenic views of Washington, DC and the Potomac River.
  • Support local bicycle businesses while picking up a coffee or juice before hitting the bike trails in Fairfax County. A couple of great ones to start with that are located directly off the Washington & Old Dominion Trail (a 45-mile paved stretch through three counties) include Green Lizard Cycling in Herndon and The Bike Lane in Reston.
  • Bike into D.C. or along the riverside Mount Vernon Trail with rentals from Unlimited Biking or Pedego Electric Bikes in Alexandria. While cycling, scan the tidal marsh for creatures across the food chain, from darting fish to sun-tanning turtles to stately bald eagles. 

Camping

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Photo Credit:
Nicole Warner, Leesylvania State Park

  • Leesylvania State Park – This picturesque park has five tent-only campsites. One large group campground and four individual campsites for visitors arriving by canoe or kayak. The group campsite contains several picnic tables, benches, running water, and a large fire pit with a grill top. There is also plenty of room for recreational activities in the large field adjacent to the campsite. The individual sites are located near a small boat launch and contain a picnic table, a fire pit with grill top, and a lantern hook. Leesylvania State Park is known for great fishing, beaches with swimming areas and historical hiking trails.

A universally accessible fishing pier, playground, boat launch, boat storage area, snack bar and store, visitor center and gift shop are available. A 20-station fitness trail and canoe and kayak rentals also are available.

  • Algonkian Regional Park – Rent one of 12 vacation cottages along the Potomac River at this regional park in Loudoun. With decks, grills, full kitchens and multiple bedrooms, these cottages are perfect for a secluded vacation destination spot. While at the park, tee up at the 18-hole golf course, hike the trails or utilize the boat launch to get out on the water.
  • Prince William Forest Park – With 3 front-country campgrounds, 1 back-country campground and 5 cabin camps, Prince William Forest Park offers prime tent and RV camping in the Northern Virginia/DC area. 

The park gives visitors a unique opportunity to camp in, hike through, and explore 15,000 wooded acres filled with wildlife and more than 300 years of human history. Campers can enjoy an array of outdoor activities at the park including the 37 miles of hiking trails, on and off-road biking, bird watching, an orienteering coarse, as well as streams and ponds for fishing (permit required and can be obtained at the parks Visitor Center).

History, Parks, and More

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Photo Credit:
Kristian Summerer, Old Town Alexandria

  • Explore self-guided Great Walks in Alexandria with themes ranging from centuries-spanning architecture to photo-friendly artwork to expansive Black history and more. For each walk, check out our accompanying Google Map to plan your route—though you’ll be tempted (and welcome) to detour.
  • Air Force Memorial – Located on a beautiful hillside vista, the Air Force Memorial honors the service and sacrifice of U.S. airmen with three stainless steel spires evoking an image of jet and space vehicle flight. The Air Force Memorial is open to the public, and admission and parking are free. The memorial is located adjacent to Arlington National Cemetery and is about a mile walk from both Pentagon City Station and Pentagon Station.
  • Roer’s Zoofari – This local zoo is home to Waffles the Giraffe, lemurs, zebra, kangaroo, cheetah and more. Rather not get out of your vehicle? Book a spot on the Self-Drive Safari Tour, which gets you up close and personal with nine different species, including bison, llamas, fallow deer, and more.
  • Colvin Run Mill is an often overlooked 19th century historic site that is home to a working waterwheel, miller’s house and blacksmith forge, scenic walking areas, and a general store where you can purchase cornmeal and flour that was produced on site!
  • George Mason’s Gunston Hall – Learn about the life of Founding Father George Mason, the father of the Bill of Rights, at his iconic home, Gunston Hall. Archaeology and hiking opportunities are exciting add-ons to the mansion tour.

For more ideas for your Northern Virginia vacation, visit www.NorthernVA.org.

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Exploring Damascus: A WanderLove Adventure

Exploring Damascus: A WanderLove Adventure

It’s WanderLove in Virginia and we’re sharing fun and exciting road trip ideas all across Southwest Virginia! Today, we want to tell you about a small community that is driven by the Virginia Creeper Trail! That community is Damascus, Virginia.

About Damascus

Damascus is located in Washington County Virginia and is a small town with a population of around 1,000. Damascus is a trail town that includes the Virginia Creeper Trail, the Appalachian TrailU.S. Bicycle Route 76, and the Iron Mountain Trail. Damascus has a natural small-town charm that will make you feel welcome and right at home.

There are a couple of options of getting to Damascus via the Virginia side:

  • From Abingdon, take US 58 from I-81 Exit 19 straight Damascus (13.4 Miles)
  • From Glade Spring, take SR 91 from I-81 Exit 29 straight Damascus (13.8 Miles)

Trail Days & The Appalachian Trail

Each year, Damascus is also home to the Trail Days Festival. Trail Days is a three-day festival that runs Friday-Sunday in May. During the festival, the town becomes filled with hikers from the Appalachian Trail and surrounding communities. Trail Days is a celebration of music, culture, heritage, food, and the great outdoors.

Virginia Creeper Trail

The Virginia Creeper Trail is one of the main highlights that sends visitors to Damascus every year! From scenic views, rich cultural history, and lovely bike rides down White Top Mountain. One feature that makes Damascus so attractive is the Creeper Trail shutter services you can find all around town. These shuttles will take you to White Top Station where you are able to bike 17 miles down White Top Mountain and back into Damascus. It might sound like a challenge, however, the majority of the ride is all downhill!

The Creeper Trail continues through the town of Damascus, Alverado, Watauga, and on into Abingdon. The entire length of the trail from Whitetop to Abingdon is 34 miles.

Camping And Outdoor Recreation

Camping and other outdoor recreation do not fall short in and around Damascus. For many visitors, camping in the great outdoors is the most sought after option. Within driving distance of Damascus, there are three options to choose from when camping Grindstone, Beartree, and Backbone Rock.

Grindstone Campground is a campground located outside of Damascus, Virginia. This campground is located in the George Washington & Jefferson National Forest. Grindstone is another nature-friendly campground tucked away in the mountains. Nearby attractions include hiking, biking, fishing, and boating.

Grindstone offers sites for both tent and RV camping. Sites include a fire pit, access to showers and restrooms, as well as the ability to bring your pets.

Beartree Campground is located just outside of Damascus, Virginia in the Mount Rogers National Recreation area. This campground allows you to fully submerge into the great outdoors. Tucked far away from the main roadways, you can really get a peaceful adventure here. Beartree features roughneck tent camping and RV spots.

Beartree is a great family location that offers a lake, swimming, fishing, water, firewood, and more. Great picnic, hiking, and photography opportunities as well.

Backbone Rock Campground is located in our neighbor state of Tennessee. Backbone is a much smaller campground which is located along the Beaverdam Creek in Johnson County. There are 10 single campsites, including two double sites within Backbone Rock Campground. The campground has flush toilets. Each site contains a table, fire ring, and lantern holder.

Eating, Lodging, Entertainment

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Damascus also offers some options outside of camping with bed and breakfasts, places to eat, and even a local brewery!

Seven Trails Grill – burgers, pizza, wings, appetizers, beer, and televisions

Mojos Trailside Cafe – coffee, breakfast, lunch, and fine dinner

Wicked Chicken Restaurant & Tavern – Variety of foods with an influence on a great selection of wings

Damascus Brewery – A great local brewery with a selection of beers and live entertainment

Damascus Diner – Small but tasty diner-style restaurant

There are also a lot of great lodging options in Damascus ranging from bed and breakfast, cabins, cottages, and more. Adventure Damascus has a great resource page where you can find out more about the variety of options you have available.

Nearby Towns

  • Abingdon
  • Glade Spring

The post Exploring Damascus: A WanderLove Adventure appeared first on Virginia’s Travel Blog.

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How the Lynchburg Community Market Is Helping Local Businesses Succeed – LYH – Lynchburg Tourism

Featured image provided by Lynchburg Tourism

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WanderLove: A Northern Virginia Road Trip From D.C. to Culpeper

WanderLove: A Northern Virginia Road Trip From D.C. to Culpeper

Wanderlust is defined as a strong desire to travel, but here in Virginia, we call that feeling WanderLove. And while travel doesn’t look quite the same in 2020 due to COVID-19, you can still explore Virginia’s endless beauty with an epic road trip! To help you plan your next vacation out on the open road, we’ll be sharing a few of the most scenic and adventure-filled routes through the Commonwealth, including the best outdoor adventures, iconic sites, restaurants, and lodging options to add to your itinerary.

The Washington metropolitan area includes one of the most bustling parts of Virginia, so if you live in this cultural hub, you may be looking for a slightly slower change of pace. Skip the highways and their potential traffic snarls when planning a road trip out of the D.C. area, choosing instead to take Route 50 West towards Winchester, then heading south to Culpeper on Route 522. This leisurely route may take a bit longer, but it will guarantee that the journey is just as much fun as the rest of the vacation. 

**While we have shared COVID-19 alternate hours and closures when possible, please contact individual businesses before visiting, as these details may change at any time.

ROUTE 50: WASHINGTON, D.C. TO WINCHESTER

73 miles, approximately 2 hours

Whether you’re setting out from Washington, D.C., Alexandria, or Arlington, you can start your journey with a few activities only a few miles from home. Stop by the Torpedo Factory Art Center in Alexandria and browse works from local artists. This artistic mecca is home to the largest number of publicly-accessible working artists’ studios in the United States, and in addition to the cultural immersion, you can also take in the views of the Potomac River from the center.

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For a little active entertainment, conquer part of the Mount Vernon Trail by bike or by foot. This eighteen-mile paved trail winds along the Potomac River, spanning from Theodore Roosevelt Island to George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate, where you can tour the estate and learn about one of America’s most pivotal Founding Fathers and the first President of the United States. 

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Photo Credit: Cameron Davidson, IG account: @cameron.davidson.usa

Head west on Route 50 towards Chantilly, where you can visit the National Air & Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center. The museum offers free admission (although there is a parking fee), and to keep visitors safe during COVID-19, the tickets are timed to ensure only a limited number of visitors are inside the museum at any given time. 

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If you’re traveling with kids, detour to Frying Pan Farm Park, a preserved farm that dates from 1920 to 1940 and pays tribute to Fairfax County’s rural roots. Kids can see (and sometimes even pet!) draft horses, chickens, pigs, goats, cows, sheep, rabbits, and peacocks. 

Antique lovers should spend some time in Middleburg, a charming small town in Loudoun County set against the backdrop of the Blue Ridge Mountains that is known as the nation’s horse and hunt capital. There are over a half dozen antique shops located on Washington Street, the town’s main street, where you’ll find hidden treasures and gorgeous antique pieces to take home.

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Photo Credit: Salamander Resort

Continue along Route 50 to Sky Meadows State Park in Delaplane. An 1,860-acre pet-friendly park that combines history with outdoor adventure, Sky Meadows has 22 miles of hiking trails, access to the Appalachian Trail, nine miles of biking trails, and 10.5 miles of bridle trails open for horseback riding, as well as fishing, picnicking, and primitive hike-in camping sites. If your group includes any people with physical or mental limitations, the Sensory Explorers’ Trail, a short .03-mile trail for people of all ages and abilities, is a must. This trail encourages pedestrians to use all of their senses to traverse the surrounding landscape. 

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Photo Credit: Jeff Mauritzen, IG account: @jeffmauritzen

After visiting Sky Meadows, swing by Mount Airy Farm Market to pick up some fresh fruits and veggies, baked goods, jams and preserves, and other locally-made products such as honey, cheeses, wines, and craft beers. The farm market also serves an array of custom-made deli sandwiches, soups, and homemade sides, so consider picking up lunch along with some gifts to take home on your way to Winchester. 

Restaurants, Breweries, Wineries, & More

Artie’sSeafood and meat entrees. In addition to dining in, curbside pickup and delivery is also available during COVID-19. 

Ambar ClarendonBalkan small plates; recommended for group dining. Outdoor patio seating, delivery, and takeout also available during COVID-19. 

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Photo Credit: Cameron Davidson, IG account: @cameron.davidson.usa

Chrysalis Vineyards at the AG District400+ acre pet-friendly winery in Middleburg with views of the Bull Run Mountains.

Boxwood Estate WineryWinery located on Boxwood Estate, a National Historic Landmark and one of the earliest established farms in the historic village of Middleburg.

Greenhill Winery & VineyardsAdults-only boutique winery; charcuterie platters for purchase to pair with wine tastings. 

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The Red Fox Inn & TavernVirginia landmark established in 1728 offering hearty meals in an historic tavern setting. 

King Street Oyster Bar in MiddleburgSeafood restaurant & oyster bar open for lunch, weekend brunch, and dinner. Patio seating and to-go orders available during COVID-19.

Market SalamanderEpicurean market selling prepackaged foods and a selection of deli sandwiches, salads, sides, and gourmet picnics to-go. 

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Photo Credit: Salamander Resort

Wild Hare Cider PubMiddleburg cider pub location recently opened for Leesburg’s Wild Hare Cidery. Open select hours Wednesday-Sunday. 

Hunter’s Head TavernHistoric tavern built circa 1750 with a traditional English pub menu featuring a wide selection of on-tap beers and local and imported wines. Open for dinner seven days a week and lunch Tuesday-Sunday. Outdoor seating available.

Delaplane CellarsSmall boutique family winery offering outdoor seating and curbside pickup during COVID-19. 

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Photo Credit: Eric Weiss

James Charles WineryBeautiful winery with expansive vineyards, apple orchards, and rolling hills. Several tasting options available, including tastings by reservation and group tastings. 

Winchester CiderworksCidery tasting room on a gorgeous orchard outside of Winchester producing English-style hard ciders. 

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Photo Credit: Robert Harris IG account: @robertharris

0-60 Energy CafeGrilled cheese sandwich and soup restaurant also serving specialty coffees, teas, and bubble teas. 

Benny Meleto’sPizzeria known for their oversized pizza slices.

Sweet NOLA’s Southern Food LoungeNew Orleans inspired restaurant with a Creole and Cajun-style menu; currently only open for curbside carry-out.

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Photo Credit: Robert Harris IG account: @robertharris

Brewbaker’s RestaurantRestaurant on the Old Town Walking Mall in downtown Winchester serving appetizers, sandwiches, burgers, salads, and entrees. Outdoor dining available. 

Hotels, Resorts, & Other Lodging

Salamander Resort & SpaUpscale resort set on 340 acres in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the center of Virginia’s horse country; pet-friendly accommodations available, indoor and outdoor pools, and an award-winning restaurant on-site. 

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Photo Credit: Salamander Resort

The Red Fox Inn & TavernHistoric Virginia inn and tavern in Middleburg that was established in 1728.

Goodstone Inn & RestaurantLuxurious country inn with private rooms and cottages, as well as an on-site restaurant serving farm-to-table cuisine made from ingredients grown on the property and an outdoor pool. 

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Photo Credit: Jumping Rocks Photography, IG account: @jumpingrocksphoto

The Ashby Restaurant & InnLocated in the tranquil village of Paris, Virginia, an historic inn that dates back to 1829. The inn’s restaurant features a gourmet Executive Chef and Sommelier and serves locally-sourced, seasonally-inspired fare. 

The George Washington HotelOriginally built in 1924, the George Washington Hotel is a charming blend of history, modern amenities, and first-class service. Located just steps from the Old Town Walking Mall in downtown Winchester.

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Photo Credit: Bill Crabtree Jr.

Fuller House InnHistoric mansion inn in Old Town Winchester that was built circa 1850. 

ROUTE 522: WINCHESTER TO CULPEPER

67 miles, approximately 1 hour 22 minutes

Spend some time exploring Winchester, a small Shenandoah Valley city located in the northern section of Virginia. Walk through Old Town Winchester, an outdoor pedestrian mall in historic downtown Winchester lined with shops and restaurants. 

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Photo Credit: Robert Harris IG account: @robertharris

Next, tour the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley to learn about the history and culture of the region. The museum includes galleries and exhibits, seven acres of formal gardens, and the Glen Burnie House, an historic home with sections originally built in 1794 and 1797 (the Glen Burnie House is currently closed to the public due to COVID-19). To ensure the safety of their guests, the museum has instituted several mandatory protocols during COVID-19, such as requiring guests to wear face masks in compliance with state policies and only using select entrances and exits throughout the museum. 

While the Patsy Cline Historic House, the childhood home of the iconic American singer, is currently closed due to COVID-19, you can still stop by the outside to pay homage to the country music legend. 

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Photo Credit: Robert Harris IG account: @robertharris

If you’re feeling nostalgic and need an evening activity that is both safe and entertaining, catch a movie at the Family Drive-In Theatre, about ten miles south of Winchester in Stephens City. 

Depart Winchester for Front Royal, where along the way you can get active on the Jim Barnett Park Disc Golf Course or the Rockland Park Disc Golf Course, both 18-hole disc golf courses that are open to the public. Bring your own discs if this is on your itinerary, and be ready for a little cardio exercise, as these courses are very hilly. 

Take a detour (about ten miles) off Route 522 to visit Shenandoah River State Park. Situated on the South Fork of the Shenandoah River, the park has 5.2 miles of shoreline and over 1,600 acres of pristine mountain landscape. There are more than 15 miles of trails within the park open to hiking, biking, and even horseback riding, as well as primitive campsites and a full-service bathhouse. 

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Photo Credit: Mike Zorger

Another potential detour is the State Arboretum of Virginia, which has a collection of over 6,000 types of trees and woody shrubs (including a third of the world’s pine species) and the largest collection of boxwood cultivars in North America. The grounds are open from dawn to dusk daily and are free to the public.

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Traveling with kids? If so, Dinosaur Land is a must! This kitschy roadside attraction has been a road trip staple since 1969 and features more than 50 fiberglass dinosaur statues. There is even a king kong statue large enough that you can sit in the hand for a photo op! Before leaving, spend some time perusing the gift shop to bring home some one-of-a-kind souvenirs. 

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Photo Credit: Chris Cruz IG account: @_chriscruz

Head into Shenandoah National Park at the Front Royal Entrance to Skyline Drive. This section has several popular hikes, like Dickey Ridge, a 5.3-mile hiking trail that starts right off the Front Royal Entrance at the Dickey Ridge Visitor Center. 

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Photo Credit: Cameron Davidson

You’ve spent some time exploring Virginia’s mountains, but to truly marvel at the Commonwealth’s magnificent natural wonders, travel to Skyline Caverns outside of Front Royal. One of Virginia’s eight cavern systems open for tours, Skyline Caverns is famous for its Anthodite formations (gorgeous rock formations that resemble colorful flowers). 

Resuming your journey south on Route 522, you’ll hit another access point to Shenandoah National Park, the Thornton Gap Entrance, outside of Sperryville. From this entrance, you can reach some of the best trails in Shenandoah, such as Mary’s Rock, which runs over one of the most spectacular sections of the Appalachian Trail, Whiteoak Canyon, a trail that features six stunning waterfalls, and Old Rag, Shenandoah’s most popular hike (this circuit hike is about nine miles long and is suited for more advanced hikers, so allow plenty of time if you plan on conquering this arduous trail!). 

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Photo Credit: Nate Dennison

Leave the park and pick up Route 522 until you reach your destination: Culpeper. Spend some time walking around downtown, stopping into a few local shops and enjoying the laid-back vibe of this quaint small town. 

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Looking for a once-in-a-lifetime experience while in Culpeper? Book a helicopter tour of the region through Skyline Heli Tours and soar above Culpeper and nearby Charlottesville, getting a bird’s eye view of the mountains and valleys below. 

Restaurants, Breweries, Wineries, & More

L’Dees Pancake HouseFamily-owned and -operated restaurant known for their delicious breakfast fare, but also offering lunch and dinner menus. 

Griffin TavernTavern-style restaurant in an historic building that dates to the 1850s. Outdoor seating available.

Chester Gap CellarsPicturesque winery offering tastings of their estate-grown Viogner, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Petit Manseng, and several innovative blends. 

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Photo Credit: Bill Crabtree Jr.

The Blue Door Kitchen & InnInn and restaurant located inside an historic schoolhouse; menu features creative dishes made from locally-grown, seasonal ingredients.

Glen Gordon ManorWinery/Bed & Breakfast overlooking Shenandoah National Park with an outdoor pool and an award-winning on-site restaurant.

Gadino CellarsWinery in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains near the historic town of Washington.

Old House Vineyards75-acre farm and vineyard that hosts tastings in a beautifully renovated barn that dates to the 1800s. Offering curbside pickup in addition to wine tastings in compliance with state guidelines. 

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Three BlacksmithsUpscale Sperryville restaurant crafting a fixed weekly dinner tasting menu out of locally-sourced, seasonal produce and goods. 

Copper Fox DistilleryDistillery in Sperryville that offers self-guided cocktail flights in an outdoor garden space. Curbside pickup available for purchasing bottles. 

18 Grams Coffee LabCoffee shop that also serves seasonally-inspired toasts and baked goods. 

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Rappahannock Pizza KitchenSperryville wood-fired pizzeria offering carryout only during COVID-19.

Mountain Run WineryFamily and pet-friendly farm winery in Culpeper crafting wines and ciders.

Belmont Farm DistilleryMoonshine distillery on a 189-acre farm outside of Culpeper. Currently offering tastings and cocktails and curbside pickup, but no tours due to COVID-19.

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It’s about ThymeCharming cafe serving European country cuisine in a casual old-world setting.

Love’s KitchenCulpeper restaurant serving New Orleans cuisine. 

Hotels, Resorts, & Other Lodging

Inn at Little WashingtonLuxury boutique inn that is also home to a Michelin-star restaurant. 

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Photo Credit: Inn at Little Washington

The Inn at Mount Vernon FarmLuxury bed and breakfast on a bucolic farm in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains

L’Auberge Provencale Bed & BreakfastFrench-inspired country bed and breakfast in the Shenandoah Valley with an upscale on-site restaurant. 

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Photo Credit: Jumping Rocks Photography

Inn at Vaucluse SpringAccommodations include six guest houses amidst 100 acres in scenic orchard country of the northern Shenandoah Valley. Outdoor pool, pond with natural springs, and on-site restaurant that utilizes ingredients grown on-site for an impressive seasonally-inspired menu.

Thyme InnDowntown Culpeper inn with luxury suites with fireplaces, Jacuzzi tubs, and skylights. Located beside their restaurant and market, It’s About Thyme and Thyme Market. 

Need more ideas for future road trip adventures? Check out our other WanderLove articles, which will inspire you to get out and explore the open road! 

The post WanderLove: A Northern Virginia Road Trip From D.C. to Culpeper appeared first on Virginia’s Travel Blog.

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