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WanderLove: A Shenandoah Valley Road Trip From Harrisonburg to Charlottesville

WanderLove: A Shenandoah Valley Road Trip From Harrisonburg to 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 due to COVID-19, you can still explore Virginia’s endless beauty with an epic road trip! To help you plan your next road trip vacation, we’ll be sharing a few of the most scenic and adventure-filled routes through the Commonwealth, including the best outdoor adventures, restaurants, and lodging options to add to your itinerary.

Follow your WanderLove from Harrisonburg to Charlottesville for a scenic adventure through the Blue Ridge Mountains. Unlike previous WanderLove routes like the trips from Norfolk to Virginia’s Eastern Shore, Fredericksburg to the Northern Neck, or Roanoke to Abingdon through Southwest Virginia, there are two route options for this road trip itinerary. We cover a wide range of safe social distanced activities in Harrisonburg and Charlottesville, then take you through the two fun-filled drives in between to fill your road trip vacation with even more memorable experiences! 

**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.


There are two unique route options to travel between Harrisonburg and Charlottesville, but there is plenty to do inside these two cities, as well. 


Begin your journey in Harrisonburg, a college town home to James Madison University that is located in the Shenandoah Valley off of Interstate 81. Harrisonburg is well known for an abundance of outdoor activities; travel in virtually any direction from the downtown area and you’ll run into some truly spectacular hiking and biking trails. To the east of Harrisonburg lies Shenandoah National Park, while George Washington National Forest runs parallel to the west. 


Photo Credit: Larry W. Brown

Mountain biking is extremely popular in Harrisonburg, and within the city limits, the Rocktown Trails at Hillandale Park offer three different levels of difficulty that suit mountain bikers of every skill level. Designed according to the IMBA guidelines, these shared-use trails have six distinct loops covering over four miles of track. In addition to these trails, there are hundreds of miles of mountain biking trails, road rides, and gravel routes surrounding the city, making it a prime spot for mountain bikers and cyclists looking to spend a significant amount of time tackling the challenging terrain. If you aren’t planning on packing your own, rent mountain bikes through Shenandoah Bicycle Company, located in downtown Harrisonburg (supplies are limited due to COVID-19, so book far in advance, if possible).


Another option for outdoor sports within Harrisonburg is a round of disc golf at Westover Park. Bring your own discs to play the free 21-hole disc golf course, open to the public and set against the gorgeous backdrop of the mountains.

Take in a little arts and culture during your stay in Harrisonburg as you follow the Harrisonburg Downtown Art Walk. This public art project includes over 30 murals and outdoor art works, showcasing the talent of local artists and the organizations who support them. 


Need more inspiration for the Harrisonburg leg of your journey? Follow our Three-Day Guide to Harrisonburg to find more to do in this incredible mountain town.

Harrisonburg Restaurants, Breweries, Wineries, & More

Magnolia’s Tacos and Tequila BarMexican restaurant with over ten different types of tacos and an impressive tequila menu. Limited outdoor outdoor seating available on the restaurant’s rooftop. 


Clementine CafeRestaurant, bar, and live music venue in downtown Harrisonburg serving Southern classics as well as more than a dozen vegetarian and gluten-free dishes. Outdoor seating available on the restaurant’s patio. 

Jack Brown’s Beer & Burger JointRustic saloon-style restaurant serving unique burgers paired with a great selection of craft brews. 

Billy Jack’s Wing & Draft ShackCasual sister restaurant to Jack Brown’s that has an extensive list of craft beers from all over the world.

Heritage BakeryCozy and warm French-inspired bakery and cafe in downtown Harrisonburg.


Magpie DinerFull-service breakfast and lunch restaurant with a diner-inspired seasonal menu. 

Merge Coffee CompanyCoffee company that roasts their own beans; two cafe locations within Harrisonburg.

Pale Fire Brewing Co.Craft brewery in the heart of downtown Harrisonburg with outdoor patio seating. 


Brothers Craft BrewingFamily-owned craft brewery with four flagship beers and frequent limited series brews and collaborations. 

Cuban BurgerCuban/American cuisine. Currently open at 50% capacity and offering to-go, curbside pickup, and local delivery. 

Little Grill CollectiveWorker-owned restaurant known for their vegan and vegetarian food, as well as healthy home-cooked fare made with locally-sourced meats. 

Bella Luna Wood-Fired PizzaFarm-to-table pizza restaurant offering thin-crusted pizza cooked in a traditional wood-fired oven. In addition to limited indoor seating, curbside pickup available. 


Harrisonburg Hotels, Resorts, & Other Lodging

Joshua Wilton House Inn & RestaurantRestored Victorian mansion in downtown Harrisonburg converted into an elegant bed and breakfast.

Hotel MadisonFull-service pet-friendly hotel in downtown Harrisonburg with many rooms offering views of the surrounding mountains and city views. Amenities include an indoor pool, an on-site restaurant, and a cafe located inside the hotel.


Stonewall Jackson Inn Bed & BreakfastBed & breakfast in an historic home that was built in 1885, just steps from the shops and restaurants of downtown Harrisonburg. 

The final stop on your Blue Ridge Mountain vacation, Charlottesville is another popular college town, home to the historic University of Virginia. If shopping is on your checklist, explore the Downtown Mall, an outdoor pedestrian mall that includes over 120 shops and 30 restaurants, many with outdoor seating sections that allow for plenty of social distancing. 


Photo Credit: Brantley Ussery, IG account: @jbussery

To immerse yourself in the Charlottesville college vibe, wander around The Corner, an historic section of shops and restaurants right across from the college campus. 

There are plenty of parks within Charlottesville that allow you to get out and enjoy the Great Outdoors while also avoiding crowds; McIntire Park is pet friendly and includes a nine-hole public golf course and nature trails on the western end of the park, while Pen Park has eight tennis courts, an 18-hole golf course, and a 1.5-mile nature trail. 

Get a taste of local art in Charlottesville at IX Art Park, an outdoor park filled with murals and sculptures that is free to the public.


Photo Credit: Chad Williams; IG account: @echadwilliams

More outdoor adventures await in Charlottesville! The Rivanna Trail System is spread throughout the city, split into short trail rides that range from just over a half-mile to about two miles long. These routes can be combined to take you on a cycling adventure around Charlottesville.

And if you’re interested in history, a visit to Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello is a must during your trip. The historic home has reopened with extensive safety measures in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including greatly-reduced capacity and rigorous cleaning procedures. After touring Jefferson’s iconic property, get out and wander the grounds, following the Saunders-Monticello Trail for an added outdoor excursion. The trail system occupies 89 acres of land, is free to public use from 7am to 7pm daily, and contains over seven miles of dog-friendly trails.


Charlottesville Restaurants, Breweries, Wineries, & More

The VirginianA Charlottesville tradition since 1923, serves lunch, dinner, and late-night food like sandwiches, burgers, and their signature crab cakes. 

MarieBette BakeryEuropean-inspired restaurant serving breakfast, lunch, and an array of baked goods. 

South Street BreweryCozy craft brewery and restaurant with an extensive, creative draft beer list. 


Soul Food JointHome-cooked Southern Soul food. 

MasServe simple, well-made dishes cooked with local, organic, and artisanal ingredients; focus is traditional Spanish fare. 

Bodo’s BagelsPopular bagel franchise in Charlottesville with multiple locations. 


Ace Biscuit & BarbecueBarbecue restaurant in the Rose Hill neighborhood of Charlottesville. 

Lampo PizzeriaAuthentic Neapolitan wood-fired pizza restaurant in the Belmont neighborhood. 

Three Notch’d Brewing CompanyCraft brewery and restaurant near Charlottesville’s Downtown Mall in the IX Art Park.


Vitae SpiritsFamily-owned craft distillery producing small batch spirits such as barrel-aged rum, gin, and liqueurs. 

Wineworks ExtendedMichael Shaps Winery tasting room close to downtown Charlottesville.

Charlottesville Hotels, Resorts, & Other Lodging

Graduate Hotel CharlottesvillePet-friendly boutique hotel on the Corner and across the street from UVA grounds. Contains a coffee shop and an on-site restaurant, Camp Ten Four.

Boar’s Head Resort573-acre resort on the outskirts of Charlottesville with an outdoor pool, on-site dining, an 18-hole golf course, and a wide array of guided outdoor activities. 


Photo Credit: Jack Looney

Oakhurst InnPet-friendly Craftsman-style hotel near the Corner with 35 distinct rooms, an outdoor pool, and a cafe/restaurant that serves breakfast, brunch, and lunch daily. 

The Draftsman CharlottesvilleUpscale boutique hotel in downtown Charlottesville that allows pets. On-site restaurant, Renewal, is known for their locally-sourced farm-to-table cuisine.

Quirk Hotel CharlottesvilleBoutique art hotel in Charlottesville’s historic downtown. Several on-site drinking and dining options, including the Pink Grouse, a modern, seasonally-focused restaurant, and a rooftop bar. 


61 miles, approximately 1 hour 21 minutes

Travel east on Route 33 out of Harrisonburg to Massanutten Resort, a four-season resort just west of Shenandoah National Park. During the summer months, the resort offers mountain biking trails of every difficulty level, hiking trails that lead to gorgeous summit views, zip lines and canopy tours with treetop bridges and hanging vines to swing through the woods, a massive arcade, and an indoor/outdoor water park with twisting water slides (temporarily closed due to COVID-19). There are two 18-hole golf courses within the resort grounds, and you’ll spot lots of local wildlife at practically every hole, such as deer and groundhog. In both the summer and the winter, the tubing park is open, providing an outdoor adventure option that is fun for all ages. 

Continue east on Route 33 and, to explore Shenandoah National Park, take a detour to the Swift Run Gap entrance of the park and set out on the iconic Skyline Drive. It costs $30 per vehicle to get into the park, but you can purchase an annual pass for just $55. If you drive north, stop and hike the South River Falls Trail, an 8.5-mile circuit that leads to waterfalls. Another hiking option is Bearfence Mountain, a moderate one-mile hike with a rock scramble that ends with 360-degree views of the park. Head south for a quieter section of Skyline Drive, which is less developed but filled with scenic beauty. Check out three major waterfalls in a single hike when you conquer Browns Gap, a moderately difficult 4.5-mile hike. Trail markers are sparse and cell phone service is spotty within the park, so download or print out a map before arriving. 


Once back on Route 33, follow your journey to Ruckersville, where you’ll pick up Route 29 towards Charlottesville. This section has multiple breweries and wineries that make for excellent spots for a picnic with the stunning scenery of Central Virginia as your backdrop, including Chisholm Vineyards at Adventure Farm, Montifalco Vineyard, and Reason Beer. Enjoy a leisurely drive through the countryside before arriving in Charlottesville. 

Restaurants, Breweries, Wineries, & More

Thunderbird CafeVintage diner with a classic 50’s theme serving an impressively large menu of “south meets west” cuisine. In addition to indoor seating, they are currently offering patio dining and takeout in response to COVID-19. 


Purple Wolf VineyardWinery tasting room on a lavender farm outside of Harrisonburg. 

CrossKeys Vineyard & Winery150-acre vineyard open daily for tastings with on-site bistro serving appetizers, sandwiches, wraps, and entrees made from locally-sourced ingredients. 

Log Cabin BarbecueRelaxed barbecue joint with Southern-style fare.   


Spirit Lab DistillingCharlottesville micro-distillery producing single malt whiskey and gin.

Reynard Florence VineyardFamily farm vineyard with picturesque views of the mountains offering wine tastings during select hours Friday-Sunday in a cozy tasting room. 

Barboursville VineyardAward-winning winery and on-site restaurant. Known for their Octagon wine, a red blend of Bordeaux grape varietals. 


Elkton Brewing CompanyCraft brewery opened inside an historic building that dates to the 1890s. Specialize in natural artisan beers. 

Cave Hill Farms BreweryFarm brewery that sits on over 350 acres just outside of Shenandoah National Park.  


Hotels, Resorts, & Other Lodging

Massanutten Resort6,000-acre resort about 20 minutes outside of Harrisonburg and just minutes from Shenandoah National Park with 12 on-site dining options, two golf courses, an indoor/outdoor waterpark, mountain biking and hiking trails, zip lines and an adventure course, and winter sports park with tubing available year round. Lodging options include rooms, condos, townhomes, and private cottages, accommodating groups of every size. 

Lafayette Inn & RestaurantHistoric landmark inn built in 1840 with seven unique rooms and a formal dining room. 

Lydia Mountain Lodge & Log CabinsPet friendly rustic lodge and cabin rentals with stunning mountain views. Fully furnished cabins have stone fireplaces and hot tubs and range in size from one-bedroom to five-bedroom cabins. On-site restaurant Bearrr Appetit open Friday-Sunday. 


61 miles, approximately 1 hour 24 minutes

The alternate route from Harrisonburg to Charlottesville takes you south on Route 340, a road running parallel to Shenandoah National Park and connecting to Route 250 near Waynesboro. While the previous Route 33 drive took you past the Swift Run Gap Entrance of Shenandoah National Park, this journey takes you past the southernmost entrance to Skyline Drive, Rockfish Gap.


Photo Credit: Mark Miller

As we mentioned previously, the southern end of Shenandoah National Park is all about the scenery, but there are a few outdoor opportunities within this section, as well. Skyline Drive is well known for its world-class cycling, with 105 total miles and over 15,000 feet in elevation gain. The road is a difficult ride, so if you’re not an advanced cyclist, consider opting for a hiking adventure, instead. Big Run Loop Trail and Blackrock Summit are two popular hikes between the Swift Run Gap Entrance and the Rockfish Gap Entrance of the park. In addition to these scenic hikes, the Appalachian Trail runs past the Rockfish Gap Entrance, allowing you to complete a section hike of the trail during your road trip. 


Running parallel to Route 340 all the way through Waynesboro, the South River also provides several outdoor activities on your road trip from Harrisonburg to Charlottesville. Rent kayaks or stand up paddle boards through Rockfish Gap Outfitters in Waynesboro and set out on the water. Try your hand at fly fishing on a guided tour with South River Fly Shop, another Waynesboro outfitters company, choosing routes along the South River, the Shenandoah River, the James River, the Jackson River, or within Shenandoah National Park. 

Restaurants, Breweries, Wineries, & More

Pollak VineyardsBoutique winery on a 98-acre farm west of Charlottesville making French-style wines. 


Septenary Winery at Seven Oaks FarmAdults-only historic farm winery open 11am-5:30pm Thursday through Sunday. 

King Family VineyardsFamily-friendly boutique winery in Crozet in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Host polo matches on Sunday mornings between Memorial Day and mid-October.

Starr Hill BreweryAward-winning craft brewery in Crozet west of Charlottesville; second oldest brewery in Virginia. 


Photo Credit: Shannon Terry

The Market at BellairGas station and market off Route 250 known for their high-quality signature sandwiches. 

The Fishin’ Pig WaynesboroBarbecue restaurant serving sandwiches, platters, and an array of Southern sides.  


Hotels, Resorts, & Other Lodging

Stable Craft Brewing SuitesCraft brewery with four individual one- and two-bedroom guest houses with views of the Blue Ridge Mountains surrounding.


Photo Credit: Nikki Nargi

Afton Mountain Vineyards LodgingPet-friendly two-bedroom guest house and one-bedroom cottages located on a picturesque Virginia winery. 

The Iris Inn Bed & BreakfastPet-friendly Waynesboro bed and breakfast overlooking the Shenandoah Valley and located just three miles from Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge Parkway.


Photo Credit: Jumping Rocks Photography IG account: @jumpingrocksphoto

Need more ideas for road trips around Virginia? Check out our previous WanderLove getaways! 

The post WanderLove: A Shenandoah Valley Road Trip From Harrisonburg to 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 Southwest Virginia Road Trip from Roanoke to Abingdon

WanderLove: A Southwest Virginia Road Trip from Roanoke to Abingdon

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.

Our last road trip routes took us along the coastal regions of Virginia, from Norfolk to Chincoteague along the Eastern Shore, followed by a journey from Fredericksburg to Kilmarnock on Virginia’s Northern Neck. Next, we take you through the mountains in Southwest Virginia, traveling from Roanoke to the charming small town of Abingdon, with a few detours along the way to turn your average summer vacation into an unforgettable Virginia road trip! While you can follow Interstate 81 for the quickest drive between Roanoke and Abingdon (about two hours total), we recommend following the more leisurely route outlined below to get the most out of your getaway. 

**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.


81 miles, approximately 2 hours 2 minutes


Begin your trip in Roanoke with some social-distanced outdoor activities, like a bike ride along the Roanoke Valley Greenway, which has over 30 miles of paved trails winding through the city. If you don’t plan on hauling your own bikes along for your vacation, you can rent bikes through Roanoke Mountain Adventures. Another option for either hiking or biking are the numerous trails in Mill Mountain Park. After you’re done conquering these trails, you can experience spectacular views of the city from the Roanoke Star, one of the most iconic sites in Virginia’s Blue Ridge


Photo Credit: Sam Dean, IG account: @sdeanphotos

Consider getting in a little shopping in downtown Roanoke at shops like Black Dog Salvage, a salvaged antiques warehouse that is well known due to the DIY Network’s television series, Salvage Dawgs. Take a pic in front of their LOVEwork, made from reclaimed materials, to remember your visit to Roanoke. 

Depart the city and head south towards Christiansburg along Route 11. If you didn’t get a chance to ride the bike trails in Roanoke, the paved Huckleberry Trail that runs from Christiansburg to Blacksburg is a fantastic alternative. ROAM New River Valley lets you reserve bikes in advance and pick them up from their Christiansburg Recreation Center hub. This bike rental service is perfect for social distancing, as you check in and out with an app on your phone and bikes are checked out from one of their hubs, requiring no human contact to get your bikes. 


Photo Credit: Sam Dean, IG account: @sdeanphotos

For waterfront outdoor adventure, detour off Route 11 towards Claytor Lake State Park. Rent paddleboards or kayaks through Mountain2Island Paddleboard Company and head out on the water, where you’ll discover prime views of the surrounding landscape while paddling leisurely along the lake. Looking to soak up some sun on the shoreline? The park also has a beach area with a snack bar and bathhouse. 


Photo Credit: Sam Dean, IG account: @sdeanphotos

Another worthwhile detour off Route 11 is a stop in Draper, where you can stop for lunch and a little bit of shopping at Draper Mercantile & Trading Co. For over 125, this dining/shopping village has been a gathering ground for locals and a hot spot for visitors. 

In addition to food and shopping, Draper Mercantile offers bike rentals and is conveniently located right beside New River Trail State Park, a linear park that runs 57 miles along the New River through four counties and the city of Galax. The park trails are also open for hiking and horseback riding.


Photo Credit: Keith Lanpher

Another place to visit along the New River is Iron Heart Winery, located about twelve miles south of Draper in Allisonia. While the winery tasting room is currently closed due to COVID-19, they offer an even better alternative for your visit: private cabana rentals located throughout the property. These rentals range from sun-dappled waterfront sites beside swimming holes to peaceful shady spots within a bamboo forest. A four-hour rental period costs just $100 and includes a bottle of wine, a tent, two chairs and a table, and a cooler with ice, all set up before your arrival. You’ll also get two Iron Heart wine glasses and a corkscrew to take home with you. To book your Appalachia Cabana rentals, call or email the winery.


Photo Credit: Adam Fariss

Continue south on Route 11, driving to the Big Walker Lookout Tower & Country Store in Wytheville. Climb this 100-foot tower to get breathtaking views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and spend some time perusing the country store, where you can purchase goods handmade by local Southwest Virginia artisans, as well as old fashioned fudge, homemade jams and jellies, hand-dipped ice cream, and a variety of other products. The shop often hosts historic demonstrations, such as apple butter cooking and blacksmithing, and live music performances during the weekends. 

A can’t-miss destination in the Wytheville area, Fort Chiswell Animal Park is the largest zoo in Southwest Virginia. This 45-acre animal park has a petting zoo that lets you get hands-on with animals like goats, llamas, and deer. Book a ride on the Safari Bus to explore the park’s Outback and get close to exotic animals such as camels, zebras, antelopes, ostriches, and buffalo. The park has limited seating on these rides to 50% capacity and are sanitizing the buses fully between rides to ensure the safety of their visitors. 


Photo Credit: Tim Cox

Restaurants, Breweries, Wineries, & More

The River & Rail RestaurantSouthern bistro in Roanoke featuring locally-sourced and seasonally-available cuisine. Open for patio dining or curbside pickup. 

ScrambledFast & casual breakfast spot in downtown Roanoke.

Pop’s Ice Cream & Soda BarOld-fashioned soda fountain and ice cream parlor in Roanoke that serves delicious diner fare. Currently opened for online ordering and curbside pickup only due to COVID-19. 

Skeeter’s Hot DogsHistoric restaurant in downtown Wytheville known for their “Skeeter Dogs”, which they have been serving since the 1920s.


Photo Credit: Emily Miller

FarmburguesaRoanoke farm-to-table burger restaurant that uses fresh, local ingredients. Curbside pickup and delivery available in addition to dine-in. 

Al’s on FirstCasual full-service restaurant in Pulaski at the Jackson Park Inn serving Southern homestyle dishes. 

7 Dogs Brew PubBrewery/restaurant serving burgers, sandwiches, and a wide range of appetizers and light bar fare. 

Graze on MainRestaurant inside the Bolling Wilson Hotel that offers Southern food with a twist.

Wiffle PopsWytheville ice cream shop creating homemade gourmet ice pops and gelato made with natural ingredients.

Moon Dog Brick OvenBrick oven pizza restaurant in historic downtown Wytheville. Currently open with 50% seating and also offering takeout. 


FlourzSandwich shop and bakery in Wytheville serving homemade sweets. 

West Wind Farm VineyardPet-friendly winery on a fourth generation homestead in Wythe County minutes from the New River.  

Hotels, Resorts, & Other Lodging

Bolling Wilson HotelPet-friendly boutique hotel in downtown Wytheville that is steps away from Historic Main Street. Enjoy 360-degree views of the surrounding mountains from the hotel’s rooftop bar and outdoor dining space. 

Trinkle Mansion Bed & BreakfastRenovated historic bed and breakfast with four elegant and unique guest rooms featuring private bathrooms and a private garden cottage.


Photo Credit: Cameron Davidson

New River RetreatCabin and cottage rentals on the New River, Claytor Lake, the New River Trail, and in the Blue Ridge Mountains. 

Claytor Lake State Park Cabins12 two-bedroom cabins overlooking the lake, 1 three-bedroom cabin (handicapped-accessible), and 3 six-bedroom cabins available to rent within the park. From Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend, cabins are rented by the week. Otherwise, a two-night minimum stay is required. The park also has yurts (two-night minimum) and campsites available to rent.


55 miles, approximately 1 hours 20 minutes

Depart Wytheville, continuing along Route 11. If you’re into gardening or simply want a relaxing stop during your road trip, detour down Route 21 to Beagle Ridge Gardens & Herb Farm. A lavender, herb, and flower farm, this outdoor oasis also has a garden shop where you can purchase plants and gardening equipment to recreate the beauty found at the farm when you return home. 

Back along Route 11, Hungry Mother State Park is just north of Marion and is a great option for outdoor activities between Wytheville and Abingdon. The park contains a 108-acre lake nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains and is surrounded by picturesque woodlands. Spend some time unwinding on the lake’s sandy beach area or rent boats from the park to set out on the water. The park also contains a public fishing pier, cabins and yurt rentals, campgrounds, an on-site restaurant, gift shop, and a visitor center. Hiking and biking trails wind throughout Hungry Mother State Park, providing even more outdoor activities for visitors. 


Photo Credit: Chad Williams, IG account: @echadwilliams

Get a bird’s eye view of the mountains around Hungry Mother State Park with a zipline tour at Hungry Mother Adventures. Featuring the longest, highest, and fastest zipline in Virginia, their state-of-the-art zipline system runs for nearly a mile above the rolling landscape. 

Follow Route 11 to Abingdon and, for a bicycling adventure, rent bikes from the Virginia Creeper Trail Bike Shop. In addition to bike rentals, the shop will shuttle you and your bikes further down the Virginia Creeper Trail, a 34-mile trail that runs between Abingdon and Whitetop Station, with additional access points scattered throughout the trail at Alvarado Station, Damascus, and Creek Junction. The Creeper Trail is mostly a downhill ride, allowing you to coast and take in the scenery, maybe even catching some wildlife during your cycling trip.


Photo Credit: Sam Dean, IG account: @sdeanphotos

If biking the entire route from Whitetop Station to Abingdon, stop through Damascus, an enchanting mountain town, to peruse their outdoor-centric shops and grab a bite to eat. The Appalachian Trail runs straight through the center of town, so if hiking is on your agenda, Damascus is the perfect spot to start. 

Return to Abingdon for your overnight stay and catch a play at the Barter Theatre Moonlight Drive-In, a drive-in live theater opened in response to COVID-19. Watch the actors perform on the stage and on a larger screen backdrop from the safety of your car while tuning in to a local radio station to hear the performance. 

Before ending your vacation and heading home, stop by the Southwest Virginia Cultural Center & Marketplace to peruse goods made from local artisans, including home decor, artwork, body products, and woodwork. Don’t miss the stunning LOVEwork flanking the doors of the cultural center, a prime spot for another photo opportunity. 


Photo Credit: Kalen Collins

Restaurants, Breweries, Wineries, & More

Wolfe’s BBQAcclaimed BBQ restaurant in Marion serving ribs, brisket, barbecue, and other classic smoked cuts along with a bevy of delicious sides. 

Abingdon VineyardsPet-friendly winery on the South Holston River accessible by boat or kayak as well as by road. 


Photo Credit: Sarah Laughland

Jack’s 128 PecanLocal quirky restaurant centrally located in downtown Abingdon. Open for lunch and dinner.

The PakalachianFood truck based out of Abingdon that blends the culinary elements of Southwest Virginia with flavors of South Asia.

White Birch Food & JuiceHealth-centric juice & smoothie bar in downtown Abingdon that also serves locally-sourced breakfast and lunch dishes. Limited outdoor seating and curbside pickup available. 


Bone Fire Smokehouse & MusictoriumBBQ restaurant in Abingdon open for lunch and dinner. In addition to their smoked meats, the restaurant is known for their frequent live music performances. Currently offering curbside pickup in response to COVID-19. 

Wolf Hills Brewing Co.Craft brewery in Abingdon creating modern-style beers. Often host live music acts and trivia nights. 


Hotels, Resorts, & Other Lodging

General Francis Marion HotelBoutique hotel on the National Historic Registry that dates to the 1920s but remodeled with all the modern amenities. 

The Martha Hotel & SpaUpscale hotel in downtown Abingdon that was originally built in 1832. Indoor and outdoor pool. 


Photo Credit: Tim Cox

A Tailor’s LodgingCharming historic home-turned-inn in downtown Abingdon with three unique rooms, each with in-suite bathrooms. Just steps from the Virginia Creeper Trail.

Hungry Mother State Park Cabins, Yurts, & CampsitesCabins rented by the week only between Memorial Day & Labor Day, however the stay is dropped to a two-night minimum if booked less than a month out. Yurts sleep up to four people. Campsites available year-round. 


Photo Credit: Chad Williams, IG account: @echadwilliams

Creeper’s End LodgingColonial-style cottages at the base of the Virginia Creeper Trail that accommodate groups of up to 20 people.

Damascus Old Mill InnHistoric waterfront hotel and restaurant in downtown Damascus; easy access to the Virginia Creeper Trail and the Appalachian Trail. 

Need more ideas for road trips around Virginia? Check out our previous WanderLove getaways! 

The post WanderLove: A Southwest Virginia Road Trip from Roanoke to Abingdon 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 Fredericksburg To Virginia’s Northern Neck

WanderLove: A Road Trip From Fredericksburg To Virginia’s Northern Neck

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 due to COVID-19, you can still explore Virginia’s endless beauty with an epic road trip! To help you plan your next vacation on the road, we’ll be sharing a few of the most scenic and adventure-filled routes through the Commonwealth, including the best outdoor adventures, restaurants, and lodging options to add to your itinerary.

Our previous WanderLove excursion took us from Norfolk to Chincoteague, following Route 13 along Virginia’s Eastern Shore. For your next road trip adventure, travel through Virginia’s Northern Neck, a 90-mile peninsula that runs between the Potomac and Rappahannock Rivers, ending at the picturesque Chesapeake Bay. Take Route 3 from Fredericksburg to Irvington and discover fresh seafood, charming wineries, and lots of outdoor adventure along the way!

**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.


44 miles, approximately 53 minutes


Your adventure begins in Fredericksburg, a city filled with outdoor activities, rich history, and lots of delicious food, craft beer, wine, and spirits. The outdoor enthusiasts can book a fishing expedition with GMCO Potomac River Fishing Guide Service, a charter service based out of nearby Stafford that will take you out on the Rappahannock River, or go out on the river solo with a kayak or stand-up paddleboard rental through Fredericksburg’s River Rock Outfitter

Photo Credit: HDBros

When it comes to history, you’ll find it around every corner (literally) in Fredericksburg. Historic sites like George Washington’s Ferry Farm, Kenmore, Fredericksburg Battlefield, Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park, Chatham Manor, Hugh Mercer Apothecary Shop, the Mary Washington House, and Rising Sun Tavern Museum are all located within Fredericksburg. Although many of these museums are currently closed due to COVID-19, it’s worth a stop at the battlefield and the military park to learn about the area’s Civil War history, and for the lovers of architecture, even walking past the outside of these other historic sites will provide a taste of the city’s distinctive history. Additionally, plan a few stops along the Trail to Freedom, a trail running through Fredericksburg and Stafford County that traces the routes of freedom-seeking men, women, and children. 


Fredericksburg is also a great city for those travelers that enjoy a little retail therapy. Explore Caroline Street in downtown Fredericksburg to browse art galleries, some of the best restaurants in the city, and dozens of boutique shops like Monkees of Fredericksburg, an upscale women’s clothing and accessories store, and Sugar + Spruce, a shop that carries bath and body products in unique shapes, such as their bath bomb donuts or popsicle soaps.


And if you’re searching for adult beverages near Fredericksburg, head to A. Smith Bowman Distillery for a free tour and tasting of their bourbons, vodkas, gins, rums, and specialty liquors. Before leaving, snap a picture in front of their one-of-a-kind LOVEwork, made entirely from items used in the distilling process. Within the city limits, there are also several craft breweries, including Spencer Devon Brewing (this is a fantastic place to grab a bite, as well!), Red Dragon Brewery, and Adventure Brewing Company.


Depart from Fredericksburg and continue on Route 3 towards Montross. Got time for a short detour? Leave Route 3 around King George to pick up Route 205, heading into the coastal town of Colonial Beach. Spend some time soaking up the sun at the town’s namesake beachfront area, or discover even more notable history along the way at the George Washington Birthplace National Monument


Photo Credit: Chris Militzer, IG account: @miliman12

Continue further south and if you need to stretch your legs, visit Westmoreland State Park and set out on their six miles of hiking trails, which provide several scenic viewpoints atop the rugged shoreline cliffs.. Rent wood sifting baskets from the park office to search for shark teeth, a commonly-found trophy, on the park’s riverfront beach. Looking for more coastal trails to hike? Journey to Stratford Hall, where you can trek several miles of trails before taking a tour of the historic 1730’s Great House.


Photo Credit: Mike Zorger

Restaurants, Breweries, Wineries, & More

Spencer Devon BrewingBrewery/restaurant known for their burgers and sandwiches, with the restaurant using at least 80% local ingredients. 

Hyperion EspressoCoffee shop with a wide range of lattes, espressos, teas, and other specialty caffeinated drinks. 

FoodERestaurant in downtown Fredericksburg serving upscale Southern fare made with fresh, organically-grown ingredients sourced from nearby farms. 


PimentaJamaican cuisine made with the freshest ingredients; located in downtown Fredericksburg.

Adventure Brewing CompanyCraft brewery with four year-round styles and a variety of special and seasonal small batches. 

A. Smith Bowman DistilleryDistillery known for their internationally-acclaimed bourbons, as well as a selection of other spirits. Tours and tastings are free to adults 21 & up. 

OrofinoAuthentic Italian restaurant in downtown Fredericksburg that makes pastas from scratch. 


Fairview Beach Restaurant & Crab HouseWaterfront restaurant in King George known for their seafood, especially their fresh crabs. Hours vary due to COVID-19, call before visiting. 

Denson’s Grocery and R&B Oyster BarGrocery, oyster bar, and restaurant in Colonial Beach that sources fresh oysters from Virginia as well as other East Coast oyster farms daily. Currently offering only carryout and curbside takeout Thursday-Saturday during select hours due to COVID-19. 

Red Dragon BreweryMicrobrewery in historic Downtown Fredericksburg with 20+ craft brew taps. 


High Tides on the PotomacSteak and seafood restaurant on the Potomac River in Colonial Beach with Tiki-style outdoor seating. Frequently host live music performances during summer evenings. 

Ingleside VineyardsOne of the oldest and largest wineries in Virginia, Ingleside grows over 50 acres of vines and produces about 20 different wines. Open year-round for tastings and tours, although hours may vary due to COVID-19; call before visiting. 

Hotels, Resorts, & Other Lodging

Richard Johnston InnHistoric bed and breakfast located in the heart of Old Town Fredericksburg. 

Kenmore InnBoutique inn set in a restored historic residence in downtown Fredericksburg. Restaurant is currently closed due to COVID-19.


Courtyard Marriott Fredericksburg Historic DistrictNewly renovated Marriott property with a fitness center and indoor pool. 

Hyatt Place Fredericksburg at Mary WashingtonHyatt hotel on the Mary Washington campus, just minutes from Old Town Fredericksburg. Located in the middle of Eagle Village, a pedestrian-friendly development with over 20 retail shops, a grocery store, and ten restaurants and cafes. 

Belle Grove Plantation Bed & BreakfastA renovated 16th century estate -turned-bed and breakfast that was the birthplace of President James Madison


Photo Credit: Bill Crabtree, Jr.

Riverview InnNewly renovated retro inn in Colonial Beach with a 50s beach theme. 

The Inn at Stratford HallRustic yet comfortable lodging nestled between historic Stratford Hall and the banks of the Potomac River.


46.6 miles, approximately 56 minutes

Depart Montross for Lancaster and conquer the trail systems within Belle Isle State Park, open for hiking, biking, and horseback riding. Belle Isle State Park features seven miles of shoreline along the Rappahannock River, and the diverse ecosystems within the park are home to a variety of wildlife, such as blue heron, bald eagles, White-tailed deer, and turkeys. Overnight lodging options include a guest house and a main park residence, or guests can book the park’s campgrounds for a stay in Virginia’s Great Outdoors. 


Photo Credit: Jim Stewart

Although Historic Christ Church, a beautifully-preserved church that dates to 1735 and a museum that features colonial Virginia exhibits from the period, is currently closed for tours due to COVID-19, you can still admire the architecture and stroll the grounds surrounding the church. 


Photo Credit: Bill Crabtree, Jr.

Arrive in the charming town of Kilmarnock and spend some time browsing the adorable boutique shops, where you’ll find coastal-themed clothing, home goods, accessories, and more. 

Continue your shopping in nearby Irvington at shops like Jimmy & Sook, a women’s and men’s clothing store next door to The Local, a coffee shop and lunch restaurant spot. 

If staying at the Tides Inn, check in and take the inn’s complimentary bikes for a ride around Irvington or opt for a longer ride to the Dog & Oyster Winery, where you can sip excellent wines, snack on fresh seafood from the winery’s on-site restaurant Slurp, and even say hello to a few cute winery pups


Photo Credit: The Tides Inn

The Tides Inn also offers boat rentals and guided boat tours. We recommend booking a guided tour, such as their romantic sunset cruise or the scenic river tour, where you’ll learn about the town’s history, the coastal ecosystem, and the wildlife that inhabits the region. For a deeper dive into the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem, sign up for the Virginia Oyster Academy at the Tides Inn. This class begins with a lesson on the history of the oyster in Virginia and the jobs of the watermen, including an overview of the tools used to harvest oysters. Once you’ve learned the history, you’ll go out with an authentic waterman to collect oysters straight from the Chesapeake Bay, then return to the inn to cook fresh oysters on the grill with a chef, who will teach you how to properly shuck oysters, make accompanying sauces, and pair these aquatic delicacies with the right wines. 


In addition to the Tides Inn Oyster Academy, the Northern Neck has several other oyster tours available through Virginia Watermen’s Heritage Tours that will give you a chance to get out on the water and sample fresh oysters straight from the Bay. 

Get a taste of local culture and history at the Reedville Fisherman’s Museum, which shares the rich stories of the fishermen and watermen that have called the Northern Neck home for generations. Recently reopened, the museum is following strict safety precautions to ensure guests are protected during COVID-19. 

Wake up early while staying in the Irvington/Kilmarnock area for a sunrise hike at Hughlett Point Natural Area Preserve. With trails leading out to the water, you can catch a sunrise directly over the Chesapeake Bay.



Need more to do during your Northern Neck adventure? Continue along Route 3 and take the bridge across the Rappahannock River to the Middle Peninsula. Grab lunch at Merroir, a waterfront restaurant known for their crab cakes and oysters, sourced fresh from the Bay waters by Rappahannock Oyster Company. 

Spend some time out on the river and learn how to sail at Norton Sailing School in Deltaville. The school offers classes ranging from beginner level to expert sailing, and also allows visitors to either bring their own boats or rent boats for their lessons. Another option for waterfront outdoor adventure? Rent kayaks or paddleboards through Jackson Creek Outfitters and explore the Rappahannock River and the Chesapeake Bay.


Photo Credit: Mark Atkinson, IG account: @me_atkinson

Get a different perspective of the Northern Neck with an airplane tour from Coastal Sky Taxi, an aerial excursion from the Northern Neck over Tangier Island and Virginia’s Eastern Shore.

Peruse some of the shops in downtown Urbanna, such as Lowe Tide, a clothing boutique carrying styles for men, women, and children. 

While Deltaville Maritime Museum is currently closed due to COVID-19, you can still stop by the museum grounds to take a photo at their huge LOVEwork to commemorate your Northern Neck vacation!


Restaurants, Breweries, Wineries, & More

Montross BreweryNorthern Neck’s first brewery, Montross Brewery focuses on small-batch brewing and homemade ginger ale.

Rivah Vineyards at the GroveHistoric estate-turned-winery on 125 scenic acres of riverfront land.

The Dog & Oyster WineryNorthern Neck winery that also has an on-site restaurant food stand, Slurp, serving oysters and other seafood light fare to pair with the wines.


Tim’s at Cole’s PointWaterfront seafood restaurant and crabhouse on the Potomac River. Currently only open for outdoor seating and curbside takeout due to COVID-19.

The Hague WineryWinery on a historic property that dates to 1835. Tasting room inside a renovated barn that overlooks the idyllic manor house. 

Car Wash CafeAll-American breakfast diner in a converted car wash. Popular spot with the locals. Outdoor dining and pickup only due to COVID-19.


General’s Ridge VineyardWinery in Hague open Friday-Sunday during select hours for tastings. 

NN BurgerGourmet burger & craft beer restaurant, with locations in Kilmarnock and Tappahannock. Milkshakes are a must. Takeout only during COVID-19 crisis.

Northern Neck Popcorn BagFreshly-made popcorn in over 50 unique flavors like salted dark chocolate caramel, ginger ale Northern Neck style, and crabby corn, made with Old Bay seasoning.

Carried Away CuisineGourmet shop offering freshly prepared foods and baked goods like homemade soups, pasta salads, quiche, sandwich wraps, and salads. Pre-ordered takeout only currently due to COVID-19.


The LocalCoffee shop that also serves lunch, with a variety of sandwiches, salads, and sides that make for a perfect meal-on-the-go. Patio dining only currently due to COVID-19.

Good Luck CellarsEstate winery in Kilmarnock; tasting bar currently closed due to COVID-19 but outdoor seating available with social distancing measures in effect to keep patrons safe.

MerroirRiverfront upscale oyster tasting house that also serves an array of seafood sourced from the Chesapeake Bay. Currently open for to-go orders only, but can be eaten at the outdoor picnic table area.


Photo Credit:Todd Wright, IG account: @toddwrightphoto

Something Different in UrbannaLocal favorite restaurant serving barbecue, fresh seafood, and deli sandwiches. Known for their homemade desserts and ice cream.

Urbanna Seafood & Raw BarWaterfront seafood restaurant located on the very docks where the seafood comes in. Menu features crabs, shrimp, oysters, clams, mussels, and other seafood sourced from the Rappahannock River and Chesapeake Bay.

Hotels, Resorts, & Other Lodging

The Tides InnLuxury waterfront inn with countless amenities, including a disc-golf course, marina with boat rentals, oyster academy, outdoor pool, on-site restaurant, several guided tours offered regularly, and much more. Pet-friendly accommodation available.


Photo Credit: The Tides Inn

Hope & Glory InnSmall upscale inn located in a refurbished historic schoolhouse with private cottages centered around a secluded garden oasis. The inn is pet-friendly and has an on-site restaurant, spa, and small pool.

Kilmarnock InnPet-friendly 16-room inn originally built in 1884 with seven unique cottages built and named after Virginia’s presidential homes.


Belle Isle State ParkThe state park has several lodging options, ranging from primitive and full-service outdoor campsites to pet-friendly cabins and the Bel Air House and Guesthouse, which can be rented together or individually.

Beth-Page Camp ResortCamp and RV sites and cottage rentals within the resort, which features dozens of amenities, such as mini-golf, an ice cream stand, a freshwater lake and private beach, a water park, several playgrounds, and kayak and paddleboard rentals. 

Looking for more outdoor activities, historic sites, and other things to do along your route? Use our three-day guides to Fredericksburg and Virginia’s Northern Neck to add even more fun to your road trip, or plan another waterfront road trip by following our Wanderlove: From Norfolk to Virginia’s Eastern Shore Road Trip Guide!

The post WanderLove: A Road Trip From Fredericksburg To Virginia’s Northern Neck appeared first on Virginia’s Travel Blog.

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A Three-Day Tour Through Virginia’s Student Civil Rights History

A Three-Day Tour Through Virginia’s Student Civil Rights History



Farmville is known as the “Birthplace of the Student Civil Rights Movement.” Arrive and head to the Robert Russa Moton Museum. While the fight for desegregation was heating up in the late 1950s and early ‘60s, the country saw plenty of protests and counter protests, as well as walkouts, sit-ins and boycotts. One such walkout was especially powerful because it occurred in 1951 and was led by a young student: 16-year-old Barbara Johns. They rallied a group of students and organized a walkout of all-black Robert Russa Moton High School in protest of the school’s poor conditions. The NAACP then teamed up with the students and worked to integrate the schools of Prince Edward County. The lawsuit filed against the School Board of Prince Edward County was later incorporated into Brown v. Board of Education, making Farmville a key destination to learn about school integration and the overturning of Plessy v. Ferguson. In 1993, the building that formerly housed Moton High School was closed, but the school was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1998.


Photo Credit: Michael Mergen

For lunch, eat at the Fishin’ Pig. Stop here for southern fusion-style food, combining great seafood and BBQ.

Depart the museum and make your way to the Adventure Park at Sandy River Retreat. The park lets you zip through the treetops on 20 zip lines and navigate 60 obstacles! It’s the state’s largest aerial adventure park.


After your outdoor adventure, check-in to the Hotel Weyanoke. A Farmville staple since 1925, Hotel Weyanoke was built to welcome movers and shakers —to bring people from all walks of life together.


Hungry for dinner? Walk to Charley’s Waterfront Café. Enjoy the beautiful views as the restaurant overlooks the Appomattox River.



Photo Credit: Bill Crabtree, Jr.

After breakfast at Effingham’s inside the hotel, travel east towards to the coast to Richmond. When you arrive at the Virginia State Capitol, you will have the opportunity to visit the Virginia Civil Rights Memorial, paying homage to Barbara Johns and the 1951 Moton student strikers. The Black History Museum & Cultural Center celebrates the rich culture and moving histories of African American people in Virginia and their contributions to Virginia and America.


After the museum, head to Mama J’s for some lunch. Mama J’s Kitchen is family-owned and operated and celebrates the family tradition of going to grandma’s house for Sunday dinner.

Next, visit the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. The museum is open 365 days a year and now is the permanent home to a 27-foot statue that is on display permanently outside, entitled “Rumors of War,” by Kehinde Wiley.


Photo Credit: Chad Williams, IG account: @echadwilliams

Ready for some shopping? Carytown, the “Mile of Style, is walking, shopping, restaurant, and services community. Stroll along our nine blocks of unique small businesses at the southern end of the Museum District in Richmond.

Dinner is served! Drive to Croaker’s Spot, a long-time local favorite for great seafood and Nouveau Soul Cuisine.

Ready to relax? There are so many lodging options in Richmond. From the Quirk to the Jefferson to the Graduate, there’s a lodging type for you. Check out all of the options listed here.



Order curbside coffee and breakfast (served all day) at Urban Hang Suite, Richmond’s only social cafe nested in the eclectic mix of the Arts District, Downtown and Jackson Ward Communities.


Your next stop – visit the home of Maggie L. Walker. Maggie Lena Mitchell was born in Richmond in July of 1864 to Elizabeth Draper, a formerly enslaved woman. Maggie grew to become the first woman to serve as President of a bank in the United States as well as a dedicated civil rights activist and member of the NAACP board. The Maggie L. Walker National Historical Site contains many of the original furnishings and offers visitors a glimpse into the life of this extraordinary woman.


After breakfast, take a drive around the city to explore the various historical markers honoring those who fought tirelessly to bring justice and equality to all. The first stop is Broad Street between 6th and 7th Streets. The site is that of former Thalhimers department store. On February 20th, 1960, Virginia Union University students entered the Whites Only lunch counter and after being refused service, stayed until the business closed. They were ultimately arrested but their convictions were overturned in 1963. A momentous victory for the civil rights movement!

The next markers, located at the Lewis F. Powell Jr. United States Courthouse, honors Oliver Hill and Spotswood Robison. Both were civil rights attorneys in the Davis v. County School Board of Prince Edward case. This case was one of five cases consolidated into Brown v. Board of Education which deemed the segregation of public schools unconstitutional.

The final marker, located at 1400 Hull Street, recognizes Richmond born activist and trailblazer, Dorothy Height. Height was a paramount advocate for both civil and women’s rights and was awarded both the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1994 and the Congressional Gold Medal in 2004.

For more information, please visit virginia.org/civilrightshistory.

The post A Three-Day Tour Through Virginia’s Student Civil Rights History 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 Norfolk to Virginia’s Eastern Shore

WanderLove: A Road Trip From Norfolk to Virginia’s Eastern Shore

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The Jackspot at Sunset Beach offers a unique dining experience with a front-row view of the Chesapeake Bay. Play cornhole on their deck and enjoy some craft beer as you watch the sunset.

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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 due to COVID-19, you can still explore Virginia’s endless beauty with an epic road trip! To help you plan your next vacation on the road, we’ll be sharing a few of the most scenic and adventure-filled routes through the Commonwealth, including the best outdoor adventures, restaurants, and lodging options to add to your itinerary.

If you’re feeling a bit stir crazy and are ready to hit the road, join us on a journey from Norfolk to Virginia’s Eastern Shore. A 70-mile stretch that runs between the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, the Eastern Shore is known for its pristine beaches, small but charming coastal towns, and delicious seafood. Use this step-by-step guide, following along Route 13, to experience WanderLove for yourself!

**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. 


43.8 miles, approximately 54 minutes

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Chick’s Beach, also known as Chesapeake Beach, is a stretch of beaches running two miles from the Lynnhaven Inlet to just west of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel.

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From Norfolk, follow Route 13 to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, a 17.6-mile toll bridge that spans the Chesapeake Bay and is considered one of the seven man-made wonders of the world. The toll is $18 one way, but a discounted return fare of $2 is available with an EZ Pass if you return within 24 hours.

Once across the bridge, visit Kiptopeke State Park, a waterfront park that has fishing, kayaking, biking, hiking, and many more outdoor recreation opportunities. The park is also a prime spot for birding enthusiasts. The beach is open for swimming during daylight hours and the fishing pier is open 24 hours a day and costs $5 for adults and $3 for children. Kayaks are available to rent on a first come, first serve basis at the park’s boat shed Friday-Sunday 9am-4pm. If there are no kayaks available through the state park, consider booking a kayak tour through Southeast Expeditions, including their guided marsh, barrier islands, and coastal creek tours, or schedule a cruise through Eastern Shore Boat Tours, such as their Sunset Cruise & Dolphins Search, Barrier Islands Explorer EcoTour, or a private tour customized to your interests. In addition to the outdoor activities, Kiptopeke also has cabins, lodges, yurts, and campsites available to rent out if you plan to stay overnight.


Photo Credit: Adam Lewis, IG account: @adamtlewis

Head to downtown Cape Charles and spend some time perusing the shops within this adorable beach town. Stop into Moonrise Jewelry to pick up unique jewelry for yourself or your loved ones made from eco-friendly materials like colorful fish “leather” sourced from local fishermen, then pick up some sweet treats for the kids at Cape Charles Candy Company or Brown Dog Ice Cream, a beloved local ice cream shop located on Mason Avenue just steps from the beach. Speaking of the beach, you may want to enjoy the views of the Chesapeake Bay from the Cape Charles Beach, a free public beach on the edge of the downtown area (during Phase 3 in the COVID-19 guidelines, social distancing restrictions are in place at Virginia’s public beaches). Before leaving Cape Charles, snap a photo by the beachfront LOVEwork, which celebrates the seaside and agricultural aspects of this Eastern Shore town.


Photo Credit: Adam Lewis, IG account: @adamtlewis

Restaurants, Breweries, Wineries, & More

The Jackspot at Sunset BeachA beachfront restaurant that serves local seafood, burgers, sandwiches, and more. The Jackspot is known for their signature cocktails and live music performances held most weekends during the summer months. 

Deadrise PiesItalian small plates, entrees, and handmade pizzas; indoor and patio seating during posted business hours, curbside pickup and delivery also available during COVID-19. 

Sting-Ray’s RestaurantSting-Ray’s is a fresh, locally caught seafood restaurant that is known for their crab cakes and Angus Beef steaks. 

The Oyster Farm at Kings CreekUpscale seafood restaurant with views of the Chesapeake Bay. Reservations recommended due to limited seating in compliance with COVID-19 guidelines.

Cape Charles Coffee HouseCommunity staple restaurant and coffeehouse in the middle of downtown Cape Charles open for breakfast and lunch. Limited seating in compliance with COVID-19, also offering curbside delivery. 

Buskey Cider on the BayOnly cidery on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, Buskey Cider is crafted from 100% Virginia apples grown in Nelson County. Open with limited indoor and patio seating during COVID-19. 

Cape Charles BrewingFamily-owned craft brewery in Cape Charles that also serves a small menu of tasty brewery fare. Currently offering limited indoor seating on a first come, first serve basis as well as two shaded patios for outdoor dining and 18 picnic tables spaced widely to allow for groups of ten or less.

The ShantyFresh local seafood is the focus at the Shanty, located right along the docks at Cape Charles Town Harbor. Currently following COVID-19 Phase 2 restrictions with no bar seating available. 


Hotels, Resorts, & Other Lodging

Sunset Beach ResortNewly renovated hotel with one of the largest private beaches on the Eastern Shore. Amenities include pet-friendly rooms, an on-site restaurant with a beachfront patio, and two outdoor pools. 

The Northampton HotelOriginally a Victorian home, this stunning property has been transformed into a boutique hotel in the heart of Cape Charles with panoramic views of the Chesapeake Bay. Rooms all have private balconies that make the most of the beachfront location.

Hotel Cape CharlesOverlooking the town’s harbor on Cape Charles main road, Mason Avenue, the Hotel Cape Charles is a modern, pet-friendly lodging option on the Eastern Shore. Most rooms have private balconies with views of the water, and a back deck is open to all hotel guests.


37.8 miles, approximately 47 minutes


Photo Credit: Julie McCool, IG account: @funinfairfax

Leave Cape Charles and head north on Route 13 to Onancock, a 1680 Colonial port town on the bay side of the Eastern Shore. For outdoor activities, rent kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, and bikes through Southeast Expeditions at Onancock Wharf, located inside the historic Steamboat Ticket Office. Opt for a guided tour to learn more about Onancock’s extensive history and unique coastal environment, along with the diverse wildlife that live in the region. Burnham Guides also offers bike, paddleboard, and kayak rentals and hosts paddling tours out of Onancock, including a Moonlight/Stargazing Paddles Tour that gives you a front row seat to the sunset on the Chesapeake Bay followed by a serene paddle under the stars.

Restaurants, Breweries, Wineries, & More

The Island House RestaurantOverlooking the picturesque Wachapreague Harbor and the barrier islands of the Eastern Shore,the restaurant specializes in fresh local seafood, burgers and choice Black Angus steaks.

Kendalls Kountry KitchenFresh, local seafood and Soul food. Known for their country-style breakfasts.

Anointed Hands BakeryBakery with a wide selection of handmade cupcakes, muffins, danishes, cakes, rolls, biscuits, and more. 

Mallards At the WharfOnancock’s only waterfront restaurant, serving casual lunch and relaxed upscale dinner.

Charlotte Hotel & RestaurantAward-winning restaurant within a boutique hotel serving creative American cuisine made from fresh produce, seafood, and other locally-sourced ingredients. 

Chatham Vineyards & WineryFamily-owned waterfront winery that operates on the historic Chatham Farm. Currently open daily with outdoor seating safely spaced to follow social distancing procedures.


Photo Credit: Sam Dean, IG account: @sdeanphotos

Hotels, Resorts, & Other Lodging

Charlotte Hotel & RestaurantSmall upscale boutique hotel just four blocks from Onancock Creek.

The Inn at Onancock Bed & BreakfastHistoric pet-friendly bed and breakfast located in Onanock; amenities include a three-course breakfast, a wine hour in the evenings, and a staff that can make arrangements for activities within the town, including tours and reservations. 


32.1 miles, approximately 43 minutes

Continue your journey along Route 13 heading North with Chincoteague as your final Eastern Shore destination. If you’re looking for a secluded beach for fun in the sun, plan a detour to Saxis, a small coastal town on the Chesapeake Bay.

Otherwise, head towards Chincoteague Island, an outdoor paradise on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. Here, you can explore Chincoteague Island National Wildlife Refuge on foot, bike, or by vehicle (check their website for specific route restrictions, as some roads and trails are for foot traffic only). Don’t miss out on taking the guided tours provided by the refuge, where you may get lucky and spot their world-famous wild ponies. Want a little more aquatic adventure in your vacation? Book a guided boat or kayak tour with Assateague Explorer Pony Watching & Wildlife Cruises for a chance to see the wild ponies in their natural environment as you paddle the inlets of the shore.


Another of the most popular activities within the refuge, the Assateague Lighthouse, is currently closed due to COVID-19, but you can still snap photos of the lighthouse from the exterior.

Further north on the same barrier island as the national wildlife refuge, Assateague Island National Seashore is the perfect place for a beach day. You’ll spot all kinds of protected wildlife, including migratory birds, on the beach, and with no private homes or businesses spanning the length of the beach, it’s a peaceful spot to relax by the Atlantic Ocean.


For a family-friendly day of excitement within the town of Chincoteague, take the kids to Maui Jack’s Waterpark (note that the slides and many other parts of the park are currently closed because of COVID-19, and the park is only open at 50% capacity until further notice). To commemorate your trip, take a photo at the oversized LOVEwork Adirondack chairs (pro tip: this scenic spot is even more stunning during sunrise or sunset, so plan your visit then for truly breathtaking pics!).


Photo Credit: Julie McCool, IG account: @funinfairfax

Add in a little history to your road trip at the Captain Timothy Hill House, built circa 1800 and the oldest house on the Eastern Shore. The tour not only teaches you about the historic elements of the structure, but also some of the eerie ghost stories associated with the home.


And finally, for those science-loving individuals, the NASA Wallops Flight Facility should definitely be on your itinerary. The Visitor’s Center is temporarily closed due to COVID-19, but check their launch schedule before your vacation to see if you’re lucky enough to catch a rocket mission!

Restaurants, Breweries, Wineries, & More

Bill’s Prime Seafood & SteaksA staple to the Chincoteague community since 1960, Bill’s is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, although most well-known for their dinner menu featuring local seafood and steaks. In addition to dining in, they are currently offering curbside pickup and local delivery in response to COVID-19.  

Island CreameryIce cream shop with over 36 flavors of homemade ice cream, sherbet, sorbet, sugar-free ice cream, and frozen yogurt, served in freshly baked waffle cones. Also have a selection of ice cream cakes.


AJ’s on the CreekWaterfront restaurant open for lunch and dinner where you’ll find freshly prepared seafood and a range of beef, poultry, and vegetarian entrees. 

Sandy Pony DonutsFood truck in Chincoteague with a menu of over two dozen custom donut flavors. 

Pico TaqueriaGourmet taco restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating that provides an artisanal take on Mexican fare. Due to COVID-19, the indoor seating is currently closed and masks are required while waiting in line and ordering, along with social distancing requirements for outdoor seating. 

Mister WhippySoft serve ice cream shop that also serves coffee and donuts during morning hours. 

Black Narrows Brewing CompanyCraft brewery using locally sourced ingredients such as heirloom corn and oyster shells to create unique brews. 

Hotels, Resorts, & Other Lodging

Channel Bass InnA converted historic home that dates to 1892, the inn is pet-friendly and surrounded by stunning gardens. Each day, afternoon tea is served along with fresh-baked scones. 

Key West CottagesColorful one- and two-bedroom cottages on the Chesapeake Bay in the heart of downtown Chincoteague Island. Access to shared indoor and outdoor pools, a hot tub, and fitness center. 

Miss Molly’s InnCharming Victorian home on Chincoteague Island originally built in 1886 is now a beautifully-restored inn. 

Marina Bay Hotel & SuitesModern hotel inspired by the Eastern Shore’s sand, sea, and sky. Private deck overlooking the harbor, outdoor pool, and restaurants on-site. 

Snug Harbor Waterfront CottagesOne-, two-, and three-bedroom waterfront cottages along Snug Harbor are pet-friendly, with fully-equipped kitchens and tropical-inspired decor. 

Looking for even more inspiration for your coastal getaway? Use our Three-Day Vacation Guide to Virginia’s Eastern Shore to add even more fun to your trip!

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

About FunRVA

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The Scoop on Celebrating National Ice Cream Month in the Shenandoah Valley

The Scoop on Celebrating National Ice Cream Month in the Shenandoah Valley

During the hottest days of summer, nothing beats cold ice cream, and your next soft-serve swirl with sprinkles, peanut butter sundae, or cocoa ancho in a fresh waffle cone is being churned right now. Celebrate National Ice Cream Month in the Shenandoah Valley, where the parlours range from retro charm to sophisticated coolness, but the ice creams are all made with the freshest ingredients. Whether you have a go-to flavor or you like to try something new, here’s the scoop on where to enjoy summer’s best comfort food.

Soft Serve

Who doesn’t love big swirls of ice cream and frozen custard? A summer staple since the 1940s, soft serve is relatively simple in its flavor choices but is the perfect vehicle for holding lots of toppings.


The Dairy Corner – Winchester

Formerly known as Pack’s Dairy Corner, Winchester’s The Dairy Corner has been serving frozen custard since 1957. Though under new ownership, the shop kept the same great, “legend-dairy” recipes that people dream about all winter and line up for during spring reopening. The Dairy Corner offers vanilla, chocolate, raspberry, and banana as well as twists and weekly special flavors like pumpkin butter pecan, dreamsicle, cotton candy, and black raspberry cheesecake. Enjoy your cones, sundaes, or shakes at one of the shaded picnic tables or in your car – this walk-up shop doesn’t have indoor seating.


Willy’s Ice Cream – Waynesboro

Willy’s Ice Cream in Waynesboro has been dishing up delicious soft-serve ice cream every summer since 1995. This award-winning, family-owned business’s ice cream comes in vanilla, chocolate, twists, and a special flavor of the week. Willy’s also offers a fruit-flavored, dairy-free option each week. Enjoy your ice cream in a cone or cup, or as part of a sundae, shake, float, specialty dessert or “wizard.” Kids can indulge their taste fantasies with “dirt desserts,” “cookie monster,” or “Willy’s surprise,” which includes a toy from the treasure chest.

Willy’s Ice Cream – Berryville Shenandoah Valley

Willy’s Ice Cream – Berryville

Willy’s Ice Cream in Berryville (not affiliated with the Waynesboro Willy’s) has a little bit of everything. Love homemade ice cream, floats, and sundaes? Watermelon-flavored soft serve? Italian gelato? Sno cones and ice cream sandwiches? Caramel milkshakes or peach malts? Willy’s has you covered. Best of all, Willy’s sometimes enhances its sweet treats with a side of fun and humor, such as awarding free ice cream to the first person to show up wearing a hockey mask on Friday the 13th. This locally owned and operated shop has been making people happy for more than five years.

Wright’s Dairy-Rite Shenandoah Valley

Wright’s Dairy-Rite

Those aching for a taste of nostalgia with their ice cream should cruise the drive-in at Wright’s Dairy-Rite, where under the glow of the retro neon sign, waitstaff will deliver your food to your car. Wright’s been delivering great tastes to Staunton for 68 years, and customers using the drive-in or eating in a red, vinyl booth in the dining room place their orders on vintage “Serv-Us Phones.” The menu offers flurries, splits, milkshakes, malts, and drink freezes, and something called a Wright’s Wheelie, which loads a warm donut with ice cream, whipped cream, and toppings.

Kline’s Dairy Bar Shenandoah Valley

Kline’s Dairy Bar – Harrisonburg

It’s always sundae funday at Kline’s Dairy Bar, which has been making fresh and delicious custard-style ice cream every morning since its original Harrisonburg location opened in 1943. Kline’s now has four additional locations, including a second in Harrisonburg, as well as shops in Waynesboro, Staunton, and McGaheysville. Kline’s uses a time-consuming production method called “continuous freeze,” which is worth the extra effort because it reduces the air incorporated into the ice cream and results in a denser, creamier product. Each location serves chocolate and vanilla as well as a weekly special flavor (or two). Grab a flavor card for the schedule of can’t-miss options like chocolate peanut butter, cake batter, raspberry, and lemon gingersnap in cones, cups, shakes, flurries, and sundaes.



Some early “ice creams” were simply ice or snow sweetened with honey and other ingredients. A far cry from that, today’s hand-dipped ice creams are full of fresh cream and milk, and their rich textures can support complex flavors and all kinds of add-ins.

Sweet Things Ice Cream Shoppe Shenandoah Valley

Sweet Things Ice Cream Shoppe – Lexington

Looking for some of the creamiest homemade ice cream around? Try Sweet Things Ice Cream Shoppe after a day of sightseeing in Lexington. For over 30 years, Sweet Things has been scooping from its menu of 24 gourmet flavors of ice cream and fruit sherbet, including favorites such as oreo cookie, coffee toffee crunch, black raspberry, and lemon sorbet. Weekly specials might include Chunky Irish Girlscout (Thin Mint cookies + Baileys Irish Cream), Guinness, and dark ale for those who like to eat their beer, chocolate amaretto, and pumpkin pie. Enjoy your ice cream on a freshly baked, hand-rolled waffle cone, or try a sundae, split, milkshake, or freeze. You won’t be able to resist taking home a pint or quart for later!


Sweet Scoops Ice Cream Parlor – Stuart’s Draft

Inspired by childhood memories of their uncle churning homemade ice cream on the porch, Livonia and West Fint are “living the cream” running their recently opened Sweet Scoops Ice Cream Parlor in Stuarts Draft. They make premium, local, dip-style ice cream daily in 10 classic flavors. They also offer dairy-free sorbet, plus weekly special flavors like coconut and cookie monster. Ice cream can be enjoyed in cones, floats, splits, sundaes, shakes, coffee stirs, and even butterbeer stirs, which are butterscotch-based ice cream sodas.

Sugar Creek Snowy & Sweet Co. Shenandoah Valley

Sugar Creek Snowy & Sweet Co. – Strasburg

After selling concessions at fairs and festivals since 2012, Melissa Hooser opened Sugar Creek Snowy & Sweet Co’s Strasburg storefront in 2018 to serve delicious Pennsylvania Mennonite Creamery Ice Cream. The creamery dishes up more than 30 intriguing hand-dipped flavors like maple walnut, pistachio, orange creamsicle, box of chocolates, and key lime cheese tart. You can also enjoy milkshakes, malts, sundaes, banana splits, and even sno cones. Best of all, this creamery has a history of supporting local causes.


Smiley’s Ice Cream – Mt. Crawford

Smiley’s Ice Cream was originally known for delivering sweet treats to events and farmers’ markets, but since 2017, you can buy ice cream from its shop beside the Mt. Crawford Creamery. The creamery produces the milk and cream Smiley’s uses, so you know it’s fresh. Smiley’s slow-churns its “porch ice cream.” This process reduces much of the air that can be found in commercial ice cream brands. The shop offers a lineup of standards like chocolate, vanilla, and salted caramel chocolate chunk. There’s also a weekly menu of specials like dirty brownie, cherry bomb, and coconut pie. Order at the window or online.


Red Fox Creamery – Winchester

Located since 2010 on Winchester’s Old Town pedestrian mall, Red Fox Creamery makes its ice cream from scratch, using local ingredients, including the 18% butterfat cream that makes its ice cream taste out of this world. Sixteen flavors are available each day, out of a rotating lineup of more than 40, and the creamery will make them all into cones, sundaes, milkshakes, or special-order ice cream pies and cakes. Better yet, the creamery will actually create custom flavors for organizations or businesses.The creamery also offers a light lunch menu and baked goods like their crowd-pleasing chocolate chip cookies.



Wondering how gelato’s different from ice cream? Dating back to the 1660s gelato goes heavy on the milk and light on the cream, making the treat lower in fat, but since it’s dense, it contains less air and can carry intense flavors.


Bella Gelato & Pastries – Harrisonburg

Harrisonburg’s Bella Gelato & Pastries hand makes its gelato on-site with local milk from Mount Crawford Creamery. The gelato is exquisite and pairs best with a house-made waffle cone. Gelato flavors include the classics, as well as seasonally-inspired flavors such as brown butter cookie dough, candied lemon cardamom, and spiced cider sorbetto. Warm-up after your cool treat at the espresso and coffee bar, and take home some fresh bread and croissants for when you get hungry again!

The Split Banana Shenandoah Valley


The Split Banana – Staunton

If you’ve been window shopping in downtown Staunton, you can’t miss The Split Banana, an adorable gelato and sorbet shop decorated with a traditional ice cream counter, and retro black, white and green tile. The Split Banana offers 18 delectable and fresh-made flavors each day from a rotating lineup of more than 50. Enjoy traditional flavors or more innovative and adventurous options like banana stracciatella, sticky rice, and peanut butter and jelly. The Split Banana earned a spot on Trip Advisor’s 2011 U.S-wide top ten ice cream/gelato list. It is also a Virginia Living Magazine’s 2012 Best of Virginia pick.

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20+ Fourth of July Events in Virginia That Follow Social Distancing Guidelines

20+ Fourth of July Events in Virginia That Follow Social Distancing Guidelines


While the 4th of July in Virginia this year may not have the typical crowd-filled festivals and events, you can still catch brilliant fireworks displays, pay tribute to America’s history at special exhibits, and enjoy many of the time-honored traditions of Independence Day at these social-distancing celebrations, held throughout the Commonwealth this year. 


Valley 4th Run, Harrisonburg

Date: July 3-5, 2020

Get active this Fourth of July with a virtual running event, Harrisonburg’s Valley 4th Run. This virtual race is a collective community effort to run, walk, or jog a total of 6,136 miles between Friday, July 3rd at 8am and Sunday, July 5th at 8pm. Participants in the event can choose their own distance, pace, and location, and once finished, will log their miles through an online platform, contributing to the total goal. 


Happy Birthday America, Staunton

Date: July 4, 2020

While the traditional Fourth of July festival held in Staunton’s Gypsy Hill Park had to be cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns, the city will still host the 50-year-old tradition of Happy Birthday America as a Facebook Live virtual event. Beginning at 7pm on the 4th, the two-hour celebration will feature an acoustic concert by Wilson Fairchild and end with a live stream of fireworks from Washington, D.C. 


Liberty Celebration at The American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, Yorktown

Date: July 4, 2020


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

This year’s Fourth of July marks the 244th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, and you can acknowledge this major moment in American history at the Liberty Celebration at the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown. Newly reopened, the museum will follow social-distancing procedures to keep visitors safe during the momentous event, with many of the day’s activities happening outdoors to allow for more visitors with plenty of room to participate. On July 4th, they will host interpretive reenactments, such as a recreation of a Continental Army encampment and a Revolutionary-era farm, 18th century artillery demonstrations, and educational seminars that cover both the freedoms earned after the American Revolution and the limitations of the victory for many Americans who were not granted the same freedoms and liberties. Don’t miss the Forgotten Soldier special exhibition, on display at the museum until July 8th, which explores the personal stories of African-American soldiers and their valiant contributions towards an independent nation.


4th of July Fireworks, Berryville

Date: July 3, 2020

Clarke County’s annual Independence Day Fireworks begin at 9:20pm on Friday, July 3rd at the Clarke County Ruritan Fairgrounds. Social distancing measures will be in place to protect visitors from COVID-19, including requiring all guests to stay in or around their vehicles (wandering the fairgrounds is not allowed) and the closure of all concession stands and grandstands (attendees are welcome to bring their own food and drinks, although alcohol is prohibited). Parking will be available at D.G. Cooley Elementary School, Clarke County High School, and Chet Hobert Park.


Fourth of July Fireworks & Patriotic Presentation , Culpeper

Date: July 4, 2020

Culpeper’s Fourth of July Fireworks & Patriotic Presentation are still scheduled for July 4th, but will implement an array of social distancing guidelines in accordance with the Governor’s Executive Order. The event begins with a Patriotic Presentation held on the Culpeper Courthouse lawn at 1pm, followed by a flyover conducted by the Commemorative Air Force’s Capital Wing featuring vintage WWII aircrafts, and concluding with a fireworks display around 9:15pm that will be held in Rockwater Park. Any changes to the event due to inclement weather or other circumstances will be posted on the Visit Culpeper Facebook page


Fireworks at The Diamond, Richmond

Date: July 4, 2020


Photo Credit: Virginia History & Culture Museum

Richmond’s Flying Squirrels will not hold their annual baseball game followed by a fireworks show at the Diamond, but are partnering with the city of Richmond and CBS 6 to put on a fireworks show that will be televised from 9-10pm and can also be seen over the city skyline. 


Chesterfield Fireworks Show, Chesterfield

Date: July 4, 2020

Like many other Virginia counties, Chesterfield will replace their annual Fourth of July festival with a fireworks celebration at the Chesterfield County Fairgrounds that can be viewed from the parking lot. To prevent the spread of COVID-19, the fairgrounds will be closed and there will be no additional activities, concession stands, or entertainment. No glass, alcohol, fireworks, or pets are permitted.


Fredericksburg Nationals 4th of July Spectacular, Fredericksburg

Date: July 4, 2020

The Fredericksburg Nationals host a 4th of July Spectacular on Saturday July 4th from 8:30-10 p.m, with fireworks starting at 9:30pm. The show is free to the public and all attendees will view the show from their cars, meaning that you don’t need to be parked at the ballpark to see it! Tune into Superhits 95.9 for patriotic music paired to the fireworks show.


Massanutten Fireworks Display, McGaheysville

Date: July 4, 2020


Photo Credit: Joshua Gooden

Shenandoah Valley’s Massanutten Resort celebrates Independence Day with a fireworks show held at the top of the mountain on the resort grounds. The show begins at 9pm and will be visible from the resort and the surrounding areas of McGaheysville, Harrisonburg, Elkton, and other surrounding areas in the Valley. While large gatherings will not be permitted near the fireworks launching spot, the parking lots will be open and visitors staying at the resort will be able to view the fireworks from their accommodations. 


Firecracker 4-Miler Virtual Run, Richmond

Date: July 4-31, 2020

Another virtual running event in Virginia, the Firecracker 4-Miler is a fun and active way to commemorate the Fourth of July this year. Sponsored by Sports Backer, this virtual run invites participants to walk or run four miles at any time between July 4th and July 31st, completing the race at their own pace and in their own location while following local health and safety guidelines.


Blue Mountain Barrel House, Arrington

Date: July 4, 2020

Blue Mountain Barrel House is throwing an Independence Day Low Country Boil on Saturday, July 4th with delicious low country boil food served between 12-6pm and live music from Virginia band The BLNDRS from 3-5:30pm. In addition to the festivities, the Tasting Room and Food Truck will be open and serving during their regular business hours of 11am-9pm. Guests are encouraged to bring their own pop-ups and folding chairs to enjoy the music in order to comply with social distancing guidelines.


4th of July Light Show at Chapman-Beverley Mills, Prince William County

Date: June 26-July 6, 2020


From June 26 to July 6, the Chapman-Beverly Mill in Thoroughfare Gap will be illuminated from dusk to dawn with red, white, and blue lights, which are visible by car from Interstate 66 and Route 55 East. Sponsored by the Turn the Mill Around Campaign and the owners of the mill, the project celebrates Independence Day while kicking off the mill’s annual fundraising efforts. 


Independence Day Celebration, Luray

Date: July 4, 2020

The town of Luray will host their annual Independence Day fireworks extravaganza on Saturday, July 4th beginning at 9:15pm. In order to allow for social distancing, the event has been moved to the new location of the Page Valley Fairgrounds, which provides plenty of space for visitors to spread out their blankets and chairs and get clear views of the fireworks. 


Patriotic 4th of July Displays at Dorey Park & Meadow Farm Museum, Henrico

Date: July 1-5, 2020

Henrico’s Parks & Recreation department will showcase patriotic displays from July 1st-5th at Dorey Park and Meadow Farm Museum at Crump Park, including artwork, a sand sculpture, and 70 flags to honor our country. These exhibits are open for visitors to view at their leisure, but social distancing measures are in effect to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Additionally, an Uncle Sam on stilts will be at Crump Park on Friday, July 3rd from 4-7pm to greet guests, and Dorey Park will have a historical re-enactment led by Colonial Williamsburg historian Jamar Jones, who will tell the true story of London Pleasants, an enslaved man who defined his own independence during the Revolutionary War. 


Nauticus Battleship Wisconsin Tours & Events, Norfolk

Date: Beginning July 3, 2020


Photo Credit: Fred DeSousa

Nauticus’ Battleship Wisconsin will offer options for small group adventures that allow for fun and engagement in a limited social environment starting on Friday, July 3rd. The Adventures on Deck series feature tours like the Top of the World Battleship Wisconsin Tour (9 people max), where you’ll explore the ship’s uppermost exterior command centers and enjoy the best view of Norfolk’s skyline, the ROV Workshop (6 people max), which tests your flying skills as you maneuver an ROV through a challenging course, the Sailing Excursion (4 people max per boat), an educational experience where you’ll learn the basics of sailing on the Elizabeth River from a licensed instructor, and the Behind-the-Scenes Aquarium Tour (5 people max), where you’ll find out how the aquarium cares for sharks and other sea creatures.


Tazewell 4th of July Celebration, Tazewell

Date: July 4, 2020

The town of Tazewell will have an Independence Day Fireworks display on Saturday, July 4th beginning at 9:30pm that will occur at the Tazewell Middle School baseball field parking lot. A food truck will be onsite at 7pm, and spectators are encouraged to practice social distancing while viewing the fireworks. 


Richlands Indepence Day Celebration, Richlands

Date: July 3, 2020

Join the Southwest Virginia town of Richlands for a fireworks celebration on July 3rd beginning at 9:30pm. Fireworks will be viewable from downtown Richlands, and spectators are asked to remain in their cars during the show. 


Stable Craft Brewing 4th of July Celebration, Waynesboro 

Date: July 4, 2020


Stable Craft Brewing is celebrating the 4th with a new craft beer release, the Dreamsicle Sour, a sour ale infused with orange purees, and the re-release of their crowd-pleasing Watermelon Cider, made with pounds of crushed watermelon that results in the perfect summer beverage. The brewery will be open on July 4th from 12-10pm for a special “Grab the Glass” event; visitors to the brewery will get to keep a limited-edition Independence Day glass with any brew purchase (while supplies last). To ensure the safety of their guests, the brewery has expanded their outdoor covered dining area and requires masks in the indoor dining spaces, which have also been spread out to prevent close contact. 


July 4th Backyard Celebration at Western Front Hotel, Saint Paul

Date: July 4, 2020

Southwest Virginia’s Western Front Hotel is hosting a July 4th Backyard Celebration, featuring live music from the 49 Winchester Band and all sorts of summer foods and drinks available for purchase from their onsite gourmet restaurant,  Ina + Forbes. Tickets must be purchased in advance and are limited due to social distancing safety measures; $15 per person tickets include free s’mores and sparklers.


July 4th Virtual Celebration & Scavenger Hunt, Ashland

Date: June 30-July 4, 2020

Sponsored by Hanover arts, the town of the Ashland will celebrate Independence Day with the July 4th Virtual Parade and Celebration. Follow their Facebook page for more information on the events, including a photo contest with prizes, live music performances, and a slideshow of parades from previous 4th of July celebrations. Additionally, the in-person scavenger hunt is spread over five days and will feature local businesses in Downtown Ashland; all completed scavenger hunt checklists will be entered into a drawing for a prize.  


Stars & Stripes Getaway Package at the Craddock Terry Hotel, Lynchburg

Date: July 3-5, 2020


Book the Stars and Stripes Getaway Package at the Craddock Terry Hotel in Lynchburg for an overnight Independence Day getaway that the entire family will love! The package features a one-night stay in a deluxe or premium room, a Kid’s Fun Bucket packed full of celebration goodies for two kids, Scavenger Hunt game cards, four bike rentals for up to two hours to explore downtown Lynchburg, cupcake decorating kits, and complimentary Continental Breakfast for up to four delivered to your room. Call to book this special Fourth of July package. 


Pocahontas 4th of July Celebration

Date: July 4, 2020

Celebrate the Fourth of July in the town of Pocahontas with a fireworks display, beginning at 9pm.  Pocahontas’ newest restaurant, Thirteen Nine, will be set up in Laurel Meadows Park for visitors to purchase food and drink; visitors are encouraged to practice social distancing measures during the event.


Bluefield Blue Jays Fireworks Celebration, Bluefield

Date: July 3, 2020

The Bluefield Blue Jays will be sponsoring a fireworks celebration on July 3rd at 9pm at Bowen Field. The stand will not be open, so visitors are asked to remain in their cars to watch the fireworks display from the parking lot. 


July Fourth Weekend at Primland, Meadows of Dan

Date: July 3-5, 2020


Another overnight option to celebrate the Fourth is a July Fourth Weekend at Primland, a resort that sits on over 12,000 acres of land, allowing for easy social distancing throughout your stay. The package begins with a guided nature hike after check-in on Friday, July 3rd, followed by a wine reception on the terrace and an outdoor family movie held after dark on the resort’s driving range. On Saturday, July 4th, begin the day with a yoga class ($10 per person) and another guided nature hike (10 people max), then attend their kite-flying clinic in the afternoon. Another afternoon guided hike (10 people max) will take visitors to the most photo-friendly spots on the resort grounds. The resort will also offer DIY Crafts Kits on Saturday afternoon, an evening wine reception, and another family movie night on the driving range. The weekend wraps up with a full itinerary of fun on Sunday, including morning yoga ($10 per person, 9 people max), guided nature hikes (10 people max), and more arts and crafts opportunities for the kids. 


The post 20+ Fourth of July Events in Virginia That Follow Social Distancing Guidelines appeared first on Virginia’s Travel Blog.

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Stand for LOVE: 18 Museums & Historic Sites to Learn About Virginia’s Black History

Stand for LOVE: 18 Museums & Historic Sites to Learn About Virginia’s Black History


With the earliest Africans coming to shore in Virginia in 1619, the Commonwealth’s history is filled with important stories and notable Black individuals that shaped Virginia as well as the entire United States. Visit a few of these powerful museums and historic sites to learn about Virginia’s nearly 400 years of Black history. 


Hampton University, Hampton

Founded in 1868 as an educational institution for newly emancipated Black citizens, Hampton University is the site of six National Historic Landmarks, including the Emancipation Oak, the site where former slaves gathered to hear President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation read for the first time in the area. 


Montpelier, Montpelier Station


Learn about slavery in America during James Madison’s lifetime and hear the stories of the slaves that lived on the grounds of Montpelier told by their living descendants, when you tour the site’s special exhibit, The Mere Distinction of Colour.  



Black History Museum & Cultural Center of Virginia, Richmond


This museum tells the stories of Africans that were brought to America against their will, highlighting the complex experiences that these Black Americans would endure over nearly 400 years. Additionally, the museum exhibits look at famous Black Virginians. 


Robert Russa Moton Museum, Farmville


Photo Credit: Michael Mergen

A National Historic Landmark, the Robert Russa Moton Museum is the site of the first non-violent Civil Rights in Education student demonstration, which led to the 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education case in the Supreme Court. The museum’s exhibits give visitors a glimpse at the unjust nature of “separate but equal” under segregation.   


Alexandria Black History Museum, Alexandria

This Northern Virginia Black history museum documents the important contributions of Black Americans living in the region from 1749 to the present day. 


Fort Monroe, Fort Monroe


Nicknamed Freedom’s Fortress, Fort Monroe is a Union-built fort that provided a safe haven for thousands of enslaved people during the Civil War. 


Freedom House Museum, Alexandria

Located in the former headquarters of the largest domestic slave trading company in the United States, the Freedom House Museum shares the painful stories of thousands of men, women, and children who passed through the site on their way to lives of hard labor and bondage on the large plantations of the Deep South.


Lives Bound Together: Slavery at George Washington’s Mount Vernon Exhibit, Mount Vernon


Covering the lives of nineteen enslaved individuals that lived at Mount Vernon, the Lives Bound Together exhibit sheds light on Washington’s changing views towards slavery that led to him adding a provision to free his slaves after his death in his will. 


Booker T. Washington National Monument, Hardy

Honoring the birthplace of Booker T. Washington, America’s most prominent Black educator, orator, and statesman of the late 1800s-1900s, the Booker T. Washington National Monument includes a Visitor’s Center with exhibits on Washington’s life and legacy, as well as a living history farm where visitors can learn about farm life in Civil War Virginia, the era during which Washington grew up.


The Life of Sally Hemings Exhibit at Monticello, Charlottesville


Learn about Sally Hemings’ life and identity as an African American enslaved woman on Jefferson’s Monticello estate, including her strength and courage to strive for the freedom of her children from the shackles of slavery. 


FAHI African American History Museum, Martinsville

Exhibits showcase over 100 years of Black history in Martinsville and surrounding Henry County, as well as exhibits on a national level. 


The Legacy Museum of African American History, Lynchburg


The Legacy Museum of African American History features exhibits about Central Virginia’s Black history, from the first slaves that arrived in 1619 to present-day figures and events that have shaped the Commonwealth and the entire country. 


The Richmond Slave Trail, Richmond


A self-guided walking trail spread throughout the city, the Richmond Slave Trail chronicles the history of Africans who were taken from Africa and brought to Virginia to sell until 1775, then sold from Richmond to locations throughout America until 1865. This historic trail includes notable locations like Lumpkins Slave Jail and First African Baptist Church. 


Appalachian African American Cultural Center, Pennington Gap

The Appalachian African American Cultural Center gives a rare glimpse at Appalachian Black history, featuring exhibits on the limits of rural education and cultural aspects of life for Black Americans raised in Southwest Virginia over the 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries. 


Maggie Walker National Historic Site, Richmond


Photo Credit: Big Orange Frame

Tour the former home of famous Richmonder Maggie Walker, who founded the first women-owned (and Black-owned) bank, where she also served as the first female president. 


Black Soldiers Memorial, Norfolk

The Black Soldiers Memorial in Norfolk honors the African American Union soldiers that fought in the Civil War.


Colonial Williamsburg, Williamsburg


With nearly 60% of African Americans living in Chesapeake during the Revolutionary era, Colonial Williamsburg is an important location when it comes to Black history. Learn about the slaves that worked the plantations and farms in the region when you visit the Slave Quarter at Carter’s Grove in Colonial Williamsburg. 


Harrison Museum of African American Culture, Roanoke

Housed in the former Harrison School, the first African American school in Southwest Virginia, the Harrison Museum preserves and interprets Black American history, specifically the history of Southwest Virginia.



Learn more about these notable Black history destinations and more in Part 1 and Part 2 of the African American Historic Sites articles, written by University of Richmond Professor and Historian Lauranett Lee. Looking for other places to learn about Black history in Virginia? Continue your educational journey by visiting more Black History Sites, located throughout the Commonwealth. 


The post Stand for LOVE: 18 Museums & Historic Sites to Learn About Virginia’s Black History appeared first on Virginia’s Travel Blog.

About FunRVA

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Online Shopping Brings the Valley’s Best to Your Fingertips

Online Shopping Brings the Valley’s Best to Your Fingertips

Would you like to support your local businesses, even while social distancing? Amazon is not the only game in town when it comes to online shopping. In fact, you can order many local goods online, and you don’t even need to scour the reviews to get quality merchandise and service. If you’re hoping for convenient access to your favorites as well as the chance to avoid crowds, read on for a roundup of Valley businesses offering alternative ways to shop for their food, wine and cider, and gifts and merchandise.



Local Food and More

In these days of once-a-week shopping trips to stock up on the staples and toilet paper, it’s important to include some indulgences, too. Here are some of our favorite businesses offering the basics, specialty items, and more.


Harrisonburg Farmers Market

Harrisonburg Farmers Market Shenandoah Valley

The Harrisonburg Farmers Market has moved online. Vendors are working hard to make sure the community enjoys its customary access to the freshest local products. Choose from fresh produce, meat, dairy, baked goods, cider, flowers, soaps, coffee, syrup, wine, chocolate, and everything in between. Order online from as many different vendors as you want and receive a package with all your items by delivery or drive-through pickup.


Jon Henry General Store

Jon Henry General Store in New Market stocks a wide array of local and regional goodies including a variety of local foods and fresh veggies, gifts, memorabilia, and toys. Visit their site to place your food order and select meats, cheese, milk from local creameries, and fresh bread and produce. Treat yourself to something fun like their bestselling meat and fruit jerky or white bean crackers.

For your convenience, the store accepts online orders for curbside pickup.


Persimmon Ridge Farm

Persimmon Ridge Farm in Berryville provides high-quality, locally and ethically raised pork that is processed in an Animal Welfare Approved facility. The farm provides online ordering for link and bulk sausage, pork cuts and lunch meat, fresh bread, and pasture-raised eggs. Try some kielbasa with cheese and peppers or some rosemary garlic sausage. Persimmon Ridge Farm will deliver within a 20-mile radius of the farm. Customers may also pick up their purchases at the farm or at the Clarke County Farmers’ Market.


Sweet Nana Cakes

To make your day special, order something wonderful from Augusta County’s Sweet Nana Cakes. This locally owned custom bake shop creates cakes and cookies for every occasion. Choose from over 30 different flavors of cupcake, KETO treats, and a wide selection of decorated cookies, including platters of veggie-shaped cookies. Netflix bingers will go wild for the Mayhem & Madness gift set featuring Tiger King-themed cookies presented in a gift box with animal-print tissue paper.



Libations from the Valley

The Shenandoah Valley has made a name for itself with wineries, cideries, and breweries that fill our glasses with the best of Virginia. While the atmosphere and incredible views of the tasting rooms are something to celebrate, the products are also available for enjoyment at home. Here are a few of our favorites.


Cave Ridge Vineyard

Cave Ridge Vineyards Shenanodah Valley

Mount Jackson’s family-owned Cave Ridge Vineyard has been offering estate-grown Virginia wines since 2005. Select from red, white, and sparkling wines as well as sangria, dessert wine, and mulled wine kits. Try a bottle of Summer Splash or Sparkling Raspberry Noir to kick off summer. Along with discount codes and discounts for wine club members, Cave Ridge provides curbside pickup, local delivery and free ground shipping on orders of six or more bottles.


Star in the Valley Estate Winery

Star in the Valley Estate Winery in Strasburg specializes in producing small batch wines with flavors unique to the Shenandoah Valley. They bottle five different varietals and blends that reflect four generations of grape growing experience. Grab a few bottles of Field Star White or Dry Rosé to enjoy while gazing at the stars from your backyard. You can schedule a curbside pickup if you’re in the area or have your wine shipped to your home.


Showalter’s Orchard and Greenhouses & Old Hill Cider

Showalter’s Orchard and Greenhouses & Old Hill Cider Shenandoah Valley

Showalter’s Orchard and Greenhouses & Old Hill Cider in Timberville has not been idle during the past few months. They’ve worked on releasing new ciders, including a sparkling non-alcoholic apple juice for all ages to enjoy. They also now sell popular hard ciders Off the Press and Virginia Strawberry in cans, perfect for taking home. Stock up on your favorite hard or sweet ciders, cider donuts, or handmade face masks by visiting Showalter’s website to place an online order for pickup, delivery (within 25 miles), or shipping.


Barren Ridge Vineyards

We all need less stress in our lives and along with the great taste and relaxing qualities of their award-winning wines, Barren Ridge Vineyards offers over a dozen of their fine wines for purchase online. Sample their 2017 Riesling or the ever-popular Red Barren. Choose between sixteen reds, whites, and rosés. Wine can be purchased online for curbside pickup or delivery by mail.



Unique Gifts

It’s hard to find the right gift for someone without actually browsing the shelves. Fortunately, these shopkeepers have done the work for you, finding artsy, eclectic, practical, and interesting gifts to please both body and spirit. Peruse their inventory for unique finds for everybody on your list.


Sugar Maple Trading Company

Lexington’s Sugar Maple Trading Company strives to provide people with the resources that make celebrating each day fun, simple, and easy to do. From stationery to DIY kits to tableware to custom gift baskets, Sugar Maple Trading Company has you covered. They even have a handy gift inspiration tool to help make choosing the right gift a little more straightforward. You can pick up your purchases or have them delivered or shipped.


Walkabout Outfitter

Walkabout Outfitter Shenandoah Valley

If you’ve been exploring the trails this spring, freshen your wardrobe and gear stash with the help of Walkabout Outfitter in Lexington. Walkabout Outfitter carries many high-quality, trusted brands of clothing and footwear for men, women, and children as well as bags and packs, camping equipment, and books and maps. Serving customers by appointment, curbside, online, or over the phone, the knowledgeable staff can recommend the right gear for you, no matter your experience level.


Faded Poppy Mercantile

Waynesboro’s Faded Poppy Mercantile’s gift shop is full of unique small-batch products that are eco-friendly or give back to the community. You can buy fresh flowers, cards and gift baskets for many occasions, clothing, candles, jewelry, and items for kids or pets. Novelty finds include hand-painted and sewn fashion dolls of notable people and Covid gift baskets. Order items online and pick them up or have them shipped.



Another Waynesboro business, Pyramid, brings magick supplies to your fingertips. From home goods, locally made jewelry, and self care, to magick and crystals, there’s something for everyone here. At Pyramid you’ll find bouquets, smoke cleanses, serving trays, no-kill bones, antlers, and shells, lotions and facial treatments, herbal teas and tonics. There’s even a raw honey bar and herbal tea station. Pick up your items at the store or have them shipped for free if they total over $60.


Harmony Moon

Dedicated to “helping people live gentler lives,” Staunton’s Harmony Moon is packed with gifts for the home, garden, personal care, and much more. You’ll enjoy browsing their selections of quarantine survival kits that include pastimes like puzzles, crafts, and educational kits for the kids, and personal items like masks, soaps, and massage oils. Harmony Moon ships items for free if the order totals more than $49.


Made; By The People, For the People

Staunton’s Made; By the People, For the People, a “modern-day general store” has a little bit of everything. Specializing in Virginia-made treats and a quirky selection of gifts and books, the store celebrates the creativity of local, regional, and domestic artists. Shop online and keep yourself entertained in quarantine with novelty sets of trivia cards packaged in cassette boxes and 500-piece gin-themed jigsaw puzzles. Try out some soothing lotion or candles, or root for your home town with Staunton-themed swag.


The Lady Jane

The Lady Jane Shenandoah Valley

Harrisonburg’s The Lady Jane Shop is a well-curated gift shop showcasing the art, jewelry, and designs of more than 30 Virginia-based artisans. The new online store allows you to shop many of the wares virtually, and you can swing by to pick up your purchases or have them shipped or locally delivered. Check out the handmade cards, gifts for grads, DIY kits, jewelry, candles, and home decor. Proceeds from select items will be donated to the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank. The Lady Jane also has a pet food pantry to support service industry workers impacted by Covid-19.


Explore More Discovery Museum

You might not be taking the kids to Harrisonburg’s Explore More Discovery Museum right now, but you can still treat them to a museum-like educational experience with a $15 discovery kit. The kits each contain several activities and are packed with everything you need, including videos and instruction cards for each. Choose from three kits: Fizz, Foam, and Float,Take Flight, or Making Masterpieces. Order kits and other gift shop items online and enjoy contactless pickup at the door. There’s also an option to pay it forward and send one to a friend.


Virginia Gift Shop

Looking for a gift for a dad or a grad? Luray’s Virginia Gift Shop is your source for gifts for all occasions including clothing, jewelry, collectibles, decor, and retro candy. Check out the webpage or Facebook for photos of products and order a specific gift for yourself or a friend or answer some questions and have Virginia Gift Shop create a custom gift basket. You can have your gifts shipped or delivered, or you can pick them up curbside.


Shenandoah General Store

Shenandoah General Store, in Shenandoah, offers a treasure trove of home decor, jewelry, locally made bath products, and candles, Virginia peanuts, and Americana. Check out Facebook for product images and call or stop by to pick up your purchases.



Written by Shenandoah Valley for Shenandoah County and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.
Featured image provided by Shenandoah Valley

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Stand for LOVE: Supporting Virginia’s Black-Owned Restaurants

Stand for LOVE: Supporting Virginia’s Black-Owned Restaurants

Use this dining guide* to support Virginia’s Black-owned restaurants and experience why Virginia stands for LOVE.


*This list is not meant to be comprehensive, but to highlight a few of the restaurants that help make Virginia a beautiful and inclusive place.


Love Local: Regionally-Focused Black-Owned Business Websites 

There are over 60 Black-owned restaurants within Richmond that are highlighted on the Visit BLK RVA website, which also features arts & culture sites, boutique shops, attractions, health & wellness businesses, sports and recreation, and tours. For a closer look at Black-owned dining options, check out the Richmond Black Restaurant Experience, which also hosts a bi-annual Black Restaurant Week. 


Mama J’s Restaurant

The Hampton Roads region’s Buy Black Hampton Roads website breaks down Black-owned business categories into restaurants, retail, and events, as well as local Black history attractions and sites. Another resource for coastal Virginia is The Craving’s Queen Black-Owned Restaurants in the 757 article.

Northern Virginia’s Black Chamber of Commerce showcases Black-owned eateries, shopping venues, automotive repair shops, construction companies, entertainment businesses, financial services, health & wellness organizations, legal services, and more.

The Downtown Lynchburg Association recently shared an article about Black-owned restaurants, bakeries, shops, wellness centers, and salons in downtown Lynchburg, talking with the owners to share all that the businesses have to offer both locals and visitors. 

Visit Charlottesville put together an article on the Black-owned restaurants in the Charlottesville area, and The Charlottesville 29 has also compiled their own list. 


—Central Virginia—


Croaker’s Spot

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Urban Hang Suite


—Southern Virginia—


—Northern Virginia—


Delaplane Cellars, Photo Credit: Eric Weiss


—Coastal Virginia—


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—Shenandoah Valley—


—Virginia Mountains—


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A post shared by Vegan Queen (@queensvegancafe) on Mar 10, 2020 at 10:55am PDT


—Southwest Virginia—

—Virginia’s Eastern Shore—



These are just a fraction of the Black-owned restaurants around the Commonwealth; share yours with us in the comments below so that we can add them to the list!

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About FunRVA

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Made in Virginia: The Father’s Day Gift Guide

Made in Virginia: The Father’s Day Gift Guide

Father’s Day is only a few short weeks away, and with unpredictable shipping delays occurring due to COVID-19, you may want to go ahead and start thinking about what to get Dad sooner rather than later! Use our Made in Virginia gift guide to pick out the perfect gift for your father this year. 


Virginia Distillery Company’s Courage & Conviction Whisky 


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If your Dad is a whiskey drinker, get him a bottle of Virginia Distillery Company’s newest release, Courage & Conviction Whisky. Inspired by the founder’s principles to “have the courage of your convictions”, this American Single Malt barley whisky has been aged a minimum of three years in sherry, bourbon, and cuvée wine casks. 

Add a little something extra to your gift with a cocktail kit from Pratt Standard Cocktail Co., which are paired with a bottle of Virginia Distillery Company whisky and can be shipped directly to Virginia consumers. Flavor options include Rosemary Grapefruit simple syrup with a Chardonnay cask-finished Virginia-Highland Whisky or a kit with simple syrup, orange bitters, and a Brewers Batch Virginia-Highland Whisky.


Awl Snap Leather Wallets


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Awl Snap hand stitches leather wallets, bags, and accessories, including leather coasters, koozies, and keychains. Get Dad a new wallet from Awl Snap for Father’s Day, featuring four card slots and a center pocket for cash. These wallets are made with vegetable-tanned leather sourced from world-renowned tanneries located  in the U.S. that follow ethically and environmentally responsible practices to ensure the best quality in the resulting products. 


Seigler Fishing Reels


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A fishing reel manufacturer based in Virginia Beach, Siegler Fishing Reels are a great gift for the father who spends a lot of time out on the water. These award-winning, top-quality reels come in a range of styles and price points, from fly fishing reels to lever drag reels. You can also get him a matching t-shirt or hat to wear during his next fishing trip.


BS Grillin’ Company


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Does Dad spend a good number of evenings grilling out? If so, he’ll probably appreciate some nice sauces and condiments to pair with his grilled meals. BS Grillin’ Company, based out of Lynchburg, makes a wide variety of sauces, such as Kickin’ Pineapple BBQ, Smokin’ Chipotle BBQ, and as well as relishes like their Blazin’ Pepper Relish and Sweet Zucchini Relish. These can also be used in lieu of your average sauces and seasonings in dips, sandwich spreads, marinades, and more. 


Green Cove Collective Socks


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Many Dads are big on the Great Outdoors, and if yours happens to like exploring Virginia’s untouched wilderness and conquering the most strenuous trails, socks from Green Cove Collective are a perfect gift. The company resides in the mountains of Southwest Virginia, so they have plenty of places to test out their latest socks for quality and endurance. Plus, every time you purchase a product from Green Cove Collective, they provide a meal to a person in need, supporting their community while also crafting excellent hiking accessories. 


A Mixed Basket of Virginia Craft Beer 


Photo Credit: Shannon Terry

If your Dad is a craft brew lover, take a DIY approach and build a basket of your favorite Virginia craft beers. Sharing a love of brews is a great way to bond, and he will appreciate the careful selection you’ve taken the time to put together! Not sure where to start? For a great selection of award-winning IPAs, consider ordering from The Veil Brewing Company, or if he’s more of a light beer guy, pick up some beers from New Realm Brewing Company, who won the 2019 Virginia Craft Beer Cup for their Euphoria Pilsner. 


Verus Kayaks 


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For Dads that seek adventure on white waters, consider splurging on a Verus kayak, made in Roanoke, Virginia. Their carbon/Kevlar abrasion-resistant freestyle kayaks are created by layering composites with bonding agents that are then covered by a specialty outer coating. While this is a more pricey gift, it’s a great one to go in with siblings or Mom on and surprise Dad in a big way! Pre-order the Verus 2020, the newest kayak with a re-designed, more aggressive stern that improves both comfort and safety.


Autumn Olive Farm Meats, Waynesboro


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We mentioned grilling before, but starting with a nice cut of meat will help those spices taste even better. Gift Dad some meats from Autumn Olive Farm, such as gorgeous steak cuts like filet mignon, New York Strip, and Top Sirloin, pork products like ribs, bacon, and pork chops, or processed meat products like ground beef or a wide variety of housemade sausages. All meats are raised on the environmentally-friendly farm in the Shenandoah Valley, which is owned and operated by local families. Current pickup locations for their products include Waynesboro, Crozet, Harrisonburg, Keswick, and Richmond. 


Wolfgang Beard Company Beard Care & Shaving Products


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A Richmond-based operation, Wolfgang Beard Company beard oils, balms, and butters, shaving creams, colognes, and hair pomades are great for the Dads that like to look (and smell!) their best. Whether Dad needs a little help tidying up a quarantine-inspired beard, shaving it off afterwards, or just looking for a new signature scent, the products at Wolfgang Beard Company are ideal for the Dads that appreciate a groomed look.


Lineage Candles


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Candles aren’t just for Moms! With smells like Appalachian Woodsmoke, Boot Jack, Bourbon & Ginger, Cinnamon & Cedar, Pine Camp, and Mill Lodge, Dad will enjoy the candles from Harrisonburg-based workshop Lineage, too. In addition to candles, you’ll find other great gifts for dad at Lineage, including leather coasters embossed with the state of Virginia, toiletry bags, cook & bar ware, and grooming products. 


Framed Letterpress Virginia Outdoors Prints from Wild Wander Co.


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Outdoorsy dads will appreciate the framed letterpress prints created by Wild Wander Co., available for sale on Etsy. Featuring designs like the Flora & Fauna of Virginia, a Field Guide to the Appalachian Trail, a charming Atlantic Oyster print, and a Field Guide to Shenandoah National Park, these prints will be hung proudly on the wall of Dad’s office or “man cave”. If he’s more into wearing his hobby, the designer also makes a selection of screen printed tees featuring a few Virginia-themed designs. 


Moore & Giles Leather Wrapped Flask


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Since 1933, Lynchburg’s Moore & Giles has been turning natural leathers into both commercial goods in the automotive and aviation industries and gorgeous high-end products for consumers. If your Dad is a spirits enthusiast, order him their Leather Wrapped Flask (available in forest green, burgundy, and rich brown colors), a stainless steel flask wrapped in vegetable-tanned Italian leather. Other leather products include luxurious leather coasters, games, and office accessories, so peruse their online shop for further Father’s Day inspiration.


Intro to Knifemaking Class at Join or Die Knives, Richmond


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The custom knives from Join or Die are handmade in Richmond, but if you’re not located near Virginia’s Capital city, you can order the blades online and have them shipped to you. Depending on Dad’s hobbies, there are several knives he may appreciate as a Father’s Day gift; the oyster knives are great for those that enjoy a backyard grill including Virginia’s well-known bivalves, the field mate knives are best for the Dads that spend their weekends hunting, and the kitchen knives are for the Dads that love to cook. However, if your Dad is a more hands-on guy, he may appreciate Join or Die’s Introduction to Knifemaking Class, where he’ll learn how to make his own blade. 


Grill Out With Virginia-Grown Oysters


Photo Credit: Sam Dean

Grown in the famed Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries, Virginia’s oysters are a gift not only made in Virginia, but made from Virginia’s waters. Get Dad a bushel of oysters for Father’s Day and host a cookout in the backyard where he can show his skills at the grill. With eight distinct oyster regions in the waters of the Bay, there are many different flavor profiles to Virginia oysters, whether Dad prefers the brinier bivalves of the Atlantic shores or the buttery taste of the oysters grown in the Rappahannock River. And many of these companies are currently offering curbside pickup or even home delivery, allowing you to easily get your gift for Dad. 


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For Dads that start each day with several cups of gourmet coffee, get a few bags of single-origin or blended beans from Three Ships Coffee,or step up your gift game and order a monthly coffee subscription from the Virginia Beach beanery. For $34 a month, your Dad will receive two unique bags of coffee with detailed information about the coffee’s origins, as well as membership to the Coffee Club newsletter and monthly coupons in case he runs out and needs to restock.  


Take Dad on a Short Road Trip Around Virginia


Photo Credit: Robert Harris IG account: @robertharris

Spend some quality time with Dad this Father’s Day with a quick day trip in Virginia! Jump in the car and set out on a road trip along a scenic route to share the day and discover the beauty of the Commonwealth. Be sure to snap a picture at one of the 200+ LOVEworks along the way to commemorate the trip. 


If you want more Made in Virginia products, check out our 2020 Gift Guide for tons of thoughtful gifts!

The post Made in Virginia: The Father’s Day Gift Guide appeared first on Virginia’s Travel Blog.

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Family Fun Activities in Shenandoah County

Family Fun Activities in Shenandoah County

Get closer to nature and build family bonds with a visit to Shenandoah County. Attractions here are no-frills and not fancy, but are guaranteed to bring smiles and warm hearts. Hike in the woods, skip rocks on the river, feed llamas, pick berries and explore caverns are just a few ideas, but imagine a place that allows for together time, marveling at the views, enjoying farm-fresh foods and creating beautiful memories.

Agricultural Experiences

Once called the “Breadbasket of the South”, Shenandoah County has deep roots in agriculture with many family farms still in operation a hundred or more years after their original ancestor first put a shovel in the land. Nowadays, family farms are diversifying, and creating spaces for visitors to pick fruits and pet the animals. One “Century Farm” has even begun brewing craft beer and serving wood-fired pizzas made with ingredients sourced within a stone’s throw.

Here are some of our favorite farm experiences in the area:

Posey Thisisit Llama Farm – This 27-acre farm is home to over 30 llamas visitors can meet, pet, feed and, if you’re lucky, even share a llama kiss! The mission of the farm is to share their love of llamas with all who visit and they deliver on that promise. The owner’s love and enthusiasm for these charming animals is infectious. Open year round by appointment.

Swover Creek Farms – is a Virginia Century Farm offering pick-your-own berries in several varieties including raspberries, blueberries, blackberries and black raspberries, and gooseberries. Their kitchen also offers wood fired pizzas, farm crafted sausages and home-made pretzels and well as farm crafted beers.

Woodbine Farms – is a family owned and operated farm market offering a huge variety of fruits, vegetables, and herbs including peaches, plum, cherries, apricots, apples, tomatoes, green beans and much more. Their bakery also serves up some of the best cookies around as well as fresh baked pies, artisan breads, and apple dumplings. Enjoy local cheeses, jams, ciders and more inside the market or venture outside for their children’s play area complete with mining sluice.

Rivers, Caverns, & Other Outdoor Destinations

– American Celebration on Parade –

Shenandoah Caverns Family of Attractions – Beat the heat in an underground landscape- At a constant 56°F, the beauty and wonders of Shenandoah Caverns is a family experience like no other. Check out Shenandoah County’s beautiful scenery below the surface and learn the story of two young boys who discovered it over a hundred years ago and made it their secret hideaway. Shenandoah Caverns has working elevator service and is home to the famous “bacon formations” as featured in National Geographic Magazine. Included with your ticket to the Caverns there are several other attractions that are definitely worth seeing: Main Street of Yesteryear, the Yellow Barn and American Celebration on Parade. American Celebration on Parade is a favorite among families who enjoy seeing floats from the Rose Bowl Parades, Thanksgiving Day Parades and Presidential Inaugurals up close and personal. Many even come to life with the push of a button.

Bryce Resort – This four season resort offers a variety of summer activities including biking, boat rentals, and golf. Beginner cyclists can take a lesson on their state of the art mountain bike trail which allows visitors to coast down the mountain and take in the spectacular views. Lake Laura is also part of Bryce Resort’s summer fun where the family can enjoy paddleboarding, canoeing and tubing.

Strasburg River Walk – This park offers a one of the most family/kid friendly river access points in the area suitable for canoes, kayaks and shallow aluminum boats. Fish for redbreast sunfish or small-mouth bass along the shores or enjoy a stroll along the gravel path running alongside the river.

Woodstock Tower – Take a short 1/3 mile round-trip hike to one of the most spectacular views of the Shenandoah Valley. The Woodstock Tower was originally built as one of the first Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) projects now offers stunning 360 degree views of the Seven Bends of the Shenandoah River, the Town of Woodstock, and Fort Valley. It’s a perfectly short hike for little ones and the views are breathtaking. Note: The drive to the trail head is filled with switchbacks as it climbs over Massanutten Mountain. RV’s Trailers and buses are not allowed.

Hike to Big Schloss – For your tough-and-mighty trail warriors this 4 mile round trip hike offers a perfect day on the mountain with places to stop for a picnic. A beautiful rock outcropping at the end makes a perfect spot for a family photo. You can’t beat the views here! At the trail head are several places to set up a tent and campfire for the night. Memories made.

Ice Cream Stands

No matter what part of the county you visit, there’s always a good place to stop and cool down with a sweet treat. After your adventures, on the rivers, trails or underground it’s easy to find a place to stop at one of the many ice cream stands around the County. Offering classic treats such as hand-dipped cones, custard and milkshakes as well as chillers filled with your favorite candy bars. Most places are open seasonally and are enjoyed by locals and travelers alike.

Ice Cream Depot

363 E King St

Katie’s Custard

870 S Main St

Smiley’s Kustard

1562 Orkney Grade Bayse (near Bryce Resort)

Sugar Creek Snowy & Sweet

154 E King St

Pack’s Frozen Custard

211 East Lee Hwy New Market


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Virtual Experiences You Can Do In Lynchburg From Your Home

Virtual Experiences You Can Do In Lynchburg From Your Home

One incredible thing that we’ve seen while living through the time of COVID-19 is just how well the community can rally and put together resources that can be accessed virtually. Many favorite local spots known for their history, art and learning experiences have made tours available that you can take from the comfort of your home. Here are a few you can enjoy and get excited about visiting in the future!




SeaQuest is one of Lynchburg’s latest business additions, and it’s already a popular destination. So during this time of social distancing, get to know the SeaQuest critters on their website! Virtual video tours are available so you can venture into the wild through these exhibits from your computer. These tours include videos of rainforest animals, the Mayan Jungle aviary, Egyptian desert creatures and several assorted underwater environments with sharks, bioluminescent fish, snails, crabs and starfish.

Academy Center of the Arts

The Academy Center of the Arts has no shortage of virtual activities to choose from. You can tour their artist galleries on their website and get to know the work of their talented artists. They are also hosting a virtual First Fridays Art Exhibition with judging and prizes, and live-streaming performances and educational videos for your viewing pleasure. There was even a National Poetry Month celebration on Friday, April 10, in collaboration with The Listening, which brought powerful spoken words of poets such as Jaylin Randolph, Madalyn Sullivan and Nick George.


RiverViews Artspace

Lynchburg CVB

RiverViews Artspace is a multipurpose art hub, with exhibits and supplies for creators and art appreciators alike to peruse and enjoy. Many of their exhibits have been put into video format, such as “To Scale: A Small Works Group Show”, Emerging Artist Twon Smith’s “Drawing Distinctions” and “The Women Portrait Project: Coincidental Feminists”. So hop on their website for an experience with local artists and makers who remind us of what is possible and meaningful.

Amazement Square

amzement square
Lynchburg CVB

Even Amazement Square, a hands-on children’s museum well-known for its interactivity and playful learning experiences, has created virtual experiences for the whole family to enjoy! Their exhibits are themed by day, and kids can have the opportunity to watch and create along with videos, make art, solve puzzles, listen to stories and participate in family games of strategy and chance. As a bonus, you can take pictures or videos of your kids’ great work and submit them to the website!


Lynchburg Museum

Lynchburg CVB

While the Lynchburg Museum is closed, they’ve put their exhibits online so you can still see and learn about them. From gallery to gallery, this virtual tour tells the history of Lynchburg and Virginia from the time of the state’s settlement in 1607 up to modern day. It also gives special attention to exhibits about Virginia military history, local government and a “Life in Lynchburg” gallery about local arts, education, sports and entertainment. This would also be a great opportunity to let the kids in on the fun!


D-Day Memorial

Lynchburg CVB

Memorial Day and Armed Forces Day are coming up in May, so what better time to familiarize yourself with the stories told by the National D-Day Memorial? This place of commemoration remembers the sacrifices of brave American soldiers during World War II, and it’s offering educational resources, Facebook Live events and virtual tours for you to feel a part of this important place. Some of these programs and events include lesson plans and worksheets, video lectures and presentations and even a virtual Armed Forces Day 5K!

Even if we don’t leave our homes, there is still a lot to do in Lynchburg, and we hope you have the opportunity to enjoy the virtual experiences that our community has to offer, then get out and see these places when this crisis lifts. We hope you stay safe and well!

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Sharing the LOVE: Blenheim Winery’s “On the Line” Blend Supports Local Food Banks

Sharing the LOVE: Blenheim Winery’s “On the Line” Blend Supports Local Food Banks

The effects of Coronavirus have been disheartening, from businesses shutting down to the utter boredom that comes from staying at home for weeks on end. But there are silver linings to the situation that allow us to see the LOVE in every corner of Virginia. Sharing these “good news” stories help us get through this troubling time and appreciate the integrity and kindness found in communities all around the Commonwealth. 


Photo Credit: Emma Rebein Andrews

One such story is happening at Blenheim Vineyards, the winery owned by native Virginian Dave Matthews. They will be releasing 350 cases of a new red wine blend (followed by a white wine blend) named “On the Line” that recognizes the heroic efforts of frontline workers during this trying time. The proceeds from the wine sales will benefit Charlottesville’s Frontline Foods and World Central Kitchen, programs that use donations to partner with local restaurants and provide food to the area’s essential workers. 


In conjunction with the wine release, Blenheim Vineyards has also created a limited release of merchandise with the logo designed by Dave Matthews, including stickers, posters, and t-shirts, of which the proceeds will also benefit Frontline Foods Charlottesville and the World Central Kitchen. 

We virtually “sat down” with Blenheim Vineyards general manager and winemaker, Kirsty Harmon, who has been producing exceptional wines at the vineyard since 2008, to ask her about the “On the Line” blend. 


How did you come up with the “On the Line” special release?

An old friend of mine, John Kluge Jr., reached out to me several weeks ago about a potential collaboration. He had and continues to work with Frontline Foods in Charlottesville.  He was looking for a way to increase interest and donations to feeding front line workers in Charlottesville, and thought that a wine specific to the cause might make a lot of sense. My husband, sister and niece, are all front line workers, so the idea immediately resonated with me.


Can you explain the winemaking process and bottling process?

The wine for this blend is a combination of wines from both 2018 and 2019. The goal was to make a fruit forward, approachable wine that pairs widely with a range of food and occasions. 


What kind of impact do you think the “On the Line” wine is having on the community in Charlottesville and in Virginia as a whole?

I hope that the wine is a way to bring focus to the community of workers on the Front Lines – from health care to grocery store. It is hopefully a way for those folks living in Charlottesville, Virginia and beyond to be able to support those workers from afar. 


As we look to reopening the state, what will Blenheim Vineyards be doing to welcome visitors again?


We are excited to welcome guests back to Blenheim at some point, but feel that we are best serving our guests by remaining closed at this time. We are offering home delivery, free shipping and local and Richmond pick ups of our wines. 



Looking for more good news during COVID-19? Stay tuned for more Sharing the LOVE stories that highlight the best of Virginia’s businesses and citizens! 

The post Sharing the LOVE: Blenheim Winery’s “On the Line” Blend Supports Local Food Banks appeared first on Virginia’s Travel Blog.

About FunRVA

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

Canceled By COVID: Enjoy Virginia Music Festivals from Home

Canceled By COVID: Enjoy Virginia Music Festivals from Home

Memorial Day weekend is usually the start of music festival season in Virginia. Unfortunately, due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation, many festivals have postponed to later dates or have canceled entirely.

While travelers won’t be able to attend most music festivals right now, we encourage everyone to dream about going to your favorite one next year, find a new one to add to the list, or listen to playlists of what would have been some incredible shows.



New Dates: Rescheduled for July 21-25, 2021
<img data-attachment-id="51086" data-permalink="https://blog.virginia.org/2018/02/small-towns-swva/floydfest-7/" data-orig-file="https://d2y0su6ixv655t.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/16131104/BR12080309V_066.jpg" data-orig-size="973,649" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta="{"aperture":"0","credit":"Sarah Hauser. Virginia Tourism C","camera":"","caption":"A 4-day celebration of music and art nestled in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of Southwest Virginia.rrVirginia Tourism Corporation, www.Virginia.org","created_timestamp":"0","copyright":"u00a9Virginia Tourism Corporation","focal_length":"0","iso":"0","shutter_speed":"0","title":"Floydfest","orientation":"0"}" data-image-title="Floydfest" data-image-description="

A 4-day celebration of music and art nestled in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of Southwest Virginia.

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One of Virginia’s biggest and best music festivals, FloydFest is a five-day festival in the mountains of Floyd. Attendees can camp in the trees of the Blue Ridge Mountains during the festival and take in live music with more than 100 artists on eight stages, outdoor adventure, local vendors offering everything from artisan-made goods, workshops, healing arts seminars, and children’s activities.



Red Wing Roots Music Festival

New Dates: Rescheduled for July 9-11, 2021

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Redwing Roots Music Festival

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The Red Wing Roots Music Festival is held over three days at the scenic Natural Chimneys Park in Mt. Solon, is a family-friendly event that blends bluegrass and folk music. Multiple stages allow a wide array of regional and national bands to continuously play various genres during the festival, and there are tons of organized outdoor events as well such as bike rides, hiking, fun runs and interactive kids activities.


Rooster Walk

New Dates: Rescheduled for May 27-30, 2021

The Rooster Walk Music and Arts Festival features musical performances across several different genres, including bluegrass, rock, reggae, jazz, country and Americana – all in a family friendly environment. In addition to music, explore several vendor booths to partake in arts and crafts.



Virginia Arts Festival

New Dates: Rescheduled for various dates on 2021. Virginia International Tattoo rescheduled for April 15-18, 2021.

<img data-attachment-id="47436" data-permalink="https://blog.virginia.org/2017/01/cant-miss-festivals-part-1/virginia-international-tattoo/" data-orig-file="https://d2y0su6ixv655t.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/16114646/HR16042609V_046-e1550852833854.jpg" data-orig-size="750,350" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta="{"aperture":"0","credit":"Sarah Hauser, Virginia Tourism C","camera":"","caption":"Presented annually in Norfolk, Virginia, the Virginia International Tattoo is an exhibition of military bands, massed pipes and drums, military drill teams, gymnasts, Scottish dancers, and choirs. It is the largest show of its kind in the US, involving casts of over 800 artists from many different countries.rrVirginia Tourism Corporation, www.Virginia.org","created_timestamp":"1461369600","copyright":"u00a9Virginia Tourism Corporation","focal_length":"0","iso":"0","shutter_speed":"0","title":"Virginia International Tattoo","orientation":"1"}" data-image-title="Virginia International Tattoo" data-image-description="

Presented annually in Norfolk, Virginia, the Virginia International Tattoo is an exhibition of military bands, massed pipes and drums, military drill teams, gymnasts, Scottish dancers, and choirs. It is the largest show of its kind in the US, involving casts of over 800 artists from many different countries.

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Every year, the Virginia Arts Festival, brings the world’s great artists to performance venues throughout the Hampton Roads area. The big event is the Virginia International Tattoo, which pays tribute to the United States Military. Presented in the grand tradition of the world’s oldest tattoos, this Tattoo is an all-American show of patriotism and pride – one international sensation.



Patriotic Festival

New Dates: Rescheduled for June 4-6, 2021

On the last weekend of May, Virginia Beach hosts the Patriotic Festival, an annual event that honors our armed forces personnel and their families. The Patriotic Festival is a three-day-long event featuring concerts from country music stars, military expos, and displays.


Shenandoah Valley Music Festival

New Dates: Concerts pushed to Aug. and Sept. 2020

Held over summer weekends at the beautiful historic retreat and conference center of Shrine Mont, the Shenandoah Valley Music Festival has brought countless talented musicians to the region, with past artists including LeAnn Rimes, Bruce Hornsby and The Temptations.


Hampton Jazz Festival

New Dates: Postponed to June 2021

The annual Hampton Jazz Festival attracts the nation’s top blues, soul, pop and jazz performers. Each June, tens of thousands of loyal fans from all over the nation converge in Hampton to be a part of this three-day celebration.



New Dates: Canceled for 2020, New dates TBD

Dori & Scott Freeman HoustonFest 2019

Despite the rain, a good time was had by all. Dori Freeman Scott Freeman#loveva #visitgalax

Posted by HoustonFest on Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Held annually in memory of young local musician Houston Caldwell, HoustonFest is a two-day festival in Southwest Virginia that features more than 30 bands, with musical genres ranging from Bluegrass to Gospel. Along with the music, skilled artisans and local vendors have workshops and sell homemade goods.



Galax Fiddlers Convention

New Dates: Rescheduled for Aug. 9-14, 2021

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During the 2nd week of August of each year the City of Galax has the world tapping its feet as the Old Fiddlers Convention takes place in Felts Park. Musicians and fans from around the world travel to Galax to perform and hear the music that defines the sound of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Galax has been designated the Worlds Capital of Oldtime Mountain Music and is proud to be identified as hosting the worlds oldest and largest fiddlers convention which has taken place consistently since 1935.

Virginia Tourism Corporation, www.Virginia.org

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The oldest and largest fiddlers’ festival in the world, the Galax Old Fiddlers’ Convention pays tribute to the region’s rich culture and mountain music roots. Since 1935, this festival has brought musicians and bluegrass fans from around the world to discover the sound that defines the Blue Ridge Mountains. After 80+ years, the festival is still one of the most affordable, fun events anywhere on the east coast, providing a family-friendly vacation option for those looking to learn more about Southwest Virginia’s extensive musical background.


Something in the Water

New Dates: Rescheduled for April 23-25, 2021

The best of the world in Virginia Beach. 🌊 #SITWfest

Posted by SOMETHING IN THE WATER on Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Virginia Beach native Pharrell Williams’ music and culture festival, Something in the Water, takes place on the Virginia Beach Oceanfront and features a huge amount of national touring artists and plenty of homegrown talent in different genres including hip hop, R&B, rock and many others.


Blue Ridge Music Center Summer Concert Series

New Dates: The 2020 Summer Concert Season tentatively begins on June 27. (Subject to change)

The Blue Ridge Music Center in Galax features a state-of-the-art amphitheater on the Blue Ridge Parkway and hosts concerts each weekend June through September.


Lockn’ Festival

New Dates: Postponed to Oct. 2-4, 2020

The Lockn’ Festival is a four-day music festival taking place at Infinity Downs Farm with an emphasis on music from jam bands, camping, outdoor activities, regional food, beverages and artisans. Lockn’ is one of Virginia’s largest music festivals and many of the artists perform over multiple days and be featured in unique and exciting artist pairings.


Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion

New Dates: Still scheduled for Sept. 11-13, 2020

Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion

A three-day festival along Downtown Bristol’s State Street, Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion celebrates Bristol’s heritage as the Birthplace of Country Music, where some of the most noteworthy and influential musical recordings ever created. Catch more than a hundred bands playing on 19 stages during the festival, filling the streets of Bristol with Americana, country, bluegrass, rock, blues, and several other genres that trace their roots to the Bristol Sessions.

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Cheers To Wine-Down Wednesdays in Nelson County!

Cheers To Wine-Down Wednesdays in Nelson County!


Most Wednesdays, the weekend still feels far away. The commute to the office seems longer than ever, two nights of homework has made the kids irritable, and the week’s challenges are already wearing you thin. However, there’s a new opportunity for Wednesdays. It turns out that Wednesday is the perfect time to wind down, rest, and prepare for the final push that gets you through the rest of the week. Instead of letting Wednesday get you down, treat it like a holiday! Use this infamous day of the week to “wine down” with some great wines, good food, and music in Nelson County, Virginia.


Celebrate Holidays with Virginia Wine

Along with its four Wine Down Wednesdays, the month of May is home to National Wine Day, celebrated on May 25th. The best way to enjoy this day is to spend time with family and friends over wine and a tasty meal. Of course, our unprecedented times have altered the way a celebration looks. However, there is still plenty of opportunity to observe National Wine Day and Wine Down Wednesdays, Nelson-style.


The Impressive Skills of Nelson County Winemakers


Concerning the wines themselves, Nelson County winemakers produce despite unpredictable weather. A day in Virginia can represent all four seasons topped off with a thunderstorm on Thanksgiving and a morning frost on the last day of May. Because the climate takes away from overall production, more attention can be given to the fruit and the wine-making. Viognier grapes grow well in Nelson, along with the thick-skinned Petit Manseng. These grapes, along with other varieties, and the soil they are planted in lend something to the crisp, flavorful wines that Nelson has to offer.

One benefit of Nelson’s rocky soil is that it doesn’t allow grapevines to dig deep into the ground. The vines then focus more energy onto the fruit rather than other parts of the plant. This is why Nelson wines taste so unique. It’s telling that Nelson County is located directly between Europe and California, since Nelson County Wines embody both new-world charm and modern taste, with a little southern determination thrown in. It could be said that Nelson County Winemakers are some of the last true pioneers of the industry.

The county is a peaceful, verdant beauty located next to the Blue Ridge Mountains. Its immense skies and sun-dappled forests serve as the perfect backdrop to its fascinating wineries. Those visiting the county will find themselves in the very heart of Virginia Wine Country, and conveniently located directly between the cities of Charlottesville and Lynchburg. A wide variety of locally produced wines is another part of the landscape, and award-winning red and white wines, meads, and fruit wines abound. Nelson offers a variety of experiences, from farm wineries, Virginia’s oldest winery, traditional, terraced vineyards, and tasting rooms that are functional works of art.


Nelson County’s Craft Beverage Trails

Nelson is well-known for its craft beverage production; two of its three craft beverage trails boast several wineries. The famous Nelson 151 is affectionately known as “Virginia’s Weekend Address.” It runs near the northern edge of the county, where you’ll find farms, art galleries, cozy bed & breakfasts, and of course- wineries. Veritas Vineyard & Winery, Cardinal Point Winery, Afton Mountain Vineyards, Flying Fox Vineyard, Valley Road Vineyards, and Hill Top Berry Farm & Winery are part of Nelson 151. 12 Ridges Vineyard & Winery, a cool-climate wine producer, can be found nearby- high atop the Blue Ridge Parkway.


Photo Credit: Justin Eubanks

Nelson 29, the county’s newest craft beverage trail, boasts wineries as well: Mountain Cove Winery, Delfosse Vineyards & Winery, Lovingston Winery, and Brent Manor Vineyards. All the wineries included in Nelson 29 have easy access to the Route 29 corridor, which makes these producers perfect for the traveling wine enthusiast. There are plenty of unique shopping opportunities near Route 29. Drumheller’s Orchard and Saunders Brothers Farm Market are nearby, too, if picking your own fresh fruit or choosing country market staples adds a little something to your winery day!


Delfosse Vineyards & Winery, Photo Credit: Steven Morris

The wineries themselves are so unique that no two are alike. Mountain Cove Vineyards, Virginia’s oldest winery, is nestled in a beautiful cove. Afton Mountain Vineyards has a beautiful veranda with views of the Blue Ridge. At Delfosse Vineyards and Winery, the owners know there’s nothing more refreshing on a cool summer’s day than a soothing picnic with delicious wine. Lovingston Winery grows their grapes in a way that increases both the quality and the beauty of the fruit, since the winery itself is built into a hillside and utilizes a gravity-flow production method.

For those more artistically-inclined, Flying Fox Vineyard & Winery offers more than good vermouth. Art is everywhere. Industrial furniture makes the tasting room one-of-a-kind, and huge murals adorn the building. Even the wallpaper is unique! If you aren’t stunned enough by the artistry at Flying Fox, you’ll be mesmerized at Hill Top Berry Farm & Winery’s indoor beehive, where you can watch busy bees enter and exit the building while you build up a little buzz of your own.


More Than Just Vino: Special Events at Nelson’s Wineries

Usually, many of Nelson’s Wineries host special events on weekends. Music and food are part of the celebrations as well. Tours are offered along with wine tasting, and gifts are often available in on-site shops. Many Nelson County wineries are available for booking; weddings and other special events are welcomed.

Hill Top Berry Farm & Winery holds the annual Hill Top Berry Festival in August. The festival takes place on the first Saturday in August, and customers-turned-blackberry-pickers can purchase bottles of true-to-fruit wines, honey meads, or two different types of Sangria.


Another great Nelson celebration takes place on the second Saturday of every month during the warm-weather season. Veritas Vineyards & Winery offers an outdoor concert series, where you can relax under the stars, then taste the wines made on-site.


Adjusting to COVID-19 When You Visit The Wineries


Of course, during these unique times, changes have needed to be made in the short-term. For those who are at home to help slow the spread of COVID-19, wineries in Nelson County have adapted. Delfosse Vineyards & Winery offer Facebook Live Wine Chats. Over the next few Wine Down Wednesdays, Brent Manor Vineyards will be offering virtual tastings in the evenings. Wine enthusiasts can order the newly-released wines from Brent Manor Vineyards and follow along online. Afton Mountain Vineyards and Valley Road Vineyards are also rising Internet stars with their virtual tasting opportunities. There are still special occasion offerings at Nelson wineries as well. For Mother’s Day, Veritas Vineyards & Winery sold special “Mother’s Day in a Box” brunches for pickup.

You can enjoy Nelson County wines at home, too. Most Nelson wineries, including Hill Top Berry Farm & Winery, offer curbside to go for wine orders. Afton Mountain Vineyards and Cardinal Point Winery offer online orders and pickup as well. Many of the wineries, including Lovingston Winery, are offering free shipping and local delivery.


Wineries Give Back to the Community

Of course, it’s hard to be surrounded by beautiful landscapes and beautiful wines without having a beautiful heart as well. Nelson wineries have found ways to give back to their customers and their community during these difficult times. For example, Veritas Vineyards & Winery has partnered with top wedding vineyards to give away a dream wedding valued at over $50,000. The wedding site, coordinating, flowers, gifts, stationery, cake, makeup, and gifts will be available to one lucky couple whose wedding was cancelled due to these difficult times.

CN17083002V_102 Photo Credit: Tom Daly


There’s more to wine in Nelson County than a day of the week or a certain month of the year, though Wine Down Wednesdays and National Wine Month remind us that there’s a lot of fun and adventure to be had, even though the times have a’changed somewhat right now. Whether you travel to the heart of Virginia’s wine country or celebrate on the front porch at home, Nelson County Wineries have something to offer. For more information about how YOU can start celebrating Wine Down Wednesdays and National Wine Month, visit the Nelson County website or call the Nelson Visitors Center at 434-263-7015.

The post Cheers To Wine-Down Wednesdays in Nelson County! appeared first on Virginia’s Travel Blog.

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But Did You Know…16 Fun Facts About Virginia

But Did You Know…16 Fun Facts About Virginia


As the home of the first English settlement in the New World, Virginia has an extensive history with countless contributions to America’s political, cultural, and culinary foundations. Virginia originally encompassed all of the lands in the New World, eight U.S. Presidents called Virginia “home”, and the first official Thanksgiving was held in Virginia. But while you may learn these iconic history facts about Virginia in school, there is so much more to the Commonwealth; read on to discover more notable facts about Virginia! 



Originally settled by colonists in 1610, Hampton is the oldest continuously-inhabited English settlement in North America. When visiting Hampton, you can learn all about the city’s more than four centuries of notable history at the Hampton Museum

HR19080605V_007Photo Credit: Big Orange Frame



Virginia’s early judicial system influenced the Supreme Court. The Commonwealth created a system of superior courts in 1779, including the Supreme Court of Appeals, which became a model for the emerging U.S. Supreme Court, whose structure and influence were not described in detail in the Constitution (the creation of which was also spearheaded by Virginians!)



Virginia has been on the forefront of eco-friendly travel for decades, influencing the movement hugely with the establishment of Earth Day, which happened at Northern Virginia’s Airlie Resort. But Virginia is “green” in more ways than one; the Virginia Department of Forestry reports that 62 percent of the Commonwealth is forested. Explore these pristine woods with a hike on a scenic trail or a cycling adventure in Virginia’s Blue Ridge, America’s East Coast Mountain Biking Capital.

MR18070503V_014 Photo Credit: Sam Dean, IG account: @sdeanphotos



Petersburg’s Pocahontas Island is the oldest free black community in the nation, and is listed on the National Historic Register of Historic Places. 



America’s first woman-run bank was established in Richmond, Virginia’s capital city. Not only was it the first bank set up by a woman, but even more impressively, by a black woman in the era of the South’s Jim Crow Laws; Maggie Lena Walker chartered St. Luke Penny Savings Bank in 1903, breaking incredible barriers and inspiring Richmond’s black community as a successful businesswoman. In addition to founding the bank, Walker became the bank’s first president and later chairman of the board of directors, creating a safe space for black bank patrons to do business. 

Visit the Maggie Lena Walker National Historic Site in Richmond’s Jackson-Ward neighborhood to learn more about this incredible leader from Virginia. 

CN0812102V_013 Photo Credit: Bill Crabtree Jr.



If you’ve visited Virginia, you’ll know that the range of accents can vary widely from the Virginia Beach coastal region to the remote mountain towns of Southwest Virginia. However, Tangier Island, located in Virginia’s Chesapeake Bay, has a distinct English dialect not found anywhere else in the world. Tangier Island was originally settled by early British Colonists in the 1680s, and most of the current residents are their ancestors, speaking in a very peculiar and unique dialect due to the tiny island’s isolation. Their accent sounds closer to the British accent than the American accent, with phrases and speech patterns that can be traced back to early colonial English.

Take a ferry out to the remote island to hear this unique dialect in person, and sample some Tangier Island Oysters to get a taste of the region’s merroir (the flavor infused into the oysters due to the water in the region). While on the island, tour the Tangier History Museum for a thorough dive into the community’s one-of-a-kind history. 



Because of the Chesapeake Bay’s diverse ecosystem, Virginia is the largest seafood producer on the East Coast and the third largest in the country. A large part of that industry is Virginia oysters, with eight distinct oyster regions in the Chesapeake Bay. 

HR17053009V_004Photo Credit: Tony Hall



For centuries, Virginia was known for its lucrative tobacco industry, but the original settlers actually planned for the land to be a silk colony. After a fungus killed the trees that the silkworms fed on, they decided to plant tobacco instead. 



Bourbon, also known as American Whiskey, is often considered a Kentucky drink, but bourbon’s roots are actually Virginian; Fayette County was in Southwest Virginia, but in 1792, county lines were redrawn and the area became part of the new state of Kentucky. 

Photo Credit: Brian Camp, IG account: @brian_k_camp



Almost half of all Civil War battles were fought on Virginia soil. Today, visitors can learn about these pivotal moments in American history with a visit to one of Virginia’s Civil War National Battlefields or historic sites.



Both wars fought on American soil, the American Revolution and the Civil War, ended in Virginia; the Civil War at Appomattox Courthouse National Historic Park, where Generals Grant and Lee would meet to sign the surrender, and the American Revolution in Yorktown, where the combined forces of the French and American armies would defeat General Cornwallis for a final victory in the war. 



Naval Station Norfolk is the world’s largest naval base, with more than 78 ships from the Atlantic fleet using the station as a home port. 



Virginia contains 544 miles of the Appalachian Trail, more than any other state. Virginia also boasts the most photographed spot on the AT, the picturesque view from McAfee Knob



One of the most popular sodas in the United States, Mountain Dew, was formulated in the mountains of Southwest Virginia.



Tennis great Arthur Ashe was born in Richmond, Virginia. He became the first black man to win both the U.S. Open and Wimbledon tennis championships, and was also the first African-American man to be ranked as the number one tennis player in the world.

CN11113001V_055Photo Credit: John Henley



Founded in 1693, The College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia is the second oldest college in the nation. Virginia’s collegiate history has a less prestigious “first”: George William Crump, a student at what is now Washington & Lee College in Lexington, became the first college student to be arrested for streaking across a college campus in 1804. Crump would later win seats in the Virginia House of Delegates and the 19th United States Congress. 


Want to learn more about Virginia’s unique history? Check out these other But Did You Know… stories! 

The post But Did You Know…16 Fun Facts About Virginia appeared first on Virginia’s Travel Blog.

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Your 2020 Guide To Virginia’s PRIDE Festivals & Events

Your 2020 Guide To Virginia’s PRIDE Festivals & Events

Virginia is for Lovers LGBTQ+

The first half 2020 has been a year of connecting and supporting each other in so many ways, and our LGBTQ+ families, friends and Allies are as strong, passionate and resilient as ever. Virginia’s Queer communities are making plans to celebrate PRIDE together in 2020.

Virginia is also celebrating our Queer TheirStory, HerStory and History as the first southern state to sign into law the Virginia Values Act, extending state non-discrimination protections to Virginians on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity – a new level of Welcome and safety for LGBTQ+ visitors. Virginia’s LGBTQ+ people are finding and sharing more of our Queer history, statewide. This includes people, stories and timelines found at the Virginia Museum of History & Culture’s Story of Virginia exhibit, and online at Virginia Historic Resources’ LGBTQ Heritage in Virginia website.

LGBTQ+Story of Virginia


While event dates are predicated on the health and safety of all, we are sharing what’s planned and will be updating our calendar accordingly.

No matter which PRIDE events and festivals you attend, there are plenty of self-designated LGBT-friendly hotels, B&Bs, cabins and campsites available to stay at with family and friends. There are also so many things to do and discover, such as shops, restaurants, distilleries, meaderies, cideries, craft breweries, wineries, outdoor adventures, and much more.

Interested in attending a Virginia PRIDE festival this year? Here is your guide to each event throughout PRIDE season.

Share what you LOVE @visitgayva ( Instagram)  & @VisitGayVA  (Twitter)

<img data-attachment-id="55569" data-permalink="https://blog.virginia.org/2019/05/june-2019-events/va-pridefest-2/" data-orig-file="https://d2y0su6ixv655t.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/14152136/CN17101009V_039.jpg" data-orig-size="1316,877" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta="{"aperture":"0","credit":"Joey Wharton, Virginia Tourism C","camera":"","caption":"Virginia PrideFest is the largest annual celebration of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community in the Commonwealth. The event is put on by Virginia Pride and is held in downtown Richmond on Brown's Island.rrVirginia Tourism Corporation, www.Virginia.org","created_timestamp":"0","copyright":"u00a9Joey Wharton","focal_length":"0","iso":"0","shutter_speed":"0","title":"VA PrideFest","orientation":"0"}" data-image-title="VA PrideFest" data-image-description="

Virginia PrideFest is the largest annual celebration of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community in the Commonwealth. The event is put on by Virginia Pride and is held in downtown Richmond on Brown’s Island.

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PRIDE Season Festivals and Events: At a Glance





The post Your 2020 Guide To Virginia’s PRIDE Festivals & Events appeared first on Virginia’s Travel Blog.

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But Did You Know…Prohibition & Franklin County, The Moonshine Capital of the World

But Did You Know…Prohibition & Franklin County, The Moonshine Capital of the World

Many people know a little bit about the era of Prohibition in America or have at least watched films about moonshiners, such as the 2012 Hollywood drama “Lawless” starring Shia LaBeouf and Tom Hardy, which followed the Bondurant brothers and their bootlegging enterprise in Virginia’s mountains. But did you know that Franklin County, located in the mountains of Virginia, came to be known as the “Moonshine Capital of the World” due to the region’s heavy involvement in the illegal moonshine industry that occurred during Prohibition? 


Jamestown: America’s Moonshine Roots

In 1620, just 13 years after the Jamestown settlement was established, Virginia colonists were using corn to distill spirits along the James River. This was the first time moonshine was made by colonists in America, although the indigenous peoples had been producing their own alcoholic beverages from corn and other native plants prior to the arrival of colonists. 

Fast forward to the 1700s, when the English, Germans, and Scots-Irish began immigrating to America and settling into western Virginia’s backcountry, where they would bring their own traditions for making homemade spirits, using fruits to make brandy and grains to produce whiskey. <img data-attachment-id="58895" data-permalink="https://blog.virginia.org/2020/05/franklin-moonshine-history/moonshiners/" data-orig-file="https://d2y0su6ixv655t.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/01124431/moonshiners.jpg" data-orig-size="813,559" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta="{"aperture":"0","credit":"","camera":"","caption":"","created_timestamp":"0","copyright":"","focal_length":"0","iso":"0","shutter_speed":"0","title":"","orientation":"0"}" data-image-title="moonshiners" data-image-description="


” data-medium-file=”https://d2y0su6ixv655t.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/01124431/moonshiners-300×206.jpg” data-large-file=”https://d2y0su6ixv655t.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/01124431/moonshiners.jpg” class=”alignright size-full wp-image-58895″ src=”https://d2y0su6ixv655t.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/01124431/moonshiners.jpg” alt=”moonshiners” width=”100%” height=”100%” />

Image Courtesy of The Library of Virginia

From the earliest colonial settlement into the industrial era of the 1800s, producing spirits became a part of life for the small rural communities of Southwestern Virginia. The agricultural aspects of the communities and a lack of roads to transport produce grown on the lands to other parts of the state resulted in an abundance of fruits and grains to use in the distilling process. Instead of wasting the fruits and grains that they were unable to sell, the farmers used a homemade copper still and wooden barrels to mix the mash and store resulting spirits for years to come. A farmer could make enough liquor to cover his own family’s needs and then sell or trade the rest with other members of the community, allowing them to utilize produce that would have otherwise spoiled and been thrown away. Plus, the spent grains left over from the distilling process could be fed to cows, pigs, and other livestock. In a way, early Virginia moonshiners were some of the first eco-friendly farmers in America!


Illegal vs. Legal Liquors

Many of the Scots-Irish, German, and English citizens that immigrated to American were in part fleeing from what they viewed as unfair taxes imposed upon them by their former countries, and one such tax was on distilling whiskey. When they came to America, they believed that they would be free of these fees and could resume producing their own distilled beverages without infringement from the still-forming U.S. government. 

But the Revolutionary War was at hand and the country needed money to pay for the care and supplies for American troops, so the government imposed a tax on alcohol. In response, lots of citizens chose not to license their distilleries or pay taxes on the resulting liquors. These were the first “moonshiners” in America, with many residing in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Western Virginia where a smaller, less dense population and large tracts of land allowed them to hide their operations with relative ease. But crafting spirits was not only a pastime for poor rural farmers; middle and upper class Americans on the eastern seaboard were known to build large dedicated stillhouses; George Washington even made his own liquor commercially at Mount Vernon, and you can still visit this distillery today!


Spirits would be taxed by the American government on and off for about 40 years after the Revolutionary War, followed by a 45-year untaxed period; however, with the start of the Civil War, Congress would again pass a whiskey tax. Each gallon of whiskey would be taxed two dollars, an astounding average of twelve times the cost of making these spirits. Not surprisingly, some distillers preferred to run their operations illegally rather than pay these high taxes. These rogue distillers would operate as illegal moonshiners, competing with the 77 legal distilleries that would open in Franklin County by 1894. 


Prohibition & The Rise of Moonshine Running


With the close of the 1800s, America’s stance against alcohol was gaining support. Laws were passed during this time to make rural distilleries illegal, and in the following years, Virginia counties one by one banned both the production and sale of spirits. By 1914, Virginia voted to ban alcohol completely and the Commonwealth was completely dry of legal liquor. Moonshiners would ignore these laws and continue delivering their products in motor vehicles to industrial towns like Danville, Lynchburg, and Roanoke. The United States introduced Prohibition nationwide in 1920, and as a result, the moonshine industry that had been steadily growing in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains would explode overnight. 


Moonshiners & Police: A (Lucrative) Game of Cat & Mouse

The image of a moonshiner in the Blue Ridge Mountains tends to bring to mind an impoverished backwoods farmer, but in reality, some moonshiners would turn an incredible profit, especially during Prohibition. In Virginia’s mountains, a few bootleggers were quite wealthy, earning tens of thousands of dollars in cash while the Great Depression was in full swing. One such moonshiner in Franklin County bought an airplane so that his son could fly over their land and make sure their stills weren’t visible from above. 

As Prohibition ended in 1933, moonshining had become a huge economic force in the mountains of Virginia, and although alcohol was once again legal, the profits from illegal moonshining in the region remained high, encouraging the bootleggers to continue their shady enterprises.

<img data-attachment-id="58894" data-permalink="https://blog.virginia.org/2020/05/franklin-moonshine-history/moonshine-stills/" data-orig-file="https://d2y0su6ixv655t.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/01124319/moonshine-stills.jpg" data-orig-size="1164,768" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta="{"aperture":"0","credit":"","camera":"","caption":"","created_timestamp":"0","copyright":"","focal_length":"0","iso":"0","shutter_speed":"0","title":"","orientation":"0"}" data-image-title="moonshine stills" data-image-description="

moonshine stills, image courtesy of the Library of Virginia

” data-medium-file=”https://d2y0su6ixv655t.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/01124319/moonshine-stills-300×198.jpg” data-large-file=”https://d2y0su6ixv655t.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/01124319/moonshine-stills-1024×676.jpg” class=”alignright size-full wp-image-58894″ src=”https://d2y0su6ixv655t.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/01124319/moonshine-stills.jpg” alt=”moonshine stills” width=”100%” height=”100%” />

Image Courtesy of The Library of Virginia

Police officers and tax enforcement officials hunted down moonshiners throughout the United States with the help of local informants (which could sometimes be the bootlegger’s own competition). After receiving this inside information, the agents would monitor the moonshiners and their property with the hopes of raiding the still sites when the moonshiners returned to distill. The stills found during a raid would then be destroyed using axes or sticks of dynamite. If a moonshiner ran, the agents would chase them down, but most of the time, the men caught red-handed would give up without a fight; violence was a rare result for moonshine raids at the time. 


Instead, moonshiners would adapt their distilling techniques to avoid capture, running thin pieces of thread across pathways to detect if their sites had been visited without them knowing or building underground stills that weren’t easily discovered. A famous example of this occurred in the late 1970s in Franklin County, where a moonshiner bulldozed a massive hole into a field, built an underground room with a sod-covered roof, placed cinder block “headstones” on top, and created a fake cemetery that they regularly mowed and placed flowers throughout. The still was discovered in 1979, by which time revenue agents estimated that it had run for several years before being discovered.


Running From the Law: Moonshiners & NASCAR

Some revenue agents opted to chase down moonshiners during transport rather than stake out their still locations. Most moonshine journeys from still to buyer would go smoothly, but occasionally, if agents were tipped off to the trip, they might set up roadblocks or wait along the planned route for the moonshine runner to pass by. Two-way radios had not yet been invented, so evading capture was still possible for moonshiners with fast vehicles who knew the winding country roads along their route. Skilled bootleg drivers were known to use a “bootleg turn”, where they would spin the car into a 180-degree skid to shake pursuers. 

Popular culture has long associated moonshine running with NASCAR auto racing, but in reality, very few moonshine drivers from the Blue Ridge were involved with organized racing. Instead, the connection lay in the local garages, where mechanics used their skills to modify engines to increase speeds and suspensions to ensure better handling on the roads. These skills translated easily to the world of NASCAR, where speed and balance were two of the most important factors of racing.

CN20021306V_031NASCAR might not have acquired many drivers from Virginia’s illegal moonshine trade, but one such driver who did come from this background was Wendell Oliver Scott, an African-American racer from Danville’s “Crooktown” section. Scott began his driving career as a taxi driver, but would also use his skills as a fearless driver and a knowledgeable mechanic to haul illegal whiskey, which would help him become the first and only black driver to win a major-league NASCAR race. The Black History Museum & Cultural Center of Virginia, located in Richmond, has a hands-on exhibit for all ages that tells the story of Wendell Oliver Scott and his significant contributions to NASCAR. 


National Headlines: Franklin County’s Conspiracy Trial of 1935

Illegal moonshine was made in secret stills throughout the United States, but the mountain towns of southern Virginia were thrust into the national spotlight with the Great Moonshine Conspiracy Trial of 1935. Although Prohibition was no longer in effect, illegal moonshine was still a thriving industry, as moonshiners went to great lengths to avoid paying taxes on their products. Some government officials in Franklin County accepted bribes to look the other way and protect bootleggers from other lawmen and moonshine distillers; even the Sheriff of Franklin was in on the racket, overseeing a complex bribery system for the biggest moonshine producers in the region. 

Using the tax rate instituted in 1920, moonshiners in Franklin County would have generated $5.5 million in taxes between 1930-1935 if they had legally sold their products. During this same time period, more than 1 million five-gallon cans (used for storing whiskey) were purchased in the county and 37 tons of yeast were ordered (nine times that of the capital city of Richmond). These details and the lack of tax revenue caught the attention of lawmen on a national level, and a federal investigation began.

The trial would pitch Franklin County into complete chaos, with threats, jury tampering, and the murder of a key witness, along with a uninvolved bystander, happening during the proceedings. Two men connected to the illegal liquor trade in West Virginia would be charged and convicted of the murders, but another witness perished under suspicious medical causes during the trial, casting doubt on whether the trial could possibly end with a successful outcome. 

The tense trial was the longest in Virginia’s history, and the dramatics of the case consistently kept it on the front page of newspapers, not only in Virginia but in papers around the country. Local moonshining legends kept the attention of readers, who loved tales of individuals like Mrs. Willie Carter Sharpe, who was known as the “queen of Roanoke rum runners.”

Eventually, 34 people would be indicted in the case, including 19 bootleggers, one corporation, and nine government employees, but when the trial finally drew to a close, the resulting convictions and punishments were surprisingly light for the crimes; jail sentences were two years or less, fines were shockingly low, and thirteen of the 34 would only receive probation. Almost 85 years later, many people in Franklin County still have strong opinions on the case and the men who were charged. And an air of mystery continues to surround the case, as part of the trial records “disappeared” from the Franklin County Courthouse files.


Moonshine in Virginia Today

Virginia’s moonshine history runs deep, so it’s no surprise that the mountain region of Virginia still has plenty to offer when it comes to distilled spirits. Head to the Blue Ridge Institute & Museum in Franklin County to learn more about moonshine heritage and the distilling practices passed down over multiple generations. 

Musicians within the region write songs about homemade “hooch”, stills have been repurposed into art exhibits, and you’ll find merchandise emblazoned with the “Moonshine Capital of the World” logo in stores throughout Virginia’s Mountain region. Franklin County hosts an annual Moonshine Festival to commemorate the history and cultural aspects of moonshine. 

If you want to sample authentic Virginia moonshine in its legal form, visit Franklin County Distilleries, the first legal distillery founded in Franklin County. The distillery is in the small town of Boones Mill, famous for being home to the Bondurant brother’s store during Prohibition, where the bootlegging brothers and their associates would transfer moonshine for national distribution. Another moonshine distillery in the area is Twin Creeks Distillery, where you can sample moonshine, fruit brandies, and “White Whiskey”, the distillery’s pure, unaged corn liquors available in 90- and 100-proof.SS19071202V_583Finally, if you’re visiting Southern Virginia, plan a stop at Bondurant Brothers Distillery in Mecklenburg County, run by one of the grandsons of the legendary Bondurant brothers. The cold mash moonshine produced at this distillery is a neutral spirit that makes for a perfectly balanced cocktail

Looking to sample moonshine in other parts of Virginia? There are distilleries in almost every region of the Commonwealth making legal moonshine, allowing you to get an authentic taste of Virginia’s moonshine history during your visit!


Want to know more about Virginia’s lesser-known history? Check out our articles about Virginia Beach & the Historic Cavalier Hotel or Airlie & the Origins of Earth Day, and stay tuned for more But Did You Know… history articles to learn about some of Virginia’s most amazing untold stories

The post But Did You Know…Prohibition & Franklin County, The Moonshine Capital of the World appeared first on Virginia’s Travel Blog.

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