On October 31, 2017, Amtrak passenger service returned to Virginia’s Blue Ridge. Visitors can now
While eloping may seem like a serendipitous event, it takes a little planning. You need the rings, someone to officiate the nuptials, and most importantly a romantic place to run away to together. These 10 Virginia bed and breakfasts, inns, and small boutique hotels and cabins have beautiful accommodations, lovely amenities and there are plenty of fun activities nearby for you lovebirds to enjoy as you start your new chapter together.
HOPE & GLORY INN | IRVINGTON
Formerly a boarding school in the late 1800s, this quaint Northern Neck inn houses an array of beautifully appointed guest suites, spa and restaurant and bar. When making reservations, request one of the private cottages nestled in the lush garden out back. On the property, enjoy a dip in the pool or soak in the romantic secret garden bath with your partner. In the morning start your day with a filling farm-to-table breakfast in The Dining Hall, before heading out on an adventure. Nearby there is no shortage of activities: off campus take a bike ride to the Hope & Glory’s sister winery Dog & Oyster Vineyard, stroll the streets of downtown Irvington or take a sunset kayak adventure on Carter Creek.
Ideal for the enophiles, Virginia’s award-winning Barboursville Vineyards also is home to a beautiful inn and cottages, which are a grape’s throw from the tasting room, Palladio Restaurant, Library 1821 and wine production facility. Accommodations include three suites in grand Georgian-style inn, such as the Octagon Suite with a private garden and balcony overlooking the manicured property and ruins of Governor Barbor’s mansion. Or rent out one of the quaint cottages, like the Sangiovese Cottage, a two-bedroom with small kitchen. Spend your weekend strolling the vineyard, sipping wine and enjoying fine dining. Head to the nearby town of Gordonsville, for lunch at the delicious Barbecue Exchange and shopping along quaint Main Street. Or if you are feeling adventurous, take a scenic country drive to Montpelier to visit James Madison’s historic home or Charlottesville and explore the downtown mall.
A BLUE RIDGE CABIN | MEADOWS OF DAN
Located off meandering Route 58 in Meadows of Dan among a little cluster of rustic cabins, this quaint one-bedroom-plus-loft cottage is beautifully decorated in rustic furniture and includes a full kitchen, bathroom, and living and dining area. Stock up on food ahead of time to make a romantic dinner in the cabin or take a star-lit walk down the road to the Crooked Road Cafe and split a bottle of wine and pizza. While you may feel off the grid, the cabin has Internet access and satellite so you can cuddle up in front of the fire to watch a movie. During the day, grab sandwiches at Poor Farmers Market and take a drive down the Blue Ridge Parkway to visit historic Mabry Mill, Chateau Morrisette Winery, and take hike on one of the parkway’s many trails.
PEAKS OF OTTER LODGE | BEDFORD
While you may be looking forward, planning your upcoming Virginia vacations for 2018, you may be surprised to find inspiration by looking back to the previous calendar year. Here are just a few of the new hot spots that opened around the Commonwealth in 2017; consider visiting some of these during your next getaway to experience the latest in Virginia’s travel scene!
—New for Food & Drink—
Beale’s Brewery & BBQ
- Shenandoah County welcomed its first spirits distillery, Filibuster Distillery, in late 2017. Using 100% locally grown corn from nearby farms, the distillery goes above and beyond to craft their Virginia-made whiskey.
- Richmond saw the opening of several new restaurants in 2017, like the Broken Tulip Social Eatery, a reservations-only restaurant that serves a seasonally inspired multi-course menu that changes at least once a month to reflect the freshest ingredients. New to the growing neighborhood of Scott’s Addition, Brennar Pass is the latest endeavor from Metzger’s Brittanny Anderson, featuring Alpine-inspired cuisine. Finally, Little Saint opened in the Museum District with a focus on everything local to reflect its pride in Richmond…local ingredients, local people, and locally-made furniture and décor.
- The Conche became a popular spot in the Northern Virginia dining scene, opening its doors to the Leesburg community in May 2017. This chocolate-themed restaurant infuses cacao into the drinks, entrees, and desserts. While dining, guests can watch the restaurant’s professional-trained team craft truffles and other inspired desserts in the glass-walled “chocolate lab”.
- Opened in April 2017, Alexandria’s Sunday in Saigon combines a menu reflecting Vietnam’s rich regional diversity with décor that showcases the modern urban atmosphere of Saigon.
- Loudoun County created the DC Wine Country Passport in fall of 2017, offering exclusive perks to more than 20 wineries in the region. Visitors can choose from a three-day wine pass with a total savings of more than $165 for $25 or the annual pass that is valid for an entire year for $55.
- Williamsburg’s James City County Marina welcomed Billsburg Brewery in October 2017. The brewery is conveniently located near Jamestown Settlement and Historic Jamestowne just off the Colonial Parkway and the Capital Trail.
- Coyote Hole Ciderworks is located in the heart of Lake Anna and opened in May 2017. Their premium hard ciders are made from 100% Virginia-grown apples and other fresh fruits.
- Twin Creeks Distillery has been making quality spirits since 2015, but in August of 2017, they opened their new, larger location in Henry, Virginia. The distillery produces Sweet Mash Rye Whiskey, 1st Sugar Moonshine, and Peach Brandy.
- Beale’s Brewery brought a full-service taproom and an attached BBQ restaurant to the town of Bedford in summer of 2017. They brew several year-round craft beers as well as seasonal limited releases.
—New Hotels, Bed & Breakfasts, and Inns—
Graduate Hotel in Richmond
There is so much to see in 2018 in the Roanoke Valley in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, including
You know those headlines for online articles that claim, “SLEEP BETTER, GET A RAISE, AND BE HAPPIER, ALL WITH THIS ONE SIMPLE TRICK”? Yep, this is one of those, but we can actually back up our claims with proof! Okay, are you ready? Here’s the secret:
TAKE A DAY OFF. Seriously. Start with a Friday.
Hiking at Wintergreen Resort
American employees leave a total of 662 million vacation days on the table, which equates to about $66.4 billion in benefits not taken. That’s a big number, but what does that mean for you? If you break that down to a single person, not taking your paid vacation time is basically like paying your boss $604 to come to work. And no one likes their job that much.
Why do all of these paid vacation days in America remain untaken? There are many different reasons; some employees think that no one else can “do what they do”, and fear that taking time off will just mean more work piled up when they return. No matter what the reason, the problem is genuine: Americans have become “Work Martyrs”, choosing to see vacation as a dirty word rather than a healthy and integral part of a successful career.
So how do you solve this problem? If you don’t make the decision ahead of time to leave the office, it probably won’t happen; you are much more likely to take all your time off when you plan your vacations.
You may be thinking that there is no way that getting out of the office for just one Friday will make you a better employee. But before you totally disregard our advice, bear with us and consider the facts regarding the benefits of using your vacation time.
1. Time off keeps you healthy, both physically and mentally.
It seems to be all too common to hear about someone getting “burned out” in their industry, and the level of stress in the workplace is at an all-time high. Where does this problem stem from? Employees no longer unplug from the office when they are on vacation. Today’s workers use Smartphones to stay connected, monitoring and responding to emails everywhere they go. This needs to stop. When you take a vacation, make it a part of your plan to leave behind everything work-related. Logging out completely will reduce stress and allow you to completely relax, letting your body and mind recharge during vacation.
2. Employees that use their paid time off are actually more productive than those who don’t.
Spending every minute in the office leads to a quick burn-out, so while you think you are more productive when you skip the vacations, you’re actually slowly declining in productivity. If you take your time off, you’ll come back more rested and energized, ready to take on the workplace.
3. Vacations improve creativity, leading to better ideas.
Immersing yourself in new experiences gives you more to draw from, providing a new array of …read more
Happy New Year! If you’ve included travel, adventure, and experiences among your resolutions, you’re in the right place. We’re honored to present to you a bucket list for Virginia’s Blue Ridge.
Our bucket list is loaded with “cream of the crop” must-sees, dos, and savors for an indisputable, quintessential Virginia’s Blue Ridge escape. Check off as many as you can in one trip or spread these experiences across multiple VBR getaways in 2018.
We promise you will love every second in these mountains. Cheers!
Drive the Blue Ridge Parkway
At the top of any list that involves Virginia’s best experiences is the Blue Ridge Parkway, America’s Favorite Drive. It’s a slow pace with incredible views and opportunities to hike, dine, and stay the night. Travel just a segment, all of Virginia, or the BRP in its entirety. Any stretch of this road is memorable.
Hike the Triple Crown
You’ll feel like you deserve a crown of your own after you hike Virginia’s Triple Crown. These three peaks – Dragon’s Tooth, McAfee Knob, and Tinker Cliffs (pictured above) – create a 32-mile loop trail and include shelters along the way for an overnight.
See the Steam Locomotives at the Virginia Museum of Transportation
The Norfolk & Western Class A 1218 steam locomotive is a big draw for train enthusiasts as it’s one of the most advanced steam locomotives ever built and was the one-time strongest pulling locomotives in existence. It’s the last 2-6-6-4 steam locomotive in the world and the last Class A.
Selfie at the Roanoke Star
The largest neon star of its kind in the world, a visit to the Roanoke Star is nearly mandatory for anyone spending time in Roanoke. From its perch you can see for miles and miles, but it’s the lights of downtown Roanoke that steal the show and mesmerize those who take them in.
Check out Black Dog Salvage
If you’re like me and get hung up on a favorite TV show, you might have a strong desire to visit a location associated with it. Your wish is granted in Virginia’s Blue Ridge, as DIY’s Salvage Dawgs is filmed in Roanoke at Black Dog Salvage. Come meet the stars of the show and peruse their warehouse to find the perfect upcycle, repurpose, or found piece to make your own.
Moonshine in Franklin County at Twin Creeks Distillery
“The wettest county in the world” is in Virginia’s Blue Ridge. Come wet your whistle with legal moonshine distilled and bottled in Franklin County, Virginia at Twin Creeks Distillery.
Welcome back to my blog post series, Come Home to Virginia – African American Historic Sites. I am a native and a resident of Virginia; my work as a historian explores public spaces with attention to visitor education and community engagement. This blog explores African American history across time and space. I look forward to, sharing my experiences as a visitor to museums and historic sites. I hope you will also read my first post Come Home to Virginia – African American Historic Sites Part I.
For this post I visited two National Park Service Sites: Booker T. Washington and Maggie L. Walker; a community museum, the Alexandria Black History Museum and a new museum, the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown. I hope you will enjoy reading it and I hope you will visit. Come Home to Virginia….!
The National Park Service celebrated its 100th anniversary on August 25, 2016. Across the nation the National Park Service oversees 417 official units including parks, monuments, preserves, historic sites, trails, and more. A national monument and national historic site in Virginia tell the stories of two black presidents: Booker Taliferro Washington (1856-1915), founding president of Tuskegee Institute, and Maggie Lena Walker (1864-1934), first black female president of a chartered bank in the United States. Both are Virginians; both encouraged education and economic empowerment and they both embody the drive to succeed and to lift up individuals and communities.
The Booker T. Washington National Monument commemorates the life of a leader, college president, orator and statesman who was born enslaved. Some people may be familiar with his book, Up from Slavery. When you visit the 200+ acre farm and park, you’ll appreciate rural life from a different perspective. An 1850 tobacco farm has been reconstructed with demonstrations of farm life occurring regularly. Washington’s early life was centered on work and more work. He walked to Hampton Institute with the hopes of being admitted, his perseverance and strong work habits were noted, and he entered and completed the course of study to become an educator. When he was asked to direct a new institution, Tuskegee Institute, he became a leader in the larger American narrative.
When I visited, Carla Whitfield, Superintendent of the Booker T. Washington National Monument expressed the significance of learning about Booker T. Washington and the historic site. “There is truth in the axiom, ‘those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it (said by George Santayana).’ The reality is that too few schools are educating American youth on the realities of slavery, and even more so on the Reconstruction Era, which is one of the most influential and fascinating times of United States history. Furthermore, Booker T. Washington, the most prominent leader of philosophy and education during this important period is at times being left out of entire curricula. This has led to a gap in understanding the progression of Reconstruction and what bridged the period of slavery to the …read more
Don’t let cold weather keep you indoors. Six winter outdoor adventures are waiting for you in
When it comes to winter in Virginia, most people want to hunker down by a warm fireplace and avoid the chilly weather at all costs. But we have an even better idea; head to a Virginia winter sports resort to embrace the cold! These four resorts offer several winter sport options for every skill level, including skiing, snowboarding, and tubing, as well as spas, cozy luxury lodgings, and multiple on-site dining options. Ready to hit the slopes? Use this guide to each destination to help you decide which Virginia winter resort is right for you.
Current Slope Conditions: 40 inch base of snow. 13 trails open—four beginner trails, five intermediate trails, three advanced trails, and one freestyle terrain trail.
About the Resort
Massanutten Resort is just west of Shenandoah National Park, about 30 minutes from Harrisonburg, 45 minutes from Staunton, and an hour from Charlottesville. In addition to slopes open for skiing, snowboarding, and tubing, the resort has an indoor water park, a speakeasy-themed escape room, hiking trails on the property, and daily classes and activities like yoga, tie dye, soap making, and basket weaving. The ski and snowboard lessons taught in the Pathway Program cater to beginners and include two one-hour group lessons for ages 7 and up, a lift ticket, and equipment rentals. The Advanced Beginner and Intermediate Clinics are for skiers and snowboarders looking to improve technique and ability during the two-hour clinic. These classes are for ages 7 and up, and include a lift ticket, equipment rentals, and a 90-minute group coaching session. Private lessons are available at Massanutten, with ages 6 and under needing their own instructor separate from adult riders. A new program called Mini Riders is for snowboarders aged 4-6, and includes a lift ticket valid for four hours, equipment rentals and helmets, and supervised instruction.
Dining & Lodging: Hotel rooms, condos, and rental homes suited for every group or family size are available at the resort, and there are four restaurants on the resort grounds.
More Things to Do Near the Resort:
Current Slope Conditions: 60 inch snow base. Currently 8 trails open—four beginner trails, three intermediate trails, and one advanced trail.
About the Resort
Located in the Allegheny Mountains two hours west of Washington, D.C., Bryce Resort is great for both skiers and snowboarders. For first-time skiers ages 4.5-7 and snowboarders ages 6-7, they have a Kinder School, a package which includes rental equipment, a lift ticket, helmet, additional indoor activities, hot chocolate, and snack breaks. Older riders can book lessons at the Snowsports School, ideal for beginners ages 8 and up. These classes include equipment rental, lift pass, and a 75-minute group lesson. Skiers and snowboards of every level ages 3 and up also have the option of private lessons, which are tailored to meet the needs of the individual.
Dining & Lodging: …read more
If a picture is worth a thousand words, seeing any of the four destinations featured on the covers of the Virginia is for Lovers Travel Guides is a priceless experience. Make 2018 unforgettable and visit all four of these notable sites located around the Commonwealth, creating your very own Virginia travel checklist for the New Year.
The Destination: “Paddle Your Glass Off Tour” with SouthEast Expeditions, Bayford
SouthEast Expeditions offers several guided tours for visitors looking to pair the beauty of Virginia’s Eastern Shore with a hands-on educational activity, such as learning about clam aquaculture as you gather a dozen or so straight out of the water to take back and enjoy for dinner. One of the most popular tours, however, is the “Paddle Your Glass Off Tour”, which begins in the small town of Bayford on the Eastern Shore. You’ll start with a short paddling clinic on land to get a feel for the equipment, and then head south on a short 45-minute paddle where you’ll spot plenty of wildlife, especially as you pass by Rabbit Island, a popular spot for nesting birds. Next, stop on the shores of Chatham Vineyards and walk through the property, where you’ll pass the Federalist-era Chatham home and 20 acres of vineyards. Sample some of the wines available at Chatham’s tasting room, followed by a tour of the facilities to learn about the winemaking process and the history of the vineyard. After the tour, you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy a glass of wine, which you can pair with a selection of cheeses available for purchase, before kayaking back to the Bayford base. The “Paddle Your Glass Off Tour” costs $89 per person and includes kayak rentals, the tour guide, the winery tour and tasting, and a complimentary bottle of wine for every two paddlers.
The Destination: James Madison’s Montpelier, Orange
How much do you really know about James Madison? You’re probably aware that he was the fourth President of the United States and may also know that he was a Father of the Constitution, but did you know his wife Dolley is known as the first “First Lady” of the United States? Or that he was also an Architect of the Bill of Rights? A visit to James Madison’s lifelong home, Montpelier, will help you learn all that and more about the famous Virginian. Restored to its former glory, the home is shown through guided tours with historians well-versed on both the man and the time period he lived in. After walking through the home, tour the reconstructed enslaved community sites next door to learn about the African Americans that lived and served the Madison family, then check out the newest exhibit, The Mere Distinction of Colour, a moving display that covers the overall stories of slavery as well as personal stories of the slaves that lived at Montpelier. More than eight miles of wooded walking trails wind …read more