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Travels in Virginia Blog

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Travels in Virginia

Posts Tagged ‘travel’

Get Ready for LOVE By The Glass

March is almost here and you know what that means? It’s time for LOVE By The Glass: Virginia Wine & Dine Month!

Virginia is truly a Commonwealth of Wine, with more than 220 wineries statewide. In March, the state’s restaurants show lots of love for local wines by offering more Virginia wines by the glass to their menus.

LOVE By The Glass: Virginia Wine & Dine month is a partnership between the Virginia Wine Marketing Office and the Virginia Tourism Corporation.  It started as a week-long event a few years ago to get more Virginia wine on menus at restaurants across the state.  It became so popular that it grew into a month, which is great news for visitors who have a love for local food and wine.

The Virginia Wine Marketing office has a list of participating restaurants and businesses on their Web site.  Check out www.Virginia.org/wine for special wine-related travel packages and events.  And take a look at this webisode of For the LOVE of Travel, featuring local wines on the Richmond food scene.

The media event to kick off LOVE By The Glass will be February 26 in Richmond, with tours and tastings at The Roosevelt, Rappahannock and LeMaire.

For all you tweeters out there, follow the action all month long at the hashtag #LOVEbyGlass and follow @vatourismpr @VisitVirginia and @vawine.

Cheers!

March is LOVE By The Glass: Virginia Wine & Dine Month

Virginia Tops Washingtonian's Very Best Restaurant List

Virginia has many places for its residents and visitors to explore their taste buds. From wineries, craft breweries, and great local restaurants, there is a lot to savor in the state.

Just ask the folks at Washingtonian Magazine, who recently featured the “100 Very Best Restaurants” in the Washington D.C. area in its February edition and the number one restaurant is actually in Virginia. Having its homeland in Washington, Virginia, The Inn at Little Washington is the Number One Pick. It is ranked with four stars, with its dining and décor fit for no-less than royalty.

In total, twenty Virginia restaurants made the list of the “Very Best”. This comes as no surprise to Virginians who are accustomed to the
state’s good-eats. These restaurants range from fine-dining eateries to casual bistros, with price ranges attracting all types of salivating customers.

Here’s who made Washingtonian’s list, find more great eats at www.Virginia.org:

The Inn At Little Washington, Washington

The Ashby Inn And Restaurant, Paris


Brabo by Robert Wiedmaier, Alexandria

Green Pig Bistro, Arlington

L’Auberge Chez Francois And Jacques’ Brasserie, Great Falls

L’Auberge Provencale, White Post

Liberty Tavern, Arlington

Lyon Hall, Arlington

The Majestic, Alexandria

Maple Ave Restaurant, Vienna

Nostos, Vienna

Passionfish, Reston

Ray’s The Steaks And Ray’s The Classics, Arlington

Ray’s to the Third, Arlington

Restaurant Eve, Alexandria

Rice Paper, Falls Church

Trummer’s on Main, Clifton

Vermilion, Alexandria

Volt, Frederick;

Willow, Arlington



Virginia on Travel + Leisure World’s Best Hotel List

The Jefferson Hotel, Richmond, Va.

The Jefferson Hotel, Richmond, Va.

Travel + Leisure has released its annual list of the 500 World’s Best Hotels and Virginia has several iconic destinations as well as newer hot spots on the list.  Here’s the places that T+L readers say they love in Virginia, tell us which ones are your favorites.

Morrison House in Alexandria

Ritz-Carlton, Pentagon City in Arlington

Keswick Hall in Charlottesville

Homestead Resort & Spa in Hot Springs

Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner in McLean

The Jefferson Hotel in Richmond

Inn at Little Washington in Washington, Va.

Williamsburg Inn in Williamsburg

Congrats to the Inn at Little Washington for also being listed as a “Most Delicious Dish” spot by T+L.  Click here to find the original article.  Visit www.Virginia.org to find out more about these Virginia gems and other beautiful hotels, inns and B&Bs across the state.

LINCOLN Stars on the Cover of Virginia Travel Guide

The 2013 Virginia Travel Guide has just been released and one of four cover designs features Daniel Day-Lewis as LINCOLN. The movie, which was filmed 100 percent in Virginia in and around the cities of Richmond and Petersburg, is winning acclaim at the box office. History buffs and movie fans can visit Virginia to walk in the footsteps of the movie’s star cast and crew at film locations as well as restaurants and shops which were favorites during the filming.

LINCOLN is one of four cover designs for 2013, the other three feature the ponies of Chincoteague, sailing and kayaking.  The guide itself is a love letter to Virginia’s natural beauty and shows off different attractions, destinations and experiences found across the state.

And the best part, the guide is free! Request one at www.virginia.org or call 1-800-VISITVA or find one in your friendly neighborhood Virginia Welcome Center.

Happy 2013!

A Mommy-Daughter Weekend in Shenandoah National Park

Awhile back, for Mother’s Day weekend, my mother and I decided to keep with our tradition of enjoying the great outdoors together in Shenandoah National Park.  The year before, we came to the park for a day trip to hike Overall Run Falls (which is an awesome hike to a beautiful waterfall that I highly recommend), but this year we decided to make a weekend of it since I had reservations to go rappelling and rock climbing that Friday.

We stayed at Skyland Resort, where the rooms have little patios overlooking the beautiful Shenandoah Valley.  There also a fantastic restaurant, the Pollock Dining Room, that serves up yummy meals made from fresh, local ingredients.  Mom and I both went with the pork, which was phenomenal.  Later that evening we wondered on over to the Mountain Taproom to listen to the live entertainment and enjoy a glass of champagne and the oh-so-delicious blackberry ice cream pie – which is on my top 10 list for best desserts ever.  Seriously, it’s the bomb. Try it.

After sleeping in and grabbing some breakfast the next day, we started out on our adventure. We decided to do another waterfall hike to Dark Hollow Falls, a popular, short hike to a 70-foot cascading waterfall.  Be warned though – short doesn’t necessarily mean easy.  The hike is only 1.5 miles round trip, but the trail takes you straight down to the falls, so you’re climbing uphill all the way back.  It’s a nice little workout for certain.

After the Dark Hollow hike, we had enough time to fit in another quick one before sunset.  I flipped through my Best Easy Day Hikes in Shenandoah National Park book and found Crescent Rock was just a quick little jaunt off Skyline nearby at mile marker 44. We figured we’d have a nice view of the sunset from there (I mean, there are no bad views from Skyline Drive), but wow, were we amazed at the experience we had.

The sunset illuminated the entire valley!  It was spectacular and we were the only two people out there to see it –until the walk back when we spotted two little black bears with mama bear right behind – guess they were enjoying a Mother’s Day hike as well.  Awesome to see? Absolutely!  Did we get the heck on down the trail? You bet!  Well, after I talked my mother out of getting closer to snap some pictures that is.  Clearly, I get my adventurous side from her.

If you’re lucky like me and live close enough to your mom to coordinate a weekend getaway, check out Shenandoah National Park. If the time my mama and I had is an indication, you’ll make memories that will last forever.

Travels with Tater

Pet-friendly travel in Virginia

Virginia is pet-friendly for travel and I’m living proof! My hubby and I hit the road last weekend for a seaside getaway to Chincoteague on Virginia’s Eastern Shore and of course we travel with our dog whenever possible. Her name is Tater. She’s a rescue pup and quite an adventurer. Here’s what she enjoyed most about our trip.

Seaside Doggie Treats – When you cross over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel all dogs are greeted by bridge booth attendant who says “would you like a doggie treat”? And these treats are special; they come in shapes of sailboats, fish, mermaids and more. (photo taken by passenger while car was parked. Safety first.)

Special dog treats

Home Sweet HomeChincoteague has a great variety of lodging including vacation homes, many of which accept pets. We rented a home called Serendipity that had a screened-in front porch that Tater loved. She sat there and watched the world go by while we shucked local Chincoteague oysters.

 
Virginia is for Wine Lovers – we stopped into Chatham Vineyards on our return to Richmond and Tater jumped out to explore and talk with Wilbur, the official welcome dog of the vineyard who is an adorable Norwich Terrier. You can see him and his owners Jon and Mills Wehner there almost daily.

Wilbur, the official greeter at Chatham Vineyards

Beach Exploring – Virginia is home to beaches big and small, with many beautiful beaches found on the Eastern Shore. We visited the beach at Kiptopeake State Park where dogs are welcome on the south side of the beach. You can also visit the giant LOVE artwork there this summer.

Dog-friendly Kiptopeke State Park

Find out more about pet-friendly travel in Virginia at www.Virginia.org/pets. Check out the 2012 Virginia Travel Guide which has a whole section about wine dogs in Virginia starting on page 52!

Home Sweet Home

Valley Visit – Part II

Cheese Please

One of the best parts of this job is getting out and seeing what’s new in Virginia and catching up with destination partners from across the state. In a place like the Shenandoah Valley, there is always something new to discover (even if it’s very old sometimes it’s new to me!).

Stokes General Store in Front Royal

I was headed from Winchester to Luray for a meeting and stopped into the town of Front Royal which is a gorgeous little town. I have a thing for country stores and old general stores so when I saw Stokes, I was, well, stoked.

This store has been there since the 1940’s and has a little bit of almost everything –especially if you like cowboy boots, cowboy hats and walking sticks that look like Lincoln. Oh and giant blocks of cheese.   

 

From there I headed to Luray and took a tour of Shadow Mountain Escape, which is a wooded oasis of timber-frame cabins created by Karen and Ralph Riddle. Each cabin has a bug name (butterfly, lady bug, etc) and is decorated with antiques that the couple collected while living overseas. Each cabin has a loft bedroom and is surrounded by peaceful woods and tranquility. Shadow Mountain Escape is the official lodging partner of the

Butterfly Cabin

 Blue Ridge Wine and Whiskey Loop and is in close proximity to Luray Caverns and Shenandoah National Park.  Guests are greeted by Karen and her blue-ribbon baked goods like cookies and biscotti.

While at the Mimslyn Inn, a beautiful, historic hotel in Luray, I learned that I was in the same room that Eleanor Roosevelt stayed in while her husband was surveying the progress of the construction of Shenandoah National Park. I could picture her curled up with a good book in the room’s lovely sitting room. I also discovered Gathering Grounds, a beautiful coffee shop on Luray’s historic Main Street where they have tons of homemade goodness and great service.

Virginia Welcome Centers Promote Green Travel

Virginia’s Welcome Centers may look a little greener this month as they do a new push for green travel in September.

As part of the Virginia Green program, Welcome Center staff will be showcasing Virginia Green certified hotels, restaurants, attractions, parks and more during the month of September.

The Virginia Green program is a statewide effort to encourage greener practices in the tourism industry. Tourism businesses make a commitment and plan to recycle, reduce water and energy usage and use organic products, among many other steps. The program has grown to more than 1,000 Virginia Green certified destinations across the state. Find out more at www.Virginia.org/green.

Escape to the Great Dismal Swamp – Not Dismal at All

As a nature lover, I enjoy getting outside and exploring different habitats, but when I imagined what the Great Dismal Swamp Wildlife Refuge might look like, I did not know what to expect.  On a recent visit I found out that there is nothing “dismal” about this beautiful expanse of unspoiled wilderness located in southeastern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina.

With more than 111,200 acres of seasonally flooded wetland forest and the 3,100 acre Lake Drummond at its center, the Refuge contains some of the most important wildlife habitat in the mid-Atlantic region, and is home to a variety of mammals and over two hundred species of birds.  I was only there for a little more than an hour, and I saw a Blue Herron, two turkeys, several ducks, TONS of turtles, and a cute little river otter.

There was a sweet, floral smell in the air throughout the Refuge. The sun shined down through the trees and the only sounds I heard were birds chirping and the wind blowing through the tree tops – the feeling of solitude was actually quite peaceful.

Nature lovers can really feed their passion for the outdoors here, with miles of trails to explore, most of which are basically dirt roads, making for easy and leisurely hiking or biking excursions. Recommended are the Washington Ditch Trail, a 4 1/2 mile route to Lake Drummond, and the elevated wooden Dismal Town Boardwalk Trail that meanders for a mile through a representative portion of swamp habitats.

Lake Drummond is a unique choice for  paddling enthusiasts. With waters  stained  amber with tannic acid, the lake is a  thing of beauty as the reflections of  the trees and clouds appear so clearly in  the  water.  Also, because of the  shallow waters,  extraordinary cypress  trees  have emerged from the lake in  certain places.

The best part is it’s all FREE. There is no fee to enter the Refuge and if  you go to  the  headquarters, the kind folks there will even lean you a  backpack for the day  with  binoculars and a nature book to help you  spot various animals and plants  throughout the refuge free of charge.

The Great Dismal Swamp Birding Festival is coming up from May 12 –  14.  Plan your visit now and experience the spring migration which takes place from April to June.  Visit http://www.fws.gov/northeast/greatdismalswamp/ for more information.