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NEWS (Cities & Towns Follow the News)

Alexandria Announces Cherry Blossom Boat and Bike Tours to D.C. 
Plus Events, Eats and Hotel Packages in Old Town Alexandria

National Inventors Hall of Fame Museum Offers Exploration this Museum Day

New Events at Chateau Morrisette Winery

First-ever Educational Musket Range Now Open in Williamsburg

Fantastic Events Taking Place at the Science Museum of Western Virginia

Old Town Walking Tours in Winchester, Virginia Brings History Alive

Winchester's Handley Library Is For Book Lovers & Those Who Love Unique Architecture

Daddy Rabbit's Campground Offers All Shady Sites

Taste Vintage Vinos Straight From the Barrel at Virginia’s Greenest Winery -- DuCard Vineyard’s Barrel Room Food & Wine Pairing Program

The town of Luray Has Lots to Offer - Including the Incredible Luray Caverns

The Roanoke Pinball Museum is Open

NRA National Firearms Museum Opens New Steampunk Guns Exhibit

Bernard's Boat Rentals Offers Wonderful Opportunity to Explore South Mountain Lake

Elite Sports Shooting LLC opens its doors, becoming one of the nation’s largest and most advanced indoor shooting range

Kings Dominion Camp Wilderness Takes Camping to a New Level
Custom Deluxe Cabins Ready for Rental

Tutankhamun has opened at the Science Museum of Western Virginia

Want gorgeous views, fishing, boating, great food and much more? Stay at Bernard's Landing Resort & Conference Center

Mango's Bar & Grill at Smith Mountain Lake Is a Colorful, Fun Place to Eat and Relax

Train Buffs - and Everyone - Will enjoy the O. Winston Link Museum in Roanoke, VA.

Harrison Museum of African American Culture in Roanoke, VA

The Floyd Country Store Has Almost Anything You Can Think of -- and More!

The Roanoker Restaurant Is the Place to Eat & Relax

Virginia Museum of Transportation Is A Fascinating Museum not Only for Train Buffs but for visitors of all ages

New Skytrac Lift at Bryce Resort in the Shenandoah Valley

Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) Plans Regional Visitor Center in Historic Robinson House
Wyndham Virginia Crossings, Richmond’s Destination Hotel, Offers
Value Added Packages and much more

The Inn at Willow Grove Debuts As Virginia's Newest Five-Star Retreat in the Heart of Horse & Wine Country

The destinations below are just a glimpse of what the state has to offer visitors seeking grand winter retreats.

Cozy Cabins and Cottages

Virginia's natural beauty is astounding year-round. In the winter, cabins and cottages are especially cozy family retreats. Consider the Cabins at Crabtree Falls in Nelson County, with an 1800's log cabin or two contemporary mountain cottages; each is fully equipped and accommodates up to eight people.

Luray/Page County was just named the Cabin Capital of Virginia and it's easy to see why, with nearly 600 throughout the area. One stunning example is the luxury cabins of Appalachian Adventure Lodging. Each three bedroom site is built for comfort, with fireplaces and hot tubs. Enjoy the natural setting just outside of Shenandoah National Park and also near Luray Caverns.

Experience the serenity and scenery of Chestnut Creek Cabins in Galax, Virginia near the Blue Ridge Parkway. The six authentic log cabins have large porches with rocking chairs and outstanding views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Each little retreat has a kitchen, living area with fireplace, bedroom and bath. Breakfast is included and delivered to the cabins each morning.

Don't be afraid of the Growling Bear in Massanutten, Virginia. It's a cedar A-frame home nestled on the mountain side in Massanutten Resort. Growling Bear has three bedrooms, three baths and two stone fireplaces. This is ideal for active families who love to ski, golf, hike and fish.

Luxurious Lodges

Vacation at 3,200 feet at Mountain Laurel Lodge atop Warm Springs Mountain. This luxury lodge in Bath County, Virginia has views that extend for 50 miles over the Alleghenies and across the Shenandoah Valley. Families can gather in the great room with a beamed cathedral ceiling and fireplace for board games and hot cocoa.

Seaside Escapes

Enjoy the serenity of Virginia's seaside escapes for winter getaways. The pristine nature of Virginia Beach's Sandbridge area, with incredible beachfront homes, is perfect for large family gatherings. Wake up each day to the sound of the ocean before visiting nearby attractions or taking a winter whale watching excursion.

Plan a vacation on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay and experience the charm of Virginia's Eastern Shore at Bay Creek Resort and Club. The resort homes are completely equipped and furnished for fun. Enjoy golf, boating, nature walks, antique treasure hunts, sunset dining and cozy evenings, all with the ease and informality that build traditions and fond memories.

Historic Homes

Make vacation history with a getaway at one of Virginia's historic homes. Go back in time at the Farmhouse at Mill Creek in southwest, Virginia. This 200 year-old log farmhouse has historic charm with modern comfort. Enjoy nearby hiking and biking trails in Damascus, as well as shows at The Lincoln Theater in downtown Marion.

Make Miriam's House in Rappahannock County home for the holidays. This three bedroom historic house sits on a 328-acre "green" estate in the Northern Virginia region. Families can hike and fish without leaving the premises - it's like having a private state park. Take advantage of catering, maid and massage therapy services and a multitude of attractions including horseback riding, antiquing and fine dining.

All-in-one Resorts

Virginia's resorts range from indoor waterparks to winter sports havens to golf fanatics heaven. There are nearly 20 all-in-one resorts in Virginia where families can spend a week and never have to worry about where to dine or how to keep busy, as it's all found within the resort. Visit and search Places to Stay to see the complete list of resorts for families in Virginia.

How to Plan "Togethering" Vacations in Virginia

Go to to search for vacation rentals. Look under "Places to Stay" for complete listings by region across the state. Each listing includes a link that shows nearby attractions, restaurants, shopping and more. Visit nearby museums, magnificent caverns, trails, music venues and other destinations to round out the perfect winter retreat.

The Past Comes Alive as the Fredericksburg Museum & Cultural Center Unveils the Catherine W. Jones McKann Center

Maps Available for Capt. John Smith’s Trail York River Trail follows explorer’s footsteps

A new set of maps to help today’s travelers explore the route of Captain John Smith’s adventures along the York River and its tributaries is now available. The boat and partial auto tour along the York, Mattaponi and Pamunkey rivers was developed to complement America’s 400th Anniversary. The route includes 36 recreation sites, historic places and museums between Zoar State Forest and Yorktown.

“The John Smith interpretive maps on the York, Pamunkey and Mattaponi rivers provide an excellent addition to the existing John Smith maps on the James River,” said Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation Director Joseph H. Maroon. “Both maps were produced by DCR through a close working relationship with the Virginia Tourism Corporation and the Virginia Council on Indians and are the first to be developed along the newly designated Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trial. The maps will help to make the history and natural resources of the region come alive for trail users.”

The trail is divided into three maps – one for each river – each a day trip for boaters and motorists alike. In addition to a narrative that tells the story of John Smith and his travels along the York River and its tributaries, the maps provide travelers with information on the amenities available at each site and the location of boating ramps. The maps also provide information on the Indian settlements that were noted on Smith's early maps of the area.

Maps of the trail are currently available at York River State Park, the Yorktown Victory Center, the York County Historical Museum and the Gloucester Visitor Center. By mid-July, maps will be available at sites along the route and from Virginia Welcome Centers and regional visitor centers. Individuals can also obtain maps through DCR's online store. To order, visit and click on “State Parks” then “Visit Online Store.”

In addition to the map, the web site is being updated to provide links to attractions, restaurants, tours, lodging, and other visitor amenities along the trail to help you plan your visit.

Free Virginia/Maryland Civil War Trails Map

History buffs will find Virginia a great destination for Civil War history. Now you can experience more than 500 Civil War sites throughout Virginia and Maryland -- many not previouosly marked or interpreted -- with the help of a new map and guide from Civil War Trails, a 13-year-old organization that began with a single trail in Virginia and grew to a multi-state initiative. The free Virginia-Maryland Civil War Trails Map includes close-up maps of cities and regions in which multiple sites exist along with a text summary of the war in the Mid-Atlantic. Also included is contact information for the Civil War Trails organization and for state and regional tourism offices. Sites with important Civil War history are marked by interpretive waysides telling the stories of what happened and why, who was involved, and why it was important. Maps are ably supplemented by roadside directional signage making it easy to create impromptu side-trips or plan one's own driving itinerary.

The free map can be obtained by calling the Virginia Tourism Corporation at 1-888-CIVILWAR or by checking web site More information can be obtained on the Civil War Trails web site, including downloadable maps and audio files.

Free Virginia Bicycling Trails Map

If you love to bicycle while on vacation, Virginia's new trip-planning guide is perfect. The Commonwealth has released its first statewide bicycling map, Bicycling in Virginia, a full-color map geared to both avid and leisure cyclists. It includes a statewide map of bicycle trails, regional insets, and a guide for riding safely and legally in Virginia. It's a great guide to the hundreds of miles of trails that can be enjoyed by families, couples, groups of friends, or bicycling clubs. There are 838 miles of the U.S. Bicycle Routes (Routes 1 and 76) running through the state and can be found nearly everywhere weaving through green spaces in the midst of urban settings, to pastoral woodland routes and winding mountainside trails.

Seven featured trails or trail systems are highlighted in the map's regional insets. These include the Virginia Capital Trail, linking Jamestown, Williamsburg and Richmond, the Virginia Creeper Trail, one of Virginia's most popular, running from White Top Mountain to Abingdon; the Tobacco Heritage Trail, connecting South Hill and Brodnax in Southern Virginia; U.S. Bicycle Route 76 and the Blue Ridge Parkway, running along the mountain range south of Waynesboro; the Heart of Appalachia Bike Route, a picturesque Southwest Virginia trail between Coeburn and Burkes Garden; the New River Trail, a riverside route connecting Galax, Fries and Pulaski; and the Northern Virginia Trail Network, highlighted by the Washington and Old Dominion Railroad Regional Park.

Each inset contains a thorough narrative describing trail highlights, notable features, and things to see and do along the way. A handy elevation guide for each of the seven featured trails gives riders a chance to determine what to expect before starting out. Many miles of Virginia's bicycle trails are laid out on the abandoned beds of old railroad lines, providing grades manageable for most bikers. The Virginia Creeper Trail is the best-known of these while others include the New River Trail, the Tobacco Heritage Trail, and portions of the Northern Virginia Trail Network.

For more information, check web site The web site contains information on special events, lodging, dining, attractions and things to do as well as up-to-date weather forecasts for each locality.

Bicycling in Virginia is available at all Virginia Welcome Centers and at local visitor centers. You can also obtrain the map and a Virginia Travel Guide by checking or by calling 1-800-932-5827.

Virginia Shopping - Tips for Enjoyable, Stress-free Gift Buying Getaways-

Virginia, the state that's for lovers, shopping lovers especially, has ten tips to help people add some passion to their shopping with enjoyable, stress-free gift buying getaways.

Tip #1: Shop a Different Century
Virginia is an American history icon with destinations and exhibits stretching back 400 years. Take a trip to Virginia's historical sites and shop for gifts from a different century. From Jamestown to Colonial Williamsburg to the Museum of Frontier Culture in Staunton, the extensive gift shops at Virginia's historical sites offer four centuries of the ultimate gift ideas for history buffs everywhere.

Tip # 2: Ditch the Car
Save some gas money and parking hassles and ditch the car. Virginia is full of great places to walk from shop to shop for unique gifts. Check out Carytown, Richmond's' mile of style'. The shops on Cary Street sell vintage clothing, works of art, antiques, boutique bags and accessories. Other great places to put it in park and stroll from shop to shop include Old Town Alexandria, which offers free on-street parking for visitors, historic downtown Roanoke, and quaint Middleburg in Northern Virginia.

Tip #3: Wine to Warm the Spirits
Take an enjoyable shopping trip through some of Virginia's most scenic areas with a visit to Virginia's wineries. The state has more than 130 wineries that are perfect places to shop for wine lovers. Many Virginia wineries and vineyards hold open houses and special events during December. After tasting some of Virginia's award-winning wines, purchase a bottle or two and engraved glasses for an ideal wine gift package. Don't forget to pick up extra bottles to bring to all those holiday parties. Check out for more information about winery events and specials.

Tip #4: Food for Thought
Shopping for someone who loves food? If so, visit the Virginia destinations known around the world for specialized food items. Along Smithfield's charming Main Street, visit the antique and home décor shops before purchasing an authentic Smithfield Ham. In nearby Suffolk along Route 58, purchase authentic Virginia peanuts direct from the source. Or head to Virginia's Eastern Shore to pick up snack mixes, She Crab soup and Sting Ray Bloody Mary mix from the Blue Bay Crab Company in Melfa. For a complete list of Virginia food gift ideas visit

Tip #5: Shop Main Street
Virginia is home to Main Street America and these gorgeous small towns across the state hold some of the best shopping spots around.  Visit Virginia's Main Street communities such as Staunton, Culpeper, Lexington, Warrenton and South Boston for quality, unique gifts at locally-owned shops. Virginia's Main Street communities will make visitors feel right at home and offer historic hotels and B&Bs for enjoyable holiday shopping getaways. For a complete list of Virginia‚s designated Main Street communities go to

Tip #6: Add Culture to Your Cart
Virginia's museums cater to interests ranging from the Civil War to gardening to bluegrass music. Gifts from Virginia's museum gift shops show a touch of class and personalization. For the mountain music lover, stop in the Ralph Stanley Museum gift shop in Clintwood for Stanley CDs and Crooked Road apparel. Check out the shop at the American Civil War Center at Tredegar in Richmond for the Civil War buff in the family. Marine life fanatics would love a gift from the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center in Virginia Beach. Green thumbs will delight in the gardening gifts at Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens in Richmond. With more than 700 museums, Virginia is a treasure trove for unique holiday gifts.

Tip # 7: Package of Memories
Virginia's travel destinations offer packages and special deals that make for incredible holiday gifts and memories to last a lifetime. Virginia travel packages combine lodging, dining, activities and extra perks that offer excellent value and entertainment. is the best place to search for Virginia travel packages geared towards couples and families.

Tip #8: Buy an Original
Visit Virginia's artisan havens to purchase a one-of-a-kind keepsake that will be cherished for years. Virginia's artisans offer their crafts at centers and shows throughout the year and especially during the holiday season. Find fine art, pottery, baskets, sculpture and more at places such as the Torpedo Factory in Alexandria, the Cave House in Abingdon, the Jacksonville Art Center in Floyd and the Southern Virginia Artisan Center in Martinsville. For a complete list of artisan centers and craft shows in Virginia go to

Tip #9: Pamper Yourself and Loved Ones
What better way to erase stress and find decadent gifts than with a visit to one of Virginia's world-class spas? After enjoying a relaxing treatment and massage, pick up special lotions, soaps, scented oils and gift certificates for the ultimate in indulgent gift-giving. Places like the Spa at Colonial Williamsburg, the Spa at Poplar Springs, and Boar's Head Inn Spa in Charlottesville feature products made especially for their services and available for purchase in their shops.

Tip # 10: Give the Gift of Love This Season
Virginia is for Lovers is one of the oldest and well-loved tourism slogans in the world. Put this famous brand under the tree this year for travel lovers on the list in the form of a t-shirt, wine glasses, coffee cup or even a dog leash. Take a virtual trip to the Virginia is for Lovers merchandise shop at or visit the nearest visitors center for gift ideas.For the latest report on foliage for Shenandoah National Park, check web site


Alexandria Announces Cherry Blossom Boat and Bike Tours to D.C. 
Plus Events, Eats and Hotel Packages in Old Town Alexandria

Cherry blossom fans can zip to the blooms in Washington, D.C. on high-speed water taxis, electric bike tours and Metrorail trains while making Old Town Alexandria their home base for even more cherry blossom tours and experiences in a walkable, historic setting with hotel rates that are 30 percent more affordable than D.C. Named a Top 3 Best Small City in the U.S. alongside Charleston and Santa Fe by the Condé Nast Traveler 2019 Readers’ Choice Awards, Alexandria is the perfect launchpad for taking in the 3,750 cherry blossom trees that line the Tidal Basin, National Mall and Potomac River, and the activities of the National Cherry Blossom Festival happening March 20 to April 12, 2020.

In addition to boat and bike tours to the blossoms in D.C., visitors can take part in Alexandria’s cherry blossom-themed food crawl and pop-up cherry blossom history tour along Old Town’s picturesque streets lined with cherry blossoms and flowering trees. Festive events include the Cherry Blossom Jubilee at the Torpedo Factory Art Center, the Blossom Ball at Gadsby's Tavern Museum and more. Insta-worthy desserts and drinks sweeten the season at several eateries, including a new blossom-bedecked café, Yagút St. Blossom-themed hotel packages offer strollable access to even more cherry blossom-inspired happenings and offerings.

Learn more about a cherry blossom getaway in Alexandria at and find a list of cherry blossom tours, special events, food and drink offerings, and hotel packages below.

Water Taxis & Boat Cruises
Water Taxi to The Wharf in Washington, D.C.: Cherry Blossom Festival Service
Monday through Sunday
Departures beginning at 6:40 a.m. weekdays and 10:00 a.m. weekends; check website for details
Admission: starting at $13 one-way; $21 round-trip for adults
Departs from the Alexandria Marina, 1 Cameron St., Alexandria, VA 22314

Cruise from Old Town Alexandria to Washington, D.C. to stroll among the famous cherry blossoms and take part in events of the National Cherry Blossom Festival, including the Blossom Kite Festival. Potomac Riverboat Company by Hornblower offers a 25-minute direct water taxi from Old Town to The Wharf development in D.C. From the dock at The Wharf, it is a 10-minute walk to the cherry blossoms at the Tidal Basin. The water taxi docks at the Transit Pier, 950 Wharf St. SW, near the Tidal Basin, the National Mall, Hains Point and a Capital Bikeshare station.

Washington Monuments Cruise to the Cherry Blossoms
Saturdays and Sundays, beginning March 21, 2020
Departing at 11:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 1:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m., 3:30 p.m., 4:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.
Admission: starting at $18 one-way; $32 round-trip for adults
Departs from the Alexandria Marina, 1 Cameron St., Alexandria, VA 2231 /888-809-7109

Traverse the Potomac River from Old Town Alexandria and cruise past the cherry blossoms in Washington, D.C. on the Washington Monuments Cruise from Potomac Riverboat Company by Hornblower. View and listen to the history of the iconic monuments, memorials and bridges as the D.C. region awakens to spring. See beautiful cherry blossom trees as you glide past Hains Point and head onward to Georgetown. The cruise is 45 minutes one-way and approximately 90 minutes round-trip and is offered Saturdays and Sundays beginning March 21, 2020, and throughout peak cherry blossom season. Riders also have the option to explore Georgetown and return on a later boat.

Bike, Walking & Food Tours
Cherry Blossom Rides with Pedego Electric Bikes Alexandria
March 20 to April 12, 2020 (or as long as the cherry blossoms are in bloom)
Departures at 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.
Admission: $69 per bike ($10 for passenger riders)
Pedego Alexandria, 210 North Lee St., Alexandria, VA 22314/571-312-5168

Pedego Electric Bikes will offer two to three-hour guided tours from Old Town to the cherry blossoms, including riding through East Potomac Park. Pedego bikes offer an up-close-and-personal view of the blossoms, without the exertion of regular bikes or the stress of traffic and parking. All tours are subject to weather, safe riding conditions and bike availability. Individual riders must be at least 16 years old. Child seats, passenger bikes and a tandem are available to accommodate younger participants. Helmets and bike locks are included. Credit card and ID are required for rentals. Please arrive 30 minutes prior to the departure time. Contact Pedego Alexandria to reserve a private group tour.

Alexandria Tastes of Spring Cherry Blossom Food Crawl
April 5, 2020, beginning at 11 a.m.
Admission: $65 for four tastings; $80 for six tasting tickets; $96 for eight tasting tickets
Starting location provided at time of ticket purchase. 888-697-2693

Enjoy all the spring flavors Alexandria has to offer on the Tastes of Spring Cherry Blossom Food Crawl.

Eat your way through Old Town on a self-guided food tour sampling diverse cuisine at some of Alexandria’s most popular restaurants. Buy your tasting tickets online, each valid for one carefully selected tasting at our participating restaurants. Guests can buy four, six or eight tasting tickets, and vegetarian options are available. At check-in, grab your tickets along with a wristband and passport and head out on a culinary crawl of Old Town. At each participating location, show your wristband and give them a ticket to enjoy some delicious tastings. Passport includes map and descriptions for all participating restaurants.

Cherry Blossom Pop-Up History Tour with Discover Alexandria
To be announced one week in advance; two pop-up tours to occur during peak bloom week
Admission: $15 per adult; $8 per child; $12 for military, veterans and students
Tour departs from the Alexandria Visitor Center, 221 King St., Alexandria, VA 22314
Discover Alexandria’s Cherry Blossom Pop-Up History Tour will occur twice during the week of peak bloom. The 75-minute tour offers the best of both worlds, combining local history with great cherry blossom sightseeing. The tour dates and times will be announced approximately one week in advance via Discover Alexandria’s website and social media platforms. Reservations are required and can be made by emailing

Special Events

Cherry Blossom Jubilee at the Torpedo Factory Art Center
March 28, 2020, from 12 to 5 p.m.
Admission: Free; RSVP requested
Torpedo Factory Art Center, 105 N. Union St., Alexandria, VA 22314

Every year, the region shakes off winter with the arrival of the world-famous pink and white cherry blossoms. The Torpedo Factory Art Center hosts an Alexandria satellite celebration for the National Cherry Blossom Festival. Join the fun with a lively afternoon of hands-on activities, performances and inspired works of art to shop and explore from all three floors.

Cherry Blossom Shop & Sip with the Old Town Boutique District
April 18, 2020, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Admission: $25

Boutiques throughout Old Town Alexandria, VA 22314

Join the Old Town Boutique District and its restaurant partners for a full day of cherry blossom frenzy. Kick off the morning with brunch and pink cocktails, then spend the day shopping the spring collections at all Old Town Boutique District shops while collecting blossom flare and fabulous swag along the way. For tickets, visit

Blossom Ball at Gadsby’s Tavern Museum
May 2, 2020, from 8 to 11 p.m.
Admission: $45 per person
Gadsby’s Tavern Museum, 134 N. Royal St., Alexandria, VA 22314

Celebrate spring’s arrival with a Regency-era ball with live music, English country dancing, cash bar and seasonal dessert collation. Regency attire or cocktail attire welcome. Those not familiar with this style of dancing should complete at least one full class to become accustomed to the figures and language for the ball. Purchase tickets at

Food & Drink Offerings

Cherry Blossom Sangria at Theismann’s

Spring 2020, while supplies last
Joe Theismann’s Restaurant, 1800A Diagonal Road, Alexandria, VA, 22314
703-739-0777 Theismann’s, owned by the namesake Super Bowl champion and Redskins legend, will offer a seasonal sangria made with Wycliff brut rosé, Lustau blanc vermouth, cherry juice and orange flower water, available while supplies last.

Lavender Bada Bing Cherry Gelato at Yagút St.
through spring 2020
Yagút St., 682 N. St. Asaph St., Alexandria, VA 22314

Celebrate springtime at Old Town North’s newest Insta-worthy setting with a lavender-based gelato mixed with Bada Bing-brand cherries or a pink-hued, rose-based bubble tea with a cherry syrup and garnish. Snap a pic of your treat in front of the permanent wall of white and pink blossoms and neon “Treat Yourself” sign.

Cherry Blossom Festive Cocktails at Bugsy’s
Through April 12, 2020
Bugsy’s Pizza Restaurant and Sports Bar, 111 King St., Alexandria, VA, 22314

In addition to their one-of-a-kind pizzas, Bugsy’s will offer cherry blossom-themed cocktails to savor this season. Sip options including Bugsy’s Blossom I and II, in which cherry vodka takes center stage, along with the tropical-inspired Cherry Colada and Cherry Margarita.

Cherry Blossom Specials at Magnolia’s On King
March 10-31, 2020

Magnolia’s on King, 703 King St., Alexandria, VA, 22314
Popular Old Town eatery Magnolia’s on King will be serving up two special offerings to celebrate the season. The limited-edition fare includes the #SCCSangria, packed with fruity flavors including strawberry, cranberry and cherry, as well as satisfying bacon-cherry fried pickle sticks.

Cherry Blossom Gelato at Dolci Gelati
Dolci Gelati Old Town, 107 N. Fairfax St., Alexandria, VA, 22314

Dolci Gelati will bring back its popular Cherry Blossom gelato for the National Cherry Blossom Festival this year, offering a light, floral flavor that’s perfect for springtime. Dolci founder Gianluigi Dellaccio knows a thing or two about concocting delectable gelato flavors. Dellaccio was appointed a Global Gelato Ambassador by the Italian Gelatoers Association in January 2018 and won "Best Gelato Flavor" at the Inaugural Gelato Festival America in November 2017.

Crispy Quail with Cherry Gastrique at Columbia Firehouse
March 20 to April 15, 2020

Columbia Firehouse, 109 S. St. Asaph St., Alexandria, VA, 22314
To celebrate spring, Columbia Firehouse will offer crispy quail entree with a cherry gastrique from March 20 through April 15, 2020. For $25.99, savor the entrée served alongside spring carrots, cippolini onions and new potatoes. Ring in the season by dining al fresco on the front patio or linger in the sumptuous interior dining rooms.

Hotel Packages

Cherry Blossom Package at Holiday Inn Carlyle
In town for the blossom bonanza? Choose a cherry-themed stay at Holiday Inn Carlyle, redeemable between March 1 and April 12, 2020. As part of the package, guests can enjoy cherry treats, breakfast for two, complimentary hotel parking and two Metro passes to see the D.C. blooms. To learn more, call 703-960-2000 or visit

Cherry Blossom Package at Embassy Suites

Enjoy the beauty of cherry blossom season with a stay at Old Town Alexandria’s Embassy Suites. This limited-time package, redeemable from March 12 to April 30, 2020, includes a themed welcome amenity, two complimentary Cherry Blossom Old Fashioned cocktails, $25 one-time food and beverage credit, parking, daily breakfast and manager’s reception, plus exclusive festival perks. During the festival, the hotel will have a limited Japanese-inspired menu while the lobby will be decorated with cherry blossom trees. On April 4, 2020, the hotel will host a sushi demo and sake tasting. To learn more, call 703-684-5900 or visit

Pedal to the Petals Package at Kimpton Lorien Hotel & Spa

Travelers taking part in D.C.’s Cherry Blossom festivities can stay just across the Potomac River at Kimpton Lorien Hotel & Spa in Old Town Alexandria by booking the “Pedal to the Petals” package from March 18 to April 13, 2020. Whether traveling with the family in tow or exploring the blooms with buds, guests can enjoy fun perks that allow them to explore the Tidal Basin and National Mall with ease. Guests receive two Capital Bikeshare passes per day for exploring the D.C. area’s numerous bike paths and lanes to explore the sights, a dining credit for a post-biking cocktail or appetizers at the hotel’s French restaurant, Brabo Brasserie, or casual all-day dining spot, Brabo Tasting Room, and a map that showcases the most popular spots to view the iconic cherry blossoms. Rates for the “Pedal to the Petals” Package start from $180 per night plus taxes and fees. To learn more, call 703-894-3434 or visit

Alexandria in Bloom Package at The Alexandrian Old Town Alexandria, Autograph Collection and Morrison House Old Town Alexandria, Autograph Collection 

To up the ante on the region’s most spectacular season, travelers can book a stay at the charming The Alexandrian or Morrison House hotels and take advantage of the special “Alexandria in Bloom” packages, available March 20 through April 19, 2020. Travelers will receive delightful signature cherry blossom-themed cocktails for two and a gourmet picnic basket to take to a nearby park on Alexandria’s Potomac River waterfront. The package also includes two water taxi tickets from Potomac Riverboat Company by Hornblower to enjoy a quick 25-minute ride to D.C. where you’ll be able to see the cherry blossoms in person. To learn more, call 703-549-6080 or visit

Cherry Blossom Package at Hotel Indigo

Stay in the heart of Old Town Alexandria and enjoy the cherry blossoms in Washington, D.C. Applicable to stays between March 20 and April 20, 2020 if reserved 48 hours in advance. The Cherry Blossom package includes complimentary valet parking, an upgrade to Riverview Room and a $10 per stay credit for Hotel Indigo’s Grab-and-Go, with a two-night minimum. Upgrade is based on hotel's availability. Rates start at $169. To learn more, call 703-721-3800 or visit


Named the Top 3 Best Small City in the U.S. 2019 by the Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards and one of the South’s Prettiest Cities 2018 by Southern Living, Alexandria hums with a cosmopolitan feel and a walkable lifestyle—a welcoming weekend escape next to our nation’s capital. A nationally designated historic district founded in 1749, Old Town Alexandria is home to more than 200 independent restaurants and boutiques alongside intimate historic museums and new happenings at the waterfront. At the heart of it all is bustling King Street, a walkable mile recognized as one of the “Great Streets” of America. New restaurants tucked in to 18th- and 19th-century architecture still intact from the city’s days as George Washington’s hometown ignite historic and off-the-beaten-path neighborhoods as the waterfront district evolves with new energy. Learn more at

National Inventors Hall of Fame Museum Offers Exploration this Museum Day

As the school year heads back into session, visitors in the Washington, D.C., area can enjoy the fleeting days of summer by engaging their curiosity at the National Inventors Hall of Fame® (NIHF) Museum.

The NIHF Museum is the perfect destination for those looking to explore the chronicles of invention while just a stone’s throw from our nation’s capital.NIHF is also a Smithsonian affiliate, A collection of unique and thought-provoking displays comprises the museum’s interior, including exhibits like:

The Gallery of Icons™ where nearly 600 history-making NIHF Inductees are honored by illuminated hexagonal plaques representing the evolution of innovation in America.

A history of patents signed by U.S. presidents and the wartime innovations that led to advancements in everyday life.

A hands-on 1st & Ten Line Stadium exhibit where visitors control the placement of the Virtual Yellow 1st & Ten® line, invented by Inductee Stan Honey.

An Intellectual Property Power™ exhibition that presents the importance of intellectual property in the continued progression of innovation. Key highlights include a custom-built 1965 Ford Mustang merged with a 2015 model, a Qualcomm display tracing the transformation of mobile communication, the evolution of the camera, and an exhibition from the International Trademark Association (INTA) on the importance of trademark protections.

And more interactive elements throughout!

A display from the Intellectual Property Power™ exhibit challenges visitors to distinguish between authentic and counterfeit items.

With unique opportunities for education and entertainment, the NIHF Museum is a great place to wind down the summer season. Thinkers of all ages can visit today to spark their curiosity and help imagine the future.

The National Inventors Hall of Fame Museum is located at the USPTO’s Madison Building in Alexandria, Virginia. The museum is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and admission is free and open to the public.

For more information, visit

About the National Inventors Hall of Fame
The National Inventors Hall of Fame (NIHF) is the premier nonprofit organization in America dedicated to recognizing inventors and invention, promoting creativity, and advancing the spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship. Founded in 1973 in partnership with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, NIHF is committed to not only honoring the individuals whose inventions have made the world a better place, but to ensuring American ingenuity continues to thrive in the hands of coming generations through its national, hands-on educational programming and collegiate competitions focused on the exploration of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Explore the NIHF Museum digitally in Google Arts & Culture’s “Once Upon a Try” project. For more information, visit To nominate an inventor for Induction, visit


Where to Stay

Hotel Palomar Arlington at Waterview

Hotel Palomar Arlington at Waterview, housed in a striking contemporary structure created by the same architectural firm that renovated the Louvre Museum in Paris, is located at 1121 North 19th Street, Arlington, VA, 22209. Room rates start at $339 and special weekend packages are available.

For more information and to make reservations, call 703-351-9170 locally or toll free at 866-505-1001 or visit 

Where to Eat

Domaso Trattoria Moderna

Domaso Trattoria Moderna, located on the fourth floor of Hotel Palomar Arlington, has recently opened in the rapidly evolving Rosslyn area with a menu showcasing a modern interpretation of native Northern Italian cuisine that boasts fresh, seasonal ingredients from local farms. Acclaimed Executive Chef Massimo Fedozzi, who has worked in some of the world’s most notable restaurants in London, Monte Carlo and New York City, will entice diners with a menu featuring homemade pastas like Tortelloni, oversized ravioli filled with potatoes, crispy pancetta, goat milk butter and shaved Pecorino, and entrees incorporating traditional Italian ingredients like Gamberoni, grilled Jumbo shrimp with buckwheat polenta and lemon sauce and Costola di Vitello, a grilled veal chop, roasted cipolline and smashed parsnips.

Evocative of a modernized Italian castle, Domaso’s 14-foot vaulted ceiling and long, open dining room creates a chic, metropolitan atmosphere. A curving stone wall, stacked like a stone quarry in the Italian country side, winds past the bakery and extends into the 145-seat dining room. The glassed-in bakery, where pastries and artisanal breads are hand-crafted during the day, doubles as a private dining room in the evening. Designed by the San Francisco-based Puccini Group, the dining room at Domaso features an exhibition kitchen where guests can watch Chef Fedozzi and his cooks at work. The dining room offers a view of Georgetown in the distance and Domaso also offers seasonal outdoor seating on the 66-seat terrace.

Domaso’s lounge will be a destination place as well, with a sleek marble-top bar and a large communal table. Guests can enjoy a casual bar menu of shareable dishes such as Carrozza, fried mozzarella sandwich with bagna cauda, or Zucchini e Carciofi, fried shoestring zucchini and baby artichokes, shaved parmigiano reggiano and roasted tomato pesto.  The cocktail menu was designed by renowned master mixologist Jacques Bezuidenhout of San Francisco’s famed Harry Denton’s Starlight Room. 

A native of Genova, Italy, Chef Fedozzi’s style of cooking is inspired by his early teacher and mentor Chef Gualtiero Marchesi, the father of Italian nouvelle cuisine and the first Italian to win 3 Michelin stars. Chef Fedozzi was offered the opportunity to come to the United States in the early 1980s and successfully headed the kitchens at restaurants in New York, the Midwest and Florida. During the course of his culinary career, Chef Fedozzi has received numerous honors and awards including a Four-Diamond restaurant rating from AAA, three stars from the Mobil Travel Guide and recognition in 2003 by the American Academy of Hospitality Sciences as “one of the finest chefs in the world.”   

Domaso offers a stellar wine list to complement the cuisine with a wide selection of Italian offerings. The restaurant’s wine program is enhanced by Domasoteca, a gourmet wine and cheese shop located on the ground floor level of the hotel, which will be opening in January 2008.  Domasoteca will feature a wide selection of wines, including organic and biodynamic selections, with an emphasis on Italian and local Virginia wineries. For those looking to expand their knowledge of food and wine, Domasoteca will also offer a full calendar of expert-led wine and cheese tastings and wine dinners. Additionally, visitors to Domasoteca will be able to purchase Domaso’s signature artisanal house-baked breads; a wide assortment of pâtés, salamis and spreads, as well as Latini and Rustichella boutique dried pasta products; and a wide variety of wine accessories.

Domaso is open for breakfast, dinner and cocktails, and for lunch service. The Hotel Palomar Arlington at Waterview will also feature Domaso’s cuisine for all catering services provided by the hotel. 


Domaso at the Hotel Palomar is open for lunch from 11:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m., Monday – Friday, dinner is served from 5:30 p.m. – 10:30 p.m. daily. Breakfast is served from 7:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m., Monday – Friday; 7:00 a.m.-11:30 a.m., Saturday and Sunday. The bar opens at 11:30 a.m. daily and closes at 10:30 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday and at 11:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. The restaurant is located at 1121 N. 19th Street, Arlington, VA 22209. Domaso is the exclusive caterer for the Hotel Palomar Arlington at Waterview.  Reservations are recommended. To contact the restaurant, please call (703) 351-1211. 


Where to Eat

Millstone Tearoom

Locally grown organic vegetables and Virginia meats are served at this cozy dining room off the Blue Ridge Parkway. (540-587-7100)


Where to Eat


Striking blue tile work and a spectacular Bay view set a sleek, sophisticated mood at this Eastern Shore seafood venue serving fresh local catches and complemented by homegrown fruits and veggies. (757-331-8660)


Where to Stay

Keswick Hall and Golf Club –

Visitors to Keswick Hall and Golf Club will discover elegant renovations to its 48 guestrooms, superlative dining options and exquisite customer care. Scenically framed by the backdrop of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the bucolic resort recently received the prestigious Forbes Five-Star Award in recognition of its exceptional level of luxury and service.
With golf season now in full bloom, the luxury destination is offering the following stay-and-play packages:
· Honoring Thomas Jefferson’s nearby Monticello, the Jefferson Golf Package starts at $509 and includes one round of golf on Full Cry, breakfast for two, and a bottle of Virginia wine to enjoy on arrival. A second round of golf may be added for $125.
· The Full Cry stay-and-play starts at $299 (single occupancy) and is ideal to enjoy the splendid resort and its signature amenity. It includes one round of golf with cart and a night’s stay in a superior room. A guest may be added for $80.

Full Cry opened last fall to rave reviews including being named to Golf Digest’s prestigious “2014 Best New Courses” list. Dye, a World Golf Hall of Fame member widely-considered one of the greatest course architects of all-time, says about Full Cry, “It is as good as any layout I’ve done.” Golfers of all abilities with savor the pure, resort course experience.
“Our stay-and-play packages are perfect to enjoy the amenities of our world-class resort and play a true Pete Dye gem,” says Greg Sligh, CEO and Managing Partner of Keswick Hall & Golf Club. “Our recent accolades from Forbes and Golf Digest are testament to our commitment to offer our guests an experience to long savor.”
Keswick Hall and Golf Club also recently announced an exclusive partnership with Dr. Bob Rotella, golf’s preeminent sports psychologist and performance coach. Dr. Rotella, who resides in the area, will instruct by conducting talks and short game clinics for the club’s members and resort guests at select times throughout the year.
The region is also home to Jefferson’s Monticello, the University of Virginia and numerous outdoor pursuits, drawing history buffs, wine lovers, sports enthusiasts and nature seekers year-round. Keswick Hall and Golf Club features newly refreshed upscale accommodations, spa services, fine dining at Fossett’s, and myriad amenities. Highly decorated, it has attained Condé Nast Traveler “gold” status, and is one of Travel + Leisure’s 500 “World’s Best Hotels.” 
Tee-times and accommodations are based on availability. The above packages may not be combined with any other specials / offers. Taxes / additional fees are not included.
For more information on Keswick Hall visit or call 434.979.344.
About Keswick Hall and Golf Club
Set in the historic hunt and wine country of central Virginia, Keswick Hall is a 600-acre boutique resort featuring 48 private guest rooms. The northern wing of the luxury resort hotel contains historic Villa Crawford, once the Italianesque private estate of the Robert Crawford family built in 1912.
A full complement of amenities and activities are available to guests, including: golf, tennis, three swimming pools, croquet, nature trails, on-site vineyard, garden / historic tours, spa and fine dining. Off-site excursions include wine tasting, Presidential home visits, University of Virginia tours, clay shooting and more.
The property is home to the historic Keswick Club, a members club introduced in 1948 when renowned architect Fred Findlay added its first nine holes of golf. The course expanded to18 holes in the mid-‘50s and was renovated in 1992 by Arnold Palmer. In 2013, World Golf Hall of Fame architect Pete Dye was commissioned to create its new Full Cry layout, named in Golf Digest’s prestigious “2014 Best New Courses” list.
The country estate is a property of Richmond, Va.-based Riverstone Group under its Historic Hotels of Albemarle division. The company also owns and manages The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island Resort (S.C.), The Sea Pines Resort (S.C.), The Jefferson Hotel (Va.) and The Hermitage Hotel (Tenn.).
Keswick Hall – centrally located -- is an easy two-hour drive from the Washington D.C. metro area and just over three hours from Baltimore. Charlottesville Albemarle Airport (CHO) is 30 minutes away. Richmond International Airport (RIC) is a 60-minute drive.

Keswick Hall and Golf Club Receives Prestigious Forbes Five-Star Award - Acclaimed Virginia Luxury Resort Recognized for Outstanding Experience

Keswick Hall and Golf Club – the acclaimed 600-acre luxury resort set in Virginia’s scenic Hunt Country – has been honored with the prestigious Forbes Five-Star Award in recognition of its exceptional level of luxury and service.
This is the 57th annual list of Forbes Travel Guide’s Star Rating winners – the global benchmark for hotels, restaurants and spas. Expert, anonymous inspectors visit thousands of properties annually to evaluate standards, quality, value and overall experience. Keswick Hall and Golf Club is one of only 115 properties worldwide to achieve this coveted tribute, the highest travel accolade bestowed by the publication.
Keswick Hall and Golf Club is the sole Charlottesville property on the esteemed list and one of only three in Virginia including its sister property, The Jefferson Hotel in Richmond.
Last fall, the resort opened its dramatic new Pete Dye-designed golf course, Full Cry at Keswick Golf Club, to rave reviews. Additionally, recent elegant renovations to its 48 guestrooms, world-class dining options and unparalleled customer care have combined to make the destination property the lodging choice of discerning travelers seeking a unique experience.
Keswick Hall offers a full range of vacation and getaway packages including two excellent stay-and-play offers. The Full Cry starts at $299 (single occupancy) and includes one round of golf with cart and a night’s stay in a superior room. A guest may be added for $80. The Hunt begins at $409 (single occupancy). It features 18 holes upon arrival, one-night of lodging (superior room), and breakfast and an additional round on Full Cry the next morning. Add a guest for $130.
The region is home to Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, the University of Virginia and numerous outdoor pursuits, drawing history buffs, wine lovers, sports enthusiasts and nature seekers year-round. Keswick Hall and Golf Club has also attained Condé Nast Traveler “gold” status, and is one of Travel + Leisure’s 500 “World’s Best Hotels.” 
For more information on Keswick Hall visit or call 888.778.2565

Keswick Hall and Golf Club announces the installment of two dedicated Tesla charging stations, as well as a third multi-purpose charging station.

Keswick Hall and Golf Club -- the acclaimed 600-acre luxury resort in Virginia's scenic Hunt Country -- announces the installment of two dedicated Tesla charging stations, as well as a third multi-purpose charging station.
The Forbes Five Star rated resort recently installed the stations as a complimentary amenity to guests of the Hall and members of the private, member-based golf club.  Additionally, a charger has been added for other electric cars such as the Chevy Volt or Nissan Leaf.  The addition of the charging stations will make Keswick Hall and the Charlottesville area an even more appealing destination for conscientious, discerning travelers.
"Preservation has always been at the core being of our company. As the size of carbon footprints has become increasingly important to travelers, Keswick now offers a retreat for guests who are making strides to reduce their impact while making Keswick a natural destination for Tesla owners. We're delighted to offer one more exclusive amenity to guests of Keswick Hall and Golf Club," says Greg Sligh, President and Managing Director."
According to Tesla, it is now possible for Tesla drivers to travel from California to New England using company's free supercharger network. In 2013, CEO Elon Musk drove six-days and 3,200 miles in a Model S while spending just nine hours recharging. The new Keswick stations are one of four locations in Virginia according to A recent report found Tesla owners skew young, progressive, hyper-affluent and educated.
Last fall, the resort opened its critically acclaimed Pete Dye-designed golf course, Full Cry at Keswick Golf Club. In addition to its golf amenities, visitors will also discover elegant renovations to its 48 guestrooms, world-class dining options and extraordinary customer care. Keswick Hall and Golf Club just received the prestigious Forbes Five-Star Award in recognition of its exceptional level of luxury and service.
The region is home to Thomas Jefferson's Monticello, the University of Virginia and numerous outdoor pursuits, drawing history buffs, wine lovers, sports enthusiasts and nature seekers year-round. Keswick Hall and Golf Club has also attained Cond Nast Traveler "gold" status, and is one of Travel + Leisure's 500 "World's Best Hotels." 
For more information on Keswick Hall visit or call 888.778.2565.  

Boar's Head Inn

A highly trained culinary team presents full-fledged gourmet cooking classes, as well as private instruction for birthdays and other special events. (434-972-2229, 800-476-1988)

What to See & Do

First Colony Winery

The relationship between food and wine is the focus of monthly gourmet cooking classes at this award-winning winery. (434-979-7105, 877-979-7105)


About Chesapeake:

Nestled in the heart of Coastal Virginia, Chesapeake is your gateway to fun. The city's attractions, from the outdoors to the arts, compliment the variety of activities in the area.  Discover Chesapeake’s natural appeals, enjoy our variety of retail, or one of the many fine restaurants that call Chesapeake home

What to See & Do

For a full list of events happening in Chesapeake, VA visit

Or contact the Chesapeake Convention & Visitors Bureau
1224 Progressive Drive
Chesapeake, VA 23320
888-889-5551 ~ 757-382-6411

Where to Eat

Simply Culinary Cafe

Once in a while I happen upon places that's serve delicious fresh-brewed coffee (both regular and decaf), cappachino, and fantastic tasting cheesecake. Simply Culinary Cafe is just the spot for these delectables. Each morning the resident chefs bake the Chesapeake Gourmet cheesecakes in different flavors -- Expresso-Chocolate-Baileys Cheesecake, Caramel-Apple Cheesecake, Toasted Almond Cheesecake, and others. I had the Expresso-Chocolate-Baileys and have been spoiled for life! The 10" cheesecakes can be pre-sliced, if you wish, or are available by the slice, and are packaged if you wish to take them home. The bakery case is also always filled with other amazing creations that you won't find elsewhere.

In addition to the good java and assortment of cake and pies, you'll find world class kitchen tools in the gift department; you can rent space to hold private dinners; or develop your culinary skills, at any level, in the 600 square foot studio kitchen. Cooking classes are offered to beginners or seasoned home cooks by resident instructors, as well as chefs from local restaurants who are willing to share their secrets, techniques and recipes. This state-of-the-art kitchen is fantastic, and while here taking one of the many courses, you'll be learning the same things that are taught in top culinary schools.

Cooking classes are approximately 2 1/2 hours each, and participants always get to eat the food that they prepare. Classes are limited to 16 students, so it's advisable to call early to reserve your spot. Monthly, one class is offered for kids under 16. For a schedule of classes, check the web site below.

If the cooking classes don't appeal to you, you may want to buy a home expresso machine. If so, you'll be taught how to use it.

Located at 717 Eden Way North, Suite 610, Chesapeake, VA 23320; 757-214-9231 (at Towne Place at Greenbrier). For more information check web site


Where to Eat

Cooper's Landing Inn and Traveler's Tavern

This charming 1830s inn located in a quaint lakeside town combines seasonal vegetables and fruits from the area with high quality beef and seafood. (434-374-2866)


Kings Dominion Camp Wilderness Takes Camping to a New Level
Custom Deluxe Cabins Ready for Rental

You can now have all of the comforts of home while camping right next door to your favorite theme park! Camp Wilderness is adding a total of 32 deluxe cabins. These custom designed cabins are perfect for families or groups of friends looking for a place to stay after a day of fun at Kings Dominion.

The cabins are non-smoking and can accommodate up to 10 guests. Featuring a queen size bed in the master bedroom, two futon sofas in the living room, and two queen beds in an overhead loft, there is plenty of room for sleeping. The cabins also include two full bathrooms and bathtubs, four flat screen TV’s with DirecTV, free wireless internet access, dorm-size refrigerator, microwave, coffee maker, outdoor charcoal grill, and a fire ring and picnic table on the patio.

Guests of the campground can also enjoy a newly renovated outdoor pool, camp store and a volleyball court. A free shuttle service is available to Kings Dominion as well as discounts on tickets to the park.

Reservations for the deluxe cabins can be made immediately by calling 804-876-3006 or visiting Kings Dominion is located in Doswell, Virginia.

Kings Dominion is owned and operated by Cedar Fair Entertainment Company, a publicly traded partnership that is listed for trading on The New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “FUN.” In addition to Kings Dominion, Cedar Fair owns and operates ten other amusement parks, four water parks, one indoor water park, and five hotels. Cedar Fair also operates the Gilroy Gardens Family Theme Park in California under a management contract.


DuCard Vineyards:  

Nestled among the majestic mountains bordering Shenandoah National Park, DuCard Vineyards is a boutique Virginia winery that produces limited quantity, high quality wines in small lots that emphasize each varietal’s unique characteristics. As Virginia’s first solar powered winery and a leader in sustainability. It is considered the “greenest” winery in Virginia because of its environmentally sound and socially conscious practices.
Proprietor, Scott Elliff, is a firm believer that wine tasting should be an experience. He designed a tasting room at DuCard with a cathedral ceiling window wall facing the mountains to maximize the view. A shaded patio outside the main building and a fireplace surrounded by plush seating inside, make the tasting room an inviting spot no matter what the weather.

The vineyard itself consists of 7 acres of French vinifera and native Virginia varieties of grape, all of which are meticulously nurtured and tended by hand. Ridge Mountains, the vineyard produces grapes that reflect the rocky soils and rugged landscape of the area, resulting in wines that are unique in character and complexity.

DuCard Vineyard is located at 40 Gibson Hollow Ln. in Etlan (Madison County), VA and can be contacted at <(540) 923-4206 or During the months of September, October & November DuCard is open 7 days a week from 11a.m. -6p.m. The rest of the year DuCard is open Friday-Sunday & Monday holidays from 11a.m. -6p.m. or by appointment.


Eastville Inn

Affordable Chesapeake Bay seafood dominates the menu at this inn and restaurant on the Eastern Shore. (757-678-5745)


NRA Museum

NRA Museums proudly promotes the role of firearms in the American experience with more than 3,000 guns on display between its three locations. The NRA National Firearms Museum in Fairfax, VA, the NRA National Sporting Arms Museum at Bass Pro Shops in Springfield, MO, and the Frank Brownell Museum of the Southwest in Raton, NM are open to the public, free of charge, every day of the week. For more information, visit

About the National Rifle Association
Established in 1871, the National Rifle Association is America’s oldest civil rights and sportsmen’s group. Five million members strong, NRA continues its mission to uphold Second Amendment rights and is the leader in firearm education and training for law-abiding gun owners, law enforcement and the military. Visit

Official Visitors Center opens at Tysons Corner to offer free planning advice

Visit Fairfax, the tourism agency for Fairfax County, celebrated the official opening of the Fairfax County Capital Region Visitors Center located on the second level of Tysons Corner Center, one of the most heavily trafficked malls in the nation. The official opening occurs just in time to help residents plan for visitors this holiday season and county political and tourism leaders gathered to hang stockings, while Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Gerry Connolly and FX The Tourhound, Visit Fairfax’s basset hound mascot, welcomed the “first visitor” to the center. Also on hand for the official launch: Fairfax County Supervisor Linda Smyth, Visit Fairfax Chairman Mark Carrier, Visit Fairfax President and CEO Arnie Quirion, Visit Fairfax Director of Visitors Services Sue Porter and Tysons Corner Center Marketing Manager Lynn Blacker.

To kick off the holiday season, the new Visitors Center will be handing out free candy canes to every child who visits.  Besides offering maps, directions and brochures on the many unique attractions located in Fairfax County and the Washington Capital region, the new Visitors Center will serve as the holiday headquarters for Visit Fairfax’s “Relative Rescue” program, a free service offered during the November and December holiday season that makes planning activities for visitors easy. With the “Relative Rescue” program, the expert staff at the Visitors Center can help residents and their friends and families plan an entire personalized itinerary of things to see and do in Fairfax County and the Capital Region. The Visitors Center will also provide details about holiday events taking place in Fairfax County or even make hotel and restaurant reservations. 

The Visitors Center is one of Visit Fairfax’s Visitors Services initiatives designed to improve the visitor experience and increase visits to Fairfax County.  Another initiative under the Visitors Services umbrella is the recently introduced Ambassador Program designed to make front line tourism and hospitality staff experts on the stellar offerings of the county. Created for hotel, restaurant and attraction employees, this program aims to increase employee knowledge of all there is to see and do in Fairfax County and the Capital Region USA, thereby allowing them to offer visitors a tourism experience that exceeds expectations and encourages repeat visits.     

Visit Fairfax is a non-profit organization in charge of the county’s tourism promotion and is directed by many of the county’s top tourism and hospitality leaders.  

For more information, visit

*the Visitors Center is also referred to as the Fairfax County Community Services Center


What to See & Do

Chateau Morrisette Winery

About Chateau Morrisette

A picturesque day trip from Roanoke, Charlottesville, Blacksburg, Christiansburg or the Piedmont Triad or a great weekend away from Washington, D.C., Richmond, Hampton Roads, Raleigh/Durham, Charlotte, Knoxville or Charleston, W.V., Chateau Morrisette is located at Milepost 171.5 on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Floyd County, V.A. Wine tastings are $8 per person. For more information, visit, call (540) 593-2865 or visit>Facebook.

Chateau Morrisette Winery and Restaurant

I was extremely impress with this winery. In fact, of the dozens I've visited in many states - including California - Chateau Morrisette Winery - making hand-crafted wines since 1978 - holds first place for me. Stroll the grounds to admire gorgeous vistas of the Blue Ridge Mountains, opt to tour the winery and see state of the art wine making, sample award-winning wines, and before or after the wine tasting, dine in a lovely, first-class dining area within one of Virginia's oldest and most esteemed wineries. The service was impeccable, the food beyond delicious, and the presentation memorable.

Hours: Open year-round for winery tours, wine tastings, shopping for wine and wine gift items and for special events.

Location: 287 Winery Road SW, Floyd, VA 24091. For more information call 593-2865 or go to web site

Located along Virginia’s scenic Blue Ridge Parkway, Chateau Morrisette Winery announces its recent wine awards, restaurant honors, and highlights from this summer’s music, arts and culture events.

Voted the best winery within a two-hour drive by The Roanoker, the winery’s tasting room features many of the most recent award-winning wines, including Our Dog Blue, a platinum award-winner in the Winemaker Challenge International Competition, and 4 White Grapes and 5 Red Grapes, which both received gold medals. In the esteemed Rose Competition at SIMI Winery, the winery’s 2014 Vin Gris, a dry rosé, was the only Virginia wine to receive a gold medal in this national competition.

Whether the occasion is Father’s Day, a birthday or weekend away, the Restaurant at Chateau Morrisette has something for every discerning palate. A recipient of the Open Table – Diner’s Choice Award (2014 – 2015) and Top Scenic View Restaurants (2013) as well as a Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence (2014 – 2015), the restaurant’s seasonal menu features fresh, local cuisine by executive chef Sterling Steffens.

New Events at Chateau Morrisette Winery

Located along Virginia’s scenic Blue Ridge Parkway, Chateau Morrisette Winery announces fresh seasonal events, including Discovery Lunches, dog-friendly baseball in partnership with the Salem Red Sox and yoga at the winery. Annual favorites, such as the Spring Open House, Winemaker’s Dinner, Sunday Sounds and the highly-anticipated Americana and beach music festivals round out the offering.

The Floyd Country Store

Walking through this store made me feel as though I were back in time. I felt as though I could have spent all day here listening to country store music featuring the traditional Appalahian music. I was told that every Friday night people from the area gather round to dance to the Appalachian music every Friday night, and Saturday and Sunday afternoons, as well as some Thursday and Saturday evenings.

Here, you can find clothing, unique household goods, local crafts that were unique and gorgous, as well as reasonably priced, along with toys, books, CDs and more. After roaming around a bit, I couldn't resist the tantalizing odor of homemade soups, and enjoyed it tremendously. Next time I visit, I'll try one of the salads, or maybe a sandwich, or an old-fashioned milk shake.

There are barrels filled with candy, housewares, work clothing, toys made in the U.S.A, and much more. Plus, year-round, there are music events held on Friday at 6:30 pm, Saturday at noon or Sunday at 2 pm. . .all in a friendly, family atmosphere. The only admission fee charged is to the Friday Night Jamboree when there is usually standing room only unless to come early.

The Floyd Country Store is part of the Round the Mountain Artisan trail featuring the work of local artists and is a major venue on The Crooked Road - Virginia's Heritage Music Trail - as well as celebrating its business for over 100 years.

Location: 106 South Locust Street, Floyd, VA. 24091; 540-745-4563. For more information check web site

Where to Stay

Daddy Rabbit's Campground

I didn't stay here, but i did check it out as I drove through this area. Near the Blue Ridge Parkway, the restrooms were clean, it was quiet, sites were shady, and acres of wilderness insulate campers from noise and congestion. Anglers will love catching dinner at the campground and a trout stream one mile away, while golfers can reach a green only 13 miles away. For hikers, good walks are close-by, too. Pitch a tent, bring your trailer or rent a camping cabin. Available are full hook-ups, propane gas, electricity and water hook-ups, dumping station, laundry, recreation hall for square dancing, family reunions, groups, etc., hot and cold showers, available firewood, and a playground for children.

For more information contact Richard and Marian Smith at or call 540-709-4150. The address is 2015 Union School Road S.W., Willis, VA 24380.

Where to Eat

Oddfellas Cantina

Serving a fusion of Latin, Southern and vegan cooking, this cozy neighborhood eatery and music spot works with local organic growers and Virginia seafood as well as preparing savory meatloaf and rib-eye steaks from locally raised buffalo. (540-745-3463)


What to See & Do

The Past Comes Alive as the Fredericksburg Area Museum & Cultural Center Unveils the Catherine W. Jones McKann Center

History lives on in Fredericksburg, Virginia through the stories of its people. Fredericksburg, Virginia, home to some of the most devastating battles in Civil War history, has announced the opening of the Catherine W. Jones McKann Center at the Fredericksburg Area Museum & Cultural Center. A simple wooden door, marred by the bullet of a Union soldier. Diaries and letters written by battled-scarred soldiers for their frightened families. A collection of Civil War guns and weapons on display for the first time in more than a decade. The new Catherine W. Jones McKann Center joins the existing Town Hall in housing, exhibiting and interpreting the collections of the Fredericksburg Area Museum.

The opening of the museum also precedes the anniversary of the Battle of Fredericksburg, which occurred December 11-15, 1862 and is widely known as one of the most devastating battles in Civil War history. New museum exhibits draw heavily on this famed event, showcasing artifacts and stories from battle. A series of exciting new exhibits are now on display. Fredericksburg at War explores and represents the personal stories of Fredericksburg residents shattered by war. The exhibit specifically focuses on the tragedy and aftermath of the 1862 Battle of Fredericksburg.

The Johnson Gun Collection, a collection of Civil War era guns and armaments, also is on display. Not So Current Currency, housed in the original bank vault, explores a rare collection of historic money, both paper and coin. Portal, Passage, Power: An American River Town displays artifacts associated with the history of the Rappahannock River. Railways and Roadways discusses transportation: the canal system, introduction of the railroad and the first highway system. The galleries above the bank's main lobby house feature objects that depict the area's 20th century history.

The Fredericksburg Area Museum hired the services of exhibit firm Quatrefoil to create new exhibits that combine the Museum‚s collections of regional historic objects and artifacts in a creative and exciting new format. The new exhibits detail historical events, as well as heavily draw on the personal effects that the Civil War had on area residents.

The McKann Center is housed in the historic 1927 Planters Bank building, which was acquired by the museum in 2004, in response to the museum‚s growing need for space. Prior to the opening of the McKann Center, the Fredericksburg Area Museum only displayed 15 percent of its collections. GWWO, Inc; a Baltimore-based architecture firm managed the renovation and transformation of the former bank building into a modern museum facility that maintains the exquisite and intricate architectural features of the original structure.

A Learning Center devoted to student programming, a new state-of-the-art collections storage area, and a new Gift Shop are also part of the new center.
The mission of the Fredericksburg Area Museum & Cultural Center is to collect, interpret and present the history and the culture of the Fredericksburg region. The Fredericksburg Area Museum & Cultural Center is centrally located in downtown Fredericksburg at 1001 Princess Anne St., Fredericksburg, VA. For additional information, please visit the museum's Web site at

The Fredericksburg Area, which includes the city of Fredericksburg and the counties of Spotsylvania and Stafford, is a classic blend of modern life with small town charm. The area is conveniently located along I-95, between Washington and Richmond and is unlike any other in America. The city of Fredericksburg features a variety of chef-owned restaurants, numerous art galleries, a wide range of specialty shops, and one of America‚s most authentic, historic downtowns. Stafford is host to George Washington‚s boyhood home, Ferry Farm and Belmont, the residence of famous artist Gari Melchers. Spotsylvania is not only the site of 4,400 acres of Civil War battlefields; it is also boasts the beautiful Lake Anna Winery. The Fredericksburg Area rests on the banks of the picturesque, pristine Rappahannock River. For more information, visit


If you love vacationing near the water, you'll love Hampton. Located in Southeastern Virginia between the cities of Williamsburg (Jamestown) and Virginia Beach, this destination boasts over 100 attractions within a 30-minute drive, including the Cousteau Society U.S. Headquarters, the Virginia Air & Space Center, The American Theatre, and St. John's Church, the oldest continuous English-speaking parrish in the United States. In 2007, Hampton will also play a major role in the Jamestown Celebration.

What else is here? The Hampton University Museum (the oldest African American Museum in the U.S.), Casemate Museum at Fort Monroe (the site where Confederate President Jefferson avis was imprisoned), harbor cruises, and plenty of outdoor recreation. Festivals include the Hampton Jazz Festival, Hampton Blackbeard Festival, and Hampton Bay Days.

For more information, contact the Hampton Convention & Visitor Bureau, 1919 Commerce Drive, Suite 290, Hampton, VA 23666; 800-487-8778; or try web site

Mariners' Museum

The Mariners’ Museum latest exhibition, the America’s Cup: There Is No Second Place, takes maritime and history enthusiasts sailing through 148 years of the America’s Cup. Visitors travel from the first race in 1851 to the New York Yacht Club’s loss in 1983 after 132 victorious years of defending the Cup, up to 1995 when New Zealand took the Cup home. Through 134 photos, paintings, engravings, lithographs, and artifacts,

The Mariners’ Museum captures the true essence of the America’s Cup in its new exhibition.

Highlights include the skylight from the schooner yacht America, for which the Cup was named; the stern section from the yacht Volunteer; sixty-five images from the Edwin Levick Collection; and current Cup contender images taken by Daniel Forster.

In addition, the museum’s collection is composed of more than 35,000 maritime items including ship models, scrimshaw, maritime paintings, decorative arts, intricately carved figureheads, navigational instruments, working steam engines, and more. Permanent galleries include Defending the Seas, Age of Exploration Gallery, Chesapeake Bay Gallery, Crabtree Collection of Miniature Ships, Great Hall of Steam, Ship Models Gallery, Small Craft Collection, “William Francis Gibbs: Naval Architect” Gallery, plus a research library and archives house.

For further information, call 800-581-7245 or 757-596-2222; send e-mail to, or check the website at


Southwest Virginia Farmers' Market

This state-owned facility is open each spring until December offering fresh locally grown produce and related products, such as jams, honey and jellies. (276-728-5540)


Skating, Skiing, and Outdoor Swimming at the The Omni Homestead Resort

One of America's oldest resorts, The Homestead, has offered history and hospitality in the Allegheny Mountains of southwestern Virginia since 1766. This season there is even more to enjoy as the newly-renovated 3,000-acre resort now offers ice-skating and swimming at the brand new Allegheny Springs Winter Wonderland, in addition to snow sports on the resort's historic downhill ski area. Full-day and half-day ice skating passes and skate rentals will be available. After a day on the slopes and on the ice, hotel guests can take a dip in the steamy waters at the brand new, heated, spring-fed, outdoor pool and relax on chaise lounges on the warmed deck surrounded by mountain landscape.

Also new this winter, The Homestead will open a Rossignol Experience Center, the first in Virginia, which will feature Rossignol's award-winning experience skis with the latest ski innovations.


Tides Inn

Chesapeake Bay fish and oysters, Virginia pork, in-season produce and many Virginia wines by the glass are offered throughout this classic waterfront resort, including aboard their posh 1920s touring yacht. (804-438-5000, 800-843-3746)


Where to Stay

Keswick Hall and Golf Club –

the acclaimed 600-acre luxury resort set in Virginia’s scenic Hunt Country – has announced two stay-and-play packages for the new Pete Dye-designed course at Keswick Golf Club, Full Cry.
Golfers can be among the first to sample Full Cry, which opened this summer following an extensive design, construction and grow-in period that has wrought an “instant classic.” Dye, a World Golf Hall of Fame member widely-considered one of the greatest course architects of all-time, says about Full Cry, “It is as good as any layout I’ve done.”
Autumn is the perfect time to visit Keswick Hall, as the legendary fall foliage of the Blue Ridge Mountains comes to life. Shirt-sleeves and sun-splashed days continue well into October, and November presents crisp mornings ideal for light golf sweaters. The two inaugural stay-and-play packages:
The Full Cry package starts at $299 (single occupancy) and includes one round of golf with cart and a night’s stay in a superior room. A guest may be added for $80.
The Hunt package begins at $409 (single occupancy). It features 18 holes upon arrival, one-night of lodging (superior room), and breakfast and an additional round on Full Cry the next morning. Add a guest for $130.
Full Cry is the impeccable combination of Mother Nature’s splendor and Dye’s genius for creating a thrilling golf experience. The virtuoso has masterfully combined “old world” architectural charm with his signature modern design elements. With the exception of one hole, the greens have open fronts and are approachable either through the air or on the ground. Golfers of all abilities with savor the pure, resort course experience.
The region is home to Jefferson’s Monticello, the University of Virginia and numerous outdoor pursuits, drawing history buffs, wine lovers, sports enthusiasts and nature seekers year-round. Keswick Hall features newly refreshed upscale accommodations, spa services, fine dining at Fossett’s, and myriad amenities. Highly decorated, it has attained Condé Nast Traveler “gold” status, and is one of Travel + Leisure’s 500 “World’s Best Hotels.” 
The Full Cry package is unavailable for Sunday evening arrival. The Hunt package is available Tuesday through Saturday nights. Tee-times and accommodations are based on availability. The two packages may not be combined with any other specials / offers. Taxes / additional fees are not included.
For more information on Keswick Hall visit web site or call 434.979.344. The location is at 701 Club Drive, Keswick, VA.  

About Keswick Hall and Golf Club  

Set in the historic hunt and wine country of central Virginia, Keswick Hall and Golf Club is a 600-acre boutique resort featuring 48 private guest rooms. The northern wing of the current inn contains historic Villa Crawford, once the Italianesque private estate of the Robert Crawford family built in 1912.
A full complement of amenities and activities are available to guests, including: golf, tennis, three swimming pools, croquet, nature trails, on-site vineyard, garden / historic tours, spa and fine dining. Off-site excursions include wine tasting, Presidential home visits, University of Virginia tours, clay shooting and more.
The property is home to the historic Keswick Club, a members club introduced in 1948 when renowned architect Fred Findlay added its first nine holes of golf. The course expanded to18 holes in the mid-‘50s and was renovated in 1992 by Arnold Palmer. In 2013, World Golf Hall of Fame architect Pete Dye was commissioned to create its new Full Cry course over the existing routing.
The country estate is a property of Richmond, Va.-based Riverstone Group under its Historic Hotels of Albemarle division. The company also owns and manages The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island Resort (S.C.), The Sea Pines Resort (S.C.), The Jefferson Hotel (Va.) and The Hermitage Hotel (Tenn.).
Keswick Hall – centrally located -- is an easy two-hour drive from the Washington D.C. metro area and just over three hours from Baltimore. Charlottesville Albemarle Airport (CHO) is 30 minutes away. Richmond International Airport (RIC) is a 90-minute drive.

Where to Eat

Keswick Hall at Monticello

Imagine you are the chef's apprentice at a luxurious mansion as sources are revealed for the finest local ingredients. Individual and group classes include cooking with chocolate and preparing for a fabulous dinner party. (groups 434-923-4370, individuals 434-923-4372)


Rose's Crab House and Raw Bar

Casual Northern Neck seafood setting for Chesapeake Bay fish, clams, crab and oysters. (804-436-8439)


Lansdowne Resort

The resort's executive chef and sommelier offer food and wine demonstrations with indispensable culinary tips and secrets. Guests can sample favorite dishes and enjoy a wine-pairing demonstration. (877-509-8400, 703-729-8400)

Tuscarora Mill

Located in a 19th-century grain mill in Leesburg for more than a decade, the "Tuskies" menu always features seasonal specials tied directly to local produce and meats (703-771-9300)


Southern Inn Restaurant

The best local ingredients are combined to create contemporary dishes on a changing menu that features everything from rainbow trout to peak-of-season pears to locally ground grits. Nineteen Virginia wines are featured, including four by the glass. (540-463-3612)


Luray Has Lots to Offer Including the Incredible Luray Caverns

Luray is home to Shenandoah National Park – a 300 square mile wilderness playground in the middle of the Blue Ridge Mountains and one of the most popular and scenic areas in the national park system. Luray is also close to many activities:


Since 1970 just north of Luray, Shenandoah River Outfitters has been providing great family fun on the storied Shenandoah River. Visitors enjoy the cool waters while floating past farmlands made famous in legend and song


There is no better place to celebrate the independence of America than in small town USA. Gather the kids; deck them in red, white and blue; and follow the big festive fire engine through the streets of Luray


Swing into summer with super discounted weekday rates at Caverns Country Club in Luray. Nestled in the shadows of the Blue Ridge Mountains overlooking the fabled Shenandoah River

Luray Caverns

For information visit


Journey to the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains and watch the saga unfold for our 10th Annual International Triathlon and Luray Sprint.


New Zip Line Adventure at Massanutten Resort:

Massanutten Resort is a four season resort located on 6,000 acres near Harrisonburg. The resort features 70 skiable acres encompassing 12 ski slopes, two terrain parks, 12 lanes of winter tubing and extensive lesson programs. The resort also has a year-round indoor/outdoor water park.

New this season at Massanutten is the 750 foot-long Mega Zip Line at The Family Adventure Park where visitors can zip down the mountain alongside a friend or family member and experience high-flying fun on the ropes course. After the zip line adventure, then take a spin around the ice rink which will be open until mid-March at LeClub Recreation Center.

Massanutten is offering several special travel packages that include overnight accommodations and slope-use tickets or passes to the indoor water park. Prices range from $160 to $550.

Elite Sports Shooting LLC opens its doors, becoming one of the nation’s largest and most advanced indoor shooting range

Elite Shooting Sports LLC officially opened its doors in November 2014, becoming one of the most advanced and largest indoor shooting facilities in the nation. The brand new 65,000 square foot facility, built from the ground up represents an investment of $14 million, 50 new jobs and a popular venue destination for sports enthusiasts, law enforcement agencies, businesses and tourists, alike.

Greg Wodack, Managing Partner, Elite Shooting Sports LLC, said: “We’re extremely proud of our facility and delighted to open our doors for customers to enjoy. Today was made possible by the monumental efforts and coordination of hundreds of people, which is thanks to the strong business community and pro-business environment that can be found in Prince William County.”

Built from the ground up, Elite Shooting Sports provides clients 100 percent sealed substructures for proper air balancing, engineered safety features and the most advanced range equipment available. The facility houses four separate ranges that operate independently - two 25-yard 12-lane ranges, one 50-yard 10-lane range and one 100-yard 8-lane range. Each lane is 4 foot on center and expanded to 5 foot on center on the 100 yard lanes, providing optimal space for instructor and shooter. The open-space environment is climate adjusted to 71 degrees year round and also includes a full-time gunsmith on staff, five classrooms, two customer lounges, dojo, café and 5,000 square feet space for additional retail.

In 2015, the facility will include a two level 1,600 square foot live fire-shoot house, which will be a significant aid in law enforcement training to practice dynamic entries, house clearing exercises and force-on-force scenarios. A training simulator, which can be used with lasers or live fire, will also be programmed with thousands of decision-making scenarios for both law enforcement and civilian use.

To learn more about Elite Shooting Sports LLC, visit the facility at: 7751 Doane Road, Manassas, VA 20109 or click on:, < or  tel: (703) 335-2750.


Where to Eat

Hilltoppers Restaurant --

at The Goodstone Inn & Estate provides superb cuisine and attentive service. An impressive wine cellar dining room features an extensive selection of vintages from Virginia and around the world, and a large, exquisite Virginia Hunt Scene Mural commissioned by The Goodstone Inn. The scene captures an equestrian moment of the storied Annual Middleburg Hunt, which takes place on the estate.

Wireless Internet access is available throughout the premises. Recreational opportunities abound, including a unique outdoor pool nestled within the Wisteria and ivy-covered ruins of the estate's original early 19th century mansion, an all-season Jacuzzi, walking and hiking trails, mountain biking, stables for boarding guest' horses, canoeing, in-room spa treatments, and superb shopping, antiquing, and dining opportunities in beautiful and historic Middleburg, Virginia.

In season, noted equestrian activities include the Middleburg Spring Race Meet at nearby Glenwood Park (April), the Virginia Gold Cup and International Gold Cup at Great Meadow (Spring and Fall), and the annual Middleburg Hunt (December), which proceeds directly through the estate.

The Goodstone Inn offers the charming ambiance of an 18th century country estate with the convenience, luxury and service expected by 21st century guests. For more information on The Goodstone Inn & Estate, Hilltoppers Restaurant, or to make reservations, please call 540-687-4645 / 877- 219-4663 or visit

The Goodstone Inn & Estate is recommended by the Conde Nast Johansens guides, and is a member of the prestigious Andrew Harper Q Club and "Small Luxury Hotels of the World" collection


What to See & Do

Bernard's Boat Rentals

We had a terrific time after renting a boat from Bernard's Boat Rentals. Exploring Smith Mountain Lake's scenery was awesome, as well as admiring passing boats AND buying ice cream from one of the boat vendors right on the lake! We drifted across some of the 22,000 acres of water and didn't feel the summer's heat thanks to the breeze as we floated along. Bernard's Boat Rental is located at Bernard's Landing Resort - a beautiful place to vacation. Before renting our boat, we received a free safety and instructional orientation that meets all of the Commonwealth of Virginia requirements - so we felt confident before boarding. There are also tube, ski and wakeboard rentals available on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Send for a rate sheet on available skis, tubes, kneeboards, wakeboards and, of course,boats ranging from pontoons, ski boats, WaveRunners and kayaks. Call Bernard's Boat Rental at 540-721-7800 or write to 775 Ashmead Road, Moneta, VA 24121.


Bill's Seafood House

Virginia oysters, shrimp, crab, flounder and trout prepared any-way-you-like-it are served family-style near the Mariners' Museum. (757-595-4320)


Where to Eat

Vintage Kitchen

Stunning views of the Elizabeth River provide the backdrop for old-world cuisine with modern artistic twists capitalizing on Virginia's freshest ingredients and finest wines. (757-625-3370)

Todd Jurich's Bistro

Culinary excellence at this gracious setting is tied heavily to the use of local, seasonal ingredients such as yellow fin tuna, crab and collards. An expansive wine list features many Virginia wines, some by the glass. (757-622-3210)


The Inn at Willow Grove Debuts As Virginia's Newest Five-Star Retreat in the Heart of Horse & Wine Country

Nestled in Virginia's horse and wine country and at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains is an exceptional, new property called The Inn at Willow Grove. Here discerning guests may enjoy unparalleled, five-star services infused with world-class designs, historic 18th century architecture, fine wines and culinary masterpieces.

The hamlet of Orange, Virginia, is home to this stately Inn which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and has lavished its impeccable social standards since 1778. Most recently it operated as the well-known Willow Grove Inn for 22 years until its doors were closed and it was sold in 2009.

The Inn's new owners embarked on a multi-million dollar restoration and expansion project that has stroked this antebellum property back to life, prepping the 37-acre, plantation-style estate to become one of the top destinations on the east coast. The extensive renovation included a complete refurbishment of existing facilities in the process creating 14 designer guestrooms and cottage suites and stellar event spaces.

Interior designs showcase an ìurban meets plantation-vibe infused with crisp, savvy and elegant decor while still maintaining a sense of surrounding and heritage. Every inch of the Inn has been refurbished and each room is now a picture of luxury with entirely new fixtures, refinished hardwood floors, Anichini linens and unique furnishings. Many of the rooms and suites also include wet-bars, gas fire places, Jacuzzi soaking tubs, private sitting rooms, serene porches and cozy king-size beds. All accommodations are outfitted with flat screen televisions and complimentary WiFi. Textiles used throughout mix leathers with burlap and stripes with graphics. Exceptional art work combines modern with classical, naÔve with contemporary.

A state-of-the-art kitchen annex has been constructed to service Vintage, a 50-seat restaurant and tavern under the direction of Executive Chef Jason Daniels who has worked in top culinary venues throughout the South. Epicureans and oenophiles alike will delight in gourmet adventures focusing on farm-to-table cuisine and local artisanal products. Vintage boasts an extensive wine menu showcasing an array of Virginiaís premier wineries, as well as west coast and international vineyards.

Alfresco areas throughout the property have also been architecturally enhanced lending the ideal locale for weddings, small corporate retreats and special celebrations. Reflecting pools, ponds, formal herb and flower gardens, outdoor gas fire pits and lanterns surround the Innís exteriors, providing peaceful and picturesque settings.
Smokehouse Spa is housed in a historic cottage on the Innís grounds. The intimate spa provides a potpourri of relaxing body and facial treatments.

Nearby activities include, among others, wine tastings at local vineyards, antiquing, horseback riding, hot air ballooning, hiking, nature treks, fishing, steeplechase races and tours of historic sites.

The Inn at Willow Grove is ideally situated just a few short hours by car from Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Richmond and Philadelphia. Charlottesville Airport is located 45 minutes from the Inn. Nightly rates at The Inn at Willow Grove are from $295 to $695 on weekends and holidays with special rates available mid-week.

For additional information on The Inn at Willow Grove or to book reservations, please visit or call 540-672-7001.


Mountain Lake Lodge Celebrates 30 Years of ‘Dirty Dancing’ This Summer

Fans of the iconic 1987 film “Dirty Dancing” can bask in the nostalgia and relive memories this summer at Mountain Lake Lodge, one of the primary filming locations for the movie. The Lodge is hosting four special Dirty Dancing Weekends, Sept. 15-17.

Fans will be immersed in movie memories by participating in the many themed events over the weekend. A film location tour, scavenger hunt, a showing of the film on the Kellerman’s lawn, lawn games just like the movie, a dance party at the actual gazebo - transformed to replicate the movie theme, and tons more dancing all weekend (film character dress encouraged). The big finale is a professional dance performance on Saturday evening.

Mountain Lake Lodge’s gift shop, an authorized retailer of official Dirty Dancing merchandise, features a large variety of Dirty Dancing gifts, from clothing to housewares and other items for the movie enthusiasts.

“We are so excited to celebrate the 30th anniversary of ‘Dirty Dancing’ with our guests who love the movie as much as we do,” said Heidi Stone, general manager of Mountain Lake Lodge. “We could not be more proud to be a part of this beloved film’s history, and we are looking forward to sharing with guests where Baby and the rest of Houseman family stayed, danced and loved in our beautiful resort.”

Just in time for this summer, Mountain Lake Lodge has added new amenities and upgrades to the resort. Over the past four years, the resort has made significant improvements to this historic getaway for families, conferences, family reunions and weddings. New to the Mountain is Mary’s Market & Café, serving specialty coffee drinks, pastries, “to go” breakfast goodies and sandwiches as well as salads, snacks, and hand dipped ice cream.

Six of the historic cabins on Cabin Row have been refreshed and restored. In keeping with guests’ technology demands, the resort has overhauled its wireless infrastructure for all guests and cell service connectivity for those with AT&T and Sprint. In addition, a new beach volleyball court replaces the tennis court next to the swimming pool and a Sky Slide has been installed next to the Treetop Adventure Center. At 5 stories tall, the Sky Slide is the tallest inflatable slide in the world.

Dirty Dancing weekend packages include breakfast, lunch and dinner, a walking tour, scavenger hunt, group dance lessons and more. For reservations, visit

Located in the heart of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, part of the Appalachian Mountain Range and the center of a 2,600-acre nature preserve, Mountain Lake Lodge is the ideal place for families, friends, couples and groups to relax amidst nature’s bounty. The lodge continues to add family fun events throughout the year to sustain the property and legacy of Mountain Lake.

About Mountain Lake Lodge

The historic Mountain Lake Lodge features 43 rooms in Main Stone Lodge, 16 in Chestnut Lodge, 9 mountain homes in Blueberry Ridge, 8 historic rustic cabins and 9 front lawn cottages on a preserved mountaintop property owned by the Mary Moody Northen Endowment. Mountain Lake Conservancy, a non-profit organization founded in 1989, serves to protect the land and wildlife resources on the property for future generations. To learn more and to make reservations, please visit or call 115 1-540-626-7121


Wade's Mill

Learn to whip up perfect biscuits, breads and cakes in an unusual setting. This 1750s working grist mill is the charming locale for classes using the mill's stone-ground flour. (800-290-1400)


Where to Eat

Vinifera, Reston’s first wine-themed restaurant, to bring “city chic” to the suburbs

Vinifera (vahy-nif-er-uh) Bistro & Wine Bar, a new urban-chic, wine-themed restaurant opened in Reston in May 2008, and serves innovative American cuisine with global influences, showcasing seasonal, local and sustainable products.   The restaurant’s bar area, designed as a modern neighborhood gathering spot, will offer more than 200 local, domestic and international wines, in addition to signature cocktails and microbrews that can be paired with the restaurant’s appetizer, entrée and small plate offerings.

Vinifera is named after the vine species that produces over 99 percent of the world's wines today. “Since we are so close to Virginia wine country, we thought it would be appropriate to open Reston’s first wine-themed restaurant,” said General Manager Sami Zeitoun. The restaurant will offer more than 24 wines by the glass served from a cruvenet, a tap–like system that prevents opened wines from changing flavor due to oxidation. Wines will also be available by the half glass, allowing guests to explore Vinifera’s extensive offerings.  

To carry out the concept, Zeitoun selected Matthew Mohler, a Culinary Institute of America graduate, as executive chef. Mohler served as a sommelier at Chevy Chase Country Club in addition to having experience working under Yannick Cam at Le Paradou and Culinary Olympic team member Eric Neari. Most recently, Mohler was the executive sous chef for the Goodstone Inn and Estate, a small luxury property in Middleburg, Virginia,

Utilizing local and organic ingredients whenever possible, Vinifera will offer over 20 small plates, such as Local Chicken Wrapped in a Crepe with Oregano Cream, and bistro style entrées such as Rooibos Tea Crusted Tuna with savoy cabbage and green olives. Lunchtime offerings include sandwiches, salads and entrées as well as bento boxes featuring delicacies such as Spinach and Radish Salad, Miso Poached Rockfish and Eggplant stuffed with ricotta, garlic and basil, accompanied by Forbidden Rice.

Located in the soon-to-open Westin Reston Heights, the restaurant will be accessible directly from the street. “Many people who live in Reston have had to drive into the city for a top-notch culinary experience,” said Zeitoun. “We are excited to bring the fashionable city dining experience to Reston-area residents.”

The contemporary dining room is designed to look elegantly fashionable, with warm and flattering lighting accents. Wine cabinets and displays carry the wine theme throughout the restaurant. An outdoor patio that seats 70 will also open when weather allows.   Private dining will also be available.

Vinifera Wine Bar & Bistro will serve breakfast, lunch & dinner. Hours of operation are: start of the day (breakfast) 6:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m., 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. sustenance (lunch), 5 p.m. – 10 p.m. dinner. The restaurant is located in the Westin Reston Heights at 11750 Sunrise Valley Drive, Reston, Virginia 20191. Dress is casual chic.


Where to Stay

Quirk Hotel, A Destination Hotel

Featuring Approachable Art, an Artist in Residence and Richmond’s Highest Rooftop Terrace Bar, Quirk Hotel is Destined to Become City Hotspot Offering Simple Elegance with a Dash of Humor. It is Richmond’s first-ever, design-driven boutique lodging option. A brand-new immersive hotel concept that showcases the world of local creatives, Quirk Hotel offers an engaging experience for the creative and curious, and invites the experiential traveler to absorb the authentic culture of the community, using art as a guide.

Inspired by nearby Quirk Gallery, Quirk Hotel’s DNA stems from an unexpected twist of sophistication and humor, with equal parts Southern cordiality and Virginia pride. The hotel’s opening – timed to coincide with cycling’s international pinnacle event, UCI World Road Cycling Championships (Worlds), taking place in Richmond Sept. 19-27 – demonstrates a defining moment for both downtown Broad Street’s revitalization and Richmond’s emergence as an international arts and culture destination.

Quirk Hotel serves as an interactive community gathering place for both locals and Richmond visitors to immerse themselves within Richmond and experience the city’s eccentric, trendy and exciting art scene. The fabric of the local culture is woven throughout the hotel, with locals and guests co-mingling throughout the hotel’s social gathering spots ranging from the lobby-located restaurant Maple & Pine led by Chef David Dunlap, to the rooftop terrace bar and lounge, to the adjacent art hub experience at Quirk Gallery.

New Experiential Theater Package
In celebration of the opening of Quirk Hotel, the property has partnered with local favorite, The Sara Belle and Neil November Theatre, to offer a special, limited time package perfectly suited for Richmond visitors and theater buffs. The November Theatre originally opened in 1911 and featured stars like Lucille LaVerne and John Bunny until a fire damaged the space in 1927, after which it lay dark for several years and then reopened to feature films and vaudeville performances. After various usage, in 2012 the Empire Theatre opened after a $2 million renovation and was renamed the Sara Belle and Neil November Theatre.

The package includes:
· Overnight stay in a suite
· Dinner for two at the hotel’s on-site restaurant Maple & Pine
· Tickets for two to the latest show at November Theater with a choice of:
-- A personal guided tour of The November Theater including a complete history of the theater scene in Richmond, backstage access and meet-and-greet with the actors
-- A personal guided tour of The Props and Costume Archives including time to “play”

Prices start at $599

Pioneering Design
An Italian Renaissance building located in the heart of The Broad Street Commercial Historic District, Quirk Hotel is housed in a 60,000 sq. ft. historic Richmond landmark, originally constructed in 1916 as the city’s finest department store, J.B. Mosby & Co. The structure’s overhaul and design led by its owners, husband and wife duo Ted and Katie Ukrop, focuses on capturing the building’s original purpose by honoring its history through unique architectural elements. The Ukrops commissioned two of today’s highly acclaimed design companies to bring their vision to life: Richmond-based architectural firm 3north and Connecticut-based interior design firm Poesis Design.

Inspired by Richmond’s culturally rich history, the designers began the restoration project by first combing through thousands of bits and pieces of the city’s 400-year-old history, performing diligent research on what from the past makes Richmond the unique city it is today. A thoughtful interpretation for Quirk Hotel resulted from that research – a historically vibrant design, full of key artifacts, color and art that tell the tale of Richmond’s storied past. Details such as the lobby’s segmental arches, groin vault ceiling and ornamental ironwork staircase have been preserved throughout the structure. As an homage to the building’s historic department store days, specially-designed, larger-than-life glass cases adorn the lobby, housing museum-like objects and collections such as vintage hats, while acting as natural spacing partitions. The lobby’s focal point upon entrance is a major art installation titled “Pile,” created by local artist Susie Ganch. Comprised entirely of white coffee lids collected from Richmond’s coffee shops, this piece de resistance is a symbolic interpretation of the hotel’s pillar ethos – fostering community, honoring the old, embracing the new and finding beauty in the unexpected.

Blending sophistication, flare and humor, the hotel’s 74 guestrooms and suites take a subtle riff on the husband/wife dynamic of the owners, culminating in the perfect marriage of masculinity and femininity. Each room features a palate predominately composed of warm-pink, gray,  walnut brown, white and black, allowing alternating pink and gray colored walls (Benjamin Moore’s “Love and Happiness” and “Gray Owl” respectively) to serve as the idyllic backdrop to hang local artwork created by artists from Petersburg and Richmond – easily available for travelers to purchase if they so choose. Historic highlights such as the original wood floors stay intact, while 100-year-old Virginia wood beams taken out of the original structure during demolition have been repurposed and used to create the glossy walnut bedframes that anchor each guestroom. Room design highlights additionally include contemporary millwork, sculptural glossy white lacquered furniture, 14 ft. ceilings, frosted glass shower enclosures and high tech amenities along with other unusual quirks within the décor and finishing. A stunning glass cube placed atop the structure and invisible to the eye from street level will house four specially designed suites upon the project’s completion.

Artful Amenities
Developed as an extension of the beloved Quirk Gallery whichfeatures exhibitions of “approachable” work by both established and emerging local artists, Quirk Gallery will offer an easily accessible entrance to the hotel once it relocates in September to an adjacent building. The gallery, which celebrates its 10th anniversary in September 2015, displays works of many local, regional and national artists and sparked the idea for an art-driven, eclectic and engaging hotel. An impeccably landscaped courtyard will separate this adjacent building from the main hotel. Additionally, 2,000 sq. ft. of unique meetings and events spaces will be available to hotel guests and locals in addition to an on-site fitness center.

The Quirk Artist in Residence program provides artists with time and space away from their usual environment to allow for an opportunity to explore new channels for creative inspiration. Located one block east of the hotel, the artist in residence is supplied with a studio/apartment with a stay ranging from 1-6 months, with participants either working toward an exhibit with Quirk Gallery or expanding their own research. The program is exemplary of the supportive local Richmond arts community, and is open to artists from all mediums, cultures, academics and societal backgrounds, while customized to fit each artist’s needs. The program is available by application and invitation.

Convivial Cuisine
Quirk Hotel strives to provide an interactive community gathering place for both locals and Richmond visitors with food and beverage options available throughout the hotel’s convivial spaces inclusive of both a coffee bar and restaurant serving lunch and dinner located within the lobby, as well as a rooftop terrace bar.

The culinary experience at Quirk Hotel is led by Chef David Dunlap (previously of The Inn at Little Washington, The Ashby Inn in North Carolina and Plume at The Jefferson, DC) and focuses on artisan cuisine, sourced locally with an emphasis on regional culinary traditions.

Maple & Pine, located in the lobby, is the hotel’s culinary cornerstone and serves as a reflection of Virginia’s inventive dining revolution. The restaurant’s modern American craft cooking showcases the region’s micro-seasons while incorporating global flavor profiles. The menu delivers an original genre that exhilarates while remaining approachable and familiar. Utmost respect and understanding to the regional offerings and its producers are tasted in every bite. The rooftop bar provides unobstructed views of Richmond’s skyline and offers modern adaptations of classic cocktails, small batch spirits and regional craft beers.

Quirk Hotel is the first hotel to open under the development of owners Ted and Katie Ukrop and Quirk Hospitality, LLC, based in Richmond, VA. Ted Ukrop, a Richmond native whose family once owned the former Ukrop’s grocery store chain, ubiquitous in the region, is a developer/managing member of several Richmond properties and complexes as well as co-founder of Lift Caregiving, a family caregiving resource. Katie Ukrop is founder and owner of Quirk Gallery.

About Quirk Hotel, A Destination Hotel
Quirk Hotel is a boutique, art-centric hotel opening in September 2015 in Richmond, Va. The hotel offers a carefully curated, artistic experience that showcases distinctive art throughout the property’s 74 guest rooms and suites, artisan restaurant, bar, rooftop terrace bar and conference rooms. Located in an Italian Renaissance building originally built in 1916 as the J.B. Mosby Dry Goods Store and created by the renowned New York architectural firm of Starret and Van Vleck, the 60,000 sq. ft. property is owned by Quirk Hospitality, LLC. Quirk Hotel is the first hotel to open under the development of owners Ted and Katie Ukrop and Quirk Hospitality, LLC, based in Richmond, Va.

Wyndham Virginia Crossings, Richmond’s Destination Hotel, Offers
Value Added Packages, A Gracious Retreat and Provides An Ideal Base for Exploring Central Virginia

Close to everything yet a world apart – The Wyndham Virginia Crossings Hotel is Richmond’s hub for leisure travelers. For families, friends, seniors, cyclists, golfers, and art, architecture and history buffs, this gracious, estate-like retreat offers several value priced packages that provide the perfect way to enjoy the many attractions of Central Virginia.

Fresh from a $3 million renovation, Wyndham Virginia Crossings is located just off I-95. But its setting is secluded, serene and secure, with 150 landscaped acres that include one of Virginia’s top golf courses. Stately brick walls surround graceful Federal-style buildings that overlook beautiful lawns, gardens and woodlands. With 183 luxurious rooms, two restaurants, and an array of sporting activities, it’s the ideal base camp for a vacation that is relaxing, entertaining and affordable.

Guests need only unpack once - Virginia’s most popular attractions are within drive distance – Jefferson’s Monticello, Colonial Williamsburg, and the sites of some of the Civil War’s most important battles. The hotel and the area provide an array of activities, including winery tours, hot air balloon trips, fairs and festivals and great shopping that spans upscale shopping malls and outlets, eclectic boutiques, quaint specialty stores and treasure-filled antique shops. When the sun goes down, Richmond lights up, with great restaurants and clubs for every taste.

History, Heritage and Culture

Richmond, once the capital of the Confederacy, is just 15 minutes away. The historic and cultural heart of Virginia, its attractions include The Confederate White House, The Poe Museum, The Museum of the Confederacy, The Children’s Museum of Richmond and the renowned Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

The hotel itself showcases Virginia’s heritage, with architecture, and interior design that recall Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. The Jefferson Garden is modeled on the gardens at that stunning estate. The Golden Liberty Eagle, gilded in 24K gold leaf, is dedicated to the US. Armed Forces and flies atop the golden dome of the Jefferson Building.

The Tavern Restaurant is named after the historic Yellow Tavern that occupied the site of the Civil War battleground where the Wyndham Virginia Crossings Hotel & Conference Center now stands. A new marker has been added to commemorate the historic Battle of the Yellow Tavern in which Confederate General Jeb Stuart perished. A Civil War cannon will soon be placed in front of the Tavern. Several of the South’s most famous Civil War Battlefields are nearby. Virginia is currently marking the Civil War Sesquicentennial, a four- year, event-filled commemoration of the war and its impact on ordinary Americans as well as military heroes.

Great Sport

Golf, cycling, hiking tennis, fishing and riding the rapids on the James River – all on site or minutes away. Right on the grounds of the Wyndham Virginia crossings, guests will find golf, a putting green on the lawn, a fully equipped fitness center, swimming pool, volley ball and the hotel’s newest activity – cycling. The Wyndham Virginia Crossings will be Richmond’s Cycling Hotel when the World Cycling Championship comes to Richmond in 2015. The surrounding area offers hiking trails, fishing, boating and a chance to ride the rapids on the James River.

For golfers, The Traditions Golf Club. Is one of Virginia’s finest and guests can enjoy a round on the 18 hole course designed by Joseph L. Lee.

Family Fun

The Wyndham Virginia Crossings Hotel is ideal for families. Central Virginia offers many museums and historic sites geared to children, plus an array of outdoor activities. Unlike all other local hotels, families can come back from a day of sightseeing to relax on the spacious grounds, play games in The Tavern, make a splash in the pool or find a quiet retreat in the hotel’s elegant sitting rooms, Jefferson Gardens or outside under the Pergola, enjoying a stunning view of the Traditions Golf Course and the wooded hills beyond.

Kings Dominion, one of Virginia’s largest theme parks is just 20 minutes away.

Reunions of families and friends are increasingly popular at the Wyndham Virginia Crossings. With activities for every age group, convivial restaurants and function rooms, amenities such as WIFI, ample parking, a variety of dining options, the hotel is perfect for a Family Reunion, Girlfriend Getaways, and groups of golfers, cycling clubs, history buffs, sports aficionados and seniors. The Wyndham Virginia Crossings has special rates for AAA and AARP members and offers all the benefits of Wyndham Hotels and Resorts rewards programs.

The Wyndham Virginia Crossings is within a half day’s drive of 50 percent of the US population, easily reached via I-295, I-95 and I-64. Richmond International Airport is served by a variety of carriers including, Air-Tran, American, Delta, Jet Blue, United and US Airways.

Newly Renovated Wyndham Virginia Crossings Hotel Is the Perfect Place for a Destination Wedding

Invited to a wedding? Chances are, it won’t be at The Little Church Around the Corner! Last year, over 350,000 American weddings were held in romantic, exotic and unique destinations in the US and beyond. Destination weddings are growing in popularity, according to a recent survey by The and The second Knot Market Intelligence Destination Weddings Study tracks destination wedding trends in a review of nearly 3000 US couples who opted to wed away from home. The practice reflects changing demographics and Americans’ increasing mobility as family members disperse across the country. An added incentive is the allure of a special locale that is attractive, fun and different.

Fresh from a $3 million renovation of all indoor and outdoor spaces, the Wyndham Virginia Crossings Hotel, just outside of Richmond, offers everything needed for a perfect destination wedding. Set on 20 lushly landscaped acres, the Wyndham Virginia Crossings provides a singular Southern ambiance, excellent food and beverage options, 183 luxurious guestrooms, and -- especially important for destination weddings -- space, privacy, an array of activities and services, and excellent value. And, The Knot itself named Wyndham Virginia Crossings one of Virginia’s top wedding venues.

Today, one American couple in four will take the nuptial show on the road. That’s 25 percent of all wedding couples, up from 20 percent in 2009. For reasons of cost and convenience, destination weddings in the continental US were up from 60 to 70 percent since 2009 while international locales declined from 40 percent to 30 percent in the same period.

Southern states are increasingly popular as wedding destinations. The Wyndham Virginia Crossings offers a romantic setting and Southern charm.

When the estate’s elaborate iron gates open to the winding, tree-lined driveway, guests enter a gracious era of elegance and charm. Weddings can be set in the beautiful formal Courtyard garden, with the bride walking the bridal path that sweeps down from the graceful Jefferson Building. Or, choose the more intimate Pergola, overlooking the woodlands beyond. Another unique site for a ceremony is the newly created Jefferson Garden that replicates the seasonal plantings at Monticello, just as they were in Thomas Jefferson’s Day.

The elegant, well-appointed Bride’s Room at the Wyndham Virginia Crossings.

Receptions can be outdoors or in the hotel’s stunning ballroom. Brides enter the ballroom from the beautifully appointed Bride’s Room that leads to the ballroom’s staircase. Private dining rooms can accommodate up to 40 guests for cocktails or dinner.

Few wedding destinations are more accessible. The Wyndham Virginia Crossings is within a half day’s drive of half of the US population and easily reached via Interstates 295, 95 and 64. Richmond International Airport is served by a variety of carriers including, Air-Tran, American, Delta, Jet Blue, United and US Airways.

Not only are more couples planning destination weddings – more guests are attending – an average of 86 wedding guests, up from 77 guests in 2009.

Destination wedding events are longer than the average wedding, with most (60 percent) lasting three or more days. Guests are taking what used to be a day or weekend away and turning it into a great getaway, family vacation or reunion. This makes for an experience that holds special appeal for a variety of guests, but also demands more planning and additional activities for the couple to consider.

The Wyndham Virginia Crossings can accommodate every aspect of the actual wedding – rehearsal dinner, ceremony, reception and Sunday Brunch, says TeriLynne Petersen. “One-stop shopping is a tremendous advantage in planning any wedding, but it’s really important in pulling together a destination wedding.”

The Wyndham Virginia Crossings’ services can go well beyond that, Staff can arrange of an array of activities, on site and off, including cycling, hot air balloon rides, winery tours, and golf at the adjacent Crossings Golf Club. Day trips to Monticello, and Colonial Williamsburg and Busch Gardens are an easy drive.

Guests can opt to stay and enjoy the hotel and the area’s attractions. And, there are other options, according to Paul Brown, Director of Sales and Marketing. “A growing trend is to add a family reunion at the end of wedding so that guests can spend more relaxing time getting re-acquainted.”

Kids are free to play on the beautiful grounds, swim in the pool and play electronic games in the Tavern Restaurant, and Kings Dominion, Virginia’s most spectacular amusement park, is just 20 minutes away. Baby sitters are available.

Several of the South’s most famous Civil War Battlefields are nearby – a must see for every age. The Wyndham Virginia Crossings is on the site of the historic Battle of the Yellow Tavern in which Colonel Jeb Stuart was mortally wounded. Right now, Virginia is marking the 150th anniversary of the Civil War – a four- year, event-filled commemoration of the war and its impact on ordinary Americans as well as military heroes.

Richmond, once the capital of the Confederacy, is just 15 minutes away. The historic and cultural heart of Virginia, Its attractions include The Confederate White House, The Poe Museum, The Museum of the Confederacy, The Children’s Museum of Richmond and the renowned Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Shopping in the Historic Richmond Region includes upscale shopping malls and outlets, eclectic boutiques, quaint specialty stores and treasure-filled antique shops. When the sun goes down, Richmond lights up, with great restaurants and clubs for every taste.

Highlights from the, Second Destination Weddings Study and released the results of the second The Knot Market Intelligence Destination Weddings Study. The destination weddings industry spans more than 50,000 destination weddings annually. The survey polled nearly 3,000 US couples who had a destination wedding in 2011 or 2012, to determine current trends in location, events and planning.

- 350,000 destination weddings take place annually, representing 24 percent of all weddings.

- Weddings are growing in popularity. In 2011, nearly one in four (24 percent) couples had a destination wedding; up from 0 percent in 2009.

- The average destination bride is 30 years old.

- Destination weddings have an average of 86 guests, up from 77 in 2009.

- 70 percent of destination weddings take place in the continental U.S.

- Florida, California and Nevada are the top three destination wedding locations

- 30 percent of destination weddings take place outside the continental U.S, with the Caribbean, Mexico and Hawaii as most popular

- 51 percent of destination wedding couples use a wedding planner

- 69 percent of destination weddings are held outdoors

- 86 percent of couples plan to take a honeymoon after their destination wedding.

- Domestic destination weddings are more popular than international destination wedding locations.

- Destination wedding events are longer than the average wedding, with most (60 percent) lasting three or more days.

- Destination wedding couples are spending more on a per guest basis than their more traditional wedding counterparts. The median destination wedding spend is $404 per guest internationally, and $225 per guest domestically, compared with the national wedding average of just $137 per guest.

- The average total destination wedding spend is $20,890 (not including honeymoon, engagement ring or travel expenses).

- Aside from the traditional rehearsal dinner, after-party and next-day breakfast, one in three (32 percent) destination wedding couples plan a group activity like a sightseeing tour for their guests.

- Of couples planning a group activity, more than half (53 percent) cover the cost for at least some of their guests.

- Those couples who contribute to the cost of events spend an average of $2,598 internationally and $2,280 domestically.

- Two couples in five (39 percent) pay for travel/accommodations for at least some of their guests.

- More than four in five international destination wedding couples and guests stay at the wedding destination beyond the wedding date, while more than half of their domestic counterparts do the same.

- Nearly nine in 10 couples still plan to take a honeymoon after the wedding, with seven in 10 of them honeymooning in their wedding locale either for part of the honeymoon or the whole trip. In addition, nearly three in 10 will have another party when they get home.

About Wyndham Virginia Crossings Hotel & Conference Center

Nestled on a three-building campus that reflects the grace and charm of Old Virginia, the recently renovated Wyndham Virginia Crossings Hotel & Conference Center features 183 deluxe guest rooms, two restaurants, a fitness center, outdoor pool and The Crossings Golf Club.

Located at the interchange of Interstates 95 and 295, the hotel is 12 miles north of the City of Richmond, 20 miles north of Richmond International Airport, and 90 miles south of Washington, D.C.

Among its accolades, the hotel has gained recognition by a range of media and prominent hospitality industry organizations, including six consecutive years of receiving AAA’s prestigious Four Diamond Award® and being named one of Virginia’s Top Ten Resorts by Other awards include being voted among Virginia's top Wedding Venues by readers of The Knot, one of the nation's most popular wedding resource magazines. The hotel is a member of the International Association of Conference Centers.

Wyndham Hotels and Resorts

Wyndham Hotels and Resorts, LLC, a subsidiary of Wyndham Worldwide Corporation (NYSE: WYN), offers upscale hotel and resort accommodations throughout the United States, Europe, Canada, Mexico, China and the Caribbean. All Wyndham® hotels are either franchised by the company or managed by Wyndham Hotel Management, Inc., one of its affiliates or through a joint-venture partner. Additional information and reservations for all Wyndham hotels are available by calling (800) WYNDHAM – (800) 996-3426 – or visiting

What to See and Do

Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

About the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

With a collection of art that spans the globe and more than 5,000 years, plus a wide array of special exhibitions, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) is recognized as one of the top comprehensive art museums in the United States. The museum’s permanent collection encompasses more than 24,000 works of art, including one of the nation’s finest collections of American Art, Art Nouveau and Art Deco, and the largest public collection of Fabergé outside Russia. VMFA is home to acclaimed collections of English Silver and Ancient, Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, British Sporting and Modern & Contemporary art, as well as renowned African, East Asian and South Asian holdings. In May 2010, VMFA opened its doors to the public after a transformative expansion, the largest in its 75-year history. Programs include educational activities and studio classes for all ages, plus fun after-hours events. VMFA’s Statewide Partnership program includes traveling exhibitions, artist and teacher workshops, and lectures across the Commonwealth. VMFA is open 365 days a year and general admission is always free. For additional information, telephone 804-340-1400 or visit

Note: Exhibitions are subject to change. For the latest information, please visit General admission is always free. Special exhibitions which require an admission fee are indicated below.

Open 365 Days A Year

Admission: Free

Hours: Daily: 10 am – 5 pm
Thu and Fri until 9 pm

200 N. Boulevard
Richmond, VA 23220


Mon – Fri: noon – 5 pm

The Munch Museum

Since its opening in 1963, the Munch Museum has devoted its exhibitions and programming to preserving and furthering the legacy of its namesake. The museum launched with a donation from the artist’s estate of 1,150 paintings, close to 18,000 prints depicting more than 700 different motifs, 7,700 drawings and watercolors, and 13 sculptures. In addition, there were nearly 500 printing plates, 2,240 books, notebooks, documents, photographs, art tools, accessories and pieces of furniture. Further works of art by Munch as well as his extensive collection of letters were bequeathed to the City of Oslo by his sister Inger Munch, and were added to the Munch collection when she died in 1952. Today the Munch Museum houses more than half of Edvard Munch’s paintings and most of his prints.

About the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) in Richmond, Virginia, is one of the largest comprehensive art museums in the United States. VMFA, which opened in 1936, is a state agency and privately endowed educational institution. Its purpose is to collect, preserve, exhibit, and interpret art, and to encourage the study of the arts. Through the Office of Statewide Partnerships program, the museum offers curated exhibitions, arts-related audiovisual programs, symposia, lectures, conferences, and workshops by visual and performing artists. In addition to presenting a wide array of special exhibitions, the museum provides visitors with the opportunity to experience a global collection of art that spans more than 5,000 years.  VMFA’s permanent holdings encompass more than 35,000 artworks, including the largest public collection of Fabergé outside of Russia, the finest collection of Art Nouveau outside of Paris, and one of the nation’s finest collections of American art. VMFA is home to important collections of English silver and Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, British sporting, and modern and contemporary art, as well as renowned South Asian, Himalayan, and African art. In May 2010, VMFA opened its doors to the public after a transformative expansion, the largest in its 80-year history. The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts is the only art museum in the United States open 365 days a year with free general admission. For additional information, telephone 804-340-1400 or

VMFA Acquires 35 Photographs by Louis Draper and his Complete Archive

The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts recently acquired 35 photographs by the Richmond-born, African-American artist Louis Draper (1935-2002), as well as his complete archive, which includes his papers, working prints, negatives, and camera equipment. This acquisition places VMFA at the forefront of museums and research institutions collecting African American art. Draper’s street photography of the 1960s and 1970s, as well as his role as a founding member of the African-American photography collective Kamoinge, have recently garnered critical attention and interest from peer institutions and art historians. The archive from Draper’s estate is vital for understanding his body of work as it includes his records, notes, and transcripts recounting Kamoinge’s early years.

The archival collection consists of photographic material and documentation of Draper’s career as a fine arts photographer, teacher and photojournalist and comprises approximately 20 linear feet of material and includes 1,791 prints, 36,216 negatives, 557 proof sheets, about 2,477 color slides, 16 transparencies and computer art. Manuscript material includes notebooks, workbooks, Kamoinge workshop portfolios, academic work, memorabilia, personal records and correspondence. Cameras and photographic equipment were also included, along with approximately 1,500 prints, negatives and proof sheets by other photographers.

Building on Kamoinge’s recent publication, Timeless: Photographs by Kamoinge, and Mercer County Community College’s book, Louis Draper: Selected Photographs, VMFA will be the first major art museum to organize an exhibition on Draper and the early years of Kamoinge, which will open in January 2019, and will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue informed by the new archival research made possible through this landmark acquisition. In addition to making scholarly contributions to the history of photography during the Civil Rights era, the museum’s purchase of 35 works by Draper, along with his entire archive, is directly related to the museum’s strategic plan goal of significantly increasing VMFA’s holdings of African American art.

Louis Draper’s sister, Nell Draper Winston, explained what the acquisition meant for her: “I am proud of the fact that Louis Draper’s collection will remain here in the Richmond area at VMFA. He was so very passionate about his craft and because of his great passion my goal was to expose his work to the local Richmond community. He was recognized nationally and internationally, but not here in his hometown. He was a mentor to so many young people and I want them to see what options are available to them. I also want to introduce them to the extraordinary group of artists which Lewis co-founded, Kamoinge, who recently celebrated their 50th anniversary. My hope is that people will see the world through the lens of his camera and will go out and make their own contributions.”

In 2015, VMFA produced a short video interview of Ms. Winston speaking about her brother’s body of work.

Louis Draper was born and raised in Richmond, Va., and moved to New York City in 1957. He took classes at New York University’s Institute of Film and Television as well as at the New School for Social Research where he studied with the influential photographer Eugene Smith. He also established relationships with several major African-American literary and artistic leaders, such as Langston Hughes and Roy DeCarava. In 1963, Draper was instrumental in forming the Kamoinge Workshop, a collective of African American photographers. Draper chose the name, which means “a group of people acting and working together” in Gikuyu, the language of the Kikuyu people of Kenya. While the artists did not work alongside each other, they met weekly to show each other their work and frequently exhibited together. In 1982, the photographer Carrie Mae Weems credited the efforts of Draper and Kamoinge as “the first steps taken by black photographers to come together and form a comprehensive group that would address in photographic terms the description of being black in America.” While the group organized several shows in their own gallery space in the mid-1960s, they also had exhibitions at New York’s International Center for Photography and the Studio Museum in Harlem.

Mattia Preti (Italian, 1613–1619), The Visitation, oil on canvas, 47 5/16”H x 67 1/32”W. Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond. Arthur and Margaret Glasgow Endowment.
The Visitation is an exceptional religious scene by the Baroque master Mattia Preti, whose work illustrates the realistic tendencies perfected by fellow Italian artist, Caravaggio (Michelangelo Merisi). Preti is generally described as the last great exponent of Caravaggesque naturalism, and here he revels in the tenderness of the scene unlike the coarse treatments of some of his counterparts. Especially appropriate to the Christmas season, this painting depicts the meeting of the Virgin Mary and her cousin Elizabeth, the first episode in the life of Christ recorded by Luke.

Preti, although born in Calabria and active in Naples and Malta later in his career, was working in Rome at the time this painting was produced. The museum’s holdings include important works by great artists active in Naples including Luca Giordano, Paolo de Matteis, Francesco Solimena, Salvator Rosa, and Artemisia Gentileschi. The addition of this work further enhances VMFA’s collection as a destination for the study of the Neapolitan baroque.

In this powerful and dramatic painting, Preti represents the meeting of the Virgin Mary with her older cousin Elizabeth. Mary hastened to visit her kinswoman following the Annunciation by the Angel Gabriel. Elizabeth, who was soon to give birth to St. John the Baptist, recognizes that Mary has been chosen as the mother of the Son of God, and greets her with the words “Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. . . . For lo, as soon as the voice of thy salvation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy.” (Luke 1:42-44)

“This old master painting will become a visitor favorite, as well as a touchstone for the artist,” Director Alex Nyerges said. “We can think of no better Christmas gift to the commonwealth than exquisite art for all to enjoy.”
19th-century American portrait

Gilbert Stuart (American, 1755-1828), Portrait of Rebecca White Pickering (Mrs. Timothy Pickering), 1817-18, oil on wood. J. Harwood and Louise B. Cochrane Fund for American Art.
Gilbert Stuart – “the Vandyke of the Time”– was a master portraitist whose talents coincided with the needs of a generation anxiously crafting a new American identity. After the Revolution, persons once subject to the hierarchical social structure of the British Empire were freed to negotiate public and private selves within the context of a self-determined republic. To this end, Stuart imbued his clients’ portraits with the social parity accorded an international society of merchants, landowners and aristocrats. With its dazzling display of luxurious textures, this stunning likeness of the Massachusetts matriarch, Rebecca White Pickering (1754-1828), numbers among his finest work.
“Celebrated by his contemporaries for his life portraits of George Washington,” Susan Jensen Rawles, interim department head of American art said, “Stuart’s extraordinary talents are rarely as evident as in this portrait of Rebecca Pickering, its rich tones rendered with a fluid touch.

 84 Japanese works

Also acquired are 84 works by the 20th century Japanese shin-hanga woodblock print master, Kawase Hasui. In addition to this gift, collectors René and Carolyn Balcer have donated more than 580 Hasui works to VMFA. The exhibition, Water and Shadow: Kawase Hasui and Japanese Landscape Prints, is on view in VMFA’s Evans Court Gallery.

Born in Tokyo, Kawase Hasui was trained in traditional Japanese painting, watercolor, and oil painting. He studied Japanese prints with Kaburaki Kiyokata (1878-1972), and then began to work as an illustrator for magazines and advertisements. In 1918, Hasui’s first experimental prints were published by Watanabe Sh?zabur? (1885-1962), initiating a collaboration that would last for the rest of Hasui’s life. The prints created by Hasui were named as “new prints” (shin-hanga), an art movement that began in the early 20th century. By bringing together the talents of an artist, a block carver, a printer, and a publisher, shin-hanga works mimicked the traditional collaborative process of ukiyo-e printmaking, as opposed to the “creative prints” (sosaku-hanga), another movement that emerged in Japan at the same time and advocated artists to create prints through their individual effort.

Tibetan textile
Tibetan, Temple Hanging, dyed and painted silk appliqué, 93?”H ? 67?”W. Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond. Gift of Anne and Larry Heilman.
VMFA’s world-class Himalayan collection is enriched by the gift of a large and visually powerful Tibetan textile. Nearly eight feet tall, it is composed of hundreds of small, quilted and embroidered silk elements—most auspicious emblems—joined to form an elaborate garland centered on an unfolding lotus. This colorful hanging would once have enlivened the interior of a Buddhist temple, where it might have either fronted a large altar or hung above an entryway, rather like an ornamental festoon in western architecture. Donors Anne and Larry Heilman???? of Chevy Chase, Md., acquired the textile in Kathmandu, Nepal in 1972.

Free. Open 365. days.
Museum Hours
Open 365 days a year.
Daily: 10 am – 5 pm

Anderson Gallery

The Anderson Gallery is the exhibition facility of the VCU School of the Arts—ranked the #1 public university of arts and design in the country by U.S. News & World Report—and a leading venue for contemporary art in the Southeast. Well known for presenting the work of regional, national, and international artists of diverse backgrounds, the gallery mounts challenging exhibitions, offers public programs, and publishes significant catalogues to promote investigation and discovery in the field of visual art and culture. These activities extend the university’s educational and scholarly mission by fostering open and ongoing engagement with the ever-changing nature of the art of today. Gallery hours: Tues-Sun, 10 am-5 pm; closed Mon. Free and open to the public. For additional information, phone 804-828-1522 or visit

Gallery Installations:
East Asian

Since Chinese and Japanese works first entered VMFA’s collection in 1941, the museum has assembled approximately 2,000 works from China, Korea and Japan, spanning the history from the Neolithic period to the present. This fall, VMFA will celebrate the reopening of the East Asian art galleries, showcasing 240 artworks in Chinese, Koran and Japanese galleries. For the first time in the museum’s history, Korean artworks will be on view in a dedicated space made possible through the support of the Korea Foundation in Seoul. Many of the works on display have been acquired in recent years and will be on view for the first time at VMFA.

Latest Events

VMFA Special Exhibitions & Gallery Installations

Special Exhibitions

Fusion: Art of the 21st-Century

Showing works by an increasingly diverse roster of global artists, VMFA’s 21st-century gallery reflects the expanded nature of contemporary art. The next exhibition, titled Fusion, builds on this focus. It emphasizes new acquisitions—many on view for the first time—and includes a substantial number of works by African and African-American artists and works from Latin American, the Caribbean, and Mexico.
Curated by John B. Ravenal, Sydney and Frances Lewis Family Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art

Collections and Gallery Installations

Permanent Collection on Tour: Faberg©
VMFAs Faberg© Gallery is closed while the acclaimed collection is on tour, however the Imperial Rock Crystal Easter Egg and some additional objects by Faberge have been installed in the Vaulted Hall adjacent to the Marble Hall.

Truland Foundation Media Resource Room
Visitors to the Sydney and Frances Lewis Mid to Late-20th Century Galleries will discover a newly outfitted space designed to bring the artists featured in our Modern and Contemporary collections to life. Equipped with selections of VMFA catalogues and a video kiosk, the Truland Foundation Media Resource Room is a place to discover the stories behind some of the most popular holdings in these collections. Listen to artist interviews - with Chuck Close, Bill Viola, Sally Mann, Sol LeWitt, and many others - using the touch screen monitors and deepen your understanding of the artistic process. The space and kiosk were a gift of former VMFA trustee and President of the Truland Group, Robert W. Truland, and his family. VMFA’s Canvas membership group donated funds to help support the artist interviews.

NOTE: Exhibitions are subject to change. General admission to VMFA permanent collections is always free. Some special exhibitions require an admission fee, and members receive free admission to all ticketed exhibitions, as noted in each description.

Truland Foundation Media Resource Room
Visitors to the Sydney and Frances Lewis Mid to Late-20th Century Galleries will discover a newly outfitted space designed to bring the artists featured in our Modern and Contemporary collections to life. Equipped with selections of VMFA catalogues and a video kiosk, the Truland Foundation Media Resource Room is a place to discover the stories behind some of the most popular holdings in these collections. Listen to artist interviews using the touch screen in the kiosk and deepen your understanding of the artistic process. The space and kiosk were a gift of former VMFA trustee and President of the Truland Group, Robert W. Truland, and his family. VMFA's Canvas membership group donated funds to help support the artist interviews.

Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) Opened Regional Visitor Center in Historic Robinson House

Since the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts opened in May 2010, its annual attendance has been the largest of any attraction in the region. Because of its proximity to I-95/I-64 and its leadership position, VMFA will rehabilitate the historic Robinson House and repurpose it to include a regional visitor center. The building, located on the museum’s Mary Morton Parsons Plaza, will be operated in collaboration with Richmond Region Tourism that includes Henrico, Chesterfield, and Hanover Counties as well as the City of Richmond.

The preservation and rehabilitation of Robinson House will stabilize its structure, reclaim interior spaces to evoke the buildings’ historic past, and repurpose the building for use as a regional tourism center. In addition, a gallery is planned to interpret the history of the site from Native American times to its role as the headquarters and museum for the R. E. Lee Camp, No. 1, Confederate Veterans for 56 years, among other uses. In 1892 the state agreed to contribute to the ongoing operations of the R.E. Lee Camp, in exchange for the deed to the property. After a competitive selection process, VMFA has engaged Glavé & Holmes’ Cultural Studio, led by Steven Blashfield, AIA. VMFA has nominated Robinson House to the National Register for Historic Landmarks and the Virginia Landmarks Register.

The Robinson House, an Italianate structure built circa 1850, was prominent Richmond banker Anthony Robinson’s country house and farm, at that time encompassing 159 acres. In 1884 the house and 36 acres were sold to the R.E. Lee Camp, No. 1, Confederate Veterans, and the camp grew to care for approximately 3,000 indigent and disabled veterans and flourished for 56 years. The property then reverted to the Commonwealth of Virginia according to the preexisting agreement and the building served a variety of functions during the seven decades that followed, housing the Virginia Institute for Scientific Research (1949-63); offices, art studios, and galleries for the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (1964-93); and offices for the Virginia Association of Museums (1995-96).

The rehabilitation of the Robinson House has long been a VMFA goal. It is listed as a number one priority on the Commonwealth’s six-year Capital Outlay Plan. Funding is included in a bond package issued through the Virginia Public Building Authority, subject to the provisions in Chapter 806 of the 2013 Acts of Assembly.

For additional information, telephone 804-340-1400 or visit The museum is located at 200 N Boulevard, Richmond, VA 23220-4007.

$150-Million Expansion at VMFA Is Largest in Museum's History

Since May 1, 2010, everything about the museum is bigger, brighter and more welcoming. Space has been doubled for major traveling exhibitions and has increased total space for the permanent collections and exhibitions to 134,000 square feet. In addition , major expanses of glass allows natural light to pour into the heart of the museum and also welcomes visitors with a look at three floors of art and activity inside.

The new James W. and Frances G. McGlothlin Wing, designed by architect Rick Mather, gives a thrilling, glamorous stage from which to welcome visitors and to display more of the museum's global collection and present important special exhibitions.
The $150-million expansion project is the largest in the museum’s history and re-orients VMFA’s main entrance to the Boulevard for the first time in decades.

The McGlothlin Wing is the primary feature in the museum’s redevelopment of its 13 1/2-acre site. The master plan knits together new elements – the McGlothlin Wing, the E. Claiborne and Lora Robins Sculpture Garden, the Mary Morton Parsons Entry Plaza, and a new landscaped parking deck – with the original Georgian-style museum and three other historic buildings on the museum’s grounds.

Indiana-limestone and glass cover the exterior of the wing, which will provide spacious new galleries for permanent collections and temporary exhibitions, an art education center, conservation studios, a library, a gift shop, and restaurants.

The expansion was designed by London-based Rick Mather Architects in partnership with a Richmond architectural firm, SMBW, which recently completed projects for additions to the School of Architecture at the University of Virginia (with WG Clark and Bill Sherman) and Luck Stone’s new corporate headquarters in Goochland. The project is the first major U.S. commission for Mather, an American who has designed striking modern additions to a number of Great Britain’s most venerable cultural institutions. His most recent project, a new building for the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, opened in November.

The new VMFA wing is named after its principal donors, native Virginians James W. and Frances G. McGlothlin. An exhibition of their promised collection of paintings, sculpture and works on paper from their preeminent American holdings will inaugurate the new building, as will a showing of selections from a recent major acquisition of German Expressionist works from the Ludwig and Rosy Fischer Collection.

As visitors enter the three-story Louise B. and J. Harwood Cochrane Atrium at the heart of the wing, they will step into a soaring interior washed with natural light and paved in dark granite. Described by the architect as a “main street” within “a city in miniature,” the dramatic space allows light to penetrate the interior of the museum, and it connects the new wing to the existing museum. The new Margaret R. and Robert M. Freeman Library, gift shop, Best Café and galleries open onto the atrium, and all key circulation paths pass through it.

A large-scale commissioned painting by internationally known artist Ryan McGinness, who was born and raised in Virginia Beach, will hang in the entry concourse. The painting is his first museum commission, and its 200 colorful and densely layered images are based on works in the VMFA collection.

From the atrium, stairways and glass-walled elevators take visitors either below to the 12,000-square-foot special-exhibitions galleries and lecture hall or above to two levels of new permanent-collection galleries. Aloft, five glass-sided aerial walkways span the atrium and connect the galleries in the new wing to those in the existing building.

On the second floor of the new wing will be the McGlothlin Galleries of American Art. Two bridges connect these galleries to another devoted exclusively to 21st-century art. Two more bridges connect to the original building’s newly transformed Sydney and Frances Lewis galleries that showcase VMFA’s collection of mid to late 20th-century art. Still another bridge on the second level connects holdings in the new wing of Ancient American art, along with a collection of Native American art on loan from Robert and Nancy Nooter, to galleries in the existing museum presenting Greek and Roman art and Chinese art.

On the third floor, the James W. and Georgina M. Rawles Galleries of Indian Art will feature important works from South Asia. Also on the third floor are conservation studios – now more than doubled in size to nearly 10,000 square feet and washed by northern light – the Claiborne-Robertson Board Room, and a restaurant. The restaurant’s outdoor balcony offers a view of the sculpture garden. A glass-enclosed bar overlooks the atrium interior’s aerial walkways and main street as well as the sculpture garden.

Two walkways on the third floor lead to the previously existing museum and the world renowned Sydney and Frances Lewis Collection of Art Nouveau and Art Deco and the Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon collection of French painting and sculpture.

Two new period installations will add still more drama to the new wing. In the South Asian galleries, an elegant, white-marble pavilion from Rajasthan, India, will be on view. The 19th-century pavilion, with central fountain intact, measures approximately 14 by 27 feet and weighs 27 tons. It stands 9 1/2 feet tall. VMFA Director Alex Nyerges says the majestic structure will be the only Mughal-inspired architectural space in an American museum.

In the American galleries, the recently-acquired Worsham-Rockefeller Room will be on view. The bedroom is from the posh 1880s New York City home of native Richmonder Arabella Yarrington Worsham Huntington. (She later sold the house to John D. Rockefeller Sr., who left the interiors largely intact.) The Aesthetic-movement room was a gift from the Museum of the City of New York.

Nyerges says VMFA’s charter and its status as a state institution of higher learning drove the expansion of its campus and the design of the new wing. “We have also recently completed a comprehensive assessment of our services in dialogue with our statewide partners and are implementing enhancements to our statewide offerings for Virginians in their own communities.”

The project was funded by a major capital campaign. The Commonwealth of Virginia provided $50 million, with the balance of $100 million coming from a $1-million federal grant and $99 million in gifts from private donors and foundations.

"An Enduring Legacy: Paintings Acquired Through the J. Harwood an Louise B. Cochrane Fund for American Art."

Ongoing during VMFA expansion construction
Selections include works by artists such as Thomas Hart Benton, Charles Caryl Coleman, Jasper Francis Cropsey, Charles Sprague Pearce, Severin Roesen, William Wetmore Story, Henry Ossawa Tanner, John Trumbull and Benjamin West.

British Sporting Art Collection is Now On View Again at VMFA

The internationally significant Paul Mellon Collection of British Sporting Art is back on view after a year’s absence at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

The reinstallation features 85 paintings and seven sculptures – more works than were previously displayed and some that have not been permanently shown before, including two by George Stubbs, two by Ben Marshall and one by James Seymour.

Alex Nyerges, VMFA’s director, says the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Mellon Collection “is the most important international collection of British sporting art, primarily because of the wide range of artists and subjects.” He says the collection includes paintings, drawings, watercolors and prints reflecting both the variety and the quality of a uniquely British school of art during its heyday, from 1700 to 1850.

Mellon, who lived in Upperville, Va., was VMFA’s longest serving trustee. He died in 1999 at the age of 91. All of the works on view were given by Mellon.

It was in 1960 that Mellon introduced equestrian art as a new subject to American audiences when he helped organize and was a prominent lender to a VMFA exhibition, “Sport and the Horse.” In 1985, he gave the museum a major collection of English 18th- and 19th-century paintings, drawings and prints, many of the sporting art genre.

The two paintings by Stubbs (1724-1806) that have not previously been on permanent display are both oils on canvas. They are “A Dappled Grey Hunter with Two Foxhounds beside a Lake,” 1759-60, and “Tiger,” circa 1769-71. Five other Stubbs works are included in the reinstallation. Merling says Stubbs brought a scientific approach to his work and actually dissected horses to more fully understand their anatomy.

Benjamin Marshall (1768-1835), who “created works with appealing naturalism and informality,” Merling says, is represented by four works. Two of them, both oils on canvas, have not been permanent displayed before. They are “Colonel Henry Campbell Shooting on a Moor,” circa 1806, and “Noble, a Hunter, Well-Known in Kent,” 1810.

The father of British Sporting Painting, John Wootton (1682-1764), is represented by three works, among them “A Bay Horse Got by the Leedes Arabian,” a circa-1715 oil on canvas. Wootton was the first to create horse portraits in a monumental manner, often making references to classical statuary, Merling says.

The comic aspects of British sporting art are represented by a popular favorite from the Mellon Collection, “Portrait of an Extraordinary Musical Dog,” before 1805, by Philip Reinagle (1749-1833). Other amusing aspects of the genre are seen in paintings by John E. Ferneley Sr. (1782-1860) and John Collett (1725-1780).

Merling says he hopes that visitors will learn to admire the artists’ variety and their efforts to represent reality, “gain an appreciation for the ideal notion of a community of sportsmen, and, following in Mr. Mellon’s footsteps, learn to appreciate the intelligence and physical beauty of horses and other animals.”

VMFA’s British Sporting Art Collection has been off view for a year while the museum presented several exhibitions dedicated to Mellon’s memory.

The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts is on the Boulevard at Grove Avenue. The galleries are open Wednesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. VMFA is an educational institution of the Commonwealth of Virginia and in 2008 celebrates 70 years as a leader in statewide arts education. Admission to the museum is free, although there may be a fee for special exhibitions. For additional information about exhibitions and programs, telephone (804) 340-1400 or visit the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Web site,

40-Foot-Tall Glass Wall Fronting Expanding VMFA Will Make Dramatic Statement on the Boulevard

A dramatic glass wall will signal the mission of the expanded Virginia Museum of Fine Arts by showcasing works of art and revealing public activity inside. The insulated-glass wall on the east façade will be 40 feet high and 72 feet wide and will cover 2,880 square feet, an expanse greater than a tennis court.

Those passing by the museum will be able to see activity inside the museum’s triple-story atrium - a “main street” that will connect the new wing with two existing wings. In addition, skylights will allow natural light into the atrium and surrounding spaces. VMFA Director Alex Nyerges says the enormous glass wall will “blur the boundaries between indoor and outdoor spaces,” make the museum a more welcoming place, and pioneer a new ideal for celebrating culture in public spaces.

A glass-enclosed stairwell on the north façade will also draw attention to a new main entrance. The entrance and forecourt will re-orient VMFA access to the stately Boulevard, one of Richmond’s main thoroughfares. At night, the atrium and stairwell will glow, giving the museum the appearance of a beckoning beacon. Some of the glass panels are so large that only a few firms in the world are capable of manufacturing them, according to Richard Woodward, VMFA’s senior deputy director for architecture and design. The panels are being made by Eckelt Glas of Steyr, Individual panels as large as 8 by 16 feet will be held in place by concealed stainless steel supports. The objective, Woodward says, is to achieve “a smooth surface without visible mechanical fittings.” From the inside of the expanded museum, visitors will be able to look east over Richmond’s historic Fan District neighborhood and towards downtown.

In his design for the addition to the nation’s largest and oldest state art museum, London-based architect Rick Mather also included large expanses of glass on the west façade that will allow visitors to view a new 4-acre sculpture garden and the early-20th-century residential neighborhood just west of the museum’s campus.

All told, the expansion exterior will be clad in 10,000 square feet of insulated glass and 22,000 square feet of limestone. Some 500 tons of steel and 20,000 cubic yards of concrete will support the structure. Topping out for the steel roof structure is expected in the late summer or early fall of this year. Then, construction will continue on the building’s façades and interior, leading to an opening in late 2009, museum officials say.
The project will add more than 165,000 square feet of space to the existing 320,000-square-foot museum. The expansion increases the museum’s gallery space by 50 percent.

The interior of the addition will establish circulation corridors that will connect the new and existing buildings so that visitors may move throughout the museum without retracing their steps. Museum officials say this will enable them to organize the VMFA collections in even more meaningful ways. A new 600-car parking deck, also part of the project, is already in operation. The 170,000-square-foot facility accommodates more than twice as many automobiles as the museum’s former surface lot. The majority of the former surface lot is being reclaimed for the new sculpture garden, a portion of which will cover the roof of the parking deck with a landscaped slope.

More information on the project, plus a photo gallery, is available online at The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts is located at 200 N Boulevard, Richmond, VA 23220-4007

Renaissance Altarpiece by Il Bachiacca, Salon Painting By Charles Sprague Pearce Are Acquired

Benjamin West painting, monumental urn, two works from India, Robert Lazzarini sculpture are also added to VMFA collection

A 16th-century Florentine painting of the Virgin and Child by Francesco d'Ubertini Verdi - called Il Bachiacca - has been added to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts collection. Experts call it the Renaissance artist's masterpiece.

Also new to VMFA are a late-19th-century oil on canvas by American expatriate artist Charles Sprague Pearce and a rare 18th-century genre scene in oil on canvas by Benjamin West, known to art historians as "the father of American art."

The museum trustees have also approved acquisitions including an American early 19th-century monumental urn, watercolors from India depicting the creation of the universe and a female figure after her bath, two light-based works by living American artists, and a signature work by contemporary American sculptor Robert Lazzarini.

The oil on panel by Il Bachiacca (Florence, 1494-1557) is a large painting, nearly 6 feet tall. "The Virgin and Child with the Young Saint John the Baptist," from about 1540, is the artist's "best-preserved large-scale figural composition and is also his masterpiece," says Dr. Mitchell Merling, head of VMFA's European art department and the museum's Paul Mellon Curator. He says the altarpiece "fills a major gap in our museum's European collection."

Il Bachiacca counted the Medici among his patrons, and like Raphael he was trained by Pietro Perugino. VMFA's new acquisition presents elements of both High Renaissance and Mannerist styles and demonstrates the influence of Renaissance masters such as Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael and Michelangelo.

Merling says research indicates the painting most likely came from Florence's Roselli del Turco palace, formerly the residence of the Borgherini, an influential family of the period and major early patrons of the arts. "The scale, the excellent quality of the pigments and the expensively dressed Madonna all point to this work's origin as a private altarpiece for a wealthy Florentine family," he says.

The painting was purchased in part through the museum's Glasgow Fund.

Charles Sprague Pearce (American, 1851-1914) was among many American artists who settled in France in the second half of the 19th century. A Boston native, he moved to Paris and became a key figure in expatriate circles, exhibiting in the Paris Salon nearly every year from 1876 to 1906. In 1884, he moved to France's Picardy region, where he lived for the next three decades.

The Pearce painting, an oil on canvas, was a prizewinning and well-known picture in the artist's day, and "the work continues to impress in its ambition, accomplishment and painterly delights," says Dr. Sylvia Yount, VMFA's Louise B. and J. Harwood Cochrane Curator of American Art.

Benjamin West (1738-1820), a Quaker from Pennsylvania, was the first American artist to train in Europe. He succeeded Sir Joshua Reynolds as president of London's Royal Academy in 1796. His students included notable American artists such as Charles Wilson Peale, Gilbert Stuart, Samuel F.B. Morse, Thomas Sully and John Trumble. This led historians to call him the father of American art.

West was known for history and religious paintings and portraits produced for King George III and other powerful patrons. The painting now at VMFA, "Three Ladies Making Music," 1798, is a rare genre scene that reveals another side of the revered and canonical artist. Yount calls it "an idealized image of aristocratic English domestic life." The painting, which is 13 by 18 inches, contrasts starkly with VMFA's 1769 history painting by West, "Caesar Reading the History of Alexander's Exploits."

"Three Ladies Making Music" is "an auspicious addition" to the museum's 18th-century American holdings, Yount says. It was purchased through VMFA's Cochrane Fund.

The museum's new monumental urn was made at the Tucker Factories (active 1826-38) of Philadelphia between 1827 and 1831. It represents the dual poles of taste in early 19th-century America and is decorated with Neoclassical motifs and dramatic pictorial scenes in the concurrent Romantic style. It stands 21 inches tall.

The two painted scenes on the urn are likely based on period engravings, Yount says. The urn is one of the six largest and most elaborate pieces of porcelain known to have been produced at the renowned Tucker Factories. The bronze handles were designed and cast by the equally acclaimed Cornelius & Company firm (Philadelphia, active 1827-31). The urn, too, was purchased with funds from VMFA's Cochrane Fund.

Two watercolors from India were added to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts collection. One is titled "The Creation of the Universe: Vishnu and Lakshmi on Sesha, the Cosmic Serpent, Floating on the 'Multitudinous Seas'" and was executed about 1770-75. The other is titled "A Lady after Her Bath, Holding a Lotus Bud that She Has Received from a Winged Messenger" and dates to the early 1800s. The first is from Guler or Kangra in the Punjab Hills, and the latter is from Jaipur in India's Rajasthan region.

"The Creation of the Universe" depicts an important episode in Hindu myth - the moment when Lakshmi arouses Vishnu from his slumber by tenderly massaging his feet. The well-known and widely published miniature painting -- in opaque watercolor and gold on paper - measures about 11 by 8 inches and is "a work of the very highest aesthetic quality - a widely recognized masterpiece of the later Pahari school," says Dr. Joseph M. Dye III, VMFA's curatorial chair and E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Curator of South Asian and Islamic Art.

"A Lady after Her Bath" depicts "the passionate and sometimes bumpy 'progress' of love," Dye says. The heroine of the painting eagerly awaits the arrival of her hero, whose imminent appearance is signaled by the lotus bud. "The aching loneliness and intense longing that she feels for her lover are indicated by the completely empty architectural spaces around her," Dye says. "Will her hero come? Only time will tell."

The opaque watercolor and gold on paper measures about 20 by 14 inches was given to the museum by Friends of Indian Art, a support group, with the purchase supplemented through VMFA's Robert and Ruth Fisher Fund.

"Skulls" consists of four three-dimensional sculptures that resemble distorted human skulls, ranging in size from 4 by 14 by 6 inches to 19 by 3 by 4 inches. The artist uses resin, bone and pigment to mimic reality, but his versions are torqued and skewed. "Skulls" was purchased through VMFA's Adolph D. and Wilkins C. Williams Fund.

For more information, contact the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, 200 N Boulevard, Richmond, VA 23220-4007


Where to Stay

Hotel Roanoke and Conference Center

Imaginative and practical culinary training is available at this landmark Tudor-style hotel. Classes for couples include preparation of romantic meals, instruction on grilling and barbecuing, cooking lighter fare and preparing for the holidays. (540-985-5900)

What to See & Do

The Roanoke Pinball Museum

Center in the Square is excited to announce the addition of a brand new attraction to its facility -- the Roanoke Pinball Museum. Admission to the museum, located on the second floor,allows visitors, of all ages, to play at their leisure, but also to learn, from 46 machines from 1948 through today.

Pinball players will be introduced to the history of pinball, the science behind the game, and have an opportunity to appreciate the color, composition and overall design of the back glasses and playfields. SOL-compliant curriculum and educational resources will be available to students and teachers to reinforce their visit to the museum.

Museum Information

The Roanoke Pinball Museum is an interactive museum where patrons can play any machine for one admission price. General admission for the summer is $10 for individuals 9+ and free for children 8 and younger (with accompanying adult 18+). Year-long memberships are available for individuals and families. Individual memberships are $75 and a household membership (2 adults and up to 4 children) is $125. Members receive year-long access to the museum, the ability to play in league competitions on Tuesday nights, invitations to special member events, and discounts on merchandise, concessions and museum rentals.

Individual and or household memberships are available.

Grab a Bite and Support the Roanoke Pinball Museum!

Roanoke Pinball Museum | 540-342-5PIN (5746) |

The African American Heritage of Virginia's Blue Ridge --

isn't something to be celebrated solely in February for Black History Month. With the unique landmarks and impact of African American culture on the region, it's something you can experience during any visit to the Roanoke Valley. The Booker T. Washington National Monument is a free experience that explores the birthplace and early life of one of the great leaders in American history. The Harrison Museum of African American Culture at Center in the Square in Downtown Roanoke features exhibits that tell the story of how African Americans helped create the heart of the region. And this self-guided walking tour of the Historic Gainsboro region of Roanoke is a wonderful way to visit some of the iconic spots of African American history in the region while learning more about the area.

Sample Itineraries

We can all use a little help when planning what to do for our next vacation. With these sample itineraries, you can put together the perfect getaway to the Roanoke Valley in Virginia's Blue Ridge by picking out the activities and experiences most appealing to you and your family. Each of the itineraries are built around specific interests, such as Arts & Culture, and History, and can be customized based on the length of your visit. Whether it's just an afternoon or a visit for a week, there are all kinds of ideas on how to spend your Blue Ridge Day. From finding the perfect place to watch the sunset, to picking out the best hiking trail, to making sure the kids have plenty of fun, you'll be able to create the perfect itinerary for Virginia's Blue Ridge.

EXCLUSIVE PACKAGES   Take advantage of the convenience and value of booking a vacation package

Tutankhamun has opened at the Science Museum of Western Virginia

This dazzling collection features 124 replicas of the boy king's magnificent and personal possessions. The exhibit is presented in association with the International Museum Institute of New York.

The Science Museum is open:
Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sunday, 1-5 p.m.

Tutankhamun is included in the regular admission.

Admission Prices  

Exhibits Only

Exhibits & Butterflies
Fee charged depending on age. Members are admitted free of charge.

Celebrate the premier of Tutankhamun with the museum's inaugural BUTTERFLY BALL featuring:

Butterfly masquerade held in the museum and on the roof of Center in the Square
Performances by Roanoke Ballet & Opera Roanoke
Latin American, Asian and Virginian cuisine (celebrating the three regions of the world that provide the museum's butterflies)
Your own butterfly release

Butterfly Ball tickets: $125/person.
Proceeds benefit the Science Museum.

Location: Science Museum of Western Virginia, One Market Square, 4th floor,
Roanoke, VA 24011

Summer Camps!
Space left for only a few camps. Scholarships available!

It pays to be a member of the Science Museum! Join today for discounts on events and other benefits!

The Roanoke Star

I was amazed to see a huge star in the distance as I gazed out my hotel window. I couldn't resist seeing it close-up and wasn't disappointed when I arrived at Mill Mountain Park, drove to the summit, and after parking my car, walked to and stood beneath the Star. From a park ranger, I learned that the Star is the world's largest freestanding illuminated man-made star and is visible from almost every part of Roanoke, especially at night when it is illuminated. At 100 feet tall, the Roanoke Star is nestled in Roanoke's beautiful valley - a place where Indians once wandered between the parallel ridges of the Allegheny Mountains and named this area Shenandoah - meaning "daughter of the stars." When construction ended, Roanoke was nick-named, "Star City of the South

Come during the day to take photographs, and return at night with a tripod to photograph the various color combinations including red, white and blue. The Star is illuminated every night until midnight. And, anytime you visit, you'll have spectacular views of the Roanoke Valley and downtown Roanoke.

If you can't get close to the star, here are some facts about this most notable landmark:

Erected in --------------------------------------------1949

Height of the structure -----------------------------100 feet

Height of the Star ------------------------------------88.5 feet

Weight of steel structure ----------------------------60,000 lbs.

Weight of concrete base -----------------------------500,000 lbs.

Depth of base ---------------------------------------- 6.5 feet

Visibility from air ------------------------------------60 miles

Length of neon tubing --------------------------------2,000 feet

Current consumes ------------------------------------17,500 watts

Height above Sea Level ------------------------------1,045 feet

Location: 2198 Mill Mountain Spur. For directions or more information, call 800-635-5535.

O. Winston Link Museum

This interesting museum isn't only for train buffs. It exhibits the photographs and documents the end of the steam locomotive era on the Norfolk and Western Railway - the last major line to exclusively operate under steam power. During those five years from 1955 to 1960, Brooklyn photographer Winston Link captured over 2,400 images. Here, through artifacts, films and interactive displays, you'll learn the history of the N&W Railway, with more than 250 black and white and color photographs taken throughout the mountains of Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland and North Carolina.

With the free handy brochure you'll receive when you enter, follow numbers leading to various exhibits. The tour begins at the Norfolk Gallery. Watch the short video on Link's project along the N&W Railway and check the 1957 era map of the N&W lines. At the Fishwick Staircase & Carter Machinery Elevator (wheelchair accessible), you can reach the Trackside Level galleries. As you pause on the stairs, an overlook window faces the N&W East End shops where many of the photographer's favorite locomotives were built. You can press a button to hear a narration of the view. The Roanoke Gallery uses historic images, artifacts and film of the N&W Railway to show its impact along the lines it served. Stop at the Heritage Gallery to learn about the communities along the rails during the time Link was photographing.

Want to learn on life along the railway? Through the interactive diorama within the Shenandoah Gallery, you can control the lighting of a scene, and in this area, you'll see the names of stops along the Shenandoach line from Roanoke, VA to Hagerstown, Md. There's lots more to see, plus the Museum Store featuring a wide varity of books, prints, posters and gift items. Merchandise is also offered online at website

Details: Fee charged. Hours are Monday-Saturday 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sunday 10 a.m.-56 pl.m. (Jan-Feb. 12-5). Hours are the same for the Museum Shop.

Location: O. Winston Link Museum, 101 Shenandoah Ave., N.E., Roanoke, VA 24016; 540-982-LINK. Web site:

The Virginia Museum of Transportation

Whether you're a train buff or not, you'll enjoy a visit to this fascinating museum. I was there for an entire afternoon and know I'll return. The museum recently announced its intention to return America's iconic Norfolk & Western Class J 611 Steam Locomotive to excursion service - provided they can get enough supporters to fund the project and 'fire her up.'

While on a tour of the facility, I learned that the Norfolk & Western Class J 611 Steam Locomotive "is one of the finest American passenger steam locomotives ever built, a marriage of beauty and power." The locomotive has simple lines, a bullet lnose, a midnight black facade, a Tuscan stripe and a baritone whistle that "lmakes her one of the most distinguished steam locomotivesl left in the world. She's an engineering powerhouse of steam, technology and near mechanical perfection." Designed, constructed and maintained in Roanoke, these streamlined locomotives captivated the hearts of rail fans worldwide since they first rolled out of the N&W Roanoke Shops beginning in 1941.

Recognized as the "most technically advanced steam locomotive design of any type that was ever in service anywhere in the world," according to William Withuhn, Curator Emeritus, History of Technology and Transportation, Smithsonian Institution and editor and co-author of Rails Across America: A History of Railroads in North America - "the J was and is now under its graceful skin the apex and epitome of its era of design, helping to make Americans the most mobile people on the planet."

Still today, she is the pinnacle of steam locomotive technology known to man, and "The J class was the final fruit of more than 120 years of engineering development," says Withuhn. "a Class J could hit more than 5,000 net horsepower and reach 110 miles per hour. Nothing was like it."

The Class J 611 Steam Locomotive was built in 1950 when men wore hats and ladies wore gloves and smartly uniformed porters served lunch on real china in the dining car. The 611 Locomotive pulled the Powbatan Arrow, the famed passenger train, from Norfolk to Cincinnati.

The Class J 611 retired from passenger rail service in 1959. In 1962 she was moved to the Museum.l However, in 1981, Norfolk Southern pulled her out of retirement and restored her to her original glory. She again blew her whistle to sleepy towns and thundered across the landscape and in 1984 the Class J 611 was named a National Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. She was retired from excursions in 1994 and moved back into the Museum where thousands of visitors from all over the world can admire her beauty. The Fire Up 611 Committee hopes she will once again take to the rails if enough funds are raised.


Safety Car Theatre: Now showing "Going Home"

"Going Home," is a documentary produced by Norfolk Southern (1983) about the N&W Class J 611. Watch the 611 being built in the Roanoke Shops, restored for excursion service in 1982, and running under her own steam. Learn why this important engine is the Pride of Roanoke! (run time: 21 minutes, suitable for all ages.) Monday - Saturday showtimes: 11:15 am and 2:30 pm. Sunday showtimes: 2 pm. Showtimes subject to change. The safety car has a narrow hallway and is not wheelchair accessible.

Rail Yard Restoration Projects
The Museum has begun the cosmetic restoration of several pieces of rail equipment. The following are not on display, or may be intermittently closed, while work is in progress:
• Norfolk and Western Class G-1 #6
• Virginian Class SA #4
• N&W M-1 Railway Post Office Car
• Southern Pullman Sleeping Car "Lake Pearl" # 2422

Roanoke Valley Model Engineers
Tuesdays, 6:30-8pm
The Roanoke Valley Model Engineers' ON3, HO, and N scale layouts are located in the basement of the Museum. The entrance is on the back of the Museum just off the Rail Walk and around the corner from the Jupiter Rocket. To drive to the back of the Museum, take Salem Avenue to 1-1/2 Street at Warehouse Row, turn left and head under the 2nd Street bridge to the back of the Museum. The Club's layouts are down the stairs.

International Plastic Modelers' Society, Roanoke Valley Chapter
Second and Fourth Thursdays, 7pm
The Chapter hosts builds and business meetings each month, as well as compteing in area shows. The entrance is on the back of the Museum just off the Rail Walk and around the corner from the Jupiter Rocket. To drive to the back of the Museum, take Salem Avenue to 1-1/2 Street at Warehouse Row, turn left and head under the 2nd Street bridge to the back of the Museum. The meeting room is up the stairs. For information, email Tim Ward, Chapter President.

Hours of Operation:
Monday-Saturday:10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Sunday:1:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Inclement weather closings
Closed These Holidays:
Easter Sunday; Thanksgiving;
Christmas Eve, Christmas Day; New Years Day
Special Holiday Hours:
New Years Eve
10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m..
Admissions Rates:
$8.00 adults
$7.00 seniors (age 60+)
$6.00 children (ages 3-11)
Members and Kids under 3 visit for free! Group rates are available.

Location: Virginia Museum of Transportation, 303 Norfolk Avenue SW, Roanoke, VA 24016. For more information call l540-342-5670 or go to web site

Harrison Museum of African American Culture

Established in 1985 as a project initiated by the Northwest Neighborhood Improvement Council, Inc. and Total Action Against Poverty in Roanoke Valley, Inc., this is a museum that I thoroughly enjoyed and learned a great deal -- for it provides opportunities for historical, cultural, and educational enrichment through its numerous artistic, cultural and historical exchanges. It captured the rich history of the area and continues the legacy of African culture.

Exhibits change continuously and events are scheduled throughout the year. There is so much to do and see in this museum that the two hours I spent at the museum wasn't enough time to wander through the lovely displays, and I intend to return in the near future.

Location: One Market Square SE, Second Floor, Roanoke, VA 24011. For additional event information visit web site or call 540-857-4395; e-mail:

The Science Museum of Western Virginia at Roanoke is Not to Be Missed

At any age, it's a thrill to explore this fine museum. I loved walking through the Butterfly Garden - dazzling, educational and an opportunity to take close-up photos of the colorful butterflies. Some have wingspans of 8 inches and the enclosed gorgeous setting is filled with lush plants and over 20 species or orchids.

Once I forced myself to leave this excellent exhibit, I wandered through the Healthy Bodies Gallery leading to the Under Your Skin Display - showing actual human organs that have been plastinated. In the Healthy Earth Gallery, I saw a real Moon rock, held a horseshoe crab in the Living River & Touch Tank, and explored the wonders of OmniGlobe. There's so much to see and do here that a couple of hours isn't enough - When I return, I'll plan on an entire afternoon so I can ' play ' in the How It Works Gallery, or see the new FROGS! exhibit opening in March and TUTANKHAMUN: Wonderful Things From the Pharaoh's Tomb opening in June.

Think you're a scientist? At the Open Lab, you can choose from two dozen science experiments, work them out in a safe and controlled environment. And, at the Kid's Zone, preschoolers will love a fun fossil dig - all for kids under five.

There's lots, lots more to do and see in this great museum. In addition, you can hold a birthday party here at a party room (including a Party Coordinator to help with party details, party invitations, lemonade, plates, cups, napkins, plasticware and table covers and 25 themed cupcakes). Party themes are fantastic -- choose from Party Animals - a private live animal presentation with an animal care specialist featuring reptiles for 30 minutes and an animal-themed craft, plus time on the exhibit floor. Like butterflys? Opt for a guided tour of the Butterfly Garden by an animal care specialist with time on the exhibit floor as well, plus a butterfly-themed craft. Or, opt for the Rock Sluice Party with panning for real gem stones at the Rock Sluice. Each guest will receive a bag of gems and minerals to take home, with time on the exhibit floor. Fees vary. Contact the museum for details.

Corporate or Private Events can also be held at the Science Museum. Contact 540-342-5721 for details.

Consider becoming a member of the Science Museum so that you will have free admission for one year for two or more family members; invitations to special "Members Only" events; a 50% discount on admission to the Butterfly Garden; discounts and advance sign-up for summer camps; and discounts on birthday parties, facility rentals, workshops, classes and Museum Store purchases.

Location: Science Museum of Western Virginia
One Market Square, 4th floor
Roanoke, VA 24011
540.342.5710 /

Hours: Open 7 days a week: Monday to Saturday, 10 a.m-5 pm.; Sunday 1-5 p.m. Closed only on thanksgiving and Christmas Dayt.

Admission Rates:

The Science Museum is currently installing all new exhibits. Until the galleries are fully completed, discounted admission rates are as follows:
Adult (18-59): $7.00 for exhibits only, $11.50 including butterfly garden.
Senior (60+): $6.50 for exhibits only, $11.00 including butterfly garden.
Youth (6-17): $6.50 for exhibits only, $10.00 including butterfly garden.
Child (2-5): $4.75 for exhibits only, $8.25 including butterfly garden.
Infant/Toddler (under 2): Free.

Latest Events

Events for All Ages

Shop with the museum!

Register and shop at AmazonSmile and they donate 0.5% of the purchase price to the museum every time you shop.

Science Museum of Western Virginia | One Market Square SE | Suite 4 | Roanoke | VA | 24011

Taubman Museum of Art

Location: 110 Salem Avenue SE, Roanoke. For more information write or call at 540-342-5760 or go to web site

Where to Eat

The Roanoker Restaurant

This restaurant's mission is "To welcome guests to our comfortable home for consistently good food at reasonable prices." After dining there, I gave them an A+ for accomplishing what they set out to do - because the food was delicious, served hot and at a reasonable price - including friendly service.

Three young partners opened a lunch counter in Roanoke in 1941 with a staff of ten. The place could only seat 50 people. Six months later, World War II broke out and two of the partners were called to duty - leaving one partner behind to serve as a civilian neighborhood volunteer. When the war ended, the two who returned sold their shares to E. Crafton Warren, the partner who stayed to run the lunch counter. Soon after, the restaurant moved nearby and Crafton's son, E.C. at the age of 8, began helping his dad. Throughout his adult life, the son ehlped work with his dad every day after school.

In the early 60s, the restaurant again explanded and moved to the Towers Mall. When E.C. retired, his secretary, Renee "Butch" Craft bought the property and still runs it. It moved to its final location in 1981 as a stand-alone restaurant with over 70 ;employees with seating for 300. You'll find a full menu filled with delectable, well-prepared dishes in an enjoyable atmosphere for dining anytime.

Location: 109 West Salem Avenue, Roanoke, VA.


Where to Eat

Chop’t Creative Salad Company

Chop’t Creative Salad Company opened its third location in the Washington metropolitan area in Rosslyn. The first Chop’t location in Virginia, the Rosslyn store followed the Chop’t opening day tradition started by co-founders/owners Tony Shure and Colin McCabe of offering lunch “on the house” on opening day to everyone who visits the store at 1735 N. Lynn Street until the last bit of lettuce was gone.
While Chop’t is already well-known for their salads, guests can also enjoy a forkless dining option with their salad sandwiches, which consists of any of the chef designed or custom crafted Chop’t salads wrapped in grilled honey whole wheat flat bread.  Guests can enjoy any of the 11 chef designed salads such as the Steakhouse with romaine lettuce, grilled steak, fried onions and tomato tossed with the recommended steakhouse blue cheese dressing (made with Tabasco, Worcestershire sauce, Dijon mustard and extra blue cheese) or custom craft their sandwich from the over 60 “choppings” available.

In addition to their regular menu, all area Chop’t locations are currently offering three new seasonal salads and salad sandwiches: the Kebab Cobb with romaine lettuce, Greek chicken kebabs, red onions, peppers, feta cheese, and pita chips; the Thai Cobb with romaine, cabbage slaw, grilled chicken, peanuts, carrots, radishes; and the Rocky Mountain Cobb with romaine, grilled chicken, dried cranberries, walnuts, and blue cheese. The salads are rotated out seasonally.

The energizing and bright décor in this colorful restaurant takes on a sunny feel with a worldly mix of Brazilian, African and Caribbean reggae playing in the background. As patrons near the front of the line, the high-quality ingredients are easy to view with an array of fresh “choppings” laid out before them and open-front refrigerators that house the restaurant’s five lettuce offerings. The rapid-fire chopping of the mezzaluna (half-moon) knife creates a show at the three salad stations; patrons can request how much or how little the salad should be chopped. 

Chop’t offers salads and salad sandwiches that are “as healthy as you want them to be” with a choice of five lettuces, over 60 kinds of ingredients, and 26 homemade salad dressings. In addition to their Washington DC area locations, Chop’t has 3 locations in New York City, where their emphasis on high-quality ingredients and quick service has earned them a loyal following that includes celebrities such as Matt Damon, Hillary Swank and Sheryl Crow.

Chop’t Creative Salad Company is open Monday through Friday from 10:30 a.m. – 7:00 p.m., on Saturdays from 11::00 a.m. through 5:00 p.m.; and will be closed on Sundays. Chop’t will offer take-away, delivery and catering services. The restaurant is located at 1735 N. Lynn Street, Rosslyn, VA. Other area Chop’t restaurants are located at 1300 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Washington D.C. 20036 and at 730 7th St N.W. Washington, D.C. 20001.  

For more information about Chop’t in Rosslyn, go to or call (703) 875-2888.

Where to Stay

Kimpton Brings “City Cool” Across the Bridge to Rosslyn With Opening of Hotel Palomar Arlington at Waterview

Recognized as the company that created the boutique hotel concept and an innovator that helped revolutionize the boutique hotel experience in the nation’s capital, Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants announces the opening of its first “ground up” property in the Northern Virginia suburbs of DC.

The 154-room luxury lifestyle hotel, Hotel Palomar Arlington at Waterview, is slated to open in Fall 2007 in the rapidly-evolving Rosslyn area of Arlington, Virginia. The hotel, a sophisticated, artful sanctuary situated on the scenic Potomac River, is just minutes from DC’s fashionable Georgetown district. The opening of the hotel is expected to help further spark the renaissance of Rosslyn into a vibrant destination.  

Owned by JBG Companies, CIM Group and Brookfield Properties and managed by Kimpton, Hotel Palomar Arlington will be housed in the stunning Waterview Towers, designed by the internationally-acclaimed Pei Cobb Freed & Partners; the architectural firm renowned for its dramatic expansion and modernization of the Louvre in Paris. As one of the tallest buildings in the region, the hotel will offer breathtaking views of the water and the Washington skyline.

Inspired by the hotel’s striking contemporary structure as well as its expansive views of the Potomac River, renowned Beverly Hills designer Cheryl Rowley created the vision behind its sleek, modern interiors. In keeping with the hotel’s theme of “art in motion,” artistic flourishes and original artwork will be found throughout, from the intricate pewter ironwork grill that adorns the soaring two-story glass entranceway, to an eclectic and colorful collection of object d’art in the lobby, featuring the works of both nationally-renowned and local artists, such as Mary Early, a sculptor known for her abstract three-dimensional works.

Adding to the experience, Hotel Palomar Arlington will pay homage to “the art of food,” with a dramatically styled restaurant, Domaso, offering Northern Italian cuisine that will showcase ingredients from local farms. A gourmet wine and cheese shop, Domasoteca, will present an extensive selection of wines with an emphasis on Italian and local Virginia wineries, and will offer expert-led wine and cheese tastings.

The artistic touches carry into the guest rooms, which will feature a soothing palette of neutral tones warmed with vivid splashes of tangerine, tailored furnishings, and beds swathed in luxurious Frette linens created exclusively for Kimpton. In addition to cutting-edge amenities such as flat panel LCD TVs, DVD/CD players, iPod iHome docking stations and complimentary high-speed Wi-Fi internet access, the Hotel Palomar Arlington will provide guests thoughtful amenities such as mini-binoculars for gazing at the spectacular skyline. Dog and cat lovers will appreciate that their beloved pets will be equally welcomed to the Hotel Palomar Arlington, and treated to their own special amenities upon arrival.

Guests will have the option of enjoying in-room spa services or utilizing the hotel’s spa treatment rooms, and can unwind after a massage at the hosted nightly wine hour in the living room/lobby. Personal training by appointment will be available in the hotel’s on-site fitness center, and in-room yoga, Pilates and meditation channels and equipment are available 24 hours a day. For those seeking the ultimate in pampering, 24 custom “Spa Suites” will feature Fuji soak tubs and Elliptical machines, providing the option to work out without leaving the room. The hotel will also feature 3,200 square-feet of elegant meeting space that can be customized for social and business events, including the Opus Boardroom, with dramatic wall-to-wall windows, and built-in multi-media capabilities.

Hotel Palomar Arlington at Waterview is located at 1121 N. 19th Street, Arlington, VA 22209. Room rates will start at $339 and special weekend packages will be available.

For more information and to make reservations, call 703-351-9170 locally or toll free at 866-936-1001 or visit 


San Francisco-based Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants is the first and leading collection of boutique hotels throughout the United States and Canada. Founded by Bill Kimpton in 1981, privately held Kimpton Hotels offers services and design elements focused on care, comfort, style, flavor and fun. Every Kimpton hotel reflects the energy, personality and pulse of its location, history and architectural style. Each property features personalized guest services, comforting in-room amenities, specialty rooms and suites, and provides a range of exciting culinary experiences through affiliated top-rated destination chef-driven restaurants. Kimpton takes pride in its commitment to social responsibility and leads the hospitality industry in ecological practices through its innovative EarthCare programs. In addition, Kimpton demonstrates a unique dedication to its female guests with the Women InTouch program, offering comfortable and safe environments, in-room fitness and wellness options as well as the company's unique "Forgot It, We've Got It" honor bar, providing essentials that women travelers may have forgotten at home. Among the company's newest properties are the Hotel Palomar in Washington D.C., which opened in July 2006, and the Hotel Palomar Dallas, which opened in August, 2006. Additional projects are underway in Southern California, Texas, Florida and Virginia.

For more information, please visit or call 1-800-KIMPTON.


If you haven't been to Shenandoah County yet -- plan on going as soon as possible because there's so much to see and do. Some highlights include:

What to See & Do

New Skytrac Lift at Bryce Resort

Located in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley, Bryce Resort is Virginia’s smallest mountain resort at 400 acres. This makes the resort an ideal choice for families with small children. Parent skiers can hone skills at the nationally-known Horst Locher Ski School and enroll children in the SKIwee or Mini Rider programs, which cater to children ages four to eight.

New this season at Bryce is the resort’s effort to make its slopes more accessible by adding a brand new quad lift. The new lift is aligned towards newer skiers and will have 90 chairs enabling the resort to move twice as many people. The new loading system allows for an easy transition for a guest going from beginner surface lifts to an aerial chair lift.

For first-time skiers, Bryce Resort’s first time package is a great deal. This package is available for first-time skiers and snowboarders ages eight years and older and includes equipment rental, a group lesson and a carpet lift/slope use ticket. Package rates start at $64 for children and $69 for adults.

Love is at the heart of every Virginia vacation. Visit for more trip ideas or call 1-800-VISITVA for a free Virginia is for Lovers travel guide.

Crystal Caverns

The Native American tribes must have been the first to discover these caves -- for arrowheads and other artifacts have been found in and around the cave. In the 1750s, the Hupps were among the many Dutch (German) immigrants moving south along the "Great Valley of the Shenandoah. Eventually, they setttled just north of what is now Strasburg, Virginia and while exploring their property, they discovered a large cavern lying on the crest of what would become known as "Hupp's Hill." The caverns are considered the oldest documented in Virginia. The Hupps took advantage of the cavern's constant 54 degrees F. temperature to store food and, periodically, their friends and neighbors would visit the beautifully decorated cavern rooms and corridors where it was lighted with scores of candles and lanterns.

Supposedly the caverns once were the refuge of escaped slaves who made their way to freedom as well as Hupp family servants and children who wanted to play hooky for an hour or two. From 1861 to 1865, Hupp's Hill was in the center of several great battles of the American Civil War, including Fisher's Hill and Cedar Creek (Fall of 1864). These caverns also saw the passage of thousands of soldiers of the Northern and Southern Armies. After World War I the caverns were acquired by Bruce Hupp of Strasburg, an heir to the Hupp estate. Paths were then built, electric lights installed, and the caverns were opened for tours on May 30, 1922.

The caverns are found within limestone of the Edinburg Formation, which was deposited in the sunny, shallow seas of the ordovician Epoch, nearly 425 million years ago. But, the actual age of the caverns, and the length of time which it took for them to form, is at least several million years ago.

Crystal Caverns is located on US Route 11, one mile south of Exit 298, Interstate 81. It is 1/2 mile north of Strasburg, Va., near the intersection of I-66 and I-81. Guides will describe the natural and historical significance of the caverns.

Fort Valley Stable Trail Rides

Head over to Fort Valley Stable for a memorable trail ride for the whole family. Gentle horses go over scenic, wooded mountain trails for 1, 1-1/2 hour and half and full lday trail rides.

For more information, contact Fort Valley Stable, 299 South Fort Valley Road, Fort Valley, VA 22652 or call toll free at 888-754-5771, or go to web site

North Mountain Vineyard & Winery

Here you'll find award-winning wines, gorgeous mountain vistas, and a storybook setting in the Shenandoah Valley. Enjoy the views from the winery's deck at the site that has been farmed since the 1700s. The first grapes were planted in 1982 and included the varieties Chambourcin, Chardonnay, and Videl Blanc. These original plantings have been enhanced with the plantings of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Frnc, and Traminette.

The charming Europen architecture of the winery building is the perfect setting for the continental special events, cuisine and celebrations.

Hours: Open year round, Wed-Sun, 11-5.

Wine tours and tastings and gourmet light fare are offered; visit the gift ship and art exhibits; or plan a wedding or other celebration here.

Check web site www.northmountain for year round special events, and for more information, write to North Mountain Vineyard & Winery, 4374 Swartz Road, Maurertown, VA 22644; 540-436-9463.

Shenandoah County Fair

For over 90 years, the Shenandoah County Fair is a weeklong event held in Woodstock, VA. There's lots of entertainment, including harness racing, demolition derby, rides, pig wrestling, good food and lots, lots more.

For more information on dates and hours, call 540-459-3867 or go to web site

Shenandoah Valley Music Festival

Held during August at Orkney Springs,, the festival has featured stars including Arlo Guthrie, The Blind Boys of Alabama, etc.

For dates and information call 888-367-3965 or go to web site

Annual Route 11 Yard Crawl

Each year, visitors and residents alike come out for the 32 miles of yard sales, rightly named the 'Yard Crawl." The project was born when five individual small chambers of commerce came together with an idea of the project that would span the entire length of Shenandoah County. Route 11, also known as the Old Valley Pike, is the oldest hard surfaced road in the nation. Back in the 1830s, a Scottish engineer by the name of MacAdam came up with a process to hard surface a road using tar and gravel - which revolutionized transportation in the Valley - therefore the term, "Macadamized Road."

The small towns along the 'old Valley Pike' are like a string of pearls. Five to six miles apart, they became established as centers of commerce years ago, and were accessible by horse and buggy. Today cars take the roads, but there's still the historical and unique flavor of each small town as the yard sale adventure begins.

The northern most town in Shenandoah County is Strasburg (just south of where I-66 connects with I-81). Individuals, churches and civic organizations all join in the fun and it's the time of year when everyone in the Shenandoah County can clean out their closets and garages. Start early, because residents with property all along the Old Valley Pke bring out their stuff - and the towns include Strasburg, Toms Brook, Maurertown, Woodstock, Edinburg, Mt. Jackson and New Market - and everything in between.

For further information on dates, call 888-367-3965 or check web site

Shenandoah Vineyards

In the heart of the Shenandoah Valley, which is the perfect setting for a winery, stands Shenandoah Vineyards. In this ideal growing environment, grapes are protected from frost in the spring and allowed to fully ripen in tbe fall - therefore broadening quality parameters and enabling optimal quality selection at harvest time.

The vintners of Shenandoah Vineyards are experts in wine making, and combine old world techniques with modern technology to produce a variety of great wines. Varietal wines incude Chardonnay, Riesling, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. In addition, you'll find Shenandoah Blanc, Cabernet Blanc, and Shenandoah Ruby. Stop in, walk grassy pathways separating the rows of gnarled vines, and take a tour of the winery. Learn the intricacies of winemaking from harvest to bottling.

Housed in a red barn dating to the Civil War, the winery sits atop an old stone foundation which serves as the aging cellar. An upper story deck adjoining the barn offers a sweeping view of the mountains. Following the tour and tasting, browse the gift ship where you'll find many wine-related gifts as well as select items from area artisans.

Be here for the Annual Harvest Festival held the first Saturday after Labor day, and join in the fun for the entire family. Hear music, taste good food, do some grape stomping, enjoy the arts and crafts, wine tasting, tours and a wine maker seminar. Take the children, too, because there's special entertainment for them.

The Annual Dinner takes place the Saturday following the Fourth of July. This is when wine tasting, dinner, and nice summer breezes and the stars come out. Reservations are required.

Christmas Open House is held the first full weekend in December. Partake in the refreshments, hot mulled wine, and wine and gift specialities.

And, if you have a special event coming up, Shenandoah Vineyards can host it.

Hours - March-November, 10 am to 6 pm. From December to February, 10 am to 5 pm. Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and New Year's Day.

For more information: 3659 South Ox Road, Edinburg, VA 22824; 540-984-8699; e-mail:

Shrine Mont - The Cathedral Shrine of the Transfiguration

Shrine Mont, located in the quiet village of Orkney Springs, has been here since the 1920s, and is a conference center of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia. The Center's property covers 1,000 acres and adjoins the George Washington National Forest. Visitors come here for prayer and reflection, rest and relaxation, and to take in the beauty of the streams, flowers, and wildlife. The cathedral was built with the help of local men in 1925, with each of its stones pulled by horse or rolled from the mountain that is closeby. The baptismal font was originally a dugouot store used by Indians to grind corn, and today the Shrine is the site of regular weekly worship from mid-March through mid-November, and is available for groups and conferences.

The Virginia House-

formerly known as The Orkney Springs Hotel. Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, it has white clapboard siding and tall windows and is four stories high. The 96,000 square-foot structure was built in 1873 and restored in 1987. Inside is a large Dining Hall, several meeting rooms and offices, a third floor Ballroom, and the entire building is wrapped in porches with many rocking chairs.

The Springs -

Orkney Springs was settled because there was plentiful water from the underground springs. In the mid-1800s work began on the original Orkney Springs Hotel and the mineral waters became a tourism attraction. People would visit the springs to 'take the water," by bathing and drinking from the seven natural springs. Today there are three springs on Shrine Mont property that are visible. The Orkney Spring is located on the left as you begin the Shrine Mont Circle. The Tea Spring is inside the Circle itself, and Bear Wallow Spring is directly across from the Virginia House by the pond.

Tucker Lodge -

The hospitality center for the upper part of Shrine Mont is Tucker Lodge, and consists of the Tucker Dining Room, which seats 300, and serves its meals family style. There are two lounge areas - Brown Hall, with a fireplace, and Art Hall, home to the artwork of John Douglas Woodward (1846-1924), the uncle of Shrine Mont's founder. The Bird Cage is the round-screened porch in front of Tucker Lodge, and is a favorite rocking space for those who want some quiet.

Camps -

Shrine Mont is host to several types of summer camps for chilren and youth, ages 8-18. The camp programs feature Christian community living, fellowship, mountain air, outdoor exercise and nutritious food. It's in operation from late June through mid-August and serve as a ministry of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia.

Hours: Shrine Mont opens in early spring and remains open through the second Sunday of November.

Recreation: There are two covered pavillions, basketball and tennis courts, shuffleboard, horseshow pits, a soccer field, a volleyball pit, hiking, two lakes for fishing, and lots of porches with lots of rocking chairs. There is also a state of the art swimming pool.

For more information contact Shrine Mont,, 221 Shrine Mont Circle, Orkney Springs, VA 22845; 540-856-2141, or web site

Stonewall Jackson Museum

This is a hands-on Civil War learning center and battlefield park that is part of an estate established by George F. Hupp in the 1750s. Hupp's Hill commands breathtaking views of Strasburg, the Shenandoah Valley and Massanutten Mountain (with the Blue Ridge and the Appalachian Mountain in the far background). The hill and the manor house to the south were used by contending forces throughout the Civil War. Confederate entrenchments and Federal gun positions can still be seen on the grounds.

In the hands-on Learning Center, visitors can handle the museum's reproductions of Civil War weapons, uniforms, saddles and toys, to experience the era in a unqiue way. Children can try on period costumes, clumb into a soldier's tent, ride wooden horses complete with authentic cavalry saddles and bridles. "Discovery Boxes" offer children a chance to explore a historic topic through games, puzles and artifacts.

With its children's summer camps, folkways workshops and living history demonstations, the Stonewall Jackson Museum continues to advance the Wayside Foundation's mission "to encourage and enhance the public appreciation, enjoyment and knowledge of American history and arts."

Hours: 10 am to 5 pm daily, year-round. Children under 6, free.

For more information contact Stonewall Jackson Museum at Hupp's Hill, 33229 Old Valley Pike, Strasburg, VA; 540-465-5884 or check web site

Note: Crystal Caverns is at the same site.

Shenandoah Valley Flea Market

Open 5 days per week year round, Monday, Thursday, Friday & Saturday from 9 am-5 PM; Sunday noon to 5 pm; with 60 plus indoor vendor booths offering antiques, books, coins, collectibles, crafts, dishware, dolls, furniture, militaria items, Nascar collectibles, tools, vintage items and a wide variety of new and used items. There are also outdoor vendor spaces.

Located on US Route 22, 2 miles north of New Market, VA at 3549 Old Valley Pike, New Market, Virginia.

For more information, call 540-740-3900.

Where to Stay

Bryce Resort

Play tennis on the lighted courts, enjoy Coleman's at Bryce dining in the main lodge with a slopeside view, Braxton's Bar Room also in the main lodge, or the Coleman's Express & Tiki Bar on Fairway Drive. Play golf, go grass skiing, visit Lake Laura, rent a boat, go fishing, play miniature golf, go mountain boarding, mountain tubing, or take a sightseeing lift ride.

For more information contact Bryce Resort at 1982 Fairway Drive, Basye, VA 22810; 1-800-821-1444, or check web site

The Shenvalee Golf Resort

Set in the picturesque Blue Ridge Mountains, the Shenvalee offers a relaxing golf vacation. The main attraction is the 27 hole PGA golf course with uniquely arranged front nine holes, that first opoened to the public in 1927 by men wielding picks and shovels and using horse-drawn wagons to transport excavated dirt. The 'back nine" holes were added in 1963, and an additional nine holes were carved out of the Valley in 1992. There is also a large putting green, tennis courts, and a wel-stocked pro shop featuring products from top-name club and clothing manufacturers.

In addition to the golf, there's swimming, sightseeing, antiquing, and plain relaxation. Or, go to the pool.

For more information call 540-740-3181, e-mail, or go to web site The Resort is located at Route I-81 and U.S. Route 11 in New Market, VA.

Creekside Campground

Open year round in scenic the Shenandoah Valley, this campground offers full hookups (30 & 50 amps) and cable TV; RV sites to accommodate fifth wheels, slide-out & coaches to 40 plus feet; picnic tables at all RV and tent sites and campfire rings; disposal sanitary dump station; clean modern rest rooms; and is nestled along Stoney Creek. The campground is within walking distance into the historic town of Edinburg with antique and novelty shops; there's a pavilion for use by clubs and groups; pets are permitted on leash only; and there are many attractions nearby within 30 minutes or less.

Located: 2.5 miles off Interstate 81 at 108 Palmyra Road, Edinburg, VA.

For more information call 540-984-4299 or e-mail

The Hotel Strasburg

Offers food, lodging and turn of the century nostalgia, with a quaint pub, casual fine dining restaurant, Sunday brunch, 29 antique filled lodging rooms (some with Jacuzzis), banquet and conference facilities, golf packages, anniversary packages, theatre packages, and more. Close to Belle Grove Plantation, golfing, Skyline Drive, Wayside Theater, Scenic Drive on Route 11, George Washington National Forest, Civil War Battlefields, museums, biking and hiking, fishing and canoeing, and much more.

For more information contact The Hotel Strasburg, 213 South Holliday Street, Strasburg, VA 22657; 888-763-8327.


Olde Towne Curb Market

This busy growers market operates May through August and offers specialty items September through November. (757-357-3502)


Where to Eat

Mango's Bar & Grill

About Mango's -- Mango’s Bar & Grill is not just a place to eat or the local pub. It isn’t even the club with the best DJ’s in the business and where all the best local bands come to play at Smith Mountain Lake. It is much much more… It truly is “A Tropical State of Mind”! If you haven’t been to Mango’s at Smith Mountain Lake, Virginia lately you are in for a big surprise. There are lots of improvements both in the dining room and on the patio. Be sure to check out the new Gallery with lots of photos of fun in the sun and don’t leave without checking the Fun link which will let you know when your favorite bands are scheduled to play. It’s time to get the group together, jump in your boat or car and come over and enjoy the fun.

What's on the Menu? All kinds of great food, including Caribbean Jerk Chicken Salad made with fresh Romaine lettuce and Tomato, onions, cucumbers, shredded cheese & Croutons; Spinach Salad including fresh spinach topped with grilled chicken, bacon, Cucumbers, mushrooms, tomatoes & Onions; Mango's Hamburger that's a 1/2 pound ground sirlin, topped with lettuce, tomato, onion, mayo & pickles, served on a Brioche bun; or perhaps you'd like Grilled Mahi Sandwiches made with 8 oz. of Mahi tropped with garlic & herb butter, lettuce, tomato, onion & mayo on a Brioche bun or Grilled Mahi Fish Tacos - 3 soft flour tortillas filled with grilled Mahi, Mango salsa & red cabbage slaw.

Upcoming Events

Wednesdays: ALL YOU CAN EAT PASTA NIGHT Adults $9.99 Kids $4.99

Friday Nights: Open Mic Hosted By Tom Abel 7:00 – 11:00 pm.

Saturday Night is Date Night. Dinner for 2 with a bottle of wine for $50.

 Location: Mango’s Bar & Grill| 16430 B.T. Washington Hwy., Moneta, Virginia 24121 | 540.721.1632

What to See & Do

Smith Mountain Lake

Only 35 miles away from Roanoke, Smith Mountain Lake -- with 22,000 acres and 500 miles of shoreline -- is named after Daniel and Gideon Smith, two brothers who settled on this mountain in 1740. Man-made to produce hydro-electric power, it is magnificent and offers anglers, boaters, birders and young and old alike, awesome scenery at every turn.

If you enjoy fishing, bring your favorite equipment and get ready to catch large and small mouth bass, muskies, bream, striped bass, crappies, northern pike, rock bass and trout. Spring and fall are the peak seasons, but year-round you'll find fish biting. The biggest fish ever caught in the lake was a 41 pound 3 oz, 48 1/4" muskie caught in 1983 by a visitor from Penhook, Virginia. Are you a hunter? Check the regulations with the Appalachian Power and the Commission of Game and Inland Fisheries. You won't be disappointed.

History of Smith Mountain Lake -- The Lake's history goes back to approximately 1670 when a small party of explorers led by John Lederer travelled from Richmond, Va., up the James River to present day Lynchburg, then turned south and headed toward present day Altavista - eventually ending at a Saponi Indian village. There, they followed the little river the Saponi called the "Rorenock," which they proceded northwest just south of Smith Mountain. A year later, in 1671, Abraham Wood led another party into this area - crossing through Smith Mountain gap where the Smith Mountain dam now sits, and then traveled all the way upriver to a Totero Indian Village - now Roanoke.

By the mid 1700s, a farming community developed, with a tiny village in the center called Big Lick named for the salt licks nearby. Ringed by mountains with passable gaps on each side, the area has been a crossroads since Indian days when they used buffalo trails through the valley as hunting and fighting ways. The salt licks drew animals providing food for the hunters, and the Roanoke Valley became one of the pathways for the horse-drawn migration of the 18th and early 19th centuries to Kentucky and mid-west America.

The first railroad was laid in 1852, going through the valley and a small city sprung up. In a very short time, the population grew. Smith Mountain Lake is fairly new. Dam construction began in 1960, and the lake was formed to dam a river and generate electrical power for the Appalachian Power Copany. The dam walls were completed in September 1963 and the Blackwater and Roanoke Rivers began filling the lake which took until March 1966. Today, Smith Mountain Lake is the recreational capital of Southwest Virginia. It is the largest lake and the biggest playground in the state -- with something for everyone -- including swimming, boating, fishing, parasailing or just plain relaxing and enjoying the sensational panoramic views!

Smith Mountain Lake Visitor Center

Located at the dam just off Virginia Rt. 450 on Rt. 908, the Center features hands-on exhibits for children and interesting audiovisuals on how the lake was formed. Here you'll also see a scale model of the lake on display.

Booker T. Washington National Monument

Just minutes from Smith Mountain Lake and located on Rt. 122, is a working farm interpreting Washington's daily chores when he was a youth. A ranger leads visitors around the farm and demonstrates what was done, while pointing out how the plantation was reconstructed to represent buildings from the Burroughs tobacco farm.

Where to Stay

Bernard's Landing Resort & Conference Center

Surrounded by water, this 70-acre resort offers lush green spaces, panoramic views of Smith Mountain Lake, and year-round activities for all ages. Families will enjoy everything at this gorgeous resort, including:

2 outdoor pools & hot tub

indoor pool & hot tub

kiddie pool & playground

private sandy beaches

racquetball court

steam room & sauna

fitness center

6 outdoor tennis courts

basketball court

beach & indoor volleyball


game room

free Wi-Fi hot spots

boat & PWC rentals

boat ramp and courtesy docks

poolside Cabana Cafe (seasonal)

In addition, there's the acclaimed Landing Restaurant offering superb gourmet cuisine in a beautiful waterfront setting; the Landing's waterside bar for lighter fare and beverages; the Poolside Cabana Cafe for snack food and beverages (seasonal); and just a few minutes away from Westlake Center with a variety of shopping, dining, nightlife and family entertainment.

Nearby you'll find gof, guided fishing excursions, Virginia Lake Country Winery tours, Lake tours on The Virginia Dare; parasailing, horseback riding, massage therapy, Smith Mountain Dam Visitors Center and Picnic Area, Booker T. Washington National Monument, D Day Memorial, Movies at the Westlake Cinema and Mayberry Drive-In, hiking, biking, kayaking and canoeing at nearby waterfront parks.

Accommodations: One, two and three bedroom condominiums, patio homes and townhomes are available. Each unit is individually owned. Decor and amenities will vary among units. Every unit is equipped with a full kitchen, washer/dryer, expanded cable TV, and is luxuriously appointed. There are spectacular views of the lake from the balcony or patio.

Clubhouse & Pavillion: The restored antebellum Clubhouse offers over 5200 square feet of covered and open deck space with magnificent views of the mountains and lake.

Conference Center: Features a 1300 square foot ballroom, an oak lined executive board room, and a glass atrium that opens onto a deck with pool overlooking the lake.

Beachside: A rolling lawn leading to a sandy beach on the shores of Sailors Cove is perfect for weddings, reunions and picnics. The views are exceptional with fabulous sunsets.

The Wedding Garden: Enjoy a wedding or other occasion here in the garden that's lush with flowers and plants surrounding a stage in a natural setting.

For more information on this lovely resort, check web siote or, or call 540-721-8870 or 1-800-572-2048.

Location: 775 Ashmedade Road, Moneta, Virginia 24121


Crystal Caverns (See Shenandoah County, above, for a complete description)


Staunton Grocery

The culinary philosophy at this downtown Staunton dining experience is to combine Virginia ingredients at their peak of freshness in adventurous and innovative dishes. Diners can savor local pork, beef, chicken, produce, cheese, herbs, ham, baked goods, tea and even locally roasted coffee in a modern, yet casual, setting. (540-886-6880)


more soon


Graves Mountain Lodge

Made-from-scratch comfort food like pot roast, catfish and country ham is served up with local vegetables at this rustic mountain retreat. (540-923-4231)


Lowery's Restaurant

No fuss, family-style seafood is the fare at this Virginia institution. (804-443-2800)


Founders Inn and Spa is The Perfect Place For Your Bridal Shower,
Engagement Brunch, or Bachelorette Party

The Founders Inn and Spa offers southern elegance, beautiful lake and garden views, and an amazing event planning team which makes it the perfect location if you are planning your wedding events in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

If you are looking for a great location to host your engagement party, bridal shower or brunch, this is the place! The Founders Inn team can host an amazing event for you. With delicious food from The Swan Terrace Grill, host your event on the terrace overlooking the picturesque lake and English Gardens, or choose from one of our many indoor spaces.

Perhaps you would like to enjoy a little pampering time with your bridesmaids before the big day? Spa treatments are a wonderful way to relax yourself and your best friends after the stress of wedding planning.  Plan a day at the Flowering Almond Spa to relax in the peaceful conservatory and enjoy any of the services including massage, manicures, pedicures, wax services, body scrubs and wraps. You can even order Champagne, wine or apple cider and enjoy a spa lunch all together before or after your treatments!

If you are still looking for a wedding venue, Founders Inn and Spa can cater to your wedding needs and dreams to help you create the most memorable event. Enjoy a beautiful ceremony outside in the Colonial English gardens that can accommodate up to 500 people. Or, if you would prefer to be indoors, choose the atrium for up to 200 people. If you want a more traditional ceremony, Regent University Divinity Chapel offers a classic 1,000 seat sanctuary with beautiful stained glass windows. Then, move your reception indoors in one of the large ballrooms or stay outdoors on the patio. Various wedding packages are available at the Founders Inn and Spa.

If you are interested in hosting your wedding, bridal shower, engagement party or any other wedding related event, contact the sales office at 757-366-5716 or visit

About The Founders Inn And Spa
Centrally located in Virginia Beach, Va., the Founders Inn and Spa is a 20-minute drive to the oceanfront resort area or downtown Norfolk as well as to Naval Station Norfolk and other regional military facilities. By car, I-64 is literally at our doorstep, with easy access to Norfolk International Airport. Newport News/ Williamsburg International Airport is less than an hour away. The 240-room resort has 25,000 square-feet of meeting space, a 24-hour business center, Concierge and Spa and Fitness center on-site. The Swan Terrace Grill is led by Executive Chef Michael Bergen and features a menu based on a classic American grill house concept, sourcing the freshest meats, succulent seafood, and seasonal fruits and vegetables from local and regional artisan providers. To learn more about the Founders Inn and Spa visit The Inn is located at 5641 Indian River Road, Virginia Beach.  

20 Ideas for Cool Summer Getaways in Virginia

Summer is one of the most exciting times to visit Virginia. Road trip adventures, beach front fun, mountaintop cabins and lazy days on the water are just some of the many reasons families make Virginia their summer vacation spot. Virginia has just created a list of 20 ideas for cool summer getaways for families looking to completely connect on a Virginia vacation. These and more can be found on

Go underground: Caverns are plentiful in the mountainous western region of the Commonwealth, and the below-ground temperature hovers around 56 degrees year-round. Eight dramatic caverns are open to the public including Luray Caverns, the largest on the East Coast.

Take a hike: More than 500 miles of hiking paths meander through lovely Shenandoah National Park along the Blue Ridge Mountains. Lighter air and cool breezes are just the thing while enjoying a magnificent overlook or spotting wild critters. The highest - and perhaps coolest - point in Virginia is Mt. Rogers National Recreation Area, another memorable place to go on foot.

Take a dip: Cool, fresh water swimming holes can be found in Virginia’s sparkling lakes and rivers. You may have to ask the locals where to go but one sure bet is in Goshen Pass in the Shenandoah Valley near Lexington. There the Maury River splashes through a three-mile mountain gorge that is spectacularly scenic and is full of good places to swim.

Take another dip: If there is a universal cure-all for excess and new ones too. The ice cream cone was invented by the founder of Norfolk’s Doumar’s and Carl’s Frozen Custard stand in Fredericksburg is a National Historic Landmark. Island Creamery on Chincoteague Island offers 36 homemade flavors and custom-made ice cream cakes.

Make a splash: It’s no secret that a great way to cool off is in good, cool water - but why not have some fun at the same time? Virginia’s sensational outdoor and indoor water parks are family friendly places to frolic.

Get out on a lake: Imagine a summer day in a boat cruising a scenic lake, either just out for a casual paddle or zipping along on a jet ski or in a motor boat. Virginia’s lakes range from small and tranquil to big and bustling and they all add up to cool fun in the summer.

Roll on the river: In the mountains they tumble and gurgle while toward the coast they flow like history. Since ancient times people in Virginia have been attracted to rivers, and with good reason. They are great places for cooling off and having fun. Jump in a canoe, raft or kayak and you’ll beat the heat without knowing it.

Float on the breezes: No matter how hot the day a ride in a hot air balloon reaches cool altitudes. Floating along with an expert pilot at the helm is both relaxing and invigorating. Some hot air balloon festival offer tethered and untethered rides- or arrange a ridge any time from one of Virginia’s licensed companies such as Blue Ridge Hot Air Balloons.

Buckle up and go: If a balloon ride seems a bit slow then climb into the open cockpit of an airplane and let it rip! Flights are available at air fields throughout Virginia - or go to the Flying Circus Airshows on Sunday’s in Bealeton. After an old fashioned barnstorming aerodrome shows open cockpit rides can be arranged by appointment.

Hit the beach: It’s probably the most popular summer activity in Virginia. Virginia’s beaches are top destinations for visitors, and who doesn’t love a cool splash in the surf after some warm relaxing in the sand. Beaches are found in some unexpected places as well, including the Chesapeake Bay shore and inland lakes.

Reel in the fun: Standing in a pair of waders in a bubbling mountain stream while casting for native trout looks as inviting as it is refreshing. But you don’t need to be an expert or even experienced to enjoy fly fishing in Virginia. Local guide services and outfitters will see to it that you have a great experience your first time out - and you might even catch a lunker.

Go snow skiing: You’re kidding, right? Snow skiing ˆ in the summer ˆ in Virginia? Well, it isn’t really snow but it isn’t hard to imagine it’s the real thing at the Lynchburg’s incredible Snowflex Center. Its synthetic surface has the same properties as real snow and is great not only for skiing but snowboarding as well.

Explore a museum: When it’s hot outside, cool off inside while exploring one of Virginia’s outstanding museums. Virginia has it all - museums dedicated to art, history, transportation, culture, science, civil rights, sports, famous people, aviation and local industries provide much more than a respite from the heat.

Visit a winery: Wherever you are in Virginia, you won’t have to travel far to find a winery. The Old Dominion now has more than 200 wineries located in nearly every corner of the state, and they are great places to beat the heat ˆ or any temperature. Tours include a look at the barrel room where wines are brought to the height of perfection at controlled temperatures. The tasting rooms are always pleasant and you’ll find that many wineries have cool, relaxing places to enjoy a glass of wine outdoors on a deck or under the shade of a tree.

Have a Virginia craft beer: The things that make Virginia a great wine state also apply to beer. Craft breweries are popping up all around the Commonwealth and are already winning top national and international awards. Some breweries offer tours of their facilities followed by tastings and a good cold one in a cool atmosphere.

Go surfing: Home to the annual East Coast Surfing Championships, Virginia Beach is a cool haven for experienced surfers as well as those who have never been on a board. Rent a surf board, take lessons or even go to a “surf camp” to get the most enjoyment out of splashing Atlantic beach fun.

Let the music move you: Cool off where the music gets hot with a trip through The Crooked Road: Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail, a driving trail linking top live music sites and music heritage centers. Bluegrass, Old Time and gospel music sprung up out of Virginia’s mountains generations ago and the traditions of mountain music are carried on there today. The hills are alive, so roll down the windows and drive a cool crooked road to toe-tapping music.

Stay at a State Park: The excellent Virginia State Parks system has been consistently recognized as one of America’s very best. Though each park has something different many have air conditioned cabins for overnight visits, lakes and streams to splash around in, and shady woodland hiking trails. The natural breezes of Mother Nature at a Virginia State Park are always a perfect way to cool off in summer.

Be a foodie: The Virginia Tourism Corporation web site lists more than 3,000 places to eat in Virginia. Sit in cool comfort while dining on anything from casual fare to legendary creations by some of America’s most celebrated chefs. Virginia’s culinary reputation is centuries-old and much in the way of traditional cuisine remains, complemented deliciously by the best modern dishes.

Reach for the sky: No matter how warm the day is, Virginia nights - particularly in the higher elevations ˆ offer a cool respite. When the stars come out enjoy a cool experience among the constellations while doing some stargazing. Northern Virginia’s Sky Meadows State Park offers scheduled evening programs that draw nice crowds. Farther south, Primland Resort has its own observatory that provides up-close looks at stars, nebulae and other far-away celestial bodies.

Love is at the heart of every Virginia vacation. To find out about all the fun things to do - hot and cool 0 in Virginia this summer visit To receive a free Virginia is for Lovers Travel Guide call toll-free 1-800-VISITVA.

Enticing Aromas of Coastal Cuisine Fill the Virginia Beach Air This Spring

When Mother Nature springs up from hibernation in Virginia Beach, the sun shines its rays upon your skin, cool breezes rustle the newly bloomed trees and scents of all things delicious begin to waft through the air.  Warmer temperatures elicit sumptuous coastal cuisine the resort city is renowned for – a rich culinary style with fresh seafood from the Atlantic Ocean and Chesapeake Bay mixed with organic produce straight from local farms. Inside the resort city’s nearly 300 restaurants, many locally-owned and operated, chefs are creating their own signature dishes and serving fresh ingredients indigenous to the region. As the weather warms, many restaurants open up their outdoor patios so diners can devour fabulous cuisine while enjoying the splendid spring temperatures.

For information on travel in Virginia Beach please visit www.VisitVirginiaBeach.comor

Savor Every Bite, Every Sip, Every Moment with the Brand New Coastal Food Tours of Virginia:Coastal Food Tours of Virginia, a series of guided epicurean adventures, with themed itineraries and mouth-watering cuisine. Visitors can choose from a list of progressive meals, culinary events, pub crawls and corporate team-building programs, which fuse together history, architecture and cuisine in several different venues and neighborhoods. Options range from a three-hour progressive walking tour to a five-day epicurean immersion with visits to various restaurants, farms and vineyards throughout Coastal Virginia, including Virginia Beach, Norfolk, the Eastern Shore and Smithfield. Planned itineraries include the Virginia Beach Boardwalk and Farmers Market Tours, as well as the Historic Norfolk and Harvest Feast Tours. During each itinerary, visitors will stop at various restaurants throughout the area to sample and savor the succulent seafood and produce that comes from this bountiful region. Prices start at $57 per person. Visit for more information.
Work Up An Appetite as You Kayak Through Back Bay Wildlife Refuge: One of themost unique dining experiences you will find in Virginia Beach is by kayak. Take a leisurely, unforgettable two-mile paddle as the sun sets through Back Bay Wildlife Refuge to Blue Pete’s Seafood Restaurant for an evening of deliciousness on the water. Don’t hesitate to indulge - your return trip is by van, so dig in! The tour begins at Surf & Adventure Company’s headquarters along Sandbridge Road and all equipment is provided. Each tour is $45 per person, and the cost of dinner is not included. Tours are available Sunday through Thursday. To schedule a tour, call 1-800-695-4212. For more information on the kayak dining tour visit 

Enjoy Spring’s Freshest Produce from Roadside Stands and Farmers Markets

With warming temperatures, local farms start harvesting the choicest crops.   Through June, locals and visitors alike can stop at farms or roadside stands to pick up strawberries, asparagus, cabbage, broccoli, spring onions, carrots, new potatoes, beets, spinach, lettuce, kale, radishes and sugar snap peas, all home-grown in the famed resort city. The Virginia Beach Farmer’s Market's open year-round and offers seasonal treats and a wide variety of organic selections as well as plants, flowers, jams, jellies, a dairy store, a butcher shop, gifts, an organic grocery and a restaurant. Located a mere six blocks from the oceanfront, the Old Beach Farmer’s Market's open each Saturday from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Pick-your-own-produce is also offered at various farms throughout the city for such items as strawberries, blueberries and peaches.

Try A Twist On An Old Favorite With Blue Crab Mac-n-Cheese from Zoës Steak & Seafood:

Enjoy a Virginia Beach favorite in your own home with this “Blue Crab Man-n-Cheese” recipe by Executive Chef Jerry Weihbrecht.  In 2003, Weihbrecht came to Virginia Beach to become Zoës Executive Chef, and has since won numerous awards including First Place in the Hampton Roads 2009 Platinum Plates Awards and the 2010 Santé Restaurant Award. For more information on Zoës Steak & Seafood or Executive Chef Weihbrecht, visit

Heat butter and flour in a saucepan over low heat, constantly stirring, to make a light, loose roux, about 3-4 minutes, or just until it melts.
In a separate pot, heat the milk until it is medium-hot, but not scalding. Add the heated milk to the roux and whisk over medium heat until it is thick and smooth.
Add the other ingredients, except the noodles and crabmeat, and mix well. Add the sauce to the cooked noodles and mix well. Stir in the crabmeat. If desire, brown the top under a broiler.
Makes 12-14 servings.
Virginia Beachentices visitors to “Live the Life” year-round! Located in the southeastern corner of the state, Virginia Beach is four hours southeast of D.C. by car and within a day’s drive or less from two-thirds of the U.S. population. For visitor information, call 1-800-VA-BEACH (800/822-3224) or visit www.VisitVirginiaBeach.comfor online trip planning.

Surf Rider Restaurant (Hampton, Virginia Beach, Norfolk) -

This Hampton Roads-area chain serves fresh local seafood in a casual setting. (757-497-3534)

Lynnhaven Fish House

This landmark, resort-area spotoverlooks the Chesapeake Bay and boasts one of the largest selections of fresh local seafood in the area. (757-481-0003)


Rockfish, flounder and yellow fin tuna are caught daily and served up in a lively, casual setting. (757-422-5654)

The Swan Terrace at the Founders Inn

Diners enjoy Smithfield ham, local oysters and other seafood as well as seasonal produce throughout this menu inspired by Colonial dishes. (757-366-5700)


Island House Restaurant

The house favorite is crab cakes at this casual restaurant overlooking the barrier islands of the Eastern Shore. (757-787-4242)


Virginia is for "WINE" Lovers

Deeply nestled in Augusta County, Virginia is the municipality of Waynesboro. This tranquil region is home to many regional Tidewater attractions and landmarks, most notably the Shenandoah Valley. While countless travelers visit Waynesboro for the sights, most forget about its flavor. A secret allure of this historic locale are the thirty plus wineries that are located within a thirty-mile radius of the city. Entangled within Waynesboro’s vineyards is The Iris Inn Bed and Breakfast, a luxury getaway providing breathtaking views of the Shenandoah Valley summits.

The Vain Vineyard

“Grapes don’t grow in ugly places” is the slogan for the Afton Mountain Vineyards. Since 2009, the Smiths, have been nourishing their 24-acre property to produce 15 varieties of wine. The location of this vineyard offers two advantages – facing the Afton Mountain sunrise for extra nourishment, and high elevation to protect the vines from freezing temperatures. The end results are award-winning wines for vino lovers near and far.

About the Wine: Producing 15 award-winning wines including Albariño and Gewurztraminer.

The Family & Friends Winery
Just eleven miles East on Interstate 64, you’ll come across Barren Ridge Vineyards. Sitting on family property purchased in 1934, the owners utilize their knowledge of European wines to cultivate 14 different harvests. They provide all shades of wine for guests to enjoy whilst overlooking awe-inspiring vistas. On a weekly basis, the vineyard hosts live music events that make that glass of Merlot just a little bit sweeter. For eight dollars, wine lovers can sample every wine in stock, including the reserves.

About the Wine: Notable wines include Kenmar, Mousseux and White Star.

The Not-Quite Vineyard
When out and about in Wine Haven you are bound to encounter “Beer Wonderland.” Queen City Brewing LTD throws ales, pilsners and stouts into the vinous equation. Pick your poison with a choice of 15 classics on tap and eight different wines out in the vineyards. If neither beer nor wine is your drink of choice, then opt for the standard soda from their fountain. Should you see a future in brewing or vinting, there are also classes available.

About the Wine: Flavors vary from Exotic Fruit White Zinfandel, Peach Apricot Chardonnay and Wildberry Shiraz.

The Equestrian Vineyard
Cultivating on 28 acres is the King Family Vineyard. Using slit loam soil, this winery produces over ten thousand cases of wine each year. A perfect summer day is spent here sipping on a glass of Chardonnay and enjoying a friendly polo match. Each season starts Memorial Day Weekend and ends mid-October, with the wine continuing to flow well into autumn.

About the Wine: Local favorites at this vineyard include the Crose, Cabernet Franc and Roseland.

When the day is done and you’ve taken in as much of the Shenandoah Valley as possible, make your way back to The Iris Inn. If you are brave enough, take advantage of their Wine Therapy Package for a light dinner at Greenleaf Grill. Devour the next day’s gourmet breakfast to enjoy while out on the third-story tower and get ready for more bubbly. Enjoy a custom lunch as you make your rounds to one of the 29 other wineries nearby and dance the night away at the local wine festival. To seal the memory of your exciting weekend, download the complimentary “Virginia Wine in My Pocket” app to explore Waynesboro’s wineries even after you’ve headed home.


The Inn at Little Washington

Sumptuous and decadent doesn't begin to describe this world-renowned inn and restaurant. A palette of locally grown produce and meats is always on the artfully crafted menu for an unforgettable culinary experience. (540-675-3800)


Where to Stay

About Colonial Williamsburg

The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation preserves, restores and operates Virginia’s 18th-century capital of Williamsburg. Innovative and interactive experiences, such as the street theater Revolutionary City® and the RevQuest: Save the Revolution!TM series of technology-assisted alternate reality games, highlight the relevance of the American Revolution to contemporary life and the importance of an informed, active citizenry. The Colonial Williamsburg experience includes more than 400 restored or reconstructed original buildings, renowned museums of decorative arts and folk art, extensive educational outreach programs for students and teachers, lodging, culinary options from historic taverns to casual or elegant dining, the Golden Horseshoe Golf Club featuring 45 holes designed by Robert Trent Jones and his son Rees Jones, a full-service spa and fitness center, pools, retail stores and gardens. Philanthropic support and revenue from admissions, products and hospitality operations sustain Colonial Williamsburg’s educational programs and preservation initiatives.

The Groundhog Has Spoken: Kingsmill Resort Tees-up Spring Break Packages

Kingsmill is a AAA Four-Diamond resort and member of Preferred Hotels & Resorts Worldwide located on the historic James River in Williamsburg, Va. The destination features one- to three bedroom suite accommodations with access to family-friendly amenities and three 18-hole championship golf courses. Suites with kitchens, washer/dryers, spacious living areas and multiple bedroom units are available. Kingsmill houses a 16,000 square-foot IACC certified conference center, four on-site restaurants, fitness center and new renovated $1 million dollar spa, indoor/outdoor pools and full service marina.

Kingsmill heralds a rich history dating back to Colonial America. The bucolic landlocated along the banks of the mighty James River was considered a permanent base by the first Englishmen on May 12, 1607. They decided to settle at Jamestown the next day. Located in the heart of Virginia's Historic Triangle, it should come as no surprise that the land now known as Kingsmill featured a bustling plantation from 1619 through the1800s.

Kingsmill Resort, the only AAA Four Diamond Condominium Resort in historic Williamsburg, Va., is encouraging families to end winter’s hibernation, get out of that burrow, and spring into warmer weather with two special spring break packages. Featuring spacious four-diamond condo accommodations, tickets to the area’s famed attractions, including complimentary transportation to and from Kingsmill, makes the riverfront resort the ideal great escape.

For more information, visit for specific details or call 800) 832-5665.

Kingsmill Resort is an AAA Four Diamond condo resort and member of Preferred Hotels & Resorts Worldwide. Located on the James River off I-64 between Richmond and Norfolk the property is within minutes from Williamsburg’s numerous destinations including Busch Gardens, Colonial Williamsburg, The College of William & Mary, Jamestown Settlement and Yorktown Victory Center.

What to See & Do

Williamsburg Farmer's Market

Travelers to Colonial Williamsburg can take home a taste of Virginia at this conveniently located market in Merchants Square. (757-259-3768)

First-ever Educational Musket Range

Colonial Williamsburg’s educational musket range celebrated its grand opening March 19, 2016, for the first time offering Revolutionary City guests an opportunity to learn about and operate the types of firearms that won independence and supported life and livelihood in early America.

Guests learn from costumed interpreters about the history of flintlock weapons, particularly in colonial Virginia, their mechanics, use in hunting and defense, plus safety and proper handling.

“We provide guests an engaging, educational experience that immerses them in the period of our nation’s founding. The educational musket range embodies that, but on an entirely new level,” said Peter Seibert, Colonial Williamsburg director of historic trades and skills. “For decades our guests could learn about these pieces and watch them being operated. Now they can really experience them – the weight, the smell, and the sound – not to mention how challenging their operation was for people whose lives often depended on it.”

Guests will able to prime and fire replicas of two of early America’s most important firearms: a “Brown Bess” British short land service pattern musket and a fowling piece, a precursor of the modern shotgun.

The range’s Brown Bess replicas reflect the variety manufactured between 1768 and 1804 within a broader category spanning from 1717 and 1815. They are the type of musket used by both British and American soldiers during the American Revolution.

Muzzle-loaded fowling pieces were used to hunt ducks and other waterfowl in Tidewater Virginia and for farmland pest control. Notably, during the period they could be legally owned by free blacks for the latter purpose.

The range is accessible only by ticketed guests via a shuttle from the Williamsburg Lodge. Admission includes instruction, safety equipment firearms, ammunition, and targets.

To participate, guests must reserve spaces in advance and present photo ID to purchase tickets on-site. Tickets are $119 and are available to guests ages 14 and older. Children under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Additional information is available at Colonial Williamsburg ticketing locations and hospitality properties, online at or by calling 855-296-6627.

About Colonial Williamsburg

The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation preserves, restores and operates Virginia’s 18th-century capital of Williamsburg. Innovative and interactive experiences highlight the relevance of the American Revolution to contemporary life and the importance of an informed, active citizenry. The Colonial Williamsburg experience includes more than 400 restored or reconstructed original buildings, renowned museums of decorative arts and folk art, extensive educational outreach programs for students and teachers, lodging, culinary options from historic taverns to casual or elegant dining, the Golden Horseshoe Golf Club featuring 45 holes designed by Robert Trent Jones and his son Rees Jones, a full-service spa and fitness center, pools, retail stores and gardens. Philanthropic support and revenue from admissions, products and hospitality operations sustain Colonial Williamsburg’s educational programs and preservation initiatives.


Where to Eat

One Block West

The culinary focus of this relaxed, yet elegant, bistro is to seek out the finest Shenandoah Valley ingredients at their peak of freshness and pair them with the best Virginia wines. All ingredients are carefully selected by the chef and prepared to perfection in dishes such as roasted breast of duck with Bosc pear and grilled lamb loin chops with pesto. (540-662-1455)

For more information on these restaurants with fresh-picked menus, go to

For more information on Hotel Palomar Arlington visit

What to See & Do

Handley Library

If you think libraries are just for browsing books, think again -- because this library is exceptional. We discovered it while walking around West Piccadilly Street and couldn't resist climbing the high stairs after admiring the impressive columns outside as well as the interesting Beayx-Arts Architecture. Once inside, we were amazed at the size of the library that was built in 1913 and renovlated in 2001. It contains historic features including the exterior decorative carving and copper dome, a three-story rotunda topped by an interior stained-glass dome. It also has beautiful woodwork, historic light fixtures, and glass stack floors. Within the library, check out the gift shop that sells library-related gift items and used books.

We spent a couple of hours browsing through the numerous books, audiobooks, videos, compact discs, and DVDs and, as visitors we discovered we could pay for borrowing privileges and make use of the free Internet service available for short-term visitors.

Frankly, lthis is a place I could spend an entire day in just reading a wealth of magazines and newspapers.

Hours: Monday 10-8; Tuesday 10-5; Wednesday 10-8; Thursday 10-4; Friday and Saturday 10-5f

Location: 100 West Piccadilly Street, Winchester, VA 22601.

Old Town Winchester Tours Bring History Alive

Offered from June to October on the first and second Fridays at 6 p.m., enjoy a great one hour walking tour of Old Town Winchester for only $5 per person. Meet the guide at the Kurtz Building, 2 N. Commerce Street, and call for reservations at 540-542-1326. Bring comfortable walking shoes, a hat, sunscreen and water.

Shenandoah Summer Music Theatre

Introducing wonderful music and popular plays for over three decades, this is the place to go to see professional performances. Harold "Hal" Herman, founder and producing artistic director of the Theatre, recently announced his retirement and accepted the new position of artistic director emeritus. His long dream of a summer stock theatre company that would provide the Conservatory's students an opportunity to work in a professional setting before venturing out to pursue their own careers became a realty in 1984, when the Theatre presented its first season of four fully-staged musicals. Here, fabulous plays - including A Funny Thing Happened on tge Way to the Forum, The Wiz, The Addams Family, The Music Man - and more, have taken place.

The next time you're in this lovely area, check out the program. The Shenandoah Summer Music Theatre is located at 1460 University Drive in Winchester. Performances take place in Shenandoah Conservatory's Chrstrom-Bryant Theatre on the campus of Shenandoah University in Winchester Thursday-Saturday evenings at 8 p.m., Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2:30 p.m., and Wednesday matinees (2nd week of each show only) at 2:30 p.m.

Single tickets are offered with discounts for seniors 63 and over and for Youth 16 and under. Subscriptions at reduced prices are also offered. For tickets call (540) 665-4569 or check website

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