Archive for 2011

Virginia Ghosts

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

Along with a drop in the temperature, the changes in the leaves, and the revival of the pumpkin spice latte, October also heralds Halloween. If you’re not planning to attend a costume party or hand out treats to the neighborhood kids, then perhaps you would enjoy exploring some of the supposedly haunted areas of Virginia:

Bridgewater College- The ghost of Mr. Cole, after whom Cole Hall was named, is said to appear in the balcony of the theater during certain performances. Some claim to have felt chilly spots in the balcony, and it is said that sometimes the lights flicker oddly after a production has concluded. Besides the ghost of Mr. Cole, others have claimed to feel cold and to hear splashing near the river where a student was said to have drowned. One investigation of Cole Hall did attempt to disprove these claims, but perhaps Mr. Cole simply decided not to make an appearance that day.

Pocahontas Parkway- This area was once home to Native Americans, and they are now said to haunt the area. Individuals have witnessed the sounds of chanting and drumming, and a few have even claimed to have seen the ghostly figures of the natives who once lived here.

Matthew Whaley Elementary School, Williamsburg- This school is said to be haunted by two young boys. Some say that both are the spirits of slaves who died there, but the more commonly accepted theory is that one of the ghosts is nine-year old Matthew Whaley himself, while the other is a slave boy who had died around the same time.

Round Tree Park, Annandale, VA- Witnesses around this area have claimed to be tormented by the ghost of a woman, holding a baby. It is said that she is almost always preceded by a heavy fog.

If you do plan to explore some of these areas, make certain you are allowed on the property, and also make sure to have a companion with you. Most importantly, be safe!

For more information about ghosts and hauntings in Virginia, check out the Center for Paranormal Research and Investigation.

By Tara Stoll

Virginia Harvest Celebrations, 2011

Saturday, September 24th, 2011

 

Along with the ever-growing crispness of the weather and the emerging tones of red, brown and gold, autumn also brings forth a myriad of harvest festivals. Each festival retains a common theme while managing to be entirely unlike all of the others, so if you enjoy the spicy scent of apple cider, the rustic charm of hayrides and corn mazes, and the jaunty tunes of bluegrass bands, then proceed to the lovely little list below:

 

Fall Harvest Family Days at Mount Vernon- This is a wonderful family event with horse-drawn wagon rides, a straw maze, colonial games, and demonstrations of candle making.

 

Carter Mountain Orchard Apple Harvest Festival, Charlottesville, Va- This festival features apples, cider, homemade donuts, pumpkins, apple butter and bluegrass and is located near Monticello.

 

Fall Farm Festivals at Sky Meadows State Park, Delaplane, Va- Celebrate the harvest with living history demonstrations, corn mazes, and a pumping patch!

 

Fall Festival at Massanutten, McGaheysville, Va- Reach your party destination with free chairlift rides, and then enjoy crafts, wine tasting, a beer garden, and plenty of children’s activities!

 

Fall for Fairfax KidsFest, Fairfax, Va- Enjoy juried crafters, ethnic foods, music and kids’ crafts!

 

These are only a few of the long list of harvest festivals and celebrations coming up in Virginia. For a more complete list, click here!

© Jarek Tuszynski

By Tara Stoll

 

 

Virginia Green, 2011

Tuesday, September 20th, 2011

It seems to be all the rage now for companies to “go green,” and for many, this is little more than a title to earn approving nods from others of the so-called green persuasion. However, there are those who truly care about the restoration and preservation of the the natural environment, and Virginia falls into this latter category: “Virginia Green is Virginia’s program to encourage green practices throughout the state’s tourism industry!” This includes recycling and waste reduction as well as energy and water conservation.

From eco-friendly lodgings to restaurants that emphasize recycling, there are many different volunteers participating in Virginia Green! If you would like to consider becoming a part of this green alliance, check out the Virginia Department of Environmental Equality’s webpage, and fill out an application online! Even if you are not a volunteer of this specific organization, every little effort can help. (I promise you that it takes just as much effort to toss a plastic bottle into a recycling bin as it does to throw it away in a trash can.)

For a few friendly suggestions about how to go green, check out Virginia’s Eco-Friendly Travel Tips.


By Tara Stoll

2011 STIHL Tour des Trees VA2DC Tour

Tuesday, September 6th, 2011

Dust off your bike helmets, stretch out those calf muscles, and brush up on your environmental knowledge! Registration is open for the 2011 STIHL Tour des Trees VA2DC Tour! “What is this event?” you asked, intrigued by its lengthy title. Continue on, good readers, for I shall tell you.

First, you should probably understand what TREE is if you are not already familiar with the group. TREE, or the “Tree Research Education and Endowment Fund,” is dedicated to “to identify[ing] and fund[ing] projects and programs that advance knowledge in the field of arboriculture and urban forestry to benefit people, trees, and the environment.” They’re a wonderful group that supports nature research around the world, and, according to their mission statement, “the results of TREE Fund-supported research affect people’s lives and arborists’ techniques every day.”

The Tour des Trees is TREE’s largest fundraising event, and it is a primary means of raising public awareness about the necessity and benefit of trees. The first day of the 2011 tour, October 2, is a 30-mile ride around Virginia Beach. Seven days later, the tour ends at Washington D.C. Overall, the riders cover close to 500 miles, and the trip includes areas like Richmond, Williamsburg, and Charlottesville.

If you would like to participate in this enjoyably worthwhile event, registration will be open until September 25, 2011, so there is plenty of time to sign up! Looks like it’s going to be a fun week with some great destinations and a lot of wonderful people (not to mention the health benefits of all the calories you will burn)!

© StihlTourDesTrees.org/

By Tara Stoll

Short Pump Town Center: Richmond, Virginia

Monday, August 29th, 2011

When one thinks of tourism in Virginia, he or she usually imagines historic sites, pleasant wineries, warm beaches, and fantastic hiking trails. One, however, does not usually think of Virginia as being a shopping destination, but we do in fact have an incredibly popular location that is perfect for a lively girls’ day out, a well-needed personal shopping spree, or a fun family outing.

Short Pump Town Center is a 1,200,000 square foot open air shopping mall in the West End of Richmond, Virginia. It provides a wide array of fashion boutiques, department stores, well-known retailers, and specialty stores, as well as a plethora of dining options. Their seemingly endless list of stores includes such places as Swarovski, Cold Stone Creamery, the Funny Bone Comedy Club and Restaurant, Macy‘s, the Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spa, and Build-A-Bear Workshop.

Honestly, it would take a few days to visit every single desired store and restaurant, not to mention that you would have to make time for one of Short Pump’s special events (such as Fashion’s Night Out on September 8, 2011). Shopping is fun but exhausting, and after you’ve spent a day on your feet, at the spa, in an upscale restaurant, or at the Funny Bone Comedy Club, you’ll need a place of comfort where you can relax with your purchases. So, your best bet would be to include one of our spectacular bed and breakfasts in your vacation itinerary!

If you’d like to stay updated with special events and sales at Short Pump, follow them on Facebook and Twitter. Happy Shopping!

© ShortPumpMall.com

By Tara Stoll

Celebrate Scotland, Italy, and Wine, 2011!

Thursday, August 18th, 2011

By now you’ve probably already felt a certain crispness in the mornings, swiftly replacing the thick humidity of these past summer months. Indeed others have noticed that the green hue of one or two leaves has already begun to dissipate, melting into red or gold. There is no doubt that autumn is near, approaching silently without ostentation or fanfare.

But I’m certain that you’re not reading this to hear me prattle on about the poetical nature of autumn. No, you would rather hear what sorts of activities in which you can participate during this upcoming fall season, and since you’re being so incredibly insistent, I suppose I shall tell you.

Although there are many, many, many, many autumn festivals and celebrations around Virginia, I’ll focus on three fantastic ones that you can find in and nearby Williamsburg, Virginia:

The Williamsburg Scottish Festival and and Celtic Celebration, September 30-October 1- It’s time for kilts, haggis, and bagpipes! This event includes Irish stepdancing, a golf tournament, a parade, and lots of vendors with pretty, shiny things!

The Yorktown Wine Festival, October 1- This festival includes 21 wineries, 8 of which will participate in a wine dinner at the Riverfront Restaurant. The music also looks to be fantastic with a drum and fife band, reggae, pop, rock, acoustic, electric, and Celtic.

© 2011 Virginia.org

Ciao Williamsburg Festival, October 8-9- Celebrate your Italian heritage, or, if you’re not Italian, pretend to be for a couple days! This festival promises amazing food, arts and crafts, children’s activities, and some excellent entertainment.

By Tara Stoll

Virginia Attractions for Teens

Friday, August 5th, 2011

It’s a well-known and well-accepted fact that teenagers are hard to please. This fact is especially true if you announce that you are planning a family vacation, and you’re likely to be met with a nauseatingly whiny chorus of voices deeming said vacation as “lame.” The good news? There are plenty of teen-friendly spots here in Virginia! While they may not turn parental lameness into coolness, they will at least make for an incredibly enjoyable family vacation.

By now you’re probably frantic with enthusiasm, so I shall keep you in suspense no longer. I humbly present to you now a few suggestions that are certain to defy your teen’s expectations of a lame family vacation:

The Eastern Shore Hang Gliding Center, Weirwood, Va- Ever dreamed of flying? Then have at it! No experience is necessary, and if you’re a bit wary about hang gliding, try the lesser nerve-wracking version—aerotowing!

© 2011 Eastern Shore Hang Gliding Center

SouthEast Expeditions, Cape Charles, Va- With a specialty in Sea Kayak Tours, this is a unique way to explore the eastern shores of Virginia. You can choose anywhere from a two-hour tour to a half-day trip.

© 2011 SouthEastExpeditions.net

 Snowflex Center, Lynchburg, Va- This is the perfect outing for those who love winter sports. As a synthetic ski slope, Snowflex Center offers skiing, snowboarding, and snow-tubing year-round.

© 2011 GrindMedia, LLC

By Tara Stoll

Hiking Around Virginia

Friday, July 29th, 2011

“I believe that the ascent of mountains forms an essential chapter in the complete duty of man, and that it is wrong to leave any district without setting foot on its highest peak.” — Sir Leslie Stephen

 There are many reasons that people choose to go hiking. Some appreciate the physical challenge, while others enjoy the quiet escape of nature, the ethereal beauty that transcends man-made creation. Others (like me) like to pretend they are elves, nimbly crossing the forests and mountains of Middle Earth. (What? You don’t like to pretend you’re an elf?) Whatever your reasons for hiking, Virginia provides some absolutely beautiful trails for hikers of all levels—day-long hikes, easy walks next to lakes and rivers, trails for biking and horseback riding, treks through national parks, and trails that overlook waterfalls. No matter the area of Virginia in which you find yourself, there will be a hiking trail close by.

Because it would be nearly impossible to list every single trail in a single blog entry, I shall highlight a few options in different areas of our lovely commonwealth:

 

The Cascades, Pembroke, Va- This trail offers waterfalls and creeks, so you can cool off after your trek. You have the option of doing a 4-mile round trip to the lower falls, or an 8-mile round trip to Barney’s Wall.

© Rui M.

 

Prince William Forest Park, Triangle, Va- This park is full of various circuit hikes, depending on which direction you would like to take. It’s an easy hike, and is a great opportunity to bring your canine companions with you.

© FergusonFoundation.org

 

Peaks of Otter, Bedford, Va- This is a wonderful hike, because it offers trails for all different fitness levels. If you’re looking for a good challenge, Flat Top and Sharp Top can take up to three or four hours to complete. Or if you’re feeling especially ambitious, you can combine the two for a nice long, 9.8 mile hike.

© http://www.flickr.com/photos/labimposter

 

If you’d like a list of twenty of the most popular hikes in Virginia, look no further than here. Also, after a good, adrenaline-pumping hike, you should have a nice, comforting Bed and Breakfast to come back to…….so, aren’t you glad we have a list of B&Bs for you to peruse?

By Tara Stoll

Virginia Lighthouses, Summer 2011

Monday, July 18th, 2011

“Lighthouses don’t go running all over an island looking for boats to save; they just stand there shining.”
– Anne Lamott

Lighthouses have been a source of fascination for people for many years, and we here in Virginia are lucky to have some of these beautiful structures decorate our coasts. They stand with silent strength, with few frills or ornamentation, and yet the light that shines from them cannot go unnoticed. For many years, these lighthouses kept ships from crashing to shore, ensuring safety to the crew aboard the vessels. Now these structures are sources of history and, as always, symbolic representations of hope and guidance. And, of course, they are a wonderful destination for those on a Virginia vacation.

The lighthouses of Virginia include the Old Cape Henry Lighthouse, built in 1792, the Assateague Lighthouse, built in 1833, the Old Point Comfort Lighthouse, built in 1802, and the New Point Comfort Lighthouse, commissioned by Thomas Jefferson in 1804. As you can imagine, each of these lighthouses possesses a deep history, having survived battles and skirmishes and years of being weathered by ocean waves.

If you’re planning to visit one of these lighthouses, be sure to check out their schedules. Some allow tours during most of the years, but others have set times that the outside public is allowed to see the inside. (Also, toughen up those leg muscles if you plan to climb up the inside of the lighthouse. Those stairs give you a good workout!) Be sure to check out our list of bed and breakfasts to find the perfect inn for you to relax at during your trip to visit the lighthouses.

© 2011 http://www.virginia.org/lighthouses/

© 2011 http://www.virginia.org/lighthouses/

© 2011 http://www.virginia.org/lighthouses/

 Facts courtesy of Virginia Tourism Corporation, © 2011.

By Tara Stoll

A Secret “Sweet Spot” for Lovers in Virginia’s Beautiful Shenandoah Valley: A TripAdvisor’s 5 Star Award for Excellence

Saturday, July 16th, 2011

“Virginia is for Lovers” is a promise fulfilled at Historic Downtown Harrisonburg’s Stonewall Jackson Inn ~ Bed and Breakfast!  Get out your “Bucket List,”  here is “must” places to visit!!   Two well- known, premier travel directories agree!  TripAdvisor has just awarded the coveted 2011 “Certificate of Excellence” to this Inn for again having a solid 5 star rating from their subscribers for the second year in a row. BedandBreakfast.com has also awarded the Inn “Best B&B in the Mid-Atlantic Region” and lists it in the elite Diamond Collection of the World’s Best B&B’s.

 

The really good news is that this Inn  is located in the hospitality-plus “Friendly City” of Harrisonburg, right in the center of the Shenandoah Valley. The City’s lively Downtown  Historical District  is also the Fine Dining & Entertainment Center of the Valley.  But that’s not all.  It offers museums, galleries, shops, stage theater and music, Farmers Market, outdoor festivals & activities.  In the center of the District in a beautifully restored pre-Civil War home,  you will find a  docent staffed  visitor’s welcome center with a gift shop and  a beautiful Tea Room that serves many different kinds of tea along with homemade goodies. Harrisonburg is not only the Valley’s choice destination for a very romantic B&B & fine dining Getaway,  but it is also a “base camp” for outdoor adventure.    There are easy day trips to experience Civil War and Frontier History, Outdoor Recreation and Entertainment, Shopping & Antiquing, Biking, Hiking, Wine Tasting, and much more.  Check out www.HarrisonburgTourism.com and www.VisitShenandoah.org if you are looking for some ideas.

 

The Stonewall Jackson’s mission and promise of a “A Night’s Delight ~ A Breakfast to Remember” is a tall order, but the Inn’s friendly hospitality team is up to the task.  They literally love their jobs of “making guests happy”.  Galina, a “wannabe” interning Innkeeper from Belarus tells the guests “It is like working in a Disneyworld Bed & Breakfast”.  The team leader, Master Innkeeper and owner,  Dr. Wayne Engel, is Professor Emeritus of Clinical Psychology at James Madison University.  He and his son started the Inn twelve years ago “just to have fun”.  The ambiance is one of warm Southern Hospitality in a Civil War Era restored mansion , with all of today’s amenities & technological comforts.  The Stonewall Jackson Inn is Certified “Virginia Green” carries a 3 Diamond AAA and an “Exceptional” rating by the Bed and Breakfast Association of Virginia www.InnVirgina.com. Visit the website for more information and details of “The Stonewall Jackson Experience” in the “Friendly City” of Harrisonburg.

Dr. Wayne Engel, © 2011 http://www.stonewalljacksoninn.com/

Visit www.StonewallJacksonInn.com, write Wayne@StonewallJacksonInn.com, or call 800.445.5330

Dr. Wayne Engel, Owner/Innkeeper

Stonewall Jackson Inn

547 East Market Street, Harrisonburg, Va. 22801