Virginia is for... Adventure!
Virginia is lovers, as we all know, but these days Virginia is for adventure lovers! There is much to be explored in the state that is overflowing with Mother Nature’s creations and interesting cities. Plan for a visit loaded with adventure in the Old Dominion state - Virginia!
SHENANDOAH BY LAND, RIVER, AND SKY
Centrally located in the Shenandoah Valley, only a short distance from Washington, D.C. is Fort Valley Ranch - nestled in the Massanutten Mountains of the George Washington National Forest. Start your adventure with a guided horseback ride in George Washington National Forest. Spend the afternoon kayaking down the scenic Shenandoah River with Shenandoah River Outfitters. Enjoy the most exciting and beautiful part of the of the Shenandoah, a class II rapid called “Compton’s Rapid” followed by a deep swimming hole with magnificent towering orange and gray limestone cliffs.
Eat a hearty snack for energy when ripping up the trails at the Bryce Bike Park. With eight lift-accessed trails ranging from beginner to advanced, Bryce features a unique custom built park. Bikes and protective gear are available for rent at Bryce’s rental shop, which features state of the art Trek Downhill, Enduro, and kids’ bicycles. Ride as long as you’d like and enjoy a break at The Copper Kettle Restaurant in Bryce Resort. After ripping it up on two wheels, hop off and take in the sights on a hike to Big Schloss. This popular day hike provides wonderful views of the surrounding valley from a rock outcropping along the mountain ridge.
Adventures continue with an adrenaline rush and a bird’s eye view courtesy of Skydive Shenandoah. They cater to first-timers with tandem jumps and experienced jumpers. Check out the quick and easy one-third-mile hike to Woodstock Tower for lovely sweeping views of seven bends of the Shenandoah River. If you’re lucky, you may even see hang gliders jumping from the platform and soaring through the sky. Choose a relaxing alternative and let Shenandoah Wine Tours drive as you tour the countryside to some of the valley’s award-winning wineries.
ADVENTURE AWAITS IN RIVER CITY
Richmond, known as the River City, is home to the James River and is one of the only cities in the United States with Class III and IV rapids in an urban setting. Adventure-seekers come from all over to experience adrenaline-filled days both on and off the river.
Begin your adventure with a whitewater rafting trip down the James River or hike over and around to Belle Isle Historic Park, a 54-acre island in the heart of Richmond. Stay indoors for a rock-climbing class at Triangle Rock Club, a state-of-the-art climbing facility. Be sure to spend time in Carytown and snag a meal at The Daily Kitchen & Bar. Enjoy a leisurely bike tour down the Virginia Capital Trail. This unique bicycle and pedestrian route links the first settlement in Jamestown, to Virginia's modern seat of government in Richmond. The 52-mile-long trail highlights the rich historical, cultural, and environmental assets along the Route 5 Virginia Byway. Be sure to head to the historic Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden with its year-round beauty and historic home on more than 50 acres of spectacular gardens. See the garden’s classical domed Conservatory is the only one of its kind in the mid-Atlantic with more than 200 orchids.
Spend an exciting outdoor vacation at the Pocahontas State Park. Bring your mountain bike and your hiking shoes to traverse the 58 miles of trails throughout the 7,724-acre park open to hiking, bicycling, and horseback riding. Those preferring a slower pace will enjoy kayaking, canoeing, paddle boats, and paddleboards on two beautiful lakes. The Park's Heritage Amphitheater also hosts concerts from spring through September. The story of Pocahontas - as told at the Henricus Historical Park - is this region's first love story. She met John Rolfe there at the second oldest English settlement in the New World - it is high on a bluff overlooking the James River and next to the Dutch Gap Conservation Area. You will want to visit the English village, Indian village, and the fort. The charming Chester Village offers dining and fun shops. You can continue to enjoy the magnificent river views by enjoying a dinner in Hopewell, just 11 miles east. petersburgarea.org
Explore the coast of two Chesapeake Bay towns on the Middle Peninsula by kayak, charter boat, or stand-up paddleboard. Take a guided kayak trip and learn about the history of the Tidewater Indian region before colonists settled there.
You can spend the morning exploring one of Gloucester’s parks beginning with Beaverdam Park. Pack a lunch to go and enjoy a three-mile hike along the reservoir and beautiful woodlands. Or explore the waterways of Gloucester with an eco-tour by Bay Country Kayaking. A two-and-a-half-hour kayak tour explores the area where oysters grow, historical sights, and beautiful views of the Peninsula. Legend has it that Pocahontas, Chief Powhatan, and Captain John Smith would enjoy oysters at these sites. Big Island Aquaculture will explain the growing oyster industry and even shuck a couple fresh oysters for you along the route.
Save your energy for a fishing charter trip along the Chesapeake Bay out of Mathews County. Bay Fly Fishing organizes a sunrise charter trip designed around shallow water to catch striped bass, speckled trout, and redfish. Keep your catch of the day and enjoy it for dinner later in the evening. After the sunrise charter, make your way to downtown Mathews and enjoy lunch at Richardson’s Café. End the day on board a sunset cruise and oyster tasting with Mathews Deadrise Charters and Chapel Creek Oyster Company.
Next should be a tour of New Point Comfort Lighthouse with Mobjack Bay Kayaking. Paddle around the bay and see the third oldest lighthouse on the Chesapeake Bay. Originally surrounded by a beach, the lighthouse is now surrounded by water. Dolphins are frequent visitors on this trip! Once you’ve had your fill of kayaking, stop at New Point Comfort Beach and explore at your leisure. Walk around the beach, and take a dip. gloucesterva.info; visitmathews.com
ADVENTURES ON TWO COASTLINES
Surrounded by water on three sides, the Eastern Shore is an outdoor paradise with over 78,000 acres of parks and refuges and one of only ten U.S. national seashores. Explore five walkable waterfront towns hugging the Atlantic and Chesapeake Bay coastlines; all complete with shops, galleries, museums, and restaurants. Play on this long narrow peninsula, one of the best undiscovered coastal playgrounds in Virginia
Stay at the Northampton Hotel in Cape Charles, a harbor town right on the Chesapeake Bay. The hotel is just steps from the public beach and every room has a spacious private veranda overlooking the harbor. First, stop at the Barrier Islands Center - a beautifully restored almshouse - to learn about the fascinating history of the wild barrier islands. The abandoned islands were once thriving communities and the playground of wealthy industrialists from the northeast.
In Wachapreague head out with Seaside Ecotours through coastal wetlands. Learn about the fragile ecosystems of the pristine wetlands and outer banks. Your next stop should be at Virginia Hang Gliding for a mile-high view of the Eastern Shore. You don't need any experience because the instructor will be up in the air with you. This is the only tandem hang gliding outfitter on the Atlantic seaboard.
Back in Cape Charles, explore bustling Mason Avenue, and sample some moonshine at the Cape Charles Distillery or a cider at Buskey's Cider Taproom. A short car trip gets you to the Cape Charles Brewing Company with a long list of locally produced microbrews. Walk to dinner and savor the views out over the Bay as you relax over a seafood dinner.
Spend the next day at nearby Kiptopeke State Park, a coastal playground with 562 acres of trails and separate beaches for humans and dogs. Rent a kayak and paddle out to the "ghost ships" just offshore, remnants from World War II. Head back to Cape Charles for a sunset boat tour with the Cape Charles Boat Tour Company. esvatourism.org
With so many gutsy ways to explore Virginia, your trip just might need to be longer than expected. Should your adventures entail biking, hiking, gliding, paddling, or just strolling, Old Dominion will always put it you in the center of adventure, beauty, history, and just plain fun.
MORE VIRGINIA ADVENTURE
Smith Mountain Lake, Virginia
Smith Mountain Lake is the jewel of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia. Vacationers can find unexpected delights along the 580 miles of shoreline like world-class historical sites, antiques, art galleries, water sports, golfing, and sunsets that would make anyone want to relocate here. For a bit of a unique activity head over to the visitors center at the Smith Mountain Lake Dam for educational information and a spectacular view of the lake.
Mecklenburg County, Virginia
Mecklenburg County, Virginia is an experience filled with small towns to explore, historical places that enrich, over 50,000 acres of water to refresh your spirit, state parks and hiking trails that will restore your peace with nature and a culture of live performances, festivals and award-winning foods that will replenish your relationship with the world. Located just a short drive from the Richmond or Raleigh skylines, and nestled midway between the beach and the Blueridge mountains, you will find a beautiful retreat… and true to its southern charm, it will call you back time and time again.
Chincoteague Island, Virginia
Chincoteague Island, Virginia’s only resort island, is perhaps the most beautiful island on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. World famous for its oyster beds and clam shoals, the island has unparalleled beauty of tranquil beaches with spectacular sunrises and sunsets. Fishing, boating, surfing, sunbathing, shell collecting, biking, hiking, canoeing, kayaking, shopping, dining.... Chincoteague has it all! Combine all of that with a mild year-round climate that encourages continuous enjoyment of numerous activities and you have the perfect getaway destination.
Bedford: A Destination for All Seasons
In beautiful Bedford, Virginia, one can experience award-winning wines along the Bedford Wine Trail, pay homage to the heroes who stormed the beaches of Normandy at the National D-Day Memorial, walk in the footsteps of Thomas Jefferson at Poplar Forest, and explore breathtaking overlooks along the Blue Ridge Parkway. A short drive off the Parkway brings visitors into historic downtown, home to a vibrant art community, 19th century architecture, unique shopping, and eclectic dining.