Category Archives: Virginia Tourism

Winter Ski, Tubing Specials at Wintergreen


The latest winter news and specials from Wintergreen Resort….

Winter is in full swing, and we miss your smiling face. Come visit us now through February 16 and take advantage of these great special offers!

Save up to $57!

  • $39 for 8-hour Lift Ticket & $20 Rental
  • $34 for 4-hour Lift Ticket & $15 Rental
  • Add on a group lesson for 50% off
  • Kids 12 and under save $5 off lift ticket and $5 off rental

Save up to $39!

  • $59 for 8-hour Lift Ticket & $20 Rental
  • $49 for 4-hour Lift Ticket & $15 Rental (Sat. after 2 pm, anytime Sun.)
  • Add on a group lesson for 50% off
  • Kids 12 and under save $5 off lift ticket and $5 off rental

Tubing Offer
Save 47%

  • $10 TuesdayThursday beginning February 1

These offers are good for up to four people; one transaction only; not valid with any other offers. Valid through February 16, 2017. This entire email is your coupon. You must print out this email and present it at ticket window along with matching photo ID.

Check the Mountain Message Blog and the Slope Report for the most up-to-date info, then head up the mountain!  See you on the slopes!


Community To Enjoy Free Movies at Frontier Culture Museum

Frontier Culture Museum 2By Lynn R. Mitchell

Something new and free is coming to Staunton and it’s sure to be a hit with young and old alike. “Movies at the Museum” will show movies free of charge in the Dairy Barn Lecture Hall at the Frontier Culture Museum. Reservations are necessary because of limited seating so look over the list below. Children 12 and under must be accompanied by an adult. The first movie begins this Friday, January 21. Movies that are youth-oriented have afternoon showings while those more suitable for adults will be early evening with doors opening 30 minutes prior to start time. Check each movie listing for its start time.

Outdoor movies at the Dod Amphitheater will begin in May.

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Free Entrance to National Parks Monday


Old Rag as seen from Skyline Drive.

This Monday, January 16, is fee free day at all of America’s 400 national parks. In my neck of the woods that includes Shenandoah National Park. For other locations, check Many will have the day off to celebrate the Martin Luther King holiday so can escape to one of our national jewels.

For those interested in accessing Shenandoah National Park, there are a few alerts and notifications in place.

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Civil Rights leader Rep. John Lewis speaks at Monticello, receives Jefferson Medal

By Lynn R. Mitchell
Originally published April 13, 2015

??????????Congressman John Lewis (D-Ga.) was keynote speaker at Monticello’s commemoration of Thomas Jefferson’s 272nd birthday. (Video of birthday ceremony including the congressman’s remarks here.)

Lewis received the 2015 recipient of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal in Citizen Leadership that recognizes contributions in architecture, law, and citizen leadership, qualities that Mr. Jefferson held in high esteem. As a young man 50 years ago, Mr. Lewis was a civil rights activist with 600 other activists who took part in the Selma-to-Montgomery march that was recently commemorated in Selma with President Barack Obama and former President George W. Bush, both of whom he mentioned in his remarks.

From UVa President Teresa Sullivan: “The University of Virginia is proud to celebrate these leaders, who truly embody the ideals and spirit of Thomas Jefferson. These recipients not only exemplify premier talent in their fields, but also, like Jefferson, they provide essential leadership for our world in the areas of architecture, law and citizen leadership.”

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Sights Along Western Virginia’s U.S. Route 11

dscn5543-2For a scenic drive while traveling north-south in western Virginia, historic U.S. Route 11 runs from Winchester at the northern border of the Commonwealth to Bristol in the south. Built in the early 1900s, it runs parallel to I-81 and provides a slower pace that showcases life away from the fast lane. Traffic is light and tractor-trailers are rare. It has become my preferred route between Staunton and Roanoke so this week I once again found myself on this back road while leisurely driving to the Star City for lunch with friends. Leftover snow from a few days earlier covered fields and mountain ridges, and along river and creek banks.

dscn5548-2With the Blue Ridge Mountains to the east and Appalachians to the west, the views are breathtaking any time of year. In Botetourt the James River meanders along Rt. 11 for a short distance. In Lexington I crossed over the Maury River. Along the way I passed historic and quirky sights such as the Pink Cadillac Café, Natural Bridge, vineyards, Devil’s Backbone Brewing Company in Lexington, Virginia Gold pear orchard, 30-acre sunflower field in Botetourt, Virginia Safari Park, and many more.


dscn5553-2As Rt. 11 heads north, the tiny village of Buchanan in Botetourt County marks the entrance to the Shenandoah Valley.

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Snow Day in Virginia

snow-12-jan-2017It’s a snow day in Virginia, one of those rare snowstorms that covers the entire Commonwealth. In the Shenandoah Valley we were expecting little to nothing but were pleasantly surprised with about 3 inches of the white stuff. Points east of us received much more with 8 inches in Richmond. The beach area, Williamsburg — those areas that don’t see much snow — all had good snowfalls. Here’s a few pics from our house and, yes, I still have my Christmas decorations up. Epiphany was just yesterday so it’s okay….






Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell
Shenandoah Valley, Virginia
January 7, 2017


New Year’s Day … Free Admission to Virginia State Parks


Happy New Year … now get thee to the outdoors and enjoy all that Virginia has to offer in our state parks. Entrance fees are waived on January 1, 2017 — see a listing of all 37 parks here including the newest, Natural Bridge State Park, near Lexington.

Some parks are offering hikes and other activities, listed here. Kick off your New Year with a hike in the woods!


10 Things To Do in Staunton on New Year’s Eve 2016


Things to do in Staunton this New Year’s Eve….

1. The Store: Belgian Waffle Breakfast with Mimosa or Champagne. 8:00 am-11:00 am

2. Sunspots: Blow Your Own Glass Ornament, 11:00 am – 4:00 pm.

3. Zynodoa Restaurant: 4 course prix-fixe menu.

4. American Shakespeare Center: 11:00 am Playhouse Tour; 2:00 pm Romeo and Juliet; 5:00 pm Final performance EVER of The Twelve Dates of Christmas, a play written for their stage by one of their actors, with $2 glasses of champagne.

5. Baja Bean Co: Findells Rockin’ New Year’s Eve Party with champagne toast at midnight! $10 cover.

6. Redbeard Brewing: Hosting Magnolia Mountain Grill, and Dragon Wagon is playing, w/ Special Guest.

7.  Clocktower Downtown 27: NYE Bash with live music from Maybe Tomorrow & DJ Neili Neil. The front restaurant will be open until 1 AM, with a Feature Menu, and they will be offering $3 glasses of Prosecco for Midnight toasting.

8. Byers Street Bistro: New Year’s Eve Party. 9:00 pm – 12:30 am featuring dinner specials, live music from Gypsy Town and a champagne toast at Midnight.

9. Pompei Lounge Annual Masquerade: Hosted by The Judy Chops. The show starts at 10:00 but come early as we will definitely sell out. $10 cover and a champagne toast at midnight. Open till 2am.

10. Barren Ridge Vineyards: Open late on New Year’s Eve (until midnight) for anyone who wants to ring in 2017 in a quiet and cozy setting.

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Peaks of Otter, Blue Ridge Parkway Offer Winter Solitude


As old as the hills . . . Peaks of Otter has drawn settlers and travelers to the region for more than 8,000 years. The community whose vestiges remain to be explored today had its beginning in 1766 when Thomas Wood arrived from Pennsylvania.

The wife of one of Wood’s descendants would open her home as the area’s first lodging for travelers in 1834. By the late 1800s, Peaks of Otter would be home to some 20 families, a school, a church and a resort hotel.

In the mid 1900s, the location was selected for special attention as the National Parks Service developed recreation and service areas along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Abbott Lake was constructed and Peaks of Otter Lodge opened in 1964.

The peaceful solitude of winter is found in the Blue Ridge Mountains of western Virginia. A short drive up the mountain from Bedford, rustic and quaint Peaks of Otter Lodge, open weekends now through mid-March, is surrounded by hiking trails and thousands of acres of nature. With national park lodges closed for the season along the Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park, Peaks of Otter offers rare on-site accommodations along the Blue Ridge Parkway in winter.

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Chick-fil-A Planned For Staunton


The announcement of a Chick-fil-A coming to Staunton finally made it to the public on Tuesday, a little later than originally planned, but better late than never.

According to reporter Laura Peters with the News Leader:

Staunton Frontier LLC plans to bring retail, restaurants and lodging to a 42-acre area off U.S. 250 and Frontier Drive on land adjacent to Sheetz. The anticipated development is across the street from another mixed use development called Staunton Crossing, which has nearly 300 acres available. Two hotels have already signed on for the Staunton Crossing location and is expected to bring multiple food options, large retail, a gas station and possibly high-end office buildings.

Located at Exit 222 off I-81 on the busy Richmond Road (U.S. 250) corridor near Lowe’s and Wal-Mart, the chicken restaurant will be at the entrance to the Frontier Culture Museum within a half mile of the interstate. Its proximity to the heavily traveled interstate makes it the only easily-accessed Chick-fil-A between Harrisonburg and Roanoke. Staunton’s location is by far the fastest on-off for motorists as they travel north-south.

It’s often a hurry-up-and-wait situation when developing sites and recruiting businesses. Hopefully, Staunton will have its own Chick-fil-A soon.

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Photos of Skyline Drive in late November

[Originally posted November 2014. Updated.]

??????????The Friday before Thanksgiving … we took the day to play in Shenandoah National Park. It was sunny but a very cold 22 degrees with some wind and few visitors. I wrote about our day with photos (see The mountains were calling) … here are more photos from a wonderful day on the mountain.

??????????From Staunton, we took I-81 north to the Weyers Cave exit, then drove to the traffic light at Keezletown Road and turned left, following it to Rt. 33 east of Harrisonburg. Turning right, we drove east on Rt. 33 toward the mountains and jumped onto Skyline Drive at the Swift Run Gap entrance. A sign at the entrance was a reminder to visitors that the Drive closes daily during hunting season (November 14-January 8, 2017) from 5 p.m. until 8 a.m. The sign in this photo says 15 miles to Big Meadows. Our destination was Skyland which is about 10 miles beyond Big Meadows so we had a nice leisurely drive ahead of us. It was relaxing.

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Fire Danger High In Western Virginia


Graphic courtesy of National Park Service.

It’s dry in western Virginia. Fall has not brought much rain and, with freshly-fallen autumn leaves littering the mountain woods, fire danger is high.

With that in mind, and with forest fires raging in the mountains of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia, Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park decided to be proactive and prohibit fire of any kind in the driest portion of the park.

Beginning Wednesday, November 16, the South District of the Skyline Drive, located between I-64 at Afton Mountain and Rt. 33, is off-limits to campfires and more, according to the National Park Service:

Building, attending, maintaining or using an open fire anywhere within the South District of Shenandoah National Park is prohibited. This ban includes:

o    All wood, charcoal, coal or other solid fuel open air fires.
o    Fires in grates, grills, rings or pits in campgrounds, picnic areas, shelters and huts.
o    Please note that wood, charcoal, coal or other solid fuel fires are always prohibited in the backcountry of the entire Shenandoah National Park.
The use of pressurized gas-fuel camp stoves and backpacking stoves will be allowed in Dundo Picnic Grounds and in the backcountry. However, the use of liquid-fuel or wood-fuel portable stoves is prohibited.
Smoking will be permitted only inside vehicles and at established paved or gravel parking areas. Smoking will be prohibited on all trails.

Restrictions will continue indefinitely until conditions improve.

Cross-posted at Bearing Drift.

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November in Western Virginia


This view was found on a back road west of I-81 and south of Lexington looking east toward the Blue Ridge Mountains. November … brown begins to permeate the Virginia landscape in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving and into winter. Photo by Lynn R. Mitchell


Indian Summer

highland-county-10The Shenandoah Valley as well as much of Virginia will experience temperatures in the 80s for the third day in a row. Since it’s October 20, and since the Valley had frost two nights last week, we are now experiencing what is commonly known as Indian summer.

What, you may ask, is Indian summer? It’s exactly what we’re going through right now — higher-than-average temps after the first frost of fall.

Think of it as a reprieve. I often imagine the mountain pioneers who lived in the hollows of the Blue Ridge and Appalachian Mountains as they prepared for the hardship of a long, cold winter isolated in lone cabins and rustic farmsteads. Indian summer to them must have been a god-send, that extra gift of warm, sunny days that allowed time to complete any left-over tasks. As the urgency of impending winter became greater, putting a finish on survival chores was helped with Indian summer. Life and death, for pioneers as well as their livestock, depended on their ability to be fully prepared — stocked with food and fuel to survive the long months of snow, freezing temperatures, blowing winds, and loneliness.

These days most of us just enjoy the nice days and take the opportunity to slow down a bit and motor on leisurely drives through those same mountains looking for autumn’s annual color show along the high ridges and on back roads. It is truly one of the most beautiful times of the year.

So enjoy our Indian summer and, if you find time, head to western Virginia to take in the color and splendor of October.

It’s autumn in Virginia….















Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell
Highland County, Virginia


October leaves

??????????Vivid maple tree on Courthouse lawn in Monterey, 2015.

Photo by Lynn R. Mitchell

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