With summer officially underway, it’s time to share what’s new and newsworthy in Virginia during the warm weather months of 2018.
The travel and tourism industry in Virginia continues to grow. Governor Ralph Northam announced Virginia’s tourism revenues reached $25 billion in 2017, a 4.4 percent increase over 2016. In 2017, tourism in Virginia supported 232,000 jobs—an increase of 1.1 percent compared to 2016. The tourism industry also provided $1.73 billion in state and local revenue, an increase of 2.8 percent compared to 2016. The travel industry is the fifth largest employer in Virginia.
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Highlights Across the Commonwealth this Summer
- Lansdowne Resort & Spa in Loudoun County has collaborated with Fish and Explore to create Adventures at Lansdowne that will offer the resort’s first-ever water activities on the Potomac River. To celebrate the launch, a Summers on the Potomac resort package is available.
- Rocket Frog Brewing Company, Dragon Hops Brewing and The Craft of Brewing recently opened, bringing the total number of breweries in Loudoun County close to 30.
- Hiddencroft Vineyards, in Loudoun County, is now offering a history and wine tour of the property that includes food and wine pairings at various 19th century buildings on-site.
- Greenhill Winery & Vineyards, an adults-only winery, incorporates Middleburg’s rich equestrian history by allowing guests to partake in horse-drawn carriage rides around the property on weekends or by appointment during the week.
- Wine is typically paired with cheese or chocolate, but at Notaviva Vineyards in Loudoun County, the wines are now paired with music. With the help of augmented reality technology, visitors can now use a special app to scan the wine label and listen to the corresponding music.
- Loudoun County will host the 2018 National Beer Bloggers Conference Aug. 10 and 11.
- During construction of the Hotel Indigo in Old Town Alexandria, archaeologists discovered three 18th century ships along the historic waterfront. A new exhibit featuring the discovery is at the Alexandria Archaeology Museum.
- The Draftsman Hotel is now open in Charlottesville.
- Hotel Weyanoke in Farmville is now open, offering 70 guest rooms, two restaurants, a coffee shop and a rooftop bar.
- The Commonwealth, which has been a Richmond staple directly across from the Virginia Capitol for over a century, recently completed extensive renovations. The pet-friendly property gives a nod to Richmond’s arts scene. The hotel features “tattooed” doors, hand-painted murals and handcrafted furnishings from Virginia artisans.
- The Moxy Hotel (a Marriott-branded hotel owned by Shamin Hotels) is set to open in Richmond during 2018. Moxy Hotels are boutique, lifestyle hotels currently with only a handful of other locations in the United States.
- The trendy Scott’s Addition neighborhood in Richmond will add two new dining options with the opening of Perch and
- Perch, helmed by Chef Mike Ledesma, is a blend of Pacific flavors and Virginia cuisine. It will open this summer.
- Longoven, a popular longtime pop-up dinner series, will open its first brick and mortar restaurant in 2018.
- Three-time James Beard semifinalist Lee Gregory will open his first solo restaurant, Alewife, in Richmond during 2018. Alewife will feature Chesapeake Bay and Mid-Atlantic seafood. Alewife will emphasize conservation.
- Richmond’s beer scene continues to grow.
- Richmond’s Beer Trail now includes 30 breweries.
- Tabol Brewing, Richbrau, Dogtown Brewing Co., Manastoh Brewing Co., Safety Team Brewing Co. and Shiplock Brewing Co. are slated to open in Richmond.
- The family behind Steam Bell Beer Works recently opened Canon & Draw Brewing Co. in Richmond’s Fan neighborhood.
- Lickinghole Creek Brewery opened an outpost in Richmond’s Shockhoe Bottom, named Lickinghole Goodwater with partial proceeds benefiting clean water initiatives in Jamaica.
- Virago Spirits, a family-owned distillery producing rum, brandy, gin and herbal liqueurs, will open a tasting room in Richmond late summer 2018.
- The Blackburn Inn, located in Staunton, opened June 19. Originally constructed in 1828, The Blackburn Inn was envisioned and influenced by master builder and Thomas Jefferson’s protégé, Thomas R. Blackburn. The Blackburn Inn is now a unique 49-room boutique hotel.
- Hotel Madison in Harrisonburg is Shenandoah Valley’s Conference Center and opened in May 2018.
- The Stonewall Jackson Hotel’s interior received a fresh new look.
- The Briede Family Vineyards, a 100 percent certified organic and sustainable Virginia winery, has finished bottling its first vintage and construction of their new tasting room is nearly complete, which is slated to open in June.
- West Oaks Farm Market opened in May as the largest market in the region, offering 10,500 square feet for farm market space and 3,450 square feet for the indoor special event center. This is a 10th generation farm; they have operated pick-your-own-fruit and a smaller farm market closer in to Winchester for many years.
- Broken Window Brewing opened, making it the fourth craft brewery in the Old Town Winchester area.
- The Shenandoah Valley has three new breweries opening in summer 2018. Two of the three (Siblings Rivalry Brewery and Box Office Brewery) are located in Strasburg.
- Siblings Rivalry Brewery opened in Strasburg’s downtown featuring three beers on tap including, “The Favorite,” a honey cream ale; “The Eldest,” an IPA and “The Step Child,” a red ale.
- Box Office Brewery will open Fourth of July weekend. This facility will be large enough to host large parties and groups and feature several varieties of craft beer brewed on-site. Visitors will enjoy the historic murals depicting the scenery of the Shenandoah Valley that were uncovered during renovations and a stage will lend itself to live music and entertainment.
- Front Royal Brewing Company will be opening in June in Warren County.
- A new mural was added in the town of Strasburg by South African artist, Resoborg.
- Development is underway for The Virginia Center for Literary Arts, a writer-in-residence and public creative workshop space. The property (an old typewriter store in Old Town Winchester) has been purchased and renovations are slated to begin soon, currently with a late 2018 open date.
Virginia’s Eastern Shore
- Maui Jack’s Waterpark on Chincoteague Island opened Memorial Day weekend.
- Black Narrows Brewing Company is now open and in full craft beer mode.
- Cape Charles Brewing and Cape Charles Distillery are set to open in mid-June.
- Buskey Cidery located in Richmond is opening a taproom in Cape Charles set to open mid-June.
- The Northampton Hotel opened in Cape Charles. It has five rooms, two restaurants and a retail shop.
- NASA Wallops Flight Facility Visitor Center on Wallops Island is offering new exhibits and activities, including a new rocket engineering exhibit.
- The Barnacle, Virginia Beach’s first and only food boat with a menu consisting of cone-shaped food, is now open.
- Civil Libations, casual, refined dining serving up twists on American fare and craft cocktails, recently opened in Virginia Beach.
- Crazy Crab, a seafood restaurant with an Asian twist, opened in Virginia Beach.
- Auntie’s Tiki Bar in Virginia Beach is a new Filipino/Polynesian fusion restaurant owned and operated by two Filipino brothers serving their spin on cultural classics and Tiki mug cocktails.
- Only at Renee’s is offering Virginia Beach a taste of traditional foods and culture.
- Aloha Snacks is a fast, casual restaurant at Virginia Beach’s Oceanfront, serving rotating specials, like the salmon sushi burrito, Hawaiian donut burger, malasadas (Portuguese donuts) and more.
- Aloha Hawaiian BBQ, a true Hawaiian BBQ joint, opened in the heart of Virginia Beach.
- Brunch House is the new premier brunch restaurant in Virginia Beach serving up all the classics and more.
- Bobo’s Fine Chicken serving homemade biscuits and fried chicken has opened in Virginia Beach.
- Mermaid Winery is now open on Shore Drive in Virginia Beach in the Chic’s Beach neighborhood. They focus on producing small lots of well-balanced wines using Virginia and California grapes. The winemaking process can be viewed from the tasting bar. Guests can also choose from 12 different wine flights or select a wine from their list that features 800 wines from around the world.
- The Atlantic on Pacific is a booze and wine-focused raw bar opening at Virginia Beach’s Oceanfront in July.
- Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant, one of the largest wineries in America, will open an 11,000-square-foot restaurant in Virginia Beach during 2018.
- A total of 10 murals have been painted by national and local artists as part of Virginia Beach’s ViBe Creative District’s 10 Murals in 10 days initiative, presented by Town Bank.
- In partnership with the YMCA, The Virginia Gentlemen Foundation in Virginia Beach opened the highly-anticipated Camp Grom. The 70-acre adventure camp will have the honor of serving wounded veterans, Gold Star Families, and those with differing abilities.
- Zeiders American Dream Theater in Virginia Beach will kick-off its grand opening with the Proteus Festival Oct. 5 through 7.
- Dry Fork Fruit Distillery is relocating to Danville and opening a retail store in the River District. This is a restored historic area bringing together residential and recreational living, entertainment and fine eateries.
- Bugg’s Island Brewery will be announcing new locations within downtown Clarksville soon.
- Ballad Brewing has purchased a bottling line and has a distribution agreement to sell products in restaurants and stores in the City of Danville by fall 2018.
- Occoneechee State Park in Clarksville is making $1.5 million in upgrades including Splash Park, a water activity area, bath house, picnic shelter, playground and three housing yurts each with lakefront views and outdoor cooking grills.
- Leesville Lake Marina in Gretna is offering a boat launch, boat slip rental, fuel, fishing supplies, pontoon boat rentals, non-powered boat rental, cooked-to-order grill and convenience store. A new on-site pool will also be available this season.
- Coming next summer: The John Randolph Hotel is expected to open Summer 2019 in South Boston and will feature 27 rooms, a full-service restaurant and a rooftop bar, which will be the first in South Boston.
Virginia Mountains and Blue Ridge Highlands
- In May, Virginia’s Blue Ridge was designated as a Silver-Level Ride Center™ by the International Mountain Bicycling Association and named America’s East Coast Mountain Biking Capital.
- Roanoke’s Explore Park opened a PDGA Certified disc golf course, on-site camping and tipis and horseback riding.
- The Hotel Roanoke and Conference Center, Curio Collection by Hilton, and The Regency Room restaurant recently earned the AAA Four Diamond Designation.
- TRU by Hilton Roanoke Hollins, a brand-new hotel experience by Hilton that’s vibrant, affordable and you-at-heart will be opening this summer.
- Cambria Hotel & Suites in Roanoke received a name change and is now Springhill Suites by Marriott. Renovations will be complete this fall.
- Three Notch’d Brewing Co. will open in downtown Roanoke this summer.
- Cabo Fish Taco is opening in Roanoke this summer.
- Looking ahead: From Sept. 8 through Feb. 3 the Taubman Museum of Art in Roanoke will have the “Drive: Iconic American Cars and Motorcycles”
Heart of Appalachia and Southwest Virginia
- A new one-of-a-kind wellness facility opened Memorial Day weekend in Bland. Nestled in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains and bordering the Jefferson National Forest, the Eupepsia Wellness Center is Virginia’s newest wellness sanctuary. Set on 256 acres of farm and woodland, it is a unique destination for health and wellness retreats, designed to help people reconnect with themselves and align with nature.
- Mountain Lake Lodge & Conservancy’s Adventure Center in Pembroke introduced the “Sky Slide” on Memoria Day. At five stories tall, the Sky Slide is the highest inflatable slide in the world.
- The Spirits of the Clinch Trail launched April 30. The trail includes: Painted Peak Brewing Company in Tazewell, Plum Creek Winery in Tazewell, Vincent’s Vineyard in Lebanon, Stone Mountain Distilling in Lebanon, Sugar Hill Brewing Company in Saint Paul and MountainRose Vineyards in Wise.
- The Bristol Hotel will open downtown in the fall and will feature 65 rooms, a rooftop bar with sweeping views of the Appalachian Mountains, street-front dining with family style regional fare and a historic arcade for unforgettable social gatherings and special events.
- The Western Front Hotel recently opened in Saint Paul. The hotel offers 30 hip repurposed hotel rooms. Chef Travis Milton opened Milton’s in the hotel and offers fresh made daily items and Appalachian cuisine.
- In late 2018, Chef Travis Milton will also be opening The Shovel and Pick Restaurant located in the Session Hotel in Bristol. The hotel is scheduled to open after the restaurant in 2019.
- The Long Way Home | Off Road Adventure will be a quadrathlon (paddling, running, swimming and biking) that will cover 25+ miles through Giles and Mercer County. The Long Way Home is aptly named as it follows along the path that Mary Draper Ingles took on her way back from captivity in the late 1700’s. Details soon to follow.
- The “foodie” town of Abingdon welcomed two new eateries in 2018, bringing the total number of independently owned restaurants to 34.
- Morgan’s is a fine dining restaurant that marries local ingredients with international flavor profiles. Specialties include a pork tenderloin with bacon cornbread stuffing and “kilt” greens, and a brick oven flatbread with duck confit and arugula pesto.
- Papa Tom’s Cantina expands Abingdon’s casual dining scene, with Southwestern-style Mexican cuisine. Think fish tacos, grilled street corn and tlacoyos (fried black bean and corn masa, heaped high with savory toppings).
- Abingdon’s Thursday Jams series offers free concerts all summer long on Thursdays at 7 p.m.
- Walker Creek Barn is Southwest Virginia’s newest event venue and largest venue in New River Valley. Perfect for rustic inspired weddings, it can seat 295 people. The property is owned by New River Outdoor Company and is now booking events. The space has 360 degree views.
- Kairos Wilderness Resort now has two- and four- person UTV rentals on their mountaintop resort property. They are also beginning work on their cabins and treehouses.
- A new tasting room and production facility opened at JBR Vineyards in Staffordsville.
- Save the date for the Muddy ACCE Race in Glen Lyn to be held on Sept. 15, where 1,000+ participants and visitors are anticipated for the event.
- Also, save the date for the 100th birthday of Tennessee Ernie Ford. Tennessee Ernie Ford was born and raised in Bristol, TN. During his birthday week (starting Feb. 13, 2019), there will be community celebrations in coordination with his son, Buck.
- Don’t forget: The historic Cameo Theater will be reopening as a stage for Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion in September and will be fully restored with programming in 2019.
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The Virginia Tourism Corporation (VTC) is the state agency responsible for marketing Virginia as a premier travel destination and promoting the 49-year old “Virginia is for Lovers” brand, the longest-running state tourism slogan in the country. VTC operates as a fully-integrated marketing unit charged with increasing brand awareness through owned, earned and paid media opportunities, as well as social media strategies.
Plan your next vacation in Virginia. Visit virginia.org to discover why Virginia is for Lovers.