RICHMOND – Today, the Virginia Tourism Corporation (VTC) released Where to WanderLove in 2021, the agency’s curated guide to what is new and newsworthy for the travel industry for the coming year. The guide is produced annually and offers a regional look at what’s to come in 2021.
To view the full Where to WanderLove in 2021 guide, visit pressroom.virginia.org/whatsnew.
Highlights from This Year’s Guide:
Major News and Openings
- The Crozet Blue Ridge Tunnel opened to the public in November 2020 after nearly 20 years in the making. The trail offers a unique outdoor experience for railroad enthusiasts, hikers, bikers, history buffs, and cave dwellers. From sunrise to sunset, visitors can explore the 2.25-mile trail that passes through an abandoned train tunnel, which is more than 700 feet below the Blue Ridge Mountains.
- The Turning Point Suffragist Memorial in Fairfax County will unveil the long-awaited national memorial to the women’s suffrage movement in spring 2021. After construction delays due to COVID-19, the final stages of the project are moving forward and the site will be a welcome addition to the area, which also is home to the new Lucy Burns Museum at the Workhouse Arts Center – a pivotal location in the fight for women’s voting rights and the passage of the 19th Amendment.
- Keswick Hall, slated to reopen in the spring of 2021 after a multi-year renovation and expansion, will offer visitors a premier luxury experience just minutes from downtown Charlottesville. The resort will still feature its renowned Full Cry golf course, designed by Pete Dye, in addition to 80 luxurious guest rooms and suites, a new spa, and a new signature restaurant run by famed chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten.
Central Virginia and Southern Virginia
- The Moxy Hotel, located in downtown Richmond, is set to open at the end of 2021.
- Dairy Market, in the historic Monticello Dairy Building in downtown Charlottesville, will have up to 18 merchant stalls and 11,500 square feet of retail space.
- The Fall Line Trail is a paved, multi-use trail spanning approximately 43 miles between Ashland and Petersburg. While the Trail will take years to fully build out and complete, the northern section (Ashland Trolley Line) is near completion as of the end of 2020.
- The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond will exhibit Virginia Arcadia: The Natural Bridge in American Art, an exploration of the artistic portrayal of this spectacular natural landmark through more than 60 paintings, prints, decorative art objects and photographs made between the late 1700s and the early 1900s. The exhibition, free to visitors, will be on view from February 6 to August 1, 2021.
- The Virginia Museum of Natural History in Martinsville will open the Jean S. Adams Education Pavilion in October 2021 to generate greater public awareness of the museum, partnering organizations and the entire region. The Pavilion will offer education programs, interpretive elements and multi-use functionality.
- For the first time since Dulles Airport opened in 1962, travelers will have a fast, easy, inexpensive rapid transit option for getting from Dulles to points throughout Northern Virginia when the Silver Line Metrorail extension opens in 2021.
- The Capital One Center, Capital One’s sprawling headquarters complex, will debut in 2021 as a new mixed-use entertainment epicenter in Tysons, featuring a hotel, performing arts venue, retail, and a 1.2-acre skypark that brings green space, a biergarten, dog park, public art, and a pop-up food truck experience to the area. Capital One Hall, a 1,600-seat performing arts center and 300 seat black box theater, will also be available for groups as well as hosting its own events throughout the year.
- The new Fredericksburg Nationals Stadium andFredericksburg Expo will be hosting baseball games as well as other sporting and corporate/association events, weddings, and more in 2021.
- In spring 2021, Alexandria will get a taste of the Mediterranean with Barca Wine Bar + Pier.Barca Pier will be a seasonal outdoor eatery inspired by Barcelona’s beach bars and made from carved-out shipping containers. The menu at Barca Pier will offer small plates of mostly Mediterranean food, as well as Greek, Italian and Moroccan flavors. Barca Wine Bar, which will be open throughout the year, will boast an intimate, sophisticated setting and vast selection of unique and domestic wines from around the world.
- ShipGarten will be Northern Virginia’s first roaming outdoor lifestyle experience located in Tysons, features four separate food and drink experiences, each being served up out of a 40-foot shipping container surrounded by a quintessential biergarten, family area, fenced-in dog park, and entertainment venue.
- Herndon Biergarten, opening in late 2021, will feature a 2,000-sq-ft bier hall, 60+ drafts on tap, an 11,000-sq-ft outdoor patio and a rooftop deck – plus an extensive whiskey tasting menu.
Coastal Virginia – Hampton Roads, Chesapeake Bay and Eastern Shore
- The 85,000 square foot Apex Entertainment Virginia Beach opened in December 2020 and offers 24 lanes of bowling, VR experiences, a 95+ game arcade room, mini golf, three escape rooms, go kart track, ropes course, axe throwing, a two story American cuisine restaurant and event space.
- After a $25 million renovation and expansion, the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center in Virginia Beach is set to re-open on Memorial Day weekend 2021 and could include a new addition and exhibit for sea lions and seals, a new entrance and a pedestrian bridge to a parking deck across General Booth Boulevard.
- The Glass Light Hotel & Gallery Marriott Autograph Collection will be opening the Art Gallery portion of its venue, located next to their historic boutique hotel in downtown Norfolk in March 2021. Visitors can enjoy pieces by world renowned artists such as Peter Bremers and Lino Tagliapietra.
- The Norfolk Botanical Garden will be hosting the return of LanternAsia in April 2021 – art by day and magic by night with a FantaSea theme, where the world of fantasy collides with the enchantment of the sea. The exhibit of larger-than-life Chinese lanterns will be showcased throughout the garden’s 175-acres where guests can experience larger than life sea creatures, butterflies, a mystical tree, a walk-thru shark tunnel and more.
- 1865 Brewing Company, the first Black-owned brewery in Hampton Roads, will open in January 2021. 1865 Brewing Co. is a micro-brewery with beers that will have clean crisp flavors that are not overly bitter and will be a broad range of styles to include recipes with coffee and CBD. The brewery will also feature a line of non-alcoholic drinks with a focus on “wellness” that incorporates probiotics and herbal supplements. It will also offer a full-service espresso bar and an assortment of pastries from a local Top Dessert Chef.
Shenandoah Valley and Virginia Mountains
- The 152-room Natural Bridge Historic Hotel & Conference Center in Natural Bridge became a member of the Trademark Collection by Wyndham hotel brand and is undergoing a $750,000 renovation including a complete guest room renovation in the Main Hotel along with some redesigned public spaces. Additional highlights will include exterior upgrades, the addition of a fitness center, and fully equipped 5-Bedroom Villa.
- The 39-room Gin Hotel in downtown Lexington, which dates from 1926, aligned with Choice Hotels’ Ascend Hotel Collection. The former Robert E. Lee Hotel was rebranded, and the in-house Italian restaurant was renamed Juniper Lounge. The 12-room sister property Tonic Restaurant and Inn (formerly Sheridan Livery Inn & Restaurant built in 1887), was also rebranded with a focus on healing and therapeutic vibes, along with a Bohemian, garden-like feel on the updated outdoor dining patio.
- The Liberty Trust, originally constructed as a bank headquarters in 1910 in downtown Roanoke, is currently undergoing a full historic restoration as part of its transformation into a 54-room luxury lifestyle hotel currently slated to open in late August/September 2021.
- The Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum will be changing out its temporary exhibit in April 2021 and will be featuring “The Quarantine Museum.” This exhibit will feature stories of members of the Staunton community as they have navigated the pandemic. The exhibit will have a virtual component and will also be in the exhibit gallery.
- The Carilion Clinic IRONMAN® 70.3® Virginia’s Blue Ridge triathlon will be held on June 6, 2021, in the Roanoke Valley in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. The race will include a 1.2-mile swim at Carvins Cove, a 56-mile bicycle ride through Botetourt County and a 13.1 mile run on the Roanoke River Greenway.
Southwest Virginia – Blue Ridge Highlands and Heart of Appalachia
- Nicewonder Farm & Vineyards in Bristol will be opening the Nicewonder Inn in Summer 2021. This 28-room luxury boutique inn will boast inviting common areas, a world-class culinary and wine program, and beautifully appointed rooms ranging from 325ft to 650ft, highlighted by a 1200 sq. ft. “presidential” suite, all overlooking some of the most beautiful scenery on property.
- Long Way Brewery, which opened in Radford December 2020, is an old stone church rehabbed into a brewery with themed beers that pay tribute to colonial heroine Mary Draper Ingles. The lower level of the brewery houses the Radford/Fairlawn Daily Bread during the morning hours, providing meals at no cost for people in need.
- The Appalachian Trail Center in Damascus is currently scheduled to open in spring 2021 and will be a hub to the Appalachian Trail and the Town of Damascus.
- The Tallest Bridge in Virginia is now open to traffic. Located near Breaks Interstate Park in Buchanan County, the bridges in Grassy Creek are the tallest twin bridges in Virginia. The bridges began construction in 2019 and completed construction as well as opened to the public in late November 2020.
- The Back of the Dragon Welcome Center in Tazewell opened in late 2020 and offers visitors information on Route 16 or the “Back of the Dragon” motorcycle trail. The Welcome Center includes retail space, tourist information, craft beer, frozen yogurt, specialty coffee and an iconic 12-foot dragon.
About Virginia Tourism Corporation
Virginia Tourism Corporation is the state agency charged with marketing the Commonwealth as a premier travel and film destination. In 2019, visitors to Virginia spent $27 billion, which supported 237,000 work opportunities and contributed $1.8 billion in state and local taxes. To learn more, visit virginia.org.