RICHMOND – Today, the Virginia Tourism Corporation (VTC) released What’s New in 2023, the agency’s curated guide to what is new and noteworthy for the travel industry for the coming year. The guide is produced annually and offers a regional look at what’s to come in 2023.
To view the full What’s New in 2023 guide, visit pressroom.virginia.org/whatsnew.
Highlights from This Year’s Guide: Statewide News and Major Openings
- The Virginia American Revolution 250 Commission (VA250) will commemorate the 250th anniversary of the American Revolution, the Revolutionary War, and the independence of the United States in the Commonwealth of Virginia, one of the former colonies and future states, where much of this history took place. The celebrations begin in 2023 and will run through the 250th anniversary of American Independence in 2026.
- In mid-summer 2023, Springfield Town Center in Northern Virginia will welcome the opening of LEGO Discovery Center, a 32,000 square foot indoor LEGO attraction that features millions of LEGO bricks and multiple attractions. Billed as the ultimate indoor LEGO playground, this will be the very first location in Virginia.
- The Rivers Casino in Portsmouth will open January 15, 2023. The 400,000 square foot casino features seven restaurants, a 4-Star Hotel, a 3,000-seat event venue, movie theater, and much more.
- The Garden Club of Virginia is celebrating its 90th Anniversary of Historic Garden Week in 2023. The statewide event runs from April 15-22, 2023 and includes 30 unique tours hosted by 48 clubs across the Commonwealth.
- The Omni Homestead Resort’s iconic Warm Springs Pools, an integral part of Bath County and Virginia history, reopened in December 2022 following a 14-month, $4 million rehabilitation. Fed by four natural warm springs, rich in mineral content, the 19th century bathhouses have been sought by travelers for centuries. The stone basin of the Gentlemen’s Bathhouse was constructed in 1761, making it the oldest spa structure in the country.
Central Virginia and Southern Virginia
- The Edna Lewis Menu Trail is running in Orange County now through Memorial Day 2023. Participating local restaurants will have their version of a recipe from Orange County native Edna Lewis’ featured cookbook on their restaurant menu in honor of the 50th Anniversary of Edna Lewis’s first cookbook – The Edna Lewis Cookbook.
- Albemarle County will welcome two new wineries in 2023, Southwest Mountains Vineyards and Paradise Springs Winery. This will be Paradise Springs’ third location and its second location in Virginia.
- The Darden Business School in Albemarle County will open the Forum Hotel, managed by Kimpton Hotels, in April 2023. The new hotel will feature 199 hotel rooms and suites, more than 19,000 square feet of meeting space, including a 6,500-square-foot ballroom, a pub, sports bar and coffee shop as well as five acres of natural green space featuring an arboretum and botanical gardens that will connect the Darden Grounds, UVA School of Law Grounds, and the Rivanna Trail.
- Richmond’s brand-new entertainment and food venue, The Park RVA, features a number of activities including indoor mini golf, duckpin bowling, and karaoke. The Park RVA will be a one-stop-shop entertainment venue for adults and families to enjoy.
- After years of construction, three Metro Silver line stations opened in Loudoun in late 2022, finally connecting the county with direct public rail to Washington DC. The three stops are Dulles International Airport, Loudoun Gateway, and Ashburn Station.
- Astro Beer Hallwill be expanding and opening its second location, a 14,000 square-foot concept in Shirlington. Targeted for opening in early 2023, this location will include local beer along with Astro’s famous fried chicken and donuts, as well as over-the-top sandwiches and more. Astro Beer Hall Shirlington will feature seating for up to 500 guests inside and 80 guests on the large outdoor patio.
- The Crystal City Water Park in Arlington will reopen in 2023 with an entirely new presence, complete with new restaurant kiosks and seating areas, a full-service restaurant, new water features — including a “water wall” with a bar perched on top — and a stage. The new kiosks will highlight local, minority- and women-owned businesses, local favorites and renowned names. In addition to decorative water features, the revamped park will also feature public art installations and a building with public restrooms and bike facilities near the entrance to the Mt. Vernon Trail.
- Arriving in winter 2023, Hotel AKA Alexandria brings a dramatic new addition to Old Town Alexandria and will be just 20 minutes from Washington, D.C. and steps from the city’s flourishing boutique scene and thriving waterfront. Custom-designed by visionary architect Piero Lissoni, the new, sophisticated accommodations offer a long-term stay option with premium amenities such as a Technogym fitness center and more.
- The National Botanic Garden is a new 250-acre garden in Chantilly set to open in 2023. The landscaped grounds merge horticulture, architecture, topography and art and include the largest bamboo gardens in the US as well as the East Coast’s largest water-borne Xeric gardens – also known as water-wise gardens.
Coastal Virginia – Hampton Roads, Chesapeake Bay, and Eastern Shore
- The multi-day Something in the Water Festival led by Virginia Beach native Pharrell Williams will return home to Virginia Beach after a year in Washington D.C. April 28-20, 2023. With a star-studded musical lineup, the event also highlights arts and culture through a series of performances, capsule events and community activities designed to highlight unity, celebrate diversity, and empower all.
- Oyster Seed Holdings, one of the largest oyster seed producers on the East Coast, will be offering new hatchery tours and tastings to the general public in 2023. Guests will get a behind the scenes look at what it takes to put oyster seed in the hands of farmers. Admission also grants access to their exclusive pop-up oyster bar including beer, and wine for sale.
- The Norfolk Botanical Gardens have started construction of the Garden of Tomorrow. Slated to be finished in 2023, the Garden of Tomorrow focuses on sustainability and improving the gardens green impact. With a new parking garden, entry pavilion and conservatory, the garden is sure to be an attraction not to miss.
- Sun Outdoors Chincoteague Bay is Chincoteague Island’s newest waterfront RV Resort & Campground. Visitors can enjoy scenic family picnics, community campfires, and stroll a half-mile of shoreline with a private fishing pier and boardwalk. Maui Jack’s Waterpark will reopen Memorial Day weekend 2023. in the waterpark will include areas like the Splash Zone and Lazy River and the high-speed Banzai Racers slide.
- Busch Gardens Williamsburg will debut DarKoaster in 2023. Billed as North America’s First All-Indoor Straddle Coaster, riders will travel on snowmobiles across 2,454 feet of track and race through total darkness while changing course to avoid the elements. As the weather strikes, riders encounter four accelerating launches on this family-friendly dark ride experience.
- Water Country USA will debut Riptide Race in Summer 2023. Virginia’s First Dueling Pipeline, this adrenaline-pumping water slide pits teams against each other as riders take their mark atop a 54-foot tower before racing through 520 feet of slide, with low walls to keep an eye on the competition.
- Downtown Newport News, branded The Yard District in a nod to Newport News Shipyard, is quickly evolving into a scenic and vibrant hot spot. A restaurant row has popped up along 23rd Street, where Ironclad Distillery and Coastal Fermentory have already established roots. During this revitalization effort, plans are also being made for a coffee and wine bar, retail shops, and a large full-service restaurant in 2023.
Shenandoah Valley and Virginia Mountains
- The Virginia Scenic Railway debuted to the public in Fall 2022. Travelers can sit back and enjoy the modernized ambiance of a 1940s passenger car through some of Virginia’s prettiest scenery, including the Shenandoah Valley and the Blue Ridge Mountains. Due to the immediate popularity during its inaugural season, the railway will provide expanded service and more passenger cars for the 2023 season. Booking for the Jan-March season is available now.
- The new Fire Station No. 1 Boutique Hotel in downtown Roanoke, opening February 2023, is a 7-room hotel housed in a 20th century fire station and furnished by TXTUR, a locally-based furniture manufacturer specializing in sustainability and direct to consumer retail. Their flagship retail showroom will be located on the main floor of the hotel. Stock, a Nordic-inspired restaurant and bar located in the Fire Station Hotel will also open in February.
- Harrisonburg has launched the Harrisonburg/Rockingham County Trail Guide. This is the first ever trail guide for the area. It includes 15 popular trails selected for their unique characteristics such as scenic overlooks and waterfalls. The guide includes trails for hikers, trail runners, mountain biking and gravel cyclists.
Southwest Virginia – Blue Ridge Highlands and Heart of Appalachia
- The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Bristol, which opened their temporary casino during Summer 2022, recently broke ground for their new permanent property in Bristol with plans for a Summer 2024 grand opening. Visitors will experience the legendary vibe of the Hard Rock brand, including gaming, entertainment, and great food.
- Smyth County’s Hungry Mother Festival, the longest-running festival held in a Virginia State Park, is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2023. The Hungry Mother Festival is dedicated to the promotion of art, theater, and music and includes juried arts and crafts, live music, and favorite festival foods. It runs from July 21-23, 2023.
- The Inn at Foster Falls inside New River Trail State Park will open in 2023 offering 10 luxurious guest rooms as well as meeting space. Wrap around porches enable uninterrupted views of the New River and state park below.
- The newly opened Damascus Trail Center is a regional hub for outdoor recreation uniting visitors and volunteers with a wide range of natural resources in the region. The Trail Center is ideally positioned to greet visitors of three of the area’s most renowned National Trails: the Appalachian National Scenic Trail (AT), the Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail, and the Virginia Creeper National Recreation Trail.
- The Christiansburg Huckleberry Park plans to open early 2023. The park will feature several unique amenities such as a splash pad, a universal playground, an obstacle course, a fitness course, multiple dog parks, as well as volleyball and pickle ball courts and an amphitheater. This will be the only facility like it in the state.
For more of What’s New in Virginia for 2023, visit pressroom.virginia.org/whatsnew.
About Virginia Tourism Corporation
Virginia is for Lovers is one of the most iconic and recognizable travel brands in the world. Using that powerful brand equity, Virginia Tourism Corporation (VTC) is charged with promoting the Commonwealth as a premier travel destination by showcasing all there is to love in a Virginia vacation. The dollars spent by travelers fuel the economy, provide jobs for Virginians, and improve communities across the state. Simply put, tourism helps make Virginia a great place to live, work, and visit. Learn more at virginia.org.