Header Photograph taken is of a beautiful tree in Virginia in full blossom by Third Rock Explorations
1 Star * - We would never go again or recommend it
2 Stars ** - It wasn't for us, but someone else may like it
3 Stars *** - It was good and we would recommend it
4 Stars **** - It was great and we would recommend trying it
5 Stars ***** - Definitely try it when you are visiting the area
VIRGINIA BEACH - 3.5 Stars *** "A beach with a beautiful boardwalk that has sculptures and monuments to see along the way. "
First Landing State Park - 2.0 Stars **
If you have ever had the desire to experience life in the military, this is the campground for you! One tiny aspect that they fail to make explicitly clear when you book a site here is that there is a base right next door. Once you are there, you will see signs on the bulletin boards by the bathrooms about the possibility of night helicopter exercises until 9, sometimes a little later. We were here 3 nights and they were out every single nights, and usually not done until 11pm or later. On a few occasions, they stopped about 50 feet above our tent, light beaming in, blowing our tent, sounding like they are about to land on us...it was a terrifying thing to wake up to. When you finally do get to sleep, you will be woken by morning reveille, followed by all of the branches songs, and then the National Anthem. Don't plan on sleeping past 7am. Oh, and if you are lucky enough to be near the gate, you will hear cars coming in and out and MPs talking on their radios. Other than that, the sites were fine and the beach was quiet and beautiful, other than the killer black flies that are all over the place. It's a shame because it's very convenient to the boardwalk and downtown area, but we would not recommend staying at this State Park.
Historic Williamsburg - 3 Stars ***
Fortunately, Williamsburg offers a 50% Veteran Discount, because otherwise we wouldn't have felt that we got our money's worth. What they don't tell you is that they have all of these buildings and craftsmen, but that they are not all open every single day. If there is something you are interested in seeing, check their schedule before heading out to see if it will be open. The map is not accurate and several people were wandering around looking for things. We spent more time wandering than we did learning. Then when you finally get to your destination, you will find out that they only show that particular house every 30 minutes, so you have to sit around and wait. It's very frustrating. The town is very cool and there should be plenty to see, but it really isn't much better than Old Salem, which we loved. There are many civil war and colonial towns throughout the East Coast so don't feel you need to make a special trip to Williamsburg, but if you are in the area, give it a shot. Tip: Park in the actual town and walk from there into Williamsburg and see if there is anything worth seeing the inside of. If so, then go buy a ticket, otherwise, you can walk around the town without a ticket.
NORFOLK - 3 Stars *** "A military town with a history. Quite a few museums and mermaid statues are everywhere"
RICHMOND - 4 Stars **** "Rich in history and natural beauty"
The Poe Museum - 3.5 Stars ***
The Holiday Inn Express Midlothian - 4 Stars ****
The staff was friendly, the room was clean, the area felt safe, and they had one of the best free breakfasts we've had at a hotel. The location is about 20 minutes from the city, but easy to get to with limited traffic. There were plenty of food and shopping options in the area.
The Farmers' Market - 1 Star *
There were two small fruit & veggie vendors. Don't make a special trip down there.
The Train Station- 3 Stars ***
If you are in the area, swing by this old train station and take a quick step back in time. The architecture is beautiful and there are several pictures and relics to look at.
Riverfront Historic Canal Cruises - 4 Stars ****
Join "Cotton" and the friendly staff of Riverfront for a cruise down the James Canal/River. Learn about why the canal was built and how it helped the economy of Richmond. The ride down the river is peaceful and there is a lot of history to be learned about it. See where 3 rails overlap, the only place in the world this happens!
Alamo BBQ - 3.0 Stars ***
This is a Texas style BBQ, which means that most of it has a kick! The Brisket and the Chicken were really good. Judging by the long line of excited people, it is a local favorite.
Shindigz - 4 Stars ****
This very cute dessert bar is a wonderful place for a romantic date or for an afternoon delight! There are several types of homemade cakes, pies, and ice cream, along with a variety of non-alcoholic beverages. The Cookie Cake was moist and had multiple layers of flavors and the Creme Brulee was very smooth and creamy.
Maymont Estate - 4.5 Stars ****
A beautiful estate with acres of rolling hills and gardens. The Japanese Garden with waterfall and koi ponds are relaxing (except when the occasional train comes by). The Italian Gardens are bright and colorful. There are several animals to see along the way and an educational wildlife center that you can see more animals and cool off (or warm up, depending on the season). There are snacks in the wildlife center and there was a craft Popsicle vendor on the hot day we went.
Carytown Burgers and Fries - 4 Stars ****
These large burgers are juicy and the order of tots was huge! The staff was very friendly and the prices were fair. The menu has several options and everything sounded good.
SHENANDOAH NATIONAL PARK - 4 Stars **** "The Skyline Drive is a Must Do with scenic views around every turn"
Luray Caverns - 4.5 Stars ****
These natural caverns draw quite a crowd. The lines were long when we arrived, but they have a good system that made the line go quickly. They were prepared with tents and fans, which was a nice touch. Your ticket also includes entry to the Car Museum, which was a very large collection of antique cars and a few other types of transportation. We were surprising impressed. The included Toy Museum is small and only takes a few minutes to go through, but there are some unique toys to see and the kids would love the train. Unfortunately we didn't have time for the Luray Museum, which is also included, but it looked like there were some interesting pieces outside. The caverns are large and open with amazing formations. The organ is hard to hear, but is a unique and interesting concept.
CHARLOTTESVILLE/MONTICELLO - 5 Stars ***** "History, beautiful mountain views, and excellent food and drink...it's a perfect retreat!"
Vinny's Grill and Pizzeria - 5 Stars *****
OMG...the food here is excellent! From the pasta dishes to the desserts, everything was just excellent. We arrived about 30 minutes before closing, but our server was friendly, efficient, and never made us feel rushed. She was very helpful in helping us make some decisions. It was just a wonderful experience from beginning to end.
Holiday Inn Charlottesville - 4 Stars****
This hotel was conveniently located to Monticello and to the Shenandoah Park area. The staff was friendly, the area was safe, and the room was clean.
Monticello - 5 Stars *****
We would give the Estate itself a positive review based on the beautiful home, vistas, and gardens, not to mention the history. We were there for the 4th of July so we were able to see the Naturalization Ceremony in the morning. This ceremony was an amazing display of everything that Thomas Jefferson stood for, and the values that our Country was built on. It was the best 4th of July ever. Monticello on the 4th of July needs to go on your bucket list!
Michie's Tavern - 5 Stars *****
This tavern has history and delicious food. This is a buffet style restaurant with made from scratch food. The fried chicken is crispy, juicy, and delicious. The biscuits are buttery and addicting. Everything was just excellent. After lunch we took a tour and met two interesting women that didn't just teach us about the history there, they played games and danced with us as well! Even the woman in the gift shop was very friendly. With great food, friendly people, and interesting history, Michie's (pronounced Mickey's) Tavern is a must do.
Carter's Mountain - 4 Stars ****
This orchard is just down the street from Michie's Tavern and serves wine and hard cider. Do a wine or cider tasting or buy a flight and sit back and take in the beautiful view. It was 4th of July so that had corn hole and other games and contests going on, though we get the impression they always have activities going on. There were also hay rides! They have a gift shop and they have fresh fruits and vegetables as well.
ROANOKE - 3.5 Stars *** - "A huge star and a great downtown area makes Roanoke a nice day trip"
Shakers - 4 Stars ****
A local or regional chain, Shakers does simple well. We were looking for some simple, healthy food and we stumbled upon Shakers. We ordered a steak and grilled chicken. Both were juicy, nicely seasoned, and cooked perfectly with a great char-grilled flavor the au gratin potatoes were excellent as were the cinnamon apples.
Holiday Inn Roanoke Tanglewood - 3.5 Stars ***
Another good stay at a Holiday Inn. This location was safe and the rooms were clean and nice. The staff was friendly. No free breakfast, but there is a restaurant on site.