“Summertime and the living is easy.”
Northern Virginia has all the stuff you need to enjoy some quality time out with your gal pals. From the ever-popular vacation spots like the Blue Ridge Mountains to some pretty cool small towns in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, you have a ton of options to max out your summer leisure time. During my recent visit to the Valley, I discovered three perfect Virginia locales for the foodie freak, the back-to-nature fan, and the culture diva. All of them make for fun, easy living summertime escapes, perfect for your next girlfriend getaway.
Shenandoah National Park – Great Girl Time Activities
Shenandoah is the place to be this summer, the park celebrated its 75th anniversary at the end of June and the fun continues throughout the season with some special summertime festivities. Here are a couple of the many activities the Park has planned for the summer:
Saturday July 16
Tamra from Virginia’s Tourism Bureau told me that she was clearing her calendar so she can attend this event. So I’m thinking that either she really loves blackberries or this ode to the berry is a pretty special happening… Or maybe both!
Help Shenandoah celebrate the blackberry as they work the ice cream maker to make delicious home-made ice cream, you can also nosh on an assortment of blackberry treats, while enjoying bluegrass bands and cloggers.
Big Meadows Wayside, Skyline Drive
Tea with the First Ladies: Lou Hoover and Eleanor Roosevelt
Tuesday July 26, August 23, September 27
Sunday July 10, August 14
Take a step back in time with Historian Babs Bodin, former director of the Museum of American Presidents; as she shares stories about the First Ladies in residence at the White House during Shenandoah’s first few years. Tea, and desserts will be served from the First Ladies favorite recipes (Lou Hoover’s Apricot Mousse and Eleanor Roosevelt’s Pecan Pie).
Big Meadows Lodge. Call for reservations.
Harrisonburg – Biking, The Color Purple and Quilts
Located a little over 20 miles from Shenandoah National Park, Harrisonburg is a pretty little town choc full of ‘girl-friendly’ activities. Here are a few must-see places for your next getaway to Harrisonburg.
Mountain Biking Heaven
Close to the northern edge of the George Washington National Forest (GWNF) as well as Shenandoah National Park, Harrisonburg is an ideal place to head to for a mountain bike tour of the region. If you want some help planning your route stop by the Shenandoah Bicycle Company, located in downtown Harrisonburg or take a tour with Shenandoah Mountain Touring. Over the past 10 years they have cycled on almost all the trails of Western Virginia, so let them make your next mountain bike getaway a fun and safe journey.
If your cycling interests are more in town than up mountains Harrisonburg is also a great place to toodle around on a bike. You can try out the moderate level trails found in Harrisonburg’s Rocktown Trail or head to Harrisonburg’s bike friendly downtown area. The town has marked many of the streets with ‘sharrows,’ which are designated lanes for both bicyclists and motorists to share.
White Oak Lavender Farm
Arriving at White Oak Lavender Farm during the height of lavender season is a feast for the eyes. White Oaks enthralled us with its lovely lavender gardens, brilliant with color and scented with waves of luscious perfumed air. I didn’t realize the many varied hues of the color purple there could be until we saw them all, glorious and rich, throughout gardens and fields surrounding the farm.
White Oak Lavender Farm is owned and operated by Julie Haushalter. Julie grows over 5000 lavender plants in over 30 varieties, and all of them smell luscious! Be sure to stop in at the Farm’s gift shop for some lovely lavender gifts and toiletries to bring home to family and friends.
Tip: During our visit we got to sample fresh baked lavender cookies, keep an eye out for them on White Oaks front porch.
Virginia Quilt Museum
I’m a sucker for quilts. In fact my husband has put his foot down and declared that no more quilts will be allowed entry into our house. Imagine my delight when I toured the Virginia Quilt Museum in Harrisonburg, I was able to indulge in my quilt obsession to the hilt with the museum’s wonderful exhibits of modern and antique quilts.
On display until September 3, 2011: “Articles of Merit Not Listed: A Retrospective of the Work of Carolyn Lynch.” This exhibit of Caroline’s work reflects her quirky sense of humor with a Chiquita Banana dancing in the center of a quilt, cows in high heels in another, and a whimsical collection of Halloween wall hangings, showing off spooky ghosts and tombstones.
I have to confess that I picked up a couple of small quilt Christmas ornaments in the gift shop… They don’t really count as quilts, right?!
With all of the things to do in Harrisonburg, this pretty little town is a great spot to getaway from it all.
Cool Off in Luray
Is the summer heat getting you down? Head on over to the town of Luray for a tour of Luray Caverns, with a year round temperature a cool 54 F, this place is perfect for a hot summers day outing.
Located in Shenandoah Valley, Luray is home to “one of the largest caverns in the Eastern U.S.” according to John Shaffer, Luray Cavern’s Director of Marketing and Sales. The cave is a U.S. National Landmark, and shortly after its discovery in 1878, the Smithsonian Institution stated, “There is probably no other cave in the world more completely and profusely decorated with stalactite and stalagmite ornamentation.”
The underground cavern system tour takes a little over an hour and you get some spectacular views of cathedral-sized chambers soaring 10 stories high and filled with towering columns, shimmering draperies and crystal-clear pools.
The tour ends with the playing of the Great Stalacpipe Organ, which plays music by tapping stalactites of various sizes to produce eerie tones echoing through the caves. Deliciously creepy!
Tip: This is not the place to show off your new Betsy Johnson high heels, wear comfortable shoes with some traction.
A special thank you to the Virginia Tourism Bureau for inviting me on a girl’s getaway in Shenandoah Valley!