Expanding into the golf arena, Alpha Voyages will host a “Hole in One Challenge” with the winner receiving a $10,000 Sandals vacation. Alpha Voyages just returned from a Golf Pro FAM trip in Great Exuma, Bahamas hosted by Sandals Resorts and then in May traveling to Sandals newest highest luxury resort, La Source in Grenada.
Alpha Voyages Travel Agency celebrates 26 years in 2014. The agency is the highest performance agency with the Sandals/Beaches resort in the northern Shenandoah Valley. The first of April, owner, Mary June Williams (“MJ”), attended a five day/four night Golf Pro FAM Tour at Sandals Emerald Bay in the Bahamas. This Golf Pro FAM Tour is being hosted for travel agents and golf pros from Virginia, Maryland and West Virginia. The resort is home for a Greg Norman Championship Course. Sandals Emerald Bay is located on Grand Exuma in the Bahamas. Williams will also be stopping at Sandals Royal Bohamian in Nassau to inspect the new River suites.
“I wanted to branch out of the bridal market into the golf market. Sandals has wonderful golf courses in Jamaica, St Lucia, and Exuma. When golfers are facing a winter as we had this year, a wonderful option the golf pros can offer are group tours in the Caribbean,” said Williams. “Green fees are complimentary at Sandals.
Emerald Bay, Great Exuma - Bahamas
Emerald Bay in Grand Exuma appeals to the luxury client who wants isolation, fabulous diving, and superb service. “One can walk around Emerald Bay and feel like you are alone. There are no big crowds or loud noises, “ said Nancy Craun, Alpha Voyages marketing director.
Representing Alpha Voyages, Craun attended an Awards banquet for Sandals top performing US travel agencies this past December. The ceremony was at the Beaches Resort in Turks and Caicos. “One of our treats was to see the new Beaches’s Key West Village. “I could not believe how well Sandals captured the aura of Key West. The small two story Floridian cottages with balconies are a sharp contrast to the Italian and Caribbean Villages there at the resort,” said Craun. Sandals also flew us to the Bahamas to inspect the new room categories at Sandals Emerald Bay with a brunch held on the Golf Course.
This April 27th, Alpha Voyages will host a “Hole in One Challenge” for golfers at the new Destination - BLUE RIDGE wedding and travel destination show in Front Royal, Virginia. The challenge will take place at the Blue Ridge Shadows Golf Course. Brides, Grooms, Dads, Granddads, and anyone who plays golf can register for a tee time or compete in the Putt, Putt game to qualify. The winner will be awarded a $10,000 vacation at any Sandals resort of their choice based on availability. Any golfer playing the course that day will have the opportunity to hit a 160 Yard Par 3 on the 18th Hole for the win. “We are also selecting 50 other participants who will be driven to the 18th hole to take their hit." Register today!
La Source - Grenada
In May, Williams will fly to the highest luxurious resort in the Sandals collection, the new ‘La Source’ in Grenada. This is the first opportunity for travel agents to be brought to the island and see the Sandals highest luxury resort.
“Congratulations on your hard working first quarter. I view you as a significant contributor to the Sandals and Beaches business in VA and would love to have you join our Southeast Sales Team VIP FAM in May,” said Luke Majewski, Business Development Manager, Unique Vacations Inc of Sandals Resorts.
Adam Stuart, CEO of Sandals said, “La Source is the epitome of Sandals innovation. Over 1600 square feet with the bathroom matching the size of the bedroom, the resort has three freshwater pools and two river pools. The resource will boast the first India restaurant opens to accommodate the increasing international tourists and the first Butch Stuart Steakhouse matching the quality of leading steak houses in New York City.”
“This is the first opportunity given to travel agents to see the new property purchased in August 2013,” said Williams. “I feel honored to be traveling with agents from cities much larger than Winchester. The air travel to Grenada is not good. La Source has over 225 rooms to fill. It is going to be interesting to watch how Sandals addresses the travel issue. It will not surprise me that they do not buy an airline.”
Williams is delighted to have another Sandals island where there is a spectacular high end property. “I can hardly wait to put my toes into the pink sand. It usually takes me four times seeing a property to truly know the property. Sandals has over a forty-eight percent return rate so having more islands for my clients to explore makes my work with Sandals all the more worthwhile financially. Besides there is something to be said to having to travel to a warm beautiful island even if it is for business!” said Williams.
Contact ‘MJ’ Williams, owner of Alpha Voyages at 540-662-6279 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. MJ is a Preferred Sandals Agent, a Master Cruise Counselor. Alpha Voyages is an IATAN recognized agency. The agency is located in Winchester, Virginia serving a sixty mile radius of the Shenandoah Valley.
GoBRT Launches Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley Kids Trail with a Kids Video Contest
A new mobile travel website geared toward putting kids in the driver’s seat for family vacations has finally hit the road after months of planning. Kicking off a two month celebration, GoBRT (GoBlueRidgeTravel) launches the Shenandoah Valley Kids Trail.
A new mobile travel website geared toward putting kids in the driver’s seat for family vacations has launched after months of planning. Kicking off a two month celebration, GoBRT (GoBlueRidgeTravel) will launch the Shenandoah Valley Kids Trail with a contest for 8th - 12th graders. "The goal is to let older kids be the spokespersons for their younger siblings. It is kids talking to kids about why groing up or visiting the Piedmont and the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia and West Virginis is so special," said Nancy Craun, owner and founder of Go Blue Ridge Travel.
The Shenandoah Valley Kids Trail is a partnership with Virginia Tourism to promote family travel to the Shenandoah Valley. Using both GoBlueRidgeTravel.com/KidsTrail and ShenandoahValleyKidsTrail.com, families will have easy access to activities and events making their visit to the Valley easy. Kids can fill up their buckets with fun and educational experiences here in the region before they turn 18!
Young filmmakers in grades 8 - 12 will be given the opportunity to submit short videos of kid-friendly experiences in the Shenandoah Valley and Piedmont region. The videos will be posted on You Tube and judged by a panel of film industry professionals who live in the region.
The contest begins on March 10th and will culminate in 12 videos being selected to compete on the big screen at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Winchester Virginia on Saturday April 19th. Entrants must have an adult sponsor and endorsement from their school. Prizes include $1000 for the student (s) with the #1 video and $1000 to the school system who sponsors them.
There are three goals for this event -
1. Celebrate the lifestyle of a child growing up in the Shenandoah Valley and The Piedmont Regions.
2. Encourage pre-teens (12 - 18) to highlight the best kid-friendly experiences in the Valley for younger children.
3. Expand the educational emphasis on filmmaking as a career option for young enthusiasts.
The Shenandoah Valley Kids Trail connects dozens of family-friendly activities across the Valley and beyond through a website engineered toward children. Tech-savvy kids and teens can pull up a map through the site that shows their location and what’s around them. A map centered on downtown Harrisonburg, for example, shows the Explore More Discovery Museum, Hillandale Park, the Virginia Quilt Museum and the Residence Inn by Marriott, just to name a few. For Winchester, the map shows the Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum, George Washington Headquarters, and then stay at The Grand Wyndham George Washington Hotel within easy walking distance.
"It is the goal of the contest to discover soem of the best kid experiences here in the region," said Nancy Craun. "At the end of the contest we will have the top ten 2014 bucket list experiences. We are thrilled to have six great judges which includes Steve Nerangis, partner and creatvie manager of the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema - Winchester. Plus:
- Jim Kopp - Owner of the Family Drive In Theater
- Paul DiFranco - Music Supervisor for TV and Film. Paul has over 25 years of experience, having assembled soundtracks for such notable films as Soul Surfer, Blue Crush 2, and Conan O'Brien Can't Stop
- Dale Jackson - Filmmaker, Partner:Zom-Bee TV. Dale directed the award-winning film Maxwell Stein, which out its premiere at the Alamo Drafthouse. Zom-Bee TV is a streaming horror channel that is featured on Roku and has over 80,000 vieweres.
- Brian Patrick - Founder of the Skyline Indie Film Fest
- Andy Gyurisin - Founder, Film Club 3.0, Winchester. Film 3.0 is a group of over 800 members that meets weekly at the Alamo to screen independent, foreign, documentary and classic film.
Tourism directors in Winchester, Harrisonburg, Rockingham and Shenandoah counties are excited about what the site might mean for tourism entities across the Valley.
“We’re really thrilled to be part of this,” said Brenda Black, tourism director for Harrisonburg Tourism. “It’s really going to expose Harrisonburg’s attractions, the children’s museum, events, Art in the Park and so many more amenities we have to offer as a family-friendly destination.”
Jenna French, director of tourism and marketing for Shenandoah County, added that it could increase tourism revenue by encouraging families to book longer stays instead of driving through or just spending one night.
“We’re excited about what it can do for our county because we’ve always gotten calls from families coming to this area, looking for things to do,” French said. “Now there’s one comprehensive website to send them to and a brochure to be able to hand them that will really lay out everything there is to do within the entire Shenandoah Valley.”
The site is still under development, and more locations will be added to it in the future based on feedback the creators receive. It will eventually feature many natural recreation sites, such as a hidden swimming hole few people may know about, or a particularly gorgeous hike a little bit off the beaten path.
The Shenandoah Valley Kids Trail is a partnership between Go Blue Ridge Travel and eight leading tourism businesses in the region. These include:
Great Country Farms - Loudoun County, Va
Alamo Drafthouse Cinema - Winchester, VA
Country Inn and Suites - Winchester, VA
Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum - Winchester, VA
The Family Drive In Theater - Stephens City, VA
Shenandoah Caverns Family of Attractions - Mt. Jackson, VA
Bryce Resort, Basye, VA
Massanutten Resort, Harrisonburg, VA.
"The amazing success of this marketing campaign is due to the power of partnering between these eight businesses," said Nancy Craun. “We are developing wonderful itinerary packages that teach families how to make their visit to the valley fun for all ages."
In 2011, GoBlueRidgeTravel.com (GoBRT), also a division of Encore Event Partners was launched to be the only Tri-State regional website showcasing the activities, events, and accommodations in the Blue Ridge Mountains and northern Shenandoah Valley. With a ten year relationship of marketing the region to brides for their wedding destinations, GoBRT is now reaching out to families branding the trademark 'GoBRT's Kids Bucket List' showcasing the experiences tots to teens should have prior to turning eighteen in the valley. In July 2013, Go Blue Ridge Travel with eight Virginia partners received a Marketing Leveraging Grant from Virginia Tourism to develop a mobi website with the target market being families. Covering Virginia, West Virginia, and Maryland, Go Blue Ridge Travel’s goal is to brand this 160 mile radius as a travel and wedding destination both nationally and internationally.
Contact: Nancy Craun Founder and President GoBlueRidgeTravel.com Phone: 540.533.1853 Email: info(at)GoBlueRidgeTravel(dot)com
Courtesy of Ashley Woods - Mom2MomConsignment.com:
The 5th Mom 2 Mom Consignment semi-annual children’s consignment sale begins Friday, March 21st at the Sportsplex in Winchester.
"We will have all things child-related, from Tummy to Teen (including maternity clothing). Sell the great items your kids have outgrown to put some extra money in your pocket. Shop our great deals and keep your kids looking sharp. Save with great prices!" said Ashley Woods.
Moms (and a few dads!) will be selling their gently-used children's items, including clothes, toys, gear, furniture, books, etc., and even some adult clothes!
"We love doing the sale. We will have about 150 moms selling their items at this sale, and expect over 1500 to shop. The moms that sell get to clean out their closets and make some extra cash on items that their family no longer needs, and moms shopping have an opportunity to buy items that their children need now at a fraction of the cost,” says Ashley Woods, co-owner of Mom 2 Mom Consignment.
Moms from all around the Winchester area will soon be browsing clothes racks, toys, books, furniture, and more, searching for great deals for their family.
“I love the good deals. Kids out grow everything so fast that I refuse to pay full price. I know that what I do spend goes to a mom who’s going to use it to buy her kid(s) what he or she may need now,” says Jessica Hurdle, Mom 2 Mom Consignment shopper.
“The clothes are name brand, in great shape, and very affordable for those of us on a tight budget,” notes shopper Jennifer Rude.
"We have thousands of items of clothing. Sizes start at newborn, and go all the way up through teen/adult sizes, including maternity clothes. We also sell tons of shoes, from infant to teen/adult. We have furniture, cribs, and strollers as well. We have pack and plays, swings, car seats; anything you might need to start fresh with a new baby, or raise your kids up through high school," says Stasia Wright, co-owner of Mom 2 Mom Consignment.
If you are a new mom looking to fill a dresser for a new baby and find toys and gear, or a more seasoned mom looking to find trendy clothes for your teenager, this is the place to be. A high quality consignment sale can be a great kids shopping experience.
“It's great to know that things that my daughters have outgrown are going to have a new home, and hopefully be passed on from there. We feel like it's the ‘green’ thing to do," says Wright.
Consignors are allowed to pick up their unsold items at the end of the sale to do with as they want. For the items left behind, they are put to a good home! Mom 2 Mom Consignment donates unsold and left behind items to CCAP and ABBA Care, Inc., helping local families in need.
“This is my first consignment, but I love the fact that I can sell my boys things, and if it’s not something we want back, it will be donated! It’s like cleaning house while making money, and it doesn’t have to be packed away again. Yippee I am excited!,” says April Fitzgerald, first time consignor with Mom 2 Mom Consignment.
The Spring sale will be open to the public Friday, March 21 through Sunday, March 23.
Hours are: Friday 9am-8pm, Saturday 9am-8pm, Sunday 9am-2pm.
Many items on Sunday will be available at 50% off. For more information, please visit www.mom2momconsignment.com
If you love the Blue Ridge and northern Shenandoah Valley, then consider joining our team?
Regional Sales Manager - Go Blue Ridge Travel is looking for a new team member who is passionate about the Blue Ridge & northern Shenandoah Valley. You'll be responsible initially for selling website advertising and sponsorships for targeted marketing event campaigns.
Title - Regional Sales Manager for Go Blue Ridge Travel (GoBRT)
Duties and Responsibilities include –
- Take the current GoBRT data base and expand by researching advertiser prospects based on categories on Go Blue Ridge Travel
- Categorize these Prospects by Sales Opportunities
- Sell website advertising at five levels from Platinum Plus ($1799) to the Basic ($49)
- Sell web banner ads to national advertisers who reside in the region ($2500)
- Sell Featured marketing programs for events occurring in the region starting at $595 per event
- Sell sponsorships for targeted marketing campaigns to include the new Shenandoah Valley Kids Trail programs as well as the first annual Destination - Blue Ridge Travel Show on April 27, 2014.
- Sell web banner ads to national advertisers who reside in the region ($2500)
- Expand the sales team as GoBRT expands the territory they serve.
- Establish a network web for GoBRT and the new Shenandoah Valley Kids Trail and Virginia Kids Trail.
- Telecommuting from your home based office
- Travel required but mileage reimbursement
- Disciplined, organized, and self-directed with high motivation skills
- Sensitivity to clients needs and product strength to develop a good targeted marketing package for them to buy
- Follow up skills to guarantee customer loyalty and respect
- 10 to 15% Commission on sales
- Two Weeks Vacation after one year of service
If you have a track record for sales, then you'll be keen to apply your current skills & to take this opportunity to learn, grow, and achieve well about average results. If you believe this is you, be ready to show us why when you call us today at 540-533-1853.
Go Blue Ridge Travel's featured Valentine event is "Red Carpet Romance at the Alamo". Celebrating its third year in partnership with GoBRT and Blue Ridge Bride, couples will literally walk in the theater on a Red Carpet listening to harp music. The event begins with a champagne reception in the lobby and picture taking of the romantic couple. At this event you get it all including red rose at your table, chocolates, and prizes from Kernstown Commons merchants. For many couples, this event is becoming a tradition. Then you get to watch the opening premiere of 2014's Valentine movie - "Winter's Tale" starring Colin Farrell, Russell Crowe, and Jessica Brown Findlay (formerly Sybil Branson of Downton Abbey).
However, one of the biggest surprises at the event is the menu. This year is the first year for Chef Barbara Hineline to oversee the 4 course menu. Having just attended an event at the Alamo, I experienced the best fish tacos I have ever had and the signature cherry chocolate cake cannot be resisted. The Valentine event will feature Tenderloin of Beef Medallions with Broiled Maryland Crabcake, Roasted Asparagus, Mini Loaded Potato Pancake, and a White Balsamic Mead Reduction as the main course. A Vegetarian option is available.
I asked Barbara as part of our Wine and Craft Beer Series to give me a blog about why the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema is a perfect match for her. Enjoy -
"A Baltimore Girl’s Journey to Craft Beers"
Being from “The Land of Pleasant Living” automatically makes me a “Natty Boh” fan. And since the famous “One Eyed, Mustached” Man, was my hero in my early legal drinking days. I still have a soft spot for a cold one on a hot summer day, especially if I’m at an O’s game HON! As a young woman in Baltimore, I learned to love beer. It was hard not to do, given that Baltimore's first manufacturing industry was a brewery, and to this day Baltimoreans appreciate their beer, so much in fact, that we have been increasingly skipping over commercial, watered-down brews, in favor of local craft beers.
Craft beers are nothing new in Baltimore, in fact, Hugh Sisson, opened and operated Baltimore’s first brewpub, Sissons, in the late 80’s. Given that it was the first brew pub opened in Baltimore since Prohibition, it was a novelty at the time to go to South Baltimore’s Federal Hill area, and get beer brewed right on the premise, as well as buy a “growler” to go, and come back time and time again to have it refilled to take home and enjoy; thereby setting the craft beer movement in Baltimore in motion. Who know that nearly 30 years later, this would become the standard in many a brewpubs across the country, not to mention a movie theater.
Last year, when I had the opportunity to accept a job as Executive Chef at Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, I could not pass it up. Imagine, a life long lover of local brewed beers, working in a venue that has well over 30 craft beers on it’s list, in addition, they have the “growler” program that I so came to love many years ago. We serve over 30 different kinds of beers, both draught and bottled, craft and commercial. What I like best, is being able to go back to my affingent for local brews, and at Alamo Drafthouse we offer quite a few. My favorite beers tend to be dark and heavy, full of nut, caramel, vanilla, coffee, and even peanut butter. The three I like best that have all my favorite characteristics are Old Dominion Oak Barrel Stout, originally brewed in Virginia, but now brewed in Delaware. Devils Backbone, brewed in Nelson, Virginia, which in an amber colored lager with hints of nut & vanilla. And finally, Sweet Baby Jesus, brewed in Maryland. This porter has a peanutty chocolate finish. All three are the perfect combination to enjoy either by the pint or with friends by the growler. Additionally, they are perfect to cook with, blending our Drafthouse persona with our movie food standards.
At Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, I have blended these great beers with some amazing menu items. I have done Drafthouse Gingerbread with a hint of Dominion Oak Barrel Stout. Our new Cherry Chocolate Cake is perfect for the Sweet Baby Jesus Porter, a hint of the peanut butter with the chocolate and a slight coffee finish….not need for the an espresso here! And finally, the Devils Backbone Lager is used in a crispy batter for our special Fish Tacos, run for a limited time. It is amazing how to incorporate these brews into our foods, thereby offering our guests a real Drafthouse experience.
You never know where you are going to find yourself. A local Baltimore girl, drinking Natty Boh, and even PBR, which we do sell by the bottle, growing up with Breweries in almost every neighborhood, finding the perfect career combination. Enjoy one of life’s tasteful treasures and cooking with them as well."
Thanks Barbara - for a great personal blog - her bio:
Barbara Hineline, a Winchester resident has been involved in the Restaurant, Catering, and Event Planning business for over 20 years. Barbara has worked in a wide array of dining venues during her career, including the acclaimed Jean Louis at Watergate. She has been Director of Catering and Assistant General Manager for Baltimore based Donnas at the Baltimore Museum of Art and General Manager at Donnas in the St. Gregory Hotel, Georgetown. While in Baltimore and DC, Barbara has had the opportunity to cater to many celebrities, including Jodie Foster, Holly Hunter, Mikhail Baryshnikov, and many more, as well as countless politicians including Ronald Regan, George Bush, SR, Jesse Jackson, Bill Clinton, and many Senators and Congressmen & Women.
In addition to Catering and Event Planning, she has taught Cooking classes in several Winchester locations, and has planned events for companies from Winchester to Miami, Florida. In the summer of 2009, Barbara won a Character Fantasy Contest for the USA Network, where she filmed her own Cooking Show that aired Nationally.
Well versed in a wide range of cooking styles, Barbara brings a great deal of diverse cooking to augment the standard Alamo menu, offering a wide variety of gluten free and vegetarian options. Barbara is also ready to meet any other dietary restrictions. She welcomes emails and inquiries into how she can make your dining a Alamo Drafthouse Cinema a great experience for you.
One of the most wonderful exciting times is when a woman hears the words, "Will you marry me?" But once those words have settled in, then reality sets in with wedding couples: "How are we going to celebrate this special event and afford to celebrate it without breaking the bank?"
- Happiness #1 - A marriage needs to start out with finances on the table.
- Reality #1 - - Get Real and Stay Real.
So before you come to the show this Sunday at Millwood Station, here are some venues for you to consider. Some will be at the show for you to have a face to face discussion on your options. Others are partners with us in all the many events we do through out the year. Blue Ridge Bridal Show and Go Blue Ridge Travel are the Shenandoah Valley's wedding resource guide that will help you.
The wedding reception can consume the major part of your budget so picking a venue wisely should be your number one concern. Reception sites set their costs based on what they are providing for you. The least expensive are the outdoor facilities such as a barn, tented site options. A couple has to have a reality check that venues not offering a 'weather proof option' but extremely affordable will fit their dream wedding. Seeing beautiful outdoor pictures is wonderful when the sun is out and it is warm. "I always suggested a bride and groom come to a venue on a bad weather day and make sure if this was their day they would be totally happy. My worst memories as an event planner was seeing not only the bride and groom but the guests freeze to death during a wedding reception."
Best value locations are those that provide you with the basics for one price such as tables, chairs, sometimes basic linens. These are often restaurants and hotels who own these ammendies and can afford to include these costs in their fees. The hotel sites will often have the most room to negotiate if you are also taking rooms with them.
Extremely desirable wedding venue options offering you the opportunity to be on the property for the weekend of your event but more expensive are the destination resorts, historic manor homes, and bed and breakfasts. One way to make these venues fit your budget is to narrow your guest list - less people - less cost. Also, be flexible on the day of the week. You will be amazed at the price differences.
The major discussion that needs to occur between you and the groom before you talk to anyone else is what you both want your memories to be. This is your wedding as long as you pay for it. Involving your parents then opens the door to their opinions as well.
What's Hot in Wedding Venues in the Blue Ridge!
The Blue Ridge Shenandoah Valley is one of the most beautiful wedding destinations in the United States. From historic hotels - manor homes, country inns, mountain resorts, historic homes, museums, hotels, and private event venues, Blue Ridge Brides have unlimited options. There are also some very unique options including caverns, barns, river sites, and more. Few U.S. destinations offer the diversity of reception venues found in the northern Blue Ridge region.
This is our second publication of this guide. It's popularity was sustained for an entire year. Check out the beautiful destinations and also the unique and affordable - truly beautiful magnificent venues are at your fingertips.
The $ symbol is only to give you an idea of price. Depending on the date, size of wedding, reception venues are always open to working with you. Call and Ask your Questions!
Country Inns, Manor Homes, and Bed & Breakfasts -
Middleburg, VA - Briar Patch Bed and Breakfast - $$
Berryville, VA - Historic Rosemont Manor - $$$
Stone Manor Bed & Breakfast - $$$
Event Venue Centers & Restaurants
Winchester, VA - Historic Jordan Springs - $$
Winchester, VA - Millwood Station Special Event Center - $
Harrisonburg, VA - 1380 Blackberry Lane - $
Winchester, VA - ALoft - $
Winchester, VA - Country Inn & Suites - $
Winchester, VA - Hilton Garden Inn $$
Front Royal, VA -
Holiday Inn & Suites Front Royal Blue Ridge Shadows - $
Woodstock, VA - Holiday Inn Express $
Resorts with Restaurants - True Wedding Destinations
Hot Springs, Virginia - The Homestead $$$$
Paris, VA - Ashbly Inn & Restaurant - $$$
Basye, VA Bryce Resort - $
Charles Town, WV - Hillbrook Inn - $$$
Harrisonburg, VA - Massnutten Resort - $
Winchester, VA - The George Washington Hotel - $$
Upperville, VA - Blackthorne Inn and Restaurant - $$
Luray, VA - The Mimslyn Inn $$
From Barns to Mountain Tops and More - Unique and Affordable
Harpers Ferry, WV - Harpers Ferry Adventure Center - $
Basye, VA - Bryce Resort Mountain Tops - $
Mt. Jackson, VA - The Yellow Barn at Shenandoah Caverns - $
Shenandoah Junction, WV - The Barn at York Hill - $
Harrisonburg, VA - The Edith J. Carrier Arboretum - $
Winchester, VA - The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema - $
Bluemont, VA - Bluemont Vineyard: The Cellar and The Stable - $$
Ease of Travel and Excellent Snow Conditions wins Massanutten Resort and Bryce Resort high marks from the DC Northern Virginia Ski Enthusiast. Offering Skiing, Snow Boarding, Snow Tubing, and Ice Skating plus a year round Water Park makes these two resorts a great choice this Winter.
When the weather outside turns cold, Virginia and West Virginia winter’s fun is just starting to heat up. Many look to the Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountains of Virginia as a great day trip or 48 hour road trip out of the DC Metropolitan area. Whether one is an adrenaline junkie who loves the exhilaration of snowboarding or downhill skiing or one is the fun-loving type who goes for laughter-filled race on inner tubes, Virginia ski resorts offer a variety of activities that are sure to please all ages and skill levels. Then, after an invigorating day on the slopes, kick back and relax with a great meal and a warm fireplace at lodging accommodations that range from rustic to luxurious.
From exhilarating snow sports to winter festivals, horse-drawn sleigh rides, snow tubing, hockey, ice skating and more, there’s no better time to come see what makes a trip to Virginia a love experience.
Downhill Skiing -
Massanutten Resort’s skiing means days spent on an 1,100-foot vertical drop with great views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Ski down the 3,300-foot Diamond Jim or the 4,100-foot Para-dice. The terrain park is for riders, ski boarders, and twin tip skiers.
Bryce Resort has long catered to skiing families and is only two hours from Washington, D.C. The area has 25 acres of ski able terrain and a vertical of around 500 feet. There are five lifts servicing eight runs.
Trained instructors can help get you down the mountain like a pro. If one can’t get enough skiing during the day, both Massanutten and Bryce offer night skiing, too.
While this extreme sport certainly takes some getting used to, it is no longer solely in the realm of daredevil teenagers. If tricks and stunts are one's thing, Massanutten and Bryce have terrain parks built with challenging obstacles galore.
Snow Tubing -
The slopes may not be as challenging, but the pure childlike glee one gets snow tubing is rewarding. Headfirst, feet first or spinning in circles, it’s an activity the whole family can enjoy. Don’t worry about trudging back up the hill – both resorts have lifts.
Ski Training -
Kenny Hess, Skiing Director at Massanutten Resort, said, “ The popularity of Massanutten is because of the ease of getting here. Whether you are coming from DC or from the South, Massanutten is closer than going to the West Virginia mountains or even for some the North Carolina mountain ski resorts. Plus we offer much more than just skiing such as Massanutten’s new ice skating rink or our year round indoor Water Park perfect for wanting to get away from snow and the cold.”
“Children can begin skiing at four years old. Skiing is a great family adventure. Massanutten Resort’s goal is to make it a positive experience at a young age so it because a lifestyle activity. Now that the ski resorts make their own snow, Massanutten and other ski resorts can offer better and more consistent ski conditions than in years,” said Hess.
With forty seven years at Bryce Resort, Ski School Director Horst Locher says it is never too late to learn to ski. “ Today skis are shorter and with the man-made snow, you have a more forgiving course," said Locher. “This has been a great ski season since temperatures were ready for snow making at Thanksgiving."
"Here at Bryce Resort our trademark is ‘a Family Resort.’ There are no shuttle buses to ride or long hikes to the ski lifts. Bryce is smaller than the West Virginia ski resorts. Parents can sit inside by the fire at the ski lodge and watch their children,” said Locher.
"Bryce is one giant playground," said Vicki Bellerose, the director of Bryce’s Kinder School for four years. Ashleigh a parent from Alexandria, Virginia has been coming to the resort since 1986. “Now I have a four year old. In one hour at the Kinder School she gained the confidence to take the bunny slope by herself,” said Ashleigh.
Cozy Cabins and Condos or Luxury Accommodations –
Travelers in Virginia will find a variety of cabins and vacation homes to rent, from gas-lit pioneer cabins to air-conditioned modern ones. Sit by the fire or soak in a hot tub as you enjoy a relaxing getaway near some of the state’s finest attractions and outdoor recreational opportunities. Search Go Blue Ridge Travel's regional accommodation directory for more information.
Ski Packages -
Both Bryce and Massanutten offer Ski Discount Packages and Seasonal & Holiday Packages make planning the perfect Virginia winter vacation or weekend getaway affordable. Purchasing tickets one day ahead can offer you up to 60% in savings.
Imagine a full day of wedding planning, conveniently located one-stop-shop of everything a Bride will need. Blue Ridge Bridal Show's Winter Marketplace is like accessing the pages of one's favorite wedding magazine with a special emphasis on 'why' a bride should choose the Shenandoah Valley as her wedding destination.
Winchester, VA (PRWEB) January 15, 2014
2014 sees the growth of wedding destinations continue to expand from the Caribbean Islands to the United States. With three international airports within one hour of each other, Virginia's Shenandoah Valley and West Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains are an easy road trip for visitors attending a wedding in the valley.
Virginia and West Virginia are seeing prime wedding venues and resorts opening up on a yearly basis. The Blue Ridge Winter Marketplace Bridal Show offers brides the opportunity to meet face to face with these venues as well as have a one-stop-shop experience to select photographers, honeymoon specialists, beauty and wellness experts, and more.
Since budgets vary from one couple to the next, Blue Ridge Bride’s Winter show presents fourteen venues. This includes the Omni luxury resort, ‘The Homestead’, in Hot Springs, Virginia. Absolute luxury surrounded by the natural beauty of the Allegheny Mountains, the Homestead offers brides timeless elegance. Brides can pick from a magnificent ballroom to the intimate Tower Suite to an outdoor setting amid a breathtaking landscape.
A second luxury resort is the Hillbrook Inn and Spa in Charles Town, West Virginia. Situated on George Washington’s first land purchase in 1750, this Harpers Ferry Bed and Breakfast evokes a warm, relaxing and inviting atmosphere for guests to enjoy. More than 30 sprawling acres divided among three separate properties provide a quiet retreat just one hour outside of Washington D.C. Local attractions include award-winning Virginia wineries, the Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races, Summit Point Speedway and Harpers Ferry.
When one drives up Route 7 and passes thru Clarke and Frederick County, the small town of Berryville is the home ofHistoric Rosemont Manor 1811. The home of former Virginia Governor and Senator Harry Flood Byrd, Sr, this manor house has seen past presidents spend a country weekend away from Metropolitan DC. Known for its elegant teas, Rosemont offers one of the largest front porches in the South - a breathtaking photo-op for a bride and groom.
If the country quaintness suits your fancy, then Briar Patch Bed and Breakfast just outside of Middleburg allows the bride and groom to enjoy this famous small Virginia town. Blackthorne Inn and Restaurant is an Irish oasis in Virginia fox hunting country. The inn sits on 45 acres against the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Shane O’Connor, owner, invites brides and grooms to relax and unwind in the cabins and cottages enjoying an evening of music in the Wolfe Tone’s Irish Pub. For the small wedding desiring the best in culinary experiences, The Ashby Inn and Restaurant is a great choice for a small wedding setting of fifty or below in the village of Paris, Virginia.
It is often said all roads lead to Winchester, Virginia, home of Patsy Cline. The George Washington Grand Hotel, a Wyndham historic property, offers the bride and groom a small hotel setting. “Beautifully restored, the Half Note is one of my favorite spots at the hotel with it large jazz murals, saids Nancy Craun, owner and founder of Blue Ridge Bride.”
If you want a mountain top view, then there are two options. Bryce Resort in Basye, Virginia offers a mountain top ceremony area only accessible by ski lift. Bryce has a beautiful lodge for the reception nestled in the mountains with vacation rentals of condos, villas, and cabins available for the wedding guests.
Harpers Ferry Adventure Center overlooks the Potomac River in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. Home of watersports, ziplines, and segway nature tours, the center opens for tented weddings this year. Offering luxury and rustic cabin lodging, the outdoors bride will love this location.
Wrapping up the Shenandoah venues are the barns. The BRBS Winter Marketplace will showcase two rustic locations. The Yellow Barn at Shenandoah Caverns offers a unique setting with the American Flag as a back drop and the Diamond Cascade of the caverns as a photo opt for the bride and groom. Just outside of Charles Town, WV is the historic orchard farm, York Hill. This is a stone barn built into the hillside with a elegant farm house for the bride to use for dressing. Beautifully rustic, York Hill is this year’s Best Kept Wedding Secret in the Shenandoah Valley,
The goal of the show is to give couples a fun interactive four hour event celebrating what it means to be a bride and groom. Not only will brides meet the venues owners and the wedding professionals, but there will be four hours of games, cooking demonstrations, culminating in a fashion show by Potomac Bridals of Hagerstown, Maryland.
“Blue Ridge Bridal Show is the only bridal show in the metropolitan area that courts the grooms. He gets his own contest and his own prizes. Once he completes the Grooms Honeymoon Roll the Dice Challenge, all the grooms get to celebrate with the beverage of their choice. It is pretty intense and fun to see the brides patting their grooms on the back encouraging them. Ultimately one groom wins a FREE honeymoon from Alpha Voyages of Winchester, Virginia” said Nancy Craun, owner and founder of Blue Ridge Bride. “The valley is like no other area with its own aura and heritage. One has to live here to understand why this region is a gem for the romantic couple. Between its historic past and the music that lives in its people past and present, the Shenandoah Valley offers a true wedding experience like no other,” said Craun.
How does one pick a bridal show? When a bride looks at all the national sites like Wedding Wire, The Knot, Perfect Wedding, and Premiere Bride, how do you narrow down which shows are right for you?
First decide what geographic areas interest you. Picking a bridal show that showcases venues is essential to a bride who has not chosen her location. For example, Blue Ridge Bridal Shows is all about 100 + miles of the Interstate 81 Corridor concentrating on the beautiful Shenandoah Valley and the Blue Ridge Mountains. The leading bridal show in the region with the largest venue options listed from $ - $$$, Blue Ridge Bridal Show allows you to research the regions by visiting their website without If you do not live in this area, then understanding what you can find in venues is essential in deciding if this if a good choice for you. What is great about Blue Ridge Bride is that it has a sister site Go Blue Ridge Travel which will give you insight into what your guests can expect to find.
The fastest growing industry is Destination Weddings. The Shenandoah Valley covers both the states of Virginia and West Virginia. With three airports for your guests to select from, accessibility to great attractions and hotels makes it attractive for your guests to plan a trip to the valley. Plus use invite your guests to use the planning guide from Go Blue Ridge Travel.
The second consideration is how much do you want the planning to be done by yourself (DIY) or how much do you want to past this obiligation to someone else. Many of our destinations offer great planning services and will take all of this stress away from you. If you are looking for luxury resorts and the budget is available, the Omni Homestead offers luxury accommdations with wedding planning services part of their supreme service. Hillbrook Inn also is a one stop destination to explore. The Ashby Inn is a great choice for the smaller weddings. and can handle everything for you. Goodstone Inn also offers luxury accommodations for you and your guests in the Virginia Hunt Country setting. The George Washington Hotel will involve more effort on your part but is a great destination for your guests. If budget is an issue and you have the time to do lots of your own planning, then look at the smaller locations where rooms will have to be offered separately to your guests.
Many wedding professionals who live and work in the Shenandoah Valley have extensive backgrounds and are excellent in their fields. People move to the Shenandoah Valley to live and work because they love the lifestyle of the valley. Do not worry that the greatest talent can only be foud in the metropolitan areas. This viewpoint will only limit you and prevent you from booking great talent in the valley. For example, our bakers like Cupcake Novelties. Farazan earned her professional background in India at the culinary arts schools of the Hilton Hotels. Heather Merchant's floral designs of Love Flowers Shenandoah has earned 5.0 of 5.0 on every review on Wedding Wire from her clients.
"Love Flowers is amazing! They are the kind florist that takes all of your wedding ideas and concepts and then designs something unique and beautiful just for you. Prepare to be wowed." Wedding Wire
The talent is here in the valley. The beautiful venues are here. What are you waiting for? Book the Shenandoah Valley today for your wedding!
Nancy Craun is the founder of Blue Ridge Bride, Blue Ridge Bridal Shows, and Go Blue Ridge Travel. With over 20 years as the leading event planner for the Shenandoah Valley, Craun has lived, breathed, and cherished the region she lives in. Serving presidents, actors, and brides, Craun has done events at the best venues the valley has to offer. Traveling the world each year, it is the valley, Craun comes back to and celebrates thru her new website - Go Blue Ridge Travel - a wikipedia of the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia and West Virginia.
1st Annual VA Kids Bucket List Video Contest!
A really great video contest sponsored by Go Blue Ridge Travel - Videos will be posted Monday!
Thanks to everyone who participated in the contest. Videos are being reviewed by judges right now. Stay tune for news.
Panel of Judges and their Bios:
Partner/Creative Mgr. Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, Winchester
Owner of the Family Drive- in Theater, Stephens City, VA
Music Supervisor for TV & Film
Filmmaker, Partner: Zom-Bee TV
Founder, Film Club 3.0, Winchester
Skyline Indie Film Fest
Special Thanks to:
Special Thanks to Salamander Resort and Spa
For a Two Night Stay - value $1595.
and our Shenandoah Valley Kids Trail Partners and Supporters.
Go Blue Ridge Travel covers a long oval of the Interstate 81 Corridor beginning in Hagerstown Maryland and going all the way down to Harrisonburg, Virgnia. Coming in 2014 this will be extended to Lexington - west to White Sulphur Springs and east to Charlottesville in the Interstate 64 Corridor.
This is within a 100 mile reach of Washington DC. To our southern neighbors, the region is just north of Richmond, VA and to our northern neighbors, the 100 mile oval just reaches Harrisburg, PA and south of Pittsburg, PA. An easy 48 HR road trip for all!
If you think of the area as 'islands', then the long skinny I-81 island is the Shenandoah Valley with the Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountains on each side. At the northern end as you leave Maryland, you have the Eastern Panhandle of Wild Wonderful West Virginia consisting of three counties - Jefferson, Berkeley, and Morgan. To the East of Interstate 81 with three major roadways (Interstate 66, Route 7, and Route 50) are two more islands - Hunt Country and Wine Country. Do not worry about which county you are in because with these two islands, Loudoun County crosses into both. The important thing to note is historic Route 15 is our 'edge of the cliff' so to speak. GoBRT does not go East of Route 15. This is great horse country and of course wineries around every curve.
Finally on the east side of the Blue Ridge Mountains is Route 340 running all the way from Charlottesville to the Potomac River in Jefferson County. This island is named Shenandoah National Park becomes a great deal of it is the national park. This region has an emphasis on the Shenandoah River adventures and smaller towns like Front Royal and Luray.
Get in your car today and explore our back roads where the REAL adventures begin in the Blue Ridge Shenandoah Valley.
Hi, my name is 'Bucket', I am your guide to having a good time in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia and West Virginia. If you are on your parent's mobi - make sure you click on the button for Kids Trail and wola I will show up.
The Shenandoah Valley is located between two mountain ridges -- the Blue Ridge and the Allegheny. It is full of FULL of FUN activites and events just for you and your sisters, brothers, or friends.
Make a bucket list of what you want to experience before you grow up.
Can't wait to meet you!
How to Make a Fitness Countdown Calendar With Your Kids
Is your December calendar packed with Christmas planning and preparations, but not much time for play with your kids?
Do your kids love counting down to Christmas all month long?
In this article, I’ll show you how—with minimal supplies and investment—you and your kids can create a holiday countdown calendar that will bring the family together, get everyone active and build excitement for the big day.
Why Create a Christmas Fitness Countdown Calendar?
A Christmas fitness countdown calendar will help you get up, get active and have some quick family fun every day this holiday season.
We’re always looking for ways to boost kid’s excitement for the holidays without adding too much stress to ours. The problem is most holiday activities are costly, time-consuming or don’t encourage family interaction. How many Christmas movie marathons do we really need?
The Christmas fitness countdown calendar is a fun, healthy, holiday-themed project that will get the whole family involved and excited for the holidays.
It’s an Advent calendar with a lot less chocolate and a lot more family activities.
It’s also a great way to combat seasonal stress and keep cooped-up kids from going stir crazy during their holiday break.
You may hesitate to add another task to your already-overloaded December to-do list. A Google search of “Christmas stress” generates 109 million results in less than a second, so you’re definitely not alone.
Christmas can make people crazy, yo! Exercise can help.
A majority of those sites recommend that you do some physical exercise as a way to combat the effects of stress. And that’s where the Christmas fitness countdown calendar can help.
It’s an inexpensive, easy way to connect with the entire family this holiday season. You can create it together in as little as 30 minutes and enjoy the benefit of 25 planned fun physical activities to do with your kids throughout the month.
Let the kids help plan fun activities to do together every day.
It’s a great way to stay active and excited about the holidays and to burn off some of those holiday treats.
What You Need
- Poster board
- Construction paper cut into 1/2-inch (1.25 cm) wide strips. (You can also use ribbon)
- Markers, crayons or other writing utensils
- Glue sticks
- Scrap paper
5 minutes to collect the needed materials, including the kids
20-30 minutes, depending on how crafty your calendar is and how long you and the kids take to decide what activities to include on the calendar
Use a table or area in the house that can be cleaned easily in the event the gluing gets a bit sticky
#1: Prep It
Collect the poster board, construction paper (or ribbon) and a pair of scissors. Cut the construction paper into narrow strips. You’ll need to cut at least 10 strips of paper to make a 4-week calendar.
Add a title. It’s simple to write in with markers. You can also create a fun, festive title out of paper with the aid of a Cricut or a skilled hand on the scissors. Titles with alliteration are not necessary, but encouraged.
Lay out the poster board, strips of paper and letters for the title.
Do this before gluing. We glued down the strips creating 6-day weeks. Oops!
Don’t glue it yet. Experiment with the design. Space it out. Trace out the design you want. Try it in portrait or landscape orientation. Sketch your title lightly in pencil if you’ll be writing it. Get a feel for what it will look like. Be sure you have everything laid out and ready before you glue.
#2: Paste It
Once you’ve finalized the design and made sure everything fits, you can start to glue. Begin at the top and work your way down.
Position and paste the title first (or go over your sketches with markers). The size of the calendar squares can be adjusted.
Cut your strips longer than the paper and trim the excess after gluing.
Second, glue the horizontal lines of the calendar. There are only 4 or 5. This makes it easier to fix if you make a mistake.
Now, paste the vertical lines creating each individual day of the week. Remember if you mess up with glue stick you have approximately one minute to pull it up before it’s stuck.
Lastly, add any bling, bedazzlement, ribbon or pretty Pinterest ideas to accentuate the calendar.
When you finished beautifying your calendar, let it dry. Take this time to plan out the activities.
#3: Plan, Pen, Post It
Brainstorm with the kids about fun physical activities your family can do. Jot them down on a piece of paper. Be sure to include everyone’s ideas.
Take turns and pick which activities you’ll include on your calendar. The dogs even made it onto our calendar!
Strategic planning session.
Increase the excitement by correlating the activity to the date’s numerical value. On December 1, do 1 minute of jumping jacks. The next day, schedule 2 laps biking around the pond. On December 3, dance to at least 3 songs. 20 minutes of Flag Tag on December 20. And so on through December 25.
When setting the dates, be sure to coordinate with your existing schedule. Make sure to plan shorter activities on busier days.
Types of activities to include:
Plan special holiday activities on the days leading up to Christmas or when you’ll have family visiting for the big celebration. Sledding, a visit to the ice rink, a snowball fight or Santa’s sleigh ride are great ways to really pump up the excitement.
Santa’s Sleigh Ride Necessities:
- Bike helmet for the rider
- Optional: Santa hat for rider, reindeer antlers for puller
- 2 people: 1 puller, 1 rider
It’s time to fill in the dates. Check your “real” calendar to put the dates on the correct days of the week.
Pencil in the dates so the kids can just trace with a marker.
Next, write in the activities. Let the kids go nuts. Encourage them to include artwork. Have them really make it their own.
Our calendar included pictures of jumping jacks, people on stilts and dancing aliens.
Find a spot to hang your calendar. The fridge. The door. The wall. Keep it easily accessible and visible to everyone.
Post it where everyone will see it every day.
#4: Play It
Let the fun times roll. The 30 minutes of planning creates hours of fun and activity for the whole family.
Dancing is great exercise. Check out this video to learn some dance moves.
Superman rolls are hardcore fun, so get rolling!
and Zombie Tag…oh my!
There are many ways to play tag. Zombie tag and Mummy tag are some creepy favorites.
The countdown calendar removes the guesswork. Gather the family, check the calendar and get moving.
- What was your favorite part about making the calendar?
- Why did you pick this activity?
- What activity are you looking forward to the most?
- Feel your heart. Is it beating fast or slow? What does that mean? You’re exercising.
- Why is it important for us to be active every day? Be healthy, stay healthy.
- How do you feel after exercise?
- What other activities do you want to do for exercise?
- What’s your favorite part of the holiday season?
Some Final Thoughts…
The Christmas fitness countdown calendar is a great way to get the entire family connected and active and to relieve holiday stress. You can create a calendar like this for any major event: birthdays, Valentine’s day, last day of school, etc. Increase anticipation and excitement for your next celebration by creating a fun, themed countdown calendar.
What do you think? What types of activities will your family put on the calendar? Please share what active adventures your family is doing this holiday season. Share photos of your calendar. I’d love to hear from you and see what you create.
All photos are courtesy of Kristine Couchman.
Jon Kidwell is the founder of Finding Fit, a company focused on empowering people to lose weight and maintain healthy lifestyles. Learn more at www.jonkidwell.com. Other posts by Jon Kidwell »
Special Thanks to Kids Adventures and Michael Stelzner
Tis the season. Christmas Parades, Nutcracker Ballet Performances, lights up around the house, now it is time to buy the Christmas tree. Terry Fogle with Fort Valley Nursery sums it up when he saids, “There is nothing capturing Christmas than the smell a fresh tree can give a home. It is as much Christmas as anything."
Here are the tips to pick out your fresh Christmas tree:
Tip #1 - Buy as Local as you can including of course going to a Christmas Tree farm or a an arbor center or nursery. If you are going to a lot that is only open for the season, these trees could be coming as far away as the west coast. "It is normal for trees to have needles in the center because trees shed their needles so do not be alarmed if you see dead needles in the center of the tree. They have no impact if the tree is fresh. Give the tree a good shake or bounce and the dead needles will fall out.
Tip #2 - Look at the color of the tree and freshness of the needles. Trees should have good bright color - not dull. It needs to look fresh and plump. Take your fingers and bend the needles, they should not break.
Tip #3 - “What type of tree to pick?” Spruces are not good because they will not hold their needles. Firs including the very popular Douglas Fir are amazing fragrant, can hold heavy ornaments, and will last for a month if kept watered. They are also a beautiful blue green color. Pines are also excellent but do not hold heavy ornaments.
Tip #4 - Buy early in December, there is no problem buying a tree early. Unless you are going to a tree farm and cutting the tree yourself, cut trees will stay fresh if you bring them home and cut a half inch off the base so the tree can take in water again. If you are not putting the tree inside immediately, put them in a bucket out in the garage or carport. If you cut the base and then wait, the sap will seal the tree up again.
Tip #5 - Keep away from a heat source. Trees have resin which is very flammable but this is only if something else ignites the fire like a fray electric wire from your lights. Just like poinsettias, the cooler the environment, the more the tree will not dry out.
I asked Terry about home remedies like putting aspirin in the water. Laughing, Terry said the aspirin company must have introduced that one. I have heard of many and do not know any that actually work.
If you are considering a live tree to be planted outside after Christmas - here are some pointers.
Tip #1 - Stay small, the ball of the tree is very heavy plus it must be put into water so there are the logistics of container size.
Tip #2 - No more than 7 - 10 days at the max inside your house. Like the cut trees, live trees are also dormant and you do not want to break the dormancy. You will shock the tree with little success of it living once planted outside.
Tip #3 - Dig your hole early in case the ground gets hard.
Last Reminder - when you buy a tree in the December whether it is cut or live, you are in the dormant season for the tree so it is imperative that you make a fresh cut and IMMEDIATELY put the tree in water so it can take water in before it closes up again.
If you are looking for decorating ideas, great plants and decorations, Go Blue Ridge Travel salutes another small business in the Shenandoah Valley. Visit Fort Valley Nursery at the Woodstock Virginia exit on Interstate 81. It is another Best Kept Secret here in the Shenandoah Valley. Next month, we will introduce you to the weddings occurring in this nursery, a very unique environment.
Thanksgiving as a holiday is a welcome event compared to the hectic Christmas holiday that begins the day or evening of this year. It is one of a few holidays that simply celebrate America’s love of family, friends, and food. For the valley where local resourcing is a way of life, Thanksgiving is extra special. The valley is seeing a return to the farm with many farmers markets and U-pick farms available during the growth months to locals and visitors.
As I think back over the years, Thanksgiving has always been the holiday to eat and eat and eat some more all on one day! Some years it was only the family and other years we have invited in neighbors and even strangers. I am appalled that our culture is so driven by money that the BIG stores insist on starting earlier each year trying to take away or diminish the Thanksgiving holiday. In protest, I as well as many others simply boycott Black Friday by not going out to any stores.
What I will do is celebrate the small businesses in our region by supporting SHOP SMALL. Hats off to American Express on this venture. So what are your choices?
Here is GoBRT’s Top Shopping Picks for the season –
Interstate 81 Corridor
Harrisonburg is going all out with their Shop Local Campaign. Many stores are offering specials for Shop Small Saturday so check out Harrisonburg Shop Local. Downtown also features 25 restaurants, which makes shopping a real pleasure. If you have the children, don’t miss taking them to the Explore More Discovery Museum right there in the heart of the Downtown area. Another favorite of mine is Ten Thousand Villages where you can pick up gifts from various cultures around the world.
Woodstock is branded by the locals as 'the other Woodstock'. This little town offers many shops to browse thru. Definitely a must top is All Things Virginia at The Farmhouse. A real supporter of local foods and crafts, the Farmhouse has a large selection of food products, fine art and crafts made right here in our backyard. Check out their facebook page for the latest products and happenings. Stop by Woodstock Cafe and Shoppes for lunch.
Winchester is full of surprises when it comes to shopping. Forget about going to the city for Williams Sonoma or Sur La Table, Nibblins Edibles and Gifts can stand up to either of these in the kitchenware selection available to the buyer. Family owned, Nibblins also offers cooking classes where one can see kitchenware demonstrated. They also have great coffee and ‘to die for’ fudge.
Perhaps one of the best-hidden surprises is Throx Country Store. Located on Senseny Road, you may need your GPS to find this treasure. Not only is it a fantastic deli, but Throx carries the largest collection of craft beer in the region. Expanding into speciality gifts, Throx has something for anyone on your list including good old fashion candies. Sante Wine, Beer, and Gifts is located in Kernstown Commons. A great place for gift baskets, Sante also has a selection of beautifully built wine tables for your kitchen or dining rooms. Sante also has unique cheeses for your holiday party.
Bluemont Vineyard not only offers you a truly relaxing experience with a magnificent view of Loudoun County but it also has a unique gift shop. Enjoy their wines particularly the table red.
Route 340 and Interstate 66
Front Royal is the last town on Interstate 66 before you reach I-81. Main Street offers one of the largest selections of small antique stores in the region.
The Plains is a small village directly off of Interstate 66. Small quaint shops and restaurants are on Main Street. If you are a fine arts and craft collector or have someone on your list impossible to buy for, then a visit to Live An Artful Life is a must.
Black Dog Coffee is again a family owned business which has grown out of a decade of research. Their best seller is Ethiopian Longberry Harrar Horse. Ethiopia, the birthplace of coffee, produces some of the finest coffee in the world. Complex and intensly flavorful, Harrar is an unwashed, dry processed coffee with an incredibly smooth body, powerful undercurrents of wild fruit, blueberry and chocolate followed by a crisp, clean finish. Now reaching out to over 40 retail establishments including The Ashby Inn and Throx Market Station and Country Stores.
Visitors often refer to Shepherdstown as the ‘Greenwich Village of DC’. German Street runs for three long blocks with an eclectic selection of small stores and wonderful restaurants or coffee shops. I particularly like the D’Accord Boutique offering authentic French products. One of the newest shops is Plum. Cari Aliveto Rosen, designer and owner, crafts one of kind sterling silver pieces of jewelry. Two River Treads, a shoe store promotes barefoot strategy footwear. A town that loves to celebrate holidays, Shepherdstown will offer a full month of activities each weekend in December.
Put your foot on the brake, DO NOT TURN INTO THAT MALL, but head to a town here in the valley and enjoy your holiday shopping.
Christmas can either be the biggest commercial event one experiences or it can be one of the most unique holidays of the year. So put the commercialism of Christmas aside and let's capture the ‘Spirit of Christmas' in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, West Virginia, and Maryland where culture and heritage are rich
Here are ten top events to look forward to in Go Blue Ridge Travel’s region. If you need to escape the hectic - join a town’s festivities and shop at wonderful small shops on any given weekend during December.
#1 - Christmas Middleburg, Virginia
What is most unique and sets the Middleburg parade apart are the horses and hounds and red coat riders. Located in the heart of Virginia horse country, the small town attracts local residents and visitors from around the region to take part in traditional festivities that have become an essential part of the spirit of Christmas in Middleburg. Each year the Middleburg Hunt has over 100 horses and hounds in the mile long parade. Parade features a unique assortment of floats, marching bands, local community groups, antique fire trucks, and a variety of animals including horses, llamas and dogs. Santa brings up the rear riding on a beautiful horse drawn coach. Festivities are thru out the day Throughout the day there are hayrides, choir performances, the Garden Club's Christmas Flower & Greens Show and the Craft Show. Looking to spend the weekend, The Ashby Inn and Goodstone Inn & Restaurant were both voted two of the top 50 restaurants in Northern Virginia. This parade is on December 7th.
#2 Christmas at Oatlands Leesburg, Virginia
Just down the road on Route 15 between Route 7 and Route 50 is Oatlands Historic House and Gardens. welcomes Christmas celebrating the history of the region. With Wreath Making Workshop, Ginger Bread House Contest, and Candlelight Tours, one can experience Christmas past in the countryside of the grand south. Offering a Children's Theater play - "Jingle in the Jungle", performances are available December 15, 20. 21, 22nd. Oatlands showcases an Art Show thru December 30th.
#3 Christkindlmarkt at Village Commons Front Royal, Virginia
Celebrating a German and Austrian tradition, Christkindlmarkt is about a 16th - 17th century tradition of toymakers coming to the villages to sell their wares. Many of these villages would celebrate with a small festival since the work of the harvest would be over and winter would only just be beginning. Here in Front Royal, the Town Crier announces the official opening of "Christkindlmarkt". The ten year old festival is on December 6th and 7th. Just off of Interstate 66 and Route 522, Front Royal is known as the Canoe Capitol of the World.
#4 Historic Harrisonburg's Downtown Holiday Tour Harrisonburg, Virginia
Located off of Interstate 81, Harrisonburg's Downtown is going thru a Renaissance growth period of change. With over 25 restaurants and 45 plus speciality shops, 'Shop Small Shop Local' is celebrated during the entire holiday season. This Holiday Tour on Sunday, December 8th, start at the Virginia Quilt museum showcasing a selection of old town homes as well as downtown lofts decorated for the holidays. For families, make sure you visit, Explore More Discovery Museum on Main Street.
#5 Christmas On the Farm - New Market, Virginia
Just north of Harrisonburg on Interstate 81 is the New Market Battlefield State Historic Park. On December 7th, Civil War-era Yuletide traditions will be re-enacted in a program titled "Christmas on the Farm." Costumed historic interpreters will share traditions of the season from the mid-19th Century including the visit by the Belsnickel. The Belsnickel tradition which was tied to St Nicholas was familiar to immigrant German families.
#6 Christmas Movie Celebration - Winchester, Virginia
If one is a movie follower, then The Alamo Drafthouse's Holiday Movie Series will be a must experience Christmas event. The Alamo is right off of Interstate 81 before you reach Winchester. On December 2nd, the most popular Christmas movie ever made will be showcased. Wrapping up the series which began in November will the The Nutcracker Ballet, It's a Wonderful Life, and Home Alone.
"Each year, we kick off our holiday programming at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Winchester with The Polar Express. Originally screened based on customer requests, the film now plays for nearly two weeks each year to packed houses. We encourage our guests to wear pajamas, and we have a live conductor at every show. With optional treats like holiday cookies, hot chocolate and coloring pages, The Polar Express draws several thousand viewers every year and is the single biggest annual event at the Alamo." said Steve Nerangis, owner of The Alamo - Winchester VA
#7 Christmas Tours at Historic Jordan Springs - Winchester, Virginia
On the northside of Winchester, Historic Jordan Springs has one of the oldest recorded histories in the Shenandoah Valley region. Dating back to 1549, the Catawba Indians discovered two mineral springs on what is today's historic property. The property has a long history as the Jordan Family Resort Hotels beginning in 1832 and closing in the 1930's. As was true of many homes, the hotel served as a hospital during the Civil War. In 1893, the present faciiity was built and used as a resort destination. The property was purchased in 1953 by the Missionary Servants of the Most Holy Trinity and then sold again to the present owners in 2001. As a Christmas tradition, Toni Wallace Aitken oversees the decorating of the home as a fundraiser for the community. Opening on December 6th with a Ghost of Christmas Past Candelight Tour and Wine-tasting, the venue is open for tours, a tea and a concert thru December 20th.
#8 Festival of Flights - Harpers Ferry, West Virginia
Definitely the most unusual Christmas experience in the valley, at River Riders beginning December 14th thru January 4th on Saturdays, one can experience a luminary experience by ziplining thru the canopy of trees. A 2 - 3 hour spectacular adventure, one will zip thru tree tops high above the forest floors. Experience Old World Holiday Shopping in Harpers Ferry.
#9 Christmas in Shepherdstown - Shepherdstown, West Virginia
Being a small German town rich in history and hertiage, the town has all the typical activities of the past such as chestnuts roasting, carriage rides thru the town, a parade and the lighting of the tree. A month long celebration with something happening each weekend, the season kicks off on November 29th with the arrival of Santa and the Grinch. It is fun to join the bonfire and save the cornbread and chili. The a parade is scheduled on December 7th. Anyone who has experienced Shepherdstown knows the town's parades are informal small town fun. This is a great time to get your holiday greens and Christmas bazaar crafts. The town is know for its many unique restaurants and coffee shops as well as its the small unique shops open.
#10 - Christmas Memorial Illumination - Sharpsburg, Maryland
On Saturday evening December 7, 2013, Antietam National Battlefield, in cooperation with the American Business Women's Association and the Washington County Convention and Visitors' Bureau, will host the Annual Antietam National Battlefield Memorial Illumination in honor of those soldiers who fell during the Battle of Antietam. A must see Go Blue Ridge Travel Bucket List experience for every adult and child. Over 23,000 luminaries for each soldier who died at this battle. This is a 5-mile driving tour and will stay in one's memory for a lifetime.
Have 48 hours to spend, any of these events or combination of will make a great road trip to the Shenandoah Valley in December. Check out GoBRT's accommodations from resorts, bed and breakfast, cabins, vacation rentals and hotels.
What do your kids know about the first Thanksgiving?
Would you like to make the story of this incredible event more vivid for your children?
Send your family on a journey of discovery, starting with the sailing of the Mayflower and ending with the Thanksgiving meal itself.
In this article, you’ll find all you need to plan a quick and easy Thanksgiving Scavenger Hunt that’s both fun and educational.
Why a Thanksgiving Scavenger Hunt?
When you ask most kids to tell you about the first Thanksgiving, they’ll rattle off a thing or two about the Pilgrims, turkeys and pumpkin pie. Not a bad start, but there’s so much more to the story!
Get your children excited to learn more about the first Thanksgiving. Send them on a scavenger hunt to track down fun Thanksgiving facts and tidbits!
They’ll learn more about the people who risked their lives to come to a new country. They’ll find out about the true meaning of helping your neighbors and they’ll develop a deeper thankfulness when they sit down to their own Thanksgiving meal.
Print the Thanksgiving Scavenger Hunt clues and send the kids searching at your holiday gathering.
To start your Thanksgiving Scavenger Hunt, your children will follow a string of clues hidden inside your home.
The Thanksgiving Scavenger Hunt will take kids all over the house searching for clues.
At the end of the scavenger hunt, you can present a mini-Thanksgiving meal (a snack) and share more interesting facts about the first Thanksgiving.
To learn more, refer to the list of Thanksgiving books and websites in this article to keep you moving on your journey of Thanksgiving discovery.
You Will Need
- Printer paper
- Internet access
- Snack food (optional)
Depending on your printer speed (and we all know how that can vary!), you’ll need anywhere from 5-20 minutes to print the story cards, cut them out and hide them.
Inside your home
#1: Print and Cut Out the Scavenger Hunt Clues
These are for your eyes only. Each clue is labeled with a number.
Numbered clues will lead your kids all over the house, learning about Thanksgiving each step of the way.
The first one, the Get Started clue, will lead to clue #1. That clue will lead to clue #2, which will lead to #3 and so on.
Just print out the clues and hold your own Thanksgiving Scavenger Hunt.
First, print the clues (PDF), cut them out and either roll them into small scrolls, or fold them.
Cut each clue on the dotted lines.
You can also keep them flat and tape them to the hiding places that are listed in step #3.
#2: Announce the Hunt!
Get kids excited about the impending scavenger hunt. Gather your gang together and say something like this:
“Okay, guys. We’re going to have a Thanksgiving Scavenger Hunt! But before we start, tell me two things you know about the first Thanksgiving.”
Each clue has Thanksgiving facts to teach your kids about the first Thanksgiving.
After your crew has answered, tell them you’re going to hide the Scavenger Hunt clues.
#3: Hide the Clues
Gather the kids in a place where they won’t be able to watch you hide the clues. Better yet, have one of the other relatives take them on a walk outside where they won’t be able to peek.
Hide your clues in the locations listed below.
Hiding Place Locations:
Clue 1: Your kitchen sink
Hide the first clue at the kitchen sink.
Clue 2: Your front door
Clue 3: Your bathroom sink
Clue 4: At a table large enough for your children to crawl under
Clue 5: At or in your refrigerator
Clue 6: At a window
Clue 7: At a mirror
Hide clue #7 at a mirror.
Clue 8: In a clothes closet
Clue 9: Under the pillow of a bed or on the bed
Clue 10: At the table or counter where you eat your meals
#4: The Hunt Begins!
Call your children out of hiding and officially kick off the hunt.
Hand one of them the Get Started clue and tell the gang, “Okay, we’re going to start the hunt.”
Read the Get Started clue aloud to the group and then start the search for more clues.
Ask them to read the first clue and then take turns finding and reading the clues as they go.
If your children can’t read yet, you can help.
Finding the kitchen sink clue.
The Get Started clue will lead them to clue #1, at the kitchen sink.
If your children seem to be struggling to figure out where the next clue is hidden, help them along by asking them leading questions.
Once they find the clue, have them read it aloud so the whole group can hear.
Ask kids to read clues aloud to the whole group.
#5: The Hunt Ends
When your children reach and read the final clue, it’s time to celebrate.
Reaching high to find another clue!
Enjoy a Thanksgiving snack together, review the clues they found and talk about what they learned.
Use our More to Gobble Up Section to learn more about the first Thanksgiving, and keep the conversation going!
#6: More to Gobble Up!
If your children want to hunt down more Thanksgiving facts and stories, the books and websites listed below are a great place to start.
Some Final Thoughts…
The first Thanksgiving is a gripping story of how determination in following your beliefs can lead you to do extraordinary things.
One way to help our children to grasp the overall importance of Thanksgiving is to intrigue them with interesting facts about the event and the people.
Just say the words “scavenger hunt” and you’ll be well on your way to having them learn about the first Thanksgiving.
What do you think? How do you teach your children about historical events like Thanksgiving? Let us know! We’re always looking for new ways to get our kids interested in history. Leave a comment or photo in the box below.
Susan Merrill is a mom of five, author of The Passionate Mom, and the director of iMOM.com. She loves her kids, dogs, and husband, but not necessarily in that order! Other posts by Susan Merrill »
Shop Local: Small Business Saturday
Saturday, November 30, 2013
**Please note that this event is not associated with the American Express Small Business Saturday. Some downtown businesses may also be participating with American Express, but please call ahead directly to the business to learn more.**
- A Touch of the Earth: 25% off storewide sale (through end of December)
- Capital Ale House: Featuring an All-Virginia Menu. Receive $20 bonus gift card with purchase of $100 gift card.
- Dragonflies Toys: Coffee and tasty treats. Be entered in a drawing to win a $50 gift card with your purchase made on this day.
- Friendly City Food Co-op: 10% off Local Gift Boxes
- Glen's Fair Price Store: details coming soon
- The Lady Jane: 15% off storewide sale
- Laughing Dog: 10%-40% off large selection of fashion jewelry, tees, handbags, scarves, fashion reading glasses, and other accessories. 10%-40% off candles. 15% off handcrafted tea bowls & tea pots. 20%-40% off coffee mugs. Other specials as well. Hershey's Kisses for all! Open 11-6.
- Midtowne Market: 20% off select craft beers
- Mint: Be entered to win a drawing for a Holiday Gift Basket with your purchase made on this day.
- Over the Moon: 20% off all regularly priced inventory store-wide. Specials on select Tea collection children's clothing, Lilac maternity clothing, and Cotton Babies cloth diapers. Local photographer Molly Whitmore will be providing mini-sessions at a special holiday rate.
- Polished, Inc.: New, estate, and vintage sterling silver jewelry Store Closing Sale
- Ragtime Fabrics: Holiday Happy Hours from 9 am-4 pm, with demos, Pick-Your-Sale, refreshments, and project ideas.
- You Made It! Paint Your Own Pottery & Fused Glass Studio: Be entered to win a drawing for a $50 gift card with painting purchase made on this day. 20% off any fused glass item created by "You" on this day. Space is limited. 20% off any "Made by Us" fused glass or pottery item purchased on this day.
1:00-5:00 pm: Art Market at Larkin Arts
Featuring local arts and crafts from more than 15 vendors.
Winchester, VA 11/20/13 – The Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum is the recipient of a $16,000 grant from Wells Fargo. This generous grant will benefit Head Start families in the Apple Country Head Start area, providing annual household museum memberships free of charge. Since 2010, the Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum has distributed 487 free household memberships. The majority of these are made possible through the generosity of the Wells Fargo Foundation.
Of the 176 free household memberships distributed in 2012, 165 were selected and distributed to families with children ages 3 through 5 by the Apple Country Head Start program. At Head Start, children are guided to bring about social competence and a positive self-image. They are assisted in their readiness for kindergarten through their literacy program and a curriculum rich in science, math, language arts, pre-writing, arts and crafts, and music. The Discovery Museum is natural partner in helping Head Start and their children to reach their goal.
“This is a deeply appreciated show of support from Wells Fargo Foundation,” said Mary Braun, Executive Director. “Head Start serves as advocates for families, meets the individual needs of all children, and supports family development. By funding these Museum memberships, Wells Fargo is a true community partner in supporting both the goals of our four local Head Start communities and the mission of the Discovery Museum.”
“Wells Fargo is proud to support the Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum, which is a tremendous asset to the Winchester community,” said Mike Wilkerson, Wells Fargo’s Mid-Atlantic Business Banking Manager and Discovery Museum board member. “We are proud to be able to reach another great organization and give families and children the opportunity to experience this great museum.”
Apple Country Head Start, based in Winchester, Virginia, prepares children from Clarke County, Frederick County and Winchester to meet their future school experiences and to provide their families with comprehensive support services in order for them to access resources and maximize opportunities in the community. Teachers at Head Start’s four regional locations will distribute Discovery Museum household memberships to Head Start students’ families free of charge. In addition to free annual admission to the Museum, family members also receive discounts on programs and camps.
The Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum is currently working on renovations to its future home at 19 W. Cork Street in Winchester, VA. The new location expected to open in early 2014 will expand the Museum to almost 20,000 square feet, allowing for new and exciting exhibits and programs that will engage and challenge visitors of all ages, spark imagination and creativity, and instill a love of learning to be shared across generations.
From a Scarecrow Contest to Haunted House Tours to a Week Long Celebration starting with a Vampire Ball, Go Blue Ridge Travel highlights the must experience Halloween events in the Shenandoah Valley. A great time to plan a 48-hour road trip for adults and families, pick your activity from mulled wine and cider donuts to a Zombie 5K road race.
Leaves are falling, apples have been picked, and one of the most popular holidays is just around the corner. October wraps up the month with celebrations of Halloween. Here are great activities and events for the kids and the adults.
Scarecrow Days in The Plains - This is the third year for this little town’s Scarecrow Days. Hardly frightening and all meant in fun, it’s the merchants’ way of celebrating fall and the love of laughter. Even if you cannot visit The Plains, then go to social media and share your photos. Public voting has started and winners will be announced on October 26h.
Another small town is also decking out for Halloween. This year, for the first time, the historic town of Shepherdstown, WV will celebrate Halloween with a week-long "Boo!Fest." The Boo!Fest will begin with a “Vampire Ball” at the Community Club the evening of Friday, October 25, and conclude with the town’s traditional trick-or-treat on German Street on Halloween night, October 31. This small quaint West Virginia town welcomes everyone to attend this seven-day celebration. Check the schedule so you do not miss out on a scary happening.
Corn Mazes and Pumpkins – Since the Shenandoah Valley grows a lot of corn, corn mazes abound in all of our regions of Go Blue Ridge Travel. Starting in Loudoun on Route 7, you can visit Great Country Farms for their annual Pumpkin Festival. Just over the mountain visit Mackintosh Fruit Farm for their Happy Apple Maze. Pick a pumpkin, take a hike on their 1 – 2 miles paths and enjoy a cup of warm cider to celebrate the fall. Then right down the road near Berryville, stop by Wayside Farm to see The Angry Birds.
If haunted House Tours are part of your fun, discover the real nightlife of Leesburg! In its 22nd year, the Hauntings Walking Tour allows visitors to tour the haunted homes and businesses of Leesburg. Once a year through the generosity of the property owners, the Loudoun Museum is able take the tours inside several of the haunted places. “We have people coming from all over the country for this," says Peter Kelpinski, Hauntings founder and long-time member of the Loudoun Museum's Board of Trustees. "We have some sites where the stories need to be updated each year because new occurrences are documented over the past year.” Hear about the widow who fought to keep her house and has never left- she even helps with the housework; the Civil War Colonel who watches over the office staff during the day; and many more spirits that do more than go bump in the night!
GoBRT knows how popular marathon races are but have you ever participated in a Zombie 5K. Even if you do not run or walk the race, at least go to experience the wild fun. Put on by Clarke County Parks and Recreation, this race is very unusual with strict rules to keep the zombies in check. There are races, walkers, rollers, and Zombie Chasers levels. But pick your costume carefully so you can run fast!
If you are traveling down south Interstate 81, then stop off at the Mt Jackson exit of lots of fun. Visit Shenandoah Caverns and American Celebration on Parade. Nothing is spookier than walking thru a dark cave and having your partner whisper ghost sounds in your ear. The Corn Maze at Bridgewater Farm claims to be largest in the Shenandoah Valley. If you want more adventure then attend Bryce Resorts Bike Bonanza Bash on Saturday October 26th. Then if you still have energy, head back to The Family Drive In Theater for the 4th Annual Trunk or Treat Halloween Costume Contest.
Then two days after Halloween on November 2nd. Whether you use the Silo Drop, the Zip Wire Sploosh or Pumpkin Drop Zone, there will be some Pumpkin Chunkin’ going on November 2nd through November 5th at Great Country Farms. Bring your leftover jack-o-lantern or stock up on other squash and let ‘em fly. Create your own team toss or group battles to see who can create the most artistic mess. Roam the 5 acre playground and enjoy the Giant Pumpkin Jumping Pillow, Triple Threat Slide, and more.
Finish out the holiday with The American Conservation Film Festival beginning on October 31st and running thru November 3rd. Over 65 films over 4 days and 5 venues, the festival celebrates the art of film making honoring students and veterans of the industry. Located in Shepherdstown, check out the schedule and purchase your tickets.