Living in the greater metropolitan area of Washington DC, also known as Northern Virginia. I often forget how beautiful the state of Virginia is, and how much it offers us. Although I love the hustle and bustle and streets filled with angry drivers and the locals complaining about too many tourists on the sidewalks, it’s really nice to take a step back and spend a weekend in the slow-paced, laid back, friendlier area’s of the state I call home.
Virginia is very diverse, we have mountains, beaches, rivers, lakes, cities, farms, winery’s, history, intact historical cities, battlefields, amusement parks. Even in the midst of Fairfax County, we have Mt Vernon Estate (home of our first president, George Washington), Huntley Meadows Park (a beautiful stroll though marsh land), and the rapids and hiking of Great Falls. Fairfax County is nestled right next to the historical city Alexandria, which still contains original structures and cobble stone streets for another time. However, this amazing city, is just as practical and functioning as it always has been.
Down by the River
This blog was inspired, because I was invited to the Chickahominy River (off the James River) a few weekends ago. The area was beautiful, the river was amazing. We swam, boated, jet skied, docked at a restaurant for an afternoon drink and even fished!
I am very proud of the fish I caught, although he wasn’t overly big, but we did send him back to live out his days back in the river. This area is a bit slower paces, but a calm and relaxing way of life!
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Old Town Alexandria on the Potomac
This is and remains one of my favorite places in the world. This historic city has been around since long before the US declared their independence. There are even a few cobble stone streets preserved for authenticity! The city houses the well-known arts center, the Torpedo Factory, offers a beautiful walk along the Potomac river, and offers a farmers market on saturday mornings in front of the Town Hall!
Restaurants are in abundance in this area, everything from American to Sushi. It’s not hard to find something that will make everyone happy. Old Town even has 3 ice cream shops, oddly or smartly, all located within a few feet from each other, on a warm summers day nothing is better than stopping by for a cone of your favorite scoop. One thing that is lacking are book stores. Old Town officially has no book stores left open. They do however, have a movie theatre. Not long ago renovated from a single theatre with a balcony, to two theatre rooms. Noise can occasionally be a problem, but at least you can enjoy a pint of beer while enjoying your film.
One of my favorite walks is up the riverside past the canal center, this beautiful fountain lives there. Alexandria has a large Art movement and is home to the famous Torpedo Factory.
Alexandria has very deep roots in the beginning of our country. To celebrate the Scottish heritage of community, they started the Virginia Scottish games. Now grown so large, that the games needed to be moved out west of the area to be able to hold the whole of the games in one area! See here for my blog on the Virginia Scottish Games.
Mount Vernon Estate
For those of you who are less familiar with this estate and gardens, Mount Vernon was the home of the first president of the United States, George Washington. This historic manor home is well-kept, the estate is privately owned by the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association (MVLA) and funded primarily by donations. The colors and furniture are as true to the way the home looked when George himself was alive. Many of the furniture did actually belong to him.
In recent years a museum has been built on the property to further display and educate those visiting the plantation. The upper gardens are beautiful when in season, there is a small orchard, as well as a small farm site including a 16-sided barn designed and built similar to the one George built. The MVLA has also recently broken grown for a Library due to be completed in 2013. “For the first time, Mount Vernon’s vast collection of books, manuscripts and archival materials will be organized, conserved and made available to researchers in building reflecting the highest level of security, climate control and architectural design.”
This is a full day out, I would suggest getting there early and seeing the house first, as the line grows long as the day progresses. The gift shop upon exit also offers a full food court as well as a sit down restaurant open for lunch and dinner (most days). My favorite is the peanut soup.
Virginia is full of history, and our capital city is no different. Set on the James River, it is infamous for being the capital of the south during our Civil War. Originally a location of a Powhatan tribe capital known as Powhatan, Shocquohocan, or Shockoe. Which is where the Shockoe Bottom area of Richmond gets its name, a popular living area among university students. Richmond boasts two great universities, Virginia Commonwealth University and University of Richmond. The hustle and bustle of Richmond is by far quieter than DC or NYC, but the greater Richmond area is home to 1,258,251 people making it one of the 50 largest Metropolitan Statistical Area’s (MSA) in the country.
A really great day out in Richmond is Maymount Park. This property includes a stately home, historic buildings, a carriage collection, a nature center, a children’s farm and multiple gardens. I spent a cold brisk day wonder the gardens with a good friend of mine. Even in the dead of winter, this park seems to be full of visitors!
If you find yourself in Richmond, check out the Drag Show Brunch at Godfrey’s in downtown. It’s a fantastic time! Just make sure and schedule in advance, they book up quickly! Read my post and see pictures here.
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