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Plan a fall foliage getaway
There are several options for seeing more than 800 miles of reds, oranges and yellows during Virginia's annual show of fall foliage.
The picturesque Blue Ridge Parkway follows the Appalachian Mountain chain for 469 miles, taking you past meadows, streams and valleys.
The scenic Skyline Drive twists and turns for 105 gorgeous miles.
The historical Crooked Road, Virginia's Heritage Music Trail, is a 250-mile driving route through the Appalachian Mountains from the Blue Ridge to the Coalfields region, following U.S. Route 58. Highway signs identify the route as it winds through terrain, connecting major heritage music venues.
Locally, the 23-mile Colonial Parkway, which takes you from Jamestown to Yorktown, is the perfect place to take a spur-of-the-moment autumn drive.
10 things to do in the mountains during peak foliage season
1. Visit Front Royal on Oct. 11 and hang out for the Festival of Leaves, where the entire family can enjoy historical displays, arts and crafts vendors, a parade, live entertainment, children's corner, living-history interpretations and more.
2. Staunton City, hosts the Fall Foliage Bike Festival, Oct. 1719, where bikers feed their life force while enjoying views of the Alleghenies in glorious fall color. After a day of biking, discover many attractions of the historic city of Staunton, including shops, theater and fine restaurants.
3. Sinkland Farms in the Blue Ridge Highlands hosts the area's largest and longest-running pumpkin festival; with 18 acres of pumpkins, squash and gourds, hayrides, mazes, pony rides, face painting, antique farm equipment exhibits, animals, local crafters and music.
4. Visit Luray Caverns, the largest caverns in the Eastern USA, where stalactites and stalagmites form a beautiful underground world that impresses all ages. Also, check out the nearby Natural Bridge, one of the seven natural wonders of the world, which owner Thomas Jefferson once described as "the most sublime of nature's works."
5. Cows & Corn in Midland is a family-owned dairy farm that thrills guests each fall with new and exciting corn maze designs. Check out their "cowlendar" for all the information on upcoming events.
6. Head to Bluemont and experience a spectacular display of more than 2,500 carved and lighted jack-o-lanterns illuminating the night sky during Pumpkin Glow Night on Oct. 25. Enter your jack-o-lantern in carving competitions, warm up by the bonfire, roast some marshmallows and enjoy an evening of memories in the country.
7. Head to Nelson County in Central Virginia and check out Drumheller's Orchard's Apple Harvest & Apple Butter Festival, Sept. 2728 and Oct. 18-19. Take a hayride through the orchard to the pumpkin patch and 5-acre corn maze, try your luck at the apple sling-shot and pick from large selections of apples, fresh cider, honey, hams and other food, while listening to live music.
8. Visit Great Country farms in northern Virginia to celebrate the start of the cider pressing season with tastings of the best sparking ciders including peach, cherry and raspberry at the Cider Festival & Pumpkin Harvest, Sept. 2021. Try an all-natural cider slushie and give the 1865 cider press a crank to make old-fashioned cider. Also, enjoy hayrides, farm animals, four mazes and "Rubber Ridge," a new tractor tire mountain open for family fun.
9. In northern Virginia, visit Fall Harvest Family Days at Mount Vernon, Oct. 1819. Bring the whole family and enjoy wagon rides, wheat treading in the 16-sided barn, a straw bale maze and early-American games and music. Kids can make their own cornhusk doll and cook over an open fire, and families can also take advantage of the Potomac River sightseeing cruises which are half-price during the event.
10. 20th anniversary of Virginia Wine Month October Virginia is home to more than 130 wineries that will celebrate with special events. Get details at www.Virginia.org/wine
5 scenic places to stay
1. Historic Martha Washington Inn, built by General Washington as a private residence in 1832 in Abingdon; www.marthawashingtoninn.com/index.htm
2. New River Trail Cabins with biking, hiking and horseback riding along the New River in Galax; www.newrivertrailcabins.com
3. Stonewall Jackson Hotel, which was featured in the May issue of Southern Living magazine, in Staunton; www.stonewalljacksonhotel.com
4. Longhill Bed & Breakfast with gardens, vintage pool table and library, in Winchester and the Shenandoah Valley; www.longhillbb.com. Appalachian Mountains are private, making them suitable for family or romantic getaways in Scott County, the heart of Appalachia; www.amcabins.com
5. Skyland Resort and Big Meadows Lodge offer camping or lodge stays with restaurants and activities along the Skyline Drive; www.nationalparkreservations.com/shenandoah_skyland.htm
5 unique places to eat
1. Oddfellas Cantina in Floyd. Serving a fusion of Latin, Southern and vegan cooking, this cozy neighborhood eatery and music spot works with local organic growers, imports Virginia seafood and prepares savory meatloaf and rib-eye steaks from locally raised buffalo. www.oddfellascantina.com
2. The Galax Smokehouse in Galax. Enjoy smoked meats that include ribs, chicken, pulled pork and Texas beef brisket. www.thegalaxsmokehouse.com
3. Graves Mountain Lodge in Syria. Made-from-scratch comfort food like pot roast, catfish and country ham served with local vegetables at a rustic mountain retreat. www.gravesmountain.com
4. Staunton Grocery in Staunton. The dining combines Virginia ingredients at the peak of the freshness and includes local pork, beef, chicken, produce, cheese, herbs, ham, baked goods, tea and even locally roasted coffee. www.stauntongrocery.com
5. One Block West in Winchester. This relaxed but elegant bistro pairs dishes such as roasted breast of duck with Bosc pear and grilled lamb loin chops with pesto, then suggests a Virginia wine for each. http://obwrestaurant.com