Why You Should Visit Virginia This Summer
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If you haven't already taken a trip to the Old Dominion state, it's time to add it to your calendar this summer.
Virginia is celebrating 50 years of the iconic state slogan, "Virginia is for Lovers," which has become one of the most well-known in the travel and tourism world. To celebrate what they're calling "50 years of love," the Virginia Tourism Corporation (VTC) is hosting special events and experiences across the state.
As a Virginian myself, I love to brag about how much the state has to offer — from the Blue Ridge Mountains to the historic cities and the gorgeous beaches, there's no shortage of fun things to do and see here.
To help first-time visitors find their ideal Virginia getaway, here are three of my personal favorite itineraries for every type of traveler (with plenty of options for points and miles travelers, too).
For the Art Lover
Richmond is the perfect destination for the budget traveler because it offers plenty of free or low-cost activities. But it's also great for art and culture lovers.
To get a real feel for the city, take a stroll downtown and admire the endless street art, ducking into eclectic galleries along the way.
If you're looking for good food and cute shops, make your way to the Carytown district, which has nine blocks packed with excellent restaurants and boutiques. It's also close to the Museum District where you can check out some of Picasso's work for free at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.
Just want to chill out? Head to Belle Isle down on the James River. This is the perfect spot to cool off on a hot summer day. Pack a picnic and make a day out of it. And if you're really feeling adventurous, you can go book a White Water Rafting trip. Before you go, be sure to check out one of the LOVEwork art pieces nearby.
Where to Stay: Consider booking a room somewhere like the Hampton Inn & Suites Richmond — Downtown so you can be centrally located and close to all the action without emptying your wallet. Rooms here are available from 40,000 points and yes, breakfast is included. But for travelers who want the art theme to extend to every aspect of their stay, there's the design-driven Quirk Hotel, a Destination Hotels property dreamt up by owners of a close-by art gallery.
For the Beach Lover
Travelers in search of a more laid-back beach vacation should head to the Eastern Shore of Virginia, where the sandy shores are seemingly endless and you can swim with ponies. Yes, that's right — ponies!
Assateague Island has been home to the Chincoteague Ponies for hundreds of years and has made the destination even more magical for visitors. (The southern entrance to Assateague Island National Seashore is located in Virginia.)
Beyond the beaches, be sure to check out the historic and charming main street of Chincoteague and don't forget to try the local clam chowder (Bill's Prime Seafood & Steaks sells a local spin on the classic soup).
There's no doubt you'll leave coastal Virginia feeling relaxed and renewed.
Where to Stay: Check out the charming Hotel Cape Charles, which is close to the Cape Charles Beach. Select rooms have outdoor showers, or exposed brick walls and heartwood pine floors. All guests, however, have access to complimentary beach cruiser bikes and beach chairs. Book your stay with your Chase Sapphire Reserve or Chase Sapphire Preferred Card to earn 3x or 2x points, respectively.
For the Wine Lover
In need of a rejuvenating weekend getaway? Head to the Piedmont region of Virginia (also known as Virginia wine country), which is nestled in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains and is home to over 100 wineries.
During your stay here, you can sip your way around the region and stock up on vintages from local producers. Just over an hour away from Washington, DC, for example, is Loudoun County, making it a great option for travelers flying into a major DC-area airport or taking the train to Union Station.
Here, you can also check out variety of vineyards, such as Stone Tower Winery, Bluemont Vineyard and Casanel Vineyards and Winery. While you sample your wine flight, you can enjoy ample views of the mountains.
For a stress-free, seamless experience, head to Salamander Resort & Spa, near historic Middleburg, which can facilitate horseback rides; a guided bike ride to Boxwood Estate Winery and the Mt. Defiance Cidery & Distillery; or a white water rafting excursion in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, among other activities.
Where to Stay: Book a room at the Salamander Resort & Spa, which is geared toward luxury travelers, with rooms starting around $450 a night. If you have The Platinum Card® from American Express in your wallet, you can reserve your stay through the American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts (FHR) program at americanexpress.com/fhr and receive 5x Membership Rewards points for booking a prepaid stay, plus daily breakfast for two and a $100 property credit to use during your stay, among other perks.
Feature photo by Sky Noir Photography by Bill Dickinson / Getty Images.