Whale Watching in Virginia Beach

“Whale watching in Virginia Beach?”

The looks from my friends were incredulous as I told them about my experience whale watching a few years ago. Every winter, from December to March, several pods of humpback whales migrate from their summer homes of the coast of Maine and Nova Scotia and spend the winter months feeding in the rich waters where the Chesapeake Bay opens into the Atlantic Ocean. Whale sightings have been plentiful and frequent the past few years but despite this,  one of Virginia’s greatest winter experiences remains a secret even to many locals. On a clear but chilly January weekend I brought my friends down to the Virginia Aquarium for a winter wildlife boat trip so they could see the whales for themselves.

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10 Things to Do in Hampton, Virginia

I have a confession to make- I often fall into the trap of feeling like I need to jet off to some far flung destination to truly feel like I’ve traveled neglecting some hidden gems that are literally right under my nose. So when a friend told me I needed to check out Hampton, a mere 30 minutes from my home in Virginia Beach, I was intrigued. What I found was an under-the-radar town that has played a pivotal role in American history, and will find any reason to throw a party along with some seriously good eats. An easy drive from both Virginia Beach and Williamsburg, Hampton is an easy addition to any Coastal Virginia vacation. Here are my recommendations for what to do in Hampton, Virginia. Read More

Primland Resort- A Luxury Retreat in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia

When it comes to travel I’m a woman of varied tastes. Sometimes I’m looking for a romantic getaway with Steve, complete with a beautiful room and spectacular views. Sometimes it’s all about outdoors adventure, whether it’s days spent hiking with stunning vistas as my reward or a leisurely morning exploring the woods on horseback. Sometimes I’m looking for a bit of pampering with an afternoon at the spa followed by a five star meal. Once in a great while I’m lucky to find all of this in one destination, with a stunning location deep in the Blue Ridge Mountains of southwestern Virginia. This is Primland Resort.

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Small Town Cool in Fredericksburg, Virginia www.casualtravelist.com

Small Town Cool in Fredericksburg, Virginia

Fredericksburg has long drawn visitors for its history; as the boyhood home to George Washington and host to several Civil War battlefields where Southern grit and Northern ideals clashed. If history and antique shops are your thing there’s still plenty of that here but the past few years have brought a renewed energy to this small town. I’d been hearing a lot about Fredericksburg so on a recent weekend I paid a visit to see what all the buzz was about.

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A weekend trip to Virginia’s Eastern Shore

After an unusually cool and wet spring summer’s warmer days meant one thing– it was time for a road trip. Steve’s Mom was in town and I wanted to show her a part of Virginia she hadn’t yet been to and a place that’s become a favorite of mine for a quick trip, Virginia’s Eastern Shore. Just an hour from my home in Virginia Beach this thin peninsula bordered by Maryland, the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean is only connected to the rest of Virginia by the 21 mile long Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel and is easily reachable from both Washington DC and Philadelphia. Flip-flops and Wellies of the footwear of choice and oyster shell roads lead out to the water. The remote beaches, small towns and pristine barrier islands of the Eastern Shore feel both of another time and place making for the perfect Mid-Atlantic weekend getaway.

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Exploring the locations that inspired Mercy Street in Alexandria, Virginia www.casualtravelist.com

Exploring the locations that inspired Mercy Street in Alexandria, Virginia

Visitors these days come to Virginia’s Alexandria to enjoy the historic cobblestone streets, shop among the city’s independent boutiques and savor a meal at some of the country’s best restaurants. A century and half ago, the scene in Alexandria was much different. May 24, 1861, the day after Virginia seceded, Union troops took control of the city and seized Mansion House Hotel (a luxury hotel owned by wealthy furniture maker James Green) for use as a hospital. A Confederate city controlled by Union troops and home to a growing number of former slaves seeking freedom; Alexandria was the axis of Civil War America and the world PBS‘s drama Mercy Street seeks to explore.

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Welcoming Christmas in Alexandria, Virginia; how this thoroughly American city welcomes the holidays in European style. www.casualtravelist.com

Welcoming Christmas in Alexandria, Virginia

Brick paved streets lined with eighteenth century buildings, shop doors graced with Christmas greenery and scores of Scottish gents and lasses clad in tartan kilts bustling around town. Was I in Scotland? No, I found a bit of European holiday tradition a little closer to home in Alexandria, Virginia; where on the first weekend in December you’re as likely to hear a Scottish brogue as a southern drawl.

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The Craft Beers of Virginia Beach www.casualtravelist.com

The Craft Beers of Virginia Beach

There has never been a better time to be a beer lover in Virginia. Craft beer in Virginia has exploded in recent years, growing from a handful of breweries to over 100 and counting. I’m lucky that in and around my home of Virginia Beach there is an ever-expanding roster of local breweries that are putting out some really great beer. With that in mind I wanted to highlight a few of my favorite local breweries in the Virginia Beach area.

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The Iris Inn, a luxury Shenandoah bed and breakfast

The Iris Inn – A Welcoming Shenandoah Hideaway

Two of my favorite ways to unwind are spending a bit of time outside reconnecting with nature and enjoying a good glass of wine. Luckily for me Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, a short 3 hour drive from my home in Virginia Beach, has both in spades making the area an obvious choice for a weekend getaway.

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Virginia Beach on the half shell with Pleasure House Oysters

What comes to mind when you think of Virginia Beach? If you’re like most people you think of the wide, sandy beaches and the gentle waves of the Atlantic; or perhaps the three mile long boardwalk presided over by King Neptune that’s just perfect for a summer stroll or bike ride.Within the past few years, thanks to the hard work of a handful of dedicated watermen, there’s something else you should think of in Virginia Beach.

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