Category Archives: Attractions

Kayaking and Hiking at False Cape State Park with e2 Outdoor Adventures

IMG_4034We recently left the Blue Ridge Mountains for an exciting adventure on Virginia’s coast. We joined our friends at e2 Outdoor Adventures for a kayaking and hiking trip exploring False Cape State Park in Sandbridge, Virginia.

Chris, Owner and Chief Adventure Officer at e2 Outdoor Adventures, founded this outdoor adventure company in 2014. It “is an adventure travel and outdoor lifestyle company created to provide an avenue for adults who demand more from their travel experiences.”

Interested in a guided trip near Ridgeside? e2 Outdoor Adventures also offers guided adventures in our neck-of-the-woods, such as a 3 day/2 night Shenandoah National Park backpacking trip.

IMG_4013For our False Cape State Park trip, our group met Friday morning at Little Island Park, and we prepped for our paddle through the waters of Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge. After a tutorial and instructional session from our Black Dog Paddle guide – we were off! The day looked beautiful, but weather along the coast can change quickly. As we paddled, we were greeted by a strong headwind, so it look lots of muscle to keep the boats moving. If we stopped, we would quickly drift backwards! The water was pretty, though, and I loved the feeling of floating on the surface in my boat, gliding along.

IMG_4062After about 8 miles of kayaking, we hiked into the campsites to setup our tents. Later, we walked along a short trail to the dunes and arrived at the shoreline – it was so nice! The beach at False Cape State Park is extremely quiet and untouched since you have to either hike, bike, or paddle into the park.

IMG_4040Chris made delicious pulled-chicken nachos for dinner and Rice Krispies treats for dessert. Since we were pretty tired from the day’s paddling, we went to bed early and slept to the lulling sounds of frogs, rain, and a little thunder.

On Saturday, we started the day with blueberry and chocolate-chip pancakes and bacon. What a treat!

FullSizeRenderAfter breakfast, we hiked and explored the park. It was a sunny morning with blue skies. We visited the site of a historic coastal community and searched for (and found!) 1940s and ‘50s beach relics – old automobiles that had been left behind in the sand.

To our surprise, the headwind that blew on Friday shifted overnight because of the storms, and we faced a headwind on our return paddle. It was windy, it rained, and then it poured. What an adventure we had! After our exciting day, we drove into Virginia Beach for some seafood and spent Sunday exploring the city on bikes.

Thank you e2 Outdoor Adventures for the amazing trip and experience. We greatly enjoyed the companionship, the outdoors, and the adventure!

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Cardinal Point Winery’s Annual Oyster Roast

IMG_5586There are many great fall festivals, but one of our local favorites is Cardinal Point Winery’s Oyster Roast. This event is held over a Saturday and Sunday. This year’s is the 12th annual and takes place this coming weekend, November 14th and 15th , 12:00pm – 5:00pm. There is live music, wine, and lots of seafood from Rappahannock River Oyster Co.

IMG_5589Admission is $12 in advance and $17 at the door, and it includes a wine glass and free wine tasting. Wine is available for purchase by the glass or bottle, and there is a variety of food for purchase, as well. Last year the food offerings included raw or steamed oysters (of course!), crab cakes, and seafood stew.

IMG_5590This is a great time of year to be outside – a chill is in the air and the landscape has transformed. If you’ve been meaning to take a trip to Nelson County, come on out and enjoy some local wine and oysters. Maybe we’ll see you there!

Music Events at Afton Area Wineries

IMG_4842Many area wineries host live music during the warmer months of the year and lucky us, those warmer months start now! Grab your picnic blanket or lawn chairs and get ready to enjoy some fun Saturday evenings with tunes and a glass of wine. Here’s a quick summary of three Afton wineries and their events. Please be sure to visit winery websites for updated schedules and details.

IMG_0678 After Hours at Afton Mountain Vineyards occurs every fourth Saturday from 6-8:30pm beginning May 23. There is a $5 cover charge and wine is available for purchase by the glass or bottle. Local food trucks offer delicious options for dinner or a snack, plus the view at this winery can’t be beat!

IMG_4837 Veritas Winery has Starry Nights, which starts June 13  and occurs every second Saturday from 7-11pm. General admission is $15 per person, or if you’d like prime seating, tables are available for purchase and include a buffet meal. Wine is sold by the glass or bottle. These events can get pretty busy, so arrive early to find a good spot to setup your blanket or chairs.

IMG_4898 Tins for Tunes Concert Series is hosted by Cardinal Point Winery every third Saturday from 5-9pm, starting May 16. Admission is $10 or if you bring at least one non-perishable food donation for the local food pantry, the cover charge is $5. It’s a win-win. You can purchase a glass or a bottle of wine, and food trucks offer great local fare.

Hiking Humpback Rocks

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Humpback Rocks is a popular hike located at mile marker 6 on the Blue Ridge Parkway. It’s a well-liked hike because it provides easy access to a scenic overlook. It is around one mile to reach the top, and on average, it takes about 40 minutes. Once at the top, you can take in the beautiful panoramic views of the surrounding valleys. You can even spot Veritas Winery, Ridgeside, and Afton Mountain Winery off in the distance if you look closely. Can you find them in the photo below?

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It is a steep hike, and I use the slow and steady approach but some are much speedier hikers. It’s a great workout! We’ve seen people of all ages (and dogs of all ages, too) enjoying this trail.

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Make sure to bring some water and a snack because you will probably want to spend some time soaking in the sights at the top. Also, be very careful around the edges of the rock and make sure to use steady footing.

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Want to add more to your outing? You can visit the Humpback Rocks Visitor Center, located at mile marker 5.8, and the Humpback Rocks Mountain Farm buildings. During the warmer months, they often offer interpretive programs focusing on mountain crafts and farming. Visit the Blue Ridge Parkway’s website for details.

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What We Learned at This Year’s Heritage Harvest Festival

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The 8th annual Heritage Harvest Festival at Monticello was this past weekend, and it was everything I imagined and more. Josh and I had fun walking the grounds, and we learned so much at the workshops. We were some of the first festival-goers to arrive and also some of the last to leave! Over the course of the day, Josh and I split up for separate workshops (except for So You Want to Become a Beekeeper – we both took this class and learned that bees are very complex insects).

I went to The Best of Fragrance and FlavorMonticello Herbs & Their Uses, and How-To Basics of Meadow GardeningWe plan to use homegrown herbs in our cooking and also to make our own soaps for the bed and breakfast. I definitely learned about some new herbs and plants to add to my “need to plant in the garden” list. These include Queen of the Meadow (similar scent to Wintergreen), Soapwort (becomes more fragrant at dusk), and Bee Balm (a spicy aromatic that works well in tea).

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We’ve been planning to create a wildflower meadow at Ridgeside, so the How-To Basics of Meadow Gardening was great for me. I learned about natural ways of creating a meadow – just stop mowing. Easy peasy. We’ve done that to a front section of the property, and it looks pretty. You just need to mow the meadow once a year in early Spring. I also learned about enhancing meadows with perennial flowers so that the meadow is about 50% grasses and 50% flowers. Some great ideas for our future meadow include Swamp Milkweed, Purple Top Grass, Bee Balm, Goldenrod, and Shenandoah Switch Grass.

Josh attended Fruit Tree BasicsSmall-Scale Poultry Flock, and The Sustainable Farm Lifestyle. He learned about North American apple trees from expert Tom Burford, a fifth-generation grower. We have several apple trees at Ridgeside (they are maybe around 25 years old), and we want to make sure we’re caring for them the best we can! We’d also like to raise chickens, so Josh took a class about housing, pasturing, and feeding them, and he learned about different breeds of chicken such as Australorp, Buckeye, and Faverolle. In The Sustainable Farm Lifestyle workshop, he got great ideas like planting cover crops to discourage weeds and add nutrients to the soil and like how to make a natural fertilizer using compost tea.

Josh and I both love learning about gardening and farming, and we hope that things like an orchard, wildflower meadow, and chickens will make our future bed and breakfast a unique place to stay. We look forward to sharing these experiences with everyone!

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Visiting Starr Hill Brewery’s New Tasting Room

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Starr Hill is a brewery in Crozet, Virginia, located about 15 minutes from Afton, and it’s one of my favorites. They recently unveiled a brand new tasting room, so we went for a visit to check it out and sample some beer.

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Before the remodeling, Starr Hill’s tasting room had a small bar, and the space was unadorned and simple. Now, they have a larger bar with beautiful concrete counters, plus they added lots of separate tables and chairs for additional seating. The entire space is filled with strings of festive lights, and also, they’ve decorated the walls with music posters, old tap handles, and awards.

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We really enjoyed our tasting – Josh and I shared the classic and the seasonal lineups. Some of my favorites include the Dark Starr Stout, Grateful (Pale Ale), and The Love (German Hefeweizen). Josh’s favorites are Northern Lights (India Pale Ale), Jomo (Vienna Lager), and the Double Platinum (Imperial India Pale Ale). Can you tell Josh likes hoppy beers?

Visit their website for hours and event details, and weekend brewery tours are free. Cheers!

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Swimming at Sherando Lake

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What’s the perfect summer activity? Spending time at the lake! Sherando Lake is only 30 minutes from Afton, and you can take the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway for most of the drive. I know it’s not officially summer until the 21st, but it sure feels like it’s in full swing.

IMG_4624We recently went with our family for a visit to Sherando Lake and loved it. The lake is 24 acres, and there’s a sandy beach where people lineup with their blankets and umbrellas. There’s plenty of relaxing or adventure to be had. For a little exercise, we swam from the shore to a small island in the middle of the lake. So much fun! Did I mention that the lake is surrounded by beautiful mountains? It’s part of the George Washington National Forest.

IMG_4630If you’re looking for other activities besides swimming or lounging by the water, Sherando also offers fishing and boating, hiking, camping, and mountain biking. Josh has biked a few of the trails and really enjoyed it. A day pass into the park depends on the number of people per car (ranging from $4 – $8), and you can also purchase an annual pass ($30) or pay for overnight camping ($20 – $30 per night). Hope you check it out and have a wonderful time!

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