15 MAY 2019: Virginia Tourism’s, Brigitte ‘Bri’ Belanger-Warner was in Toronto last week with a quintet of representatives from some of the top tourism areas to get us up to speed with what’s happening in the state and to celebrate the 50th - yes – 50th - anniversary of the iconic slogan “Virginia is for Lovers.” And, she was quick to note Virginia is for lovers of many things - beaches, craft beer, wine (which was there for the sampling), the food (the oysters, which I know from personal experience are decidedly lovable) the history, the incredible mountains and landscape, the music – all kinds – rap, soul, rock, hip hop and of course country – and that’s just for starters.

Over 400,000 Canadians visit Virginia each year – it’s easily accessible - both Dulles International and Ronald Reagan International airports, which are often thought of as being in Washington DC ,are in fact in Virginia. It is also just an 8 to 10 hour drive from Toronto.

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Lexington, Buena Vista and Rockbridge County

Lexington, Buena Vista and Rockbridge County are conveniently located in the Shenandoah Valley, in the western foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, easily accessible and within a day’s drive of the Canadian border. Patty Williams, from the Lexington and Rockbridge Area, says outdoor adventure is popular with hikers, cyclists, fly fishermen, kayakers, and riding the rapids of the Upper James River Water Trail is very popular.

“Farm-to-table” is more than a culinary buzzword in Lexington. Restaurant menus change weekly based on what’s newly available. Savory meats, cheeses and grains are sourced regularly from Shenandoah Valley farms and mills, and chefs use a variety of produce picked fresh daily from the local farmers’ gardens.

And then there is America’s “Most Popular Scenic Drive,” the Blue Ridge Parkway, boasting rugged mountains and unbelievable views. Been there. Love that.

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Hampton

Ryan Downey told us that in August this year, Hampton will commemorate the first landing of Africans in the English Colonies in 1619, which took place at Old Point Comfort, on Fort Monroe National Monument. A new Visitor & Education Center at Fort Monroe is planned to open around this time.

The Virginia Air and Space Center is a museum and educational facility in Hampton, that also serves as the visitors’ center for NASA's Langley Research Center and Langley Air Force Base. The museum also features an IMAX digital theatre.

Thirsty? The city has six craft breweries where you can try the local libations. Prefer cider? That’s available too. Cheers!

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Norfolk

Sarah Hughes told us that Norfolk is a popular convention city where no car is needed to get around. You can walk everywhere, or bike, or use the light rail service. Situated on Chesapeake Bay, the city has a thriving arts community with sculpture, studios, galleries and murals. The Chrysler Museum of Art showcases a vast collection of glass art, plus European and American paintings. Norfolk offers a number of festivals including a wine festival in May and October, Norfolk Harborfest a perfect time to see the tall ships and the Norfolk Jazz festival.

Norfolk’s a foodie town, boasting over 100 chef-owned restaurants, ranging in flavors from traditional seafood to a wide range of international offerings. In June, The Bayou Boogaloo brings a taste of Louisiana to Norfolk with more than 8,000 pounds of Cajun crawfish, along with po’ boys, alligator sausages and beignets. Bon Appetit!

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Fairfax

Visit Fairfax’s Ali Morris tells us there is lots to enjoy in the county, including The St. James, a brand new mega sports complex in Springfield, VA, the first of its kind along the East Coast. The complex offers the most comprehensive combination of sports and wellness venues and programming, lifestyle amenities and family-centered active entertainment. George Washington’s Mount Vernon’s new (and award-winning) first-person interactive experience “Be Washington,” is a must.

The Workhouse Arts Center, once a DC prison recently opened the Lucy Burns Museum building, which will tell the women’s suffrage story. The museum will open with exhibits in the Summer of 2019. Special events will be planned during the Women’s Suffrage Centennial in 2020.

The Winery at Bull Run offers a front-row seat to Virginia winemaking. Falls Church Distillers produces a range of small batch ultra-premium spirits including vodkas, gins, rums, and whiskies. They boast a full bar and restaurant in the middle of their premises, offering not just food but a large selection of beer and wine, plus bottle purchases.

The redevelopment of Herndon’s downtown area and the transformation of Tysons into “America’s Next Great City” are part of a revitalization project. Herndon will be adding 17,600-sq-ft of mixed-use retail and apartment space, an 18,000-sq-ft Arts Center, and additional connections to the Washington & Old Dominion hiking/biking trail to its downtown area. In Tysons, a new city is being built from the ground up
The BORO, a multi-use urban center, will feature a 15- screen ShowPlace Icon theater, an urban park to host concerts, movies and festivals, and one of the largest Whole Foods Markets in the US.

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Virginia Beach

On the oceanfront at Chesapeake Bay, Virginia Beach is home to beautiful beaches, rich history, a variety of arts and entertainment, delicious food and family-friendly attractions, and a number of festivals.

The Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel is one of the Seven Engineering Wonders of the Modern World, says Erin Goldmeier, and watching a video on YouTube later I can see why.

Goldmeier is enthusiastic about all there is to do and the many attractions of Virginia Beach - from exploring the Cape Henry Lighthouse, the beaches, kayaking with the dolphins, the Virginia Aquarium, the Vibe Creative District, the museums, the State Parks and, of course, the local cuisine. She extols the virtues of Lynnhaven oysters, She-Crab soup, Chesapeake Bay Blue Crab and the local breweries and distilleries.

And this year Grammy-winning superstar Pharrell, decided to give back to his hometown Virginia Beach, launching a new music and culture festival, ‘Something in the Water’.

"Virginians are taste-makers," said Pharrell, in an interview, naming famous Virginians, from Ella Fitzgerald to Allen Iverson to Missy Elliott.

"Virginia has been home to some of the most gifted artists, athletes, and scientists to ever live. And it makes sense — the people of Virginia are one-of-a-kind: uniquely gritty, bold, and brilliant."

https://www.virginia.org/Canada

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Jen Savedra

Jen Savedra is the founder and editor of Travel Industry Today with  a long career and considerable experience in various sectors of travel and tourism. She is dedicated to producing a publication that differentiates itself from the pack. One that pulls no punches, and - along with being a forum for news and ideas - is easy to navigate and always fun to read.

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