In 1969, the Virginia Tourism Corporation launched a marketing campaign with the slogan, “Virginia is for Lovers.” That iconic phrase is still very much in use. In fact it is the longest-running tourism campaign in the USA, and imaginative “LOVEworks” signs are commonly seen in towns and cities across Virginia.
In keeping with this anniversary, and Virginia Tourism Corporation’s “50 Years of Love” celebration, we offer the following “50-ish” ideas for couples who want to truly experience the romance and adventure of the Shenandoah Valley.
Hike 50 Miles in Shenandoah National Park
A 50-mile hike is not for everyone, but planning the route is a big part of the process, and Rangers at Shenandoah National Park make it easy. They have broken down a long list of hikes into “Easy, Moderate or Strenuous,” along with trail notes, entry points and mileages. With a bit of research, mapping out a long hike is not difficult. Alternatively, one could simply get on the Appalachian Trail – about 101 miles of it traverse the Park—and hike as long or as short a distance as desired.
Backcountry camping in Shenandoah National Park requires permits, and there are a number of rules you need to know, especially regarding where your campsite can be. Permits are free and can be obtained during business hours at visitor centers and entrance stations. You need to know your itinerary in order to obtain the permit. Explore these and other regulations here. NOTE: While you’re in the Park, another “50-ish” attraction is the Harry F. Byrd, Sr. Visitor Center at MP 51 on Skyline Drive. Available services include: Restrooms, information desk, exhibits, ranger programs, videos, bookstore, publications, maps, backcountry permits, and first aid. Big Meadows is across Skyline Drive from the visitor center.
Dangle 50 Feet from a Zipline
Three options can get you a rare aerial view of the Shenandoah Valley: “Mega Zip,” at Massanutten Resort’s Family Adventure Park, (left) rockets along at up to 30- mph over 800 feet.
Virginia Canopy Tours operates a zipline in Shenandoah River State Park, between Front Royal and Luray. The full package includes:
A UTV (utility task vehicle) trail ride
A sky bridge
Two nature hikes
The grand finale is an exhilarating 1,000-plus foot-long zip offering stunning views.
The Zipline Adventure at Bryce Resort criss-crosses the mountainside on 11 different lines, at over 90 feet above the ground. It takes about 90 minutes to complete (a bit longer for large groups) and is guided by two resort zipline guides. You’re advised to book early; slots sell out quickly.
Be Part of the Shenandoah Valley Music Festival
What is romance without music?
The Shenandoah Valley Music Festival has been bringing great performances to the Valley for more than 50 years. It started in the 1960s when the American Symphony Orchestra League conductors’ workshops were being held at the Orkney Springs Hotel, now the Festival’s concert venue and home to Shrine Mont, a retreat and conference center in Orkney Springs. Today, the SVMF presents eight to 10 concerts during the summer, featuring some of the best artists in country, bluegrass, pop/rock, folk, Americana and classical music. This year’s schedule includes:
July 19: The Drifters, The Platters, and Cornell Gunter’s Coasters
July 20: One Giant Leap – “The Planets” and Beyond
July 26: The Beach Boys
July 27: PSO Rocks! “Still Stardust, Still Golden – Woodstock at 50.” (A rock band backed by the Piedmont Symphony Orchestra celebrates Woodstock’s 50th anniversary.)
August 9: The Oak Ridge Boys, sponsored by Benchmark Mortgage
August 10: An Evening with Home Free, with special guest Jeffrey East
August 31: An Evening with Judy Collins
Sept. 1: Hot Strings and Cool Breezes Minifest, featuring: The Travelin’ McCourys, Sierra Hull and Justin Moses, and The Becky Buller Band
Click here for Ticket Info.
Ride Your Bike 50 Miles
The 37th Shenandoah Valley Century is September 8. Rides of 25, 50, and 100 miles are offered, with a start/end site at Oakdale Park in Bridgewater. All the routes take you through classic Valley scenery—mountain vistas, vineyards and farmland, small towns and little car traffic. Pre-registration is just $15 for members of the Shenandoah Valley Bicycle Coalition and $20 for non-members, prior to September 1. Riders can count on Route maps, SAG support and rest stops with food and beverages. For returning riders, please note the new start/end location at Oakdale Park in Bridgewater, Virginia.
Visit a Historical Site
The formal dedication of Belle Grove as a museum was 52 years ago, on August 13, 1967. This authentic 1797 Manor House near Middleton was built by Major Isaac Hite and his wife Nelly Madison Hite, sister of President James Madison. Major Hite, grandson of Shenandoah Valley pioneer Jost Hite, expanded his original 483 acres to a prosperous 7500 acre plantation, growing wheat, raising cattle and Merino sheep, and operating a large distillery and several mills. Today, guided tours of the antebellum Manor House and plantation operate from mid-March through October. You can also opt for self- guided walks through the historic landscape, gardens and picnic grove. A long list of historical seminars, Civil War events, dinners featuring period fashions, wine tastings and even concerts fills their calendar
Another historical site celebrating its 50th year is the small Woodstock Museum of Shenandoah County (540-459-5518.) Regional artifacts from a tall case clock to a moonshine still are on display, as are quilts, clothing, furniture and other reminders of the region’s past. The Museum consists of two 18th century houses located within a block of what is locally known as “The Old Shenandoah County Courthouse,” the oldest active courthouse west of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Find out about Shenandoah County’s many other attractions here.
Photo of Waynesboro LOVEworks sign courtesy Waynesboro Dept. of Tourism