We just got back from a relaxing weekend with friends in the mountains in Southwest Virginia. It’s a place where the highway winds through the mountains, the rivers are wide, and the towns are small. Lately I’ve been spending more time in this part of the state, and I’ve come to appreciate many of the special things this quieter part of Virginia has to offer. There are plenty of outdoor options, like hiking, biking and water activities, especially during the warmer months, along with the opportunity to experience small town charm and home grown music. So next time you are heading west on Interstate 81 in Virginia, take some time to check out these 5 cool things along the way.
Virginia may not rank as one of the largest in square miles, but the geographic diversity across the state always surprises me. Over the past few years, I’ve found myself spending more time in Southwestern Virginia, a part of the state which I had explored sporadically over the years. What had I been waiting for? The mountain views are spectacular, and the opportunities for outdoor adventures plentiful. Last spring, I was lucky to discover a small slice of the New River Trail, not far off Interstate 81 in Hiwassee. It’s part of New River Trail State Park, which is a unique linear park running parallel to the New River for almost 40 miles. Fall is the perfect time to head to southwestern Virginia and checkout New River Trail State Park for yourself, and here are 3 fun things to do when you get there.
As 2016 rolls around, I’ve been reading a lot on social media about the 100th birthday of the National Park Service, and more specifically the Find Your Park initiative. According to the National Park Service, the campaign is not only about national parks, but “state parks, local parks, trails, museums, historic sites and the many ways that the American public can connect with history and culture, enjoy nature, and make new discoveries.” As a family, we have visited many of the top parks, and still have quite a few on our list. Now more than ever is a great time to plan a trip to one of these magical places, whether it’s a weekend trip to a nearby park, or a week long vacation halfway across the country. This article is the first of several that I’m going to post throughout the year, highlighting parks big and small throughout the US, in the hopes of inspiring readers to get out and explore.
Imagine spending the day on an island that is home to plant and animal species found nowhere else in the world. You’re probably thinking you have to travel to the Galapagos Islands in South America, right? But did you know that the Channel Islands off the coast of California are home to 145 unique animal and plant species? Thousands of years of isolation have created this amazing natural environment, and in 1980, five of the eight Channel Islands (Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, Anacapa, Santa Rosa and San Miguel) were designated as the Channel Islands National Park.
Now that winter has officially begun, my family has been thinking about planning a weekend ski trip. Luckily around the mid-Atlantic region there are many options within a 3-4 hour drive. Here are five popular places to visit once winter is in full force and the snow really starts to fall.
This post was updated May, 2016. Camping is truly a great family bonding experience, and each season offers a different opportunity to experience nature. Some people prefer the fall season, with cooler weather, no bugs, and the changing of the leaves. Others like summer, especially when camping near a river or lake. Whatever the season, here are 5 popular campgrounds in Virginia and West Virginia, each with something unique to offer. I also share tips and resources to help you find your ideal campsite in locations throughout the US.
Who would have guessed that the highlight of my summer was zip lining almost half a mile across a valley about 275 feet above the ground with nothing but air and mountain views around me. This is probably one of the most fun family outings we have taken on vacation, and I would highly recommend adding this to a family bucket list. We were at Wears Valley Zipline Adventures in the mountains of Tennessee not too far from Pigeon Forge and the Great Smoky Mountains. The original course has 4 lines that run over 3100 feet, and for many people, that is plenty. But it is the last 3 lines they recently added that are the most amazing, with some of the longest and highest in the region. Also, the guides were super friendly and helpful, and always there with encouraging words, especially for those of us who had never zip lined before. You can purchase a combo ticket which also included whitewater rafting, which we also did the day prior to zip lining. Tickets are a bit pricey but it was definitely worth it for creating some wonderful family memories.
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