By Savannah Behrmann, Koo Hwangbo, Juliane Kim, Sophie Reardon, Katherine Rohloff
The end of summer is nigh, but there’s still time to fit in one last adventure. Save money on air travel by packing up the car and exploring destinations brimming with rich culture and natural beauty—all within a few hours’ drive of NoVA.
Road Trips for Foodies
If you’re a foodie, hop in the car and travel to one of these nearby cities to munch on bacon, barbecue or traditional German fare and stop at other notable destinations plotted along your route. –SR
The destination: At the fourth annual BaconFest, on Aug. 6 from 10 a.m.-5 p.m., food vendors will offer a wide array of unique, bacon-infused foods, including bacon tacos, bacon hot sauce, bacon cupcakes and bacon-wrapped pork belly. Visitors can purchase Taste Ticket packages, which include either four, eight or 12 bacon food samples for $10, $15 and $20, respectively, or you can buy a general admission ticket for $5. Children under 12 are free. The festival will also have live music and face-painting, a bounce house and balloon animals for children. // Elmwood Park: 706 S. Jefferson St., Roanoke
While you’re there: Visit the Living Coral Reef Aquarium to see the largest aquarium of its kind in the mid-Atlantic region with more than 250 colorful fish; check out the Center in the Square and stop by the unique shops and markets with local produce and goods; stop by the Virginia Museum of Transportation where you can explore original trains and other automobiles; or drop into the Big Lick Brewery, Roanoke’s only nanobrewery and taproom, and pair all that bacon with a unique beer.
The destination: At Philly’s BBQ Fest, visitors will find more than 40 barbecue food vendors lining the streets of Philadelphia. The festival will also have carnival games, a rib-eating contest, live music and grilling demonstrations. Visitors can purchase a $50 half rack ticket to get 10 BBQ samples, a voucher for two tickets to a Phillies game and an apron, or they can spring for a $75 full rack ticket to get everything the half rack offers plus early entry, VIP rooftop access and an appearance by The Phillie Phanatic and 2008 World Series Champion manager Charlie Manuel, a cooking demonstration and a photo with the 2008 World Series trophy. The fest is on July 30 from noon to 6 p.m. // Citizens Bank Park: 1 Citizens Bank Way, Philadelphia
While you’re there: Visit Independence Hall to tour the landmark where the founding fathers signed the U.S. Constitution and the Declaration of Independence; explore the Please Touch Museum where you can occupy your little ones; walk through Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens to see a unique mural made of colorful mosaic tiles; or shop the Reading Terminal Market to buy local goods ranging from table linens and tea to flowers and produce.
The destination: The annual Augustoberfest on Aug. 27-28 celebrates Hagerstown’s rich German heritage with an abundance of traditional German food and drinks (think brats, beer and soft pretzels). There will also be music and events, including readings of German folktales for children and Punch and Judy puppet shows. On Saturday morning, there will be 10K and 5K walks sponsored by Healthy Eating and Active Lifestyles of Washington County. On Sunday, visitors can learn about the German auto industry at the German Car Show, which will feature Porsches, Mercedes and BMWs. // 14 N. Potomac St., Hagerstown
While you’re there: Visit Antietam Battlefield to learn about the bloodiest battle of the Civil War; spend a few hours at Hagerstown Premium Outlets to shop at the more than 100 stores; venture to the Discovery Station to teach the children about science, history and technology; browse the Pennsylvania Dutch Market to find BBQ, baked goods and hot sauces and purchase home decor; or go see the Mansion House Art Gallery to explore the Georgian-style mansion built in 1846.
Road Trips for Nature-Lovers
After being cooped up in the car for an undetermined number of hours, nature-lovers will likely want to escape into the great outdoors. Luckily, these natural havens are all within a stone’s throw of NoVA. –KH
For explorers who want to get their feet wet, this popular vacation destination is one of the largest freshwater inland lakes in Virginia. Covering over 20 square miles and with a 225-mile shoreline, Lake Anna is perfect for taking advantage of the warm summer weather and participating in seasonal activities such as swimming, sailing, boating, kayaking, wake sports, paddleboarding and jet-skiing. Lake Anna is also a great fishing location with more than 30 species in its waters, including multiple types of bass, catfish, crappie, bluegill, perch, saugeyes and hybrids. Visitors can also rough it overnight at one of the campsites or rental cabins. While you’re there, you can also stop at nearby vineyards, hiking trails, golf courses, gold-mining sites, antique shops and theme parks. Coordinate your road trip with the Lake Anna Sunset Concert Series at Anna Point Marina’s event pavilion on either Aug. 13 or Sept. 4. Southern Velocity and Burnt Orange are scheduled to perform on the two respective weekends.
For the outdoorsy people looking to get in a great workout, look no further than Old Rag. Despite being one of the most popular hiking destinations in Virginia, it’s also one of the most difficult. The summit of Old Rag boasts one of the best views in Virginia of nearly 200,000 acres of Shenandoah’s protected wilderness. While the views are breathtaking, the trail is also literally breathtaking. With a circuit hike of 9.1 miles, significant elevation changes and rock scrambles, you must be physically fit enough to conquer this hike. Those who finish this hike will be rewarded with stunning 360-degree views, the Byrd’s Nest shelter, the Balance Rock formation and interesting geology like quartz and feldspar. Along with hiking, Old Rag’s large granite exposures and splitter cracks, dihedrals and crystal-pinching slabs make it a great destination for people who enjoy rock climbing and bouldering.
Road Trips for Music Aficionados
Hit the open road this summer and stop by the best and most electrifying music hubs that will satisfy your inner fan. –KR
Carrboro, North Carolina
Cat’s Cradle: A hot spot for UNC-Chapel Hill students and the Triangle’s rich music scene, North Carolina’s Cat’s Cradle has been a fixture in Carrboro for more than 40 years. Seating up to 750 guests, it provides an intimate yet electrifying setting where local and national headlining acts such as Nirvana, John Mayer and Fun have all lit up the stage over the years. Concert ticket prices vary, but general admission is typically $17. Purchase tickets either over the phone at 919-967-9053, on the venue’s website or in person. Note that box office purchases are cash-only transactions. //300 East Main St., Carrboro
While you’re there, take a six-minute drive to one of Time‘s 10 Great American Record Shops, Schoolkids Records, to pick up vinyl and CDs spanning all genres. // 405-C W. Franklin St., Chapel Hill
Johnny Brenda’s: Johnny Brenda’s in Philadelphia has drawn national acts to its stage and fostered the city’s ever-growing, diverse music scene. Inside, its vintage aesthetic recalls that of a burlesque club, and the wraparound balcony offers a prime vantage point over the intimate music hall. Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore, Jonathan Richman, The Ting Tings and Vampire Weekend are just some of the acts who have performed here. Ticket prices will vary based on the show and can be purchased either online or by using cash at the bar. Only guests who are 21 or older will be allowed in. // 1201 N. Frankford Ave., Philadelphia
While you’re there, visit the oldest record store in Philly, Repo Records. // 538 South St., Philadelphia
Floyd Fest: Get in touch with your inner flower child and experience an eclectic assortment of music, art, workshops, nature trips and more at FloydFest 16 – Dreamweavin’. Over the course of five days, there will be more than 100 bands performing rock, traditional Appalachian and African music. Afro-pop indie group The Hip Abductors and one-time Rascal Flats opener The Show Ponies are just some of the bands who will perform on one of the nine stages. FloydFest begins Wednesday, July 27, and runs until Sunday, July 31. You can buy tickets online, and packages start at $100 based on the number of days and camping style you choose. You can lodge in local hotels, a dorm room at Ferrum College, tents, tarps and camping vehicles. Pop-up tents and any other coverings that obstruct views are not permitted.You can either bring your own food or taste the Best Festival Food as awarded by Blue Ridge Outdoors magazine. // 894 Rock Castle Gorge Road, Floyd
While you’re there, travel down to Roanoke’s The Bazaar and help support local indie record stores by purchasing from its expansive music collection. //675 Brandon Ave. SW, Roanoke, VA
Road Trips for Beer Drinkers
If you live to try new craft brews, take a quick road trip to one of these destinations where you can either sample from more than 700 recipes from breweries across the state or sip one Virginia brewery’s offerings while surrounded by a mountain vista. –SB
Spend Aug. 6 at the 757 Battle of the Beers. The event will take place from 1 to 7 p.m., allowing you to spend some time exploring the beautiful Virginia Beach area while celebrating some of the state’s finest microbreweries and indulging in a wide variety of fare from local food vendors and retail therapy at the craft booths. The participating breweries will compete on behalf of their chosen charities in three unique categories: Best IPA, Brewer’s Choice and People’s Choice. There will also be cornhole, beer pong, a silent auction and a petting zoo. // Hunt Club Farm: 2388 London Bridge Road, Virginia Beach
Devil’s Backbone Brewing Company
There isn’t a shortage of NoVA breweries to visit, but for your next road trip, escape to Devil’s Backbone’s headquarters nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains in Nelson County and taste test its assortment of brews. It has racked up a number of awards, including the 2014 Great American Beer Festival’s Mid-Size Brewing Company & Mid-Size Brew Team of the Year award and two gold medals at the World Beer Cup. To make the most of your trip, align it with one of the brewery’s frequent bike and trail runs or festivals and reserve lodging at one of the luxury mountain lodges on-site. // Basecamp Brewpub & Meadows: 200 Mosbys Run, Roseland
Venture to a Quirky Festival
Want your road trip to culminate with seeing something new and unique? Travel to these niche festivals where you will witness soaring hot air balloons or dragon boats race to the finish line. –JK
Walgreen’s Richmond International Dragon Boat Festival
The International Dragon Boat Festival is a boat race in which each vessel is decorated to look like a Chinese dragon, and there’s plenty of friendly rivalry and food and entertainment to go around. Contestants are usually local community teams, and festivalgoers often get in the spirit by dressing in colorful costumes. A beer garden will be open for adults, and hungry visitors can try any of the options at the food truck bazaar with vendors such as Dank Eats, which serves fresh pitas, and Goatocado, which whips up quinoa bowls. There will also be a Walgreens Health and Wellness village and a marketplace selling a variety of boating gear. For live entertainment, the boat races are the main attraction, but there will also be authentic Chinese cultural performances throughout the day. At the end of the races, awards will be distributed to the winning team; prizes include a gold medal and discounted entry to Walgreen’s Orlando International Dragon Boat Festival. // Rockett’s Landing: 4708 E. Old Main St., Richmond
Flying Circus AirShow Balloon Festival
The Flying Circus AirShow Balloon Festival is a high-flying hot air balloon show that will take place this August. Balloon launches will take place from 7-9 a.m. and 6-8 p.m. on both days of the festival. Balloon rides are available, but prices vary. The Flying Circus Airshow kicks off at 2:30 p.m. and costs $15 for adults 12 years and older; $13 for adults with a military ID; $7 for children ages 5-7; and free for children 5 and younger. // 5114 Ritchie Road, Bealeton