|Where in the World - Virginia Breezin'|
Virginia Beach, Virginia
One destination, one easy drive from Richmond, and three different beach experiences. What’s not to love about Virginia Beach? I admit it – this nearby beach had dropped from my radar until recently. I went there for the 2014 Shamrock Marathon, one of the area’s many successful racing events, and I saw the destination with fresh eyes.
If you’re like me, your first image of Virginia Beach is the resort area. The beautifully maintained boardwalk stretches for three miles, providing one pathway for strolling or jogging and another for biking or rollerblading. On one side of the boardwalk lie the Atlantic Ocean and the wide, sandy, lifeguard-patrolled beach. On the other side, you find plenty of top-notch hotel accommodations, a variety of restaurants and lots of shops.
Several miles south of the resort is the laid-back Sandbridge neighborhood. At Sandbridge, you can play along the five miles of sand dunes and dancing sea oats and lifeguard-patrolled beaches, visit the natural wonders of Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge and False Cape State Park, and relax in rental beach homes.
North of the resort lie the quieter waters of the Chesapeake Bay, gentle waves splashing on the shoreline. Here, you can visit First Landing State Park and romp on the beach or explore its lagoons, cypress trees and rare plants, or paddle the region’s backwaters.
One cuisine, and one cuisine only, pervades my thoughts at the beach: seafood, of course. And since I like to know where my food comes from and I love to enjoy it fresh, I was thrilled to take the oyster farm tour with Pleasure House Oysters.
This boat tour along the Lynnhaven River gave me an enjoyable education into the farming of one of my favorite delicacies. Not only did the guide explain the process of growing and harvesting oysters, we even stopped at one of the oyster beds and waded through the fields of mollusks. Better yet – we tried oysters fresh from the riverbed. And even better – the guide also served us oysters from other regions so we could viscerally understand how the source affects the end product.
Oh, and as if it could get any better, we also had a charcuterie plate and a bottle of Virginia wine!
Taste the World - Treat Yourself - Sample the Spirits!
With more than 250 restaurants, Ann Arbor, Michigan, will satiate your hunger. If it’s ethnic cuisine you’re craving, you’ll find that here. Farm to table? You bet. Culinary pop history? Yep. Craft beer, wine and fine spirits? Plenty of that. Vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options? At nearly every restaurant.
Fun for All in Branson, Missouri
A family vacation that can keep three generations happy – is that mission impossible? Not in Branson, Missouri! With its blend of shows, shopping, natural beauty and clean family fun, Branson will please everyone.
For the perfect overview of the Branson area, including the Ozark Mountains and Table Rock Lake, Ride the Ducks! Strap on your unique duckbill quacker (provided, but purely optional) and prepare to be entertained by their hilarious-showman-trained-as-Coast-Guard-captain for a ride in an amphibious World War II DUKH-inspired truck. The tour includes a turn on the lake, with a splashdown from dry land to water and chances for passengers to pilot the duck while afloat. Branson.
If your family schedules only one Branson destination on the itinerary, Silver Dollar City would be it – plenty of amusement park rides, 40 live shows, more than 100 working artisans, festivals, restaurants, activities and classes, all in a wooded setting. Families can stick together or find their own favorite fun.
Review: Like a Cookbook & Travel Guide, Too
The star of the meal was the Thalhimers deviled crab: chunks of fresh crabmeat blended with the perfect touch of spice, inspired by Richmond’s legendary department store of yesteryear. The shellfish was accompanied by tomato pudding (once a stalwart dish on my Grandmother Tobey’s Virginia table), fresh roasted asparagus, and balsamic strawberries with fresh mint. Starr Hill King of Hop Imperial IPA paired perfectly with the spice of the entrée and with its partners.
We completed our Virginia-inspired meal with a Wakefield classic: peanut butter silk pie, recipe from the Virginia Diner, the restaurant that has been part of the Suffolk landscape since 1929. The dessert was, as the name promised, silky smooth, a perfect blend of rich, sweet goodness.
Though each dish was inspired by the foodways of the commonwealth, the final products came from my own kitchen, guided by recipes in Dishing Up® Virginia: 145 Recipes That Celebrate Colonial Traditions and Contemporary Flavors. The author, Patrick Evans-Hylton, is a food journalist, professionally trained chef, instructor, historian and executive editor of Virginia Wine Lover magazine. His passion for and knowledge of Virginia and her food, history and people permeate the book.
A family vacation that can keep three generations happy – is that mission impossible? Not in Branson, Missouri!
With its blend of shows, shopping, natural beauty and clean family fun, Branson will please everyone.
Fun for All
For the perfect overview of the Branson area, including the Ozark Mountains and Table Rock Lake, Ride the Ducks! Strap on your unique duckbill quacker (provided, but purely optional) and prepare to be entertained by their hilarious-showman-trained-as-Coast-Guard-captain for a ride in an amphibious World War II DUKH-inspired truck. The tour includes a turn on the lake, with a splashdown from dry land to water and chances for passengers to pilot the duck while afloat.