What's New in Virginia for 2014

    National D-Day MemorialMill Mountain StarFort Chiswell Animal Park

    Don't miss the new destinations, major anniversaries and LOVE popping up around the Commonwealth this year.

    Here’s what tops the list for what’s new in travel for Virginia:


    NEW Experiences, Attractions and Exhibits

    The Birthplace of Country Music Museum opens August 2014 in Bristol. In association with the Smithsonian Institution, the 24,000 square-foot museum will tell the story of Bristol's musical heritage. One of the major interpretative themes will be to explain why the region historically has been — and continues today — to be a fertile breeding ground for traditional Appalachian music, including Old-Time String Band, Folk, Bluegrass, Americana, Gospel, Piedmont Blues, Country, and other musical genres.

    Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center in Virginia Beach has expanded to include a brand new Aquarium Adventure Park. The park will feature zip lines and ropes courses, and opens Summer 2014. It will be Virginia's largest aerial forest park and suitable for ages 5 and older. In addition, a Coastal Conservation Garden opens Fall 2014.

    Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk reopens after an extensive renovation and expansion, presenting a new exhibit, 70 Years of Smokey Bear, featuring pieces by Arlington, Virginia artist Rudy Wendelin.

    Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond welcomes a new exhibit, Forbidden City: Imperial Treasures From the Palace Museum, Beijing, in October 2014. The exhibit is a collection of nearly 200 objects from the Palace Museum in Beijing, China, and is an exchange allowing Virginia Museum of Fine Arts to be the first U. S. museum to exhibit at the Palace Museum.  

    Water Country USA in Williamsburg unveils a brand new thrill slide for 2014: Colossal Curl, the first family raft ride that includes riders at 48 inches tall. The slide is mostly enclosed, featuring a funnel, wave, and weightlessness experience. The slide drops 67.5 feet over the course of 552 feet.

    Busch Gardens in Williamsburg adds London Rocks as a new experience in England. Guests will enjoy a musical journey through the roots of rock-n-roll - a 25 minute experience that transforms Busch Gardens' Globe Theatre into a multi-media rock spectacular.

    Newport News has rolled out Art & Sculpture - Expressions of Creativity Driving Tour. A map outlines 25 works of art, and a cell phone audio tour is available for 13 of the 25 pieces. Download the map

    Shenandoah Valley Kids Trail will be a #bucketlist of fun for kids traveling through the Shenandoah Valley. Trail opening is expected in Spring 2014.

    Hotel Floyd has doubled in size after completion of a new wing, which is expected to open Spring 2014. Built in 2007 employing the latest green technologies, along with sustainable building materials and furnishings, Hotel Floyd is a designated “Virginia Green Lodging” establishment

    Mill Creek Nature Park in the Giles County town of Narrows is opening a town park along a native trout stream and cascading waterfalls. Two miles of challenging mountain bike trails connect with 16 miles of national forest biking and hiking trails as well as the famed Appalachian Trail.


    Major Anniversaries and Annual Events

    Fort Chiswell Animal Park, on August 13, is celebrating 10 years of providing sanctuary for more than 200 exotic animals, including the Scimitar Horned Oryx – considered extinct in the wild – as well as the endangered African Crowned Crane, Bactrian Camel, Blackbuck, and Eland Antelope. With its safari bus tours, petting zoo, and free-ranging pygmy goats, the Fort Chiswell farm is considered Virginia’s most interactive zoo.

    Expect to see more than 20 bird species pass through Chincoteague by the thousands during the 20th annual International Migratory Bird Celebration in May. The Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge is a key migration stop along the Atlantic Flyway.

    Legend Brewing Co. has been serving up homemade lagers and ales for 20 years as of January 2014, making it Central Virginia's oldest microbrewery. 

    To celebrate Kings Dominion's 40th anniversary the iconic "Singing Mushrooms" are returning, complete with the four original mushrooms and infamous frog. Additional anniversary celebrations and specials are expected. April 5th is opening day!

    The famed Carter Family Fold celebrates 40 years of old time and bluegrass music weekend performances. Operating as a non-profit since 1974, the center was formally established in 1979 for the purpose of promoting old time music and paying tribute to the original Carter Family (A.P. Carter, Sara Carter and Maybelle Carter).

    Virginia adopted the most popular of state shells, the eastern oyster,Crassostrea virginica, as the Commonwealth’s official state shell in 1974 (40 years). The shell represents Virginia’s oyster beds in the Chesapeake Bay.

    The Virginia is for Lovers slogan, perhaps the most iconic state ad campaign, is 45 years old. Martin and Woltz ad agency created the slogan in 1969; since then Virginia has become the 8th most popular tourist destination state.

     Bedford D-Day Memorial celebrates the 70th anniversary of that June 6, 1944 event, marking the beginning of the end of World War II and Nazi tyranny in Europe. On that day, Allied forces stormed the beaches of Normandy, France, the 9,000 Allied casualties included the deaths of 19 Bedford men, a larger loss per capita than at any other U.S. community. Bedford’s National D-Day Memorial honors the Allied forces participating in D-Day with dramatic statuary, tours and exhibits.

    Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, designated “one of seven engineering wonders of the world,” on its April 1964 opening, celebrates a 50th birthday. The 18-mile Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel spans the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, connecting Cape Charles with Norfolk. It carries US Route 13 through two mile-long tunnels, over two high bridges, and across four manmade islands. Nature lovers can stop for bird-watching and pier fishing on Seagull Island and eat at the Chesapeake Grill.

    Cape Henry Lighthouse, Virginia Beach (50 years) was designated a National Historic Landmark on January 29, 1964, and is one of the nation’s oldest lighthouses. Authorized by George Washington, the creation of the 1792 octagonal lighthouse was one of the first acts of the newly formed U.S. government. Because it’s located inside Fort Story, visitors must show a government-issued ID.

    Brown v. Board of Education celebrates 60 years. A student-led strike at Farmville’s all-black R.R. Moton School played a significant role in ending segregated schools throughout the nation. The leaky, cold, overcrowded school made getting an education difficult, so in 1951, students staged a walkout demanding a better school. The NAACP took up their case when the students agreed equity would be best served with an integrated school. The resulting court case won in the Supreme Court through Brown v. Board of Education three years later.

    Roanoke Mill Mountain Star (65 years) was erected in 1949 as a symbol of the progressive spirit of Roanoke, the “Star City of the South.” A visit during the daytime yields a sweeping view and access to Mill Mountain Zoo. From twilight until midnight, visitors enjoy the illumination of 2,000 feet of red, white, and blue neon tubing on the 6-story star.

    Thomas Woodrow Wilson, 28th president, died 90 years ago, February 3, 1924. A visit to Woodrow Wilson Library and Museum in Staunton includes tours of the president’s birthplace and the museum that tells the story of his post WWI peacekeeping work.

    The Battles of Totopotomoy Creek and Cold Harbor were fought from late May to early June of 1864, and were key battles of the Overland Campaign, an effort led by Union Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant to cut off and defeat the army of Gen. Robert E. Lee. Attend the Sesquicentennial (150th) Commemoration of the 1864 Battles of Totopotomoy Creek and Cold Harbor May 30-June 3, 2014.

    Arlington House, the Robert E. Lee Memorial (150 years) and a national cemetery since June 15, 1864.  This 1818 house beside Arlington National Cemetery was home to the most famous Confederate general, and built by Lee’s father-in-law, George Washington Parke Custis,  who was George Washington’s step-grandson.

    Patrick Henry’s 215th death anniversary June 6, 1799, will be observed at Red Hill Patrick Henry National Memorial, Henry’s last home and burial place. The museum houses the world’s largest collection of Patrick Henry memorabilia, including the Rothermel painting of Henry declaring his opposition to the king’s Stamp Act of 1765.  Henry’s life is also celebrated at his Scotchtown estate north of Richmond, where he formulated his famous “Liberty or Death” speech in 1775.

    2014 marks the 400th anniversary of the marriage of John Rolfe and Pocahontas. Celebrate on April 5th at the site of the union, Historic Jamestowne.


    NEW Wines, Brews and Spirits

    Wine in Virginia continues to make headlines and win coveted national and world ribbons. At least 25 new wineries are expected to open in 2014, driving the count of Virginia wineries to around 250. 

Last Updated: 12/18/2014 8:57 AM
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