Wanderlust is defined as a strong desire to travel, but here in Virginia, we call that feeling WanderLove. As we begin to travel again, planning an epic road trip is a safe way to explore Virginia’s endless beauty, from its pristine beaches to the scenic curves of its storied mountains.
This month, we’re taking you on a road trip to find the best of Virginia’s food scene, sharing our top picks for culinary destinations and the distinctive wines, spirits, and craft beverages to pair with your foodie experiences. So crank up the music and hit the road to find your newest favorite foodie spots as you Eat.Drink.Love across the Commonwealth!
Plan a Getaway to a Virginia Foodie Destination
No matter which road you take, Virginia has so much to offer when it comes to delicious food and drinks. We’ve broken down the culinary scenes of Virginia’s most traveled regions to help you choose where to go for breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner, and dessert, as well as highlighting a few of the popular wineries, breweries, and craft cocktail bars in the areas.
Photo Credit: Sam Dean, @sdeanphotos
Southwest Virginia has become synonymous with outdoor adventure, with everything from hiking and mountain biking to hundreds of miles of mountainous ATV trails and challenging water rapids. But the area also has plenty to offer when it comes to incredible regional fare.
As this is a massive part of the Commonwealth, we’ve broken up our Southwest Virginia dining guides into Part 1 that covers destinations such as Bristol, Abingdon, Blacksburg, Galax, Floyd, and Wytheville, followed by Part 2 that highlights Tazewell, Saint Paul, Gate City, Wise, Lebanon, Norton, and Grundy.
Photo Credit: Kristina Love, @kristinalovephotography
For foodies traveling through the Virginia Mountains, heading to destinations like Roanoke, Clifton Forge, Daleville, Vinton, Rocky Mount, the Blue Ridge Parkway and Smith Mountain Lake, we’ve got a packed itinerary that includes lots of pit stops for tasty treats mixed in with outdoor adventure and must-see locations. Looking to make your culinary adventures part of a longer getaway? Plan a road trip from Roanoke to Abingdon and explore both Virginia’s Blue Ridge region and Southwest Virginia!
THE SHENANDOAH VALLEY
Photo Credit: Jumping Rocks Photography
Filled with fertile farmland that produces an array of fresh fruits, veggies, herbs, and animal products, the Shenandoah Valley is a must on any real Virginia foodie bucket list. While you’re in the area, follow our WanderLove itinerary along the Shenandoah Spirits Trail to sample some of the best wines and distilled spirits in the region.
Photo Credit: Sam Dean, @sdeanphotos
If you’re traveling along I-81, take a detour to see what Roanoke’s food scene is all about. Known as “Star City” for the iconic star structure towering above the downtown area, Roanoke has plenty of excellent dining spots and an impressive amount of craft breweries (it’s one of our top craft brewery towns in Virginia!).
Ranking 14th in the nation for restaurants per capita, Charlottesville is a foodie lover’s paradise. Use our Guide to Dining in Charlottesville to uncover the best eats in the city, from decadent dinners to local favorite barbecue and craft beer spots.
Photo Credit: Kristian Summerer
Just across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C., Alexandria and Arlington are both noteworthy destinations for dining in the Northern Virginia region. Neighborhoods like Old Town Alexandria offer dozens of restaurants, boutiques, and historic sites, all within walking distance, allowing you to take a break from the car ride and instead enjoy the area on foot.
Photo Credit: Creative Dog Media, @creativedogmedia
The wide range of restaurants, breweries, and other culinary offerings of Richmond, Virginia’s capital city, is constantly expanding, so even the locals find that their foodie checklist is never quite complete. From James Beard award-winning chefs to hidden gems tucked away in historic neighborhoods like Church Hill and The Fan, Richmond’s dining scene will have you returning to the city again and again to try out the latest and greatest spots.
It’s no surprise that Virginia Beach’s dining guide is packed with seafood, but you’ll find so much more to eat and drink in this energetic oceanside city. If catching some local art is on your agenda, check out the ViBe Creative District, where hand painted murals are found around practically every corner amid the many restaurants, bakeries, and distilleries.
Start a Bucket List for Your Favorite Culinary Creations
Photo Credit: Kent Ervin
Are you known as the barbecue pit master in your circle of friends? You’ll need to add these Virginia barbecue restaurants to your travel checklist and compare your ‘que to some of the most beloved establishments in the Commonwealth.
More of a burger lover? We’ve got you covered there, too, highlighting our picks for mouthwatering burgers throughout Virginia. Those Wanderlovers with a sweet tooth can add these spectacular bakeries to their bucket list, while the weekend road trippers will find the best brunches no matter which part of the state they visit. If you’re all about sampling the best of the best, creating a foodie bucket list for your top eats is the first step in becoming the true expert in Virginia cuisine!
Discover All There Is to Known About Virginia’s Award-Winning Wines
Virginia’s winemaking history goes back all the way to 1609, so it’s no surprise that the Commonwealth is home to some truly world-class wines. Make 2021 your year for vineyard road trips and set out to visit all of this year’s Governor’s Cup Case winners to sip on gold medal-level vinos, or plan your travel bucket list around the Virginia wine trails to taste the unique terroir found in each region, from sandy soils of the Eastern Shore and Northern Neck to the rich earth found in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Photo Credit: Sam Dean, @sdeanphotos
Some of these vineyard trails may take you on longer road trips that require an overnight stay, so why not create an ultimate wine lover’s getaway at a vineyard with on-site lodging? Additionally, some wineries go above and beyond with their vino experiences, offering activities that range from horseback riding through the grape vines to guided kayaking tours up to the docks of the estate.
Finally, nothing goes better with a glass of Virginia wine than a breathtaking view of the surrounding landscapes, so add a few of these wineries with scenic vistas to your vineyard road trip list for 2021.
Toast to Great Brews With a Beer-Centric Vacation
Photo Credit: Courtney Beazell
Like Virginia’s wines, the craft beer history in the Commonwealth spans many centuries, with the indigenous peoples experimenting with brewing using corn, berries, and other fruits to ferment into a mild beer. After brushing up on your brew history, set out on the open road to one of Virginia’s craft beer regions and spend a weekend visiting a few local breweries
(Note: When hitting up breweries, always have a designated driver or use an app-based driver service!).
Explore Virginia’s Craft Beer Regions:
- Coastal Virginia
- Central Virginia
- Northern Virginia
- Shenandoah Valley
- Southwest Virginia
- More Craft Beer Towns
For those that prefer cider over craft brews, consider heading to a nearby Virginia cidery, where you can sip on some adult apple-infused beverages.
Raise Your Spirits at These Virginia Distilleries
Photo Credit: DJ Glisson II, @fireflyimageworks
Finally, if cocktails are more suited to your tastes, you’ll want to see what Virginia’s spirits scene is all about, booking a tour and tasting at a distillery, reading all about the history of distilling in Virginia, and stocking up your bar cart with some of the best bourbon whiskeys found throughout the state.
Photo Credit: Robert Harris, @robertharris
Looking for an easy-to-follow road trip map that hits the best each region has to offer? Here are a few WanderLove itineraries to help you plan the perfect road trip:
- A Road Trip from Richmond to Danville
- A Road Trip from Williamsburg to Norfolk
- A Shenandoah Valley Road Trip from Harrisonburg to Charlottesville
- A Road Trip Along Virginia’s Blue Ridge Parkway
- A Southwest Virginia Road Trip from Roanoke to Abingdon
- A Northern Virginia Road Trip from Washington, D.C. to Culpeper
- A Coastal Road Trip from Norfolk to Virginia’s Eastern Shore
- A Road Trip from Fredericksburg to Virginia’s Northern Neck