Meet one family creating lifelong memories as they capture their Virginia LOVEworks travels on Instagram.
Known affectionately by friends and family as the “FloYos,” the Flowers-Yost family, comprised of Mandi and Matthew, their daughters Lili and Savannah, and their dog Zoe Jane, takes every opportunity to travel to Virginia’s more than 100 giant LOVE signs, dubbed “LOVEworks.”
The fun first began when the FloYos traveled home from a family vacation. They stopped at a rest area and saw their first LOVE sign, and the rest was history. Their Instagram page boasts more than 300 posts of LOVEworks – which, according to Mandi, has been the best way to document their journey and “a great way to share the love with others.”
Mandi acts as the primary photographer, though occasionally, 8-year-old Savannah takes over. Their eldest, Lili, is a senior at college, and prefers being behind the camera to capture the family moments. The FloYos enjoy building trips around their LOVEworks destinations, finding plenty of other spots to see while in the area thanks in part to social media.
“I use the location of the town and search TripAdvisor for things to do, and then I also hashtag the area on Instagram to see what the locals see,” Mandi says. “We usually find a local place nearby to eat and also seek out any roadside America attractions nearby – you’d be surprised how many there are!”
Other stops include museums and forts for a dose of Virginia history. When Mandi and Matt travel solo, they also enjoy trying out the numerous local wineries and breweries. One of Mandi’s favorite areas to visit is the NEON arts district in Norfolk, with “absolutely amazing” street art and murals.
With 75 locations now checked off the list, it’s difficult for the FloYos to narrow down their list of favorites, as each has its own unique charms. But Mandi’s favorite LOVEwork is located at Airlie in Warrenton, as it was one of the first they encountered and uniquely offers visitors a chance to impart some love of their own.
“We put our first lovelock of our marriage on the sign at Airlie,” she says. “The sign is so picturesque and the grounds are simply beautiful. It just has an all-around good vibe, and is so tranquil and relaxing to visit.”
Their second favorite LOVEwork destination is the Virginia Beach area. "I love the fact that there was so much art to be seen! There were several love signs, [and] the street art and murals are absolutely amazing … I have seen the newest LOVEwork recently unveiled there [in the ViBe Creative District] by a local artist, and we can’t wait to get back to visit and check that one out!”
The FloYos know Virginia offers something for everyone and appreciate all the state does to promote inclusivity. From wineries, breweries, art districts and music festivals, to small historic towns, family activities and outdoor recreation, friends and family will always find ways to enjoy quality time together.
“Virginia holds true to their slogan [Virginia is for Lovers],” Mandi says. “Whether it’s music, wine, love, beer, art or something else, there is nothing not to love!”
Mandi and Matt hope Virginia continues to add LOVEworks to every town so they always have one more reason to visit. For them, it’s important to keep creating and sharing the love, because “you never know who you will inspire to get out and see the state.” They have made friends with other Instagram users and families who share and support each other’s LOVEwork adventures.
While the trips are fun and educational, they’re ultimately about making memories. Mandi didn’t get to see much of the country when she was a child, so it’s important that their daughters see the beauty of nature, experience history, and see and appreciate the beauty of art.
“The most important thing we want to teach our beautiful daughters is that there is so much more to life than ‘stuff.’ We would rather collect memories than things," Mandi says. "Spending time together and creating memories is at the top of our priority list, and we hope that they share that with their families someday.”