What's New in Group Travel
Phase II of the Silver Line Metrorail extension is estimated to open in July 2021. This extension will finally connect Washington Dulles International Airport and several new stations in Herndon and Reston with the existing Washington Metrorail service, which feeds Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia.
Coming in 2022 or later: Virginia voters approved casinos in 4 Virginia locations – Bristol (Hard Rock), Danville (Caesars), Portsmouth and Norfolk.
Keswick Hall is slated to re-open in the spring of 2021 after a multi-year renovation/expansion and will offer visitors a premier luxury experience just minutes from downtown Charlottesville. Keswick Hall will now feature 80 luxurious guest rooms and suites, a new spa, and new signature restaurant run by famed chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten. The resort will still feature its renowned Full Cry golf course, designed by Pete Dye.
Pedestrians and bicyclists can now explore the Crozet Tunnel Greenway trail that passes through the restored railroad tunnel, which lies over 700 feet below the Blue Ridge Mountains at Rockfish Gap. The nearly mile-long tunnel was constructed between 1849 and 1859.
Located at the footsteps of the University of Virginia, is the Oakhurst Inn. Featuring 35 guest rooms and suites across several buildings, an outdoor saltwater pool, the Chateau Lobby Bar, the Oakhurst Inn Cafe, the Oak Room and a complimentary of services, the Oakhurst Inn offers guests both group room blocks and hotel buyouts.
Seaquestis one of only 10 locations in the US, the new attraction brings the majestic wonders of our planet, ranging from rainforests and deserts to exotic marine life, to Lynchburg. Age-specific Field Trip adventures and Science Labs are available for student groups.
TRU by Hilton opened in Lynchburg in December 2020 at the junction of US-460 and BUS-29, minutes away from the regional airport, Liberty University, and downtown Lynchburg.
The Kirkley Hotel, Trademark Collection by Wyndham in Lynchburg has completed a multi- year renovation of its 163-room property, upgrading its rooms, facade and restaurant.
The Moxy Hotel, located in downtown Richmond, is set to open at the end of 2021.
The Richmond Marriott Downtown completed a multi-million-dollar renovation project in December 2020. All 410 rooms received a makeover, along with the lobby and hotel restaurant.
The Fall Line Trailis a paved, multi-use trail spanning approximately 43 miles between Ashland and Petersburg. While the Trail will take years to fully build out and complete, the northern section (Ashland Trolley Line) is near completion as of the end of 2020.
The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond will exhibit Virginia Arcadia: The Natural Bridge in American Art, an exploration of the artistic portrayal of this spectacular natural landmark through more than 60 paintings, prints, decorative art objects and photographs made between the late 1700s and the early 1900s. The exhibition, free to visitors, will be on view from February 6 to August 1, 2021.
One of Virginia’s beloved coastal resorts, The Tides Inn, received a new look and restaurant. The new coastal eatery called Fish Hawk features outdoor oyster roasting, a raw bar and various seafood classics. Also, new in 2020, Duffy Electric Boats can be rented.
COASTAL VIRGINIA/HAMPTON ROADS/EASTERN SHORE
After completing a multi-million-dollar renovation, the Landing at Hampton Marina, Tapestry Collection by Hilton (formerly Crown Plaza and Hampton Marina Hotel) opens January 2021 and features 173 guest rooms and suites. The site will also feature Topsail for marina dining and Copper Barley Spirit Bar, highlighting Virginia-based spirits and breweries.
1865 Brewing Company, the first Black-owned brewery in Hampton Roads, will open January 2021. 1865 Brewing Co. is a micro-brewery with beers that will have clean crisp flavors that are not overly bitter and will be a broad range of styles to include recipes with coffee and CBD. The brewery will also feature a line of non-alcoholic drinks with a focus on “wellness” that incorporates probiotics and herbal supplements. It will also offer a full-service espresso bar and an assortment of pastries from a local Top Dessert Chef.
The new Glass Light Hotel & Gallery, Marriott Autograph Collection, will be opening the Art Gallery portion of their venue in March 2021. The 1912 historic boutique hotel features 113 guest rooms and intimate meeting and event spaces. Located in downtown Norfolk, it will be accessible both from the hotel itself and from historic Granby Street. Visitors can enjoy pieces by world renowned artists such as Peter Bremers and Lino Tagliapietra.
The Norfolk Botanical Garden will be hosting the return of LanternAsia in April 2021 – art by day and magic by night with a FantaSea theme, where the world of fantasy collides with the enchantment of the sea. The exhibit of larger-than-life Chinese lanterns will be showcased throughout the garden’s 175-acres where guests can experience larger than life sea creatures, butterflies, a mystical tree, a walk-thru shark tunnel and more.
VisitNorfolk is working closely with community partners to revamp the self-guided Waterways to Freedom Tour in 2021 to include an in-depth look at Norfolk’s Black stories and cultural sites like our Underground Railroad Network locations and the Attucks Theatre, the oldest remaining legitimate theater in the nation to be completely financed, designed, constructed and operated by African Americans.
Samuel D. Outlaw Blacksmith Shop and Memorial Museum, a rare, completely intact blacksmith shop opened as a museum and community gathering place that will promote awareness of the contributions of African Americans to the region. In 1927, he built his industrial shop on Boundary Avenue, serving watermen, farmers, neighbors and friends from 1927 until 1991. Tours and school groups are welcome by appointment.
The 85,000 square foot Apex Entertainment Virginia Beach opened in December 2020 and offers 24 lanes of bowling, VR experiences, a 95+ game arcade room, mini golf, three escape rooms, go kart track, ropes course, axe throwing, a two story American cuisine restaurant and event space.
After a $25 million renovation and expansion, the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center in Virginia Beach is set to open a new addition and exhibits, a new entrance and a pedestrian bridge to a parking deck on Memorial Day weekend 2021.
The Marriott Oceanfront Hotelopened May 2020. The 24-story, 305 guest room property has 11 meeting rooms with over 25,000 square feet of flexible space including an oceanfront terrace off the 10,000 square-foot ballroom.
Delta by Marriott, Virginia Bayfront Suites, is also opening February 2021. The all-suites property has 292 rooms along the Chesapeake Bay and offers over 13,000 square feet of meeting space.
New and renovated hotels in Virginia Beach opening in late 2020 and in 2021 include:
- Fairfield Inn Town Center
- Homewood Suites by Hilton
- Home2Suites by Hilton
- Hyatt Place Oceanfront
- Embassy Suites Hotel at Cavalier Oceanfront Resort
- Moxy by Marriott
Busch Gardens'newest coaster, Pantheon, will be opening in 2021. The coaster will be the fastest multi-launch roller coaster in the United States and will reach a top speed of 72 mph and features a 95-degree drop.
The newest installation in Alexandria’s Site See temporary public art installation series will debut in March 2021 and remain on display until November 2021. Groundswell, by Brooklyn-based artist Mark Reigelman, introduces an element of play to the Potomac River’s changing shoreline with an immersive ecosystem of 130 raw wood pilings topped with etched blue mirrors that shimmer like water.
Expanding upon new Black history experiences launched in 2020, Alexandria will launch a new Civil Rights-themed self-guided tour and coinciding digital content in spring or summer of 2021. Additionally, the Office of Historic Alexandria is planning the reopening of Freedom House Museum, located at the site of the 19th-century Franklin & Armfield slave trading firm.
The Sheraton Suites Old Town Alexandria will unveil an extensive multimillion-dollar renovation in 2021. The renovation will include enhanced landscaping, a refreshed lobby with booths as well as an elevated bar and coffee experience, revamped meeting spaces with tech-enabled studios, mobile food orders and new design elements, and an expanded fitness center.
Arlington unveiled a new monument honoring military servicewomen called “The Pledge,” located at the entrance to the Women in Military Service to America Memorial at the cemetery entrance.
The Arlington House, the Robert E. Lee Memorial on the grounds of Arlington National Cemetery will reopen in spring 2021 after a multimillion-dollar renovation to restore to its original 1860 appearance.
The Turning Point Suffragist Memorialwill unveil the long-awaited national memorial to the women’s suffrage movement in spring 2021. After construction delays due to COVID-19, the final stages of the project are moving forward and the site will be a welcome addition to area, which also is home to the new Lucy Burns Museum at the Workhouse Arts Center – a pivotal location in the fight for women’s voting rights and the passage of the 19th Amendment.
National Museum of the United States Army opened November 11, 2020 (now temporarily closed due to COVID) is located in southern Fairfax County, adjacent to Fort Belvoir, and is the first and only museum to tell the 245-year history of the U.S. Army in its entirety. The 185,000-square-foot state-of-the-art museum is a technological marvel incorporating the latest advances in museum exhibits while providing advanced educational opportunities. Admission is free (timed tickets required). The museum includes meeting and event spaces, performance venues and more.
The Capital One Center, Capital One’s sprawling headquarters complex, will debut in 2021 as a new mixed-use entertainment epicenter in Tysons, featuring a hotel, performing arts venue, retail, and a 1.2-acre skypark that brings green space, a biergarten, dog park, public art, and a pop-up food truck experience (yes, they will be craning the trucks up!) to the area. Capital One Hall, a 1,600-seat performing arts center and 300 seat black box theater, will also be available for groups as well as hosting its own events throughout the year. The complex is also Metro accessible. Anticipated timeline is summer into fall 2021. The Watermark Hotel is expected to open fall of 2021.
The Archer Hotel Tysons will open in the summer of 2021 with seven stories, 178 rooms, polished event spaces and a rooftop terrace. The brand brings an independent spirit, sense of sophistication and consummate hospitality to the area.
The Sheraton Reston closed to guests temporarily in September to move ahead with an ambitious renovation schedule. The hotel has completed a top-to-bottom overhaul of its guest rooms, unveiling a new subtle and modern design. The hotel will now continue renovations on its meeting space, public areas, and restaurant/lounge before re-opening to the public in April of 2021.
Woodlawn Press Winery is a new family-owned micro-winery in the southern part of Fairfax County that makes and bottles its own varietals and fruit wines. They offer a variety of custom blends, pre-packaged Tasting Flights, and additional treats like vinegar, olive oils, chocolates, and honey in their shop. They also host classes and tastings and other events throughout the year.
ShipGarten will be Northern Virginia’s first roaming outdoor lifestyle experience located in Tysons, features four separate food and drink experiences, each being served up out of a 40-foot shipping container surrounded by a quintessential biergarten, family area, fenced-in dog park, and entertainment venue.
Herndon Biergarten, opening in late 2021, will feature a 2,000-sq-ft bier hall, 60+ drafts on tap, an 11,000-sq-ft outdoor patio and a rooftop deck – plus an extensive whiskey tasting menu.
Hotel Fredericksburg in Washington Square in Downtown Fredericksburg will be a 99-room hotel and meeting space.
Renovation plans are under way for Clarion Hotel & Suites Conference Center, formerly the Fredericksburg Hospitality House.
Spotsylvania County will see two new hotels in 2021: Home2Suites by Hilton and a Tru by Hilton will open in Thornburg in March 2021 at Exit 118 in front of Dominion Raceway.
Lansdowne Resort & Spa recently renovated its ballroom and all meeting spaces to a contemporary, upscale design. Lansdowne also opened its brand-new Harmony Market in the lobby, which will serve as a Lavazza coffeeshop and in-house market for guests.
Loudoun County will welcome a new TRU by Hilton in Ashburn, set to open July 2021 and Aloft Dulles Airport North is undergoing a full renovation, set to be complete in April 2021.
Prince William County
Rosie’s Gaming Emporium in Dumfries will open January 2021 and brings an array of games including historic horse races, electronic devices, jackpots and more.
Bel Air 1740, an exquisite 25-acre colonial plantation in Woodbridge, will open in June 2021 and feature rolling fields, spacious gardens, wooded areas and manor house available for receptions, photos and ceremonies.
A new Hilton Garden Inn will be opening in Haymarket across from the town hall in August 2021.
The Winery & Brewery at Sunshine Ridge Farm in Gainesville will open February 2021. This picturesque 40-acre farm winery & brewery sits on the banks of Lake Manassas and offers guests a variety of craft Virginia wine, beer and eventually mead.
The Black Sheep | Whiskey + Wine + Noshery (Located on Farm Brew Live’s campus) is a spectacular, two-story, historic dairy barn with exposed-beam vaulted ceilings and terrace. The vintage barn features a dedicated arts and entertainment space as well as private dining rooms in the lower level barrel-aging quarters. They are committed to promoting locally sourced food and supports local farms and farmers. The restaurant offers seating for more than 215 patrons, with two full-service bars (inside and outside).
The National Museum of the Marine Corps has completed its $100-million project to document the service’s history from the end of fighting in Vietnam to this generation’s conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq. The facility has grown from 112,000 square feet to 200,000 square feet. The Legacy Walk Exhibit tells the story of the nearly 250-year history of the Marine Corps. The new final segment of the gallery will guide visitors through the evolution of the Marine Corps in the post-Vietnam era. The centerpiece of the new gallery is the “Terror Strikes” exhibit that includes the events of September 11, 2001. In addition, the extension includes “No Better Friend,” which explores the non-combat roles of Marines, and “Semper Family,” which speaks about the universal experiences of Marine Corps family members.
Townplace Suites by Marriott in Front Royal is open with 84 guest suites.
The Springston Regals at Massanutten Resort, 140 new luxury two-bedroom duplex units opened in late 2020.
Tru by Hilton opened in Harrisonburg in September 2020 and the Comfort Inn & Suites will be opening in Harrisonburg in January 2021. The 123-room Best Western Plus is expected to open in Harrisonburg in Spring 2021.
Hyatt Place Harrisonburg is expected to open with a rooftop restaurant providing a unique view of the Valley and 120 rooms for guests in Winter 2021.
The Atlantic Union Bank Center in Harrisonburg opened in November 2020 as the sparkling new home of the James Madison University men’s and women’s basketball programs, The 8,500 seat venue will also serve as a commencement center, concert venue and host to other events.
Natural Bridge State Park will be adding to their visitor experiences. The Children’s Discovery Area will be an outdoor experiential area for families to have fun enjoying nature. There will be a certified Nature Explore Outdoor Classroom using natural features to engage children and immerse them in an outdoor environment of creative play. Additionally, the park will soon be designated as a dark sky park with the International Darksky Association.
The 152-room Natural Bridge Historic Hotel & Conference Center in Natural Bridge became a member of the Trademark Collection by Wyndham hotel brand and is undergoing a $750,000 renovation including a complete guest room renovation in the Main Hotel along with some redesigned public spaces. Additional highlights will include exterior upgrades, the addition of a fitness center, and fully equipped 5-Bedroom Villa.
The 39-room Gin Hotel in downtown Lexington, which dates from 1926, aligned with Choice Hotels’ Ascend Hotel Collection. The former Robert E. Lee Hotel was rebranded, and the in-house Italian restaurant was renamed Juniper Lounge. The 12-room sister property Tonic Restaurant and Inn (formerly Sheridan Livery Inn & Restaurant built in 1887), was also rebranded with a focus on healing and therapeutic vibes, along with a Bohemian, garden-like feel on the updated outdoor dining patio.
The Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum will be changing out its temporary exhibit in April 2021 and will be featuring “The Quarantine Museum.” This exhibit will feature stories of members of the Staunton community as they have navigated the pandemic. The exhibit will have a virtual component and will also be in the exhibit gallery.
The Blackburn Inn in Staunton has announced the addition of a 2,500 square foot spa. The Spa at The Blackburn, located in the Wellness and Conference Center on the hotel grounds, is Staunton’s first spa and will offer facials, massage, reflexology, and nail treatments. The Wellness and Conference Center which opened fall 2020, offers just over 20,000 sq.-ft. and consists of one 6,000 sq.-ft. meeting/banquet room, plus several other private spaces of various sizes.
The American Shakespeare Center in Staunton will be offering outdoor performances at The Blackburn Inn in 2021.
The Trails at the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley, opening mid-2020, will be the largest outdoor art exhibit in Virginia and will have more than three miles of trails.
The Virginia Museum of Natural History in Martinsville will open the Jean S. Adams Education Pavilion in October 2021. The Pavilion will offer education programs, interpretive elements and multi-use functionality.
The 1921 classic silent film “Tol’able David” was filmed in Highland County and celebrates 100 years in 2021. Some of the buildings seen in the film still stand, and most of the area still looks the same as was filmed 100 years ago. Plans are in the works for a self-guided road trip through areas of interest, potential movie screenings, and expansion of an exhibit at The Mansion House Museum in McDowell by The Highland County Historical Society.
The Liberty Trust, originally constructed as a bank headquarters in 1910 in downtown Roanoke, is currently undergoing a full historic restoration as part of its transformation into a 54-room luxury lifestyle hotel currently slated to open in late August/September 2021.
Rowland Hotel, a new 16-room boutique hotel in downtown Salem, will open in 2021.
Springhill Suites by Marriott has announced plans to construct an all-suite hotel in Roanoke County in 2021.
Avid by IHG Hotel in Salem opens August 2021 with 87 rooms along with numerous activity rooms.
Mariners Landing at Smith Mountain Lake is working on renovations and upgrades to their resort.
SOUTHWEST VIRGINIA - BLUE RIDGE HIGHLANDS/HEART OF APPALACHIA
The highly anticipatedSessions Hotel opened in 2020 as a Tribute Hotel by Marriott in Bristol on State Street. The 70-room, $20 million project includes Southern Craft BBQ Restaurant, indoor and outdoor music venues, rooftop space and a luxury spa - Vision Day Spa & Salon.
Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunionannounced dates for their 20th Anniversary three-day festival on September 10-12, 2021.
BIrthplace of Country Music has a learning center space that accommodates up to 50 people that can be used for groups and a theatre that seats up to 100 people. Open to groups with some capacity limitations.
The Appalachian Arts Center will be relocating to the historic mill along the Clinch River in Cedar Bluff and expected to open Spring 2021.
TruHarvest Farms is Virginia’s largest hemp farm, located in Christiansburg. Tru Harvest grows hemp and processes it in-house to produce high quality CBD products. The farm offers tours to the public for those who are interested in the operation.
TheAppalachian Trail Center in Damascus is currently scheduled to open in spring 2021 and will be a hub to the Appalachian Trail and the Town of Damascus.
The Patrick County Barn Quilt Trail was designed to connect with barn quilt trails in neighboring counties to promote tourism.
The Dehart Botanical Gardens Trail in Patrick County will reopen in 2021.
Southwest Virginia’s newest distillery Axe Handle Distilling has opened recently in Pennington Gap.
After several years closed to the public, 2020 brought the grand reopening of Pocahontas Exhibition Mine in Pocahontas. Renovations have been made to increase safety when touring the mine and to the museum. Open April – September.
Ingles Castle (also called La Reviere) is an old home in Radford that is being opened for tours and events. The castle is a Registered Historic Landmark and was built by the great-great grandson of Mary Draper Ingles.
The Back of the Dragon Welcome Center in Tazewell opened late 2020 and offers visitors information on Route 16 or the “Back of the Dragon” motorcycle trail. The Welcome Center includes retail space, tourist information, craft beer, frozen yogurt, specialty coffee and an iconic 12-foot dragon.
FOR MORE EXCITING DEVELOPMENTS SEE WHAT'S NEW IN VIRGINIA