The 40 Best Camping Gifts and Hiking Gifts for 2023-2024

Best Camping Gifts and Hiking Gifts for 2023-2024

[Updated on December 5, 2023] Growing up in North Georgia, some of my favorite childhood memories involved camping and hiking in the mountains with my family.  My parents led our church youth group on incredible excursions, hiking up to the summit of Blood Mountain, trekking 14 miles on the Appalachian Trail, and going to visit … Read more

10 Festive Things to Do for Christmas in Richmond VA (2023)

Christmas events in Richmond Virginia - GardenFest of Lights - Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

As longtime Harrisonburg residents, we love celebrating Christmas in Richmond VA to get into the holiday spirit! Coming from the more rural Shenandoah Valley, we really appreciate Richmond VA’s stately old hotels, department stores, and big city charm during the Christmas holidays. The beautiful city of Richmond seemingly transforms into a Hallmark movie set, with … Read more

10 Festive Things to Do in Shenandoah Valley VA for Christmas

Christmas in the Shenandoah Valley Virginia

Christmas events in the Shenandoah Valley can be delightfully old fashioned, and yet also quite modern. We’ve lived in Harrisonburg VA for several decades now, and we never get tired of exploring things to do for Christmas in the area. From candlelight to LED Christmas lights, from horse-drawn carriages to camels, Christmas in the Shenandoah … Read more

Visiting the Frontier Culture Museum in Staunton VA

Frontier Culture Museum in Staunton VA

Located 3 miles from Downtown Staunton VA, the Frontier Culture Museum is the largest living history museum in the Shenandoah Valley and one of the top family-friendly tourist attractions in Virginia. This self-guided walking tour has a wheelchair and stroller-friendly pathway. There’s also a complimentary shuttle available, or you can opt to rent a golf … Read more

The 10 Best Breweries in Harrisonburg VA to Visit

The Best Breweries in Harrisonburg VA- Pale Fire Brewing Co.

Despite the fact that we’ve lived in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia for 30+ years now, we still love discovering new hiking trails, roads, mountain towns, and scenic vistas to explore. We recently discovered a different kind of trail– the Shenandoah Beerwerks Trail– which connects craft beer enthusiasts with 19 impressive Shenandoah Valley breweries.  This … Read more

Exploring the Crooked Road, Virginia’s Appalachian Music Trail

Appalachian Music on SWVA Crooked Road

Appalachia music is well-known around the U.S. and highly regarded worldwide. This region’s peaks and valleys were instrumental (pun intended!) in forming the foundation of traditional American music as we know it today. The Blue Ridge Mountains and Southwest Virginia are particularly known for bluegrass and old-time music featuring stylistic fiddling and hot finger-picking on … Read more

The 7 Best Train Rides for Christmas in the Blue Ridge Mountains

Christmas Train Rides in North Carolina

Train rides for Christmas chug back into our lives with a payload of nostalgia on board. Railroads come from a historic era before automobiles and airplanes had been invented. Yet they come rumbling in from afar with an odd sense of odd familiarity, even for those who’ve never been on a train ride before. In our … Read more

30 Facts About Mennonite History, Culture & Amish Connections

Mennonites at Natural Bridge State Park in Natural Bridge VA

My wife, Heather, and I both grew up in the Mennonite community and attended Mennonite churches and schools. If you met us, you’d see that we live a modern (a.k.a. “mainstream”) Mennonite lifestyle. We both drive cars, have college degrees, and dress according to current fashion. But still we have a great appreciation for our … Read more

The Birthplace of Country Music Museum in Bristol TN/VA

Birthplace of Country Music Museum - Outside

While Nashville may be considered the home of country music today, many experts consider Bristol TN/VA to be the birthplace of the genre. After all, it was in Bristol where the earliest recordings of country music took place. To my pleasant surprise, rather than being a museum focused on modern music, The Birthplace of Country … Read more

The 15 Best Christmas Tree Farms in Virginia (2023)

Choose and Cut Christmas Tree Farms in Virginia

[Updated November 24, 2023] Boone NC is the undisputed king of Christmas trees in the Appalachian Mountains region, annually providing millions of Frasier firs for families from Georgia north to New England. But there are lots of great Christmas Tree Farms in Virginia too.  The Virginia mountains are nothing to sneeze at when it comes to … Read more