Virginia Bars Nightlife and Entertainment
Virginia. As history goes, you really can’t beat Virginia. The state is history preserved and, if knowledge of the nation’s past is what you seek, then Virginia is where you should go.
The gateway to the South, Virginia is bordered by Washington DC and Maryland, the Atlantic Ocean, North Carolina and Tennessee, West Virginia and Kentucky. Mountainous to the west, with the famous Shenandoah Valley lying between the Allegheny and Blue Ridge ranges, Virginia slowly levels out through rolling central hills to the sandy coastal beaches in the east.
Named after Queen Elizabeth 1 of England (known as the Virgin queen), the Virginia company of London founded the Virginia Colony in 1607; the first permanent English colony of the New World, settling in Jamestown. Virginia was at the heart of the warfare that followed: the American Revolution and the Civil War, thus playing a major role in how the US originated and developed. Virginia is also known as the Dominion state, a name given to it after the English Civil War by King Charles 11 of England because it stayed loyal to the crown, and the Mother of Presidents. Eight presidents have come from Virginia, including George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Woodrow Wilson.
Virginia’s population is approaching 8m and the capital is Richmond, although Virginia Beach is the biggest city, followed by Norfolk and Chesapeake. The economy is diverse, but tourism is important to the state, and growing; which is not surprising when you consider the attractions here ��” a mixture of natural beauty such as the Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah National Park and Valley, and Mount Vernon; historic landmarks such as the Fredericksburg National Battlefield Parks, Potomac Mills, Arlington National Cemetry and Cumberland Gap National Historic park; and of course the ‘Historic Triangle’ including Jamestown, Yorktown and Colonial Williamsburg with its living museum.
As a destination, Virginia probably isn’t the number one choice for a lot of youngsters whose idea of a holiday is sunning all day and clubbing all night, but for those keen to embrace the sheer atmosphere of the state, there are still more than enough opportunities to ‘strut your stuff’ at night.
thing that Virginia is not short of is places to drink. The state is bursting with microbreweries, brewpubs and more than 130 vineyards. In Williamsburg you can see how beer is made at the Anheuser-Busch brewery (alongside Busch Gardens), or take a tour of Capital City Brew Co in Arlington or the Old Dominion Brewery in Ashburn. And all around you’ll find small local microbreweries and brewpubs; the Legend Brewing Co in Richmond is well worth a visit.
Don’t be dieting in Virginia. The state is probably one of the best in the US for fabulous food, much of it locally grown, raised or caught. Thomas Jefferson is credited with giving Virginia its love of food and wine and he is commonly known as The Father of American Wine. In fact Virginians love food so much there’s a festival to celebrate it practically every month. They even have a festival to celebrate the Virginia Peanut. Others include the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival in the spring in Winchester, while the Virginia State Fair in Richmond every September celebrates all that the state has to offer.
Bordering the Atlantic, seafood is a particular speciality and Cheseapeake Bay is justifiably world famous for its crab, soft shell crab and oysters. Throughout the state, you’ll find local food specialities; Smithfield hams and peanuts in the Hampton Roads region; Brunswick Stew in Central Virginia; fried chicken and black-eyed peas in the South (try it with cornbread at Michie Tavern just outside Charlottesville. Northern Virginia has a reputation for its wineries and vineyards along with gourmet foods, while the Shenandoah Valley is the capital of apples and turkeys. So wherever you’re staying, well yes you can find some great international restaurants, but we’d recommend finding places that serve the ‘soul’ food of the state The Lodge Dining Room in Williamsburg Lodge or Swan Terrace Restaurant
Richmond is the capital of Virginia and one of the most historic cities you’ll find in the US. A delightful mix of the old and the new, Richmond is today a dynamic cultural city and is a great place to stay. There’s plenty going on, from re-enactments of Patrick Henry’s ‘Give me liberty or give me death’ speech and the Civil War at Richmond National Battlefield Park. This sight alone attracts more than 200,000 visitors every year. Plenty to see, too, including the Museum of Confederacy, historic houses galore and the Victorian estate of Maymont. Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello and Colonial Williamsburg are both close by. Plenty to do at night as well with a host of venues open til 2am (come on, you history buffs need some sleep).
Make your way to East Cary Street and you’ll find places like the Tobacco Company, an award winning restaurant with dancing and live music; the Canal Club, a two story venue with restaurant and lounge downstairs and live music upstairs; the Sine Irish Pub & Resaurant, with solid pub grub and live music all week; and the Richbrau Brewing Company, a super little microbrewery with a great range of beers.
If you fancy learning to salsa (and you should), Club Quisqueya on Midloathian Turnpike offers free lessons on Thursdays and you can dance til the early hours. For live blues, rock, country etc, Poe’s Pub on E Main Street is always buzzing. There’s a great choice of beers here plus a top notch pubgrub menu including burgers, chilli and catfish. Start here, then end the evening dancing at The Matrixx Room on E Grace St , The Cherry Lounge Martini Bar on 5th St or Alley Katz on Walnut Alley.
Head out to Williamsburg for some more sight-seeing and make an evening of it trying out bars like The Corner Pocket on Courthouse St; the young, fun Second Street Restaurant & Tavern on Second St, where the burgers are second to none; the Green Leafe Cafe in Scotland St (over 30 draft beers, 150 bottled beers and 40 wines – oh yes!) or JM Randalls Restaurant and Tavern on Longhill Rd, where upcoming jazz artists perform during the week.
For something different, book yourself into one of Williamsburg’s murder/mystery dinners. The Haunted Dinner Theatre in Richmond Road or the Mystery Dinner Playhouse both promise an evening of Poirot style fun – and a decent meal as well.
Williamsburg forms part of the Historic Triangle with Jamestown and Yorktown and in this region you’ll find many ways to learn about the history of the US, including the chance to visit taverns and inns that recreate the past. Josiah Chowning’s Tavern in E Duke of Gloucester St recreates the nighly gambol – games and songs that were popular back in the 1700s.
In the Hampton Roads region of Virginia you’ll find charming, historic cities with centuries of history, including Portsmouth, Norfolk, Hampton and Newport News on the Peninsula. Portsmouth and Norfolk are a short ferry ride apart, and all are less than an hour from Colonial Williamsburg and Virginia Beach. Hilton Village in Newport News is a restored area with some lovely shops and restaurants, while Pheobus in Hampton takes you back in time with historically styles restaurants, inns and taverns. The historic Ghent region in Norfolk is equally appealing; head to Cogans Instant Art Bar, which is small and packed but a fun place for a beer and music; Kelly’s Tavern on Colley Ave which is popular with tourists and locals; or the Tap House Bar & Grill, where you’ll find one of Norfolk’s biggest ranges of international bottled beers. In Portsmouth Olde Towne try the Foggy Point Bar & Grill on the waterfront or Thumpers in Court St, which features some serious Cajun foods like seafood gumbo, jambalaya and fried gator bites.
All night clubs are not at the forefront here, but you’ll still find some places to dance. Sevens Fine Dining & Night Club in Granby St, Norfolk City (open til 2am), has four floors offering dining, bars, and dancing; while Manhattan’s NY Deli & Pub offers live country western music and two large dance floors.
Head for the Amadaeus Cafe Latin Restaurant and Lounge in Jefferson Ave, Newport News on a Thursday to enjoy salsa until midnight, or on Friday and Saturdays for ‘Noches latinas’ for live music and dancing til 2am. Several of the hotels in these cities also have bars/lounges which are worth a visit. The Oyster Point Lounge at the Newport News Marriott, Town Center Drive, is a super spot for cocktails and snacks, or in Portsmouth the Cock Island Bar & Grill at the Holiday Inn on Crawford Parkway presents a decent pub setting on a lovely waterfront setting.
If you’re a smoker, you’ll love Virginia even more. The Virginia General Assembly has twice rejected a statewide smoking ban in bars and restaurants.
Some of Virginia’s festivals
May 03 -May 04, 2008
Halifax Jazz & Blues Festival
Two days of Jazz & Blues, vendors, food and fun in an outdoor historical Petersburg neighbourhood setting!
May 07, 2008
40th Annual Seafood Festival
Chincoteague Island, Virginia
Annual Seafood Festval held on Chincoteague Island, sponsored by the Eastern Shore Chamber of Commerce.
May 10, 2008
Festival of Spring
Fine Arts and Crafts, Fabulous Foods and Fine Virginia Wines.
540 743 7700
May 17, 2008
22nd Annual VA Wine & Craft Festival
Front Royal, Virginia
Featuring VA wineries, arts & crafts, food, entertainment and children’s area.
June 12 -June 14, 2008
All American Bluegrass Jam
3-days of great bluegrass: The Grascals, Claire Lynch, George Clark plus more. Rough camping free.
June 14, 2008
Taste of the Town 2008
Outdoor food festival with live music, activities for kids, admission free, 1-10 pm
June 21 -June 22, 2008
Northern Virginia Summer Brewfest
Craft Beer Sampling, food, music, demonstrations, exhibits and family fun area.
June 26 -June 28, 2008
12th Annual Bluegrass in Sedalia
Big Island, Virginia
Bluegrass Music the highlight in mountain setting!
July 12, 2008
Big Island, Virginia
10th Annual Blues Competition in the afternoon and headliners at night! Fabulous music. Camping available
July 12 -July 13, 2008
Celebrate Reston’s birthday with two days of music and fun
July 16 -July 18, 2008
Mineral Bluegrass Festival
3 days of bluegrass music featuring top entertainers begins at 11 am each day until 10 pm
September 05, 2008
18th Bay Seafood Festival
All-inclusive-Seafood Festival. Live music and DJ. Reservations: 800-777-9717