U.S. Virtual Road Trip- Virginia

Today we are in Virginia with author Martina Boone. Lets see what awaits us in Virginia.

Thanks so much for having me on Reading Away the Days! I love the idea of this virtual road trip! My family and I love to travel, and we actually play a (highly competitive) game where we get points according to where we travel: five points per continent, three points per country, two points per state/province, one point per National Park or World Heritage Site, etc. We recently went to North Dakota on vacation so that my husband could get his 50th state. 

Virginia is a bit more accessible than North Dakota, and it’s the oldest of the original 13 colonies that first made up the United States. That means we have a lot of history, and a lot of great places to visit. Here are just a few:

Jamestown, the site of the original English settlement, and Yorktown Battlefield, the site of Lord Cornwallis’ surrender to the American and French troops to end the Revolutionary War, combine to form the Colonial National Historic Park. Among other things, the park includes replicas of the three ships that first brought settlers to the colony, as well as a recreation of a Powhatan village. 

Just down the road from Jamestown, Colonial Williamsburg is a living museum of colonial history. It’s a great place to visit with your family and see history come to life in the place where the American Revolution took root. In addition to the original buildings, and actors recreating the daily work of the period, there’s great food and lots of shops, entertainment, and interesting activities. 
If nature is more your thing, there’s Shenandoah National Park and Skyline drive that cuts across the Blue Ridge Parkway and some of the most spectacular views on the whole East Coast. Nearby Luray Caverns contains stunning underground formations of stalactites and stalagmites, including the world-famous musical stalactite organ.
There’s another famous cavern (Natural Bridge Caverns) near the Natural Bridge, which was once as popular a tourist destination as Niagara Falls. Over 200 feet high and almost a hundred feet wide, the bridge was surveyed by George Washington and is located on land once owned by Thomas Jefferson. 

Photo Via Wikipedia

If beaches are more your thing, we’ve got some great ones. There’s Virginia Beach, a great family or spring break getaway with an amazing saltwater aquarium, the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Museum, a water park, wildlife refuges, and of course, tons of sand and sun.
There are also Chincoteague and Assateague Islands, home to wild horses and one of my favorite books of all time, Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry. The barrier islands have great water activities, hiking, more wildlife refuges, crabbing, fishing, and gorgeous beaches. You can even become a foster parent for one of the wild horses. 

Not into beaches and nature or history? How about the Busch Gardens and Six Flags amusements parks?


I’m a bit of a foodie, and there are incredible places to eat in Virginia. So, so many of them. But here are a few of my absolute favorites:

  • The Island Creamery on Chincoteague island has the best Marsh Mud ice cream on the planet. Imagine cold brownie batter so rich and creamy that you have to close your eyes at the first taste. Yes. THAT good. Oh, and waffle cone chips. They come in a bag, and you can’t stop eating them.
  • Crozet Pizza in Crozet — yes, kind of the middle of nowhere — is worth GOING to nowhere. So delicious. My favorite is The Southern Thing, with pulled barbecue chicken, bacon, and red onion. Yum. And the Freedom Pie, with white sauce, Ricotta, Mozzarella, Romano cheese and roasted garlic. 
  • As long as you’re in Crozet, drive on down the road to Our Lady of the Angels Monastery where the Cistercian nuns make the most delicious Gouda cheese you’ve ever tasted. Buy it, take it home, and put in on absolutely EVERYTHING.
  • Now that we’ve hit the basics, ice cream, pizza, and cheese, if you’re in the mood for something a bit more unusual, head for The Shack in Staunton, where you’ll share a table with random strangers and walk away with a totally fun experience and some truly mouth-watering food. My love for Sweet Potatoes is also legendary, which makes the Sweet Potato Fry Pie with meyer lemon something to experience.
  • Want to get even fancier? There’s The Inn at Little Washington, which is set in the small town of Washington—named by George, way back in 1749—about 23 miles past Warrenton in the heart of Virginia’s rolling hills and horse country. You’ll feel like you’ve gone through a portal into a different world, and the food is out-of-this-world good. 
  • You can’t go wrong with any of the above, but none of them are for the every-day. Want to know what I *could* eat every single day? The cookies from The Upper Crust bakery in Middleburg—I love the Snickerdoodle’s and anything with oatmeal. There’s also the Hunter’s Head Tavern in Upperville, which is a delicious mix of a farm-to-table and historic fare, with amazing pub food and daily specials that are the best of the modern cuisine.

Quirky facts about Virginia

As you may have gathered from the previous two questions, Virginia has a bit of history. I happen to love history—or at least the human side of it and the unusual facts that not many people know. So here are a few random things:
  • Each year, “saltwater cowboys” drive over 100 wild horses in a swim from Assateague Island to Chincoteague Island for an auction to benefit the Fire Department. The event's been going on for 90 years.
  • Jamestown was founded with the intention of raising silk for the English court. It was only when that failed that tobacco became the state’s most important crop.
  • Virginia was the birthplace of eight different presidents: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, William Harrison, John Tyler, Zachary Taylor, and Woodrow Wilson.
  • The carnivore breeding program for the Smithsonian National Zoo is out in Front Royal. That’s where they breed cloud leopards and red pandas, two of the cutest animals on the planet.
  • Over half the battles fought in the Civil War were fought in Virginia.
  • The last big battle of the Revolutionary War, and the first big battle of the Civil War were held in Virginia.
  • The College of William and Mary and the University of Virginia are both among the oldest and most respected schools in the country—and they are part of the state university program.
  • Phi Beta Kappa, the first college fraternity, was founded at the College of William and Mary in 1776.
  • The first theater in America was built in Williamsburg in 1716.
  • The state’s academic calendar prohibits classes from starting before Labor day—after the amusement parks close! And that’s the result of successful lobbying by the amusement park industry, not by coincidence.

Famous people NOT including authors? Really? Well, poo, because we have some AMAZING YA authors here. But okay. Apart from the eight presidents above, Virginia gave us the following famous people:

Jason Mraz
Chris Brown
Rob Lowe
Ella Fitzgerald
David Arquette
Pearl Bailey
John Marshall
Jim Morrison
Chief Powhatan
Dylan Walsh
Sandra Bullock
Katie Couric

Aha! Here’s the author/book question. Yay! Virginia has a great list of authors:

Maggie Stiefvater
Melissa Marr
Jodi Meadows
Sarah Marsh
Joy N. Hensley
Meg Medina
Kwame Alexander
Edgar Allen Poe
Patricia Cornwell
John Grisham

And books in Virginia?

How about some of my favorites?

Bridge to Tarabithia by Katharine Patterson
The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater
Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater
Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry 
A Mercy by Toni Morrison
American Gods by Neil Gaiman
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver
At Grave’s End by Jeanine Frost
On the Road, Jack Kerouac
Roots by Alex Haley
Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck

Martina Boone was born in Prague and spoke several languages before learning English. She fell in love with words and never stopped delighting in them. She’s the author of SIBA Book Award nominated Compulsion, book one in the romantic Southern Gothic trilogy, the Heirs of Watson Island, which was a Fall ’14 Okra Pick by the Southern Independent Bookstores Alliance, a Kansas State Reading Circle selection, Goodreads Best Book of the Month and YA Best Book of the Month, and an RT Magazine Best of 2014 Editor’s Pick. The second book in the trilogy, Persuasion, will be published October 27, 2015.

She’s also the founder of AdventuresInYAPublishing.com, a Writer’s Digest 101 Best Websites for Writers site, and YASeriesInsiders.com, a site devoted to the discovery and celebration of young adult  literature through YA series of all genres.
From her home in Virginia, where she lives with her husband, children, and a lopsided cat, she enjoys writing contemporary fantasy set in the kinds of magical places she’d love to visit. When she isn’t writing, she’s addicted to travel, horses, skiing, chocolate flavored tea, and anything with Nutella on it.
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Thanks Martina. I didn't realise there was so many YA authors and amazing books set in Virginia. What do you think of Virginia?

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  1. I love the colonial history of Boston and Plymouth, Massachusetts where we have previously visited. We must explore further....

  2. I actually grew up in Virginia and spent a large part of my childhood there. It is a beautiful state and the people are so friendly. I miss it a lot sometimes :)