Again this year, we asked our readers to choose
Virginia’s best in 12 selected categories.
The votes are in and we’re pleased to present the
2005 lineup ...
Winner: Brunswick Mineral
Tucked away on a former plantation in Virginia’s
Southside is Brunswick Mineral Springs Bed & Breakfast. The main house
was built around 1785 and has been fully restored by its owners and
innkeepers, David and Nanette Spears.
There are three suites and a hospitality cottage, and
guests enjoy a full country breakfast and a three-course gourmet dinner
There are walking paths throughout the 27-acre
property and the Inn is only 20 minutes from Lake Gaston.
Brunswick Mineral Springs has achieved the “3
Diamond” rating from the American Automotive Association. It is located
at 14910 Western Mill Road (Hwy. 670) in Lawrenceville and easily accessed
from I-85 or I-95.
For more information, call (434) 848-4010 or visit
them online at www.brunswickmineralsprings.com.
Other B&Bs receiving votes included the Inn at
Riverbend, Pearisburg and Jordan Hollow Inn, Stanley.
Winner: Virginia Tech vs. UVA
Football Game, Charlottesville or Blacksburg.
The rivalry between the boys from Blacksburg and
those from Charlottesville has a long tradition. Virginia Tech and the
University of Virginia first met on the gridiron in 1895.
The Cavaliers won the first eight meetings but since
then the Hokies hold the overall series advantage with 44 wins against 37
losses and five ties.
With Tech joining UVA in the ACC in 2004, the Big
Game has gained even more significance as the results count for league
This year’s clash is scheduled for Saturday,
November 19 at Scott Stadium in Charlottesville.
Two great Web sites to visit whether you’re a Hokie
or Cavalier fan are www.hokiesports.com and
Other events receiving votes included the Gold Cup
Races, The Plains; the Strawberry Hill Races, New Kent; Oatlands
Point-to-Point Races; and the CBES Bike Tour, Eastern Shore.
Winner: Mill Valley BarbeQues,
If you want to taste the barbecue voted Best in
Virginia by our readers, you have to be lucky enough to be invited to an
event catered by Mill Valley Barbecues. As owner and chef Rodney Lillard
says, “We bring the restaurant to you.”
Lillard runs Mill Valley Barbeques out of a former
general store in the tiny community of Hood in Madison County. Readers
voted his pork barbecue the Best in Virginia, but Rodney also offers
everything from barbecued chicken to prime ribs and steaks and shrimp.
Check out his Web site at www.millvalleybbq.com or
call him at (540) 948-3020. His mailing address is Mill Valley Barbeques,
General Delivery, Graves Mill, VA 22721.
Others receiving votes included The Smokie Pig,
Ashland; Jammin’ Joe’s, New Baltimore; Johnson’s BBQ, Chesapeake;
and The Log Cabin, Massanutten.
Winner: Green Valley Book Fair,
Technically, the Green Valley Book Fair no longer
sells “used books.” It sells new books at 60% to 90% off retail. Book
lovers come from all over to browse through over 500,000 books at the
fair, about halfway between Staunton and Harrisonburg.
Started in 1971 by Leighton and Kathryn Evans, the
Green Valley Book Fair is still a family affair with son Michael, daughter
Michele and their mother still actively involved in day-to-day operations.
The fair is open for two-week periods six times each year. For the rest of
2005, the schedule is August 20-September 5, October 8-23 and November
25-December 11. Daily hours run from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
For more information, visit www.gvbookfair.com.
Others receiving votes included the Culpeper
Library Friends Used Book Store and the Wounded Bookstore, Fredericksburg.
Winner: Assateague Island,
Assateague Island off Virginia’s Eastern Shore is
one of the finest places for bird-watching on the East Coast. It is part
of Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge. Visitors to Assateague can
experience an island that literally teems with bird life.
From ducks to loons to cranes to sandpipers, from
bald eagles to gulls to finches to cuckoos to pelicans, Assateague is a
Because only limited areas of the island are
accessible by automobile, those in the know often choose to travel by boat
along the inland waters.
For more information on Assateague Island National
Seashore and bird watching tours, visit www.assateagueisland.com/birdwatching
or telephone toll-free 1-866-766-9794.
Other favorite bird watching areas recommended
included Big Meadows in Shenandoah National Park near Luray and the
Winner: Colonial Williamsburg.
Williamsburg welcomes the Christmas season with The
Grand Illumination, a magnificent spectacle of candles, fireworks and
music held on the first Sunday of December. The practice of placing single
candles in windows, a Colonial tradition, was revived
in Williamsburg after the village was restored in the 1930s. This
tradition has since spread across America. Williamsburg also revived the
art of decorating with greenery and other natural materials available in
During December, there are guided walking tours of
the homes and public buildings, and even workshops on how to create these
beautiful decorations yourself for use at your own home. For more
information on Christmas in Williamsburg, visit www.history.org/christmas.
Other holiday displays receiving votes included
the Virginia Beach Boardwalk and the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens.
Winner: The Westmoreland
The Westmoreland Players is a welcome cultural
diversion for Northern Neck natives and weekend visitors alike. Formed in
1979, the Players produce first-rate comedies, dramas and musicals, and
play to sold-out houses.
“We existed as a nomadic troupe playing in school
gyms, churchyards and historic homes, but we purchased our own building, a
former banquet hall, in Callao in 2000,”says Glenn Evans. He and his
wife, Joy, are artistic directors of the Players. The Players are
conducting a campaign to raise $200,000 to turn the old banquet hall into
a legitimate theatre.
The Westmoreland Players are “always searching for
new talent and more audience members” and invite you to join them. For
tickets and directions, call (804) 529-9345 or visit
Others receiving votes included the VSA Festival
Players, the Theater at Lime Kiln, and Swift Creek Mill Playhouse.
Winner: Smith Mountain lake
State Park, Huddleston.
Situated on the second-largest body of fresh water in
Virginia, this 1,248-acre park is not just for water enthusiasts. Although
many visitors come to enjoy swimming, fishing and boating, Smith Mountain
Lake State Park also has miles of hiking trails, housekeeping cabins,
primitive camping, picnicking and a visitor center with educational
programs. There are 20 furnished, air-conditioned and heated cabins
available for weekly rentals. There are campsites available with in-ground
grills and picnic tables, and a full-service bathhouse with hot showers.
The park is approximately 40 miles from either
Lynchburg or Roanoke. Reservations are required for cabins and campsites.
For info and directions visit www.dcr.state.va.us/parks/smithmtn.htm or
Others receiving votes included First Landing
State Park, Virginia Beach; Westmoreland State Park; and Cherrystone ESVA,
Winner: Lewis Ginter Botanical
Established in 1984, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden
strives to bring visitors the best in horticultural displays all year.
The more than 30 acres of gardens include one of the
largest and most diverse perennial gardens on the East Coast, an elegant
Victorian-style garden, an exotic Asian garden, and a wetland environment
with stunning displays of pitcher plants, water irises and lotuses.
There are also a children’s garden, a study garden filled with
daffodils and daylilies, and a conifer garden.
The park is located in Henrico County at 1800
Lakeside Avenue, just a few miles from downtown Richmond. For directions
and more information, call (804) 262-9887 or visit www.lewisginter.org.
Other gardens receiving votes included the Norfolk
Botanical Gardens, Eyre Hall at Cheriton, and Richmond’s Maymont Park.
Winner: The James River.
Perhaps Cooperative Living readers would rather not
reveal their favorite personal fishing spots: The choice for this category
was the entire James River. The James begins in the western highlands of
Alleghany County and makes its way to Jamestown and the Chesapeake Bay.
The Virginia Department of Game & Inland
Fisheries divides the river into the Upper and Lower James with Richmond
at the midpoint. The Upper
James features smallmouth bass, catfish, bluegill, rock bass and
redbreast. In the Lower James, there are largemouth bass, blue catfish,
black crappie and striped bass.
For more info on the James River, visit the
Department of Game & Inland Fisheries Web site at www.dgif.state.va.us/fishing/rivers/james_river.
Other fishing spots receiving votes included the
Rappahannock and Nottaway rivers, Walker Creek, Smith Mountain Lake and
Buggs Island Lake.
Southampton Agriculture &
Forestry Museum, Courtland.
To get a realistic glimpse of what life was like in
rural Virginia over the past centuries, check out the Southampton
Agriculture & Forestry Museum and Heritage Village in Courtland. The
museum is spread over 10 acres of land and features many restored
buildings including a grist mill, a saw mill, an ice house, a country
store and a one-room school, even two outhouses.
It is located at 22376 Linden Street in Courtland,
and is open from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays,
March-November. For directions and information, call (757) 653-0754 or
visit online at www.ralsarts.com or www.southamptoncounty.org.
Other museums receiving votes included the Tobacco
Museum, South Hill; the Old Brick Hotel Museum, New Castle; the AAF Tank
Museum, Danville; and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond.
Restaurant, Cape Charles.
On the Eastern Shore, folks love the steamed crabs
and fresh-from-the-water seafood at Sting-Ray’s. Located nine miles
north of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel on Highway 13, Sting-Ray’s
Restaurant has been a popular stop for travelers and Shore residents alike
for over 40 years.
Owners Michael Ioanou, a developer, and Angelo
Manuel, a financial planner, in 2004 bought the restaurant from owner Ray
Haynie with the goal of continuing its tradition of quality food and
“most of all, a meeting place for family and friends to share the
Sting-Ray’s is located at 25607 Lankford Avenue,
Cape Charles. Visit their Web site
(www.sting-raysrestaurant.com) for directions and
more photos of their delicious food and happy customers enjoying
Others receiving votes included Backfin,
Williamsburg; Captain George’s, Williamsburg; Driftwood, Coles Point;
Armando’s, Onancock; and Lowery’s, Tappahannock.