We're already two months into 2016, but I'm only just now compiling my wishlist of adventures for the year (having a Christmas Eve baby is a good excuse for being a little bit behind, right?!). Places here in Virginia feature prominently on this year's list! Although we dearly love our trips abroad, adjusting to an infant - both financially and logistically - makes it likely that we'll be focusing on our home turf and backyard touring in lieu of our appetite for foreign adventures. We're so lucky that Virginia has such a diverse array of places and activities, many of which we haven't yet experienced! I think it's high time we became experts on all things travel and tourism here in Virginia.
So without further ado, here are our realistic and unrealistic travels dreams and wishes for 2016!
We would love to return to Danny's German hometown, Dinkelsbühl, later this year, perhaps in September or October. Baby Gypsy has an aunt, grandmother, and other relatives that she needs to meet. And if we go in early September, perhaps we'll finally be around for the Stadtfest (city festival)!
2. Bavaria's Castle Road
Apparently my favorite state in Germany has a route highlighting my favorite European fixtures - castles! The Burgenstraße, or Castle Road, begins in the German state of Baden-Württemberg and ends in the Czech Republic. While I'm under no illusions that we'll be able to traverse the entire route on our next trip, I'm hoping we can visit a nearby castle or two! (See the full route here.)
3. The Bavarian Chef, Madison, Virginia
Playing off our love for all things German, especially food, we are planning to pay a visit to The Bavarian Chef, a German restaurant about an hour away from our house. I think this would be a good place for our anniversary!
It's all but certain that we will spend time in Kilmarnock at least a couple times this summer. In our totally biased opinion, it's the most beautiful place in all Virginia!
5. Amish Country, Pennsylvania
My family reunion will be held in the heart of Amish country in Lancaster County, PA, and near Elverson, PA. That part of Pennsylvania always reminds us of Germany (after all, Pennsylvania Dutch is a derivative of German!), and in addition to spending time with the family, we enjoy checking out the quaint and quirky little towns in the area, like the charming town of Intercourse!
6. Niagara Falls
This plan may prove unrealistic, but while in Pennsylvania I'd love to make it an extended weekend in order to drive up to Niagara Falls.
7. Mount Airy, North Carolina
Ever heard of the Andy Griffith show? Well, Mount Airy in North Carolina is said to be the inspiration for the show's town of Mayberry. Our agenda for that weekend would be laid-back and spent looking at buildings that recall various aspects of one of our favorite old-timey shows.
While pregnancies may have slowed us down, my friend Brittany and I are still committed to visiting all 252 Virginia wineries by the year 2022. Hopefully this year we'll be able to knock back a few more tastings around the commonwealth and get ourselves closer to the finish line.
9. Shenandoah, Virginia
Second only to our beloved Kilmarnock. Virginia's Shenandoah River and Valley sport some of the most stunning natural beauties in the state. A weekend escape to Luray with our Baby Gypsy may be in order at least once.
10. Manassas Battlefield Park, Manassas, Virginia
Sixty percent or three out of every five Civil War battles were fought on Virginia soil, making our state a mecca for every Civil War buff. There were two battles at Manassas in northern Virginia, and although the site is less than two hours from where I live, I have yet to visit. It's time to rectify that.
11. The Virginia House & Agecroft Hall, Richmond, Virginia
Agecroft Hall is one of my favorite sites in Richmond (shown right, image from Wikipedia). It's an English Tudor house that was disassembled from its original location in Lancashire, England, and transported to Richmond in 1925 where it was erected on a beautiful piece of property overlooking the James River. Tours are available on a daily basis, and during the summer, the estate hosts outdoor concerts, plays, and other events. I'm in love with this house and would love to live in it! I've not visited for many years, though, so I'm overdue for a visit and will also need to pop into the Virginia House, which is located nearby. The Virginia House was also brought to Virginia from Warwickshire, England, in 1929. I have not yet toured the Virginia House so I'm looking forward to learning more about it.
12. Outer Banks, North Carolina
Sun. Sand. Surf. Need I say more? I just need to get this post-baby bod back in shape to do some serious relaxing at the Outer Banks!
13. Bristol, Virginia/Tennessee
The city of Bristol straddles the Virginia and Tennessee state lines and is recognized by the U.S. Congress as the "birthplace of country music." I just need to put on my boots, plaid shirt, and best Loretta Lynn impression to get into the spirit of this town for our visit.
14. Great Dismal Swamp, Virginia/North Carolina
I've always been fascinated with pictures of bayous in Louisiana and have always wanted to visit a swamp with a similar feel. Since I won't be making it to the Deep South anytime soon, the Great Dismal Swamp near Norfolk, Virginia, can help scratch that itch for me! It may not have alligators, but it does have the flooded forest look. My imagination can supply the alligators.
Edit: Apparently gators can come as far north as the Great Dismal Swamp!!! So don't attempt to sneak in a skinny dip there, folks!
15. Historic Triangle, Virginia
Virginia is loaded with history, and the historic triangle of Jamestown, Williamsburg, and Yorktown is arguably the center of Virginia history. Williamsburg is a particular favorite of mine (check out their Christmas decorations if you're in town!), but I haven't visited Jamestown or Yorktown in years. Time to get Baby Gypsy immersed in American history from a very young age!
16. Buy a House
Many of our travel plans for this year and next will be local and regional adventures as we hope to purchase a place of our own later this year - an adventure in and of itself!
Monticello, Charlottesville, VA
Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky
What's on your wishlist for 2016?
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