New attractions and offerings are popping up across the Commonwealth in 2022. Here’s just a few highlights:
The Virginia Museum of History and Culture in Richmond completed a nearly $30 million renovation project in May 2022. The renewed museum complex includes multiple new exhibition spaces, an immersive orientation theater and an interactive learning space for families, along with numerous other offerings. A new exhibit titled Our Commonwealth debuted with the reopening. This extensive marquee exhibition provides an in-depth, multi-sensory exploration through the five major regions of Virginia.
Mount Vernon has unveiled an expansive and inclusive new permanent exhibition, Mount Vernon: The Story of an American Icon. The exhibition traces the rich and complex history of Mount Vernon—not only the celebrated era of George and Martha Washington, but the lesser-known stories of the enslaved community, earlier and later generations of Washingtons, and the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association (MVLA), which has preserved the property since 1860. With the new Potomac Banks Savings Pass, visitors can save on admission to Mount Vernon, as well as discounts for other local attractions, even some beer and wine!
Ix Art Park in downtown Charlottesville is the location for the America Connects National Mural, the next in a series of international mural mosaics featuring tiles painted by more than 1,500 participants across the US. The Charlottesville mural is the only location of a Global Roots Project installation in the United States, depicting a tree of life growing from the word “Love” – a nod to Virginia is for Lovers. An interactive image of the mural design was updated live as new tiles were completed, with the final mural available for viewing at muralmosaic.com/america-national.
As highlighted in the New York Times and Travel + Leisure, artist Hamilton Glass’ Mending Walls public art project brings together artists from different cultures and backgrounds to create murals that address social justice and promote healing through connection. Four new murals, completed in 2021, focus on food justice, mental health, criminal justice reform and housing. A user-friendly map of mural locations for self-guided tours, the Mending Walls Podcast, and Mending Walls documentary can be found on MendingWallsRVA.com.
I Love You, the latest temporary art installation on Old Town Alexandria’s waterfront, is a luminous declaration of affection from the city to the public, creating a photo-ready postcard of Alexandria which represents the city’s welcoming spirit and a message of hope through the COVID-19 pandemic. The new outdoor installation opened in March and runs through November 2022.
The work of world-renowned artist, architect and environmental advocate Maya Lin is being featured in a special solo exhibit entitled Ways of Water at Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art in Virginia Beach through September. Highlighted by some never-before-exhibited sculptures and prints, the installation focuses on environmental concerns of the region and asks visitors to reconsider their relationship with nature.
The world’s longest-running surf competition, the East Coast Surfing Championships, celebrates its diamond anniversary this August when hundreds of surfers hit the waves that break along the Virginia Beach oceanfront.
The newest way to float down the James River utilizes traditions more than 200 years old. The James River Batteau Company tour service offers river tours, sunset cruises and private charters on the Morning Dew, a period-correct reproduction of late 18th and 19th centuries, bateaux, flat-bottomed pole boats, one of the only bateau floats of its kind in America.
The road to the Paris Olympics for women’s cycling now starts in Virginia. Team TWENTY24, America’s premier women’s cycling team, moved their operations to Roanoke and is now known as Virginia’s Blue Ridge (VBR) TWENTY24. The move spotlights the vibrant and diverse cycling culture found throughout the Commonwealth. Visitors can take to the trails to ride where the women train as well as meet the future competitors at special events held throughout the year.
Capital One Hall, part of the new Capital One Center in Tysons, offers a gorgeous new space to experience the arts, featuring Broadway shows, local theater and world-renowned concerts as well as special events. The new Center is next door to the McLean Metro station, making it an easily accessible destination from points around the region. Atop Capital One Hall, overlooking Tysons, is The Perch, a large skypark, which features the Starr Hill Biergarten, retro vehicles repurposed as food trucks, and Perch Putt, an 18-hole miniature golf course, making the new Center a destination for play as well as live performances.
2022 marks the 250th commemoration of Shenandoah County and the 100th year celebration of Shenandoah Caverns. Festivities throughout the year will include a multi-town Independence Day Weekend in July; Time Capsule opening, Olde Style Ale Brewery collaboration; and a celebratory event in September under the theme of “Honoring our Past ~ Inspiring our Future.”
The Poe Museum, located in Richmond’s Shockoe Bottom neighborhood, is celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2022. Celebrations and events occur April – October 2022, with April 26 being the actual 100th anniversary date. Celebratory events will include a Poe-Rade, a ‘Masqued Ball’ in honor of Poe’s short story The Masque of the Red Death, and the ever-popular monthly UnHappy Hours. The museum has received a major gift of Poe artifacts which were unveiled in early 2022.
Arlington’s DEA Museum, originally debuted in 1999, has been recently reimagined to engage and educate the public in a colorful, contemporary space. Interactive exhibits make the new museum a modern and compelling exploration of the long, dynamic history of drug use, misuse, and law enforcement.
In Williamsburg, Busch Gardens Pantheon®, the Fastest Multi-launch Coaster in North America, debuted this March. The twists and turns continue at Water Country U.S.A.® with the newly redesigned Aquazoid Amped™ slide launched this May. Riders plunge down 864 feet of fully enclosed, coiled tubes at speeds of 20 feet per second, while splashing through a multisensory experience that includes pulse-pounding music, special effects, and lighting that’s akin to the most brilliant fireworks displays.
Kings Dominion outside Richmond debuted Virginia’s first 4D Spin Coaster this March. Tumbili features state-of-the-art magnetic technology that induces and controls spinning, giving riders a feeling of weightlessness as they cruise along the track tumbling and spinning head over heels in the rainforest tree canopy.
The Back of the Dragon, Virginia’s only designated motorcycle route and the premier riding road on the East Coast, has a new scenic overlook at Hungry Mother State Park and a new Welcome Center in Tazewell.
The Iron Pony Adventure Park is Chincoteague Island’s newest attraction for family fun. Guests can climb to new heights & experience the thrill of 30+ aerial obstacles on two full levels. Take yourself to the edge and try the pony plunge, a 26-foot-high leap of faith.
TO EAT AND DRINK…
The STARS continue to align – Patty O’s, chef Patrick O’Connell’s approachable café, directly across from his Michelin three-starred Inn at Little Washington is now open and Marigold by Jean-Georges, from Michelin-starred chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, recently opened at the newly renovated, ultra-luxurious Keswick Hall, near Charlottesville.
Hickory, Nicewonder Farm & Vineyards new restaurant helmed by acclaimed Chef Travis Milton, just opened in Bristol. The menu is inspired by Milton’s Appalachian heritage, culture, and traditions, and uses locally sourced produce to create some of the freshest and most unique flavors you have ever experienced. Food & Wine recently described it as “a culinary curriculum in the form of a menu and mission focused on one thing: honoring Appalachian food, and the diverse and dignified people who make it.”
Cana Vineyards winemaker Melanie Natoli recently became the first woman to receive the top honor in Virginia’s Governor’s Cup® Competition. The competition, celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, is one of the most stringent in America. Virginia’s Gold Medal Wine Trail highlights the gold winners of each year’s competition, and through a downloadable app, puts the best of Virginia’s more than 330 wineries at visitors’ fingertips.
Elevate your beach picnic experience at The VB Picnic Co. and Longboard Charcuterie now offering pop-up picnic experiences. Forget fold-up chairs, beach towels and basic deli sandwiches –pouf and rattan seating, luxurious linens, trendy tablescapes and gorgeous boards of finger foods set the scene for special seaside celebrations.
In Richmond, one of Virginia’s top foodie destinations, has opened numerous new restaurants and breweries this year including Hatch Local Food Hall, a curated collection of local food vendors in Richmond’s Manchester neighborhood. The food hall contains seven local vendors, two bars, a market and outdoor patio and courtyard. The vendor lineup includes Odyssey Fish from award-winning Alewife chef Lee Gregory and Buttermilk + Honey from Lillie Pearl owner and chef Mike Lindsey, among others.
In Alexandria, visitors will find two new waterfront restaurant destinations, including Ada’s on the River, named after the early-18th century English mathematician Ada Lovelace, which is built around the concept of the wood-burning oven as a gathering place for friends and family, and Barca Wine Bar + Pier, inspired by Barcelona’s beach bars and made from carved-out shipping containers.
In Arlington visitors will find a wealth of new restaurants including WHINO, a combination cocktail/wine bar and art gallery; Nighthawk Pizza and Brewing, serving up brews made on site next to tasty Midwest Tavern pies; Astro Donuts and Beer Hall, what’s not to love about donuts and beer?; and Ruthie’s All Day, offering family-friendly meals from an award-winning chef in a lovingly restored historic building – just to name a few.
This summer, Richmond welcomes Moxy Richmond Downtown, an affordable boutique hotel that offers guests a complimentary cocktail at check-in and pet-friendly rooms.
The historic Liberty Trust building in downtown Roanoke recently reopened as the new boutique Liberty Trust Hotel. The development company has teamed up with Roanoke’s own Black Dog Salvage to preserve some of the building’s original architectural details, including the bank’s safe, which factors in to the property’s design.
Nicewonder Farm & Vineyards in Bristol has opened Nicewonder Inn. This 28-room luxury boutique property also boasts a world-class culinary and wine program and Hickory, the Inn’s restaurant helmed by acclaimed Chef Travis Milton, as well as yurts for the more adventurous.
A new AKA luxury property will open in July 2022 in Old Town Alexandria. Designed for longer stays, AKA balances the space and comfort of a fully appointed luxury apartment with the style and hospitality of an intimate hotel.
ARCHER® Hotel Tysons opened late 2021, while ARCHER Hotel Falls Church, in the Mosaic District, just opened. The new properties are only the seventh and eighth for the award-winning boutique brand that places major emphasis on local discoveries, with a distinct nod to the destination each property calls home. At the Tysons’ location guests will find plenty of examples of our famous Virginia is for Lovers brand, along with a variety of Virginia-focused art and products.
The Lighthouse at Smithfield Station has just finished renovations. The accommodation is ideal for travelers seeking a one-of-a-kind lodging experience and is the only lighthouse in Virginia where you can stay overnight.
The luxurious and historic Keswick Hall just outside Charlottesville reopened in late 2021. The entirety of Keswick Hall has been expanded and transformed for a more luxurious experience including a new guest wing, redesigned spa, new infinity pool and cabanas, and reimagined resort grounds. A new restaurant called Marigold by Jean Georges, from the Michelin-starred Jean-Georges Vongerichten, has also debuted. This immaculately restored, 108-year-old estate, with its stunning golf course, tastings from local wineries and lush walking paths, is an ideal place to enjoy the luxurious side of Virginia’s remote countryside.
Casino resorts are coming to Virginia. A Hard Rock Hotel & Casino is coming to Bristol, the official Birthplace of Country Music, in 2024 and Ceasars Entertainment will open a casino resort in Danville in late 2024. Two more casinos are approved and in the planning stages to open in the next two years, Headwaters Resort & Casino in Norfolk and Rivers Casino Portsmouth.
The Dulles Corridor Metrorail expansion project by the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) is in its final testing stage. The new section of the Silver Line will connect Washington Dulles International Airport in Virginia to downtown DC, and points further in Virginia, and is expected to open in mid-2022, making it even easier for passengers to travel around the region.