We love the Virginias – both West and the original version

Monticello views

Have you ever noticed that North and South Carolina seem to go together like sisters, but Virginia and West Virginia appear to have nothing in common?

Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve always felt that Virginia and West Virginia seem about as different as two states can be.

That said, they both made gorgeous spring break destinations for our family this year and we loved spending time in both states.

We are fortunate that our beloved German exchange student from 2020 is attending Longwood University in Virginia and playing on their Division 1 women’s lacrosse team. Go Lancers!

Our spring break trip to Virginia doubled as our happy reunion with Verena after all these years. We had such an amazing time together that I’m sure we’ll be doing this road trip again before too long. Farmville, VA is a great little town and there are so many fun experiences within driving distance from there.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Before we got to Verena in Virginia, we had an epic side quest in WV. Let’s start from the beginning!

Ohio to West Virginia

We left Columbus on a beautiful, sunny spring day ready for some adventures. Our drive from Columbus into wild and wonderful WV was easy and enjoyable.

I had researched a few possible side quests for this trip; we have found that often some of our most-loved family vacation moments come from these somewhat spontaneous trip stops or add-ons.

Z was tasked with ultimate authority over our side quests, including whether to take one at all and which one to take. She opted for the New River Gorge bridge on our way through WV and it was an excellent choice. For the record, the mountain state is absolutely gorgeous and I can understand why John Denver called it “almost heaven.”

One of the most photographed spots in WV, the epic New River Gorge bridge in Fayetteville is both an engineering marvel and part of the national register of historic places. It’s free to visit and has lots of stairs so we were able to stretch our legs and take advantage of some gorgeous photo opps.

The New River Gorge bridge is the longest steel span in the western hemisphere and the third highest in the United States. In addition to stopping at the visitor center to take in views of the bridge, we recommend continuing along the historic Fayette Station Road scenic drive that takes you down below the bridge on wonderful, winding mountain roads.

After stretching our legs and getting some steps in – though not as many as we might have, because high winds were causing some tree branches to fall and one tourist got injured, so they closed the boardwalk and stairs – we hopped back in the car to continue our journey. The New River Gorge bridge was almost exactly halfway between our home and Verena’s school.

WV to Virginia

As we crossed the border into Virginia, we were reminded that it too is a beautiful state in its own right. Heavily forested mountain views gradually changed over to rolling green hills with the incredible Blue Ridge Mountains as a backdrop. I can honestly say we enjoyed every minute of our drive – it’s simply a gorgeous road trip.

When we arrived in Farmville, right away we were charmed by the town. We stayed at the lovely and historic Hotel Weyanoke at the edge of Longwood’s campus – every inch of which is also gorgeous, by the way.

Verena met up with us for a late dinner after lacrosse practice. We had several great meals together during our stay in Farmville, our favorite being the Taproot Tavern at our hotel. Food and service were spectacular at Taproot!

The next day, after watching Verena practice with her team, we had lunch and then drove to Crabtree Falls, a gorgeous waterfall and hiking spot located in the George Washington National Forest in Montebello, VA. This is now one of my top three favorite waterfalls in the continental US!

On our final day together, I took the girls to Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. There are so many cool day trips and things to do in VA that it was hard to decide between this and Colonial Williamsburg, which we’ll have to do on our next visit.

I have lots of thoughts and feelings about our visit to Monticello – so many that it deserves its own post. It’s a remarkable place and UNESCO World Heritage site; it’s also a heavy reminder of America’s troubled past. It’s difficult to reconcile the fact that the author of our country’s Declaration of Independence was also someone who enslaved more than 600 people throughout his life.

We didn’t get to watch one of Verena’s lacrosse games during this visit, but as we told her, we will definitely be back. We had an amazing time in VA and it was so great to reunite with our German family member!

Spring break 2023 was memorable thanks to reuniting with Verena, exploring more of this beautiful country of ours and rekindling our love of road trips and side quests.

What did you do for spring break this year? Inquiring minds want to know!

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About the author

Proud and loving midlife mama. Lucky and devoted wife. Dog, cat and snake mom. Travel nut. Natural born writer. PR and social media pro by day - tattoo doula by night.
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