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Thursday, June 12, 2014

Caverns Near Charlottesville, VA

Recently we had a day off from innkeeping here at Foxfield Inn and decided to explore one of the caverns near us.  Within a 30 minute drive we were at the Grand Caverns in the Town of Grottoes.  Driving into the park we were anxious about this adventure as I am slightly claustrophobic. Underground caverns are not high on my list of things to do but for some reason visiting the Grand Caverns was on my bucket list.

In 1804 Barnette Weyer discovered Grand Caverns while retrieving one of his traps.  He opened the caves in 1806 for tours - it is oldest continually operating show cave in the U.S.  In 1973 Grand Caverns received   National Natural Landmark status.

We got there just in time for the tour.  So off we went up the hill to the educational building which is entrance to the caves.  Our guide was very knowledgeable about them and could answer all of the questions from our fellow tourers. There are several large rooms in these caves, it is well lit and the paths are easy to follow.  Not once did I get the feeling that I shouldn't be there.

There are so many different types of formations that you never get bored during the 60 minute tour.  There are cave coral, stalactites, stalagmites, draperies, dog tooth spar, flowstone and shields.  I am sure there were more types but that was all I could remember when we left the caves.  .  The colors on the formations were gorgeous.  My favorite was the draperies which many do look like large strips of cooked bacon as suggested by our guide.

It's amazing to think they used to have parties and dances in these caves.  And that during the Civil War there were places that they used for target practice because the open space was so large.

It's well worth the drive to visit these caves but take a picnic lunch with you as there isn't much in the Town of grottoes if you want something to eat.  The grounds at the caves include a beautiful park where you can sit &  relax after your tour and trails for you to hike.

Other caves in the area you might want to explore are:

You are sure to enjoy which ever caves you visit!
Dan & Kathryn Bundy, your Innkeepers
Foxfield Inn, a Charlottesville, VA bed and breakfast

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Things to do in Charlottesville VA - July 2014

If June in Charlottesville was about relaxing and unwinding, July is a celebration of the arts. Festivals, performances, and more will keep you entertained and in awe. Whether you fancy the theater, the symphony, photography, and more, Charlottesville in July is heating up with fabulous entertainment.

Events at Monticello
You can visit Thomas Jefferson's celebrated home any time of year, but here are some additional workshops being offered in July to enhance your visit. Be sure to benefit from the knowledgeable staff and unique learning resources.
Beginning 7/1 Archaeology Findings Update
7/4 July 4th Celebration and Naturalization Ceremony
7/12 Canning with a Jefferson Spin
7/19 Landscaping with Native Virginia Flora
7/26 Mary Randolph Culinary Workshop

Summer Concert Series
Tuesdays, July 1, 15, 29 (8pm)
The Charlottesville Municipal Band performs at the Paramount Theater downtown in their 92nd summer in a series of free concerts. Check the calendar here for program info.

Heritage Theater Festival
Bringing together actors, directors, designers, and technicians from all over the country, the Heritage Theater Festival produces some of the most captivating summer entertainment. This summer's shows include: Thoroughly Modern Millie; Shear Madness; Avenue Q; and One Man, Two Guvnors. Check the website for performance dates and to reserve tickets.

Independence Day in Charlottesville
Fireworks are essential, but here are some ways you can celebrate Independence Day in Charlottesville.
Fourth Celebration at Devil's Backbone Brewery
July 4 Jubilee at Wintergreen Resort
Red Wine and Blue at Trump Winery
July 4th at Monticello
Patriotism in the Park

Live Music at Humpback Rocks Visitor Center
Sunday, July 6 (2-4pm)
Humpback Rocks is one of the most popular hiking spots around. Finish your morning by enjoying free music in the mountains.

Wintergreen Summer Music Festival
Beginning July 7
Dozens of performances throughout the month of July in the picturesque mountain air of Wintergreen Resort. Check the website for schedule and tickets.

Ash Lawn Opera
The Ash Lawn Opera Festival brings together talented singers from all over the country to perform at the Paramount Theater downtown. Check their website to purchase tickets for this summer's productions of Susannah or Fiddler on the Roof.
Susannah July 11, 16 (7:30pm), July 13 (2pm)
Fiddler on the Roof July 31 (7:30pm)

Starry Nights at Veritas Vineyard & Winery
Saturday, July 12 (7-11pm)
Take a Foxfield Inn picnic or reserve space at a table for the buffet. Sip their award-winning wines and dance the night away under a blanket of stars. Purchase tickets in advance online here.

On-Going Events
Some of the Charlottesville goings-on that we described in previous posts are still going on through the month of July, including: the Hatton Ferry, Sunset Series at Carter Mountain, Tailgate Thursdays at Stinson Vineyards, Fridays After Five, City Market, and Roseland Polo at King Family Vineyards.

We're sure you'll find something interesting to add to your July excursion to Charlottesville, VA. Let us know how else we at Foxfield Inn can make your summer visit a special one.

Your Innkeepers,
Dan & Kathryn Bundy
Foxfield Inn | A Charlottesville, VA Bed and Breakfast

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Date Night: The Lost Art of Picnicking

Great planning is the key to any great picnic, and we at Foxfield Inn have you covered when it comes to planning your perfect Charlottesville VA picnic. Whether you want to savor your food, your wine, or your company, make your next date night fun and memorable with these tips.

The Food
Finger foods that keep well are crucial to a successful picnic. Think cheese plates with hard or semi-hard cheeses, assorted meats, hard-boiled eggs, and fresh berries. Maybe some fresh veggies cut to size. Crackers or tear-able bread such as a baguette. And perhaps some homemade cookies for dessert.

A sampling of our favorite picnic foods.
Where to find it in Charlottesville:
- Greenwood Gourmet Grocery: Located off 250 past Crozet and on the way to several wineries. Fabulous sandwiches, wines, craft beer and soda, local cheeses and cured sausages, fresh bread, and other snacks.
- Feast!: Located near Downtown, on Main Street and featuring a wide selection of cheeses and deli meats, pre-packaged nuts and candies, dips and spreads, ready-made sandwiches, and wines.
- Foxfield Inn: Did you know we can pack your picnic lunch? Featuring wraps, unique gourmet finger foods, cookies and more, check our special packages page for more info.

The Drink
Whether your drink of choice is a local wine, craft beer or cider, mead, kombucha, or gourmet soda, bear in mind (especially if your picnic involves a hike) that this will be the heaviest part of your picnic pack. If you're going to be picnicking at a winery (see below), stop by their tasting room and purchase a bottle of your favorite vintage.

Some of Starr Hill's popular beers.
Where to find it in Charlottesville:
Text Box: Jessalyn Fink
Piano Educator

Vineyards: Our top picks for vineyards within a short driving distance are King Family, Veritas, and Stinson. All have excellent wines that can also be found in several local retail shops.
- Market Street Wine Shop: Tell these folks what you're eating and your budget and they will recommend one of the best bottles of wine you've ever had. Located across from the Downtown Mall.
- Blue Mountain Brewery: Fill up a growler to go with any of their popular brews. One of the most popular local breweries around. Try their Full Nelson.
- Starr Hill Brewery: Stop by their new tasting room and grab a growler of your favorite beer to-go. Some beers are limited edition, so get 'em while they last.
- Want a drink that's gluten-free? How about a hard cider made from local Virginia apples? Bold Rock Cider's 6-packs offer one perspective; Albemarle Ciderworks's ciders come bottled like champagne; both are available at several gourmet grocery stores.

The Company
Whether you're picnicking with your loved one or with a group of friends, the venue can be the dealbreaker. Charlottesville has dozens of spots with gorgeous views for quiet time, and plenty of outdoor concerts this summer for a more social scene.

Mint Springs is lovely any time of year.
Where to find it in Charlottesville:
- Jefferson Vineyards: "Sunsets Become Eclectic" Summer Concert Series. Enjoy live music at this Charlottesville winery near Monticello, 6-8pm. Select Saturdays through September.
- Jammin' on the James: Dorrier Park, Scottsville, 5-8pm. Set up by the river and enjoy live music the first Sundays of the month through September. Free admission.
- Trump Winery: Third Thursdays, 6-8pm. Enjoy live music and fresh pours from their award-winning wines.
- Stinson Vineyards: Tailgate Thursdays, 6-9pm. Call ahead to reserve local meats to grill or bring your own picnic and enjoy live music. Through Labor Day.
- Veritas Starry Nights: Set up under the stars to enjoy live music, dancing, and Veritas wines. A very popular summer event and perfect for a social picnic. Tickets available online.
- Roseland Polo: At King Family Vineyards. Sundays through mid-October. Check the website for match start times and weather updates.
- Mint Springs Valley Park: Open dawn to dusk. Take a swim in the mountain-view lake to cool off. Several picnic shelters with grills, or set up in a grassy spot for more privacy.
- UVA Lawn: Soak in Thomas Jefferson's "academical village." Set up on the main Lawn to enjoy the University's architecture (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), or invite yourself in to one of the public gardens behind a pavilion for a more secluded experience. Make it a true UVA experience by picking up sandwiches from the students' favorites Take-It-Away or Bodo's Bagels, just a short walk away on the Corner.

Other picnic necessities to pack: Blanket for sitting upon, bottle opener or corkscrew, cooler for your food, drinking glasses, silverware and a small knife for cutting/spreading, games or books for conversational downtime, sunscreen, bug spray, trash bags and moist towlettes for cleaning up.

What else do you think makes for a perfect picnic? Though we can't control the weather, leave a comment or let us know how else we can help your next Charlottesville date night go off without a hitch.

Your Innkeepers,
Dan & Kathryn Bundy
Foxfield Inn | A Charlottesville, VA Bed & Breakfast