A Letter from the Editor

Best of Virginia 2018: The statewide guide to all that is best in Virginia, from dining to shopping to doing.

Illustration by Shane Rebenshied

What would you do with a Saturday to spend any way you wish? Where would you go?

That question came up in a casual office conversation one day last year. As we all weighed in—hiking Catawba Mountain up to McAfee Knob, meandering in and out of the boutiques on Charlottesville’s downtown mall, eating a picnic lunch and watching planes land at Dulles from Gravelly Point in Arlington—a light bulb went off. We knew we had our 2018 Best of Virginia theme, the wander list.

The stories you’ll find alongside winners from our annual readers’ survey are meant to inspire you on your own sunny Saturday wanderings. And they are all designed to do in a day.

In Winchester, we get you started with a breakfast of steak and eggs at Bonnie Blue Southern Market and Bakery and then send you off for some shopping in Old Town before you explore the gardens at Glen Burnie House. In Virginia Beach, our itinerary has you exploring the ViBe Creative district, beginning at the Old Beach Green Market for some fresh produce from eco-friendly farmers. We suggest you stop at funky shop Found Objects, and then gear up for an afternoon of surfing at 17th Street Surf Shop. In Fredericksburg, it’s a day of historical exploration at the city cemetery and Belmont Estate, art at the more than 60 artists studios at LibertyTown Arts Workshop, and food at some of the city’s hot new restaurants, including Mercantile and Orofino. And there is more, a lot more.

Of course, the nearly 1,500 winners of our readers’ survey create a wander list of their own every year. Among the new categories for 2018 are Best Distillery—welcome winners, including A. Smith Bowman Distillery in Fredericksburg—and Best Oysters—shout out to Hank’s Oyster Bar in Alexandria. Our second year offering a readers’ choice category didn’t disappoint either with votes cast for Best Japanese Animation Store, Anime Pavilion in Falls Church; Best Bike Tour, Basket & Bike in Richmond, Charles City and Williamsburg; and perhaps my favorite, Best Business Sign, Wytheville’s Big Pencil. 

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Once again, our issue features an amazing visual journey created by art director Sonda Andersson Pappan. You may remember, Sonda retired last year. She elected to come back for one last hurrah though, and we are so glad she did. Working with New Zealand-based photo illustrator Shane Rebenschied, she has produced images that make us feel like we are part of the scene—taking an evening stroll near the Governor’s Palace in Colonial Williamsburg, hanging out on the rocks in the James River in downtown Richmond, following a banjo player along the Crooked Road music trail near Abingdon. The images will stoke your interest, I hope, in one day exploring these places yourself.

The whole Cape Fear Publishing team works like a well-oiled machine to bring you Best of Virginia—from sales and circulation to creative services and accounting. We welcome a new member this year, Rhett, our publisher’s English springer spaniel puppy who has accepted his role maintaining office morale with aplomb. Thank you everyone, for your hard work.

Readers, I hope you turn to Best of Virginia throughout the year. Keep the print issue in your car, or easily search our lists of winners online. I don’t know about you, but I find the best sort of advice is always the kind that comes from a neighbor, and that’s what Best of Virginia is all about.

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