Simply the Best

Presenting your choices for the state’s greatest stores, restaurants, services, and experiences.

Welcome to Best of Virginia 2021, your statewide guide to local businesses. You don’t need me to tell you that it’s been a heck of a year. However, you once again turned out in huge numbers to support your favorite shops, restaurants, entertainment venues, services, and healthcare providers, even though many of those businesses were closed or operating at reduced capacity for months—and you sent us many ideas for recognizing even more of the folks you consider essential. Our goal for Best of Virginia each year is to serve as a resource for readers and a boost for local businesses, and we are delighted that so many of you joined the effort this year—our sincere thanks.

In addition to supporting your favorite businesses, Best of Virginia is a way for you to share them with your neighbors so they know who to call the next time they need a caterer, accountant, etc. We gather the information via a poll every January, using the previous year’s voting data to create dropdown menus of up to 20 choices in each category, plus a write-in option. Although the dropdown menus streamlined voting, write-in candidates were among the winners in almost every region.

In the issue, the winners are grouped by theme, and each region has an index to help you find what you’re looking for. We change the categories slightly every year to give all businesses a chance to compete. If you can’t find a favorite, send us a note and we’ll consider reinstating it for next year. We also welcome suggestions for new categories.

For the first time, we are presenting select winners in the form of travel itineraries and maps. We used the information we gathered when we verified the winners to list ideas for meals, entertainment, and accommodations in one city per region. We hope these maps and itineraries inspire you to arrange your own Virginia vacation this year.

We also tried to write stories that dig a little deeper or offer a more nuanced look at the winners than is possible in the directory listings. And, we sent photographers to visit some of the winning businesses to ensure that we have great images of these people and places. Let us know what you think.

Finally, we are proud to note that this is the biggest Best of Virginia in the program’s 10-year history, containing more categories, more winners, more stories about local businesses, and more colorful, informative advertisements than ever before. I’d like to thank everyone who participated, including the voters, the tourism officials and chambers of commerce across the Commonwealth who publicized the poll in their regions, and the winners who rallied their customers and communities, then took time out of their busy days to talk with us. And, of course, thanks to all of you for supporting the magazine and all of Virginia’s local businesses!

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Star Gazing and Laser Nights

Virginia Living Museum

Star Gazing and Laser Nights

Virginia Living Museum

Star Gazing and Laser Nights

Virginia Living Museum