Your Favorite Everything

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

The Best of Virginia team, from left: Diane McMartin, Victoria Drake, Mindy Kinsey, Ashley Hunter, Markus Schmidt, Ann Harvey, and Katie Pelikan Baselj. Not pictured: Deanna Gordon, Will Hicks, and Morgan Whitehead. 

Photo by Kenny Kane

Welcome to the Best of Virginia 2019, the only statewide roundup of your favorite … everything. With five regions, 10 maps, 107 categories, more than 40,000 ballots, and nearly 1,600 winners, this is your comprehensive guide to the Commonwealth. 

Our Best of Virginia program has two goals: to recognize outstanding businesses and to share their names with you, creating a compendium of the state’s greatest services, attractions, and experiences. The next time you are looking for something to do, we hope you’ll look here to find an event, restaurant, or destination to try. If you need help narrowing the list of doctors, dentists, or dermatologists who accept your insurance, check here to see who your neighbors like. If you need to send flowers, hire a caterer, or find a real estate agent, we can help. 

And, really, it’s not “we” who are helping—we’re just providing the vehicle for you to help each other. Best of Virginia voting takes place by write-in poll each January. We ask you to note your favorite businesses in each of the five regions across the Commonwealth. Everyone is eligible, and you can vote in as many or as few categories and regions as you like. When the poll closes, we tally the votes carefully, making sure that, for example, votes for “Mt Vernon” and “Mount Vrenon” support the same attraction and that businesses are in the right category (it’s easy to confuse orthodontists and orthopedists). Then, we calculate the winners! 

Perhaps our favorite category each year is the Readers’ Choice, where we ask which “best” we didn’t cover in the poll. A shout-out to all of the spouses, children, and friends you said are the best, and sincere thanks to everyone who said we are the “best magazine.” We totally agree with everyone who thinks we live in the best state in the best country … but we’re not taking sides in your all-caps voting for best city, college, or (especially!) sports team. The tallying process for Readers’ Choice involved a lot of laughing and a thoughtful debate. We hope you enjoy our final choices. 

The theme for the stories that enliven the lists is “Living the Wild Life.” We interpreted it to mean actual wildlife, like plants and animals; hiking trails; trailblazing restaurants; and “wild” experiences of all sorts—Wi-Fi gardening, yurts, chainsaw carving, a really big bunny, and a whole bunch more. Basically, if we gasped, laughed, or demanded photographic evidence, there’s a good chance it made the final cut. Let us know what you think.

We’ve added something new on the last page of the issue: a quiz! It’s divided into sections, so you can test your overall Commonwealth acuity, your regional proficiency, or your subject expertise, as you choose. Don’t worry: It’s open book, and the points don’t matter—but we think it will help you find at least one winner you want to look up in the listings and plan to visit soon.

Finally, I’d like to say a huge thanks to everyone who voted—we know the poll is long, and we’re working on ways to make it easier—as well as to the chambers of commerce and tourism officials around the state who publicize the poll in their regions. Congratulations to all of the winners, and thanks for patiently spelling your names and answering our questions between customers. And, especially, thanks to all of you for supporting the magazine and all of these “best” businesses. We couldn’t do it without you!

June 11, 2022

Star Gazing and Laser Nights

Virginia Living Museum
July 9, 2022

Star Gazing and Laser Nights

Virginia Living Museum
August 13, 2022

Star Gazing and Laser Nights

Virginia Living Museum