Hey foodies, you know the formula: The more you exercise, the more you can eat! so maybe it’s not always that simple, but a feast sure feels better-earned after a hearty bout of physical activity, right?
Here in Virginia, we’re blessed to have such endless options for world-class outdoor recreation—and doubly blessed given they come backed up by such fabulous homegrown cuisine. Here are promising itineraries for getting active and getting fed in every corner of the state: paired destinations for fitness and food an hour or less apart!
Blue Ridge Highlands
Do: McAfee Knob
McAfee Knob's rocky prow makes the 2,200-mile-long Appalachian Trail's best-known photo op—no surprise, given the sublime view it commands of the Catawba Valley and a whole mess of gorgeous ridges. You'll work for that knock-your-socks-off panorama: Hiking up involves 1,700 feet of elevation gain.
Eat: Roanoke Natural Foods Co-Op
Within shouting distance of McAfee Knob’s killer vantage, Roanoke Natural Foods Co-Op supplies all variety of trail snacks, a fabulous deli for post-hike munching, and an extensive local beer selection for properly toasting the climb.
Do: Richmond Rides
Burn and earn some calories while soaking up in-depth Richmond history via the Richmond Rides Foodie Tour. Bike through historic Church Hill, learning about the neighborhood’s deep-rooted backstory and architecture while pit-stopping at topnotch restaurants and bakeries.
Eat: The Daily Kitchen & Bar
Keep your two-wheeled culinary safari going afterward at Carytown's The Daily Kitchen & Bar, offering healthy, cuisine-hopping entrees spotlighting loads of local ingredients. From burgers and seafood to vegan-friendly stir-fries, the menu’s got something for every foodie palate.
Bonus Idea: Pay tribute to Richmond's lifeblood with a hike, run, pedal, or paddle along the James River, then follow up with eats at the Daily Kitchen & Bar. And don’t stop there: Over at Ellwood Thompson’s, grab healthy, local fodder such as Farmstead Ferments and SVO Chicken for tomorrow’s menu.
Do: Shenandoah National Park
A no-brainer: Virginia boasts a world-class national park in 200,000-acre Shenandoah, what with its rich hardwood forests, gnarled ridgelines, dime-a-dozen waterfalls, and acorn-scarfing black bears. You’ve got 500-plus miles of hiking trails at your disposal (100 of them along the Appalachian Trail) for laidback dayhikes or multiday treks through Blue Ridge backcountry.
The bowls and smoothies at Harrisonburg’s Pulp—made from the nutritious fruit of the Amazon’s acai palm—provide perfect fuel for a Shenandoah ramble: The café puts you an easy drive from the park’s South Entrance at Rockfish Gap.
Do: Shangrila Guest Ranch
Time to get back in the saddle—really! Savor Southern Virginia's fresh air and scenic splendor by horseback at Shangrila Guest Ranch, where trail rides (offered year-round) weave through creek-laced forests and sunny glades.
Eat: Bistro 1888
A stone’s throw from Shangrila's stables, Bistro 1888 gives South Boston one of Virginia’s standout restaurants. Relish fabulous New American Cuisine scratch-made daily under Chef Margaret Moorefield's helm.
Do: Pirate Parasail
Haven’t you always kinda wanted to try parasailing? What better place to give it a go than Virginia Beach, where Pirate Parasail will give you a bird’s-eye view of the beachfront at up to 1,000 feet. You don’t even have to get your feet wet if you don’t want to (although we recommend it).
Do: Biking Trails
Northern Virginia’s an all-out paradise for cyclists, whether you’re looking to bike gritty backwoods trails or rack up the mileage on paved routes such as the awesome 45-mile Washington & Old Dominion Railroad Trail between Shirlington and Herndon.
Eat: Cava Grill
On the heels of an appetite-inspiring bike ride, Cava Grill's got the goods: Build yourself a decked-out rice or lentil bowl heaped with veggies, meatballs, or whatever else amid the galaxy of toppings catches your eye.
Do: Lincoln Memorial Workout
We dare you to come up with a more inspiring place for a workout than the Lincoln Memorial, where in the shadow of Honest Abe you’ve got 145 stairs on hand for whatever huff-and-puff routine you desire. There’s plenty of workout combos here you can try to put your body to the test.
After a vigorous stair workout, it’s high time for a health-conscious taco or three over at Chaia. The tacos are loaded with local, seasonal vegetables so it’s guilt free grub - and don’t forget to try their seasonal shrubs to wash it all down.