Virginia is for dog lovers

by Carol Bryant of FIDO Friendly Magazine

Sightsee. Shop. Salute. Sniff. Stay.

Something for the two-legged and four-legged variety all rolled up into one heart-shaped slogan. You already know this state loves you, but did you know Virginia is for dog lovers, too? Prestigious enough to earn itself a recent spot on Madison Avenue’s Walk of Fame in Manhattan, the slogan “Virginia is for Lovers” pertains to Fido and his guardians. Pack up the leashes, water bowls, and lip balm and pucker up for a love affair with a state so Fido-friendly, you’ll be barking to return time and again.

Amidst glorious mountains and sandy beaches, Virginia offers a historic vista to our country’s origin, as many of our national conflicts found resolution here. Located in the northern part of the state, more than 300,000 people are buried in Arlington National Cemetery. Beginning with the American Revolution, veterans from each of our nation’s wars along with astronauts, sports figures, and dignitaries are buried in Arlington. The tree-lined walkways and pristine grounds reflect a silent dignity as you and Fido explore, pay homage, and salute this sentimental landscape. Of special interest, The Tomb of the Unknowns is guarded 24 hours a day, year-round, by the elite 3rd U.S. Infantry. Plan your tour and must-see grave sites by visiting the official website at

Take the road less traveled and rest your weary paws on a real working farm. Coupled with the modern conveniences one anticipates on vacation, Elmos Rest is a 19th century farmhouse located on 250 acres of land at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Private simplicity is housed within this 1900s style structure boasting its own apple orchard, winery, farm animals (cattle, horses, pigs, goats), and access to breathtaking walking and hiking trails.

During the month of July, check out their Horse & Hound Wine Festival. For both the young and young at heart (of the human and Fido variety), agility dogs, muskrat racing, a horse parade, and wine tasting are offered against the backdrop of the spectacular Blue Ridge Mountains. Shop and sniff amongst the many food, art and crafts vendors while listening to live entertainment. (Have you sensed a love affair yet?)

Nestled on 38 acres at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Fairfield is the Fox Hill Bed & Breakfast. Enjoy many walking trails, play Frisbee with Fido in one of their meadows, and clean your pooch up at one of three outdoor washing stations, complete with doggie shampoo and towels.

In the vicinity, leashed dogs are welcome at Boxerwood Nature Center and Woodland Garden featuring 7,000 trees and shrubs on 15 acres. Remember the days gone by of outdoor movie theaters? In the spring and summer, take in a double feature at nearby Hull’s Drive-In. You and Fido can watch the stars both on the screen and in the sky.

Sniff out a bargain with your two best friends, Fido and a charge card, about two hours from Fairfield at Stony Point Fashion Park in Richmond. Described as a “dog-friendly center,” many of the over 90 stores at this unique open-air mall welcome your four-legged bargain hunter (designated with a ‘welcome dog’ sticker in their front windows.) An eclectic blend of stores in an intimate, park-like setting offers Fido-friendly pit stop areas and clean up supplies to enhance your shopping excursion.

Once you’ve shopped, don’t drop just yet. Have a bark in the park and let Fido channel his inner vacation puppy. Virginia is home to several dog parks, one boasting the distinction of “Best New Facility in Virginia” award. Located in the heart of the Hampton Roads region and conveniently located within driving distance of Virginia Beach, the Chesapeake City Park welcomes larger and smaller dogs in two separate play areas.

It is written that falling in love is the easy part, but staying in love is the challenge. Whether you choose to explore Virginia’s mountains and beaches, historical sites and exhibits, lodge amidst the country air or city lights, this is one canine love affair you’ll long remember.

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