Love Virginia, Then and Now

February 21st, 2019

Postcards of the past that can still guide our travels


Fredericksburg
Fredericksburg

Before text messaging, social media and free long-distance phone calls, postcards let us share our travels with friends – though not exactly in “real time” – through pictures and brief missives (like Twitter, in that way). BOOMER sorted through hundreds of old Virginia postcards. (Thank you, Library of Virginia and Virginia Museum of History and Culture for sharing your amazing collections!) We’ve chosen a few of these nostalgic snapshots, yesterday’s destinations that can still be visited and enjoyed today.

Fredericksburg
Fredericksburg

FREDERICKSBURG

This town played important roles in the American story: as a frontier port, a supporter of the Revolutionary War, a meeting place for those drafting the revolutionary Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom and a battleground during the Civil War, seeing combat through three bloody years. Fredericksburg reflects that historic past – sprinkled with horse blocks, brick sidewalks, museums, battlefields and old homes – with fine dining, galleries and shops to entertain contemporary tourists. VisitFred.com

Harrisonburg
Harrisonburg

HARRISONBURG

Drawn to the lush meadows and forested mountainsides, German and Scots-Irish immigrants settled in the Shenandoah Valley, establishing Harrisonburg and other small communities to support their farms and families. The area is still peaceful and largely agrarian, offering agritourism, a major university and outdoor recreation to visitors as well as a flourishing dining, culture and entertainment scene in Harrisonburg – including today’s Main Street. VisitHarrisonburgVA.com

SHENANDOAH NATIONAL PARK AND SKYLINE DRIVE

Shenandoah National Park
Shenandoah National Park

Shenandoah National Park was established in 1926, when Congress set aside 280 acres in the backbone of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Five years later, Skyline Drive broke ground, developing into the approximately 100-mile scenic roadway that curves throughout the park. People still soak in the splendor of the Blue Ridge here, enjoying hiking and other outdoor recreation and taking advantage of amenities like lodging, dining, camping and ranger-guided activities. NPS.gov/shen

TANGIER ISLANDTangier Island

This remote island, in the Chesapeake Bay 12 miles from the mainland, was settled by farmers in the 18th century. Residents relied on the harvest of Tangier Island’s bounty of crabs and oysters, and it gained the moniker of “softshell crab capital of the world.” Visitors can explore this friendly, quiet town with its offerings of fresh dining, relaxing spirits and hand-dipped ice cream, while unwinding against the backdrop of the bay breeze. TangierIsland-va.com

VIRGINIA BEACH

Virginia Beach
Virginia Beach

With its post on the Atlantic, Virginia Beach saw early explorers, settlers, pirates and shipwrecks – then tourists experiencing the sand and waves. The construction of the rail system in 1883 kicked off its growth as a resort town, skipping ahead with the Gay ’90s, Roaring ’20s and arrival of military installations. The oceanfront boardwalk continues to evolve, now 3 miles long and boasting a multitude of restaurants, shops and bars to enjoy after sunbathing, swimming and surfing. VisitVirginiaBeach.com

Cavalier Hotel
Cavalier Hotel

CAVALIER HOTEL Part of VA Beach

The luxurious Cavalier Hotel opened during America’s Roaring ’20s. Guests could swim in a pool filled with filtered ocean water, relax in amenity-filled guestrooms, play golf on a course modeled after Scottish courses and revel in live entertainment and sumptuous dining. Famous guests included Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope, Elizabeth Taylor and 10 U.S. presidents. After significant recent renovations, the grand hotel reopened to guests in 2018, architectural elements and opulent touches intact. CavalierHotel.com

LYNNHAVEN BAY OYSTERS

Lynnhaven oysters have been revered for centuries, from Native Americans to Virginia Beach locals and visitors fortunate enough to get their hands on them. Among the first recorded praises of the product, English explorer George Percy wrote that the oysters “were very large and delicate in taste.” Besides dining on the slimy aphrodisiac, visitors can explore the Virginia Oyster Trail and even sign up for oyster tours to experience aquaculture firsthand. VirginiaOysterTrail.com

Lynnhaven Bay Oysters

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