One of our family traditions during my youth was taking a picture with the brown entrance sign at each national park that we visited. To this day, I still capture photos of those entrance signs and they still evoke powerful memories of amazing experiences. My most recent sign photos were the Front Royal entrance to Shenandoah National Park and the northern entrance of the Blue Ridge Parkway at Rockfish Gap (where we also biked the rail-to-trail Crozet Tunnel Greenway that travels under Rockfish Gap- this coolest hike in Virginia actually travels underneath Interstate 64 and U.S. 250 near the north end of the Parkway). One of my favorite photos is actually in North Carolina on Heintooga Spur Road with one foot on the Blue Ridge Parkway and the other in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. You really can be in two places at once!
Another tradition that I’ve recently begun is snapping pictures of the LOVE signs that are popping up across Virginia. You never know when a LOVEwork will appear (unless you are an advance planner and research the map at www.virginia.org/love). Each sign is a unique representation of the local area or attraction and is often designed and crafted by a local artisan. There’s even a sign along the Blue Ridge Parkway! Virginia’s LOVEworks signs offer a creative and sometimes whimsical photograph opportunity for the whole family. Why not start a new tradition and make some family memories finding and photographing a few LOVE signs while enjoying the out of doors this year?
Many local towns, like Wytheville, VA, (pictured above) have crafted a LOVEwork that represents their location. Waynesboro, Roanoke, Salem and Harrisonburg have their own, too. Lynchburg boasts seven sculptures! Lexington and Rockbridge County’s most popular LOVEwork sign at Natural Bridge State Park illustrates the interconnectedness of nature, and of course includes the famous arch.
State and local welcome centers (like Bedford, VA, shown below) also offer LOVEwork signs around the state. You can learn what there is to see and do in Virginia, pick up a map and travel brochures, use the restroom, AND add a love sign to your photo repertoire all in one place!
Stable Craft Brewing and Cidery is an example of breweries and wineries with LOVEworks. The Peaks of Otter Winery and Orchards LOVEwork celebrates wine and fruit raised and harvested on their sixth-generation family farm.
Attractions, restaurants, and even shops around the state, like Luray Caverns and Beagle Ridge Herb Farm, have crafted their own unique signs, too. Since Luray-Page County is known as the Cabin Capitol of Virginia, Luray Caverns’ LOVEwork is made from wooden beams.
Museums have also been busy representing their sites, like the Virginia Museum of the Civil War, whose sign construction includes actual cannon parts and crossed Signal Corps flags.
Fancy Gap Cabins and Campground’s LOVEwork aptly celebrates Blue Ridge Parkway sites since it is the only sign located directly adjacent to the parkway. Other lodging sites have also painted or constructed signs, like Uptown Suites of Stuart and Montfair Resort Farm, whose seven-foot-tall sign is composed of twigs and branches.
We encourage you to take some pictures and make some family memories this year. Compiling them into a photo album or book would make a great family memento or holiday gift!