Framed by the rising crags of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Blue Ridge Shadows Golf Club’s 18-hole course incorporates mature hardwoods, immaculate greens, and dramatic elevation changes into a pristine layout that earned a position on Golfweek’s list of the Best Courses You Can Play in 2009. Cresting hilltops give way to sweeping panoramas of the natural surroundings, including a 60-foot waterfall stationed behind the 18th green that used to host Gary Player's famed cliff-diving exhibitions. A grass-tee driving range, large putting green, and short-game practice area unfurl across the mountainside terrain, helping players warm up neglected swings. Additionally, players can prepare for an upcoming round with a lesson from Blue Ridge’s staff of sage instructors or by scrutinizing the course’s splendor from the wraparound terrace of the stately clubhouse.
Course at a Glance: * 18-hole, par 72 course designed by Tom Clark * Length of 7,315 yards from the farthest tees * Course rating of 75.5 from the farthest tees * Slope rating of 143 from the farthest tees * Five tee options
Rolling hills and meadows cascade toward the organic-farming grounds that surround Paris Barns, where red-roofed buildings and metallic grain silos stand as pleasant punctuations against the lush landscape. The Virginian soil hosts more than 10,500 tomato plants, as well as other seasonal vegetables and herbs. The grounds also act as a certified wildlife habitat for goats, lambs, and alpacas, as well as more exotic animals such as flightless emus, which entertain visitors with their aggressive posturing and spot-on Groucho Marx impersonations.
In addition to harvesting their crops, the zen-minded farmers share their passion for sustainable living with the community at events and workshop that dish the ins and outs of organic farming. When the weather turns warm, the staffers shear wool from the resident sheep and alpacas, demonstrate crafts, and sell fiber-based arts. Meanwhile, beekeepers raid rows upon rows of hives for pure, organic honey.
The flavors of the Southwest add a spicy touch to all the dishes at Poblanos Southwest Grill. Guests stroll up to the counter to order jalapeño poppers, chile rellenos, steak fajitas topped with peppers and onions. With the build-your-own option, they can customize tacos, burritos, and taco salads to their personal tastes using a choice of three marinated Mexican-style meats, shrimp, or vegetables. For a slightly fancier meal, guests can opt to order the pan-seared cod atop a bed of cilantro lime rice, hand cut flank steak with chimichurri, or a half peruvian chicken in a casero sauce, paired with a hot cup of coffee.
In production since 1988, Mackintosh Fruit Farm introduces city slickers to country life with seasonal crops available for handpicking and a meandering corn maze. Harvesting hands can make their way through rows of ginger gold, gala, golden delicious, york, and fuji apples, filling containers with up to eight pounds of potential pie-fillers or impressing dates by playing catch with squirrels. Couples may alternatively opt to adopt a newborn pumpkin from Mackintosh's patch to serve as protective porch guardians during late-October monster invasions, then find their way through a maze of corn, where seven game and activity stations entertain along the way. The corn maze takes most people an hour to navigate, though delays can result from sightings of a translucent James Earl Jones.
In 1993, a few entrepreneurs transformed the basement of a Minneapolis apartment building into an Italian restaurant. It became the first Buca di Beppo. The owners of that inaugural location soon found themselves riding a wave of popularity and marinara sauce as they opened new restaurants across the nation. Today, the eatery occupies 99 locations nationwide, from downtown San Francisco to Times Square, New York.
At each location, chefs maintain the northern and southern Italian flavors that made the original so popular, adding only a few American twists. They also supply family-style servings, which help make Buca di Beppo a favorite place for families and friends to gather in large, hungry groups. The chefs bake up batches of Cheesy Bread Florentine, a colorful combo of spinach, roma tomatoes, and garlic sprinkled over Italian bread and sealed in place with fresh, melted cheeses. For entr?es, they prepare dishes with an eye toward quantity, both of portion and choice; they whip up Veal Parmigiana, Baked Ziti, and classic Italian-American staples like Ravioli and Lasagna. And in keeping with the convivial atmosphere, they also serve truly decadent desserts. Their Mt. Vesuvius Dark Chocolate Cake erupts with melted chocolate, and their Colossal Brownie Sundae towers with six scoops of ice cream and tiers of sundae trimmings.
At The Cajun Experience, chefs bring a taste of southern Louisiana to Virginia. They take a thoughtful approach to the region's cuisine, making their own duck sausage in-house and importing fresh oysters from Pine Isle before shucking them and serving them on the half shell. And it wouldn't be a true Cajun experience without crawfish boils, which feature live crawfish harvested from Louisiana's waters.
The chefs whip up classics such as fried catfish, beignets, and po-boys, as well, but they also show a creative flair with signature dishes such as blackened shrimp tossed in lemon-champagne vinaigrette. These Cajun eats pair with tasty libations, which patrons sip while enjoying traditional Louisiana pastimes, including listening to live music and riding on a bucking 'gator.