Erin Gifford

I am a Washington, DC-based travel & outdoor writer. My writing has appeared in USA Today's GoEscape, The Wall Street Journal,,, The Washington Post,, Parents, Family Circle,,, AAA Traveler Worldwise, Northern Virginia Magazine, and AAA World. I also write about hiking in Virginia at and have written three hiking guidebooks for Falcon Guides. When not seeking out new adventures, I'm crossing off the next state in my quest to run a half-marathon in all 50 states (so far, I've run in 38 states).

Explore This Historic Virginia Town Along The Blue Ridge Parkway

In the Blue Ridge Mountains, Roanoke beckons with an alluring mix of natural beauty, vibrant urban culture, and historic charm. Outdoor lovers will find paradise here with world-class hiking and mountain biking trails, as well as a scenic stretch of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Indulge in Roanoke’s craft beverage scene and comfort-driven cuisine, which contribute to the city’s irresistible charm. Easily accessible via Amtrak’s Northeast Regional line, Roanoke may be the perfect destination for a car-...

Here's What to Know Before Hiking Old Rag

Old Rag may be the most popular hike in Virginia. It’s certainly on more than a few bucket lists, as hikers from near and far flock to Shenandoah National Park for Old Rag’s rock scrambles and 360-degree panoramas. This 9.8-mile hike, which may take anywhere from five to eight hours to complete, is wildly Insta-worthy, but it’s also undeniably strenuous. That’s not to say that you should remove this hike from your bucket list. However, you will want to wear the right shoes (no flip-flops), brin

5 Great Trails for Family Bike Rides

This summer, break out the helmets and kick your next family trip up a notch with a cycling escapade along one of Virginia’s many picturesque and beginner-friendly bike trails. No matter if you have the afternoon or a whole weekend to spend outside, these scenic trails offer sweet views and then some, with pit-stop options ranging from coffee shops to restaurants and camping accommodations for overnight trips. Get excited to embark on an open-air adventure with the family along these 5 bike trai

The 20 Most Beautiful Places In Virginia, According To A Local

When you’re ready to discover for yourself the most beautiful places across Virginia, here are the 20 best places to start, as suggested by a local who’s criss-crossed the state more than a few times. Virginia has soaring mountains , ocean breezes, gorgeous state parks, and more than 500 miles of the iconic Appalachian Trail. When you want lake life and quaint towns, it's got that, too. In Virginia, you’ll find way more than historic settlements, like Jamestown, colonial architecture, and presi

Get to Know the Types of Virginia Oysters and Where to Find Them

Virginia’s oysters are as distinct as the region they come from. They’re wildly flavorful, too. Oysters have been harvested in Virginia for 400 years, and no two oysters are alike. Virginia’s Eastern Shore is home to four oyster regions: Seaside, Upper Bay Eastern Shore, Lower Bay Eastern Shore, and Tangier/Middle Chesapeake Bay. “In Virginia, you have an opportunity to experience the merroir of the oysters,” says Heather Lusk, vice president of H.M. Terry Co., Inc., a family-owned shellfish c

Little Kids Meet Big Flavors at These 7 Hotel Dining Experiences for Children

As a parent, you want to create memories for your children. You want experiences they’ll take with them, like watching a mesmerizing luau show, taking a tasty cooking class or participating in a buzzworthy, hands-on activity about honeybees. Child-friendly culinary programs can transform an everyday food journey into an immersive, exploratory escapade into taste and texture — and even heritage and sustainability. These hotel dining experiences for kids open up a world in which food becomes the

How to Spend a Weekend in Bermuda

It hasn’t been easy to reach the pink sand beaches, mysterious shipwrecks, and azure waters of Bermuda, a small island in the Atlantic Ocean with an area of just 21 square miles. Now, thanks to new nonstop flights from Reagan National on American and Baltimore-Washington International on BermudAir you can have a rum swizzle, Bermuda’s national drink, in your hand by lunch. Bermuda has been waiting for this moment, too. For one, the country opened a shiny new airport terminal in late 2020 (entir

This Historic Virginia Town Makes For A Charming Escape

In Northern Virginia, you’ll find plenty of walkable suburbs and historic villages, including Leesburg, a charming town and county seat that’s less than one hour northwest of Washington, DC. Brick-lined sidewalks, art galleries, coffee shops, and quaint boutiques welcome visitors in town for the day or the weekend. It’s also home to historic stays, like the Leesburg Colonial Inn. Here’s what to do when you’re ready to explore Leesburg, Virginia.

12 Best Things to Do in Wytheville, Virginia

At the intersection of two major highways, I-77 and I-81, you’ll find Wytheville, a small town named after George Wythe, a signer of the Declaration of Independence and friend and mentor to Thomas Jefferson. Wytheville is rich in American history, but it’s also noted for its quirky, must-visit attractions, like one of America’s smallest churches, a rainbow-painted hot air balloon water tower, and a 100-foot-tall lookout tower that boasts wildly scenic panoramas across the mountains. Here everyt

Destination Dupes: Hiking Trails on North and South of I-66

Plan your next trek based on where you live for the utmost convenience. There are many great hikes in Northern Virginia, but Northern Virginia is a vast region. But because it’s so big, we can get in on the latest trend: “destination dupes.” In this case — hikes on the north side, say north of Interstate 66, that have near duplicates on the south side. You know, so you don’t need to drive as far for a good hike. Here are six to check out. On 88.5-acre Theodore Roosevelt Island, a 1.8-mile loop

How to Plan a Bike Camping Trip

The pandemic was filled with firsts for me – first time backpacking, first time kayak camping and first time bike camping (also called bike touring or bikepacking). The latter had inched onto my radar a few months into the pandemic when I bought my first bike in 20 years. It was June 2020. Most indoor attractions had shuttered, and like everybody else, I was rediscovering the outdoors. We were all scooping up bikes, backpacks, tents and all types of paddle craft. I was lucky to get my hands on
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