Cover photo: Chris Militzer, Milliman Photography
Virginia’s state-wide LOVEworks program was introduced by Virginia Tourism Corporation (VTC) following the success of its 50-year-old “Virginia is for Lovers” branding initiative. The campaign is designed to promote travel in the commonwealth and strengthen awareness of the state slogan and its message: everyone is bound to find something to love in Virginia. To date there are more than 275 unique LOVEworks installed throughout VA, designed to represent municipalities’ and businesses’ respective locales, services and offerings, consistent with VTC’s “Share What You Love” initiative.
Our Virginia LOVEworks WanderLOVE itinerary takes travelers on a trip around the commonwealth, sharing just a few our favorite, photo opp-worthy LOVEworks from every corner of the state. Exploring each unique LOVE sign in one trip would be an adventurous endeavor, given that Virginia is 42,775 square miles. Travelers can set about visiting their favorites–or every single one of the street art sculptures–by breaking up the drive into geographical segments. Virginia is for Lovers makes it easy to plan a road trip, with an updated map of Virginia LOVEworks.
Town of Colonial Beach, Virginia (CBVA)
Within the Town of Colonial Beach are three LOVEworks. The first was the iconic golf cart LOVEwork located at the town’s downtown beach. Installed in 2015, this interactive sculpture was returned recently to its rightful place along the boardwalk after being refurbished. In addition to undergoing a thorough cleaning and sanding, the letters–using the shapes of fish, an oyster, flip flops, and beach scene to spell out LOVE–were repainted in vibrant hues by artists from local community organizations including Colonial Beach Artists Guild; Beach, Arts, Music, Mentoring (BAMM); and Colonial Beach Foundation. Local residents also chipped in to help refurbish the seats on the golf cart, renovate the osprey nest and complete the project.
Dockside Restaurant & Tiki Bar, is the site of CBVA’s second LOVEwork, emblazoned with flip flops, a beach ball, palm trees and fish against the backdrop of a pontoon boat. The third LOVE sign in Colonial Beach is crafted out of wine bottles and constructed into a wall in Monroe Bay Winery‘s straw bale barn, tasting room and event center.
Ingleside Winery & Vineyards, Oak Grove
Just outside Colonial Beach is Ingleside Winery & Vineyards, a member of Chesapeake Bay Wine Trail. The winery has two signs onsite. LOVE spelled out in Ingleside’s cozy Barrel Room, and the second in the winery’s outdoor European courtyard.
Fredericksburg and Stafford
The area around Fredericksburg and Stafford has nine LOVEworks, including one of our favorites, Adventure Brewing Company, which celebrates their love of local craft beer and recycles materials such as beer bottles, cans and tops.
Aviation enthusiasts should plan a stop at Manassas Regional Airport, Virginia’s busiest General Aviation (GA) Airport. The LOVEwork is designed to interest people airplanes and airplane parts.
Adhering to its longstanding commitment to sustainability, Airlie in Warrenton constructed its LOVEwork of 95% recycled materials. Engineering staff at the environmentally friendly (“green”) hotel and conference center used wine bottles, Trex (created from soda bottles and grocery bags), reclaimed steel, a tractor tire from the Fauquier County landfill, even live plants and vines to bring its sculpture to life. In the evening, the LOVE sign is illuminated by LED solar panel lighting. Couples can purchase love locks to “lock in their love” on the sculptures “E”, reminiscent of the Pont des Art Bridge in Paris. There is a special box in the “O” tractor tire where couples can “throw away the key.”
Liberty Mills Farm‘s LOVEwork pays homage to Virginia’s agricultural heritage and promotes the Virginia’s growing agri-tourism industry. The “L” is created out of straw bales, with remaining letters crafted from a John Deere tractor, a “V” representative of the state’s largest corn maze (25 acres), and a dynamic “E” that changes with the seasons to feature pumpkins, plants, flowers and other crops.
The letter “V” in Covington’s LOVEwork, located at Humpback Bridge, is a naturally formed tree in the creek bank. “L” was constructed with local, historic bricks; “O” from the gear an old paper machine; “V” and “E” from salvaged railroad ties.
Pearisburg’s public art installation features over 3,500 Giles County rocks painted by almost every local school child aged 4-12 years of age. Volunteers and faculty members worked with the children, encouraging them express their creative side and paint rocks representative of who they are or what makes them special.
Nestled in the Appalachian Mountains are 32 miles of exhilarating winding curves and unparalleled excitement for riding enthusiasts. The Welcome Center’s LOVEworks is inspired by motorcycles, sports cars and the Back of the Dragon on Virginia’s famed Route 16. The interactive “L” is a racing seat with turnable steering wheel; the “O”, a large tire with motorcycle wheel spokes that rotate as the wind blows; “V” is a fierce dragon welded out of metal with exhaust headers for claws; the “E” is a working red light with the names of infamous curves from the road.
At an elevation of 3,405 ft., climbing the 100 ft. Big Walker Lookout tower on the mountain of the same name provides visitors with breathtaking views of national forests and the Blue Ridge Mountains–and maybe even Bigfoot, also commonly referred to as Sasquatch. The LOVEwork here celebrates The Crooked Road, Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail, and the Old Time Music that originated in the Southwest Virginia Region; the circle of community and handmade wares crafted by local artists and sold at the 75-year-old BW Country Store; local authors, notably Grandpa Larry Davis, who wrote “Bigfoot Encounters” based on his nearly 4 decades on tracking the elusive mountain creature; and the forest views, hiking and biking trails, and mountain cabins.
Travel The Crooked Road–Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail–to Galax to experience the region’s traditional bluegrass and old time mountain music. Known for its annual Old Fiddlers Convention, Galax’s LOVEwork is made of fiddles. Photo: virginia.org
Meadows of Dan
Nancy’s Candy Co. in Meadows of Dan has perhaps the sweetest LOVEwork in the commonwealth. Chocolate pours into a fudge cup letter “L”, a truffle “O”, chocolate covered pretzel rods form a “V”, and the “E” is covered in jelly beans.
The area in and around Lynchburg has several very cool LOVEworks. One of the most memorable is the giant red shoe located at the Craddock Terry Hotel and Event Center. The 8-foot-tall stiletto pays tribute to the hotel’s history as an early 1900s shoe factory even has built in seating for the perfect photo opp.
“Virginia is for Lovers and Emporia is for Nuts” is a popular slogan around the town best known for its annual Virginia Peanut Festival, now in its 59th year, held in September.
The race-themed LOVEwork at Richmond International Raceway is a must for automotive enthusiasts. The art installation is crafted from NASCAR Goodyear tires, a checkered flag, actual racing helmets, and sheet metal once part of race cars in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and NASCAR Nationwide Series races. The base of each letter is made from metal used to construct SAFER interior retaining walls that absorb energy from the impact of cars that hit them at the track. Just like a race car, the LOVE keeps moving to different locations around the site.
Virginia’s River Realm
Nearly all of the towns that make up Virginia’s River Realm have a LOVEwork within their borders: Two just outside Irvington in Lancaster County–White Stone and Kilmarnock–as well as Deltaville, Saluda and Middlesex County’s LOVE sign in Urbanna.
Chesapeake’s natural beauty and great outdoors are the theme of this city’s LOVEwork, representing miles of gorgeous green spaces, free parks, and over 22 miles of waterways that make it a refuge for wildlife. The LOVE sign is carved out of loblolly pine, with letters in the shape of animals indigenous to the area: blue crab, river otters, Blue Heron from the City seal, and a black bear with her two cubs.
The LOVEwork in Cape Charles, on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, reflects the history and bayside community by incorporating representative materials including sea glass and seashells, tractor tire, kayaks, and crab pots.
Continue north up the Delmarva Peninsula to the LOVEwork standing tall on a majestic creekside site at Historic Onancock School Community & Cultural Center. Surrounded by 13 acres of green space, the brick design of the LOVE sign is a nod to reflects the sturdy façade of the 1921 Onancock High School building, with a touch of whimsy in a funky glass tile heart, a nod to the artists, artisans, makers and who inspire the Eastern Shore harbor community.
Finish your trip how you started it–on the beach!–at one of Virginia’s easternmost points: Chincoteague Island. LOVE is found here in the form of four giant Adirondack chairs, each 10 feet tall and weighing more than 500 pounds.
Popularity of LOVEwork has surged. Cities and towns throughout Virginia have crafted their own signature signs as a draw for tourists; and travelers map out locations with the goal of visiting and documenting as many as possible. Entire websites and social media accounts are devoted to the pursuit. LOVEworks have become celebrated places, a source of local community pride and for those in search of the perfect photo opp representing their visit.